“What’s kept me driven is the word of God!” says Jim Wiseman with a remarkable sense of certainty. After three decades of vocational ministry, Jim and his wife Jacquie responded to God’s call to retirement. They passed on the role of leading the inner-city ministry, Walls of Freedom.
“The last 30 years have been a journey, and I look back and say, where did the time go?” expresses Jim. We are grateful for the chance to sit down with Jim and reflect together on his experience.
Conversation with Jim Wiseman
How did you get involved with serving in the Inner City?
I had been in the military for 23 years, and at the age of 30, I felt led to attend Bible School. After graduation, I spent some time working with Springs Church. We began to take youth out to minister to people on the streets of Winnipeg, resulting in a passion that was birthed for the inner city. While my wife and I were praying over this, the Lord placed the scripture Isaiah 42:6-9 on our hearts, which became our mission; to see the captives set free.
So we moved to the North End and received a church on Burrows Ave, which would eventually become what is now known as Springs Inner City. After a while, we moved on and got connected with the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba(MBCM) through Elton DaSilva. With the help of MBCM, we acquired a building and were present in the community. This enabled us to minister to hundreds of people in Osborne Village and in the North End.
What factors do you believe were key to your ministry?
The personal contact in homes was one of our most significant growth factors and our visitation list grew up to 1700 people. We also placed emphasis on visiting those in prison and took opportunities to connect with former prisoners once they were released.
You ‘ve connected with many people. Any stories that have forever impacted you?
One particular story involves a connection made with a gentleman through our bi-weekly Men’s breakfast. He would attend regularly but did not say much. When he did speak, it was very vulgar and disruptive. After sitting through one of our teachings on how to deal with stress, he called to apologize and shared about his journey of being in 19 foster homes. We continued to connect and hear more about his story, and he became a regular part of the community.
What are some of the challenges you faced?
There are times when it seemed like people were stuck in all they’ve ever known. Whether that was abuse or merely a way of thinking, we had to learn to be patient as we walked alongside people.
What do you think you will miss most?
The people. Once we retired in June, my wife and I decided one day to hand out ice cream in the community, and our daughter said: “Dad, what are you doing? You’re supposed to be retired!!”. I miss the face to face contact with people. Loving them, feeding them and being able to give advice according to the word of God.
What has it meant to be a part of MBCM?
I’m struck by their kind hearts. It has been encouraging to be pushed on with beneficial resources. At times that included things such as connecting MBCM churches to collect Christmas gifts for the kids or getting the word out for people to come help with our youth ministry. The support has been amazing.
Retirement is a significant life change, I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision?
We pulled back in June as we felt it was time to pass on the reins. My wife and I had been praying for a younger couple to come along, and they did. Derrick and Priscilla Moodley have a fantastic testimony of coming from South Africa with a call to Winnipeg. After hearing their approach and heart for ministry, it resonated deeply with what we believe.
Having pulled back, I do feel what I could describe as not really being neglected, but kind of feeling orphaned. We’ve been doing this for 30 years, it’s like being in a marriage. So now we are just waiting for the Lord to see what He has next for us.
To finish off, what advice would you give to new and existing pastors?
Have the format of God’s word on your heart. Not just being task-driven. Many family members have asked, “30 years in the inner city…how could you do that?” Having God’s word in your Spirit allows you to keep going every day. Take advice from other leaders, but the whole groundwork is to have God’s word in your heart.
Thank you from MBCM
We want to extend our sincere gratitude to Jim and Jacquie for their dedication and commitment. The impact they have had in the inner city as well as within the MBCM community is tremendous. We have no doubt that their hearts for people will only continue to benefit those around them in this next season of their lives.