These past few weeks have been among the most fun, rewarding, emotional and humbling during my time with the Foundation. We were involved in serving two individuals and a couple, all of whom asked for our help and guidance because they wanted to make gifts to ministries of the Church. At the end of the day, their combined generosity totals $4,500,000, with the possibility of more for more ministry in the years ahead.
It’s inspiring to see God’s love at work and each of these people’s desire to freely and unconditionally express their gratitude for the gift of Grace.
In 2000 the Lutheran and Catholic Church spoke jointly on the matter of “Justification”, one of the root causes for Luther’s Reformation. They said, “By Grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to do good works.” I thought about these words over the past few weeks and how they are embodied by each of the people making a gift.
It wasn’t merely the size of their gifts, but the conversations. There was no pride or bravado. They didn’t want anything in return. Instead, they spoke humbly about their faith and what the good Lord has done for them, and they simply wanted to thank the Church, which is God’s living vehicle that shepherds us in our journey of faith.
As for the gifts:
- One is a $2.5 million cash gift to create a “Donor Advised Fund”, a unique tool through which the donor will have an active hand in making annual gifts to whatever ministries that speak to her and ask for her help. A Donor Advised Fund is akin to a donor’s checkbook for charitable giving.
- The second is a $1 million bequest we received from a woman we served years ago. Prior to her passing she created a fund agreement with the Foundation to benefit her church and college. Her bequest will establish the fund and the fund will make annual awards.
- A couple also created a fund agreement that will receive $1 million upon their passing to support two ministries at their church and the Boy Scouts camp.
Not everyone has these sums to consider giving away. We may also have family considerations we want and need to address. But we are all followers of Christ, and I suggest we all think about and reflect on the word “faith”. It might grammatically be a noun, but for us it is a verb, an action word, because “By Grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to do good works.” Giving is not an obligation; it’s a faithful response to God’s gift of Grace.