by John Ambra
Kathie Mansell needed a side dish to go with her meatloaf. Her father, a missionary pilot from Brazil, was in town and coming for dinner with a friend, but the newlywed college student didn’t have any other food on hand. It was then that she remembered the rice.
Kathie knew at age 13 she would one day be a pastor’s wife. It just seemed natural since she grew up as a “missionary kid,” and missionary grandkid, in Brazil. It was at Hardin-Simmons University that Kathie met Johnny, and they married in December 1969. Their wedding would be the foundation for a long marriage and fruitful ministry together.
On that day, it also provided her side dish.
Kathie looked in the closet and there were all those leftover mesh bags of rice from the wedding. Neatly packaged with a colorful ribbon on each, but never touched and never thrown. It didn’t take long for Kathie to gather up that rice to complete her meal. She was also reminded that, even though she and Johnny had very little in the way of income or resources, that didn’t matter to God. He knew their needs and how to provide.
It was as if she heard a voice whispering, “I’ve got it.”
The Mansells would lean into God’s promises a lot over the next four decades of pastoral ministry in New Mexico and Texas, but especially when health issues resulted in an early retirement in 2012—a retirement filled with a lot of challenges.
On the advice of a friend, Johnny had opted out of Social Security when he began ministry. (As the Mansells discovered, opting out of Social Security is generally not recommended by most financial experts.) Medical bills ate up all of the Mansells’ retirement savings. That just left Kathie’s teacher’s pension check to meet their monthly expenses.
But God wasn’t taken by surprise. So this summer, about the time the Mansells’ money ran out, Mission:Dignity stepped in.
GuideStone Financial Resources’ ministry to pastors and their widows in need extended a monthly grant to the Mansells and also paid for some much-needed dental work they would never have been able to afford.
“We’d just like to say what a blessing Mission:Dignity is in our lives,” said Johnny. “We’ve faced some very difficult times with expenses related to health issues the last several years. It’s made such a difference because it’s enabled us to purchase our medications. We’ve had to make some choices in the past to pay for food, utilities or medicine, and now we’re able to take care of these expenses thanks to Mission:Dignity.”
Kathie added, “It’s given peace of mind because we were always wondering, next month, how are we going to do this? We’d have to go to God in prayer and ask forgiveness for the anxiety about it all, but He always came through every month to help us.”
Mission:Dignity assists nearly 2,000 retirees each month, providing a measure of comfort, security and dignity in their retirement years. For some, it means being able to stay in the familiar surroundings of their own home. For others, it covers the cost of groceries, utilities, prescriptions and other necessities. But for every one of them, it’s an expression of the love and care of their Southern Baptist family.
To share a gift, or for more information, visit MissionDignitySBC.org.
Johnny noted, “We have a little deal between the two of us. When we get worried about something we hold three fingers up. That means, ‘God’s got it.’ Through Mission:Dignity, God’s got it, and we’re so thankful.”
John Ambra is director of development for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.