Westmont Magazine Tasting the Fruit of Ministry
As a sophomore, Dick Tice ’50 climbed up the mountains surrounding Westmont’s with a singular purpose. He had set aside a day and carried with him only a Bible. His mission was to discover what God had planned for his life.
He sat on a rock overlooking the Pacific and read through John, Acts and Romans, hoping a verse would point him to what God wanted. Instead of answers and directions, he got nothing. He fell to his knees to pray, only to rouse himself from sleep. As the sun got lower in the sky, Dick realized his safety depended on his departure, so he began the two-hour hike down.
On this descent, he reflected on his gifts in life, his youth, his health, his love of the outdoors, and his easy mobility. With these thoughts, he stopped waiting to hear from God, and said, “Okay, Lord, if you want me on the mission field, I will go. I will set Japan as my goal, and if you want me somewhere else, make it clear!”
He didn’t hear bells or see stars, but he did feel a weight lift off his back, and he began to run down the hills. He never wavered from that decision, and his long life reflects his commitment to live completely for God. His desire to go overseas to serve was indeed remarkable. Weeks before, he had given a speech to his classmates on why missionaries should stay within the United States.
Japan was not an idle selection for Dick, who served in the Air Force in World War II. Following pre-flight training, a friend took him to church, where he accepted Christ. “I don’t remember a word the pastor preached that day, but I knew I was making a personal decision to make Jesus my own savior,” Dick said.
His service in the war consisted of one air raid, providing air-to-ground support. Before he returned to the United States, however, his unit was stationed in Japan for occupation for seven months. When he enrolled at Westmont, he faced a challenging situation.
“I was saved while in the service, but knew absolutely nothing about the Christian life and walk,” he explains. “So many of my classmates knew how to pray, how to witness, how to ‘talk’ but it was strange to me.”
Dick struggled with the idea of leaving the United States to minister. He didn’t think it fair for God to ask him to leave his country again. Slowly, however, his classmates and God’s voice began to change his desires. He says that his experience at Westmont opened his eyes. “Missionary ministry was something I had never heard of before coming to school. There was a great concern for the world in the class of 1950, both by my classmates and the faculty.”
Two weeks after his decision to set Japan as his missionary goal, Dick was asked to lead the youth in a Japanese church in Santa Barbara. They were American kids who had grown up in relocation camps during the war. Their pastor didn’t speak English well enough to preach in English, and they didn’t understand Japanese well enough to listen. Dick jumped at the opportunity, even though he had no idea what his “job” would entail. He led the youth group, sang in the choir, met with some of the youngsters one-on-one, and filled in where needed. He enjoyed the people and his service there, but graduation came and Dick moved on.
After several short missionary stints, he headed to Dallas Seminary, where he met his wife. Together, he and Larrie served in Chile for 17 years, and then 10 years teaching missions and the Bible in two different Bible colleges and one seminary. After all this, Dick still managed to get doctorate in ministry in 1982 and pastored two churches over a 10-year span. He and Larrie retired to Denver just shy of 70 years old.
Dick often wondered what became of the Japanese youth he had worked with in Santa Barbara, and then he received a letter from one of them. After 56 years, seven of the original youth group members still lived in Santa Barbara.
The Tices visited the church during a Westmont reunion (see photo above). “What a thrill!” Dick exclaimed. “I was introduced to the congregation as ‘the man who got us on the right track.’ I really appreciated that, after so many years of not hearing any reports or updates.”
As he looks back over his life full of missionary service and joyful memories, Dick reflects, “I can only echo what so many others have said through the history of the church: To God be the glory, great things He hath done!”