Five Hawaiian brothers entrusted to one Kentucky school
Since 2010, the Komatsu family, from Hawaii, has entrusted their five sons to Southern Seminary and its undergraduate school, Boyce College, thousands of miles away in Louisville, Kentucky.
“The president, the world-class faculty, the robust theology, and the missional thrust of the institution all stood out to me,” said Van Michael Komatsu, a Master of Divinity student at the seminary. “I was sold on the lose-your-life, cross-centered vision being championed at Southern.”
Rocky and Trevor were the first of the brothers to attend Boyce College. Rocky graduated in 2013 with a B.S. in Humanities and Trevor in 2015 with a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies. Rocky, his wife, Emily, and their daughter have all since moved back to Hawaii, while Trevor and his wife, Amber, have remained in Louisville as he continues his education in pursuit of the M.Div. from Southern.
Christopher came to Boyce College and Van Michael to Southern Seminary in 2011. Christopher met his wife, Shawna, at Boyce College, and Van Michael plans to graduate with his M.Div. in Christian Ministry next spring. The youngest of the brothers, Kendrick, though having already been in Louisville for a time, began attending Boyce College in the spring of 2016.
“I stand back and wonder at the trust invested in Southern Seminary and Boyce College by the Komatsu family. To know any of them, much less all of them is to see such a beautiful picture of the gospel of Christ and of God’s plan for the family. These brothers, so bound by brotherly love, are bound by even deeper love of Christ,” said SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr. “Over the past 23 years, Mary and I have had the privilege of coming to know so many students and families that have passed through Southern Seminary and Boyce College, but the Komatsu family is simply one of a kind. I am so thankful to Michael and Danni Komatsu for entrusting their precious sons to Southern Seminary and Boyce College. We are thankful for the example they set. We also look forward, with great anticipation, to what God is going to do through these five young men for the cause of Christ around the world.”
The Komatsu brothers, along with their two sisters, were raised in a Christian home on the small island of Lanai, just off the coast of Maui. However, their relationships were often characterized by resentment. They rarely sat in a room together, less even without argument or fighting, Christopher explained. By the time Trevor, Kenny, and Christopher were in the eighth grade, Van Michael and Rocky were living on a neighboring island, and they did not consider themselves to be a close-knit family.
As the children entered their mid to late teens, the Lord drew them to himself one by one. Now, all five brothers and their two sisters have professed faith in Christ. The once distant brothers now consider it to be a rare privilege and a true act of God’s grace that they are now also each other’s trusted counselors, friends, and partners in ministry. Though they did not plan for it to happen, each of the brothers came to Louisville until there was a season where all five were in school together. The brothers say they hope to have the opportunity to continue doing ministry together, in some capacity, for the rest of their lives.
“Talk about sharpening! I don’t know who I would be without these four men,” Christopher Komatsu said. “These years have been extremely formative, and we have all been massively impacted by each other. I would not be who I am without them. We laughed, cried, fought (not with fists anymore), prayed, read, studied, and went to church together. I would not trade that for anything.”
For the Komatsu clan, their time at Southern Seminary and Boyce College has been and continues to be marked by the understanding that Christian education is not primarily the accumulation of knowledge, but the cultivation of character. They have been struck by knowing that loving God and loving people more can develop through the discipline of theological education.
“Being here has not only helped sharpen our minds, but mold our character,” Christopher said.
Since 2011, there has not been a semester when Boyce College has not had one of the Komatsu brothers or one of their spouses on student leadership in one capacity or another. This semester, Trevor accepted the position as the new Boyce College resident director of the men’s dorms.
“Trevor was an outstanding student whose godly character and zest for life helped shape our campus culture. Boyce was much smaller when he arrived, and both he and his brothers injected a healthy blend of character, integrity, zeal, and fun,” said David Gundersen, a Boyce professor and director of Student Life. “I arrived at Boyce in 2010, and having Trevor now serving as our RD is a confirmation of our mission: to send a wave of discipleship out from the Boyce campus that will shape the shorelines of community after community around the world. Sometimes, in God’s mysterious grace, that wave comes back around to us.”
Though he was wary at first, with his wife’s encouragement Trevor applied for the position. Serving in this role has continued to grow their love for the school, the student body and the Student Life department. Trevor’s marriage to Amber, his devotion to the mission of the school, his authentic and obvious zeal for the Lord, and his gift for relating naturally with diverse students convinced the Student Life department that he was right for the role as the new resident director.
“I could not be more thrilled to work with someone like Trevor. He has been a dear friend to me, a trusted confidant who I admire and am honored to minister with. I am confident that God is using him in the lives of our students, and I am eager to see how God uses him and Amber at Boyce,” said Spencer Harmon, assistant director of Student Life at Boyce College.
The Komatsu brothers have all, at one point or another, joined and served at Immanuel Baptist Church, and consider their time doing ministry alongside that church to be one of the best experiences they have had since moving to Kentucky. For them, it has been a body that has provided them mentors, friendships, and partners in ministry with whom they hope to network long-term.
“From the stable boldness of Rocky to the craziness of Chris, the Komatsus exude love for Jesus. From the seriousness of Van to the sweetness of Kenny, the Komatsus overflow with love for the local church. To have men as biblically faithful as Trevor Komatsu leading a small group in your church and teaching your children is a great joy. It is an amazing privilege to have them as part of Immanuel,” said Ryan Fullerton, lead pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church.
The Komatsu brothers’ time at Southern Seminary and Boyce College has served as a reminder of the stewardship each member of every department of the institution has to invest in someone’s child.
“College is one of life’s main intersections. Each new student orientation is humbling and energizing as parents entrust their most precious earthly stewardship to us, especially when they live outside the continental U.S. like the Komatsus,” Gundersen said. “It’s not only our responsibility to invest the truth in them but to fold them into our family while they’re so far from their own. With the Komatsus, it was entirely natural because of their love for Christ, for one another, and for the campus community. In some ways, the Komatsus have brought us into their family, and generations of Boyce students are grateful for that kindness.”