I was born in Tacoma, Washington and grew up in the sparsely populated foothills of Mount Rainier. Some of my earliest memories involve my mother searching for church home for me and my younger sister. (My father wasn’t interested in attending church at that time.) I committed my life to Christ at age 8, and my father recommitted his life to the Lord when I was 12. We were both baptized on the same day that year.
In elementary school, I devoured reading material of all kinds, and was especially interested in classics like Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. In middle school I discovered science fiction/fantasy and was soon hooked on books that were being featured in school libraries at the time and decades later became movies—such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (Arthur C. Clarke), I, Robot (Isaac Asimov), Dune (Frank Herbert), as well as popular works by other SF authors.
Focus on music
My mother and grandmother encouraged me in music, so by age 10 I was singing alto duets with my mother, had taken two years of piano lessons, learned a few basic chords on the guitar, played accordion in a 5th grade talent show, and dabbled with playing the harmonica. But when I could join beginning band in grade 6 my parents bought an old silver alto saxophone from a neighbor for $40 and that became my primary music outlet.
I played saxophone in the school band from grade 6 through grade 12. Then I went to Corban University (at that time Western Baptist Bible College) in Salem, Oregon, where I sang in traveling music groups and played bassoon in the band and the chamber orchestra. I graduated in 1976 with a music degree distributed among three areas: concert band arranging, choral arranging, and vocal performance.
From 1976 to 1986 I served two different Oregon churches as minister of music and worship, while doing simple arrangements for the short-lived Christian Classics record company started by my college voice teacher. I met Barbara at the second church I served and we were married in 1982.
Cross-cultural music and worship ministry
In 1985 we were introduced to the possibility of music ministry in Japan, and in 1986 we sensed God’s call to assist with the start of new ministry called “Song-Rise.”
We began deputation, and two years later, in December, 1988, we arrived in Tokyo with one-year-old Jessica. Josiah was born in 1990, during our first four-year term in Japan.
Traveling music teams
During our initial years in Japan, I was involved with Song-Rise in the development of the Japanese Continental Singers ministry. Over the years, we formed two outreach teams, the Song-Rise Singers, and the Dickens Christmas Carolers. (One year, Jessica and Josiah even joined us.)
We also coordinated music evangelism tours with lesser-known Christian artists from the U.S.A. and Canada, and occasionally better-known artists during that time period, such as Scott Wesley Brown.
Recordings and songbooks
I was a bilingual vocalist on four recordings from 1988 to 2002: The Japanese Continentals (Song-Rise), Dickens Christmas Carolers (Song-Rise), One Voice (Gospel Music Xpress–GMX), and The Caroling Collection (self-produced and still available as a digital download).
That final recording project came about as a result of requests for a bilingual demo recording of The Caroling Collection Songbook that I published in 2000 following our Dickens Christmas Carolers experience.
In the late 1990s, worship training became a primary focus of the Song-Rise ministry. I was involved in the development of the materials in this area for our Japanese-led pastors training institute.
Transition to print and digital ministries
In the early 2000s the Song-Rise ministry was phased out and we passed the worship and music ministries fully into the hands of former Japanese staff. It was time for a ministry change. I had already been writing a regular column for Japan Harvest magazine, published by the Japan Evangelical Missionary Association (JEMA) and in 2005 (to my great surprise!), I was appointed Managing Editor. As our volunteer staff grew over the next decade, I spearheaded movement into digital media. My position transitioned into serving as JEMA Communications Facilitator/Executive Editor and I oversaw the growth of the JEMA communications ministry until 2018.
Currently, Barbara and I are focusing our attention on multiplying disciples and leaders through personal relationships as well as providing print and digital resources, training, and mentoring that will encourage, inspire, and equip.
(Although music ministry is no longer a major portion of my ministry assignment, I enjoy playing saxophone with church worship teams. For personal development, I am learning jazz improvisation.)