Dean Jackson recalls his childhood days of traveling with his missionary parents to donor churches during furlough. "Night after night, my father would describe our ministry in Japan, and then at the end of the service, I'd watch people shaking his hand. This was the late sixties, and beefy veterans of World War II would come up and say, 'Well, Brother Jackson, I suppose it's a good thing that somebody goes and tells them dirty Japs about the Lord.' If I heard that phrase once growing up, I must have heard it 50 times."
The young Jackson was hard-pressed to reconcile the comments of those American Christians with the world he knew in the Far East. "I met a lot of wonderful people—but I never met a 'dirty Jap.'" The Jacksons made friends with neighbors, business people, and civic leaders—Buddhists and Christians alike—finding them most often to be gracious and intelligent.
In time Jackson followed his father's footsteps into the Assemblies of God ministry. After serving churches in Amarillo, Texas, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he came in 1991 to a setting almost as foreign and cross-cultural as the Japanese mission field: Provo, Utah.
It has been said that while Salt Lake City may be the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the heart lies 35 miles south in Provo, where Mormons make up 94 percent of the population. This city is home to Brigham Young University (BYU)—less than a mile from Jackson's modest church, Rock Canyon Assembly. You cannot drive the tidy streets without noticing well-known Mormon names: yard markers for "Osmond Real Estate," signs pointing to the 23,000-seat Marriott Center arena on the BYU campus. The impressive Missionary Training Center swarms with a new batch of 5,000 young men ...