2016 was a great year! If you haven’t read our Annual Report yet, you can find it here.
Here is a year end letter from our President Milton Jones.
How did 2016 go for CRF?
In many ways 2016 was our best year ever. CRF now has more works than ever before. In fact, Christian Relief Fund is located in 96 different areas with child sponsorship programs in over 20 countries and helping in over 30 countries. We are sponsoring 7,306 children in a full-time capacity but helping many thousands more through feeding, disaster relief and providing education. Indeed we are helping more orphans and destitute children than at any time in our history.
We drilled more water wells than any year previously. In fact, we drilled 69 water wells during the last year. Most of our wells were drilled in Turkana, Kenya where it hasn’t rained in many years. We followed our drilling rig with a church planting team and tried to plant a church after every well. Obviously, you can drill a well faster than you can plant a church—but we were able to plant 11 churches in this one area of Kenya this year! Since our drilling is in the desert, we periodically give our drillers a rest from the heat and exhaustion. During these times, they go to southern areas of Kenya where orphans need water. This last year has also brought a great need for water in Haiti. After the recent hurricane, flooding compromised many water sources. As a result, people were getting cholera from their past water wells. CRF has gone into many of these areas, especially where we have sponsored children, and drilled new wells to give pure water.
The good news is that we had matching funds for every well we drilled in 2016. This means that donors can drill a $10,000 well for only $5,000. And the better news is that we have matching funds again in 2017 for water wells!
2016 was also a year of construction. Sponsorship fees pay for most of a child’s needs—but it doesn’t build new school buildings. In many places in the world, it is more cost effective to run our own schools. And usually CRF schools provide greater educational resources for our children—and certainly spiritual resources. In 2016 through generous capital contributions for schools—we have built new schools at Metkei, Lurare, Mt. Elgon, and Alara. All of these schools are in Kenya. We have also brought new educational facilities to two locations in Liberia. And we certainly don’t want to forget that there is a new school in Piedras Negras where Mariela teaches.
If there was bad news about 2016, it’s that we didn’t make our budget. Yes, contributions to CRF were down from what they were in 2015. As I have talked to other non-profits, I have found that many others had decreased donations in 2016. Relief organizations are very dependent on the media telling the world about the problems that occur because of poverty. However, as you look back, last year the media mostly covered the election. If you think about it, you just didn’t hear much about disasters and orphans in the media in 2016. But they were still there.
What does that mean for CRF? We simply didn’t get to help as much as we wanted to in 2016. The good news is that we didn’t spend as much as we budgeted. And the other good news is that we had good financial management and didn’t spend as much as we received. And in reality, it wasn’t a bad year. It was still the third best year for donations in our history!
If there is any huge change around CRF in 2016, it is the retirement of Linda Purdy, our executive director. And we miss her like crazy. She devoted herself to children and CRF for decades. We are still building on her legacy—but we certainly notice the absence of her spirit, devotion and compassion. But we also couldn’t have been blessed more than to have Kevin Wasner come to Christian Relief Fund to walk in her footsteps. Kevin brings so many skills to CRF with his background in information technology, teaching children, and international management. He also has the kind of love for needy children and victims of poverty that has always been the foundation of CRF.
Sometimes it is hard to see the end of the story when it comes to people who seem to be trapped in poverty. Certainly we want to help them even when we don’t know for sure what is going to happen down the road. But every once in awhile, it’s pretty nice to hear a story like Mariela’s.
When the ministry started in Piedras Negras, Jair Castillo found a bunch of children eating at a dump. Jair wanted their lives to be better and devoted himself to these children. Partnering with CRF, Jair was able to build a ministry and a school that now might be the best in the entire city. It provided a place for Mariela to go and stay. She received an education in the past, and now is an exceptional teacher. She found the Lord in the past, and now she spreads the Good News. Isn’t it good to know that what you are doing is indeed breaking the vicious cycle of poverty?
THANKS A TRILLION TIMES! - Milton Jones