Mar12FriIt's all about what God can do through you. March 12, 2021 by Ken Ramstead
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Jim Mercer’s life was in turmoil. The 30-year-old teacher had two university degrees, was employed, and things were going well. But there was something missing.
That missing something? Officership.
“I Need to Make Some Changes”
Jim’s father was Anglican and his mother was Catholic. As a child, he was encouraged to attend church, and he did so until he was about 11 or 12, even though neither of his parents were regular churchgoers.
Though Jim stayed connected to his faith, he stopped attending church when he became a teenager, finished his schooling in his hometown of Grand Falls- Windsor, N.L., and went off to university.
He got his first teaching position in La Scie, N.L., a little community of 1,200.
“Interestingly enough, I was renting a downstairs apartment from a Salvationist family,” Jim says.
As he watched how that family lived their lives, and through a few moments of crisis in his own life, the thought of going to church occasionally crossed his mind.
Then one Saturday afternoon at his favourite social gathering spot in his hometown, the thought came to him: I need to make some changes in my life.
Jim left the social gathering that day and,for the next six months, his story was a journey of God doing work in his life.
“I had no idea what was happening other than the fact that I started going to church at The Salvation Army. That was the talk of the town because they hadn’t had a teacher go to church for some time.”
A conviction started to grow in him. “I can’t explain it other than the fact that it consumed me, both in and out of school.”
On February 12, 1995, Jim called his landlord and said he wanted to go to church again. That morning, he walked to the mercy seat and gave his life to God.
Imaginings of an Officer
Six weeks after he came to Christ, Jim was laid off.
“That didn’t make sense to me. Now that I was a Christian, things were supposed to work out, right?” he smiles.
Soon, however, an overwhelming sense of peace came to him, a feeling that, whatever happened, “It was going to be OK.
“A few weeks later, I interviewed for a job on the east coast of Newfoundland, in Bonavista, and I got it. After a few months, I felt I needed to take that next step to be a soldier. I took my soldiership courses at Bonavista Corps and soon became involved in every element of ministry that I could at the church.”
Now 34 and a soldier, Jim felt a deeper calling.
“Officership consumed my thoughts. There were days in the classroom where I would turn my back as I wrote on the board, tears running down my face because I didn’t want to be there. I’d imagine what it would be like to be an officer.”
Two for CFOT
Up to now, Jim had resigned himself to entering the College for Officer Training (CFOT) as a singleton but after his candidate’s interview in January 1999, a youth pastor who worked with him in his capacity as a youth leader, contacted him.
“I just called to see how your interview went,” Michelle Jacobs told him. The conversation, which lasted four hours, led Jim and Michelle to a journey of sharing life, ministry and officership together.
Jim was accepted for the 1999 Ambassadors of Grace session, but encouraged by his officers, he decided to wait another year. In that time, he resigned his teaching position, he and Michelle became engaged and were married, and the couple went in to CFOT together in 2000.
At first, Jim worried that his years as a teacher would be wasted when he became an officer.
“But all I learned in those teaching days came full circle,” he explains. “My appointments often led me to minister to families who were broken and, as a teacher, I now saw how God had worked everything together for good.
“I didn’t choose officership,” he explains. “God chose me, and I had to respond to his calling. God intersected my life and I had to surrender, which I did. It’s all about what God can do through you.”
Read Major Michelle Mercer’s story in the April Salvationist.
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