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An E-Commerce Crisis
By Dan Vis
October 11, 2018
Comments: 14

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... :)

Lessons

There 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!

UPDATE CARD

Click here to Become a Partner and here to Sponsor your Church...


Comments

Have 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 10/16/18
Thank you for sharing your stories, Carole and Chrissie. They are encouraging. I, too, Chrissie, nursed my late husband through an illness - cancer, in this case. God gave me strength too to do so despite struggling with my own health problems. God is good. My prayers are with you as you go from day to day. And how encouraging, Carole, to read how God spared all your family (including your pet) in that terrible crisis. What a blessing.
Posted by Dan Vis on 10/15/18

Thanks for the encouragement Carole, and for sharing your story. I can only imagine what it felt like to think you may have lost your home, or even worse your family (with pet). Makes me put our experience in perspective. Hardly anything. :)

But praise God. Like you said--God is in control... And we have a great group of support partners. I'm sure things will work out great in the end for FAST!

Posted by Carole Bliss on 10/15/18

This is an amazing story. Only growth will come because of this happening, even though, it was so hard at first. Years ago I was at work, and I got a call our house was on fire. I had two children at home and one in college. When I arrived home, praise God, both of my children were outside. At the end of the day, even our family pet got our safe. All life was spared! I will never forget that experience. The inspector said homes like this usually are leveled. GOD IS IN CONTROL.

Blessings, Carole

Posted by Dan Vis on 10/15/18
Thanks for your testimony Chrissie of how the Lord provides for us. And I loved the joyful note at the end about how one day you'll both "run and not be weary, walk and not be faint in His kingdom". That's the blessed hope for all of us, isn't it?
Posted by Chrissie Decker on 10/15/18

October 4 of 1996, my husband and I signed on our 'new' older home. There were needed updates to wiring and elsewhere requested by the lender and we had the option of getting a larger loan to cover making them. I felt impressed that we should not do so. My husband let me make the decision and we did not increase the size of the loan.

February 1 of 1997, my husband had a major stroke. We lost over 3/4 of his income because he had not joined the union where he worked. They did not help us at all, but he was eligible for short-term disability, which he received.

The MD treating him, filled out the paperwork for Social Security Disability as soon as he was approached, though my husband could not receive it immediately for some strange reason, I think you had to be disabled for a period of time first...anyway, the disability was granted without contest.

Our income was only a couple of hundred dollars over what we paid for our house payment. We received Medicaid, food stamps, and 'love offerings' multiple times. I was also disabled, and now we receive a smaller monthly amount under my name as well as his larger amount. (I was a stay-at-home mom, so not as many work credits)

We have never been late for our house payment. We have had multiple other expenses through the years, but each have always been cared for. We have food in the fridge and cupboard, though not fancy, nutritious. God has never left us. He never will. Our home still needs the updating and repairs yet, God has kept a dry roof over our heads. He has helped me make some of the minor repairs myself. If others are needed, He always provides. I can trust Him with it all.

My husband has had some more minor strokes this spring and summer. He is at least 1/4 blind in each eye. He needs help with dressing, walking, cues on what to do next at times. He fell in early August and has a concussion... He is nursing level care now. God has helped me with the strength and stamina to provide and care for him. Someday soon, we'll both run and not be weary, walk and not be faint in His kingdom. Things could look pretty bleak right now except that I know in Whom I have believed! Praise the Lord!

Posted by Dan Vis on 10/14/18

Thanks Zewdi. And you are absolutely right. This is surely going to turn to our advantage in the long run. Our new system is definitely going to be much better.

And agreed Jason! I've been wanting to switch over to Stripe for a long time but we were kind of locked into our old provider. Stripe even offered to facilitate migrating the data securely, but to no avail. I'm sure this is going to be a big step forward eventually. Of course in the meantime... :)

Thanks everyone for keeping us in your prayers!

Posted by Jason Diehl on 10/13/18
I love using Stripe myself and for all my clients. Works great, and love their recurring tools. Trying to migrate CC data is always futile, it breaks PCI Compliance Law and a big no no. There are a lot of security features around Credit Cards this day and age. Glad to hear you came through and with a few lessons.
Posted by Zewdi Isaac Enbom on 10/13/18

Hi Pastor Dan,

I am sorry to hear about the crisis, I believe God brings these crisis for us to learn something from it:
1. To deepen our faith in Him, especially when we see Him turn the situation to our advantage.
2. He wants us to rethink on the situation, and next time around to have a better agreement that benefits us.

I am glad everything worked out for the better. And thank you for sharing the spiritual insight you got out of all this problem.

Many blessings,
Zewdi

Posted by Dan Vis on 10/13/18
Thanks Fiona! Appreciate the kind sentiments. And loved your story Anita! We had many similar experiences when we went through our first fulltime faith experience. It was pretty incredible. Just yesterday we had two new churches signup as partners. Just a little confirmation from God He is still taking care of his children!
Posted by Anita Huffman on 10/13/18

Thank you for sharing your story and the lessons learned, Dan.

We certainly have had a crisis that tested and increased our faith. My husband, whose name is Dan, was a busy supervisor of around 25 men in winter and up to 40+ during summer, was injured on the job in Dec of 1997. To make a very long story shorter, he is much improved now but still wears a back brace contraption that supports his spine and left shoulder.

We spent several months with zero income until Workers Comp and disability payments got going but God provided in amazing ways. Often through family and friends and people Dan had worked for decades ago.

Dan was always a "helper" and did things for people and wouldn't let them pay him anything. I remember one summer day, we got a car insurance bill in the mail and it was for $201.00. I told the Lord, "I have $1. Will you supply the $200?" The very next day, we got a check in the mail for $200 and a note saying "Dan, remember when you fixed my spring and water lines coming into my house and wouldn't let me pay you? Please accept this gift."

God is faithful!

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 Shirley Phillips on 10/12/18
My pleasure!
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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