Humble Servant, Bold Witness
Storyteller: Jim Ross
Writer: Sheila Holiday
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14
Jim Ross tries to meditate on his life verse every day. “Without it, I might as well just stay in bed,” he says in earnest.
Jim’s bucket list doesn’t include the typical travels and adventures. “All I want is to get closer to the Lord, witness to as many people as I can, and be more aware of the opportunities there are,” he claims.
A Lifetime with Christ
Jim, 74, has been a deacon at CrossPoint Church for the past four years. He came to know the Lord at age 16, and has been in His service since then. At a church summer camp with other teens from the small church his family attended in Carson, Jim dedicated his life to Christ.
“When we got back and piled out of the van, a lady from the church met us. She singled me and another guy out and said, ‘Come with me’ and led us inside. She gave me a book to teach junior boys the next week! I ended up teaching that class for four or five years. The church eventually gave me the job as youth pastor, but since I had no credentials, I asked them to call me a youth worker, and I served in that role for more than 10 years.”
After high school Jim was hired on in a steel mill in Torrance, where his dad was also employed. During his 17 years there he worked his way up and trained to be a mill wright, a high-precision tradesman who installs, dismantles, repairs, reassembles, and moves machinery in factories and/or power plants. A high point of his career there was leading a mechanic who he had trained to Christ.
“One night as I was coming in to work the graveyard shift and Manuel was getting ready to go home, I asked him if he knew the Lord. ‘I’m Catholic,’ he said. I told him to forget religion, saying ‘Let’s pray right now that you start living for Jesus,’ and we did.
“I didn’t see Manuel for about 10 days. Then early one morning he came in to thank me and tell me he was leaving – goodbye! He told me he was going to Bible school, then to Mexico to witness to his family and lead them to Christ, and then would become a preacher! He has since started three or four large churches in Oregon, and is currently serving the Lord as Pastor Manuel Luquin in Washington State.
“That,” marvels Jim, “was the greatest work the Lord has let me have a little part of – there’s nothing like leading somebody to the Lord.”
Life Jolts Jim
In 1978 while at work, Jim accidentally grabbed a 440-volt cable. That’s a shock most people don’t survive, and Jim nearly didn’t. He recalls scenes from his life moving like a movie reel in front of him. As he began to come around, he heard a voice say, “Sorry guys, he didn’t make it.” He awoke in an emergency room to find the doctor sitting on his chest.
Jim reflects, “That experience was a wake-up call for me to stop wasting time and learn how to say no. I’d been serving in so many capacities – elder, deacon, Sunday School superintendent, youth worker, visitation leader – that I’d become spread too thin.” Jim purposed to become a dedicated Christian and effective witness by focusing on quality over quantity.
Within a year of the accident, Jim was laid off from his job. His dad passed away. He took a new job at a local refinery, where he would stay for the next 27 years. Jim still remembers the stress of this season of change. He shares, “We were struggling with making another change – whether to move – so my wife, Lily, and I asked the Lord for guidance. I told him we’d put the house on the market for a month and if it sold, we’d move. It was my way of ‘throwing out the fleece,’ just as we read in Judges that Gideon had done to be sure he was doing the Lord’s will.
“The first weekend we had three full price offers, including two in cash, so the real estate agent put it out for bids. We ended up receiving $25,000 more than we’d asked, and were able to move to Huntington Beach, closer to our kids. It’s so amazing to me when I look back and see all the ways God has guided my life.”
Urgency in Outreach
After retirement, Jim served for five years as a Huntington Beach Police Department senior volunteer. He recalls, “I got to know a lot about the workings of the department, but the main thing was I got to witness to another senior volunteer I rode with (who has since passed away) and he was saved. Driving around together, I had a captive audience!”
Jim prefers to remain behind the scenes rather than receive recognition for being in the Lord’s service. Along with serving as deacon, he helps with coffee service, where he looks for opportunities to tell people about Jesus. He and Lily make hospital visitations. At the bedside, he’s asking how they can pray, and makes sure the patient has a daily devotional.
“Some people think you have to build a relationship with someone before you witness to them, but I think, what if I never see them again?” Jim says. “I ask everyone I can: Do you know Jesus? Do you have a relationship with him? My relationship with them can come later.”
To know the One who is our rock and redeemer, Jim advises, “Above all, it’s a must to be in the word and praying every day – that’s the only way to grow closer to the Lord and learn His will for your life. Don’t miss that blessing of a relationship with Jesus Christ,” he urges. “There’s no close second.”