Berryessa Valley Church suffered a huge loss on September 7, 2019, when founding Pastor Jim Stone was called Home to be with the Lord. He was just a few months shy of his 85th birthday.
I first met Jim when I arrived in September 2012. I found him to be a very likeable man with a smile and firm handshake. I also found a man who loved the Lord and loved to interact with people. A stroke he had suffered previously made finding some words a bit harder, but he was still able to communicate quite well.
A familiar sight around Berryessa Valley Church was Jim on his bicycle. Many times, I would drive into the parking lot and notice his bike right away. I never knew where Jim was, but I knew he had to be close by because of the bike. Jim could be seen working in the ice plant (many a time when he was weeding out there and planting ice plant in a barren place); he had a friend who would deliver wood chips and Jim’s job became that of spreading those chips all over the dirt area next to the parking lot; he even got up on the roof because a shingle needed to be repaired!
When we held his memorial service on September 14, many stood to tell of the following: (1) how Jim had led them to the Lord; (2) Jim had performed their wedding ceremony; (3) Jim had baptized them as well as their children; (4) Jim had dedicated their children; (5) Jim was their friend. I kept thinking to myself, “Wow…what a legacy Jim has left BVC.”
When BVC began in 1973, Jim was here! And he remained faithful to the Lord as well as to the Lord’s people ever since. Jim was a man of integrity. I count myself blessed to have had him in our midst. Now when I drive into the parking lot, I don’t see his bicycle, helmet, A’s hat, or reflective vest. I miss him. One thing I do know: when Jim breathed his last on this Earth, he was taken personally by Jesus to a place prepared especially for him. And Jim heard all that he needed to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The next time you drive into the parking lot at Berryessa Valley Church, look around! All that you see is due to the faithfulness of just one man to the Lord he loved. May that be said of us too!