Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ten Minas Disaster Relief Project

We’ve had to make a few adjustments around here lately. As many of you already know, Ten Minas has undertaken to help a lady named Jacqueline Spears in Gulfport, Mississippi to rebuild her home damaged by Hurricane Katrina. While we have been a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization since we were formed, and service to those in need has always been part of our mission, this is our first foray into disaster relief. Naturally, we are learning some of the ins and outs as we go.

One learning experience we recently had was about the legal requirements of a tax-exempt organization providing disaster relief. Unbeknownst to me, a tax exempt entity cannot simply raise funds for one particular individual to provide disaster relief. Instead, the “class” of people you are raising money for must either be very large, or at least indefinite in size.

What did this mean for our Katrina House mission? Well, bluntly it meant that we could not do it, at least not as originally envisioned. We cannot legally raise funds solely to help Jackie. When I first found this out, needless to say, I was pretty dismayed.

So I prayed, talked to my wife, and talked to my pastor. Being a lawyer, I always try to reason things out logically, and here is what came to mind. There were 3 possibilities as to why this road block was being placed in our way.

(1) It may have been God frustrating this project because it was not His will. I often pray that if anything I try to do is contrary to what God wants that He will stop it from happening. Of course, this did not seem very likely. Not only is this type of project exactly what God tells us to do in the world, but anyone who has read the story about how this whole thing came about (see http://www.tenminasministries.org/katrinahouse.html for the details) knows why there has never been a doubt in my mind that God called us to help Jackie.

(2) It may have been Satan trying to get in the way. The problem with this theory is that the “speed bump” stems from the laws of the United States, and God has commanded us to obey the civil authorities. So it seems unlikely that this particular frustration comes from Satan. It seems more likely that it comes from God Himself because obeying the law is His will.

(3) The final possibility is that this isn’t necessarily God trying to stop the project, but rather He is trying to “nudge” Ten Minas in a certain direction. Remember I said that Ten Minas cannot legally undertake this mission “as originally envisioned.” You see, we can help Jackie. We just cannot help ONLY Jackie. If we had an overall disaster relief ministry (of which Jackie was simply the first recipient), that would be fine. We could accept applications from other people and move from one project to the next indefinitely.

It would be pretty hard for me to justify not helping Jackie because the only way to do it would be to help even more people as well. If God wants us to undertake more disaster relief, then so be it. Hence, the “Ten Minas Disaster Relief Project” has been born. Due to funding considerations, I am envisioning only one project at a time. When we finish one, we will move on to the next (kind of like “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”). But who knows, if the Project grows enough, we may eventually have sufficient funding to undertake various different projects simultaneously.

So we would appreciate any support you can give us, either by way of your prayers or financially. Please visit the website for information on how to donate (there is a link on the right side of this page). Thank you and God bless.