It was the 1960s, and he was a doorman at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, that was about to change. He was in his early thirties, and not only was the pay good, but he was also meeting some of the biggest names in show business; people like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and the Rat Pack. He and his wife had four young children: two boys and two girls. When it came to what the world calls success, he was living a good life. While many people were making a dollar an hour in the factories, he would pick up a dollar tip simply by pulling up a car.
In speaking with one of his sons, he said, during this time in our life, if we asked for something for Christmas, we not only got what we asked for, we received the best one available. Little did they know, after seven years of working in Vegas, something was happening in their father’s heart.
He became a Christian at age 14 while growing up in Massachusetts, but his commitment to the Lord had waxed and waned over the years. This inconsistency in his faith was because after being saved, someone told him, “You better be good, or you will lose it.” Still young in the faith, he believed the lie and eventually gave up on being a Christian because he assumed he had lost his salvation. While working in Las Vegas, he had started attending Red Rock Baptist Church, and the Lord was getting ahold of his life. While at Red Rock, he continued to grow in his faith, and then it happened. He sensed the Lord’s call on his life to become a pastor. There was only one problem, he knew he needed to go to seminary, but he had not even been to college. Following God’s call would take several years of schooling.
His wife, though catholic at the time, was supportive, and they began the Journey. He quit his job at the Sands, packed up his family, moved to Mill Valley, CA, and enrolled in Golden Gate Theological Seminary. Times were tight, but the Lord always provided what they needed when they needed it. The family then moved to Riverside, CA, so that he could earn a few required units at California Baptist College.
After a couple of years in Riverside, he was called to his first pastorate at a Baptist church in southwest Missouri. When they arrived in Missouri, their savings had been exhausted, including the money from selling their house in Las Vegas. When they moved into the parsonage, an old farmhouse, he had $11 in his pocket, but the Lord continued to supply all their needs. Shortly after that, in 1974, I was born. That man is my father, Dave Eaton.
This year, he turned 86, and he is still pastoring. The Lord’s call on his life moved us to multiple places throughout the years. After several years in Missouri, we spent over 14 years in Kansas, then the Lord called him back to Las Vegas, where he pastored for 14 more years. Half-joking, the other half being entirely serious, he likes to say, “I spent seven years in Las Vegas working for the devil and 14 years working for the Lord.” The Lord had redeemed the years the locust had eaten. That is when he retired. Well, at least for a few months to move back to southwest Missouri, and another church asked him to be their pastor, where he has been for 14 years.
He likes to say, “I left Vegas a winner.” If you were to ask me or any of my brothers or sisters, we would tell you that taking the risk, uprooting his family, and heading out to follow the Lord, was the best thing he could have done. Several more pastors have arisen from his kids and grandkids, and this blog would likely not exist if it were not for him following God’s call.
All of this brings me to the point. Some of you reading this may be in a similar situation to what my father was in when the Lord called him to preach. The thought of quitting a job and uprooting your family to attend seminary is frightening. Perhaps you have money issues, family dynamics, and a lack of training to overcome. However, no matter how difficult it may be, the will of God is always the best place to be. You can trust the Lord even if there is a wilderness you must cross to get where you are going.
This summer, I returned home to Missouri for a couple of weeks. While there, I had the opportunity to ask dad to record his testimony. If you want to hear the story straight from him, with many more details than I have included, you can watch it in the video below.