Uncle Jimmy

Queen’s Park was a pretentious name for a working class suburb of
Bulawayo. Hundreds of Railway employees lived in hastily thrown up homes
covered in adobe under corrugated metal roofs. Every Sunday morning in
the 1950’s and 60’s, when the mist of winter was being burned off by the
warm African sun, a gray station wagon would drive up and down the
streets of Queen’s Park, picking up children for Sunday School.
He wasn’t a preacher, really. He had little formal Bible training, though
when I knew him as an old man, his faith, deep and profound, was obvious
even to a youngster like me. His wife, “Auntie Gladys” to us all,
provided the sparkle and fire. He was quiet and dignified. But Uncle
Jimmy did something special. He ran a bus ministry before anyone ever
heard the roar of a “Joy Bus.”
Scores of Christians owe him their eternal life for that simple, regular
ministry. His spiritual progeny stretches from Southern Africa to New
Zealand, Great Britain, Australia, and the United States.
Uncle Jimmy picked up Tom and Georgina Brown’s children. The parents were
later converted, and Tom became a Gospel preacher, proclaiming a
priceless message in his rich Scots accent. Two brothers, Kenny and
Paddy, with scratched knees and bright eyes, learned of God’s will because
of Uncle Jimmy’s gray car. They both preach the Gospel today. Uncle
Jimmy’s grandchildren, and great grandchildren, however, add to the list
of the faithful. Preachers, elders, Bible Class teachers came from a
quiet man who exuded the love of Christ and carried it out in a quiet,
far-reaching ministry.
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a
sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22).
His name was Jimmy Claassen. Remember that name, please, and make sure
that your eternal destiny is in the same place as his, so that you can
meet him one day.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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