My call to full time ministry came while I was counseling at Mount Hermon at the age of 20. Attending Biola University and then Western Seminary confirmed in me my desire to shepherd God's people. I have been blessed with an incredible wife to journey with me and two awesome children who have provided much laughter and joy on our adventure as a family. In September of 2003, I became the pastor of Bernal Bible Church after spending 9 years as a youth pastor in Morgan Hill. It is my joy and passion to exhort and encourage you to mature in Christ Jesus. Paul says, "For I am determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." To this end, I desire for all those who come to Bernal to grow spiritually and discover the joy of living in Christ.
I was born in Lockport, NY and raised in the countryside outside the City of Niagara Falls, NY. I was blessed to be raised in a large Christian family and I accepted the Lord as my Savior at my Mother’s knee when I was around 8 or 9 year old. My Father died when I was 13 and in order to help the family I worked for three years before I went off to University. In 1960, I left for John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas where I was awarded a tuition scholarship for Track and a work scholarship for room & board.
On May 15, I graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and on October 1, 1965 I raised my right hand to join the US Navy in Nashville, Tennessee, to see the world - and see the world I did. Such exotic places like Viet Nam, Thailand, Singapore, India, Nepal, Philippines, Ireland, England and Spain. I retired from the Navy while stationed at NAS Moffett Field in 1986. I worked in construction for about 16 years and currently work for the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority.
I try to be consistent in daily time with the Lord by reading the Bible and praying early each morning before the day gets away form me.
A few of My Favorite Things:
MUSIC - These days I mainly listen to instrumentals and play the piano at home. A few months ago my wife Maria had brought a violin home from school, so lately I have been trying to learn how to make more than a screech from it.
SPORTS – In years past I played just about every sport, but lately I am down to a little golf, some racquetball and working out three days a week.
BOOKS – I have always been an avid reader, the Bible, history, historical novels, westerns, who-dun-it, etc. Lately I have been reading a book called “Prayer Coach” – ‘For all who want to get off the bench and onto the Praying Field’ by James L Nicodem. This book has provided a few insights that are helping me in my prayer life.
What if you could spend time with any famous historical person?
There are many I would like to spend time with both Biblical and non-Biblical. Other than our Lord I believe I would like to spend some time with Adam, preferable before the ‘apple’ was bitten.
Born Thomas Jeffery O’Harra on January 21, 1960 in Klamath Falls, Or
I was raised up as a boy in the Lutheran Church for several years before moving to the small town of Bonanza, Or. We attended a small country church for about a year before my parents divorced in 1971.
I became a Christian in May of 1981 and was baptized at Bernal Baptist Church in December of 1981.
Hobbies: sports of all kinds, especially basketball, coaching, hunting and fishing (though I never get to do that anymore), camping and spending time with my children.
I came to California in December of 1981 and began attending Bernal Road Baptist Church. The son of the pastor was my boss at the landscape company I worked at after coming to California, so he invited me to Bernal my first Sunday here. Bernal became my home church and the pastor and his family became my second family. Within the first year, I was involved in the Youth Ministry. We had about 18 or so Jr. High and High School kids back then and lots of families with small children too. I started teaching the High School Sunday School class and had around 8-11 kids on average. I taught the High School class until the pastor resigned in 2004.
I met my wife Carmen, who is from Lima, Peru, in the winter of 1983 and we were married at Bernal on August 11, 1984. We both worked in the Sunday school and we also did Pioneer Clubs for over 16 years, working with kids from all ages. My group were the boys 9-12 years of age and Carmen worked with the girls of the same age group. This was a great ministry for many years. During my time under Pastor Jack Eccles of Bernal Baptist Church, I served as a Deacon for 16 years, did some preaching for him when asked, helped with the Youth Group, taught the High School Sunday School class and was involved in some men’s bible studies for about 4 years.
Our first child, Rachel, was born to us on July 3, 1987. Ben came along on April 26 , 1991 and Andrew and Jonathan surprised us on August 17, 2002. Rachel and Ben were baptized at Bernal by Pastor Jack Eccles.
In 2004 Pastor Eccles resigned from the church and we were left with a decision to try and stay the course or leave and go elsewhere. We decided to stay. I preached for about 2 months as well as arranged for guest speakers to come to Bernal while we began the search for a new pastor. We reached out to Fred Janz of the NAB, who introduced us to Steve Weisenburger and his lovely family as a candidate to become the next pastor at Bernal. Those were some trying times for all of us. Only about 6 of us from the original ministry are still here at Bernal serving and loving on the folks here. God has been faithful to keep the doors open, the lights on, and lives are continuing to be touched and blessed at this location. I am honored to have been part of the history here at Bernal and look forward to what God is doing in our future! I currently serve on the Men’s Ministry Team, teach in the rotation for the Discover group on Sunday mornings, lead a small men’s group and have served on one Mission trip to the Sankey Orphanage in the Philippines.
By God's providence, I was born and raised in a small town in Northern California. There, I spent my entire childhood attending school and attending a small church with my family. When I was ten years old, I accepted Christ and was baptized.
After I graduated from high school, I left my small town and headed to the large city of Stockton to study at the University of the Pacific. During my time there, I participated in Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and other Bible study groups. I graduated from the pharmacy program in 1987 and moved to San Jose for work.
God blessed me, that while attending church, I met Mary, who recently returned to her hometown of San Jose after graduating from Pacific Christian College in Southern California. We married in 1993 and made our home in San Jose. We have three daughters who continually amaze me with their gracious spirits and amazing accomplishments.
Our family found a welcoming home here at Bernal Church in 2010. We have been blessed to participate in the various activities, events and ministries that are important to Bernal's church life. We look forward to see what God has in store for our family, Bernal Church and the community in which we work and live.