New Samaritan Board member Jim Taggart ready to serve

Michael Miller  ·  Apr 24, 2020

Jim Taggart is primed for serving on the Samaritan Ministries Board of Directors, because boards are where God has landed him for the past several years.

The most recently elected Director not only serves on or advises other boards, but one of the 54-year-old Phoenix resident’s jobs is as chief operating officer of the company Board Developer.

“We do exactly what our name says—we create, develop, sustain, and grow advisory boards for companies, nonprofit or for-profit,” Jim says.

That will help in his service to the SMI Board, he believes.

“I think seeing, participating, and developing many boards and seeing those regularly gives me some of that outside input as I serve on the Samaritan Board,” Jim says. “Once I am around here for a while and I see how our Board operates, there may be things from my everyday job that are applicable for the Samaritan Board.”

The Samaritan experience will also allow Jim to serve the Body of Christ in yet another way, which has been one of his focuses for the past several years.

Although Jim had walked with the Lord for more than 25 years, it wasn’t until 2000 that he felt the call to dive in for the Lord through missions. At a missions weekend at his church, a pastor asked how many there felt they were being called to long-term missions or to pray regularly for a missionary. Jim didn’t raise his hand for either. But, when the pastor asked how many felt God leading them to go on a short-term missions trip, “I didn’t raise my hand, but God sure did,” Jim says.

“I mean, my hand just went straight up,” he says. “I was like, ‘Oh, my, what did I just commit to?’”

Jim ended up volunteering for a men’s ministry construction trip to Malaga, Spain.

“At that point was when God really developed a heart for missions in both Kelli and me,” Jim says.

He led a mission trip for the church’s choir and orchestra to Argentina and then a larger trip to Romania.

“I was the project manager for both of those trips, and, since that time, I’ve probably been on 20 other mission trips,” he says, adding that Kelli has been on more than half a dozen as well.

One of the places they have frequently visited on mission trips has been Guatemala. Kelli connected with a family there, Nathan and Claudia Hardeman, who run Engadi Ministries. Jim has since become an advisor to Engadi’s board of directors. The organization’s mission “is to take the broken lives of kids in Guatemala City and help them reach their full potential in Christ and teach them that there are other ways to be accepted besides in a gang.”

I think seeing, participating, and developing many boards and seeing those regularly gives me some of that outside input as I serve on the Samaritan Board.

Jim Taggart

When plans by a U.S.-based business to help fund Engadi through the purchase of Guatemalan green coffee beans had to be put on hold, Jim and Kelli prayed about how they might be able to further help Engadi and other ministries. As a result, they felt led to start Gaderian Coffee.

“The first reaction from Kelli was, ‘Neither of us drink coffee,’” Jim recalls. “I said, ‘I know, but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t want us to start a coffee business.’

“We spent the next seven months or so learning the industry and, in July of 2019, sold our first bag of coffee. We sell specialty beans and grounds and single-serve pods, and we give the profits to ministries and missionaries that we personally know and support.”

One of Jim’s tasks in another business he’s a part of is advising startups, another experience that dovetails nicely with the former startup he’s now a part of called Samaritan Ministries. He noted how he learned in the book Sharing the Burden: The Samaritan Ministries Story (bit.ly/sharingburden) that SMI President and Founder Ted Pittenger was aware of the high failure rate of startups when he began Samaritan in the early 1990s, understanding that with few families signed up the potential for failure was high with a large need.

“But he knew he had a differentiating product or service that he was offering and he believed that he was called by God to do it,” Jim says. “He was the wearer of a lot of hats initially and then somebody else would share a hat with him and that happened more and more, but over 25 years, you’ve seen the ministry grow from a fledgling startup with the possibility for failure to an established enterprise … still with things out there that you have to navigate, but it matured.

 “I always look forward to meeting and becoming colleagues and friends and brothers in new ministries and new organizations and truly gleaning from their spiritual and business influence or acumen or experiences,” he says.