On an outing to the mall, Jim Kliewer decided to forego going into a store with his wife. He saw a bench where a man was sitting looking downcast. Asking if he could sit down, Jim began a conversation with the man. The man shared some of his life experiences and when Jim left, he asked him if he could pray for him. The man agreed. “It doesn’t make a difference where we go.” Jim told me, “God keeps placing people in our lives.”
Jim and Nancy Kliewer were at a crossroads a few years ago. Both had been a part of ministries that ended and they wondered, “What are we going to do now?” They thought of different things but nothing seemed to be the right fit. They told the Lord they were available for whatever He had for them and this “relational direction,” as Jim calls it, began. One day they went to a McDonalds near their home. They did not know where they were going exactly so they asked the Holy Spirit to guide them. The manager was making sure the customers were being served as the restaurant was being remodeled. Jim and Nancy approached her and introduced themselves. After a brief conversation, they asked if there was anything she needed prayer for. She quickly replied that her brother needed prayer. They prayed with her there and when they left, they told her they would keep praying. Jim and Nancy went back weekly because they desired to build a relationship. It has been over two years and her brother is now a Christian. His sister said that he wants to meet them so he can thank them for their prayers.
It is all about relationship, they say, and being available. God gives them opportunities to bridge differences and seek commonalities. Although Jim says sometimes they make mistakes, the Lord continues to put people in their lives. Sometimes, as Nancy says, it is an easy connection. “I commented on a young man’s hat that said “Oklahoma” on it.” It turned out that the young man’s family lived thirty minutes from where Nancy was born.
Jim and Nancy Kliewer have been married for 55 years. They met while participating in a traveling singing group when they were in their late teens. Jim met Nancy when she asked him to sit next to her on the bus. He said he had been a fearful kid and Nancy took him out of his shyness. “You wouldn’t know it now, but to have to go and meet someone wouldn’t have been something I would do.” Parents to two sons and grandparents to seven, Jim says he and Nancy are partners.
Many experiences have prepared them along the way. One was their time on a yearlong mission trip to Papua New Guinea that helped them experience interacting with people from a different culture. Another was serving at LiFT (Living in Fellowship Together) in Oildale that gave them more practice talking with people about Jesus. Jim and Nancy spend their time listening and sharing with others. Nancy says, “people really want to be loved.”
Many opportunities and stories are still in the making. A person God recently placed in their path is a neighbor. Jim saw he and his wife on a walk so he decided to go meet them. He asked if they attended church and, as Jim recalls, the man’s response was extremely negative. But that didn’t deter Jim. It started a relationship. They began to help each other on home improvement projects. Although the neighbor’s responses remained, at times, terse he kept seeking Jim’s company. He even showed compassion for Nancy when she was in the hospital. This is quite amazing when the man exhibited hate at first. Recently, Jim was on a ladder trimming a tree and the neighbor approached with concern. He asked Jim to get down because he didn’t want him to fall off and die. It gave Jim an opening: He asked the neighbor where he would go if he died. The neighbor said he would be put in a hole and he would become dirt. Jim replied he would probably be put in a hole, too, but he knew where he was going – heaven! The conversation ended that day but Jim trusts that God will open the door again to another conversation. Jim says, “God will give me the right answer when the time is right.”
Jim and Nancy begin some days wondering who the Lord will place in their lives. Jim says, “We are planting seeds. We know this isn’t about us – it is all for the glory of God. We may be the ones to water the seeds, but God brings the harvest.”