Jim Savley, the founder of Small World was being shaped for ministry even as a child. Jim’s maternal grandmother was an orphaned child sold as an indentured servant and lived a hard existence until her adulthood when she freed herself and married a good man from Tennessee. Jim recalls in his early childhood being admonished to always be kind to orphans in honor of his grandmother and her experience.
Small World continues to rescue orphans in institutions on 4 continents around the world and place them for adoption in Christian families.
Jim joined the United States Marine Corps after graduating from High school in 1967. In 1968 he was deployed to Vietnam and arrived there in late February. Jim suffered combat injuries during the battle of Khe Sanh in Quang Tri Province South Vietnam. Jim was awarded the Purple Heart.
After the Marine Corps Jim attended college at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) with financial assistance from the GI Bill where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree.
He then began a career in Law Enforcement as a Criminal Investigator for the District Attorney’s Office covering a three county judicial district near Nashville Tennessee. After two years of under cover work as director of the DA’s Drug Task Force Unit Jim joined the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department as a detective and served in that capacity investigating felony crimes.
Jim received Christ as his savior in 1976 and became an avid student of the bible. After having been called into the ministry Jim and his wife Jean and their two young sons Jimbo and Josh sold their home in Tennessee and moved to Lynchburg Virginia where Jim enrolled in Liberty Baptist Seminary. After Graduating from the Seminary the family had grown to include two daughters, Julie and Jennifer.
Jim joined the pastoral staff at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA in 1981. He became the first director of the “Save A Baby Ministry” at Thomas Road Baptist Church, leading the establishment of the Family Life Services Adoption Agency and the God Parent Maternity Home in Lynchburg, VA. Jim led the pro-life/ pro-family ministries for Thomas Road Baptist Church and appeared on The Old Time Gospel Hour TV Ministry with Dr. Jerry Falwell during the period of 1981-1985.
In 1985 after graduating from Seminary and serving on staff for 5 years at the largest church in America at that time . God called Jean and Jim during a sermon preached by Dr. Francis Schafer at Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1985 to start an independent Christian ministry that would offer a viable alternative to abortion and rescue orphans around the world and make them son’s and daughters of Christian couples. They named it Small World, Inc.
“It was during a church service where DR. Francis Schaeffer was preaching at TRBC. At the end I went forward and prayed at the altar where God confirmed what he wanted me to do. As I walked back to my seat I noticed my wife Jean making her way back to her seat near me where she had been sitting with a group of teenagers we invited to church to hear Dr. Schaffer. It turns out God had spoken to her about the very same thing.”
“We traveled back to our hometown of Nashville TN soon after that and filed the legal paperwork to start a non-profit organization which became known as Small World.”
Our ministry has always been to the child first.
After the orphaned or abandoned child is adopted by his new family he is no longer an orphan. The orphan condition is cured. The state and others no longer have to support him. That is the job of his new family. It makes sense for society and the child. The other great plus in this ministry is seeing a couple find the child they have longed for, sometimes for years. Turning orphans into sons and daughters.
“An adoption agency must employ a group of professionals to meet state and federal laws in all countries where they work (social worker, layers, counselors, and administrators). We investigate prospective adoptive couples via what is known as a homestudy. It is an in-depth investigation of the applicants. Criminal background checks are performed on the couple. Their health is examined. Their social and psychological make-up are assessed by professional social workers and counselors. A series of personal interviews and references are examined to make a determination of their fitness to parent. After State and FBI reports are received agency social workers visit their residence and examine it for appropriateness as a residence for a child. Our attorneys file the needed paperwork and a legal forever family is formed.”
I remember as a child my mother drilled it into me to always be nice to and take up for orphans. My grandmother had a very difficult childhood due to her mother’s death early in her life and her father who was an alcoholic abandoned her, well it was even worse than that. He sold her into slavery to serve in the home of different families over the years. She had a withered arm which rendered her handicapped and she told stories of her waiting on families and standing in the hall watching as they ate until she could clear the table and make a meal on the scraps on their plates. She told of how she cooked and cleaned as a young child while the children of the family opened their Christmas presents and she had no such pleasures.
God used her hardships to help motivate me to travel around the world taking the love of God in the form of Christmas presents each year through our Orphan’s Christmas Campaign every year since 1991. I am blessed every time one of those little eyes lights up when they see they have a present and it really belongs to them.
The only thing that’s better than that is when I can take a Christian couple into that orphanage and introduce them to their new son or daughter. Seeing that child adjust over the next few days to having enough food every day and people who don’t go away but love him and stick with him. Wow that is the best feeling in the world.”