I received some fruit in the mail recently that made my day. It made me pause and, with deep appreciation, give thanks. No, this wasn’t one of those delicious-looking boxes from Harry and David. It was a check made payable to Grace Communion International (GCI) for $51,000.
In my role as Treasurer of our church, I have to make sure all our bills are paid on time. So I am grateful for all the donations we receive so regularly from the faithful and generous people who help make it possible for us to share the gospel with others. Every gift, whether large or small, is a vital part of the gospel work God has entrusted to us. We know from Jesus’ words about the widow’s offering in Luke 21:1-3 that he looks not at the amount of the gift, but at the heart of the giver. The widow gave sacrificially from the heart, Jesus said, while many of the rich were giving for show.
Let me explain why the donation I mentioned above was cause for special appreciation. You see, this check arrived in 2011 because someone, whom we will call Mary, decided to plant a financial seed for the gospel back in 1964.
Fruit from that seed, in the form of a check, has arrived almost every year since that time. It is inspiring how God has used them to bless others long into the future through their thoughtful seed planting so many years ago. How did they do it?, you might wonder.
Mary wanted to be able to support the church after her death with the same generosity as she had when she was alive. So she and her husband set up what is known as an inter-vivos (living) trust in 1964. A financial institution was appointed as trustee. A trustee is responsible for carrying out the directives of the trust (investing the funds, making payments, proper reporting, etc.). In this case, the trust documents direct that GCI is to receive 4 percent of the value of the trust assets each year, after expenses. Because well-managed funds typically produce more than a four percent annual return, the trust fund has grown steadily for the last 47 years, making the 4 percent the church receives more valuable each year. Mary’s fund is now worth over $4 million and growing, providing much fruit every year to support the mission of the church. Just think how many people have had the chance to experience the gospel as a result of that initial seed Mary had the foresight to plant!
That is why I paused in thankful reflection when I saw the check from Mary’s special fund, and why I began thinking about what kind of financial seeds I could plant today in order that others may learn of the love of God after I am gone.
Perhaps you too are in a position to join Mary in thoughtfully planting financial seeds for the gospel. On behalf of those who will one day learn about the good news because of seeds you plant today, thank you.
There are several ways of planting seeds that produce long-term financial fruit for the gospel.
Some people choose to name Grace Communion International directly in their will as a full or partial beneficiary. Others choose to name GCI as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy once their children are grown or after a spouse dies, reducing the original need for the policy.
Some options provide substantial tax benefits either now or to your estate. But they all provide the satisfaction of controlling how the fruit of your life’s work will be used as opposed to relinquishing that right to the state or to others who may not care as much as you do about your wishes and priorities.
The legal department of Grace Communion International can offer some basic information on how to name the church as a beneficiary in simple wills and trusts. We provide this service without cost or obligation. However, for legal reasons we cannot write your will for you. For more information, write to:
Legal Office, GCI
PO Box 5005
Glendora, CA 91740
You can also email the Legal Office at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For legal reasons, you should contact the Legal Department personally, and not have someone else do this for you.
Some estate situations can become very complicated, and it has become a very specialized field. For this reason, if your situation is complicated, you should contact an estate lawyer.
Mathew Morgan, 2011