Jim: Birth and Background

Africa

Out of Africa

Born in Kenya, East Africa, in the 1960s, I made my first appearance on a farm overlooking the Great Rift Valley. A sibling to my two elder sisters, somewhat of a late arrival, I soon made myself at home among the dogs, cats, sheep and other livestock. My father, who worked for the Soil Conservation Service (a division of the Kenya Government supportive of agricultural initiative) worked about ten miles away in the town of Thomson’s Falls. My mother, a full-time farmer, kept the show on the road when she was not in labor giving birth to my sisters and me.

Later, my family moved to some different locations in Kenya, including sweltering Mombasa, a coastal town, and then beautiful Nakuru, a town at an elevation of 6,000′, not far from the equator. Well do I remember the impressive pinks of the flamingos and other birds on Lake Nakuru and other volcanic lakes in the region.

The 1970s took me further afield, traveling down Africa and living briefly in what was then Rhodesia–pre-independent Zimbabwe–, Iraq in the Middle East, Botswana and then Swaziland (both in southern Africa) before making a more permanent move to South Africa, then under Apartheid government.

The Old, Old Story

In my late teens, for the first time I heard the account of the Old Old story–compellingly–that God now commands all men everywhere to repent. He has appointed a Day when He will judge the world in righteousness through the Man–Christ Jesus–He has appointed. By His grace, I trusted him and became a new creature.

After completing my high schooling, I attended college and university, graduating in 1985 as a teacher. I taught English as a second language as well as Biblical Studies to students not far from the city of Pietermaritzburg. In those happy days, I also married my wife, Sue, herself also a school teacher.

Life with its vicissitudes took us on from there to the city of Johannesburg where we were involved in teaching and then Christian literature distribution.

England and America

United KingdomFamily circumstances were a strong consideration for relocation to the United Kingdom–the home of some of my ancestors–in 1999. I served an evangelical publisher based in Darlington for a couple of years, before being asked to head up a charity’s literature ministry in 2001, and then becoming involved in the ministry of a different publisher. I served the latter for over ten years, and, in the process, began intensive travels to the United States.

When that publisher began considering commencing a US branch, in the spirit of Isaiah, I said, “Here am I; send me.” Thus just before Thanksgiving in 2010, I, my wife and our seven-year-old son found ourselves on an Airbus 35,000′ over the Atlantic heading in a westerly direction. Final touchdown? Greenville, South Carolina, the buckle of the Bible belt.