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Jack Behl.....Lewistown, Montana

(Lord, give me a mountain!)

I'm 82 as I write this! Like Joshua in the Promised Land I ask the Lord for a mountain inheritance because I have enough strength to conquer even that challenge!

Jack trumpeting "Happy Birthday" to a fellow member at Bonanza Hills Nazarene Church in Lewistown, Montana

I was born and raised in Sullivan on a dairy farm in central Wisconsin. My parents took me to the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) absolutely every week. I received 8 years of solid training with my pastor as the teacher of Saturday school, 9 a.m. to noon. Sunday we went to church; there was no Sunday School. During this time I did not make any outward commitment to Jesus but the training impacted my entire life, even into my 82nd year of life. I was baptized as a baby at this church.

I am the baby in this family photo

I am a young lad fishing with my dog at my side

At the age of 12 I was now at the age of accountability. I was now allowed to participate in the celebration of Lord’s Supper although I was not yet a full member of the church. Confirmation was a milestone, however, I felt afraid. I was expected to stand in front of a large group of people and answer questions as part of the confirmation ceremony. It was the culmination of 8 years of study. The answers were easy and I was well prepared. But, fear or stage fright rendered me brainless with a paralyzed tongue. As my father and two brothers were, I was a very shy and bashful young man. And now came the test of tests for me. Several years earlier I had fallen in love with music through a trumpet played by Harry James, a well-known trumpeter in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Sadly, my weakness and chosen profession to be like him were not compatible. Can you imagine Harry James afraid to get up to perform? So for years I suffered and so did my desired profession as a star trumpet player but let’s go back to that day as I stood before the multitude in fear-filled dilemma at 12. What was I afraid of?

My confirmation class

I believe the pastor in charge of my first presentation in public sensed my condition and took me aside for prayer for encouragement to overcome my fear. In an instant, like the snap of a finger, the fear was gone! I was brave and bold like King Arthur with a golden gleaming sword before a hoard of barbarians I was about to slay. It was an experience that was joyous, powerful, and addicting that I felt could propel me to the musical rank of Harry James. Oh boy, no more stage fright. My perfect day! The next day the fearlessness was gone. So back to the bashful, barefoot boy, with cheeks of tan, went I. What a disappointment that was! I was too afraid even to ask someone what had happened. All through high school and after, I clung to my trumpet and my dream to search for a repeat of that perfect day as King Arthur.

My perfect day after my pastor prayed for me and I became fearless

29 years later (1970), the chain of events of life brought me to a small church where a man was preaching to a group of people. I had come to this place (Cotati, California) tired of fear, tired of failure, and ready to give up on my search for the reappearance of that perfect day. The preacher was not what you would call a polished speaker with correct college-taught grammar but it was obvious he believed in what he was saying and would you believe he was having fun. He was loud and clear but his movements were awkward and certainly very strange to me. Suddenly it occurred to me that his demeanor was saying to me, “I am not important; I do not care what you think of me. The message, it is the message that is talking to you, not I alone who is talking to you.” Bingo! Translating what I saw in him, I could see it is the sound that comes out of the trumpet that draws attention and delights, not the one who blows on the mouthpiece or works the keys (valves) with my fingers.

A family photo as an adult

Hear the definition of egotism; it is an exaggerated sense of self-importance. My fear was based on self- importance. On that perfect day at age 12, the pastor had actually led me to my capability, not to my self- indulgence. I put the pastor's message and concept I had heard in Cotati to a test not long after I made this discovery. I entered a talent show at the local high school. I deliberately made my piano player and myself look bad. He played my introduction and I, on purpose, played a sour note. He jumped up from the piano and shouted, “Is there a trumpet player in the house?” After the laughter subsided, we began again and he deliberately misplayed the introduction. I shouted into the microphone, “Is there a piano player in the house?” We were now ready to perform without fear or any obstruction and took first place in the talent show. We put the worst sounds in front of the audience and lived through it! Now we could relax and play feeling that any mistake would be forgiven.

I have worked with young people for 35 years

I believe my fear had been an ego trip,. The answer to my original question, “What are we afraid of?” is we are afraid of personal failure and exposure of that failure. Seek ye the perfect day; it is there at the sound of your lips but you must overcome your fear of personal failure. What I accomplished was I made the audience laugh at my expense in order that I could relax then perform at my best. Jimmy Durante, the late comedian, musician, and singer, had a very prominent nose. He joked about his nose and called himself “Schnoz (big nose).” Don’t be so proud that you hide what God has given you. Follow your dreams with confidence and persistence. Never give up! If God created you, there must be something good! Look for it! Seek the perfect day! It’s there for you.

Washington for Jesus (1980)! I was there!

Within two weeks of first hearing Pastor Hudgins at the Cotati Assembly of God church, I began to realize my selfishness and how far my life-style had drifted from the Christian I thought I was or should have been. I began examining what I had done to my family with my addictions born out of selfishness. I was addicted to work, fishing and hunting and had put my responsibility as a husband and a parent at the bottom of the list. I set about changing my life-style, repenting and seeking forgiveness from those whom I had hurt. I actually got baptized in the Areal River and on October 4th, 1970 at 9 p.m. stood before God and surrendered my life to Him. I was 41. Of course, there was the commercial salmon fishing boat to sell and the guns to put away. For then, commitment to God's Word and His church was now top priority, along with family.

This is the last horse I broke and it darn near killed me (an Arabian)

I left California at age 76 for a change of lifestyle and to retire from a fulltime job. I sold my property in 2005 and purchased what had been the Church of Christ in Lewistown, Montana in February of 2006. It is just off E Main St on the way to Billings, next to Symmes Park. I renamed it “The Spotlight.”

The Spotlight where various groups meet

I continued my youth work in Montana, that I had been doing in California. As of 2011 this would make 35 years. In Montana this would be independently of the organized local church. The ministry turned into a community with 50-100 young people at the Spotlight weekly. We had a DJ and had music and dancing. Some church bands came to play. And we had weddings, reunions, private parties, concerts, and plays. Currently, I attend the Bonanza Hills Nazarene church in Lewistown.

I practice public speaking weekly and volunteer to speak often

I got involved in Karaoke singing at the Bar 87 and Restaurant at Windham, Montana on the way to Great Falls, about 40 miles west of Lewistown. I got up and sang. I acquired with the owner’s help equipment and songs to get me started. This was in 2009 when I was 79 years old. I still have a little bit of stage fright which even professional performers experience, but it is nothing as when I was 12 or even much older. I began scheduling performances (singing and instrumental performances) at local senior housing and hospices. I increase my repertoire and expertise by constant practice out of pure pleasure and respect and appreciation for the gift that God has given me. I perform everywhere I can. My intention now is to contact churches and offer my services to the elderly and hospice homes. Participants remark at the joy they feel when I come.

I feel such joy when I sing Karaoke and see the joy it brings to the faces of seniors

I could be in California but Central Montana is not to be missed!

In my spare time I have recently remodeled a fixer-upper home, which is now for sale. I restored the exterior windows. I had the interior electrical rewired, completed a 4th bedroom (sheet rock it, texture it, and paint it), painted the kitchen and bathroom downstairs, installed new light fixtures, repainted the garage, and I did numerous repair jobs around the place. I did this in 2010 when I was 81 after selling my 20-acre working ranch that had horses. I planted a garden and remodeled while I added wind fences and planted trees. I remodeled the Spotlight and put in a new roof and bathroom. I painted the entire exterior myself. I mention these things because God has given me health and strength even at 76 plus. I keep my brain challenged through new hobbies such as Karaoke and public speaking and performing. Working with young people keeps you young as you try and keep up with them. An active outdoor life with fishing and hunting have especially attributed to good health. I thank God my ambition is never to retire, especially keeping my promise to put and keep my Lord and Savior on the front burner.

My constant companions and joyful partners, Charlie (left) and Cleo (right)

I hope to die with my boots on! (working!)

Last Updated: 01/23/2015