29 November, 2022

KBF & ICOM: Two Are Better than One

by | 29 August, 2022

The Ministry Partnership of Kairos Benevolence Fund and International Conference on Missions 

By Shawn McMullen 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor“ (Ecclesiastes 4:9). 

It’s a blessing to watch ministries thrive as they serve others for the glory of God. It’s an added blessing when ministries combine their resources and connections resulting in an even greater impact for the kingdom. 

An example of this phenomenon is the partnership forged by Kairos Benevolence Fund and the International Conference on Missions. We asked the leaders of both ministries to tell us about their partnership and the ways it has enhanced their mutual commitment to come alongside those who have given their lives in service to Christ. 

The Kairos Benevolence Fund was established in 2012 to provide financial assistance to Christian church ministers and missionaries who, after years of faithful service to Christ’s kingdom, found themselves facing a health or financial crisis which they did not have the resources to meet.  

Many older ministers, and those who served smaller churches, had received small salaries throughout their careers, and few if any had medical insurance or retirement plans, explained David Pace, founder and president of KBF. Likewise, many independent missionaries lived at near poverty levels with the indigenous peoples they served, so when they returned to the United States, they too had little or no financial reserves. 

KBF’s first benevolent grant was to Betty Turner, Pace recalled. Turner was a missionary widow who had spent much of her life serving the people of the Philippine and Japanese islands.  

“The ministry of Kairos impacted me greatly when it helped . . . Betty Turner,” said David Empson, executive director of ICOM. “Betty was ICOM’s Women of Purpose speaker in Atlanta in 2011. Sometime later, and as a widow, Betty found herself facing a monumental decision; whether or not to sell her mobile home in order to afford a much-needed prescription medication. That’s when KBF stepped up to provide the needed resources.” 

Not long after the grant to Turner, KBF assisted Howard and June Crowl, missionaries in Kenya, East Africa, Pace said. Then came Carol McAfee, another missionary widow who had served with her husband, Dale, in Brazil, South America. Then there was Sandy Sandell and his wife, Barb, who had served behind the Iron Curtain with TCM International and later as medical missionaries in Thailand. 

It quickly became apparent to both leaders—Pace of KBF and to Empson of ICOM—that a unique opportunity existed for both ministries to work in partnership to provide encouragement and support to missionaries in the U.S. and around the world. 

KBF decided to become a “big rock” (major) exhibitor at ICOM in order to learn more about the needs of missionaries. Soon thereafter, ICOM decided to tithe each year’s conference offerings to KBF to show support for the vital role KBF was playing in the lives of missionaries in need. 

Through this partnership, KBF and ICOM have been able to: 

  • pay medical bills to doctors, hospitals, physical therapists, and ambulance companies for missionaries who were being burdened by uninsured expenses 
  • pay for surgeries and chemotherapy treatments when no insurance was available and lives were hanging in the balance. 
  • pay for medical flights to the U.S. from mission fields on the other side of the world 

On one occasion, a grandmother stopped by KBF’s exhibit booth at ICOM and explained that her son and daughter-in-law were overseas missionaries, Pace said. Their baby was to be born soon, but there were complications and emergency surgery was needed immediately. KBF and ICOM shared this need and almost overnight the money needed was donated. KBF paid for the surgery and the baby was born without further complications.  

“Many of today’s retiring missionaries never received a parsonage or housing allowance and never owned a home,” Empson said, “They gave all they had to advance the gospel.” 

The unique nondenominational structure of our churches often leaves little help available for missionaries who no longer receive support from churches in their retirement, Empson said. “We should never forget them, and thankfully, KBF doesn’t let that happen.” 

The work of KBF and ICOM closely align by encouraging and equipping missionaries “whether active or retired, in good health or in poor health,” he said. 

“I love what KBF does,” Empson said. “They fill a void the local church may not be able to fill.” He thanked the KBF staff and supporters for their efforts in helping missionaries and local ministers. 

Pace referenced Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica: 

And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love! (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, The Message). 

“Together, KBF and ICOM are attempting to do just that,” Pace said. “And, with your support of KBF and ICOM, you are making a difference in the lives of faithful kingdom workers!” 

When KBF began, it was overseen by the Provision Ministry Group (and later CDF Capital), Pace said. Those ministry leaders saw KBF’S potential to provide a significant blessing to faithful kingdom workers both in churches in the U.S. and on mission fields around the world.  

More recently, the leaders of CDF Capital and KBF felt led by the Lord to transition KBF into an independent, autonomous ministry intent on growing to the next level and multiplying its service to Christ’s kingdom, Pace said. That change to an independent KBF was completed earlier this year. 

More information about Kairos Benevolence Fund is available at KairosBenevolenceFund.org. 

Learn more about ICOM, including its upcoming gathering in Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 3-5, at theICOM.org. 

Shawn McMullen serves as vice president of partner relations for the Christian Church Leadership Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as chairman of the board for Kairos Benevolence Fund. 

Christian Standard

Contact us at cs@christianstandardmedia.com


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