Thinking Outside the Box

How God opened the door for one couple to support the mission of MAF in an unexpected way

 

When John and Joanne* first heard about asset-based giving, they dismissed the idea, thinking, “Well, we don’t have anything.”

For years, God had been growing in them a heart for missions. As a young adult, Joanne had traveled to visit missionary friends in Papua New Guinea. While there, she flew on a tiny airplane to a village in the middle of the jungle. When the missionary pilot announced that they were going to land, she glanced out the window at the handful of huts and thought, ”There’s no place to land!” Then she noticed a small dirt area the size of a toothpick.

Joanne remembers, “Well, we landed on that toothpick and it was just wide enough for the plane.”

Joanne was struck by how much the villagers, and the missionaries who lived with them, relied on that little airplane: “It was their only contact with the outside world.”

An early MAF flight to April River airstrip in Papua New Guinea.

Soon after John and Joanne got married, they took a trip to Ecuador to see where MAF pilot Nate Saint and four other missionaries had given their lives to bring the good news to the Waorani people.

For John, it was a turning point. “As soon as I saw that, I was hooked by MAF.”

Later, the two of them had an opportunity to become part of the support team for MAF missionaries Doug and Karin Allrich. They supported them for about 30 years, during which time they also made donations to other MAF funds. Through the years, their appreciation for MAF’s ministry grew.

In Joanne’s words, “It’s just wonderful that MAF is meeting both the spiritual and the physical needs of people—it’s the whole person.”

 

A step of faith

Over time, John and Joanne became intrigued by the idea of using more of their resources to support MAF, but they couldn’t see a way to do it.

Then God showed them an opportunity.

About 34 years ago, Joanne and her sister inherited a farm from their parents, who had been deeply missions minded and generous in supporting missions. When the time came years later to sell the farm, John and Joanne hoped that somehow they could use their portion of the farm to benefit missions, specifically MAF.

The family farm, one-half interest inherited by Joanne and John.

But they hesitated, thinking, “We might run out of money, you know, old age and health problems.” They asked God, “Is this really okay to do?”

John shared, “It was easy to procrastinate, and we finally said, ‘If we’re going to do something with MAF, let’s do it now where we can enjoy knowing that it happened.”

So they reached out to Aaron Bear, MAF Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, who offered them a solution that would benefit both MAF and them. Through prayer, and with the affirmation of their financial planner, they decided to step out in faith.

Working closely with Joanne and John’s attorney and CPA, Aaron walked them through the process of putting their farm into a charitable remainder trust, with MAF serving as the trustee. The property was then sold through the trust, tax free. MAF is the remainder beneficiary of the trust, and John and Joanne will receive income through the trust for the rest of their lives.

 

Blessed to be a blessing

In September 2021, at the invitation of Aaron Bear, John and Joanne shared their story before a crowd of MAF supporters at the President and Board Summit.

Joanne and John share their story at the 2021 MAF President and Board Summit. Photo by Dave Keyes.

The last thing in the world they wanted to do was draw attention to themselves. Joanne explained, “This is God’s ministry, and God has blessed us to be a blessing. So we don’t want any attention.”

But they knew their story might inspire others who, like them, may not have been aware of the giving opportunities that are available.

They were delighted by the responses they received afterward. As John talked about those conversations, his face lit up. “I’m just glad that some people could say, ‘We can do that!’ That’s what is exciting.”

Joanne and John hope more people join them in bringing help, hope, and healing to isolated people by exploring the many creative asset-based giving opportunities that are available through MAF.

You can find out more here or by contacting MAF at 1-800-261-7280 or plannedgiving@maf.org.

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*Names have been changed.

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