By Carl Stagner
Well-known and well-loved by the community. A true heart for people. Doesn’t know a stranger. Loves the opportunity to minister. Her primary mission field: a piano studio. Forty-eight years and hundreds of piano students later, Linda Fast is still making the most of her fingers and her voice.
And not just her singing voice. She loves to talk with anybody and everybody! But she doesn’t just talk. She listens intently, and she cares genuinely for others. The Washington State native retired this spring after nearly a half-century of teaching and exemplifying Christ to her students and neighbors. Now that she’s retired, don’t expect to catch her lying down. She still tickles those ivories and shares her musical talent from time to time at church. Her primary responsibility on Sunday mornings today? Greeting people at the door, a job she performs—as you might imagine—with excellence.
Reflecting on the total reach of her influence over the decades gives Linda the chance to explain how Jesus, the Church of God, family, friends, and music have shaped her life and ministry.
“My mom did not take piano lessons,” Linda explains. “But she wanted to. Therefore, when my sister was in the second grade and I was in the fourth grade, we got an upright piano. We found that we just loved it, and became involved in music and our little choir at First Church of God in Clarkston, Washington. Then, the Warner Pacific College choir would do a tour and come through Clarkston. So I knew I had to go to Warner Pacific.”
Linda’s major was Christian education and her minor was music. Little did she know that the combination of the two would be the perfect foundation for a lifetime of teaching piano. “I always wanted to be a missionary,” she recalls. “I loved God’s Word growing up. I am not shy with people. I loved Jesus and loved going to youth group and thought I would be a missionary.” In a very real sense, she did become a missionary.
Linda and her husband Dallas lived in Lacey at the time. He was not yet finished with college, and was working at a grocery store. They had a little girl less than a year old. Teaching piano, though they didn’t even yet have a piano, was the answer to supplement their income. She advertised in the newspaper for her first student, and from then on, it was all word-of-mouth.
Through the years, Dallas and Linda both served in music ministry capacities at churches in Washington. Choirs, handbell choirs, living Christmas pageants, patriotic musicals, and much more consumed their time, as well as substitute teaching music and Bible for a school. At one time, Linda had as many as fifty students, mostly kids, but some adults, as well. Students thought they were just learning piano, but their lessons went far deeper than the music.
“I love people and love knowing about them and their story,” Linda reflects. “There’s no way I am going to influence people by just coming out and saying that you must be born again. You have to build relationships with them.” This faith and musical influence has not just been passed on to students, but their own children who have become outstanding musicians in their own right.
The Church of God is where Linda and Dallas were brought up in the faith. The Church of God is where they honed their abilities to demonstrate the love of Christ through music, in trios, quartets, and choirs. Church of God education—at Warner Pacific—further developed their skills and love for music. Camp meetings and conferences were an integral part of their experience. The Church of God runs deep in their veins, as now the fourth generation of the family has started at Warner Pacific.
“I love the teaching, the doctrine of the church, the unity,” Linda explains. “I love that the Bible is our standard. The Church of God hymns are my theology. We are a singing church!”
Besides greeting church guests, Linda and Dallas find plenty of opportunities to continue utilizing their musical talents. They’re living and loving the life and the family and friends God has blessed them with. Especially popular among their church’s senior ministry friends is an arrangement of “Anything you can do, I can do better…” which they end with, “Any note you can hold, I can hold longer!”
To cap off forty-eight years of teaching, Linda was inducted into the Washington State Music Teachers Association Hall of Fame. “It’s a great honor, but I feel totally humbled,” she says.
Remember the descriptions of Linda’s character and personality at the beginning of this article? They are the words of Mark Fast, son—and pastor—of Linda and Dallas Fast. Mark has served as lead pastor of Fast’s home church, Centralia Community in Centralia, Washington, since 2010.
Were you blessed by reading this story? Support the ongoing work of Church of God Ministries with your gift to the World Ministry Fund at http://www.jesusisthesubject.org/world-ministry-fund/.