In September 1994, Ted Pittenger enrolled his family as the first members of Samaritan Ministries International. The first administrative headquarters was an 11′ x 15′ office that had been built in one corner of a chicken coop fifty feet from the Pittenger’s home in Washington, Illinois. (The chickens had been gone for several years.) Ted served without pay and was the ministry’s only official staff member. When he needed extra help with graphic design or proofreading, or someone to be a “sounding board,” he relied on his wife, Shari. When there were envelopes to stuff, he enlisted the aid of their three oldest children, Meg, Bree, and Jason.
There were several times in the early days of the ministry when it appeared that it might not become established. But Ted and others persevered, learning from mistakes and challenges that arose. Today more than 18,000 households from all fifty states and several foreign countries are actively sharing health care needs of more than $4 million each month. In a time of rapidly increasing health care costs, we continue to be amazed at how low the monthly share has been, and realize that it is not because of our wisdom, but God’s blessing.
The story of how the ministry has grown is a testimony to God’s faithfulness in working through His people both before and since the first members joined many years ago.