Amazing honorees Danny Jaynes, Dr. Nina Scales Leifeste uplift those in Orange County and across the world

Published 12:10 am Friday, September 22, 2023

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The Bridge City High School Alumni Association has chosen two alumni as Distinguished Alumni for 2023.

The honorees are Danny Jaynes, a Bridge City High School graduate in 1971, and Dr. Nina Scales Leifeste, a 1979 BCHS graduate.

They will be honored during ceremonies prior to the homecoming game today (Sept. 22) and again at The Classic Cardinal Reunion on Saturday/Sept. 23 at the high school cafeteria, beginning at 5 p.m.

Jaynes’ parents, Turner and Francis Jaynes, moved to Bridge City in 1958. After graduating from Bridge City High School in 1971, Jaynes joined the U.S. Air Force and married Harriot Sue Wilkinson of Orangefield.

His first station was Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. From there Jaynes was sent to Takhli Air Base in central Thailand to train Thais on how to program a keypunch machine.

After 80 days of his 90 temporary duty assignment, he was informed that the U.S. Air Force wanted him to extend his assignment for a total of one year. He called my wife, Sue, and she wanted to go to Thailand, so they were granted permission for her to stay with him nine more months.

At the time, the 13th Air Force band out of Clark Airbase Philippines were doing a series of shows across Southeast Asia and were taking auditions for future shows.

Jaynes auditioned and was accepted for a tour of Taiwan. After that tour he returned to base in Thailand and received a request to join the band for a second tour of Subic Bay and northern Philippines.

After that tour Jaynes was asked to stay on as a vocalist for the Air Force but declined and returned to finish his four-year commitment at Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin.

Jaynes entered the insurance business when he departed the military and after several years opened a brokerage house. Jaynes also joined a church and became a leader.

In the mid-1980s his family joined a group of fellow Christians and began construction of an orphanage in Mexico in honor of the late Keith Green and his children.

The seed for missions was planted in his heart during these visits.

Jaynes’ wife had felt called when she was 12 years old but did not tell anyone for fear that God would send her to Africa. They have now been serving in Africa 23 years.

In 1997 Jaynes was asked to join two other missionaries and teach at a bible school in Moscow. It was while teaching in Russia that he discovered his true passion for what he wanted to do the rest of his life.

After arriving home from Russia, Jaynes’ wife, Sue, went on another medical mission trip to Mexico and when she returned, they felt it was time to do full time missionaries. A missionary their church supported had a Bible school in the capital of Ghana, West Africa.

The missionary extended an invitation for the Jaynes’ family to join his ministry and teach in his school, which they accepted. While teaching in the capital, Jaynes attended a meeting with a group called Pioneers. They explained that more than 3 million in the north of Ghana had never heard the Gospel.

The Jaynes felt it was time to leave the city and move further north. They provided the English services for a church in the middle of the country that was made up of 85 percent converted Muslims.

All their outings with teams took them 14 hours north to minister in remote villages, where the people were living in mud huts with grass roofs. After making this trip several times the Jaynes felt it was time they moved into the north and established a home base.

They now live with the largest Muslim tribe in Ghana.

“God has opened many doors for us to minister, but the most effective was putting movies into the local languages, a skill I learned while in the insurance business,” he said. “We also conduct kids clubs for approximately 400 children weekly, which Sue develops the curriculum for.”

They also have provided water for neighboring villagers during drought conditions. Recently they were given the funds to purchase a new tractor. Living in a farming community, this tool has opened tremendous doors. They now provide a vocational school for extremely poor girls.

“Most of the girls’ parents have died and the relatives they were left with see them only as a burden,” he said. “These girls are flourishing.”

They are about to start providing eye examinations and free glasses for remote villages which is a proven platform to share the gospel.

Jaynes and his wife, Sue, have three children and 12 grandchildren. They live in Brownswood and travel back and forth to Africia.

The Jaynes children are Heather Jones, Lark Terry and Micah Jaynes. Grandchildren are Faithe, Timothy, Braden, Hannah, Christopher, Liam, Keegan, Joel, Haylin, Ellie, Chole and Jack.

His three brothers are Mikel and Jerry who graduated BCHS in 1967 and Rodney Jaynes who graduated BCHS in 1971.

Dr. Nina Scales Leifeste, a 1979 Bridge City High School graduate, exemplifies someone with a lot of courage in the face of adversity, but she has also always found ways to live out her ‘life scripture’ Luke 12:48 “To whom much is given of him much is required”.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in biology from Lamar University Beaumont, Liefeste graduated with honors from the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston with her Doctor of Dental Surgery.

She then completed a General Practice Residency through Hermann Hospital. After dental college, Dr. Leifeste and her husband, Sam, settled in Bridge City and set up their dental practice in Orange and Beaumont.

Sam’s untimely death in 2003 left her to pick up the pieces as a single mother of two young children. She is a breast cancer survivor.

Liefeste lost her home in Hurricane Ike in 2008. All the while she managed to keep her practice running while setting up free dental mission clinics in India and Honduras to the neediest of people.

Leifeste served on the Bridge City ISD school board for several years. Today she continues her practice and serves as adjunct professor for the University of Texas Dental School, where once a week, senior dental students come to Orange to train with her in a mobile clinic that offers free service to low-income people in Orange.

She teaches and shows what it means to give back.

According to her brother, Frank Scales, “Nina is a behind-the-scenes giver. She has helped countless people and countless causes.”

Liefeste likes to hunt, fish and spend time with her family, including daughter Samantha and son Tyler and his wife. Her grandparents are Ausbon and Katy Scales, pioneers of early Prairie View-Bridge City and her parents Franklin Sr. and Sarah Scales.