Shoobie Zane is not pulp culture fiction. He is the star of Renovation City, singing such hits as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Jesus Loves Me, to crowds of cheering toddlers.
If you attend Renovation Church, you may have noticed a handsome clean-shaven man who sits in the front row every Sunday, wearing the same light blue Hawaiian shirt, week in and week out, usually accompanied by a petite, tan beauty in shorts and Reno T-shirt. That man folks, is the legendary, Shoobie Zane.
When he’s off rock star duty, Shoobie Zane enjoys leading a quiet life under the alias Captain Jack Williams, flying planes and protecting our freedoms. His free time is spent with his gorgeous wife Lindsey and their four blonde children, Ben, Luke, Lily, and Beau.
Lindsey is more than just a groupie. High school sweethearts and married for 16 years, Lindsey has faithfully followed Captain Jack around the States as his training in the Marine Corps called him to different duty stations. He began his military career as an enlisted infantryman, than took advantage of being selected for a program the Marine Corps offers which allowed him to attend college. After receiving a degree in secondary education, he passed a test for an aviation spot, which eventually led him here to Hampstead.
Now an Osprey flight instructor, Jack grew up like many Americans, knowing about the Lord and attending church, but not actively pursuing a relationship with Christ.
“You’re in the middle of the ocean and something’s telling you to swim this way – and you’re swimming, swimming, swimming – and the shore is Jesus. And I get so close I can see the shore, and I just have to go a little ways in, but I don’t. I stop and tread water,” he explained. “A couple deployments ago, I was like, yep. I want to swim to the shore.”
He was one of a handful who would hit the services every Sunday and read his devotional daily during this particular deployment in 2013. The cliché says that there are no atheists in a foxhole. Experience says that displays of faith are unlikely to be found on deployment with Marines. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but there’s a reason that the outskirts of a Marine base are flowing with strip clubs, tattoo parlors, and bars.
Grasping the concept of faith in Christ is difficult for the average Joe, but believing in God after experiencing the horrors of war requires a stronger faith than most people will ever know. A faith like that of Captain Jack.
After sharing about that deployment, he quickly imitated a commercial announcer voice and quipped, “2013, Jack decided this is for me.”
With an easy smile and raised eyebrows, he added, “Still working on Shoobie Zane though. He’s just still a free spirit.”
One might describe Jack as a typical guys-guy. He’s private, full of jokes and good humor but exhibits little in the way of emotions, unlikely to ever start a sentence with “I feel…” He enjoys football and movies, and like many young Marines, didn’t attend church often after enlisting 18 years ago, apart from friend’s memorial services. Beneath his twinkling blue eyes, is a highly intelligent man who searches for complete clarity, not accepting something simply because it’s the status quo.
“In Afghan, there are thousands of people who believe in the Koran. In Oki (Okinawa) there’s Budda. What makes those people wrong? And then there are so many sub religions in ours. Those are the kinds of questions I had, ya know?” Jack explained, as he walked through his steps from treading water to baptism.
Meanwhile, the American warrior didn’t realize that his wife was a prayer warrior. Lindsey had given him a daily devotional to read while on deployment. While caring for their four children alone on the home front, she was praying for him constantly, longing for him to take that next step in faith, something she had already decided to do. She prayed and she waited and prayed and waited.
“If I believe in God and I believe and trust in him, why do I have to get baptized?” he recalled thinking. “Why do I need to prove to the world that I’m a religious dude?”
On June 12, 2016, Jack slipped into the church service late as usual, after finishing up his Shoobie Zane routine for the kids. As soon as Pastor John started speaking, Jack knew God was speaking to him directly through the sermon that day. He jotted down notes in his iPhone, writing the four points of the sermon. The last sentence he wrote wasn’t from Pastor John. It was straight from God.
“It’s time to take the next step…”
The laid back Seahawks fan was baptized shortly thereafter, alongside his bride Lindsey, and two of their children, Ben and Luke.
You may have been among the crowd that watched their baptism on the beach this June. Jack was surprised at the large attendance, as his self-contained personality felt like it was a personal and private moment, and few even knew he would be baptized with the others on the list. But the public admission of repentance and full faith in Christ is a glorious event that so many want to celebrate, as made clear by the large turn out that day to watch a handful of Renovation attendees get baptized.
The pilot donned a wig, a Hawaiian shirt, and a surfer persona, then took his entertainment to a less refined crowd. The toddlers and preschoolers that make up Reno City love his guitar strum and his trademark hang loose greeting, which you may have heard before, if you have a preschooler.
“Fist up, thumb out, pinkie out, SHAKA!”
This pilot turned surfer rock star dude, clearly lives his favorite verse and walks by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). It certainly can’t be easy to follow Christ in the Marine Corps. The horrors of war beg explanation. The ample number of strip clubs found along the border of every base, solicit sin. The loneliness from days, weeks, and months apart wreaks chaos in marriages. The mental torment of combat plague a cheerful heart. These burdens are usually borne silently and drowned in whisky. This is life that so much of the military endures.
This is the kind of life that Jack could choose to follow.
But instead, he swam to shore. To Jesus.