Evangelism happens in many contexts and settings; impacts and engages all generations; and calls for relationships with a variety of people. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award honors United Methodists in each annual conference whose exceptional ministry of evangelism brings people into a life-transforming relationship with Jesus Christ.
Pastor Jim Hall, a part-time local pastor serving at Kirkersville United Methodist Church in Capitol Area South, is this year’s clergy recipient of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award. In the following interview, Jim talks about how building relationships is just as important as providing help to those in need.
West Ohio: Describe your ministry. How do you share God’s love with those you meet?
We are to be the hands, feet, and voice for Jesus. I attempt to do what I can to serve those around me in the ways that they want to be served. It is through serving that the opportunity will sometimes present itself to tell them that I follow the example of Jesus and I can share my journey with Jesus and offer the ways that God has impacted my life.
West Ohio: Describe the impact this ministry has on your community. Why is this ministry important?
We can find impact in the various ways in which we provide ministry at Kirkersville UMC. We provide food through our produce distribution that allows for those who need it to not have to use their funds to eat healthy. We offer distribution between March and the end of November. We knew the need was even greater during COVID and so we developed a system that would keep the workers and recipients safe. We were able to provide that service without missing a week. But that is only part of the benefit. We also have developed relationships with those that receive the produce. We hear of their struggles and can pray with them and help them when they desire our help. This has also led to some becoming a part of our congregation through Sunday worship, and others listen regularly to our weekday devotionals. We also saw the need during the early onset of COVID to provide meals for many in our community. We began offering a monthly dinner by drive thru. We have seen up to 70 meals provided for a month. In addition to this, our connections within the community allow us to help out those that may be facing a specific physical, monetary, or spiritual need.
West Ohio: Tell us your story. How did you become involved in this work?
Jim: Church has always been an important aspect of my life. I saw the value for myself and also for others to have a relationship with God and to allow God to be at work in their lives. I did not see myself as someone who reached people for Jesus as much as someone who wanted to lead others into understanding a need for Jesus to help them in their life struggles. Ministry was something I saw myself doing as a lay person until my 30s when I began leading Bible studies. But even at that point I never saw myself as a lead pastor. That changed around year four of what would be a six-year seminary journey. God and I had a talk and he told me he would place me where I was needed if I was willing to follow.
COVID led me to looking for unique ways to connect with people since we were no longer able to meet in person. This led to my weekday devotionals and my Jesus Time online program. The first is directed towards those that have a relationship with Jesus, but I have discovered that quite a few that watch my devotional do not have a connection to a local church. Some of those have become a regular part of our congregation. The Jesus Time program is directed towards those without a relationship with Jesus. We say that this program allows for those that watch to learn about Jesus and discover why some Christians do what they do and say what they say. The idea is to help remove the stigma that some have towards Christians. God has me on a journey that I hope to continue with him, allowing him to lead and guide me into the ways he would like me to serve him and the communities I will serve in the future.
West Ohio: Describe your calling. Why do you do what you do?
My calling is to help those around me to strengthen or develop a relationship with God through Jesus. I do what I do because I can’t imagine doing anything else. There is nothing more exciting for me than to see those around me desire to learn about Jesus and begin a relationship with Jesus.
Jim, thank you for sharing about the call that led you into a ministry of evangelism! Congratulations on being this year’s West Ohio Clergy Denman Award recipient!