Mission:Dignity helps neediest widows, retirees in their golden years

For retired pastors and their widows who face financial insecurity, Mission:Dignity can provide monthly or emergency help, as well as support from a caring and praying community.
“I just love the fact that, for some reason, I feel like Mission:Dignity cares,” says Brenda Collins of Trussville, who receives assistance from the GuideStone ministry.
Mission:Dignity photo

Mission:Dignity helps neediest widows, retirees in their golden years

Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 23, 2024.

When her ophthalmologist said it was time for new glasses, Patsy Rogers wasn’t sure how she would afford them.

“I have glaucoma and astigmatism in both eyes so my glasses have to be changed often,” said Rogers, who served the Lord alongside her late husband for 38 years. “They’re really expensive, the lenses are, but I knew I had to get them. And that’s when I reached out to Mission:Dignity and said, ‘Would the Hawkins emergency grant cover glasses?’ And they said, ‘Well, yes, that’s what it’s here for.'”

Patsy Rogers is one of many widows and retirees who have been helped by the O.S. and Susie Hawkins Emergency Grant Fund through Mission:Dignity, a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources. (Mission:Dignity photo)

Rogers is one of many widows and retirees who have been helped by the O.S. and Susie Hawkins Emergency Grant Fund through Mission:Dignity, a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources that provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows who have faithfully served God’s people and now find themselves struggling to meet basic needs.

Helping the vulnerable

Mission:Dignity provides monthly support for retirement-aged ministers, workers and widows as they face advancing age, illness, infirmity, death of a spouse and even natural disasters. Emergency grants help the neediest Mission:Dignity recipients cover unexpected large expenses like glasses, hearing aids, dental work, hospital stays or emergency home repairs.

Widows are typically some of the most vulnerable members of society from a cultural perspective, and both the Old and New Testaments speak to the responsibility of the church to care for widows in need. In the United States, women often outlive their husbands, and 2,800 new widows are added to the national total of 11.8 million every day.

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.

Levels of care

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 their husbands die unexpectedly or succumb to a prolonged illness.

Recent inflation in the U.S. has contributed to a community of women in desperate need, like Brenda Collins of Trussville. She 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,” Collins said. “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.”

Her husband was pastor of many small churches, none of which contributed to his retirement or matched any contributions.

‘Game changer’

“Mission:Dignity was a game changer” when it came to their retirement, relieving much of the stress of daily living, Collins said.

“When Mission Dignity sent the first check,” she recalled, “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.”

Jim Collins died in February 2021, but Mission:Dignity continues to help Brenda financially, but also with prayer and care.

“Mission:Dignity not only provides security and peace of mind financially but more importantly than that, Mission:Dignity feels like a friend,” Brenda Collins said. “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 widows and ministers in need, contact GuideStone at 877-888-9409, MissionDignity@GuideStone.org or visit MissionDignity.org.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Aaron Meraz, director of Mission:Dignity at GuideStone and adapted for use by TAB Media.)