Jim Hunt’s resistance to pursue the ministry almost killed him.
Being born to a long line of pastors, Hunt knew he had the desire to become a minister, but he always fought that urge. One Sunday while directing the choir he became so overwhelmed with joy that he cut a flip and ended up in the pulpit. His brother told him “boy, you better start preaching or God is going to kill you.”
It was at that time when Hunt gave up his resistance and started his service to the ministry, which would end up having a major effect on all the other aspects of his life.
Hunt was born and raised in Asheville. His father was a Methodist preacher and his mother was a pianist in the church. They lived a simple life and when Hunt was in the fifth grade his parents decided to better themselves by going to college.
“They went to Livingston College in Salisbury,” Hunt said. “We would go to Salisbury during the week and come back to Marion on the weekends so my dad could pastor. Out of the six years we stayed in Marion we spent four years commuting between Salisbury and Marion.”
His family finally settled in Winston-Salem after Hunt graduated from high school, and he went on to study biology at Livingstone College. During the summers he would work for North Carolina National Bank in downtown Winston-Salem where one of his duties was to relieve the parking lot attendant for lunch.
One day while sitting in for the parking attendant a man approached Hunt and started asking him questions about his goals and plans for the future. Hunt shared that he was studying biology and wanted to go into medicine but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. The man introduced Hunt to physical therapy, offering to take him on a tour of his private office and explaining what the career consisted of.
“He was in private practice and he invited me to come and see his office and he gave me a tour of his office and told me about physical therapy one Saturday at his office,” Hunt said. “That’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Hunt applied to physical therapy school that summer and was accepted to Columbia University in New York that beginning of his senior year of undergrad school.
“It was like it was a setup,” Hunt said. “It seemed like everything just fell into place for me and it was my destiny.”
After completing physical therapy school Hunt moved back to Winston-Salem and began work as a physical therapist at Baptist Hospital. Two years later he met his wife, Elvita, and the couple had three children, James, Reginald and Robin.
Hunt was soon recommended for a physical therapy job in Yadkin County and started work for Yadkin Valley Community Hospital performing home visits and working Baptist Hospital during the day.
“For years I would work at Baptist from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then I would come up to Yadkin County and do home visits and get back home at about 9 or 9:30 p.m.,” Hunt said. “I did that for 25 years and then this hospital was looking for a physical therapist. I came here and was able to still work and do home visits too. Once I started working in the hospital here everything started to mesh together.”
During this time Hunt was grappling with his desire to join the ministry. He says that he had accompanied the ministry with financial struggle and hardship after watching his parents try to raise their family on the $45 a week salary his father earned as a pastor. Hunt didn’t want to struggle that way with his family.
“I compromised a lot; I sung in the choir, I ushered, and I did anything that wasn’t ministry,” Hunt said. “I would go to church on Sundays and I’d sit in the back and I’d have a strong desire to be up in the pulpit with my dad, and I would fight it.”
After his incident directing the choir he finally gave in to his calling and preached his first sermon in 1975.
“Once I gave in to it, things began to change for me,” Hunt said. “They began to smooth out and get better for me.”
Today Hunt serves as the pastor for the New Birth Worship Center in East Bend. He says that he has been involved in worship in Yadkin County for several years now, and he has always been most affected when he sees people in the county come together despite race or background.
“That’s what my ministry is about at New Birth,” Hunt said. “At our church we don’t look at color, we look at the person’s soul. Regardless of who you are we welcome you to the church. That’s one of my missions as pastor there; whosoever will let, them come. The church has embraced that.”
Hunt said that he feels a strong connection between his ministerial work and his physical therapy work.
“I believe the work that I do sort of symbolizes what Jesus Christ did,” Hunt said. “He healed folks, he made crippled folks walk and that’s what I do. The lame that can’t move the arms, he helped them and that’s what I do in physical therapy. My ministerial background has been the foundation of the physical therapy background.”
Hunt said that while his physical therapy is what puts bread on his table and provides for his family, it is second to his work for God. Hunt said that he learned the hard way that when he didn’t put his work for God ahead of his work in medicine, things didn’t go as planned in his life.
“I didn’t really want to be a minister because sometimes it has a lot of heartaches, and I wanted to support my family and God made a way for me to do that,” Hunt said. “Even with my ministry I was able to work here and do home visits so I could send my children to college without them having to pay a bill. God worked that out for me.
“I believe that God wanted me to put Him and His work first,” Hunt continued. “God was in my life but His work was secondary in my life and He wanted both of them to be first in life. When I realized that and put it in the proper perspective things started going well.”
When Hunt isn’t dedicating himself to his church or his work he likes to take some time to himself and play a round of golf or work on his yard. Hunt said it took him years to realize that in a field that requires him to provide care for people throughout the day he had to learn to take time to take care of himself.
“Usually I play golf by myself and it’s my down time,” Hunt said. “That’s the way I get a chance to relieve the pressures of ministry or work because I deal with a lot of sickness and sometimes have to get called for deaths so I use that time to take care of myself.
“I also try to walk because walking is a good therapy for me,” Hunt continued. “I get rid of all of the tension and stress and even frustrations that sometimes pop up in ministry and physical therapy. I try to take care of myself so I can take care of others.”
Hunt said that he hopes to be ready to retire from his physical therapy job soon and would like to see his church continue to grow and change.
“I look forward to seeing what the rest of the road is going to be like,” Hunt said. “ I’ve had a good journey to this point and I think there are some bigger things and I don’t know what they are but I think they’ll be in the church.”
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.