Twenty years ago when Stacey Harminson was newly married and working to complete Physician Assistant school, she never imagined that she would someday become a pastor’s wife.
“I’ve always felt a strong desire to connect with people,” Stacey said, “but I never imagined that I would be asked to take on the role of a pastor’s wife.”
Stacey’s career in ministry started 15 years ago in a boxing gym. At the time, her husband, Jeremy, was traveling the world as a ranked Muay-Thai fighter, but the two-hour drive to the practice gym was cutting into their time as a family. They decided to open a new faith-based gym in Mattoon called True Believers. Stacey and Jeremy decided to use the gym as a mission field by allowing young men to perform chores and maintenance in lieu of paying a membership fee.
“A lot of boys and men who had no positive male role models were drawn to the gym simply because they wanted to be tough,” she said, “but through the training we were able to teach them about faith, about discipline, and to show them the love of God.”
After five years of training young men at the gym, Jeremy felt led to become a pastor. Suddenly, Stacey, a busy Physician’s Assistant and mother of three, was thrust into a new role. “I don’t think I even realized that I was a ‘pastor’s wife’ for about the first year,” she said, “There are a lot of expectations that come with that position that were difficult for me to adjust to.”
Eventually, Stacey realized that her new role was not all that different from her job in healthcare. She says that her career taught her to be in-tune to people’s needs and emotions. “I think that in order to be a good medical provider, you need to listen to people and pay attention to their unspoken needs,” she said, “and the same can be said for people in ministry.”
After observing the needs of her congregants and patients, Stacey rallied a group of church members to help establish a free monthly community dinner, and an annual back-to-school outreach event with a free rummage sale, free haircuts and shoes for children, and a community meal. She also worked with local dentists to start a program to provide dentures to residents who could not otherwise afford them.
“I saw a man who was able to improve his diet, get a job, and find joy simply because we were able to help him get teeth,” she said, “but most people in need won’t ask for help so you have to focus on developing relationships and just pay attention to those around you.”
While Stacey strives to live the SBL values of compassion and respect in her every-day life, she knows it can be difficult for some people to find the time to volunteer, but she encourages others to examine their priorities.
“My job is important, but the things we do for others on our own time is even more important,” Stacey said, “I believe we’re called to help, to show God’s love and be a light. To do that, we have to be outwardly focused, not inwardly.”