investment

Steady Missions Investment

Mary Splawn said that when she was growing up, everything her mom had at her fingertips was a tool for ministry. She served on mission trips. She promoted mission offerings. She wrapped a lot of school supplies for the children’s home.

And over the years, with every small act, Judy Frady wrapped her daughter’s life in missions.

“My mom always taught me that I was to be a missionary every day,” Mary said. “She, along with my dad, modeled the importance of missions giving, missions involvement and devotion to the church.”

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It showed in their home — Judy often hosted the church’s Baptist Young Women at the family’s house. Those nights were special to Mary, even though she wasn’t old enough to be a part yet.

“I used to love when the ladies would come to our home,” she said. “My dad, brother and I would usually make other plans, but we’d come back in time to hear them laughing and praying together in the living room — and maybe we’d get some of the yummy food that Mom had prepared.”

It might seem simple, Mary said, but over time her mom made missions tangible.

“Each year Mom would set up a sign in our sanctuary with notes to a song like ‘Joy to the World’ that had big Christmas bulbs as the notes, and for every so many dollars we raised for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, we’d get to light up one of the notes and sing part of the song,” Mary said.

Lottie Moon and other missions pioneers were regular table talk for the Fradys — and vacation destinations too. Once when the Fradys traveled to Alabama from South Carolina to visit family, they detoured through Birmingham so they could stop and see Moon’s trunk and Annie Armstrong’s bed on display at national WMU headquarters.

“These were names very familiar to me, because we made a big deal about the offerings in our home and in our church,” Mary said.

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And over the years, Mary’s own list of personal missions heroes began to stack up, too. There was her mom, of course. There were several aunts — her mom’s sisters — who got Mary involved in ministries like packing bags for prisoners. And there was Dot Stephens, her committed Acteens leader.

“Sometimes we only had one other person and me in our Acteens class, but Ms. Dot was faithful to teach us about missions,” said Mary, who recently bought a brick in her honor on the Walk of Faith at national WMU headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. “She helped us expand our knowledge of Christ’s mission around the world.”

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And because of her and the rest of Mary’s list of heroes, Mary has spent her life investing in missions too. As a young woman, she served as a journeyman overseas, and now she serves on staff at Mountain Brook Baptist Church in the Birmingham area.

“I am humbled thinking about their investment in me and others, and I thank God for them,” she said. “Mom, my aunts, Ms. Dot and many other women have ingrained in me that the Great Commission is for each of us.”

Plan & Prepare: a Q&A on Retirement

James Wright, WMU Foundation board chairman, joined us for a Q&A on retirement:

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1. What is the one thing that surprised you the most about retirement?

I anticipated having a lot of “free” time to do things that I wanted to do, and not have to plan my days and weeks. I found very quickly that you can get busy, and there is a need to still plan and carefully maintain your calendar and commitments so you will have time to do the things you want to do. If you don’t take time to plan, you will find your days going by very quickly and you have not accomplished the things you planned to do.

2. What are the top three words of advice you would give to someone who is wondering when they should retire?

My three words are: Plan, Prepare, and Economize.

Plan: Knowing when you are financially prepared to retire requires a lot of planning. This includes knowing the income you will have in retirement such as Social Security, the amount available to withdrawal from retirement accounts, what other financial resources are available to you, and knowing your expenses in detail. Make a budget that includes monthly expense items, and be sure to include annual expenses such a property taxes, house and car insurance, etc. You need to know all of this to have a full view of all of your expenses for a year.

Prepare: There is the need to Prepare. My greatest suggestion for preparation is to begin retirement debt free. When you don’t have a house or car payment you greatly reduce your annual expenses. This takes a LOT of preparation, but gives a much higher level of assurance that you will have enough money in retirement.

Economize: Especially in the early years of retirement, it is wise to live on less than your income. Investment returns can vary greatly from year to year so spending less can take pressure off needing the best of investment results. I very simply call it living below your means.

3. What would you say to someone who is approaching retirement age and worries they do not have enough money saved?

If a person has this question, then they need to seek assistance from a person who can help them do the calculations to know for sure. I recommend a financial planner to review your personal financial situation and accurately assess when you can retire and maintain your lifestyle. If you don’t have as much as you need, consider working a few more years. Or if you are close to having enough, consider working part time.

4. Are there any books, websites, or other resources you would suggest for retirees or those planning to retire?

More Than Money by Calvin Partain is a great book about stewardship and helpful as you think about how you will spend your time, resources, and money. More Than Money is available through New Hope Publishers. Free Bible studies and leader guides based on the book are available on our website.

5. Tell us the most fun thing you’ve done since retiring?

Without a doubt it has been traveling. My favorite was a trip to Scotland visiting tourist sites in Edinburgh and Glasgow and being able to go to the home of golf, The Old Course in St. Andrews. The main part of our trip was hiking the West Highland Way which is a 100-mile trail over an eight-day period. We hiked during the day until we reached a village or a town and spent the night in a Bed and Breakfast. We enjoyed Scottish culture and food. It is a trip I will always remember.

Time To Invest: a Q&A on Retirement

We asked Dick Bodenhamer, former Marketing Team Leader at National WMU, his thoughts on retirement and how he spends his time investing in others.

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1. How many years did you spend in your career, and what did you do?

I started my 37-year career at WMU as a 23-year-old graphic designer. After working in this position for 12 years, I moved from the Art Department to doing promotions and finally to marketing. I spent my final years as the Marketing Team Leader for WMU.

2. When you were younger, what did you imagine retirement would be like?

Frankly, retirement seemed so far away it seemed that I would never actually experience it. I remember telling my mother, a retired school teacher, that we have this “retirement thing” all wrong. We should have the freedom of retirement when we are young then work during our twilight years. She actually laughed out loud at that suggestion! My idea of retirement was sleeping late, going out to eat any time I liked, taking extravagant vacations, and generally learning about this fabulous world we live in.

3. What was retirement actually like?

I remember telling my wife, who worked as a school librarian, that since she had experienced a change of pace during the summers for many years, I wanted to take the first few months of retirement to simply do nothing (and she agreed)! I found that sleeping late, meeting friends for lunch, and doing odd chores around the house was good for a little while, but it was overrated. I needed something else to energize and motivate me.

4. How did you know it was time to retire?

My father died when he was 56 and never got to experience retirement; therefore I always had a dream of retiring by the time I turned 55. During that year, the Great Recession hit and, while my wife and I probably could have made it financially, I felt that WMU could use my experience to help navigate those uncertain days, so I postponed retirement for another five years. As I turned 60, the organization seemed to be regaining its footing, and in some areas, sales were up, so I seriously started thinking that this was the right time. Also, I knew that my genetic code still could result in premature death, so my wife and I decided that it was time. She and I both retired the same year and have not looked back!

5. Now that you are retired, how do you spend your time?

I still sleep in periodically, but typically spend my days working on gardening, improving our house and yard, and reading great books I didn’t have time to read while working and rearing a family. We enjoy being with our two adult daughters and their husbands, and now we have twin grandchildren (a boy and girl) who occupy some of our time. In addition, I have served in several positions in my church which give me great joy (my favorite is co-teaching an adult Sunday school class). I treasure the freedom to meet friends for lunch and for the potential of taking extended trips with my wife. We have taken at least one two-week trip each year. This is something we could never have done when deadlines pressed on a regular basis. The best part of how my time is spent is that I can decide when and how to use it!

6. How do you invest in others in your retirement?

I have the good fortune of serving as an adjunct professor at Samford teaching two courses: “Family Resource Management” (financial planning for non-business majors) and a business school course, “Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations.” This opportunity allows me to influence the next generation with lessons I have learned over the course of my life and career. I also have had the opportunity to serve as a marketing/communications consultant with several churches through the Center for Congregational Resources at Samford. I have served as an interim Executive Director for a local nonprofit that serves those mired in poverty, and one of my latest exploits is serving along with our church’s RAs each month as we take responsibility for providing a monthly meal at a local homeless shelter for men. During this phase of life, these engagements are combining elements of my career and interests, bringing together many of the lessons learned throughout life.

During this phase of life, these engagements are combining elements of my career and interests, bringing together many of the lessons learned throughout life.

7. What advice would you give other retirees about using their time wisely?

In churches and nonprofits, there is often so much that needs to be done, I have noticed is that on the day you retire, you will have a proverbial target on your back! I have friends who accept every opportunity for involvement that comes their way, trading the deadlines and pressures of their career to deadlines and pressures from other people. My advice is: be judicious in saying yes to opportunities for involvement and agree to serve only when the thought of not serving will leave you disappointed. Seek joy in your volunteering! Your service will be more effective.

8. What advice would you give younger people about planning for retirement?

I stress to college students that they have one commodity I no longer have: time. The most important action a young person can do to prepare for retirement is to start investing in their retirement account the day they start their first job! It is proven that small amounts invested early and consistently over their working years will generate much larger returns than far larger amounts of money invested later in life. Regardless of career path, even those in relatively low-pay organizations (such as with nonprofits or church-related professions) can have financial security during retirement with proper planning. This provides freedom to serve others during these special years.

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The WMU Foundation has resources to help you retire well and continue investing well (relationally, missionally, and financially). Contact us for more information.

Generational Missions Discipleship: A Future to Fulfill

Written by Allison Turner.

Your investment matters.

How do I know it matters? How can I say this with absolute certainty?

Allow me to introduce you to a baby girl: born in 1988.

Her first WMU meeting was the Centennial meeting of WMU emphasizing: A Century to Celebrate, A Future to Fulfill.

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Of course, at 3-months-old there wasn’t much celebration or understanding; but the investments started to be made in her life. Women came alongside her godly parents and poured a deep-rooted passion dripping with love for the nations into their child’s life.

That child was me. Your investment matters.

My first WMU meeting certainly wasn’t my last. Since that time, I have had the honor and privilege of serving WMU on many levels and have seen the absolute treasure that comes in the form of women across the world who pray, give, and go.

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The prayer warriors WMU produces are unmatched. I have been blessed beyond measure to be raised by a mother and grandmother who have proved that to me. Melvadeen Friday and Denise Henderson poured their lives out for the sake of God’s work among the nations through our missionaries. Tears have been shed and countless hours of sleep have been lost for the sake of furthering His kingdom. And the beauty is: they are not alone.

We may never know how many men and women pick up their Missions Mosaic every day and weep over the lives and struggles of our missionaries serving (even those whose names we cannot know).

My brothers and I always knew that if the door was closed in the Florida room at home, it was God’s time. (And you don’t disturb God while Mama is talking to Him!) This wasn’t sporadic. Every single day Mama was faithful to invest in the lives of missionaries and those they would be serving through her prayers.

It was easy to develop a love for missionaries with this upbringing. I prayed all my life for opportunities to go and serve alongside these missionaries I’d been taught to love so well. I tried to go to different places—China, Russia, Swaziland, the list goes on—but none ever came to fruition. I was always left stateside praying for those who went.

Then, the opportunity came this year. This year, I got to go on the most special trip imaginable for a WMU baby like me. I had a few opportunities to go out into a lost nation and serve. But the main point of our trip was to serve missionaries. I was able to go with a small team on a 27-hour flight to bring a women’s retreat to 40 IMB missionaries. These beautiful servants I’d been praying for since I learned how to pray. I would get to serve them! And I cannot fully explain the absolute joy I experienced in those few days filled with laughter, tears, and new friendships that will certainly last a lifetime.

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Because I of the investment of WMU women instilling in me a passion for those who serve on our frontlines, I was able to pray for these women missionaries serving in hard places. I was able to listen to their stories and share them with others who will pray.

Specifically, because of the investment of my grandmother, Melvadeen, and my mother, Denise, the trajectory of my life has been set towards missions. Missions here, missions abroad, missions everywhere I go.

To the young mother who is exhausted and trying to sneak in quality time with God: those babies are watching. Let them know He’s important.

To the businesswoman rushing around to meet deadlines: your co-workers see you. Let them see God’s love in you.

To the retiree feeling like your purpose has been fulfilled: someone is waiting for you to speak life to them. Let those who come behind you find you faithful.

Your investment matters.

Did a mother or grandmother pour their missions heart into your life? Honor them or their memory through the Walk of Faith.