December 17th,1952 - January 28th, 2017
It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of the home going of Jim Leonovich, SMS Director of Media, husband of SMS missionary Ann Leonovich and brother of Christine Leonovich Spillar. His passing was quite sudden after a hospital stay of only a few days. He is now with his Savior and with his parents, Nick and Rose Leonovich, and other loved ones who have gone before him. Jim had just celebrated his 64th birthday this past December.
Jim was involved in ministry to the Slavic world since 1979. He evolved from being an engineer behind the scenes producing short wave radio programs aired into the Soviet Union, to being behind the pulpit preaching the Gospel in churches at home and abroad in the former Soviet Union. Jim was involved in the inception of Slavic Missionary Service’s New Life broadcasts and innovative theatrical recordings in the Russian language, which broke new ground of radio programming.
Jim was loved by all. His joyful and upbeat spirit brightened the day of whomever he met. He always wore a smile on his face and his laughter was contagious. He dreamed big. Together, Ann and Jim had quite an impact, especially in Ukraine, where they helped set up recording studios and produced many CD’s with the youth. Through the years they also assisted several churches in Ukraine, including ministry to the handicapped, evangelism outreach and many summer camping programs. He finally had the opportunity to minister in the land of his father’s birth when Ann and he traveled to Gomel, Belarus to teach ESL (English as a second language) classes. Jim had a passion for ministry and for sharing the love of God.
Jim will be missed. His labor was not in vain as he served not only the Slavic people, but also the people in his community in California. Our deep condolences to Ann, Christine and the family. May God grant them peace and comfort in knowing that Jim is with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
Born in Rome, Italy, to Russian radio missionaries living in Europe, Jim grew up speaking Russian, Italian, English, French and German. When Jim was five, his family moved to Tangier, Morocco to begin new gospel broadcasts to Russia via the Voice of Tangier, which later became Trans World Radio. As the radio ministry expanded the family moved to the south of France continuing the broadcasts to those in the Soviet Union. Growing up in radio and recording studios Jim participated in various functions at the station from children’s and youth programs to control-room engineering.
● After moving to the United States, Jim pursued a career in the recording industry and music production before returning to Russian gospel radio work in 1979. Since that time he has been involved with Christian media as an engineer and producer of innovative programs beamed by shortwave radio to the Soviet Union. In 1991, Jim had the opportunity to be the first foreign engineer to operate and manage a Christian radio project from the Radio Moscow studios. This was to be a beginning of change in his broadcast focus for the future. The contacts and friendships made during that time in Moscow have proved to be invaluable in his later work.
As a media specialist, Jim was involved in establishing radio stations and recording studios in Ukraine and encouraging the growth of contemporary Christian music in the former Soviet Union. More recently partnering with a Christian group in England Jim led a successful team that produced 5 Christian music albums for kids and young people, four in Russian and one in Ukrainian
"The old, old story of Jesus and His love never changes. My goal and calling is to help at least everyone hear the gospel of Jesus Christ at least once in their lifetime because, “the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
If you would like to honor Jim’s memory with a gift, Ann is requesting that donations be made to Slavic Missionary Service to fund children’s ministry in Ukraine.
Mail checks labeled “In Memory of Jim Leonovich” to:
Slavic Missionary Service, Inc.
PO Box 469
Annandale, NJ 08801-0469
CELEBRATION OF LIFE for JIM LEONOVICH
was held on Saturday, February 25th, 2017 at 1:00PM
at Desert Springs Church in Palm Desert, CA
43435 Monterey Ave. Palm Desert. CA 92260