New Mercies: Ed and Sherri Torres

Radical Generosity with Mercy Ships Partners

What does it mean to live a life of radical generosity? To give away more than you keep? On today’s episode, Raeanne Newquist spoke with Ed and Sherri Torres, Mercy Ships partner donors, and was challenged by their life’s purpose that is all about blessing others.

When Ed and Sherri, a couple from Indiana, found out that their financial situation was about to significantly change, they started to discuss what they might do with the extra money. This took them on a 17-month journey of long conversations, researching organizations, learning from others who have intentionally given their resources and ultimately, they drafted a Family Giving Vision that helped them decide where best to invest their blessing.

This inspiring couple will challenge you to be intentional with your finances as they share their vision and principles for investing in God’s kingdom.

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New Mercies Podcast Transcript

Welcome to New Mercies, a podcast by Mercy Ships, where we’ll take you behind the scenes and on board our incredible hospital ships that are transforming lives all over the world. We invite you to join us each week as we sit down with our crew, patients, volunteers, and partners to hear their stories of life-changing hope and healing.

Raeanne Newquist:

What does it mean to live a life of radical generosity to give away more than you keep? On today’s episode, I talked with Ed and Sherri Torres Mercy Ships partner donors, and I was challenged by their life’s purpose that is all about blessing others. When Ed and Sherri found out that their financial situation was about to significantly change, they started to discuss what they might do with that money. This took them on a 17-month journey of long conversations, researching organizations, and learning from others who have intentionally given their resources. And ultimately, they drafted their own family-giving vision that helped them decide where to best invest their blessing. This episode will challenge you, convict you, and encourage you to live a life of radical generosity. The dollar amount isn’t the point, the heart that seeks to care for others first is. We start off with Ed telling us about the beginning of their journey that led them to Mercy Ships.

Ed Torres:

We had some upcoming things happening in my job where we knew we were going to come into some money. And so we had conversations about, you know, a different kind of generosity in our house. I had heard about Mercy Ships, I’m drawing a blank all of a sudden on where we heard about it. But I reached out to Amy via another venture capitalist friend, who is a Christian in Northern California. Amy and I met had dinner, I was wrongfully expecting a pitch, you know, “please give us money. And here is why.” And Amy Nyquist is her name, Amy started out by saying, “You know, what is the Lord calling you and Sherri to do with that money. And so that really kicked me in the hind end. And that started off a 17-month journey for the two of us, which included Mercy Ships. But it started off a 17-month journey, which resulted in a family giving vision. But there were lots of ups and downs and confusion and praying and phone calls and travel which included our first travel to do due diligence when I would call philanthropy due diligence. And we went to serve on the Africa Mercy. It was 17 months. And so Amy and Mercy Ships are a huge part of our giving story.

Raeanne:

What impressed you about Mercy Ships or what stood out to you, that caused you to say this is a mission that we want to be a partner with?

Ed:

When we started? The first question we asked ourselves is, you know, what are we already doing with our time and money because we were tithing. And what we realized very quickly, was what turned out to be Matthew 25:40 for us. That everywhere we were investing cash and or investing time had to do with human flourishing, human suffering. So, we are foster parents, Sherri ran a very large school clothing organization, volunteer organization, in downtown Indianapolis, I’m on the board of directors of the local mission. So, we recognize that pattern. And then I’m the analytical nerd type. So then started asking ourselves, you know, this is serious money. It’s not Bill Gates money, but it’s enough money that we’re going to have to defend what we did with it, when we get to the pearly gates. I realized, and Sherri agreed with me… and/or tolerated me, we will see when she chimes in, I decided that I had all this experience in venture capital and of doing due diligence on organizations. God wants me to bring that experience that into the philanthropy. And so, you know, we looked at what the service offering was, how they delivered it, and the people. And that eventually helped us realize that not only did we want to work on human flourishing, but that extreme poverty tugged in our hearts more than poverty did. And so that was really important for us. The other thing, and this was the last part of our family giving vision and took forever. And again, Mercy Ships and Amy Nyquist are part of this journey. The last thing I’ll say is it took us a while to get to our last point on our family giving vision, which is we wanted to see whatever service or good they were providing created opportunities for relational evangelism.

And that was the last element in our family giving vision. And we did due diligence on another organization that we thought for sure we were going to give money to, but something didn’t feel right. And it took us months to figure that out. But that’s what we figured out. There weren’t opportunities for relational evangelism. They were absolutely doing good for the poor. They were meeting the healthcare needs of the poor. But they weren’t creating opportunities to point to Jesus as they did that. So it took putting that experience right up against the Mercy Ships experience for us to get that level of clarity in our giving vision.

Raeanne:

What was it that you saw in Mercy Ships that showed you this opportunity for relational evangelism?

Sherri:

When we went to Cameroon in 2018, t, it just floored me, the hands and feet of Christ working within the staff. And I mean, every piece of the staff working on the ship, from the captain to the engineer, to the nurses, to the doctors, to the people working in the kitchen, everyone knew why they were there. And they were there to help those who could not receive medical care. And they were truly doing God’s work, helping the least of these. And it just blew my mind how we saw some children pre and post-surgery. And before surgery, their eyes and their poor faces. They looked so sad and disheartened. And we saw other children that had had surgery, and they were still in braces, but they were playing soccer. And having fun. Yeah. And it was just a transformation, that just even today, talking about it, it brings chills and goosebumps to me. Because it was so impactful emotionally.

And that’s why when we started out with the giving statement and our vision statement and how we give our time and our money. When you see that example, it’s really easy to find organizations that do that for people. Because people don’t need just physical healing. They need emotional healing in the process. And the work that Mercy Ships does, definitely does both.

Ed:

We saw it firsthand…. I’m flashing back Sherri, to beingon… where was that the kids go out and exercise and get fresh air.

Raeanne:

Deck 7.

Ed:

Deck 7. We saw a teenage girl who had basically been neglected by her mom, because her mom was in a second marriage and the physical deformity of the daughter. And all the things that you know, in that particular African village that meant, you know, was she possessed, you know, did the mom sin, all that stuff? This teenager was carrying baggage and she wasn’t taking care of her and her Aunt took her to Mercy Ships. And we saw her I think it was two days post op. And you know how radical some of those surgeries are. You’ve seen them. She was in physical pain, but she was beaming, even though she was in physical pain and walking like Frankenstein because she was in braces right? She needed the physical support. Because she knew that she was going to have straight legs. Her life had changed and hadn’t changed yet. Right. She was beaming because of the promise of the change that was coming after the healing. And if it wasn’t for her aunt, and if it wasn’t for Mercy Ships, that wouldn’t have happened.

Raeanne:

It’s pretty incredible. On the ship, one thing that is talked about often is really maintaining the dignity of our patients, that they would not feel ashamed. They’ve been shamed in their villages, many of them, but when they come on the ship, they will feel no shame because we desire to maintain their dignity to look them in the eye. To touch them, to hold their hand, to touch their face. Some of them have never had physical touch because of, like you said, people in their village might think they’re possessed. They might think that, you know, there’s some kind of evil on them, and they don’t want to be associated with it. They’ve been outcasts. But when they come on board, not only did they receive the surgery to transform their physical body, but there’s a bigger transformation at work, and that is one of their soul, one of their person that they are seeing that they are known that they are valuable regardless.

Commercial:

In the show notes from today’s episode, you can see a picture of that teenage girl that Ed was talking about. For other photos and videos from our episodes, check out our website at New Mercies.mercyships.org. And now back to our episode, where Ed and Sherri tell us how they are passing along their lifestyle of radical generosity to their grandchildren.

Raeanne:

Were your children a part of your family giving vision?

Ed:

When I describe that 17-month journey, and I’m an analytical and a perfectionist, so Sherri has to put up with that. It takes me longer to do things, just like the good strategy, right? A giving vision describes what you’re going to do, but it also describes what you’re not going to do. And so, during those 17 months, we decided that we were not going to create a family foundation, and that we were not going to leave substantive cash to our grandchildren. We were going to do some college education funds for them. But no, and this all grew out of our study of Ron Blues book called “Splitting Heirs”, which really paints in a stark way, this notion that your grandchildren don’t know your heart, they don’t know, your motivation. Your children do, because they’ve seen you in action, but your grandchildren haven’t seen you in action.

And so we made the decision, no foundation, no money, no direct cash to grandchildren, then we set a dollar amount that will give to our children while they’re alive, or after we die, either or, and then we decided we’re going to reverse tithe, and follow the example of Rick and Kay Warren give away 90 And keep 10. And so that was all a process. And it was husband and wife, Mom and Dad thinking about their adult children. And whether or not they would desire to be engaged in this kind of philanthropy directly or not.

And given how busy absolutely all of them were at the time, we concluded that they wouldn’t. But the other thing was thinking about a second answer to your question is, you know, we’re donor partners with two or three organizations in a significant way. Mercy Ships is one of them. We are thinking about, you know, maybe you take the grandkids on a trip like this, you’d let their parents come if you know what I mean. Maybe out of seven grandkids, you know, two or three of them, it changes their lives. And if it doesn’t, they had a cool time. And they traveled with their grandparents. But I think that’s what we’re thinking about post COVID.

Sherri:

We really want our grandchildren to experience why we do what we do. And another thing that we give them for Christmas is we give them money based on age. And we encourage the families of our two children or that have the seven grandkids, we encourage them to have family discussions about how to give them money, who would give the money to, and how to distribute it and why. So that even our grandchildren are learning to discern how to be philanthropic and giving. But then also be thoughtful in the giving process.

Ed:

You should see their eyes when they open up the envelope to see all that cash. Especially the first year, especially the first year, and we said that’s not for you. It is for you. For you to bless somebody else. First year, a letter on that Sherri and I put in the money gave them instructions that you know here’s a catalogue that you can pick from if you want to pick from it. But you have to tell your parents what you’re going to do and why.

So again, we were trying to be maybe sneaky with the adult children. Very interestingly, all the kids presented to their parents and they showed their little personalities you know, some decided that that day, others wanted to think about it. And we’ve done that, what honey, three years now in a row. Yep, three years in a row. Now it’s part of their Christmas. They know they’re getting a big wad of cash. But it’s not really for them. But you know, these kids are big age range. They’re teenyboppers to, well, the first year we did it, three year old, and some of them, you know, are drooling over that cash. It’s hard for them to give it which means they’re learning some of it. Other of them are so generous, that they’re thrilled they have that cash giveaway. So that vehicle that tool works on both of those personalities, different ways. But it works on both of them.

Raeanne:

I love that you’re being intentional about leaving a legacy, and not just leading by example. But actually allowing your grandchildren to engage and be a part of giving and be a part of a generous lifestyle. I know, a little phrase that we often use is: you are blessed, in order to be a blessing. You don’t just get blessed and enjoy it. And that’s the end of it. No, no, no, there’s a reason that you are blessed. You are blessed in order to be a blessing. I know one thing you mentioned about giving the grandkids this money at Christmas, you said they have to be accountable for it. They have to say what they’re going to do with it and why. And I think that “why”, in my opinion is probably one of the most important aspects of giving. For you guys, why? Not why Mercy Ships? But why do you choose to give away what you have?

Sherri:

God has been so good to Ed and I. He’s always been faithful to us in our life, in every step of the years that we’ve been together, which has been 33. And so, when we were given this abundance, we don’t need to live in a fancy house. We don’t need a fancy car. But there are lots of people in the world who just need a little bit. And if we can give our bounty to organizations that help people see themselves as children of God and worthwhile. It makes me feel so good that I’m able to do that. I don’t, I don’t need the money. I don’t want the money, but we have the money. And our kids aren’t getting it. So you know, it just makes total sense to help those that aren’t as fortunate and lucky as us to give them a little blessing. And to help them in every way.

Ed:

I was listening to the Moody Bible Institute every morning on the way to work. And I can’t remember the name of the previous president. But he said something to me that just, you know, almost made me drive off the road. And this was way before I had this job. And he said every time we get a new blessing at home, we decide how to give better before we talk about how to live better. And I brought that one home. I think that was a seed that grew for years, because that happened years before we had money. The second thing is that I could see, really big money was coming way before it came, probably a year before. And I’m a nervous nelly. So my motivation was how can I screw up? Like, and that’s a negative motivation. But it was put to good use. And that’s why the Rick and Kay Warren example of reverse tithing was attractive to us.

Raeanne:

Can you talk a little bit more about that? I honestly have never heard of that concept. I’m familiar with Rick and Kay Warren. But can you tell us a little bit more about this concept of

Ed:

As I understand it. It’s been a very long time since I read this. But as I understand it, they were tithing and super tithing without telling anybody for a very long time. So they were going above the 10% as a couple with those royalties coming in. And they’ve never talked about, until one day they decided to talk about it, in order to challenge people around them. And we’re at one of their conference. And so they’ve said that they’re going to give away 90% of what they make.

Raeanne:

You know, I think some people might hear this idea of give away 90% Keep 10% and think, wow, that’s really risky, or be fearful fear of scarcity, you know, and kind of think, you know, maybe those numbers are a little bit extreme. How would you encourage someone that is struggling with the fear of scarcity.

Ed:

90/10 isn’t the right number for anybody. I would never suggest that to people, right? Because our 10% is still a lot. It’s not the number. Sure. It’s the radical nature of the discussion, right? It’s 90%. What. And I think if you’ve, for me emotionally, to call it reverse typing is impactful. And one of our major donor partners came to us. And said, you guys are very deliberate about how you give. And we’d like to interview you on tape, because we have all these people with millions of dollars, who don’t have a plan for what happens after they die. And so we said, No, for months, okay. Sherri will correct me, I said, No, for months, and months and months. Because all I could think of that was a Pharisee saying, Look at me, pray, look at me tear my cloth, look at me with, you know, ashes on my clothes.

And so, as you know, because we shared it with you before this interview, we now accept when somebody asks us to talk about, quote, unquote, radical generosity. And the spirit of that acceptance is either affirm what people are doing, or challenge others, right? Because sometimes they just need to see it in somebody else. And you know, the wife, elbows, the husband, or the husband, elbows, the wife, and a conversation happens. And of course, we don’t know if that’s ever happened. But we hope it has.

Sherri:

When we speak about what we do, we speak about it in the form of being a light. And there is an and just as this is an example, and try to be a light,

Ed:

There isn’t one right way to do generosity, this is just right, for, we hope, us. We hope we’re being Holy Spirit obedient.

Raeanne:

Sure, I can understand rejecting the offers to share your story, because it does feel a little like, ah, that’s not what this is about. On the other hand, I’m so grateful that you would, because just like you’re intentionally educating your grandchildren, and planting seeds, and their little hearts and their little lives about what it means to give your life away, as opposed to collecting it and amassing it, by you sharing your story, you’re doing that as well to the larger audience that’s listening. And so, I am so grateful that you would share. What does it do for you personally, to give? I know, you’ve already said, you know, you’re not interested in the fancy cars, you’re not interested in those things. That’s just not who you are. But what do you get what keeps you giving year after year? What does it do for you?

Ed:

Somebody taught me the answer to your question. Because I’m, I don’t study my Bible enough, apparently. But you know, giving is supposedly one of the joys of the Holy Spirit. And I actually feel good and rewarded at the act of giving. And in my holy imagination, there are foster children that we helped, or there are people we never met, but they were helped by the money we gave, who I’m going to meet in heaven. That is such a cool visual for me. It’s such a cool mental picture for me. It’s motivating… it’s rewarding is probably the better way to say it. It brings me joy.

Sherri:

We are to help the widows and the suffering and the orphans. And I just feel that that is just a very instrumental part of my faith life. And I just feel joyful is not the word and there’s not proud, it’s not the word. It’s just that I just have inner peace and rest in knowing that I am living out the life that Christ has called me to live out.

Raeanne:

Wow. And there’s no better life to live than a life of obedience.

Sherri:

Right? Exactly. And it it’s just a peaceful feeling. Yeah, it’s an internal reward. Remember the story in the Bible of the old woman who gave what she could give? Jesus blessed her. And so that’s what I try to live. Except in my case, I have more to give. But I’m doing the same thing she did.

Raeanne:

It really doesn’t matter the dollar amount that we give. What matters is our heart of generosity. I really appreciate that and Sherri’s intentionality and their giving and their willingness to share their story. worry and challenge us all to live lives of radical generosity. In fact, it’s the week of Giving Tuesday. How will you invest your resources to make a difference? If you want more information about Eddie and Sherri’s family giving vision, or you’re looking for opportunities to invest your time and your resources, check out our website at www.MercyShips.org

Next week, we’re going to continue talking about giving as we kick off the Christmas season and we spend the month of December talking about gifts that don’t necessarily come in boxes with bows, but gifts that our nurses and doctors have given patients and the gifts that those nurses and doctors have received through their service with Mercy Ships. You won’t want to miss these incredible stories that will uplift you this holiday season.

For more information about Mercy Ships, go to mercyships.org, and to keep up with the guests on New Mercies, follow us on Instagram at NewMerciesPodcast.