Faith is the evidence of things not seen. Every day, stories abound of the grace that is bestowed upon us (most of it we don’t deserve) when we embark on our journey with Christ. Those stories start so much earlier than when we start our walk with Him. Rest assured, you are in God’s plans, even when we fight Him every step of the way.
Jason Donston’s journey is not dissimilar to thousands of followers of Christ, whose Christian walk started somewhat inauspiciously. The product of a difficult childhood in a broken home, Jason was raised by a single dad. Alongside his siblings, he was left to his own devices as his father was out working to make ends meet. No one can overstate the benefits of a stable home, and Jason’s was anything but. It wasn’t to be his lot in life; he and his brother and sisters were forced to find their ways, and as it can be predicted when a bunch of young kids is left alone, a series of bad choices became standard, thus starting the family on a path that was as predictable as it was terrible.
Jason began experimenting with drugs, starting with marijuana, at the age of nine, and this was just the starting point. Trouble quickly ensued, followed by more drugs, harder this time, mixed with a healthy dose of drinking. His life was going in the wrong direction. In lesser hands, you’d think that not only would this be a recipe for disaster and that his fate would indeed be sealed. God had other plans (doesn’t He always?)
What do they say? “It only takes a single seed.” That is where our story gets better.
At the end of his rope while still a teenager, and enrolled in a continuation school (this is where we relegate kids that are deemed “too difficult” to deal with in a standard school setting), it would have been easy to give up, but when all seemed futile, Jason befriended a young man whose family were Christians. Highly suspicious but willing to give it a shot, he started attending various youth groups, and little by little (his coming to Christ was still a way off), he started to build his foundation of faith one small brick at a time. At first glance, he didn’t quite know what to make of these “happy” kids. There was something different about them, something he couldn’t quite put the finger on. They were just . . . happy. For someone coming from where he had been, happiness is the most ephemeral of feelings, and it usually comes from “things.” It was a strange concept, indeed. Stranger still, their joy stemmed from a place he didn’t know. Unbeknownst to him, God was at work.
Indulge me in a quick sidebar; for those of you, fans of 6th-grade biology, photosynthesis is as follows: You start with the soil, plant a seed, water it, let it have sunshine, and ultimately watch something grow. It may sound simple; it is not. Plenty of “stuff” comes in play; bad weather, a drought, neglect, the proverbial black thumb. Growing in faith is made from these elements too. First, it would be best if you found a place that is conducive to growth; you also have to be surrounded by people who will help you along, nurture you, help you build your foundation, and finally witness your maturity.
The Night that Changed Everything
For Jason Donston, the “fertile” ground was an event that took place at the old Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, a short while after he started to attend the youth group. All that he knew was that it was going to be a live event with music, so how bad could it be? To sweeten the pot even more, a girl was going that he liked, so it looked like a good time. He had no idea who was to speak or what would happen, but as they started to settle in for the “show,” Pastor Greg Laurie came to talk. While he couldn’t quite remember everything that was said that night, one thing was for sure; he heard Jesus speak. One of the distinctive milestones at Harvest Crusades takes place at the end of the evening when Pastor Greg asks those who are ready to commit to Christ to come down the aisle and join other young men and women ready to proclaim their faith. At first, he hesitated, of all things, his buddies wanted to leave early to miss the traffic (this was Southern California after all).
Fear set in. Fear of fear itself. How could this Jesus save him when he was such a wreck? Why would He choose him? Didn’t He know that he was a drug addict and a loser? Surely, this God couldn’t do all these things, or could He? As his buddies kept insisting on leaving, he felt a tug at his heart. When he finally heard Pastor Greg ask for a second time to come down the aisle, this time, he felt convicted like he had never been before. He knew that deep in his heart, Jesus was asking him to surrender. He bolted down the aisle, with tears streaming down his face, and, free of fear, he proclaimed his love for Jesus. He was finally free. God: 1,235,987,345,431,749,553; Satan: 0
A Changed Life
That victory would propel Jason on a path that is now 23 years in the making. Before anyone thinks that everything went smoothly after that, well, think again. Trials and tribulations are a part of a healthy walk with Christ. However, there is a peace that can be found when we rely on His promises. No matter what happens, He will walk with us. Jason has a family of his own, which came with its own set of challenges (his firstborn came to life with seizures which developed into cerebral palsy). But more than ever, Jason knows that our Lord will not give him more than he can bear.
Not content to be on the sidelines, Jason learned to play the guitar, while discovering that God had bestowed him with a singular talent: the gift of song. He didn’t quite know what, but the Lord was preparing him for something. In His time, he started to lead worship for grade school kids at his local church which translated to leading youth group before finally becoming the worship leader for adult services. His path wasn’t easy or straightforward, but it is a shiny example of what can happen when seeds are planted. It can be Harvest Crusades; it can be a friend bringing you to a youth group; it can be a radio broadcast. God always has a plan. It may take time to reveal itself, but, fear not, He is firmly in control.
Today, Jason is not only a faithful follower of Christ, but in due time, his family also came to know Him, highlighted by his father giving his life to Christ shortly before passing. Jason’s story is one of commitment and love, and one only has to spend a short time speaking with him to realize the passion residing in his heart for God and the ministry.
When you hear that voice in your heart, what do you do? Do you try to muffle the sounds in your head, and try to reason with it? Or do you surrender?
In the case of Jason Donston, surrender has never been so sweet.
Has your life been impacted by Jesus through a Harvest event? We’re listening.