Jim Luce’s Commitment: He Now Pursues Goodness Full Time

Jim Luce pursues goodness. He’s done it for 20 years now. His quest, spurred by a serendipitous moment, completes a circle and begins a second.

Reporting by David Stone / Photos courtesy of Orphans International Worldwide/The Stewardship Report

Assorted Ideas, Large & Small

Roosevelt Island News

The state of mainstream media is such that a man who saves or uplifts hundreds of lives gets nowhere near the attention of another who takes one. Jim Luce is one of our widely ignored heroes, even in his own hometown, but we’re out to change that.

Last we checked, Jim Luce reported that a fire ravaged an orphanage in Indonesia. But it wasn’t just any orphanage. It’s where his life — and, consequently, those of countless others — changed forever in 1995.

Nazareth Presbyterian Orphanage in flames, August 2019. Jim Luce met and quickly adopted ten-month old Mathew there on a fateful visit in 1995.

Not only was this orphanage Mathew’s home for most of his first year, Luce’s foundation, Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW), supported it ever since.

The children were safe, but they were now homeless. Acting fast, fundraising geared up, and Mathew, now a young man following Dad’s footsteps, volunteered to oversee rebuilding.

Both Jim and Mathew Luce call little known Roosevelt Island in New York City “home.”

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Pursuing Goodness, Jim Luce Completes A Circle

Shortly thereafter, OIWW completed the circle by the end of 2109, anticipating its 20th Anniversary in February, 2020. In spite of the fire, the remaining months of the year bubbled with inspiration, discovery and giving.

Jim Luce Pursues Goodness with the Dalai Lama
In October, just weeks after the fire, Jim and his friend, Dr. Kazuko Hillyer Tatsumura, met with the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, India.

Luce and Dr. Kazuko left the Dalai Lama, heading to Manjushree Orphanage for Tibetan Children in Tawang, India. The orphanage is high in the Himalayas, on the Chinese Border.

Jim Luce pursues goodness in the Himalayas
Jim Luce’s pursuit of goodness ranges far and wide. And high. At the Manjushree Orphanage, he met, “The guys. The author (Luce) joked he wanted a red sweater as well, and three boys
immediately offered their own; ‘Others before self.’ “

Jim says he’s “…proud that Orphans International Worldwide played a
small role in Dr. Kazuko’s grand vision.”

Never more shocked…

In the Stewardship Report in November, Luce wrote, “Never in two decades of helping humanity have I been more shocked than I was this week. On a tour of an important site, I was directed to notice a sign on the side of the road. It was a sign that my life work has moved to the next level…

But the shock required two steps…

Jim unexpectedly sat under the banyan tree where Lord Buddha found enlightenment, 2,500 year ago, but that was just a start.

Luce was in  Bodhgaya, Bihar, India to visit the  The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation India, Inc., founded by friends and named after his father.

“But what made my mouth drop open, my heart skip a beat, a feeling of incredulousness, a pinch-me-this-can’t-be happening moment was when we stopped along a dirt road returning from the school at an enormous banyan tree – one which Lord Buddha sat under 2,500 years ago. Serene. Cool in the shade. Inspirational.”

Jim Luce
The Stewardship Report

“We then crossed the street and walked a few feet down the road. Look in the bushes, I was instructed. This is what I saw!”

Jim Luce's pursuit of goodness led him to a shocking discovery.
“Unbeknownst to me, the Board of J. Luce Foundation India obtained a 99-year
lease across the road from the Saraswati Bodhi Tree,” Luce said.

“Our Luce Leadership Centre in India will be in the shadow of the Saraswati banyan tree. I received the shock of a lifetime and my dream has become fulfilled under Lord Buddha’s tree.”

Pursuing goodness is not new to Jim Luce…

His work in Sri Lanka and Indonesia after the tsunami in 2004 earned him a unique title.
After Hurricane Jeanne in 2008, Jim Luce brought Orphans International Worldwide to Haiti, aiding orphaned kids.

But Jim Luce’s pursuit of goodness always harks back to the beginning.

Jim Luce Pursues Goodness, and it started here with Mathew.
Jim with Mathew Luce, the orphan who changed his life, in 1996.
Full circle: Mathew Luce, 23 years later, with a 10 month old orphan from the refuge where Jim rescued him in 1995. Mathew next goes back to his first home to oversee rebuilding after the fire.

The Work Goes On

In 2020, Orphans International Worldwide starts its second decade, and the Lotus Free School opens, serving once “untouchable” children in India.

For Jim Luce, pursuing goodness is an unending chase….

Alert the media! You never know. Someone might be listening…

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