The sun was setting and the lights of Hot Springs, Arkansas, were starting to glimmer against the surrounding mountains. It was Friday night and people were hurrying from work to begin the wonderful weekend! Everywhere you looked you could practically read the minds of those you passed: “TGIF!” The restaurants were filling up and the Oaklawn horse racing parking lot was nearly full. (Oh! How my Dad hated the traffic caused by people out gambling!)
My family also enjoyed a Friday night tradition: eating fish at Kilby’s Restaurant! MMMM-Good! My Mom, Dad, brother and sister had enjoyed this tradition of good food and a relaxing evening out for some time.(I had not yet arrived on the scene) It was getting a little uncomfortable though, since the new waitress came. When my Dad worked for the Hot Springs School District as pupil personnel director, Jean Daves was a volunteer that worked with him for a while. She was a very nice lady, and my Dad was a people person, so she always greeted our family warmly when they showed up to eat some fish on Friday night!

The owners of the Restaurant were members of Grand Avenue Baptist Church and sweet Christians. It just so happens that Jean Daves was a member there, too.

She began inviting my Dad to church. “Ron, I want you to come to my church. We have a new pastor and you’d just love him!” She would say as she seated them. “His name is Glenn Riggs, and he’s so nice. I hope you’ll come visit soon.” She’d say again when she brought the food. My Dad would smile and say “Oh really?Well, yes, we’ll have to do that.” He would then proceed to dig in and forget all about it.

This continued for weeks. Every Friday, the Courtney family would eat fish; every Friday, Jean Daves was the waitress – or server! – and would invite them to church. “Ron, now I really want you to come visit. You said you would!”

Finally, my Mother became embarrassed to eat there and continue to put this zealous woman off for another week, because they really hadn’t seriously meant to visit her church or her pastor. “Ron,” Mom said one night as they headed out the door for fish, “You know Jean is going to invite us to church again tonight…we need to either stop eating there, or go visit her church!” Well, a decision was made. I don’t know whether my Dad had a strong desire for spiritual matters, if he simply loved food that much, or both. But whatever the reason, they decided to attend Jean Daves‘ church…and it changed our lives. I’m including myself there, because, while I was not yet born or even considered, it affected my life.

They went to church there that week. They’d never heard anything like it. In the other churches they attended, it seemed as though the preacher was talking over them, instead of to them, and they had never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. My brother, Kevin, who was nine, leaned over to Mom and whispered “Mom! I understand what he’s saying!”

My parents left. They did not get saved that night, but they had kept their promise to Jean Daves!
Later that week, they received a visit from the Pastor, Glenn Riggs, and the associate Pastor, Glenn Lewis. Seated at the brown kitchen table at 110 Sunset Bay Drive in Hot Springs, Arkansas, my parents accepted the gift of Jesus into their lives, and we’ve never been the same. My parents could never seem to get over what Jesus had done for them. They weren’t part of the “party” lifestyle, they weren’t drunks or hooked on drugs, yet they knew they were unworthy of Jesus – as we all are. They have given their lives to knowing Him and serving Him. My parents have worked on buses, in Sunday School, and have gone soul winning, sharing the Good News with others that Jean Daves helped to share with them! In fact, my Dad was out knocking doors his last night on this Earth! What a faithful Father I had! My mother has not quit serving since Dad’s home-going – as many women would. She keeps going! What a faithful lady she is!

I’ve been given a wonderful life – a life in Christ – and I owe it to a lady that I’ve never even met. I owe it to a lady who loved the Lord enough to not only invite others to church, but to be persistent at it!

Thank you, Jean Daves, for being a living witness for the Lord. You made a difference in our family for eternity.


5 thoughts on “Thank You, Jean Daves

  1. What a wonderful testimony of this Lady that you have wrote about.

    It must be an awesome place to eat.

    Most people would go to great measures to even request a different waitress. I know cause I waitressed at Cracker Barrel for 3 years.

    Even though I have never met your Dad, I am thankful that through Jean Daves, the Pastor's and God's wonderful working through FOOD, that he excepted Jesus and that one day you will be able to introduce him to me!
    ~What an awesome Story~


  2. What a beautiful testimony to your father and to Jean Daves! I, too, was a homeschool mom – not only for my son, but also for six other children who stayed in our home during the day while their moms worked. I continued to homeschool until Wayne entered the sixth grade.

    The story you tell is a good example of what a wonderful place Hot Springs is to call home. One visit, one day six years ago, and my husband and I decided to move here.

    Did you know geographer Warren Bland recently named Hot Springs, Ark. the No. 1 place in America to retire.

    I gotta admit, Hot Springs is a pretty cool place to live, even for those of us who aren't yet retired.

    Folks less familiar with our city may enjoy these short documentary-style video clips at SpaVlogger.

    Rebecca McCormick,
    Travel Journalist, Hot Springs Village Voice


  3. Mother says:

    The memories brought tears of joy to me. Kevin's actual comment was, “Boy, this is good!” For a nine-year-old boy, I found that comment amazing. The church we had been attending mostly put us (and others in the congregation) to sleep. Ron and I both thought that there must be more to Christianity than this, or why bother to even come if you don't have any zeal for what you say you believe. I was stunned at the vigorous singing at Grand Avenue Baptist Church! There was life and excitement. “Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful day…”
    I love you.


  4. Anonymous says:

    I hope Jean or someone in her family will get a copy of this post. May we all have her enthusiasm for our churches and our wonderful Savior!


  5. Janet Ault says:

    Thank you for this great testimony. I'm so glad your dad and mom got saved. I can't imagine a life without knowing the Courtney's. Your whole family has been such a blessing to our family. Your dad and mom have always been so special to us. And you, well that goes without saying. Your just one of mine. Just think what we would have missed if your parents had not got saved. What a blessing. God is so good. I'm thankful you have been a part of our lives. Dixie has been blessed with a wonderful best friend. I'm so glad that your serving the Lord with your husband. I know your dad and mom are proud as we are. Thank the Lord for His Salvation!!! Love ya,


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