James "Jim" Kilby is the founding Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Dayton, Ohio. He is also the Founder and President of Harvest Youth Ministries Network (HYMN), an outreach organization aimed at reaching at-risk young people. In the Dayton area, Jim founded the Cellar Teen Center in 2002, and The Attic Teen Center in 2004. He also founded a home for troubled young women, "Harvest House" which serves Dayton area teens and the "Second Harvest Thrift Store" that funds it.
Jim is happily married, with ten children (yes, they're all his) and eight grandchildren. He is also a retired Air Force officer. During his Air Force career, Jim worked as a program manager on some of the most classified national defense systems in the world. In his free time Jim studies the traditional mixed martial art of Kuk Sul Do where he is an instructor and advanced black belt. Jim is a licensed pilot and really enjoys flying. If he's not out flying, you'll find him with his family somewhere near water!
Jim is definitely not your typical pastor. Not raised in the church, he rarely entered one as a young man. His father abandoned his mother and his little sister before his second birthday. He was raised by his very young mother and a line of several stepfathers. Along the way, his mother had two more children, making Jim the eldest of four. For much of his life, Jim lived in poverty. His family frequently found themselves on State assistance, even living in a dirt-floor shack during his middle-school years. His mother's career as a country and western singer kept her away from the home much of the time. As his mom moved from state to state, the kids moved from school to school. Their home was a difficult environment for all the children. As the eldest child, from the age of six or seven, Jim was routinely left to feed and care for his younger brothers and sisters for extended periods of time. Although incredibly difficult, this task instilled in him a deep-rooted sense of responsibility. It's also where he began to learn the leadership skills that would later make him successful in the military, and a shepherd of God's people.
With a lack of supervision and no spiritual foundation, drugs and alcohol helped Jim get himself into trouble with school officials and with the police as he neared the age of 13. At 15, Jim fathered his first son... and because of the transient nature of the next 23 years of his life, a son he didn't know existed until Jim was 38! Just before his 16th birthday, Jim's mother sent him to live with an ex-step-father. With "male-supervision," Jim cleaned-up his act some, but after returning to live with his mother a year later in a new state, he again found himself in trouble with the police. After an argument with his mother, he moved out on his own at 17. He subsequently dropped-out of high-school and took a job as a construction laborer. Constantly drinking, using and selling drugs, and running with a very rough crowd, Jim began to wonder how he had slipped so far. The realization that his life was on the wrong track often brought back thoughts of a profession of faith he had made during vacation Bible school at the age of twelve. While attending the week long school, Jim accepted the fact that he was a sinner and prayed to receive Jesus' as his Lord and Savior. Still, without any real Christian upbringing, his faith remained stagnant.
Looking back, he believes the Holy Spirit led him to act upon a dream planted in his heart by his mother many years before. In a moment of amazing foresight, she told Jim she believed he would one day be an officer in the United States Air Force. Knowing he had to make a dramatic change, one day Jim quietly walked into the office of an Air Force recruiter. With the military's help, Jim received a GED from the State of Texas, and after requesting and receiving several enlistment waivers due to his run-ins with the law, entered the Air Force in early 1980.
Although a hard worker, Jim's off duty antics had him facing court martial proceedings no less than four times during his first tour of duty. Finally, the military's rules and regulations helped Jim get his career on track, but his private life was quickly on the wrong path again. Inside he was still a very angry young man. After marrying a girlfriend he got pregnant, Jim's antics off-duty did finally calm him down, but that marriage was built on a very weak foundation. Soon after the birth of their second child, the marriage was in serious trouble. Caught in severe depression, Jim's first wife made a serious attempt to take her own life. It was during the aftermath of this suicide attempt and the subsequent divorce that Jim finally sought the peace and love of Jesus Christ. After finding a church and with mentoring from several Christian men, God put Jim's life back on-track. Still, he had left three children, a wife, and many others in his path of destruction.
With his heavenly Father as the model, Jim works hard to be an active father to all of his children. In 1992, Jim met and married the love of his life, the former Jill Brensinger of Waldorf, Maryland and began work finishing his undergraduate degree in night school. While stationed at the Pentagon, Jim completed his bachelor's degree; finishing with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Later, he applied for an appointment to Air Force Officer Training School, and was selected. On June 22, 1994 he turned-in his hard-fought Master Sergeant stripes for the gold bars of a second lieutenant. With the help of the Lord, Jim had finally achieved the dream his mother had planted in him so many years before. He was an Air Force officer!
Funny though, less than ten years later God would ask Jim to give up his military career, in favor of reaching youth for Christ. Following that call, Jim founded Harvest Youth Ministries in 1997. In February of 2000, Captain Jim Kilby was ordained and subsequently resigned his Air Force commission and retired to pursue vocational ministry on a full-time basis. Under his leadership, that organization is still growing and reaches tens of thousands of youth each year. In October 2006, Jim founded Harvest Christian Fellowship in Xenia, Ohio. On April 1st of 2007, the church grew into a 20,000 square foot facility in Kettering, which previously was a notorious nightclub and doubled as the Attic Teen Center; part of HYMN. In April 2014, the growing congregation purchased the building, preschool and land from the closing 1st Presbyterian Church of West Carrollton. The new church sits on nearly 10 acres of unused land which Jim intends to build into a ministry launchpad to serve the community.
Jim is quick to point out that his Lord and Savior deserves all the credit for his transformation from high school drop-out to college graduate and minister. His current goals include continuing to grow closer to Christ as he works hard to balance his public ministry with being a spiritual leader, mentor and friend to his wife, children and grand children. The Kilby family resides in Beavercreek, Ohio.
Contact Jim at PastorJim@HarvestDayton.org