Basil O'Connel Jones: His extraordinary journey from war to ministry, through a near-death experience

Basil O'Connel Jones is an evangelist. The extraordinary story of her encounter with Jesus is marked by an experience of near death. Basil was clinically dead for 28 minutes, and it was this experience that prompted him to research what could possibly be after death. And when he discovered it, he never stopped sharing it around him. After many years in the service of the Lord, neither disability nor the difficulties of life have weakened his zeal to spread the Good News of Jesus. Basil deeply believes in the complementarity of ministries and in teamwork. Basil agreed to answer questions fromInfo Chrétienne and we thank him for his overwhelming enthusiasm and communicative zeal to see souls saved.

  • Can you tell us about your meeting with Jesus?

At the age of 22, I was a soldier of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, and I participated in the fight against terrorism for 2 years. On February 1, 1977 we were ambushed and shot in the head with an AK-47 assault rifle. The bullet went through both sides of my brain and I was dead. What happened next changed my life dramatically.

I have experienced physical deathI experienced physical death, my spirit left my body. I saw my life pass me like lightning. My mind was out of my body for about 28 minutes. I was told it lasted 28 minutes. I was evacuated by helicopter and was hospitalized for over a year. I was told that I would no longer be able to walk, speak or write, and probably that I would lose my sight. During this time I was frustrated, angry and depressed at times.

What struck me the most was this experience with death, because I knew it was the most real thing in my life. I tried to explain it in my head but I couldn't, it was too real. I was dead. I spent the next 18 months asking myself questions because I knew I would die again. I just wanted to know where, how, and who had the answers about my life.

During this period, I found myself in a rehabilitation center for soldiers wounded during the war. Sometimes in the afternoon we would talk about our different experiences and our injuries. I have always spoken openly about my injury and death as I was looking for someone who could answer my question about life after death.

For the first time in my life I had peace and joy in my heartI did not know that a nurse was listening to our conversation and that he would come to discuss this subject with me. That evening, he sat down at the table with me as he began to share his conversion experience. We spent several hours talking about Jesus, salvation, sin, life after death among others. That night I felt broken and asked Jesus to please save my soul from sin. I fell into a deep sleep, and the next morning when I woke up, I knew I was a new creature. Everything was different. For the first time in my life I had peace and joy in my heart. I was truly born again.

  • What was the trigger that marked the beginning of your ministry?

The enriching experience I had during the war, and the mighty salvation I received gave me a burning heart for the LordThe enriching experience I had during the war, and the mighty salvation I received, gave me a burning heart for the Lord. I wanted to reach as many people as possible with the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ. I shared the story of my salvation to whoever wanted to hear. I was burning for Jesus and kept sharing the great things he had done for me and in me. Soon after I began to preach and share my testimony in hospitals, schools, prisons and in Zimbabwe, South Africa and abroad. During this time, I had speech problems due to my injuries, however people were born again each time I shared my testimony. Once, an entire school accepted Jesus.

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  • Life is sometimes subject to hardship. Would you agree to share one with us, and especially to make us discover how you overcame it with the grace of God?

I stopped fighting, resisting or arguing with myself and with GodI remained disabled as a result of this injury. This obviously made my life a real challenge. I got married to my dear wife, Kathy, two years after my conversion. We have two wonderful children who are married and in the service of the Lord. As a man, not being able to help and support his wife around the house as much as one would like, whether with the children or with the daily chores, was probably one of the biggest challenges and the greatest hardships I have had to face. I got to a point where I had to accept my disability and experience the grace of God in the midst of it all. It was truly an amazing grace to have been able to come to terms with my condition as I stopped fighting, resisting or arguing with myself and with God. I have been married for 36 wonderful years. There have been many ups and downs, as well as challenges, but the grace of God made us stand firm and helped us through each challenge. To God all the glory.

  • What is the biggest lesson you have learned through your ministry?

Before I was broken by the Lord, I was useless to himSo no matter how big a mission God has given to a man or a woman, you will be of no use to anyone if you don't allow God to work in you, to break your pride and independence. Before I was broken by the Lord, I was useless to him and to his church. As a solitary and independent evangelist, the grace of God has enabled me to accept a place on a team, and to let people come into my life in a transparent way. It has been the greatest protection for myself, my family and the church I attend.

  • Who is the person who has had a major role throughout your journey?

We are more united than everThis person is a brother named Miki Hardy. During the 1980s I was part of a growing church in Zimbabwe. This church was made up of a group of leaders, all of whom had great ministries and an anointing in their lives. However, the church was on the verge of collapse as there was no unity in the leadership. Each of them had their own vision and way of doing things. It was impossible for us to work as a team. Although I was working with other people, I felt very lonely and considered leaving this church to build my own church. It was then that the Lord allowed me to meet Brother Miki Hardy who had come to our church. He brought the heart of the Lord and was a father to all of us. His message was clear and simple. He spoke about Jesus and his crucifixion, as well as the grace of God that allows us to follow Jesus. What happened in the following years is a true miracle because the Gospel had touched our hearts and our lives. We started to forgive, love and accept each other. It was the fruit of the gospel preached by this man of God. It has been 28 years already, and we are still working in the unit. We are more united than ever. Once again to God be the glory for this great miracle.

  • What advice could you give to those who wish to embark on the same path as you?

Never believe that you can serve the Lord aloneNever believe that you will be able to serve the Lord alone. The church is run by elders who are subservient to one another, headed by Christ. It is true that some leaders will be part of the five ministries and they will have a greater role in preaching the gospel, and in equipping the Saints for the ministry, but they must learn to work as a team.

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Basil, thank you for your inspiring words, and thank you for agreeing to share your story with us. May the Lord bless you and give you to bless powerfully those whom he will put in your path, through your moving testimony.

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