Tomorrow family and friends of Jim Scott will gather in Montevallo, Alabama at the National Cemetery for his burial . . . . but Jim will not be there. A man of faith, a follower of Jesus Christ, a born-again believer, when Jim died on Wednesday, November 15, 2017, he passed immediately into the presence of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). His mourners will commit to the ground his earthly shroud, his mortal coil, a tabernacle of flesh. But as for Jim, well, he is in Heaven, with His Savior and worshipping the Heavenly Father, joining that great cloud of witnesses.
From a humble but long Virginia lineage, Jim grew to become a career soldier in the United States military, a service that God would use as Jim’s seminary, of sorts. The lessons of courage and character, stealth and strategy, planning and timing – all these strategies describe Jim as a missionary of the Cross as well as a soldier of his Country. He served well. He served with sacrifice. He served with joy and delight. He served to the end.
Jim was more than a fighter for good and ultimately eternal causes. He was a leader, an example, a mentor. He reproduced himself not only in those men and women whom he served, but also in those who served alongside him. I join countless others who would say my faith is stronger and my ministry more on target because I knew Jim Scott.
After Jim finished his full and distinguished military career, he searched for new pursuits. Eventually he and Dot and their children settled in Hoover, Alabama. As a man still ready for many years of life, but facing an onslaught of change, he wrestled with demons, figurative if not literal – the aftermath of the rigors of war, bereavement, and change – perhaps the traumatic stresses and more coming-home soldiers must brave. But in truth, Jim was on the brink of the fiercest battlefield he ever faced, in a war of his own soul, for his personal salvation.
After a providential visit to Shades Mountain Independent Church, Jim received a courtesy (and evangelistic) visit from two church men, who in time would prove to be friends of a lifetime and for eternity: Jimmy Haley and Raymond Kelley. Not to be put off, Raymond returned for a second visit, when the Scotts’ schedule demands cut short the first visit. On a Thursday evening (or was it Wednesday….whatever day), Raymond led Jim to Christ in his own home there on Donna Drive, in the den, beside the fireplace.
Salvation made Jim Scott a new man. Becoming a Christian, through repentance from sin and faith in the Cross-work of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), Jim found new life . . . and a new calling. New life in Christ – that became not only his testimony but his call. He would spend the rest of his life spreading that Gospel message, sometimes perhaps criss-crossing countries and continents where he had served earlier, in earthly battles.
Two men, two spiritual comrades-in-arms especially shaped Jim Scott’s life. One was his pastor, Dick Vigneulle, the then celebrated banker-turned-preacher. The two forged a friendship (along with their wives, Dot and Peg) that circled beyond the church. With shared temperaments as well as gifts for evangelism, the duo became a close-knit and powerful team for ministry in evangelism and missions.
A decade or so into his new life in Christ, Jim became part of an emerging missions agency called “World Reach,” and there he found another significant partner in faith and ministry in Tim Prewitt, founding Executive Director of World Reach. The two men bonded (as did their wives, Dot and Carol). The two would travel globally on untraceable routes that led to new beginnings for the men and those they served, resulting in new believers, new churches, new missions compounds, and a renewed vision that continues to unfold. Jim’s work is finished, but his cause is not. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) was Jim Scott’s ultimate commission. And it is a charge that continues, and we who remain can assuage our griefs and console one another best by giving ourselves anew to the cause of Christ, as Jim Scott lived out so well and so inspiringly.
In the history of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln was a memorable president for his force not only as Commander in Chief but also for his command of the English language. In one of his memorable tributes to soldiers, Lincoln pointed his troops and countrymen to One higher – to God Almighty:
“I am, indeed, very grateful to the brave men who have been struggling with the enemy in the field, to their noble commanders who have directed them, and especially to our Maker….While we are grateful to all the brave men and officers for the events of the past few days, we should, above all, be very grateful to Almighty God, who gives us victory.” (Abraham Lincoln, on May 9, 1864 in response to a serenade, given on the White House portico.)
Lincoln’s obeisance reflects Jim Scott’s. On this occasion, Jim would point us all to the One Who gave him life . . . eternal life, fullness of life: Jesus Christ.
Let me close by quoting one of Jim’s Bible heroes, another sacrificing soldier of the Cross, the Apostle Paul. His closing words in the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians reads like Jim Scott’s testimony, and it is a fitting and inspired tribute to our friend:
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
AMEN.~ Bruce Peters, World Reach
The Scott Family have requested donations to World Reach, Inc. be sent en lieu of flowers. If you would like to send a donation, you can do so online, by clicking the button below.