Jim “Linus” Duflo
Pinch me I’m dreaming! Wait just a minute….I’m living my dream! and if I were not obedient to God I would’ve missed it. In 1980 my father bought me a Bear Jennings Forked Lightning compound bow with a red riser and white limbs, which I painted camouflage. I used leaves from trees to create a pattern on the bow to conceal the brightness of the colors it first sported. Dad was in the Air Force at the time so I would practice at the base archery and gun range, shooting into bales of hay (not the 3D targets we have today). I practiced for one year straight before I went hunting. I shot my first deer in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula with that bow. I even brought it home on a 1931 Model A Ford – no I’m not that old, dad just had the hobby of restoring and maintaining those old cars. Dad retired in 1985 after 26 years of service to our country and we moved one final time to Newberry, MI.
After graduation, in 1987 from Newberry High School, I moved to lower Michigan and I began my work career. I met my wife Krisi and became good friends for a year before being married in 1989. I joined the Army National Guard after growing up in the Air Force as a military brat; I wanted to see if the military was going to be my future. Then the birth of our first daughter came while I was in AIT training at Fort Knox, KY. I was now a proud father and ready to do everything right. Only three years into our marriage my wife and I began to have trouble in our relationship and in 1992 we moved back to the U.P. thinking things would get better. My wife who was from the down state area, found this to be a culture shock because to get to the nearest Wal-Mart you had drive an hour one-way. We found out that by moving you can run from your problems but they always seem to catch up to you if you don’t face them head on. The issues never go away until you deal with them. In 2000, I had enough of my marriage and decided to walk away from it. I had convinced myself that I was not abandoning our two daughters and I moved out of our home.
After 11 years of marriage, it was over because I was being selfish. We were separated for about one month when I received the divorce papers in the mail. The process of starting over had begun and I was looking forward to a new change in my life. My wife Krisi had gone on this Emmaus walk in 1999, it was a Christian retreat that lasted for three days. She had come back home sounding all churchy and talking about Jesus this and Jesus that. She was also trying to pray for me and with me. She would preach to me and talk about God but I did not want to hear it or change my ways. I believed in God but nobody could ever prove Him to me. Two months into our separation my wife called and asked if I would go on one of those Emmaus walks. After a week of thinking about it, I accepted the challenge of walking her walk. I was going to prove her wrong! I was going to show her that this would do nothing for our marriage or for me! In my mind I was already preparing to move out west and become a hunting guide.
The weekend of my Emmaus walk was September 22-24, 2000. Why do I remember those dates so well? Because that weekend changed my life forever! I was raised Catholic but only knew the basics about some guy that was put on the cross for our sins. Honestly, it did not mean much to me until that weekend in September when I heard people talking to us about a very simple concept. They talked about a concept that I had never heard before in my life or in my marriage. They talked about a relationship! The ministry leaders talked with about 20 of us about a relationship with this man called Jesus who died on a cross for our sins. They didn’t talk about going to church or praying to God (not that this isn’t important), they simply taught me that if I wanted to get to heaven I had to have a relationship with Christ – like a best friend. On that Saturday September 23rd, I sat in a church sancturay while others were crying at the alter asking for forgiveness, something I had never seen before – grown men crying to a man they can’t see or feel.
I’m the type of person who has to see it, feel it, and taste it to know it’s for real, and for the first time in my life I had to trust what the Bible was saying. In John 14:6-7 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
I looked upward and said to God, “If you are real, if you are all that they say you are, then take my sins, they are yours!” As I said those words, a weight was lifted from my shoulders and heart. It was as if someone was picking up a 100lb. bag of potatoes off my chest. I began to cry for no reason. You have to understand that I was raised to be a man in the traditional sense – you don’t cry and you don’t show emotion! It is a sign of weakness! However, as the tears rolled down my face for the first time, I felt the love of God. My Daughters Whitney and Shelby who were at that time ages 3 and 7, whom I would give my life for, had been praying for me the whole weekend. That Saturday morning in church as we were brought in front of the congregation to sing a song, I looked out into the crowd of unkown faces only to see my wife staring back at a new man. I was a new creation just as if I had just been taken through a makeover, cleaned up and made new. I knew a change had taken place but I was unsure of exactly what that change was. That afternoon when the Emmaus walk ended my wife and I began our 2-hour drive home and for the frist time we talked to each other with no radio or arguements. I shared with her on the ride home that I had this sense that I needed to start a bow club with a group of guys but God had to be the focus. I then found Christian Bowhunter’s of America. They helped me grow in my faith by being around other people who shared the same passion and faith I did. I gave my heart to the Lord that weekend only one day before my actual birthday – what a gift!
With my new start in life and heart for God I began to go after my passion of bow hunting, video editing and production. I wanted to use those gifts to show others about hunting and Christ. Now after learning that it is in His timing and not ours I have found two others (Andy and Tom) that have the same vision, passion and heart to reach others for Christ by “Livin’ the Dream”. Seven years after I opened my heart to Christ, He spoke to me about my calling. I’m finally living that dream out through Rugged Cross Outdoors and the Livin’ the Dream Team.
My passion for sharing God’s love for others through bow hunting has become a reality and if I harvest and animal during a hunt it’s a bonus. If someone receives Christ, it’s an even bigger bonus. I hunt with a traditional bow most of the time. I still use a compound during the late season or if I travel out west but my traditional bow is always with me on those trips. There is nothing like taking a whitetail with a stick and a string. Every time the arrow hits its mark, it’s like taking a deer for the very first time.
Favorite scripture: Psalms 40:4 “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.”