(Read by our son Jordan at Dad's funeral today in Connecticut in our absence).
Greetings from the Jeff Davoll family in Cumbaya, Ecuador. I want to thank you all for taking the opportunity to celebrate my Dad’s life. Whether we personally know you or not, you are a blessing to us.
I also want to thank my sister Lisa and her husband Tom, Josh, Emma and even Atticus for caring for and loving my Dad in our absence in his later years. There were so many times we wished we could be there but we are fulfilling what both Dad and Mom had prayed for so many years and encouraged us to do. Like Tom and Lisa are serving the Lord there in Connecticut, we are serving our Lord here in Ecuador.
Deanne & I have been married and serving together in ministry for almost 24 years now. We have been blessed with four children. Bethany 22, will be graduating college this May and seeks to serve God in children’s ministry. Jordan 20, is in his third year of college training and wants to serve with young people here and around the world. Amanda 19 is in her first year of college and is passionate about serving the Lord in the Spanish speaking world. Lukas 16 is a junior in high school still seeking where God might use him as a missionary.
I am sure many of you have great memories of my Dad. Dad loved animals and he taught me to appreciate and care for animals and to treat them with respect. We have 5 rabbits, 2 dogs, a duck and a chicken who laid her first egg today..woohoo. Our chocolate lab is ready to have puppies any day. Dad owned and loved horses and looked to ride any time he could. He loved sailing and the water. He loved to torture Lisa and I by driving through Cape Cod, showing us every house on every street of every town. He enjoyed his flowers and lawn a trait he learned from his mom. He loved peanut butter and instant coffee and he loved to dip his peanut butter sandwich in his instant coffee. He loved the Adirondack Mountains and everything about it…except the black flies. Dad loved Mountainside Bible Chapel and everything about it; the people, the cantatas, and the organist (my mom).
I want to share with you just a few key things I learned from my Dad, some more things that he loved and things that he taught me. Not just anything but very important things that I will cherish all the days of my life and hopefully pass down to my kids as well. It was not in formal lessons but from his daily walk I learned these things.1. My Dad taught me to love my Lord.
Mark 12:30-31- “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
I was adopted into the Davoll family when I was just 5 months old and we adopted Lisa some 2 years later. I say “we” because I remember the day we picked her up. I don’t remember much about formal teachings and lessons on faith from Dad, but I know his example was one that taught us to love our Lord.
Dad trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior as a young boy of 9 years old and later on made the decision to serve the Lord in full time ministry. Dad will probably not be remembered as the greatest preacher in the entire world. In fact, I only remember one message he preached, the Good Samaritan from Luke 10. It was in that sermon that I remember clearly Dad making the point that there is no one too far gone to help. We were in church when the doors were open and often we were the ones that stayed to help close them. It was in church and around people of God that I learned so much. We had great men and women of God in our home, missionaries, pastors and other faithful believers. Dad took us to camp where we heard the Word and dedicated our lives to serve the Lord. Dad tried to hold family devotions until Lisa would interrupt them and cause chaos at the kitchen table after dinner. She will try to say it was me but I will remember it the way I want to.
My Dad taught me to Love my Lord. Secondly2. My Dad taught me to love my labor, the ministry
Why wouldn’t we? It was his example that he set for us. Dad loved what he did. Why wouldn’t we want to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? It was Dad’s example that set that for us.Growing up we were never rich but we saw God’s blessing and provision on a daily basis and through Dad’s example we learned also to love or labor, to love our ministry.
I can only remember hearing one negative word about the ministry in all my days. I was about 8 years old when Dad left the youth pastorate of a church of 1500 people to become a missionary and to live on faith. In the transition he only made a salary of $25/week just so we could be put on insurance. Dad got poison Ivy all over his body cleaning the property of a house we lived in rent free for almost a year. I fell off my bike and got 6 stitches and Dad received his new ministry car…well, “new to him” ministry car. He had just sold his 2 door cream Monte Carlo with leather seats and a soft top to receive his 1973 lime green Plymouth Duster before lime green was in style. I sat in the car with Dad as he looked over his new “ride” and the seat unlatched and slid all the way into the back. Not leather but plaid vinyl. The door to the glove box had been ripped off and Dad just bobbed his head and said, “You give your whole life to the ministry and this is what you get.” That’s it, not another negative word that I can remember from Dad.
Dad taught us to love our labor because he loved what God had given him to do. Ministry was about people. People who used their gifts, abilities and resources to serve the Lord. People who needed Jesus. People who needed prayer or encouragement. People who made up the family of God. I was overwhelmed by reading the impact on people my Dad had as they shared through emails and Facebook. He has loved, counseled, encouraged and just been there to lend an ear. There are missionaries serving around the world because he took time to disciple them. There are children who are learning about God in churches through discipleship ministry. No question in my mind he has heard, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”My Dad taught me to Love my Lord, to love my labor, but also,
3. My dad taught me to love my lady.You can’t think of Dad without mom. They served together in ministry side by side. They each had their respective roles but it was a team. For richer for poorer, in sickness and in health till death they did part, though for just a short 2 year time Dad loved her and was faithful to his Lady. He provided, protected and honored her as the scriptures say,
Efesios 5:25-27 – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”Whether he planned it or not, while he set the example of loving his lady he was setting the example for me to love my Lord and to Love my labor. He set this example because Jesus Christ went to the cross to die in my place as He loved the church and gave Himself for it. Because Christ did that for me, how could I not love Him enough to give my life to Him and to serve Him all the days of my life?
Yes, it is a time of sorrow for us as a family here on earth. Death is meant to sting because it is a reminder of the consequence of sin that separates us from God. But it is also a time of rejoicing because we have the confidence from the Scriptures that we will be together again in heaven not because of how Dad lived here on earth but because of how Jesus Christ died and rose again. He did it for me and he did it for you.Dad, I love you. I want to be like you and to teach my boys to love their Lord, to love their labor and to love their lady. Good night, I will see you in the morning. In the meantime:
Philippians 3:14 – “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”