|Jonathan Wright "Jon" Nelms|
|Born|| November 18, 1955 |
Bartow, Jefferson County
|Spouse|| (1) Juanita Fisher Nelms (married 1978-2006, her death)|
(2) Nolin Vargas Nelms (married 2008)
|Religion||Independent Baptist clergyman and founder of world missions organization "Final Frontiers"'|
Jonathan Wright Nelms, known as Jon Nelms (born November 18, 1955), is an Independent Baptist clergyman who founded the missionary outreach foundation called "Final Frontiers". He resides in Grovetown in Columbia County in the metropolitan area of Augusta, Georgia.
Nelms is the third of four sons of Mack Nelms (1923-1995), an employee of Southern Bell telephone, and the former Nan Smith (1925-2005), a schoolteacher. The parents, who are interred at Bartow City Cemetery in Bartow in Jefferson County in rural east central Georgia, were first generation Christians who shared an interest in the recruitment and retention of missionaries. Mack Nelms was a deacon or trustee in every church of which he was affiliated, and he was involved in the founding of three churches. At the age of seventy, he was ordained a Baptist pastor but died a year later. Nan Nelms long taught summer "Backyard Bible" classes. At the age of eleven, Jon felt a divine call to be a missionary and began witnessing for the Lord Jesus Christ at twelve and was soon engaged in street preaching. At the age of fifteen he began working in the bus ministry and participated in active street preaching. At seventeen, he enrolled in a Bible College, name and location unavailable, and graduated four years later c. 1977 as the youngest member of his class.
After graduation, Nelms moved to White Plains, New York, to start the Westchester County Baptist Church. Two years later he relocated to Pomona, California, where he had married his wife, the former Juanita Yvonne Fisher (1959-2006), and became an assistant pastor at the Central Baptist Church. There for two years he worked with the youth, directedthe bus ministry, and organized the church camp and street preaching ministries. During that time his son, Daniel, was born.
Soon Nelms established an outdoor "park church", attended weekly by more than a thousand persons, which merged with Calvary Baptist Church in Boyle Heights, California. He then relocated to Midville, Georgia, as the interim pastor at Hines Baptist Church The church grew from a handful to nearly one hundred in a few months. He declined a permanent position to return to California. He was invited to pastor the Temple City Southern Baptist Church, which was soon renamed the Believers Baptist Church. Here God confirmed his call to missions, and his daughter, Sara, was born.
Believers Baptist Church sent Nelms in 1986 on several mission trips to Asia. On December 31, 1986, he resigned hispastorate and returned to Georgia, where he established the Final Frontiers Foundation. At that time the ministry was supporting preachers only in Thailand. Since that time the foundation has sponsored more than 1,400 preachers in 74 nations. These clergymen collectively have sponsored more than 31,000 churches, averaging a new church being started every day.
Juanita Nelms died after twenty-eight years of marriage and is interred with her in-laws at Bartow City Cemetery. A month later in November 2006, Sara married Michael Horne, a British ministry employee, and they have a daughter, Jennifer. A few months later Daniel was married to Nolvia Aguirre from Honduras, and they have two daughters, Valentina and Elizabeth.In May 2008 Jon married Nolin Vargas, a Honduran ministry employee who travels with him on mission trips worldwide.
Nelms' Final Frontiers is dedicated to subsidizing missionaries who locate in areas largely untouched by the Gospel message. Most missionaries go to countries which already have access to the Gospel. Only 2.5 percent of missionaries work in the most spiritually deprived places on earth. Nelms explains:
Our task is to change that ... by utilizing and supporting the national preachers who are there to reach their own people. Generally speaking, for what it takes to support one American missionary,[we] can support one hundred national preachers. And they require no language school, no time raising support, and no furloughs.They are accustomed to the food, the climate and the culture; and most of all, they are already serving without support. Our system of subsidy (not salary) merely assists the national churches to allow their preachers serve full time and have funds for Bibles and gospel literature.Our success in supporting them to win souls, train young preachers and start new churches, certainly proves the scoffers to be wrong. In their rush to judgment, they forget that even we, ministers who are from the West, are ourselves, national preachers. And we have also had our share of fakes and failures in the ministry.
Final Frontiers contributes $50 monthly to the various national pastors and seeks donors to sponsor one pastor per month.