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Chairman's Chronicles

Week 1:

Last month we reported that we had over $16 million being repaid to us interest-free and someone replied "Great work. How do we make it reach $16 billion?"

Now that's a question we have been asking too. And so I got to think about writing a weekly comment on Facebook sharing such things as some of our history and how and why we began an interest-free mortgage fund that (we suspect) is unique in the world. Why it works mathematically and where we believe it is going.

Launching a completely new form of money system almost 30 years ago without any start-up funds, or borrowing or receipt of grants, was scary enough, but especially so when we discovered that we could find no modern precedent to follow. Were we crazy? This was in 1989 in the middle of a world economic downturn. Bank interest-rates had suddenly trebled to 18-20% and unemployment in NZ was horrendous. Businesses were failing and and no one seemed to trust anyone. It is an interesting story, but this is only the start.

Next week - My introduction to Liberty Trust

Cheers to all, Kelvin
Liberty Trust Chairman
27 August 2018


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Week 2:

My Introduction to Liberty Trust


It was in May 1988 when I received the phone call from Bruce McDonald. "Bruce here Kelvin. I've got something I'd like to discuss with you. Can you call in some time?"
Little did I know that that would introduce me into the most amazing story - the sort that seldom happens in the exciting world of an accountant - a story that would change my life. 

Bruce was our church pastor. I was newly redundant and commencing my own accountancy business. I assumed he needed some advice about money. Instead, Bruce related how he had been praying about the plight of so many families who had been caught up by galloping mortgage interest rates. An intercessor in the church had also been praying on the same topic, unknown to each other. 

In response she had been told that "those affected should pool resources and pay-off each others mortgages. Some people would not be ready for this, and that she was to tell her pastor (Bruce) because he would put this into operation." So she did this and then left him to it.

Regards Kelvin
5 September 2018

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Week 3: Was this Crazy?

Bruce spent an entire afternoon with me. He sounded to me like a crazy life insurance salesman who believed he had just made the most exciting discovery in the world. But he used all the wrong accounting language to describe it so obviously, he didn’t know what he was talking about!

Bruce had shared the 'prophetic' words with his young team of elders. They suggested that he do a survey of the details of people’s mortgages in the church. So Bruce advertised for people’s details from the pulpit. Then with several business people they constructed a “model” of 52 mortgages from the survey.

How could people “pool their resources” when they didn’t have any to spare? - Bruce surmised that if they all went without “luxuries” like coffee and ice-cream they could all contribute $20/ week into a central fund. They then conducted a random ballot to establish the order that the bank mortgages would be refinanced with interest-free mortgages from the central fund. The money for these would come from the weekly $20's and the interest-free mortgage repayments. The faster the cash-flow from mortgage repayments and contributions – the faster that new mortgages could be advanced – and the more people could be helped. According to the model the last member’s bank mortgage would be taken over in 12 years. But astonishing, the 52 would save $55,000 each on average, after allowing for the cost of their contributions, and together they would save $2,860,000!

“Imagine if that could be put into God’s Kingdom,” cried Bruce, “instead of being given to the banks.”

In addition, the fund would finish up with over $600,000 in funds after all the mortgages were repaid, enabling new members to receive their mortgages sooner. The vision in the years to come was enormous. It could change “The Church” worldwide! - Bruce was running hot by now.

-And I rejected it. I told Bruce that if it was only half as good as he claimed, someone else would be doing it already, and if they were, I would have heard of something that good already, and as I hadn’t, then that proved it wouldn’t work. And so I left a very disappointed Bruce.

In short, I believed it was too good to be true.

Regards to all
Kelvin
12 September 2018


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Week 4: Not so Crazy!

About two weeks later an engineer friend came to stay.  As engineers and accountants don’t usually have much in common, we ran out of conversation. So I got out the model workings and told him Bruce’s story.  He couldn’t make sense of the workings either.

“Rather than work with 52 of different sizes and interest rates and repayment terms”, he said, “Why not simplify it by working out the average size of each, and run the model with just six mortgages with the same $20/week contribution from each.”  So we did.

Once we had found our average it took us only 20 minutes on a calculator to reach the answer what had taken Bruce’s team 3 weeks – And the answer: “The last of the six would be refinanced at the end of the 12th year.”

“That’s funny”, I said.  “That’s what Bruce’s team found with 52”.

Let’s try it with 12”, my friend replied.

This time it took us 30 minutes with the calculator.

And the answer – the last of the 12 would receive their interest-free mortgage at the end of the 12th year.”

By now I had a funny feeling that Bruce’s team might be mathematically correct, and the answer would be the same no matter how many were in the scheme.

Realising that if we agreed with the team’s mathematical conclusion in one respect, we would agree with all, I sheepishly phoned Bruce the next day and told him what we had found.

“Well you’d better come in and see me”, he replied.  And as I still had his team’s workings to return to him I couldn't refuse.

Best wishes to all readers,

Kelvin
19 September 2018


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Week 5: The Research Team


I met with Bruce and explained again what my friend and I had found, and turned for the door. 

“What are you going to do about it?” Bruce asked.

“I’ll think about it.” – I gave the usual Kiwi reply.

“I want you to assemble a team of accountants and business people and properly research: 
- Does it work?
- Is it from God?
- Will it be lawful and Tax-free?"

(Bruce had this conversation all planned.)

I hesitated at the door. I knew immediately that this would be a huge and a lifelong challenge. Many people would oppose it – both those in and outside the churches, and even from my close friends. Talk of “money” always brings out the critics, especially to something new like this.

But at the same time I heard God saying to me:
“Haven’t you been asking for years why the churches are generally short of money when I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I’m giving you the chance to find out why. If you turn this down I’ll give it to someone else.”

I agreed.

Next – Twelve Months of Research

Best wishes Kelvin
26 September 2018


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Week 6: Kelvin's Comment

Last night we celebrated with a dinner lending $50 million through Liberty Trust and it’s lending arm, Ark Resources Ltd. There were 23 present. On thinking about this as I prepared my speaking notes before hand I realized that we could have invited over 100 people who have voluntarily served in parts of this ministry over the past 30 years. Besides welcoming the pioneer visionaries and others I paid tribute to two outstanding women who have been such a blessing to myself and Liberty Trust.

The first was my wife of 52 years: Kathleen. She died 30 days ago. Kathleen was our first secretary and newsletter editor. As a volunteer she was a director of Ark Resources Ltd., participated in every monthly meeting, and co-led with me every presentation we have ever made except the last at Festival One when she was too sick with ocular (eye) cancer. She had an amazing memory for the names and circumstances of our over 1000 members and 475 we have loaned to. She had hostessed over 500 meetings and prayer meetings of Liberty Trust and Ark Resources, received and made thousands of phone calls, emails, etc., and carried out many thousands of items of administration.

In May 2017 we attended a Christian business conference at Cook’s Beach. There we received a joint prophecy (we did everything together). In it God spoke of the several chapters we had yet to fulfill. Then He spoke to Kathleen as: “My beloved daughter.” In it He described the joy and happiness she gave Him. He described how He loved to dance with her (she loved dancing), He loved to romance with her, to put His arms around her and embrace her. “Together into eternity we are one, we are one.”

How would you feel if someone said these things to your wife? To us it seemed weird, so we “parked it on a shelf for now”, as they recommend.

I now realise that we were not to take those words about dancing and romance over-literally. They described her future heavenly existence in human terms. Now, putting her prophecy and mine together as one, I can clearly see that it was a description of what was soon to take place. He gave it to us then for today, as a comfort to me that all that has happened was pre-planned and is in order. 

Two weeks ago when He explained that to me, He highlighted to me John 13 v 19 where Jesus told His disciples that He was about to be crucified, knowing that they wouldn’t understand. His words to them were: “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it happens you will believe that I am He.”  Despite this, His taking Kathleen from me makes no sense whatever to me. He replies, “One day it will.”

The other outstanding woman is my daughter: Kerryanne. A qualified accountant like myself, Kerryanne took on the part-time roles of Trust Secretary and Treasurer in 1999 when she & her husband moved to Whakatane after she graduated from Waikato University and worked for 12 months at
Deloittes in Hamilton. Today, having piloted the ship through innumerable critical periods, such as the necessary amalgamation with Liberty Trust Auckland and lending to its members when their contribution rates had only been half of ours, the Charities Commission's investigation and our successful appeal to the High Court for re-registration as a charity, Kerryanne still insists on being paid for 30 hours/ week despite her huge work load as our CEO, sometimes working 7 days/ week and evenings.

In the following few weeks I would like to relate more of our history, and the events that have led to our lending over $50 million interest-free without borrowing or receiving grants, when we literally began with “nothing”, and some of the subsequent Liberty Trust “chapters” to come that were spoken to us in that prophecy in May 2017.

Greetings to all,
Kelvin Deal
Chairman

30 Sept 2018


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Week 7: 
Twelve months of Research

We had three questions to research before Liberty Trust could be established:
- Does it work?
- Is it from God?
- How should it be set up legally?

By now I was convinced that mathematically it was sound so I was happy for others to do their own research and proofs.  Instead, I wanted to tackle the second question: “Was it from God”.  That really concerned me.  As a Christian accountant, I was certain there was nothing in the Bible's financial principles written thousands of years ago that remotely related to today’s financial conditions.  

I was also concerned about the apparent intercessor’s “word” that she was to tell her pastor, who then said I was to head up the research team.  If God wanted me to, why couldn’t He tell me directly?  Kathleen and I had previously been seriously harmed by a series of false prophecies we had received in a previous church in another town.  Since then we had received several prophecies when we attended Faith Bible College that had turned out to be both accurate and restorative, but I was still extremely wary of all prophecies, particularly of the kind that came sideways from someone to someone else, and thence to me.  On the other hand, God had definitely told me in 1969 when we were youth volunteers with the New Hebrides Presbyterian Church, to refuse the church’s offer of appointment to become their Financial Controller.  He said He had work for me in “Christian finance” back in New Zealand.  At the time I couldn’t see how those two words could even be associated!  

And so I began to seek and to study the Bible's financial principles. Immediately, to my surprise, I recognised that the principles of what Bruce later chose to be named “Liberty Trust”, were a carbon-copy of the principles were in the Bible.  The parallel was uncanny.   Here I was viewing a gigantic area of the Bible's principles that were being ignored due to ignorance.  The more I studied, the more I understood that the primary purpose of Liberty Trust would be to teach these principles and prove them in practice by becoming a living example of their practicality – to the churches and to the world.

One of these principles was “Community”.  The “word” the intercessor had received was that people were to “pool their resources” and pay-off each other’s mortgages.  Within weeks each of us independently realised that here before us lay the solution to the age-old question: “Why is The Church limited in fulfilling the Great Commission by, of all things, a shortage of finance, when “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills?”  (Ps. 50 v 10).  He was soon to teach us much more.

The third research question took the longest to answer - what was the appropriate legal structure?  The problem was, and still is, that NZ’s law was never designed for such a communal fund where members of a community pool their resources and assist one another.  Finally, we received approval from the Inland Revenue as a charitable trust and we were ready to begin.  Bruce launched Liberty Trust from the pulpit of every church in the Eastern Bay of Plenty that he could find.  Life for us was a bedlam of follow-up meetings and phone calls.

Liberty Trust commenced on 1 July 1989 and 122 brave pioneer members signed up before we closed our doors to new members on the 31st of the same month.  Sixty percent were repaying a bank mortgage and the remaining forty percent didn’t yet have a house.   We started with zero in the bank but an immediate income of $2,440 per week, being $20/ week from each of the 122 contributors into a Community Trust Bank account.  

As we didn't have a precedent to follow we were anxious to ensure that everything worked exactly as planned before we accepted more new members.  We constructed a new detailed model based on the mortgage details of the 122.  We again used pen and paper for the model as the only existing spread-sheet product (Lotus), couldn’t handle the complexity.  Later two people coded a dedicated computer program for Liberty Trust. We also have an Excel model you can download from www.libertytrust.org.nz/model.xls

Our 1989 model showed that, as expected, each of the 122 should be offered a loan within twelve years.  Nevertheless, $10,000/ month meant a slow start to refinancing mortgages and buying homes even in those days.  It seemed there were more critics outside than members inside.  Sometimes the critics were our close friends.  That hurt. 

Liberty Trust operated with the same group of contributors for more than two years while we checked to see if there were any changes which should be made before we opened our doors again.  We were acutely aware we carried a huge responsibility for the faith, and the money, of these first 122 pioneers.  We had claimed Liberty Trust was biblical and would provide blessing.  We had completed a huge amount of research in the twelve months before commencement, but just the same, was there anything we had missed, which couldn't be predicted, such as people problems?  

Finally after two years we compared our actual results of the 122 with the model we had created two years previously.  We were thrilled to find that the total in dollars and number of mortgages given, and our monthly cashflow at that time, were almost identical to what the model predicted!  Nothing had arisen in practice to refute the theory.  So on 1st of March 1992 we triumphally opened our doors to new members, without needing to make any changes whatever.  Liberty Trust had been proven in practice and we were ready to grow.

Kelvin Deal
Chairman

9 October 2018

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Week 8: Who should get the first loans?

Liberty Trust opened its doors on 1 July 1989 and 122 people started together and begun pooling their resources by contributing $20 per week into a central fund.  What next?  How should we decide which of the 122 would receive the first turn using the interest-free funds?  Most of the contributors had a bank mortgage and were paying a large amount of interest.  Fortunately, we had already received instruction about this.

Back in 1987 the intercessor had received the instructions the people should “Pool resources, cast lots and pay off each others’ mortgages”. 

This was controversial - people objected to 'casting lots'. Hadn’t the disciples used the method to choose a replacement for Judas who had killed himself?  And was the person chosen the wrong choice as they were never mentioned again? We pointed out to critics that sailors had “cast lots” to correctly identify that Jonah was the person responsible for the terrible storm.  

One local church refused to allow us to promote Liberty Trust in their church saying it was “gambling”. We  remembered Proverbs 16 v 33 which says “The lot is cast into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord”.

Actually, with 122 members all starting virtually together, we didn’t have much choice.  We were glad to have this divine guidance.  We had to choose someone! 

For Liberty Trust to work well funds needed to be lent without delay so they could be repaid and lent again and again, multiplying what had been received.  We knew this would result in some receiving their loan almost immediately, but some would wait 11 or 12 years. How could we decide who would receive the first funds and who would have to wait?

So we wrote the numbers of each of our 122 members on tokens to be drawn from a bowl by a local Christian policeman. As everyone was contributing the same $20/ week regardless of the amount of loan they sought we divided everyone into two groups.  We had a small group of those who had applied for a "small" (up to $20,000) mortgage and the majority were "large" (up to $70,000) mortgages.  We had resolved to lend three small mortgages first followed by one large mortgage in order to start our lending without delay.  And so we placed all the tokens for small mortgages in a bowl, and invited a local Christian policeman to draw out the first recipient at the end of our next trustees meeting. Amid much prayer and excitement we found it went to a lady at Ohope Beach. Excitedly we rang her immediately from the meeting.

Our Ohope lady had applied for a "small" mortgage.  But since completing her Liberty Trust application form she had decided to apply to her bank for an increase in her mortgage. She had been selected as our first “small” mortgage but now she didn't want a small mortgage anymore! What should we do?  The larger mortgage she now wanted would take her total to considerably more than $20,000 and would slow the trust down. And besides, had we known that she wanted a larger mortgage she wouldn't have been included in the small mortgage ballot! Weeks of discussions dragged on. 

Finally, after three months of negotiations and against the advice of her own solicitor, our first ballot-recipient decided against taking the interest-free mortgage we had offered! She admitted "I know I am being a silly lady and not following advice but I really want the big bank mortgage."  We were shocked! After all the criticism and nastiness we had endured from inside the church and out we thought giving our first loan would be great joy.  But now our very first ballot winner had rejected our offer!  We felt like we were being knocked from all sides!

We suggested that if she really didn't want the interest-free loan she could give it to family or friends.  So she decided to give her interest-free offer to a friend, who was actually a Liberty Trust member, a local church leader who was well known to us.  Problem was, this friend needed a “large” not a "small" mortgage. Oh no!  We groaned. We could see more difficulties coming. 

Reluctantly we put the matter aside for the time being and turned to the remainder of our business that night. In the three months since this first draw we had drawn two other "small" ballots.  One had been advanced and the other was soon to be advanced.  We were ready to take our fourth draw.  For the first time, it would be a draw from the “large” mortgages group. Still with heavy hearts over our "failed" first draw, we assembled the tokens and our policeman drew out the next loan. And would you believe it, out of the over 100 “large” mortgage members in the draw, it went to the very member who the first ballot-recipient had just nominated! 

We laughed, and laughed, and laughed in sheer joy and relief. In the middle of our supposed muddle God had intervened and granted the Ohope lady’s wish to give to her friend, who would have received the ballot from us anyway! God was reminding us that we could always trust Him.  What we saw as a huge problem was all part of God's plan.  

God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.  Isaiah 43:16.

Regards Kelvin

16 October 2018

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Week 9: God Speaks

Sometimes people ask me “Whose brilliant idea was Liberty Trust?”

I usually reply, “God’s”, knowing that they laugh, thinking I’m just being ‘corny’.  But the fact is, none of us thought of the Liberty Trust ministry.  Normally, people in a “new” Christian ministry are excited because they created it.  None of us had that experience.  Instead we were given instructions and we were curious to check it out.  As the opposition grew from skeptics however we began to ask each other: “Why had God wanted to start this?  Was it only to save people money on their mortgage?"  

We knew we were pioneering the modern-day application of ancient financial Bible principles, but judging by the negativity we faced, sometimes it just didn’t seem worth it.  

Then, about a year after we began, a new issue arose.  Half the trustees said we should be tithing our income and wondered where we should tithe to.  The other half said we couldn’t afford it.  The first half then replied that we couldn’t afford not to!  It became an issue that we could not resolve.  By policy we never make a decision if it is not unanimous - as it’s a sure sign that we haven’t yet found God’s mind on it.  And so I called for a special prayer meeting.  

At such meetings we all pray silently, and then contribute any words or verses we believe we are hearing, and someone records them.  Always we find that the words form a consistent answer to the question we are asking.  At all prayer meetings in the past we had God’s answer within 20 minutes of starting, even though the topic we were praying about had previously seemed unsolvable.  This time, however, no-one had much faith that we would ever find an answer.

Suddenly someone said, “You are a part of My Storehouse.”  The words were spoken by a trustee who had an acknowledged gift of prophecy.  I stopped the prayer at that point, saying: “Hold on.  What’s that got to do with “tithing?”  

Someone said, “Isn’t tithing taught in Malachi 3 where it says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse.”

Okay, I replied, “What is “the storehouse" that Malachi refers to?”  

”That’s the local church where we are fed”, the speaker replied.  “I’ve heard that taught in my church.”

”Okay”, I theorised, “if we’re a part of God’s storehouse, and the storehouse is the local church, does it have to pay tithes?”

”No, everything they receive is used for God, not just 10%”, they replied.  

“So if we are part of God's storehouse does that mean the same for us?” I asked.

“That's right!”, was the stunned answer from all.

Gleefully we hugged each other and went home, amazed at God’s wisdom.

In the following weeks however I began to feel uncomfortable in my stomach as I pondered over this.  This answer brought so many more questions!  “You stopped the prayer meeting too soon when I had more to teach you”, was God's reply.  

Best wishes,

Kelvin Deal
Liberty Trust Chairman  

24 October 2018

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Week 10: The Principle of the Storehouse

One day, I yelled out loud to God in frustration as I drove home from a job in Kawerau: 

“God, why did you say we were a part of “Your storehouse”?  Why didn’t you just say we were a part of “Your church?”  That would have been so much clearer.

”Because the church is not “My Storehouse” came back a man’s voice, loud above the noise of the engine.  

Instead of feeling awe at hearing God's voice, inexplicably I just felt anger.  I realised I had just heard audibly from God, but I was angry that He was criticising The Church – my church.  I loved His church.

“How can you say that?” I demanded.

“Consider”, He calmly replied, “What does it store?”

“Well nothing”, I replied meekly.  Then God flooded my mind with pictures of people we had visited when we first began.  They were Social Welfare beneficiaries who had applied to join Liberty Trust.  We had had many offers to sponsor when we began, and needed to see if these people needed sponsorship.  At each home we summarised their monthly expenditure and then their income.  I was shocked at what I found.  In every case their expenditure exceeded their income by around $100/ week. “Something’s wrong here,” I would say.

”No it's not,” they would reply.  “We know these figures off by heart.  Somehow we get by.” 

These people were tithing, although their benefit didn’t allow for that.  They were all paying off hire purchases.  “You shouldn’t be doing that,” I stupidly scolded.  

“Yes we should,” they all replied.  “That’s our investment.  When its paid off we buy something else and start another hire purchase."

“And what happens when something important breaks down while you are still paying off the old hire purchase?” I asked.  “Then we are in big trouble,” they replied.  

As I left their homes I was shocked and silently crying at what I had just witnessed.  They owned no possessions worth insuring.  Sometimes they had no phone.  One widow with three children had no car.  The family walked everywhere.  They had never had a holiday!  These were people in my church.  They didn’t invite you to their homes because they were embarrassed.  Plainly something was seriously wrong, and I didn’t know how to fix it.  

Trouble was the churches did not have the funds to adequately help these people.  Not only were most churches full of people in debt, but many churches were also in debt themselves!  They were either paying rent as they had borrowed their building from a landlord, or they were paying a mortgage on money borrowed at high interest from a bank.

I cried out for more explanation, but there was no answer.  Somehow I knew that God had just revealed a big reason He had called us to start Liberty Trust.  But I still had no idea what it was.  Excitedly I rushed to my Bible when I reached home.  What was really “the storehouse?”  And what did it have to do with Liberty Trust?

I spent the next three years studying the Bible's teaching on giving and storehouses.  The command to store the tithe which Malachi referred to was in Deuteronomy 14, verses 22 - 28:

Be sure to set aside (store) a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.  Eat the tithe ... in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. ... Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.  And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.

At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Here is the commandment Malachi was referring to - to bring tithes to be stored.  The tithe was firstly stored to provide sufficient food & drink for everyone (including Levites) to rejoice on the feast days.  Plus every third year that year's tithe was stored in town storehouses to specifically provide for the Levites, strangers, widows & orphans - ie those who didn't have the means to support themselves.  

This was the start of our learning about the Principle of the Storehouse - which we discovered is one of the Bible’s key financial principles.  God uses storehouses and recommends storehouses dozens of times in the Scriptures (Noah's ark, Josephs grain stores, Pr 6:8, Pr 13:33, Pr 21:20, Abigail's provisions, the Samaritan's purse, the virgins oil etc).  In Deuteronomy 28 God promises that in response to our obedience He will use His storehouse to bless our storehouses!  

The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand.  ... The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.  The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. 

If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 

As part of God's storehouse Liberty Trust is working to set God's people free from borrowing so they can be living in surplus not debt, be the head and not the tail, free to rejoice and feast in God's presence and to store and generously lend and provide for the poor, giving and going and serving God with true liberty.

For more teaching on the storehouse please see www.libertytrust/teaching/storehouse and www.libertytrust.nz/teaching/living-in-surplus.  

Best wishes,

Kelvin Deal
Liberty Trust Chairman  

31 October 2018

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Chairman’s Commentaries No. 11 

Obedience to a Prior ‘Word’, or Using the Skills God has Given? 

Part of the original instruction given to the intercessor in 1987 was that: “People should pool their resources and cast lots and pay-off each other’s mortgages.” What did ‘casting lots’ mean though? The sailors also 'cast lots' to determine that Jonah was the cause of the storm.  Jesus’ disciples ‘cast lots’ to decide who should be the twelfth apostle.

So we wrote each member’s number on a plastic milk bottle top, placed them all in a flour bag, and arranged for a local policeman to draw out the number of the member who would receive the next mortgage (amidst prayer and much excitement). Was that gambling? The leaders of one local church refused to become a ‘participating church’ or allow us to speak in their church, because balloting (casting lots) in their view, was ‘gambling’. Later, a pastor of another church told us: “I like the idea of the ballot: it gives God the chance to choose.” Despite this encouragement, we weren’t entirely comfortable with balloting, until one of our trustees found Proverbs 16 v 33: “The lot is poured into the lap but its every decision is from the Lord.” 

We trusted that God was determining the results of our ballots.  It was definitely the most impartial way to determine the order of lending to our 122 pioneers who all joined at the same time in 1989. But the big question for us was how could we include new members in the ballot with the pioneers? Wouldn't that be unfair to the pioneers? -  They might never receive a loan!  We hoped God would instruct us to move to a different system by then, but what was it? 

In 1992 we opened Liberty Trust up to receive new members.  We called the 122 pioneers: ‘Group One’, and later members: ‘Group Two’. In an attempt to give some degree of fairness between each while giving some opportunity to Group Twos to receive a ballot, we decided that the latter should wait two years after joining Liberty Trust before they could participate in the ballot together. In 1994 our first Group Two member was included in the ballot with the pioneers. And who do you think won? – the Group Two member! 

Oh no!  The Group Two member had received their ballot after only contributing for two years, while the pioneers who had all been faithfully contributing and waiting for five years would have to keep waiting! 

Were the pioneers subsidisng the Group Two loan?  We added up the total contributions that all Group Two members had provided to see.  We found that the total of contributions received from all in Group Two was exactly the same amount as the newly-drawn Group Two mortgage! It was uncanny! In other words, the first Group Two member wasn’t subsidised by Group One after all. Both groups were now ‘standing on their own feet’ independently. 

I called another prayer meeting to ask God what we should be doing for Group Two members. The series of replies we received all spoke of “separation”, which was the very opposite to the theme God had consistently spoken to us previously: of “all sharing together”. We concluded that we were to keep a separate account of the amount that each group had contributed, deduct the amount already loaned to those in each group, and conduct a separate ballot for each group. It seemed most ‘un-God-like’ however, but it was fair. We continued to require Group Two’s to wait their two years after joining before including them in Group Two’s ballots, balloting each group using its own funds.

But we still weren’t happy that some of our Group Two members could receive their mortgage in as early as two years but others would likely wait 12 years - or more. We knew for every person who received the loan 'early' someone else would have to wait longer.  The uncertainty of not knowing how long they'd have to wait for a loan was hard for our members and holding many back from buying homes and stepping into their futures.  It was also a big obstacle preventing many new people from joining. 

We were certain that the sensible way and the fairest way forward was to give all loans in order they joined - first all our pioneers by ballot, and then the newer members in the order they joined Liberty Trust. Our only problem was that God had originally said in 1987 we were to ‘draw lots’. We could see that that was the right way at the time, when the 122 had joined together in one month. We guessed that God had fully-known that Liberty Trust was going to start with a bang with the 122 when ‘He’ spoke of ‘drawing lots’. But things were different now and for subsequent members the 'casting lot's method no longer made much sense.

By now Liberty Trust Auckland had been commenced by Bruce when he moved to Auckland. Their trustees were adamant that they would never disobey the instruction given by God to ‘draw lots’. Instead, they had created a complex series of groups for ballots, each of which depended upon the dates that members had commenced and the size of the mortgage each had applied for. Their trustees were trying to marry ‘fairness’ together with God’s 1987 ‘word’ to the intercessor - in theory taking ballots but in practice manipulating the groups to ensure that loans were still given roughly in order of joining. The complexity of their balloting was increasing the older they grew and it was taking an increasingly large amount of administration to maintain. 

Meanwhile, ten years after we commenced, we still didn’t have a direct answer.  At each of our monthly meetings we implored God to allow us to simply give loans in order of joining, telling Him it was the only method that made sense. He remained silent. 

People would sometimes tell us how great it was that God had assembled such a gifted, experienced and wise Christian group as trustees of Liberty Trust, fully equipped to carry out God's purposes.  But we certainly didn't feel very wise and equipped as pondered the issue of ‘balloting’! We all felt strongly that it made absolute sense to drop the balloting system now and give out loan offers in the order that people had joined. If God had really gifted and equipped us with wisdom to run Liberty Trust then maybe God was wanting us to make this decision ourselves?! 

Finally in mid-2000, we made the brave decision to change from the ‘casting lots’ instruction given back in 1987, and instead offer loans in order of joining. It was a courageous decision.  We weren't really abandoning the principle, balloting had worked well for the large number who all joining at the same time initially and in theory if that situation happened again we could use a ballot to choose between another large group joining together.  But our members now ranged from the very new and those who had been contributing for 11 years and we knew the new situation required a new system.  

Immediately after making this decision we all felt as if a huge burden had lifted, as if God was saying: “Well done. At last you’re being sufficiently mature that I don’t have to keep telling you what to do!” 

I believe now it was one of the scariest yet courageous decisions we trustees have ever had to make, and one of the most memorable. In hindsight it is difficult to understand just how momentous and difficult it was.  I realise there must be many church leaderships and ministries that feel ‘bound’ by a ‘word’ that God gave to them years or even generations ago. They are fearful that they might be disobeying God if they abandon that ‘word’, yet they know that the circumstances that existed when God gave it to them no longer apply. 

Our first action was to ballot all the remaining pioneer members to receive their loan over the next twelve months. The next was to assemble all Group Two members who were waiting into the order of they joined Liberty Trust. There was no longer any need to hold ballots for these, or to retain the ‘two years until eligibility’ rule either. 

Our third action was to change from the fixed contribution rate of $20 per week for loans up to $70,000 and replace this with lending five times the total new members had contributed.  We knew the likely waiting time would now be ten years - rather than any time between 2 years (rarely) and 11-12 years.  And so we encouraged people to contribute 2% their loan application each year for 10 years to total 20% of the loan.  This way people could plan for the future with more certainty and contribute less for smaller loans and more for larger loans.  Having a maximum loan of $70,000 was no longer realistic, nor was it required.

The new millennium year had commenced under the cloud of indecision, ballots, the fixed contribution rate for all members, and a limit of $70,000 in the size of loans. It finished with the complete re-writing of Liberty Trust’s operations - a ‘break-through’ into the freedoms we had long envisioned. 

Today our waiting queue has decreased from 10 years to around 8.5 years and in April 2018, after much prayer and calculations, we were pleased to increase our lending ration to offer loans of six times the amount that people chose to contribute.  It is wonderful to not be bound by the rules of the past but have the freedom & responsibility to respond to new situations as they arise so we can assist God's people in greater measure.  

Kelvin Deal 
Chairman

8 November 2018