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The very first billionaire John Davison Rockefeller, Sr.   founder of Standard Oil Company was the son of an itinerant medicine peddler and bigamist who wandered in and out of his son's life.  John D. Rockefeller,  by contrast was straight-laced, devout Baptist who did not wait until he became rich to become generous said, "I never would have been able to tithe the first million dollars I ever made if I had not tithed my first salary, which was $1.50 per week. "  As his wealth grew, so did his giving.

While every decision, attitude, and relationship was tailored to create his personal power and wealth he said mere moneymaking had never been his goal  A millionaire at the age of 23,   Rockefeller,  became a billionaire, by the age of 50.   At the age of 53 his entire body became racked with pain and he lost all the hair on his head. In complete agony, the world's only billionaire could buy anything he wanted, but he could only digest milk and crackers. An associate wrote, "He could not sleep, would not smile and nothing in life meant anything to him." His personal, physicians predicted he would die within a year. 

Rockefeller awoke one morning from a dream, during this miserable time of his life realizing  that he was not in control of his life and that he could not be taking any of his success with him when he passed on.  On that day John D. Rockefeller  called his team of attorneys, accountants, and managers to establish his foundation that would channel his assets to hospitals, research, and mission work. 

 Rockefeller spent the last forty years of his life creating foundations that had a major impact on medicine, education, and scientific research. His foundations pioneered the development of medical research  and was instrumental in the eradication of hookworm and yellow fever. His foundation  led to the discovery of penicillin, cures for current strains of malaria, tuberculosis and diphtheria along with an enormous amount of other discoveries.   

Rockefeller supported many church-bases institutions throughout his life.  He gave $80 million to the University of Chicago, turning a small Baptist college into a world class institution by 1900. His General Education Board was especially  active in supporting black schools in the South.

Giving away more than $555 million during his lifetime, Rockefeller  believed he was a steward of all he had. He taught his family that what they inherited was theirs on a service basis. And, that money brought tremendous responsibility as well as opportunity. Rockefeller  strongly believed that the ability to make money is a gift from God to be developed  in order to make as much  as possible, and then the money is to be used wisely for the good  of mankind.   

The amazing part of this story -- the moment John D. Rockefeller began to give, in this way, his body‘s chemistry was altered so significantly he got better. Instead of dying at 53,  he lived to be 98. Rockefeller learned gratitude and gave back from his wealth. Doing so made him whole. It is one thing to be healed it is another to be made whole. 

His grandsons (the sons of John D. Rockefeller JR): 

David Rockefeller - at age  seven he received on allowance of 50 cents a week. Ten percent (five cents) belonged to the Lord--it was his tithe to God and he saved 10%.  He said, "Our parents made us feel, from an early age, that we had to contribute, not just take." 

Nelson Rockefeller said that his father's creed, much like his grandfather's was  "Every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty." 

When candy manufacturer John S. Huyler started out in business, he took Jacob's pledge: "...of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee" (Gen. 28:22). 

Going to the bank, he opened a special account which he initialed "M.P." Into that fund he regularly entered a proportionate amount  of his income which was more than the tithe of 10%. When anyone asked what the strange label meant, they were told that it stood for "My Partner." 

As he kept God uppermost in his mind in all his transactions, his industry grew at a phenomenal rate, and each week the "Lord's treasury" received increasingly large sums. 

His gifts to worthy causes and private individuals amazed his business associates. These contributions were always accompanied with the request that the donor should not receive any thanks or glory for his actions.

He asked each church and recipient to offer praise to God alone, for he said, "After all, the money isn't mine; it's the Lord's!" God enabled him to become one of the great philanthropists of his day. He died in 1910. 

See: Luke 6:38; 1 Cor 16:1-2; 2 Cor 9:7 

J.L. KRAFT, head of the Kraft Cheese Corporation, who had given approximately 25% of his enormous income to Christian causes for many years, said, "The only investment I ever made which has paid consistently increasing dividends is the money I have given to the Lord." 

Anthony Rossi (Tropicana Orange Juice) came to the US from Italy in the 1920's as a young teenager, with nothing but the clothes on his back. A Christian couple befriended him and through them he came to know Christ as his Savior and Lord. One Sunday in church, he prayed: "Lord, if you give me an idea for a business, I will be faithful to give a portion of everything I make back to Your work." 

That very morning, the idea of "Fresh squeezed orange juice" popped into his head - and the rest is history. Rossi  founded the "Tropicana Co" and has been faithful to give God - not 10% of his income, as many faithful believers do, but 50% of his income, for the past 60 years! He also gave truckloads of FREE orange juice  to Christian colleges throughout the country! 

Milton Hershey lived his life by the  Biblical maxim of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. Anxious to use their wealth to help those less fortunate than themselves, the Hersheys founded a school for orphaned boys in 1909. Originally called the Hershey Industrial School, it was designed to train boys in farming and industrial trades so they would become able to support themselves. After Kitty Hershey died in 1915, Hershey put his $60 million fortune in trust for the school. The bequest was held in confidence until 1923, when it was discovered and revealed by The New York Times. 25 years before he died, he give away all his money to strangers. 

The Bible says specifically "Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me." (The Bible mentions many times that we are to help the poor and the widows. Remember the church is the people not the building. When we give our tithe to help the poor....isn't that doing it unto God? )

Charles Page, was born in 1860  to compassionate parents who helped to support five families of women and children whose husbands and fathers were in the Union Army. These families would otherwise be destitute. 

Charles was 11 when his dad passed away and Charles quit school to help his widowed mother. 

At the age of 12 Charles left home telling his mother "I must be about my Father's business. " He took a job first with the Wisconsin Railway and by his late teens was the Police Chief in a small Wisconsin town.   Working for  Pinkerton Detective Agency he gained a deepened insight and compassion for his fellow man which strengthened his determination to help others. A venture in mining in the Pacific Northwest allowed him to  invest in real estate. In 1905 he came to Indian Territory where he  became a successful oilman.

While living in Tulsa Charles met Capt. B.F. Breeding with the Salvation Army and began helping those in need. His desire was to  help them to become self-supporting and independent without robbing them of their initiative, by  leaving them something to do for themselves.  Transient men who were broke  were provided supper, a bed at the rooming house on First Street (which had 30 beds)  and breakfast from the restaurant next door before going on their way. He paid the  bills no matter how much they were and helped families in need of groceries due to  sickness or unemployment. 

In 1908  Charles purchased land to build his dream house for children and also homes for destitute widows and their children. He purchased additional land for town, factory site,  a park a lake and  a large farm with herds of livestock, the profits all to be used for widows, orphans and others who were struggling. The colony, for mothers of at least two children (widows or divorcees) consisted of a row of about 30 homes, a children's nursery building and chapel, with a home for the head matron. Later screened porches were added in the front and back of the homes along with indoor plumbing. Large side porches provided extra sleeping space for larger families. Mothers paid no rent with water, natural gas and electricity provided free of charge. Child care was free for mothers who were able to find work. Higher education was provided for all who wishing to take advantage of it. Each child received a pint of milk a day from the Sand Springs Dairy.  The family could reside there until the children had graduated from high school.

Children living in the home attended Sand Springs schools and worshiped at the church of their choice.  Children took turns ringing the bell for the mandatory weekly chapel service. 

In May 1908 twenty children from Tulsa's failing Anchor and Cross home for Children, were brought to the large home which was made as much  like a real home as possible. The dormitory accommodating fifty children was completed. On Christmas Day 1918 the  beautiful home was dedicated at a large party with food served all afternoon until the evening to hundreds of guests, employees, friends, relatives and home children. The celebration dinner included bear, buffalo, venison, opossum, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, duck, goose. Every year the tree was surrounded by many nice gifts for the kids.

Charles Page established the Sand Springs Railway, between Tulsa and Sand Springs with fair rate in order to support the home and Widows Colony. He encouraged the establishment of industries, providing low rental and low fees for water, natural gas and electricity.

A friend once remarked  that Charles  had used great judgment in establishing Sand Springs on it s present wooded location instead of the low land  that flooded at times. Charles replied that he didn't do it--"Sand Springs is God's town". A member of the Presbyterian Church, Charles contributed liberally. 

Charles made provisions for churches, schools, a library, established a state bank, the Sand Springs Greenhouse (now Sand Springs Flowers) and warehouses. He provided water at Shell Lake for both Sand Springs and Tulsa as well as Sand Springs park and the lake for recreational purposes.

Charles Page died two days after Christmas 1926. Today you might hear of Charles Page High School or Charles Page Blvd. At Triangle Park there is a statue of him which  says "In as much as you have done unto the least of these brethren, Ye have done it unto me." which we find in Matthew 25, verses 31 to 40:

 ‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.”

And don't forget to read the next part.-- Matthew 25: 41-46

I have been told that when we try to get rich for the sake of prospering ourselves, it is on a very shaky foundation. It doesn't sound like any of these guys set out to become rich. They started with the right heart.

Long before he had the money to do it Lew Wentz  would  borrow money in order to help the needy. he  chose to keep secret that he was the year-around Santa who bought gifts and shoes for needy Ponca City children.  Few knew who it was, until he died.
  •  Wentz  who was too poor as a boy to go to college, started  a loan program  at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University that had helped more than 2,000 students before his death and is still functioning today
  • He  lent money freely to hundreds of young people who wanted to start businesses. A number of his businesses at his death were those he took back after his proteges failed.
  • Financing treatment for a crippled boy led  Wentz to become one of the founders of and the largest contributor to the Oklahoma Society for Crippled Children, an agency that helped thousands. His generosity reached beyond children and Ponca City as he gave  millions to a myriad of charities.
  •  He was among a handful of prominent citizens who had furnished the funds to build the garden and crypt at the memorial in Claremore where the bodies of Rogers, his wife and infant son are buried.

Louis Haines  Wentz was one of seven children of a Pittsburgh blacksmith and toolmaker. When he graduated from high school, college was out of the question. He played on and managed semi-pro baseball teams and became the coach of all the high school teams in Pittsburgh.

His job as coach left Wentz time for Republican ward work, and by chance he called on John McCaskey, who had made a fortune selling bulk sauerkraut and who had invested in E. W. Marland's wildcat oil venture on the 101 Ranch near Ponca City but couldn't go to Oklahoma because of his kraut business. McCaskey hired Wentz to go to Ponca as his personal representative, and the two became partners with Marland. 

Wentz soon split off from Marland and  had made his first million dollars by the time of World War I and by 1927 the Wentz Oil Corp. was making a million dollars a month. After McCaskey  died, Wentz  bought McCaskey's interest from his heirs. Wentz sold out before the stock market crash of 1929 and invested in government bonds.

When Wentz first arrived in Oklahoma in 1911, he rented a room at the Arcade Hotel, a rooming house a block from the Santa Fe Railroad depot where owner Annie Rhodes treated him like a mother.  When he was too broke to  pay his room and board bill, she told him to "pay me when you can."   He never never forgot her generosity and paid her with high interest after his wells came in. Many others who stayed there under the same arrangement didn't remember their debts. He later  built a mansion outside of Ponca City but returned to the rooming house to be close to his friends and lived there the rest of his life.

He later invested in auto agencies, a string of newspapers, agriculture and many other businesses, even a mortuary. But he retained an interest in the oil business and his fortune continued to grow.

One of America's richest men, Lew Wentz had a fortune estimated at more than $25 million -- a tremendous sum in those days -- when he died in 1949. After his death, his fortune continued to grow because of oil discoveries on land he had bought or leased. Only a few years earlier he had been identified as one of seven Americans with annual incomes exceeding $5 million.


Tavis Smiley (Author and TV/Radio host)  

His aunt was murdered, leaving four children. His grandmother stepped in but when her health deteriorated his parents took in the four children kid to raise as their own. His mom cooked, cleaned, disciplined and cared for a family of 13, including her ailing mother. He says it was empowering to a young kid to see that kind of work ethic--to understand the discipline of hard work and that there is dignity in it. With no money for presents, his mom baked birthday cakes instead. Her stipulation: Share, and don't be stingy!  It was a lesson in generosity. After family members got cake the rest belonged to the honoree. But you had to start by sharing. In 2004, Tavis Smiley pledged $1 million to Texas Southern University's School of Communications. 

 "Life is about who and what has influenced us and how we share that with others."- Tavis Smiley


Oprah-Winfrey  overcome her own disadvantaged youth to become a benefactor for others.  

 Winfrey personally donates more of her own money to charity than any other show-business celebrity in America. In 2005 she became the first black person listed by Business Week as one of America's top 50 most generous philanthropists, having given an estimated $250 million Her philanthropy has included a $10 million donation to Katrina relief. Winfrey also put 100 black men through college with $7 million in scholarships.

In 2004, Winfrey a traveled to South Africa to bring attention to the plight of young children affected by poverty and AIDS, visited schools and orphanages in poverty-stricken areas, and  distributed Christmas presents to 50,000 children with dolls for the girls and soccer balls for the boys. In addition, each child was given a backpack full of school supplies and received two sets of school uniforms for their gender, in addition to two sets of socks, two sets of underwear, and a pair of shoes. Throughout the show, Winfrey appealed to viewers to donate money to Oprah's Angel Network for poor and AIDS-affected children in Africa, and pledged that she personally would oversee where that money was spent. From that show alone, viewers around the world donated over $7,000,000 Winfrey invested $40 million and much of her time establishing a school for girls near Johannesburg, South Africa. 

Oprah's Angel Network is a charity aimed at encouraging people around the world to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged others. Accordingly, Oprah's Angel Network supports charitable projects and provides grants to nonprofit organizations around the world that share this vision. To date, Oprah's Angel Network has raised more than $51,000,000. Winfrey personally covers all administrative costs associated with the charity, so 100% of all funds raised go to charity programs


Bill Gates - modeled his philanthropy after David Rockefeller.

Sam Walton- funded scholarships to bring Central American students to Christian Universities. Walton supported various charitable causes, including those of his church, the Presbyterian Church. The Sam and Helen R. Walton Award was created in 1991 when the Waltons made a gift of six million dollars which included an endowment in the amount of three million dollars to provide annual awards to new church developments that are working in creative ways to share the Christian faith in local communities.

Reggie White   1961- 2005, Professional football player; Baptist minister; philanthropist

His 15 year NFL career included Memphis Showboats , Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers , Carolina Panthers 

Raised in Chattanooga,  by his mother and his grandparents the deeply religious family attended the local Baptist church regularly. As a youngster White was inspired by the ministers and teachers he met there.  His mother, told Sports Illustrated that when he was 12 years old he announced that he wanted to be two things: a football player and a minister.

White's strength and size indeed seemed to be God-given. He never lifted weights or conditioned himself rigorously, but he was always in shape. He was a talented and determined athlete who spent his Sundays preaching sermons in churches all over the state. White earned the nickname "minister of defense." 

Curiously enough, White's singular gift for mayhem began and ended on the gridiron during his 15-year career with the NFL. The rest of his time was always been spent in pursuing humanitarian work inspired by his deep Christian faith. The citizens of Philadelphia soon discovered that they had won the services of more than just a star athlete. "I believe that I've been blessed with physical ability in order to gain a platform to preach the gospel," White told Sports Illustrated. "A lot of people look at athletes as role models, and to be successful as an athlete, I've got to do what I do, hard but fair.... I try to live a certain way, and maybe that'll have some kind of effect. I think God has allowed me to have an impact on a few people's lives." White spent hours and hours of his spare time preaching on street corners in Philadelphia's troubled inner-city neighborhoods. He gave money to dozens of Christian outreach organizations and spoke as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. And he led by example. In the rough-and-tumble world of professional football, none of his opponents or teammates could ever recall hearing him curse or seeing him fight.

In 1989 White signed a four-year, $6.1 million contract that made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL at the time. 
Unrestricted free agency descended upon the NFL officially on March 1, 1993. Reggie White quickly became the most visible---and sought-after---unrestricted free agent after the 1992-93 football season. Green Bay was one of a half dozen teams that bid quite openly for White's services at that time. . Everywhere he went he was courted not only by team owners, management, and player personnel, but also by ordinary citizens who had heard about his community work and his Christian ethics. In the end, White signed with Wisconsin's Green Bay Packers. The Packers' offer was the most generous financially, with guaranteed earnings of $17 million over four years. Under the contract White became the most highly paid defender in the NFL. He also tithed a good portion of his NFL income to several Baptist churches. Reflecting on his work in the Philadelphia Daily News, the "minister of defense" concluded: "The Bible says, 'Faith without works is dead.' That is just another way of saying: 'Put your money where your mouth is.'"

Reggie White announced his retirement in  1999. Green Bay honored White's retirement by retiring his jersey number, which was 92, and he spent one year out of football and involved in his ministry. White returned for one final season in the NFL, lured from retirement for the 2000 season by the Carolina Panthers who paid him one million dollars for the effort. He retired for the second time at the end of that season.

White's other career--carrying the gospel of Christ to those in need--will last his entire life. He and his wife built Hope Place, a shelter for unwed mothers, on property near their home in rural Tennessee; they also founded the Alpha & Omega Ministry to sponsor a community development bank in Knoxville. "I'm trying to build up black people's morale, self-confidence and self-reliance to show them that the Jesus I'm talking about is real," White explained in Ebony.

One of the most trying moments in White's career in the ministry came in 1996, when his church was burnt to the ground, one of dozens of black churches torched throughout the South in a string of hate crimes. In addition to this work, White pursued missionary work among teenaged gang members, abused children, and young women seeking an alternative to abortion. 

Alpha & Omega Ministry, founder (with wife, Sara) and president, ; Hope Place, founder and president. Served as a spokesperson for Nike; active in fund-raising and blood drives for Children's Hospital of Chattanooga and Eagles Fly for Leukemia.

Barry Sanders came out of Oklahoma State University and was signed immediately by the Detroit Lions and went on to become what people regard as the best running back of all time, even considering such stars as Gail Sayers and Jim Brown and Walter Peyton. But like Mark Clayton, he stunned the sports world when he collected his major paycheck including his multi-million dollar signing bonus. 

Barry Sanders immediately made out a check in the amount of  one-tenth of his signing bonus of $2.1 million to the little Baptist church in which he had grown up in Wichita, Kansas. “Because the Bible says you should tithe,” he said.  l. He never bragged about it or made much ado about it. He just humbly and quietly wrote out his check for ten percent and sent it to his little church back home. Committed to his faith - No questions about it, the first ten percent of anything he might make would go right back to the Lord.

His last contract with the Lions was for $35.4 million over six years with an $11 million signing bonus. He continued to give 10 percent of his annual salary to charity throughout his career. (He is deeply but quietly religious, a product of his upbringing.)

Denzel Washington, the son of a minister, did not start out to become an actor. It was a teacher who kept insisting that he had a gift and sent a letter saying so.

Denzel and his family recently visited soldiers at the Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. Denzel later made a sizeable donation to the Fisher Houses, small hotels that provide rooms for soldiers' families while the soldiers are hospitalized.

In October 2006, he published a book entitled Hand to Guide Me, featuring actors, politicians, athletes, and other public figures recalling their childhood mentors. The book was published in commemoration of the Boys and Girls Club of America's centennial anniversary. Denzel had participated in the club as a child. 65% of the profits will go to the Boys and Girls Club of America. The other 35% goes to the publisher.

Denzel and his wife have also given $1 million to Children's Fund of South Africa and $2.5 million to the Church of God.

Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life has earned tens of millions of dollars from book sales. He ad his wife give 90 percent of their earning to charities and programs dedicated to starting microfinance and preventing HIV.

To Whom Much is Given Much Is Required.

John Wesley (1703-91), founder of Methodism. In the city of Oxford’s prison many were confined merely because they owed money. With  a small sum, Wesley purchased release for these debtors.  As his financial situation improved, he capped his living expenses at a fixed level and gave away the ever-increasing surplus.  John Wesley's Wisdom for Hard Economic Times: Earn All You Can, Save
All You Can, and Give All You Can. When questioned by a tax collector about his lack of his material possessions, he replied that buying silver spoons (a luxury) was out of the question when the poor still had no bread (a necessity).

John Wesley knew plenty about economic uncertainty. Rural economies to collapse and created numerous problems in city centers: overcrowding, disease, crime, unemployment, debt,
substance, abuse, and even insanity (London established its first asylum in 1781).

Wesley, having grown up in relative poverty himself, consorted mostly with people who worked hard, owned little, and could never be certain of their
financial future. But he preached so widely and became so well-known that his income eventually a large sum. Still, he chose to live simply but comfortably on very little while giving the rest away. In fact, he donated nearly all of the $75,000  he earned in his lifetime. He gave so extensively that, when he died in 1791, his monetary worth didn’t amount to more than a few coins. He once wrote, "If I leave behind me ten pounds and all mankind [can] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber." With 789 preachers serving in the Methodist Church he had founded, Wesley’s legacy revealed the greater heavenly investment he had made of his life. In his classic sermon text, he articulates his own Christian posture toward money: "having first gained all you can, and secondly saved all you can, then give all you can Stewardship should be of utmost importance to the believer as it is the nature of our relationship with God during our life on earth.

English Baptist Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s view of money. Spurgeon viewed his responsibilities as the Lord’s steward seriously, scrupulously avoiding debt and relieving his congregation of financial burdens such as the "pew rent" and his salary. The money earned from book royalties and speaking engagements were enough to ensure that he always had plenty of money at hand to aid the needy. His giving was so extensive that, at his death, only the value of his house and the copyright of his books remained for his heirs.