Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

Helping Those Persecuted For Faith: ‘If You Can Rescue One ‘Retired Actor Dean Jones Starts Committee To Help

ICC Note: Let the voices be heard!

By Phillip Palmer

10/7/07, (KABC-TV) – The unrest in Myanmar right now comes as Buddhist monks protest a military regime. But until recently, Christians faced persecution there as the military regime curried favor in the widely Buddhist country — and that’s just one country. People are killed or locked away in prison around the world because of their faith. Dean Jones, Disney’s go-to actor in the 60s and 70s, found that thought unacceptable.

Dean Jones is known for his acting. His signature role is race car driver Jim Douglas in “The Love Bug.” Now he’s 76-years-old, and in retirement has found his passion.

“I felt we had to do something,” said Jones.

This calling came for him in 1998, when a friend told him millions of Christians worldwide faced persecution for their faith. In an effort to do something, he started the Christian Rescue Committee, and over the years his conviction to help those of his faith evolved into a group helping anyone facing persecution for their faith.

“‘If you can rescue one,’ you know, that was my first thought. Let’s rescue one,” said Jones. “It turned out to be 15. Then we had minivans going into Western Ukraine to rescue Jews.”

Michael Yemba says he spent over four months in prison in Saudi Arabia, seven days in a dungeon, because he was a Christian preacher. Jones and the Christian Rescue Committee helped get him safely to the U.S.

“Well, as Jesus said, you will suffer persecution, and persecution is pain,” said Yemba. “The prison was very painful.”

Yemba now lives in Pittsburgh after Jones arranged for work so he satisfied visa requirements.

Hot Springs, Arkansas is in the heart of the bible belt. Few there could imagine being hunted because of their faith, but that’s where a man we’ll call “David,” who says it’s still too dangerous to use his real name, talks of escaping his home country of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

What does David think would have happened had he been discovered trying to escape?

“They would kill me immediately,” said David. “For being Christian, and teaching about Christianity to the Buddhist monk.”

David’s trouble began when his teaching led a Buddhist monk to convert to Christianity. He says the military dictatorship promotes Buddhism as a state religion, so in danger of being arrested, he said goodbye to his pregnant wife and fled the country.

David traveled to Thailand and acquired a fake passport and visa. He flew to Mexico City, then rode a bus to the border and took a cab across the Rio Grande to Laredo, Texas. He surrendered to U.S. authorities and asked for — and was given — asylum.

After two years apart, the Christian Rescue Committee was able to secretly get David’s wife, and two children, out of Myanmar. Finally they were reunited in an El Paso, Texas airport.

“That is the first time I met my beautiful daughter,” said David.

David and Michael Yemba are just two of almost 1,000 people Jones and the Christian Rescue Committee have helped, directly or indirectly. And while he will always be known as an actor, Jones takes great pride in what might be his real legacy.

“In rescuing from death people who are making their own appraisal of the creator, is something very basic that I want to be about,” said Jones. “And our founding fathers were about that in making religious freedom our first freedom.”

Jones wants to emphasize the Christian Rescue Committee helps people of any faith who are persecuted.