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And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

by University Relations

“It came about, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, that the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat.” Joshua 6:20 (NAS)

From the street corners of Japan to the center stage of churches, universities, and stadiums worldwide, trumpeter Dan Oxley ’82 shares the Gospel and inspires audiences through his music. He has performed with many well-known singers, but has spent the past 20 years concentrating on his ministry as a solo artist. When not in his own recording studio, OxVision Studios, at home in Nashville, he can be found touring with Canadian sax player, Tyler Summers.

Growing up in Japan as the son of missionaries, he learned the importance of utilizing one’s talents to share Christ with others. “When my father was stationed in Japan as a Marine, he promised he would return to the country armed with a Bible instead of a gun,” said Oxley, who valued immersion in the Japanese culture along with his three brothers and one sister. “Japanese Christians are very humble and gracious people, and they make many sacrifices in their lives in order to follow Christ.”

At just eight years old, Oxley learned to play the trumpet from his next-door neighbor. “I took lessons for a couple of years and then quit because I didn’t want to practice. Later, I decided I wanted to take lessons again, but my parents made me go to the teacher, apologize, and ask him to teach me again. From that day on, no one ever had to make me practice,” said Oxley, who decided to become a serious musician by high school. “I still practice every day to keep my lung capacity strong. It’s like being an athlete. If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

During his senior year, Oxley moved to the United States to graduate high school and attend Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana. There, he met Jerry Franks and played in his ’70s revolutionary jazz band, Dimensions in Brass. Soon, he exchanged his college plans for travel with the contemporary Christian group, Truth, meeting and marrying singer Donna ’82 in 1979. While performing a concert at Azusa Pacific University, Oxley and his wife impressed music professors Al Clifft and Don Neufeld, who were instrumental in awarding scholarships to the talented couple, enabling them to complete their education. “God steered us there, no doubt,” said Oxley, who studied trumpet performance and credits his college education with gaining discipline in his studies as well as the opportunity to be mentored by gifted professionals like the late Marlin Jones, Ph.D., a studio producer and APU professor.

With trumpet in hand, Oxley has traveled to Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. He also went to North Korea, where few Americans, let alone Christians, have visited. “Music grants access to people and cultures that might not otherwise ever hear about the Lord or meet a believer,” said Oxley. He also performed at the Jerusalem 3,000 Gospel Music Celebration commemorating the 3,000th anniversary of the naming of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. For the past two years, he played for the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem with the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem.

Most recently, Oxley returned to his Japanese roots, completing three tours totaling more than 60 concerts to raise money for those devastated by the tsunami. “It’s important to remember that people are still hurting,” he said. Oxley also wrote, produced, and recorded an album called The Last Mile with his oldest son, Matthew, on keyboard among many other instruments. He passed his musical genes on to his other two sons as well. His youngest, Nathan, plays bass, and his middle son, Jordan, the guitar. “I tell my sons and other aspiring young musicians that they should only do it if it’s their total passion,” he said.

Oxley clearly follows his own advice. “I believe God puts in our hearts certain passions. Fortunately, mine is to use music to inspire and move people,” he said. “Music is a very powerful gift and effective tool that can be used to change people in positive ways.”

Originally published in the Fall '13 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).