This Christian CEO Reveals How a Tragic Loss Only Strengthened His Faith and Started Something Culture Changing
By Ron DeHaas
In 1992, I learned the meaning of the Hebrew word “shachah.”
10 years earlier, I met my wife on an oil rig. I was a geologist, working on a well, she was an engineer. I had spent 11 years in college, going full time including summers, and never heard the message of the gospel. My parents, sister, and brothers were completely unchurched, and I actually did not know the meaning of Christmas or Easter, and certainly did not know who Jesus Christ was. I can’t say I was an atheist – I simply was a non-theist.
So, when I met Pat, and she told me the gospel, it was like Paul on the road to Damascus. I instantly recognized the truth of the gospel, and accepted it, and Jesus Christ became the Lord of my life.
Pat and I had two wonderful children, Ann and Stephen. Ann was bright and brilliant; I called her “chum” and she was indeed a good friend, even as a young child. Stephen learned checkers at 3, and I could not beat him. He learned chess at 4 and could think 3 moves ahead. He got blacklisted from the church teenagers’ chess club because they couldn’t beat him.
It was a textbook, perfect marriage. All three, even Stephen at 4½, had acknowledged Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Then, at 10 AM on Friday, August 21, 1992, they were stopped on a highway for another accident, and a tanker truck never slowed down, hitting them and killing them instantly. The state police somehow found my pastor and brought him to my office, where he told me of the accident. I fell to the ground when I heard it.
Job 1:20 tells how Job also fell to the ground on learning of his family’s death. Job “fell to the ground and worshipped,” it says. The Hebrew word for worship in that verse is shachah. He fell to the ground and shachah’ed. I would not at the time have called it worship, but it certainly was shachah, the deepest, most profound form of total worship.
In the ensuing days, God drew himself closer to me than ever before or since. My pastor spent days with me, and commented that God’s presence was so real that you could almost see His footprints in the carpet. I had to convince my atheist sister, whom I love and who was a great help to me, to stay, as she was packing to leave because she felt the pressure of conviction by the overwhelming presence of God.
I am thankful to God that I was prepared by His Word, His presence, and 10 years of leading by the Holy Spirit, and that I understood my family passed not from life into death, but from death into life.
I am often asked, “How did you make it through that time?” If we could look back on our lives to find the “best” time of our life, and if we could do that from a divine perspective, I think most Christians would agree that the best time of our lives is the time that God was closest to us, and we were closest to Him. While not perhaps from a human standpoint, the time following my family’s accident were clearly the time God drew himself closer than ever to me.
So, there is a very real sense in which those months were, from a divine standpoint, the best time of my life.
God indeed redeemed the situation by giving me yet another perfect family. My wife Jeanne, and my children have enriched my life beyond words. I wonder where they will be 20 years from now. My one blood-line child, Abigail, has the mantle of centuries of amazing people, not the least of which was my mother, with whom she could be a twin.
Shachah. It is the word used of Job. David, when he learned of his son’s death, tore his clothes and shachah’ed. Abraham went up the mountain to slay his son and shachah. Look what happened.
There was a multi-million-dollar settlement from the trucking company. Every spare penny of that settlement went into the early days of Covenant Eyes, founded in 2000. By 2002, I couldn’t afford a cup of coffee at McDonalds; while I was selling door-to-door, I would ask if I could get a cup of coffee. The deadline for paying the electric bill was the shutoff date.
Now that Covenant Eyes is debt-free and profitable, our mission has grown. Starting out with the mission of “changing people’s lives,” it grew to “measurably changing culture.” We have had some success at that, but now, our mission has grown even further, “to change history.”
Imagine yourself being an apprentice in the 14th century to a man named Gutenberg. Your wages might be 10 cents a day. You go home at night and eat dinner with your wife every night. You come back to work the next day, and continue setting type, inking the press, pulling the lever, putting the pages of the Bible together.
Little do you know that this piece of equipment will change history. It is the invention of the millennium, allowing the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Industrial Revolution, Mein Kampf, the Communist Manifesto, etc., etc. Until about 2000, there had never been a single more important invention than the Gutenberg press.
But, 4000 years from now, people will look back on this very time – the lifetime of every reader – as the most significant turning point in the history of man, apart from the life of Christ. We are in the midst of the birth of the internet, wireless technology, and explosion of computer technology, and true artificial intelligence.
The amazing thing is that each of us in his own way is the apprentice…each of has the potential opportunity of actually having an effect on the outcome of that history.
So, given the legacy of my family’s life and death, I consider it an honor and burden to take advantage of that opportunity. With Covenant Eyes, we have the opportunity to make pornography and sex trafficking taboo once again.
I take that challenge and legacy seriously. I plan to change history.
Editor’s Note: From monies received in a settlement with the trucking company responsible for the accident, Ron DeHaas created the first internet accountability service, Covenant Eyes, in 2000. Covenant Eyes (www.covenanteyes.com) is his family’s legacy, and now provides accountability and filtering to more than a quarter million people in 150 countries, also providing a wealth of free educational resources (see for instance http://www.covenanteyes.com/ebooks).