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strengthening the foundation


by David Williford

SCIENTISTS PREDICT THAT THE LEANING TOWER OF PISA will fall during 2007. The 810-year-old building is 17 feet out of plumb and continues to tilt 1/20th of an inch each year. What caused the tower to begin leaning, and why does it continue its slow downward journey? In a word, the foundation! The historic tower was built in a marshy area, with a foundation only 10 feet deep.

Other parts of a building may be more beautiful, attract more attention, or receive more notice, but the foundation determines a structure’s longevity. A building with a poor foundation is doomed to be be destroyed much sooner, while an institution with a poor foundation will have short-lived effectiveness.

Man of Vision

As the first president of Free Will Baptist Bible College, Dr. L.C. Johnson laid the foundation for the school, and he laid it well. Much of the college’s direction and philosophy can be traced to his influence.

At a time when most Bible colleges only trained vocational Christian workers, Dr. Johnson championed a broad-based curriculum to serve the needs of students who would spend their lives in secular fields. The emphasis on a quality, Bible-based education for all students, regardless of their calling, was, and is, characteristic of Free Will Baptist Bible College.

The annual Bible Conference, the emphasis on Christian service assignments, and student exposure to the fine arts and cultural events are all part of the L.C. Johnson legacy. More than any other individual, this man shaped FWBBC.

The college has been built upon that sure foundation and continues to grow and expand, ever changing to meet the educational needs of Free Will Baptists. Structural changes may occur, but they are built upon the foundation laid more than 60 years ago.

Endowment for Tomorrow

Institutions like FWBBC need a solid financial foundation as well as a solid spiritual foundation. Free Will Baptists have supported FWBBC since 1942, but until recently we have not recognized the need to build a financial footing to ensure the college’s future. Because people want the work begun by Dr. Johnson to continue, the college has created the L.C. Johnson Memorial Endowment Fund.

Gifts to the fund will never be spent, but will be placed with the Free Will Baptist Foundation. The interest from the fund will provide quality, affordable Christian education for Free Will Baptist young people. Gifts to the endowment fund will assure the college of income even when difficult economic times hit.

Frankly, some fear endowments. They fear that a heavily endowed college will lose touch with its constituency. That will not happen at FWBBC. We are accountable to the National Association of Free Will Baptists through a Board of Trustees elected by the association. Our form of church government always holds us accountable to the people of the denomination.

The Dream Continues

In the same way that L.C. Johnson was instrumental in what FWBBC became, you can be instrumental in continuing the tradition. A gift to the L. C. Johnson Memorial Endowment Fund not only honors the memory of our founder, it assures that the work he began will continue.

Our goal is to raise $1 million to honor Dr. Johnson and to help support FWBBC. A $1 million endowment invested with the Free Will Baptist Foundation with a 5% return will provide the college $50,000 of annual unrestricted income. Over a period of 20 years, the original principal will produce gift income of $1million, and continue doing that as long as the college is in existence.

How can you participate in the million dollar dream? Send your gift to FWBBC, earmarked the L.C. Johnson Memorial Endowment Fund. We will do the rest.

Join with us today! Make a gift that will pay eternal dividends and impact generations yet unborn.

ABOUT THE WRITER: David Williford is director of institutional advancement at Free Will Baptist Bible College. For additional information about the L.C. Johnson Endowment Fund, contact David at, or call him direct at (615) 844-5205.



©2005 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists