Your gifts to the Ministerial Relief Fund help provide for PCA pastors, widows, and ministry workers in need. Recently, Crystal sat down with us to share her and Dan’s story.
We often don’t think about the uprooting that happens for pastors and their families when answering a call to serve a church. Many leave behind support systems and the comfort of having family nearby. In 2018, Dan and Crystal Korzep moved from Crystal’s home state of Massachusetts to North Carolina. Dan accepted a call to pastor Harvest Presbyterian Church. Less than a year later, Dan died suddenly from a heart attack at age 69. Crystal was now a widow living far from her extended family and support network.
The years preceding their move to North Carolina had been difficult for Dan and Crystal. They had been hit hard by the 2008 recession. The church where Dan pastored was forced to close and Dan was out of work as a pastor for several years. He found work serving as a chaplain and working at a non-profit ministry. However, any money that Dan and Crystal did save up was spent on treatment for Crystal’s health issues.
In November 2019, Crystal got a phone call that Dan was very sick and she needed to get to the hospital immediately. “When I got there Dan was already dead. It was like a movie, and that’s the only way I can put it. I get a call, and here I am with my husband and I’ll never get to talk to him again.”
Dan had been a faithful pastor for 40 years. He was working on his doctorate and had a trusted reputation as a counselor. “He was my best friend. Besides the Lord, Dan was my everything. When people had problems, he was right there for them with no condemnation. There was love, care, and gentleness about him.”
Crystal was left with no savings or retirement. She applied for disability and medicare but was unable to get either. “With Dan being gone, I would have had nothing. I wouldn’t even know where to go. I couldn’t go live with any of my kids. I already had my daughter and granddaughter living with me.”
She was being fully supported by her sons and Harvest Presbyterian until a local pastor and one of her elders told her about PCA Retirement & Benefits Inc. (RBI) and the Ministerial Relief Fund. “When one of my elders told me about Ministerial Relief, I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock and stunned by it. I applied and started receiving financial assistance within a month. It is truly the Lord caring for me through this ministry, or I would have nothing. I’ve been able to pay my rent, my bills, and get food. I’ve been able to go to sleep at night knowing I was taken care of, even though I don’t have my best friend and my pastor beside me.”
What if Crystal could talk to the churches and individuals who support the PCA’s Ministerial Relief Fund? “I would hug you and kiss you and tell you thank you for your obedience and your heart for caring for the widow and the orphan. I don’t know why God took Dan, but he did and now he’s using you to care for me. There are no words to even describe the gratefulness and thankfulness I feel for you. I know that God will bless you personally in your lives, here on earth or even in heaven.”
Walking through Grief
Though Crystal is still grieving the loss of Dan, she offers words of encouragement to share with other newly-widowed women who are dealing with the shock of losing their husband. “Be still and know that he is God. No matter what your brain is telling you, no matter what your stomach is telling you, even if you’re sick, or worried, or lonely, know that he is God. Don’t rush the pain and don’t rush the time. The time is in God’s hands and the grief is there. You can’t just box up the grief and throw it away because the grief doesn’t go away. And in your loneliest and darkest moments, cry out to God and hold on to him and never doubt that he will get you through.”
Your prayers and gifts to the PCA Ministerial Relief Fund are at work helping widows like Crystal. Your gifts demonstrate the love and compassion of our Lord to men and women who served sacrificially in our churches. Click here to see how you can join other PCA churches and members in looking after widows like Crystal.
Geneva Benefits Group serves those who serve others, providing practical support for the financial, physical, and mental wellbeing of people who work in full-time ministry.