18 May 2017

The seeds you plant will change lives

Posted in Our heritage

The Bible tells the story of a ‘vertically-challenged’ chief tax collector named Zacchaeus, who climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus.

Upon seeing Zacchaeus, Jesus calls him by name and asks to visit his home. The encounter prompts the once-reviled man to renounce his worldly wealth and vow to help the poor.

The oft-forgotten, but critical figure in this story is the humble sycamore tree. If someone had not planted that tree in that place years before the events of this story, Zacchaeus may never have pledged to change his life from cheating to charity.

It’s a story that former SU QLD Bequest Manager, Wendy Ferguson, says has inspired her ever since she first heard it explained in that way.

“We don’t always know what we’re sowing into when God puts it on our heart to plant a seed, but we can trust that He has a plan and that He knows the lives that will be touched by the seeds we plant today,” she says.

As Bequest Manager, Wendy says she’s been blessed and humbled to have journeyed with so many ‘seed planters’ like you over the past 11 years.

“Some of the people that I interacted with, they’ve been faithful to this organisation almost their entire lives and they’re now in their 80s and 90s.

“They’ve been campers, volunteers, financial contributors since their teens. They’ve remained passionate for all of those years. God has inspired them and I feel so privileged to have been just a small part of that journey,” she says.

Before joining SU QLD, Wendy had over two decades of experience in the not-for-profit and fundraising sector, working with the Blue Nurses, Wesley Mission and a fundraising consultancy.

She is also a trained counsellor who has worked with the Salvation Army Counselling Service.

Despite having enjoyed a career working with highly reputable and well-resourced organisations, something piqued Wendy’s interest when a volunteer opportunity came up with SU QLD in 2000.

Returning to study in 2005, she was asked by then CEO Duncan Brown if she would accept a paid role for one day a week to help the fundraising team. She agreed.

“Chaplaincy had me from the beginning. As a counsellor I had an insight into the challenges that adults face when they’ve suffered wounding in their childhood. So I loved the idea that there was somebody, a go-to person in schools who could be that safe person to help them in the schoolyard,” she says.

In 2009 she accepted a two-day-per-week role to develop a bequest program. It was a task Wendy passionately dedicated herself to.

“I remember looking at some statistics and the RSPCA was bringing in something like $14 million a year in bequests – and I love animals, wombats in particular.

“But I thought if the RSPCA can bring in $14 million, how much more should we be doing for a program that has even greater consequences?

“That’s what got me up in the morning. To sow seeds into a program like that so that this organisation will reap the financial benefits of people’s bequests so young people will continue to be reached beyond my lifetime,” she says. 

Wendy has touched the hearts of supporters and SU QLD staff alike with her caring nature and dedication to seeing children loved, cared for and given hope.

After announcing her decision last year to leave SU to focus on her counselling practice, Wendy passed the bequest baton on to another pillar of the SU QLD family this year, Yvette Atkins.

“Yvette is perfectly placed to take the bequest ministry to that next level. Because of the time she’s already been with SU for and the many, many relationships she already has with supporters,” she says.

As she finishes this chapter, Wendy has something she wants to share with you – our wonderful supporters.

“Thank you for all your prayers and financial support. We can never thank you enough. Please continue listening to what God puts on your heart when you read the stories of chaplaincy, of camps, of at-risk young people.

“As I reflect on the story of Zacchaeus climbing that tree to get a better view of Jesus, I still marvel at God’s foresight and the faith of those willing to respond to His leading to make a difference in our world,” she says.

Thank you Wendy for your tireless service and we wish you the very best in the next season of your life.

If you believe God is leading you to plant a seed by leaving a gift in your Will, please contact Yvette Atkins on 0427 006 390 or bequests@suqld.org.au

Casey Seaton

Media & Communications Delivery Manager

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