Where He leads
A life-altering car accident gives James Goforth ’84 clarity that God is calling him to serve in Germany
A near-fatal car accident in 2011 altered the course of Jim Goforth’s life. One afternoon in early September, a rain and wind storm resulted in a head-on collision with a tow truck.
“My car was totaled, and all emergency personnel said I should have been dead,” Goforth said. His injuries included broken ribs, a broken bone in his elbow, and a partially collapsed lung. But more lasting than the injuries sustained was the newfound clarity he gained about the direction God wanted his life to take.
“I woke up in the car and was trying to gather my wits. My first rational thought after I regained consciousness was, ‘Am I talking to a church in Germany?’”
Goforth had served as the senior pastor of the New Life Baptist Church in Florissant, Missouri, since 2003. When his youngest son graduated from high school in 2010, he and his wife Lisa Alexander Goforth ’84 began to feel the Lord leading them in a new direction.
“We sensed the Lord telling us that our ministry in St. Louis was coming to an end and that God had something special prepared for us. We were not looking to move and felt very happy at New Life, but we heard the Lord saying that change was coming.”
As a student, Goforth (pictured with his wife Lisa in the Alps) was one of the first three students to receive a full Presidential Scholarship. “Dr. Parker gave me a great gift when he offered me a scholarship to come to UMHB. Not only did I get a great education, but I also met my wife and made lifelong friends. I told Lisa of my intentions to date her on a swing outside W.W. Walton Chapel. We got married in that same chapel in 1985.”
Goforth was approached by many churches, but in every situation, no matter how perfect the opportunity seemed, the Lord would close the door.
“It was always ‘too much this,’ or ‘not enough that.’ It was never the right time. We continued to serve faithfully where we were, knowing that the Lord would open the door.”
A month before his accident, Goforth learned about Faith Baptist Church in Kaiserslautern, Germany, one of the largest churches in the International Baptist Convention. Faith Baptist primarily serves the Kaiserslautern Military Community, a collection of U.S. and NATO military bases which has the largest population of U.S. citizens in the world outside of the United States.
“The idea of serving these great heroes was beyond my thoughts and imaginations, but my heart was stirred. It was as if I heard the Lord say, ‘This your church.’ We had known for almost two years that the Lord would move us, and it appeared we had found what He had for us.”
His thoughts immediately following the accident only confirmed his feelings. In November, Faith Baptist Church’s pastoral search committee narrowed their search from 230 candidates, offering Goforth the position of senior pastor. The Goforths moved to Germany the following March.
“How our life has changed!” Goforth said. “There is nothing special about what we do; it’s about obedience. We just listen when God says, ‘Go.’ We have ministered in little places where no one knew, and now we are touching people who will travel all over the world with the armed forces.”
In the year he has served in Germany, Goforth has found himself praying over wounded warriors and ministering to countless families who are about to deploy.
“We are doing what we’ve always done: telling people about Jesus, loving them with God’s love, celebrating the joys, and drying the tears. We’re just doing it a little further away from what we’ve always known as home now. But this experience has taught us that home is wherever God leads.”