The Life And Legacy of A Visionary Dad

James O. Davis and James William Davis
James O. Davis and James William Davis (James O. Davis )

My beloved friend, Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, told me, "A giant tree has fallen. Your dad was a joy and blessing to all of us!"  

My dad, James William Davis, was a Great Commission father. From his early teenage years, he grew up in a pastor's home, faithfully following Christ and adding value to everyone around him.

So it was with great sadness for all of us when, on May 18, at 9:16 a.m., my incredible dad and friend graduated for eternity. At that time, I found myself in northern Germany, networking and synergizing with strategic leaders for the upcoming Wittenberg 2017 Congress.

While I was riding in Pastor Tony Ibarra's car, headed to Poland, I was speaking to surgeons on the phone in Melbourne, Florida. At that moment, my dad was lying on their operating table in the emergency room, gasping for breath. I was provided with two options, and told neither would save his life. I told them to do the best option available to us.

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The lead surgeon said he would do his very best and would call me back as soon as possible. Within 15 minutes, the surgeon called me again to let me know that his team had done all they could and that my dad had passed away. I responded, "I know you operate on a lot of people each year. However, I want you to know that a great man and leader came through your hands today. He was one of the greatest men to ever walk this earth!"

As you can imagine, this was a shocking, traumatic experience. My dad had a huge blood clot in his left lung. He had been complaining about some pain in his left shoulder.  This debilitating blood clot was causing shortness of breath and eventually would impact his heart.

I could not believe dad was gone. For nearly 10 years, since he moved from Mobile, Alabama, to Melbourne, Florida, he faithfully served in whatever capacity needed to assist us in the Billion Soul Network. He drove to the airport at least 450 times (90 miles round trip) in the last eight years. This statistic might not sound like much, but it was more than 40,000 miles at all times of the day or night!

Fond Memories

My earliest childhood memory of my father came when I was approximately two years old, holding on to his pant leg on the subway in Brooklyn, New York. I don't know where I was going, but I was on an adventure with my dad! I remember looking up into his face and seeing him look down at me. I had no idea at that time how great he truly was! I can still see his eyes looking down on me.

I remember him consistently leading our family through the Scriptures and arranging family prayer times. Additionally, he made sure his two sons (James O. Davis and James L. Davis) were actively involved in nearly every aspect of the local church, including youth ministry, evangelism and discipleship. Due to our dad's influence, as a 13-year-old, I read the Bible through in 66 days. I began on June 1, 1974 and finished on August 5, 1974. 

Wonderful Conversation

On May 17, 2016 (the day before Dad's death), he and I were texting, while I was Germany. Here are the last words I ever received from him:

James: How are you feeling?

Dad: I am feeling pretty good today.

James: We are on course to close on our new home today.

Dad: Will be a happy day in your new house.

James: Hope so ... it has been too long of a journey, Dad.

Dad: Yep, a very long hard journey. Something that most people shouldn't have to put up with. But, you made it. You didn't give up. You stayed with your vision and do you see where the vision has come to? Love you.

James: I just finished my last meeting for today.

Dad: Is everyone receptive to the meetings? Is everyone excited?

James: We are building momentum. We have had great meetings. The leaders in Wittenberg have rolled out the red carpet for us.

Dad: Wonderful. It's always good to know what you work at is not in vain and will produce results.

Two days after Dad's passing, our family moved into a new home. We had been renting a house for nine years. Dad was looking forward to celebrating with us and helping us to move into it. Additionally, he was making plans to attend the Wittenberg 2017 Congress with us. Note carefully the words above, "You stayed with your vision and do you see where the vision has come to?" He was reminding me of the past, present and future of the vision. The visionary sees first, sees the longest and sees the furthest!

Happy Father's Day 

I hope you have been as privileged as me to have an amazing dad in your life. I realize that millions of young men and women do not have the kind of father, friend and mentor that I had in my life. My dad and I spent a lot of time together, talking about life, family and ministry. My prayer today is that our Almighty Lord will raise up at least 100 million more dads like the one I had!

I am sure that the world would be a much greater place if dads would do their best to influence and impact their family like my Dad did me!

I suppose that every son or daughter who has a wonderful relationship with their dad believes their dad is the greatest in the universe. I can truly say that my dad stood the test of time, fought the good fight of faith and crossed the finish line victoriously. He has seen the face of God. As I have been going through his belongings, I have seen mountains of memories and valleys of victories.

There are so many memories I could communicate to you. During his lifetime, he traveled to Europe, Central America, South America, Australia and Asia. I would like to take the opportunity during this Father's Day week to relay personal growth lessons that my dad taught me.

Throughout the years, I watched my Dad expand and enlarge himself in order to make the shifts necessary for compounding spiritual growth in everyone he came in contact with, as well as those he served with through the decades.

Friday, I will talk about seven shifts he passed down to me that are worth embracing for a successful, spiritual journey. [eoa}

Dr. James O. Davis is co-founder of Billion Soul Network ( and founder of Cutting Edge International (, both located in the greater Orlando area. 

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