Leadership

Administrative Staff

Administration Staff

Bethany Hager

Bethany grew up in southern California, and has been married to her husband, Gabe, for over six years.  They spent the first few years of their marriage working part-time and attending school full-time, but in 2017, the couple felt that God was calling Gabe to serve in the Marine Corps. He enlisted that summer, and the military brought him and Bethany to Okinawa a year later. At the invitation of a friend, Bethany attended Pillar on her first Sunday on island, and was amazed at the warmth and generosity of the church’s gospel-centered community. She and Gabe began to volunteer as teachers for Pillar’s preschool class early on, and they became members shortly afterward. Together, they now lead one of Pillar’s Missional Community groups in the northern region of Okinawa. 

Bethany’s education after high school included studies in music, communication science, and biblical studies before her passion for food brought her to earn her bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition. Upon arriving in Okinawa, Bethany began working as a foodservice manager on-base. In time, however, God provided Bethany with a new opportunity, and her love for her church and its ministry led her to join Pillar Okinawa’s staff team as Administrator. Bethany has been incredibly blessed by the opportunity to serve her church family in this role thus far, and hopes that the Lord will use her work to bless others and bring glory to His name. 

Biblical Counseling & Church Planting Administration

Satomi Shirai

I was born and grew up in Hiroshima, Japan. I moved to San Diego to attend a community college to learn English and Business. About the time I graduated the college, I was saved to believe in Christ though the group called International Christian Fellowship in Escondido, California. I was going to continue my business education, but I decided to go to a bible college to study the Word and biblical counseling. I graduated in 2014. I received so much support and was blessed by Christian friends and pastor in San Diego who helped me through a difficult time of my life, especially when I needed to adjust back to living in Japan, which was not what I wanted or planned to do. However, I had the opportunity to grow in my relationship with God and my faith in Him because of this difficulty. I might not be able to go through it by myself, but I could go through it with the support of my friends. I would like to support and encourage people through God’s Word, especially women who get hurt or are in a difficult season. I am excited to see how God will use me for ministry to women and through serving as communications and cross-cultural engagement coordinator with Pillar Church of Okinawa!

Missional Leadership Team

Children's Ministry Director

Ejay Ayuman

I was born and raised in the Philippines until my family moved to Okinawa when I was 15 years old. My parents are both international school teachers. After high school I had the opportunity to study in America and I was able to complete my Bachelor of Science in Nursing and my Master of Science in Nursing Education at Pensacola Christian College. I worked for one year as a nurse in a Medical-Oncology and Nephrology floor. I thought I had life all planned out, but we all know God works in ways we may not always understand. In 2018, God brought me back to Okinawa and I started a new career as a 4th grade teacher in New Life Academy. 

I began attending Pillar at the recommendation of my Aunt. I quickly grew to love the church and its people. I started as a volunteer in the preschool class and eventually became one of the team leads in the class. I’m excited for this new role as the Children’s Ministry Director and I can’t wait to see God working in this ministry. 

Deacon

Matt Mulherin

Matt was born and raised in rural Michigan. Veronica was born in Ecuador and moved to New York at the age of 15. They both enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1999 and met in 2000 while stationed in Okinawa. Happily married since 2001, God has blessed them with two children, Natalie and Matthew Jr. This is their third tour in Okinawa and they affectionately call it their second home.

Women's Ministry

Lauren Dalton

Lauren grew up in Florida, where she was raised as the oldest of ten children, five of whom joined Lauren’s family through the gift of adoption. It was during this time that the Lord instilled in her a deep passion for spreading the gospel to the nations, specifically Asia. 

In college, Lauren sensed a deepening desire to integrate her Christian faith with public policy. She had the privilege of joining the policy team of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission in Washington, DC, where she served until moving to Okinawa. 

It was in Washington, DC at Capitol Hill Baptist Church where she met her husband Ethan. Ethan and Lauren married in September 2019, and shortly after marrying, they moved to Japan to serve a three year tour with the Marine Corps. Ethan and Lauren desire to pursue a gospel-centered marriage, fully believing God can and will use them to build His kingdom wherever He leads their family.

Lauren began developing a passion for ministering to women while in seminary at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and she cherishes the opportunity to point Pillar women to Christ by equipping them to love God’s Word and live on mission in whatever season the Lord places them.

Fight Club Coach

Zach Daugherty

Zach has a passion to see men grow in their walk with the Lord. God put the desire in his heart after meeting the Navigators and seeing the need for strong male leaders in families and churches. This is his third time in Okinawa and he’s served in the Marine corps since 2002. He and his wife met in high school and married in 2002 and have 3 sons. Together they have a passion to see marriages and families grow to experience the joy the Lord wants for them!

Elders

Elder

David Southerland

David and Kristin Moved to Okinawa from Camp Pendleton, CA in April of 2018 where David continues his service in the Marine Corps. They are blessed with four children: Reagan, Emrey, Joanna, and Walter.  Over their many moves in the military, the Lord has given David and Kristin a heart for the local Church as it encourages believers to grow in their love for Jesus and to further God’s kingdom through the spreading of the gospel. 

Elder

Kyle Klekamp

Kyle joined Pillar in the summer of 2017. He currently serves as a USAF liaison to the Japanese Air Self Defense Force. On Active Duty since 2010, Kyle has served the church in a variety of contexts, always seeking to make disciples who make disciples.

Kyle and his wife Sarah bring this heart to their mission statement as a family. They lead a Missional Community in their home and seek to live on mission, creating gospel-centered community with the purpose of seeing God’s Kingdom come on Kadena as it is in heaven.

Kyle and Sarah were married in 2018. They live on Kadena and love being at the center of all the action. Among many of their motivations, they are especially desirous to see singles and families integrated in the church, capitalizing on the unique gifts and callings God has for each.

Kyle holds a Bachelors in Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute and serves on Associate Staff with the Navigators organization.

Elder

Zach Daugherty

Zach has a passion to see men grow in their walk with the Lord. God put the desire in his heart after meeting the Navigators and seeing the need for strong male leaders in families and churches. This is his third time in Okinawa and he’s served in the Marine corps since 2002. He and his wife met in high school and married in 2002 and have 3 sons. Together they have a passion to see marriages and families grow to experience the joy the Lord wants for them!

Executive Pastor

Jon Simburger

Jon and Melissa moved from a small town in southern Illinois to Okinawa with a desire to make Jesus famous in Japan. Jon has served previously as a youth pastor, deacon, and on short-term missions to India, Albania, Montenegro, Guatemala, Russia, and Uganda. Melissa has served as a worship leader and as director of a pregnancy resource center. In the Fall of 2016, they joined Pillar Church of Okinawa. Together they lead regular English conversation outreach gatherings and serve in the Gospel to Okinawa church planting initiative. On mission with the church, their greatest joy is making Jesus famous in the hearts of Japanese people by bringing the hope of the gospel to the outcast, the downcast, the lost and the hopeless.

Elder

Ron Coia

Ron Coia arrived in Okinawa in 2008. As a teacher for the Department of Defense schools, he currently teaches English and government at Kubasaki High School on Camp Foster.

Ron and his wife Kristie love serving the local church in a military context, as it is a ripe mission field with constant movement and change. Because of this, he strives to help others connect and grow in a gospel-centered community.

They have served with Pillar Okinawa since early 2016, and they want to encourage military members and their families to “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

Ron graduated from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and from Boston University in Massachusetts. They have three children: Hudson, Josiah, and Grace.

Elder

Grant Ellis

Grant is married to his high school sweetheart Lorna. In high school Lorna told Grant that they would someday be missionaries; he was hesitant to believe her. In the summer of 2001 Grant joined the U.S. Air Force effectively becoming a missionary to the military communities he would be stationed with. Lorna and Grant were married in 2002 and are blessed with two amazing boys, Gideon and Ephram. Since God saved Grant as a teenager he has firmly believed in worship as a way of life as outlined in 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” God also put a great desire for music on Grant’s heart and the desire to connect our mind and affections to the God of the universe through music. Grant has been leading worship through song for various churches and parachurch ministries for the past 18 years. He felt called in early 2016 to partner with the Ransoms and Fuglers in the planting of Pillar Church of Okinawa by leading the weekly gathering in worship through song.

Lead Preaching Pastor

Jonathan Ransom

Jonathan and Linnea were married in 2004. God has blessed them with three children, Emma, Johnny, and Owen. In February of 2013 Jon and his family moved to Jacksonville, NC, to join the team working together to plant Pillar Church of Jacksonville. One year later Pillar Jacksonville sent the Ransoms to Oceanside, CA, to partner with the Martinez family for the purpose of planting Pillar Church of Oceanside. In early 2016, Pillar Church of Oceanside sent the Ransoms to Japan to plant Pillar Church of Okinawa. Jon holds an M.Div. degree from Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA, and served as a youth & associate pastor for five years prior to moving to Jacksonville.