**This post was published on April 18, 2020, so some information may be outdated.
Dear Casas Friends,
I pray that this message finds you doing well. I missed getting to see so many of you this spring on your mission trips with us. Parts of our country are making plans to slowly and safely start reopening while others are still in the midst of fighting this pandemic. As I write this, I know that most of us have probably been touched personally by now by this virus. Just this week, one of our missionaries lost their grandfather to COVID-19. We have been praying daily for all of you and your churches. This has been hard on everyone, and I want to acknowledge from the very beginning that all of us are being affected by this. I know that you have been affected by this in your own way.
As someone who loves Casas por Cristo dearly, I recognize that each one of you loves Casas as well. Each of you has had your lives touched and your faith deepened by what you have experienced on these trips. Whether it was the local communities, the families, the pastors, your teams, or your missionary, God used at least one of these groups to radically change your life forever. Because I, too, have been changed through my Casas experience, I want to respect you by being totally transparent with how hard we have been hit by this virus.
I want to share some information with you that most of you probably aren’t aware of because it is not part of your specific trip. This virus could not have hit at a worse time for us. 75% of our operating revenue is accounted for in only three months of the year – March, June, and July. We lost most of our March builds and are now facing the probable loss of most of our June and July builds as well. We just weren’t prepared for that. Over the years, we have tried to be wise stewards of the funds that God has entrusted to us, and we have kept a three-month emergency fund in place to help us through any foreseeable problems. Well, no one saw the economic impact of this virus coming. With the loss of our spring break teams, slashing all budgets, and freezing all non-essential spending, we have gone through six weeks of those reserve funds. That means that we are looking at running out of cash by the end of May. That is just the real and hard truth of it all, and you deserve to know that.
We had the paperwork filled out and ready to submit within the first hour that the Payroll Protection Program was opened. Unfortunately, we bank with one of the larger banks, and they were simply overrun with other clients applying as well. The funds ran out before we could even be approved. These funds would have allowed us to make it into the late fall, by which time, we believed that our revenue stream would have come back online (teams could once again travel). We don’t have the time or funds to make it until they can stop fighting on Capitol Hill and approve more funds, nor do we have the promise of receiving these funds.
This week, the President of our Board is coming to El Paso to meet with me, Jason Laffan, and Justin Kirklin to formulate a survival plan to present to the rest of our board. We have to make severe cuts! Some of these cuts will include all benefits to our staff – insurance, base pay, auto allowance, and more. While our missionaries survive through the generous support of people like you, they also receive a great number of benefits from our general fund. The percentage of their income that will be lost ranges from 19-60% of their income. Those who have been here longer and have families have been able to build up more support. Those that are younger, single, and/or new to staff are still struggling to raise their support.
So, here are some real numbers. To operate at the absolute bare minimum while still keeping doors open in each of our locations, the current staffing and current benefits require $80k/month. To keep the barest of doors open, lose all benefits from the ministry, and lose all non-support raising staff requires $15k/month. Staff lost at that point would include childcare providers, maintenance, local national staff, the Executive Director, and any missionary staff that could not survive on just their monthly donors.
That is just the hard truth of our financial position. We all believe in the ministry of Casas por Cristo. We have seen so many families’ and team members’ lives that have been changed for eternity. We do not believe that God is done with us yet! But, if for whatever reason it is in His plan for Casas to no longer exist, then we here will all still believe in Him and trust in Him, but we all still sense God calling us to be here and to fight for this ministry. So, will you join us?
I know that we are all struggling right now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that we need your help. If you can help in any way, $5-$500k, please do that now. We are also going to host a video Q&A time this Thursday. There will be links going out to team leaders, but if you are not a team leader and would like to attend, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you that link.
God bless each and every one of you. God is still on His Throne, and we put our trust in Him.