The vision for LightShine Ministries started at a Bible study in 1987 where several musicians met weekly and talked vision for how they felt God was leading them. The original vision was birthed in Tom Denlinger who saw the need for a solid follow up ministry for a music outreach. At that time, two different music ministries inspired him.
Tom was highly influenced by Keith Green in the early 80s and when Keith died in a plane crash in 1982, Tom was highly motivated to carry on the calling of a “NO COMPROMISE” ministry that he saw in Keith Green and specifically, the preaching of the Word from the stage as part of each show. Last Days Ministries in Texas was the follow up ministry for Keith Green’s music and at that time, they were publishing powerful printed material that helped build up those who were drawn the LORD through his music.
The second ministry was Resurrection Band from Jesus People USA in Chicago. The fruit of their ministry was astounding to Tom and he knew that any music outreach in his future must be patterned after these powerful men and women of God. In fact, the name “LightShine” came from the song of the same name off Resurrection Band’s “Awaiting Your Reply” album.
Simultaneous to this vision, the music ministry of SARDONYX was being established which was an 80s power metal ministry band of which Tom was the frontman and main lyricist. During the time, Tom met Jeff Zimmerman at a youth center in Mount Joy, PA when SARDONYX came to do a guitar clinic and evangelistic outreach. After talking vision or many hours, Tom and Jeff formed a partnership and became the c0-founders of the ministry. Both are still committed tot he original vision that they had from the beginning. Tom is a gifted visionary and performer and Jeff is an excellent administrator and prayer warrior. The formal name of “LightShine International Ministries” was registered and approved by the IRS in 1991. Tom likes to joke that he is gifted in hacking new trails up the mountain and Jeff makes sure Tom hands in a receipt for the chain saw! They have been a great team and have seen many changes since 1990 when they met.
SARDONYX performed live music outreaches from 1988-1994. LightShine also had a Christian metal radio show on FM90.3 WJTL for 5 year years called “Thunder Zone”. They also published a 16 page “LightShine Metal Mag” which tackled topics of interest to that culture from a biblical perspective. You can view those publications on SARDONYX’s Facebook page.
In August of 1994, SARDONYX did their last live show. Tom needed to do something completely different to clear his mind of all the pressures, positive and negative experiences of the music ministry. So he, his wife Ruth and 2 year old son, Alex traveled to see his brother and sister in law in Montana. On the way home, God gave him a vision to go to the place he had dreamed of becoming a missionary to since he was a teen – Alaska.
So in April of 1995, they served with SEND of Alaska in Glennallen, Alaska for 3 weeks and during that time, the LORD gave Tom a huge burden for the people of Alaska.
More is coming describing the early years of our Alaska ministry.