Gift of Real Estate
We made the decision early one spring morning in 2000. Two decades earlier we had purchased a small condo across Vanguard Way from what was then Southern California College. Our elder son was attending the school and we expected our daughter and younger son would eventually also enroll. Though we appreciated the value of dorm life and expected them to spend time in the SCC dorms, we also realized that they, as so many students, might eventually chose to live off campus. The condo?s location would provide a convenient place for them to live should they so choose on leaving their dorms.
And both sons had done just that. In fact one liked the condo so much that he not only continued to live there after his graduation, but made it his home after his marriage and through the birth of his two children. But he eventually purchased a home in Lake Forest, and though the condo continued to be rented by SCC staff members, it had served its purpose for us.
We had believed in and practiced tithing from childhood, but through fifty years of ministry at home and in Africa our modest remuneration had limited our ability to make a major financial contribution to any of the many worthy projects we believed in. This continued to be true during our thirty-three years at SCC. Over those years we had been able to assist with some of the many needs at the school, but with only small gifts. Even though we had witnessed the school?s role in the development of our children as well as countless other students, we had never been able to make a major financial gift.
But for some reason that morning we realized that we actually had an opportunity to do what we had never dreamed possible. We no longer needed the condo and its value had significantly appreciated over the two decades we had owned it. Consequently we were in a position to make a major financial contribution to what had become Vanguard University. Because it would affect their inheritance, we first shared our intention with our children who assented to our plan. We then quietly and happily deeded the condo not realizing that the gift would qualify us as major donors with unexpected, and unwanted, recognition. But we have never regretted our decision. And though we have not closely followed the real estate market, the condo is probably worth significantly less now than when the school received and sold it.
The story does have a postscript. Several years later, to our astonishment, we were willed another condo of greater value than the one we had given Vanguard. Neither of us had previously inherited as much as a penny from any source, and when a grateful sister-in-law we had assisted through the loss of her husband, two sons, and her own declining health informed us that she was willing her condo to us, we tried to dissuade her. But she was adamant and though she generously remembered other relatives in her will, when it was legally drawn we were left her condo. Though we have never used it ourselves, it has proved a great blessing to several others.
Perhaps the two stories are unrelated, but at least to us, they suggest what we had already believed, one cannot out give God.
Lewis and Lenore Wilson