Our Noble Widows: Mission:Dignity® Answers the Call 

Join Us in Honoring Mission:Dignity Recipients This Summer
Dr. Aaron Meraz, Director of Mission:Dignity at GuideStone®

Both the Old and New Testaments speak to the responsibility of the church to care for widows in need, none plainer than what we read in James 1:27 (CSB): “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …”

Widows are typically some of the most vulnerable members of society from a cultural perspective, which is why God calls his bride to step into the gap. In the United States, women often outlive their husbands1 and 2,800 new widows are added to the national total of 11.8 million every day2. Many of those in the current generation of widows did not work outside the home or did so on a very limited basis, providing sparse work experience for what jobs may be available and little in terms of receipt for their own Social Security. 

The widows served by Mission:Dignity® have an added disadvantage. Throughout their service to the Lord, they served in places where little, if any, was contributed to retirement, much less life insurance. Many of these women face hardships alone — including the natural consequences of aging or uncertain diagnoses and terminal conditions — after the husband passes away unexpectedly or succumbs to a prolonged illness. 

Add our nation’s recent struggles with inflation, and we have a community of women in desperate need — women who have served the Lord faithfully and deserve the honor of being cared for in their later years. 

It is pure joy at Mission:Dignity to answer this call to arms for widows like Brenda Collins of Trussville, Alabama. Brenda and her late husband, Jim, served the Lord in churches all over Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma for 51 years. 

“What I really loved the most was just being by his side,” Brenda recalls. “And when my children got older, I was able to go with him. I made every hospital visit. I made every home visit. We were connected at the hip. And so God called us both into the ministry. He called Jim to preach and to be a pastor. And he definitely called me to be a pastor’s wife.”

Jim pastored almost exclusively in small churches, and not one church contributed to his retirement or matched any contributions. Brenda says, “Mission:Dignity was a game changer” when it came to their retirement, relieving much of the stress of daily living. 

“When Mission Dignity sent the first check,” she remembers, “Jim literally sat down and cried. He was so taken aback by the fact that we had someone who we knew we could trust and help supply a little bit of extra funds for us on a monthly basis.”

But, less than three years after the Collins family connected with Mission:Dignity, disaster struck. Jim began to feel ill in October 2020, after rarely being sick his entire life. They sought medical attention, and though no doctor could pinpoint what was wrong, Jim began to need regular blood transfusions. After months without answers, he was set to undergo exploratory surgery, during which he unexpectedly passed away in February 2021. All this transpired during COVID, which meant that Brenda’s last contact with Jim was via FaceTime® and his funeral was limited to 10 people. Brenda was devastated, and the loss was palpable. “The day that he died, a part of me died. And that’s not fixable. And it won’t be until eternity. It won’t be. But I just love the fact that, for some reason, I feel like Mission:Dignity cares.”

Mission:Dignity stepped in and coordinated a seamless transfer of the funds to Brenda after Jim’s death. “I got a call from Mission:Dignity,” she says. “And I have to tell you that I honestly was surprised, but it was such a comfort and blessing to have them call me.”

Mission:Dignity serves retirement-aged ministers, workers and widows as they face advancing age, illness, infirmity, death of a spouse and even natural disasters. Through it all, we provide constant care, prayer and financial assistance directly at the point of need. It is a call we take very seriously and cover with prayer daily. 

“Mission:Dignity not only provides security and peace of mind financially but more importantly than that, Mission:Dignity feels like a friend,” says Brenda. “I can pick up the phone and call someone to just talk. Not about needing more funds, not about the money, but to talk with someone who understands the ministry that we loved for so many years. Mission:Dignity means so much more than money to me.”

For more information on how you can support our widows and ministers in need, please contact our office at 1-877-888-9409, MissionDignity@GuideStone.org or visit MissionDignity.org

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Dr. Aaron Meraz is the director of Mission:Dignity at GuideStone. Dr. Meraz served Southern Baptists for 30 years as a pastor, church planter, associate director of a large Baptist association and professor at Criswell College before joining GuideStone. He holds a Ph.D. and a D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an M.Div. with biblical languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

1National Vital Statistics Reports Volume 72, Number 12 November 7, 2023 United States Life Tables, 2021 (CDC.gov)