History of WMI
Wildfire Ministries International had been developing for well over a decade before its formation in 2012. This page describes the miraculous course of events that led to WMI’s current operation.
Executive Director, Art Thomas
WMI’s lead founder and Executive Director is Art Thomas (his story may be read on his ministry’s web site). In the fall of 2002, Art and a friend attended a conference where the Holy Spirit began to speak to him about ministry. Over and over, the Lord said, “Feed the hungry.” Later, one of the ministers at the conference came to Art and confirmed the word by simply saying those same words: “Feed the hungry.”
In Art’s words:
To be honest, I didn’t know what to do with that message. I was only 18 at the time and didn’t have much money. And to be honest, I didn’t really have that much compassion in my heart. I wrongfully decided to misinterpret what God was saying. I spiritualized the command and took it to mean that I should only preach to (or “spiritually feed”) those who are truly “hungry” for the things of God. Deep inside, I knew I was called to something more demanding, but I was always hesitant–that is, until I visited Uganda in the fall of 2011.
Evangelist Art Thomas with Pastor Paul Basuule Habib from Wanenga, Uganda
While in Uganda, Art lived half a month with a man named Pastor Paul Basuule Habib. Born and raised Muslim, Habib (later taking the name of Paul) was disowned and kicked out of his home when he decided to follow Jesus. Although his parents were alive, Habib was essentially an orphan. Through a long course of events, God led him to leave the city and live in the Bush–specifically a rural Ugandan village named Wanenga. He started a church there and faced many hardships and serious persecution in the midst of incredible victory.
Having both been orphans, Paul and his wife Helen began to take care of street children from their village by bringing them into their own home. Orphans of all ages consider them as parents; and at the time of Art’s visit, they were actively taking care of 16 orphans on their own. Pastor Paul and Helen’s dream had been to run a real orphanage, and Art could see that their intentions were pure–as evidenced by their sacrificial lifestyles and what he witnessed of their hospitality and love.
The Holy Spirit began to stir Art’s heart to help Pastor Paul build the much-needed orphanage in Wanenga. Not knowing how it might be possible, Art expressed his desire to help and returned to the States.
This is the land WMI helped purchase in Uganda for the orphanage. The man in this picture was an orphan himself, raised by Pastor Paul.
A few months later–in January 2012–Pastor Paul learned of a local man who was selling about 1 and 3/4 acres of land. The man needed the money to send his six children to school, so he was offering the land for a low price to sell it quickly–in the US, only $2,200. Pastor Paul contacted Art who then contacted his e-mail list. Through a couple generous donors, the land was purchased one month later, and plans began for the building project.
One particular donor happened to be a Michigan lawyer who offered to help Art set up an official nonprofit organization for the ministry work. Wildfire Ministries International was born.
It took a decade, but I feel like I’m finally doing what God has called me to do. I never used to see myself traveling all over the world; but in April of 2011 I was at another meeting with the same minister who confirmed the words “feed the hungry” back in 2002. I hadn’t seen him in nine years, and there’s no way he could have known me.
At that meeting, I was miraculously healed of degenerative disc disease–a condition with which I had suffered for 4 years. While on the stage testifying of my healing, this same minister stopped me and prophesied again–this time confirming things that only my wife and I had ever discussed. One of the things he said was that he saw me in a ministry traveling all over the world. What he didn’t know was that the following Sunday was my last day on staff as a pastor at my church (before launching into a traveling ministry as an Evangelist). And what none of us could have imagined was that a couple weeks later, I would be invited to Africa for the first time. God began moving things along rather quickly, and the rest is history.
Art Thomas and his wife, Robin, live in Michigan and have two children. Art travels all over the United States and the world, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ and demonstrating the love of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. For more information about Art, his family, and his ministry, please visit www.ArtThomas.org.