Even as a child, Jim Melnick understood that there was something special about the Jewish people. A budding violinist, he marveled that his musical heroes were almost always Russian or Ukrainian Jewish artists. In fact, he discovered that many of the great scientists, mathematicians, and leaders in the arts were Jewish. Jim Melnick is himself a gentile (although some of his distant Ukrainian ancestors may have been Jewish), but when asked about his heritage, he answers, “I have a Jewish heart.”
Melnick and his wife were called to full-time Russian Jewish ministry in Chicago in the late 1970s and early 1980s, serving with the Slavic Gospel Association. Strong opposition from the Lubavitcher community strengthened Jim, and only fueled his desire to reach that group with the Gospel. After leaving Slavic Gospel, Jim accepted a position with the United States government as a Russian affairs analyst. Today, Jim is a “tentmaker” missionary, working in the computer security field while continuing to spread the Gospel.
Jim Melnick is the president of Friends of Russian Jewry, Inc., a Russian Jewish ministry arm of Life in Messiah International. He helps coordinate HOPE—a network of individuals and ministries seeking to reach Hasidic Jewish communities with the Gospel. In August 2011, he was elected the new international coordinator of LCJE. He is also a retired US Army Reserve Colonel.
Jim has a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College, a Master of Arts in Russian studies from Harvard University, and a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Political Science from Westminster College.
He and his wife, Karen, are the parents of four internationally adopted children.