About the Sovereignty of God
That He Is All Powerful
in Complete Control
of the Affairs of History
I recently read the book, Jesus Revolution by Greg Laurie and
Ellen Vaughn. I was riveted by the book because it brought back so
many memories of my own experiences that dovetailed with the
events and individuals described in the book. Many of the people
in the book greatly impacted my life and remembering these events
has prompted me to tell my own story of God’s sovereign work in my
I was born on Christmas day in Southern California in 1951. My
mother, Betty, was a beautiful Norwegian woman. She was married to
Jerry, my first dad for six years. My mother discovered he had
been sleeping around with other women, so she divorced him. My
older brother Mikey and I had a very difficult time during those
early days after the divorce. We went to live with my grandparents
for a couple of years in beautiful Toluca Lake, California. Bob
Hope lived down the street from us.
My mom then married another man named Doug. When I was about eight
years old, I came home from school one day, and I couldn’t find my
beloved German shepherd Queenie. My new dad told me he had traded
my dog for some bushes and trees to plant in our back yard. I
found out later that he had stolen power tools from a job site and
had buried the tools in bags at the base of these plants and
trees. He reasoned that the police would never think of looking
for the stolen items under planted trees and bushes. Some years
later, my second dad Doug was found dead on the streets of Los
During those years with my second dad, my mom gave birth to two
girls, D’Ann and Sandy. My mom and all of us kids went to live
with my grandparents again so my mom could recover financially. We
lived four doors down from the famous actress, Mae West in
Sepulveda, California. Living with my grandparents was not a bad
thing. There was a lot of stability living with my grandparents.
My grandpa Clarence was well known for starting a business called
Wells Industries. My grandpa, who collaborated with Howard Hughes,
built the Rocket to the Moon. It was a 76-foot rocket built for
Disneyland in 1955 for the grand opening. My grandpa went on to
build many other things for Walt Disney as well.
As my mom was struggling financially, she tried to start a
business with a friend of hers in Riverside, California. At that
time, my older brother Mikey enlisted in the Army in 1966. He went
to boot camp and then was shipped to Vietnam. My mom couldn’t take
care of my two sisters and me, so she asked if I would live with
my first dad Jerry in Vista, California near San Diego. I was now
in the 10th grade.
Living with my dad and his new wife Eleonore was terrible. She was
like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. She was
very mean to me. My father-and-son outings were always spent at
the Delmar Horse Racing Track near San Diego. That’s where my dad
gambled and got drunk.
One day when I came home from Vista High School, Eleonore told me
that my dad was on a plane heading to San Francisco. She told me
that my brother Mikey had been severely injured in Vietnam. There
was an attack at the Da Nang Air Base. My brother was guarding the
air traffic control tower and had received a serious head wound
during the rocket attack. My brother had been moved to a Veterans
Hospital near where my mother lived in the San Fernando Valley
area of Southern California.
During some of that time I moved in with my father’s parents Pat
and Alice in Vista. One day I heard my dad and Eleonore talking
about the federal money they would receive if my brother died.
Eleonore seemed excited about the prospect of getting all this
money. I hated her for talking that way, so I called my mom and
asked if I could move back home with her. She agreed to take me
back but said that her business had failed, and we would all be
moving back in with her parents.
Looking back on those days, I moved 15 times and went to 10
different schools before graduating from high school. During my
last year in high school I became very withdrawn. My friend Robert
and I started a club called Alcoholics Unanimous as a joke. The
idea was that we would get as many high schoolers together to
drink beer and wine and party every weekend.
You might wonder what prompted me to do this. Day after day, week
after week, and month after month I would go to the Veterans
Hospital with my mom to see my brother. One-third of his skull had
been blown off. He was completely paralyzed except for his eyes.
At the time, I hadn’t told a soul what had happened to my brother.
I just kept it all to myself.
Meanwhile, my mom landed a great job managing the buildings for
Four Star Productions in Studio City, California. I was working
for her and leasing office space to movie directors, producers and
movie stars. I shared an office with Robert Redford while he
filmed The Candidate. Those were unusual days. I had lunch with
the well-known producer Aaron Spelling at his mansion. I hung out
with the Stunt Man’s Association, and with James Garner and Steve
One of my favorite stories is when Charlton Heston’s secretary
called my mom and said, “Betty, Mr. Heston’s bathroom faucet is
leaking. Could you please send someone over to fix it!” My mom
said, “Are you telling me that the man who played Moses and parted
the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments can’t fix a leaky faucet?” My
mom was good friends with Charlton Heston.
At that time, my mom’s associate Robert Gageby bought the 1962
Rolls Royce from the TV show Burke’s Law after it went off the
air. He then told me I would be his chauffeur as he was preparing
to produce a movie. During those days, I was also working for a
private investigator and playing in billiard tournaments on the
But then God began to move in my life in very perceptible ways. By
now, my brother had been in the hospital for four years. Nothing
had changed with his condition. My mother was now married for the
third time to a guy named Ray. Like the others, he seemed very
nice at first, but he became a mean drunk.
Then, on December fourth, 1972, I got a call from Ronny Stillman,
my cousin’s husband. He owned an electrical business in Downey
California called Downey Electric. He said, “Hey Jim, how would
you like to work for me?” I agreed to work for him and when I
arrived at the shop, Ronny took me to the warehouse. He told me
what to do and then he left.
I then heard someone singing, “I’ve got a river of life flowing
out of me, makes the lame to walk and the blind to see…” Then a
guy named Kenny walked around the corner of the warehouse to meet
me. He was beaming with joy! We started working together and
almost daily he talked to me about Jesus. He never stopped singing
Then, one day he asked me, “Jim, are you a Christian?” I said, “Of
course! I used to go to church. I was invited to join a Lutheran
church choir to meet girls. And my choir director was the keyboard
player for Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.” Kenny then said, “Just
going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.” I didn’t
understand, so he shared more with me about Jesus.
After about a year of working together, I got a call from my
mother that my brother Mikey had passed away. I got in my car and
just started weeping. My brother had been in the hospital for five
years. My mom went every day to be by his side.
We then all went to the military veteran’s memorial service for my
brother in Los Angeles. It was very special and very moving. I
looked at my mother and her tears of sorrow. I felt so all alone
inside and very empty. God was preparing my heart to receive Him.
As I drove back to work, my car broke down. It was going to take
some time to get it repaired. I had made it to work, but I was 35
miles from home and didn’t know how I would get home. Then Kenny
said, “Jim, just take my car and I’ll drive the work truck.”
I thanked Kenny and took his car to drive home. But when I got in
his car, the radio didn’t work. In the mood I was in, I really
needed to listen to music! I was bummed. Then I noticed an 8-track
lying on the front seat. The 8-track was by a group called “Love
Song.” I had never heard of them, but pushed it in to play it. I
loved it! It was four guys playing soft, rock music about Jesus.
It was the only 8-track in the car, but I played it for two weeks
while my car was in the shop. I memorized every song on the tape
even though I didn’t understand what all the words meant. But the
next thing that happened to me changed my life forever. (I still
have the 8-track by “Love Song” as a reminder, that God is all
powerful and in complete control of the affairs of our lives.)
One day, I was working on a job site called “Jim’s Burgers.” And,
of course, since my name is Jim, where else would God do the
impossible in my life? I had called for some material, and Kenny
drove up to deliver it. As we were standing in the middle of the
Jim’s Burger parking lot, Kenny said to me, “Jim, today is the day
of salvation, how can we escape if we neglect so great a
salvation?” Kenny then asked, “Jim will you bow your head and pray
with me to receive Christ into your heart?” I looked at Kenny and
knew I wanted what he had, and said, “Yes, I will pray with you.”
I prayed and asked Jesus to come into my life, and little did I
know what He was about to do in my life.
I had been a Christian less than a day. That evening, at Downey
Electric, we always had job meetings to go over what work needed
to be done in the coming weeks. One of my jobs was to go to
Stewart’s Liquor Store and buy a case of beer and soft drinks for
the meeting. I get back to the office and Ron and some of the
other employee’s started drinking a beer or a soda and go over the
work for that week.
As always, I opened a can of beer and started drinking it. But
something was wrong! It tasted terrible. I thought I must have
gotten a can of bad beer. But others were drinking their beer. So,
I quietly slipped into the bathroom and poured it down the toilet.
Then I got another beer and started drinking it, and it tasted bad
too! So, I flushed that one down as well. I then got a soda and
About a week later, Kenny came out of a meeting with Ronny the
owner, who is also Kenny’s brother. Kenny said to me, “Jim I was
just in a meeting with Ronny.” I asked, “Is everything okay?” He
said, “Yes, but Ron wanted to know what has happened to you.
You’re not the same person anymore.”
I was confused. I said, “I am the same person!” Kenny said, “No,
you’re not the same person. Ronny noticed you’re not drinking beer
anymore, and your speech is different.” I told Kenny, “That’s
because it tastes bad to me.” Then Kenny said, “Here’s what’s
happening to you. ‘You can’t clean a fish until you catch it.’ God
has caught you and now He is cleaning you up.”
Then Kenny had an idea to arrive at Downey Electric one hour
before work to have a Bible study and prayer time. So, I had been
a Christian for about one week and Kenny gave me a Bible to read
and we started meeting before work to study the Bible.
So, there we were at work, and Kenny was sharing God’s Word with
me and teaching me how to pray for all the employees at the
company, about 12 people.
After being a Christian for about two weeks, I began attending a
new church called, Calvary Chapel of Downey, started by Pastor
Jeff Johnson. We met on Sundays and Wednesdays. (Jeff Johnson is
mentioned in the book, Jesus Revolution.)
I also started attending Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa with Pastor
Chuck Smith on Thursdays. And on Monday nights I was learning how
to evangelize others from a guy named Greg Laurie in Costa Mesa.
(All of these people are mentioned in the book Jesus Revolution.)
As I said, I had only been a Christian for about two weeks. One
morning, Kenny and I were at Downey Electric studying God’s Word
and praying, when the company phone rang. I picked up the receiver
and said, “Downey Electric, this is Jim, how can I help you?”
A woman asked if we could come hang a light fixture in her home. I
told her we could. Then, she asked, “Do you bill me, or do I have
to pay you when the work is completed?” I said, “Either way, it’s
Then, she said, “Oh thank goodness! Money is very tight right now.
My husband has left me and my daughter, and it’s a difficult time
for us.” I said to her, “I’m so sorry.” But then I felt something
moving in my heart. I didn’t know what was happening to me. I had
never experienced this before. It seemed like someone in my mind
was speaking to me.
This is what I heard, “Jim, you and Kenny are going to this house,
and she is going to receive Christ into her life.” I told the lady
that we would be there in about 30 minutes to do the work. I told
Kenny what just happened and that I felt like someone was speaking
to my heart about this lady that she would get saved.
Kenny responded, “Jim, do you know that God has a telephone
number?” But I didn’t know what Kenny meant. Kenny said that God’s
phone number is Jeremiah 33:3. And Kenny opened his Bible to the
book of Jeremiah, chapter 33:3, “Call on Me and I will answer you,
and I will show you great and mighty things that you don’t know.”
Then Kenny said, Jim we have been calling on the name of the Lord
and He is going to show us great and mighty things.
I then said, “Kenny, I felt like I heard God talk to me in my
mind.” Kenny then shared with me in 1 Kings 19:11-13 about “The
still small voice of the Lord.” I was blown away that God actually
talked to us like this!
We drove to the lady’s house and I hugn the light fixture. Then, I
looked over at Kenny, and he was holding this woman’s hands, and
she was praying to receive Christ into her heart. WOW! She asked
us, “Are you guy’s pastors?” Kenny said, “No, but we love God and
want to tell everyone about Jesus and how He died for our sins to
give us eternal life.”
As we were leaving her house, walking down the hallway, I noticed
a bedroom door open and saw many posters on the wall of acid rock
‘n roll groups. So, I took a Jesus track out of my pocket that
Kenny had given me and tossed it on the desk in that bedroom as we
Two days later, Kenny got a call from Jeff Johnson, the pastor of
Calvary Chapel of Downey, to come by his office. Kenny and I went
to the church to see Jeff. By that time, I had only been attending
church for two weeks. Jeff said to Kenny, “A young girl came into
my office with this Jesus track in her hand. She said that a
couple of electricians had come to her house, and her mom prayed
with them to become a Christian. She said, that she had found this
Jesus tract on her desk and wanted to become a Christian like her
mom because she felt empty inside.”
Pastor Jeff went on to explain that he had prayed with this young
girl to receive Christ in his office. Then Pastor Jeff said,
“Kenny, you’re the only electrician I know. Are you the one who
prayed with the girl’s mother?” Kenny said, “YES! Praise God!”
Kenny and I had now been praying and studying God’s Word for about
four weeks at Downey Electric. Since I have always been a notepad
guy and love taking notes, I made a list of every employee at the
company and prayed for each one every morning.
On this list, the more of a sinner I thought someone was, the more
x’s I would put next to their name. My supervisor’s name was
Rodney Demoe, and next to his name I put 3 xxx’s and prayed three
times more for him, because he was deeply in sin. He was a
husband, and father of two sons.
When we worked together, at lunch time Rodney would visit the bars
with nude dancers, and late at night would get drunk at other
locales. Well like I said, I had been a Christian for about four
weeks, and early one morning I was at the office waiting for Kenny
to pray and study God’s Word with me. Kenny then pulled up with
this big smile on his face and said, “Jim, have I got a story for
He began telling me that the night before at about 1:30 a.m. he
woke up feeling like the Lord was telling him to go across the
street to the Albertson’s grocery store. So, Kenny obeyed, got up
and went to the Albertson’s and hung out by the magazine rack for
about 30 minutes. He then thought, What was I thinking, this is
stupid, I’m going back to bed. As he was leaving the store, who
should he run into but Rodney Demoe coming towards him.
Kenny and Rodney began to talk. Rodney explained that the bars
close at 2 a.m. and that he came by Albertson’s to grab a snack
before going home. Moments later, Kenny shared the gospel with
Rodney, and he bowed his head to receive Christ into his heart.
One month later, Rodney’s wife Cher had seen these radical changes
in her husband and noticed that he was always reading his Bible.
Cher went to Kenny and said, “I want to receive Jesus into my
heart.” Kenny prayed with her. A few months later at Calvary
Chapel of Downey on a Sunday morning, Rodney and Cher dedicated
their three boys to the Lord. Today, Rodney and Cher have two more
boys and the whole family is walking with the Lord.
Soon, Ronny and his wife Linda (my cousin), the owners of Downey
Electric gave their lives to the Lord. Ronny’s four other brothers
who work for the company also gave their lives to the Lord.
Before I had become a Christian, I had met my girlfriend Carolyn
in the Lutheran church choir. She saw all these changes in me, and
I invited her to Jeff Johnson’s church to watch the movie, A Thief
in the Night. Following the film there was an altar call, and
Carolyn received Jesus into her heart.
During those early days, Kenny took me into a Christian bookstore
for the first time. I was amazed at all the Christian material to
read. I found myself gravitating toward an area of books about the
persecuted church in the world. I knew nothing about the
persecuted church. I picked up a book called, Tortured for Christ
by Richard Wurmbrand. As I started reading this book, I couldn’t
put in down!
I was both captivated and grieved by what was happening to
Christians in different parts of the world. I remember telling the
Lord that I wanted to help in some way. So, I began praying for
the persecuted church around the world.
Also, during those early years, as Kenny and I were driving around
Downey doing electrical work, I kept seeing people standing in
front of stores holding magazines. I asked Kenny who those people
were with the magazines. He said, “Jim, those are Jehovah
Witnesses.” I asked, “What’s that?” Then another adventure began.
Kenny shared with me that those people are leading people astray
from the truth of God. This upset me and I told him we have to do
something! So, Kenny taught me how to share my faith with the
Jehovah Witnesses and other cults.
And for the next 10 years we were ministering to and leading these
people to the Lord. We also shared Christ with many Mormons who we
ran into on job sites and on the streets. I will never forget the
time we had Mormon missionaries in Kenny’s house. One of the guys,
Elder Booth, loved what we were saying about Jesus.
I then invited these Mormons to a Christian concert that Calvary
Chapel of Downey was having on Friday night. That Friday night, as
I was at the door of the church, I saw 12 bicycles pull up with 12
Mormon elders in their black pants and white shirts and ties. I
said, “Kenny, check this out!!!” Elder Booth was leading the pack.
They came, stood up against the back wall and listened to the
At end of the concert, the lead singer Bryon Duncan from the Sweet
Comfort Band shared the gospel with all the Mormons. One week
later, Kenny and I were approached by the Mormon Bishop in the
area and told, never to talk to these elders again. But Kenny and
I just kept sharing our faith. Only God knows the outcome of what
By 1982, my wife and I had been married for seven years. We had
moved 60 miles away from Downey to a place called Moreno Valley.
That was a miracle in and of itself. We had one daughter, Amber,
and we had been living in a small duplex in Downey. My boss, Ronny
told me I needed to think about buying a house.
As we looked for a house in Downey, the area was way out of our
price range. So, we drove out to Riverside County where the homes
were more affordable. We found the house of our dreams, but it was
still too expensive. At work the next day, Ronny asked me whether
we had found a home. I told him we had, but that it was too
expensive. Ronny then asked me how much money we needed to make it
happen. I told him we needed $7,000 for the down payment.
Ronny then opened his desk drawer, pulled out his checkbook and
wrote me a check for $7,000! He told me it was his gift to me.
Immediately, I remembered what Kenny had taught me the first week
I was a Christian. He said, “God’s phone number is Jeremiah 33:3.
‘Call upon Me and I will answer you….’” Praise God!!!
But God was preparing to work yet another miracle. My wife, our
daughter Amber and I were now living in Moreno Valley, California.
And we heard that Greg Laurie had a church about 10 miles away in
Riverside, so we decided to attend there.
On our first Sunday, a speaker by the name of Keith Ritter (who is
also mentioned in the book Jesus Revolution) was sharing his heart
about the persecuted church in China. While listening to him, I
was thinking, Holy smokes, Keith is sharing about the persecuted
church that I have read about and prayed for.
Keith was sharing about the miracles that happened as he and
Brother David and many others smuggled one million Bibles into
China. A book has been written about that adventure called,
Project Pearl. My mind began racing, and in my heart, I told the
Lord that I wanted to be part of that ministry.
After Keith finished speaking, I approached him and thanked him
for sharing what God did in China. I told him I would continue to
pray for him and his ministry. He then called his wife over and
said, “Honey, Jim is going to be praying for us.” But what
happened next blew my mind.
Since Greg Laurie’s church was 10 miles away, my wife and I
decided to find a church closer to our new home in Moreno Valley.
As we were looking, we discovered that a new church had just
started called, Calvary Chapel of Moreno Valley, pastored by John
On our first Sunday, as the Pastor was making announcements, he
said, “Please be praying, I sense God is leading us to take a team
into China to smuggle thousands of Bibles to the underground
church.” I fell off the edge of my seat. I whispered to my wife,
“I think God is calling me to go.”
The Pastor went on to say that the cost per person would be about
$2,000. We did not have the $2,000, but with my tax return I would
have just about enough. The problem was that my tax return
wouldn’t arrive until after the trip to China was over.
So, I decided to ask my boss, Ronny if he would loan me $2,000 for
the mission trip and that I would pay him back when my tax return
came. But the next day, when I explained the situation to him, he
said, “Jim, the Lord put it on my heart a couple of days ago to
reach out and bless someone financially and you’re the one I’m
supposed to give this money to.”
Ronny then wrote out a check for the full amount and said, “This
is God’s gift to you. May God bless your trip greatly in China.”
From that moment on, my life’s verse has become Psalm 37:4,
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of
While I was preparing to go to China, I started reading every book
I could find on that country. I also tried to learn some of the
language. During that time, the church asked Carolyn to be on the
worship team and become the lead vocalist. Remember, I had met
Carolyn before I was saved and joined a church choir just to meet
girls. Not only had I met a girl, but I married her, led her to
the Lord, and now she was the lead vocalist in a church! God is
Soon, I was on my way to China. Carolyn and I were still new in
the church, so I really didn’t know anyone very well. We landed in
Hong Kong, and Pastor John explained that we would meet someone
for a briefing before going into China. We were at the hotel for
the briefing, and who should walk in to give the briefing, but
Keith Ritter! The very man I had met at Greg Laurie’s church, who
I was praying for was standing right before me. I was blown
Only God could have put this together. Keith briefed us on what to
do and what to expect. He then told us never to stop praying,
because we would be in danger and the underground church would be
in danger as well. He told us, never to say the word “Bible,” but
to call it “Bread.” He also told us never to use the word “Lord”
or “God,” but to say “Father.” Keith explained further, “Your
rooms might be bugged, and you will be followed, so be alert at
While in China, we met pastors who had spent twenty or more years
in prison for their faith. A Chinese Christian named Pastor Panda
had a profound impact on my life. After spending 20 years in
prison, Pastor Panda was on fire for the Lord like nobody I had
ever seen. He beamed with the love of God as he shared about his
time in prison, and how he was now overseeing 10 underground
churches. I don’t know why, but Pastor John chose me to personally
deliver hundreds of Pastor Study Bibles to a number of underground
When we returned home, all I could think about was the underground
church and the persecution they were facing. I continued to pray
for them. Then I sensed the Lord moving in my heart to lead teams
to China. I didn’t tell anyone but just kept praying about it.
A few months later, Pastor John called me to come to his office.
When I arrived, I was a bit nervous because I didn’t know why I
was there. He said to me, “Jim, the Lord has put it on my heart to
send you back to China and lead teams of people to deliver
thousands of Bibles.” He went on to say that the Lord would cover
all my expenses. This time my wife wanted to go with me. But that
would require $2,000 for her expenses. A few days later I shared
with my boss Ronny that I would be leading teams into China. I
told him that Carolyn wanted to go as well. And before I could say
another word, Ronny wrote me a check for $2,000 so Carolyn could
go. I never told him that I even needed the money. Praise God!!!
Well, my wife and I, and teams of people headed to China and all
went well with the deliveries of the Bibles. My fondest memory was
meeting one of the greatest pastors in China. His name is Pastor
Samuel Lamb. Later, a book was written about him called, Bold as a
Lamb by Ken Anderson. Pastor Lamb’s famous saying was,
“Persecution, persecution, persecution, growth, growth, growth.”
Pastor Lamb’s church exploded with growth that he attributed to
the intense persecution in the area. He was in prison for 21
years. Our main mission objective on that trip was to deliver
thousands of study aids that Pastor Lamb had written. His work was
smuggled out of China, sent to Japan, to an organization called,
Living Water International that was overseen by Keith Ritter and
others. When we made the delivery to Pastor Lamb, and as he saw
his work completed, and several thousand copies being delivered,
he was beaming with joy unspeakable. Needless to say, only God
could have put this event together.
Another beautiful memory that I will always treasure was the value
that followers of Christ in China had for the Word of God. As I
sat with the Chinese believers during Pastor Lamb’s message,
everyone was intently focused on their Bibles. Their fingers
lovingly scanned every word as the pastor shared a verse. Then,
when the service was over, everyone walked down to the basement
with their Bibles, and locked them in a secret cabinet to hide
them from the authorities. I was told that none of the believers
in that area owned a Bible.
Back in California, little did I know that God was going to move
in my heart again in a special way. On a Sunday, Pastor John
announced that the church had purchased 17 acres of property to
build a church. Until then, we had been meeting in a high school
on Sundays. Shortly thereafter, I began walking out on this new
property and prayed often. I prayed that the Lord would do great
things with this property, and someday that the Lord would raise
me up to be one of the pastors at Calvary Chapel Moreno Valley if
it was His will.
The only person with whom I shared this was my wife. Well, one
year later the church building was completed. The church was
busting out at the seams with new believers. Then one day at
church, Pastor John asked me to take a walk with him. We started
walking around the church building and John said, “Jim I want you
to pray about being my associate pastor.” I looked at John and
said, “I will commit it to prayer.” I raced home and told my wife.
She was so excited for me and we committed this to prayer.
Some days later, I told John that I would like to take him up on
his offer to become his associate pastor. I called Ronny to let
him know what had just happened. He was very excited for me. The
timing was perfect for Downey Electric, as I was just finishing a
$50-million project for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Beverly
Hills. Pastor John put me in charge of the men’s ministry,
marriage ministry, oversight of the 17-acre property and the
facility, along with all the counseling.
I loved Pastor John for his heart of service. On my first day as a
pastor, John said to me, “Jim, as a pastor, if you see a need,
meet the need.” He then asked me to follow him outside. He pointed
out all the weeds growing on a hillside on the church property and
said, “These weeds are becoming an eyesore, so let’s start pulling
them all up.”
The great part of this story is that John stayed with me whole
time until every weed was pulled. He then reminded me of the story
in the Gospel of John chapter 13 where Jesus had the Passover meal
with His disciples. After supper, Jesus got up, wrapped a towel
around Himself, took a wash basin, and began to wash the feet of
Pastor John said, “The God who created the heavens and the earth
washed the dirty feet of the disciples.” He told me that Pastor
Chuck taught him that principle, and that as he raised up other
pastors, he shared that Scripture and principle with all of them
as well. Again, he said, “If you see a need, meet the need.”
Around that time, Ronny at Downey Electric told me that Pastor
Chuck Smith had just purchased a 47-acre property in Murrieta for
a retreat center and a future Bible College. Ronny explained that
Pastor Chuck wanted Downey Electric to oversee all the electrical
work. Then Ronny asked me if I could oversee the electrical work
in Murrieta along with pastoring in Moreno Valley. I told him I
could do so on Fridays and Saturdays.
I was so blessed to be able to help build the conference center. I
remember working next to Pastor Chuck Smith as he was hanging
drywall and doing other construction jobs. About a year later,
the Murrieta Conference Center and the Calvary Chapel Bible
College were completed.
Then a few years passed, and the Lord began moving in a new
direction with our church. The Lord put it on someone’s heart to
consider starting a K-12 Christian school. So, we started the
school, and immediately it grew rapidly.
Very quickly we determined that the school was outgrowing the
church facility. Pastor John let me know that I needed to become
the project manager of the construction team that would build a
22,000-square-foot building for our school. One year later, the
project was completed, and we were soon seeing over 600 students
at the school. Many times at my men’s Bible study, I would ask the
men to continue praying for the school and the impact it would
have on all those students.
One of my favorite stories from Calvary Chapel Christian School is
of a young boy in the eighth grade. His name is Kenjon Barner.
Some years later, Kenjon became the running back for the
Philadelphia Eagles, and in 2018 won the Super Bowl.
During his football career, Kenjon was being interviewed by some
reporters and explained, “Calvary Chapel Christian School
completely changed my life.” He said that if it wasn’t for getting
on the right path, he didn’t know where he’d be. He went on to
say, “ I would have either ended up in jail or dead.” Only God can
write a story like that.
The years I spent at Calvary Chapel in Moreno Valley, were some of
the greatest years of my life. Knowing that God had orchestrated
everything is a tremendous blessing.
Then, the day after Christmas 2004, we received word of a 9.1
earthquake in the Indian Ocean, centered close to Thailand.
Thousands of people had been killed by the tsunami that followed.
I remember praying for the families who had lost loved ones. Then
I prayed, “God please send me to help in any way.”
A few days later, Pastor John Milhouse said, “I just got word
from some other Calvary Chapel pastors that we are flying out to
Phuket, Thailand to help and comfort the families who have lost
loved ones.” He then asked, “Jim, since you are a logistics guy, I
need you to go with me.” So off we went!
When we arrived in Thailand, the devastation was unbelievable.
Almost every structure near the ocean was destroyed. We had our
translator, Eve with us. Everyone she talked to started crying and
said that their children had been swept away by the tsunami. We
all felt so helpless. What could we do?
We began praying and asking everyone what their greatest needs
were. They said that their fishing boats had been damaged and
needed fixing. So, we put plans together to help with repairs.
Then, we got word from the Muslim leaders that we would be killed
if we tried to convert Muslims to Christianity.
So, went to the Muslim Imam, and asked him what his needs were. He
told us he needed special stoves, rice and fuel tanks for cooking.
We met all his needs. He then smiled, and we asked if we could
pray for him. As we prayed, he had the biggest smile. He was
overwhelmed by the love shown to him. And shortly thereafter, a
number of Muslims became followers of Christ, especially some
women. (That story was written up in the Calvary Chapel Missions
Magazine Issue 22, 2005.)
Similarly, I am also greatly moved when I think about some of the
amazing events following Hurricane Katrina. On August 23, 2005,
hurricane Katrina made landfall with 170-mph-sustained winds on
the Gulf Coast. It was reported that there were more than 1800
fatalities, and billions of dollars in damage. Some of the Calvary
Chapel pastors got together to plan how to help in some way. We
made a connection in a place called, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
with a man called Charles Johnson who was the former city council
He let us use a state park to set up a Calvary Chapel Community
Relief Center known as “Camp Hope.” They told us that serving
meals was one of the greatest needs at the time. All the
surrounding cities were destroyed, and the families had no place
to buy food in the area. And without electricity and gas it was
difficult for families to prepare meals. Someone had the idea to
bring in circus tents to create a covering for all the supplies
and staging areas for cooking.
Then volunteers started rolling in who were very gifted in cooking
and preparing meals. When the camp became fully functional, they
began serving meals to the community. The need was very great, and
Camp Hope was serving 2000-to-3000 meals daily to families, police
officers and firemen. Pastor John made an appeal to our
congregation that Camp Hope needed more volunteers to help in any
way. He told the congregation that volunteers would be sleeping in
tents and working about 16 hours a day to meet the needs of the
After the announcement, Pastor John let me know that they needed
someone to take the spiritual lead at Camp Hope. He then asked if
I would be that person. He let me know that there were about 80
volunteers at the camp.
So, I boarded a plane with my friend Dave Williams who is a
building contractor. Dave would take the lead in putting teams
together to help with some minor construction needs. When we
arrived, we were amazed at the size of Camp Hope. There were about
40 two-man tents to sleep in, and large containers where the food
was kept. The first night they asked me to lead a Bible study at
about 9pm after all the work was done. That night we opened our
Bibles to the book of James.
In the first couple of verses in chapter 1 it talks about going
through trials. I reminded everyone of all the trials people were
going through on the Gulf Coast. Then, I read from James chapter 5
verse 16, where James declares, “The effectual fervent prayers of
a righteous man accomplish much.” I shared with the group on what
it means to pray fervently, passionately, expectantly and
thoughtfully because such prayers move the heart of God. I closed
by saying what I had learned from Kenny when I was a new Christian
about God’s telephone number, Jerimiah 33:3, “Call upon Me and I
will answer you, and show you great and mighty things.” We then
closed in a worship song. Little did I know what would happen
After the worship song, Dave Williams noticed that a girl in the
group named Shelby was crying. He talked to her and she said, “I
need Jesus.” So, Dave prayed with her and she received Jesus into
her heart. Then, Dave introduced me to Shelby. Shelby was just 14
The next day, I was asked if I could put a team of people together
to completely rewire a 20,000-square-foot church that had been 13
feet underwater for several days due to the tidal water from the
hurricane. We discovered that I was the only one there with an
electrical background. So, I went up to some of the volunteers and
said, “I need a butcher, a baker, and a candle-stick maker, and
the Lord will transform all of you into electricians.”
We arrived at the church and met with the pastor. We discovered it
was an all-Black church. They were so excited that we were helping
make all the necessary repairs for the church. After a long day of
working at the church, we headed back to Camp Hope.
When we arrived, someone ran up to me and said, “You will not
believe what just happened. Jim, do you see that helicopter in the
sky? That is a military helicopter with President George W. Bush
on board. President Bush was just here! President Bush wanted to
know what our needs were. We let the President know that we need
ice, a generator, fuel and a refrigerated container for all the
perishable foods. The President said that the military would take
care of those needs.”
After he shared with me all that had just happened, and as I saw
the helicopter leaving, I quickly took a picture of the helicopter
as a reminder that God is all powerful and in complete control of
the affairs of history.
The next morning, we realized that we were running low on food. We
committed this need to the Lord in prayer. One hour later, an 18-
wheeler pulled up and the driver said, “I’m lost and I have a
truckload of perishable foods that needs to find a home, NOW!!” He
then said, “You can empty my truck of all this food and keep it.”
We were blown away. Then the military showed up with hundreds of
pounds of ice, a generator and fuel tanks. The next thing that
happened was unbelievable.
Remember Shelby the young girl who gave her life to the Lord?
Well, a few days later, a friend of mine named Joe flew out to
volunteer and helped me repair an electrical problem at someone’s
house. When I made the repairs at this home, I never saw the
owners at this house. But we found out later that it was the home
of Shelby and her family.
On Sunday, we had our first church service under the circus tent.
I preached the message. I remember sharing from God’s Word about
His faithfulness and goodness. I shared about the God of all
comfort and how our God will help all of them through this very
difficult time. The tent was filled to capacity. I then asked if
anyone would like to receive Christ into their hearts.
A number of people raised their hands, among them were Shelby’s
dad, mom, and their four daughters. Shelby’s dad explained that
because he was shown so much love and because of the miraculous
change in Shelby, he wanted to give his life to Christ. He prayed
to recieve the Lord, and his wife rededicated her life to Christ.
William Carey the great missionary from the 1800’s once said,
“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”
A couple of days later a friend of mine arrived at the camp. He is
a big Black man who goes by the name of Big Al. Big Al is someone
who loves to cook. His expertise is smoking meat. Big Al came to
me and said, “Jim, I need a smoker, but not just any smoker. I
need a big one to smoke enough meat for all these people we are
I told him I didn’t know anything about smoking meat, but that if
he needed a big smoker, to pray about it and maybe we can find
one. About two hours later a man drove up and explained that his
BBQ restaurant was destroyed in the hurricane and that the only
thing that survived was a big smoker that you pull behind a truck.
He then asked if we needed a smoker?
I thought Big Al was going to have a heart attack! He was so
excited. Big Al got up early the next morning and started smoking
all the meat. That evening, hundreds of people were lining up for
dinner. Big Al was serving the meat that he had prepared.
I sat down to talk to someone, when suddenly, Big Al was in tears
and praising the Lord. He said, “Jim, you won’t believe what just
happened!” Big Al went on to explain that while people were moving
through the line, a man started crying when Big Al served him his
meat. Big Al asked him if he was okay. The man looked at Big Al
and said, “My dad was the president of the KKK (Klu Klux Klan) in
Bay St. Louis Mississippi many years ago. Growing up I was taught
to hate Black people. I saw many Black men killed by the KKK while
I was growing up. Now I have lost everything in the hurricane, and
I came here tonight for a meal, and a Black man is showing me love
and feeding me!” Big Al let me know that this man gave his life to
the Lord and asked Big Al to forgive him for wronging Black
Dave and I spent three weeks there being blessed and touched by
the Lord in so many ways. On our last day, I was invited to attend
the all-Black church service. We had spent three weeks there
making all the electrical repairs. When I arrived, the pastor
asked for me, and said to the congregation of about 300, “Our
church has been closed for three weeks because of the damage
caused by the hurricane. Jim and his crew have made it possible
for us to reopen the church. Can we just thank our God for Jim and
all those who made this possible?”
We then had a beautiful time of worship and a special message by
the pastor. I will never forget those wonderful days of God doing
the miraculous every day. (The story of Shelby Beaugez and her
family was written up in the Calvary Chapel Missions Magazine
Issue 26, 2006.)
Another story that comes to mind about God’s sovereignty is my
mother Betty. As I have shared, my mother went through some very
difficult times. She was married to three very disappointing
husbands that brought her much pain. Her first-born, Mikey, lay
almost lifeless for five years in the Veteran’s Hospital, which
caused my mom to withdraw into a hopeless state. I remember
sharing with my mom over the years about the Lord and what He had
done in my life. She had witnessed the many changes in my life but
didn’t talk to me personally about the Lord in her own life. My
mom is now living in Scottsdale Arizona, along with my two
sisters, D’Ann and Sandy.
Then one day in 1997, the Lord spoke to my heart to send my mom
the book, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye. It’s a book written about the
Great Tribulation that will occur sometime in the future. I
remember sharing with my mom and her third husband Ray about the
future events in the Bible years earlier, but they showed little
interest. All that to say, I mailed off the book to my mom. Little
did I know what the Lord was about to do.
I found out sometime later from Ronny Stillman about a miracle
that had happened. My mom started reading Left Behind. She was
reading the part about the beast, telling people they will have to
have a mark on their right hand with the number 666 in order to
buy food. While my mom was reading this story of a mark on their
right hand, she had the TV on. There was a documentary on about a
new technology in Sweden in which they place a microchip under the
skin of a person’s hand. The chip enables them to make purchases.
While reading this story of the mark of the Beast and seeing the
documentary at the same time, my mom flipped out. She called her
niece Linda who is married to Ronny, the owner of Downey Electric.
He’s the guy I led to the Lord years earlier. Mom said, “Linda,
Jimmy sent me this book called Left Behind about the Great
Tribulation and the mark of the beast, and I’m seeing this
documentary on TV about this microchip their implanting in
My mom asked, “Is this for real?” Ronny then got on the phone and
told her, “Yes Betty, this is for real.” Ronny then told my mom
that in Revelation, the last book in the Bible, in chapter 13
verse 16, the beast causes everyone to receive a mark on their
right hand in order to buy or sell. My mom was shocked and kept
all these thoughts to herself.
Then some years later in 2002, I got word that my mom was in the
hospital with Sepsis. So, I drove out to be with my mom. When I
walked into her hospital room, I could see that she was in a lot
of pain. The doctor let me know that she had infections throughout
her body and was dying. I knew that her time was short, maybe just
a few days to live.
So, I said, “Mom, you know that I have shared with you many times
about Jesus. Mom, do you believe in Jesus?” She looked at me,
smiled and quietly said, “Jimmy, I believe in Jesus with all my
heart and soul!” A few days later, she passed away into eternity
to be with Jesus. No more pain, no more tears, no more sorrow.
Praise God!!! I will someday see my mom again in Glory.
An incident that caused our world to crumble came when my wife and
I receive a phone call in the middle of the night from our
daughter Amber. Her daughter Molly, our 15-month-old grandbaby was
being airlifted to the Children’s Hospital in Orange County. Her
pancreas was not producing any insulin and she was suffering from
extreme dehydration. Doctors tried over 50 times to get an IV in
her to rehydrate her.
When we got to the hospital, we were told that Molly may have
brain damage. There was also talk about amputation on one of her
legs. She had now been in the hospital for a number of days. We
were living at the Ronald McDonald House. But during this time God
began to move.
In the hospital there was a chapel. I had visited the chapel many
times. But on one occasion I was so stressed, I cried out to my
God and said, “Father God, I NEED to hear from You, I am so
worried about my little granddaughter Molly!”
Then, on February 2nd, 2002 at 11pm, my wife Carolyn, our daughter
Amber and I were leaving the hospital. We headed to our car in a
subterranean parking lot. I sensed the Lord telling me to pick up
a piece of paper off the ground about 50 feet away. I thought, Why
would leave my family to pick up a littered piece of paper in the
parking lot. The thought wouldn’t leave my mind, so I ran over and
picked up the piece of paper.
As I glanced at it, I was blown away. The piece of paper had been
torn out of the Our Daily Bread Christian devotional booklet. It
said, “Forget Worry. Be anxious for nothing but let your requests
be made know to God.” (Philippians 4:6). When we arrived at the
Ronald McDonald House, and were in our room, I read the devotional
to my family. It calmed our anxious hearts and bolstered our trust
Seven days later we got word from the doctor that Molly’s
condition was greatly improving. On that day, I wrote these words
on the piece of paper that I found in the parking lot: “Father,
You touched her, and gave us back her life, her leg, and her
love.” To this day, I have kept that devotional in my wallet as a
reminder that God is all powerful and in complete control of the
affairs of history. By the way, I have gone through many wallets,
but still have this devotional gift from God.
In 2004 my daughter Amber and her husband Tom and Molly moved to
Spokane Valley, Washington. Tom’s parents live in the area along
with other family members. My wife Carolyn and I began praying
about moving to Spokane Valley as well. Family is everything to
me, because growing up as a kid, my childhood was so fractured.
In 2005 we moved up to Spokane Valley as well. Shortly thereafter,
I was hired as an assistant pastor for a local church. One day my
daughter said, “Dad, do you think the church would like to start a
school?” Amber was concerned about Molly being in a public school
because she needed to have insulin injections and to be watched
carefully to make sure her blood sugar levels were good. Amber
knew that I had a background in starting the school in Moreno
Valley, so why not try to start a school at the church where I was
now? That way, I would be able to keep an eye on Molly while she
was in school.
Well, as I have said before, God began to move. I asked the pastor
about starting a Christian school. He said that he had thought of
the idea, but he had two reservations. First, they needed someone
who knew how to start a school. Second, he knew that it would cost
thousands of dollars to start a school.
So, I let the pastor know that I had a background in starting the
school in Moreno Valley with over 600 students. I also let him
know what Pastor Chuck Smith said about money. Chuck often said,
“If God is guiding, then God will be providing.” The last thing I
said to the pastor was, “If this is God’s will, then don’t be
surprised if someone knocks on the door and gives you a check
large enough to start the school.”
Little did we know that one of the biggest real estate companies
had just split. The company, Tomlinson Black Real Estate with more
than 500 agents became two companies, one for residential, the
other for commercial. Dave Black oversees the commercial side.
Two weeks later the church got a call from Mr. Black saying that
Kohl’s department store would like to purchase 12 feet of the
church’s property to build a new store. The property that was
needed was a small strip of field that is not used by the church.
Mr. Black went on to say that Kohl’s was willing to give the
church $100,000 for the 12-foot-strip of land!
A few months later, I was commissioned to have the school up and
running. The school is operating and Molly attends there with
other children. Then God put the icing on the cake. The school was
doing well, but I saw the children outside on the grass during
recess with no equipment to play on. I got this thought to build a
big commercial playground system for the school. I checked into
the cost and it was $25,000 for the playground set.
I prayed and asked God, “Father, Your Word says that You will
supply all our needs according to Your riches in glory.” One week
later while I was in the sanctuary, someone walked in and said,
“Hello, I am from the Washington State Department of
Transportation.” He went on to say that the department needed a
five-foot strip of land along the freeway to build a sound
barrier. The department was willing to offer the church $40,000
for the strip of land. I let this man know that I had been praying
for a miracle for money to come in for the playground system for
the new school. He was blown away. He smiled and said we would
have the money in two weeks.
I let the guys in my Bible study know what had just happened. They
were blessed. When the playground set arrived, the men in my Bible
study got together to pour the concrete and build the set. As you
drive next to Kohl’s today, the playground system is still there
as a reminder that God is all-powerful and in complete control of
the affairs of history.
I would love to share another story that speaks strongly of the
sovereignty of God. On November 20th, 2018, I started thinking
about the Muslim community in Spokane, Washington where my wife
and I now live. For the next couple of days, the thought of the
Muslims stayed on my mind. I sensed this was from the Lord.
So, I went online to see if there are any Muslims in the area
where I live. To my surprise, I discovered that there are
thousands of Muslims in the area. A few days later as I was
driving around town, I heard on Moody Bible Radio someone talking
about a book he had just written about sharing your faith with
Muslims. I pulled over, wrote down the title of the book, and
ordered it. When I received the book, I emailed the author to let
him know that I have this burden to share the Gospel with Muslims.
The author was so excited about the way I found out about his book
and said that he would be praying for me. I then found out about
an ex-Muslim who is now a Christian Pastor in Texas named Afshin
Ziafat. I contacted his ministry and let them know that the Muslim
Community was on my heart. They were excited and said that they
would be praying for me as well.
Well, I began spending a lot of time studying about the Islamic
faith, and how to share the Christian faith with Muslims. It was
now January 11th, 2019. I was having a burger at McDonalds, when I
started to get this tug on my heart to visit the Islamic Center of
Spokane. I was a bit nervous and thinking, “Lord do you want me to
visit the Islamic Center now?” I sensed that the Lord wanted me to
go. It was 12:45pm and I was looking on my phone to see where the
Islamic Center is located.
As I was on my way there, I was praying, “Lord, I hope this is
what you want me to do, and Lord, I hope you give me the words to
say.” It was 1pm when I pulled into the parking lot looking at
this big sign that says, “Islamic Center of Spokane.” There were
many cars in the parking lot.
As I was sitting in my car, I shot up one last prayer. I felt like
the Apostle Peter stepping off the boat and walking on water! I
entered the lobby and saw many shelves with shoes on them. Nobody
was in the lobby. There were many closed doors and I heard voices.
So, I took off my shoes and opened one of the doors. As I stepped
into what looked like a large sanctuary, I saw about 100 Muslim
men on the carpet all looking at me. I was greeted by one of the
men. He asked me, “Can I help you?” I said that I was visiting for
the first time. He then ushered me to the front and gave me a
chair to sit on in front of something that looked like an altar.
Then three Islamic leaders greeted me and sat on the floor in
front of me. They wanted to know who I was and why I was there. I
lifted a silent prayer to the Lord asking Him to tell me what to
say. For the next 30 minutes the leaders asked me many questions
as I shared with them about my Christian Faith. I invited all of
them to my men’s Bible study where we meet every Tuesday in a
restaurant from 6am to 7am. I also gave one of the men, a Men’s
Ministry Handbook that I had designed.
After sharing many things about the Lord, they said that my timing
was perfect. They let me know that all over the world, Muslims
pray from 12pm to 1pm. They told me I had entered their place of
prayer at 1:05pm and that my timing was perfect. Then one of the
men who is the Imam leader stood up to sing to Allah. They thanked
me for coming and said I would have to leave now or stand in the
back. They then faced the direction of Mecca and started singing.
I gave them my card if they would like to stay in touch with me.
Only God knows the rest of the story.
I will share one last story that blessed me recently. Over the
years I have ministered to many men. I love teaching men God’s
Word and seeing them grow in the faith. About a year ago, I took
someone out to lunch just to have some hang-time and get to know
one another in a deeper way. My friend began telling me about the
struggles he had gone through and how he had been sucked into many
After he shared, I let him know that the Lord had put it on my
heart to design a Men’s Ministry Handbook filled with devotionals
and tools to equip Christian men to live a life pleasing to God.
The very day I completed the handbook, someone let me know about
an event at the Spokane Valley Mall called, “The History of The
Bible.” While I was there, two people approached me and asked how
I was doing. They introduced themselves as Scott and Dee. They let
me know that they host the morning radio show for Moody Bible
Radio in Spokane. I told them about the handbook I had just
written, and they were excited and asked if I would like a tour of
the Moody Bible Radio Center.
A few days later they gave me a tour and introduced me to Joe
Gonzalez the Radio manager. He was excited to see my men’s
handbook and to hear that I was having a Bible study at Shari’s
restaurant in the area. I then let him know that I have visited 15
churches sharing my heart to build up men in the faith. He was
very excited and said he would post my study on the Moody website.
Well, all that to say, God is good, I have many more stories to
tell but I will save for another time.
Blessings to all,
Jim Fitzpatrick 951-3338418 firstname.lastname@example.org