Back in the year 2009, I was searching for how I wanted to finish the race of life given to me. I love my vocation. I’ve been a full-time missionary since 1990 and am as passionate as ever about it. I will always be a missionary! But I sensed that there was something more in store for me. I’m talking after another 20 years of being a missionary, if I am given that many years of life, how do I want to finish off life.
As missionaries on a modest salary, my wife and I have been good stewards of the resources the Lord had given us. We had made great progress on our savings and investments. I was building a solid retirement plan, but still felt like that was not the end game. And then it hit me, a moment of clarity. I was created to become a Philanthropist. My gifts and strengths, my personality, my education, my life experiences, and my heart for people all were being mixed together to produce a Philanthropist, a missionary Philanthropist.
Later that day I went golfing and ran into the head pro there. He asked me, “How are you doing Mark?”. In my excitement about this new-found understanding of my life, I told him about it. He laughed a little, knowing I’m a missionary and knowing what my general salary level is, and said, “Well Mark, don’t you need a lot of money to be a Philanthropist?”. I laughed a little and changed the subject and headed out to play.
As I walked away, I was a little sad by his remark, but deep inside, I knew he was wrong. All I really need to become a Philanthropist is the vision to become a Philanthropist. By faith, I set off that day to trust the Lord that He gave me this vision and calling. I knew that I was currently doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing, being a missionary. And I knew that at some point in the future, we would be major Philanthropists, giving large amounts of money for Great Commission minded ministries and missionaries.
Kristin and I still have a long way to go to become big time Philanthropists. At this point, pretty much all of our wealth is tied up in non liquid assets. So currently we live day-to-day on our missionary income and give 10% of that income. But we are still very young! If we are blessed with many tomorrows in our future, and the world economy doesn’t collapse, time is on our side!
As for today, we are loving doing what we do as missionaries and at the same time, we are full steam ahead on the dream of becoming major Philanthropists.