Australian evangelist and professor Jim Gibson calls his wife and six kids an answer to Dallas Seminary prayers. Currently a Ph.D. student, Jim completed his S.T.M. degree at DTS in 1978. In his last few months before completing that degree, a group of single students from Stearns and Lincoln organized an informal prayer meeting. One of the international students suggested that since the men were all single, they should pray for wives. So they did, and it was during those months that Jim’s future wife, Michelle, became a Christian in Australia. The same DTS student also prayed that Jim would have the opportunity to return home and participate in the Billy Graham and Leighton Ford crusades due to be held in Australia the next year. And as it happens, God honored that prayer as well.
Jim had recruited Dr. Richard Seume, the DTS chaplain at the time, to advise him about some problems with his thesis and thought no more of this connection. On finishing the degree, Jim had run out of money to get back home except that he still owned a 1972 Pontiac Catalina. Someone gave him a scholarship to attend a conference on discipleship in Kentucky and another student said he would pay for the gas if he could go as well. When the six-week conference was over, Jim was there in Kentucky with a car and only a $50 someone had slipped under his door.
“I wasn’t sure where I could go with what amounted to $50 gas money, but I’d always wanted to see the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton’s Grad school, so I decided to drive there,” Jim said. “And when I got there, I didn’t have a place to stay, so I booked myself in as a student to have a room and a meal ticket.”
Not long after, the Dean called Jim into his office and said, “We’ve heard about you!” It turned out that Richard Seume sat on the board of Wheaton College along with Billy Graham team members and had told the story of Jim’s thesis. “We want to send you back to Australia on an internship to be part of the Billy Graham & Leighton Ford Crusades there.”
So, Jim went to Leighton Ford’s four “Reachouts” around Australia and then arrived in Sydney for the last week of the Billy Graham crusade. He was making all his own accommodation arrangements and so telephoned an old friend and asked to stay with him. This friend had just become the deacon in charge of outreach at a Sydney Baptist Church and said it would be fine as long as Jim preached at the church on the final Sunday night when the crusade was over.
On that night a tall young girl, Michelle, gave her testimony about how she had become a Christian six months previously.
“I only saw her from behind as she told her story, but knew she was switched on for Christ!” Jim said.
After that Jim was planning to continue on to a Milwaukee Graham crusade, but the local church decided that they needed to continue the evangelism and invited Jim to be their preacher.
“I had to decide to be the preacher in my own little crusade in Sydney or sit in the stands and watch at the big one in Milwaukee.”
Jim chose to stay in Australia and that little impromptu crusade saw people continually converted to Christ and so the church kept extending it. That is why it lasted for four months. It became the next step in the growth of the paradigm of a four month “extended crusade.” This model of crusade is a mixture of evangelism and teaching Christians how to be fruitful. Jim would work alongside the local pastor for 3-4 months and help them raise the evangelistic awareness of the whole church. Jim met Michelle on the first night and they were engaged on the last—two days before he returned to Wheaton Grad School.
When it was time to get engaged, Jim had no money for a ring, but a man in the Sydney church owned a diamond business and asked Jim to visit him in the city. He had noticed Jim and Michelle’s relationship even though they were trying to keep it a secret. He helped Jim acquire a ring that had six diamonds in it, set in the shape of an M.
“When I gave it to her, I told her that there was one diamond for every child we would have—and now we have six, three boys and three girls.”
After they were married, Jim became the state evangelist for Baptist churches in Tasmania and continued his extended crusade model going around the major centers of Tasmania. Since then he has also been a pastor in churches in Adelaide and Sydney, turning church life into one long crusade.
From Sydney he was called to be the lecturer in theology and evangelism at the Queensland Baptist seminary, a school of about 150 students. Jim continues his evangelism from the seminary base. Part of his contract included the need to achieve his doctorate, so he and Michelle have been working on their doctorates (Michelle is doing a D.Min) by making visits back and forth. On this trip Michelle has had to stay in Brisbane with the six kids, the oldest of which is in ninth grade, so Jim is here on his own.
Just over 3 years ago, Jim was diagnosed with a fairly severe “heart complaint,” which his local doctor expected would take his life within 2-5 years. But, he says the mixture of prayers and new medicines has been making him stronger and the last time he went to see the specialist, the cardiologist raced to check his file photographs because the appearance of the heart was improving. “I even participated in a volleyball tournament with some of the students from Lincoln during missions week.”
The mission of Dallas Theological Seminary is to
glorify God by equipping godly servant-leaders
for the proclamation of His Word and the
building up of the body of Christ worldwide.