At age 103, Jim Downing is the second oldest Pearl Harbor survivor, and he was the sixth Navigator who was discipled by Navigator founder Dawson Trotman.
On the morning of the Pearl Harbor attack, I witnessed shocking treachery, devastation, and death. I will never forget it. But there is another side to infamy, one I have known since the moment I said a prayer in a gun turret aboard the USS West Virginia on April 8, 1935—the joy and peace I find in Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that the Lord is more than adequate for any problem we face: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, ESV). I truly understood this for the first time at Pearl Harbor, when I thought a nearby ship, the USS Neosho, was about to explode. Once I put the matter in God’s hands, my worries ceased and were replaced by an amazing sense of peace. I’ll see you in a minute, I told God. God saw fit to put off the time when I would see Him face-to-face.
What I’ve learned from that experience and others since is that God does not respond to false alarms. If I feel He’s not paying attention, it’s because I’m not in any real trouble. And if I am in real trouble, I don’t have to worry about it. I know He’s there. He may not handle things the way I would prefer, but I recognize He’s got things under control.
This discovery that God is big enough to handle anything and He is in control influenced the rest of my life. I simply don’t worry much. It is probably the secret to my longevity and how I maintained an even keel through so many years at war. I’ve had the blood pressure of a teenager for most of my days.
Even though I am 103 years old, I travel frequently and tell my story at numerous youth, military, and public events throughout the year. My mission now is to continue to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with as many people as I can.
The truth is that these last few years in my 100s have been the best of my life! I have so much fun that I don’t look back at yesterday or forward to tomorrow. I live in the present, one day at a time—eager to do the work God has called me to today.