Living Simply, Yet Generously
When Ernest E. Reeves died at age 92, his neighbors had no idea that the retired farmer and his wife had given millions to American Bible Society through gift annuities and matching gifts to share God's Word around the world. At the time they were the largest donors in Bible Society history. But Mr. Reeves and his wife, Jessie "Dolly," who passed away at age 89, lived quietly in a modest trailer home in Texas.
Born and raised in Iowa, Mr. and Mrs. Reeves grew crops and raised livestock. They also made shrewd stock purchases, yet lost a quarter of a million dollars in one day during the market crash of 1929. That loss, Mr. Reeves said, changed their perspective on stewardship; they began giving away the wealth they earned, much of it to American Bible Society.
After he had set up an annuity with a sizable contribution, he also began contributing the quarterly income checks he received from the annuity. He and Mrs. Reeves gave money to print more Bibles and American Bible Society matched their gift so they could double the number of Bibles printed and distributed.
To members at his church, Mr. Reeves was the usher who, for 25 years, greeted visitors every Sunday with a welcoming smile and a red rose in his lapel.
And to us at the Bible Society, Mr. and Mrs. Reeves were humble, generous supporters of the Bible cause. For their legacy we are certainly grateful. But their real legacy comes from the Lord who says to each faithful believer: "Well done, good and faithful servant."