Forepaugh resident Dave Anderson and his wife Barbara have performed more than 5,600 Christian concerts across the country and internationally, including Russia, Asia and Saudi Arabia. They met Mother Theresa in Calcutta and even survived a plane crash in the Bering Sea, along with five others. And he’s still singing, and now offering retreats for hurting ministers.
A pastor’s son, Dave grew up in church and acquired an early love for music and the ministry. As an adult, his own experiences drew him to young people, and in 1963, he created the Christian organization “Lutheran Youth Encounter.”
Dave’s love of singing and ministering grew; he developed gospel teams of Christian youth, who went from church to church across the United States and Europe, spreading the gospel with music.
In the 1970s, Dave founded Lutheran Youth Alive, a ministry that virtually exploded.
“It was during the Jesus revival of the ‘70s,” Dave explained. “It was one of the greatest moves of the Holy Spirit, and we haven’t seen anything like it since.
In 1975, Dave married Barbara, and according to him, “the solo became a duet.”
That was also the year that Dave went into music full time, spanning continents with his new wife. In 1978, he formed Fellowship Ministries and in 1983, he compiled and edited “The Other Song Book,” a compilation of contemporary worship songs. In 2000, he published “Best of the Best in Contemporary Praise & Worship,” compiled and edited by Rev. Mike Zehnder. He continues to receive requests for both. At the present time, “Best of the Best has almost 200,000 books in print and “The Other Song Book has 500,000.
In early 1987 Fellowship Ministries began to focus on “alternative worship” - in those days, no one used the word “contemporary,” according to Dave.
During that time, Dave introduced new worship music that ignited energy throughout the Lutheran church.
“Nobody even knew what contemporary Christian music was,” said Dave, who began to spread the worship music through conferences, causing the new sound to eventually flow out across the country and world.
While Dave and Barbara traveled and sang, Dave continually came across pastors who were struggling.
I met thousands of pastors,” remembered Dave. Some were in great shape, emotionally and spiritually. I also met pastors who were burned out or in the middle of some kind of battle.”
Because of an experience he had with his own father when a situation caused him to leave the ministry for several years, and later when Dave experienced burnout in his own life, his heart went out to them, acknowledging that pastors found it difficult to find a safe place where they could be recharged.
For a long time, Dave kept the burden to himself, but 10 years ago he gathered a group of pastors, lay pastors and professionals and told them what was on his heart.
Three-and-a-half years ago, “I cast a vision for a ministry that would provide week-long counseling retreats for men and women in full-time ministry, in various phases of burnout, stress, depression and conflicts of all kinds,” said Dave. “The people around the table agreed, and a 501(c)3 was formed.
Today, Standing Stones Retreat Center is home base to the ministry of Shepherd’s Canyon Retreats, where pastors, their families and others in the ministry come to heal. During their time, they are provided 25 hours of one-on-one counseling during a seven-day stay.
“People come here wounded,” said Dave, “some ready to bale from ministry, from marriage…it’s an incredibly powerful experience.”
Counselors and volunteers are available, and Dave oversees the retreats, which began three-and-a-half years ago.
The grounds are peaceful, with a prayer garden, a pool, and sweeping mountain views. The only sound is the occasional car. Almost three years ago, a 3,500 square foot building was added, that includes additional bedrooms and a great room.
Dave continues to visit nine churches every month. Several years ago, Barbara decided to stay home, so he is now joined by Roger Walck, who ministers with Dave.
Of course, there is music present in the house; in fact, there is a grand piano in both buildings. In addition to traveling out of state, Dave offers occasional concerts or “sing alongs” in Wickenburg, as he has recently done them with Florence McInturff accompanying on piano. In fact, McInturff recently recorded her first CD at Standing Stones, and according to Dave, people from Wickenburg have already begun ordering it.
“I’m not a pastor or a counselor,” said Dave with a grin, “but I love to sing and minister, and I’m excited about our retreats. I believe God’s got a rescue for anyone who needs it, whether from the Bering Sea, or wherever we find ourselves. God’s a God of rescue.”