“Son, come and give your testimony.”
“Children, come and sing before I preach.”
These words are what I was accustomed to hearing as the son of Rev. Samuel Doctorian. My father was an evangelist who preached in 132 countries over his 62-year ministry. When we traveled with him, we knew to be ready to have him call us up to the pulpit – even when we were as young as 10 years old.
I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, with three brothers and a sister. Together, we would often travel around the world with my parents to be part of my father’s evangelistic meetings. My mother was a wonderful support to him, as well as a godly mother and example to us. She would lead us in daily devotions, scripture memorization, and singing before we started each day. Her wish was for us to be a musical family, so she arranged for us to learn different musical instruments, to “make a joyful noise” to the Lord [Psalm 95:1, Psalm 98:4, and Psalm 100:1 (KJV)]. While I loved the guitar, and was very interested in learning to play the drums, my mom decided that I would learn the accordion! Yes, the accordion! When you’re 10 years old, it’s hard to go against the wishes of your parents, although I tried. It was at our first “performance” together as a family that my older brother, Paul (our leader/manager, who also plays the piano magnificently), prompted me to play the bass guitar (given that we already had a guest drummer from our youth group, and since, thankfully, we had no need for an accordion player). It was this prompting that gave me my first exposure to the bass, and I fell in love with the instrument. Later, I taught myself to play the drums; but I stuck with the bass as my main, preferred instrument.
I thank God for the rich Christian heritage he has given us of God’s faithfulness, mercy, love, and forgiveness which has been exemplified and passed down through the lives of my parents and grandparents. I’m not just talking about the heritage of being a PK (Preacher’s Kid), but also the godly example of my grandparents whose faith prevailed despite being orphaned during the Armenian Genocide when their own parents were killed for refusing to deny Christ. They all taught us to keep the faith and learn to forgive. Both sets of my grandparents were raised in orphanages (two in American Mennonite mission camps, and two in German camps) after losing their parents during the systematic massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks, starting in 1915.
In 2014, God led us back to PazNaz, blessing us with Pastor Scott Daniels’ teaching and messages. At that time, we had decided that we would just “sit back” during the first six months of our attendance. We would not get involved or take on any responsibilities. With both of us having been active in churches all our lives, this idea only lasted about two months!
I would hear (from my grandparents, as well as from my father during his sermons) the horrible and gripping stories of the persecution they endured. We were told the true stories of their lives, as well as the stories of real people in the Bible. The difference was that I knew the characters of my grandparents’ stories, and they had a different effect on me. But my father would always preach how the love of God could overcome hatred and evil. I didn’t want to love the Turks, and I most certainly didn’t want to forgive them. How could I, after what they did? They surely hadn’t admitted the fullness of their actions or asked for forgiveness. It wasn’t until one of our trips to Jerusalem that I was convinced of the importance of forgiveness, as I stood in front Jesus’ empty tomb, remembering that he had been tortured and crucified to forgive my sins before I had asked, as well.
“Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ … To the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace.” – Ephesians 1:2-3, 6-7 (KJV)
When we moved to the United States in the 1970’s, during the Lebanese civil war, we lived in San Luis Obispo. There, I attended Cal Poly and graduated with a Business Management degree. During that time, I played and recorded with numerous Christian bands, and eventually decided I would make music my career. I arranged to attend the Musician’s Institute in Hollywood, and made my move to Los Angeles to continue my dream. It was during this time that the Lord showed me he had different plans for me. I got involved with the Christian ministry my father had founded, called Bible Land Mission, helping with the organizational and operations side of that ministry. Through the work for Bible Land Mission, I had an opportunity both to set up a publishing/printing business to print their literature, and to organize their mission tours to Israel. These trips to Israel changed my life. Walking where Jesus had walked, and visiting the countless biblical sites or locations spoken of in scripture, opened my eyes to the Bible, allowing it to come alive for me in full color!
During this time, with my home base in Pasadena, my sister encouraged me to join her on Sunday at PazNaz. She also encouraged me to join the praise team – where I loved playing bass during the services.
Soon after I married Nora, the Lord led us to new pastures to serve and worship, and for the next 25 years we attended a small, yet growing, Nazarene church in Glendale to lead the music program, work with young couples, and teach Sunday school, among other work the Lord gave us. It wasn’t a popular move to take down the choir benches and place the worship team in the middle of the platform right around a full drum set! But God directed this work, and the church was immensely blessed, along with forming of a praise team and introduce newer, more contemporary music to complement the traditional hymns that continued to be enjoyed. We were also able to record a CD with our favorite songs and choruses, including original songs, with the help of our very talented pastor. We praise the Lord that the Holy Spirit used that inspired and lively music ministry to grow and advance his Kingdom.
In 2014, God led us back to PazNaz, blessing us with Pastor Scott Daniels’ teaching and messages. At that time, we had decided that we would just “sit back” during the first six months of our attendance. We would not get involved or take on any responsibilities. With both of us having been active in churches all our lives, this idea only lasted about two months! While talking to Pastor Alan De Vries during the District Assembly, he encouraged me to join the praise team, and soon afterward, Nora got involved with Women’s Ministries and Sunday school.
I appreciate Pastor Alan’s ministry, friendship, leadership, and love for our church. I look forward to receiving his emails to find out which songs he has arranged, and plans to play and sing for our Sunday Worship.
I continue to manage and operate my business, Doctorian Productions – where I provide design, typesetting, printing, and advertising services. But my true passion is music! Nora and I enjoy our “date nights” together. We love being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with family and friends in meaningful conversations.
One of my favorite verses is, Micah 6:8, “This is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
We see God’s blessings in our lives every day, and we thank God for PazNaz and Pastor Tara Beth Leach. One of our highlights this year was participating in the leadership retreat weekend she led. We appreciate her enthusiasm and her thoughtful presentation of the weekly sermon series. Our prayer is that God will use PazNaz to reach the diverse local community, and grow the Church for his glory!
– Dan Doctorian
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