"My target every week is to get to church. If I get to church everything else is alright," says Dr. Jake Malone, a former minister at First Baptist Church of Augusta.
Dr. Malone was a minister at Augusta's First Baptist Church for more than three decades. He often worked with senior adults, planning trips for the group, at home and abroad. His wife Delores was always by his side.
"I would plan the trip and I would look far in advance and he would be doing the day to day things and we've worked together for forty something years, 44 years we've been married. It's been a great journey together," says Mrs. Malone.
Their travels came to an abrupt halt in May when Dr. Malone was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, and other cancers.
"They found I had it in my lungs, in my liver, in my spine and pelvis," Dr. Malone says.
The prognosis was not good, yet this longtime minister coped with the grim reality with unbelievable courage and candor and with a desire to help others.
"It was almost immediate when I got the diagnosis that God told me...he said, 'Now you've got the credentials to be able to help people to learn how to die and how to face death and how to face death with strength," Dr. Malone says.
That was the beginning of a project, one he called: 'Journey To Paradise: A Travelogue', a DVD that contains a series of videos in which Dr. Malone takes viewers on the final journey of life.
Despite his grave illness, the chemotherapy and its side effects, this preacher would not give up. He wanted to see the project through. "I felt like this is the way I can complete the ministry God sent me here to do," Dr. Malone says.
It is a ministry that has touched countless lives for dozens of years. Even a taboo topic like death became one of his his reasons for living and his legacy.
"'The Journey To Paradise' is the ultimate mystery trip. We don't know what's out there ahead of us, but God does and God's going to lead us at that corner," Dr. Malone says.
"I don't look at death as being the end of life, I see death as an exit. You exit one life to go to another," says Dr. Malone. "We have to be thankful for the life we have, for what we've lived, and what we've been able to do. We can't look back and say, 'I want more, I want more.' But, we can look back and say, 'WOW, what a wonderful gift God has given me,'" says Dr. Malone.
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