Sept. 9, 2010
For Immediate Release
By Caleb Harris, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — “In my spirit, I felt God wanted me to go home and help pastors with clothes, because they did not make very much money.”
Jim Tatum, founder of Suits for Servants, visited Campbellsville University recently speaking at the weekly chapel and also offering his suits for sale to faculty, staff and students.
| Dr. Bob Gaddis, dean of the School of Music, gets fitted
for a suit by Jim Tatum, founder of Suits for Servants.
(Campbellsville University Photo by Phil Carlisle)
Tatum, deacon at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., offers business suits and ties as a ministry to help those who are serving God.
Tatum talked about his difficult upbringing and how he, at the age of 15, had to work at the local meat market to put himself through high school. Tatum also said he nor his family had ever owned a Bible and were not familiar with God. It was the mention of food at a revival meeting that enticed him to go to his first church service.
He said, “The first time I heard the word of God I was angry, but I went back to the church because I knew that there was an emptiness in me and I had to fill it. It got to a point where I could not get enough of the Bible. If I heard a great preacher was going to speak somewhere, I was there.”
There began to be a change in his lifestyle, and his family could see it. The change was so magnificent that his mother, stepfather, sister and brother all gave their lives to the Lord, and his stepfather even became a preacher himself.
Tatum began buying imperfect clothes and selling them out of his garage in Jacksonville. He later upgraded to a 15-foot wide by 20-foot long store that he also outgrew. He expanded so much that he had to buy an entire warehouse to house his inventory of clothes. “If you buy a suit, I’ll give you a tie,” was his motto.
His wife, Bernice Tatum, gave him a novelty rock that read, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Tatum said he got on the floor, clutching the rock, and said he prayed to God that he present himself, the best way he knows how, as a living sacrifice to God.
He prayed: “I just want to give my life to you. I make a covenant with you that I never depart from serving you.”
He said the materials that other churches would throw away; he would gather and use pointing out: “When you don’t have anything, everything counts.”
“Sometimes God will send things through you that he does not give directly to you,” he said. Tatum reminisced about a time when a friend contacted him in need of many blankets, and Tatum made some calls around to some people he knew. The very next day the Lord blessed him with an abundance of blankets to give to his friend’s organization.
Tatum and his students have raised enough money to build two churches, used for Bible study, in Haiti. The churches led to 162,312 people giving their lives to the Lord. He also has contributed to the rebuilding of a much-needed hospital in Uganda equipped with an entire pharmacy.
Tatum could not contain his emotions as he began to cry on several occasions while reading the letters that the children whom he has helped with school clothes wrote him. Addressing the university’s students, faculty, staff and coaches, he said, “I came up tough. I said, ‘Lord, you are going to have to break my heart, but now that I am older I say Lord you are going to have to hold it back.”
Twenty-five years ago Tatum was diagnosed with colon cancer, which spread throughout his body. The doctors told him he only had nine months to live, but he eventually beat the cancer and has been continuing his work with God ever since.
All chapels are open to the public free of charge and are televised live on WLCU (Comcast Cable channel 10) and are streamed live on the Internet.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with over 3,000 students offering 45 undergraduate programs, 16 master’s degrees and five postgraduate areas. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.