“Divorced twice, I found myself back living in the house I grew up in, sleeping in my childhood bed thinking, I can’t do this anymore,” Jim remembers.
Jim was the oldest of five children and spent his childhood raising his siblings. “My parents struggled with addiction and my family was as dysfunctional as they come. My dad didn’t really know how to be a father and the fighting and instability that I witnessed shaped my younger years,” Jim shared. “As a child, I said I was a Christian, but I really wasn’t,” Jim said. “I learned to set my compass on good behavior because having morals would keep me out of hell.”
As an adult, Jim found excitement in the party scene. A hairstylist by trade, he always had social invitations. “My first wife and I struggled in our marriage immediately. She didn’t want any part of the party scene I was living and after two children we divorced,” said Jim. “The relationship with my second wife was all about the party scene and not at all healthy,” said Jim. The two divorced after having one child together.
One of Jim’s favorite parts of being a hairstylist was listening to people share their life stories on a regular basis. He got very close to his regular clients over the years. “Mrs. Ganser and her daughter Bobbie were two of my regular clients. I had the privilege of walking alongside Bobbie during her marriage to an unfaithful, abusive man,” remembered Jim. “I listened and encouraged her to take care of herself, but hearing Bobbie talk about her faith in God - even during this dark time - surprised me. No one I knew had a faith like Bobbie."
One night after an evening of drinking, Jim remembers walking home. “And by home, I mean my mom’s house. My children were grown, I couldn’t afford to live on my own, and I remember thinking, 'Why am I doing this? Why do I always start where I ended?' I was broken and I remember praying to God that night, asking Him to fix me.”
Jim told his co-workers that he thought he needed God in his life. A few of them went to the same church and they invited Jim to join them. “I was mostly curious,” Jim said, “as my experience with church as a whole was very ritualistic and simply a box to check for good attendance.” The experience Jim had in church that morning was nothing like he remembered as a child.
“The message spoke directly to my heart and I was excited! I couldn’t wait to share this excitement with Bobbie!" Jim immediately joined a Bible study and started volunteering, but after some time, he felt like he was still missing something.
“I shared this feeling with Bobbie and she suggested that while I was taking steps to know Christ, I hadn’t surrendered and accepted him as my Savior,” Jim remembered. “She encouraged me to call my pastor for support and I met with him that day. We prayed together and I gave my life to Jesus in his office. Immediately, I felt everything change. I knew I was living for Christ from that moment on, not just for good behavior.”
Jim’s friendship with Bobbie grew and he was able to be a source of support when her mother passed away. Just days later, Jim found out that Bobbie’s dog had also died. “I assumed with these tremendous losses, she must be very angry with God. Instead she told me these were the times she needed God the most and felt the most comforted by Him. I remember thinking, that is the God I wanted to know!”
Bobbie’s abusive marriage dissolved and Jim and Bobbie started a new relationship based on faith, support and love. “We have been married for four years,” Jim shared. ”We walk together in our faith, supporting each other’s relationship with Christ every day.”
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. – Romans 6:6-8
“Bobbie has been so instrumental in my walk of faith. While I used to set my compass on good morals, I now set it on Jesus. All of the past, which haunted, controlled and dictated my path now just remind me where I’ve been and they keep me pointed at Christ.”