Sarah and John Keeler’s Giving Journey
By: Connie Pearson, VFA Financial Advisor
“Two weeks ago I was living on the highway overpass, sleeping with my coat wrapped around me, and now I’m living in a mansion that God has provided.”
When Sarah and John Keeler anonymously donated their home to a ministry, they never thought they’d hear anything like this from anyone. Yet here they were, sitting in the pew at church, surprised to hear this lady on the platform sharing her story about the home they had given, the home where they raised their children.
“We could never have understood the outcome that giving our home would have on so many women in the community,” said Sarah. This donation to a ministry has produced dozens of stories of how women have been impacted and their lives have been changed. Families have been reunited. Some have gotten their children back. This ministry focuses on helping men and women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol to find healing and restoration in Christ.
Sarah grew up in a middle class family who had everything they needed, but John’s family had very little. John recalls, “We did not know that we were poor even though we were. I grew up in a family of 10. My father died when I was eight years old, and we didn’t have a lot of things. Some of us didn’t have shoes. We lived in a house you could see the cracks in the floor; you could see the ground. Everybody had to pitch in and work hard.”
When John and Sarah were first married, they continued their hard working lifestyle. They lived with John’s mom. They had only one car, so John would hitchhike back and forth each day to his job, and Sarah would take the car to her job. John said, “The way I was raised, I appreciated money. If you had a decent paying job, you were blessed.”
Years later when John and Sarah started their business, they tried very hard to be discerning about spending money. Some of John’s friends would tease him that he was tight with money, but he didn’t think of himself as cheap. Being frugal was important to them, and they only spent money when they really needed to. Life lessons instilled in them the importance of saving to buy something with cash rather than running up debt. These views helped them succeed in their business.
As Christians, they have always given God at least 10%.
As they’ve grown older and been blessed, they’ve realized their blessings come from God and God owns everything. Because of this, they realize they cannot outgive God. “When you give, it comes back to you 2, 3, 4, 5 fold. The blessings don’t always come from money, but by seeing people’s lives be changed by helping others,” John rejoiced.
But sometimes the blessings have been financial. When John and Sarah gave the biggest cash gift they had ever given ($100,000 to their local women’s resource center), just two months later a job came out of the blue that caused them to make a half a million dollars. John declared, “I didn’t seek that work out; it just fell into my lap. Am I responsible for that? No. Is God responsible for that? Yes.”
John and Sarah have been committed to allowing God, not money, to control them. They find their satisfaction in Christ. Sarah quoted Henry Blackaby, “Find where God is working and join with Him there.” And they have adopted that strategy. They want to see the Gospel go out to everyone. They strive to help ministries where the Gospel message is being proclaimed, souls are being saved, and lives are being changed.
Over time, they have given several hundred thousand dollars to the women’s resource center in their area. Sarah has served in that ministry for more than fifteen years, saying, “We know that it’s making a difference in people’s lives.”
Money isn’t the only way to give. Sarah pours out her help and love to women and children, while John “has a heart for the elderly,” according to Sarah. He has served the older folks in their church and helped them for decades.
When asked how giving has impacted their marriage, Sarah shared, “Our giving has drawn us closer. We talk about things more; we pray about things more. It’s drawn us closer together and closer to the Lord.”
They seek to honor God, and they see this as part of their legacy. Their physician son has been praised in the community for his compassionate care. Their daughter prays daily that in her nurse practitioner roll she will bless somebody because of Jesus. And their son, who serves as an NFL coach, keeps his focus on the players and teaches them to be men of integrity. Their small grandchildren have filled them with great joy when they hear them say they love Jesus.
When asked how they want to be remembered when it comes to the topic of giving, Sarah proclaimed, “We love Jesus so much and He gave all for us. We want to give everything we have for Him.” John responded, “We love the Lord with all of our hearts. Everything we had belonged to Him. We didn’t hold anything back from Him. Because of that, we had a happier life.”
Sarah’s encouragement to all is, “There’s more blessing to give than to receive. God says, test Me and try Me and I will open up the windows of Heaven and pour out blessings that will be overflowing. The blessings cannot be numbered, they can’t be measured, they just keep coming. God is faithful to His word.”
John’s challenge to us all is, “If you have money and you’re hoarding it, then you are missing out. The thing that I like about it is, God gives you the opportunity to be a part of His blessing and if you give, He’s allowing you to be blessed. If we wouldn’t have given the home, we would have missed all the blessings we have gotten out of it. We would have missed so much joy and blessings by seeing these lives changed. I encourage you to give and give freely. Give every chance you can and you will realize God will bless you 100-fold.”
“One person gives freely, yet gains even more.” Proverbs 11:24
*Names have been changed at the request of the individuals in this article. They prefer that their generosity remains anonymous.