Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” For the past 20 years I have joined Pathway readers in being blessed by the Bible study lessons written by Dr. Jim McCullen. Now, at age 85, “Dr. J” as I have always affectionately called him, has earned the right to put his pen in the ink well for the final time.
It has been a prolific pen, producing more than 600,000 words since we first started publishing his lessons in January 2003. Since the launch of the printed edition of The Pathway, it has been the faithful, steady pen in the hand of Jim McCullen that has produced the Bible study lessons that have blessed so many. Next to me, he is the longest-tenured member of The Pathway team.
Little did I realize, when he contacted me about doing the Bible study lessons, what enormous impact he would have on so many lives. I have often told him that he will not fully realize the impact his writings have had until his arrival in heaven. As editor I have been blessed by messages from readers expressing their gratitude for “Dr. J’s” work.
Several years ago, I received a letter from a lady near Pittsburgh, Pa. She said that she was a Sunday School teacher in a small, Southern Baptist church that did not have much money. Somehow she heard that she could get a copy of The Pathway sent to her. Since they could not afford Sunday School material, she said they were blessed to use Dr. J’s lessons and that she wanted to express her thanks.
I once received an email from a gentleman in Los Angeles. He wrote to tell me he found a copy of The Pathway in the seat pocket on his airline flight out of Boston, Mass. He wanted to express his thanks for the blessing he received in reading it.
There is no doubt in my mind as to why “Dr. J’s” lessons have generated such reactions: his faithfulness to God’s inerrant, infallible and sufficient Word. His ability to make God’s Word come alive – while being accessible to laity – is a gift from God and a blessing to the Church.
But there is more to Jim McCullen than the Bible study lessons. His ministry spans more than a half century. He took 12 years to earn his degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, while being a faithful husband, dad and pastor at numerous churches in multiple states. God has blessed him with a family that will continue his legacy of ministry for years to come (two grandsons, two grandsons-in-law and a son-in-law have all answered God’s call to the gospel ministry.)
Another reason I wanted “Dr. J” to join The Pathway team is because he had been a part of the conservative movement – known as Project 1000 – that saved the Missouri Baptist Convention from theological liberalism. It was that movement that gave birth to The Pathway. So, I knew he was the right man at the right time.
He believed in this newspaper from Day One. He encouraged me when no one in Missouri even knew or cared who I was. And he provided a steady and credible hand at a time when readership was at zero and liberals hated our guts.
So it is with sadness that I received a recent letter from him telling me that his important contribution to this newspaper must come to a close. One thing I have learned in my 50-plus years in journalism is that things change. Seasons of change come for us all. And so, it has for “Dr. J” and his sweet, faithful wife, Christa, who “cracked that whip” when she had too for those lessons to reach Pathway readers on time. (In all these years, Jim never missed a deadline.)
God bless you Jim and Christa McCullen. We love you. We will miss you. Our hearts burst with gratefulness to God for sending the McCullens our way.
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You may notice a couple of changes to The Pathway in coming issues. After years of resisting, I am changing course on obituaries for pastors. For The Pathway’s first 19 years we have resisted publishing obits of pastors for two reasons: we did not have the staff nor the editorial space for them – until now. Since Sunday School lessons are readily online, we will now use the page that carried lessons for pastor obits. The obit must be written and sent by the assisting funeral home and will be limited to one, perhaps two paragraphs. We love and support our pastors.