Looking out my window today I’m pondering the wonderful pancake breakfast I enjoyed at Cobourg Fellowship Baptist Church. They’re celebrating 70 years in ministry this year and the youth group put on a FREE Pancake Breakfast to kick off the weekend of events on May 6th. As usual, the youth greeted us at the door full of smiles and those in the kitchen were happy to serve up our freshly cooked pancakes too! There’s just something about a pancake breakfast with friends that starts a weekend off in a great direction.
With 70 years of ministry, there are certainly many stories of changed and transformed lives. There are probably stories of pain and grief as well. Stories of staying relevant in an ever-changing world too. But most importantly, through it all, there is a story of legacy. These days many equate the word legacy with money. People leave legacy gifts so an institution or charity can continue. Some people give money early so they can see their name on the side of a building. The thought is, bricks and motor will last! However, another definition of legacy, which I believe carries more importance, involves “heritage”.
Our heritage, or legacy, provides the root system for who we are. For example, as a kid growing up I was always told my family tree on my mother’s side can be traced back to the Mayflower. We have relatives living in England and I would love to make a trip to England one day. Another portion of my heritage revolves around the Wesleyan holiness movement. Yet another reason I would love a trip to England.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines heritage as “features belonging to the culture of a particular society, such as traditions, languages, or buildings, that were created in the past and still have historical importance”. Ones heritage has much more impact than simply leaving money behind for someone. Our heritage serves not only as the root system of our life, but it’s also the foundation and building stones for what we believe. Our heritage is what we leave, long after we’re gone, long after the money is spent, and yes, even longer than a name on the side of a building.
A few weeks ago I heard a story about a church in Banff, Alberta that was built by one of George Muller’s orphans. What a legacy! George Muller died at the age of 92 in 1898. During his lifetime he started an orphanage in Bristol, England. He also started 117 schools which helped educate some 120,000 orphans! One of those orphans travelled to Canada and established a church in Alberta. The church continues to serve many to this day.
However, this legacy story does not end there. A plaque is located in this particular church in Banff listing the Pastors who have served there. Each year the Pastor wrote about the events of the year. One particular Pastor wrote one year; “A very disappointing year. Only three people came to Christ this year. And they were only children.” The Pastor then listed the names of the three children. One of the children named, Bill Bright who founded Campus Crusade for Christ. Another child listed, James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family. Now that’s a legacy.
Legacy is much more than just making sure money is distributed so names can be put on buildings. Legacy is a heritage with a lasting root system that goes deep. The legacy and heritage of George Muller, a 17th century Christian evangelist, continues even today through the life of James Dobson. Too often we get caught up in materialism, thinking that’s how we build legacy. Material things pass away. Changed and transformed lives will never pass away. The story – the legacy – will continue forever. What will your legacy look like?
Looking Out My Window is a regular column in the Northumberland Today newspaper located in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada.