Why SMI? Health care freedom attracted Steve and Renee Gillis

Kathryn Nielson

Health care freedom was one of the factors that led Steve and Renée Gillis to join Samaritan Ministries.

While working as a pastor, Steve Gillis and his family were provided health insurance through his church, but, once he left that job in Atlanta to start Patch Our Planet, a national ministry equipping churches to help orphans and those in foster care, he was on his own to pay for that insurance.

His wife, Renée, remembers the sticker shock.

“Insurance was insane,” she says, remembering thinking, “Where are we going to go? What are we going to do?”

Because their son, Judah, was born with a cleft palate and some other issues that would require future surgery, they kept him and his sister on state aid and Steve and his wife joined a health care sharing ministry.

“There were definitely things about it I didn’t like,” Renée says.

Things like a lack of choice in doctors and the similarity to insurance were just a couple of reasons they didn’t stay with the ministry. They moved to Florida and were introduced to Samaritan Ministries, though, by a friend. Because of their son’s pre-existing needs, they kept him and his sister on Florida Kids Care, but she and Steve have been with Samaritan for three years.

Renée loves that they can go anywhere to get treatment rather than being limited to in-network doctors as well as “caring for someone else’s need directly.” She was on the receiving end of that care last year with her own need.

“It was amazing to have that need met by complete strangers, other believers,” Renée says. 


Read about how and why the Gillises started Patch Our Planet.

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