Uncle Jimmy

Africa evangelismby Stan Mitchell

Queen’s Park was a pretentious name for a working class suburb of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Hundreds of Railway employees lived in hastily thrown-up homes covered in adobe under corrugated metal roves.

Every Sunday morning in the 1950s and 60s, 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 quiet, far-reaching ministry.

“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous” (Proverbs 13:22, ESV).

His name was Jimmy Classen. 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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