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Man donates $205,000 for Bible translation

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–He was determined to get Scripture into the hands of people who didn’t have it in their own language. It didn’t matter what it cost. If the International Mission Board wouldn’t help him, he would find someone who would.

David Steverson, the agency’s treasurer and vice president for finance, told the story of this determined Southern Baptist during the IMB’s July 16-18 trustee meeting.

Steverson met the man –- who wishes to remain anonymous -– in late 2005. One Wednesday evening over a church dinner, they discussed the possibility of the man donating real estate that he had inherited on the East Coast. The money would go toward funding a Bible translation for an unreached people group.

Steverson had concerns. Any number of difficulties can arise when dealing with property donations — hazardous waste removal or getting a clear title, to name a couple — he explained. But in this case, Steverson’s concern focused on the wellbeing of the donor.

“This donor has several physical challenges,” he said “There were questions related to his ability to take care of his day-to-day living needs.

“We have a responsibility to be careful to ensure as much as possible that anyone making a major donation to our organization is not left indigent and unable to care for himself,” he said.

So when they talked, Steverson turned him down.

“I indicated to him that we were concerned about the effects that giving this property would have on him,” he said.

But the man insisted, saying that he had access to medical care and didn’t need much to live on. “I kept [suggesting] that he might need this property for his long-term needs,” Steverson said.

Then the man said something that Steverson will never forget:

“Don’t you understand?” the man said. “These people need the Gospel … they need Scripture in their language. I will use this property to see the Bible translated into their language — whether I do it through the IMB or someone else.”

Steverson accepted the offer.

During the following 18 months, the IMB ran into a variety of obstacles to sell the property, such as obtaining a title and an initial disappointing appraisal.

It was tempting to take the easy way out and pay a variety of fees to move the process along faster. But each time Steverson considered doing that he heard the man’s words: “Don’t you understand? These people need the Gospel …”

It was that challenge that drove Steverson and his team to hold out for the best-case scenario — down to the last cent.

“Scripture tells us that the widow’s mite was a sacrificial gift and should be honored,” Steverson said.

After all expenses, the property sold for $205,609.73.

And because of one man’s gift, an unreached people group –- one the man may never know about and never meet -– will hear the Gospel in their own language. People will come to Christ because of his sacrifice.

    About the Author

  • Shawn Hendricks