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Homage to a Legend

Good morning. It is Friday, June 25, 2021


It was 2005, I was in my kitchen cooking when God interrupted my thoughts by saying, "Jeanette, Call Big Jim."


I want to pause here for just a moment. I do not know if the ‘voice’ I hear is that of the Father, The Son, or The Holy Spirit. I only know from my experience at the age of 13, lost in the mountains above Spokane, that I knelt beside a riverbank and cried out to God the Father. The voice I heard immediately, giving me instruction that led me straight back to camp, is the same voice I have heard all my life.


I have heard this voice in direct response to prayer and, this voice has interrupted my thoughts at times. I am content knowing that some day I will know for sure which of the Trinity spoke to me.


I do know it is never rushed. It has never been a voice of panic. It does not yell. It is always calm, loving; a still-small voice.


I love 1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV “…behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks…but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.”


Back to my story.


Big Jim was the owner of the radio station where I worked. He taught me everything I needed to know about radio broadcasting. He had been in radio for a very long time and had this special God-given knack. He was great!



“The story…begins with the birth of Jim Wilson on January 3, 1926. Wilson, the founder of KAJO, was a product of a particular time and place in America: the Depression-era, river-bottom farm communities of central Oklahoma, where Jim lived until he was 18 years old.

…farming provided the Wilson family a meager living through the 1920s and ‘30s. Some years, the cotton crop would yield, other years … not so much. The difficulty of it all made a lasting impression on Jim.


…The farm work was backbreaking and Jim longed for a profession out of the weather and with fewer callouses!


After graduation from Bearden High School in 1943, Jim left the farm against his parent’s wishes and hitchhiked to Portland, Oregon. He wanted to join the U.S. Navy, but was disqualified due to childhood middle and inner ear injuries inflicted by primitive medical care. Jim joined his brother, Carl, who was living in Portland, and took a job welding Liberty Ships at Swan Island.


While in Portland, Jim noticed a broadcasting school advertisement on the back of a matchbook. He had always been a wit, much to the dismay of his parents and sisters. He decided to check this new opportunity out. He completed the coursework and returned to Oklahoma to work for his brother, Clarence, who had become active in building and operating radio stations throughout the West and Midwest. Clarence and his business partners -- the “money men” -- would build a new radio station that Jim would manage for a couple of years before moving on to the next freshly built station…


…Jim’s fortunes began to turn in Klamath Falls. He was making great money, selling advertising for the station, and enjoying his time on the air. He began to think that he just might be able to make it on his own. One day while selling advertising in downtown Klamath Falls, he encountered an appliance salesman representing a national brand. The man asked, “What’s a guy like you doing here? You should be in Grants Pass -- it’s a great town and there’s only one radio station.”


Well, that stranger’s name is lost to history, but he had quite an impact on Grants Pass without ever knowing it. Jim Wilson was about to go into business for himself.


…Back in Hays, Jim had learned that his long-time friend, Elzie Parker, had also gotten into this new thing called radio. What a strange coincidence that was! Jim called Elzie back in Arkansas and asked that he join him in Oregon…These two set Grants Pass on its ear for decades, weaving hilarious stories of childhood in that Oklahoma bottom land. Their stories resonated with the working-class “depression kids” who comprised so much of Grants Pass and Josephine County.


August 15, 1957. Jim and Elzie established KAJO as a station that the community could count on through thick and thin, come blazing fires or fearsome floodwaters. The station was a vanguard, protecting and caring for the community…” (source: https://www.kajo.com/history/)


That is who Big Jim was and I adored him.


Standing there at my stove I answered, "Ok Father, but after I am done cooking."

I heard it again, "Jeanette, Call Big Jim."


I answered, "Father, I am right in the middle of cooking this, whatever I was cooking. I can't just leave it now. I’ll call when I am finished."


I heard a third time, "Jeanette, call Big Jim now."


Well, by then I knew it was something that could not wait. I turned off the stove and grabbed my phone.


Isaiah 55:11 ESV “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”


Big Jim had been suffering from shingles and had some other health problems. My first thought was that I would sing for him.


Big Jim loved to hear me sing. He had even said to me, “If you were my daughter, I would have sent you to the best schools to really hone your singing skills."


I dialed the number. As it was ringing God spoke again, “I want you to pray with him.”


Big Jim was a big man. Tall, blue jeans, white button-up long-sleeved shirt, always tucked in. Belt and big belt buckle, Cowboy boots, toothpick in his mouth, and just a big presence! He had prayed for me in the past. He had put his large hand on top of my head and prayed over me once, tears streaming down my face, I could feel the presence of God. But now God wanted ME to pray with HIM? I was intimidated.


His son answered. “Can I talk to Big Jim?”


Jim always called me Nettey and that day was no exception. "Hey there Nettey" he said with a weak voice. “Hi Big Jim” I replied.


We spoke for just a couple of minutes. The whole time I felt this overwhelming “pray with him. Pray with him.”


As we were saying goodbye, I nervously asked, “Can I pray with you before we hang up?” He said, “I would like that.”


I have no idea what I said, I cannot remember. But we said goodbye and I went back to cooking.


John 10:27-28 ESV “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

The next day at work I learned that Big Jim had passed away during the night. I was stunned! I became so humble when I realized what had happened.


God knew I would get busy and forget to call Big Jim. He knew that Jim would be passing and for some reason, God felt Big Jim needed to hear from me. I believe He also knew how horrible I would have felt if I had realized I had been prompted to call but I put it off until after dinner. More than likely, I would have forgotten to do it. God, in His mercy and love, prompted me three times before I turned off that stove and obeyed that prompting.


Isaiah 52:7 ESV “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

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