Dicy McCullough: Don Davis

  • Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013 11:59 a.m.
Don and Barbara Davis, in South Africa, take time off from mission work to see a waterfall at Blyde River Canyon.
Don and Barbara Davis, in South Africa, take time off from mission work to see a waterfall at Blyde River Canyon.

It’s amazing how one message on an answering machine can change your life. One evening a few months ago, the Rev. Don Davis left a message about how much he liked my children’s books. Leaving his number, he asked if I would call him back.

The next day when I returned his call, Don shared that he and his wife, Barbara, had written a children’s book and needed an illustrator. He asked if I thought my illustrator, Jean Barlow, might be interested in another project. I felt like she would because I knew how much she liked the process.

In addition to my latest two books, “Tired of Being Different” and “Tired of Being a Bully,” Jean also illustrated “Sasha Shops Salisbury,” a book by Julie Apone about Sasha Kitty (a cat who lives at the Stitchin’ Post on South Main Street). In the story, Sasha Kitty visits her animal friends at the various shops and stores in the downtown area. Net profits from the sale of the book are divided between Faithful Friends Animal Shelter and the Humane Society of Rowan County. Jean was very proud to be a part of that project.

Excited about the possibility of something new, Jean scheduled a meeting with Don and Barbara. After that meeting, she called to tell me she had accepted the offer to illustrate Don’s children’s book, “Anna’s Shoebox.” She also said she really liked Don and his wife and knew I would like them too.

Although Don had published four books, he had never published a children’s picture book and was unsure of the process. Needing some advice, he asked Jean if she thought I would be willing to answer some questions. Knowing I believe networking is one of the best ways to grow and develop as a writer, Jean said she knew I wouldn’t mind.

A few weeks later, Don, Barbara and I met for lunch at the Cracker Barrel in Mooresville. Immediately making a connection, we almost didn’t get through eating our meal for conversation about our writing. Jean described Don and Barbara as lovely people and I couldn’t have agreed more.

When Don retired from the Air Force, he began working for Cannon Mills, later known as Fieldcrest Cannon. In 1990, even though he had not attended seminary, he felt called to the pastorate, becoming pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Kannapolis, serving there for 10 years. He has since served as interim pastor for six churches, including his last position at Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis, serving there until October of last year.

In addition to his pastoral duties, Don is chaplain for the Beaver Pittman Post 115 of the American Legion in Kannapolis and volunteer chaplain at the Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast. Being a cancer survivor, he was assigned to the oncology department.

Diagnosed with melanoma in 1993, Don underwent surgery to remove a cancer from his nose. Four years later, he endured more surgery and treatment after cancer was discovered in two lymph nodes on the right side of his neck. In 2010, he felt led to write the book, “Man’s Diagnosis, God’s Prognosis,” giving hope that healing can be on the other side of a dark and lonely road. That same year, he also published a daily devotional book titled, “A Fresh Sip of God’s Word.”

Those who know Don and Barbara know they are happiest when they are serving others. That explains why they have led numerous mission trips to India, Scotland, Romania and South Africa, making the trip to South Africa 14 times. Don said in 2006, he and Barbara were on a team that participated in a week-long Vacation Bible School in a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa. Their team, along with adults and youth from a local church, ministered to more than 300 kids. Planned activities were Bible stories, crafts, music, sports, drama and refreshments. With no heat in the buildings and the outside temperature at 40 degrees, most everyone wore thick jackets, gloves and toboggans. Even with those conditions, however, by the end of Vacation Bible School, approximately 280 kids had made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In recent years, Don and Barbara’s overseas mission work has been curtailed because of medical problems, yet that doesn’t keep them from finding stateside mission projects in places such as Ohio and West Virginia.

Even with all of these projects and responsibilities, Don still finds time to write a weekly human interest column for the Faith and Religion section of the Independent Tribune in Kannapolis and Concord. With more than 700 stories, Don published two books from that column, “Spirit Led, Spirit Fed” and “Spirit Touched.” If the name of Don Davis seems familiar to readers in Salisbury, it’s because some of his storiesw have been in the Salisbury Post.

Don and Barbara remind me of the Energizer bunny; they just keep going and going. In addition to all their other projects, they are also involved with Operation Christmas Child, packing boxes and promoting the program in churches, businesses, schools and clubs for more than 15 years. Operation Christmas Child is where Don got the idea to write his fictional children’s book, “Anna’s Shoebox.”

From one simple connection on an answering machine, four lives have intertwined in a special way. Not only did Jean finish illustrating the pictures for “Anna’s Shoebox,” but I have made two new friends. On the back cover of Don’s book, “Man’s Diagnosis, God’s Prognosis” is a synopsis of how to survive the dreaded disease of cancer. In my opinion, it’s also a survival guide for life. Read it and see if you agree.

Depend on God in daily battles.

Deal with inner feelings.

Stay positive when you want to quit.

Help others in Jesus’ name.

Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.

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