You've probably noticed, choosing a man that has grown up with the name of an infamous cult leader and calling him to evangelism shows our Lord has a sense of irony.
I was raised going to a Seventh-Day Adventist church, because that is what my family did. I also attended private church-run schools up through and including two years of college, where I gained a fair amount of knowledge in scripture and religion. I even studied for the ministry. However, a walk with a church as opposed to a walk with Christ wasn't enough to sustain me. Eventually, I turned away and took a path that lead into drugs, the occult and other dark shadows.
I practiced Wicca as a solitaire for about three years. I flatly tell the Christians that think witchcraft and such are just make believe, they're very mistaken. Things happened! I read Tarot cards, and from what both friends and strangers told me the readings were disturbingly accurate. Later, my wife & I joined a Druid grove where I initiated and became an understudy to the high priest. I went deeper into circle work, rituals and spell craft. When we moved to Oregon, it was my full intention to start a new coven or grove here.
Looking back, I don't dwell on it too much, because I don't want to glorify the enemy or give the demonic more attention than it is due. Praise God that our Savior redeems! I believe He permitted that experience so that I can witness and relate to a group and counter culture that most of the church either writes off or is outright frightened of. As Joseph told his brothers... "what you meant for evil, God has used for good."
God took hold of me on February 29th, 2004. I was broken and sobbing; stripped of my self-righteousness. I realized the crimes I’d committed against God’s holy law. I’d lied, stolen, lusted, blasphemed His holy name and more. I deserved His wrath and judgment, and justice meant Hell. There was nothing I could do. I finally understood what Jesus had done, and it changed everything. As I faced the Judge of the Universe, Christ stepped in and paid the fine I could never hope to with His precious blood. I stood there, undeserving at the foot of the cross. I gave it all over to Him, and He handed back mercy and grace.
When I finally surrendered and passed through the narrow gate of repentance, other doors also swung open. Christ brought a teaching called Hell’s Best Kept Secret across my path. As I listened to it, I felt a missing puzzle piece fall into place. A spark of evangelism came to life and the Lord fanned it into a flame.
With the support of my wife, Kelly, I’ve begun a ministry of street witnessing and open air preaching. I'm a graduate of the School of Biblical Evangelism, and have also become the leader of a local evangelism team. Evangelism isn’t just a priority – it’s a necessity. The more I read of my Bible, I just can’t see it any other way. People are dying and souls are going to Hell.
This is my guiding scripture...
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2nd Timothy 4:3-5 (NASB)
Evangelism is one of the values of Reformed SHEology. It is so important that we share the gospel with those who are perishing. I know I am a Christian today because someone shared the gospel with me. For this reason, I am thankful for Jim's faithfulness to the lost. In light of the stories I've shared so far this month concerning my own battle with existentialism, and the heightened awareness I have that the only work that lasts is that which is done for the Kingdom, Jim's ministry has taken on a heightened significance for me today.
You see, at approximately 1:27pm (PST) yesterday afternoon, Jim was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle. He is now at home with Jesus.
Jim leaves behind his wife, Kelly, and their two daughters, Holly and Willow. But he also leaves behind a legacy of fulfilling the Great Commission. When I think of the lives Jim has touched, and the souls who have heard the gospel as a result of his dedication to preaching the Word, I cannot help but rejoice. I will admit I am grieving the loss of a faithful brother who I could always count on to give me godly advice. But as a former existentialist, who once woke every morning wondering why I should bother with life at all, I am actually encouraged.
Yesterday, I was actually thinking to myself that perhaps my posts this month are a little too depressing for our readers. But today I am reminded that this blog is written for the audience of One. Apart from Christ, life has no meaning. In Him we find our identity. We find our consistency in a changing and uncertain world. We find our security and hope. And in Him we find our life, because HE CONQUERED THE GRAVE!!
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.(1 Corinthians 15:55-58)
Friends, we are not promised tomorrow. Let's make today count for eternity, while we still can.