At certain times in life, we all find ourselves in battles where it appears that we’re going to get destroyed. It could be actual battles like fights or competition, it could be figurative battles like the trials and tribulations of life. Either way, in those unique times, it’s always great to have a person you can depend on to help steer you away from the imminent defeat towards a place of overjoying victory. In today’s post to The 24 To 30 feature, I’ll cover the story of Alonzo Jacque…
THE BACKGROUND. Like almost everybody from my Tokyo days, I first encountered Alonzo through church. He, his wife, and their son would sit in the middle of the church sanctuary with Donna Miller. I always had a great view of them—and everybody else—from my perch in the sound booth. I didn’t officially meet Alonzo until a Sunday service event we had called Jersey Sunday. He and his family came in that day wearing customized Indianapolis Colts jerseys…#7 with their last name, if memory serves me correctly. I asked him where he got his jersey made and he mentioned Korea. That’s how we met. Over the next few months, I learned a little more about him and became comfortable with him. Though he was a physically imposing figure—like 6’5” or 6’6” from my guess—he was a really cool guy…a real gentle giant, you may say. He usually came out with the rest of the church guys when we made trips into the city…like the trip we made out to Makuhari Messe to check out the Tokyo Game Show. That’s when I learned he knew exponentially more about video games than I did. That’s also when he learned something very important about me during a conversation on the train ride out there: my desire to get married and all the parameters that came along with that. I remember the stunned look on his face as I was sharing my vision. Alonzo—or Jacque, as well all called him—was often one of the first people to volunteer in many church events. One, in particular, that comes to mind is a lock-in that my church hosted for teens around Memorial Day Weekend 2009. I remember him displaying an incredible sense of humor as the MC for our mock American Idol competition that night but it was the things he said to the young teenage boys in our mentoring sessions with them that stole the cake for me. During the time I knew him in Japan, Jacque had a love for automobiles. In the relatively short time he was assigned to Yokota, I think he had like 4 different rides. He was also a very gracious host on the 3 occasions he and his wife hosted after-church fellowships. He and his family left Japan to return to the United States in December 2009 but our story didn’t stop there. He ended up getting assigned to the national guard base in Birmingham so he was one of the first people I linked up with when I returned home from Japan in May 2010. From that point, our friendship blossomed into what it is today…really good friends who seem to always have great timing in motivating each other.
THE MOMENT OF IMPACT. To understand Alonzo’s moment of impact in my life, I have to flashback to 2011. For the first 4 months of that year, I was experiencing great times. I had brought in a record tax return to add to a much-improved financial situation. Work was getting fun again as the facility management program that I had taken over was showing signs of significant progress. I was feeling 100% healthy for the first time in almost 2 years. Things were going great with my family. I had even landed myself in a dating relationship that showed some real promise. But in April, I was awakened from a deep sleep with a vision and a word from God that I’d go through a horrible summer but would rejoice in the fall if I made it through. I shook it off at the time but lo and behold, on the 1st day of Summer 2011, the bottom fell out for me with that relationship starting a domino effect that rushed through every other area of my life. I remember being so out of sorts that I felt as if I was losing my faith. Realizing I was in a personal state of emergency, I reached out to all of my co-best friends but none of them were available. They were either in deep sleep in the United States or working in Tokyo. So I called Alonzo. The first time he didn’t pick up but something in my heart told me to call him a 2nd time. He answered and I explained everything I was going through to him…even told him about the vision. He listened first. And then after that, he reminded me of what I had said on that train in Tokyo 2 years earlier about my vision for life. He then provided me with some advice and he prayed for me. Before hanging up, I told him that I was gonna do a unique fast: 30 days without meat and going the distance until September 1st without Internet or social media…71 days in total. That’s when he shocked me by saying he’d fast with me, which he did. As I labored through personal struggles during that long, hot Summer of 2011, he regularly checked in on me and kept me accountable to the fast. What he did for that entire time kept me focused on God’s goodness at the end of the trial and proved to be just enough to get me to September and Tokyo, where Mama Sanders took over and I eventually made it to this highlight moment.
HOW IT GOT ME TO 30. Alonzo has always been there for me in the most critical of times…when I find myself pressed against the wall or teetering on the edge. He’s always had the right thing to say at the right time. That’s something that even continues today. Whenever we talk, he always says something that may not necessarily resonate in the immediate moment but it comes to pass in the days, weeks, and months later. Several months after he fasted alongside me, I thanked him for it and he told me that it did just as much for him as it did for me. I have no doubts whatsoever about that. Jacque’s presence in my life showed me the true meaning of Ephesians 3:20 and for that alone, his place in my Elite 8 is secured for a lifetime.