I have been asked more than once, “Why?” “Why did I leave the best church in the world (with the best preaching by the way) to take a position with the Missouri Baptist Foundation?” “Why did I leave Branson?” I mean, it is Branson, for goodness sake, with Silver Dollar City just down the road, lots of lakes and trees and hills, and the land of outlet shopping malls? “Why would I uproot my family after ten years of developing deep and meaningful relationships?”
On many levels, I admit, it does not make a lot a sense. It was not what I was planning for myself. But, I did. Why? Because I believe God called me to do so. I don’t want to get too spiritual here, but even after I examined the facts of the circumstances, evaluated my skill set and experience, and thought I was the right guy for the job, I did not move because of “fit.” I moved out of “calling.”
I define “a calling” as a deep caring about a problem that won’t go away. I have walked into many meetings where a person would outline a problem. I would agree with them and say, “Yes, that is a problem, a really big problem and a you should fix that problem,” but I could walk away from “their” problem. A calling from God makes “that” problem, “your” problem.
For the last several years I have become concerned with the future of the Gospel in North America. Primarily, the ability to fund the Ministry that advances the Gospel. Though we were able to buck the trend at First Baptist Branson, my experience and all the statistics tell us the average Missouri Baptist is getting older. As I noticed this, I selfishly asked, “Who is going to be around to pay my salary?” Then I wondered, “Who is going to be around to pay any salary, or pay for Bibles, or mission trips, or any Gospel advancing work?”
Now I know the Lord will be faithful, and His plan cannot ultimately be thwarted. He will always have those of which we are unaware. I am even cautiously hopeful that the next generation may well prove to outshine the current generation, but it cannot be denied we are losing some giants of the faith, who have faithfully sacrificed so the Gospel can go forth.
Which is why I have come to the Missouri Baptist Foundation. I believe we are uniquely called to help our Missouri Baptist Churches get more out of the funds they currently have through better investing practices, and to sit with faithful saints to help them create a legacy through giving that will outlast their time on earth. Just like Mary Gibbs.
Recently, I had the privilege of sitting at a scholarship banquet with a student who received the Mary Gibbs scholarship. Not knowing who Mrs. Gibbs was, when I got back to the office I did a little research. It turns out that Mrs. Gibbs died in 1921, almost a hundred years ago. She left $25,000 to Missouri Baptist causes, including an annual scholarship. Today that estate gift produces over $3,000 a year. It did that last year and it will do even more next year and every year after that until Jesus returns. Today and tomorrow Mary Gibbs is funding life changing ministry.
You see my calling has always been to Advance the Gospel, and it still is. I just get to work with a new generation of Mary Gibbs’ who will leave a legacy that lasts until 2121 and beyond. Won’t you join me? Let’s Advance the Gospel, together!
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Dr. Neil Franks became the President of the Missouri Baptist Foundation in October after serving as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Branson for over ten years. He and his team are available to speak to your church concerning legacy giving through estate planning and planned giving at no cost or obligation to you. Dr. Franks also has an app called “2 Minute Pastor” available for download. He loves preaching and is available on Sunday mornings. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or checkout the Foundation website at www.mbfn.org for more information about how they can help your church Advance the Gospel. ν