An E-Commerce CrisisBy Dan Vis
October 11, 2018
This week we had a major ecommerce crisis, and we're not out of the woods yet. Here's the full scoop on what happened, and what you can do to help. Here's the short version: we had to switch suddenly to a new ecommerce provider and we urgently need all our partners to reenter their card information. Thank you!
Nothing like an ecommerce crisis to test your trust in God. At least, that's my takeaway from this week! But before I tell you the story, let me say upfront, any payment information you may have shared with us is completely safe. There was no breach in our security, and your data was not compromised in any way. It was a crisis for us, not you!
About two weeks ago, we received an email from our ecommerce provider saying they were shutting down our service, and we would no longer be able to process transactions after October 1. Needless to say, this was a bit of a shock, as our ministry relies entirely on the support of our partners to continue--and that requires credit card processing!
I promptly got on the phone, to try and figure out what was happening. It turns out our payment gateway was ending its partnership with a backend merchant account processor. And evidently they had attempted to notify me of this a few times earlier by email. The problem was those emails had never made it through! And now I was left with only a couple days to figure something out...
That became my next priority.
My first thought was to migrate our customer data to a different payment gateway. This is something I had been wanting to do for some time, but had been reluctant to, because it would require a massive rewrite of all the payments systems on our site. This option was shot down, however, when my old payment gateway stubbornly refused to migrate our card information.
At one point, a support person suggested I simply switch the backend merchant account processor. I could stay with the same gateway, retain access to all our partners card information, and everything would continue along without any need to change our existing code. Sounded too good to be true!
It was. I went forward with the application process, which they kindly expedited, and was assured everything would transition smoothly. The cut-off date came and went, and transactions continued to take place. It looked like everything was going to be ok...
But it wasn't destined to last. On October 9, I woke up to discover our payment gateway had finally gotten around to disconnecting from the first merchant account processor--and it was refusing all my transactions. I called support again, and after a long discussion, was finally told they were not going to allow me to use my old card information with the new merchant account after all.
Essentially, I had been cut off from all our customer data, with zero options for accessing it, and with zero ecommerce capabilities to boot. That means 100% of our income came to a complete, crashing, halt.
With this particular payment gateway proving so intransigent, I decided the best option was to bite the bullet and rework our code to move to another service. The new company (Stripe) is the leader in this field, and working with them has been a delight. They also allow far more options, meaning we will be able to provide our partners more options as well.
Converting over was no small task, of course. Yet somehow today--just two days later--I'm happy to announce the new software is up and running. And better than ever! Reworking our code, forced me to do a thorough review of all our payment processes, which allowed me to streamline things in lots of neat ways you'll notice here and there. I'm actually now excited about the changes!
But I never was able to get our members' card information. That means every one of our partners will need to re-enter their card information in order for us to continue serving them. If every partner were to do this over the next few days, the whole experience could end up being a small blip on our rear view mirror. Whether or not that will happen, remains to be seen... :)
LessonsThere are spiritual lessons in everything. And if we are open to the Spirit's leading, He will teach us those lessons in every situation. Though I've had my head deep in code for the last couple days, I can't help but reflect on the lessons God would have me learn through this experience.
1) Trust in God
I've been to this school a few times. God wants us to rely on Him, and not our resources. I remember when I first stepped out into full-time faith-based ministry many years ago--and the stress that went with it, of never knowing how we would pay our next bill. Up to that point, I thought I had faith in God--but would often find myself anxious and worried. I quickly realized I didn't know as much about true faith as I thought! But God always came through, and many times in unusual and even supernatural ways. And I gradually began to develop a deeper trust. Now I have the privilege of another opportunity to practice trusting again!
2) Don't Trust in Money
The flip side of this is that putting our trust in money is not a great idea. If our security is in the things we possess, that security can be shattered at any time. Revelation 13:17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. warns us that a time is coming when all who refuse to receive the mark of the beast will be unable to buy or sell. Seeing our income drop from just what we need to maintain our small family all the way down to nothing, literally over night, reminds me this could happen to anyone at any time!
3) God Gives Grace
Trying to rewrite all our software to use a brand new system was a pretty major job. I've been an amateur programmer for a while now, but things like this are never easy. There are always unexpected dips and curves in the road, and there's no way to anticipate how things are going to go. But through the entire process, I felt God's divine inspiration, giving me ideas and solutions to every challenge. And it came together remarkably quickly. All glory to Him!
4) The Enemy is Hateful
I was actually a bit uneasy about things leading up to this. We had been putting out some important new courses like Prayer Secrets, Unleashed, and our Worker Tools class, and God had been blessing. We also have what is probably our most important class coming up: the Breakout Memory Challenge. In fact, we've lined up about a dozen different ministries to help promote this class--the first time we've ever tried something like that. And enrollment opens in just a few days--not a great time to have an ecommerce crash! I was uneasy, because I've noticed through the years that this is exactly how the enemy works: when things are moving forward, Satan tries to throw a wrench in things. But God is greater. And ultimately, He makes it all work together for good...
5) A Godly Wife is Precious
Lastly, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge my amazing wife. She is not always so active on our site, because she's much more a people person than a computer person--but she's been a rock of support from the very beginning of FAST. And when I broke the news about what had happened, she never even blinked. God would take care of us. She offered to help anyway she could. And she just encouraged me to remember God is in control. She could have easily become upset, anxious, or irritable. But instead, she has been a constant source of strength through the whole ordeal! A wife like that is precious.
Now begins the next step of trying to reach out to all our current partners and asking them to update their card information. So we can get back to our mission of bringing cutting-edge, Bible-centered training to the world...
Are You a Partner?If you are a partner and need to update your card information, you can do that by clicking the button below. We'll make sure everything is working properly and get you taken care of. Thank you for your continued support of FAST!
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CommentsHave you ever had a crisis like this, where every things turns upside down over night? Have you had experiences where God really came through for you and taught you to trust in Him? Share a note below...
|Posted by Fiona van Wyk on 10/13/18|
|I am so sorry to read of the crisis, Dan. And I too appreciated your explanation, and the lovely bit about your wife. How lovely to have such a wonderful friend in marriage. Blessings.|
|Posted by Dan Vis on 10/12/18|
|Thank you Shirley! I still get homesick for my church family there. Say hi to everyone for me. :)|
|Posted by Shirley Phillips on 10/12/18|
|Oh I am so happy God is taking care of you and the part about your precious wife put a huge smile on my face:} I think God is preparing all of us for what is coming. Revelation 3:11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. "Behold I come quickly hold that fast which thou hast that no man take thy crown." We need to hang on tight. Just remember your family from Illinois is always praying for you.|
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