Tribute to Jim Willoughby
I cannot give adequate information about the early days of James L. Willoughby. I met him when he and his wife, Virginia, placed their membership with the congregation where I was ministering. I had called in their comfortable home and found out that they owned their own business. It was what brought that business into being and what they had done with it that is the real “Rest of the Story.” Here is the way he related it in a “Faith-Promise” program at the church.
Years before, he was attending a congregation and became convinced during the “Faith-Promise” program at that church, that he needed to make more money so he could give more money to missions. He tried an upholstering business, but that didn’t do what he wanted. A friend approached him with a problem he was having in making something he needed. Jim said, “I can make that.” He did, and from that he developed some suction cups.
After making his
new suction cups, he needed a way to market them. Jim
said, “I put my suction cups on a coat hanger and went to
According to Jim, the salesman put the cups in his desk drawer and forgot about them. Then one day, a customer came in complaining about how quickly the suction cups he was getting from the salesman were wearing out. The salesman immediately reached in the desk drawer and pulled out Jim’s suction cups, gave them to the disgruntled customer and said, “Here, try these.” The customer did and was pleased. He represented the Kraft corporation. From that point, Jim’s business flourished.
Jim and Virginia
kept their “Faith-Promise.” Missions became the
over-riding reason for Jim’s life and business. A
visit to the business showed how important missions was in Jim’s life. Two complete walls in his office had nothing but
pictures of people from around the world that he had helped and maps of
certain areas of the world. He was especially
interested in Southeast Asia and made many trips to
Once, when I was
about to leave for a trip to
Twice, he asked me
and the luxuries of success were not important to him. He
drove an old Ford Taurus that needed to be replaced.
The business makes industrial suction cups. He was very successful at what he did. In fact, Jim told me that a man had come by his office a year or so ago and told him that he was now the number one suction cup producer in the world. Jim said that he had no idea. But more than suction cups were made there. If you have seen the blue plastic fish banks that IDES has used for years, know now that it was developed and produced by Jim.
Jim and Virginia did not wait until they were blessed to start using the resources God had given them. No, they made a commitment before they had anything that they would serve God and whatever He put in their hands they would use for Him. They kept this commitment. Thousands have benefitted from one couple’s faith-promise commitment.
I called and asked him to give his testimony at church during a “Faith-Promise” program we were having. He said, “No, I’m not a public speaker. I’ve got a heart problem and just can’t do it anymore.” About an hour after we hung up from our conversation, the phone rang and it was Jim. He said, “God’s been so good to me, I guess I have to do it.” What a blessing that testimony was and still is.
Jim would be embarrassed by this column. He wanted all glory to go to God and that is where it is going. It is just that God works through his servants in ways that can be an encouragement to others. For that reason we have told just a part of this story. To tell the whole story would take more pages than we have in this issue. You may not have known or heard of Jim Willoughby before you read this, but he is known in heaven and in quiet places around the world that worship the true God.
Jim went to be
with the Lord on December 3, 2003. He was
returning from a trip to