Pastor Jim DeVore
I have an older and younger sister. We grew up with both of my parents on the east coast. My Dad was a Marine so we moved around quite a bit until we moved to Arizona in 1970. My parents loved all of us and each other very much. I had a great relationship with both of them. Dad started a baseball league so I could play little league, and we would play together in the back yard. Mom was always there when I came home from school with cookies and love and she was a great cook! When I was 12 years old both my parents died in an accident. I was suddenly an orphan, even though my dad’s youngest sister became our guardian.
Looking back I can see that as soon as I was told about my parents’ death I decided that I would not get close to anybody. It was too dangerous. People left you even if they didn’t plan on it. I was very lonely on the inside, but very friendly on the outside. I didn’t want to be left alone, so I made friends with everyone so if I was ever rejected I always had someone to turn to. I didn’t realize all of this about myself until many years later when I looked back at my life.
As a freshman in college, one night I read a small booklet that told a story of this guy Charlie who is a construction worker. He tells his friends that when he dies he’s not going to heaven because he won’t know anybody there. At least he will know some people in hell. My family said that all the time! Well, this guy dies and goes to hell, and in hell he is burning and suffering. I figured that would happen, because even though I was never religious I had an idea what hell was like if it was real. What I didn’t expect was that this guy was all alone in hell. That scared me. I was already lonely and to think I could be that way forever really scared me. I threw the booklet off the bed, but picked it back up and read to the end. It said if I gave my life to Jesus Christ I could avoid an eternity in hell.
I realized that I had faked my way through life fairly well up to this point and could probably hide my loneliness for the rest of my life if I was lucky, but to think I was still facing an eternity of loneliness was overwhelming. I turned off the lights and stared at the ceiling and said to God, “God, I don’t know much about your son Jesus, but I’m scared and please don’t let me go to hell. I’m sorry for the bad things I have done in my life. Please forgive me. Thank you that Jesus died on the cross for me. Please don’t let me go to hell. Thank you that he rose from the dead. Help me to follow you, just please don’t let me go to hell. Amen”. Then I waited. I thought an Angel would come and say something or at least a lightning bolt would flash, I didn’t know what to expect. I fell asleep.
The next morning I went to some guys who told me they were Christians. I asked them if asking Jesus to come into your life because you were afraid counted. They said if I meant it. I meant it, so I said, “Well I guess I’m a Christian. Now what?” All I knew about Christians was that they wore black coats, stood on street corners, and yelled at people, or worse yet they became pastors! I got involved in a Bible study and started reading a Bible. I met with people who helped me understand what commitment God had made to me that night when I asked Him to forgive me.
I didn’t get completely over my fear of loneliness. I still struggle with it today. I still miss my parents. They have never met my wife, nor their 6 grandchildren. I still do not understand why God let them die, but I am willing to trust that he knows best. This I do know, when I gave my life to Jesus Christ he promised never to leave me or forget me (from Hebrews chapter 13, verse 5). I now have a Father that will never leave me, never die on me, and never forget me. That is what motivates me to tell others, that is what has motivated me to eventually become a Pastor.