While many men collect many different things. Jim had a different passion.
Some men collect golf trophies, hunting trophies and tennis trophies. Some even collect trophy wives. But Jim collected trophies of grace. He loved the Lord and thrilled to see people come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Then he loved to see them grow up in faith. He loved to tell people that my wife was one of those trophies of grace.
Here is one story that could be repeated over and over by people all over the country. My wife Anita was new to Brentwood as a high schooler. Jim was the minister of youth at Brentwood Baptist. Jim visited Anita's house and personally invited Anita and her brother to church and youth activities. At the same time Jim was discipling Allyson, who would soon disciple Anita and several others in Christ. Allyson ended up at Seminary and is now serving the New England Baptist Convention as a Student Ministry specialist. She has now discipled many generations of students. Anita ended up at seminary with yours truly and she has discipled scores of people too. Jim loved Jesus Christ and the fruit of his ministry is being passed down from generation to generation.
I remember the first time I met Jim, it was before I went to seminary and Anita and I drove from Knoxville to Chattanooga. He had brought his youth group from L.A., i.e. Lower Alabama, to Covenant College to student camp. He was so encouraging to me and told me to definitely move forward to seminary.
The second time I met Jim was when Anita and I had gone to Southwestern Seminary, he happened to be in Fort Worth on business and took us to dinner at Joe T. Garcia’s. He loved his Mexican food. We had enjoyed the meal and he was about to pick up the check and I jokingly told him that God had told me to buy his lunch and I pulled out a credit card. He laughed and called me a liar and said God knows everything and knows that Joe T. Garcia’s doesn’t take credit cards.
I loved how Jim didn’t pull any punches, he always told it like it was. Even when it got him into trouble he was going to tell the truth about a situation. You always knew where you stood with Jim. He would call out your sin and laugh, but you also knew he loved you no matter what.
When he moved back to Nashville. He was looking for another ministry opportunity. I had just taken a senior pastor position and knew that I would love to have him help with the students even if we could only afford part time, while he continued his job search.The church voted on him and we got to watch as he loved those kids just like he had all the others before.
Jim mentored me well for almost 30 years. Jim has spiritual children and grandchildren around the world who are pastors, denominational leaders, teachers, deacons, and strong Jesus followers in the secular world.
Jim was not perfect, he never claimed to be but he always pointed to the grace of Jesus. Jim's road was not easy, yet he always persevered. Cancer took him too soon, but we have to trust that God’s timing is always right.
Jim loved students and loved to see them grow toward Christ. He especially liked the hard cases... those who were too cool, too shy, too messed up or too angry. Which is probably why he agreed to mentor me! He never gave up on anyone. He always had hope and gave that hope to those around him. He loved his Mexican food, his ministry and his Jesus.
Jim, We will miss you, but we are confident that the One who saved you has saved us too and we will spend all eternity with Him. Farewell my friend!