Lud and Julie HolmBrenda Hamm
When God speaks, people listen. When people obey, God moves. When God moves, lives are changed. Lud Hohm, a farmer in Huron, South Dakota, had a distinct God moment in his life, and that moment made an imprint on his heart, inspired him to act, and helped push forward the James Valley Christian School(JVCS) building project.
JVCS, a private school in Huron, was raising funds for a building project in hopes of adding a practice gym and an auditorium to the school. This project would cost around $4.5 million. The school board, however, wondered if a project of that size was feasible.
Shift focus now to Lud, chair of the building committee and member of the finance committee for the building project, and his wife, Julie. Both are avid supporters of JVCS, and they felt led to give money to the project. They agreed on a gift $100,000, but God had different plans. One day Lud was driving his four-wheeler and checking his fields. He came to one of his quarters of land, and that’s when he suddenly felt God lay a clear message on his heart.
“I had this spiritual moment…a real unique feeling,” Lud said, “and I felt God telling me, ‘You need to donate the whole quarter to the James Valley Christian building project.’”
In all his life, he couldn’t recall hearing a clearer message from God, and not once did he second guess or have any doubts about the decision to donate the land.
Generosity is important to the Hohms. The couple clearly felt God direct them to donate the land, but they were receptive to the message because of their belief that the Lord calls people to be generous. What started for Lud as an innocent observation of his parents’ heart for giving grew and flourished into a conviction of his own that he shares with his wife.
“God has been generous to us,” Julie explained. “He’s given us everything we’ve ever had.”
Lud added, “It isn’t really ours, anyway. Somehow that’s not easy to grasp all the time, because I like to think it’s mine, but really it’s not. It’s what God has given to us.”
So Lud and Julie prepared to sell the land. However, the Hohms realized they would inevitably encounter capital gains tax if they simply sold the land outright. They wanted to get the most out of their land so they could give the most to JVCS.
A number of years ago, Lud heard about MB Foundation during a school board meeting. A fellow board member was talking about the Foundation’s giving fund, but Lud had never heard of it before. After learning more about MB Foundation, its mission and purpose, and the tax benefits its resources provided, he and Julie decided to open a Donor Advised Fund with the Foundation. They have been using this giving tool for charitable giving of commodities for years. It made sense to use the same vehicle for gifting the land that would benefit JVCS.
Working with MB Foundation has given the Hohms the privilege of giving “in a way that feels extremely right, tax wise,” said Lud. They also greatly appreciate MB Foundation’s integrity, expertise, and generosity in how it uses the money it manages to support the Mennonite Brethren denomination and other evangelical causes.
“I just feel very fortunate that the Mennonite Brethren have this avenue of being able to give, invest, and help others,” Lud said.
Above all, Lud and Julie want their story to be an encouragement to people, especially to farmers.
“Most farmers are cash poor but equity rich,” Lud explained. Farmers don’t like the idea of parting with their land for a variety of reasons. “I would like to help change that frame of mind because I think land is good to give.”
The Hohms hope their story encourages people to explore creative giving options such as donating assets instead of hard cash. More than that, however, the Hohms simply want God to use their story to inspire other people to give. “We’ve been helped by other people who have given generously,” Lud said, “so if we can be an encouragement to somebody else, so be it.”
Ultimately, this story is God’s story. Lud and Julie are merely instruments in the Lord’s hands, serving the purpose of glorifying their King and spreading God’s name across the world through the gifts they give. This is the story they want to tell through their giving and with their lives.