By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
HUNTINGDON — His goal every week is to make one outreach contact.
This is true though Jim Humphreys is 92 years old.
Age is not the main factor for the retired director of missions and pastor in meeting his goal. He explained that for years he let other things keep him from being the witness that he should.
He’s more aggressive now, he said, though the longtime wordsmith added, “that’s not quite the word for it.” His love of words and writing is well-known because he wrote a weekly newspaper column for four West Tennessee newspapers for about 20 years. He is retired DOM, Carroll-Benton Baptist Association, based in Huntingdon.
“There’s really no excuse for any Christian not to witness” or make “opportunities for witnessing,” he explained.
In retirement he’s been more available and committed and “more comfortable in doing it,” he explained.
According to friends at First Baptist Church, Huntingdon, he’s a dynamo.
Humphreys, who drives still, is the main church representative at First’s weekly food voucher ministry.
Repeat clients ask for him, said Tammie Utley, church receptionist who manages the ministry. “It means so much to them that Bro. Jim is here and talks to them and prays for them,” added Utley.
Humphreys additionally is a good friend of many young adults at the church, going out to lunch with them and giving them information on people who need a visit. He keeps a list of these people from the food voucher ministry and other contacts he makes around town. He has helped the young adult Sunday School class develop visitation teams and accompanies them on visits.
“I learn more from them than I teach them,” he observed. “I see myself as their friend, not their leader.”
These friends help him in other ways. They and Humphreys have visited a needy man living in a motel here. Friends asked Humphreys not to go visit some folks alone.
Humphreys said he is so proud of these young adults and their accomplishments and commitment to Jesus. One couple is preparing to become missionaries, he reported.
In addition to these activities, Humphreys has other ministries. Cliff Kelley, church staff member, reported with a grin at Humphreys that Humphreys is “captain of devotions” for Upward Basketball. Humphreys didn’t miss a beat, replying that he always wanted to be a captain of Upward and now he finally is.
Of course, after being a long-time member of the church, he knows everyone so it is easy for him to recruit folks to give devotionals, said Jayne Simpson, another church staff member. Also, “who’s going to tell him ‘No,’ ” she noted. “They can’t say ‘It’s too cold.’ He’s 92 and he’s coming.”
Humphreys additionally is known for his encouragement of others on Facebook. Recently he checked on a former member of the church who is now a church planter in Colorado. Humphreys said he doesn’t do that much. He will post a quote from Fred Ward, his pastor, from a sermon or just “Like,” a previous statement of a Facebook friend. He recently posted from Ward, “Faith is not reason standing on tip toes; faith is taking Him at His word,” he recalled.
For about six years Humphreys also has been a pen pal to boys in a Sunday School class. He even has baked and delivered cookies to boys on a special occasion.
The baking is not that easy for him but the writing of notes and letters is, he explained. In fact, he often writes to his four children, five grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.
Finally, Humphreys teaches a men’s Sunday School class. They joke that it is the Launch Pad Class because they will launch from it into heaven, he explained.
“I’m not going to check out soon if I can help it,” he said with a smile. If he lives three more years, he will have served for 28 years in retirement and 28 years in employed ministry.
God has provided for him well despite bouts of depression and life’s regular disappointments, he reported. He will never forget hearing “God’s clear call over several years” to the ministry though he had an agriculture degree, believed he wasn’t a good public speaker, and had with Dot, his late wife, four young children.
“I guess I just love the Lord and I love the church.”
In ministry, “you never retire,” he quickly added.