Four Siblings - A Lifelong Partnership
Growing up in Corn, Oklahoma and attending the Corn Mennonite Brethren Church, Kathryn, Martha, Lydia and Arnold Willems were raised in the MB community. Like most siblings they had several things in common. One of those similarities was their generous spirits, especially to Mennonite Brethren ministries. While each of them had their own unique qualities, they all shared the desire to serve others and share God's love. Whether it was to family, friends, church, co-workers, strangers, or even the cleaning lady, they wanted to show Christ's love to people.
It was in 1947 when the family moved to a farm near Hillsboro, KS. They were involved in everything from teaching Sunday school, Wednesday night activities, managing the family farm, and answering God's call to ministry in Africa. Kathryn and Martha spent several years in Africa working a variety of different jobs but were always finding a way to share the gospel with the people they worked with. One of Martha's jobs included working at one of the primary schools as a principle. Sharing the gospel soon became a guiding philosophy to Martha's career once she realized her role was not to change the culture but to present God's love. At the same time Lydia and Arnold stayed near home and helped run the family farm as well as supported their siblings call to ministry. During that time Lydia received her teaching degree from Tabor College and taught in several elementary schools for 6 years amongst many other activities. With these siblings it didn't matter which activity they were involved in, they loved being able to talk about God and what he was doing in their lives. "You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last." John 15:16 is a great illustration of how they lived their lives.
In 1996 the 4 siblings contacted MB Foundation about donating their farm in exchange for a Charitable Gift Annuity. A gift annuity is a tool to make a gift to charity at your death, receive income for the remainder of your life, and receive significant tax benefits. After speaking with an advisor from MB Foundation the four siblings donated their farm and received a 7.6% payout until death. When Martha, the last sibling, passed away on May 20, 2012 the Kathryn, Arnold, Martha & Lydia Willems Family Endowment was set up to fund 5 charities of their choosing through MB Foundation.
Besides the gift of a farm there are several other property types that can be given to fund ministries. Real estate gifts can also include, homes, vacation properties, undeveloped land and commercial properties."One of the largest benefits from gifting property that people don't always realize is freeing themselves from the burden of maintaining the property or running the business plus avoiding the hassle of selling while receiving a benefit for life" (Jon Wiebe, President).
It isn't everyday that you have four siblings that all share the desire to give of their time and resources for the building of Christ and his Kingdom. Each of them had their own gifts but together they were in agreement to live in a lifelong partnership for the glory of God. Their faith for the Lord was evident in their generosity and love towards each and every one they encountered and because of this lives have and will be changed. "Work is more fun when done together!" is how some would say these siblings believed wholeheartedly. So with that being said, let's work together and build God's kingdom!