Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Property Ownership and Missions Giving

Why the issue of property ownership can affect missions giving?  Part I

     A missionary has to deal with the property issue every time they are involved with a construction project.  Why? Because as missionaries we are often responsible for missions monies directed towards the project.  We have a responsibility to protect the interests of the donors.  But even greater is the responsibility we have to the Lord and His kingdom.   This investment of missions funds, just like any donation to a church, demands accountability.  Often the missionary serves as a conduit to meet the needs.

Securing ministry properties is a must.  Recently, I had to talk to a local pastor who is running  a school for Haitian children. In our country the Haitian community is very marginalized.  Many are illegally in the country, or with lapsed legal papers.  Very few of their children are in the public school system.  They don't speak Spanish, they don't have legal birth certificates, they may not have the income for the public school
Debbie and Ryan Pauly Visit the Haitian School
uniforms.   That is why we have become involved in helping this school reach out to the Haitian children.   Without an education, their chances of breaking the poverty cycle is slim.

We have served as channels in one way or another to provide nearly $5000.00 US for this project.  The lastest expense was a hand dug well on the property.  Their building is made of what we would consider scrap lumber in the United States.   We donated some used student desks to help and some sports equipment. Funds paid for the floors, walls, bathrooms, and roof of the building.  The donors were thrilled that they could make a difference in these young lives.  As humble as the surroundings are, there is a sense of peace and joy in the school.  The children look happy. The pastor and his small staff are providing a good education to about 60 children, who would otherwise have no education.

The problem is that the school is functioning on a piece of property that belongs to the pastor's daughter.  We would love to help provide a better facility for this school.  But when approaching churches in the US for help, there is always the question of who owns the land.  There is a risk that one day the daughter will sell the
property because of a financial need, and the school will have to be moved elsewhere.  This means that the investments (the floor, the bathrooms, the septic hole, the hand-dug well) will stay on the property.  The wooden structure coud be moved. As more is invested, the chances of the school or church buying the property becomes harder because value has been added to it.  The price of the property and surrounding properties is already rising.
The problem.  How can we secure the future of this school, and safeguard the investment of the donors?  Somehow, this property needs to be purchased and put in the name of a Christian organization, or a church, for perpetuity.  I explained to the pastor that if this is done, it will be easier to get help to improve or put up a new facility.  He agreed, and expressed his desire to see the program grow.  He is truly committed to the education of the Haitian children.  There is another problem.  This lot is small (500 square feet).  He says the
Pastor J and The 500 Square foot school

cost right now is $ 5200.00 US for this piece of land.  He says there are four more lots adjoining this one for sale at the same price.  I agreed with him that 5 lots would be a minimal amount of space needed for the program.  I told him I would try to make an appeal for the full amount of the five lots, which is $26000.00 US.  However if an individual or a church wanted to help with just one lot, it would be $5200.00 US.  If this price seems high, remember it is in the city, in a densely populated area.

Finally, let me say that this is a worthy project for any church, youth group, business or individual to adopt.  We will continue to help Pastor J., but this investment is at risk until the property is secured. Can you help us?  Can you help Pastor J?  If you feel led to help with this project email us .
Without this school these Haitian children would not receive an education!

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