In the spring of 2020, Jade Greenfield—Chief Development Officer at The Master’s Seminary—had a conversation with Ken Fuller that he will never forget. Ken is the executive director of The Believers Foundation, a group that had worked behind-the-scenes for 30 years supporting gospel ministry across the globe, particularly at The Master’s Seminary, The Master’s Academy International, and Grace to You, the media ministry of John MacArthur. During that memorable phone call, Jade asked Ken to consider something The Believers Foundation had always been reluctant to do: tell their story.
“Ken and everyone at The Believers Foundation are so humble” Jade said. “They’ve never wanted the focus to be on them. But as we approached the 30th anniversary of our partnership, we asked them to consider telling their story as a way to celebrate God’s providence, honor the legacy of the couple that started the foundation, and encourage others to cheerfully invest their resources in the work of gospel proclamation.”
Specifically, Jade asked them to consider a video that would focus on the remarkable lives of Robert and Lorena, the couple who built a grocery store business over 40 years, sold it, and used what God had given them to invest in preaching, training pastors, and missions. Ken didn’t initially say yes. But he also didn’t say no. He told Jade he’d have to think about it, certainly pray, and talk to Steve, Robert and Lorena’s son, and Steve’s wife, Sandy. They are members of The Believers Foundation board of directors.
“I’m so thankful Ken, Steve, Sandy, and The Believers Foundation came back to us with a yes” Jade said. “It’s impossible to overstate how strategic their investment has been over the years. God has used them in remarkable ways and I knew their story would glorify the Lord and edify the church.”
With The Believers Foundation’s blessing, the development office at TMS hired Naknek, a production company based in Los Angeles, and tasked them with turning The Believers Foundation’s story into a film. Naknek’s owners, Graham Kelly and Ryan Francis, are graduates of The Master’s University. Graham grew up at Grace Community Church and personally benefited from The Believers Foundations generosity.
“For years, The Believers Foundation helped train men who would become my pastors” Graham said. “They were a spiritual help to me, but I had no idea they existed. So this project had so much personal significance for me.”Graham and Ryan flew to Florida—where The Believers Foundation is based—and established an instant connection with Ken and Steve. “We love those guys” Graham said. “They are humble, genuine people who love the Lord and His church. And they were great to work with.”
After multiple conversations, Naknek realized that in order to faithfully and honestly tell the story, the film would need to be longer than originally intended. What was initially supposed to be a 10-15 minute video became a 25-minute documentary with stories from Ken and Steve, John MacArthur and Phil Johnson, Mark Tatlock, president of TMAI, and many others who participated over the past 30 years in this remarkable partnership between a foundation in Florida and ministries connected with John MacArthur in California. The theme of the documentary? God’s providence, and how he uses unlikely men and women to advance His kingdom. Again and again, those involved in the partnership with The Believers Foundation pointed to the unexpected ways God has worked over the years.
“During the filming, Pastor John, Steve, Ken and many others talked about the joy it’s been to watch God work” Jade said. “All of us have had the privilege of observing, first-hand, God’s providence unfold in the lives of so many believers here at The Master’s Seminary and around the world. That was the theme of this film. And it’s a lesson that I hope the documentary can teach all of us. God works when we give cheerfully. We get the joy of participating in His providential work.”
In November of 2021, Ken and his wife, Steve and Sandy, and other family members flew to Los Angeles to see the film for the first time. At a special dinner and screening at Grace Community Church, employees of Grace to You, Grace Community Church, TMAI, and The Master’s Seminary celebrated this 30-year partnership. For both Jade and Naknek production, it was an opportunity to say thank you. “We’re so grateful for The Believers Foundation” Jade said. “We love serving alongside them. And it was a joy to tell their story and see them minister, once again, to so many people.”
“In my professional career, I’m hard-pressed to think of a project I’ve enjoyed more than this one” Graham said. “From our first meeting with The Believers Foundation through the filming both in California and Florida, we saw great unity and joy among the team. This film changed how I think about giving. I hope it does the same for many others.”
A Cheerful Giver was officially released to the public at the 2022 Shepherd’s Conference during a special screening for the attendees. It is now available, free of charge, at the website cheerful-giver.com