Rev. Yasuhiro Oda 織田恭博
Title: The Messengers
" Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. " (Matthew 11:28)
I was born in Hokkaido, Japan, and when I was 18 years old at a preparatory school, I visited an American home to learn to speak English. I never dreamed that it would be the catalyst that would change my life forever. The American was a Christian missionary, and he took me to church and talked about the Bible. My family is Buddhist, so I was not at all interested when he took me to church. I just listened and imitated the English spoken by American children. Interestingly, I was surprised to see young people singing on guitars in that church.
I have loved music since I was a little, singing in the orchestra club in junior high school and in the choir club in high school. I also started playing the guitar after "The Beatles" became popular, so I used to bring my guitar to church and play along with them and let them listen to Beatles songs. (At that time, if someone had said to me, "This is a church, so don't sing that song!" I would have stopped going to church.) At first I thought, "There is no God! We have Buddhism in Japan!" But as I looked at these Christians, I wondered, "Why are these Christians always smiling like that?" I wondered, "Why do Christians always smile so much?" The hymns and gospel songs they sang were somehow different from the ones I had been singing, although I did not understand the meaning. "Why is it that when I listen to them, I feel strangely comforted?" I began to wonder. I had been living freely up to that point, but in my heart I was wondering, "What is the purpose of my life? How long will I continue to live this joyless, empty life?" I was troubled. Then one day, I suddenly heard the words of Christ at the beginning of the missionary's speech, and I decided, "I will believe in Christ and live!" And sure enough, my life was changed. Although I knew nothing about the Bible, I am very glad that I became a Christian at that time. I graduated from college with a degree in English literature with the intention of becoming an English teacher, but a missionary told me, "Anyone can be an English teacher. You should become a gospel singer!" In 1974, I studied vocal music at the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After returning to Japan, I formed "The Messengers," the first gospel music band in Japan, and began performing at churches and schools throughout Japan. They became friends with Mickey Yoshino and Steve Fox of "Godiego," who became famous in Japan in the 1980s, and spent many happy days performing and recording together. While evangelizing, many young people began coming to church, and it was around this time that drums and guitars began to be used in Japanese churches.
In 1989, I moved to the U.S. again with my family to study at the Talbot Seminary of Biola University in La Mirada City. I sing as a gospel singer and am now a grandfather with six grandchildren!