LU Shepherd Doug Damon Reflects on God’s Provision in His Life
Vitriolic. Hateful. Venomous.
These words should never describe someone’s upbringing, and yet they are just three of the words used by LU Shepherd Douglas Damon to convey his childhood home. Coming from the turbulent home life of his childhood and to his life now as an on-campus minister to Liberty University students, Damon has experienced the extraordinary things that come from trusting God.
Until he was 18, Damon lived in the same house in Flint, Michigan. But because of its caustic atmosphere, he experienced the most peace at his grandmother’s house when he would go on the weekends.
Damon witnessed his grandmother’s devotion to kindness and a prayerful lifestyle firsthand. He once found a collection of dozens of journals, each one written front-to-back with prayers for him, his family, missionaries and the church.
“[I remember] getting up in the wee hours of the morning to go to the restroom, which was by her bedroom, and hearing her praying for me and my family,” Damon said. “She was the first person that I ever met whose life was centered around Christ.”
Over the course of his childhood, his grandma’s church became a place where he would go for Christmas, Easter, and other holidays. At the age of 15, he joined the church on a youth group retreat after his older sister used the recreational portion of the trip to convince him to join.
The retreat’s speaker talked about peace and its abundance in God, and Damon realized this as something he desired after seeing how God had used his grandmother in his life.
“I recognized that the only place I really felt at peace was at my grandma’s house, and having spent that time there, and realizing that the peace he’s talking about was present at my grandma’s house, I wanted that peace in my life,” Damon said.
That night, he walked up to the altar, the sounds of the room muffled by the moment, and he felt waves of peace flowing over him.
“It’s what the Lord knew I needed in that moment, because my home life was so tumultuous and so violent and crazy, that peace was very appealing, and so the Lord was just pouring it over me.”
In this explosive household, even though his older siblings protected him, Damon told himself on multiple occasions that he would not end up like his father. The key moment that set him on the path to make such a change came just one year after he accepted Christ, while on the same retreat, when he felt the call to ministry.
“Instead of running away from the enemy, I was running toward my hero: Jesus,” Damon said.
Damon decided to study at what is now Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. During his fourth year of studying church ministries and missions, he met his future wife Mindy on a missions trip in Zimbabwe.
They decided to give one another some distance to pray, especially since they had known each other for less than three weeks. In his time alone, Damon said he told God that he would accept whatever answer came next. Damon got his answer.
“Sure enough . . . the peace that I had when I was at my grandma’s house, the peace that I found at salvation, and the peace I found (now) was all the same,” Damon said.
The next night, which was their first chance to shower in a week and a half, Damon got up in front of the group in his pajamas and carried through with what God had given him peace about.
“I just dropped down on one knee in front of the 18 people and asked her to marry me and spend the rest of her life with me, and she was crazy enough to say yes,” Damon said.
Eight weeks later, in Mindy’s home, the Damons were wed and embarked on the journey that God had laid before them.
In the years that followed, Damon filled numerous ministry positions in Florida, San Diego and Charlotte until Mindy was offered a job at Liberty University’s School of Music.
Leading up to the family’s move to Lynchburg, Damon struggled to find a job, bringing a time of stress and anxiety for the family. However, the oldest of Damon’s four sons, Chad, said that this time allowed him to see what trust in God really looked like.
“To see the leader of my family just say, ‘ok God, I don’t know what you have in store for me, but you have shown me that this is where my family needs to be,’ it really helped my walk,” Chad said.
This anxiety finally got put to rest the day the family moved into Lynchburg, as Damon found a job at Liberty Christian Academy, which shares a part of LU’s campus with the university.
Just two years later, as Damon prepared for his third year as Bible teacher and football coach at LCA, he received a call from David Nasser, Liberty’s current Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development. Nasser’s daughter Grace had been in Doug’s Bible class the year before, and when she heard that her father was looking for a new Campus Pastor, she suggested Damon.
Damon accepted the job offer and became a Campus Pastor, which later was revamped into the position of LU Shepherd he holds now.
“It has afforded us to all be on the same campus at the same time, and as a man who values his family above everything else in life outside of salvation, that’s hugely important to me,” Damon said. “I’ve been able to see [Chad] grow, and see the young man he continues to become as a product of this environment.”
Chad is currently a Resident Shepherd in his dorm. He said that his father has been a major mentor to him in life, leadership and servanthood.
“He’s taught me to see the need and meet the need; if something needs to get done, just do it,” Chad said. “People tend to follow me regardless of whether I’m leading or not, so I need to make sure that I’m living a life that if someone were to follow me down that path they would only be getting better.”
Whereas he uses words like “vitriolic” and “venomous” to describe his past, Damon now sees his present life in a new light. With an essence of a quality leader and a kind smile that can comfort anyone, Damon seeks to use the things with which God has provided him.
“I have always had this very simple faith that the Lord is going to take care, he’s going to provide, and as long as I continue to put myself at his feet and say Lord, wherever you want me, whatever you want me to do, I’ll go and I’ll do,” Damon said. “As long as I’m putting myself in the path of his will, it’s going to be all right.”