This month at our free Mission Increase Foundation workshops, we’re teaching on a truly Christian approach to Planned Giving.
I’m certain my phrase, “truly Christian approach”, will draw ire from Christian Planned Giving professionals, who will be quick to protest, “Are you saying my approach is not truly Christian?”
To which I will respond with a story.
On an recent airplane flight, I sat next to an older woman who spent the entire flight knitting.
As the flight was reaching its conclusion and we were directed to return our seat backs and tray tables to the upright position etc etc, the woman said to me, “Excuse me, but do you fly often?”
“I do,” I replied.
“My original flight was cancelled, so I’m not sure if my bags will be on this flight. Do you know what I need to do if they’re not?”
I explained to her that all bags are tossed into The Formless Void, in which there is much Gnashing Of Teeth and from whence no bags have ever been known to return.
Well, that and how to find the United Airlines baggage counter.
She thanked me for my help and apologized saying, “You’d think I would know this by now, but I haven’t flown much since I got back from Papua New Guinea in 2001.”
That perked my interest, since I’ve never known anyone who had ever been to Papua New Guinea before except for missionaries. And, indeed, it turned out that this woman, Sally, had been a missionary.
Before her husband had left her.
I expressed my sincere sympathies and asked her a little bit about what she has been doing these days.
She cares for her children and grandchildren and still thinks a lot about missionary service.
“Why not get back out on the field?” I asked.
She explained that her husband was the one who had had the college degree necessary for the kind of language work that they were doing, and because she herself didn’t have a degree, she, though a thirteen year missionary veteran, was not be eligible for language service.
At baggage claim, it turned out that her luggage had actually arrived on an earlier flight, so she departed in the company of her daughter and son-in-law, appearing genuinely happy to be among family.
“Have a good visit, Sally,” I offered in closing. “I will pray that your best years of service are ahead of you.”
“Yes, thanks,” said Sally. “I pray they are, too.”
Sally is God’s planned gift for some Christian nonprofit. Any practice of Planned Giving that can’t make sense of that statement isn’t a very Christian practice of Planned Giving after all.