Image of Jim Moore with his guitar.

My father and grandfather were Methodist guitar-pickin' preachers, and I grew up immersed in the rich musical culture of gospel hymn singing. As soon as I discovered I could whistle, I was making up tunes; not at all with the idea that I might be a songwriter one day, but only because it was fun to try to come up with something spontaneously that actually sounded good!

As I was loading the car to drive off to college, hoping to play football at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. my older sister, Anita, gave me the loving suggestion, "When you get there, you ought to try out for the Adelphian Concert Choir and learn to sing." I interpreted that advice as being motivated by her desire to save her ears from further punishment! But now as I look back, I realize that my entire life turns on that "dime".

I responded, "I won't have time for that...I'm going to play football." She sweetened the pot by saying, "They go on neat tours to California every year." I brightened and thought to myself, "I'm going to try out so I can go on neat tours to California." By the time I came home at Thanksgiving, everybody in the family was amazed, "He can sing!"

My plan was to study psychology so that I could help people and make more money than a preacher does. Counseling youth in summer camps the next two summers, and working with youth at the Tacoma Community House during the school year, changed all that. Half way through my second year I attended a local conference on "those interested in the ministry", and found myself walking up to the altar. I wanted to be sitting there in the pew so I could think about this for a few years, but my legs took me forward despite my mental protest.

"God, I don't even know if you're real, but it's time for me to find out. I want to know you. I've got to know; I've got to know for myself that what my parents say is true. So, I make this promise: I promise to follow Jesus for as long as it takes to find out."

I got up and walked back to my seat, feeling no differently than I did before. But, when I got back to the dorm and my football roommates and buddies asked me where I'd been, I told them, "I'm going to be a minister." They howled with laughter; "You a preacher? No way in a hundred years, man. We know you, man. Yeh, you're great material for the ministry!", and they thought it was truly funny!

It didn't stay funny for long. Though I was not out of the woods, I had found the path, and I was determined to stay on it till I found God. But my "friends" didn't want me to have that freedom. They wanted me to be just like them. They took my turnaround as a turn against them, though it wasn't, and almost unbearable persecution followed. I stuck it out the rest of the year, and then moved off-campus.

When I graduated, I faced a dilemma: "How can I go to seminary and study for the ministry when I'm still not sure about God?" I asked my most trusted advisor, my dad, though I was afraid of disappointing him. My father was not phased at all. "Jim, what do you believe," he asked.

"I believe in following Jesus and loving people like He did. I believe that love works. I believe that it's not only the most rewarding way to live, but it's the most pragmatic too. After majoring in philosophy, it's the best solution to the meaning of life that I can find."

"Well Jim, that's what it's all about. It's about 'God so loved the world that He gave His only Son'. It's about 'faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love'. Have you read the 4th chapter of I John lately?"

"Dad, you know me and how it is in college. I haven't even gotten past Matthew."

"It says there, Jim, that he who loves knows God, and he who does not love does not know God, because God is love. Anybody who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar, because how can he love God whom he's never seen if he can't even love his brother whom he has seen. No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us, and we will come to know Him, because God is love and love comes from God. To know God you've got to know love, so live in His love and you will know Him.

"Jim", he continued, "it can be hard to believe in a God we can't see. That's why Jesus came. Stop beating yourself up for not being able to make yourself believe. You've been trying to find God. The best solution is to get that burden off your back and let God find you! Just keep doing what you're doing. Keep following Jesus and loving people as He loves them. Leave the doors open for all possibilities, and God will make Himself known to you in a way that you will know for sure that He's real."

Less than a year later, I knew for sure.

Sitting in the library near the end of my first year in seminary, I was trying to prepare for finals but I couldn't concentrate. My work in a local church had acquainted me with the "real world" of the tragic choices people of immense potential were making in their lives, and the destruction, disease, and death that ensued. It broke my heart. This was a world I had never seen before, and when innocent children were doomed by their parent's failures, it moved me emotionally to a point that I became non-functional in school.

Tunes were running around in my head, and I wanted to express the emotions I was feeling in music, but it seemed crazy. I had only written one song in my whole life, and I thought it was a fluke. To take time off to write songs when the weight of personal failure loomed just around the corner (flunking out of seminary, letting down the people that loved me most, crushing expectations, spoiling my reputation as a responsible and capable person) was just too scary.

But, try as I might, I could not study. Their pain was my pain; their hurt was my hurt. Shoving the books aside, I gave in. I surrendered. "Lord God, you have put me in a place where I can't function. You seem to be telling me that I need to write the music in my head, and I don't have time to do it, but you seem to be saying, 'do it anyway' even though I might flunk out. Am I going crazy? Is everybody else in this marching band out-of-step but me, or am I the one who is out-of-step? Either way, I have no choice because I'm unable to concentrate, so, I give it all to you."

A melody dominated the airwaves of my brain, cycling in my spirit, reflecting the empathy in my heart, alerting me to the call. Five verses spilled out on the page in twenty minutes:

Down the road of life I go
Where I'll tred I do not know,
But where're I look my God is standing there
Calling me, "snap out of your reverie!
The time is soon and most of the world don't care."

I get weary and my back is bent,
The load so heavy from discontent,
I know He's right, but I can't get on my way.
Deep despair, the teardrops, they fill the air;
No winds to drive the storm clouds of life away.

And then the sun comes o'er the hill,
A child's smile, a daffodil,
A bird's sweet song, and dew that lasts all day.
Take me Lord! Life's worth the living for,
I'll sing my song till no one can turn away!

Come with me and join the song,
The way is hard and the road is long,
The threat so great that you can hardly dare.
But He needs you, His work with mankind to do.
A lonely world is crying for you to care.

Side by side we'll stride along
To tell the stranger, to tell the throng,
And all the earth the message of His love.
We'll help man stand in the midst of a troubled land.
God's will be done on earth as in heav'n above.

Thy will be done!
Thy will be done!

It seemed like a miracle had just happened. The only other song I had ever written took hours. I took it as a confirmation from God that this was what He was calling me to do!

When I said, "yes" to the Father that day, I took a risk despite all my fears, and a wonderful sense of freedom spilled over me. I immediately felt free to be myself in the Lord, and to do what God was calling me to do whether anybody else understood or not. They could call me crazy and stupid, but I knew in my heart that God was calling me into a ministry of song, to put the old message in the music of today so that it could break through closed doors and save the lost. I look back now, and fully appreciate how amazing that really was, because I had no role models leading the way. I didn't know of another person who was doing what I felt called to do!

I spent the rest of that week ignoring my studies so that I could write down the songs that were stirring my soul and demanding expression. With that out of my system, I was then able to concentrate on school, and ended up passing my tests and getting my papers in anyway, which was another miracle...God coming to my rescue!

I went back to college for a year to study beginning theory and composition, and then headed to Wesley Seminary in Washington D.C., where, in the first week, I met my future partner in ministry, Tom Page... a Godsend for sure!

Within a few months of our graduation in 1968, and within four years of my surrender to God in the library, Tom and I were traveling the country as the duo, DUST & ASHES, after being hired as staff members of the United Methodist General Board of Evangelism. The vision that the Lord had given me in the Library had come true!

We toured the nation for the next two years singing in churches, high schools, colleges, and on television and radio. With my wife, Vivian, serving as tour manager and a third-part harmony on a couple of songs, DUST & ASHES became one of the first of the nation's many Christian songwriting groups to be raised up by the Lord for this powerful new style of ministry. Hundreds of thousands of teenagers and adults were awakened to the reality of God in today's world, and were given hope in Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

It all started with those songs the Lord gave me in the library! More were written when I was working in an inner-city church in Washington D.C. They launched our first record album, DUST & ASHES--FROM BOTH SIDES, and the printing of THE DUST & ASHES SONGBOOK by the United Methodist Publishing House, which received wide distribution across the country. Our ministry was described by Abingdon Press as follows:

"Because of their faith in God's power to do what man can't, the singing team, Dust & Ashes, gave a portion of their young adulthood to a ministry as folk singers for the United Methodist Board of Evangelism. They have earned a nationwide reputation as singers through their extensive tours of the United States. Their songs are contemporary expressions of faith in God's work in the world and will appeal to people of all ages. Both the words and music are completely original. Personal introductions to each song add an inspirational touch as well as insight into the concerns and deep faith of their writer, Jim Moore. Jim Moore and Tom Page are two very talented and dedicated young men who are sure to leave their mark in the current crusade to bring Christianity into the midst of life".

Two other recordings and accompanying songbooks followed: A DIFFERENT SHADE OF BLUE, and THE LIVES WE SHARE. ( Contact us if you are interested in archival reproductions of these Dust & Ashes recordings on CD or if you would like to know how to connect with Tom Page and his wife, Mary Lou Troutman, who currently travel and record as Dust & Ashes.)

Vivian and I moved back to Washington State in 1971, and have continued in a full-time singing ministry of music evangelism throughout the Pacific Northwest for the last 30 years. We have two sons, Jonathan and Joshua, and a new daughter in our son Joshua's wife, Rachel. Our home is in central Washington, a good location for our travels. We are blessed to live in a beautiful area homesteaded by my grandfather, a Methodist circuit rider and school teacher. The boys are grown now, but this location has been perfect for raising a family and traveling the Pacific Northwest.

When Vivian and I started this ministry in my home State of Washington, we decided to go on faith and not charge any fees. There was a lot of prayer connected with this decision. The result has been a wonderful experience of witnessing the faithfulness of our Lord to provide our necessities through 30 years of ministry! When you think of it, it is really quite incredible...that we could raise a family, purchase a home, and have dependable cars and a sound system, all made possible through offerings and donations from loyal supporters who believe in what we're doing.

It has not been easy! We never know what the income will be one week to the next. It all depends on what the Lord leads people to give. Every year is filled with surprises. There is no predictability. It has just been amazing! Every time our backs are against the wall financially, God has provided, and so often from a totally unpredictable source. We have had to rely totally on Him. This has been the prime source of our faith. All credit and glory belong to our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us beyond our wildest expectations!

There are many small, rural churches in the Pacific Northwest. They don't have the money to pay a fee for ministry. They seldom are able to find anyone who is willing to come to their church. Yet these churches are often bubbling with the laughter of children and young people, and small town life can be boring. They need to have something special that will touch their people with hope, with the joy of the Lord. They need to have visitors who will leave a good influence on their precious ones.

They call us because they know we will come. If the date is open on our calendar, we will come regardless of the size of the church. The people who give to this ministry make this possible! We can faithfully go to wherever we are called because so many generous servants of the Lord have faithfully chosen to make this possible by supporting us. It is hard to explain what a great feeling it is to be able to say on the phone to an anxious caller; "Don't worry how far it is. Don't worry about the travel conditions. Don't worry how small your group is. Don't worry about how many people will show up. Don't worry about how much the offering will be. Wherever two or three are gathered together, the Lord is among us, and He will do something! People support us so that we can come with no strings attached. It will be our delight to come! I've already marked the date on my calendar!"

What JOY it is to serve the Lord! Some of our most memorable and meaningful times involved only a handful where the fellowship was intimate and precious!

In 1980 the offerings and the record/tape sales were no longer providing enough income for us to continue. One of my current board members was asked to be president of the men's club in his church. His answer was, "I will if you will agree to support Jim Moore Creative Ministries with $100 a month." They agreed to this "holy blackmail", and we began receiving our first monthly pledge. I believe that this was God's way of letting us know how He intended to keep us in ministry!

I felt directed to provide a way to facilitate this kind of giving. So that same year we decided to become incorperated. We formed a Board of Directors and subsequently became a tax exempt charitable organization registered with the IRS. Once this was done, others began to contribute to the ministry on a regular basis. Today, the pledges and donations are our biggest source of income and the key ingredient in keeping us traveling for the Lord! (The men's club president is now President of the Jim Moore Creative Ministries Board of Directors.)

With the help of generous donors, and with the guidance of our Board, the Lord has allowed us to record four solo CD's since my Dust & Ashes; days:
The Lord's Song
No Greater Love
Jim Moore - For Kids!
and our latest CD titled, Colors of Your Grace.
Make sure to check out the listing of these recordings and individual songs.