Obituary James (Jim) Martin Eliason (1951-2017)
Let us tell you about our beloved, Jim Eliason.
Jim went to be with the Lord on Aug 3, 2017. He was born November 24, 1951, in Valley City, ND, to James and Shirley Eliason. Jim had two older sisters, Sheila and Jeanette, who were charged with watching over him and keeping him safe. He also had his grandparents Esther and Charlie, and many aunts and uncles, who moved with them from state to state. When he was 9 months, the whole family moved to Spokane, WA. Jim’s childhood memories of joy came from camping at Upper Twin Lake and Priest Lake with his family to develop a lakefront property.
The whole family moved to Renton, WA, in 1963. Jim attended school there and was active in sports, including wrestling and football. At a young age, he dedicated his life to the Lord while attending a revival. From then on he served the Lord, with all his heart. In High School, he helped lead a group of Christian students that met before school to sing and worship the Lord. He graduated in 1970 from Renton High School.
After High School, Jim attended Concordia College in Portland, OR, to pursue a career as a Lutheran pastor. It was there he met his wife, Donna Fahncke. They married on January 31, 1971. Later that year, to the joy of her grandparents, Jim and Donna were blessed with the birth of their daughter, Stephane. Further blessings came with the birth of their second daughter, Michele, in 1974, as their 3rd wedding anniversary gift. The two girls helped Donna and Jim appreciate and grow as a family and fueled their drive to seek a better spiritual life for their children. Nine years later as Jim’s graduation gift, their son James was born in 1983, which completed their family. Jim and Donna worked diligently to provide for their family, often times working multiple jobs to make ends-meet. His jobs included working as a grocery store stock clerk, veterinarian clinic helper, landscaping helper, parking lot attendant, apartment maintenance, salesperson for funeral plans, insurance sales, and made circuit boards. To help friends, he even sold Gas Sticks and Watkins products.
Jim completed two years at the junior college and was accepted into the pre-ministerial program at Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, IN. Throughout his pre-ministerial program, he sought a deeper spiritual experience of the Lord. He read the works of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. Their teachings on the inner life and the church helped him to realize organized religion was not what the Lord was after, God desires a group of people, who are born of the Spirit, in their spirit, and follow the teachings of the apostles in the Bible; and with the Lord’s leading, meet simply as the church in the locality they live in, sharing the Lord, shining God’s light in that city.
In 1974, Jim moved his family to Chicago to meet with like-minded seekers. In 1976, after some fellowship with the church in Chicago, Jim felt the burden to move to California for the gospel on the campuses. This giant leap of faith brought the family to Long Beach, CA where they learned many lessons on growth in life and bearing the responsibility to spread the gospel. These lessons strengthened him to take another leap of faith and move his family to Utah, in 1985. In Utah, he served as a responsible brother and elder to shepherd all believers and the ones whom the Lord called to meet as the church in Salt Lake City.
Jim’s legacy as a leader in the church in Salt Lake City has been described as one who is faithful, steadfast, and a pattern for those whom the Lord gave him to shepherd. He supported missionary work throughout the world: he traveled to Taiwan, Korea, and all over the United States to conferences and trainings to constitute himself with the ministry. He worked with Bibles for America (BFA) in handing out bibles throughout Utah and the rocky mountain region. During the 2002 Olympics, held in Salt Lake City, he not only distributed bibles but coordinated the efforts for distribution. God used Jim’s wisdom, wit, and Spirit filled vessel to effectively communicate to many.
After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at California State University, Long Beach, in 1983, he went to work as a Systems Engineer for TRW/Northrop Grumman. There he worked on aerospace projects for 33 years, with some of the foremost experts in the field. He was a genuine Rocket Scientist, whose boss called “one of the best.” Although he didn’t serve in the armed forces, he was proud of his contributions in the defense industry, taking part in the safety of our nation. His co-workers applauded his intelligence, diligence, and kindness to all.
He retired in 2015 and has been working on home repairs, honey-do lists, and hobbies, such as archiving family photos and genealogy. He was always an engineer, actively figuring out how things worked, and how they could be streamlined or made better. He also served as President of his homeowner’s association and spent time fellowshipping with other believers at Pam’s Coffee Shop, Grounds for Coffee, in Clearfield, UT.
Jim is known for his sense of humor, his wit, and his unique ability to hold his own with all things punny. He loved to sing and play the guitar in service to the Lord. He was great at creating melodies often for the strangest things, including ‘Bowser the Dog,’ to the theme of ‘Minnesota Rouser.’ He provided ample entertainment on road trips everywhere, with his children and others. He was loving, kind, and generously took care of his close and extended families. He was adamant that each of his children and grandchildren achieved a full education, evidenced by all three of his children graduating from college and succeeding highly in their careers. He was always there to help with homework and to assist with anything needed in and for school. Jim made sure that they had homes to live in, places to stay, food to eat, cars to drive, flights home, and so many other things. He truly provided a pattern to many others in this aspect.
The family wishes to thank the following people: the sarcoma team at Huntsman Cancer Institute for their support throughout his illness; Dr. Schmidtz at Ogden Clinic; the BRIO hospice team: Kathy, Kelly, & Dr. Fedor for their patience and tireless efforts to make sure Jim was heard, understood, and ultimately made as comfortable as possible. Also, thank you to the staff at Stonehenge Rehab Center, for getting him strong enough to join his family in Washington for his “last hurrah and his goodbye tour.” Thank you, Shannon and George, for coordinating our care through the chaos, and their families for allowing them the time. Thank you to all of you for your prayers. Thank you, God, for Your grace.
Preceded in death by his father James C., mother Shirley, sister Sheila, and grandparents.
Survived by his wife Donna; children: Stephane, Michele (Steven), and James Michael (Krysten); sister Jeanette Zimmerman; grandchildren: Isabella, Zechariah, and Zedrik; and his faithful companion: Clancey the dog.
A local viewing will be held at Leavitt’s Mortuary, 836 36th Street, Ogden, Utah on Tuesday, August 8, 2017, From 6:00 to 8:00 pm.
Graveside service will be held at Mt. Olive Cemetery, Friday, August 11, 2017, at 1:00 pm. A dinner will follow later that day at the church in Renton.
A memorial service, through the church in Salt Lake City, will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, Jim requests that donations be made to Living Stream Ministry/Lords Move to Europe (Lordsmove.org), or to a scholarship fund for his grandchildren, at America First Credit Union (americafirst.com, account number 9096405, James Eliason, memorial; or visit any branch)
Jim started this blog to explain his theology of dying. We leave this to those who would be interested in reading it.
This is a testimony that Jim published years ago on the church in Salt Lake City’s website.
EXPERIENTIAL AND FULL OF LIGHT
To me, there are two striking things about the writings of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. The first is that everything I’ve read in their books is experiential. The second is the way their writings have opened up my understanding of the Word of God.
During my first year in a Christian college, my academic advisor asked me what my plan was for the future. I told him, “I just want to do whatever the Lord wants me to do.” He was critical of me for this kind of statement. (I did need to be more specific with my educational plans.) But I was disappointed that there was not an echo within him—this same heart for the Lord.
One day, after a couple of years into college, I was working as an attendant in a parking lot and read one of the books from the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. I was quite impressed with how I could tell from the writing that the author was speaking from his experience. At that point I told God, “If a man can experience You on the earth, I want to have this experience.”
Eventually, I began to meet with the local church in Chicago where I found a group of people who echoed what was in my heart toward God. They had been helped by this ministry to experience God day by day, to love the Lord with all their hearts, and to hold the Lord’s heart’s desire as their own.
Even though I spent a number of years in Christian colleges in class after class on the Bible, I learned more of the Bible and I grew more spiritually in my first few months reading this ministry and meeting in oneness with other believers than in all my previous years as a Christian.
Jim Eliason – Testimony