J. D. Jones: Pastor for All People

by Bernard DeRemer

Peter Marshall once said that the first essential for success in the ministry is to be born in Scotland.

But others would prefer Wales" (from Walking With Giants by Warren W. Wiersbe) J. D. (John Daniel) Jones (1865-1942), a Welshman, "spoke as if words were notes of music." He read his sermons from manuscript, but listeners could scarcely tell-and they always got the message.

Jones himself once defined preaching as "a real man speaking real things out of a real experience."

Born in Ruthin, Wales, Jones studied at Owens College and Lancashire College, receiving a degree in 1889. His first pastorate, at Newland Church in Lincoln, England, lasted almost 10 years.

Then he accepted a call to Richmond Hill in Bournemouth, England, a popular resort and retirement city. Many well-to-do people attended, but the common people heard him gladly. Jones stayed for 39 years.

His was a positive ministry of encouragement and comfort. Jones knew what it was to go through the valley himself. In 1917, while he was preaching at Torquay, his wife suddenly became seriously ill and died before he could reach home. Six years later, his only son died in Africa.

But in 1933, Jones remarried "and had the joy of traveling and ministering with his wife and daughter."

Jones was a great denominational leader who traveled widely, representing the Congregational International Council. In 1899, he first visited the U.S. and was privileged to hear D. L. Moody in Brooklyn. Later, he met the great evangelist "for a pleasant talk about everything from Sunday newspapers (which Moody strongly opposed) to higher criticism." Still, Jones tried not to let his outside ministry interfere with his pastoral duties.

Burdened to help others, he spearheaded programs that raised more than $2 million for the denomination "to increase the salaries of rural preachers and provide decent allotments at retirement." Jones and his people established 30 other churches and he was always available to assist and encourage pastors in difficult places.

When giving the charge to the minister at an ordination, he declared, "the one indispensable condition of our usefulness and success in the work of the ministry is that we should be good men-men of pure and holy lives, men of God. We may be good ministers without being either learned or eloquent, but we cannot be good ministers without being good men."

Of his many books, special mention must be made of these titles:

The Greatest of These: Addresses on First Corinthians, 1925; Three Score and Ten: the Autobiography of J .D. Jones, 1940; The Lord of Life and Death, 1939 (which Baker Books reprinted in 1972. Wiersbe says that this "should be on your shelf, particularly if you plan to preach from John 11.")

Dr. and Mrs. Jones retired to Wales in 1937, though he continued actively preaching. His health remained good until 1941, when anemia began to sap his strength. On Sunday, April 19, 1942, he was called home. What a glorious entrance he must have had.

Bernard R. DeRemer has chronicled the lives of more than five dozen of God's choice leaders,
across recent centuries, in a decade of writing for Pulpit Helps.

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