Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

This item is under category Religion.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Religion • Funding Scam Targets Pastors-Churches

RENO,Nevada (9/10/12) Mike Stickler comes on strong with his various “Faith Based” companies, including Vision Group, or, Vision 2020. Once a response to one of his mailings is sent, the surge is on as the respondent is bombarded with fishing lines from Stickler promising millions of dollars in available funding.

The emails begin to arrive, every day, pushing his fundraising lectures for lessons on how to attract donors and milk donors for more.

This minister has constantly avoided this kind of ‘grab the donors’ approach, so deleted the emails. Then one came from Stickler regarding writing and winning Grant Funding.  Writing grants is legit and can greatly assist non-profits.

This morning, his “12 Secrets to Winning Grant Funding” lecture was supposedly to be an introduction to an important field. It was promised as a ‘complimentary’ lecture.

With a heavy work load as a working chaplain, to set an hour aside is a sacrifice. At the appointed time the screen was blank. It was late in starting, gobbling up valuable time.

Finally, printed copy came up, lingered and then changed as the supposed 12 secrets came up, one by one, with nothing useful.  For example, one of the secrets that came up was: “Too many people ask for grants.” Well, duh!

Throughout this ‘“lecture”, with nothing of use given, the ‘attendees’ were hustled several times to buy the complete course of books and pamphlets with a special offer of $97.00.  It was one continual time-wasting hustle.

I dropped a note to Stickler expressing disappointment. He responded with a mocking, insulting answer, including, “Do us all a favor, step aside from ministry…”  There are several like him who wish I would.

This angry defensiveness made me suspicious. I did a Google search. It showed that Stickler, who is based in Reno, is a con-man who has written bad checks, owes $257,686 along with other sizable debts.

According to the Reno Gazette Journal, in a featured expose of Stickler, he faces criminal charges in Haiti and will be arrested if he ever steps foot in that country because of not only financial improprieties but refused to pay workers he hired. Refusing to pay workers in Haiti? That is as low as one can get.

He had conducted a phony ‘relief to Haiti” operation during the 2010 earthquake which he took full advantage of.

What is even worse,  the Reno Gazette Journal, went on to report that Stickler took a little church in Sparks, Nevada, Cornerstone Four Square Church, for $23,000. He has a history of bounced checks, financial misconduct and false promises in order to enrich himself. Many churches and pastors got hurt by him.

He brought to mind Pastor Jerry Hanoum who took his congregation and others for their life savings. When it all came out, as people got together, Hanoum committed suicide.

It was by his hostile defensiveness toward me that I learned who Mike Stickler of Vision 2020 really was and is.

He will trot out a prominent ministry name, like Ron Luce, to back up and further his cause, exactly like Hanoum did to haul in some marks.

Churches, pastors, beware. Don’t be too quick to do ‘professional’ fund raising in any case. God will put the need on the hearts of people to meet the needs. Gimmicks are not needed. I think this grieves God.

For more information, Google Mike Stickler.  This only cost me an hour of wasted time. For others, like that little church, it was their life savings. We must be ever vigilant toward all, even those who say they are Christians.

End Note to Mr. Stickler:  It is strongly advised. Sir,  that you never again send a hate-email to me, mocking and belittling the ministry that God has entrusted into my hands.




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