Encouraging Faithful Stewardship
Story by Tim Hoelle, originally published in issue 83 of Calvary Chapel Magazine
This past December, at 80 years young, Larry Montgomery took “early retirement” from his job that had many Calvary Chapel connections. A welcoming face at almost every CC conference for the past 19 years, he reflected on one of his greatest joys—helping churches save their financial resources and invest further in missions through Christian Community Credit Union (CCCU), the business he represented at the conferences.
“I loved the Calvary conferences because the pastors are always so enthused, so excited to tell the story of God,” Larry related. “They’re generous, happy, glad to see me, and such a Christ-centered group.” Larry attended about 30 conferences around the country each year. He continued, “I never received such a wonderful, warm reception as I did at the CC conferences. Everyone makes you feel like you’re family.”
He often made personal visits to Calvary Chapels. Since CCCU offers affordable banking fees, he enjoyed sharing several different ways for churches to save money—mainly to fund missions more. He was often called to lead seminars in churches to teach congregants how to wisely manage finances and save money to invest in ministry.
Larry worked with Calvary Chapel Golden Springs, CA, for 15 years, according to the church’s Chief Financial Officer, Cathy Barrett. “Larry is a wonderful man to work with,” Cathy shared. “He was there for us in so many campaigns and events, and always willing to do whatever was necessary. He was truly a great ambassador—I don’t know how they’re going to replace him!” Through their time together, Larry established friendships with Cathy as well as Pastor Raul Ries that transcended the business relationship.
Larry laughed out loud as he remembered being called into Raul’s office at CC Golden Springs, where he was ceremoniously presented with a rarely shared jar of Raul’s own chili sauce. The Calvary Chapel pastor didn’t bother to warn him that it was firecracker hot, but Cathy did. “She told me it was quite the honor to receive that chili sauce from Pastor Raul; it was only given to very special friends,” recalled Larry. “Raul used to have a lot of friends, but that sauce was so hot that he may have lost a few over the years,” Larry joked with a chuckle.
Larry attended CC Murrieta, CA, when he was not at a conference, and he remembers the impact he experienced when he first visited a Calvary decades ago. He had been attending a denominational church his entire life. “My friend said to me, ‘You’ve got to come over to this Packing House CC in Redlands and listen to this guy Don McClure. It’s amazing.’” Larry was surprised that there wasn’t a sermon but rather a very powerful Bible study. His big shock came when Don invited people to come forward and receive Jesus as their personal Savior. For the first time, Larry sensed the Holy Spirit moving. “About 25 people went forward. I’m standing there in awe. I never went back to my other church and have always attended Calvary Chapels since then.”
After that, Larry decided he wanted to serve the Lord full-time, fundraising for Mission Aviation Fellowship, a dedicated group of pilots who fly planes into the most remote places in 37 different countries. He had been in sales and marketing his whole life. When he turned 61, rather than retiring, he accepted an invitation to work for Christian Community Credit Union. Larry knows he is going to miss his ministry friends he made through the 19 years. “My motivation has been just to serve God and let people know I love the Lord and that He can change lives. God has given me such enthusiasm for life. I love the people I work with. The energy I receive from the Holy Spirit is hard to explain. I don’t know why I’ve been so blessed. I don’t deserve it,” Larry humbly remarked.
He remembered one church pastor wanting to send about 50 children from a lower-income community to a church camp. “The church couldn’t afford to send the children, and their parents couldn’t afford it. CCCU partnered with the church, and we were able to see that all the children made it to the camp,” Larry said happily. “That’s been one of the benefits of my job—seeing God working in people’s lives.” He’s also arranged low-interest loans for many CCs.
Church loans aren’t all that CCCU is about. Another part of the ministry is providing banking services for missionaries. Larry explained, “We try to be very cost- effective for missionaries by offering affordable banking services. We do our best to help in times of need, due to illness or emergencies.” CCCU contributes a portion of profit back to missions and ministry projects. Nearly $5 million has been donated back to help mission work.
The last Friday in December was Larry’s last official day at CCCU. The following day he jogged in a 5K fundraiser for Calvary Murrieta. Looking forward to see what the Lord has for him next, he added, “Just remember, you cannot out-give God. It still amazes me as I have seen Him work through so many financial situations.”
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
*CCCU is a Calvary Chapel Magazine sponsor
© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.