What's in<br>your hand?

What's in
your hand?

It was still dark out as Austin and Rhoda Heise gathered around their kitchen table with their Bible, a worn copy of Our Daily Bread, and a small notebook filled with prayer requests. As was their custom, they took turns reading Scripture and the day’s devotion and then bowed their heads to pray. While most days they lifted up family, friends, and missions work, on this day their prayers turned to an important personal matter – the decision to make a significant gift of one of their most valuable possessions, their farmland.


Both Austin and Rhoda had grown up in the tight-knit community of believers from the small denomination known as the Brethren in Christ. Austin’s great-grandfather was one of the Brethren’s first missionaries sent out to Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe. Rhoda’s father had been a pastor, often preaching for nothing more than a love offering. From a young age they both heard about faraway places and the joy of giving their lives to reach those who had never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Austin and Rhoda met as students at a church college in California. After they married, they first settled on a small farm near Hiawatha, Kansas, and later moved to the farm nearby that had been in their family for three generations. As his father and grandfather before him, Austin worked from sun-up to sundown farming corn, wheat, and soybeans. Rhoda remembers, “There were some hard times, but it was those times that built character.”

Even though they did not have great means, Austin and Rhoda continued their parents’ tradition of supporting missions and helping the poor. They tithed and gave generously and even traveled abroad to serve on mission trips to Spain and Haiti. Then in 2010, after retiring from 48 years of farming and with their three children grown and having kids of their own, they encountered a unique opportunity to establish a legacy of generosity for their whole family.


Their son, Gary, introduced them to the National Christian Foundation where they learned about the concept of asset-based giving. Rhoda says, “God asked us the same question he asked Moses, ‘What is that in your hand?’

For Moses it was a staff, for us it was a farm. We knew that we eventually wanted it to go to Kingdom work but with the needs all around us so great, we thought, ‘Why wait?’“ Austin and Rhoda decided to gift a small portion of their farmland valued at approximately $250,000 to their family Giving Fund. NCF sold the land for them and placed the proceeds in their Fund for granting to their favorite ministries. The Heises qualified for a tax deduction for the fair market value of their gift and avoided the significant capital gains tax that they would have had to pay if they had sold the land and given it directly to charity. They were able to give $75,000 more with this initial gift.


In 2011, Austin and Rhoda decided to give an even larger portion of land that they owned in Nebraska. Austin explains, “We bought the farm in Nebraska 13 years ago for $220,000 and it had appreciated a lot so we knew it was a valuable asset for giving.” 

NCF Heartland’s team guided them through the gift, which involved three steps: 

  1. Austin and Rhoda got all three of their adult children involved and gave them a total of 160 acres valued at about $650,000, which they in turn donated to their NCF Giving Funds.

  2. A few months later, NCF sold the acreage for $1.1 million and each of their children received over $300,000 in their Fund and are now able to give to the charities of their choice. 

  3. Each qualified for a tax deduction for the fair market value of their gift and avoided the significant capital gains tax that they would have had to pay if they had sold the land and given it directly to charity. Overall, they were able to save $392,000 in taxes and give that instead. 


Rhoda says, “Our generation had a chance to earn more as our assets appreciated. We love how the NCF team helped us steward this transfer of wealth for God’s purposes.” Austin adds, “It was just like when Christ fed thousands with five loaves and two fish. We know that little can become much when God is in charge.”

Now their children are experiencing the joy of generosity. And Austin and Rhoda have been able to pass on their values rather than just valuables. “It’s so exciting to see the new causes that our children and their spouses are supporting. They just love having these resources to give,” says Rhoda. “We wanted our kids to know how wonderful it is to give, and to live with the Lord and know His purposes. With NCF, we learned that valuable farmland could be even more valuable for the Kingdom.” 

There were some hard times, but it was those times that built character.
— Rhoda
God asked us the same question he asked Moses, ‘What is that in your hand?’ For Moses it was a staff, for us it was a farm.
— Rhoda
We wanted our kids to know how wonderful it is to give, and to live with the Lord and know His purposes.
— Rhoda

Teaming up<br>for greater giving

Teaming up
for greater giving

Clyde Lear is a team player. In fact, he built a company based on teamwork that represents 120 top collegiate franchises across the country. As Clyde strides down the halls of the business, past rows of gleaming college football helmets perched atop sophisticated broadcasting bays, he proudly points to a sign that expresses the mission of Learfield: “Build the Team, Grow the Company, and Have Fun!”

But the business wasn’t always this large, or this glamorous. Clyde reflects, “It was a small company back in 1972 when we had our first broadcast. We started out as an agricultural news service with farm programs to radio stations all over central Missouri. Then we added news networks and satellite technology. Eventually, we worked out a deal to broadcast the University of Missouri’s Tiger football games. And that’s how we backed into the sports business.” 


As the sports division took off, Learfield continued to expand over the next few decades. But Clyde discovered that business success was not enough. “Looking back, I know that I had faith and I went to church. But it wasn’t until I was in my early 40s that I began to have a richer understanding of the role that Jesus played in my life when He died on the cross.” Along with a deeper commitment to faith, Clyde made a covenant with his leadership team that changed the course of his life. “It was 1994 and I was a new believer,” says Clyde. “I thought it was important for me to step out and take a new challenge. So I went on a men’s retreat with our leadership team. The facilitators there challenged us to start an accountability group. We did, and we have met every month since 1996. We invest in each other. And we have been able to use our company for the Lord. Overall, I would say the most important thing for me, besides marrying my wife and meeting Jesus, has been accountability with these four other men from Learfield.”


Eventually, it was these four close friends that presented Clyde with the opportunity for a buy-out. “In 2006, I had the opportunity to sell 40 percent of the business,” says Clyde. “And one of my buddies said to me, ‘Clyde, if you’re selling the company, you really ought to talk to NCF, because they have a whole bevy of lawyers, and they are smarter than any group we know of in America today on how to get the best bang for the buck, especially tax-wise, from your sale.’”

So Clyde teamed up with NCF to give part of his business. Clyde explains, “I gave them a lot of stock in Learfield. Then when we had the sale happen, they were the recipient of all that cash, and that went in our Giving Fund so we could give that money away later.” Sue adds, “I think the Giving Fund is wonderful because it gives us an opportunity to have that money available when something comes up. We don’t feel like we’re pulling it out of the checkbook. It’s a good vehicle to be able to give to causes or whatever you feel the need to give to, and know that money is available.”


With additional money set aside, Clyde and Sue decided to establish some specific parameters for giving. Clyde says, “We said first of all, whatever we give to is going to serve the purposes of Jesus. And the second thing is we are only going to give to needs that would go unmet if we didn’t step up to the plate.”

One project that fit squarely into their guidelines was something they had dreamed about for many years – building a Young Life Camp in Missouri. Clyde and Sue knew the need for a camp in the Midwest firsthand because they had driven kids to camp as far away as Denver and Texas for years. Clyde says, “We had already sold the business and we had the cash. So we went ahead and made the lead gift that allowed the national board of Young Life to move forward.”


In the summer of 2016, the Young Life camp at Clearwater Cove near Branson, Missouri, opened for its first group of teen campers. Clyde and Sue were there for the big event. Sue says, “We were standing there and the buses were coming up the hill and I was cheering. We watched the first kid get off the bus and our regional Young Life director came over and started hugging me. And I just lost it. It was such an emotional thing because we had worked so hard to see this moment come to pass.” Clyde describes the experience this way: “As an entrepreneur, having a great sale or doing a great deal brought wonderful satisfaction. There is a high about it that you just absolutely love. And when we got to see that first bus pulling into the Young Life camp, it was that same high. Is there such thing as a giving high? I think maybe we’ve found it!”

Clyde's advice to business owners

“I would recommend NCF to someone who is selling their company or making a transaction ... you ought to be thinking about it. No matter how big or small the transaction, even small real estate transactions, you can save capital gains taxes if you contact NCF before you do anything. That’s the critical thing. You ought to be setting up a relationship with NCF so that as you walk through life on these financial issues, they can give you recommendations for the best way to maximize your giving.” 

I would say the most important thing for me, besides marrying my wife and meeting Jesus, has been accountability with these four other men from Learfield.
— Clyde
Is there such thing as a giving high? I think maybe we’ve found it!
— Clyde

Giving before<br>the sale

Giving before
the sale

Andy Andreas was in the midst of another busy day at his growing bathroom remodeling business when a call came through on his cell phone. He answered, and the voice on the other line replied, “Hi Andy, this is The Home Depot. We’d like to talk to you about acquiring your company.”

All of the years of countless hours that he'd spent building his company seemed to flash before his eyes. From a start-up in his garage to offices across the nation in Kansas City, Denver, Dallas, and Minneapolis, Andy's company had become one of the fastest growing entities of its kind.

As Andy set up a time to meet with The Home Depot, he thought back to another life-defining moment that had happened years earlier when he was just a teenager ... long before he had ever seen a balance sheet or cared about an income statement. Andy was attending a Campus Crusade Christmas Conference when Josh McDowell gave him an inspiring admonition to live with purpose. McDowell challenged participants to write a mission statement for their lives. So Andy developed this mission statement: Andy Andreas exists to get as many people into heaven as he possibly can before he dies and to have as much fun on the way as possible.

Now, as a successful entrepreneur with the potential for a lucrative buy-out, Andy knew that he was being presented with one of the greatest opportunities for Kingdom impact that he would ever have. 

From the beginning, he had made the Lord his business partner and had always considered his company to be an economic engine for funding ministry. Now the moment he had worked for had finally come, and he was fully prepared to make it pay off for the ministries he loved to support. 

Several years earlier, Andy had gone to lunch with Bill High from NCF's office in Kansas City Bill introduced Andy to the concept of gifting his business prior to sale if that should occur. Andy learned a lot that day, but one statement that stood out more than anything else was when Bill said, "If you ever think about selling your company, be sure to call me before you sign anything."

So when Andy first learned of The Home Depot's interest, he called Bill who he knew could develop a strategy for maximizing the charitable aspect of his potential liquidity event. Andy learned that he could benefit from a gift of his business stock which involved several basic steps:

1. Andy gifted a portion of his business stock to his NCF Giving Fund prior to signing with The Home Depot
2. Andy qualified for a tax deduction for the fair market value of his stock gift
3. NCF sold the stock to The Home Depot, and placed the proceeds in Andy's Giving Fund for recommending grants to charity

Because NCF was involved in the sale as a charitable shareholder, the overall capital gains tax was greatly reduced. With Andy's income tax deduction and the capital gains tax savings, he was able to give hundreds of thousands of dollars more! During the deal, Andy encountered some surprise from The Home Depot team. He said, "NCF anticipated The Home Depot's questions, and the sale went smoothly. NCF made sure the gifted stock was non-voting so I continued to make all the relevant decisions."

Andy received some initial resistance from his own personal team of advisors. He says, "There were some strong and cynical naysayers at first. This is new territory for many professional advisors because most of their clients aren't trying to give away 50% of their company. But the reality is few people understand the advance use of tax law like the experts at NCF. But this type of giving is their specialty." He adds, "NCF did not replace my team, but rather they came alongside them to provide research, strategies, and tax analysis to leverage my giving." 

Most importantly, Andy says the process taught him an important truth. "Entrepreneurs outsource many things, and that's wise. But one thing that I learned is that you really can't outsource your values. You may have the best advisors money can buy, but you can't count on others to make the decision that you know God is telling you to make," Andy says.

So what advice does Andy have for other business owners who have a heart to give? "If you are a Christian business owner, you should stay up-to-date with NCF on the constantly morphing tax laws. Don't wait. Call NCF today. It pays to be prepared and there are lots of ways you can give from your business whether you are selling or not. NCF offers the greatest strategies."

Andy's business deal took place almost five years ago and there have been a lot of changes in his life and the economy since then. So how does he feel about it today? Andy says, "It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made. The Word says, 'Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.' We don't wander far from our treasure. So I'm glad that I've been able to push mine into the Kingdom. That's where my heart is." 

Entrepreneurs outsource many things ... But one thing that I learned is that you can’t outsource your values.
— Andy
The Word says, ‘Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.’ We don’t wander far from our treasure. So I’m glad that I’ve been able to push mine into the Kingdom. That’s where my heart is.
— Andy

Supporting a <br>friend in need

Supporting a
friend in need

Editor's note: In memory
Egbert (Bert) J. de Vries, MD, passed away at the age of 57 on October 5, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his wife, Christine, by his side. Soon after his passing, Christine was able to gift their specially equipped van to another family with special needs. Bert’s blessing lives on.

Bert de Vries has always loved the sea. But now he is sailing into uncharted waters. With a terminal diagnosis of ALS looming ahead, Bert is headed straight into a storm of suffering. Accompanying him on the journey is his wife, Christine, his friend, Roy Moore, and many other close friends in the tight-knit community of givers at NCF South Florida in Fort Lauderdale. They all know that inevitably Roy must go where they cannot follow. But for as long they can, Bert’s loved ones will make sure he has a way to get there...on his own terms...and in his own graceful way. 

As the son of a missionary physician, Bert de Vries’ life seemed set on a steady course. With a foundation of faith, a mind for medicine, and a steady hand, Bert was destined to become a talented surgeon. One of his teachers even remarked that Bert had one of the most gifted sets of hands that he’d ever had the opportunity to train.

In time, Bert became one of the world’s leading cancer surgeons, president of the medical staff of one of New York City’s biggest hospitals, and a board member of a prominent corporation that oversaw 400 physicians taking care of New York City’s poor and indigent. But this kind of success didn’t come without a spiritual price. Bert explains, “The jobs that I had certainly came with worldly rewards, and I enjoyed them. I was working to a higher and higher level, so I could get the bigger boat, and the faster car. All the while I thought I was doing God’s work, never fully realizing the treadmill that I was on.”


Life sailed along smoothly until Bert developed a tremor in his right hand. He explains, “When the symptoms started, I hid them from everybody. One of my talents is my intellect and my gift as a surgeon, so rather than admit what was going wrong, I was able to show off and do surgery with my left hand.”

Eventually, Bert’s condition deteriorated to the point where he was forced to seek a diagnosis. His fears were confirmed when he received the news that he had ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Ironically, Bert’s pastor was preaching on the book of Job during this time and extraordinary things started to happen in his faith. Bert says, “Christine and I were walking out of church that day, smiling and almost skipping, if that’s possible. We looked at each other and said, ‘Thank God for ALS.’ That was a real transcendent moment for us.”


As the months passed and Bert’s muscles began to weaken, the time came for him to transition to life in a wheelchair. But this change presented a tough, new challenge -- transportation. This is when NCF giver, Roy Moore, stepped in with a generous offer to purchase a top of the line, specially equipped van that would allow Bert to easily maneuver in and out. Through an event sponsored by NCF South Florida, Roy heard Bert give his testimony and was moved to get involved.

“I was thinking about buying a boat at the time,” says Roy. “When I heard about this need, it was like God said, ‘There’s your boat.’ This is the land boat that Bert needs. I knew Bert enjoyed being out on the ocean, and I didn’t want it to be something he would ‘get-by’ with. I wanted it to be a testimony.” The local team at NCF South Florida helped Roy facilitate the gift of Bert's specially equipped van through NCF’s partner organization, Helping Hands Ministries. By using Helping Hands, the team helped the gift qualify for a tax deduction and provided a way for the van to eventually be passed on to another ALS patient.

Christine says, “NCF has really evolved into a Christian community and a real family for us. I feel safer. There are lots of places in the world to go to when you’re struggling and there are people with wrong motives so Bert and I are careful. As I look at my future, I feel like there is a family that I can depend on with NCF.”


With each passing day, Bert pushes further into his fateful journey. Those around him can see that his faith grows deeper still. “This disease has taken me from a place where I knew God and knew He was in control of my life to a place where I needed God and gave up control of my life,” says Bert. “I have no more special gifts or skills to offer. If the chief purpose of man is to glorify God, at this point that’s all I have left.” 

Being able to thank God, even in adversity, has renewed my strength far beyond anything physical.
— Bert

A family mission trip inspires giving

A family mission trip inspires giving

The driver’s game of chicken with an oncoming car had caused both Susan and Hannah to grow wide-eyed and white-knuckled in the back seat. Half-praying, half-talking to herself, Susan thought, “What have I done to my family? This is dangerous. Lord, is this where you want us to be? Maybe we’ve made a mistake.” Just then Hannah nudged her, laughing and singing, “Hey mom, hakuna matata! It means no worries, for the rest of your days!” 


No worries, indeed. In many ways, this crazy cab ride sums up a lot about the giving experience that Susan Peterson and her husband, Todd, are having with their children, Hannah (15) and Zach (13). While most American kids have only heard the phrase “hakuna matata” in a Disney movie, Hannah and Zach have experienced it firsthand. And although their adventures in giving have not always been entirely worry-free, they all agree that the joy they’ve experienced has freed them in a much deeper way. Giving hands-on together as a family has helped them overcome the materialism that sinks most American families today … even if the journey has been a wild ride at times.

So how does a suburban family from just north of Atlanta end up trekking through slums on the other side of the world? For the Petersons, it all started as a quest to get away. After years of moving around with Todd’s demanding career as a pro football player, Susan envisioned a quiet sabbatical abroad. But they soon realized that God had a different plan. Susan says, “For the first time, we felt called to engage in work on international soil with indigenous leaders.”


So the Petersons traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, which served as their base for the next six weeks. The culture shock that they encountered was an eye-opener for Todd and Susan. From stifling buses and bizarre foods and insects, to serving and sleeping in less than sanitary conditions, Todd and Susan’s patience was put to the test. Todd says, “It was humbling to be confronted with the reality of how other people live in ways that I’d never even imagined.”

But the experience was much different for their children. Susan explains, “It was incredible to watch our kids at seven and nine have an easier time of it than we did. Where we were a bit uncomfortable walking into a township, a slum, they never were. They would just run in and immediately go to play with
the kids.”


The highlight of their adventure was meeting two of their sponsor children, Karen in Nairobi, and Lawi in Yala. Compassion International helped arrange the trips and provided a translator to help them navigate the linguistic and cultural barriers.

Susan says, “The first family we visited was Karen’s, and they lived right outside of Nairobi in very open urban poverty. It was a terrifying situation. They insisted on giving us gifts. It was humbling to see how generous they were to us.”

Then they traveled by bush plane to meet Lawi at his remote home in Yala land. Even though the ministry had told Lawi’s family not to prepare any food, the Petersons were greeted by the delicious smell of fresh roasted chicken and toasted sesame seeds when they arrived at the mud hut. Then Lawi’s dad presented them with an entire bushel of bananas. It was all the bananas that are produced by a banana tree in a whole year. Astonished at the generosity of Lawi’s family, Susan says, “We were out-given that day, for sure.”


Since this first trip seven years ago, the Petersons have been back to Africa five times. Now Hannah plans to go with one of her friends on her first mission there without her family. She is eager to explore what her own wild ride in giving will be. After all, this is one family that has learned to say, “hakuna matata,” while trusting God for it all.

You feel like you need the newest thing, but that could pay for several months of things that they truly need in Africa.
— Hannah

Engaging the <br> next generation

Engaging the
next generation

A large, rough-hewn wooden sign hangs on the wall in David Pursell’s office at the headquarters of his family business, Pursell Farms, a premier leisure farm resort and golf course in Sylacauga, Alabama. The sign reads, “Live now for what will matter then.” This plainspoken principle is a resounding theme that runs throughout the Pursell family, from Jimmy Pursell, the 85-year-old family patriarch and his late wife, Chris, to their adult children, sons, Taylor and David, and daughter, Chris. This simple motto sums up the family’s generous idea of living beyond themselves, and their own generation. It’s their practice as parents of passing on values before valuables to their children and grandchildren to lay the foundation of faith. And it’s their commitment to invest in eternal rewards over temporary pleasures. This is the Pursell legacy. And it all begins with the story of Jimmy Pursell, a small-town boy from Talladega, Alabama.


At 85, Jimmy Pursell has a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he recounts some of his favorite stories of growing up in rural Alabama with his best friend, Jim Nabors, otherwise known as The Andy Griffith Show’s, Gomer Pyle. “We got into some shenanigans,” says Jimmy. “But you know, that’s how I met my wife. Jim introduced me to her and after that, everything changed.” Jimmy and Chris were married in 1953 and several years later, Jimmy went to work in his father-in-law’s fertilizer business. With an outgoing personality, Jimmy was a natural salesman. He quickly expanded his new division of the company, the Sta-Green line of lawn and garden fertilizers. In the mid-1960s, after the passing of his father-in-law, Jimmy was able to take over the company. He began to innovate the products that led to their development of controlled- release fertilizers. Eventually, the company developed a patented polymer coated fertilizer called POLYON. They became one of the largest producers of coated fertilizers in the world. 


Even as the Pursell business was reaching a milestone in the ‘70s, the family’s faith hit a turning point, too. As members of their local Episcopal church, Jimmy and Chris had always served, tithed, and taken their children to church. But with the Jesus Movement sweeping across the campus of Auburn University, Taylor, the Pursells’ oldest son, had his faith awakened there in a new way.  

Taylor brought his college Bible study leader, John “Rat” Riley, home to meet his father. Jimmy was so intrigued by John’s teaching that he made a bold move. He offered to hire John Riley to speak full-time, including a weekly session with the employees at his company. Jimmy’s faith came alive as he began to see his business as his mission field, and the whole family committed their lives to Christ as well.

In 1976, Jimmy assembled all of his employees and made an announcement: From now on, the company would be dedicated to Christ. He would incorporate Christian principles at work and devote more revenue to charity. David explains, “My father gave the thing he loved the most, his business, to God. And God blessed him.” 

Over the next several decades, the company continued to prosper. In the late 1990s, they became Pursell Industries, then Pursell Technologies, and eventually split into two separate entities. Taylor assumed the lead of Pursell Industries, while David took the helm of Pursell Technologies. Their sister, Chris, worked in the business for six years before she married her husband, Rev. Aaron Fleming, and moved to Montgomery, Alabama.


In 2001, David relocated the headquarters of Pursell Technologies to the family farm 10 miles away and developed a new marketing strategy utilizing the picturesque 3,200-acre property. He built FarmLinks Golf Club, a 7,444-yard, par-72 Hurdzan-Fry research and demonstration course to showcase their innovative fertilizer products to golf course superintendents. The company also offered their guests a much-needed respite. Visitors played golf, enjoyed home-cooked meals, fished, and relaxed in the 14,000-square-foot Parker Lodge. More than 10,000 top golf superintendents came to enjoy the Pursells’ generous wholesome hospitality.


Then in 2006, the family sold the fertilizer business to a large corporation. Since then, the business has evolved into Pursell Farms, a world-class golf and leisure resort. They operate the FarmLinks golf course, the Orvis Shooting Grounds at Pursell Farms, and deluxe accommodations for business meetings, ministry retreats, weddings, and couples getaways. David explains, “Now we’re in the hospitality business, which is where God was leading us all along.” 

With that hospitality, David says there are four pillars of faith that he tries to incorporate in their business:

1. Honor God first – “Honoring God is our relentless pursuit,” says David.

2. Respect our employees – “We treat each other with dignity and I go out of my way to help any of our employees.”

3. Serve our guests with excellence – “The respect we have for one another carries over into our guest relations. We will bend over backwards to make our guests feel welcome.”

4. Honor our owners (my mom and dad) – “We honor the hard work and sacrifice that my parents made to get us here.”



To carry on his parents’ legacy of generosity, David and his wife, Ellen, have involved their children in giving, using a unique tool from the National Christian Foundation, the Giving Fund (donor-advised fund). David says, “We have six children and when they reached about 16 to 18 years old, we gave each of them a Giving Fund with $5,000 as a Christmas gift.” The children were instructed to research charities and give the money away as they saw fit. The following Christmas, David asked about their Funds. He discovered that three of his kids hadn’t given anything, two had given a little, and one had given it all away. He used this experience to teach them a biblical lesson. He explains, “I said, ‘Okay, to you that has given it all, I’m going to completely refresh your Fund. To you three that haven’t given anything, I’m not giving you anything more.’ All of a sudden, they got busy giving."


In addition to giving away much of their corporate earnings, David has created a meaningful corporate partnership with a ministry that is close to his heart, Vapor International. “The first international mission trip that I ever took was with Vapor,” David says. “As I got to know their founder, Micah McElveen, and his wife, Audrey, I saw a genuineness and detachment from materialism that stuck with me.”

David was moved by Micah’s incredible personal journey that stemmed from a near-death surfing accident in 1995 that resulted in a broken neck. As a life-long athlete and football player, Micah wasn’t even sure if he would ever walk again. During his intense recovery period, Micah says, “God reshaped my priorities and taught me that life is but a vapor.”

Micah made a miraculous recovery but was unable to return to football. So he started playing soccer. His new love of the sport came in handy when he traveled to Africa and played soccer with street children living in extreme poverty. Soon, a vision began to take shape to use soccer as a means to minister to the children in third-world communities.

David met Micah at the perfect time to help invest in his dream. “I had just sold the company and made a lot of money personally, and our family had as well,” says David. “I recognized Micah’s need for things that I have here. I could give Micah and Audrey a home. We could give them office space. God provided everything at the right time. We donated land and they built right outside the front gate of the farm.”

David and Micah’s close relationship has led to a fruitful connection between Pursell Farms and Vapor International. “Micah and I have connected spiritually and we hold each other accountable. I serve on his board and we support them every month with major gifts,” says David. “Having Vapor located here on the farm means that the more successful we are, the more Vapor will become known. Our employees and guests love knowing that they’re helping children a world away.” 


Just like the plaque in David’s office, there are signs of God’s presence everywhere you look at Pursell Farms, from the ministry sign that leads the way to Vapor International headquarters to the tall wooden cross on the top of one of the farm’s highest peaks. But David’s favorite sign says it all. “As you drive in, we have a large welcome sign with Psalm 111:2 and 4, ‘Great are the works of the Lord. He has made His wonders to be remembered,’” says David. “That is what we want visitors to see when they come here. We want them to not only see the great golf course, or the great food, or the great service, but we want them to see God through His magnificent creation.” 

My father gave the thing he loved the most, his business, to God.
— David
We honor the hard work and sacrifice our parents made to get us here.
— David

Inspiring a generous community

Inspiring a generous community

Jess and Angela Correll’s sense of stewardship has brought their small town of Stanford, Kentucky back to life. Through Jess' bank and a variety of businesses, the local economy is growing into a prosperous and generous community.

Through generosity, hospitality, and excellence, we try to create spaces where you can sense the peace of God.
— Angela

Leading a<br>generous business

Leading a
generous business

Casey Crawford is a man who doesn’t like to sit still for too long. Moving briskly through the hallways of his company, the former NFL football player greets employees left and right with quick exchanges and an infectious grin. Finally, he lands in an oversized chair in his office. His framed Super Bowl jersey hangs on one wall while another is covered with inspirational quotes and the unusual mission for his company, Movement Mortgage.

Casey explains, “Our mission is to love and value people by leading a movement of change in our industry, in corporate culture at large, and in the communities where we work.” If that sounds like a tall order for a mortgage business, this 6’6’’ athletic entrepreneur says his faith inspired him to think beyond typical corporate goals.

“When I started this business in 2008, I thought that I’d make all this money and do all these neat things for God,” Casey says. “But the Lord showed me that was about building my kingdom. He turned my plan upside down and revealed a much greater vision with an audacious goal: Use love to transform business into a movement for change.”


Fast forward eight years, and the determined tight end who used to move the ball down the field is moving mortgages and ministry light years ahead. Movement has grown from a small team of four to over 4,000 employees with more than 650 locations across 47 states. They’ve been recognized by Inc. Magazine as the fastest- growing mortgage bank in the country. And they have given away $27 million to charity through the Movement Foundation.

One of Movement’s biggest initiatives yet – the Movement Center – has sprung to life amid the crumbling blight along Freedom Drive in Charlotte’s depressed west side neighborhood. Rising from the shadow of the Bank of America Stadium where he once played for the Carolina Panthers, this 40,000-square-foot former hydraulic equipment shop has been renovated into a $3 million ministry center.


Casey admits that his unusual business model has been challenging at times: “You share these audacious ideas about giving with people, and you get a lot of blank stares.” But he found an advocate at NCF. “When I shared my vision with Relationship Manager Dan Glaze at NCF, he immediately understood. He validated my passion, and even offered creative ways to help facilitate it.” By helping him set up a Giving Fund, a supporting organization, and tax-wise gifts of business stock, Casey says NCF has been instrumental in achieving his giving goals. But it’s not the wise charitable planning that he values most. “There are a lot of donor-advised funds out there,” says Casey. “But for me, the most invaluable element of NCF is their spiritual alignment and our common vision of growing the Kingdom.” 

Casey plans to take the Freedom Drive model and apply it in dozens of other U.S. cities in the near future. Casey says, “For Movement, investing in a real estate-based project such as this, allows us to continue to measure the success of our efforts by the number of changed lives around us.” He also hopes to set an example for other businesses. He adds, “What if big corporations had their name on facilities that meet people’s needs, not just on places used for entertainment? I would love to restore people’s vision of what it means to be a good corporate citizen.”

This is only the beginning of an even bolder plan. Over the next decade, Casey wants to give it all away. Casey plans to transfer 100 percent of Movement Mortgage’s shares to the Movement Foundation, even as they continue to operate the company as normal. After taking care of customers and employees, they intend for all dividends to be paid to the foundation.

“The vision is that everything beyond our capital requirements would be reinvested back into communities across the U.S.,” Casey adds. “People will come to us because we give them great service and great rates. But how cool would it be for people to know that because they patronize our organization, they’re helping reinvest in the community, doing good, and loving others. That’s the story I want to tell.”


It’s a big story that Casey is writing with his brand of corporate love today, but his own story began quite humbly. He was raised in a middle class Christian family from Washington, D.C. where he grew up helping out in his dad’s hardware store. His mother worked as an HR consultant for some of the area’s largest corporations. On weekends, Casey followed his grandfather around, helping him salvage parts from junk cars and sell them to a scrapyard. They donated the money to churches or to buy clothes for the needy. “When you’re 9 or 10 years old, you just assume everybody does that stuff,” he says. “My granddad wasn’t a wealthy guy, but it was instilled in me that we had a social responsibility.” 

A natural athlete, Casey grew up playing multiple sports and was drafted out of high school to play baseball for the Atlanta Braves. But he turned them down to play football at the University of Virginia. He went on to receive all-conference honors and signed as a free agent with the Carolina Panthers in 2000. He broke his nose in the team’s first preseason game but insisted on playing through the injury to earn a roster spot.

After Carolina’s 2001 losing season, Crawford was cut from the Panthers and ended up in Tampa Bay. He played in four games for the winning Buccaneers who were Super Bowl champs in 2003. But then seemingly at the top of his game, Casey decided to walk away from football after that season. He wanted more control over his destiny. He gave his Super Bowl ring to his father. And the $50,000 Super Bowl bonus became a down payment on a home in Charlotte, where he headed to start a new career in real estate.


As a player, Casey had dabbled in house flipping. Eventually, he expanded into lending and development, setting up a joint venture with Toby Harris, a mortgage executive who would become his Movement Mortgage partner. After a large real estate deal went sour, Toby urged Casey to team up with him to create a mortgage bank in 2007, in Charlotte, North Carolina. And in 2008, Movement Mortgage was born.

Little did they know they were on the cusp of one of the largest financial crashes in history. They watched the mortgage market crumble, exposing the greed of Wall Street bankers. Lenders ed the business as it imploded from bad subprime loans. Under these circumstances it became clear that if any industry needed a movement of change, it was the mortgage business.

Casey knew they would have to rise above the status quo. “We are acutely aware that people are looking for ways that they’re being lied to or deceived,” Casey says. “The world doesn’t need just one more mortgage company. That mistrust is what fuels us.” As far as his business strategy goes, Casey saw a void in the market and decided to focus exclusively on serving real estate agents in need of reputable lenders for their buyers. This turned out to be the magic formula.

“We bring excellence to the process and integrity to the industry,” Casey explains. And his faith is a big part of that. He says, “God called us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We do it by taking care of customers. Putting them in mortgages they can afford, providing a pleasant experience, creating a company that actually cares about the other people on the team, and then we pour out the rest into the communities we serve.”

Casey believes that simple formula represents a stark contrast to what was happening 10 years ago. Casey says, “The mortgage companies were de ned by a lack of integrity, by putting families into loans they couldn’t afford with very convoluted paperwork. At a core level, we want to serve the American public in a better way.”


Movement is also serving their employees in a better way. “Another important part of our calling is to help those in need right here,” says Casey. “It’s wonderful to do things for people all over the country or the world, but first we need to love one another. Part of this happens through our Love Works Fund.”

The Love Works program gives financial aid to employees facing unexpected needs such as medical bills or crisis counseling. It began with an endowment of $100,000. Today, over 70 percent of their employees contribute to the fund out of their paycheck, with the company matching their donations dollar-for-dollar. “That’s what I encourage our employees to give to,” Casey says. “We try to love and care for each other.”


Casey says his goal isn’t to wage culture wars. There’s no expectation for employees to profess faith or religious values. Rather, he says the mission is to spread love for others, both inside and outside the company. He explains, “Just like Jesus said, we want to let our light shine so that they may see our good works and give glory to the Father who is in heaven.”

On a national scale, Casey hopes to inspire other entrepreneurs to walk boldly in their faith and use their businesses to love and value people. He says, “It might be rare today to see companies give like we do, but we believe this is the start of a new movement in business. As human beings, something inside of us is attracted to a loving community. People are longing for it, and your business can be the place they find it.”


Casey admits that his unusual business model has been challenging at times: “You share these audacious ideas about giving with people, and you get a lot of blank stares.” But he found an advocate at NCF. By helping him set up a Giving Fund, a supporting organization, and tax-wise gifts of business stock, Casey says NCF has been instrumental in achieving his giving goals.

He says, “God did not give me a prescription of how to navigate tax law, foundations, and all the structures we need to put in place for giving. So I started praying, and as He so faithfully does when you are trying to follow Him, He brings other parts of the body to help you in that journey like NCF.”

Our mission is to love and value people by leading a movement of change in our industry.
— Casey
It might be rare today to see companies give like we do, but we believe this is the start of a new movement in business.
— Casey
God called us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We do it by taking care
of customers.
— Casey

Going beyond the check to give more

Going beyond the check to give more

It’s a bone-chilling night, and rain is falling softly on the misty streets of Seattle. In the shadows of the gleaming skyscrapers that house burgeoning high-tech start-ups and trendy coffee shops, Craig and April Chapman climb into a Union Gospel Mission van with six other volunteers for another midnight “search and rescue” mission to the city’s homeless.

The driver, a former addict who lived on the streets himself, makes his way to a familiar spot under a downtown overpass. As the van comes to a stop, April hops out to grab clean blankets, warm socks, cups of hot chocolate, and sandwiches for the group of men and women they see huddled there, trying to escape the downpour.

Craig exits right after her and heads toward a man with long hair and a wild, shaggy beard. He looks the disheveled man in the eye and says, “Hi, I’m Craig. What’s your name?" The man’s mouth widens into a smile, and soon he and Craig are engaged in quiet conversation. For the first time that day, or perhaps for one of the first times in his life, this man knows that someone cares.


Why does this pair of innovative software engineers prefer to spend an almost sleepless night once a month with Seattle’s diverse homeless population? Craig explains, “We started donating to Union Gospel Mission a few years ago. Then, Jeff Lilley, their director, invited us to go out on search and rescue, and we were hooked. Now it’s our favorite ministry to serve in because it’s so tangible. You can actually talk to people, hug them, and tell them Jesus loves them.”

Craig says, “The very first time we went out, we thought this is a little scary and out of the box for us, but we’re going to do our best to serve. And we began to ask ourselves, ‘How can we love the homeless and help them experience God’s love?’ 

“What we ended up coming away with was a blessing in return. It was clear that this was more about educating us, and learning what these men and women endure.” Craig and April have met all types of people on the streets including addicts, the mentally ill, moms with kids, runaway teens, and those hit by the tough economy. But they say they wouldn’t trade anything for this experience. April adds, “I can’t imagine what it would be like if we hadn’t pressed in. It’s given us so much more joy.” 


The Chapmans admit that they weren’t always so passionate about a hands-on experience of giving. It began in small steps, and the Lord has revealed a plan for their service bit by bit. Reflecting back over the journey they’ve been on for the last few decades, they do see specific steps that they’ve taken to get to where they are today:

1. Obedience – The first step in their journey was being obedient to the tithe. Then, after reading the story of businessman R.G. LeTourneau and his radical giving, they were inspired to give more. Craig says, “We began to ask ourselves, ‘What if we started increasing our giving?’”

2. Passion – As savvy entrepreneurs, they knew the importance of focusing on what they’re good at. April says, “God started showing us what our passions are when we spent time in the Word, and in prayer. Because we can’t do everything, we had to think about what we’d been given, what we’re good at, and what we’re passionate about.”

3. Availability – With 11-year- old twins and demanding careers, the couple had to make some tough choices about their priorities. “We all have busy lives, but at some point you just have to be available,” says Craig. “We all should be willing to ask, ‘Lord, what are your priorities for me? And am I willing to be obedient to them?’” 

4. Humility – This is an important trait that this caring couple has cultivated over time. “Being humble enough to step into the circumstances of each individual that God values is essential to be like Christ,” says April. “It is a little scary, but that’s when it becomes an adventure, and the experience gets so much bigger and better than just writing a check.”


Craig and April know that everyone’s journey is different, but they are quick to encourage a personal approach to giving. “Some folks say it is much easier to just write a check and not get involved with the whole giving experience that we talk about,” says Craig. “What they don’t realize is what they’re missing – they’re missing out on the joy.”

And considering their experience, it seems like we should all be more willing to trade a little sleep for a life of adventure. 

In 2011, NCF helped Craig and April leverage the sale of their high-tech start-up into a large gift for charity. After their successful careers as software engineers at Microsoft in the ‘90s, April left to focus on their family, and Craig co-founded a technology company with a Christian colleague from Microsoft. Their company became quite successful, and they began to prepare for a possible public offering.

But before selling the company, Craig contacted Kendra VanderMeulen, President of NCF Seattle. She helped him engineer a tax-wise gift of his business stock before the sale that resulted in well over $500,000 more for charity. Craig says, “We learned that gifting assets before the sale is simply a smarter way to leverage our giving, and do more for those in great need.” 

“How can we love our brothers and sisters on the streets and help them experience God’s love?”
— Craig

Taking generosity to the next level

Taking generosity to the next level

Kim King was on her lunch break when she received an unusual call. “Hello, Kim! This is David Gallagher, director of Open Arms International, calling from Kenya,” said the elated voice on the other end.“ I am just calling to thank you for your incredibly generous gift to our ministry. I can’t tell you how much this gift means to us, and how it is such an answer to prayer.”

As she listened to David, Kim recalled how earlier that morning she had also received a special thank-you email from the development representative at the Open Arms office where Kim lives in Houston. The day before, she had recommended a $2,500 grant from her Giving Fund to Open Arms. She thought to herself, “Wow, $2,500 must go a long way in Kenya.” But the more she reflected on David Gallagher’s call, the more uneasy she became. Something just wasn’t adding up.

After lunch, Kim sent a quick email to Melissa Hall, a team member at the NCF office in Houston, asking her to confirm the grant amount. It was only a few minutes before Kim heard the familiar beep on her phone that signals a new mail message. Kim says, “I stopped in my tracks when I read these words: ‘The amount was $250,000.’ Obviously, I had mistyped the decimal and comma, and overlooked the messages confirming it. But with amazing calmness, I thanked Melissa and quietly whispered, ‘Well, Lord, maybe You had something different in mind.’” 


Over the next few days, Kim continued to receive emails from the ministry praising her generosity. Finally, she concluded that she needed to share her mistake with David. “Immediately, David insisted on returning the amount above the intended grant,” says Kim. “But I asked for time to pray about it and told him I would get back with him soon.”

For the rest of the day, Kim’s mind drifted back to the beginning of her journey into giving. Four years before, she had attended an event where she learned about NCF and Generous Giving, a stewardship ministry that works closely with NCF. One of NCF’s local board members generously offered to pay the registration fee for anyone who wanted to attend. Kim felt something stir inside of her, and she knew that the Spirit was leading her to go. So she quickly responded.

When she arrived at the Generous Giving conference, Kim realized that she had entered the world of those who give generously. “At first, I thought that I should run as fast as I could back to Houston,” says Kim.

“But I stayed, and with every presentation, it was like I was discovering the code for the mystery of the abundant life. I realized that giving up everything for the Kingdom of God was not a sacrifice or even noble ... it was just plain smart! By the end of the conference I had committed to God to give half of my revenue away during the next year. But somehow time went by and sadly, I didn’t.”


Now, four years later as Kim prayed about her unexpected gift to Open Arms, she remembered the commitment that she had made. “At that moment, God winked,” she says. “The amount that I gave was the exact amount of my earlier commitment. I did not experience God’s disappointment, but His gentle assurance that He was with me on this journey of learning to live the abundant life that Jesus promised.”

So Kim decided not to cancel the fateful $250,000 grant, and since then, she has continued to expand her unique experience of giving in several key ways. One of the most important has been finding a like- minded professional advisor. She first met Derek Irish, who works with Ronald Blue & Company, at a Generous Giving event. Since then, his advice has transformed her giving. She explains, “Choosing a like-minded financial advisor is so important because he or she is going to disciple you on money.”


Another key component of Kim’s journey is her calling to women. Kim explains, “Women have so much control of money that is not recognized. The average age of a widow is 57, so she is going to have 20 or 30 years as a single woman. Almost half of the entrepreneurs in this country are women, and most women today don’t get married until they are older.

“So there’s a lot of potential for women in giving, but there hasn’t been much focus on them in Christian circles.” Kim hopes to change that with her work through another of NCF’s ministry friends, Women Doing Well. She serves on their advisory board and encourages women to embark on their own journeys of generosity.


Today, Kim is excited about making more significant grants from her Giving Fund at NCF. As she steps into this new level of giving, she is intent on learning more about the greater responsibility that comes with greater giving. But make no mistake, Kim is looking forward to making her next big gift ... on purpose. 

Choosing a like-minded financial advisor is so important because he or she is going to disciple you on money.
— Kim
Far from a mistake, my gift was the miracle that led me to new adventure, purpose, and joy.
— Kim

Uniting givers<br> for change

Uniting givers
for change

A transformation is taking place in inner-city Indianapolis. Inspired by givers through our Indy office, a group of churches, schools, ministries, and even the city government are reaching the city's most underserved neighborhoods.

When we started, we thought we were all about building donor advised funds and getting money out into the Kingdom .. but we realized over the years it’s about the heart and it’s about relationships.
— Jim Cotterill