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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 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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2: 
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 other's 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

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Chairman’s Chronicles No. 12

The Huge Gulf Between Bible Principles and Commandments.


I’m afraid it’s a considerable time since I last wrote what had been intended to be a weekly instalment on Facebook of some of the story of Liberty Trust over the last 30 Years.  I thought I could continue after the death of my wife Kathleen, last 31 August, but I completely underestimated the effect grief would have upon me. Only those who have suffered the death of a loving partner can truly understand.

I would like to digress from recounting Liberty Trust’s experiences, and discuss something that is hugely important in Liberty Trust, yet is something I have never previously discussed:

What is a Bible principle? And what is a Bible commandment?
Liberty Trust regularly claims that it is teaching and putting into practice the Bible’s financial principles, yet I wonder ho
w many could define what is a Bible principle.  In 1979 a Bible teacher, Bill Gothard, toured New Zealand.  In Whakatane the churches jointly hired the largest hall in town over 3 nights for a direct telecast of his addresses from Dunedin.  Among his teachings he taught on the difference between commandments and principles, and how to identify a Bible principle; i.e. how to tell the difference between a Bible principle and a Bible commandment. 

Paul taught: “For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Cor. 3 v 8).  This verse summarises to me the difference between God’s “commandments”, and His “principles”.  Paul was comparing the result of simply obeying a commandment in God’s “logos” (written word), and meditating on a principle from His word which we personally discern as a “rhema”

Jeremiah explains what would later become known as a “rhema” in his prophesy of the coming New Covenant, when he says in Ch.31 v 33 “I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts.”  This describes the God-given gift to every believer to “discern” the meaning of a Bible principle by “rhema”.  Discerning, however, takes personal effort.  Jeremiah continues: “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying:Know the Lord”, because they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest”.  In practice this isn’t always so, unfortunately, which is why I am writing this article.  Meditating on God’s principles is the pathway to knowing God Himself.  

Perhaps the clearest indication in the Bible of the difference in result between principles and commandments is found in Psalm 103 v 7 where it says: “He made known his ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel.”  I believe the writer is referring to Ex. 33 v 11, where it reports: “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend.”  The remainder of the Israelites would silently watch Moses from the entrance of their tents as he entered the tent of meeting and spoke with God.  They saw what God did over those 40 years,  but didn’t learn God’s ways.  It seems tragic to me that they were simply following God’s commandments, without understanding God himself.  How many Christians still do the same today?  This is the tragic result of merely obeying commandments.

Bill explained that God built His entire creation upon His principles.    

You will all have noticed that every false religion world-wide, including the one that Jesus encountered, is built upon written laws and commandments.  People are attracted to them.  They participate in the false religions because it’s much easier to understand and carry out a finite instruction.  They are either ”black or white”.  Principles, however, require discernment and understanding.

In practice I have found that those commandments that continue throughout both the Old and New Testaments, and beyond, are really principles.  They are eternal.  For example, there is the apparent commandment to love one’s neighbor: Lev. 19 v 18, and in the New Testament John 15 v 12, which added to it.  In fact they are both principles.  Another instance of principles in the Old Testament are the Ten Commandments.  There are many other (eternal) principles within the Old Testament. One is the commandment not to charge interest (usury) to one’s (Israelite) brother in Deut. 23 v 19-20.  This was practiced throughout both the Old and New Testaments and even through into the Middle Ages.   It’s practice ceased only when Christians in their greed to charge interest, created the banks. 

I find that commands in the New Testament are really principles. Personal obedience/non-obedience to a commandment in the Old Testament was either judged a success or failure, but adherence to a principle today is judged by God in grace.  Take “divorce” as an example.  In Mark 19 v 6-9 Jesus upheld the Genesis commandment which forbad divorce.  But he quoted it as a principle, not as an absolute commandment.  Paul had been married before he met Christ.  We know that because Paul had been a pharisee.  Every pharisee had to be married.  Paul doesn’t appear to worry that he had apparently transgressed the principle of divorce.  He knew that God would judge him by His grace.

Bill told us that as he reads the Bible he searches for principles.  They are the everlasting gems that take us directly to the heart of God.  Since hearing Bill speak I do the same.  Try it.  It’s probably the most valuable lesson I can teach you.

Kelvin

Chairperson, Liberty Trust
27 March 2019

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Chairman’s Chronicles No. 13

God will bring the right people at the right time

At Parachute Festival in 2005 I explained Liberty Trust to a man who became quite excited.  “You should write a book which teaches the Biblical financial principles to New Zealand’s children,” he said.  “What’s more”, he continued, “you should publicise it by launching it at a banquet at parliament for the parliamentarians.  New Zealand so badly needs such a book for its children.”  He continued: “Liberty Trust is a practical illustration of the very Biblical principles that I am trying to teach my children.  I’ve taught them the theory.  Now I can use Liberty Trust to illustrate to them the principles in practice”. 

Dynes kept appearing at our stall throughout the three-day weekend.  One by one he met every member of our team and told them the same.  He seemed to arrive just when each was on duty.  I purposely kept away from him - I was sure he was a nut-case!  But by the end of the weekend all our team were saying “We need to write a children’s teaching book on the Bible’s financial principles!”

Once back at home we phoned the bookshops, both Christian and secular.  We soon found there was no book written for New Zealand children about money anywhere.  I asked various Christian children’s ministries if they would be writing such a book.  One said it was on their ‘to do’ list, but it would be some years away.  That left the job of writing the books back with us.  But who could write such a book which would appeal to a child’s level?  We decided to make finding a suitable author a subject for prayer. 

A few days later Jenny Mahoney called on me at my office.  She was promoting retirement saving superannuation schemes for Spicers.  As we talked, I said, “I agree, there is a huge need for retirement saving schemes, but it’s today’s children who will have the greatest financial problem in retirement.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” she said.

“Great”, I replied.  “Liberty Trust is praying for the right person to write a teaching book for children.  Would you like to join our prayer team?”

Standing up straight she looked directly into my face and said, “You’ve just got your prayer answered.  I’ll write the book!” 

“You couldn’t write the book,” I replied.  “You couldn’t get down to a child’s level.”

“Yes I could,” she replied.  “I was a new entrance teacher for 14 years!  And now I have teenagers!”

I was humbled.  Jenny was well-qualified in finance, she held a Masters degree in Business Studies with honours, and was a District Councillor as well as being a certified financial planner, but I didn’t know she’d also been a school teacher!  

Jenny told me that for some time God had been telling her to write a children’s book on financial principles but she didn’t know when she would find the time. 


Shortly afterwards Jenny was knocked off her bike when leading a District Council bike safety ride around Whakatane, and had to spend some weeks in bed with legs in plaster!  She used this time to write two books, ‘The Money Book for Kiwi Kids’ and ‘The Money Book for Kiwi Teens’ which we published in 2006.  Both are full of Bible verses encouraging greater faith in God’s promises and have been very popular.  We sell them for $10 each + pp on our website
www.libertytrust.org.nz/books

www.libertytrust.org.nz/books
Dynes joined Liberty Trust on behalf of each of his children and has continued to be an enthusiastic and valuable supporter of Liberty Trust. We have been encouraged by his Godly wisdom and he and his wife have become valued friends.  Dynes held an information evening about Liberty Trust in Wellington and was the main speaker at Liberty Trust’s 25th birthday dinner in Whakatane.  His story led us to prepare an information sheet encouraging parents and grandparents to sponsor their children in Liberty Trust until they commence earning.  We called it ‘John’s Story’.  In 2016 we printed a glossy brochure ‘Calling all Parents and Grandparents’ which we sent to churches all around NZ.  You will read about that in next week’s Chronicles. 

God sent these people, first Dynes McConnell then Jenny Mahoney because God desires New Zealand children to be wise in financial principles.  God worked in remarkable ways to draw the right people together at the right time to see it happen. 

Kelvin Deal

Chairperson

1 April 2019

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Chairman’s Chronicles No. 14

God will Burst the dam

When we began in 1989 our big challenge was: “How could we spread the good news when we were so small, unknown, and largely untrusted?” 

During the first 20 years of Liberty Trust I regularly phoned church pastors throughout the Bay of Plenty and beyond, attempting to arrange opportunities to present Liberty Trust to their congregation, usually at the conclusion of their services over a cup of tea. However, very few pastors would open their doors to allow us to speak in their churches.  With bank mortgage interest rates in double digits we sounded just too good to be true.  Even when I did manage to arrange to speak to their church after their service, very few would stay to listen. Often the pastor didn’t even turn up!  And of those who stayed, almost all would be older people, those who already owned or had paid off their homes. Rarely could we talk to younger people – the very ones we wanted to reach.

The work was hard and often disappointing.  In February 2009 I arranged with a pastor who I knew, for our team to visit his church some 1.5 hours from home.  I was certain that all was finalised but forgot to confirm the visit with him that week. Imagine our disappointment to find when we arrived at his church that the pastor had forgotten, and he and his entire leadership team were away at a weekend retreat!  Very few of the congregation were there and no-one knew who we were.  We were dumbfounded!

During the worship time I received a vivid vision of an old kauri dam that was bursting with water.  It was ready to be dynamited, releasing its logs to flow down to the sea.  God then clearly told me, “When it is ready, I will burst the dam.” 

I knew immediately what He meant: “Hands off Kelvin.”   And so I declared, “Okay Lord, from now on you do it yourself.  I’m never going to phone another church again!” 

That year, through no new effort on our part, we received double the usual contributions, and this has grown every year since! Paradoxically mortgage interest-rates plummeted that same year and have stayed low since. 

But we continue to have more people join, showing they are joining not just for their own benefit (to escape from high interest), but because they wish to follow Bible principles and help one another. Now these ones who joined in 2009 have all been offered interest-free mortgages and many now have their own homes and are well on their way to becoming debt-free.

So for the last ten years I have no longer looked for opportunities to speak in churches. All that sense of frustration and stress has gone.

In 2016 we published a new brochure “Calling all Parents & Grandparents” and began phoning churches to ask if they would display our literature in their church foyers.  We were astonished by the overwhelming response! We have now sent Liberty Trust brochures and brochure stands to about 95% of New Zealand’s churches. The remaining other 5% are mainly those who must lease a school classroom and don’t want more items that must be set up and packed down each time they meet. They need a Liberty Trust church building - don’t they! Now we are phoning churches offering to assist them with interest-free finance for their church buildings at a fraction of the cost of alternative finance.

We are now receiving a steadily increasing proportion of new memberships from church foyers all around NZ, half of which are from adults needing homes, and the other half from parents and grandparents sponsoring their children. And we keep mailing further brochures to churches as they run out!

Best of all though, we realise the fruit is God’s responsibility - our job is not to get in His way! We now have doors open into nearly all New Zealand’s churches, and the numbers are still climbing.  Overnight we have widespread acceptance into churches.  God has literally burst open the dam.

Best wishes, 

Kelvin, 

Liberty Trust Chairperson

8 April 2019

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Chairman’s Chronicles No. 15

Our Charities Commission Challenge

Liberty Trust was established in July 1989 and approved as a charity by the Inland Revenue Department shortly after. To be charitable you need to have one or more of the famous “four heads of charity” of Britain’s Charities Act of 1604 as your main purpose. These are:
• Relief of Poverty
• Advancement of Religion
• Advancement of Education
• Another charitable purpose

Liberty Trust, we believed, was fulfilling ‘advancing religion’ by teaching and demonstrating in practice the Bible’s financial principles. Our focus has always been to advance God’s Kingdom by promoting belief in the Bible, both with Christians and non-Christians, to show how applying the Bible financial principles brings liberty, and can release people as stewards to give in a greater way to God’s Kingdom.

In 2005 the NZ Government passed the Charities Act 2005 and required all NZ charities to register with the newly formed ‘Charities Commission’ which was established to teach and assist NZ charities. A friend of mine was on the original government-appointed committee charged with considering whether a Charities Commission was needed. He told us we had nothing to fear from it. The Charities Commission was there to help us. We duly completed the forms and submitted our trust deed for consideration, and in October 2007 we were approved as a charity under the new legislation without question.

But two years later, in mid-September 2009 we received a letter from the Charities Commission saying a complaint had been received from a member of the public, and we needed to answer a list of questions on a variety of topics. For example, they wanted details of our relationship with our lending company Ark Resources Ltd. They wanted to know whether lending was our major activity. They wanted to know about our current participants who were donating or waiting for a loan and whether all were followers of the Christian religion. They wanted to know details of all the religious services, public meetings, exhibits and lectures etc. that Liberty Trust had conducted since we commenced 20 years previously and their costs. They wanted to know about the merger between ourselves and Liberty Trust Auckland four years previously. We were required to submit all this information, and more, within a week of receiving their letter!

We were astonished but were able to answer all the questions with a succinct 6-page return letter with 7-pages of appendices within the required time. We were grateful that we had summarized all our promotional activities when registering our trademark in June 2007, so had a lot of information already at hand. We were satisfied that we answered all their questions honestly and fully, and that every answer clearly demonstrated how we were fulfilling our purpose of advancing God’s Kingdom in New Zealand. We trusted it would be the end of the matter.

But on 6 October 2009, a fortnight later, we received a notice from the Charities Commission, that they intended to remove us from the Charities Register! This letter was shocking to us. It also contained many errors, contradictions, and incorrect assumptions about how and why we operated.

For example, we have always promoted Liberty Trust as available to all people, Christian and non-Christian alike, and have included Bible verses and promoted God and His principles in all our publications and promotions as we seek to advance the faith of Christians and non-Christians alike. So when they asked the previous month whether all our participants were Christian we had replied that we don’t ask or require this information as we exist to serve all people with Bible teaching and principles, regardless of their beliefs (or lack of beliefs).

In their reply they seemed to disregard our answer and said that “as we provide interest-free loans only to people within the Christian community” we were not advancing religion! Then later in the same letter they said “as the biblical teachings on finance are available to all members of society … this fits under the head advancement of religion”.

Then they deemed that the activities of providing interest-free loans to people and the promotion of the teachings of Biblical financial principles were two separate activities and were not ancillary to (supportive of) each other! Obviously, they didn’t realise that providing beneficial interest-free lending is an important principle taught throughout the Bible! See #5 www.libertytrust.org.nz/teaching/7-principles

They gave us one month in which we could submit an objection to being removed from the Charities Register.
We couldn’t understand why we were being targeted in this way. We asked to see the original complaint so we could defend ourselves against it but were told this was confidential. I phoned the general manager of the Charities Commission to ask, ‘Why are we still being investigated?’ He wouldn’t discuss it but advised that they did not decide to investigate lightly. He also said that if they cancelled our registration as a charity, it would be pointless to appeal their decision. Several others had taken their decision to the High Court but the High Court had always upheld the decisions of the Commission.

[We later found the complaint was made by someone who had joined Liberty Trust Auckland before the organisation merged with ourselves in 2005. She had demanded her contribution be returned to her. Although contributions were legally non-refundable, we arranged for her to be fully reimbursed by someone else taking over her membership. After receiving this she had written to media and every government department she could think of saying that we were a scam. She then called us and told us she would withdraw her complaint if we gave into her further demands, which we refused. Later she took the chairman of Liberty Trust Auckland to the small claims tribunal and the case was dismissed.]

After we received the 6 October letter from the Charities Commission advising us of their intention to de-register us we appointed an Auckland legal firm that acted for many Christian charities to represent us. We sent the Charities Commission a concise 18-page letter detailing the fundamental aims and activities of Liberty Trust, showing how our biblical interest-free lending was pivotal (and ancillary) to the teaching and promoting and demonstrating core Bible financial principles which we had undertaken for the last 20 years to advance the Christian religion.

The Commission agreed to meet with us in January 2010 in Wellington – a privilege they rarely granted to charities under investigation. We met with our Auckland solicitor on-route. He told us on our flight down to Wellington that one problem was our trust deed. He said solicitors generally would interpret the major purpose in our trust deed as “Relief of Poverty”, not “Advancement of Religion”. We were dumbfounded. That had never been the main purpose of Liberty Trust. We had five objectives in our trust deed. Three were advancing religion and one was relief of poverty, and the other allowed the establishment of facilities to achieve these objectives.

Our trust deed had been prepared by our usual Tauranga legal executive who had represented us for all our 20 years in all our legal conveyancing. We had instructed him to write it in accordance with the advice we had received from my Auckland friend, Bill Patterson, who specialized in and taught trust law. He had been the best man at our wedding. Bill was certain that Liberty Trust’s main purpose, that of researching, teaching and demonstrating the Bible’s financial principles would come under “Advancement of Religion”. He had instructed us on how to write the trust deed in accordance with this purpose. Bill hadn’t written our trust deed himself but had provided verbal advice, as he semi-jokingly said at the time “You couldn’t afford me!”

We had trusted our objectives were clear enough but now maybe they weren’t? But surely the Commission would see how charitable our actions were and would assist us to rectify any ambiguity in our trust deed. Hadn’t they been established for that very task?

But shockingly our new solicitor, on the flight down to the Wellington meeting, went on to say that he believed the Charities Commission were correct - Liberty Trust wasn’t actually ‘advancing religion’ because we focused on money not ‘religion’. Neither were we ‘relieving poverty’ as we did not focus solely on the poor. Therefore, he did not believe we were actually “charitable”! We wondered why he had waited till now to tell us this!

As soon as we commenced our meeting with the Charities Commission investigators it became obvious that their team didn’t understand the purpose of Liberty Trust, nor how it worked. In fact, one of them said that he was certain that the trust was operating as an illegal and unsustainable pyramid scheme, but he didn’t understand the mathematics to prove how. They seemed to think we were pretending to be religious as a front, but our main intention was to personally benefit from Liberty Trust by transferring its money into our personal bank accounts. They said they hadn’t yet discovered how we did it!

We knew we were the real deal and we had nothing to hide. Our trustees and staff were pillars of their churches and community. Additionally, we knew our figures stacked up, we had 20-years of independent investigations, audits and testimonies to prove it. In fact, in July 2009, just two months before the Charities investigation commenced, we received a report from a public actuary investigating the mathematics of Liberty Trust. It concluded we were robust. When we pointed out to the investigators the actuary’s report (on our website), they admitted that had seen it but they hadn’t understood what it said due to the technical terminology he used.

[Note: An actuary is a clever mathematician who advises his clients the answers to complex mathematical questions. As an example of their work, life insurance companies hire them to calculate the risk of death and major sickness before they set their insurance premiums. In both reports he asserted that Liberty Trust could deliver what it promised. We were well aware of this from our own computer calculations.]

So we read out to them the actuary’s conclusion, and interpreted to the investigators in plain English what he said – that Liberty Trust was mathematically sustainable and that it did not rely on new members in order to operate. Even if Liberty Trust closed its doors to new members it could still provide loans within the advertised times.

Discussing our meeting on our trip home, we felt we had achieved a great deal by meeting the Charities Commission personnel personally, explaining to them how Liberty Trust worked and how it fulfilled its charitable purpose, and discovering and addressing their concern that Liberty Trust was a pyramid scheme when it was clearly extremely robust. We were confident this would be the end of the investigation.

But on 15 April 2010 we were shocked to receive a letter stating the Charities Commission had removed us from the Charities Register! Furthermore, they stated that they considered "teaching financial principles derived from the Bible are, at best, conducive to religion, as opposed to advancing religion"!

That left us with two alternatives: We could appeal their decision within 20-working days to the High Court, or we could do nothing, and simply continue our usual operations as a not-for-profit entity and save considerable legal costs.
As far as Liberty Trust was concerned, we didn’t need to be a charity – we could operate just fine without our charitable status. However, we were being urged by many Christian leaders and the heads of several Bible Colleges to appeal the decision on their behalf.

If ‘teaching the Bible’s principles’ was deemed not to be ‘advancement of religion’, then Bible Colleges wouldn’t be considered charitable by the Charities Commission either! Perhaps the government, by using the Charities Commission decision on Liberty Trust as its precedent, was intending to secularize Bible Colleges and other Christian charities in the same way in order to reduce the cost of donation rebates it was paying to their donors. Would the Charities Commission then go on and remove the charity designation from churches as well?
We decided to go back to our friend and legal expert, Bill Patterson, who had helped us set up Liberty Trust as a charity in the first place. Bill seemed to have the best grasp of the legal issues involved, so my wife and I visited him in Auckland.

“If you take the decision of the Charities Commission to the High Court and win,” Bill said. “You will do the legal services of lawyers throughout the Commonwealth a major good turn”.

He explained that ever since the Charities Act of 1604 was passed in Britain with the famous “four heads of charity” (above), no judge in the last 400 years in any of the countries which base its law on English law, had really defined what it meant by “Advancement of Religion”. They had been too fearful of both their government and religious leaders. The NZ Charities Commission was the first in the 400 years to declare that teaching the Bible’s principles was not advancement of religion.

Bill said “If you don’t appeal this decision to the High Court, the decision will stand as a legal precedent throughout the Commonwealth. But if you take it to the Court and win, the verdict will provide a legal precedent that will apply throughout the Commonwealth by clarifying what the term really means.”

We arranged to phone Bill at his home during our next monthly trustees meeting. We put a phone on “speaker” on the table so that we could all talk with him. During our conversation he advised that only a Queen’s Councilor (QC) may bring a case to the High Court, so Bill couldn’t represent us himself. Furthermore, as Bill would probably be overseas on holiday at that time, he would have to leave most of the case preparation to the QC we chose. This would add considerably to our cost.

This left us in some dilemma. Even if we won, the cost of the legal appeal would greatly exceed the value to Liberty Trust and its contributors. On the other hand the responsibility upon us for establishing a positive legal precedent for every Christian church and ministry across the Commonwealth was enormous.

That evening, after much prayer, we made the brave decision: We would lodge an appeal to the High Court. It was time to stand like Esther on behalf of Christians throughout the Commonwealth and trust God for the outcome.

Next Week: The Appeal.

Sincerely, Kelvin Deal, Chairperson
12 April 2019

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Chairman’s Chronicles No.16

Our High Court Challenge

Our first task for our appeal was to appoint a Queens Counsellor (QC) to present at the High Court our challenge to the Charites Commission’s decision. (Only a QC is acceptable at the High Court.) After enquiring from other Christian charitable trusts we were recommended the name of Ian Millard of Christchurch as a suitable QC. Long ago we had learned as a result of costly experience that it is essential to work only with professionals who understand the Bible’s principles, and therefore understand Liberty Trust. Ian had previously represented Christian trusts at the High Court where he had arranged amendments to trust deeds that were acceptable to both parties. However, there was no such arrangement offered by the Charities Commission in Liberty Trust’s case.

Ian Millard advised us that if we were going to succeed in persuading a judge that our principal purpose came within “Advancement of Religion,” it was essential that we supply the judge with affidavits from theological experts, to affirm that Liberty Trust was genuinely teaching & demonstrating the Bible’s financial principles. However, we needed permission from the Charities Commission, or the High Court judge before we could present any new evidence to the Court that we hadn’t presented earlier.

Why hadn’t we previously submitted expert evidence like this to the Charites Commission in our defense? – We had strongly wanted to, but our previous solicitor had advised us to only answer the questions the Commission asked, and not add anything further. They hadn’t asked any questions on this topic and surprised us by introducing it in their April 2010 decision.

And so we wrote to the principals of NZ’s Bible Colleges, asking them to read our teachings on the Bible’s financial principles on our website, and if they agreed that our teachings reflected the Bible’s teachings, to explain why, and complete and sign an affidavit which Ian had prepared. I doubt that many of the theologians had previously heard of Liberty Trust, but we were overwhelmed to receive about a dozen amazing affidavits! Unfortunately, we could not present so many and so Ian chose three to present – which were from Dr Laurie Guy, Dr Frank Scrimgeour, Dr Viv Grigg. We submitted these along with affidavits from Ps Bruce McDonald as founder and one from myself as chairman, on 8 Sept 2010.

Our QC Ian Millard asked the judge for permission to present this extra evidence on the grounds that the Charites Commission had presented new and supporting evidence when cancelling our charities registration which we had had no opportunity to deny.

On 23 October 2010 the Government Law Office advised that they opposed our request to present the new evidence. The judge replied that she would consider our application after the hearing, which was set for 28 March 2011. We wouldn’t learn whether she had admitted the affidavits or not until the case was over.

Meanwhile we were receiving very encouraging support from around NZ and overseas. News was spreading of the importance of the Charites Commission’s decision and our appeal to the High Court. If the Charities Commission’s decision became enshrined in law, what would it mean for the wider body of Christendom? All were praying for us. Several advised that they felt they were engaging in spiritual warfare and gave us verses they had received. We agreed with them. – We were.

On such occasions it is essential that those who are praying, identify who is the true enemy they are fighting against. Satan loves it when we waste our time and energy incorrectly fighting in prayer against a human foe. As an example, in Matthew 16 v 23 Jesus correctly identified that it was not Peter but Satan who was tempting Him to avoid the cross.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". Eph. 6 v 12.

A key issue in the case we were facing was the Charites Commission’s assertion that "teaching financial principles derived from the Bible are, at best, conducive to religion, as opposed to advancing religion."

We submitted that our actions, including teaching Bible financial principles and interest-free lending, advanced religion by showing that “the God of the Bible is real, that His Word is true and that if His Word is obeyed liberty and blessings come”.

On 10 March our lawyer, Ian Millard QC has presented his 48-page submission to the High Court and on 22 March the Charities Commission presented their 34-page submission to the High Court. The central thrust of the Commission’s submissions was that Liberty Trust was not a religious organisation. Neither did they accept that our activities provide public benefit. Plus, they continued to oppose the admission of our new evidence - our affidavits from theological experts. The hearing took place on 28 & 29 March 2011 and after this the Judge retired to consider her opinion.

On 2 June 2011, the 45-page High Court judgement was delivered. Firstly, Judge Mallon accepted our submission that we were denied natural justice when the Charities Commission had introduced new evidence when de-registering us and she accepted our affidavits. Judge Mallon summarized the submissions of both parties, and reviewed legislation and case law and stated “I do not agree with any of the grounds on which the Charities Commission decided that teaching biblical financial principles did not advance religion”.

Furthermore, the judge declared in her judgement, Liberty Trust’s work of lending interest-free demonstrated in a practical way the biblical financial principles in the Bible that we were teaching. The two activities were in fact one. She quoted from the affidavit of Dr Laurence Guy, LLB (Hons), MA (in history), PhD (in history), MTh (in New Testament), Vice Principal of Carey Baptist College, when he said:

“To divorce teaching from practice is artificial and directly contrary to the fundamentals of Christianity and the teachings of Christ.”

She even quoted James 2 v 20 “Faith without works is dead”.

The High Court judge declared: 

"I consider that the Charities Commission erred in finding that Liberty Trust does not have, as its main purpose, a charitable purpose. Liberty Trust was set up to advance religion. It seeks to do that through teaching financial principles that Liberty Trust proclaims are the Bible's financial principles. It seeks to teach those principles through providing a scheme which allows its followers (and anyone else who wishes to join up) to pool financial resources for the benefit of themselves and others. It reinforces the religious beliefs on which the scheme is based through its literature promoting the scheme and its other publications and teaching activities. It is not merely inspired by or conducive to religion. Its purpose, through this scheme, is to spread what is viewed as being the Bible's message. In my view the purpose of Liberty Trust falls within the term "advancement of religion" as it has been interpreted in the cases.”

I could hardly believe my ears when Bill rang to tell me the result. Not only had we won the case, but the judgement was strong, definitive and far reaching. It would create a strong precedent throughout the Commonwealth and remove any doubt what ‘Advancement of Religion’ really meant, and considerably broaden the meaning that had hitherto been commonly (but erroneously) understood for the last 400 years. Furthermore, the judgement had ‘driven a stake into the ground’ that would deter further secularization by governments of Christian charities that had ‘Advancement of Religion’ as their main purpose, by preventing them from declaring that these entities were not charitable.

Suddenly, after two years of prayer, meetings, and spiritual warfare it was over. Liberty Trust was reinstated to the NZ Charities Register the very next day.

The Charities Commission did not appeal the judge’s decision and it no longer exists in NZ as it once did. It has been replaced by Charities Services, a department of Internal Affairs, with new leadership, and they provide educational support, advice and materials to the charitable sector.

The High Court judgement between Liberty Trust and the Charities Commission stands today as strong case law precedent throughout the Commonwealth and is studied by lawyers and University law students around the world, declaring what advancing religion really means. A copy is available at https://www.charities.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/liberty-trust.pdf.

Kelvin Deal
Liberty Trust Chairperson

23 April 2019