Two are Better than One
Just days before our December wedding, I (Ella) sat on my bedroom floor tying dozens of pairs of candy canes together with red ribbon and a white scrap of paper with a verse on it to be used as favors at each place setting. The verse read, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor” (Ecc. 4:9). I was marrying the love of my life, Jesse Gentile, and truly felt that we were joining our efforts for the Lord. We each had ambitions and ideas of work we wanted to do to serve the Lord and His beloved Church. Fourteen years later we often recount to our children all that the Lord has done and is doing – taking two people and using them as one.
Similarly, we, at BSS, would like to take this opportunity to tell you all that the Lord is doing through you. He has taken your individual efforts and joined them with others and with BSS to good reward. Thanks to your faithfulness and generosity through charitable gifting, most often through donor advised funds, we have been able to minister to various assembly works and Christian efforts throughout the world. If you are not familiar, donor advised funds (DAFs) are charitable units set up by you and managed by us with funds being distributed to charitable organizations, with your advice or suggestion. Two (you and us) become one effort.
In our last fiscal year (2015-2016), working together as one, we have supported camps and other outreach programs that evangelize and encourage our children. We have supported the evidence rich science and archeology programs. We have given to local churches, assemblies, and fellowships. We have provided for national workers as they minister in the United States. We have given to missionaries sowing and reaping the harvest overseas. We have provided for the production and distribution of print and audio materials, including those needed for prison ministries. We have honored our elders by giving to retirement homes. We have pursued wisdom and supported schools. We have sought justice and done mercifully by supporting those organizations that fight against such social evils as abortion, abuse, and poverty. What was the good reward to the ministries supported? Financially, over $3.8 million charitably given to the Lord’s work! And of that, over 94% of all gifting was to local assemblies and assembly-related ministries, workers, projects, and programs. Spiritually, only the all-knowing One knows!
If hearing about all this gets you excited to join the work, we have good news for you! As the writer of Ecclesiastes states, “a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc. 4:12): we have room for you! At its heart, the cord idea points out how relationships (i.e. marriage, friendships) offer security through partnership and productivity through cooperation. Two possibilities for application emerge when we turn and apply these ideas to the BSS context.
Firstly, the “cord” could represent the Lord’s work in general. Assembly ministries strive to carry out the Lord’s work on their own (i.e. single-fold cord). When you work with BSS, your partnership represents the thickening of that cord and thus the strengthening of that ministry. By extension, the work of the ministry is not easily broken because of the involvement of others in it. This is not a secular (i.e. we can do this without God by teaming up) perspective on ministry – this just is the Lord’s plan for cooperation in ministry.
Alternatively, the “cord” could represent your own legacy. If people invest their assets only in their family, they do leave a legacy, but a rather thin one (i.e. the single-fold cord again). By contrast, once people invest in the Lord’s work through BSS, their legacy (i.e. the cord) thickens. The more individuals invest in the Lord’s work with their resources, the thicker that cord (i.e. legacy) grows and is thus not easily broken. Just to make the point obvious, when people invest their resources (at the end of life) solely in their family, the potential for spiritual return mostly disappears. By contrast, when one invests in ministry (i.e. a camp building project), the legacy rolls on down through the years and is by no means easily broken.
Rather than doing investment and financial planning with only your family or local community in mind, join those who have a good return for their labor. To learn more about opening your own Donor Advised Fund and what estate planning and tax benefits your family can also reap from this readily available IRS-approved tool, please contact us.