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Just Released: 2023 Annual Report // Read Now

Just Released: 2023 Annual Report // Read Now

Why the Ministry of Cherish Remains Vital — Annie’s Story

“I don’t know how I would have made it.”

Pastors’ wives navigate marital challenges that are common to many marriages. It can feel like her husband puts his work before family and those feelings left to themselves can breed resentment, loneliness, and anger. For Christians, the church is a place where people are invited to share their lives and ask for prayer and support from others about these sorts of needs. 

But here’s the difference. For the pastor’s wife, the church is not only Christ’s body. It is also her husband’s employer. She lacks the freedom to ask for prayer because “Jeff and I are in a rough patch.” And she’s definitely not likely to say, “Jeff is stressed out right now because he’s unhappy at work.” Other wives in the church might feel comfortable voicing the strains their husbands’ work puts on their marriage, but pastors’ wives fear that honesty might prove detrimental to their husband’s ministry and job security.

As one pastor’s wife shared, “Life can be so isolating and lonely on the front lines of ministry.”

But what about when a pastor’s wife faces issues that are exceptional? 

“The first time I met with her I just cried.” That’s how Annie* describes her first visit with her counselor. For sixteen years, Annie had suffered quietly and in isolation. Finally, she reached a breaking point. She knew she could not maintain her emotional and spiritual health on her own, so she decided to seek professional help from a Christian counselor.

Annie’s husband was a pastor. On the surface, their story seemed ideal. Annie came to faith through a campus ministry and settled into a PCA church after graduation. It was there she met her husband who was preparing for vocational ministry. They married and had three children while her husband became a well-respected minister in their community.

But at home, things were quite different. Her husband’s relationship with her slowly deteriorated and their marriage became harder and harder to maintain. He became easily angered with her and their children and she grew fearful.  Eventually, her marriage came to an end, and her husband’s ministry career ended with it. 

Through this process, Annie had the full support of her local church and her husband’s presbytery. However, neither she nor they could afford to pay for the counseling she so badly needed.

It was around this time that Annie discovered Cherish, an initiative of Geneva Benefits Group to provide pastors’ wives with access to confidential Christian counseling. As Annie looks back, she observes, “The counselor was the first safe person I could talk with. She was able to help me see that I wasn’t crazy. If God hadn’t provided her, I don’t know how I would have made it.”

More than half of pastors’ wives in the PCA feel like they are not currently thriving, according to a recent study. Though they may not be facing the same issues at home as Annie, many of them face the same struggle of feeling comfortable sharing personal struggles with people at church. Cherish provides these women with an affordable and confidential resource to be heard and receive wise counsel. 

“As a pastor’s wife, there are numerous situations that feel both heavy and confidential. Receiving counseling through the Cherish program has allowed me to unburden my heart in a safe and biblical environment. It can be scary and overwhelming to face my questions of the Lord and his providence, but working through them with my CCEF counselor has brought great clarity and healing. I am so grateful for this support from the PCA and can already see how this counseling will benefit my faith, my marriage, and my husband’s ability to do his job faithfully for years to come.” —PCA pastor’s wife

Since 2018, Geneva has subsidized over 3,000 counseling sessions for 400 PCA pastors’ wives like Annie and the demand continues to grow at a rate that has outpaced our funding. This is exciting! It means more of our pastors’ wives are finding a place to share openly and receive Christ-centered counsel. 

Your gift to Cherish enables a pastor’s wife to access confidential and professional counseling at a price she can afford. Your donation made it possible for Annie and other pastors’ wives to find hope during a turbulent season of life. 

Beyond providing access to counseling, the Ministerial Relief Fund came alongside Annie and her three sons during this challenging time.  As she navigated school and worked two jobs, the Relief Fund provided a monthly financial assistance grant so that  Annie could afford her rent and remain in the same neighborhood close to her church and the boy’s schools. In a few months, Annie will finish nursing school and begin her career caring for others. 

Your gifts to Cherish and the Relief Fund help pastors’ wives feel loved, supported, and encouraged!

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.