Dean Jones: When It’s All Been Said and Done, a Defender of the Persecuted

The following tribute was written by Faith McDonnell, Director of Religious Liberty Programs and of the Church Alliance for a New Sudan at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. If you would like to donate to the Christian Rescue Fund, a fund dedicated to aiding Christians escaping persecution, please find the donation button below.


I was saddened to hear of the death of actor Dean Jones on September 1, 2015, and pray God’s comfort for his loving wife, Lory, and all those who loved him. Dean reached out to IRD in 1998 because of his concern for persecuted Christians around the world, and I was privileged to speak to him and correspond with him. His passing into Eternity is a great loss for those who remain, but we rejoice in his Homecoming. Rest in peace, dear brother, and rise in Glory to hear the Lord’s “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

On September 1, 2015, the world lost a great man and talented actor. Dean Jones, 84, died due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to news reports. But the world also lost a great defender and protector of the persecuted. Jones was a follower of Christ with not just a “personal faith,” but one who used his wealth and influence to serve the suffering Church around the world.

If Dean Carroll Jones, who was born January 25, 1931 in Decatur, Alabama, only had been a film and stage star, that would be enough for him to be remembered and lauded by the world. But in Heaven, hundreds of persecuted Christians will testify to his faithfulness in sharing in their suffering. Jones’ story leads all the way from Los Angeles to such places as South Sudan and Fairfax, Virginia. And even through the phone lines of the Institute on Religion and Democracy!

For dedicated Disney fans, Jones will always be Jim, the race car driver in The Love Bug, the 1968 movie about a Volkswagen Beetle “Herbie,” with a mind of its own. Or they may think of him as the allergy-prone FBI agent Zeke Kelso in That Darn Cat. Jones, who made 10 films for Disney, was inducted in the Disney LEGENDS Hall of Fame in 1995.

Jones also received accolades for his work on stage, particularly in the Harold Prince/Stephen Sondheim Tony-laden musical, Company. Jones originated the role of Bobby in the musical in April 1970, and according to Playbill, “earned a place in Broadway history” for his performance. Most of the star’s obituaries feature a link to his powerful solo for the original Broadway cast recording of Company, “Being Alive.” Jones left the show after only a month, though, because of personal problems including a failing marriage and depression over the emptiness of his life.

Fame and financial success didn’t bring the actor satisfaction. In a 1991 interview in People magazine, Jones revealed how MGM studios “was grooming him to become the next James Dean.” Jones, who had grown up in a Christian home and attended Asbury College (Wilmore, KY) before dropping out, said that “the angry young man period in Hollywood” really fit his personality. “I was very angry, very hostile. I was drinking and partying all night. I had hundreds and hundreds of affairs, even though I was still married.” Jones and first wife, Mae Entwistle, divorced in 1970.

Jones was on the run from God. He felt emptiness in the midst of great success, when he should have felt the most fulfilled. Combined with two close brushes with death — a motorcycle accident in 1968 and a car crash in 1970 — the restlessness in his spirit made him aware that God was still there no matter how far he ran.

Of his accident, obituary writer Mark Ellis relates that as Jones “lay in the desert with 13 broken bones, bleeding profusely, and a concussion, he knew he faced a critical turning point.” The haunting poem by 19th century British poet Francis Thompson, “The Hound of Heaven” says Ellis, “played in his mind as a friend worked feverishly to keep him from bleeding to death.” The title of Jones’ 1982 autobiography, published by Chosen Books, Under Running Laughter, is a line from that poem, describing how man tries to hide from God.

When Jones and his second wife, Lory Basham Jones, surrendered to the Lord, their transformation did not stop with their own personal peace and salvation. Jones became a spokesperson for the Christian humanitarian organization Compassion International. He and Lory chose to pray on a regular basis for Uganda and ministered to persons living with AIDS. They became parents to seven foster children over the years, in addition to their own three children, Caroline and Deanna, from Jones’ first marriage and Michael Patrick Jones, his son with Lory. And they searched for ways to help persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world.

On a summer day in 1998, one of my IRD colleagues informed me that Dean Jones was on the telephone for me. “I think it’s the movie star from The Love Bug,” he said without a trace of humor to indicate if he was joking, “Oh yeah, ha, ha, ha,” I retorted, assuming it was either someone with the same name as the actor, or someone playing a trick. But as soon as Dean Jones said hello, I knew he was the genuine article.

Jones had been directed to IRD by the office of then Senator Sam Brownback for information I had about Christians in Sudan. We ended up talking several times, and then corresponding a few more over the next year. I tried to arrange a meeting for him with a Sudanese bishop who was visiting San Diego, but, sadly, the bishop’s trip was cut short by the U.S. bombing of the Al Shifa “pharmaceutical” factory.

Not long after that, though, Jones accompanied Senator Brownback to the south of Sudan, an area of brutal persecution of Christians under genocidal jihad by their own northern government. He met Christians from the Diocese of Yei and attended a worship service with them there.

Also in 1998 Jones founded the Christian Rescue Committee (CRC), now the Christian Rescue Fund, to help persecuted Christians, Jews, and other vulnerable minorities. Gary Lane, CBN News Senior International Reporter says, “I know CRC rescued hundreds, if not thousands, of persecuted Christians. Jones would have rescued millions if he hadn’t been limited by money and logistics.”

The most fruitful and ongoing partnership for Jones on issues of the persecuted church was with Christian human rights group Jubilee Campaign USA and its associated law firm, Just Law International in Fairfax, Virginia. Jubilee Campaign’s Executive Director, human rights attorney Ann Buwalda, declared that Jones was “dedicated to rescuing persecuted Christians and bringing them to safety.” Buwalda lauded Jones, saying:

For many years Jones collaborated with Jubilee Campaign in navigating the road to safety and resettlement for numerous believers forced to flee because of their faith, such as victims of the infamous Pakistani blasphemy laws.  A few years ago and on account of his declining health, Dean gifted his Christian Rescue ministry to Jubilee Campaign USA.  We named it the Christian Rescue Fund, and we continue to assist Christians fleeing persecution as a legacy to him.  Dean’s compassion for the suffering church has been an inspiration to me, particularly as he stayed faithful to care for them despite his waning health.

Obituaries for the star noted that in lieu of flowers, donations should be sent to the Christian Rescue Fund.

Years after his first screen and stage successes, Jones was again starring in a number of stage and screen productions as well as in several Christian projects. He was ‘Cap’n Andy’ in Hal Prince’s epic $10 million touring production of Show Boat, “where he played to SRO crowds and rave reviews across the country.”  And Jones’ advisor biography for the Dove Foundation says that his one-man play about Jesus’ disciple John, St John in Exile, “has been called a ‘masterpiece’ by several critics.” The foundation continues, “The late Alan Jay Lerner said St. John in Exile had ‘changed’ his life.” And it reports that “Director Dan Curtis calls Jones’s St. John, ‘The best performance I’ve ever seen.’”

A great legacy by any standard. But the words that describe the most important legacy of Dean Jones, his faithfulness to the Gospel and his defense of persecuted believers, are found in Jim Cowan’s song, “When It’s All Been Said and Done.”

When it’s all been said and done
There is just one thing that matters
Did I do my best to live for truth?
Did I live my life for You?

When it’s all been said and done
All my treasures will mean nothing
Only what I’ve done for Love’s reward
Will stand the test of time.


INVITE: Join us for Save North Korean Refugees Day

You’re invited! Join us for Save North Korean Refugees Day

September 24th, 2015

Events are being planned worldwide by the North Korea Freedom Coalition for Save North Korean Refugees Day on September 24th, 2015. The situation facing North Korean refugees in China is worse than ever before. Ever since the reign of Kim Jong Eun’s terror began, the situation for North Koreans seeking freedom has gotten worse as part of Kim’s efforts to stop North Koreans from escaping his tyranny. Complicit in this reign of terror and assisting the regime’s crimes against humanity is President Xi Jinping in China. This makes the annual Save North Korean Refugees Day critically important to focus on this issue that receives such little attention, but could be solved overnight if China simply followed its international treaty obligations.

Thus, the coalition needs country and city volunteers around the world to help with plans for the annual Save North Korean Refugees Day. This year the coalition is especially targeting action in the countries that are major trading partners with China. The level of involvement is up to the individual coordinators, but the one requirement is that a letter/petition be delivered to the People’s Republic of China embassy or consulate in those targeted cities on that day. Events are also being held in solidarity, including film screenings, prayer vigils, etc. For example, in Washington, D.C., in addition to the delivery of a petition, an evening candlelight vigil will be held.

For those in the Washington, D.C. area: Please consider helping hand deliver petitions to the Chinese embassy, as well as attending a special event hosted by NKinUSA and a special Candlelight Vigil held at 8 pm across from the Chinese embassy. More details to follow. 

Are you located in one of the following cities and interested in volunteering for Save North Korean Refugees Day?

  • USA (Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco)
  • Hong Kong, Japan (Tokyo, Nagasaki, Osaka, Sapporo, Fukuoka)
  • Repulic of Korea (Seoul, Busan, Jeju-do, Gwangju)
  • Taiwan (Taipei)
  • Germany (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich)
  • Australia (Sydney, Brisbane, Perth)
  • Malaysia (Kuching)
  • Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo)
  • Russia (Moscow, Khabarosk, St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk)
  • and more!

If you can help with these plans, please contact the North Korean Freedom Coalition!

Contact Now!


Legalizing prostitution is not the answer

Fr. Shay Cullen

There are some deadly aspects of prostitution where women are victims of different forms of bondage; situations where they suffer and are abused but cant escape from. Sex workers are victims of exploitation, coercion and violence. That is the norm and practice of prostitution and it works against sex workers and is a terrible violation of their civil and human rights.

“Sex workers are one of the most marginalized groups in the world who in most instances face constant risk of discrimination, violence and abuse,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty in a statement. “Our global movement paved the way for adopting a policy for the protection of the human rights of sex workers which will help shape Amnesty International’s future work on this important issue.”

In so far as protecting and saving women from stigma and violence and discrimination in the prostitution business, yes Salil Shetty is correct we must stop it and free the women from all blame and truly victims, exploited and abused people.

Many are working for those same goals. I have been at it for 43 years and have seen nothing but sex slavery and exploitation by the pimps, bar and brothel operators. So to give a free pass to the buyers of sex, the pimps and procurers and exploiters of women is not right. The AI declaration wants to make legal the sex for sale business as a whole.

According to a report in TIME magazine;  ” The resolution recommends a policy that would decriminalize all aspects of adult, consensual sex work, while still classifying coercion into sex work or having sex with a minor as a major human rights violation. The resolution is intended to protect adult sex workers from stigma and abuse by decriminalizing aspects of sex work including buying sex, pimping and operating a brothel”.

However while prostitution is technically illegal in the Philippines that is only on paper.  It is openly practiced and even encouraged by the local government leaders who issue permits and licenses to the bars and brothels and the criminal aspect of abuse and exploitation is totally ignored.  It is in practice decriminalized.

What have we got as a result of ignoring the woman abuse and not enforcing   the law?  We have one whopping big sex tourist industry all over the country where thousands of young girls are forever made sex-slaves in bars and brothels on street corners and in houses of prostitution. They are doomed to a life of being less than human.

They are controlled, used and abused for the sexual gratification of the rich and well off. They are treated like sex machine for the pimps, brothel operators and their foreign and local customers. The Philippines authorities, especially the church going ones and long silent church leaders, have the reputation of being the white painted sepulchers of society. The policy declaration of Amnesty International will play directly in their hands.

To declare that the whole criminal business of prostitution be decriminalized so as to protect the human rights of the sex workers opens the way for greater exploitation by traffickers, pimps and brothel owners and managers recruiters and sex tourists. The law in Sweden is more balanced, the women are treated with respect and are not charged with any crime but the pimps, recruiters and customers are penalized with violations of the law.

The whole business practice of making women dependent on a pimp or employer who sells them to sex customers is repugnant and is unworthy of the status and dignity of women and as a trade in human persons is intrinsically evil and criminal in nature. The notion of prostitution as a clean orderly legal business where no one is harmed or hurt, where all can be free from debts and threats and make free choices is at odds with reality. Eighty percent perhaps of prostituted women in the world are forced into it or held there by force.

Sex workers are the prisoners of a criminal gangs and sex bar syndicates that are highly organized, they trade women like cattle and are bent on enslaving and controlling as many women as possible in dehumanizing conditions for as long as possible. Declaring that this can be legal is not going to help the sex slaves and protect their human rights. They will be enslaved all the more.

In Europe many countries have already passed laws decriminalizing prostitution and we see now many more mega brothels around Europe with very young girls from the Eastern countries and from Asia working there without passports or the freedom to leave.  Many who escape tell horrifying stories of abuse and enslavement. The rights of sex workers who are EU citizens may be protected but not the girls from outside Europe. The young girls in the sex bars of  the Philippines are frequently found to be underage with fake papers.

Whoever came up with that policy in Amnesty International is not being true to   the great and noble reputation and tradition of AI one of the world’s leading human rights organizations with wise and sensible policies and practices. It has been spot on in all it’s great campaigns its present leaders have gone beyond commonsense and are ideologically convinced and motivated but unaware of the   the reality of the cruel human condition of sex workers in dire circumstances.

We need more action to rescue and give a life of dignity and sustainable employment and education to the women trapped in prostitution not legalize it.

VIDEO: Escaping Persecution: Nigeria’s Christian’s Under Siege


Persecution of Christians continues to persist in Nigeria. Watch the below video, produced by In Altum Productions, that highlights the persecution that Christians endure in Nigeria. Join us as we pray for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ to be strengthened during persecution.


Praise Report: South Sudanese Pastors Freed

Yesterday, August 5th, our prayers were answered. After nearly eight months in prison the South Sudanese pastors have been released.

Originally charged with at least six criminal offenses, the pastors were found guilty of one allegation each. The judge of the Khartoum North Central Court, Ahmed Ghaboush, found Pastor Yat Michael guilty of breaching peace (Article 69) while Pastor David Yein Reith was found guilty of taking part of a “criminal or terrorist organization” (Article 65).
The judge, who was believed to be in favor of the prosecution, was reported to have stated, “The sentence they served in prison is enough, release them immediately and return the mobile phones and laptops.”

The families of the pastors were both happy and relieved and were reported to have been rejoicing, singing, and crying tears of joy.

After South Sudan gained independence in 2011, Sudan has dedicated itself to being a Muslim nation. The case of the South Sudanese pastors brought pressure on the judge, who was striving to balance local expectations of upholding Sharia law while also respecting international human rights.

Though the pastors have been released, persecution among Christians persists. During the years following South Sudan’s independence more than 200 expatriate Christians were deported from Sudan, most of them to South Sudan. In addition, the government of Sudan has stated that it will not allow new churches to be built nor will it offer new land for the churches that have been destroyed. The government has continued to confiscate the land of churches and arrest believers.

In June, 12 Christian women were arrested in front of their church as they were exiting the worship service in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, for wearing trousers and skirts in public. The women were aged between 17 and 23 and are from the Nuba mountains, an area that borders South Sudan. The group was charged under article 152 of the criminal code that prohibits “indecent dress”.

Although we count the release of the pastors as a victory, we must continue praying for Christians in Sudan as persecution worsens.

Thank you to all who sent letters to the Minster of Justice of Sudan and to all who continue to pray for Christians in Sudan.