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Emmy Award-winning anchor/reporter for KTVT-TV (CBS 11)
Education: Abilene Christian College
Jody Dean is a 30-year veteran in broadcast journalism. Through the years,
he has personally witnessed many news events. The most significant news event
for Jody occurred June 24, 2002. A group of church buses was on its way to
a youth retreat in Louisiana from Metro Church of Garland, Texas. One of the
buses swerved off the road and hit a concrete bridge support pillar. The driver's
side of the vehicle sustained major damage; the debris of the wrecked bus
was strewn all over the highway, killing five and injuring 30.
At the time, Jody had feared that his oldest son was on the bus that crashed, since his son was also on a church bus traveling somewhere that morning and Jody did not know what bus was in the accident.
There was a prayer vigil turned news conference at Metro Church. While at Metro Church, Jody noticed the usual set-up for news conferences – nothing out of the ordinary. One of the men from the church went to the microphone to address reporters and asked for a moment of prayer. He thanked God for being merciful, prayed for the injured and those that had died, thanked God for those who came to pray, and prayed for the emergency crews still working at the accident scene. Then he prayed, "Father, we thank You for the many members of the media here today, and that they may have their questions answered. And, Lord, if Your grace and power is revealed to even one person here because of what's happened today, then we give thanks."
Jody recalls that he had seen grieving people turn to God in prayer in many situations before, but this time was different. He had never seen anyone pray with the hope that those in the media would benefit spiritually. Jody was awed at the church members' grateful hearts and concern for others in the midst of the tragedy. He felt that the prayer was for him. Before that moment, he scarcely knew there was a God. He had learned a system of belief, but he didn't know God personally.
Surviving Personal Tragedy
Jody was also going through his own personal tragedy. A few days before the Metro Church bus incident, Jody's third wife had kicked him out of their home. Both of these events led Jody to a paradigm shift in his relationship with God.
Jody was a surface Christian for most of his life. He was adopted and brought up in a Christian home. Growing up, he always knew Bible stories and the plan of salvation and was baptized at the age of 10. Jody says his faith was a mile wide and an inch deep. In other words, he wasn't sold out to Christ. Instead, he chased his ambitions. Conquest was all he was about.
He went to a Christian college, and throughout his adult life, he went to church regularly and had biblical knowledge, but he still lied, cheated, and did whatever he could get away with to please his own desires. He actually thought he was getting away with it and thought that the sin was fun. He was just going through the motions of faith. Jody figured, "If I tried harder [faith by works], why can't I stop lying, cheating?"
His third failed marriage turned him around. Jody says God wrecked him by exposing his lies to his third wife in 2002. After less than a year of marriage, she told Jody she didn't know who he was. She had called his second wife, and they had compared stories. Jody and his third wife argued about money. She eventually kicked Jody out of the house. During this time, Jody says his sin was fun and short sighted, dirty, and empty. After his wife kicked him out, Jody lived in a Budget Inn hotel. There he had days to reflect. He lost 35 pounds and decided to choose Jesus because he was afraid. He almost lost his sons in the latest divorce. Jody realized, "It's not what I know, it's what Jesus did – it's all about Him."
Looking back, Jody sees what he went throught as the cross he had to bear to gain his crown in Christ.
God in the Newsroom
Jody says Finding God in the Evening News was written as a reflective look at God's hand in the news and world events. Although throughout his career Jody always had an awareness that God was in news events, the insights he shares are hindsight revelations of these events.
He says nothing happens that God doesn't allow or bless. For example, in the event of September 11, one can see the heart of God. God's mercy was shown through the rescuers and people that tried to help. The heart of the evil one was seen in the terrorists. Everything is God's, and Jody's job is to be a good steward.
For most of his career, Jody didn't think he was where he should be. However, after his life changing encounter with God in 2002, Jody says he didn't really change on the surface, but he changed inside. He is more authentic; his faith comes through without him having to say anything. Jody doesn't inject the Word into his reporting, but his motivation is different. His message has become "see whose I am" and not "see what I know." Jody believes being a Christian is something you are, an identity, not something you do.
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