Trusting the Lord with All His Heart
Storyteller: Dan Jones
Writer: Sheila Holiday
It took a major heart-health scare 14 years ago to bring retired police officer Dan Jones to his knees before God. To Dan’s surprise, his heart repair has gone far beyond physical healing.
Dan didn’t grow up in church, although he was raised by loving grandparents while his mother was off pursuing a modeling career. Dan thinks they believed in God, but he had no spiritual guidance.
Dan moved with his grandparents from Alabama to Utah when he was 5 years of age. One rainy evening a few years later, his grandpa was hit by truck while in a crosswalk. The accident caused the loss of his leg. Unable to continue running his gas station and contend with the winter weather, the family moved to Bellflower, CA.
“Looking back, I wish I could do half of what he did with one leg. I played baseball at Bellower High School, and he would take me to all my games. I was such a brat; I was ashamed of him because he only had one leg,” Dan sheepishly recalls. “They spoiled me but were still great role models in my life. They were honest, hard-working people – truly the ‘greatest generation.’”
His grandparents passed away within a year of each other when Dan was about 19. He attended Cerritos College and worked in a Bellflower market, then at the Rockwell plant. During that time, he married and had a daughter. The marriage lasted about five years before he left “with some towels and an alimony payment” obligation.
Dan knew a few police officers, and decided he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. Throughout his 30-year career working in some rough parts of the City of Los Angeles, he encountered the fallen side of humanity and saw fellow officers seriously wounded.
During the 1984 Olympics, he and his partner chased down a man with a bowie knife who had just robbed a prostitute. “My sergeant read me the riot act for not shooting him, but I didn’t feel threatened,” he says. The man ran in front of his patrol car. Dan t-boned him and he flew in the air, fell to the ground, then jumped up, still holding the knife. Finally, they managed to knock him to the ground and place him in handcuffs, but not before Dan sustained some minor cuts.
“Looking back, I can see the Lord saved me more than once,” Dan remarks.
In 1969, a year after he started working for the Los Angeles Police Department, Dan married Linda, who he’s now been married to for 50 years.
Dan adopted Linda’s five-year-old son, Matthew, and in 1972 their family moved to Huntington Beach, to the home where they still live today. Within a couple of years, their second son, Richard, arrived. As the boys grew, Dan worked as a vice officer, investigating crimes related to prostitution, gambling and narcotics. He was able to arrange his schedule to be their sons’ Little League coaches. Sometimes Dan would work security for the Dodgers Baseball games, and became a lifelong Dodger fan.
When he retired in 1998, he continued to work as a security officer for a clothing store for 10 more years. While there, Dan was told he would need a heart valve replacement in about five years. Just over five years later while out walking his dog, Dan nearly passed out. It was time for the repair.
At that time, heart valve repair required “cracking the chest” open. “That scared the living daylights out of me,” Dan admits. “That’s when I first started asking God to help me. I promised myself and my wife if He would get me through my open-heart surgery, I would get myself to church.”
Dan’s surgery was followed by a 12-day stay in the hospital. He finally went home but wasn’t healing due to a staph infection and needed a second surgery. It was a long process, but eventually Dan began to heal. And, Dan kept his promise. He started attending church with Linda, a member of the CrossPoint family for 30 years who had never stopped praying for her husband.
Dan immediately felt welcome. One Sunday after the service, Dan went up to then-Youth Pastor Jim Gane, introducing himself as Matthew’s dad. Jim invited Dan to a weekly men’s Bible study with a few other guys. As he attended and his relationship with the Lord grew, Dan chose to be baptized.
“I began to see the world and other people in a different light, with more grace and compassion. I began to realize that everyone wasn’t trying to hustle me,” he says. “I was always a worrier, but I’ve found peace by turning my problems over to the Lord.”
Dan began serving as an usher and deacon in the church until health problems slowed him down. These days, the grandfather of two is busy taking care of Linda. Although she’s been unable to attend church due to rheumatoid arthritis, Dan comes home every Sunday and tells her what he learned from the sermon and service. Every day, while riding his life cycle in his back yard, he reads Proverbs and Psalms.
“I still consider myself a rookie (in faith), but my thought process has changed. My wife had always wanted me to go to church, but I would rather stay home and watch football. Now, I look forward to church much more than any game! I’ve grown to love Jim and Pastor Bruce and Cecil and other men I’ve come to know at CrossPoint like brothers.”
Through Bible studies, some of his brothers in Christ have shared the pain and grief they’ve endured. Dan and Linda have been recovering from their own broken hearts due to the loss of their son, Matthew, in 2018. Dan is grateful that the men at CrossPoint he’s come to know have been there to help hold him up in his grief.
“When I was with the police nothing bothered me more than when we had to go and tell parents that their son or daughter had passed away. Your kids are supposed to bury you, not us them. We miss Matthew every day. But I’m glad I now know that even in our darkest hours there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – a light supplied by Jesus.”
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