Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Jeffery Wilson & Leonard, Westphal
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000233
00:30 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn and welcome again to
00:33 Issues and Answers. I'm glad that you could join us
00:36 today and I think you're going to be glad too because we have
00:39 a very interesting program. We're going to be talking about
00:42 pastors and money and you'll
00:44 enjoy this. First though let me
00:46 open the program with one of my
00:48 favorite scriptures. This is a
00:49 beautiful exaltation of God. Something that David prayed to
00:53 the Lord and it's found in 1 Chronicles 29:11-13.
00:59 Here's what David said: Yours O Lord is the greatness and the
01:04 power and the glory and the victory and the majesty. For all
01:08 that is in the heavens and the earth is yours. Yours is the
01:12 kingdom, O Lord, and yours it is to be exalted as head over all.
01:17 Both riches and honor come from you and you reign over all.
01:22 In your hands are power and might. In your hands it is to
01:27 make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore our God
01:32 we thank you and praise your glorious name and all the
01:36 attributes which that name denotes. Isn't that a beautiful
01:41 praise to the Lord. You're going to see how this connects with
01:45 our program in just a moment. But first let me introduce our
01:49 very special guests to you. We have returning from the General
01:52 Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Jeff Wilson and
01:56 Jeff you are the director of planned giving and trust
02:00 services. That's right. Tell us just briefly how did you come
02:03 to the General Conference?
02:05 Well it started about 38 years
02:07 ago when I began as a pastor in the Arizona conference and went
02:12 on to be youth director in
02:13 Arizona and here in Illinois and
02:16 the got involved in development work at the media center where
02:19 I met Leonard Westfall and in Ohio and then at Andrews
02:25 University before coming to the General Conference in 1999.
02:28 Praise the Lord. Well we thank you for all the work that you do
02:32 for the Lord. Then a good friend of yours sitting next to you and
02:36 no stranger to us is Leonard Westfall. Leonard it's always a
02:40 pleasure. A pleasure meeting you again.
02:42 I just wanted to mention that Jeff is a good friend of mine
02:46 and I've known him for many years, over 20 years, and I'd
02:50 like to thank him again for
02:52 here. He is in charge of the
02:54 trust service department with
02:56 the general conference which comprehends
02:57 205 countries. Now Jeff could be
03:00 all over the planet right now you know and yet he chose to be
03:04 here and I really just don't know how to thank him, but I am
03:09 so grateful you are here, Jeff. I began this work actually 28
03:15 years ago. I was a pastor evangelist before in New England
03:20 and then I was in Colorado and the I was in Omaha, Nebraska.
03:25 Then Elder Wally Coe, president of the Mid-America Union called
03:30 me to this work. I didn't know if I could do it. I said how can
03:35 I do this because I'm a pastor. I like to preach and so on, but
03:39 they allowed me to come in and they said well if you don't like
03:43 it we'll get you another job. So I said well this is good news.
03:48 I have been in it ever since. The last place I was was Voice
03:53 of Prophecy. I was there 10 years and then 3ABN. The board
03:58 here invited me to join 10 years ago and it has been a very
04:03 delightful time in my life and my wife's too because she joined
04:07 five years later. We both are a good team working for the Lord
04:12 and we enjoy every minute of it. We believe that what we do is a
04:16 miraculous work for the Lord. Every day we have calls from
04:19 people who want to share what they have with the Lord.
04:23 So we thank God in heaven that we are part of this ministry.
04:28 It is really wonderful and actually I try to walk every
04:33 day one hour and I think God for four things in life. First that
04:38 I didn't die last night. I understand 150,000 people die
04:43 every day in America. Secondly I thank God for my family and
04:48 third I thank God for 3ABN because I believe God called
04:52 me to this ministry; I have absolutely no doubts about it.
04:56 Then fourthly I thank God because I live in a good place
05:00 where we have good climate. So I thank God for it. So that's
05:05 about it. Sometimes I wonder is the Lord
05:08 tired of hearing my prayers, you know.
05:10 I repeat this every day but I'm sure he is not.
05:14 I'm sure he's not either and Leonard I just want to thank you
05:17 for the work you do as the director for the trust services
05:20 for 3ABN for the last 10 years. You've been a very dedicated and
05:27 wonderful part of the staff of 3ABN. Well this scripture is so
05:34 beautiful but I thought it really tied in to what we're
05:37 going to be discussing today. Why don't you, Jeff, tell us a
05:41 little of the story of why David was praying this scripture.
05:46 Well the prayers of the Bible first of all are always amazing
05:50 prayers. We just finished studying the book of Daniel,
05:54 for example, which we think of as a book of prophecy. But it is
05:58 also a wonderful book of prayer. Daniel was a wonderful pray-er
06:02 and even Nebuchadnezzar has a prayer in there. But this prayer
06:07 of David's in 1 Chronicles 29... David woke up one morning and
06:11 realized that he lived in a palace and the Lord had no home
06:16 at all and that really bothered him. It bothered him big time.
06:22 I wish it would bother more people these days. So David went
06:27 to prayer and he thought sure the Lord would say yes because
06:31 he said Lord I want to build you a temple. But the Lord said no.
06:36 It's interesting sometimes when the Lord's answer is 180 degrees
06:41 around from where we want an answer to be. David went back
06:44 to the Lord again and finally when David said Lord please
06:48 could I just raise the money for the temple and the Lord said yes
06:52 you can raise the money for the temple.
06:55 That's not a job that too many people volunteer to do.
06:57 Not too many people volunteer for that job. They'd rather lay
06:59 bricks than to raise the money to buy the bricks.
07:01 So the amazing thing is that mostly in modern times and in
07:07 ancient times kings don't tax themselves, they tax the common
07:11 people. But David didn't do that. David reached deep into
07:16 his own pocket first and gave of his income. Then he made some
07:20 planned gifts, Leonard, because he made some gifts that would
07:24 be given in the future even after his death. And his army,
07:29 his political colleagues in his kingdom were so astounded by the
07:35 generosity of the king that they laid their treasure on the table
07:40 and then the Bible says all the common people with great joy
07:45 came and they said couldn't we give a little something too.
07:49 So everyone gave what they could give, but it was top down
07:53 leadership. It was sacrifice from the top down, not from the
07:58 bottom to the top. So in this matter of encouraging people to
08:03 think about something that's kind of scary, doing estate
08:07 planning, we've looked at leaders and looked at some of
08:11 our pastors and said maybe if they would share their stories
08:14 maybe that would make it a little less scary for the people
08:18 in the pew. So we've interviewed some pastors and we tell some
08:21 stories; you might see some of these in the Adventist Review,
08:24 Ministry Magazine, Women of Spirit and other publications.
08:28 You can see just part of that story but today we'd tell a
08:32 little bit behind some of those stories.
08:34 I'm looking forward to hearing this, but let me ask you a
08:37 question. Many of our viewers are not Adventist and these
08:42 names may be new to many, but why do you believe that so many
08:46 people find it frightening to think about estate planning?
08:50 Is it just the idea of recognizing our own mortality
08:55 or what is it? That's a hard question so I'll
08:58 let Leonard answer that one.
09:00 Well thank you. It is interesting. I put on seminars
09:05 here in campmeeting twice a year and we have a large number of
09:09 people coming to the campmeeting but normally we have about 20-30
09:14 people coming to listen to a very, very important subject.
09:19 The subject is estate planning. Now I was wondering why do so
09:24 few people come and all of them are going to die one day you
09:29 know. The thing that strikes me is this people don't want to
09:34 talk about death and dying. That's why they don't want to
09:38 come because if they postpone talking about a trust or an
09:43 annuity or a gift or a gift annuity or a will they may live
09:47 longer. Secondly they do not really want to part with their
09:52 estate. It's mine. Why should I give it away now. I'd like to
09:58 accumulate more. So they don't like to talk about it. But you
10:03 know what I usually tell people is this. Now you do not live in
10:09 a home without insurance. You don't drive a car without
10:13 insurance and yet you have accumulated a sizable estate and
10:17 you have no insurance for your estate. If you suddenly die what
10:22 will happen to your estate? It can go down the drain and your
10:26 children or loved ones will have very little left for them and
10:31 the Lord's work will not get a dime. Unless you plan right the
10:35 Lord's work will not, as Jeff has pointed this
10:39 out over and over again
10:40 the Lord's work will not get a dime.
10:43 You know it's just so amazing because you would think anyone
10:46 who has amassed anything would certainly want to make sure that
10:49 it was well taken care of. But as we have said, you've been
10:52 with us twice before here at 3ABN and both times we've
10:56 touched on the importance of having a will and so we are here
11:00 today to share the stories of pastors who are leading by
11:04 example and as you said we're going to share their stories
11:08 with their permission so that people can begin to think of
11:12 why it is scripturally sound and just good advice to be good
11:16 stewards of those things that you have in your life whether
11:21 they are children with no assets or assets with no children.
11:25 One couple that I interviewed was Jimmy and Shireen
11:28 Ferguson. They live in Baltimore Maryland. They are a young
11:34 African-American couple. After they got married before the
11:39 children came along especially Shireen as a prospective mother
11:44 had the concern what would happen to my children should
11:47 something happen to Jimmy and me. So she went, interestingly
11:51 enough, to her insurance agent. She thought well I need an
11:54 insurance policy to protect the children, to take care of their
11:59 needs should something happen to Jimmy and me. The insurance
12:03 asked her an interesting question. The insurance agent
12:06 said do you have wills? Well Shireen had never thought about
12:11 that. About the same time camp meeting was going on and Jimmy
12:16 had a concern for an elderly woman that was sort of like his
12:21 god mother. He knew she was getting older and that she
12:26 didn't have an estate plan so he went to the trust services
12:30 director of the conference there, Danny Davis, to seek his
12:35 advice. And Danny gave him some suggestions but then Danny
12:39 looked him right in the eye and said Jimmy do you have a will?
12:43 And Jimmy said, I'm a young man, I'm still in my 20s. I just got
12:47 married. I don't need a will. Danny said, Yes you do need a
12:51 will. Well since then they've gotten their estate plan in
12:55 order and they have two precious little kids now; they're four
13:00 and two. They both told me that the most difficult question they
13:04 had to solve, and it took them a long time to solve it, was who
13:08 would be the guardians, who would be the surrogate parents,
13:12 who would take our children if something happened to us?
13:16 For both of them their immediate siblings are not believers in
13:20 the Lord, they're not in the church and they wouldn't want
13:24 them to go that direction and be lost for the kingdom. So what
13:28 they finally settled on was to pick a young couple in their
13:33 church with children about the same age. They know they'd be in
13:36 church school, they'd be in Sabbath School, they'd have the
13:41 diet and they also would not be ripped out of their comfortable
13:45 environment that way. And what they've done for their friends
13:49 is to say and we would accept the responsibility to be parents
13:53 for your children if something happened to you. It's a big
13:57 thing to say to somebody would you take my kids. But if I said
14:00 would you take my kids and if something happened to you we
14:04 would take your kids. It worked for them. Again a young couple
14:07 thinking about this issue and young people don't often think
14:11 unfortunately of this issue. But Jimmy says that as a pastor
14:15 he has a lot of older members in his church in Baltimore and
14:19 he feels a real concern for them and he goes around and talks to
14:22 them about the importance of estate planning. I think Leonard
14:25 you said that as a young pastor you encouraged this in your
14:29 church. Yes right, that is correct.
14:31 I began my ministry in Southern New England Conference in 1963
14:37 right after Reese Jenkins began the trust work in that union and
14:43 I guess they never heard of it before. He was a pioneer and he
14:47 came to our church. We didn't even know what it was, what he
14:51 was talking about, the terminology and all of that.
14:54 But the fact is when he educated us in our church we accepted
15:00 these suggestions and we promoted our trust department
15:05 in our church and he came and held seminars and taught our
15:09 people and we all benefitted and of course we developed our
15:13 estate plan, planning for the future. That is what I do today;
15:18 I educate people in this field wherever I go.
15:20 Some people, if you say you want to come and talk to them about
15:24 estate planning, may take offense but particularly if
15:28 you're married and you have children, as soon as you have a
15:33 child... This pastor and his wife, look at what they went
15:37 through trying to decide who they wanted their child to go
15:41 to. But if you were suddenly killed in an accident, you'd
15:45 leave your child as an instant orphan and then you'd have no
15:49 say. What you would agonize over in life, you'd have absolutely
15:55 no say. It's just amazing to think that so few people have a
16:00 will. Well you now these days we have
16:02 to warn our children don't talk to strangers. You know what I'm
16:06 saying. But if a young couple dies without a will, then a
16:14 total stranger, in this case a probate judge, but still a total
16:18 stranger, is going to be the one who is going to have to make
16:21 that decision. And I think any mother, any father, would say I
16:26 want to have some say in that because I know my child better
16:29 than anyone else knows them. I know where they would fit in,
16:33 where they wouldn't. I know the values I want my child to grow
16:36 up to believe and to do and to be, you see. So I can't think of
16:40 any more important stewardship issue than planning for
16:45 succession of parenthood, God forbid, and we hope it never
16:49 happens. But the point is planning for it is not going to
16:53 make it happen but planning for it is going to give me my
16:57 wishes, should something happen down the road.
17:02 So what are some of the other stories?
17:04 There's another neat couple, Lynn and Lana Schleisner.
17:07 Lynn is the pastor of the Madison campus church in
17:10 Nashville, Tennessee. Lana works in the conference office there.
17:15 Lynn and Lana told me that they've pastored all around the
17:19 country from North Dakota and Oklahoma and several places.
17:23 When they first got married just as a young couple, they were
17:26 going over, Leonard, to Palestine for a trip and of
17:32 course it was dangerous then and it's just as dangerous today.
17:35 They had just one little baby son and they were leaving him
17:39 at home and Lana said I want to make sure we have a will so that
17:43 who we want would raise our son should something happen to us.
17:48 Well, so we did wills, but wherever they've moved around
17:52 in God's work they've had a new will prepared in that state in
17:56 that vicinity where they are living. They've remembered God's
18:00 work in the area where they're pastoring at that particular
18:04 point. There at Madison... So excuse me just a second.
18:10 What you're saying is that if they were for example, I don't
18:13 know where they've lived, but say if they had been California
18:16 their wills would have said that a portion of their estate would
18:19 go to the church that they were pastoring at that time, but then
18:23 if they moved to Vermont, they would change that will because
18:26 where they are involved in the work of the Lord there in
18:29 Vermont they would have changed it to say a portion of their
18:32 money would go to help the church in Vermont.
18:34 That's what they did. That's very nice. There's another
18:36 reason. Wills and trusts are based on state law and attorneys
18:41 are licensed to practice law in a particular state; some are in
18:45 more than one state, but they have to pass the bar in each
18:48 state. So if I move to a different state I should do a
18:51 new will to make sure that my will conforms to the new state
18:58 where I live. That was part of their reason, but the other
19:00 reason, as you point out so clearly was to remember God's
19:04 work where they were ministering at that point. My will now
19:08 remembers entities of the General Conference because that
19:11 is where I'm working along with my local conference and other
19:14 things. I would think folk involved at 3ABN would want to
19:17 remember this ministry if they are giving their life and their
19:20 time to it, they would want to remember it with their money as
19:23 well. It's very interesting; there in their church school
19:28 a third and fourth grade teacher who taught there for many, many
19:34 years recently passed away and in her will she left $98,000 for
19:39 her church school. It was just at the time they were remodeling
19:43 the church school. Now there's a room there that has her name
19:47 on it. Her ministry at teaching young children goes on. She gave
19:51 her time and her talents but she also gave through her will to
19:56 her local church. Lynn recently was diagnosed with brain cancer
20:01 and all the doctors in Nashville said that there was no cure for
20:06 him. So his church went to prayer and his wife went to
20:11 prayer and he sought alternate opinion. By God's grace today,
20:16 I just met him about a month ago, he has no hair on his head
20:20 at the moment, it probably will grow back. I said, well you're
20:25 right in style now Lynn. But he is cancer free by God's grace.
20:30 But what Lana said to me was, when this happened to Lynn and
20:34 I had to face his cancer, the one thing I didn't have to worry
20:38 about was our estate plan because we had all that done
20:42 ahead of time. She said, I could just focus on prayer and helping
20:46 my husband get well. You know, when you have times of crisis
20:50 it's not the time to be thinking well what do I want to do with
20:54 my money here and there. Have it done ahead of time so that if
20:57 you're in a crisis you can just deal with that crisis. She said
21:01 this just took such a load off of me. I said, Lana, can I tell
21:05 that story to other people because other people need to
21:07 know that too. I had a woman once tell me that
21:11 when her husband was in the hospital and she knew it was a
21:15 critical situation, she said, I didn't want to talk to him about
21:19 a will because I didn't want to depress him any further because
21:23 he was already about dying, but
21:25 then he did die without a will
21:27 and it was a mess. So the lesson is do not
21:31 procrastinate. I had a case of a lady who had no relatives in
21:39 the state where I worked. She was a senior and she finally
21:46 decided to have a will and a trust and she said I have a
21:53 burden for education because I have had no children in my life
21:58 and I would like to help educate some children. So she left her
22:03 estate to one of our academies and when she died our academy
22:07 was about to go broke. This was a large estate and that estate
22:12 saved the academy. That was a miracle of God. It could have
22:17 gone down the drain and the state would wind up getting it
22:21 because if no relatives are around then the state gets it.
22:25 I have so many people who will say to me that their children
22:29 are getting to the point where they are spending their money
22:34 so frivolously. They are so materialistic. Many have said
22:37 I want to make sure that I don't give everything that I
22:41 have worked for all my life to my children. I want to make sure
22:44 that the church gets some because I know my children won't
22:46 give it. It's also a different age,
22:49 obviously. You have the different generations here but
22:52 you also have a situation where in previous generations on the
22:58 farm the children were assets to mom and dad. Every child that
23:02 was born was money in mom and dad's pocket on the farm. Today
23:07 they are a liability. By age 17 by government figures you've
23:11 spent about a quarter million dollars on each child and you
23:15 still have college to go. So we essentially are giving our
23:18 children their inheritance up front. We're helping them get
23:22 an education and a career and in many cases kids start out
23:27 making more money than mom and dad after 30 or 40 years. So I
23:31 think we don't have the obligation that we once had
23:34 to give absolutely everything over to the kids. We need to
23:37 look at what their needs are and what we need to do for them, but
23:41 we also need to look at the larger family and what we want
23:44 to do for them as well.
23:45 For the single person do you have any examples of a single
23:50 person who has done something with their estate?
23:54 Yes. Pastor Casanova from the Belize mission field
23:59 wrote me recently. Belize is a little country off of
24:03 Mexico. It's an interesting country because about one out of
24:07 ten people in that country are Seventh-day Adventists. It's one
24:11 of the highest concentrations in the world. Well they were
24:16 moving vigorously in evangelism and moving ahead to move from
24:20 mission status to conference status. In other words, to be
24:24 totally self-sufficient. Well just at that time they received
24:28 a message from an executor of a woman by the name of Lydia
24:33 Smith, her will. It said that everything was going to come
24:37 to the Belize mission. Well that included her assets plus a home
24:44 that ended up being around $168,000 U.S. At that very time
24:48 they were looking for property where they could have a mission
24:53 headquarters. They were able to find a property that had an
24:57 asking price and then they came down to a price that they could
25:02 use Ms. Smith's inheritance, her bequest to purchase that office.
25:08 I have a picture of that beautiful conference office.
25:11 The President Slusher says that that was the biggest move to
25:17 help them move from mission status to self-supporting
25:20 conference status; the gift of just one person. What a joy it
25:24 will be for her someday to see what her little gift and her
25:28 bequest did for God's work in a whole country, pushed it forward
25:34 So as David gave us the example, David who is a man after God's
25:40 own heart, as he gave us an example in the Bible that
25:44 leaders should stand up, invest their money in the church,
25:49 be good stewards. It's all just about good stewardship.
25:57 What to you, personally in your own life, was the easiest
26:04 decision that you made and what was the most difficult decision,
26:06 if you can just give us a brief synopsis, whey you were planning
26:09 your own estate. Well the easiest was that God
26:13 would be involved in it even with three children.
26:18 The hardest was who would be the guardians for our children.
26:22 That was absolutely hardest and that was when we had to change
26:26 over the years as people grew older, circumstances changed.
26:30 So I feel for young couples in finding who would be the best
26:34 to be the guardians of children. I say leave it with the Lord,
26:37 put it before the Lord, talk to your friends about it. Talk with
26:41 each other about it, pray about it and God will give you an
26:45 answer. For those who just push it off, it's too hard a question
26:48 to answer and don't put their minds and their prayer bones
26:51 together on it, they won't find the answer. But everyone I've
26:55 worked with, I know Leonard has seen the same situation, if they
26:58 pray about it and work with it over a period of time, it may
27:01 take even a few months, God will give them the answer.
27:05 Jeff, thank you so much. Jeff Wilson with the General
27:09 Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Leonard,
27:12 thank you for joining us because these are serious topics
27:16 serious issues that we really do need to think about. I hope
27:20 that you're taking this to heart. We want to leave you with
27:24 one thought. As these gentlemen have said, You need professional
27:29 help which is the best. Spend the $50, $75 or $100, get a will
27:33 make some kind of a provision for your family and for your
27:38 estate. Until we meet again, actually always, I pray that the
27:42 love of the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the
27:46 fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be with you moment by
27:49 moment throughout each day. God Bless You So Much.