As Trust Services Director for the North Pacific Union, I had been invited to present a financial planning seminar to alumni and friends of Walla Walla College during homecoming weekend. My topic focused on “investments.” I stated at the beginning that investment was only one of a number of important subjects to be considered in successful financial planning. Other topics were income management, education planning, insurance evaluation, retirement, tax, and estate planning.
I told the group it was important to remember that every person has limited financial resources and if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. If financial security was important to them, then financial planning was not optional. Success could be predicted if they had a plan and followed it.
At the close of the presentation, I emphasized the importance of having a plan that produced spiritual and material harmony. Such a plan includes giving a regular portion of your money to God’s work and the needs of others, matching your giving plan with a savings plan, and using the remainder in a joyful and discerning manner to fulfill your highest interests. At the close I asked for questions.
An elderly gentleman sitting next to his frail wife raised his hand and asked earnestly, “How near are we to the second coming of Jesus?” The question caught me by surprise as I thought he might have wanted further financial explanations. The question however was not on material or temporal gain but rather on the eternal. “How near are we to the coming of Jesus?”
Looking at him I said, “According to Bible prophecy, we are living in the last days of earth’s history, and I believe it is much sooner than we think.” Within a year they both were laid to rest. They were faithful in life and supported generously the church they loved. They each had an estate plan that provided for family and God’s closing work.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with Anne-sofie. Anne-sofie, her mother, and other family members fled the advancing Russian army during the waning months of World War II. Finding sanctuary in western Europe, they lived in a one-room apartment.
One day, Anne-sofie was in the basement boiling sugar beet juice to make syrup when a knock came at the door. Her landlord, Mr. Meier, was not home so she answered. A Mr. Fredriche was at the door selling things. Since she was not interested in buying any of his products, Mr. Fredriche started talking about the Bible.
“I had been reading the Bible every day and had so many questions,” Anne-sofie relates. “He said that he would study the Bible with me and so we set a time to study.”
In the meantime, Mr. Fredriche met Mr. Meier and started to talk about the Bible to him. Mr. Meier invited him to his house to study because, he said, they had a woman living in their house who was reading the Bible every day.
After several weeks of study, Mr. Fredriche gave Anne-sofie his copy of The Great Controversy to read. It was the only book he had. She read it through and cried the entire time because it affected her so. “I had been searching for something and here, all at once, it was,” she said.
At that time she made the decision that if she ever got the money, she would distribute The Great Controversy to bless others as she had been blessed.
When the studies in the Meier home abruptly ended, Mr. Fredriche made arrangements for her to continue studying with him at Mr. Meier’s sister-in-law’s home.
They continued to study for six months and Anne-sofie was baptized in 1948. “It was as if the Lord had provided places for me to study,” she said. “I felt it was a divine appointment.”
Anne-sofie came to the United States in 1951 and made her way to the Northwest. One Sabbath, as she was greeting at the door of her church, a man walked in and Anne-sofie greeted him. While waiting for Sabbath school to end, they talked. Anne-sofie discovered that his wife had died, and he found out that Anne-sofie had been divorced since the war. Ultimately, they were married and bought a large home in Oregon. They were together for several years, and Anne-sofie says that her husband was a saint.
Just about a week before he died, he made the last payment on their house and paid the income taxes. He had a will that made provision for his children and Anne-sofie.
Soon thereafter, I was invited to make contact with Anne-sofie. I helped her sell the house and created a plan to distribute the proceeds according to her wishes.
I wrote a memorandum of understanding to help her to accomplish her goals. She wanted to print 100,000 copies of The Great Controversy for distribution as well as support native ministries, prison ministries, local and union conferences, It Is Written, The Quiet Hour, and the other preaching ministries. All that was accomplished.
In addition, she has helped to build churches in the Philippines, put roofs on churches in Africa, and has supported seven Bible workers: two in Russia, two in India, and three in Africa. It is a great satisfaction to her to know that even while she is sleeping, someone somewhere is awake and working for the Lord. She has received reports of thousands of people accepting the Lord because of her generosity. Her support has also gone to many church and national humanitarian organizations.
She has personally shared another 100,000 copies of The Great Controversy by going house to house, by mailing them, and by other means. She feels that eventually money will not be worth anything, and she might as well use it in spreading the gospel while it is still good.
Why would she want to give money to evangelize people when her money could be kept for herself? She emphatically replies, “Can you tell me any better place to invest my money?”
She continues, “If I can have a part in hastening Christ’s coming, is there anything better? Only in heaven will I be able to meet all of these people that I had a part in sharing with. And when those who read the books tell others and they tell others, it becomes a pretty good group.”
Anne-sofie’s example has reminded me of what it means to be a faithful steward. We’re all born to be stewards—we’re given life and the privilege of managing time, talent, and resources. Some choose to be unfaithful stewards, elevating self to the role of Master. I have seen where that leads—empty and desperate lives. Others, like Anne-sofie, make the Lord their Master and manage everything they have for His glory. I have seen the peace and joy that choice brings, and those examples heighten my own resolve to keep my eyes on eternal values and eagerly look forward to Christ’s return. •
Trust Service Directors in the Northwest
North Pacific Union Conference
(208) 375-7524, Ext. 118
Upper Columbia Conference
Ron Smith(503) 652-2225RonS@npuc.org
Walla Walla College
Visit the Cycle of Life web site for more information. http://willplan.npuc.org