Generosity amidst Tragedy: The Testimony of Pastor Mike Fennema

Mike and Stephanie Fennema, along with their five children, moved after being called by three churches to plant a church in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The church was growing beautifully but after COVID-19 erupted in early 2020, the church began to suffer. Towards the end of the year, Mike remembered thinking “I don’t know how long this is going to last.” They made the difficult decision to hold their final service on December 6, 2020. 

However, on November 28, Mike went on a mountain bike ride with his children—one of their favorite activities. In a fluke accident, he flew over his handlebars and crashed onto his helmet. He suffered a spinal cord injury, severely limiting his movement. After a helicopter ride to emergency surgery, 10 days of recovery in the ICU, and 91 days of rehabilitation, Mike returned home to a completely different life. Though he has regained some mobility, he and his family are adjusting to a life they never expected.

Mike’s injuries affected so much of the family’s life. Their finances were stretched to the max, as they lost Mike’s income and added a host of additional expenses. Their home needed modifications to accommodate Mike’s wheelchair.

Amidst these changes, the church stayed constant.

A crew built a ramp while Mike was in rehab. Friends and family surrounded them. In fact, the entire community came together through the tragedy. Through their personal emergency fund and a GoFundMe page, the necessary renovations were covered, but the accounts were entirely depleted. 

After a few months, Mike wrote an email to update a group of pastors who had remained prayerfully supporting the Fennemas. Ed Dunnington, President of Geneva Benefits Group, responded to the email, encouraging Mike to apply for financial assistance through the Relief Fund. Shortly thereafter, the checks began to arrive. 

“I can’t imagine what would have happened if the Church and Relief Fund and people had not come to our aid. Our family would have been devastated,” Stephanie recalled.

The Relief Fund stepped in with financial assistance to help fill the gap between their income and need.

All over the country, the Relief Fund is helping ministry families like the Fennemas: the need is great, but the church can meet it.

“John 13 says, ‘The world will know that you are my disciples by the love that you have for one another.’ This has been such a tangible way that we have been so deeply loved by the body of Christ — not just by local churches, not just by our presbytery, but by the entire denomination.” — Mike Fennema, PCA Pastor

Will you join us in supporting pastors throughout our denomination, like Mike, by making a donation to the Relief Fund?


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.

Geneva offers preparedness and peace of mind with solutions tailored to the needs of ministry leaders and staff.