Meet Jim. Jim was born again at an early age, and from the time he was a young boy, growing up in South Carolina, he knew that the Lord had called him to be a pastor. Almost from the moment he was aware of the calling, Jim pursued other avenues of fulfillment and security. In his twenties, Jim had chosen the security of being paid to skydive into burning wildfires over the thought of becoming a preacher.
Meet Jessie. Jessie was a highly successful personal trainer and co-owner of a booming fitness facility in South Carolina. In her mid-twenties she found that success had come at a price; she was stressed out, dissatisfied and lonely. Jessie turned back to the Savior of her youth in search of fulfillment, and she began to rekindle her intimacy with Jesus.
Back to Jim... After attending college on the South Carolina coast, where he studied forestry, Jim was offered a position with the United States Forest Service, and eventually became a Smokejumper—a highly esteemed position in his profession. Jim spent more than a decade based in Oregon, avoiding God’s voice and his calling to ministry.
It was while fighting a wildfire in Alaska in early 2005 that Jim experienced a life changing moment. He was cutting a fire line at four in the morning when he heard the Lord speak very clearly. Jim had just had the satisfying thought, "This is the life," cross his mind, when before he could relish the moment, he heard the Lord counter with, "I still have a bigger calling on your life, and you are still doing this." Jim was stunned.
Although Jim continued living the life of a Smokejumper, the Lord's words stayed with him, and he wrestled with the thought of giving up his "cool" lifestyle. In late 2005, Jim broke his foot during a jump. His injury sidelined him from active duty, and he returned to South Carolina to work in a Forest Service office in Charleston. He calls this time in his life, "the season of great debates." His injury kept him out of the following fire season as well, which gave him ample time with the Lord. Jim's debates with God left him with a growing desire to attend Bible college.
While Jim was reevaluating his life, Jessie was in Columbia being radically changed by the Word. She had joined a Bible study group where she met a woman named, Ruby. Ruby spent a handful of years discipling Jessie. As she mentored Jessie, the two would often pray for Ruby's son, a wild young man named Jim, who jumped out of airplanes to fight fires for the Forest Service...
Through a long series of God-ordained events, Jim and Jessie's paths eventually crossed in 2006, and the two connected instantly. Over the course of the next year, the Lord brought Jim and Jessie together and completely changed their lives. As they grew together they also realized their mutual call to ministry and shared desire to go to bible school. In a whirlwind, Jim resigned from the Forest Service, Jessie sold her share of the fitness center and her home, the two were married and they decided to make plans to attend bible school.
In 2008, Jim and Jessie found Andrew on television. The two began to watch the Gospel Truth program everyday at lunchtime; both were captivated by how clearly and understandably Andrew shared the message of Grace. After watching for several weeks they became aware of Andrew's Charis Bible College and the ministry's Summer Family Bible Conference. Excited by the opportunity, the two jumped at the chance to attend the conference in Colorado Springs. While visiting the campus they received solid confirmation from God that they were to attend CBC. Within a matter of months, Jim and Jessie had walked away from everything they had known and moved to Colorado.
"We just dropped it all—joyfully and with great anticipation for Jesus! Everyone around us was basically stunned. They knew we were excited about Jesus, but I don’t think anyone thought we would be crazy enough to drop such successful lives and move across the country to go to Bible College," Jessie said excitedly.
Jim said, "People could not understand why, after 14 years, after all the hard work and training, I would just up and leave a fruitful career in the prime of my life. To the natural mind it made no sense, but stepping out in faith and believing God, above our selves, makes a lot of sense—spiritually."
Through CBC, the Huthmaker's understanding of the Word soared to new levels. The couple gained a deeper understanding of the believer's authority and the power of receiving what we have already been given in Christ. Through their new revelation, they were healed and blessed in many ways.
Jim was ever-conscious of his call to pastoral ministry, but he never spoke of it—not even to Jessie. But throughout Jim's second year at CBC, particularly during his mission trip to Nicaragua, people began to prophecy his pastoral calling over Jim, and some, without knowing who he was, would address him as "Pastor." As their time at CBC drew to a close, Jim and Jessie sought the Lord for their next step. The two felt a strong conviction to move back to South Carolina, back to the “Bible belt” to combat religion with the message of Grace. They knew they were to go back and pioneer a church plant.
Jim jumped into the fire of his calling on Easter Sunday of 2010. The Huthmaker's first service was held in Jessie's new fitness facility, a service station garage, and a dozen people showed up. "Our praise and worship was a boom box, the gym was literally a non-air conditioned garage, and we set up chairs amongst the weights. It was awesome," recalled Jim enthusiastically.
The Spirit of God has been on their endeavor from the beginning. They stayed in the garage for several months until they were able to rent an American Legion hall, and after one year of setting up and breaking down each week, the Lord blessed Freedom Christian Center with a building of its own. Today the Huthmaker's church is advancing the kingdom in grace, and Jim is working with the fire of the Holy Spirit instead of trying to fight against it. This is the Life...
Visit the Huthmaker's website for more information about Freedom Christian Center.