Welcome back to the Journey Podcast! In this episode, special guest, Don shares his story of God’s grace. From self-medication with alcohol to relying on God’s grace to sustain him, Don’s story inspires us in the beauty of God’s grace.
Transcription of the Podcast
Don: Yeah. I’ve been blessed with a few people at my church that are going through Journey as we speak. They want to reevaluate their life and I say to enhance their spiritual growth and let’s face it, Sarah, I mean we can all enhance our spiritual growth. I mean, Jesus wants us to work every day to get… To build a relationship stronger with him. I mean that task and journey are never going to be over.
Sarah: Welcome back to the Journey podcast. I’m Sarah and today I have Don Evans in the studio with me. Hi Don.
Don: Hi Sarah.
Sarah: How are you?
Don: Good. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it a lot.
Sarah: Thanks for being on the podcast. So today we are talking-
Don: Why are you smiling? You’re so happy today.
Sarah: I don’t know, I just like to smile.
Don: You’re smiling because you’re going to ask me about my story right?
Sarah: I know, I got to make you…
Don: Let’s just keep this cool.
Sarah: I got to put you at ease.
Don: I’m at ease, you’re the one I’m concerned about. Let’s go.
Sarah: So today we’re going to talk about the grace of God. And I was wondering if you’d share a little bit of your story.
Don: Oh God, I would love to. Yeah. I don’t know. It’s a journey that started a very, very long time ago. I guess it would probably be… You caught me off guard with this today, which I enjoy because I don’t… And I want everybody to know that none of this is scripted. We’re just talking, aren’t we Sarah?
Sarah: Winging it.
Don: Yeah, and we’re just out there in left field, coming around. Yeah, I guess a history of alcoholism in my life. First got to know a lot about Christ in maybe 01 due to a crash of alcoholism and being in the hospital. Then there was a big gap in there more of that and then really got introduced more so to God when I got baptized in 2006 in a very large Christian Church. And-
Sarah: Don, so why did you end up getting baptized in 2006? What was the catalyst for that happening?
Don: Yeah, I started in 06, kind of leaning into the side of Christianity, watching people, what they were doing inspired me a little bit, I guess to see that their happiness, I guess I’d never experienced that. So I got started in 06 as I said, did pretty good for a while, but due to my lack of faith, I like to call it and my lack of devotion to God. I slid back into my old ways again and managed to stay there for a multitude of years. So we’ll leave out all the middle stuff. But as I said, 06 and I just got sober in October of 2018 so it’s just been a little over a year.
Don: But at that point when I was able to get out and about again about December, it took a couple of months to become human and even be visible in public again. Really plugged in this time, Sarah, and there was a lot of fun and I hope you’ll interrupt at certain points and ask me specific questions whenever you hear me say something that you want to know more about, you could just jump in there and go, wait a minute, what about that?
Don: But I’ll keep going.
Sarah: Well I do want to know about… Okay, so becoming sober in October of 2018 for anyone who’s listening, who may be struggling with that, what was it that caused you to want to go down that route?
Don: Well, what was causing me to stay on the drunk fest or what caused me to want to jump on the Jesus wagon?
Sarah: I almost want to ask both with.
Don: Okay. Big one. Let’s go with the drunk fest. All right. We were talking earlier today, just in an outside conversation about people being lonely. And we just briefly mentioned this morning in the lobby out there and that got me thinking and now you’re asking what created that? Well, it all comes from loneliness. Losing another wife, we won’t count the number of wives. That’s not important. Just was a tailspin in 2015. So from 15 to 18, three solid years, it was drunk every day of the week, seven days a week.
Sarah: And it was dealing with the loneliness?
Don: That, losing everything that I had, through the divorce. And I’m a man, I’ll man up if it was my fault and in this particular marriage it was not. And I’m not going to say any more about it, but I was not at fault and everybody knows that and they’re like, wow, we just can’t believe that she just left and took everything you had. I was on the road trucking at the time, on my own truck. then when the… I call it the resurrection in October, that was only because if I’m honest, which I am because I followed Jesus, like Andy Stanley, I’m a Jesus follower and I love it because I have severe cirrhosis of the liver and I almost died the end of October again and had to go to the hospital and do some procedures there.
Don: And At that point I think, I really think the day that my brother took me into the hospital, I just kind of… God got ahold of me that day and said, you’ve had been playing this game for 18 years of in the hospital, 40 years of drinking. And I just felt, any standard, we’ll call it a nudge, I felt like a thump in the back of the head. Okay, I need to get this and this possibly is my last opportunity. So that’s when I jumped on the Jesus’ bandwagon.
Sarah: What did jumping on the Jesus bandwagon look like, entail?
Don: It always inspired me. It really did. Even years back before I ever even attended church whatsoever. And I just want to know more about it.
Sarah: So what did you do? What steps did you take then? So you leave the hospital and then what was your first step after that?
Don: Go home and start reading the Bible a little bit, but I wasn’t really good at that and started going to church right before Christmas in 18 and since then I’ve stayed plugged in there.
Sarah: And how did you find a church?
Don: I had gone to this church prior years, in the past. Yeah. I actually went to this church, started there in 08, left there in 10 to move back to Illinois to accept a job. It was a job moving venture. And then when I came back in 15 I was too drunk to pay attention. So I didn’t show up at church until December of 18. And so then at that point, I really got plugged into the church and enjoyed doing volunteer work and helping with homeless and seeing their struggles just really led me to think, man, I was almost there, almost homeless person. So just the little bitty things you keep doing on a daily basis, monthly basis. I just really started enjoying it more and seeing how it was affecting me spiritually. And then I took kind of a Christian class that was really in-depth in regards to where our faith is and asking us questions in regards to how we feel about God and Jesus.
Sarah: And was that class through the church?
Don: Yes. Yeah. It was a 10-week class and it was phenomenal and I learned a lot from that. I think if I’m being honest with everybody, which I am, I don’t know why I even say that. I can tell you this, Sarah, that I’m convinced that I found my Holy Spirit in the eighth week. As we were going through the class, we spoke about, I believe it was the eighth week, and getting to know our Holy Spirit was the topic and I did not know my Holy Spirit. It was quite obvious. So I left that meeting that night and went home and I did a lot of praying about it. And it’s just different. I can’t put some sophisticated word on like, oh, it was a revelation or oh, I don’t know how to address a word to, but it was very moving for me.
Sarah: So if I’m hearing you right, the steps you took were reading your Bible, then getting into church, then getting connected in church and taking that class, which gave you a foundation and then just knowing you, it’s being continually connected.
Don: Yes, absolutely. And then I was fortunate and I call it blessed to be volunteering for the church at a Casting Crowns event. I got to be specific on that. And Zack Williams was playing and they just… There was a booth, it wasn’t our church but it was members of my church that invited me to help with the compassion booth and that was quite interesting to see all these people signing up, taking care of these kids in foreign countries and stuff. I was really inspired by that and that’s where I met your mother. She was one of the volunteers at the booth and we talked about this class at church and then she shared a little bit of journey coaching with me and introduced me to your dad, Jeff, and we became friends and connected and then built a relationship.
Don: And then I believe it was about May, after getting more information about what Journey had to offer and the ongoing relationship that I had with Jeff, decided to step into the Journey coaching thing, which was designed to be approximately seven weeks. And I ended up spending, with the coaches, 13 weeks and there they had put more emphasis on reading the Bible when you’re answering questions, and I think I said this in another podcast, that by their patients and grace, they inspired me to pick up that Bible and politely told me to be reading it every day.
Don: And it’s really been so great to do that but to be plugged into various, I guess you would call it, you’re a young person, the media network and the social media. I watch other ministry preachings and things. You’ll hear me refer to Andy Stanley, which I know there’s… He’s on some of the Journey websites I’ve seen as I cruised around and explained Journey coaching to people and send them there. I hear him say that, oh yeah, I see that they got Andy Stanley on their website and I’m like, yeah, he’s pretty cool. So that’s kind of how this all got to where it is today.
Sarah: Well, and I think one thing that’s interesting for our listeners to understand is that… So one of the core things that I took away from doing Journey coaching was working in your strengths. And so in the process of you working with the Journey coaches, you build a relationship with other believers and you looked at what your strengths are and what’s been really cool just in the last several months is that you’ve been working in your strengths and helping build up Journey coaching too.
Don: Yeah, I’ve enjoyed that because it’s just after going through it. Yeah, I have a huge passion for it because of how it affected me and I’m kind of a hard nut to crack. So yeah, I’ve been blessed with a few people at my church that are going through Journey as we speak. They want to reevaluate their life and their… And I say to enhance their spiritual growth and let’s face it, Sarah, you mean we can all enhance our spiritual growth. Do you know what I mean? Jesus wants us to work every day to build a relationship stronger with him. I mean that task and journey are never going to be over until…
Sarah: Well, and that’s the really cool thing about Journey coaching too, is anyone in there, whatever place they are in their walk, they can pick up Journey coaching and it can work for them with them. Because I did journey coaching and I’d been walking with Christ for 30 years when I went through Journey coaching too. I have my own struggles and stumbles and things like that. But it was impactful to me too. And we just came… We just started our coaching journey just in different places in our life. And yet it just works for so many people.
Don: It does. And I’m glad you got on board with it early. At your young age because that’s a regret. I’m not going to drag it around, but it’s just, I regret that I didn’t, what they would say, maybe see the light.
Sarah: But then again… Well, I’m going to interrupt you here because then the other thing I want our listeners to realize is that DOD is getting ready to start coaching himself. And even though you have those regrets, the thing is if you hadn’t, God works, what is it by mercy? He works mysteriously and he works all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. And the thing is that because of the story that you have, you’re able to show that grace of God to other people because he is a Redeemer and he is a savior and he is a protector and he can use you to help show the grace of God to other people who have had similar struggles. And if you hadn’t gone through that, then how would you minister to those people?
Don: Right. I know it’s just like he ministered to the 12. Look at those characters in the Bible.
Sarah: They were Don.
Don: They were Don and then a whole bunch of other people, they were Don’s and Sarah’s and everybody, every couple of life. But none of them were Christians per se. I mean, it was just… You can do anything you want. And I think what I really found out about this whole… And let me interrupt myself and say this because you were just getting ready to, I think. No, you don’t have to be a Christian to do Journey coaching.
Don: I want everybody that’s listening to be crystal clear on that. I’m not going to bang on your door or be your coach and go, if you don’t accept Christ, I’m not going to coach. No, that’s not what I’m saying. So yeah, this is for anybody. But I can tell you this, I’m just going to warn them. You’re not going to go through Journey coaching and not want to know more about Christianity. That is a given and you might as well be forewarned. And it’s fun. And when you go through this, if you are true with yourself and you’ve had these coaches as I did, I was blessed with two very great coaches that they’re coaching this guy that I brought through.
Don: You just have a sense of now I need to take the ball and run with it and go coach some people. You just mentioned that I’m going to start coaching and I am. You’ve even hung me out in a tree because I’m going to coach your son. So that’s a big challenge for Don and as a teenage kid and if you trust me with him, everybody listens to this butter too, huh?
Sarah: Well, and my son’s been through some things. So I actually asked you to coach him the day that I met you back at the beginning of August. You were sharing a little bit of your story during the leadership summit and my son was there attending the leadership summit and I just stopped you. I said… We had just met and I was like, wait for a second, I need you to stop talking right now and that you’re like, what? And I called my son over and I’m like, okay, you can start talking again now.
Don: Normally I don’t like getting interrupted but with you, I made an exception.
Sarah: But I needed you to stop talking so that I could go have you… I wanted you to finish your story in front of my son because my son is not my biological son and he’s got a story himself and I wanted him to hear your story too.
Don: He was really cool. I mean, we had a good conversation and we’ve talked to him, I’ve talked to him since then. He’s looking forward to it. So we’re just getting our timings all lined up and that’s going to take place. So I guess if we weren’t doing podcasts today, I could probably go coaching him. Right. Seriously, there’s a ton to my story and I don’t say that boastfully I’m just saying we can’t put it all on the air. It would take forever.
Sarah: No, we have… Yeah, we just have to have you keep on the… To keep coming on the podcast and for others to get to know you too. Okay. I want to end this podcast with one question for you. If there is anything that you would want to mention right now about the grace of God and you would want people to know about the grace of God, what would it be?
Don: There’s a lot of things I could say about that, but I will say this and you’ve again done your work and caught me off guard.
Sarah: Wait, I’m going to interrupt one thing and I’m going to mention to our listeners that the grace of God… Grace, because I have a story about the grace of God but I won’t share right now. But from that story, I know that grace means God’s unmerited or unearned favor for mankind.
Don: Yeah, that’s cool. I guess to summarize, God for me would be, he has given me more hope than I’ve ever had in my life and I’ll be 61 years old and I’ve never had this much hope nor faith or conviction of my own wrongdoings that I’m addressing on a daily basis.
Sarah: Well, let me jump in there. Conviction of your wrongdoings, but yet that sounds counterproductive. Like how can you have so much hope if you’re so convicted of your wrongdoings too?
Don: Because now I can admit all my faults instead of pretending that they didn’t exist. See, most of the things that went wrong in my life, in my marriages were Don’s fault. But Don was blaming other people. So when I used to be bad, I said that wrongful conviction. But it’s allowed me to have peace and get rid of it. I’m no longer carrying that stinky bag over my shoulder anymore because God’s given me the glorified grace. He’s forgiven all of us. You know that as well as I do. I’m preaching the choir, looking across the room talking to you, but we’re all forgiven. God has given us… We didn’t have to fight for the promised land. God has given us the promised land and we need to accept that and help lead other people into faith with Jesus Christ. I know that’s more than one sentence.
Sarah: I love it. I love it. So we’ve got to close out today, but I do want to just encourage everybody to keep listening to the Journey podcast because obviously Don has to continue being on the podcast with us.
Don: I look forward to it. I had a lot of fun with you, Sarah.
Sarah: Thank you for being on and we just hope that you feel encouraged and connected and determined to develop your strengths and live out your purpose and find us on journeycoaching.org and reach out to us on social media or email or we have a phone number on journeycoaching.org too, and keep listening, like and subscribe and we will talk to you later. Thank you very much. Bye.
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