After reading the onslaught of horrifying press releases over the past few days (that were inspired by the Southwest Missouri Better Business Bureau’s slanderous press release) I feel compelled to respond not only to the good people of Joplin Missouri but to character assassins at the local news stations and the BBB. My family, my friends and members of my church, here in Wildwood Florida, have been following our progress over the last month while we were attempting to assist the victims of the tornado that devastated the City of Joplin Missouri, and it was the daughter of one of our supporters who called me first yesterday afternoon on the 25th of July, crying, after reading the first published news story on the world wide web. Apparently Google has a thing called “ALERTS” that sends an E-Mail to anyone who follows certain keywords when they are published on the internet, I sure have learned a lot about the internet in the last 24 hours! I guess being a Reverend’s son for the past 45 some odd years, and a Reverend myself for over 23 years (since the 13th day of November 1987), has left me a little naïve to the ways of the world when it comes to how someone’s character, the character of their family, their commitment to The Lord and the dedication of their organization can be destroyed in minutes without a second thought, or an ounce of legitimate research. For those of you in Joplin who have reached out to support and defend us here at RescueJoplin.org, we appreciate your prayers, for those of you that precipitated these events that are now unfolding and those that continue to regurgitate the despicable comments made by the BBB and the local “press”, shame on you. For everyone who donated their personal time (hundreds and hundreds of man hours), personal financial support (airline tickets, rental cars, lodging, food, ect…)and business assets(web design, graphic design, writing, videography, audio and visual ect…) to make this mission to help the people in Joplin possible, I’m so sorry that this is where we find ourselves on this somber Tuesday morning, this bears no resemblance to the feeling of fulfillment that we sought from delivering hope and assistance to families in need.
For the cynics, skeptics and the critics that are reading this, you know not of which you speak, maybe you find selfless acts of charity somewhat of an anomaly in your life, but it is not in mine, nor is it in my family’s life nor is it in the history of my Father’s ministries. Oh, by the way, this will be a long response, so for those who are not looking for the FACTS in response to the printed allegations, insinuations and defamatory statements made against myself, my father’s legacy and my family’s charities you should probably stop reading now. If you are one of the parties to the concocting or disseminating of the libelous information that has been so flagrantly and recklessly spewed around the media in the last week or so I suggest that you seek legal counsel, you will need it!
To the Attorney General “spokesperson”, Nanci Gonder, and the Attorney General, Chris Koster, I welcome any questions that you may have for me, about anything, or anyone and I will answer them without advice from legal counsel, for I have already sought my advice from The Lord. I will answer all of your questions as plainly and honestly as humanly possible and at the end we will see how quickly the media reports your findings. I wonder how many Google ”ALERTS” will come to the E-mail inboxes of my friends and family members and church members bearing the profuse apologies from the liberal secular media for assassinating my family’s good name? One will come, in due time, from the BBB, and it will come with a settlement offer, and hopefully a resignation but that will play out in the months to come and I will keep our supporters posted.
Now I will address the matter at hand.
After seeing the devastation that destroyed the City of Joplin I spoke to members of my church that were reaching out to volunteer to go to Joplin and help, several had already made plans to depart as soon as the Rescue workers would allow them in to the city. I believed that I could bring a strong message of hope to the people of Joplin, so I prayed, and God spoke to me (for those of you who The Lord does not speak to, or those that have no relationship with The Lord, I pray for you) and I then understood that I had been given the mission to go to Joplin and deliver a message of hope. You see my home town was struck by a deadly EF-3 tornado in Feb of 2007 and I experienced firsthand the outpouring of love and support from the people of my community and the people and the churches outside my community and I recognized and appreciated the importance and the impact of that benevolence. I felt that if I could in some way use my experiences as a tornado survivor to help the survivors of Joplin in some way cope better, then I would be serving the task that I had been given. I had no money to begin the endeavor with but I did have and still do have some very influential friends who share the same commitment to helping people in need, I contacted my cousin Rev. J. Dexter Goude who has carried on My Fathers ministry after his passing, the name of that ministry is Faith Ministries International you may find them at FMIchurch.org, and with a simple check of the IRS records provided in this link, IRS 501(c) 3 search, anyone with rudimentary research skills could have found the information, it is THE ONLY Faith Ministries International in Florida, they are neither “out of business” nor have they “denied any affiliation “ as falsely quoted in this BBB release below:
“There are currently no Internal Revenue Service records that indicate Rescue Joplin is a 501(c)(3) organization. RescueJoplin.org says it is administered by Faith Ministries International. According to IRS records, there are numerous 501(c)(3) organizations named Faith Ministries International. However, they are all either out of businesses or say they are not affiliated with Rescue Joplin.”
Much to the contrary in fact a copy of the resolution declaring the ministry to the people of Joplin was issued by, and signed by, Faith Ministries International’s President Rev. J Dexter Goude, it specifically articulates the reasons behind the ministry and the name of the ministry being declared “Rescue Joplin”, and furthermore the appointment of Rev. Lee Terry (myself) as the overseer. A copy of this letter has been, since day 1, and continues to be available for viewing on the “About Us” page! It is dated the 11th Day of July that being the day that Rev. Goude signed it!
With Rev. Goude’s blessing and some local business owners covering my travel and living expenses I flew to Joplin to meet with Pastor Dan Wermuth from the Joplin Family Worship Center to try and find the best place to start helping. Nine of the Christians from our churches were already on the ground helping victims when I arrived, and the outpouring of help to survivors that was being administered by Pastor Dan’s church was astounding. I felt as if I had found the right place to start, I was invited to sing at The Joplin Family Worship Center that Sunday morning during the service, and the spirit of God filled that Church. I spent hours and hours over the following weeks with Pastor Dan talking about ways to help his people recover and rebuild his community. Not once had I nor anyone I know asked for a penny in return, all we asked was what can we do to help, and that is all that I continue to ask anyone now.
Through donated time and resources I tried to contact anyone that needed help within areas of expertise that I had experience with or was educated in, my personal employment background is in construction, Pastor Dan and I concluded from speaking to one survivor after another that most people felt lost when it came to understanding the insurance claims and rebuilding process involved with rebuilding after a disaster. I invited a group of businessmen, The First Response Team, that had helped rebuild my community in 2007, to Joplin, to speak to homeowners in Joplin and give them some advice or direction on how to deal with their insurance claims and how to evaluate contractors offering home reconstruction services. They had done a fantastic job of helping my community, and I knew that the information they provided was very valuable since I had seen it help my neighbors first hand. They spent their own money and never asked for a thing, they donated to the church, to help YOUR community. I even personally reached out to several of the larger more well known local contractors in the Joplin area to see if they would like to donate their time at the church to offer free advice to homeowners who were lost and frustrated and needed some direction and I never got past their secretary. I was told quite frankly on more than one occasion that they were ”very busy” and they “don’t do that sort of thing”.
The men from First Response Team worked tirelessly and gave as much advice and direction as they could and never asked a single person to sign a contract, never accepted a dime from a single homeowner, even when it was offered to them.
Even worse there have been published reports that RescueJoplin.org was representing homeowner to their insurance companies, and that is also simply untrue, RescueJoplin.org has never made that claim nor have I offered that service to anyone, I know that because I run RescueJoplin.org and I am the only person who has ever spoken on the organizations behalf.
Since the inception of this charitable endeavor not one single dime has been openly solicited or accepted for that matter, ONLY donated time, intellect, energy and business resources have been accepted to prepare the organization to serve and assist the good people of Joplin, and now, sadly we have been savagely attacked before we could begin doing God’s work.
If and when any monetary donations are made 100% of the monies will go to help the people of Joplin ONLY, not to personal expenses, not to reimbursement of previously accrued setup expenses, all of that was already donated by people who wanted to help YOUR city. By the way that is how it was set up from the start. It seems sort of ironic that these questions were asked of me, and were candidly and clearly answered by me, in a 40 min telephonic interview by writer Jeff Lehr from the Joplin Globe on Monday July 18th, I wonder why none of that was published in the paper? All of the factors that were discussed on that phone interview have been repeated in this letter and not a word has changed, nor will it ever change.
If you wish to donate to the good people of Joplin and you have lost faith in RescueJoplin.org please don’t let this dissuade you from helping, Pastor Dan Wermuth from the Joplin Family Worship Center is an amazing man who has dedicated his life to the people of your city. Joplin Family Worship Center is one of the main “hubs” in the city for distribution of this great countries generosity, they provide 500 to 1000 hot meals a day, and distribute care packages to over 100 families and survivors every day. I pray that out of this turmoil, that has been set upon me, that the people of this city will gain what they need, which is help. I have contacted each of the national news agencies, and will be forwarding this letter and links to all of the published slanderous accusations to them.
I’m looking for a good lawyer who is well versed in slander, defamation and libel law, so if you know one send me his/her name. God Bless all of you and God Bless America!
In his faithful service,
Reverand E. Lee Terry