On November 30, our esteemed brother Jim Allen of Jordans-town, Northern Ireland, went to be with the Saviour he loved and diligently served for over 50 years.
He was saved as a young man of 17 years while attending meetings connected to the Bleary Gospel Hall, outside Lurgan, County Armagh, where he was later baptised and received into fellowship.
From an early age Jim was studious. He graduated with a degree from Queen’s University, Belfast, and took up teaching in Ballymena Academy. At 27 years of age, he left Northern Ireland to take up a position in education in Malaysia, initially as a Headmaster and later as Principal of a specialist Teacher Training Institute. He had been engaged to Betty Foster prior to sailing for Malaysia and she followed him in 1956 for their marriage in Ipoh, Malaysia.
Even though busily employed in a senior position in teaching, he soon engaged in gospel preaching and teaching the Word of God. He returned to Northern Ireland with his wife and family in 1964, where he took up a post as Vice Principal of Larne Grammar School and was in fellowship in the assembly at Cloughfern. However, his heart was still in Malaysia, and in 1968 he was commended to Malaysia as a missionary and moved back there with Betty and the family in early 1969. The educational needs of the family meant a move back to Northern Ireland in 1973, and from then Jim was based in Northern Ireland.
His gift in gospel preaching and teaching gave him acceptance throughout the United Kingdom and further afield. He regularly visited Malaysia on his own and was known in many countries as an earnest gospel preacher and careful expositor of Scripture. His preaching took him to many countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and nations within Africa. Over the years his ministry was fruitful and resulted in the salvation of many souls. He was equally at home in a small rural assembly as in a large annual Bible Reading or conference.
Jim was known for his modesty and unassuming nature, which belied a scholar’s mind and student’s pen. His contributions in Bible Readings were always considered and articulate as he discussed the intricate details of a passage with his knowledge of the underlying text. Even though studious, his preaching was far from tedious and heavy; he had a ready mind and faculty in expression that made his preaching easy listening.
Jim knew what grief was, from the loss of a child at birth in 1957 in Malaysia, to the loss of his beloved wife Betty, who passed away after a short illness in 1996. In 2005, Jim felt keenly the loss of a granddaughter who was less than a year old. He experienced the loss of his two brothers, but was specially affected by the loss of his youngest son Stephen in 2011 at only 41 years of age. He then lost his son-in-law David Caulfield in 2019.
In 2006, Jim was married to Hilary and continued to preach and teach, including some further trips abroad. Hilary’s support and care for Jim as his health failed would prove invaluable.
Jim’s contributions to the commentary series What the Bible Teaches by John Ritchie Ltd. are among the best helps available on First Timothy and the book of Revelation. In August 2012, Jim met with a number of brethren to discuss the possibility of publishing a commentary on the prophecy of Daniel, and as a result, Scripture Teaching Library was formed. He played an active part in the committee of Scripture Teaching Library, and saw his exercise for a commentary on Daniel fulfilled in what has been recognised as one of the best commentaries available on that prophecy – Daniel Reconsidered. He later produced a second commentary on Revelation – Revelation Revisited. He also published a number of smaller papers and articles in magazines.
In recent years Jim became increasingly restricted due to Parkinson’s disease and felt keenly the increasing weakness that prevented him from platform preaching. For a while he was able to preach while sitting, but eventually that, too, became impossible. When his physical limitations became a greater hindrance to his movement, he and Hilary moved to the Glengormley assembly in 2018, where access to the hall was easier. His help there was greatly appreciated.
On December 3, 2021, after a private funeral service in the Glengormley Gospel Hall due to Covid-19 restrictions, Jim’s remains were laid to rest. Ivan Gordon paid a tribute on behalf of the assembly; Jim’s son Drew paid a family tribute, and Walter Boyd brought a message of comfort from the Scriptures. His body was interred in Carrickfergus, where sons Drew and Graeme read the Scriptures and prayed.
Jim Allen will be remembered not only as a Christian gentleman but also as a gentle man. The dark valleys of grief through which he had travelled produced a ministry of compassion and care for saints in trial. His ability as a preacher of the gospel and teacher of the Word of God, coupled with his quiet and humble demeanour, have combined to create special memories for those who knew him. In every way he fulfilled the requirements of 2 Timothy 2:15 as “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (KJV).