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One Great Truth: Finding Your Answers to Life Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 28, 2008
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About the Author
Jonathan Falwell preaches at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. He served there under the leadership of his father and founding pastor, Dr. Jerry Falwell, from 1995 until his father's death in May 2007. Before Jonathan joined the church staff, he was involved in numerous business ventures, including in 1990 starting one of Virginia's largest video and film production companies, which still thrives today. He is an accomplished photographer whose work has appeared in Time magazine, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, the Washington Post, and other national and international periodicals. He is the executive vice president of spiritual affairs at Liberty University, the world's largest evangelical Christian university (with more than thirty-seven thousand students), where he oversees all spiritual aspects of the university through the campus pastor's office. Jonathan Falwell earned his bachelor of science degree from Liberty University in 1987, his master of arts in religion from the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary in 1996, and his law degree (Juris Doctor) in 2005 from William Howard Taft University in Santa Ana, California. He and his wife, Shari, have four children: Jonathan Jr., Jessica, Natalie, and Nicholas. They reside in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
May 15, 2007 , started like any other day. I awakened to a beautiful spring morning in Lynchburg, Virginia. As was my routine, I was up, showered, and ready to leave the house around 7:30 a.m. The first order of business was to deliver my four children to their school. As I drove, I thought about how nice this day would be -- the weather reports called for unseasonably warm weather, a welcome change.
After delivering each of my kids to their respective classrooms, I drove to my office for a full day of meetings. As usual, my first task was to check email. One message was from my dad. He had sent it the night before, just after 11:00 p.m., which was not uncommon. I read it quickly and fired off a response. More emails poured into my inbox, and another day was off and running.
I led several short staff meetings to discuss upcoming events at Thomas Road Baptist Church, where I had served as executive pastor since 1994 under the senior pastor, my dad, Jerry Falwell. Before my next appointment, I had a few minutes to gaze out my office windows and again appreciate the lovely spring day. The sun was shining brightly and there was not a cloud in the sky. I basked in that sunshine, unaware that just a few minutes after the next appointment, my life would change forever.
It began when my mother phoned to say that Dad was "missing."
Missing? I actually laughed under my breath. How could my dad be missing? As pastor of one of America's largest churches and chancellor of one of the world's largest evangelical universities, he typically had a group of people with him. Even when driving around campus "alone," everyone noticed him. How could he be missing?
I asked Mom to elaborate. She told me that Dad hadn't arrived at a scheduled meeting twenty minutes earlier, and she had been trying unsuccessfully to reach him on his cell phone. I wasn't overly concerned. Dad frequently did media appearances that required him to turn off his cell phone, and sometimes he simply forgot to turn it on again. I assured Mom that this was likely the case but that I would find him somewhere on campus and have him give her a call. If only that had been the way things turned out.
Less than a mile away, a drama was unfolding in my father's office. Moments before she called me, Mom had called Dad's longtime secretary, Kathy Rusk, to see if she knew where he was. Kathy hadn't heard from him either and thought it strange for him to be missing the meeting, as it was a regular weekly event. She asked a couple of guys who worked with my dad in the historic Carter Glass Mansion to go into his office to see if he was there. When they walked into the room, they found my dad lying on the floor. He wasn't breathing.
A Liberty University police officer who was in the building immediately began CPR. Emergency personnel were then called and quickly arrived on the scene; they continued CPR. At about that time, I called Kathy to begin tracking down my dad. Amanda Stanley, who worked with Kathy in my dad's office, answered the phone. With noticeable reservation, she said, "Jonathan, you probably need to come over here." I immediately sensed that something was wrong. Without asking what was happening, I dropped the phone and ran out of my office. I called out to a coworker that I needed his car right away, as a friend had taken mine to the shop. Together we ran out of the office and jumped into his car for the one-minute ride to Dad's office.
As we drove across the campus, my mind raced with images of what I might find. A couple of years earlier, Dad had experienced some episodes with his heart that resulted in his being placed on a ventilator for several days each time. I thought this might be a similar situation -- that he would be in the hospital for a few days and that we may need to get him to a specialist to find out what was really going on. My mind also went back just a few days to the previous Friday, when Dad, Mom, and I sat in the office of Ron Godwin, Liberty University's vice president, discussing his condition. Dad told us that he felt himself getting weaker: he had a hard time walking short distances without getting winded. I suggested that he go to the Cleveland Clinic right away for evaluation, but he decided to wait until after Liberty University's graduation the following weekend. "I can't let the students down," he said.
I didn't know what I would find at Dad's office, but I certainly wasn't prepared for the reality. As we were still coming to a stop, I leaped from the car and ran inside the office complex. I arrived at Dad's office to find him on the floor with several rescue personnel working feverishly over him. For a moment I stood in utter shock. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I wasn't expecting him to be needing CPR.
Staring dazedly around the office, I saw the worried faces of the men who had discovered Dad. The conference table that always sat in the middle of the room had been swiftly pushed aside, the chairs turned over as the rescue workers rushed to begin resuscitation efforts. The room looked as though a fight had broken out. Unfortunately, the only fight going on in that room was a fight for life.
I went to Dad's side, grabbed his hand, and began pleading with him to open his eyes. I'd never felt more desperate and alone in my entire life. On my knees, I called out to God, begging him to spare my dad's life. I continued urging Dad to respond, telling him that we needed him. I told him that we weren't willing to let him go yet. I kept talking to him, the same words pouring out of my mouth over and over. "Come on, Dad, wake up. We need you!"
Just then my cell phone rang. I tossed it across the room to someone who answered it and told me it was my wife, Shari. I reached for the phone and attempted to speak, but my words stuck in my throat. Tears were now falling, and I could barely talk. Shari laughed, thinking that I was playing some sort of joke on her. I tried again to speak, but the only words I could get out were, "Dad's not breathing; go to the hospital." She stopped speaking. A brief pause, and then, "Are you serious?" She said she would meet me there.
I hung up and turned my attention back to Dad. Looking into his face, I saw that he was not responding. I watched his chest for some sign of breathing as the CPR continued. But his only movement was by force under the hands trying to revive him. I decided to check his wrist for a pulse, but before I did, I prayed that one would be there. It wasn't. Tears began to stream down my face as reality set in. My dad -- my friend, my mentor, my valued adviser, my hero -- was dying.
More staff members rushed into the office, among them Dr. Ron Godwin, the man with whom Dad had worked for thirty years. Ron had met Dad for breakfast that morning at the local Bob Evans restaurant. He told me that he had been with Dad just a little more than an hour before, and he'd seemed fine. He came over to where I was kneeling and placed his hand on my shoulder. Though the CPR continued, we both knew it was over. I looked up at him as he bowed his head in disbelief.
More Lynchburg emergency medical services staff arrived and began performing other procedures on Dad in hopes of gaining a response. IVs were inserted into his arm. Monitors were employed to measure any change in his condition. For a brief second, they stopped CPR to see if there was any response on the screens. Still nothing.
I asked someone in the room to call Jerry Jr., my brother, and have him pick up our mom and meet us at the hospital. I sent for my sister, Jeannie, who was two hours away in Richmond, where she works as a surgeon. I asked one of our staff members to drive to Liberty Christian Academy, where my brother's and my children were, and take them to the hospital as well. I knew this would be a day like no other we had ever faced and realized that we needed to gather the family together quickly. We would all desperately need one another very soon.
Still more rescue personnel entered the room, now with a stretcher. As they moved Dad onto it, I again looked for signs of life, but in vain. I continued to hold Dad's hand. I continued to pray to God. I looked to Ron for encouragement, but he was lost in his own grief and shock. The medical personnel quickly moved the stretcher to the outside door of Dad's office. An ambulance was waiting just steps away on the lawn.
Outside, a crowd had already gathered. A local television station even had a camera crew there. I yelled out to one of the police officers to move the crowd; I didn't want them to see Dad this way. I didn't want them to know what was happening. In the dreamlike atmosphere, I felt that if others didn't know what was happening, everything would be all right.
I climbed into the front seat of the ambulance that would transport Dad to the hospital, and we began moving slowly through the campus streets. Eerily, a number of people lined the sidewalks, their faces drawn in disbelief as they watched the ambulance go by. No! I thought. This can't be happening.
As we sped along the streets of Lynchburg with sirens blaring, I watched, through the small window that separated us, the continuing efforts to bring Dad back to life. I asked the paramedics if anything had changed. One of the men shook his head. I continued to pray.
We arrived at the hospital just as Shari and her parents were walking up to the emergency-room entrance. She met me as I emerged from the vehicle, and we watched as they brought Dad into the ER. I walked alongside the stretcher, continuing to hold his hand, continuing to pray. There was no movement, no response on the monitors, and no positive words from the emergency medical services crew.
Inside the ER, twenty or thirty people stood in absolute silence. They were all looking at the man on the stretcher, the man they were used to seeing walk the halls of this same hospital to visit others who were sick, the man they saw regularly on television or in the pulpit. Now this larger-than-life personality lay lifeless on a stretcher.
Dad was rolled into an ER bay, and numerous m...
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"One Great Truth" by Jonathan Falwell describes the struggles and victories he has experienced in following his father's footsteps as the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church.
Falwell opens the book with him arriving in his father's office after the latter was found unconscious and the emotions he was experiencing at the time. When he knew that his father had gone home to be with Jesus, Jonathan Falwell then realized what awesome responsibilities he assumed.
His story revolves around the theme of the Book of Joshua and Joshua's life. Many know that Joshua followed the footsteps of a great leader - Moses. But now, Joshua had to establish his own legacy and relationship with the Lord. Jonathan Falwell shows in "One Great Truth" some of the parallels between what he and Joshua experienced.
While Falwell was initially overwhelmed, he keeps coming back to Galatians 2:20 - "Not I, but Christ" as the focus of the ministry he finds himself in. The focus is to be on Jesus Christ and not mere man.
A great read for anyone in need of encouragement.
Read and enjoy. Recommended.