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ELDER PROFILE: Jeff Jacob

WBC Elder Jeff Jacob

WBC Elder Jeff Jacob

How long have you been a member of Wheaton Bible Church? Tell us why and how you came to WBC.

In 1987, we relocated to Wheaton from Dallas, Texas. WBC was the first church we visited. After our first Sunday, my wife and I just loved it, and we figured there was no point in visiting any other churches. We became members in 1989.

Describe one or two memorable church experiences. 

When I put my faith in Christ as a freshman in college, no one ever encouraged me to be baptized, and somehow 39 years went by before I was finally baptized last September. I really love all the baptisms we have and hearing everyone’s story!

How long have you been an Elder?  

Since January 2011.

What is the most challenging part of being an Elder? What is the most rewarding part?  

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to get better acquainted with WBC staff, and it’s also been a special blessing to pray with people who are hurting or sick.

How and when did you accept Christ as your Savior?  

In November 1973, in my dorm room, during my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin. Two guys from Campus Crusade (or CRU as it’s now known) shared the “Four Spiritual Laws” with me, and I gave my life to Christ.

Do you have a favorite portion of Scripture? What is it, and why is it meaningful to you? 

Psalm 103:11–12, because it’s a picture of how great God’s love for us is and how He views us as forgiven. Also Matthew 22:37–40 because it’s in essence a summary of the Bible, and it’s really a somewhat simple statement of what God wants of us.

Tell us a little about your work. 

I’m a civil engineer, working at a firm that I started with a partner in 1996. Our clients are typically real estate developers, though we also work with some school districts and park districts. Architects design the buildings, and civil engineers design everything from the building to the street, including the grading, pavement, drainage, water, and sanitary sewers.

Tell us about your growing-up years. 

My biological parents both came from Switzerland, but I was born here in the US, in Monroe, Wisconsin—so I’m a first-generation American. My parents divorced when I was around four years of age, and we went back to Switzerland. There my mom met my stepfather, who had escaped from East Germany prior to the building of the Berlin Wall. They married when I was five years old. From the time I was six or seven until I graduated from college, my biological father was not part of my life. I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee with an older sister, Jessica, and a younger half sister, Janet.

Tell us about your wife and children.  

In 1978, after graduating from college, I moved to Dallas, Texas, which is where I met my wife, Sherri. I had been involved with the Navigators at the University of Wisconsin, and Sherri’s dad was the Navigator’s representative for the Dallas area. Sherri and I were married in 1980 and have three grown children, Michelle, Brent, and Preston, who are all in their 20s. Michelle was married to Charles Carter at WBC, and they have a one-year-old daughter, Elsa.

Can you share a short story about life that offers insight about you or your walk with God?  

The great recession that started in 2008, plus a lawsuit  brought against our firm, and the subsequent trial, which also occurred in late 2008, had a great impact on my wife and me. Teacher and author Chris Mitchell once said that “control is an illusion,” and I think he’s absolutely right. We like to think we have things under control, but in reality, God is in control, and all we can do is pray and trust Him. Those were very difficult and challenging times, but Sherri and I have grown so much closer in our relationship to each other and in our relationship to God.

If you could speak with each member of the congregation, what would you say?   

There is a whole world of lost people out there; wake up each morning and ask yourself, How can I be like Jesus today? Who can I love into the Kingdom?


My Story

Jeff and Sherri Jacob

Jeff and Sherri Jacob

My parents emigrated from Switzerland to the US because it was the land of opportunity. They instilled in me the idea that to be financially successful, I needed to do well in school. So I was the perfect student through high school, graduating at the top of my class.

I was very confident in myself, but as an immigrant kid I always felt a little different from everyone else. I just wanted to be “normal” and to be successful in life, both materially and relationally. I saw unhappiness in my parents’ marriage, which ended when I was young, and I wanted to be sure I didn’t make the same mistake.

When I got to college—where I was no longer the immigrant kid—I found myself coming out of my shell and getting involved in lots of activities, some good and some not so good. At that point, my desire to succeed academically came into conflict with my desire to be social, and the more activities I was involved in, the worse my grades got. I was unable to say no to friends’ invitations, even though I knew I should be studying instead.

One day during my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, a couple of guys knocked on my dorm-room door and asked me if I would be interested in hearing what the Bible had to say. I invited them in, and they shared verses from the Bible that explained how Jesus had died on the cross for my sins. They told me that if Jesus became my personal Savior, then I could know for sure that I would go to heaven someday.

Having grown up attending a Catholic church, I knew about Jesus; however, my understanding of Christianity was a bunch of dos and don’ts, and I thought that at the end of my life God would measure the good versus the bad and if the good outweighed the bad, then He would let me into heaven.

But the two guys said that salvation was a free gift I needed to accept, and that I couldn’t earn my way into heaven by being a “good” person.

They also shared with me that if I tried to run my own life, things would be out of control—which was exactly how I felt at that time—but if I let God run my life, He would bring order to it.

God loved me unconditionally, they said, just as I was, even though I was a sinner.

So the three of us prayed right there in my dorm room, and I confessed my sin and asked Jesus to be my Savior and to take control of my life. Though I didn’t feel any different, I knew inside of me that because of the decision I had made and the prayer I had prayed, I was now a different person.

A week or so later I told a Christian guy in my dorm that I had prayed to receive Jesus as my Savior. He was very excited for me and invited me to come to his room every Saturday morning to read the Bible with him. He also asked me to join a group of guys who studied the Bible together.

As I grew in my faith, God helped me to become more disciplined, and I was able to turn things around academically. And as I grew to better understand that God accepted me for who I was, it didn’t always matter if I wasn’t always accepted by others. I became more secure and was able to not be so concerned about what others would think.

In the years since, God has used various trials in my life to make me even more dependent on Him. My desire is to follow Him, no matter what.

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This entry was posted on September 9, 2013 by in Elder Profile, Fall 2013, My Story and tagged , , , .

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