David Jeremiah Says God’s Plans Are ‘Way Greater’

David Jeremiah Says God’s Plans Are ‘Way Greater’

David Jeremiah lives by this philosophy: “When you follow God’s will for your life, you can see how yesterday’s events prepared you for today’s challenge and tomorrow’s opportunities.”

At age 83, his mind is constantly moving forward, but occasionally it takes a step back in time to a bright summer day over 70 years ago. He was about 12 years old and visiting his uncle’s farm.  

“My uncle had two silos sitting next to each other,” he says, “and I was going to climb up on the outside of one of them and get in on top of the silage to just look around. But when I got to the top and looked in, there was nothing all the way to the ground. I had made a mistake and got the one that wasn’t filled, and if I had taken one more step, it would have all been over. I tremblingly got back down, and I never forgot that.” 

It’s a vivid picture of God’s love and protection, something Jeremiah and his siblings knew a lot about, growing up under their father, James T. Jeremiah, twice a pastor and then longtime president of Cedarville University; and their mother, Ruby, who gave countless hours to the university. And it’s something that Jeremiah would spend his life preaching about, first at Black Hawk Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for 12 years, then at Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, where he has served for 43 years. 

“God kept me safe that day,” Jeremiah says. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if it hadn’t been for God’s protection.”

That same curiosity that drove him to climb the silo on his uncle’s farm has driven him to find every way possible to tell the world about the Savior he committed his life to when he was 13. Through his Turning Point ministry, his sermons reach 1.5 million listeners each week and were telecast to 2.95 million homes last year. He has written over 100 books, many of which are used to produce video training that is taught by churches across the country.   

And yet, he wasn’t even planning to be a pastor when he enrolled at Cedarville University. He was pursuing an English degree and a future in radio—until his dad called him one Friday night during his junior year with what seemed like an outlandish request: Go and preach at a church in a nearby town for the weekend, since their pastor was unavailable.

“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding. I’m not a pastor. I don’t do that.’ Dad said, ‘Well, all you’ve got to do, David, is go up there and give them your testimony and say some things that mean something to you from the Word of God. They’ll love having you.’”

So he and his girlfriend, Donna, whom he later married, went to the church and were invited back for many weeks to follow. 

“And that’s when God really impressed upon my heart, ‘This is what I want you to do. I want you to be a pastor.’” 

He began his ministry as a youth pastor at Haddon Heights Baptist Church in New Jersey. Then a family friend called him about pastoring Black Hawk Baptist—a church that hadn’t yet been started. “Starting a new church isn’t on my bucket list,” he told his friend. But when he began to pray about the decision, Jeremiah knew what he had to do. The church grew to 1,500 members and built a school during his pastorate. 

Jeremiah’s deep passion for the Bible, including prophecy and end-times doctrine, drives him to pore over his sermons through the week, preparing not just an outline but a carefully crafted sermon, word for word, that he can hardly wait to share.

“At any given time, if I ask Dr. J what he is excited about, his answer is ‘Sunday,’” says Paul Joiner, chief creative officer and executive producer of Turning Point. “I’ve worked with him for 30 years, and it’s always the same.”

His closest friends bear out his humility; his love for his flock at Shadow Mountain; and his fierce love and protection of Donna, his bride of 61 years, and his four children—David Michael, president of Turning Point; Daniel, sports analyst with the NFL Network and commentator for Jeremiah’s favorite team, the Los Angeles Chargers; Jennifer, who works with the women’s ministry at Shadow Mountain; and Jan, an event planner.

David and Donna Jeremiah. Photo: Courtesy of David Jeremiah

Jeremiah fell in love with Donna when he was playing basketball in college and she was a cheerleader. His devotion to her is second only to his devotion to God. In fact, one Sunday when his good friend Roy Rogers picked him up for church and he got settled in the car, he turned to Rogers and said: “Roy, I forgot to kiss Donna. Can you go get her?” Rogers recalls: “So I ran back in the house and said, ‘Donna, Pastor forgot to kiss you.’ She got this big ol’ grin, and she came out and they had a few words and he gave her a little smack, then off we went. It was so touching. Here they’ve been married 60-plus years, and they’re still in love with each other.” 

Jeremiah draws strength from what he has often referred to as his greatest challenge: his battle with lymphoma in 1994 and 1998. He eventually had a stem cell transplant and has been cancer free ever since. 

These days he has a new physical battle to fight—one he also expects to win. Jeremiah, who at 6’1” usually towers over the podium at Shadow Mountain, now sits in a chair to preach because he doesn’t have the strength to stand for 30 minutes. He is recovering from a sudden onset of transference myelitis last August, a virus that sidelined him from preaching for one month. When he returned, it was with a walker, which he has since discarded.

“I’m coming back from it,” he says. “But it’s very challenging.”

Rogers and Jeremiah’s friend, Dennis Stover, take turns driving him where he needs to go, and they are rediscovering what they already knew: “He’s the same on Monday as he is on Sunday,” Stover says. 

Although his preaching is heard in almost every country of the world and in 16 languages, he cherishes being pastor of Shadow Mountain.

“I have a little saying that I’ve kept on my desk and it goes like this: ‘The light that shines the farthest has to shine the brightest at home.’ And we have always made that a priority. I go away every year for six weeks at the end of August, but other than that, I hardly ever am away. I don’t like being away from my church. I’d rather preach at Shadow Mountain than anywhere else in the world,” he says. 

“Jesus said, ‘I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ I believe that the blessing is in the church and that the blessing can be extended to what I do with radio and television, but it can’t be replaced by it. The church is the core and the church is what God has His hand on.”

When God called Jeremiah to the ministry all those years ago, he was sad to give up his dream of a career in radio. But now looking back, he says: “God didn’t call me to preach to take away my dream, He called me to preach because my dream was too small. And what God has done through radio in my life is way greater than anything I could have achieved if I had kept following my own plan.” ©2024 BGEA  

Photo: Courtesy of David Jeremiah

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Subscribe to Decision Email Devotional

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

About Us     Contact Us     Privacy
©2024 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. BGEA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.