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Quilts, Bows, and Beef Bless Ministers through Rural Compassion

Rural ministers can often feel isolated and overlooked, but through partnership with Rural Compassion some businesses and individuals are helping to change that.
Isolation and economic sacrifices are two very real challenges rural ministers face. However, there’s a third challenge that may even exceed the first two: anonymity. “Does anybody even know or even care about what we’re doing out here?”

Steve Donaldson, founder and president of Rural Compassion, believes rural ministers need to know they aren’t forgotten.

“We have had three relatively new partners join the Rural Compassion family who are, in their own ways, saying, ‘We see you. We appreciate you. We care about you,’” Donaldson says. “They include a professional quilter, an archery company, and a cattle ranch.”


Donaldson, a U.S. missionary chaplain, says rural ministers are among the most economically sacrificial ministers in the Assemblies of God, and often fulfill their ministry roles in relative obscurity.

“In rural ministry, there’s a lot of anonymity – it can feel like few outside of your community know you even exist,” Donaldson explains. “So, that’s why we work alongside rural ministers, encouraging them and helping them to serve and pastor their whole community . . . as anonymity outside of your community is one thing; inside of it, it will end your ministry.”

However, sometimes it simply takes a gesture, the idea that people do care, to help a rural minister and his or her family get through times when the sacrifices start to feel overwhelming.


Yes, there is a difference between bedspreads and quilts. In addition to the layers and stitching that make up a quilt, homemade quilts are pieces of art that seem to inherently come with love.

Jody Williams, who attends Rolla First Assembly in Rolla, Missouri, has been making quilts for more than 50 years. Now 68, Williams has made countless lap and bed quilts — she even has her own Facebook page where she displays the hundreds of quilts she has made.

About seven or eight months ago, Donaldson spoke at her church.

“I met Steve through my sister, who worked for him before she became ill,” Williams says. “So, I knew the background of the organization. During the service, he told his story of how he got involved and started the organization. I was very touched. At the time, I was doing lap quilts for missionaries, but I just felt the need to do something for these rural pastors, so I talked to him after the service.”

Volunteering to make quilts for rural ministers, which Donaldson happily accepted, Williams has since designed and created five quilts for Rural Compassion to distribute and is currently working on her sixth.

“My goal is to do one a month,” she says. “And I try to make them with an inspirational base – though I did do one by special request for a pastor who was also a volunteer firefighter.”

“These quilts are beautiful,” Donaldson says. “Jody collects and donates the cloth, batting, and time to make these quilts, and the ministers feel so incredibly blessed.”


In a rural community, hunting is typically a part of the culture – not to mention, an affordable way to stock a freezer with meat. However, a new, quality bow can come with a pretty stiff price tag.

But Donaldson, through some ministry connections, now has a bow manufacturer who is donating high-quality bows to periodically be given to rural ministers.

“We typically give away things during training sessions,” Donaldson says. “But instead of drawing numbers or something like that, we ask the ministers present to simply write a note as to why a new bow would be so beneficial to them.” In this way, the bow goes to a minister who needs it and will use it.

Donaldson has also connected with Selah Farms and owners Buddy and Todd Sears in Archie, Missouri. In the last two years, they have provided eight steers and two more are on the way.

“My great-grandpa was a rural preacher and we saw the struggle he went through pastoring rural churches,” explains Buddy Sears. “We as a family prayed and felt that blessing rural pastors with beef was what the Lord wanted us to do, so that’s what we do . . . usually every delivery (to Rural Compassion) is around 1,200 pounds of beef.”

“They raise and butcher the steers, and cut them into steaks, roasts, and hamburger,” Donaldson says. “We have freezers at our Rural Compassion offices, and we’ll take coolers loaded with dry ice and meat with us as we minister to provide rural ministers with about 35 pounds (varies by the size of their family) of high-quality, grass-fed beef.”

Sears says the reason they chose “Selah Farms” for a name has a biblical foundation. “Selah, as found in the Book of Psalms, reminds us to pause and remember what the Lord has done for us.”


Donaldson says that the gifts provided by people who have a heart for rural ministers have made a difference.

“It lets them know that other people notice and care about what they’re doing,” he says. “Rural ministers are incredible people – they touch my heart by their humility, hard work, and the way they serve their churches and communities is really impressive.”

Noting that he hopes others will be inspired to encourage rural ministers through their giftings or businesses, Donaldson says that people who don’t have the means on their own could team together.

“For example, a group could reach out to Jody to see what kinds of materials she needs and begin collecting them for her or others may decide to come together to raise funds to help rural ministers further their education — there are countless ways to bless these ministers (contact Rural Compassion to vet ideas).”

For now, Donaldson says Rural Compassion and its team of U.S. missionaries will continue its efforts to see rural ministers become “communitarians,” where due to their involvement in the community, the community trusts and looks to them for help whenever the need arises.

“We encourage rural ministers to work alongside law enforcement, fire fighters, school teachers and administration, business owners, and community leaders to make their communities into places where children and families can flourish,” Donaldson says. “It’s a wholistic response to the gospel.”

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.