TESTIMONY OF DAN PANTANO
The Significant EVENTS & THOUGHT-PROCESSES of my Life
I was born in Palermo, Italy, and am 100% Sicilian as all past generations of my family. We moved to Pasadena, CA in 1955 when I was a little “bambino”. We were on the last completed voyage of the famous Andrea Dorea, which sank on it's next voyage back to the USA. I remember on the ride over to the US, momma kept telling me "Danny, don'ta play witha da pluga ata bottoma ofa da boata!"
Sorry 'bout that! Seriously now: I was brought up as a Catholic, but by the time I reached 10, I rebelled – not against the Lord, but from going to church. I couldn't say it then, but with hindsight it was because I couldn't relate to the liturgical ways of the church. In So. CA during the 1960's it was a history-making, rebellious era, and as a young child I got caught up in things the world was doing. President Kennedy was assassinated, then in Pasadena, his brother, Robert Kennedy, was killed.
The Beach Boys were singing and the Beatles joined them with a great new musical style.
The City of Watts had huge riots. The hippies were singing peace and love, doing drugs and sex in an ill-attempt to get to that peace and love. We were a very lost generation of anarchy, mingled with rebellion against the establishment under the guise of love and acceptance of anyone who believed like us, but woe if you didn't! Jimi Hendrix sang “Purple haze all in brain...” then he OD'd.
I began hanging with the wrong crowds, and by age 13, I was living in the world wholeheartedly. I didn’t realize I was searching for something in my life, I just wanted to always have an out-of-my-mind experience so I experimented with a lot of things. Eventually, one of my friend's parents received a phone call that if he continued to hang with my bad influence, they would turn us in to the authorities. He decided to stop hanging out with me, even though we remained friends. Then on the first day of a photography class, in 10th grade, 1970, I walked in and there was my friend, sitting in class. Naturally I sat with him and later we teamed up as photography class partners.
What I didn’t know is that during the years while our friendship was waning, he had given his life to the Lord. So during that semester, from September until January of 1971, he kept telling me about Jesus. It was the beginning of the Jesus Revolution. Eventually, knowing I was a musician and singer, he asked me if I’d go hear his "Christian rock" band, the JC Power Outlet, in concert. He was playing lead guitar for them. I agreed if I could bring my girlfriend. She picked me up at my house and we drove to the concert. The gospel was preached, an altar call given, yet we didn’t go, When she dropped me off at home, our custom was that she would give me a call when she got home safely. When she called, I said, “Hey, what about all this Jesus stuff? Do you want to pray and ask the Lord into our lives?”
She said yes, so we prayed over the phone at about 2:30 am on Saturday, January 30, 1971. I prayed, asking the Lord to make Himself real to us. The moment we prayed, there were no fireworks, but I knew I was called into the ministry. The next morning I woke up and wrote a song about the Lord on my brother’s guitar and took it over to my girlfriend’s house where she, on the piano, could help figure out the chords. I remind you: this all took place at the beginning of a huge revival – the Jesus Revolution.
Having written my first few songs, I launched into a ministry of music which would last several years and eventually pay my way through Bible College. A month after I accepted Christ, I led my brother to the Lord. He is a much better musician than I, so he joined the JC Power Outlet playing lead guitar (replacing my friend who led me to the Lord now leaving the group.) I knew I would need to find a local church to keep growing spiritually. I'd never been to a protestant church but I was recommended to try a particular church near my home. I walked into their youth meeting of about 25 teens and met their youth director, an energetic, then 24 year old Dave Harrision. Soon afterward I asked him if he'd like me to play the guitar and help the group sing praise songs. He agreed and it feels like the next day the youth group outgrew the classroom we were in, had moved into the chapel of that church, and soon afterward outgrew the chapel, so we traded with the adult service into the main sanctuary. By now, the Jesus Revolution was nearing full swing.
We had a few hundred teens meeting weekly and Dave decided to begin what he called Living Waters Celebrations, where he booked larger venue concerts at a larger location.
We saw the power of God moving in the hearts of thousands of people during those years. The JC Power Outlet, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, the Archers, Love Song, Randy Stonehill and many more were just a few of the bands we ministered alongside. Dave would preach and crowds grew like wildfire because everyone was coming to Christ and turning over a new lifestyle of faith in God!
By 1974 the JC Power Outlet and I were traveling, doing concerts all over the country. We sang at venues like Disneyland, the World's Fair in Spokane, WA, major stadium community events, and the like. We bought a Greyhound bus to travel in, which could house all our equipment in the luggage area and had a rest room on board. We took out all the chairs, carpeted it wall to wall, put in recliners and cots and a small fridge. We put on many thousands of miles singing for Jesus across the US and Canada for a few more years, since JC Power Outlet was one of only a few Christian Rock bands in those days. This was long before the contemporary Christian music of today had risen to popularity. Most churches still used organs/pianos and choirs.
It took my mom a few years to realize I meant business with God and that it wasn’t just a passing fad. In 1976 Dave Harrison and I team-taught a home Bible study with some friends and eventually it grew into a church formed in 1978. Eventually, I led my dad to the Lord and baptized him in the waters of Huntington Beach in 1980. Three years later I planted another satellite church in a nearby community, and a few years after that I was asked by a major denomination to plant another church for them in Huntington Beach, which I did. In the mid 1980s Dave and I began New Church Ministries to help new pastors plant healthy chuches to get started, grow and thrive. Eventually the name and purpose of NCM migrated into IAM, International Association of Ministers and Ministries, where we assist para-church ministries to conduct need-meeting, hurt-healing, hope-building evangelistic ministries.
By then, my wife and I had four sons, Joseph, Jonathan, Joel and Jordan. In 1995 I began a re-plant of a church in San Juan Capistrano. In 1998 I went on staff at Saddleback Church with Pastor Rick Warren. In 2003 my wife after 27 years and 4 chldren asked for a divorce. God's Word, Dave, IAM, Saddelback, and time got me through it.
In 2006 I had a motorcycle accident which left me in a 30-day coma, with a traumatic brain injury, therefore brain surgery. My right eye was smashed out of my skull while my jaw was broken. My nose was ground off and my left ear left dangling. I was paralized on my left side and had to learn to walk again. I thank God that now I know what it's like to be a walking miracle! A few years ago I was sharing my testimony in a church Dave was interim pastor and I said because of my accident, having brain surgery, rehab and facial plastic surgery cost about $2 million. Then Dave got up and said, "Boy, seeing Dan right now proves that you can't get what you used to get for $1 million!" OK Dave, now THAT's funny!
In 2007 I met the fantastically gracious Gina Alexander and we were married in 2010. Together we have 6 children, adding her 2 from a previous marriage: Makayla and Miles. All of our children are adults and their ages intertwine and they are all friends with one another, even though they have all moved out on their own now. Whew!
In conclusion: when I was lost and living like the world told me, God found me and showed me a better way. When I began to listen to the Lord, He allowed me to hear things I'd never heard before. When I spoke up, He spoke through me. When I stepped out, He stepped ahead of my path to guide me. When I was lonely, He provided me comfort, friendship and partners to tell the world about His provisions. When I ask, He answers. When I seek, He makes himself known. When I knock, He opens so that I might praise Him all the more!
God is my Source of Answers and Inspiration. I also consider Him my Grand Orchestrator Who brings a symphony of details together, behind the scenes preparing, coordinating and inspiring others for His Kingdom. My greatest joy is that HE LET'S ME WATCH WHAT HE DOES! The past few years I have continued to assist IAM as Secretary of the Board with new member assimilation, I.T. Issues regarding database, website, emails. My wife Gina and I assist with local clothing and food pantries. I have led a small group and for many years focused on
"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17
In His Grasp,