By: Noelle Beans
Jim and Jeanette Vermilya currently serve as co-directors of a nonprofit ministry named Shunem Ministries, but their story began long ago when they both attended Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU). Jim graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Jeanette graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education.
Music was a key factor in bringing both of them to Indiana Wesleyan. Musical groups and young ministerial students often came to Jeanette’s home church in southern Indiana, and her parents were usually the Sunday dinner hosts. She was impressed by their vibrant testimonies and Christian examples. Their musical arrangements struck spiritual chords she had never experienced. For Jim, the college choir came to sing at his church. Howard Noggle also often visited his home church in Columbus, Ohio and talked to him as a young boy and later a teenager about coming to Marion College. Jeanette said that someway, somehow, she knew she was to set her sights on attending IWU.
At IWU, Jeanette and Jim both found themselves involved in the college choir. Jim started out shy, but, because of outgoing students and intentional professors, he found himself traveling with groups to different places to sing, like summer camps and churches during the year, just like Jeanette. In Jeanette’s four years at IWU, she was humbled to be chosen as the runner-up to the homecoming queen her senior year and be asked to be the alto soloist for Handel’s oratorio, The Messiah, with the Community Chorus. Through their involvements, Jim and Jeanette both got to the heart of their calling. The music and ministries at College Wesleyan Church and Spiritual Emphasis weeks at IWU influenced Jim and Jeanette to pursue this calling of ministry.
As directors of Shunem Ministries, Jim and Jeanette serve traveling missionaries and provide a place of rest, renewal and time away from the demands of ministry. The ministry has expanded to receive ministry leaders and training personnel of Christian organizations, churches and evangelical mission agencies. The bed-and-breakfast format of the ministry creates ‘welcome’ and provides space for Christ’s invitation to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (NIV Mark 6:31).
Furthermore, Jim is an adjunct professor in IWU’s adult professional program, primarily serving students who are pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Christian Ministries. He sees this as an opportunity to mentor these students as his past professors once did. His past professors and administrators, as well as fellow students, greatly affirmed and encouraged him while at IWU as they led by example – dedicated to the Lord and His service. This gave him a love for ministry and a desire to make a positive contribution to the work of God’s Kingdom. Jeanette learned out of her experiences at IWU, that fostered confidence in herself, “that we really can do all things in His strength if He is in it.” Both Jim’s love for ministry and Jeanette’s assurance in God and herself have brought Shunem Ministries to the place it is today.
In total, Jim and Jeanette have served together in 53 years of ministry from pastoring in Ohio and Indiana, to overseas missions in Jamaica and Haiti. Their ministry is long and deep. In Jeanette’s book “Come and Have Breakfast,” she includes humorous stories from their ministries, the story of Shunem Ministry, as well as some recipes she uses for guests. Jeanette has also done four piano CD’s, two of which are still available: “Come to Me” and “He Is With Us.” Both are semi-continuous albums played in easy listening style. Both CD’s include hymns of the church and well-known songs of testimony and assurance.
Jim and Jeanette have five children, who are involved in ministries from pastoring, public speaking, teaching, administration, ministry wife, music and even Shunem Ministries. They’ve been blessed with 16 grandchildren and one little great-granddaughter.
When asked what words of wisdom Jim would like to give current IWU students, he shared his life verse Proverbs 3:5-6 as it has been meaningful to him for years. Jeanette shared to work hard, be determined and nurture flexibility because, through these, the Lord will use your gifts for the purpose He has placed upon your life. “Keep growing, and serve the Lord with all your heart,” she said.
If you would like to learn more about Shunem Ministries visit www.shunem.org to see a full video of the Vermilya’s talking about their current ministry. Shunem is a nonprofit ministry that God thrust into existence in 2006. It operates on donations from guests, churches, organizations and individuals who have a heart for missionary care. The Vermilya’s have hosted many events, including IWU faculty committees, Christian Ministries division gatherings and IWU student leader retreats. They thank God for the opportunity to give back to the University that so greatly influenced their lives.
Written by Noelle Beans, a writer for the Alumni Center. Noelle is a freshman Nursing and Honors Humanities double major at Indiana Wesleyan University in the John Wesley Honors College.