Faces of Friendship: Kathy Waters – An Unlikely but Willing Servant
Kathy Waters’s operatic soprano voice sends a hush over the congregation when she approaches the podium to sing. She bathes her song choices in prayer, saying “He knows” what people need when they are ministered to in song.
“I don’t like to perform,” Kathy explained. “But to minister is a different thing altogether.”
In addition to sharing her talents through music specials or as part of the choir, Kathy wears many different hats at Friendship: deacon’s wife, Sunday school teacher, sending team member for FBC’s sent missionaries to South Korea. But her path to service in a Baptist church was far from traditional.
From Catholicism to Christ
Kathy grew up Catholic, the youngest of seven children. Her dad worked for the government, their family living much of her youth in South America (including Brazil, Paraguay and Panama). When Kathy’s dad passed away, they returned to the US to live when she was 14. From that, she considers herself a “Raleigh native.”
“The Lord has always given me a sense of sin in my life,” said Kathy, but Christ wasn’t a part of her childhood. During her senior year of high school, Campus Life ministries introduced her to the saving faith of the Gospel.
“It was like coming home – the Lord opened my eyes to truth and I haven’t looked back,” she reminisced.
Though they attended the same high school, Kathy and her husband Joe met on a blind date; they married three years later right after college graduation. She majored in zoology from NC State. Before having their two children, she worked for several years in research for NC State Poultry science Department, then for a private, independent biomedical research foundation.
Kathy and Joe served in another local church for two decades before coming to Friendship six years ago. As soon as they could, they got right into serving, Joe in the orchestra and Kathy in choir. She approached her first choir practice with a little trepidation, being the “new kid,” asking where she should sit.
A fellow choir member immediately put Kathy at ease, telling her, “We are sisters in Christ, so you can sit anywhere you want.”
A Heart for the “Churched”
Because she didn’t grow up in a Christian home, Kathy is burdened for kids who DO grow up in the church. “I’m so glad you made a profession of faith, but I’m going to watch your life,” she said. “Is there fruit there?”
She previously taught Sunday school to younger children, so when they were settled in at FBC, she was eager to teach again, but ready to move on from little kids. She was approached to teach middle school girls.
“Middle school girls roam in packs and are scary,” she laughed, but she took up the challenge knowing that this is such a crucial age for young ladies to solidify their faith and make it their own. Kathy recently started opening up her home a couple times a month for any of “her girls” who want to come just to talk or have fun.
“I love those girls,” said Kathy. “I want them to know the scripture as much as possible. Their faith is only going to be as vibrant as their understanding of scripture and who God is.”
“Mrs. Waters has taught me the importance of having a close and personal relationship with God,” said Sarah Wiggins, a ninth grader and former student in her class. “I know that when I ask her questions she will help me find the answers in the Bible.”
In class, she doesn’t hold back on the realities of life. “Christianity is not easy,” she tells them. “If they leave Miss Kathy’s class and don’t realize it’s not health, wealth and prosperity, they haven’t been listening.”
Parent Kellie Wiggins agreed. “Kathy has a passion to ensure that those she speaks with have a personal relationship with God by teaching them ABOUT God,” said Kellie. “She is not afraid to teach hard things and show others from God’s Word how to think and respond Biblically.”
“If I tell them life is hard, I need to give them hope, too,” Kathy continued. “Your life is a dot, but your existence is not. There’s so much joy coming.”
Homeschooling and Sanctification
Kathy homeschooled their two now-grown children in order to tailor their education and schedules to their kids’ personalities.
“It was a great sanctifying tool,” she said, chuckling a little. “The Lord always seems to work where I’m weakest.”
She shared a sentiment felt by many moms, “I was not a perfect mom, but I was a good mom. I made sure to enjoy my kids and made sure that they knew it.”
Tenderness and Precious Time
God’s tenderness and kindness has been a balm for Kathy, who says she’s not naturally bent toward gentleness and tends to focus more on hard truths. Psalm 103 is a favorite passage of hers, listing out the benefits of God to include His lovingkindness and tender mercies.
“God’s working on me from the inside out,” she explained. “I have a great need for God’s tenderness, and I’m learning to extend it to others as well.”
Observers can see God’s refining in Kathy as you watch her spontaneously pray with someone before a church service begins, as she volunteers to watch someone’s children, offers words of encouragement on social media, or meets a need without any credit or grand gestures.
When asked her favorite hymn, she thought for awhile.
With tears in her eyes, she answered “It is Well with My Soul,” specifically the stanza that says:
“My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part but the whole, Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, o my soul.”
Whether she’s singing, teaching or quietly encouraging a fellow church member, Kathy sums up her priorities like this: “Time is short. Pursue Christ.”
Written by Erica Baldwin, FCS Church Member