You may not
be able to tell by my name but I am Japanese! I was born and raised
here in the city of Kitakyushu where we now live! I grew up in a very
unique family with really unique circumstances.
My father is a fully blind man and went to a special school in Tokyo.
Also while at school there he began to attend church. One of the
reasons Dad went to church was because he loved country music. He heard
there was a Southern Baptist church and he thought if he went there he
might hear Southern music. Instead he heard that Jesus loves him and
made him just the way he is for a purpose and reason. Up until that
point in Dad's life he had always heard that he was a curse or was
being punished for his father's sins, etc. Hearing that the Bible says
he was made by God and made perfectly in God's will, drew him to the
Gospel and he was saved.
My Mom went to the same school for visually impaired people in Tokyo.
Dad and Mom played together in a Bluegrass school band that Dad formed
once he started to play the banjo. Mom learned mandolin so she could be
a part of the band. When they both finished their training to be
massage and acupuncture therapists Dad asked Mom if she would return to
Kitakyushu with him and be his wife. He calls her his souvenir from
When my older brother was born, my Mom began searching for some sort of
basis for raising children, she began asking herself, "what is truth?"
She was leading my father to church every Sunday and began to realize
that the truth was in the Bible. That is when Mom became a believer
So I was born into a Christian family, a very rare thing in Japan. I
grew up going to church and believed in Jesus as my Savior when I was
only 9 years old. It was also about that time that I picked up the
guitar and began taking classical guitar lessons. I studied classical
guitar for three years and then my teacher couldn't teach me anymore.
From there I just began to learn on my own. Around the time I was 12
our family decided to sing some songs at church with Dad on the banjo,
mom on the mandolin, me on the guitar and all four of us harmonizing.
Because Dad loves Bluegrass and Country music and we grew up listening
to his collection of such music, our family band had a unique Bluegrass
sound. Not long after singing at a small church event, word began to
spread about this interesting family who plays Bluegrass Gospel music
and the Ayatsuka Family Band was born.
In my younger days I also explored many other styles of music and was
even in a rock band with several buddies at church. We wrote our own
heavy metal songs about Jesus and the Bible.
Although I believed in Jesus as a 9-year-old, for much of my younger
life being a Christian meant going to church on Sundays. Any other day
of the week, the Bible and God were not very much a part of my life. I
went on to graduate from high school, and because I loved English, I
decided to study English at business college. Around this time a very
unique missionary couple from the States came to serve in our church.
Their names were Mark and Sharon Bennett. Because I studied English I
introduced myself to them in English, "Hello my name is Hiroaki!" (my
real Japanese name) However they couldn't pronounce it correctly and
quickly nicknamed me Rocky by dropping off the beginning "hi" of my
The Bennetts had a weekly Bible study in their home and spent lots of
time with myself and our family. I quickly began to learn that there
was something very different about their Christianity. They loved Jesus
and had a daily relationship with Him. Through their ministry my walk
with God began to be powerfully changed.
I worked at an international training center after graduating from
business college and met people from all over the world. I also made
connection with some Brazilian Christians and learned a lot about a
different and more enthusiastic style of worship! I even learned to
speak Spanish and Portuguese while working in this international
environment. All of these experiences shaped me and prepared me for the
things God had in store for my future.
After working for over three years and beginning to draw so much closer
to God, I began to realize that I wanted to do more for Him! So I quit
my job and stepped out on faith into a life of ministry. I began to be
used by missionaries in leading worship and translation. I was able to
devote more time to the Ayatsuka Family Band concerts. I was also able
to be involved with home fellowships and events for Japanese young
people. I also eventually started to do concerts on my own. And the
Lord showed me that he would provide for me to be able to do ministry
He has since provided me with a beautiful, precious wife to minister
with, a home, instruments and resources for music ministry, the study
of the Bible I need for teaching the Word and so much more! And my
support Aroma Ministries