BISHOP GEORGE KOURI'S PERSONAL TRANSITION AND MINISTRY UPDATE
To Family, Friends, and Ministry Partners,
My wife Sandra and I have been back in the USA since September 12. Since returning to the USA, we have been in the process of getting resettled in OKC, which is where we are from. After two months we are both beginning to feel renewed, refreshed and revived enabling us to continue to run the race the Lord has purposed and ordained for us to run.
It has been several months since we have communicated with you. Sandra I are feeling the need to update you on where we are personally and where our ministry is since returning to the USA. We also want to share with you an update concerning the finances for the India Apostolic Campaign as well as our personal finances.
We have hesitated to do this as we believe each of you as members of our family, close personal friends, and ministry partners have been faithful and supportive with your offerings and gifts to us and to the CAC India Apostolic Campaign. You have also been faithful to give month by month the tithe of the tithe and offerings from the ministries of my spiritual sons who make up the membership of Apostolic Ministries and Churches International, (which is one of the apostolic networks that makes up the CAC). Much of what my spiritual sons have given each month has gone to Sandra’s and my personal support, as well as to the work of the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign. Therefore, we do not want you to think or feel that we do not know or appreciate your sacrificial giving as the Lord has lead you. We appreciate and bless you in the Lord for your love and support.
Because of the length of all we want to share with you we have divided this update into two parts. PART 1 deals with our personal transition or move from India and an update on the status of the India Apostolic Campaign and our personal and ministry finances. PART 2 will deal with our ministry priorities and goals for this new season in our lives, as well as my testimony regarding my call, and an apostolic appeal.
PART 1, OUR PERSONAL TRANSITION FROM INDIA TO THE USA AND OUR FINANCIAL UPDATE
In spite of the faithful giving and support of our partners, for reasons unknown to us, around 6 months ago the giving to the India Apostolic Campaign has almost dried up. We believe this to be an attack of the enemy to discourage and defeat us because we know that Satan, our adversary, hates what we are doing together as family, friends, and ministry partners and the India Apostolic campaign. The purpose of the CAC India Apostolic Campaign is to bring the ministers and churches of India together in the fellowship of the apostles to restore the foundations laid by Jesus and the original apostles in the beginning and reform the Church in order that we might all function as one to advance Christ’s Kingdom. The ultimate goal is to truly possess the cities and the nation of India and other nations. The decline in giving towards the India Campaign has put greater pressure on the finances of the CAC (the global fellowship of apostles and churches of which we are a part), AMCI (my personal apostolic sphere), and Sandra’s and my personal finances to fund the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign.
THE CAC INDIA CAMPAIGN’S MONTHLY BUDGET AND ONGOING FINANCIAL NEEDS
The present financial commitment of the CAC (Global) towards the support of the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign budget includes:
1. $300.00 a month for Ravi's personal support.
Ravi is an emerging apostle and serves as the National Director of the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign. Even though he is only 37 years old, he is a seasoned minister and church planter. He has even spent time in jail on more than one occasion for preaching the gospel! Ravi is worth far more for the outstanding and courageous work he is doing. He is also a very compassionate minister as he regularly supports orphans and widows in need.
2. $300.00 a month for Ravi’s ministry expenses.
He uses this towards ministry travel as needed to be able to interact with the ministers and heads of ministries and churches that have indicated an interest in becoming part of the CAC India. These funds are also used by him to assemble media teams that are working to translate and publish our message and teaching materials into Hindi and the key regional languages. This material is being made available to any apostolic, prophetic, and pastoral leader interested in understanding our vision, message, and mandate and becoming part of the CAC India.
3. $285.00 office rental.
We have also recently committed to pay $258.00 a month towards the lease payment for an CAC India Campaign office facility in Hyderabad.
A couple of months before Sandra and I left India, Ravi and I met with members of our emerging CAC India Apostolic Council. Among the subjects we discussed was how to most effectively proceed with the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign after Sandra and I have returned to the USA. In that meeting it became apparent to everyone, including myself, that we had no option but to open a CAC India office in Hyderabad. This office would also need to house a prayer room, a small library with my teaching manuals and other key apostolic and prophetic books on the Kingdom, the Church, and apostolic reformation. In addition to reading strategic books, training videos would also be available for viewing. This library will be open to any apostolic, prophetic, or pastoral leader who wants to come and study.
From this office facility Ravi can interact with me and others via WhatsApp or Skype calls. This will enable us to regularly talk face to face about strategies, structures, and special needs of the India Apostolic Campaign and the CAC India. Also with this office as a base, Ravi and other national leaders can meet to strategize and plan the work, conduct apostolic prayer meetings for the nation, and host regular leadership training meetings. From this office, Ravi and the emerging India Apostolic Council can oversee the finances of the CAC India and give overall direction to the work. (Previously our apartment in Hyderabad was where these activities took place).
I am happy to report that before Sandra and I left India, Ravi, a couple of other members of the emerging apostolic council for the CAC India, and I were able to rent a single floor of a nice house belonging to one of the brothers who has been a trusted advisor and supporter to Ravi and myself. The space we have rented is near downtown Hyderabad . It consists of 4 small rooms that include a receiving room for Ravi to enable him to sit with leaders who call on him at the office, a special room for Ravi's office (with his desk, computer, printer, and filing cabinet), a small kitchen for light refreshments and hospitality, a bathroom, and a conference room with a conference or library table and chairs that also houses what Ravi has chosen to call "The George Kouri Apostolic and Prophetic Library."
Two years ago, before Sandra and I left the USA to move to India, in order to raise the funds needed for the India mission, I sold my study library to Bishop Michael Bishop, one of my sons in the Gospel, keeping only a relatively small number of books that I felt that I needed to keep for my writing projects. As Sandra and I prepared to leave India and return to the USA, I donated most of my remaining books plus several copies of each of my published teaching notes from over the last 20 years for use by Ravi and the brothers for the India Campaign. The week before Sandra and I left for the USA, Ravi and I also produced a special video series on “God’s Requirements For An Authentic Apostolic Reformation”. These are videos of the teaching that I have shared in the four Apostolic Summits that Ravi and I conducted the last several months before we left India.
Sandra and I also left many other items from our apartment to help Ravi furnish the CAC India "office," including my desk, office equipment, and many of the kitchen and small decorator items, some small tables and chairs, and rugs that we purchased when we first got to India.
The owner of the building (his home) has also put up a an attractive tabernacle on the top floor of his building, turning the roof of the leaders for prayer meetings and leadership training events. This Christian brother is renting all of this to us for only $258.00 a month which is truly a great blessing to the India Campaign.
As mentioned above, the $300.00 a month committed for Ravi’s support, plus $300.00 for His personal ministry expense, and the $258.00 a month for the rental of our CAC India Apostolic Campaign office space comes to only $858.00 a month.
4. This does not include an additional $400.00 to $600.00 a month that it costs to host one of our Leadership Training Seminars on “God’s Agenda For The 21st Century” or a Regional Apostolic Summit on “God’s Requirements For An Authentic Apostolic Reformation” in one of the key cities or regions of India.
Note: with my wholehearted agreement and encouragement Ravi and the emerging apostolic council of the CAC India have proposed that the CAC India Apostolic Campaign and the fledgling CAC of India host at least one Leadership Training Seminar or one Regional Apostolic Summit in a strategic city or region each month for the rest of 2018, and for 2019. Ultimately this will lead up to a National Conference in October of next year primarily for the purpose of electing an India National Congress of Apostles and Elders to lead the CAC India.
This brings the total projected budget for the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign to $1,538.00 a month for the rest of 2018, and for 2019. This figure is very small considering all that has been done and all that is being accomplished by Ravi, the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign, and the CAC India’s emerging apostolic council.
Note: this does not include any costs for translating or publishing our teaching notes into Hindi or any of the regional tribal languages. Each translation costs approximately $80.00 per book. The cost for publishing runs from $200.00 to $250.00 for 1000 copies, depending on the size of the book. This is a great bargain when we have the extra funds to take advantage of it.
Our ultimate goal for funding the CAC’s India Apostolic Campaign is to hand the financial responsibility over to the Indian Christians and churches just as soon as we can responsibly do so. We have a ways to go before we can do this, because starting with the missionaries like William Carey and Adoniram Judson the churches in India have several hundred years of having had a "donor" mentally embedded in their hearts and minds. This is a consequence of the way mission work has been funded from the USA and from Europe. As a result there has been very little teaching in the churches of India on the importance of tithing or giving offerings to fund the work of the Kingdom. Therefore, for now if we do not continue to help finance the work of the India Apostolic Capaign until this mindset is changed, then my concern is that all or most of what we have done up until now will be lost and will accomplish very little. I am confident that the relatively few who have been close to Ravi and myself the last two years will be eternally changed, but they will be limited in what they can do. Please be assured that I have personally spent a great deal of time teaching, instructing, and proving from the Word God’s will and plan for financing His work with Ravi and others in the emerging leadership of the CAC India. Ravi is now in the process of teaching these principles to those with whom he has influence.
OUR ACCOUNTING OF THE USE OF THE MINISTRY’S AND OUR PERSONAL FINANCES IN INDIA
In an attempt to be transparent and accountable to you for the mission gifts and other ministry funds used over the last two years while we were in India, here are some additional things that we feel to share with you concerning both the ministry’s and also our personal finances and needs.
1. When Sandra and I left for India a little over two years ago we used a large portion of the funds we had received from selling our condo in Jax, our household furnishings, most of my library, and our car to pay for the expenses (about $19,000) for our move to Hyderabad, India.
Please know and understand that we did this willingly and joyfully as our personal financial investment in the Kingdom of God and the India Apostolic Campaign. Everything we have belongs to the Lord. He is our provider. We look to Him not only to provide for us, but also to bless our investment in the work of Christ’s Kingdom and multiply and increase our seed for sowing into His Kingdom and the global apostolic campaign.
These funds were used to pay for 1) the movers for shipping the things that we needed in India ($3,500 to ship the books I needed in India for writing and ministry, my preaching and teaching notes, our personal items like clothing and kitchen items), 2) our airline tickets to India ($3,000), 3) living in a hotel for two months - from October 16th until December 16th ($30 a day or $2,250 – certainly not a luxury hotel!) until we finally got help in finding an apartment, 4) food in the hotel for the two months we were there until we got our own kitchen ($1,700), 5) the first month rent and two additional months deposit for our apartment ($1,800), 6) and furnishing our 2 bedroom apartment and office ($7,000 to buy bedroom furniture for our bedroom and a guest room, living and dining room furniture, kitchen appliances and cooking utensils, an office desk, a printer, and other equipment needed to set up our office).
2. During our two years of living in India all our housing and personal expenses were paid out of the AMCI Apostolic Fund from the tithes and offerings given by my spiritual sons, their ministries, and churches. This included, $600 a month for the monthly lease on our two bedroom apartment, $60 a month for the utilities, $400 a month for our groceries, $10 to $15 a month for Uber for personal transportation, and an additional $125.00 a month to pay for the storage unit we rented in Jacksonville to store some of our winter clothes, pictures, and other personal things that we were not able or not wanting to sell when we sold our condo and household furnishings in Jacksonville. We also had to pay for things like our health insurance. Our total personal budget ran $1,350.00 a month.
There was nothing available for a 'salary" which we understood, did not expect, and were okay with, as we had paid off all our bills from the sale of our condo in JAX and household furnishings, and we also had sold our car before leaving the USA. Personal items, like eating out occasionally, a few extra decorator items we paid for out of our personal account here in the States.
In addition to the above mentioned expenditures, in May of 2017, I fell and broke my ankle and had to have emergency surgery and a brief hospital stay which cost over $2,000.00. I understand this was a real bargain by U.S. standards! My physical therapy afterwards (daily for 2 months) cost right at $1000.00. Because we were living in India, our health Insurance did not cover but a small portion and so we had to use our personal savings - money left over from the sale of our condo in Jacksonville.
3. The expenses for Ravi’s personal support and ministry expenses as the National Director of the CAC’s India Campaign, the costs for our leadership training seminars and regional apostolic summits, costs for translating and publishing the CAC Constitution and my teaching notes on God’s Agenda For the 21st Century were paid out of the CAC India Apostolic Campaign offerings (as these funds were available), and supplemented by funds from the CAC’s General Apostolic Fund and AMCI’s General Apostolic Fund.
4. In the last 3 months before leaving India, Ravi, Sandra, and I started to think through and implement our strategy for our move back to the US. We gave notice on the apartment as to when we were leaving, received help from Ravi and others in getting the word out concerning all the household things we were going to sell. Then we started slowly selling things. As we sold certain things, we asked if the person buying would let us use the items until the last day of August. The things that really mattered (in order to continue to live in the apartment for as long as possible) we were permitted to do so (i.e. our bed, stove, frig, and etc.). Ultimately however, this meant we had to move into a hotel for the last two weeks in India as we made final preparation to leave. We paid for our hotel room and our meals for the last two weeks with the money we had received from the sale of our apartment furnishings.
5. The middle of August, Ravi, Sandra, and I interviewed two shipping companies and chose to go with one company mostly because their representative said he was a Christian, and he was very personable. We set a date and Sandra started packing our personal items to send home and I started packing the remnant of the books and the teaching materials I wanted to take home with me. Once everything was packed, a supervisor and about 5 workmen came to the apartment and neatly stacked the boxes into a the middle of our living room floor (the shipping was to be charged by the cubic meter, not by weight). We all checked the measurements and it was written on our contract, signed by the shipping supervisor, Ravi, and myself. There was also a receipt for the $1,500.00 that we paid them on the day they picked up our shipment (we paid the shippers with the cash from the sale of our "things” that we had purchased in India to set up housekeeping).
After a few days a truck came and our boxes were picked up and put into their warehouse where we thought they would be shipped out within a week and would arrive in OKC about the middle of September or at least a week or two after our arrival in OKC. At one point the shipping company asked for a copy of our return tickets, which we gave them. On the day before our flight was to leave for OKC we got an e-mail from the shipping company indicating not only had our things not been shipped, but that they had re-measured and we now owed another $1,500.00 for them to ship our things or we could pick everything up out of their warehouse. Of course they had waited until this date, as they knew when we were leaving India.
It was apparent that our things were being held hostage as they attempted to extort more money from us (twice the original quote). As we had no time to deal with it, if we had the extra cash to give them, we probably would have paid it out of desperation. Ravi , however, encouraged us to go ahead and catch the plane, assuring us that he and some of the other CAC India leaders would work everything out.
As of a week ago, after our things had been moved three more times into various warehouses, we finally received word from Ravi that our shipment is now on the way at no extra charge to us. It should be in OKC sometime close to Christmas which is great as Sandra has numerous gifts (little things she had purchased for our apartment in Hyderabad), that she is hoping to be able to give to our 5 children, their spouses, our 21 grandchildren, and our 5 great grandchildren as a gift and memento from our time in India. We are also hopeful that everything will still be in the shipment and not pilfered at each warehouse.
We were able to pay for our flight tickets home out of the CAC India Apostolic Campaign and the AMCI apostolic ministry accounts.
6. One other negative issue we faced before leaving India was that our landlord cheated us out of our two month deposit of $1,200 on our apartment. However, knowing that our Lord is able to repay many times over what was stolen from us, we chose to consider the source and forgive him rather than quarrel with him or fight him over this injustice. There is no organization in India to help resolve this type of thing which leaves the landlords able to do what they want to do. During our two years in India we experienced numerous times what a people and a government committed to the worship of pagan “gods” do to others and allow others to do.
7. On a more positive note: during the last month before we left, Ravi and I held three very powerful and fruitful regional summits in three of the most important cities in India (New Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai).
During our last week before leaving India I also spent three days taping videos of my teaching on “God’s Requirements For An Authentic Apostolic Reformation.” These videos are being used by Ravi and the new members of the CAC India to recruit apostolic, prophetic, and pastoral leaders, heads of networks of ministers and churches to join with us in the CAC India campaign, and also to train those who commit themselves to be part of the CAC in India.
OUR RECENT MOVE TO OKC AND CURRENT LIVING SITUATION.
1. A few months ago Sandra and I purchased a lovely home in a good neighborhood in OKC together with our daughter Hannah and her husband Eric Granata. The house is large enough for the 8 of us (Hannah, Eric, their four children, Sandra and me). Hannah and Eric felt they wanted to have us close enough to be able to help us in the next few years of our life's adventure!
Sandra and I used a major portion of our remaining funds from the sale of our condo in Jacksonville to pay for our part of the down payment. Graciously, Hannah and Eric are committed to making the house payments, we will share utility, food and upkeep expenses which is a great blessing to us at our ages. (I will be 82 November 27, I would tell you Sandra’s age, but I think it is wiser that I do not.)
2. In addition to not having a house payment Sandra and I are now surrounded by Hannah and Eric’s loving family which is wonderful. In addition to Hannah and Eric’s family, our daughter Michal and her husband Jon Lusk and their 3 beautiful grown daughters and granddaughter, our son Paul and his wife Jenny and their beautiful and amazing and almost grown family, and our son Joshua and his wife Nancy and their two beautiful and amazing children all live in Oklahoma City. So we are truly surrounded by family (which you can tell we think are all beautiful and amazing). Our son Mark and his family are still residing in Jacksonville, Florida. By the way, they are also beautiful and amazing to us.
After living in India for two years and being separated for long periods of time from our family this is truly a great personal blessing from the Lord!
3. In spite of the blessing of being near our natural family, since the purchase of the house (which we purchased "as is" and at a significantly discounted price) we have discovered that the inspection failed to show up several major issues that we have had to deal with since purchasing. For example the heat and air went out and has had to be replaced. The tile floor in the kitchen has begun to crack and “pop” loose and is going to need to be replaced as soon as we can do so. The swimming pool pump has gone out and there is a leak somewhere in the swimming pool (it is yet to be determined as to where). This leak resulted in an incredible water and electrical bill during the summer months before the pump went out and we stopped using it. These issues and others that we have discovered have placed unexpected and additional pressure on the combined finances of our household.
In addition to the unexpected expense of repairs on the house, Sandra and I have also had to purchase a car to enable us to get around in OKC and for ministry trips. (We purchased a 2017 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport) Sandra and I were both blown away by what it cost to register the car, transfer the title, and purchase an Oklahoma tag. On a more happy note, our driver’s license and fishing license are FREE.)
4. The most distressing attack from the enemy that Sandra and I are presently experiencing concerns the health of our daughter Hannah. She has been very, very ill and basically bed ridden for the past four months. She has had literally thousands of dollars of tests, scans, x- rays, medications, MRI's, etc., and has been sent from one specialist to another with no answer yet as to what is causing her illness. She has just had one more appointment with an infectious disease doctor who will be checking among other diseases for a parasite infection. This may be the answer, as she has taken several trips to India in relationship with the ministry she is doing with India Christian Ministries for children at risk. On several ministry trips to India, she has gone into many small villages, where I am sure she has been exposed to many dangerous things and circumstances. Whether this is the problem or not this doctor seems to be very caring and has made a commitment to Hannah that she will find the answer! Even though Eric has very good health insurance with his work, the financial ramifications of her illness have been very great, as much of Eric's salary has gone to pay their insurance co-pays for the doctors and tests and medications. Please join us in praying for Hannah’s healing and deliverance from this diabolical attack of the evil one. Hannah, Eric and their children, Sandra and are praying and believing God for her complete healing.
5. Then finally, almost as a final demonic attack from our two years in India, on our flight home to the USA Sandra experienced a knee injury that has her in a great deal of pain much of the time. We have seriously considered knee replacement surgery, however, she does not want to go to a doctor at this particular time, as she feels that she needs to be able to support Hannah, help her care for the house, and the kids. The kids are very good to help, but at their ages they still need a certain amount of supervision and "encouragement".
CLOSING: I am very aware that I have run the risk of being misunderstood in sharing all of these personal things with you in an attempt to be transparent and accountable. However, please be assured that Sandra and I do not expect anything of you, other than to ask you to pray for us and for Hannah, Eric, and their children, as we have been under tremendous demonic attack for several months (which has left us a bit “battle worn”).
And we also ask that if you have made a financial commitment to the CAC's India Apostolic Campaign. Even though Sandra and I are no longer living in India, we are still committed to the success of this strategic apostolic mission. I plan to go in and out as the emerging apostolic leadership there feels I am needed.
Our wonderful heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ have truly opened to all of us a great and effectual door in India. This door not only enables us to preach the Gospel and extending the Kingdom of God, but also to bring ministers and churches together. With God’s help we will be enabled to restore the foundations laid by the Lord Jesus Himself and His original apostles in the beginning. This will reform the churches in India, thereby enabling them to function together as one Holy Apostolic Church and possess the cities and redeem the nation.
We know that God is faithful! Therefore, Sandra and I give Him glory for all that He has done for us and through us and we continue praying and believing God concerning our personal financial needs and the needs of the ministry the Lord has entrusted to us. We also are praying for each one of you and ask you to join with us in fighting the spiritual battle that the Lord has called all of us to fight. Also, please remember that Sandra and I do not pastor a local "congregation", and therefore we have no other support group than our family, friends, and the ministry partners that the Lord has joined to us.
Be assured of Sandra’s and my love and appreciation for each of you, and also of our prayers for God’s favor and blessings upon your life and ministry!
Bishop George and Sandra Kouri
P.S. In a week or so I will post Part 2 in which I will share with you my ministry priorities and goals for this new season, as well as a personal testimony regarding the Lord’s call upon my life and ministry (most of you have never heard the things I will share), and I will make a special apostolic appeal or you to partner with us in the work that the Lord has given us to do. If you would like to partner with us in our global apostolic ministry or make a special donation please see the donation button at Apostolic Ministries and Churches International (AMCI) and Churches page or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.