Our founder and president of 16 years, Jim Hutchens, passed away on July 13, 2021. We grieve for the hole left in our hearts. However, we take comfort knowing that he is at the footstool of our Almighty Father, glorifying the name of Yahweh in his eternal life just as he did in his earthly life.
Many of you know that Jim’s body had been slowly weakening over the last 18 months. For years, he has struggled with chronic back pain. The back pain was likely a consequence of his time serving in the 11th Airborne Division, jumping out of airplanes from 30,000 feet. I asked him once if he had any regrets about his parachutist days for the toll it had taken on his body, he smiled and said, “We sure had fun.” Though Jim’s body felt every bit of his 86 years, his soul and mind remained expansive, as all his visitors attested in his last months.
Jim came to faith in Jesus Christ during his young, enlisted days after meeting with an army chaplain for months with his questions about the Bible. Once saved, Jim felt called to the chaplaincy and attended Wheaton, where he met his wife Patty, and then headed to Dallas Theological Seminary. Only a year after his commission as chaplain for the 70th Engineer Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Jim boarded a cargo ship to Vietnam. Jim looked back on his combat chaplain years with extreme gratitude. Nothing like the unknowns of war to humble men to recognize their need for a savior and Jim considered it an immense privilege to assist many soldiers as they approached God for the first time. Between the conduction of baptisms, bible studies and memorial services, Jim was also a brave soldier, earning two Bronze Stars and one Purple Heart for his time in Vietnam.
For those of us at Jerusalem Connection, Jim was our ever-present mentor, teacher, and friend. When he founded the Jerusalem Connection, he envisioned an organization that would inform, educate, and activate Christians to love and support Israel and the Jewish people. He and Patty felt so strongly about their love for Israel and willingness to stand with the Jewish nation that they tried to make Aliyah; a story told in their combined autobiography Guilty!
Jim studied the scriptures to define the shape of Jerusalem Connection’s mission. Our focus on bringing Jews home to Israel stems from the prophetic vision of Isaiah 49:22. Our commitment to fighting antisemitism and the Boycott Divestment Sanction movement stems from Isaiah 62:1 and the command that for Zion’s sake, we will never keep silent. Our fight to root out replacement theology from the Christian church stems from the great themes of the Bible as laid out in Jeremiah 32:40 and God’s assurance that the covenant with Israel is everlasting.
I can personally not even imagine the shape of my adult life without Jim as a constant presence. But I, along with everyone else at Jerusalem Connection, count ourselves among the blessed that we were privileged to have known him and been taught by him, both directly and through his example of living a life that was holy and pleasing to the Lord.
Jim is now reunited with his First Lady Patty Hutchens. He is survived by his 3 married children, Matt, Sarah, and Rachel, 12 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren.
Amy Zewe was with Jim a week before his passing. Jim was in and out of sleep but when he woke, he would whisper “Yahweh.” I can only imagine that he was at the threshold of heaven already. Jim had an endearing habit that when unbelievers in his unit asked him to pray for them, he would often reply, “I will pray. And I am sure He would love to hear from you too.” May Jim’s life be an example to us all and I encourage all of you to make sure that Yahweh is hearing from you too!
“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).
For those who can attend, please join us at Jim’s Memorial Service on August 6, 2021, at 2:00pm. The service will take place at Capital Church, 10233 Leesburg Pike Vienna, VA 22182.