As we continue our blog series called “Kingdom Vision,” it is our hope to live and orient our lives according to His ways and not merely our own. I am excited to introduce Jarrod Willems to you. While he is not new to the South Side, nor CLDI, he is stepping into new territory as the pastor at the Hope Center, one of our great churches in the community. Enjoy this virtual meeting!
When I first met my wife, Kim, she was involved in South Side ministry at the old Clapham house, now known as the Hannah House. When we got engaged, we discussed where we planned to live and decided upon the South Side. Actually, Kim didn’t really give me a choice. Our first home was located kiddy corner from Garfield School. We were South Side residents.
Kim continued her involvement with the young girls at Garfield, and together we both worked Thursday nights at the Koininia – a Mexcian restaurant on the South Side. That was 30 years ago, and the friendships we developed during that time are still ongoing. I can trace my ministry roots back to CLDI and the South Side.
Vocations & Ministries
I didn’t really have a job when we were first married, so I decided to go back to school to become a pharmacist. After graduating, we spent time in Bozeman, but eventually returned to Billings where I worked as a pharmacist and pharmacy owner for 20+ years. I had always felt God calling me to ministry, but it took me a while to listen.
On a trip to Ethiopia, I started to really wonder where God was taking me next. I fell in love with Africa – more so, the people. I fell in love with serving and loving people. I fell more in love with Jesus and wanted to take a path different from the one I was on. I started leading mission trips for Provision International, thinking I was now certainly on the path God had for me. I was wrong.
Timing is Everything
My friend Josh took a day trip with me to Great Falls and shared with me his story of interning at Hope Center. As he spoke, I felt certain that I needed to intern there as well. When Josh finished talking, he said, “You need to call Stan (current interim pastor at Hope Center).” Little did he know, I had been thinking the same thing. Shortly thereafter, I had lunch with Stan, and at first, he said I had to be kidding him. But I was serious. God had brought Kim and me back to the South Side.
That was three years ago, and on June 27th, I will officially be the pastor of Hope Center. The slow transition has allowed me to glean from Stan’s 40+ years of experience pastoring. When Stan asked me to take over the church, my wife’s one request was that I wait until our youngest son graduated from high school. He graduated on May 30th! The Lord’s timing is impeccable and always perfect.
Dreams for the Future
When I started down this path, I never dreamed I would be able to be bi-vocational, but as the Lord would have it, I will both run the pharmacy and pastor.
My dreams for Hope Center always point back to verses in Matthew 22 about loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also told us to make disciples. Jesus is such a vital part of our lives, and we have to share the message of Jesus to those around us. Our love for God and our love for our neighbors has to be so great that our lives just scream Jesus. Words are optional.
I am so thrilled for Hope Center to continue its relationship with CLDI. My desire is for all the separate entities on the South Side to see each other as part of the same body working together to fulfill the mission Jesus has given us to go and make disciples. I love dreaming about creative ways to provide Godly solutions to the needs that we see in our neighborhood. I would love to see more businesses return to the South Side; that one day, the South Side becomes a destination instead of a place for people to avoid.
I envision a church that looks outward – one that isn’t just four walls that people come to on Sunday. A church that goes to the people. A church that doesn’t rely on people to come to it, but, rather, we become a body that brings the church to people. You, me, all of us, are the church and we are called to bring the message of Jesus to the people.