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Fulfilling Psalm 91:3
My name is LEONA CHOY. I am a 91.3 year old widow. (Is the number 91.3 "by coincidence"? Read to the end of this story to find out! I believe that number is a God-incidence!)
My late husband Ted and I were Christian missionaries in China and on university campuses in North America for our career ministry. In 1984 in our retirement we moved to Winchester, Virginia to assist our son Rick Choy, a broadcast engineer, in his vision to establish a Christian radio station to reach the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and beyond with the gospel.
TIMBER RIDGE MINISTRIES, INC. was incorporated a s a non-profit, non-commercial, tax exempt 501 (c) 3 corporation, which no one “owned.” It was a framework through which we could serve God and reach people with the gospel over the airwaves. According to our Bylaws, no one profits personally from its operation. Salaries are received only as compensation for services rendered. The work of the corporation was under the oversight of a volunteer Board of Directors who also did not “own” the station or profit from their service.
As charter members of the Board for more than 30 years, I served as the president of the Board and our son Rick, the engineer, builder, and general manager of the station, served as Vice President and Treasurer. We certainly did not "own" the station either. Staff was employed to carry out the logistics of production, broadcasting, and management without direct involvement from the Board. The ministry was not under the control of or financially subsidized by any outside entity, church, organization, foundation, or business.
Throughout more than three decades we were on the air 24/7 and met our budget and expenses through listener support contributions only. The ministry always paid its creditors and the taxes for which we were liable. At its peak of operations the station employed 10 staff personnel. Our format was gospel music, nationally-known Christian programming, live broadcasts, and service to our community. Our strong signal reached beyond Winchester and the Shenandoah Valley to parts of the neighboring four states. It was relayed by translators as far as New York, and through a satellite uplink for live streaming over the Internet wherever in the world the Internet could be accessed. God prospered the ministry of WTRM for His glory alone by introducing people to Jesus and encouraging their growth in faith and their involvement in local churches.
In recent years, however, with the downturn of the economy and changing demographics, evolving Christian music preferences, and other factors, our listener support gradually decreased. The Board decided it was wise to drastically downsize all operations in an attempt to stay solvent, which we did. In April 2014 Rick even left his position on staff and went off payroll to help alleviate the station's expenses. Eventually, however, our Board determined that we had fulfilled God's call and it was timely to dissolve the corporation so as not to incur debt. According to our Bylaws, we would donate the assets of the ministry to another non-profit ministry.
In the process of dissolution, the Board discovered that our reserve funding had been depleted, some creditors had not been paid, and our bookkeeper had taken it upon herself to use listener support to meet the payroll of our downsized staff but she did not pay the IRS and State taxes for a considerable period of time. This was done without the knowledge of or authorization from the Board, which would never have allowed such an action. We would have ceased operations much earlier with all obligations taken care of.
As a consequence, our ministry found itself in huge indebtedness for taxes to the IRS and to Virginia State with interest and penalties alarmingly mounting. The corporation could not officially dissolve until all taxes were paid. Because broadcasting operations had ceased, staff were no longer working, and our signal was no longer on the air, listener support also stopped coming in. There were no funds to cover the debt.
We obtained legal counsel immediately and have followed their advice to sell off all of the station's assets to try to meet the station's tax obligations.
It seems unbelievable to us, but Rick and I, as the only Board members still available to contact, are informed that we are personally liable for the indebtedness incurred by the unauthorized action of one our staff employees!
Neither the no longer operating corporation nor Rick and I have funds to satisfy this debt which is really not our debt. We do not deny that it exists and must be paid. I own no property, am a dependent elderly widow, and I receive only my Social Security check. Rick has retired without a pension and is currently without employment because he has spent his entire time the past 22 months trying to sell the station's assets and wind up all station matters in order to make some dent in the immense indebtedness of the ministry which no longer exists.
We are establishing this fund to legitimately try to fulfill our obligations in an honest, Christian way. We do not believe that we should be held personally responsible for this indebtedness. We have put ourselves wholly in the hands of God and call upon the prayers of our friends and contributions of others who could help in the matter of this debt. We are in need of these funds immediately since penalties are still accruing and expenses are mounting.
We have depleted our personal financial reserves in the process. We will be extremely grateful to donors and thankful to God if the debts of the ministry can be met honorably and we could personally be out from under the tremendous financial pressure and stress of this situation. May God bless everyone who can help financially in our great time of need!
God has never failed us. We cast our cares on Him and are walking in His peace and joy even in the midst of the greatest pressure we have experienced in all the 30 years of this Christian broadcasting ministry. We stand on 1 Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:6.
Our verse of promise when we incorporated our ministry was Psalm 91:3 in its context, which is also the same number as the FM frequency 91.3 on which we initially sent out the signal to preach the gospel as widely as possible through radio! We hope and pray that this will prove prophetic so that we can “finish the ministry well,” please God, and move on to other ministry for Him.
Thank you for helping spread the word to other people and encouraging them to respond to GoFundMe.com/2k7ea78
Newsflash!Within only a few hours of activating our project on GOFUNDME, the first $100 leaped in from a Chinese brother in Christ who himself is under extreme financial pressure in his Christian ministry. He thanked me for "the opportunity to give" and declared that he was praying for a great "FUNDER STORM!"of response!
If/when we experience that kind of financial weather and we are able to meet our stated goal, it will be our JOY to use God's surplus to help out other Christians or ministries in their time of need!