While on vacation, we drove aimlessly through an unfamiliar city. Recognizing the name of an organization, we turned into its parking lot, wondering if we would know any of the employees.
Glancing at the employee listing in the lobby, we noticed that a friend was in the office that day. Graciously, the assistant called to announce her unexpected guests.
As our friend descended the stairs, we giggled at how puzzled she looked. Her questions were obvious as she tried hard to remember how and why she would know us. The moment we mentioned Winnipeg, her face lit up with excitement. She embraced us warmly. It had been many years, but she did indeed remember who we were.
Walking to her office, she asked for mutual friends, glad to hear that everyone was keeping well. We asked about her husband, wondering if he was at his workplace.
No, he was taking a well-deserved day off, tackling chores at home. On a whim, she called him. He happened to be working on the roof but would come right over.
We were stunned! Who comes down from a roof – on their day off! – to meet unannounced, surprise guests?
Would I be just as quick to stop what I’m doing and respond with the same kindness?
Minutes later, Elder Dan Jackson walked into the office, curious to see who his wife, Donna, had called him to meet. His face lit up with excitement when he saw us. He laughed jovially, enjoying this pleasant surprise.
Leaving Donna to her work, Elder Jackson escorted us on a personal tour of the newly constructed Ontario Conference office. Though both the neighboring Union and Conference offices desperately needed new buildings, he graciously supported the Conference to build first. Our short time was pleasantly unrushed, and laced with humor, one of Elder Jackson’s special traits.
Others have similar experiences with Elder Jackson. Colleagues and regular church attendees of diverse ages and backgrounds include a commonality in their stories of a compassionate and humble leader. One who advocated against injustice, using kindness to demonstrate the immense responsibility the Seventh-day Adventist Church has to love and treat people as Christ did.
Yes, Elder Jackson’s resume is impressive, and yes, he wasn’t perfect. His respectably long list of public accomplishments details his strong, successful leadership for Adventism in North America. Yet beneath it all was a man who was daily trying to be more like His Savior. He experienced the love of Jesus and desired for everyone he met to experience the amazing love of Jesus too.
Sharing the love of Jesus is worth coming down from the roof.
Sadly, Elder Dan Jackson passed away on July 23 after a battle with cancer at the age of 73. During his 49 years of service, Elder Jackson and his wife, Donna, served mostly within Canada. His previous roles included president of the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference and president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada before becoming president of the North American Division. The Jacksons retired in July 2020.
Elder Jackson’s memorial service will be held on Friday, August 12, 2022 at 3:30 pm CDT in British Columbia. Link for the livestream and more info is listed in his obituary.
by Sabrina Jacques-Rowe
Communication Director, Henderson Highway Church