I would have given
anything to have asked Jandl if the complex was debt free, but my Southern gentleman
upbringing got in the way of that.
Living Stones gets its name from the
first book of Paul, Chapter 4, vs. 4-5. And on that campus is the church itself
which seats 3,000; a kindergarten through 12th grade school that works on educating
more than 200 children year after year; a big day care facility; huge amounts
of green space shaded by trees galore; and a series of parking lots that are so
large they will probably comfortably park every car of ever person who’ll ever
have a reason to be there.
While Jandll Jandll is pastoring his flock,
his wife, Judy, is overseeing the school. And then scheduling and double checking
to make certain all of the daily activities of the entire complex get done as
planned -- an enormous job -- is a former Baptist, now a follower of Jandl’s,
Sandy Grant, a young-looking grandmother.
Living Stones has a full-time
staff of about 75, and when you add in the part-timers, they’re approaching a
payroll of about 100.
Jandl told me that he’s never taken one course at
a bible college. He’s almost totally self-taught. But I can tell you that I noted
as he flipped through his copy of the King James, that there were marks and more
marks that had been made with a yellow high-lighter like every good student does
with his text books.
Irrespective of his lack of formal training, he got
ordained, and he got ordained not once but twice. The first ordination certificate
was from John Osteen, the founding pastor of Houston’s
prominent Lakewood Church.
Lakewood Church is the one that has become
the largest nondenominational church in the U.S., since John Osteen’s son Joel
took over the reins after John died.
The second ordination was signed
by Oral Roberts, who was probably one of the grand daddy’s of huge nondenominational
I asked Jandl what his church building-from-scratch
formula is. “First God has to talk to you and tell you he wants you to minister
His word, and then you follow His instructions on that to the tee. And that’s
exactly what I did when I left my high-paying job with Kroger. I was following
God’s message to me.
“When it comes time for you to build your own church,
you build the largest parking lot you think you’ll ever need, then you put your
first meager sanctuary way back on the back of it. I learned this parking lot
lessons from shopping malls.
Ever notice they build the parking lot first,
and it’s always bigger than you’d ever think they’ll ever need?
when we built our first church building, on the very first day I had a sign painter
paint in great big letters on one wall, “Jericho.” For like Jericho, our aspiration
was for the congregation to grow so big that the walls would bulge, and come tumbling
down, giving us the message that it was time to build a much bigger church.”
said that the rest of his contribution to the success of Living Stones is the
marketing skills and people management skills that he learned from his many years
as a grocery store employee. As it was in the beginning the rest was and remains
up to God.
As I toured the complex by myself, it didn’t take long to note
how clean, neat, straight and orderly every inch was, from the restrooms to the
sanctuary, to Sandy Grant’s office to the huge yard itself.
And over everything,
I could hear the voice of a telephone prayer counselor praying with one caller
after another. That voice in the background brought me peace as well.
a part of the autobiographical Johnny Cash-style song that Jandl would sing would
have to include his former lifestyle: drinking, smoking, denouncing God, getting
shot twice, once in the lower back and once in the nape of the neck, and some
early bad choices in mates.
The happy ending seems to be a man who’s now
at peace, has an honorable life’s mission, and whose past and present offer encouragement
to those who are following the word of God as Pastor Jandl interprets it. All
of that has happened over the past 35 years or so.
2013 – William
Cherry's Galveston Memories"
May 3, 2013 column
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