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Jim Bollow has been a churchgoer for much of his life, but it wasn’t until 2011—at the age of 64—that the retired fireman acknowledged Jesus Christ as His Savior and Lord.
His childhood included regular church and Sunday school attendance, and although he wandered away from the church as a young adult and during his years as a Navy man, he later felt “something missing” in his life. Linda, Jim’s wife, had less church background but a similar spiritual hunger. So shortly after their wedding—a second marriage for both—they began going to church.
They were faithful in their atten-dance, and heavily involved as volunteers there. Jim even served on the church’s lay leadership council. But to the Bollows, church was more of a club where they belonged, where they went to be involved and to enjoy social activities.
“We look back over those years and realize that we never heard the Gospel,” Jim said. “I guess if you had asked me then if I was a Christian, I would have told you I was. But after we came to Wheaton Bible Church, I realized very quickly that wasn’t the case.”
Even after he heard the Gospel message, however, Jim was slow to respond.
“I listened to Pastor Bugh over and over again,” Jim recounts. “I knew that I needed to ask Christ to be my Lord and Savior, but I still had this feeling that I wasn’t good enough. I can’t tell you the number of times I thought about how it was hypocritical to accept Christ and turn around and go out and sin again. So I didn’t do it right away.
“Then one Sunday, when Luis Palau was here—in October 2011—I accepted Christ. I checked the box on the card in the bulletin that said, ‘Today, I’ve decided to become a follower of Christ.’ Then we went down and prayed with one of the ladies on the prayer team, and my life really started to change.”
To Linda, the change in Jim was clear—even though she had assumed all along that he shared her faith in Christ.
Linda had become a believer in her late thirties. At that time, even though she was head-over-heels in love and happily married to Jim—then a young Wheaton fireman—she had been feeling that something was missing in her life. Drawn to read the Bible but not understanding what she was trying to read, she came across a simple Gospel message in a little book she had been given years before.
“As I read, I was thinking, This is what I’ve been waiting for. What I’ve been looking for is Jesus. That night I asked Jesus to take over my life. It was like everything just fit.”
Fast-forward to 2011 and the Sunday morning when, Jim says, he was “made new” in Christ. To Linda, the “new” Jim is complete.
“He’s more of a whole person, not searching in all these different directions, trying to find whatever it was he was looking for,” she says. “He’s always been a very kind and caring person, but much more so now. Now he’s also very compassionate.”
“I can’t even tell you how good I feel about the decision I made and how my life has changed. God has been very good to me,” Jim added.
The next step for Jim and Linda was their decision to be baptized.
“Linda wanted to be baptized,” Jim says, “but she never really pushed me. I thought about it for a while, and one day in church there was a sign-up card, and I signed up.”
Jim and Linda joined 154 others who were baptized during a special All-Church Baptism on September 8.
“It had been on my heart for a long time,” Linda added, “that I wanted to be baptized and publicly show my love for Christ and my commitment to him. I’m too shy to do it on a Sunday morning and speak, so when the All-Church Baptism came up, I signed up. I feel really good that I made that public statement.”
One of the places the Bollows have found to plug in is the Welcome Desk. Several evenings a month you’ll find them serving as part of the Front Door Ministry team in the role of Gatekeepers.
“When people walk in the door, whether they’re new or they need help of some kind, you’re often the first person they come to,” Jim said. “In some cases that involves providing information, but they may come with a spiritual need.
“You have to be ready to pray with people who call or who come into the church,” Jim said, “and help them in whatever way you can.”
Jim and Linda attend the Pathways Adult Community, and each are part of a weekly Bible study—Place4You for Linda and Thursday-morning Huddle for Jim. They are also looking for ways to get plugged in a bit more and are checking out other places they could serve.
“We’re both retired and have a little more time now—and we love serving through this church because we know that it’s so Gospel centered,” Linda said.
Linda, who once struggled to understand the Bible, now speaks for both the Bollows when she says, “We thank God for showing us the truth of His Word here at Wheaton Bible Church.”
I grew up going to church only occasionally and not ever really giving much thought to God.
At age 18, after a stint of rebellious teenage years, I married and had two children. It was a bad marriage, and my husband left me to raise and support my children alone. I had several lonely and angry years and was searching for the love I hadn’t gotten at home as a child or as a wife.
I tried many times to read the Bible, believing that I would find some connection to God, but none of it made any sense to me.
I met and married my current husband and was on cloud nine! I didn’t know anyone could be so in love and so happy! But something was still missing. I still felt an emptiness that I couldn’t explain and didn’t understand. One evening I decided I would try reading the Bible again, but instead I came across a small book about Jesus and stories of changed lives that someone had given me many years before. As I read, it was as if a great big lightbulb went on, and I realized that it was Jesus that I had been searching for all along!
God has filled me with a hunger for more, and my personal relationship with Christ is still growing!
Although I went to church and was baptized as a kid, I never fully understood the importance of having Jesus in my life. After high school, I stopped attending church altogether and began to live life on my own terms. That led to poor choices, drinking, and missed opportunities with my kids.
As time went on, I felt something missing in my life. I had a feeling of emptiness that I just couldn’t seem to fill. I went back to church, and if someone had asked me if I was a Christian or was going to heaven, the answer would have been yes—but then we started attending Wheaton Bible Church.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. —2 Corinthians 5:17
There I began to hear the Gospel in a way I had never heard it before. But I still struggled with the feeling that I didn’t deserve the forgiveness that Christ offered.
Over time, the messages I heard every Sunday began to sink in. I didn’t deserve God’s grace, and the only thing I could do was ask Jesus to forgive my sins and take control of my life.
When Luis Palau gave a sermon, “A Staggering Event,” here at the church, I gave my life to Christ. Since then, I have given up drinking, which made me not a nice person to be around. Today I try to live my life according to God’s will and not my own. I am still a sinner, but with Jesus I have forgiveness and the hope of eternal life with God.