2701 East Eighth Street, National City
Pastor: Will James
Born: Portland, OR
Formation: Loma Linda University, Loma Linda
Years Ordained: 30
San Diego Reader: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
Pastor Will James: The saving grace of Jesus Christ is truly what the whole Bible boils down to. It is the most important thing for a Christian to know — that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and there is no other way to have salvation.
SDR: What is your main concern as member of the clergy?
PJ: The focus of my ministry is the mission statement I have chosen for our church — to bring hope to our community. I see that as the purpose of the church — to have a positive impact on the community. I’m not so much interested in theology and doctrine as I am in truly sharing Jesus Christ in a meaningful and relevant way. Let me share with you a little bit of what our ministry is. Currently we are giving out 8000 pounds of food a week to about 500 families. We run an English-language school five days a week for refugees, which include all-day sessions with English language in the morning and job training and work experience in the afternoon. We’re also doing a community garden; we’re in the process of developing over 12,000 square feet of hillside that’s been leased to us by Paradise Valley Hospital next door to us. I see ours as a relevant church, and it’s one of the reasons we’re here. If we’re not having an impact in the community we live in, then why are we here? I don’t like social clubs.
SDR: Where was the strangest place you found God?
PJ: In the terminal illness of my first wife 20 years ago. She died at the age of 41 of melanoma cancer. While it was a difficult time to go through, I truly felt Christ the strongest during that time. I saw Him working in the life of my wife in a meaningful and relevant way….She had a terrible time up to that point in trusting God. She was a wonderful Christian, a wonderful mother, and wonderful wife, but it wasn’t until her terminal illness that she broke through and truly learned to trust God. She gave her testimony at a church-camp meeting up in Canada, and as part of that she said she was the happiest she’s ever been because she finally had peace with God. So, that was a strange way to experience God, but it was very meaningful to me.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
PJ: We believe that the Bible teaches when you die, you sleep in the grave until the resurrection morning when Christ returns. At that time, He resurrects the righteous and takes them to heaven to live with Him for eternity. Not all are righteous; only those who choose the salvation that Jesus offers. Everyone could be righteous, but not everybody makes that choice. Ultimately, those who don’t will be destroyed eternally. Hell is a reality. We do not believe or teach that there is an everlasting burning hell where someone is tortured forever and ever and ever. We believe that hell is everlasting in terms of consequences; its results are final — they are eternal. But once it has burnt up, it has burnt up forever. We don’t see God as willing to torture someone.