The only way to Heaven is through Jesus. But how can you get a little closer to Heaven, while still on earth? Two words.
The higher the hair, the closer to Heaven! Duh.
Jonathan Dunn knows this to be true, and since chopping off his famous man bun and replacing it with a fluffy shock of hair lifted high, he’s closer to Heaven than ever before.
“It’s called Lay Right,” he laughed, patting the wavy brunette pouf atop his head. “It holds like a wax, rinses out like a gel. It only took me about 30 seconds to style it… It’s not supposed to be really high, but up and off to the side.”
You can find Jonathan and his well-coifed hair singing, teaching, and playing games at Camp Renovate on Sunday mornings. He helps lead the elementary age children as they journey through various lessons in the Bible. You can often spot him in an outrageous ensemble, like the oversized, bright red NASCAR shirt, covered in faux sponsor patches. This is just part of the character he plays to help drive home the weekly lesson, in a fun, spirited way.
That’s how long this 21-year-old spends at church each Sunday morning. He sets up and tears down from the service as part of the Dream Team, teaching Camp Renovate in between.
It doesn’t end there.
Wednesday evenings are spent at Steve & Andrea West’s home, with Jonathan leading the junior high in a Biblical lesson. He also plays a lot of football with them and endures many comments from the girls about his hair, all with a quick laugh and easy stride.
Twenty-one is the age many students spend tearing up the club, bar hopping, and engaging in general shenanigans. But Jonathan is one-of-a-kind. Why does he prefer wrangling hundreds of elementary kids, to sleeping in on a Sunday?
“I’m passionate about it. I enjoy it. When I’m serving, it’s the best times of the week. Even if it’s stressful, it gives me the most joy,” he said with a shrug.
Serving and volunteering at church gives Jonathan so much joy that he wants to spend his entire career doing it. A full time student with a couple years to go, he plans to continue his education by attending seminary school with the goal of becoming a full time pastor.
“My dad never went into ministry as an official career, but was always in ministry, which is another reason I’m fine with giving up so much of my time and resources to the church,” Jonathan explained.
“He wasn’t a professional Christian,” he joked dryly, referring to the fact that his dad was not employed by the church, but rather volunteered much of his free time there. “My dad is my hero. He’s the person I always aspire to be like.”
Jonathan is already following in the footsteps of his father, who also taught Sunday school and had a passion for learning about Christ. The youngest of six children, he was the only one who didn’t have his father at his high school graduation.
Larry Dunn, Jonathan’s father, passed away on May 24, 2012 after a two-and-a-half year battle with prostate cancer.
“The biggest part of that wasn’t really when he died. It was about three months before he died. I just kind of hit a wall. Everything coming at me at once. I broke down. I finally surrendered everything – even my father – to God. So when he died, it was just overwhelming peace,” Jonathan reflected.
While it can often be hard to talk about a loved one who is no longer in this world, chatting about his father Larry brings Jonathan peace and joy.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that my dad is in Heaven. My dad lived a great faithful life for God, so that’s an inspiration to me.”
The respect and admiration Jonathan has for his father’s legacy is clear, as is the impact that Larry’s relationship with Christ had on his youngest son.
“What I miss the most is just having conversations about life and life experiences. And his wisdom. He was an incredibly wise man. He loved to study the Bible. He would get home from work and sit down in his Lazy Boy Recliner and have five or six Bibles open to different translations so he could better understand what the Word of God said. He wanted to have as accurate an understanding of scripture as possible,” he recalled.
“He didn’t know Greek or Hebrew so couldn’t study it that way. But he knew English,” he quipped with his typical dry wit.
Originally planning on a career in nuclear engineering like his dad, Jonathan felt the Lord persistently calling him into ministry instead. He still walks in his father’s footsteps though.
“He had a very impressive beard, so I have a long way to go in that regards. I have trouble growing in facial hair,” he laughed, stroking his chin. “It’s kind of patchy.”
Jonathan’s serious demeanor contrasts sharply with the jokes he weaves smoothly into even the most somber of conversations.
The self proclaimed math and science geek devours books, just like his father, in order to learn more about Christ and the Bible. “It’s something I plan to do for awhile, so I might as well enjoy it. Plus, I can’t help others grow if I’m not growing myself.”
When he isn’t studying, reading, hanging out with friends, or volunteering at church, you can find Jonathan cooking up a delicious chicken sandwich in the kitchen at the Mayfair Chick-fil-A. He also spends at least 30 seconds a day fluffing his hair.
“You know, I have to have a bigger pomp than Joey,” he explained, referencing Renovation’s Family Pastor, who mentors Jonathan. “He has the bigger muscles, but I have a bigger pomp, and that’s all that matters.”
We agree, Jonathan. That is all that matters!