Hometown Heroes: Jason and Janet Davis


It took losing almost everything for Jason Davis to find his way and purpose.

Now, instead of dealing dope, the Seymour resident deals only in hope.

Davis and his wife, Janet, are the co-founders of Leaving the 99.

Together, with a community of more than 600 online followers from Jackson and surrounding counties, the ministry answers the call of God to leave the safety of the 99 and go where others cannot or will not go to save the one.

They help people suffering from addiction, harmful behavior, homelessness and thoughts of suicide. But their work is not limited, as they give hope and comfort to anyone who is sick of body, mind or heart.

“It may be they have experienced trauma in their life or they have overwhelming grief,” Janet said. “Everyone looks at us as a recovery ministry. That’s a large part of what we do, but our ministry is actually about furthering God’s kingdom.”

The Davises and Leaving the 99 recently were nominated for The Tribune’s Hometown Heroes by Janet’s oldest daughter, Courtney Shaffer.

“Leaving the 99 is a family ministry, a community outreach and a beacon of hope to those that have hit a dead end,” Shaffer said. “They help the broken, the addicted, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and every aspect of life you can imagine.”

The group runs Celebrate Recovery meetings, organizes and participates in recovery rallies and conducts fundraisers to help people monetarily.

“They go where some aren’t comfortable going and never once complain,” Shaffer said. “They have a unique story of overcoming burdens and turning them into blessings. I myself and many in the community have been blessed by them and this ministry.”

The name Leaving the 99 refers to Luke 15:4, the parable of the lost sheep. In the verse, Jesus advises his followers to treat lost people as shepherds would treat a lost sheep.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Jesus asks.

“And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep,’” Jesus said. “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Two years ago, Jason was the one.

He moved into Todd’s Place, a transitional housing and detox facility in Seymour. He wanted to get clean from his addiction to meth because it was keeping him from being a husband, father, grandfather and child of God.

The situation caused the Davises to lose their home.

“I had made Jan homeless because of my choices,” Jason said. “We were all displaced.”

One day, Janet drove their van to visit Jason with kids and grandkids in tow. They parked at the truck stop to eat lunch in the van.

“We had so much fun that day,” he said. “We didn’t need a big house. We didn’t need all of the things that we thought we needed. We just needed to be with each other.”

From that experience, they understood the importance of relationships and family. They wanted to be able to share that with other people.

“It’s not just let me tell you how to fix it and then walk away,” he said. “It’s not, here, let me throw some money at it and walk away. It’s an investment and developing that personal relationship.”

The two had reached a turning point in their lives.

“The ministry actually was derived out of that chaos,” Janet said. “We both decided all we want is to be obedient to God and to further God’s kingdom.”

They wanted to be part of the solution instead of the problem, so they sought out different churches and ministries in Seymour, but none fit.

“They just didn’t want us,” she said.

But the reason no other ministry worked is because God wanted them to start Leaving the 99, she added.

“We were on the wrong path,” Janet said. “We weren’t supposed to be a part of all these other ministries. We were supposed to have our own ministry — God’s ministry that he gave us, and that’s what this is.”

They didn’t even realize what was going on until people started calling them for help.

“We were just doing what God told us to do,” she said.

They began transporting Todd’s Place residents to meetings and church services, even to their house and their kids’ soccer games so they could see what recovery and family looked like. They organized a car wash at Todd’s Place to raise money.

“We just started doing different things that we thought God was leading us to do,” she said.

A friend of theirs who happened to be a pastor asked them the name of their ministry. At that time, they didn’t have one.

Janet had a dream that night. She woke up the next morning with the name, Leaving the 99.

They operate the ministry 24/7 while both maintaining full-time jobs. Janet is a teacher at Liberty Christian Academy in Seymour, and Jason works at C and T Engineering.

But they don’t do it alone.

“God may have given us that vision, but it can’t be done without everybody else involved in it,” she said.

That includes their five kids and two grandkids, who go to many of the events and spend time with those in need of help.

When it comes to helping people, Jason said sometimes, they don’t have the answers. But it’s not always about answers.

“Sometimes, people just want to be heard,” he said. “We don’t see them as drug addicts. We see them as what they can be.”

That’s what has led to the success and growth of Celebrate Recovery meetings in Crothersville, which the couple started about a year ago with a dozen people meeting in a tattoo shop. They are now more than 90 people strong who come together weekly at First Baptist Church of Crothersville to heal and be heard.

“Every week, there is someone new,” Jason said.

The Davises do not try to hide their past and current struggles, and they share with others what has worked for them and what hasn’t. But they also tell people they can’t take charge of someone else’s recovery.

“The bottom line is none of it never ever works until you are obedient to God,” Janet said.

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