I would have
given anything to have asked Jandl if the complex was debt free,
but my Southern gentleman upbringing got in the way of that.
Living Stones gets its name from the first book of Paul, Chapter
4, vs. 4-5. And on that campus is the church itself which seats
3,000; a kindergarten through 12th grade school that works on educating
more than 200 children year after year; a big day care facility;
huge amounts of green space shaded by trees galore; and a series
of parking lots that are so large they will probably comfortably
park every car of ever person who’ll ever have a reason to be there.
While Jandll Jandll is pastoring his flock, his wife, Judy, is overseeing
the school. And then scheduling and double checking to make certain
all of the daily activities of the entire complex get done as planned
-- an enormous job -- is a former Baptist, now a follower of Jandl’s,
Sandy Grant, a young-looking grandmother.
Living Stones has a full-time staff of about 75, and when you add
in the part-timers, they’re approaching a payroll of about 100.
Jandl told me that he’s never taken one course at a bible college.
He’s almost totally self-taught. But I can tell you that I noted
as he flipped through his copy of the King James, that there were
marks and more marks that had been made with a yellow high-lighter
like every good student does with his text books.
Irrespective of his lack of formal training, he got ordained, and
he got ordained not once but twice. The first ordination certificate
was from John Osteen, the founding pastor of Houston’s
prominent Lakewood Church.
Lakewood Church is the one that has become the largest nondenominational
church in the U.S., since John Osteen’s son Joel took over the reins
after John died.
The second ordination was signed by Oral Roberts, who was probably
one of the grand daddy’s of huge nondenominational Christian churches.
I asked Jandl what his church building-from-scratch formula is.
“First God has to talk to you and tell you he wants you to minister
His word, and then you follow His instructions on that to the tee.
And that’s exactly what I did when I left my high-paying job with
Kroger. I was following God’s message to me.
“When it comes time for you to build your own church, you build
the largest parking lot you think you’ll ever need, then you put
your first meager sanctuary way back on the back of it. I learned
this parking lot lessons from shopping malls.
Ever notice they build the parking lot first, and it’s always bigger
than you’d ever think they’ll ever need?
“And then when we built our first church building, on the very first
day I had a sign painter paint in great big letters on one wall,
“Jericho.” For like Jericho, our aspiration was for the congregation
to grow so big that the walls would bulge, and come tumbling down,
giving us the message that it was time to build a much bigger church.”
He said that the rest of his contribution to the success of Living
Stones is the marketing skills and people management skills that
he learned from his many years as a grocery store employee. As it
was in the beginning the rest was and remains up to God.
As I toured the complex by myself, it didn’t take long to note how
clean, neat, straight and orderly every inch was, from the restrooms
to the sanctuary, to Sandy Grant’s office to the huge yard itself.
And over everything, I could hear the voice of a telephone prayer
counselor praying with one caller after another. That voice in the
background brought me peace as well.
So a part of the autobiographical Johnny Cash-style song that Jandl
would sing would have to include his former lifestyle: drinking,
smoking, denouncing God, getting shot twice, once in the lower back
and once in the nape of the neck, and some early bad choices in
The happy ending seems to be a man who’s now at peace, has an honorable
life’s mission, and whose past and present offer encouragement to
those who are following the word of God as Pastor Jandl interprets
it. All of that has happened over the past 35 years or so.
Copyright 2013 – William
Galveston Memories" May 3, 2013 column