Nona Jones was ordained into the ministry at the age of 17.
She has expanded her coast as a highly sought after author, mentor, and conference speaker.
As a minister and pastor's wife, she's reaching an even greater audience in the digital world as head of Facebook's Faith-based Partnership Outreach.
"I work with pastors and churches, denominations, literally all over the world to help them maximize their use of Facebook to connect to their congregations," Jones said in an interview with CBN News. "The way that I like to think about it in a ministry context is digital discipleship."
Jones shared how divine intervention led her to quit a job she loved and opened the door to her new position at the social media giant.
Divine Intervention Leads to Position at Facebook
"I was at the chief executive level network of alternative schools in Florida," she said. "Four years into the role, God said this assignment is over. So I met with my boss that day; met with her at 1:00. I finished talking with her at 1:40, got in my car, was driving home. At 2:05 my cell phone rang, 25 minutes, my cell phone rang, and I didn't recognize the number. So I wasn't going to answer it. But the Holy Spirit said, 'answer that.' So, I was, like, 'hello,' and the lady was, like, is this Nona Jones? And I said, Yeah,' and she said, 'I'm calling from Facebook.'"
A Rocky Start in Life
By all accounts, Jones is living a life of purpose. But the journey to that purpose has been filled with rejection and abuse.
"I grew up in a very traumatic situation," she explained. "My father actually wanted to have children, but for 15 years he and my mom were married she never got pregnant and then she finally got pregnant and she actually cried because she didn't want to have children."
After her father died of cancer in 1984, her mother dated many different men.
One of them ended up sexually abusing her.
"When I was about five, she met a guy who became her live-in boyfriend, and unfortunately, shortly after that he started to abuse me sexually," said Jones.
The abuse affected Jones in many ways.
She said, "I would go to school and act out because, frankly, there was a lot of chaos at home and I didn't know how to process it."
Discovering Jesus Changes Everything
But at age eleven, Jones' life changed forever when a friend invited her to church.
"It was there that I discovered Jesus," she said. "I began to learn about the calling that God had on my life."
However, the abuse continued, and Jones eventually told her mother about it.
"The very first time I told her what he did, she had him arrested and I was so excited. I was like 'thank you, Lord, he's gone.'"
Unfortunately, that relief didn't last.
The Unthinkable Happens: Her Abuser Comes Back
"Around the time of his release, my mom said, 'Hey, what do you think about him coming back?'" "And I was, like, 'I don't want him to come back.'" And she told me that she was the adult, we needed money in the house and so she was going to bring him back. So she literally took me with her to pick him up from jail.
"I will never forget being in the back seat of the car, heading to the jail to pick him up," she continued. "And when he got into the car, it's like he had this smug look on his face. And so it continued after he got out of jail."
Growing in her newfound faith, Jones prayed for a way out.
The answer came after earning a full scholarship to the University of Florida.
As a microbiology major, she studied hard and was one of the top students on campus. She changed her major and went on to earn her Bachelor and Master of Business Administration degrees and was recognized as a University of Florida Outstanding Young Alumnus.
Academic Success Dimmed by a Broken Past
Yet the brokenness and bitterness of her past haunted her.
"Successful in college, but I had a lot of rejection inside of me that I still needed God to work out," said Jones.
Healing finally came when she learned to forgive.
"When I forgave my mom – truly forgave her, and realized that hurt people, hurt people," she commented. "She had been abused. He had been abused. When I realized that, I think I was able to walk in the healing power of forgiveness and as a result."
Today Jones serves alongside her husband, Pastor Timothy Jones, Sr., at Open Door Ministries Church in Gainesville, Florida.
She's the proud mother of two.
A Mission to Share Freedom and Hope
Her mission at Facebook and beyond is to tell others about the God who rescued her and has given her a platform to share her story of freedom and hope.
She said, "It doesn't matter how many followers you have, what matters is how many people are following Jesus through you."
Jones will release her memoir titled, Success from the Inside Out, in January 2020.