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    The Grace of God: The Jim Nill Story

    May 20, 2013
    Filed Under:
    HMI President Stories

    After 22 years with the Red Wings organization, Jim Nill has become the new General Manager of the Dallas Stars Hockey Club. It has been quite a journey for the Nill family. Jim and Bekki were married in 1984 and have three children. Drafted in 1978 by St. Louis, his 10 year NHL playing career took him to  St. Louis, Vancouver, Boston, Winnipeg and Detroit after which he became a scout with the Ottawa Senators. He then moved on to the Detroit Red Wings where his leadership skills and hockey acumen helped the Red Wings to 22 straight years of play-off hockey and 4 Stanley Cup Championships. While hockey has played a major role there is something much more important to Jim Nill; his family and his Christian faith.

    The former player was impacted on several fronts as for many years he pondered the Christian faith. He played and became friends with two Christians in Winnipeg, Laurie Boschman and Doug Smail...“To watch how they lived their lives,” said the new Dallas G.M. “had a strong influence on my life. At the time I was still searching, but I wanted what they had.” Through this friendship Jim attended an HMI Christian Hockey Camp in Saskatchewan. He explains the impact: “I was blessed...to witness the changes in the campers’ hearts at this camp. I struggled with accepting Christ at that time but looking back now I realize God had his fingerprints all over my journey...The Lord has blessed me many times over. Looking back, there were so many twists and turns, but now I realize that all along God had his plan for me. He was always there looking over me, whether my career was going well or struggling”

    By far the greatest impact on his coming to personal faith in Christ was his wife Bekki and their children. “She prayed for 20 years for God’s grace to come into my life and those prayers were answered...I sometimes wish that I would have been more open to understanding His way when I played, but I now understand the journey he has for me... knowing Christ has completely changed my life and brought a feeling of peace to not only me but my family.”

    But being the new G.M. of the Dallas Stars isn’t the only challenge Jim faces. His wife Bekki was diagnosed with liver cancer in May 2012 after having won the battle over breast cancer twelve years earlier. Accepting the job in Dallas was a family decision. It wasn’t about Jim. He and Bekki had to be on the same page. Being deeply in love with Bekki he had resolved that if she raised the slightest concern about her health the offer would be turned down. In a May 11, 2013 article in the Dallas News by Brad Townsend, she comments: “I think Jim was shocked at how on-board I was, so quickly...but you just know when it’s right. And this was right.”   Bekki exudes confidence and deep trust in the Lord in the midst of her health challenge. The Townsend article continues: “It is by the grace of God that I am here...so I live everyday to the fullest...” and Jim reflects lovingly on his wife’s journey: “She’s an angel... Even as she goes through this illness, she knows it’s not about her, that it is God’s will and His journey. If the journey is made for her to touch another person’s heart, she is willing and able to do that.”

    The Bible plays a significant role in the new G.M.’s daily life: “Once I finally committed to reading the Bible the whole picture became clear to me. It went from a book I had no interest in reading in my early years, to the book I can’t put down now. The Bible is my everyday guide for life”.

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