Board Cashes In For $55 Million


Well....the evidence is in, the deed is done, the USCWM campus is being sold for a pot of porridge. We have to take our best guess – the board is now on lockdown: no talking allowed. So, we don't know who they sold to, we don't really know for how much, but our investigation indicates that it was for probably about $55 million and that the campus WILL NOT continue doing cutting edge frontier mission work, ever again. The board feels they have to be highly secretive, much like a cult, to protect this sale. They don't want any pesky input from the public stakeholders, like donors who might feel upset about a sale or current staff who were told they had “many months” before a sale would happen. Later, the board won't mind having upset the staff and donors, after the sale is finalized and can't be ever undone. For now, to tell the public would just add confusion on the board, and God knows the board is already confused enough.

The chairman of the board of Frontier Ventures, Fran Patt, said it best: “We have so many insurmountable legal problems, Bob, that we have no choice but to sell immediately.” Come to think of it, my phone automatically records conversations, so I could go look up the exact wording—but that was the gist.

For those of you who need to know what God heard as Fran uttered those words, here's a translation of my best guess: “The land God gave us is full of giants! We feel like grasshoppers! No one, not even God, can save us!” (See Numbers 13)

I've been very silent here on the Save the Campus site for a while. Why? Because after studying 1 Cor 6 carefully, I concluded that God would have me first work very hard to re-establish old friendships with board members, engage them in deep conversations both written and verbal, reason with them and help them remember what they used to know: that God has done great things through this campus and can do much greater things in the next 40 years; that the Mission Pentagon God established here is still vitally needed; that we had all made promises to donors (and to God) during the Last $1000 Campaign that would be violated illegally and immorally by selling the campus.

The board received me warmly and talked willingly all through this month. Talked...but with few exceptions, never engaged on the actual issues. Only one ever engaged with me to dream about the amazing projects that the campus could collaboratively initiate and incubate to the benefit of all frontier mission agencies. The others, LITERALLY, said: “I'm working on project _________. My project doesn't need the campus. Therefore, I am voting to sell the campus.” It's amazing! They're working on wildly fruitful projects started on the CAMPUS 30 or 40 years ago, yet they can't imagine that God might want to start more collaborative projects that would bear even more spiritual fruit.

Meanwhile, NONE of the board members engaged on the HUGE issue that promises have been made to donors. (They have never even bothered to search their archives to see what those promises might be; I HAVE searched, and there are very deep promises about the campus.) One finally explained to me: “We asked our attorneys about this, and they told us that no court would ever expect a board to honor promises made 29 years ago.” Never mind the MORAL implications, never mind that GOD would care deeply about 29-year-old promises; they were assured that the courts wouldn't expect prior promises to be honored. So, they are perfectly comfortable violating those promises...but that's why they're on super-secret lockdown, so donors won't find out in time to stop the sale. (By the way, our lawyer says differently, and we just heard about a similar injunction for a similar reason that DID stop a sale based on promises made even longer ago. Why would a promise go “stale?”)

OK...this post won't be 5 pages like the others. There's no time! We've ALL got to get busy now! We likely have only 30 days. (They're doing an unusually short escrow as well, I've been told by insiders, so those pesky donors, again, don't have time to fight it.) But we DO have time! If you care about the campus, contact your friends! Contact any newspapers you know! Send tax-deductible donations NOW to Save the Campus so we can immediately get an injunction to stop the sale. That will cost $100K, not because of our lawyer but because we have to do a lot of official depositions—of all the board members and senior staff, of many former donors, of former and current staff and board—and the court charges a fee of $2000 average for EACH of those, to pay for a court reporter. Then we have to pay for a forensic audit, because the biggest mystery is still unsolved: how can a board of directors, even one as obtuse as this one, not be able to financially handle a campus that has NO mortgage and tiny property taxes? HOW?? What's going on? I talked with the board member who's “in charge” of finances, and he couldn't answer a single detailed question. He just showed me an audit—but refused to allow me to take a copy with me. So, it'll take money in order to mount a sophisticated and successful injunction against the sale; please consider your part in that. Any donations you make can be returned, I would imagine, if we're successful, because the board will have to pay court costs.

In the end, the board will have to go. The injunction will press for that as well. It's not because they're mean—they're not, they've been very warm to me during this month of conversation. It's not because they're not faithful because many of them are involved in other projects that are very, very important to frontier missions. It's simply because they have no vision for the campus itself, the thing the donors gave their money to, and they apparently have no skill at managing it. By voting to sell the campus, they've PROVEN that: They don't have any vision for the campus, they can't think of any reason to keep the campus, and they can't manage it, so they see no choice but to sell. They've also apparently gotten themselves embroiled in tough legal problems.

But it's just not fair that people would insist on occupying a seat on the board of a ministry they have no vision for and is too overwhelming for them—while others of us (some who were former board members) are filled with vision for it and ready and willing to continue its amazing 40 years ministry for another 40 years or more, but are being kept out by a board that won't graciously offer their seats to others with vision and energy. It's simply not fair, not just, not right, and the injunction will have to address that to truly solve this problem. By the way, this HUGE decision, forever irrevocable, is being made by five people; one board member is strongly against the sale and they are rolling right over him.

Let's get moving! It's illegal to sell the campus because of donor promises. It's immoral to sell the campus because of God-promises. It's short-sighted to sell the campus because there are so many, many unique contributions it could still make in God's strength towards reaching the unreached—not to mention that financially, they're not going to find a better investment for the money they receive than investing in a campus like ours that is paid for and has property taxes from the 1970's.

But...the allure of very, very much money...... Say it slowly and with meaning....

Fifty-Five. MILLION. Dollars.

Who can pass that up? (Although to be fair, the campus is worth $150 million; they're selling cheap in order to sell fast, and they'll have to live on LESS endowment than the campus currently provides to them annually!)

Please don't let them get their hands on that money—it'll be a wild free-for-all as everyone grabs for it, and it'll be gone in a flash. (Even the board admits that after 7 years of secretly discussing selling the campus, they have no well-researched written plan for how to invest the money from the sale or how they would allocate the money.)

Please....let's get moving. Send in donations to fund the injunction, and tell everyone you know, and let's not let this board get away with it. They clearly care nothing about God's campus purchased with blood, tears, toil, great faith and great prayers and God's GREAT AMAZING GRACE. Please let's not let them win this simply by our doing nothing this month to stop it.

I've been snuffling through archives in my basement of documents 29 years old and older, collecting exact quotes of what was said to donors. In the process, I came across an ad I wrote for Perspectives 38 years ago, the first ad Perspectives ever published. It was an attempt to save Perspectives, because enrollment wasn't enough, and the program was about to be canceled forever. So, I wrote an ad. I had just read Tolkien for the first time, and the great spiritual struggle within it was heavy on my mind. The ad starts, in big bold black letters:

“Yet That Hour, Maybe, Is Not Now Far Away.
The Nameless Enemy Has Arisen Again.
The Power Of The Black Hand Grows
And We Are Hard Beset.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

My ad then traces the long history of God's moves to recapture the hearts of mankind from its mortal Enemy, and at one point says:

The battle will be won, not by defense but by offense;
by pushing on into the dark places
where the Gospel has not yet been planted.
It depends upon a new uprising of the faithful.
Many today must awake, arise and embrace a cause
higher than themselves and fill their lives
with the purposes of God.
Is this perhaps the hour...?

I'll post the whole ad in a later post; I cried as I read it and remembered those days when even Perspectives, which is now a mighty program that reaches more people for missions than even the huge Urbana conferences, hung in the balance. Faith was our only evidence of a great unseen event when the campus would finally be paid off, when the number of Unreached People groups would begin to be steadily ticked down. If you had told me then that one day I would be fighting the board of directors over the sale of that campus, our campus, that precious campus so many of us gave our lives to, the one Erik Stadell had seen in a vision as a World Mission Center until the Lord returned, I would have told you you were crazy. Yet here we that very battle for the survival of arguably the most unique and important frontier mission collaborative center in the world.

Please join us in the fight. Please send your donations. We're ready now to do the injunction against the sale; all that stops us is funds. Please pray about your part, quickly.

Mailing address: Save the Campus, 1443 East Washington Blvd., Unit # 141, Pasadena, CA 91104

Telephone: (626) 435-8852




1985 FB photo of Bob and Doris Coleman.

Context of this FB photo: Bob and Doris were just married and back from their honeymoon, and they were speaking at a Presbyterian "Wee Kirk" (Little Church) conference in Montreat, N.C. in October 1985, sharing about the Unreached Peoples and how small churches were likely to be the major force behind mobilizing for agencies to reach the unreached. On that October 1985 day, Bob and Doris collected a bunch of $15.95 gifts towards the purchase of the Pasadena campus. This was also where Bob Coleman began to realize that the small gifts weren't likely to fully fund the campus, and began praying for another way to meet the coming balloon payment of $8.5 million. This was the early genesis of the "Last $1000 Campaign"