One of Letty Briggs’s earliest memories is giving to the church as a little girl.
She lived in the two-church town of Morrill, Nebraska, on the edge of the Wyoming border. When she was 3 or 4, she started attending Sunday school.
“I know it is hard to believe, but pennies meant something then,” Letty said. “I got two pennies to take to Sunday school, and I remember the teacher lining them up to make a choo-choo train on the table.”
As Letty got older, her faith continued to grow as well, and she got baptized in the swimming pool at camp when she was 13. All the while, the giving lessons she learned as a child stayed planted in her heart.
A Fateful Encounter—a Faithful Investment
Several decades ago, as a 31-year-old Christian woman, Letty stumbled across an article in the Christian Standard that struck a chord.
“Banks wouldn’t loan people money to start churches, so a group of men got together and mortgaged their homes so they could do it themselves,” Letty said. “They gave that money away for the first few years, and then turned it into an investment fund. It was the story of how Churches of Christ Building and Loan Fund got started.”
Today that organization is known as CDF Capital.
“I’ve been in church all my life, so naturally I wanted to support churches and help start new ones.”
After Letty read that article, she put $500 in an envelope and became part of CDF’s story. It wasn’t until several years later that Letty learned she was CDF’s very first investor.
“Having Christians deal with your money and knowing there won’t be any shenanigans or false moves—that’s a wonderful feeling.”
Over the years, that $500 investment grew significantly. Eventually Letty sold her house and moved, and she invested her extra money in CDF.
“I wanted somewhere safe to invest my money, and I felt like that was the safest option,” she said. “That’s where I get my interest every month. And along with my social security, that’s what I live on. I had mortgage payments for years after I retired, so I really counted on that money.”
Now Letty has paid off her house and enjoys retirement without worrying about money. And while her wise investments are certainly part of the reason why that is possible, Letty also had a long, exciting career working in medicinal research.
“Having Christians deal with your money and knowing there won’t be any shenanigans or false moves—that’s a wonderful feeling.” —Letty Briggs
Hard-Working Single Mom
Decades ago, Letty found herself in a tough spot: “I had four children, and I was divorced, so I had to go to work to support my children.”
Thankfully a family connection landed her a job working in a lab at the California Institute of Technology. She was split between two roles, working in both virology and psychobiology. One team conducted research to help people with epilepsy, the other did research to help people with polio.
While the job itself did not last, it opened the door for Letty to continue contributing to important research. She conducted tumor research with Huntington Hospital for six years, then transitioned to cancer research with California Hospital, where she remained for ten years. After that, her career pivoted to clinical work, where she worked until she retired just before age 65. She wanted to keep working, but by that time her arthritis forced her to quit.
And all this while, Letty remained very involved in her church.
From Sunday School Kid to Sunday School Teacher
Letty taught Sunday school for many years, even as she worked to support her family and even when her job at the clinical lab required her to work on Sundays. She would get up in the morning to teach class at church and then would head to work.
(Can you imagine what the church would look like if every volunteer had that kind of dedication?)
One of Letty’s favorite memories from this time was when Cambodian refugees came to her church. The Cambodian children shyly made their way into her class, and since they did not speak English, Letty gave them some activities to do.
Because she could not verbally communicate to them that she loved and cared for them, she chose to communicate God’s love in a language they would understand.
“I sat down on a chair by the door and had them line up and gave each one of them a hug. They were not very comfortable with that,” Letty recalled through tears. “But by the next Sunday they lined up themselves with smiles on their faces. They responded to that. That’s one of my favorite memories of my time teaching Sunday school.”
“CDF has been a blessing to me too. Where else could I have an arrangement like that where I can call each month and talk to other Christians and also see how my investment is doing?” —Letty Briggs
Beloved Church Member
Today at 87 years old, Letty no longer volunteers in her church’s Sunday school, but she remains actively involved with her church, Community Christian Church of the Foothills in Tujunga, California.
“People are very loving and helpful,” Letty said. “I don’t know how people live and don’t have any church and don’t have knowledge of Jesus Christ. I just don’t.”
After all her years of supporting the work of the church, others are constantly blessing Letty with the gift of service. A church member drives her to appointments in Pasadena. And five years ago when we invited Letty to our 60th anniversary dinner, her pastor drove down with her.
“Just the other day, Ted Norvell from my church came and did some work for me,” Letty said. “He was a cabinet maker. I did not know they still had those in this day and age.”
And Letty’s passion for the church continues through CDF Capital, as she remains an active investor.
“CDF has been a blessing to me too. Where else could I have an arrangement like that where I can call each month and talk to other Christians and also see how my investment is doing?”
The church has been part of Letty’s life since she was a child, and for the last 65 years, she has helped to ensure that churches can continue to grow—so more people, young and old, can experience the love of Jesus Christ.