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A Simple Man for a Great Mission: Jim Cymbala (Includes Story About His Daughter)

Susan loves the Lord. She seeks to walk close to him by studying the word of God. His word holds all the answers to life's questions.

Lives Changed

by Jim Cymbala

by Jim Cymbala

Fresh Wind Fresh Fire

Have you ever read a book that changed your life?

Years ago my husband and I read a book that changed our perspective on relationship with God so drastically, and on so many levels, that after reading it we were never the same.

This article is in honor of Pastor Jim Cymbala; A very simple man who God called to a very Great Mission.

Jim Cymbala, Pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle

A Simple Man

I call Jim a simple man based on my impressions of him through reading his book, "Fresh Wind Fresh Fire." Jim comes across as an everyday kind of guy. There's nothing striking about him. If you or I met Jim Cymbala on the street, I don't believe he would stand out from the crowd. He doesn't possess a flashy or charismatic personality nor is he a man to draw attention to himself. God’s glory shines through this unassuming, simple man.

Jim Cymbala never considered the pastorate. He had no Bible College training and no experience in ministry. Yet God chose him.

Jim was an ordinary man who possessed BIG faith. He loved God and answered YES to God's call on his life. God used Jim to begin a spiritual awakening in an unlikely place.

Jim says in the early days of ministry he had no clue what he was doing. It was Rev. Clair Hutchins (Jim's Pastor since junior high school and also his wife Carol's father) who convinced Jim of God's call on his life.

Rev. Hutchins urged Jim to shepherd a struggling little Church in Newark. Though Jim felt overwhelmed, he accepted the call.

I felt sorry for Jim. His account also humored me. As a newbie, Jim dug into the Bible and, as he says, practiced preaching before a live audience on Sundays.

Brooklyn Tabernacle

Church Steeple

Church Steeple

The Brooklyn Tabernacle

As if the little Church wasn't enough to overwhelm this novice, Jim's father-in-law entreated him to take another temporary position for a Church in crisis. Reverend Hutchins asked Jim to preach at this Church for about four Sunday nights.

This Church was a multiracial congregation called The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Though Jim felt ill-equipped, his heart of obedience to God led him to say yes. This decision proved to be the most pivotal of his lifetime.

Upon his first visit to the Brooklyn Tabernacle Jim realized there were big troubles in the Church. The young pastor, already on staff, felt discouraged. The first service, Jim took part in, proved to be an unorganized mess. Jim wasn't too worried because he was thinking, "At least it's not my problem. I'm just here to help."

During this supposed short stint at The Brooklyn Tabernacle, the young Pastor announced he was quitting. The Church was left in the lurch with no one to shepherd it. Jim was being thrust into a longer commitment to travel back and forth between the Churches.

Sundays were hard as he and Carol raced between them. They were getting burned out and knew they must choose between the two Churches. Though the Church in Newark was the only paying Church, their hearts were being drawn to the Brooklyn Tabernacle. They desired foremost, to do God's will. They were convinced that if God was calling them to minister at the Brooklyn Tabernacle He would take care of them.

Jim and Carol made their decision and, by faith, moved to Brooklyn. What happened next is nothing short of miraculous. Packing up their meager belongings, they headed to Brooklyn to a broken-down church in one of America's meanest neighborhoods.

Carol Cymbala

Carol Cymbala Choir Director

Carol Cymbala Choir Director

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Musical Genius

Carol Cymbala had a huge role to play in their new ministry. Anyone involved in Church ministry knows the crucial role the wife of the pastor plays. A wife can make or break a ministry. She can encourage, build-up, support, and love, or with her own hands tear down and destroy a ministry. Carol was a builder and a gifted servant of God.

As a pastors’ kid who grew up in the city, she heard the sounds of many cultures expressed through music. The classics blended with black gospel and traditional Scandinavian hymns. Early on, she felt music within her soul.