Mark Scandrette, poet, pastor, catalyst, and friend , coined a phrase this past week – “My new friend Jim Palmer.” We spent the week as “condo” mates while working at Soularize in Nassau, Bahamas. One of our “condo” mates was Jim Palmer.
On Wednesday as we were making rounds and taking care of details I shared a seat in the van with Jim. He told me some of his story. I distinctly remember him telling me of his work at International Justice Mission. Jim shared the horrors of what I would refer to as the slave trade of young girls into prostitution in Asia. He was involved in something of an undercover meeting that eventually led to the freedom of many young girls. The experience took an emotional tole. Jim writes about the experience in his first book, Divine Nobodies.
During Soularize Jim served as interviewer extraordinaire.
Jim gave me a copy of Divine Nobodies. I read it on the plane home as we narrowly escaped the effects of tropical storm Noel. My plans were to read a chapter or two from Miami to Dallas. Early trips to the airport on consecutive days left me tired from staying up way to late to get up that early – 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
After the first introduction, yes Jim noted he broke a writing rule or two, I was gripped. I read the entire flight and forgot about my fatigue. By the time we landed at Will Rogers I only needed another thirty minutes to finish. Wednesday morning I got up early and finished. I laughed. I cried. I shouted for joy. I shared pain.
One endorsement suggested Jim may be the next Donald Miller. No disrespect to Donald, but I liked Jim’s book a bit more. It may be Jim’s experience as pastor and the oft disillusioning effects of working toward a practical theology. It may be feeling the pain of working through our own dark sides and coming out learning not only much about ourselves but about God. It may be the recognition we have too often ignored the mystical aspects of our spirituality ignoring the visible intersections of God in our world. Maybe it was connecting my own experiences with “divine nobodies” that kept “ringing the bell” for me.
I found a new friend. My new friend Jim Palmer is not just worth reading, he is worth getting to know. Despite his own misgivings about what he may be able to contribute to the Church and the Kingdom of God, Jim has been for me a refreshing “Divine Somebody.”
Order Divine Nobodies. Read it. Cry with it. Laugh with it. When you get up from reading keep your eyes open and your heart sensitive and see who God crosses your path with – these divine nobodies.
P.S. – I am looking forward to Jim’s next book, Wide Open Spaces.