Established in 1973, Geneva’s Relief Fund provides financial assistance and support to PCA ministry families during seasons of great hardship. Here is the story of one of the dozens of widows and retired pastors served each month through the Relief Fund.
Peggy’s husband, Robert, pastored churches for 25 years. As her husband carried out his call as pastor, Peggy felt God was also using her in the lives of the congregants. She says it was “always the people” that brought joy to her in serving. Peggy faithfully listened to and encouraged people.
In their decades of faithful service, Robert and Peggy also found church members who cared for them. “No matter which church we had, God always brought somebody,” she says. And as those church members obeyed God by caring for Robert and Peggy, so today the Relief Fund does the same.
After Robert passed away, Peggy (pictured above) moved to live closer to her family. She brought all her belongings, including family photos, her treasured violin and piano, and original music compositions, to an apartment—only to have a second tragedy strike when a fire consumed the building.
“I had literally lost everything,” said Peggy.
Though she was not harmed in the blaze, losing her possessions was a heavy toll, especially because she was uninsured. Peggy’s finances had been tight. “Pastors aren’t rich,” she says, explaining that she canceled her insurance to save money each month.
Peggy also regularly faces health problems that compound with age. Treatment for these problems introduces steep financial costs. At times, her health even keeps her from her work at a department store, where she’s been faithfully helping customers resolve complaints for 16 years.
Peggy’s challenges—losing her husband, insurance, and possessions and fighting her medical issues—put her in a precarious position. Sadly, an increasing number of aging PCA ministers and widows also find themselves in difficult situations. Though they may not have experienced a fire in their residence, they are vulnerable to unexpected emergencies and mounting bills.
After the fire, a woman at Peggy’s church shared information about the Relief Fund with her, explaining that it helps PCA pastors and widows in financial need.
She says, “God was very gracious and he set me up with [the Relief Fund], and I’ve been with them ever since.”
Today, Peggy uses the aid to meet her hospital and medical bills.
Every month, two PCA pastors’ wives become widows. And Peggy’s financial story is not unique: many retired ministry couples are not ready for the expenses of retirement. More and more live near the poverty line.
Peggy’s life shows us that Christians are called to ministry in all seasons and contexts. Today, even in retirement and amidst medical difficulties, she sees her work at the department store as a ministry. She has gotten to know the regulars at the store, comforted those buying clothing for funerals, and prayed with those who have opened up to her.
The aid Peggy receives from the Relief Fund helps her to keep going. Peggy remembers the hardship of the fire that destroyed her belongings, but she also remembers God’s presence.
“When I lost everything, I felt God was still taking care of me,” she says.
Through the Relief Fund, we have a chance to be the hands and feet of Christ as he takes care of the vulnerable among us.
Please consider becoming a monthly partner by visiting genevabenefits.org/relief.
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.