While fans in Seattle and Denver were celebrating their football victories on Sunday, a different wave of excitement was sweeping through a small church community in Houston, Texas. Jim Gross is a World Vision Child Ambassador … this is his story.
What began as a typical Sunday for Child Ambassador Jim Gross ended with extraordinary results.
In December, Jim’s exhausted Bible Study leader asked him to teach their Sunday morning class. Jim agreed and soon began leading an eight-week study using The Hole in Our Gospel, by World Vision president Richard Stearns.
This past Sunday was the penultimate week of the study, and Jim’s lesson focused on the story of the rich young ruler. The lesson stirred the class of 16 to begin sharing their testimonies of being blessed and wanting to do more to help others. Tears fell across the room as individuals told stories, asked tough questions, and sought God’s truth for their lives.
After class, the group headed into church. Much to Jim’s amazement, the pastor (who knew nothing about Jim’s lesson) began to preach from the very same account that Jim had taught.
After the service, Jim felt led to approach a woman he had never spoken to about child sponsorship. After he briefly explained what he does as Child Ambassador, the woman grabbed the picture of a child from Jim’s hands and said, “I’ve wanted to sponsor a child for a year but just didn’t know anyone to do it with. Give me one.”
As Jim was leaving church, another man approached him and said, “Give me a boy. We already sponsor a girl and we want a boy now, too.”
During a birthday lunch after church, two more individuals asked to sponsor children. Following lunch, another man approached Jim and asked him how many children he had left. Jim held up his final three child pictures and the man said, “Give them to me. I hear the passion in your voice, Jim, and we’ve been so blessed. How can we not do this?”
Nine children sponsored in one day. Nine children’s lives forever changed.
“And I don’t think it’s over yet – I think more people will approach me next week. This just blows me away. I’m still on cloud nine. I hope I never stop feeling like this.”
Jim has diligently served as a Child Ambassador since November of 2012. It all began on a World Vision trip to Mexico, where “I saw what the dollars do,” Jim said. “Being on the ground and seeing it action and how it affects the whole community. The interpreter came over and said that because of how I showed love to those children that day, the kids were asking her how they could ‘adopt’ me. I’ve done missions trips for years but you lose touch with the people you serve with. I’d prayed for something more personal … more lasting that I can do on a daily basis. And then a friend handed me The Hole in Our Gospel. I immediately signed up to become a Child Ambassador.”
Jim and his wife Missy sponsor eight children themselves, and their passion is already inspiring others in their family. “Every time I receive my child pictures from World Vision,” Jim said, “I wait for [my 4-year-old granddaughter] Kennady to come over so we can open the package together. She sits on my lap and I tell her the story of each child. She asks when she will be bigger so that she can help the kids. At church on Sundays, she carries the child pictures around and asks ‘Paw Paw’ who she can ask to sponsor. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Having set up tables at large fairs and other events and not having a single child sponsored, in the past Jim has questioned his efforts and asked God to show him how to serve. But he realizes that being a Child Ambassador isn’t about him.
Jim’s Sunday was just one example of that – how God weaves people’s gifts, stories, and intentions together to produce a beautiful result.
“It’s the compassion in your voice that they hear. You don’t know how God can use you when you give him the chance.”
Jim became a Christian at the age of 20. At that moment, he made a two-fold deal with God: “I will serve you more than I serve the world” and “whatever money you bring my way, it’s yours, tell me what to do with it. It blows me away where God has brought me.”
Join our volunteer network and work alongside us to bring hope and joy to children around the world! Consider applying to become a Child Ambassador today.