Shelter For Life International Inc.


SFL specializes in providing medium to long-term shelter solutions for IDP's, refugees and disaster victims. They also have a long track record in infrastructure projects (schools, clinics, roads, bridges, water supply system, etc.), emergency relief distribution and community development. SFL has worked in Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Honduras, Kosovo, India, Iraq, Pakistan and Western Sahara.

This organization is a nonprofit. Contributions to it are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Contact information

Mailing address:
7767 Elm Creek Blvd.
Maple Grove, MN 55369-5369


Phone: (763) 416-0441


Organization details

EIN: 391657081

CEO/President: Mr. Randall Olson

Chairman: Mr. David H. Hohimer

Board size: 10

Founder: Thor and Debi Armstrong

Year founded: 1979

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 12/31

Member of ECFA: No

Member of ECFA since:


Shelter for Life ("SFL") is a Christian ministry committed to serving refugees and the destitute. SFL was organized to provide emergency relief and development services to refugees and displaced persons throughout the world. SFL works in partnership with concerned individuals, churches, and donor organizations to deliver emergency shelter, food, schools, jobs, and hope to those who need it most.

SFL was established in 1979 by Thor and Debi Armstrong and has helped families in many countries rebuild their lives. SFL's program focus is finding answers to the shelter needs of the disaster-ravaged poor. Emphasis is placed on grass roots, community development projects that provide displaced people with the tools, training, and materials necessary to rebuild their homes. Ministry teams construct homes and produce the construction materials with refugee families.

Shelter for Life is currently working in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Central America. The primary source of its revenue is grant awards from international and private donor agencies.

This organization is a nonprofit. Contributions to it are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Mission statement

Shelter for Life expresses its mission as follows:

To respond quickly and with compassion to those who as a result of war, persecution, or natural disaster are homeless and need help and by doing so to demonstrate God's love for all people.

Statement of faith

Shelter for Life uses the following to express its faith:

1. We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.
2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
5. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Transparency grade


To understand our transparency grade, click here.

Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Relief and Development

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating101 of 59324 of 68
Fund acquisition rating51 of 59310 of 68
Resource allocation rating139 of 59328 of 68
Asset utilization rating338 of 59351 of 68

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$390,043$262,840$277,198$263,170$281,809
Short-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$6,753,183$1,282,605$1,414,867$4,819,063$6,576,043
Long-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Fixed assets$19,396$11,745$19,683$27,622$15,148
Other long-term assets$8,075$8,515$67,236$312,270$241,186
Total long-term assets$27,471$20,260$86,919$339,892$256,334
Total assets$6,780,654$1,302,865$1,501,786$5,158,955$6,832,377
Payables and accrued expenses$318,147$141,602$310,222$221,678$272,005
Other current liabilities$5,785,174$578,147$588,116$4,122,664$5,641,525
Total current liabilities$6,103,321$719,749$898,338$4,344,342$5,913,530
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$85$25$6,833$0$0
Total long-term liabilities$85$25$6,833$123,000$198,000
Total liabilities$6,103,406$719,774$905,171$4,467,342$6,111,530
Net assets20182017201620152014
Temporarily restricted$22,678$12,717$12,717$12,566$7,466
Permanently restricted$0$0$0$0$0
Net assets$677,248$583,091$596,615$691,613$720,847
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$3,363,542$848,006$3,676,009$1,666,105$2,436,031
Program service revenue$953,885$476,330$730,882$753,272$497,559
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$829$8,218$23,404$23,409$44,980
Other revenue$0$5,928$862$1,105$4,354
Total other revenue$954,714$490,476$755,148$777,786$546,893
Total revenue$4,318,256$1,338,482$4,431,157$2,443,891$2,982,924
Program services$3,696,430$1,129,350$3,694,775$2,070,811$2,587,990
Management and general$545,690$333,505$831,236$401,684$459,505
Total expenses$4,242,999$1,463,055$4,526,155$2,473,125$3,047,530
Change in net assets20182017201620152014
Surplus (deficit)$75,257($124,573)($94,998)($29,234)($64,606)
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets$75,257($124,573)($94,998)($29,234)($64,606)

Response from ministry

No response has been provided by this ministry.


The work of Shelter for Life began as a response to the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union. When millions of Afghan refugees flooded into Pakistan and Iran, Thor and Debi Armstrong and a small team of volunteers responded by going to Peshawar, Pakistan to help meet the needs of Afghan refugee families. Using funds received from individuals and private donor agencies, SFL was able to establish a multi-purpose Geodesic Dome Project that was used to provide safe, durable housing for widows and disabled refugees. Subsequently, SFL established factories in Afghanistan to produce concrete roof beams and other housing components rebuilding family homes. SFL's position in the field afforded it the flexibility to respond to needs and opportunities as they developed. Between 1979 and 1990, thousands of homes were built for Afghans in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The work in Peshawar continues to this day and is now managed by Shelter for Life Germany.

In 1991, the Gulf War sent millions of Kurds fleeing from their homes. Shelter for Life responded and rebuilt over 10,000 Iraqi Kurd homes. The work of SFL has grown over the years to include projects in Tajikistan, Honduras, Angola and Burundi, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, and Sri Lanka.

Program accomplishments


  • With funding from Operation Blessing and SEL France, Shelter For Life was able to construct a girls' school in Istalif. The school accommodates at least 250 girls who now have access to education. A girls' school was also constructed in Mamaye. School supplies were given to both teachers and students. Financial support for teachers and teacher training was included. In an education project, teachers were selected from several schools and trained in basic hygiene and nutrition. Upon returning to their schools, they taught their fellow teachers, who then taught the children. This will have far-reaching benefits for the children.
  • SFL provided warm, dry rooms for 44,264 families - approximately 265,600 people.
  • A variety of items were distributed to families based on need. Some families needed stoves, fuel, and blankets or rugs to keep out the cold. Others needed structural items such as roofing material, windows, and doors.
  • For those returning to northern Afghanistan who found their homes destroyed by war, SFL constructed 1,091 homes, benefiting approximately 6,500 people.
  • The year 2003 represented the fourth year of a five year community development plan in the villages of Howvaskor, Markism, Soxtomon, Karl Marx, and New Life villages in Khatlon provence. Work began in late 2003 and went through 2004 with 100 recent Tajik male youth returning from Pakistan for which SFL staff conducted business training, skills training, micro-loans, and construction management seminars.
  • Health lessons have been taught to a nearly 5,000 women over the course of the program.
  • SFL conducted summer camps for children in three villages during 2003, 100 children in total and 20 teen- age volunteers. They also conducted 36 workshop clubs in 2003, for children, women, and men, in five villages. Lessons have included English language, computer, sewing, woodworking, TV repair, and other life skills training. And, over $250,000 in micro-credit loans has been distributed in 20 villages in Khatlon over the past three years. That project has been implemented by the local Tajik NGO, Development Fund. Over 2,000 families have benefited from this program, an impact of more than 12,000 individuals.
  • Similar community initiated projects and skills seminar have been implemented by SFL in Farkhar, Qabodian and Sughd regions of the country as well.
  • SFL is currently carrying out a water supply project benefiting 1,044 families in the villages of Delyzian, Soran and Sardow in northern Iraq. In addition, SFL is building 104 homes for displaced families and carrying out a rubbish collection and sensitization project in various villages in northern Iraq.
  • SFL was able to secure United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funding in February 2005 to provide short-term jobs for 34 women and 8 months of employment for 301 men.
Sri Lanka
  • During 2003 proposals for a housing program in 3 villages of Mannar were approved. In 2003 and 2004 the goal is to construct 279 houses, 200 latrines and 5 water wells. The starting date of the project was planned for the first quarter of 2003.
  • Construction started in the first village, called Chemmantheevu with working continuing into 2004. As SFL has its main field office in Isaimalaithalvu (Mannar), the people of the village asked to help them with a water project at their primary school. Therefore a water tank with pump and taps has been installed at the school yard.