Leadership

Administrative Staff

Administration Staff

Nicole Alesse

Nicole grew up in Buffalo, NY, and has been married to her husband, Ben, for over fourteen years. They were high school sweethearts. They married in 2006 as Ben was finishing up tech school and shortly after received orders to their first duty station, Kadena AB. They have two boys, Benjamin Jr. and Matthew. Benjamin Jr. was born in Okinawa in 2007, and Matthew was born in Arizona in 2014. Both Ben and Nicole made Jesus their Lord and Savior in 2018 and have been growing exponentially while serving along-side other brothers and sisters in Christ. After praying together over a big career choice, the Lord brought them back to Okinawa. They will be here serving the Lord and the body of Christ until Ben’s retirement in 2027.


Biblical Counseling & Church Planting Administration

Satomi Booth

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.

Elders

Elder

Darren Pautz

Darren and Traci moved to Okinawa from Spangdahlem Germany in the fall of 2019. Darren has served in the Air Force for 18 years.  The Lord has grown both Darren and Traci in their desire to be fully immersed in the local church and build intentional relationships with those around them.  The Lord has also given them both a great desire to instill in families the importance of family worship and discipleship within the home.  

Elder

Zachariah Pittman

Zachariah and Rachel met in Seattle during college and married in 2010. Since then they have moved around with the Air Force and arrived in Okinawa at the end of 2017. Finding church families during each move had always been challenging. God provided Pillar Church almost immediately. Having a place to serve and be served has been such a blessing and a reason they want to call Okinawa home for as long as possible. They want to come alongside others through gospel shaped relationships for a meaningful season of life on island.  They have been blessed with 3 children—Elliott, Pippa and Wilder. 

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. 

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.