Ed Reid on the Joy of Planned Giving
by Shelley Nolan Freesland
When Ed Reid retired as stewardship director of the North American Division, he decided to join AWR and work part-time in the area of planned giving. Since 2011, he has crisscrossed North America, sharing his knowledge of stewardship with AWR partners and serving as a resource as they make long-term decisions about their finances.
Q: You have written five books on the nearness of Christ's coming. Why is this a topic of great interest for Seventhday Adventists?
A: Between 1844 and 1863, many men and women of faith - from different denominational backgrounds - went back to the Bible for a better understanding of its teachings on salvation and the prophetic outline of history. They discovered that the annual feasts and ceremonies that were part of the sanctuary services were actually an illustration of the work of God in salvation history and that mankind was indeed living in the time of the end. The certainty of Jesus' Second Coming became very clear from both the Old and New Testaments. Adventists came to understand that just as John the Baptist came to herald the first coming of Jesus, God's end-time church was to herald His approaching Second Coming. Today, we recognize that the great prophetic timeline has run its course and the signs that Jesus gave us are being fulfilled.
Q: One of the books you authored is Faith and Finance, a 12-lesson study on the Biblical principles of personal money management. In view of our Adventist beliefs about stewardship, what is the most valuable piece of advice that you would like to give to readers regarding their finances?
A: That God is the owner of everything (Ps. 24:1), and we are managers of the resources that He has entrusted to us. We will take nothing with us when we die (1 Tim. 6:7), so we must be content with God's blessings and be prepared to return them to Him when we are finished with them. When Jesus returns, we will all be asked to give an account of our use of the resources we have handled. So our goal as committed Christians is to take what God has given us - in time, talents, body temple, and treasure - and trade with it until He comes, with the aim of bringing profit to His kingdom. Our financial faithfulness helps to strengthen our faith in God's provision for us.
Q: How does AWR's radio ministry relate to these topics?
A: Adventist World Radio takes the gospel commission seriously, and when you couple with that the urgency of the end-time setting, AWR's staff is highly motivated to help take the Adventist message to every person living on earth, in their own languages. The promise of Matthew 24:14 challenges AWR to be diligent in taking the message to the world and encourages members to support our important work.
Q: Out of all the ministries in the church, why did you choose to work with AWR?
A: There are several reasons. My wife and I like the fact that with a relatively small staff of less than 30 full-time employees worldwide, AWR covers virtually the entire planet. Another major factor is that radio was a primary influence in bringing my own family a knowledge of Jesus. My family lived in a small logging town in Northern California, where there were no Adventist members. It was the radio waves that entered our home and brought us the hope we now hold so dear. So when I think of all of the homes around the world that are reached by AWR, I just pray that there will be a positive response from many families like mine. Finally, when Kathy and I prepared our wills, we listed AWR as one of our major beneficiaries. But we decided that we didn't want to wait till we passed away to help this important ministry, so we now are excited to use our time and resources to benefit AWR.
Q: As you visit with AWR's partners in their homes and at events, what do they say about their reasons for supporting AWR?
A: People like to be a part of something big - something that they feel is making a difference in the lives of people worldwide. Donors feel that they are getting a good return on their investment with AWR, since all of their contributions go directly into the work of taking the message to the world. People are also inspired by the personal testimonies and miracle stories from listeners. Many also say that they are eager to support AWR because of their desire to see the gospel go to the entire world so that Jesus can return soon.
Q: What are some of the common questions they have about AWR?
A: Some folks have asked me if AWR is an independent supporting ministry or part of the organized church. I am able to tell them that AWR is the international radio ministry of the General Conference. It is a vital part of our global evangelism strategy.
Others ask why we are using shortwave radio in this modern age of smart phones and television. A little-known fact is that for nearly two thirds of Earth's population, shortwave radio is their primary access to the outside world. In more urban areas, AWR uses AM and FM radio as well. In places where Christianity is unwelcome, folks can listen to radio and be more private than if they were watching TV.
A final question is: "How do you know if anyone is listening?" The good news is that AWR receives more than 100,000 letters and e-mails from listeners around the world each year. Many are requesting Bible lessons or writing to express their thanks for learning about the love of Jesus. Also, well over 200 million AWR podcasts have been downloaded in the past 12 months. Many who have been converted by listening to AWR are now leaders in their local churches and even speakers for AWR in the language that is their mother tongue.
Q: Is there a particular partner or visit that stands out in your mind?
A: All of my contacts have been very interesting, and I have been able to meet a lot of very nice people. AWR has an excellent reputation for integrity in ministry, so we are generally contacted by enthusiastic supporters of global evangelism. I recall one person who phoned to get more information about AWR. After I explained AWR's ministry, the donor stated that they had already passed the charitable-deduction allowance for tax purposes this year, but they felt impressed to send in a contribution for our big Guam project anyway. This donor sent in $40,000! All contributions are needed and welcome, and if I could say just one more experience, it would be how humbled I am to see partners who support the ministry of AWR with monthly contributions just like clockwork and have done so year after year. This is also very moving to me.
Q: For our readers who may not have a clear idea of what planned giving is, describe for us the key concept.
A: Planned giving is a special gift that is above and beyond our regular tithes and offerings. It is part of our spiritual legacy. Many people make larger planned gifts from extra-ordinary income like a return on an investment, the sale of a home, or income from an inheritance. Other planned gifts come from couples who are entering their retirement years. After they prepare their retirement budget, they know what their assets are and what their needs will be. They can have the joy of being supportive of church work with the funds they will not need during retirement.
Some families and individuals want to be supportive, but feel that they may need a little extra income to assist them to make their retirement budgets balance. These folks frequently use a charitable gift annuity to first benefit themselves with a fixed income for life and then direct that the balance of their account go to AWR. They feel that this is a win-win situation for both them and AWR.
Finally, in their wills, many partners have designated that all or a portion of what is left in their estate go to AWR.
Q: Why is planned giving and estate planning so important?
A: Actually, everyone has an estate plan. It is either one that they have prepared themselves, or one that the state where they reside has made for them by way of the laws of intestacy and descent and distribution. The state's plan assumes that you are an atheist and that not one penny of your estate would ever go to a church or charity - it all would go to relatives. If you want to return your unused assets to the One who gave them to you, and benefit His church and its mission, you must have an estate plan that you have prepared. Arranging planned giving while you are alive and well allows you to personally see the benefits to God's cause and experience the joy of being part of something that is fulfilling the great commission. There is an old saying: "If you do your giving while you're living, then you're knowing where it's going."