We Need Your Help, Please!

I’ve been blogging once-a-week for almost ten years. However, this weekend I’m going to use this post for something entirely different. Don Waddell has been my Administrative Assistant for the past decade, and he has been a loyal friend and incredible helper to me. He’s the detail person behind our complicated monthly mentoring retreats for ministers, tediously scheduling my appointments and speaking engagements, dispensing our benevolent funds, and communicating with pastors who have all manner of requests. Don’s administrative gifts have been the nuts and bolts of my ministry.

Don also serves as teacher/pastor to two adult ABF classes at Southeast Christian Church, which involve over 200 people. In addition to his ministry responsibilities he cares for a 94 year-old mother who is in an extended care facility and having serious health issues. His major concern for the past few years has been caring for his wonderful wife Nancy who has battled MS since she was a teenager. The past couple of years Nancy’s kidneys have failed to the point that she is now on dialysis three times a week. Needless to say, Don’s plate is very full and I want to make an urgent request on his behalf.

Nancy Waddell needs a kidney transplant. She’s a marvelously spiritual woman whom I’ve known for 50 years. Her spirit through all her trials has been courageous and joyful. She is a rock. The Waddell’s came close to a match several months ago, but two weeks before the planned surgery the donor was disqualified by the examiners. You can imagine the letdown. Of course, they were disappointed to be back to square one.

Bob Russell Ministries Executive Assistant Don Waddell with wife Nancy

So, this blog is not intended to reach as many people as possible. It’s directed to one person whom God may touch with this need. I love Don and Nancy Waddell like family and feel compelled to do my part to broaden their appeal in some way. We need major assistance from someone who is willing to make an extreme sacrifice and donate a kidney to Nancy. Living donors must be at least 18 years old, mentally able to make a good decision, and in good health. If you are willing to consider being a possible donor, or if you know of someone who might be interested, please contact Don at dwaddellii@aol.com or (5o2).592..1638. 

I first met Nancy Smith in 1967 soon after I became Minister at the new Southeast Christian Church in 1966. Nancy was dating Don Waddell, the son of Southeast charter members, Doris and Don Waddell. Nancy’s parents were also devout Christians and became integrally involved in the church.

In 1967 Don and Nancy asked that I perform their wedding ceremony. It was one of the first weddings I performed after arriving at Southeast, and I made a blunder during their wedding of which the memory of it is deeply seared into my mind.  During the ceremony, I committed a horrendous gaffe — the kind which torments ministers for years. I misspoke and asked Don to “place the ring on the third hand of the left finger.” Don was barely conscious during the ceremony, so he didn’t notice the blunder, but I have often been reminded by friends with excellent memories who were committed to needling me at any opportunity.

The newlyweds had a brief honeymoon, and it looked like the young couple was off to a great start until August of that year when Don was drafted into the Air Force. As if getting married and being drafted wasn’t enough, Don and Nancy’s relationship took another unexpected turn in 1968 when they learned she had had Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic, debilitating disease which can lead to a life confined to a wheelchair or worse. Of course, this new circumstance permanently changed their lives.

Rather than wringing her hands in despair or cry out to God, “Why me?” Nancy accepted her diagnosis and decided to make the best of it. Despite periodic hospitalizations due to the pernicious effects of MS and the persistent symptoms of fatigue, poor vision, numbness and periodic reliance on a walker or wheelchair, Nancy was a trooper while raising three kids and relocating every 2-3 years as a wife of an Air Force officer.

Nancy also used her misfortune to comfort others who are plagued by MS, and she started an MS support group at Southeast Christian Church some years ago. She has demonstrated a remarkable faith in the midst of adversity, and gets up every morning to spend an hour or so reading God’s word and to pray. Her faith has been an inspiration to me and to others who are familiar with her situation.

Nancy confronted yet another medical challenge about five years ago when her doctor informed her that both her kidneys had failed, most likely due to the powerful drugs she had been taking to treat her MS. Her disease progressed rapidly to the point that she required kidney dialysis to survive. Not only does she feel crummy much of the time, but she has also been required to go to the hospital three times a week for 4-5 hours to filter out harmful toxins from her blood. Nancy and Don have adjusted to the rigors of dialysis, and Don notes that their relationship has never been stronger and their trust in God continues to grow daily.

Nevertheless, dialysis is an awful ordeal that Nancy and Don would rather do without. However, now there is hope of better circumstances for Nancy. Last year, she was approved for a kidney transplant, which would make her life nearly normal again. The hard part for those eligible for a kidney transplant is finding a kidney donor, and they have been searching for one for over a year now. Unfortunately out of six who expressed a willingness to donate their kidney last year none were approved because of one disqualifying factor or the other.

Would you consider donating a kidney to Nancy Waddell so she could live a more normal life, visit her grandchildren, and be able to attend church more regularly? I know this is asking an awful lot, but I can’t think of anything more rewarding than sacrificing a part of your body to improve the life of another.

“Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13).


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