Answers to One Man's Questions About the USCWM
1. Are you still a ?de facto tenant? of Point Loma College?
Answer: Until the campus is completely paid for, I guess that is one way to describe our situation, yes.
2. Have you paid them back a lot of what you owed them?
Answer: We once owed them about $11.8 million. In addition to interest we have paid (which is of course like rent in a way), we have brought the principal down by more than $4 million. Then, by adding three strategic properties our outstanding balance to Point Loma College (and others) is a total of $7.962 million.
As of today have received almost exactly 40% of that in gifts and pledges totalling $3.183 million. This leaves $4.779 million to go. We are not asking that people send money, but only indicate their willingness to help if needed, however $2.218 million of the $3.183 million just mentioned is in the form of cash received and set aside in a special escrow account, ready to be returned if necessary.
3. Is the Lord making good use of the campus for His ends?
Answer: This, I believe, is thrillingly clear. Several factors can illustrate this in part.
A. What gives me the greatest reassurance in this whole project is something for which we have no way of taking credit, namely, the fact that the concerns generated and promoted from this campus have quite apparently grown mainly by themselves, being passed on principally by word of mouth. We have never written to anyone who did not write to us first. Yet, we have recently found that there are people on our list within all but 6 of the more than 1,000 so-called ?3 digit zip codes? as well as many countries of the world.
While this is not exactly a demonstration of the efficiency of our use of this property; it is rather, I believe, an evidence of the quality of the vision here, which in turn is an evidence of the Holy Spirit?s involvement in our use of the campus. The ?word? has gone all over the place, by itself. How else could we have ever gained so widespread a constituency? I have no idea how we could have ?paid? it into existence.
B. Our concern for seeing the global task finished is now being heard daily by at least 3 million people, over more than 500 radio stations (in the form of Global Prayer Digest radio spots.) This is in addition to the thousands of people who use the Global Prayer Digest itself in their daily devotions.
C. Moving to the opposite extreme-from daily devotional materials to college courses-this concern God has generated here is pressed home in a block-buster college course. Well over 2000 students a year take our 200 hour "Perspectives" course. In addition, the textbook our staff here produced for this course is employed for courses in over 100 Christian colleges and seminaries (adding at least 1000, maybe 5,000 more students each year). At least 10,000 students have now taken this course in its weightiest form. A 1,000 of those students have gone into mission work and another 2,000 or 3,000 are moving that way.
D. The Global Mapping Project has drawn upon many of our departments and has now just completed a week of special workshops which attracted denominational and independent mission researchers from as far away as Switzerland and Australia, from World Vision to the Southern Baptist Foreign Board (this is written up in the latest issue of Mission Frontiers, which will be printed next week.
Their pioneering in mapping software has actually exceeded some of the frontiers in secular technology. One of the men is being hired by a secular company for three years on a full-time "retainer" just to help them make sure they understand the software he developed partly in relation to his efforts in this project.
E. But I am afraid I would wear you down if I tried to explain all the things that 300 fulltime staff here are doing, representing over 70 different mission agencies. It is fascinating to work in a place where well over 40 languages are spoken.
4. Can you give me a sketch of the current situation?
First of all, we are getting close to running out of work space. The financially important fact is that the income now generated by the campus is already sufficient to allow us to skimp by on a self-sustaining basis. This is how, once the property is paid off, we will suddenly enter into a new level of effectiveness due to the additional operating income.
Along this line, our overall financial structure can helpfully be compared to that of a Christian college. My brother, David, who is president of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, helps me out with some statistics now and then, being very familiar not only with his own school but with many other Christian colleges.
Many people are mystified by our public statements to the effect that we will be self-sustaining once the property is paid for. We probably should not say it that way. What we should have said all along is that our outside subsidy (comparable to the $1 million per year Westmont must raise) comes from the participating mission agencies. Out of deference to these agencies and in view of their good will, we do not want to have to compete with them by going out to raise additional funds in the very same churches.
Thus, amazingly, instead of having to raise outside funds to cover a good portion of our budget for faculty and staff salaries, we receive at least $2 million per year in donated income, since our researchers and other staff and faculty members are essentially ?contributed? through the good will of the many different mission agencies under which their support is raised. (In the short run, some of our staff do raise their personal support in the name of the Center, but the Center makes no effort as an institution to raise any of those funds.) Meanwhile our operating costs are covered by income from property use, just as at Westmont.
Westmont would be "self sustaining" too, if the vast majority of its faculty and staff were directly supported by friendly mission agencies. However, that is true only because they are not paying on a mortgage on their property. If they had to rent or be making payments on their property, they could not survive without fund-raising even if their faculty were paid for. They have very little endowment beyond the value of their property, so that the fact that their property is paid off is an exceedingly crucial factor in their financial viability.
It may be of interest that back in 1977 we established (and still have) what we call a $15 million "Founding Budget." In our earliest brochures we stated that we needed $11.5 million for the property and $3.5 million for endowment. But when part of our property zoomed up in value, effectively providing (once paid off) that additional "endowment," we simply stopped talking about endowment and instead counted on the income from those properties which had appreciated in value.
This throws light on the whole question of why we must therefore determinedly resist the temptation to sell off our most salable housing in order to pay off much or most of what we owe. We could do that. We have often been urged to do that. But if we did, we would then become a helpless operation holding out a tin cup from that point on. Even that position would be acceptable if our calling was to be a competitive mission-sending organization. (In that case it would also be relatively easier for us to raise operational funds.) Or, it would be equally acceptable to have to raise operational funds if we were an ordinary Christian college, which would be understood to be in competition with every other college.
Ironically, if our most salable housing were not so salable-that is, if it were right on campus along with our other student housing-then the idea of liquidating this source of income would not so likely come up. In that case it would seem to be more legitimately ?campus housing? than when it is across the street in the form of apparently independent residences.
But every bit of this housing, whether on or just off campus, is very essential. Why again? Because our whole purpose, our delicate purpose, absolutely requires that we not compete with the agencies we are trying to serve and upon whose contributions of personnel we are depending. If we were forced to compete with them by the liquidation of housing, then the $2 million per year coming in from those agencies (in the form of people) would be jeopardized, and without those funds (e.g. those cooperating people) our institutional design and purpose would be completely destroyed. We would lose far more than we gained, even in purely financial terms, and we would lose everything we had gained in terms of our reason for existence.
Meanwhile, no one philanthropic agency could possibly match the enormous additional income to the mission cause that can come from a huge new awakening of vision for missions in this country?on the order of $1 billion per year. That is the business we are in. We feel we are already responsible for something like $10 million more per year coming into the Cause.
Furthermore, we fear that in the next 24 months an entire global consciousness must be galvanized into a concerted push to complete the Great Commission by the Year 2000, because, if that does not materialize, the potential outpouring in response to a clear-cut goal will have to be given up as unrealistic. And with it, all that enormous new income to the Cause will be lost. Thus, a great deal hangs in the balance in these weeks.