Housing, goats and hiring: the story of Bethel Funerals

How to raise enough money to retain Wycliffe’s valued Australia-based members has long been on David Cummings’ mind. Unlike other agencies, crucial home-based staff such as administrators, mobilisers and trainers are not paid a salary, instead relying on faith support.

‘Our home staff need support just like anyone out on the field, but find it difficult,’ the former Wycliffe chief executive said.

It was a problem he and Wycliffe’s Word Investment committee were determined to solve, leading them on a journey from bricks and mortar to goats, and eventually, funerals.

The first step was the creation of Word Investment Limited (WIL), enabling people to invest in ethical ventures with the interest going to Wycliffe and other causes. But an early investment in house building in Geelong, Victoria hit turbulence when a downturn in the local automotive industry made for unreliable returns.

WIL moved on to goat farming, then a hiring business, while David pondered how to best use limited resources to create income for mission.

‘I realised that through Word Investment, we could start our own business, moving on from stocks and shares to something that would help others while helping the mission,’ he said.

He remembered a friend’s family had successfully run a business for decades in a stable industry with consistent demand: funerals.

After much prayer, research and the generous guidance from that friend, Trevor Adams, (now Chairman of Word Investments) David took his idea of starting a Christian funeral company to WIL and Wycliffe leadership.

‘They had some reservations at first, but a key investor said “go for it” and they did,’ he said.

‘We wanted to run the business the right way, with integrity, and set clear goals: to make money for mission and minister to grieving people.’

Twenty years on, the not-for-profit company they created, Bethel Funerals, has contributed more than $2 million to missions, and to Wycliffe in particular. The service enables families to contribute to missions in a unique way, and is a wonderful opportunity for people to leave a legacy as they depart from this life.

‘It makes my heart rejoice how this has worked out, and how Bethel has a wonderful ministry,’ David said.

‘I love too that we have this testimony of how God was in it from the start, from gathering the key people we needed through to providing the material things.’

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This story is from Wycliffe Today – April 2017

About the Author: Louise Bettison. Louise is a Perth journalist spurred on by having witnessed the impact of people being able to access and understand God’s word.

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