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Reaching Souls International Claims 100M Conversions, 60K Churches Planted

Ministry claims to reach millions through open air events in Africa, Cuba, Mexico, and Vietnam

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After praying for the sick child of a village leader, Missionary John in Malawi was invited by the village leader to preach the Gospel. “I preached the Gospel and forty people came to Jesus Christ…The following week I baptized 30 people from this village,” John wrote in his report to Reaching Souls International.

Reports like these are not uncommon for CEO Dustin Manis to receive from the national missionaries it supports in 11 African countries, Cuba, Mexico, and Vietnam.

The mission of Reaching Souls International since its founding in 1986 has been to “reach the maximum number of people for Christ in the least amount of time and in the most efficient way.”

Over the lifetime of its ministry, Reaching Souls claims to have seen 100 million decisions for Christ and 60,000 churches planted.

It empowers local leaders, already passionate and engaged in sharing the Gospel with their fellow countrymen, to expand their reach. Reaching Souls gives them monthly support—an average of $75 per month—so they can spend more time on evangelistic endeavors rather than subsistence farming to feed their families. They are also given a bicycle, portable sound system, and vinyl flip charts to help illustrate the Gospel message.

Reaching Souls currently supports 2,370 national missionaries across 14 countries. Before last year, it had only supported men, but in 2022, it began supporting 100 women missionaries and plans to continue expanding that number.

In its early years, Reaching Souls found its missionaries through denominational leaders. Now that it has a network of missionaries who are discipling and mentoring young “Timothys,” Reaching Souls has a steady stream of applicants.

In order to qualify as a national missionary, a candidate applies with a written testimony before participating in a face-to-face interview where he explains how he sees the support of Reaching Souls expanding his ministry’s reach.

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Manis told MinistryWatch that Reaching Souls is careful in choosing its missionaries—people who want to spread the Gospel—so it doesn’t stray from its mission into humanitarian endeavors. The missionaries need not be part of a particular denomination; they must agree on the essentials of salvation.

The missionaries are asked to host 12 open-air events per month. Beforehand, they often visit villagers door-to-door before the service takes place. After the event, they report results like John in Malawi, and Reaching Souls keeps a tally. According to its annual report, Reaching Souls said more than 6.8 million decisions were made to follow Christ in 2021.

Manis said the national missionaries aren’t given a quote or goal of any kind so they aren’t incentivized to inflate numbers. Further, the ministry performs spot checks to verify the reports.

Many of the open-air events are held in transitory areas, like bus stations, so not all the people who respond to the Gospel can be discipled by that same evangelist, Manis said. He also could not verify how many congregants attend the 60,000 churches planted by Reaching Souls missionaries. Seven baptized believers must be worshiping together to be considered a church.

Manis gives the glory to God for answering their prayers and blessing their efforts. Reaching Souls International has been growing and expanding steadily over the last several years. Manis said they plan to expand into Colombia and Venezuela in the spring of 2024. He also said their goal is to reach 5,000 national missionaries in the coming years, although he couldn’t provide an exact date for achieving that goal.

Its revenue grew from about $4 million in 2018 to almost $7 million in 2022. According to its IRS Form 990, Reaching Souls has about $10 million in assets on hand. Manis explained that $2.7 million of that is a 150-day cash reserve for operating expenses, $1 million is an endowment, and $3.4 million consists of a large stock contribution made years ago that is slowly being cashed out.

In the MinistryWatch database, Reaching Souls has an A transparency grade, a one-star financial efficiency rating, and a donor confidence score of 84 (“give with confidence”).

MinistryWatch inquired about the salary levels of some of its listed employees. Ben Manis, Dustin’s father, carries the title of president emeritus and receives a $45,000 salary per year. He is paid to do development work and fundraising for Reaching Souls. Leah Scoles, assistant to the president, carries out more duties than are reflected in her title, Manis said. Her $104,849 salary package compensates her for her work as the executive assistant to both the CEO and COO, planning ministry events, and handling the ministry’s information technology needs.

Manis’ salary package for serving as the CEO and president is $306,191. He has worked with Reaching Souls for 26 years, 14 of those as CEO. The board reaches the compensation each year after studying comparative salary data, reviewing the CEO’s performance and leadership in achieving the ministry’s strategic goals. Manis’ salary does not fall into the list of the top 100 salaries paid to ministry executives.

Main photo: Video screenshot via Reaching Souls International

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.