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Africa Inland Mission/Kingma
PO Box 3611
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Life Story / Obituary
For Jim Kingma, it wasn’t so much about the clothes he wore, the house he lived in, the car he drove or the places he traveled. For Jim, life revolved around what the Lord would have him do for others, and for His kingdom. Jim was a loving and patient man whose kind and tenderhearted nature was evident to all. However, that wasn’t always the case in Jim’s life. Through his story, may others come to see the powerful transformation the Lord can do if we only have enough faith to simply believe.
Jim’s story began during a time of economic prosperity as industry and the need for consumer goods rose to new levels. While Gershwin and Berlin dominated the music sector, men in their pan hats strolled along with swank and swagger and were quite a match for the belles of the infamous Roaring Twenties, the flapper. At the same time, Ellis Island closed its doors as an immigration entry point leaving behind numerous memories of promises for better tomorrows. Yet nestled in the riverfront city of Grand Rapids, Michigan, nothing compared to the excitement felt by William and Grace Kingma when on July 3, 1924 they celebrated the birth of their little boy, James Harold Kingma.
One of five children, Jim grew up alongside his siblings, Harvey, Betty, Ed and Will at 761 London Street in Grand Rapids where the Kingma family made their home. His father, a hard working man, owned and operated a produce business on Chicago Drive while his mother looked after their household as a homemaker. Jim enjoyed a childhood typical of his generation, although the onset of the Great Depression created hard economic times for all.
Jim, like all young boys, loved sports and found his share of mischief, too. Before graduating from Christian High School in 1942, Jim often skipped school to play a few rounds at Chinook’s Pool Hall. He also had quite a love for baseball. During one of his piano lessons, Jim was listening to a ball game on the radio. As he turned the radio up just in time to hear the score and as Hank Greenberg hit a home run, his piano teacher slapped his hands and his piano career came to an abrupt end. During his youth and beyond, Jim’s love of baseball never waned. In time he realized his longtime dream and attended a World Series game against his beloved Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. Although the Tigers lost, Jim was just as thrilled being there.
Through the years memorable times were shared with family. Although vacations were few, they often traveled to Fremont to the family farm. One time Jim’s mother packed up all the kids and sent them to her brother’s home in Fremont for an entire summer. Many holiday memories were shared and treasured, and when their family grew larger, they began having to meet in a gym. Over the years, Jim and his siblings often met for lunch to catch up.
Following high school, Jim was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was stationed in the Philippines before his honorable discharge. After returning home, he kept busy working for Kingma Produce. He also enjoyed time spent with friends, but upon meeting Leslie Aileen “Lee” Keizer, life as Jim knew it forever changed. Lee and a friend were waiting for a bus when Jim and a buddy came by in a yellow convertible. The boys asked if they wanted a ride, and knowing Jim was one of the Kingma boys, the girls complied. From that point on, Jim and Lee were nearly inseparable.
Deeply in love, the couple was happily married on August 3, 1949 at Forest Grove Reformed Church before a congregation of family and friends. As husband and wife, Jim and Lee began their honeymoon in Holland. They booked a suite, but they arrived after midnight only to discover their room had been given away. After many tears, Lee was happy they finally got a room, and Jim was relieved. Yet their misfortune didn’t stop there. When Jim went to brush his teeth before bed, he broke one of his upper teeth and went their entire honeymoon with a missing tooth. Lee cried for the following two nights, but they soon went on to have a wonderful honeymoon in the Colorado mountains.
While Jim worked for his father, Lee worked as a secretary at Brace Twine and Supply. As newlyweds, they made their first home together at 846 Oakdale and soon welcomed a family of their own with the eventual births of five children, Jim, Barb, Shayne, Doug, and Kevin. In time they moved to a house on Merrifield and on Kalamazoo Avenue before building a home at 4600 Bonnie. Jim spent a good portion of time working in the family business. When his father sold the land where the store was to Kroger, it was then when Jim joined his brothers in forming Kingma Brothers Produce.
It wasn’t long after when a remarkable change took over Jim’s heart. Having contracted a serious virus while working, Jim was listening to the radio when Dr. Warren Wiersbe came on the radio. Jim was very interested in what he had to say, and was challenged by his message taken from Psalm 90:10. “Teach us to number our days” had a profound impact on Jim, and he realized he had given his life to work and money, rather than to God. At that moment, Jim took an actual mustard seed, placed it in his hand, and said, “Lord, if you can move this mountain, my health, I will serve you for the rest of my life.” God healed Jim, and in turn, Jim remained true to his promise.
For most of his life, Jim served as a faithful servant of the Lord. Becoming missionaries pulled at Jim and Lee’s heartstrings. They first looked into South America, and spent a summer in Quito, Ecuador at HCJB. Little did Jim know God had other plans for him. The Christian organization, Africa Inland Mission was looking for someone with a business background to handle purchasing and to teach Theological Education by extension in Nairobi. Knowing without a doubt what God wanted in their lives, Jim and Lee answered the call in 1976, and never looked back. IN 1990, Jim and Lee began an English servicer for young people at Jericho church in Nairobi. For the next 40 years, Jim and Lee served as missionaries in Tappan, New York, Nairobi, Kenya, and in Cromhall, England. In October 2013 the returned to Kenya to see the fruit of their work.
As a young couple, Jim and Lee were college sponsors. He sang in the choir with his beautiful tenor singing voice, and together they were faithful prayer warriors on Sunday mornings. Jim came to love praise and worship music. He appreciated the sounds of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, Melody 4, George Beverly Shea, and Joni Erickson Tada. An avid reader, his favorite book by far was the Bible, but he also enjoyed sermons and literature by Erwin W. Lutzer of Moody Church Media, Warren Wiersbe of Back to the Bible and listening to David Jeremiah on Turning Point Radio and loved his current Pastor, Jim Samra. Each day, Jim was sure to read excerpts from Spurgeon’s devotional, Morning and Evening. Jim loved his country but his most cherished possession was his Bible .
Although working in the mission field found Jim and Lee traveling far and wide, one of their favorite family vacations included a trip to Canadian Keswick in Port Carling, Ontario. Jim didn’t like cooking but he was always happy to wash Lee’s baking dishes as a sign of his appreciation. His favorite restaurant was Taco Bell, and he absolutely loved Rusk, milk and sugar, as well as Dutch rye and boiled eggs.
In all ways, Jim set a fine example of loving devotion to his Lord and family. After leaving the mission field abroad, Jim and Lee continued their ministry sharing the gospel and loved planning for the monthly hymn sing at Covenant Village where they made many dear friends.
Known as a kind, loving, humorous and at times tough man, Jim found healing and resurrection through simple faith. Before Christ came into Jim’s heart, he was known to be self-centered, impatient, and too devoted to his work. When Christ changed him, Jim became dedicated in telling others about Jesus. He loved sharing the Lord with others, especially the SMILE tracts with the plan of salvation he was known for. As patient as he was tender, mere faith turned Jim from seeking worldly gratifications into becoming a sensitive and gentle follower of Christ. Although deeply missed, the heart of Jim Kingma lives on in the lives of those he touched with Christ like love.
Mr. James “Jim” H. Kingma aged 91, of Grand Rapids, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Monday, September 7, 2015. He was preceded in death by his grandson, David Lee Underwood; brother, Ed Kingma; brother-in-law, Bill DeJonge; and sister-in-law, Bernice Kingma. Jim is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Lee; children, James (Karen) Kingma, Barb (Bob) Buikema, Shayne (Dave) Underwood, Doug (Janeen) Kingma, and Kevin (Vicki) Kingma; 22 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Also surviving are his brothers, Harvey Kingma and Will (Mary) Kingma; sister, Betty DeJonge; sister-in-law, Helen Kingma; many nieces and nephews. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 10:00 AM Friday, September 11, 2015 at Calvary Church, 707 E. Beltline NE. Jim’s family will receive visitors from 2-4 and 6-8 PM on Thursday at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes-2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to Africa Inland Mission/Kingma. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory or photo of Jim and to sign his online guestbook.