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Freedom to Focus on Ministry

Pastor Valerie Wigg

April 2021Valerie Wigg

“If you had talked to me two years ago about my financial situation, I would have probably started crying. I was making student loan payments of almost $1,000 a month, but I just couldn’t keep up. And I couldn’t refinance the loans because my debt to income ratio was too high.”

Valerie Wigg, an associate pastor in Mountain Home, Idaho, recalls with a tear in her eyes. “My family was so gracious and helped me when I needed it, but, you know, I wanted to get to a place where I was financially independent. It was depressing, and it really affected my mental health. I felt hopeless.”

“I was trying to trust the Lord, and trust that God was going to help me and guide me in that situation. Ultimately God did, but it was hard in the moment to find that trust. I was tithing regularly, but I was really hesitant about it. I kept thinking, ‘I need this money to pay off my student loan!’”

Overwhelmed by the financial stress, Valerie started to question her call to ministry. “I began wondering why I did all this schooling, paid so much money, and had to get so many loans only to find myself in ministry where I don’t make a lot of money. It made me question, ‘Is this the right path for me? Do I need to do something different? Do I need to be bi-vocational?” In fact, she was bi-vocational for a while, in order to make her student loan payments. “I was having to make ends meet any way that I could, but that affected my ministry. It felt like I couldn’t invest fully in ministry because of my financial situation.”

Then Valerie’s senior pastor connected her with a pastor who had gone through the COMPASS Initiative’s Journey program. After hearing him talk about his experience, Valerie decided to apply for the COMPASS Journey herself. “The COMPASS Journey and the resources I found on the COMPASS website really helped me to organize my finances and make a plan for the future. It was actually kind of fun learning about personal finances and budgeting.”

After participating in the year-long COMPASS Journey, Valerie received a $10,000 grant which she applied to her student debt. “Oh my gosh! I was so elated. It sounds like such a small thing, but it was huge! I put the grant toward my student loans, which lowered my debt to income ratio enough that I could refinance some of my private loans at a much lower interest rate. Now I can make the payments because they are significantly lower, and I can even make additional payments. I’ve also started saving for retirement. Participating in the COMPASS Journey helped me do this, and it is so freeing!”

“Without that financial stress, I’ve been able to put my full focus into my teens and young adults, and into the worship ministry here at Mountain Home. I’ve been super massively blessed by the COMPASS Journey. It gave me financial tools and financial stability, and it taught me a broader sense of stewardship. Like I said, two years ago I would have been weeping if you asked me about my financial situation. I’m just thrilled to be in the place that I am now. I’m thrilled to be able to say that I did the COMPASS Journey, and I encourage everybody else to do it too!”

Is the COMPASS Journey right for you? Learn More Here.