Missouri pastor donates kidney to church member, says it was a calling from God

Rev. Jack Coultas (R), the pastor of Park Grove Christian Church in Deepwater, Missouri, poses for a photograph with church member Jeremy Whitman (L). Coultas donated a kidney to Whitman in 2020. | Courtesy Rev. Jack Coultas

Rev. Jack Coultas, the pastor of Park Grove Christian Church in Deepwater, Missouri, donated a kidney to one of his church members, Jeremy Whitman, who was struggling for nearly two years with kidney failure caused by diabetes.

Rev. Coultas, 35, who has been a pastoral leader and friend to Whitman and his family since 2008, said he recalls the day he found out Whitman was suffering from kidney failure. 

In 2018, Whitman, 36, was coping with diabetes and managing his autism. Whitman had also recently started a new job and moved into a new home, the pastor told The Christian Post.  

Rev. Coultas said, at the time, it seemed like everything in Whitman’s life was working out for the best until “the unexpected occurred.”  

One morning, when Whitman woke up from sleeping, he opened his eyes and could not see anything, according to Coultas.

Whitman was completely blind in both his eyes and managed to find his phone to call his father. He was rushed to the hospital, where they discovered his kidneys had completely shut down.

Whitman was placed on dialysis to remove waste products and excess fluid from his blood. It took a year for Whitman to be placed on the kidney recipient list.

“It broke my heart when I was told what happened because he had been doing so well,” said Rev. Coultas, who has been head pastor of Park Grove Christian Church for seven years.

“While he was in the hospital, I prayed a lot for him to receive healing.”   

For over 365 days, Rev. Coultas said he continually prayed for Whitman's healing.

But to the pastor's surprise, God answered his prayer by calling him and putting it on his heart to be a kidney donor for Whitman.

Every time Rev. Coultas met with Whitman’s family for counseling sessions and prayer, he said a Bible passage “came into his mind.” 

The scripture passage that he thought about repetitively was 1 John 3:16-18.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters," the Scripture reads. "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”  

Coultas said he “believes in the power of prayer.” But he also believes that when someone is in need, people should strive to do more than just pray.

“We shouldn’t just pray if we see more ways we can help,” Coultas said. “The lord started pressing those scriptures into my heart. I realized that if Christ gave His life for me, then I should be able to give to someone else a life-saving organ.”

After many days of thinking and praying to God, the pastor “felt deep in his heart” that God was calling him to be a donor.

In April of 2019, Coultas took a blood test and found out he was a donor match for Whitman.

After finding out he was a match, he had more confirmation that God wanted him to do the surgery.

“I felt a sense of relief because it was such a long process of praying and considering the decision," Coultas told CP. “I would say my decision to go forward with the surgery was a basic example of Christian behavior because we are called to obey God and love others.”

Coultas and Whitman successfully underwent surgery in January 2020 at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City. 

Rev. Jack Coultas and Jeremy Whitman pose for a photo after kidney donor surgery. | Courtesy Rev. Jack Coultas

Since donating his kidney, Coultas said he experienced a health complication. He had to have his hernia repaired in February. For three months following the repair, he could not do many physical activities. However, the pastor has since completely recovered.

For Whitman, his recovery has reportedly been smooth, and he continues to get better every day.   

“I didn’t let the aftermath of the hernia repair stop me from moving forward in love,” Coultas said. “I would do the kidney donor surgery again if I could. Love is not safe. Love is supposed to be challenging, and God called us all to show love to others whether it is difficult or joyful.” 

As a pastor, Coultas believes there are a few things Christians should consider "if what they believe God is calling them to do is, in fact, from God.” 

Among other things, followers of Christ should consider “the weight on their hearts” by evaluating whether what they feel God is calling them to do “is something that matches up to the Bible as something God would approve of.”

Secondly, he believes that anyone who wants to confirm if a calling from God is from God should “seek out wise counsel.” 

Lastly, Coultas said that people should consider the circumstances surrounding what they feel God is calling them to do by seeing if it is possible.

“If what they feel they are being called by God to do is not possible, most likely God does not approve of what they feel they're being called to do.”   

“When I was considering whether or not I should pursue the calling of being a kidney donor, I prayed, referred to scriptures and I brought it up to wise counsel — my wife — because I knew it would affect her and my family,” he said.

“Lastly, I considered the circumstances surrounding what I believed I was being called by God to do. And when I found out that I was a donor match, that is when I knew it was not just my heart, but it was something the Lord wanted because he opened up a doorway of possibility through circumstance.”

Coultas explained that when someone considers “answering a calling from God,” they should “evaluate" the "motivation of their heart" in accordance with 2 Corinthians 9:7

“I would encourage any Christian to check out the motivation of their heart by making sure they are not doing anything for selfish gain,” he advised. “They also shouldn’t do anything for others begrudgingly, but with a cheerful heart.”

When Christians choose to disobey God by not answering a call to do something, he believes "they miss out on many things.”

“They lose out on the chance to have a testimony, as well as different blessings and experiences. And they miss out on the chance to bless someone else,” Coultas said, adding that it should never just be about receiving blessings in return for obedience.

“Every time a Christian says 'no' to anything God calls them to do, such as being called to share the Gospel, they lose out on the opportunity to be a blessing and to be blessed, and they miss the chance to glorify God in the future.” 

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