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Cutting the Coal: One Man’s Lifelong Call to Missions

By Staff, Dec 12, 2017

Years ago, at the height of World War II, British coal miners were threatening to go on strike—an act which would have dramatically hurt the war effort. Winston Churchill came to the coal miners and gave a speech to encourage them. At one point in his speech, the ever-eloquent Churchill said:

“We will be victorious. We will preserve our freedom. And years from now when our freedom is secure and peace reigns, your children and your children’s children will say to you, ‘What did you do to win the freedom of World War II?’ One will say, ‘I marched for the 8th Army.’ Another will say, ‘I was a fighter pilot,’ another ‘I was in the submarine service.’ And you, in your turn, will say with equal pride and equal right, ‘I cut the coal that fueled the ships, that moved the supplies. That’s what I did: I cut the coal.’”

We too are in the midst of a great struggle, though for the kingdom of heaven. And each of us has a part to play. Some of us are called to go as missionaries, some are called to send, supporting missionaries financially or relationally, and some are called to lead our churches to be passionate supporters of global missions. Each of us who follow our call, whether to the middle of Africa or to the suburbs of Atlanta, can say with equal right, “This is missions.”

Some, like George,* seem called to just about everything.

Born in Latin America, George attended a private school and served in the army before his spiritual journey began. After coming to Christ under the discipleship of a Christian missionary, he moved to the U.S. to attend a Christian college, completing his master’s degree and launching a career as a teacher in California.

During his time as a teacher, a number of things happened. First, George was providentially able to acquire an apartment building, which provided him a supplementary income for over 30 years. Secondly, he became very involved in the missions program of his local church, supporting up to 30 missionaries at a time out of his combined income from the apartment building and teaching.

After retiring from his teaching career, George felt called to serve as a missionary himself. He and his wife moved back to the country of his birth, working with indigenous, unreached people groups in the jungle for over 15 years, even writing an authoritative book about the tribal people groups they encountered. When his wife eventually became ill, they moved back to the U.S. and lived in George’s apartment building until her death. Even as George grew older, every winter he returned to his home country to spread the good news of the gospel.

When his own health finally began to deteriorate, George had to move out of his apartment building and into a senior living center. He needed to provide for his own care, but also wanted to continue to support the advancement of the gospel through missions. The logical thing to do was to sell the apartment building, but George realized that if he sold the building outright, a great deal of the proceeds would go to the federal and state government in capital gains taxes, reducing both the amount he could keep to care for himself, and the amount that could go to support his missionaries.

George turned to MTW’s Center for Estate and Gift Planning for assistance, and together they came up with a plan—a zero tax sale. The building was sold, and George kept one part of the proceeds for himself, while another part went into a charitable trust. The tax deduction for the amount put into the trust offset the capital gains tax, providing cash for George with no tax depletion, and allowing him to buy into a residential care facility. Simultaneously, quarterly income from the trust now provides for more than his needs and still continues to support 14 missionaries. At George’s death, the trust will go into a fund that will continue to provide support for these missionaries for the entire term of their service.

Over the course of his 97 years, George has served in the struggle for the kingdom of God in multiple ways. He has been the soldier on the front lines, translating the Bible in the jungle to reach the unreached. And he has been the man “cutting the coal,” supplying the fuel—the funds that enable many others to advance the gospel across the globe. His life has been a well-lived testimony of faithful stewardship to the many calls of missions. 

MTW has resources available for donors interested in long-term planning. Visit MTW’s Center for Estate and Gift Planning to learn more.  

*Name has been changed to preserve privacy.  

 

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