Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Words In Honor of Jeff Dallas, USMA 1985

(This memorial presentation was offered by Samuel D. Jackson at the Celebration of Life for Jeff Dallas, USMA 1985, in Columbus, OH on 17 February 2016 in the presence of Jeff's family, Classmates of USMA 1985, colleagues of the Ohio State Patrol, and friends.)

I am humbled and privileged to stand where a thousand others could stand to pay honor and tribute to my West Point classmate Jeff Dallas.  Rarely does a human being’s journey on earth command such notice, such regard and such respect.  Jeff and I served in different companies and regiments during our West Point experience, but his stature and bearing command one’s attention just as his smile, warmth and humility commanded one’s affection. 

It is regretful that it is often only in the death of a loved one that the true breadth and depth of the impact of their lives becomes known.  When the news of Jeff’s earthly departure spread among the members of our class, countless spontaneous accounts of acts of Jeff’s kindness, help and support began to surface.  They seemed to come to light by the hour with classmate after classmate sharing story after story of how years after our time spent as cadets, Jeff had gone beyond what was hoped for or expected to embrace, encourage and assist a classmate, family member or connected friend with an act of service, assistance and love. 

Perhaps what is most clear about Jeff from the day he arrived at West Point until his far too soon appointment with eternity is his determination to make the most of the opportunities afforded him in this life.  He made the most of the gifts, talents and abilities given him and sought EVERY opportunity to use those gifts with joy, courage, excellence and consistency.

There are many words that could describe this wonderful man we had the privilege to know.  Among those that touch my heart most deeply when I think of Jeff are these: 
Classmate, Husband, Father, Friend, Brother.  Nevertheless, as one whose own life was forever transformed by a once in a lifetime experience along the banks of the Hudson River, 3 magnificent words will always define Jeff, as they have defined every honorable person who has had an encounter with this esteemed and hallowed place: Those three words encapsulate the essence of who Jeff is and the reasons we stand together today to celebrate his life – Duty, Honor, Country. 

These words are not just a motto nor are they a sentimental reflection we call upon during times of solemnity and grief.  They represent the core convictions of people like Jeff, who believe they were placed on this planet for something more self-fulfillment, and that they were born with the purpose of serving a greater cause – a greater good that by the force of its importance would outlive them even when their work was done.

We celebrate Jeff’s exemplary life devoted to his DUTY! Duty recognizes one’s obligations - obligations not seen as burdens of performance, but rather embraced as opportunities to serve the needs of the times beyond oneself, beyond personal fulfilment, and beyond personal recognition. Though it be in obscurity and self-denial, duty is fulfilled that others might benefit and that the nation and goodness might live.

We pay homage to Jeff’s HONOR! Honor stands as the pillar of virtue to which we must cling and the virtue that demands that we always do what is right! We live with honor not out of self-promotion or self-glorification, but from a steely-eyed commitment to righteousness and all that is good, so that evil will not prevail and so that justice might reign supreme.

We remember Jeff’s excellent service to his COUNTRY! Our affection for this nation is not a cold acknowledgment of territorial borders but a burning, soul-deep love for and allegiance to the PEOPLE of this nation comingled with an unquenchable desire to serve and protect the inhabitants of our land all the days of our lives.

These 3 HOLY words were completely and powerfully fulfilled in an amazing and wonderful man named Jeffrey Dallas – my classmate. Let us honor him by remembering the standard of service he has exemplified for us and by pursuing the accolade he now has received from the One Who made Him and gave him to us. Let it be said - WELL DONE!!!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hope Community Church - Poised To Make A Difference

In a challenging world, in the midst of challenging times, there is a crucial need for people who are ready to serve God and others.  Hope Community Church is a local congregation comprised of such people!  It is Hope’s mission to take on the challenges of our times with a message of Jesus’ love to minister to people from every culture and ethnic group that it can, backed by powerful, practical demonstrations of that love in ways that make a difference in our community and beyond.  Just who makes up Hope Church and what makes these people believe they can really make a difference?

Hope Community Church, Racine, Inc. was officially recognized as a non-profit organization by the state of Wisconsin on May 27, 2015.  It has received full non-profit status and possesses all the rights and privileges of a Southern Baptist affiliated congregation.  These privileges include full tax-exempt status, and the ability to minister fully and formally in any capacity it feels called to serve.

With a mind on strategic success, Hope has built a team of key ministry partners who are already investing resources in its formation and growth.  Who are these partners?  They are people and organizations who believe in Hope’s mission and are willing to back that belief with practical, financial and material support!  Among the strong and established ministry partners walking alongside Hope are these: The Lakeland Baptist Association, The Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention, Grace Church of Racine, WI, Youth For Christ of Southeast Wisconsin, Angelstone Ministries and The Navigators.  These partners have provided Hope with resources such as funding, grants, building usage, personnel usage, and equipment. These partnerships have enabled Hope to begin its ministry with strength, confidence and decisive action.

Hope is not only strong through external partnerships, but benefits from a strong and committed internal core, comprised of professionals from every aspect of life. This group’s commitment has established Hope to be a church that makes a difference.  After months of introductory gatherings, Hope has grown in the number of people attending each meeting and in the resources it has to apply towards ministry. 

Hope’s heart to make a difference can be seen in its drive to extend hands of compassion to those in need, both locally and globally.  Hope has already reached out through Thanksgiving and Christmas projects to encourage local families who were not benefactors of other assistance. It has also partnered with the Southeast Wisconsin Youth for Christ ministry in an outreach that began at Christmas and will continue for the foreseeable future. This outreach is designed to assist very young, single high school mothers and their families.

Through a partnership with Angelstone Ministries – a non-profit, mission organization - Hope also ministers to needs of people in tremendously challenging circumstances in the Philippines and India, contributing to projects that have provided hunger relief, community development and the promotion of education. Projects include the construction of a new school, and the establishment of businesses and the initiation of community services.

Though Hope is young and might appear - at a glance - to be an upstart church, it is led by people with extensive experience in starting new churches and filled with highly skilled and professional people who are energized by new opportunities to reach out and serve others.  Pastor Sam Jackson and his wife Luz, have over 50 years of combined ministry experience in reaching the poor and starting new ministries. They have begun new work in 2 major cities within the United States – Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan -  as well as internationally.  In each ministry setting to which they have been called to start a new work, they have gathered, organized, and directed people into an effective, self-sustaining, congregational body that impacts their community for the good.  

In Cleveland, their place of service was located in one of that city’s most dangerous communities, with very limited support. In time, the Jacksons had formed a coalition for ministry that led to the establishment of one of the most effective hunger relief programs in the city at the time, assisting over one thousand people a month in hunger related needs.  The church they established and led also saw the transformation of scores of individuals who went from being besieged by significant social challenges and cyclical dependence to becoming producers and contributors who themselves reached out to help others.  Beginning with few initial resources, the Jacksons in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention and other agencies, led in the establishment of a healthy, growing and effective congregation and other associated ministries.

In Metro Detroit, the Jacksons established a Multicultural Congregation that consisted of a membership with over a score of nationalities and backgrounds represented.  Similar to the start of Hope, the Eastside Community Church began with about a dozen individuals and saw its membership surge within its first few years, even partnering with the local and nationwide Southern Baptist Convention to establish and assist other congregations.  Eastside continues to be a powerful source of help in a community that has been sorely tested by economic hardship.  It is in Detroit that the Jacksons established and partnered with Angelstone Ministries – a partnership which led to extensive ministry within the local school system of Harper Woods, and led to the congregation being recognized as the most effective congregation for outreach in the denomination in the state of Michigan!

With this kind of experience and more under their belts, the Jacksons are qualified and prepared to lead Hope Community Church in Racine, Wisconsin.  They have served locally for over six years and have built strong relationships with their ministry partners, having served on staff with Grace Church for the majority of that time, and having built a good reputation among various community organizations including the Philippine American Society of Kenosha and the Filipino American Association of Racine County – organizations that have recognized and contributed to the ministry partner, Angelstone, and organizations that have expressed a deep interest in continuing to partner with Hope Community Church.

Hope is indeed poised to make a difference. Hope is blessed with the compassion and the drive to serve and the determination to make a difference. With the resources, partnerships, and experience involved in our church’s circle of partnership, we believe the future is bright and the potential for growth is strong. Why this place, why this church and why reach out to those who are hurting and need help the most?  Because our society and community need it! 

It is our conviction that Hope Community Church’s promise and vision for the future, supported by caring and determined individuals, is helping to establish it as a dedicated and effective platform for ministry for this region and beyond!  Please check out our website at:


In Christ’s Love,

Samuel D. Jackson
Hope Community Church



Friday, February 5, 2016

The Manhood Test - A Valentine Story

A dear friend who was a witness to my total and utter immersion into the cavernous and unrelenting love that has characterized my feelings for Luz since the moment I met her, asked me to recount an event at our wedding that went unseen by most, but was very much felt by me. 

The Veil and Cord Ceremony conducted at Filipino weddings serves as a wonderful illustration of the presence and blessing of the Lord in the purity of marriage and symbol of the loving unity that marriage was meant to produce. Luz and I were blessed to have experienced this tradition as a part of our wedding. One slight miscalculation on the part of those who placed the veil and cord around us, gave me a strong but unintended illustration of endurance and perseverance marriage requires as well. 

As the veil was placed around my shoulders and Luz’s head, the sponsors were very conscientious to do their very best to make sure that neither symbol slipped off. As they fulfilled their duties, I suddenly noticed a great deal of discomfort in my shoulder as If I had been stung by a bee or wasp. As I made a hasty appraisal of my situation, I quickly realized that the veil had actually been pinned to the trapezius muscle of my shoulder itself, not just my Barong Tagalog, or traditional Filipino shirt! In my desire to be a real man for my bride, I then surmised that my sticking was one last test, designed to try my love in a way that wasn’t visible to the congregation and family, but was all too obvious to me. This test would be seen by the wedding party and a few insiders, and would prove beyond a doubt I was willing to pay any price and face unplanned obstacles and discomfort as a husband and father. In my mind, I couldn’t just pass this test, I had to max it! So, I smiled, put on a thoughtful face and avoided giving even a clue that I was at all fazed by this trial of manhood. 

When the ceremony was over, and the veil and cord had been removed, I whispered to Luz and asked if she was proud of my performance in passing the test? She looked at me curiously and asked “What test?” “You know.” I replied, and explained what had just happened and how I had endured it all with distinction and honor! Luz almost bent over double laughing. “That was no test!” She chuckled. “They were probably really nervous and just stuck the pin too deep so that the veil wouldn't come off! Manhood Test! You are SOOO funny!” 

It seemed that though I had failed impressed my new bride with my masculinity, I had succeeded in entertaining her with my stupidity. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but laugh myself. Looking back on that day, amidst many ups and downs and trials and victories, I have still continued to find myself laughing with joy some 20 years later. I have also learned a few lessons, among them being this bit of truth - while you may make a fool of yourself thinking you’re doing something noble, manly and brave to prove your love, in your failure you may achieve something much sweeter and more enduring – bringing the one you love incredible joy and exposing a heart that is faithful, devoted, and willing to face any obstacle for the sake of a love that is beyond measure and without shame. When you really consider it, what could be manlier than that? Lots of love and Happy Valentine's Day! Until next time...