February 8th…“TELL ABOUT THOSE WHO’VE HAD A BIG IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE.”
As one travels through life, there are intersections where we meet and are touched deeply by the integrity and moral character of certain individuals. Sweetly, we are permanently imprinted with the awe of who these people were and how their lives reached out to capture ours in reflecting the essence of all that is wonderment and good. One of those dear souls was my beloved Concert Choir teacher from Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Washington. Another amazing person was the Founder of Multnomah School Of The Bible in Portland, Oregon.
Mr. Peru enhanced my love for singing and choral music by the character of who he was, as a man, and the excellent way he taught thousands of students over the many decades of his tenure within our school district. Orrell’s “toolbox” contained implements of knowledge, humor, wisdom and background stories of how a specific song we were learning came into existence. For instance, once there was a very complex Russian composition that we were trying to learn to sing in our Concert Choir class. It was a very difficult piece, with its clashing chord structures and timings. Performing it properly seemed out of the question in my teenage mind and ear.
Dear Mr. Peru sensed our frustrations and told us to all relax a bit while he conveyed to us the story behind the music. This choral composition was written during the Russian Revolution of 1917. In that country, there were great struggles, battles, blood and turmoil in people’s lives at that time of history; therefore, the crashing chords and grinding melody lines were conveying the suffering of millions across Russia. NOW, we could all comprehend the meaning behind the discordant sounds that our young ears could not, at first, understand.
At times, when Mr. Peru sensed that we were hesitant to sing out, due to lack of confidence, he would share some of his heart philosophy regarding singing. Orrell spoke of how our modern culture stifles everyday people from singing out loud for the shear joy of expression unless they’re some movie star or recording artist. To illustrate his point, he relayed an incident, during World War II, when he was stationed in Italy with the US Army Air Corps. His airbase was located in a valley between two mountain ranges. In the crisp, clear air of sun-sprayed mornings, children from villages on each opposing mountain range would begin descending from their high altitude homes to a school in the lower valley. As they walked the trails, the children’s voices would sing out a song, loud and clear. Their cherubic voices carried across that pristine valley to the other group of children coming down from their own side of their mountain range. The second group of children would then sing out a reply to the first group and melodious harmonies would ring back and forth across Mr. Peru’s airbase. These unfettered voices filled the valley with song and you could see our teacher’s eyes sparkle with the memory of music that these children created for him to enjoy. Beloved Mr. Peru would then encourage us all to sing out loud for the shear joy of making our hearts happy with song.
The spiritual hero of my younger days (and even today) was the honorable Dr. John G. Mitchell, who was one of the founders of Multnomah School Of The Bible in Portland, Oregon. For many, many decades, dear Dr. Mitchell taught God’s Word via “The Know Your Bible Hour” radio ministry that came out over the airwaves of station KPDQ based there in Portland. Mitchell’s deep, personal sincerity and amazing knowledge of the Holy Scriptures was phenomenal.
There is a saying that goes like this, “A man whose Bible is falling apart, is a sign that that man is very well put together!”…....THAT was Dr. Mitchell! Although I didn’t know him personally, my “hero” sat next to me at a men’s gathering one Spring there at the Multnomah School Of The Bible campus. As that silver-haired saint sat there, I could see that that godly man’s Bible was SO WORN OUT from reading it all his years, that he held it together with large rubber bands! Every page, I’m told, was ingrained in his clear memory. I’ve had some of his former students relate how he could even tell you the page number and where a certain Bible verse was located ON that page (top right corner, etc.)!!
I fondly remember listening to him daily on the radio as he taught from God’s Holy Word. With depth of love in his voice, he would be imploring all within the sound of his voice to, “Please fall in love with the Savior!” I encourage you all to get a book called “Lion Of God”, written by Mr. Dick Bohrer. It wonderfully chronicles the life of this dearly loved man of God who I admired so greatly and seek to emulate his example of a life devoted to Christ. Such is a good and godly goal for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.