82-Year-Old Man Refuses to Retire
Jim Chandler doesn't nap. The 82-year-old man usually can't spare the time.
Nearly 30 years ago he left a Fortune 500 steel company with his late wife, Bea, and joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. He has been serving in different parts of the ministry ever since.
Last summer Jim embarked upon a new adventure in Campus Crusade. He joined the Life Builders ministry, in which he equips people to focus on the Great Commission -- the biblical command to make disciples of Christ.
"He's definitely a person in his retirement years who is not sitting on the couch," says Don Vigus, a youth pastor acquaintance of Jim. "He is still trying to be God's tools and hands where God has placed him. Jim sees ministry as a calling, not a vocation."
What's more, Jim clearly enjoys that calling.
August 2001 he put together a seminar on how to be a Great Commission-focused Christian, training pastors and key lay leaders in the Life Builders training process.
He offered just 2 weeks' notice to clergy, and one man told Jim, "If you get more than 5 pastors there, I'll be surprised."
But Jim knew pastors and he knew their needs; he had worked with them before through Campus Crusade's ChurchLIFE ministry. He mailed invitations to 200 pastors, and 37 attended the event.
Rev. Danny Hawkins couldn't go, but his youth pastor attended. The youth pastor introduced Danny to the Life Builders materials, and Danny started using them.
He began mentoring one man, who began mentoring another, who mentors another, so that in 4 months, Danny initiated a string of 30 men and youths coaching one another 1-to-1 in the foundations of the faith. Jim accomplished his mission.
But he wants more than simply to equip people through large gatherings. He meets weekly with 50-year-old Ben Palmer, a shift supervisor at a chemical-storage company. Jim met Ben at an early-morning Bible study.
"It means a lot that he even asked me," says Ben. "I jumped at the chance because Jim's a man of character. He's easy to talk to and easy to spend time with. He's a tremendous blessing in my life."
The two usually meet on Wednesdays in Jim's modern kitchen, where they can spread out their Bibles and workbooks. The location is convenient because sometimes the two eat lunch together.
Jim says the house lacks his wife's decorating touch because she passed away before she did much with the place. He's lonely for her, but that doesn't stop him from meeting with people.
"He loves people. He's around people sunrise to sunset. Jim stays on the go," says Ben, who mentors high-school-aged boys. "He goes to water aerobics, runs errands, goes to meetings, makes pamphlets and plays with his grandchildren."
Ben asked one day, "Jim, do you ever lie down and nap?"
"Oh, no. No, no," replied Jim. "I don't have time for that."
"I can't keep up with you," Ben said to his tutor.
But some long for a busy life like Jim's. His 62-year-old friend from another Bible study, Charles Greer, dragged some boiled peanuts over to Jim's house one day.
"I'm bored to death," Charles informed Jim. "I'd like to do what you're doing."
Jim simply listened as his retired friend assessed his life.
A week later Charles repeated the same desire. So Jim called Campus Crusade's human-resources department in Orlando, Fla., and requested a staff application for Charles and his wife, Sue. The couple applied, and officially joined the Campus Crusade team in April 2002.
After all, who has time for retirement? Certainly not Jim.