Encouraging Life to the Fullest
Defying doctors who said he could never do it, Jim Lloyd Davis is flying across the continental United States this year to encourage cancer patients to not give up.
Despite being diagnosed with four types of cancer over the past five years, by mid-June the Mountain Home, Arkansas, resident had touched down in 27 states. He is flying a plane he built himself in 2009.
The visits included a late May stop in Lima, Ohio. There he shared his testimony with 700 people in three weekend services at Lima First Assembly, pastored by his son, Randy. All along the way, Davis has inspired people, young and old.
"I've let them know you have to keep on living even if you're dying," says Davis, who worked in sales before retiring in 2000. "Life is precious."
His appearances at Lima First Assembly marked the first time Davis had shared his account outside his home church since starting his barnstorming venture in late April. The longtime pilot got so many e-mails after that weekend it took him a day to read them all.
"After hearing my testimony, a young man wrote me to say that he would never complain again," Davis says. His son says many in the audiences shed tears as his father advised people to use their own stories to encourage others.
Although thinking he would simply share his story of surviving cancer, the pastor says his father realized no matter what others are going through, they can relate to the cancer patient's struggles.
"I've never seen my dad more on mission for God," says Randy Davis, who has spent 12 of his 26 years in ministry in northern Ohio.
The son-in-law of an AG pastor, Jim Davis grew up in a small church in an Arkansas sawmill town. He accepted Jesus as his Savior as an eight-year-old.
However, he walked away from the Lord after joining the Navy. Frustrated by the legalism he had observed as a boy, Davis felt like he could never measure up. He returned to God after 14 years of straying, promising to study the Bible and adhere to the book's principles.
The providential nature of that decision appeared a few days into his trip, when he met a 14-year-old girl in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. She had lost all her hair during chemotherapy treatments for a brain tumor. After buckling her in, Davis took her for a ride in his plane. The girl smiled throughout the flight and gave him a bear hug after they touched down.
Calling some friends around, the pilot prayed for her, with video of the impromptu prayer circle aired on a Biloxi TV station's evening news.
"I'm not surprised I have cancer because I smoked for 47 years," Davis says. "That girl hadn't done anything and she had the same cancer I did."
His plans hit a temporary snag in June after sickness forced him to cancel a public appearance in his home state. Davis wound up in the hospital that week for a biopsy and CT scan. Although initial indications were there is no more cancer, the tests delayed his plans to visit the western half of the nation.
However, Davis hopes to turn that into a positive. He is enlisting a five-member team to help arrange more visits to churches before he departs for the second leg of his journey.
People at Lima First Assembly aren't the only audiences to hear his testimony. Before departing, Davis filmed his story at his home church and has given copies of the DVD to numerous cancer patients. These experiences have motivated him to continue sharing his story.
"If the Lord lets me live longer, I may just start spreading the Word and being on call to speak where people invite me," Davis says.