By Martha Perusek
“What do you want for Christmas?” Henry Foster’s mother asked him. Foster, a sophomore in high school, said he couldn’t think of anything he wanted.
“Just give it to Lottie Moon [mission offering],” he replied.
The pastor at First Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas, where Foster and his mother attended, shared from the pulpit about a child in the church who had supported missions in lieu of Christmas presents.
“I was very shy and felt so relieved that he didn’t say my name,” Foster remembered.
This was just the beginning of Foster’s lifelong love of missions giving. Many years later, he still asks for Christmas gifts to be given in support of missions — now to the CBF Offering for Global Missions.
A simple philosophy guides Foster’s giving: Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. As an adult, Foster renewed his commitment to missions. “At some point I got readjusted and started thinking about missions. It became more important in my life,” he said. “The Holy Spirit led me, and God gave me the money to give to CBF.”
His gifts come with humility and an urgency to share the message of Christ’s love for the world. He said, “If you don’t share the Gospel, how are they going to know? As long as there are missionaries who want to serve and give up all they give up, we have to support them.”
Foster was born and raised in Memphis, Texas, where his father farmed and owned a grocery store and his mother was a teacher. A cradle roll Baptist, Foster resides in Dallas and has been a member of several CBF Texas churches over the years, including Park Cities Baptist Church, Royal Lane Baptist Church and currently Wilshire Baptist Church. He notes his love for the local church.
“Wednesday is my favorite day of the week,” Foster said. That is the day he spends primarily at Wilshire, starting with “A New Song” community choir practice, lunch at the church, Bible study and a “Communities in Christ” book study group.
Foster is a 1966 graduate of West Point whose class is the subject of the book, “The Long Gray Line.” In a rare move, Foster went directly from West Point into the United States Air Force where he taught cadets to fly and trained jet pilots. He also volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War.
Foster would go on to earn his Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University. For most of his career, he was a survey sampling statistician, and his career twice took him to the nation’s capital, where he worked for the United States Department of Agriculture. Yet, years later, the pilot spirit remains in Foster. He built a gyroplane and became a gyroplane instructor to students from the U.S. and China.
A proud father to a son and daughter, Foster has three granddaughters and a great-granddaughter, all of whom live in Texas. In 2013, Foster was diagnosed with leukemia — “a bad kind,” as he described the cancer. After undergoing a stem cell transplant with his only sister as the donor, the leukemia is now in remission.
“God’s going to do what he wants to,” Foster said. “God is taking care of me.”
Even after five full-body radiation treatments following his transplant and four back surgeries in the past year, Foster still leads a weekly dance class for seniors. He has been a ballroom dancer for nearly 30 years.
This zeal for life and a commitment to following God’s guidance remain a top focus for Foster. “Some people want to get a new Mercedes every year, but I want to spend money for missions. My current car is 18 years old,” he said. “I could buy a new car, but if I don’t really need one, I’d rather spend my money on what’s more helpful for God’s Kingdom.”
“I’m not smart enough to be a pastor, but I can do this,” he said.
Support CBF missionaries serving in some of the toughest situations imaginable around the world and here at home. They are sacrificing much to serve Christ. You can share the Gospel with people who have never heard it before.
Give today at www.cbf.net/presence.
Martha Perusek serves as Director of Development for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.