After businessowner George E. Warren became a Christian at Cornerstone Church in 1985, the value the Bowie, Maryland, church placed on missions intrigued him. Although he considered becoming a missionary himself, Warren instead started a group called Kingdom Investors made up of Christians and non-Christians interested in supporting a variety of missionary and compassion projects around the world. In 17 years, the group has raised and donated $2.8 million in partnership with Cornerstone.
“We saw a niche for businesspeople who wanted to support humanitarian works, who may not go to our church, but believed in what we do and wanted to be part,” says Cornerstone pastor Mark A. Lehmann.
Kingdom Investors’ first meeting in 2002 drew 10 local businesspeople, many of them Warren’s competitors in the commercial heating and air conditioning industry around Washington, D.C. The Assemblies of God World Missions executive director at the time, L. John Bueno, spoke, and Warren and Lehmann presented the vision for the new ministry. They used the $26,000 raised that night to install a heating system in an orphanage in Uzbekistan.
“We didn’t know what would happen, but after that meeting, we knew it had potential,” Lehmann says.
Kingdom Investors donates 100 percent of donations to projects, and has thrived by allaying the concerns businesspeople have about accountability and effectiveness.
“Businesspeople are skeptical, and rightly so,” says Lehmann. “We say anytime you want to see where the money goes, we can show you.”
Lehmann and Warren travel frequently to project sites to confirm that the dollars are being spent well.
“We go over and make sure that what we paid for got built,” says Warren, 64. “I come back and report with pictures of what we funded.”
Warren runs the ministry essentially single-handedly, with Cornerstone handling the minimal administration it requires. Kingdom Investors now raises more than $300,000 annually, mostly from non-Christian businesspeople.
“We believe strongly that God wants us to engage people who aren’t engaged yet,” Lehmann says. “Many of them have come to faith. They get involved and see the good that’s happening.”
Two annual golf tournaments bring missionaries and supporters together, and raise money for projects. Kingdom Investors prints a booklet every year with projects that can be supported, such as a center for street kids in the Philippines, a feeding program at a Calcutta church, disaster relief in the U.S., Adult & Teen Challenge, local pregnancy centers, anti-human trafficking organizations, orphanages, and a ministry-related coffee shop in Moldova.
Teams of supporters from Kingdom Investors traveled to Port Arthur, Texas, and Newburn, North Carolina, to rebuild hurricane-damaged homes this spring. Some commerce supporters have gone on informational trips with Convoy of Hope to countries such as Haiti and El Salvador to see what Convoy is doing with donated money for children’s feeding programs.
Kingdom Investors works frequently with Convoy of Hope to send food, sewing machines, and farm equipment to impoverished villages in places like Indonesia and Africa. Kingdom Investors also holds local food-packing parties to assemble soy beans, rice, vegetables, vitamin powder, and other supplies in bags and on pallets for distribution in Haiti and at domestic community outreaches. Kingdom Investors packs up to 150,000 meals a year.
The vast majority of projects go through the Assemblies of God, Lehmann says. Warren’s business background carries weight in convincing donors of the value of the partnership.
“Credibility and accountability are huge for us,” Lehmann says. “Businesspeople want to know, What’s my return on investment? It can be, I helped change a life. I gave that person hope and a future.”
Warren also heads up Cornerstone’s men’s ministry. His daughter served as an AG missionary associate in Ecuador for a year. Both Warren and Lehmann say their partnership allows them to accomplish more together than apart.