NCU Board of Trustee member and University donor Marvin Eckfeldt ’58 shares his thoughts as to why he, and others, find it important to donate to the NCU endowed scholarship fund at the 2013 Donor-Scholar Luncheon.
Time changes things. As I stand on the NCU campus today I have to say, “Times have REALLY changed”! When I first set foot on campus, to enroll in 1953, I was one of only 433 students, tuition was only $900 for the full year and NCU granted only 4 degrees, all focused on church leadership. Today you are a student body of 653 and growing! Tuition is right at $600 per credit hour (about $26,000 per year) all the more reason why these scholarships are essential! There are 4 undergraduate schools with 14 majors and an additional 10 graduate and adult degree programs. Today NCU is an amazing witness that times have changed on this campus!
For a long time I thought one of my purposes was to pay them back for their investment in me. But that congregation no longer exists! Around 1970 my home church sold their massive building and closed their ministry. They didn’t know how to do church in racially changing southwest L.A. and twice sold their building and walked away from the challenge. A footnote on the challenge of change in our day for every congregation!In August, 1953 I got off the Greyhound bus from Los Angeles with one suitcase and an apple box with all my possessions. I came with the dream of being a Christian minister; instilled in me by my home congregation, Figueroa-Crenshaw Christian Church in Los Angeles, California, because of a minister who was a graduate of NCU and long-time member of the Board of Trustees. I was the 38th student from that congregation to come to school in Eugene. That church paid the entire tuition cost for the 7 of us who were enrolled on campus that year.
I used to think it was my responsibility to in some way “pay back” my home church for what they did for me. I was seeing reciprocation as an obligation, a duty, balancing the scales sharing my gifts with a community I benefited greatly from and who so deeply shaped by experience of church.
I see it differently now. My stewardship isn’t focused backward- because faithful stewardship is always focused on the present and most importantly on the future.
Today there is a popular notion of “paying it forward”. It is a concept of generosity that has gone viral: stories abound of random acts of kindness, even several Facebook pages! It is the unique concept of asking the beneficiary of a gift to “repay” it –forward to others instead of back to the original benefactor.
Some think this is a “new” idea. It was key plot in a comedy play in ancient Athens in 317 B.C. It was affirmed in 1784 in a letter by Benjamin Franklin, “I only lend it to you … when you meet another in similar distress, you must pay me by lending this to him.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said we can’t pay it back, “But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent to somebody.” And of course, the One who taught and lived out this deep sense of stewardship, Jesus Christ our Lord, paid it forward in the ultimate way!
We can never come close to re-paying back God for the gift of love that never stops loving and giving, we can never out give God, never give back to balance all that God places in our hands and in our lives. But we can “pay it forward”. Students – that is the gift we give to you. Sure, this scholarship gift is for while you are on campus and that is very important. But in a stewardship sense it is much, much more than just that, as important as help is at this time.
My hope and prayer is that – with thanksgiving from deep and generous heart you will pay it forward through a life of service and giving to others whatever occupation you enter.
The idea of paying it forward is implemented in contract law by the concept of “third-party beneficiaries.” The creditor offers the debtor the option of paying the debt forward by lending it to a third person instead of paying it back to the original creditor, the donor. All of you can find third-party beneficiaries.
Students, you have been blessed to be a blessing. Pay it forward! Donors, we have been blessed beyond measure, with an abundance of riches, spiritual and material. May we always continue to find ways to pay it forward!
Pay it forward!
Marvin Eckfeldt ’58, NCU Board of Trustees