An Interview between Dr. Paul Cedar and Dr. Ralph D. Winter
PAUL: As you know, I live a few blocks away from this magnificent Center God has established here and I often wonder how you are getting along. As the senior pastor of a church nearby, I have come to love you deeply and to have a great appreciation for what God is doing in and through you! I've tried to keep up with all thats going on, but I've decided to come and ask a few questions face to face. I appreciate your giving your time to me.
RALPH: Paul, I'm astonished and pleased that you would take time away from the heavy burdens and pressures of a huge congregation. What can I tell you?
PAUL: We've recently begun a Frontier Fellowship in our church and are very excited about it. I heard someone say that your Frontier Fellowship movement already lists $2.8 million of adopted goals.
RALPH: Here's the latest list! It's over $3 million now (see p. 20) You can see that our primary attention is not focused on money coming to us but how much new money will be generated for a number of agencies specifically for frontier mission outreach. Each of the organizations you see on this list has set some kind of goal. Where they have not set a goal, we have, for our own purposes of prayer and planning, put down a goal for them what we have tentatively felt they could do. Now in all these cases, if they give us the first $15 out of the first $100 that comes in from any one person, we will receive the amount in the column on the right.
PAUL: I guess our congregation is listed under "individual congregations"
RALPH: Right! I think you told me you had 300 people that wanted to sign up. That's a large group, even for a church of 3000.
PAUL: We're very grateful for the wonderful initial response. What have you found to be a realistic goal for a church?
RALPH: We'd like to see a minimum of 50 people in any congregation, but we assume that, depending on the vision and commitment of the group or the church, it will run one out of ten, or one out of twenty.
PAUL: Let me see if I get this straight. Our 300 people, generating a minimum of $100 per year per person will mean that our mission budget will have a special influx of at least $30,000?
RALPH: That's right. Year after year. Even a smaller church with only 50 Frontier Fellowshipers will generate 50 x $100, or $5,000 per year.
PAUL: Now, we've decided to give $15 from the first $100 that comes in from any person to the U.S. Center for World Mission. That's all you've suggested.
RALPH: That's correct. We've not changed our original vision of paying for this property without any one person giving more than $15. And we insist on even this gift being optional. We're glad that practically every group participating so far has been glad to do this. An easy way to do the accounting is for a church to give us 15% of the money that comes in from all the people who have not yet given $100. Then a separate fund is maintained that grows larger and larger, consisting of the coin offerings of those who have already given $100. Except for the money sent to us, all the rest goes to wherever your church wants to designate it. In no case is the U.S. Center the recipient of those funds. We can't ask for the first $15 and then ask for all the rest as well.
PAUL: But Ralph, that is very gracious of you, and I appreciate the reasons why you are doing it this way. I can even believe (and we can all work together for this) that the movement will grow so rapidly and will be big enough to pay your $6 million payment next year. But our offering so far has only been a little over $4,000 in the weeks we have been receiving these coins, and 15% of that is only $600. And how are you going to make these quarterly payments between now and September of next year?
RALPH: Paul, I don't know the answer. I do know that when one of these crises looms like our June 1st deadline, when we have to pay another $175,000 that in all previous cases we have only gotten through by the skin of our teeth. Our whole project, this unique financial approach, is apparently so complicated that lots of people are confused.
PAUL: I have been personally confused at times. Where does money come from in the meantime?
RALPH: It's profoundly moving. Although we've told people that we do not intend to keep permanently for ourselves amounts larger than $15, many wonderful, generous churches and individuals have indeed risen to the occasion and have given far more. I can't believe it. One small Baptist church in Portland has given us over $100,000. A Presbyterian church in Santa Aria, California has given us over $70,000. Another in Santa Barbara over $50,000. A church in Chattanooga sent us $25,000. And on and on. But individuals, lay people especially missionaries have been particularly lavish. A farmer in Winnepeg sent $16,000. A missionary in Guatemala sent $10,000. Many missionaries, even college students, have sent $1,000 or more. One couple's repeated gifts total over $56,000. Well, I'm not really an expert in the giving patterns of people. But I do know that there is no correlation between the wealth of the individual and the amount of the gift.
PAUL: That's truly amazing! I know it has strengthened your faith. But I guess I hadn't heard about this business of not keeping these larger gifts. What do you intend to do with them? You've already spent them on property payments!
RALPH: We intend to return (to churches) or reassign (gifts from individuals) all such gifts, once enough of the $15 gifts have come in. In no case has anyone demanded a formal promise that we do this, and I don't believe that we would do right to bind ourselves legally. But this has been our policy and our good pleasure.
PAUL: As I have told you before, I believe deeply in what you are doing. And, although your plan is unorthodox, I believe it is from God. I support you and the plan. I assure you of my love, prayers and support, and I thank God for the privilege of sharing your vision with our people. I believe that God has begun a new and significant work at the U.S. Center which has potential greater than most of us can imagine as you continue to labor to the glory of God!