Jim & Mary Toombs
Jim & Mary Toombs
I was baptized at the University Avenue Church of Christ in Austin while attending UT.
After graduation in 1971 I moved to San Antonio and started attending Oak Hills Church of Christ. I was pretty ignorant about the Bible and asked Charles Prince how to learn. He suggested I talk with Eddie Morris, then a deacon, about setting up a “cottage meeting” with my wife and some of the other young couples. This became Oak Hills’ first Life Group.
In 1976 after I was divorced, I moved to Abilene for three years where I met Lynn Anderson and Jeff Nelson at the 5th and Highland congregation. It was there I began a class for single adults.
In 1978 Mary and I married at Oak Hills, my friend Charles Prince performing the ceremony. A year later we moved back to San Antonio and I started a Singles Class. Ten years later our financial situation allowed us to ask the elders if I could serve as Singles Minister. During the next 8 years I ministered to a group of single adults that grew to around 300 people, published a couple of books and earned an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy.
I was hurt badly when my ministry was abruptly ended in 1995. I remember being called in to speak with the elders one Sunday morning after I had baptized a young man named Bobby. It was a hard meeting and I said some things I later regretted. Some of the elders also suggested, later, that maybe I would be “happier” at another congregation. Mary and I thought about that seriously and decided that after over 20 years and all the spiritual, emotional, and financial investment we had made at Oak Hills, not to mention our friendships here, moving on didn’t seem like such a good idea.
Those were fragile times. One evening when I attended a ministry meeting, the leader of the meeting said something thoughtless that cut me deeply. That wasn’t his intention, but I thought it was the last cut I could take. When I returned home I told Mary we would not be going back to Oak Hills. A friend had been inviting us to City of Refuge on Austin Highway and we would give it a shot.
The next Sunday we showed up at the shopping center church. It turned out not only was my friend there, but also the last employee I had hired at KCI before leaving to join the church staff in 1988! They were warm and friendly with almost every member greeting us. After some songs, the pastor turned to some family business. I found myself reading 1 Cor 14: 1-6 and began to contemplate the gifts of tongues and prophecy, since some were speaking in tongues.
Suddenly, the pastor’s wife, who had led the songs, said, “And you sir, is that your wife with you?”
Mary punched me. I looked up. “I’m sorry, were you talking to us?”
“Yes. Is that your wife with you?”
“What’s your name, sir?”
“Jim … Toombs, and this is my wife, Mary.” I was feeling uncomfortable.
“Well, the Lord told me you are going through a terrible shaking right now. He didn’t tell me what it was, only that you were being shaken. He wants you to know that he doesn’t want you to leave. He wants you to stay. You are doing good and people need you, they need to see you go through whatever is happening to you.”
Then, two more people got up and delivered their Words of Prophecy to us saying essentially the same thing.
Mary and I were dumbfounded. We had expected to be embraced and asked to stay, not told by the Spirit to leave! When the services were over, the song leader gave us a cassette of the service including the Words of Prophecy, and we went out to our car.
I looked towards the passenger seat at Mary. “Was that what I thought it was?” “I think so,” she said.
“I think we have to go back.” “So do I,” I said. “I don’t think God has released us, yet.” So the next Sunday we went back to Oak Hills. That was 14 years ago. God still hasn’t released us, and we won’t leave until He does. We will continue to serve in whatever ways He guides and in whatever ways we are allowed.
Contact Elder Jim Toombs: firstname.lastname@example.org