Jon Micah Sumrall

Jon Micah Sumrall

— Vocals —

In Ashland, OR on October 13, 1980 I took my first breath, the first of many more to come. Since that day I have been going full tilt in an attempt to live life to the fullest and in doing so, having the privilege of experiencing more in 25 years than many people do throughout an entire lifetime.

My band mates may describe me as an adrenaline junkie and while there is a part of me to which that rings true, I also find great enjoyment in quietness and many of the simple things that surround us on a daily basis. I have always enjoyed the sounds of nature (particularly in the Pacific Northwest) but our life on the road has caused me to increasingly value the sounds of nature such as a cascading waterfall, or the sound the wind rustling the trees, and even the sound of silence itself. It is ironic that many of these experiences mesh together with my adrenaline fueled hobbies to create what I find to be rest and relaxation.

One of the quietest places I have found is on "the mountain" skiing and snowboarding. Bomb off a cornice into a series of huge jump turns, down a double-black diamond immediately followed by careful turns through the powder coated trees still heavy with a recent snowfall. It is about at this moment that I cut hard and come to a sudden stop. Then, I listen... absolutely nothing. I believe that this has to be one of the most quiet and peaceful places on the planet. The dense snow absorbs any sound and for a few brief minutes the sound of total silence envelopes me. Then, it’s back to the hooting and hollering of adrenaline filled turns in knee-deep powder. Ahhhhhh. What a great day!

I may be strange, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I have been learning to live in the moment and enjoy all that God has blessed me with both small and great. As with anything in life, there are hard times as well as the good times and I have found myself also learning to make the best of difficult situations and trust that God knows what he is doing. I know that he has a plan for my life and difficult times cause growth in my life time and time again.

My active lifestyle has resulted in numerous injuries, which slow me down and give me time to reflect on both my life and my relationship with Christ. Three surgeries and a handful of broken bones, dislocations, and sprains have not only brought me to my knees but have also given me an appreciation for overall good health. You never really think how important your arm is until you can’t use it for several months. I admire the strength of young people who deal with handicaps on a daily basis and continue to trust that God has a plan.

Looking back in my life, I see consistently God’s hand in my life. Even as a young child I feel that He was preparing me for what I am currently doing today. It is with this “hindsight” perspective that I already see how God’s plan has worked into my life and it strengthens my faith for the future for which I do not know what lies just ahead.

I grew up in a Christian home. My dad was one of the pastors Applegate Christian Fellowship and my whole family was very involved with the church on a daily basis. It grew to be a very large church of nearly 7,000 people and I found myself even at a very young age in a bit of the spotlight. By the time I was 12 years old, I was involved in leading worship as well as helping with some of the younger Sunday-school groups. I feel like being on stage has been a part of my entire life but little did I know then how these experiences would play into my life.

Music has always been an important part of my life. I began playing the piano at the age of 5 and joined my first choir when I was in 3rd grade. I also picked up the cello around 3rd grade followed by the trombone for a brief time and eventually the guitar when I was 13 years old. This musical foundation would later prove to be an essential part of my life to come.

To those around me, however, I was viewed primarily as an athlete. I enjoyed music, but athletics seemed to take priority most of the time. As I passed through jr. high and entered high school, Soccer and track emerged as the most dominant sports in my life. They consumed much of my time and focus but I saw a fair amount of success in them as well. In my junior year of high school, my soccer team was ranked 12th in the nation and took home a state championship. I participated in the state track meet all four years of high school with my forte in the 110m high hurdles. I graduated from South Medford High School in 1999 with several scholarship offers on the table for both sports.

During the following summer, I received a phone call from a soccer coach at Warner Pacific College, a small private school in Portland, OR. I had never even heard of the school, but the coach sounded very interested in having me play for the school. After a few phone calls and a visit to the school I was offered a “full ride” scholarship. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse and I found myself in Portland that following August to begin training with the team. Little did I know that this would be the beginning of a totally different road that would eventually bring me to where I am today.

After several weeks of training, the rest of the students arrived at the school to begin the school year. During some free time, I broke out my guitar and began to play for a while. This prompted an impromptu jam session followed by a string of worship songs. Pretty soon we had nearly a dozen guys crammed into a dorm room singing songs together. It was kind of crazy. The RA of the dorm stopped by to see what was going on and as people began to leave and go back to their business the RA pulled me aside and asked if I would be interested in leading a worship service on Thursday nights at the school. I accepted and found myself the following week teaming up with a hodgepodge of other students to create a very inexperienced worship band. We were not very good, but we all were excited about playing music together. We continued this worship service through most of the year and grew both as a band and as musicians.

At one of the practice sessions one band member stated that he would love to be in a rock band and do original music. All of us looked at each other realizing that we each desired the same thing and instantaneously realizing that we already had a band. I had been writing my own songs since I was 13 years old and I had a handful of songs stashed away ready to be used at a moments notice. I brought these songs to the band and we began to arrange them into “band songs” and soon after found ourselves booking local shows. This was the start of my musical career.

The band grew, and within every band member a desire to pursue music full time. I however was still on a soccer scholarship, which incidentally required my commitment to be with the team. As usual my athletics brought with it injuries beginning my freshman year with a dislocated shoulder and the following year a fractured sternum with numerous concussions in between. I attempted to play through the injuries but I consistently wrestled with the inability to play at full strength. Amazingly I was still able to accomplish a First-Team All Conference award during my sophomore year, fractured sternum and all. I am exceedingly glad to know that I had been an asset to my team, but I was tired of playing hurt. During that following spring one of my teammates slide tackled my in practice destroying my ankle. It was only a sprain, but all four major ligaments had been pretty severely stretched and partially torn. The injury continued to plague me for months and I spent the entire following summer in physical therapy trying to nurse it back to health. The regular fall season arrived and my ankle was still not ready for the rigors of college soccer. After much deliberation, and multiple meetings with my coach, I decided to red-shirt the season, saving my eligibility for another year.

I was tired of playing hurt and I was still far from being able to reach a full sprint. I was disappointed but I knew there must be a purpose. Once again that purpose revealed itself in the form of an unexpected musical opportunity. As a result of the injury and my decision to red-shirt the season, my responsibilities with the team greatly declined. I had much more time to focus on my music and in October we were offered a record contract with BEC/Tooth and Nail records. This came as a true fulfillment of my prayers and each member of the band was absolutely stoked at this opportunity. The irony in all of this is that had I not been injured, I would not have had the time that season to pour into the band, as it was needed. Throughout October (which is still part of the soccer season) the band was very busy recording demos and meeting with the label and entertainment lawyers to work out the contract details. Had I been committed already to the soccer season, my time would have been consumed by that commitment leaving me unavailable to focus on the music, as we needed to during this time. Once again, I found myself thanking God for something that I previously thought to be a very bad thing.

Since that day we have continued chasing our dreams, and I have personally continued enjoying an active lifestyle whenever our travels allow it. During the summer you can find me on the Willamette River just south of Portland, wakeboarding as often as I can. I still love to mountain bike, white water raft, hike, and rock climb. As the weather turns cold again I head to Mt Hood in search of perfect snow and peaceful silence. But what I have grown to value the most during these times at home is the time I am able to spend with my wife and young son. They are apart of as many adventures as are possible and spend many days on the road, river, mountain, and occasionally my hospital bed right along side me. I love them both deeply and am grateful for their returned love and support. I am daily amazed at the way God has brought the many facets of my life together in His perfect plan. A plan that I am still living out today and one that I won’t know or understand until I reach the end. Then I can look back in hindsight and see the big picture of a perfect plan that exceeds all I could have ever thought or even dreamed of.