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CERT had it’s embryonic beginning back in 1974. Founder, David Courson, was the Minister of Youth in a church in the Seattle, Washington area. He took a group of youth from the church down to Blue Fields, Nicaragua to help build a church. As the story was told to the current president, Dr. Ken Daugherty, they drove all the way from Seattle to Blue Fields in an old converted bread truck.
Shortly after returning to Seattle, hurricane Fifi hit the Carribean coast of Nicagarua with great force and destruction. Mr. Courson organized a group of men in the church to go down to help. One of the men had access to an old DC 6 plane and they loaded it with food and clothing and flew back to the area.
Upon returning to Seattle , one of the men suggested they organize an emergency relief team to respond to such disasters. Thus was the tiny beginning of what would later become know as Christian Emergency Relief Teams (CERT) International.
Later, Mr. Courson reportedly moved to the Los Angeles area and became a chaplain with the Fire and Police forces. This eventually led to the formation of National Christian Fellowship, which sponsored Bible studies in local government offices, and later into county and state offices. National Christian Fellowship also sponsored and organized both Mayoral and Governors’ Prayer Breakfasts.
Mr. Courson never lost his vision for responding to emergency needs in various areas of the world. As a result, he officially formed CERT International as a dba of National Christian Fellowship. He moved to San Diego where he continued with both National Christian Fellowship and the development of CERT International as a response organization to disasters.
Through several years of struggles and growth pains, God chose to bless the ministry of CERT until in time National Christian Fellowship became the lesser of the two operations.
During the war in Nicaragua , CERT provided relief and medical assistance to the Moskito, Ramo and Sumo Indians who fled across the Coco River into the jungles and swamps of Honduras . Support for the work began to grow when political leaders and the public in general recognized it. As a result Mr. Courson began increasing the number on his staff and expanding into areas of need in other parts of the world.
In 1988, Dr. Ken Daugherty, joined the staff of CERT International as Vice President. In early 1991, Mr. Courson chose to pursue other interests, and the Board of Directors named Dr. Daugherty president in late 1991, after serving for several months as interim or acting president.
Under Daugherty’s leadership CERT has continued to broaden the scope of its ministry into other areas. Teams continue to go to Honduras , but also into many other areas. CERT has sent teams into China , Romania , Nepal , Peru (the Amazon Jungle and Andes Mountains ), Malawi , Ghana , Bulgaria , Philippines , Lebanon , Afghanistan , Kurdistan ( Northern Iraq ), Bosnia , Croatia , Kosovo , Papua New Guinea and other areas.
The basic philosophy of CERT is to go into areas where there is little if any help available. This sometimes takes CERT into remote areas of the world. Also, CERT tries to avoid duplicating the work of other organizations. CERT is an assist organization that responds to the requests of indigenous pastors, missionaries, organizations that have a permanent presence in a country, ministries of health and government agencies, and occasionally US corporations working in a country, such as Chevron Peruvian Oil Company.
CERT has come to be known for its fiscal responsibility. It undergoes an independent audit every year. Is a member of Christian Charities USA and makes available its audit upon request. It is governed by a Board of Directors who receive no remuneration or benefits from their service.
God is given the credit, honor and glory for what is accomplished. Through the faithful prayers and support of people across America , CERT continues to grow. The attitude of CERT and its staff is that even greater days are ahead.