A Legacy of Faithfulness
A legacy of faithfulness
By Don Durham, former CBF Foundation president
fields.jpgJack and Martha Fields were a testament to faithfulness, frugality and commitment to global missions. Members of First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn., they lived the majority of their lives in northwest Georgia near the town of Chickamauga. Though they never ventured far out into the world themselves, their support of global missions through the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and CBF Foundation will permanently impact God’s work on earth.
Jack and Martha never made a lot of money. Both worked in professions not known for financial reward. He was a retired social worker and she was a retired high school home economics teacher. However, they lived frugal lives and were able to accumulate more than either of them ever expected. They lived in a modest home, forsook new, fancy clothing and never traveled as much as their means would have easily allowed.
They were also ministers. No church had ordained them, but they served. Their friends and family tell endless stories about Martha’s helpfulness over the years to countless young people beyond those in her classroom. She would teach them how to live, how to cook and how to keep house. She used her gifts to help warm their hearts. In retirement, one of Jack’s hobbies, in addition to wood working, was managing their stock portfolio. He became quite good at investing and saw it as his full time job to grow the money God had entrusted them into as large a resource for missions as possible by the ends of their lives. With no children of their own to care for, they decided to continue their lives of caring for others by leaving a surprising legacy of their faithfulness through their estate.
Some might say they were frugal to a fault, denying themselves pleasures most of us take for granted. They didn’t see it that way. When I first met Jack and Martha early in my work with CBF Foundation they made their simple intentions clear. "We don’t see anything we have as our own," they said. "Our money is God’s money, and we want it to be used for God’s work. We like what we hear about CBF’s missionaries. We’ve heard people speak in our church, we always read fellowship! news, and we want to help."
Jack and Martha never wanted anyone to know what they were doing, especially the magnitude of what they were doing, while they were alive. They did agree to let me tell their story as long as their names were not used. When I would visit Jack and Martha and share the reactions of others to whom I had told their story, they would look at each other, get a little teary eyed, and just shake their heads. They were amazed that anyone thought what they were doing was special.
They were special. The Jack & Martha Fields Endowment Fund for Global Missions provides permanent funding for CBF field personnel salaries and exists as a permanent testimony to their faithfulness. Jack and Martha, well done good and faithful servants.