On our way to Chicago Monday we got the news that Jim, a dear brother in Christ, had passed away after suffering a massive heart attack. We are stunned. We do not “grieve like men who have no hope” because we know Jim is with the Lord. But we do grieve our loss in the here and now. We will miss Jim. And we are not alone.
Jim and his wife, Beth, impacted many lives, not just ours, especially in the area of ministry. With the gift of encouragement Jim did an amazing job in and out of the home office of Pioneers Missions where his primary responsibility was in member care. He loved his people and worked hard to encourage and support them in any way he could. And he used every opportunity; Jim typically used time between flights or on the road to call folks and just see how they were doing.
Jim also led short-term teams out into the field. He had just returned from a trip to Indonesia where he traveled by boat to remote villages, helping a ministry team provide everything from children’s programs to dental care. Upon his return Jim wrote: "I never imagined that I would be helping to pull teeth in a remote village on the Kapuas River, or have a gaggle of monkeys jump into our boat as we were passing an island—but it really happened. It was a great ministry trip and we saw the Lord work in the hearts of Indonesian people." Although it’s been some years since Jim & Beth served in Indonesia full-time, Jim retained a good grasp of the language and served as a translator.
Jim loved his family. Such a simple statement but such a profound truth. He loved his wife, his sons, his grandchildren; he loved his mother- and father-in-law, his sister, his extended family – including us. And you couldn’t help but love Jim. He was such a high energy, lovable guy. When our kids were young and we were making out a will “just in case” we asked Jim & Beth if they’d take care of our children if anything ever happened to us. Now you know how much you love someone if you’re willing to hand your kids over to them! That’s how much we loved Jim.
There are many other things I could say about Jim. But the most fundamental thing is that Jim loved Jesus. And like Jesus, Jim was a giver: of his time, his energy, his possessions. He was always looking for some way to bless others. That was his life. What a legacy!
Any sudden and unexpected death is hard. Please pray for Beth and the rest of the family in the days and weeks ahead. And for the Pioneers Missions family. Jim's loss is felt around the world.
Jim & Beth relaxing at the reception after Jim "tied the knot" at our son's wedding last August.