Daily Devotional for Friday June 13, 2014
Liveprayer is Truly a Miracle of God
***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, why does it cost you $40,000 a month to send a few emails each day. My internet bill each month is $45. I don't understand why you need all of that money each month?
ANSWER: I deeply apologize, since this is a regular "Ask Bill" question I should have answered a long, long time ago. (see below)
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.' Luke 12:34
After over 22 years of ministry, 15 years online on the 31st of August, having done several thousand "live" TV programs over the years, people really have no clue what a miracle of God Liveprayer is. It is truly a modern day "loaves and fishes" miracle!
Liveprayer was the first "interactive" (as opposed to simply a static information site as most were and still are) Christian website and one of very few Christian websites that even existed when we signed on August 31, 1999. The fact God chose me, someone who didn't even own a computer at that point, to run an internet ministry is a testimony of how God often operates.
He knew I would get up to speed on the technical issues I needed to know, while using many years of business experience, coupled with at that time 7 years of evangelistic ministry focusing on those outside of the church, while not using His work to build my kingdom but His Kingdom!
The goal of Liveprayer was to have a place on the internet where people could come in their time of need for prayer and counsel. Part of that was our "live" video prayer portal with a live person online to pray for people 24 hours a day. Liveprayer was the first non-pornographic website to stream live video.
At the time we started, the Internet was a hot investment and we had several investment bankers willing to put up $30 million to help us advertise and mainstream the site after we had been up and running the first year. In early 2000 the internet bubble burst, the investment bankers backing internet companies went out of business, and after putting every dime I had to my name so Liveprayer could make it that first year, we had no way of funding the minsitry. Our journey of faith really being put to the test!
When Liveprayer began, I posted the Daily Devotional on the website each day. Many people loved it but asked if I could email it to them. I did as a courtesy and the number of people wanting the Daily Devotional began to grow exponentially. We soon had to invest in sophisticated mailing software that has evolved over the years and special servers along with dedicated IP's. In these past 15 years we have had over 10 million subscribers, holding at around 2.5m active subscribers the past 7-8 years now.
People unsubscribed from the Daily Devotional for a variety of reasons, but mostly because unlike the majority of pastors, I shared the hard truth of the Bible on issues that most were afraid to talk about and many people didn't want to hear. We currently have about 10,000 people unsubscribe each month, but pick up about that same number in new people.
Once I started emailing the Daily Devotional, people would email me back with prayer requests. As a minister, I felt the need to take the time to respond in a personal way as opposed to what most websites have and still use, an auto-respond message that everyone who emails them receives. As the Daily Devotional subscriber base grew, so did the daily emails for prayer, and when it was taking me 8 hours a day simply to respond to emails I had to pray about a solution.
I began tapping into lists of retired pastors around the country, put together template they could easily use along with a place to personalize the response. For the past 8 years, we average about 40,000 emails every 24 hours that our cadre of over 700 retired pastors faithfully answer. In 14 yrs, we have responded to over 100 million emails for prayer, and have 8 million praise report emails archived.
*I also have used the Daily Devotional as a powerful evangelism tool, and to date we have seen over 800,000 souls we know of come to faith in Jesus!!!
>From 2003-2008, Liveprayer pioneered a "live" TV program 5 nights a week to minister to people, pray for them, and give viewers a chance to come to faith in Christ. The key was, I refused to air on any Christian stations or networks, and our program appeared only on secular network affiliates. For 6 months in 2006 we aired "live" 5 nights a week on the ION network nationally. We moved the program strictly to the internet in 2008 for over a year, but had to stop doing the program all together when the economic crisis hit and many major donors could no longer support the expenses of the program.
Let me give you some numbers. Our monthly internet operations budget from 2003 up to 2008 was $50,000 a month. Our TV budget was anywhere from $50,000 a month most months, to $1 million a month the 6 months we were on nightly nationwide. The internet budget was always covered by our monthly appeals 2-3x a month in the Daily Devotional, and the TV budget was always covered by several key donors. One reason for the success of the TV program, especially being on non-Christian stations, was that I never asked viewers for a dime and people respected that and enabled them to actually listen to what I shared each night!
Since 2008, I have trimmed our internet operations down to the $40,000 figure we are currently at. My maximum salary over the years was never over $42,000, and for the past 5 years I have only taken what is necessary to pay utilities, gas for my car, pay my mortgage that is maxed out and under water like many, and eat. My assistant kids me that if I took the 100 hours I put in every week and went to work at McDonalds I would make 3x more.
But this has never been about money for me and never will be. Trust me, I am very aware of how to simply preach to the choir and forget about the lost, tickle ears so people love you, not care about the millions of lost souls heading to hell, and take in millions and not having to worry about the finances. This is about reaching the lost masses with God's Truth, pray for people in their time of need, and lead the lost to faith in Jesus, and over the past several years God has added an additional work for us to be a catalyst in leading this nation back to the Almighty and His Truth!
Liveprayer owns no buildings. It is a shame so many people will give to a building, but not to save souls. We started working in the back of a used car lot in St. Pete owned by one of my board members, and still do today 15 yrs later. It is one of the most blessed addresses in the world, having literally impacted tens of millions of lives worldwide and seeing over 800,000 souls we know of come to faith in Jesus during that time from that simple location. Check out the video walk thru: http://www.liveprayer.com/b2.cfm
The ministry doesn't have any private jets. We don't have a fleet of Bentleys. We don't own multiple mansions, or even one. When I'm on the road, I don't stay in $10,000 a night suites. The many ministries who use the money from their donors for such things I will never understand. If people want to give them money to live like the ruler of a small nation, that is up to them. but I would never ask people to give me a dime for anything other than being able to minister to those in need and lead lost souls to faith in Jesus!
I have no shame asking people to help me reach this lost world with God's Truth, pray for people in their time of need, and save souls. If Obama and politicians can ask people for BILLIONS to promote a political ideology, if a never ending plethora of non-profits can ask people to give them money for everything from animal shelters, zoos, botanical gardens, museums, the arts, health causes, and on and on, and on, I certainly have no problem asking people to help me do the Lord's work and impact lives for all eternity!!!
Let me put our $40,000 budget in context. It is the same budget as a local church with apx. 700 members that meets once a week. For a little over $1,300 a day, we minister to 2.5 million people worldwide every day, answer 40,000 emails for prayer every day, see apx. 2,000 souls come to faith in Jesus each week, and provide a website with 15 yrs of tons of unique ministry content, much that is added daily...all for FREE.
Any business person clearly understands there are expenses in running any organization, and most deeply appreciate how we have done so much with so little. My staff consists of my assistant and our technical crew. That alone is a bit over 25% of our budget. Anyone who thinks they can send 2.5 million emails worldwide every day on your home internet account, please try it and let me know when your internet provider cuts off your account.
It takes special servers that need replacing every 6 months, special mailing software, dedicated IP's, and two technical people to deal with the blocks we face daily in dealing with over 2,000 ISP's worldwide, not to mention the attacks from hacking groups all over the world that are a constant nuisance and extra expense.
Bandwidth is the big expense of any internet operation. We need bandwidth to support all of the video/audio/written content on our site, along with sending the Devotional every 24 hours, for our incoming servers since out of the 40,000 emails for prayer that also receive about 3 million pieces of SPAM every day which has to be filtered. Of course there are other basic operating costs like postage, office supplies, basic things every business needs to simply operate. Factor it all in, and anyone with a business background will be scratching their head how we can possibly do all that we do each day for the amount of money we do it with. Again, it is truly a "loves and fishes" miracle of God!
The TV program that we have re-launched in May of 2013 airs "live" Monday-Friday from Midnight-2am , and is available in HD digitally worldwide live and archived, currently airing in about 50 markets around the country including the Chicagoland market with apx. 10 million people. It was initially funded by one key donor. It costs much less money to do TV now that it can be done with high speed internet lines, and currently costs us $30,000 a month to reach 5x more people than when we were on years ago having to spend $50,000 a month!
Liveprayer.com accepts no advertising. We don't sell books, or tapes, or trinkets. We will NEVER rent our list of Daily Devotional subscribers. I could have generated over a million annually doing these things. However, we are a ministry and NOT a marketing company. 40% of the people we minister to daily are NOT Christians. 20% or in other countries. 20% are under 21. People come to Liveprayer, look at our content and listen to what I share for the simple fact they know I am there to minister to them, NOT to see how much money I can get from them!
The reality is ever since we started, being on the internet that many people think as having minimal costs, having all of our content for free, the fact we are not their local church, with such a large percentage of those we reach not even Christians who understand and with a heart to "give," less than 1/4 of 1% have EVER give a dime to Liveprayer.
Many using common sense ask why if everyone just gave $1 we would never have any problems with finances. That sounds correct, but simply is not reality since we have put out offers like that in the past and the % of those who give is virtually unchanged. It is literally a miracle that we have survived 15 yrs, and not just survived, but able to have such a huge impact on so many hearts and lives worldwide!
Anyone who has worked on a church or non-profit budget committee, knows that anywhere from 50-80% of the funds raised comes from several key people. The reason so many churches and non-profits went under the past 5 years is because the economy hit many high income people who could no longer give as they once did.
Liveprayer also counts on several key people each month. Much of our financial struggles have come due to the fact the group of 30 friends I had 5 years ago with the ability to send $5,000, $10,000 in a time of need, is now down to just one who can't always make that type of sacrifce. So I pray daily for the Lord to send new friends who He has richly blessed to help the work here with a large gift when we have a slow months like we have each June, July, and August. That with everyone else giving as they are able all adds up by the end of the month.
I love and care about you so much! Over these 15 yrs, it has been the prayers and faithfulness of so many friends who have made all we have done possible. Each month as we have struggled simply to pay our basic operations over the last several years after the economy hurt so many, God still moves on the hearts of many of our friends each month to keep us here and being able to minister to so many worldwide each day.
So the challenge is, where do the funds come from. Back when we first began and the investment banking money was not going to come in after the internet bubble burst, I got on my knees and told God to just give me what we needed for that month's operations and I would worry about next month at that time. God told me to simply share our needs, trust Him, and He would move on hearts. That has happened for 178 months now. Up until the past 5 yrs, I only had to share our need 3-4x a month. Now, I need to make our needs known most days, since if I don't, if people don't help me, Liveprayer that so many depend on each day won't exist.
*With just 18 days left in the month, we require the last $5,000 of our May Internet operations in addition to the $40,000 we require for our June operations. I am praying for 1 of our friends who can help me TODAY with a special one-time gift of $5,000 to clear up the May balance immediately. If everyone will pray and everyone who is able will send a gift of $10, $20, $100, $1,000, or whatever God lays on your heart to stand with me at this critical time, we can insure all of our June operations are current before the end of the month!!!
Thanks to some special gifts today for the TV program in Chicago, we are down to requiring just $18,000 by this weekend in order to keep the program on the air in that great city of 10 million people, and than begin to work on the $30,000 we require for our June broadcasts. I am on my knees praying for the Lord to send one or two friends to insure we can meet the $18,000 required for the TV station in Chicago this weekend!!!
For those who have never given to Liveprayer and have been blessed by the work here, please pray about sending a gift. If everyone will pray, simply give as the Lord guides you, we should never have to worry about meeting our basic financial operations each month.
TO GIVE A GIFT TO LIVEPRAYER, you can use your major credit card on our secure server at: www.liveprayer.com under the "Donation" link, you can give using your PayPal account using my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org,or you can mail your gift to: Liveprayer, 6660 46th Ave. North, St.Petersburg, FL 33709. All gifts to Liveprayer are 100% tax deductible!
Thank you for your love, your prayers, your sacrificial gifts. Together, God has used our lives to impact so many around the world every day for these past 15 yrs. Over 800,000 souls will escape the horrors of hell and be in Heaven for eternity. However, our work is not finished. We still have more to do, since the Lord has raised this ministry up as He raised up Jonah, to lead this nation back to God and His Truth or see His wrath and judgment!
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,