13 September, 2021

A Loving Sacrifice: Pastor Donates Kidney to Church Member

by | 3 September, 2021 | 0 comments

JEREMY WHITHAM (LEFT) AND JACK COULTAS.

By Chris Moon

Pastor Jack Coultas encourages people to “love dangerously”—just as Jesus did.

“Going to the cross was not easy for him, and that’s the standard that’s been laid down for us,” said Coultas, who leads Park Grove Christian Church in Deepwater, Mo.

It’s a self-sacrificing message Coultas can preach boldly because he was able to live it out. Early last year, Coultas donated one of his kidneys to a church member.

“We can’t ever allow ourselves to have hard hearts,” he said.

Coultas met Jeremy Whitham through Coultas’s wife, Elaine, who worked with Whitham at a local grocery store in Missouri. About 10 years later, Whitham was hospitalized due to complications from diabetes.

“His diabetes just ramped up so hard it sent his kidneys into failure,” Coultas said.

The pastor visited the hospital frequently and spent long times in prayer with Whitham’s parents. They prayed for healing.

At one point, Whitham’s father was in Coultas’s office with a small group of men. They prayed for Jeremy, knowing he would need a kidney donor soon. Coultas said he felt “the Lord was pressing on my heart.”

“This was something I needed to consider,” he said.

The Scripture passage 1 John 3:16-18 had been running through Coultas’s head; those verses describe love in sacrificial terms—the laying down of one’s life for another. The passage also declares Christians ought to help those in need if they possess something that might help. 

Coultas thought about his kidneys.

“Here’s something I had to possibly meet that need,” he said.

With support from his wife, Coultas took a blood test that showed he was a match with Whitham. From there, God opened every door to make the transplant possible.

After the surgery in January 2020, Whitham’s blood work quickly started to improve, Coultas said. The kidney began working immediately.

“I was just thankful it was working,” Coultas said. “It was just kind of confirmation all along the way that this was from the Lord. This was the Lord working out his plan for Jeremy.”

“I feel like that’s a very good blessing from God,” Whitham told Fox News. “I’m just very, very thankful for everything.”

Whitham’s blood work now consistently comes back better than Coultas’s. The pastor likes to joke that he gave his friend the better of his kidneys.

Coultas said his story is applicable to other ministers who labor to find ways to help their congregants. Sometimes there’s not much a pastor can do but pray, counsel, or comfort. But other times, they can do more.

“I think the biggest thing I would tell pastors is when you are given an opportunity where you can really do something about [a problem], to step out and do that,” he said.

Pastors often get bogged down ministering in difficult situations where they see no discernable improvement in the lives of their church members, Coultas said. That can be discouraging. A church leader can suffer a lot of emotional beatings.

So, pastors should seize on those moments when they can help bring about immediate life change.

“It’s good for our own hearts to see God move in a powerful way like that,” he said. It is helpful to be able to point to a situation and say, “The Lord moved right there in a great and mighty way.”

Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.

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