A senior associate pastor at the Bellevue Christian Center in Nebraska, who had been waiting for months to find a donor on the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s kidney transplant list, cried tears of joy before his congregation as he revealed their lead pastor was found to be a perfect match.
And come Aug. 2, Walter Hooker, a father of three and a grandfather of seven, will undergo surgery to receive a healthy kidney from his lead pastor, Andy Kaup, who is also a married father of three.
“Because of the faithfulness of our God, Aug. 2, I’ll be in surgery. Incredible,” a tearful Hooker revealed during a video announcement posted on the church’s Facebook last week.
“And folks, I want you to know that finding a donor is not easy."
Once someone is added to the national transplant waiting list, they can sometimes wait many years to find a match or sometimes can be matched fairly quickly, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
“In general, the average time frame for waiting can be 3-5 years at most centers and even longer in some geographical regions of the country,” the foundation states.
Hooker's Kidneys are functioning at about 10% and he has had to do dialysis three days a week. He began screening to be placed on UNMC's kidney transplant list in June 2021. He said while people around the country prayed for him to find a kidney donor, some 10 to 15 individuals stepped forward and applied to see if they could be that donor. And Kaup was among them.
Kaup told his Assemblies of God congregation how God moved during the process that led him to become a kidney donor for his associate pastor.
“You know, several months ago, as it became a reality what was going on with Hook ... I can remember just hearing Hook and Melba [Hooker’s wife] talk about the story that God was writing, how even though things looked impossible and things looked scary, I mean beyond scary,” Kaup said. “Most of us have no idea how bad things really were, and yet, the two of them and their family as a whole just continued to say, ‘God’s working something out in the midst of this.’”
Kaup said he talked with his wife Michelle, and they prayerfully approached the process of finding a donor for Hooker with a heart to be obedient to God in whatever He would do.
“Michelle and I began to have some conversations and say, 'OK, I don’t know what this would look like, but God, if there is an opportunity to be a part of this story, then we’re willing because, God, it’s Your story. You’ve been penning this thing. You’ve been the author of this thing from the beginning,'" Kaup said. "We started going through the process, going through several rounds of testing just to find out what kind of match are we. And the boxes just kept being checked and it got to a point where it was just really clear that if God is making a way for this to happen, [we had to obey].”
Kaup spoke to the congregation about the need for obedience among Christians in fostering a relationship with God.
“One of the things that I’ve learned about God in each and every step is that He’s constantly inviting us into His story, and He’s always got room for you to step in and to watch what He can do and to just let Him move in your life. The trick is that it’s just up to us to be obedient. And that’s our heart in this. It was just to be obedient,” the pastor said.
“You know, in James 2 it talks about faith and works, and it kind of brings this thing out, you know. What good is it if your brother has a need and you say ‘go and hope that your need is met’ when it’s in your power to help?” he asked.
“And so, we just wanted to be a part of helping. We just wanted to be able to say, 'We’re tied together, we’re in this together. This is God’s story. What can God do through all of this?' And so, it truly is just a joy and an honor to be able to step into this story. And to watch God move not just in one family or two families, not just in one church or one city, but what can God do through all of this."
In recounting how God set up the moment for Kaup to be a factor in saving his life, Hooker recalled going on a mission trip to Mexico with Kaup and Kaup's father for the first time in the late 1990s. Hooker said his first trip to Africa was also with Kaup’s father and the lead pastor’s older brother. Kaup’s mother also served as Hooker’s administrative assistant for several years.
Bellevue Christian Center explains on its website that it is a "diverse church made up of various ages, backgrounds, family styles and more.” The church exists "to saturate our city and our world with the heart of God."
The Christian Post reached out to the church for further comment on Monday but did not immediately receive a response.