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.

Growing Conviction
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.

Full Circle

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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On Sunday, March 21, 2021, Gwenyth Redhead said:

Robert and I are delighted to leave a message. We thoroughly enjoyed the ministry of Jim.. and his wife, Michelle, and have special memories of being "snowed in" with them, having specialled at their corps in Ottawa!


On Friday, March 19, 2021, Barry Schneider said:

That's the man I became to know in Orillia I was the Corps Secretary; Chair of a assortment of committees; Bandsman and Corps Pianist. I attended many memorial services with " Jim " and the first time with Jim I said "WOW" to myself with his message to the funeral congregation. Dianne, my wife of 50 years were good friends with Jim and Michelle as well as the kids. Dianne loved their teachings from the podium and I said to Dianne , "that's nothing compared to his memorial service messages" to the living. I miss Jim and Michelle but I know that God indeed is guiding and caring for their family. All God's blessings upon them.


On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, Alexia Ward said:

Jim and I taught together at Cape John Collegiate in La Scie . He was the true example of what a patient , caring teacher should be and I am confident those qualities have served him well as he serves the Lord . Well done Jim !


On Sunday, March 14, 2021, Peter Janes said:

I think the year was 1992 possibly 1993, but as we get older our memory starts to fade LOL. “Mr. Mercer “, a.k.a. Maj. Mercer was at one time my substitute teacher at Windsor collegiate. To say we were tough on him would be an understatement. I vividly remember how soft-spoken and kind and compassionate he was as a teacher. He genuinely cared even more so than most teachers. He was very impactful and positive and he always stuck in my mind. It’s funny that he mentions in this article about turning away from his students and facing the chalkboard and often times to hide the tears. I believe nothing is by accident everything is orchestrated . Maybe we were a part of that plan for him to realize that his path that he currently was on was not the one God had planned for him. To quote pastor TD Jakes, “ it’s not a miracle that God turned Mr. Mercer‘s life around when he took Paul who was a mass murderer a murderer of Christians and turned his life around”. However it is a huge blessing. Though I haven’t seen him in many many years I hope he realizes how he has shaped me and many others that he could possibly never know.Mr. Mercer, Jim, Major Mercer as you have respectfully earned, thank you for being highly impactful and influential.


On Sunday, March 14, 2021, Vincent G. Stack said:

I taught with Jim at the school in La Scie. We were good friends. He was a good guy then and it seems he has enjoyed his calling. I think about Jim a lot and I am so happy for him.


On Saturday, March 13, 2021, Elizabeth McGinn Vhafe said:

All the best Jim so glad you and Michelle are enjoying the ministry . Keep up the good work. Lord knows you are greatly needed in this world right now.stay safe xxoo


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