A few people (here is one example of many)are writing about the letter of Stephen Bennett, the ex-gay minister, who is begging for money to support his anti-gay crusade. Like DL Foster, Stephen Bennett is an ex-gay, married and with children. And like DL Foster, he has decided to cash in on his experience. Except the cash isn’t coming in. Here is the letter the Stephen Bennett wrote begging for $15,000 a month (!) to run his ministries (this was written Feb. 3, and as of today, Feb. 7, only 69 people have looked at it–most of them gay and lesbian who are keeping up with Bennett’s ‘ministry’):
Dear SBM Ministry Partners and Friends:
We (the ministry of SBM) have entered our 8th year of full-time ministry to: 1). Reach the homosexual for Jesus Christ; 2). Provide loving, biblical and practical support for parents, families and friends affected by a loved one’s homosexuality; 3). To advocate for the natural family; and 4). To take a principled, biblical stand in love against the promotion of homosexuality worldwide.
I’m sure you can imagine, being in this type of ministry is overwhelming to say the least. It is a huge task and calling, one from which I have wanted to run many a time. Because I couldn’t handle the calling of the ministry? No. Because it can get very lonely and discouraging.
Don’t get me wrong. If you have a loved one who is homosexual, you can understand the "lonely and discouraging" part. However, I am coming at those terms from a different angle.
There are many "ministries" out there that are "popular" in Christianity. Many men and women have millions of "followers" — and finances which are overflowing. Some of these are what we can refer to as "Christian Celebrity Ministries." Their head figure(s) pack football stadiums. They have huge buildings, one even having its own "zip code." Some have private jets, hundreds of employees and some even own several multi-million dollar homes. I know of a few of them.
Let’s face it: the "Cross of Christ" has become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Yet when I was called into this ministry, I came understanding several facts. First, it was ALL about Jesus Christ — and NOT Stephen Bennett. I always point people to Christ, never to me. Second, I knew the ministry would never be a "popular" among the world — or even Christians. Third, unless God supernaturally blessed for HIS use for the ministry alone, this would never be a multi-million dollar ministry. Money has corrupted many good men and women. And of course, Christ said money wasn’t the root of all evil, but the LOVE of money.
Let me say though, I have no regrets.
The "lonely and discouraging" parts actually come from other Christians. Now, I know I can choose not to feel lonely or discouraged, yet this is how Satan comes against us. Remember, we don’t fight "flesh and blood", but "principalities and powers."
I have personally received death threats against myself, Irene and the children (not by Christians, but by homosexual activists.) Why? Because I preach Christ crucified, and new life in Him: freedom from sin — and freedom from homosexuality. That is NOT a popular message with many homosexuals who have been blinded… however, there is ALWAYS hope. The Lord reached me when I wasn’t even looking for Him.
The part though that can be real discouraging is one many people are sick of hearing about from ministries — and I completely agree: finances — money to keep the ministry afloat and running smoothly.
In the last 8 years, I have preached God’s mercy, our need for repentance and His gospel to set the captives free all around the world. He has opened doors I would have never thought possible. Even if I disagreed doctrinally with a ministry, television or radio program or broadcast, as long as I could preach the TRUTH about Jesus Christ.. I would go.
Through the ministries of Billy Graham, Pat Roberton’s 700 Club, D.James Kennedy’s Coral Ridge Hour, Dr. Jerry Falwell, TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), Morris Cerullo’s Help Line, EWTN (The Catholic Network).. and most every major secular television program from The O’Reilly Factor, The Today Show, ABC’s Evening News with the late Peter Jennings, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Paula Zahn and Anderson Cooper, a new VH1 "reality’ series debuting this month "Old Skool with Terry and Gita"… and so many more… the TRUTH has gone out in a powerful way. All of these doors were opened by the Lord Himself.
Yet we as a ministry stand at a crossroad.
In eight years, many nations and millions of people have heard about Jesus Christ and His power to set the homosexual free from sin. They also know about the ministries of SBM and now, they are also getting to know about TheParentsGroup.com. However, meeting our monthly finances has become a major struggle. Why?
As of last year, we had almost 15,000 people on our postal and e-mail lists… many whom have supported this ministry in one way, shape or form within the last eight years. Yet last year, less than 1% (THAT’S ONE PERCENT) of SBM’s support base supported this ministry financially.
That my friends, is heartbreaking and sad.
Believe me, this is NOT a "pity post". It’s the honest truth. When churches and Christians close their doors and instead open them to those who "tickle their ears" with health, wealth, prosperity and entertainment instead of the truth that can set many of their members or member’s families free, we know biblical prophecy is being fulfilled.
There a many wonderful, Bible preaching and believing ministries out there that people support — and thank God for them all. SBM also has been blessed with a wonderful group of faithful ministry partners who help supply the means for this ministry to go on. Yet we are pleading now to the Lord in heaven to help us now more than ever.
There have been months we have gone without — unable to pay simple necessities such as the ministry bills, the mortgage, electric, salaries, and personally doctor’s bills. The Lord doesn’t want this. We are to be responsible with what He provides and we are. We are frugal with every dime this ministry receives. Yet, as I said, we are at a major crossroad now. We can no longer go on operating the way we have.
I’ll be upfront with you all. The ministry of SBM needs to operate on a monthly budget of $15,000 in order to operate properly — with the right help and means. I’ve shared that many times with our partners. That may sound like a lot, however, many of our Christian ministries operate on a budget of $2-4 MILLION dollars A MONTH.
As of today, we are beginning what we are calling SBM’s "CLUB 15". We are praying that the Lord will provide 1,000 ministry partners to commit to and support the evangelistic, educational and supportive work of SBM for $15 a month or more. Partners can choose different support levels in increments of $15, such as $30, $45, $75, etc.
We are fervently praying over the next 90 DAYS to meet our goal and raise our needed monthly budget of $15,000.
Will you pray about this and consider partnering MONTHLY with SBM?
Maybe you have supported this ministry in the past with a generous one time gift, or even on an "on-and-off" basis. I am simply asking that you commit to sacrificing the cost of ONE PIZZA a month — ONE PIZZA — to support the work and ministry of SBM.
I don’t need to tell you this, but homosexuality is destroying this nation. Our children — your children — are getting trapped and deceived into a lifestyle that is NOW being promoted, celebrated and being marketed as "natural and normal." Nothing could be further from God’s truth.
We have been here for you and for others now for the last eight years. MANY people have come to Christ — those struggling with homosexuality, and even those who have not. Lives have been changed! Souls have been set free and the Kingdom of God has multiplied through the work of SBM. It is now time to say, "Yes, I will gladly partner with SBM monthly because I want to be part of the solution!"
What is our other option if we don’t meet our monthly budget?
Last year was one of the ministry’s most difficult years of all. Many of you who work go to work full-time or part-time and know you are coming home with a paycheck either every week or month. That’s not the case here at SBM. In fact, last year, I had to personally take out a home equity loan to cover my salary for several months… or the mortgage wouldn’t be paid, nor our children’s tuition. I did that because I believe in this ministry more than anything. However, I will never do that again. I shouldn’t have to.
This ministry is THE PEOPLE’S MINISTRY. WE ARE ALL A TEAM. WE ALL MUST DO OUR PART — or we will FALL apart. I do NOT want that to happen.
As the President of this worldwide ministry, I make sure everyone else’s salaries and the ministry’s bills get paid FIRST — before I do. As President, I also don’t only work 40 hours a week. Many times, including travel, it can be up around 60 – 70 hours a week I am putting in.
By meeting our monthly budget, SBM will be able to hire the much needed help so the ministry can function orderly and I can work a regular 40 hours a week — and do that which is most important: spend the proper time with my family.
I thank those of you who already support the work of SBM on a monthly basis. I am not asking you to do more. Pray with me that the LORD HIMSELF will bring our partners who will be the FUNCTIONAL CORE" — "CLUB 15" — SBM’s Monthly Supporters.
To become a SBM Monthly Partner and Member of SBM’s Inner Circle — "CLUB 15" — please CLICK HERE NOW. I thank you and most importantly, thank THE LORD in advance for what I pray HE ALONE will do in the hearts of HIS people.
Thank you for your time, your prayers, and your financial partnership — being part of TEAM SBM. God bless you!
Your brother in Christ,
President, Stephen Bennett Ministries
Nationwide Toll-Free x-xxx-xxx-xxxx
Now this letter is interesting for a number of different reasons, but I like the way he keeps saying ‘the Lord wants this’ but yet it is Stephen who will personally get the money–not the Lord. The Lord wants his ministry to keep going, but yet the Lord can’t convince some people to give him money? I wonder why that is? It is sad that this man, who has a family to support, can’t think of anything else to do except for beg for money for a ‘ministry’ that does no good. According to him (and I have to say I don’t believe very much of what this man has to say) he is borrowing money off his house to pay his bills. Isn’t that a warning sign that things are not going the way he thinks the Lord wants it to? And now he has started Club 15. Well, I want to start a Club 15 as well–but I am too honest to be asking people to send me money for a phoney and dangerous cause.
I’ve looked up the financial information of his ‘ministry’ at Guidestar.org and you can’t see the latest fiscal year unless you are a member. But you can see the financial information from 2005 (this information is all free and open to the public). This year Bennett is telling people he needs $15,000/month to pay the salaries and the bills. That is $180,000. In 2005 he brought in an amazing $190,000 (roughly) and spent about $170,000 on expenses. Let’s look at how he spent that money:
Benefits paid to directors: ~81,000
He paid himself ~56,000
He paid his wife (Vice President) ~25,000 (together about 80,000–not too bad!). They didn’t have other employees
Other salaries and wages ~14,000
Other employee benefits ~10,000 (life and health insurance)
Payroll taxes ~7,000
Accounting Fees ~150
Postage and Shipping ~9,000
Equipment rental and maintenance ~900
Printing and publications ~800
Airfare and vehicle rental ~800
Food items for events ~2,400
Parking and tolls ~280
Automobile Costs ~2,500
Other expenses ~15,000:
Bank service charges ~1,300
Credit Card Fees ~~2,500
Dry cleaning ~500
P.O. Box rental ~70
Radio air time ~3,000
Web Hosting Domain Names ~3,500
And looking at the 2004 990, on paper he pay cut between 2004 and 2005 (but this has more to do with the fact that in 2004 he did not list health/life insurance and so on as he did in 2005): he paid himself ~75,000 (and his wife was paid ~24,000). He had about $170,00 to spend. He also spent (in 2004):
Airfare, bus and car rentals ~6,000
Travel and entertainment ~40
Travel food meals ~5,000
Tips, valet, etc ~80
Food items ~4,600
Parking tolls taxis ~350
Vehicle Maintenance ~4,600
Employee mileage ~21
Grand total for Functional Expenses: ~24,000~!
So in 2004 he spent about $100,000 on himself and his wife and about $24,000 on expenses=~125,000 out of about ~170,000 he had. Not too bad, if you ask me…
Can you really put car maintenance on a non-profit?? Between 2004 and 2005 he spent, of his non-profit money that people sent into him, over $7,000 on their car! What a steal (for him, that is).
So, the bottom line is that when you hear Stephen Bennett begging for money for his anti-gay ministry, think about where your dollars are going (if you take the 2005 tax returns)–
If people each give him $15.00 a month, it will take 7000 people to pay his 2005 salary and the rest of his expenses (who knows what he is paying himself and his wife now!)
It will take 1000 of you to pay his ‘supplies’ bill
600 of you to pay his postage bill
533 of you to pay his travel bill
And another 1000 people to pay his other expenses (including 166 of you to pay his credit card fees and 233 of you to pay his Web hosting fees [whatever that is–you can find places to host your domain for much, much cheaper than that!]).
And if his salary really went up to 2004 levels, then it will take 8266 of you to pay that.
So happy spending on the lifestyle of Stephen Bennett and his wife! And I’ll remind people that in Sept. 2007, when apparently he was mortgaging his home to pay his bills, he bought an SUV. Does this sound like someone who claims:
"In fact, last year, I had to personally take out a home equity loan to cover my salary for several months… or the mortgage wouldn’t be paid, nor our children’s tuition." Not really. Maybe he should have spent the money on other things rather than a car, supplies and $8,000 worth of travel. It sounds to me like he wants to live the ‘high life’ and it DOES sound like pity post.
The more I think about it, the more I would rather have a pizza…