Dean Jones ’53 addresses Asbury community
Standing in the auditorium where he once sang and listened to his roommate practice his sermons, actor Dean Jones ’53 spoke to the Asbury community Friday morning about his roundabout path to faith and peace.
Structuring his story as a series of vignettes, Jones recounted three experiences that proved to be pivotal in his faith. In the first, he told of a disturbing encounter with a destitute little girl in Mexico’s Baja peninsula. Upset by her misery, he crashed his dirt bike and sustained significant injuries. Throughout the days following the accident, Francis Thompson’s “The Hound of Heaven,” a poem about the pursuing nature of God’s love, ran through his mind.
In the second vignette, Jones remembered a visit to the National Cathedral in Mexico City with his wife, Lory, who was suffering from arthritis. A priest invited prayers for healing, and, without much expectation, Jones prayed for his wife. By the time they returned to Los Angeles, a doctor confirmed that her arthritis was in remission. Jones, however, put the frightening possibility of God’s real existence out of mind.
Finally, Jones shared how the futility of his efforts to find purpose caught up with him in Cherry Hill, N.J.
“I was thoroughly disgusted with myself,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got the Ferrari, I’ve got the big house, and I’m angry. I’m depressed. I’m confused. Life is not worth living.’”
After 45 minutes of wrestling with God in prayer, he surrendered control: “And the peace of Christ rolled over me like an ocean wave.”
Since that time, Jones has shared his faith through film and personal conversations, continuing in the traditions he saw in action at Asbury. “My roommate used to preach to me,” he said. “I was not an atheist, but I was agnostic, and I know he prayed for me. Those prayers followed me to Hollywood. I never escaped the prayers that people prayed for me in this place.”