01.06.1966 – 09.05.2017
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in”
– Leonard Cohen
Jason was a strong man. A man of big stature who could blow up hot water bottles, break tall rows of bricks with his forearms,
snap the chains off police handcuffs and flip cars. He was able to pull semi trucks and bench press 362kgs.
But as impressive all that may be, it was his character that weighs most.
When Jason walked into a room even before he spoke a word, one of the first things people noticed about him,
apart from his size, was his Mana. Jason’s mana was reflected in his strength of character but also in his humility.
He always made everyone feel welcome, important, valued. He was a man of many talents but he never felt the need to boast.
He knew who he was, but more than that he knew who He was. Jason loved Christ Jesus.
He had a personal and intimate relationship with God and he lived and breathed through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It was his immense love and commitment to Jesus that lead him to see the best in everyone,
to always forgive those who offended him, to talk, act and live in a way that was honourable – kind and honest.
And it was because of his devotion to God that Jason, knowing how his relationship with Christ had saved and transformed his own broken life, lived to share his faith, which he tried to live out loud.
Jason was a broken man. And he would be the first to admit it. Jason knew pain and suffering. He understood from personal experience what it was like to feel rejected and how anger can make a person become toxic. He was full of cracks, and that is how the light of God got in his life. For had he not being so broken he may never realise his deep need of a Saviour.
But because Jason’s brokenness lead him to God, the very light of God filled him. So much, that anyone who had the chance to meet Jason and to get to know him, was affected and blessed by the light he carried, as it spilled out of him through the very cracks that wounded him. Instead of trying to hide his flaws, his pain and his brokenness, Jason shared openly, vulnerably about it all. And in doing so Jason was able to empathise and connect with people in an authentic and caring way.
Jason travelled the world preaching the Gospel as a missionary with YWAM, through a strong man group called Team Xtreme for several years. He had the privilege to share his testimony in 27 nations, to see many people – from businessmen to incarcerated murderers – surrender their lives to follow Christ. Jason was also a man of prayer, often interceding for those around him and having had many opportunities to pray for people and see God perform miracles of healing before his very eyes.
However the greatest miracle in Jason’s eyes was when our daughters were born. He always wanted to be a father, and he became the best father in the world. He wanted to have as many sons and daughters as the Lord would bless him with. Our first baby was a boy – we named him Hoani but we lost him mid-pregnacy. That was a huge blow to both of us and it made Jason even more determined to be the best father he could be, if we were blessed enough to have children of our own.
Jason loved both of our daughters with such tender zealousness that I never doubted he would protect them no matter what. He always put them first, and he was always present and invested in their lives.
When Jason got injured and could no longer perform strength feats and travel the world with Team Xtreme, he went through a very depressed and dark season. Jason had a back surgery that left him completely debilitated and in constant pain for over two years. Eventually Jason had a second surgery, and his recover was incredible.
But he never again would be able to do the strong man… things he loved.
What did not change, was Jason’s love for God, and his unwavering belief that the Gospel of Jesus Christ
has the power to transform and heal anyone who believes. Jason stop preaching to thousands, and he pursued a Bachelor in Counselling so he could help one person at the time.
“I left the ninety-nine [sheep] to go after the one” was what he used to say when people asked
when he would go back to preaching from a big stage.
Jason graduated from Laidlaw College in December of 2014. He was so proud to have his mother witness his graduation,
as he was the first person in his whanau to achieve such an accomplishment.
Within two months after his graduation, Jason started working at St. Peter’s College. He was the only counsellor to 1300 boys. And something quite amazing happened then. Jason became the father figure of all the boys who came to see him. Broken boys, with lots of rejection and anger – just like Jason once was.
As a family, we often prayed for the boys. We were not allowed to know what they were going through because Jason was very serious about holding their confidentiality, but the girls and I became familiar with their names as we constantly heard Jason whisper prayers for them.
Jason was very aware that God put him in that school and he was committed to give all the support for the boys,
as he wished he would have had when he was growing up. He became a safe harbour and the voice of empowerment to those boys – and he loved them as if they were his own.
There is a crack, a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in. Everyone has cracks, and that is how the light we carry can get out and brighten the path of someone in need. This was true for Jason.
I hope with all my heart that the my girls will always remember how they were deeply loved by their father and that the example he left may be a bright light when their paths get dark and uncertain. And more than anything… I hope that Jason’s life and legacy may continue to shine bright, pointing the way to the love and the light of Jason’s Heavenly Father, in whose arms he now rests awaiting for the day when he will be reunited with those he loves.
“Someone is alive , but he was dead; someone has died, but he still alive”
– Chinese Proverb
Arohanui meu Amor.
My dad always made people feel wanted, everyone liked him.
He was kind, funny, and he was always around when you needed him. He taught
me that if you want something, you have to apply yourself to achieve it, and to
never let anyone tell you that you can’t. He also taught me that if you grow up
with a strong character then you can succeed, to always be conscientious of
others around you, and stand up for what is right.
My dad was strong and he made others strong too with his encouragement and
his wonder working hugs . And even though he is not here, I know he is looking
down on my mum, my sister, and I with a huge smile on his face.
– Taimane Hotere
My dad was the best person ever!
He was the type of dad that would never miss any of my ballet recitals, he was the
type of dad that would make basic dad jokes actually sound pretty funny.
He always worked so hard and he love doing his job. He loved his coworkers, he
loved his St. Peters boys, he loved his friends, he loved Jesus more than anything
and I know for a fact that he absolutely loved his family.
– Kiana Hotere
A sister’s perspective.
Jason was the youngest of 5 siblings. He got his name after the character
Jason McCord on a very old programme called Branded. Mum loved this
programme. His middle name, Romolo, came from our first cousin on our
dad’s side. This man had a gentle soul and was loved by many, and he
always held a special place in mum and dad’s heart. Great picking of names
for my brother, as it epitomises Jason to a T.: A fighter for truth and honour
and still remains gentle at heart.
Growing up, the backyard of our family home in Ash Street was our
playground. We played, rugby, bullrush, soccer, softball, cricket, tennis, hide
and seek, but mainly our games always involved sport balls. The harder the
ball, the better for Jason. If he was chucking or hitting it, we either got hit
pretty hard, or it got lost, or surprise, surprise, it found the window of one of
our neighbours house. Jay’s reply was always “Aww… man, why didn’t you
catch it?” and then he would make a stupid face and roar with laughter.
He was classic.
Jay attended Avondale primary, the last of our clan behind Matthew, myself
and Tom. His sporting prowess started to illuminate then. He was just a dab
hand at anything. I suppose I was lucky, seeing I was the girl and at that time
there weren’t many sports going for mixed teams, but the bonus I got was
being made to play hard and tough like a boy, as the saying goes “if you can’t
beat them join them” and out of the brothers growing up Jason was the one
who pushed me. The joy of backyard antics and I didn’t like being beaten,
unfortunately I was… Quite a few times.
Jason’s prowess did not stay on the sports field. He was also quite a good
artist, specialising in trucks, trucks and more trucks. We still have a
surmountable amount of truck magazines and posters that he collected
during his teen to adult years and the thought of filing under R has never
crossed my mind. I think that legacy has been passed to our younger
generations to carry on, Josh, Caleb and TJ. He studied at Avondale
Intermediate then moved to Avondale College. As he was coming into college
I was in my last senior year. There he found the going hard, but with the
support, push and positive vibes from his favourite teacher he excelled
beyond his wildest dreams.
So what will I miss from my baby brother.
For 50 years 11 months and 8 days he was part of my life. The baby of the
family, who gave me a sister-in-law and two beautiful nieces to add to the
mix. It’s a joy to have more females joining our menagerie of males. He gave
me laughs, hugs, understanding and love. In whatever I did, right or wrong,
he still respected me for the values I held dear to my heart. Do I miss him? Of
course I do! I miss not having him sneak out of the house with my Maori
bread and cake in hand, while I’m outside hanging out washing. I miss him
rolling in at home just because. I miss him asking me how I would handle a
situation with one of his boys. I miss his everything, and if I would be granted
one wish then that would be “I want you back”.
I love you brother, heart and soul, and I know you are and will always be
watching over us, and I can hear you now as the tears flow down my cheek
“Eah… harden up sister, you can do this” with that stupid grin.
I give you this my solemn promise that I will be here always for Tati, Taimane
and Kiana for the rest of my days.
I love you brother.
Sending you kisses and love rest easy forever your big sister, Girl. xxxxx
My dearest brother Jason. I sooo miss you.
I miss your bone crushing hugs
I miss your infectious laugh that is louder than the music from the boom box.
I miss your big beaming smile that lights up the room when you walk in.
I miss our deep and meaningful chats and support to each other.
I miss getting schooled by you in card games and nearly every sport we played (lol)
I miss your strong beautiful tones when singing songs with you
I miss your council, wisdom and heart
I miss your presence of being someone to lean on
I miss you my brother
Sooooo looking forward to seeing you again in our Lord’s
backyard playing backyard cricket.
I miss and love you Jason.
In Christ always
I was blessed to have you in my life for 32 years. You were my first leader in
ministry, my uncle, my blood. I am so grateful to you for showing me how a man
should treat a woman. Thank you for always answering my phone calls and texts, for
praying me into the Kingdom of God, for never giving up on me.
You stood in the gap when men hurt me and you asked me for forgiveness on their behalf.
Thank you for saying yes to God, because that has changed the destiny of our
Thank you for always treating me as a team member, as special niece and as a loved daughter.
– Selina Hotere
I still find myself wondering and thinking about what we discussed the last time
I spoke to my bro Jason. My heart aches for my brother’s lovely wife, and sister in
Christ, and his precious daughters. I will never forget the impact Jason made on
my life, neither the most amazing nation and people he introduced me to in NZ.
I’ll always cherish the time I had with Jason.
You will forever be missed and never forgotten, because you made
way too much influence on my life.
Love and miss you!
– Rick Vannatta – Ohio, USA.
Thank you Tatiana for giving me the honour and opportunity to help you put this digital memorial together for your beautiful husband. I pray his legacy continues to touch the lives of many, in the years to come that see this – his life was absolutely not in vain.
Tania Jeffs – digitalmemorials.co.nz