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October-November 2021

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On Table Talk: A Conversation With David Brown

By Bill and Brenda Evans


Tables are important to David Brown, director of Free Will Baptist Foundation. Important for eating, as for all of us, but more important for talking. Call it “table talk” if you will, a meeting of minds and lives around a table, with or without food. It is an old art David believes in and practices often. In fact, our latest conversation with David began around a table. This time with food—the swimming kind: catfish (David), salmon (Bill), shrimp (Brenda).

As we enjoyed our meal, David talked about “reaching across the table,” which he meant both literally and metaphorically. Literal face-to-face conversations across the table, but also symbolic words and actions of alliance and unity within our denomination among both leaders and congregants.

This solidarity of purpose and service is at the heart of David’s goals for the Foundation. “We exist only to perform service to and for our people and our agencies, national, regional, and local,” David said. The Foundation is about serving, not power-mongering. It aids and assists IM, NAM, Welch College, Randall House, Board of Retirement, WNAC, Master’s Men, state and regional FWB organizations, churches, and individuals. Its sole purpose is to do financial good to and for those winning the lost, discipling the saved, exercising humanitarian and educational services, or otherwise building the Lord’s work on earth.

Between bites of savory swimmers, David talked about his long-ago call to ministry. “I was saved at 11, and by the time I went to Welch College, I knew God was calling me to something, but for more than ten years I lived in confusion about what that calling meant, and what I was supposed to do.”

When he and Temisia Baker married in 1984, David soon discovered he had married an encourager. “She gave me purpose and direction,” he said. “Still, my 35th birthday was the worst birthday of my life.”

He had married a good woman, done graduate work, passed the CPA exam on the first try, worked as an auditor for the state of Tennessee, was temporarily employed at International Missions, yet had no permanent job and no children. Most troubling, David’s calling still hung over him, unfulfilled, as far as he could tell. He recalls, “At 35, I figured my life was half over, with no children to mourn me if I died at 70, and no work that fit my calling. Then everything changed. A few weeks later, I had a job at the Foundation, and we learned our son Reese was on his way.”

At first, working for our denomination was baffling for David. “Earlier, I thought I didn’t want to work for the denomination. I wanted to be somewhere I could be ‘salt and light’ for the unsaved,” David said. Yet during those confusing days and his temporary work at IM, his curiosity was piqued about the ministry of the Foundation and Board of Retirement. He noted the departments were doing fascinating financial things for the denomination. Herman Hersey had a conversation with David then sent him to Ray Lewis for an interview, and David was hired. “It was the first time in my life I was hired without having applied for the job,” David recalls. Fifteen years later (2007), David became the director of FWB Foundation.

After lingering over lunch and the good table talk at the restaurant, we headed back to David’s corner office on the second floor of the National Office Building. David’s low-slung cherry coffee table in front of the office sofa had a lift-top he raised to regular table height. More table talk! David shared further about his calling to the Foundation.

“When I was hired as accountant in 1992, the Foundation had about $900,000 in assets. Twenty-nine years later, we’ve passed the $100 million mark. The Foundation was incorporated in 1980, with a little above zero funds. Now we’re at $100 million. No question this is a God-thing!”
“From zero to $100 million,” Bill marvels. By the way, Bill also served as director of the Foundation. David followed him into the position.

David credits the growth to the Lord, not to himself. “Sometimes, I’m too analytic and don’t allow room for the miraculous. But no question, this growth is a God-thing. I followed Herman Hersey and you, Bill, as director. You all got the ball rolling; I just had to keep it rolling. I’ve always had problems with self-confidence. But a good way to motivate me is to tell me I can’t do a thing. If I agree, then okay. But if I don’t agree, I’ll die trying to prove you wrong. I figured I could keep the ball rolling, so I worked at it.”

The fact is, David did far more than keep the ball rolling. When a consultant suggested he should raise both his and the Foundation’s profile, David began the “Brown on Green” column in ONE Magazine to get more information to our people on the services the Foundation offers. Since 2009, David has written 75-plus columns of advice, information, insights, scriptural teaching, and personal experiences about financial subjects. Through more than 40,000 words, he has reminded Christian readers that money matters. And since money matters, we Christians should do something about it.

“Market performance has helped our growth, too, of course, but we’ve also added services,” David adds. Under his leadership, the Foundation has enhanced promotion through, printed material, and personal meetings. They partner with Cornerstone Estate Planning to help people make advance plans for their estate, a needed and growing service to our people.

Other Foundation services include endowments and charitable-giving agreements (such as gift annuities and unitrusts that generate income for the donor and benefit a ministry at the donor’s death). Foundation grants, begun in 2016, continue to grow. In 2021, the Foundation sent out $500,000 in grants to Free Will Baptist ministries, a total of $2.6 million over the last five years.
David considers himself a problem-solver. “If a problem comes up, I try to figure out how to fix it.”

Financially undergirding our FWB ministries is just such a problem. “If I gave a ‘stump speech,’ I’d remind people of the denomination’s potential. Let’s say we have 60,000 families. If every family left a tithe of their estate to denominational work, think what that would do for our ministries. People are not going to give to any organization they don’t know and trust. But across a table or at a meal, they get to know me and what the Foundation does for our denomination.”

That’s the main reason David likes table talk.

In July 2015, at the National Convention in Grand Rapids, David offered a ringing challenge to push the denomination forward. He recounted Paul’s observation in 1 Corinthians 16:9 that we have a great and wide door opened to us, an effectual door. And though our vicious adversary works to hinder us, we must not fear. The door is there. It is open, and God is our help. Then David quoted Aragorn’s reverberant battle speech before the Black Gate in the cinematic rendering of Tolkien’s The Return of the King:

Hold your ground! Hold your ground! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. It is not this day. This day we fight! I bid you stand. Stand!

Six years later, David still believes today is not the day to lose courage, break bonds of fellowship, or fail to stand. Instead, today we must reach across the table and strengthen our bonds of fellowship and purpose. To David, that’s what the Foundation does. It helps us rise from the table, stand, and walk through the effectual, open doors of ministry.

About the Author: Bill and Brenda Evans live in Ashland, Kentucky. You may contact them at


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