Mars Hill Church Tacoma has been blessed with Executive Deacon Jim VanVliet and his wife, Kathy. This is their story.
It began about three years ago when Jim read a book by a man who gave up his career to go into full-time ministry and encouraged others to serve God’s kingdom with their life’s work. This impacted Jim so greatly that he and Kathy went on a retreat near their home in Northwest Indiana to pray about how they could dedicate the second half of their lives to God’s work. After this time of prayer, they both felt God was calling Jim to sell his successful business and serve Jesus in fulltime ministry. Jim prepared his resume and started looking for possibilities.
As he prayerfully searched for opportunities, the name of Mars Hill Church kept coming up. He read through Mars Hill’s doctrinal statement, watched some podcasts, and, after God continually brought Mars Hill to the top of his search engine, figured it wouldn’t hurt to apply. Within a few days he had a phone interview with human resources, then another with Pastor Sutton Turner, then several with Pastor Bubba Jennings. Soon he and Kathy were on a flight to Seattle. They spent eight days interviewing and learning about Mars Hill Church and the Puget Sound area. Jim and Kathy felt welcome and at home in Tacoma and by the Mars Hill community. They left Seattle with a job offer and a great deal of change coming their way.
God provided for the sale of their home in Indiana within 30 days and orchestrated so many of the details that the VanVliets felt confident that Mars Hill Church was exactly where God wanted them. Jim started his new role of Executive Deacon in July 2013 with the added task of managing the renovation and restoration of the Mars Hill Tacoma building. With no prior construction or building experience, Jim said that it caused him to completely rely on God. More than anything, the VanVliets felt blessed to serve Jesus alongside the people of Mars Hill.
“We just can’t get over how devoted everyone is to this church,” Kathy stated, “how they would show up to the work parties, how if there is a need that is put out there, they come. That is such a huge blessing and it’s allowed us to get to know so many people.”
With the launch of Mars Hill Tacoma on January 12, 2014, came record attendance of 1,786 people, 28 baptisms, and the good news of Jesus being proclaimed in Tacoma. Jim reflected that those 28 baptisms make all of the hard work worth it as a legacy is being built in the South Sound. When asked what Jim sees for the future he said, “Mars Hill Church will make a huge impact for Christ and we pray for more leaders to be raised up and more people to meet Jesus, plant churches, make disciples.”
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