Titus Curtis - guitar & lead vocals
I was born in South Haven, Michigan but it wasn't more than eleven months into my life on earth that my entire family (mom, papa, and two older brothers) packed up and headed for the mission field. We lived for 4 years in Japan, came home on furlough (a working vacation for missionaries), and then headed off to Gambia, West Africa. Growing up as an MK was awesome! I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. We spent two years in Gambia and it was here that two awesome things came into my life that undoubtedly effected the past 20 years. The first is the greatest of all. When I was 6, about a year into our stay in Africa, I became severely aware of my own sinfulness and my need of salvation. Through the testimony and guidance of my father (papa) and my brother Abram (who felt compelled, I'm sure by the Holy Spirit, to instill in me an immediate awareness of Hell) I came to know Christ as my personal redeemer. Looking back I can see that the Holy Spirit was indeed at work in my heart and life, drawing me to Himself. Shortly after that (this is the second thing) I became keenly aware of this huge, black instrument with gargantuan silver pipes sitting in one of the rooms of our house. I wasn't the most studious 1st grader in the world and I discovered that when my parents weren't around, it was way more fun to go play around on the Marimba than figure out the pattern in a row of 4 geometric shapes. It didn't take long for papa to see that I was interested in his Marimba, so he began to teach me to play. Soon we were playing duets (southern gospel style) and he had me up in front of groups of people playing right along side him.
From there one thing led to another. When I was about 9 or 10 I realized that I could pick out alto or tenor parts by ear. In 5th grade I picked up my grandma's old saxophone and started teaching myself. I started playing it in the 6th grade band and that's when I knew I would always be hooked on music. I was ripping out jazzy Christmas tunes I heard on the movie "Home Alone" and playing them for my class. Meanwhile, my band teacher was trying to get me to explain what was going through my brain when I played by ear. Those must have been some funny explanations!
I was part of a typical family where the mom wants her son to grow up to be a prodigy on piano, so I also took piano lessons for about 4 years from Faye Lopez (she is awesome!). In addition to everything else, I started teaching myself guitar as a sophomore in high school but I didn't really realize how much I enjoyed singing and playing until I went to college. Before I wrote my own music, I made rewrites of old hymns.
TitusJustus actually began as a worship team for Purdue Bible Fellowship, but I realized it could be a great outlet to further the creativity of the songs I was writing. When Josh, Steve and I got together to work on my original music, I don't think any of us had a clue what we were getting into. The Lord brought all the other pieces together with Jim, Nicole, and finally Bethany. These people have become like family to me and if you ever meet any of them, you'll soon realize that they are just humble servants of Christ. But hey, isn't that the coolest thing any of us could hope to be? The Lord is taking us on an interesting journey with some unexpected twists and turns. I hope our music will touch your life and the lives of those you share it with.
Josh Nelson - bass
I was born in Lafayette, Indiana to loving, Christian parents who raised me to love the Lord and music. As far back as I can remember, I was fascinated by music. I would take my Fisher-Price radio/tape recorder out to the swing set and sing my heart out. My first instrument was trombone, which I started in fourth grade and played through college.
High school was a tumultuous time for me. I left middle school with an intense fear of being alone. The one thing that I lived for was finding a girlfriend. This was my idol for many years--the thing I worshipped. Obviously, not following the Lord is a bad thing, as Galatians 6:7 says (Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap). Marching band, concert band, pep band, jazz band, and orchestra at church were opportunities the Lord graciously gave me to grow in spite of my sin.
My sophomore year many things happened, some good and some bad. I learned to play bass, joined a band that played songs by 311, and finally got a girlfriend. I was unendingly selfish with my actions and ended up in a situation that was sexually sinful and spiritually draining. I honestly thought I was a Christian, but my life proved otherwise.
After two years, we broke up, but I began another relationship; I was just as selfish as before and ended up in the same place. It was this second relationship that the Lord used to draw me to Himself. As I said before, relationships were my god, so I sacrificed everything to them. I gave all my time and even sold my bass in order to keep my girlfriend. But, the Lord mercifully intervened, and one night while sitting on the hood of my car outside of church, the Holy Spirit moved in my heart and I realized that I had been living for the wrong thing: myself. Because of the sin in my relationship with my girlfriend and my disobedience, my parents took me to counseling at Faith Baptist Church (FBC). This was such a relief at the time, because I was acutely aware of being lost and my sin. The Lord used my sin to put a desire into my heart and show me the truth that only He will satisfy my loneliness. After living a lie for twenty years, I accepted Jesus as my only hope, Savior, and Lord.
My life has never been the same. The Lord has given me many opportunities to serve at FBC and in Purdue Bible Fellowship (PBF), where I met my wife, Nicole, and where TitusJustus was formed. I started using the gifts He gave me not just because I loved music, but because I loved the One who gave it to me. Through the music ministry at PBF and FBC, I met Titus, Steve, Jim, and Nicole. I noticed in this group a love for each other and the Lord that evidenced God's love for us. Being able to play for the Lord with a group that does the same is great. We are not together to make money or because we don't have something better to do. We are together to glorify our Savior by loving and bringing people closer to Him through music. Praise Jesus for the gift of new life and new song.
Nicole Nelson - vocals
Since my parents were actively involved in the church, I was exposed to the gospel and saved at an early age. I don.t know exactly when I started to become interested in music. I do have distinct memories of singing hymns in church and listening to my mom sing alto and my dad sing bass. My grandma sings soprano and that.s where everyone thinks my talent comes from. I started playing piano when I was 5, but I wasn.t too interested in practicing and therefore never became very good. However, from piano lessons I learned how to read music and music theory.
I soon became interested in learning to sing harmony with songs. I began singing the alto line of hymns during church and moved to singing along with country songs on the radio, trying to pick out notes that would sound good with the melody. I think I drove my parents crazy at first, but eventually I developed a talent for harmonizing with songs.
In junior high and high school I joined choir at school and church. I began singing in small groups and even began trying solos. This was a huge challenge for me because I have an intense fear of performing by myself in front of people, but the Lord is teaching me to trust Him through TitusJustus and other ministries.
In college, I joined Purdue Musical Organizations and practiced and performed with a more experienced group of vocalists. This was great experience but made it very difficult for me to be involved in my ministries at church. After a lot of thought and prayer, I decided to quit PMO and focus more on the ministries and activities at church.
After Josh and I started dating, TitusJustus (which was then known as Judah) was formed. I went to the first concerts as a supportive girlfriend/groupie. After a few months, Titus asked me to join the band as a vocalist. I really appreciate the friendship and encouragement that the members of TitusJustus provide me and others.
Steve Mellema - drums
I grew up in Minnesota and became a Christian at age four. Some people wonder how someone could possibly understand God and Jesus at age four, or if it even could be for real for being so young. To them I point to Mark 10:15. My faith is alive and well and I thank God daily for His grace.
I started drumming in fifth grade. I couldn't understand why my drum teacher made me play the snare drum for two years before letting me play a full drum kit. I thought he was kind of stupid, but now I guess I understand a little better. I played in high school through band and orchestra, and I also tried ska and punk rock. My high school band had a couple songs called "Waiver" and "Pouring Salt in the Wound" that I thought were pretty cool. I kind of got out of music in college because things were so busy with school work and otherwise. It was cool to meet up with TitusJustus a few years ago and to start playing again.
I'm a computer geek if you've seen one. I got a BS in Computer Science (Taylor University) and an MS in Computer Science (Purdue), and now I'm a suburbanite working at a modeling and simulation startup company.
I've been married to my wife, Angela, for almost four years now, and I'm so thankful for her love. She's also kind of a computer geek, but she doesn't want people to know that. We met in computer class in our undergrad--yeah how romantic, right? =) I love playing and listening to music, reading the Bible and books about Christian theology, serving through church ministries, and generally spending time with friends and family. Oh, and I'm not bald like Jim.
Jim Hoffman - guitar
Let me start out by answering the question I hear most often: "How did you end up in a band where there is such an age difference between you and the other members?" Actually the answer is very simple. Titus stopped by and said, "Jim, I need someone who owns an electric guitar, owns an amp, and can play." Well, I owned an electric guitar and an amp, so he said, "HEY, two outa three ain't bad. Wanna join a band?"
I received my first guitar as a Christmas gift from my parents when I was thirteen: my mother ordered it through the Sears catalog. Since receiving that guitar, I have bought and sold various electric and acoustic guitars. Teaching myself from books and friends during high school and college, I accrued enough skill to be in various rock and acoustic bands. My music knowledge was rather rudimentary; I just knew enough to play along with others. Many years later, music theory would peak my interests. The understanding of scales, modes, chord building, and such would allow me to push my skills to levels I would never have known if I had not pursued this discipline.
I married my wife, Mindy, in 1976. By this time I had put the guitars in a closet, and did not play anymore. God had blessed me with a wife who had the common goal of wanting to learn how to love God and grow in our walk; so pursuing this walk, our careers, and raising a family became our focus. As I look back, I see God's faithfulness in not giving up on me, for I sure failed at loving Him!
My wife and I were blessed with two daughters, Kelly Ann and Casey Jo, who in her teen years, expressed interest in learning guitar so that she could play at church youth events. Well, I dusted off an old Guild 12-string that I still had, and started on a journey that would take me to the point where I am now, playing on the worship team at church and in a band that I truly enjoy, TitusJustus.
Today I am humbled that God uses me to help others worship Him. I love the ministry opportunities afforded me by being a member of TitusJustus, as well as playing on the worship team at church. I cherish watching people connecting with God in their worship. What an undeserved honor. I enjoy ministering with a band where every member is focused on the true ministry of serving our great God, and living for him in every aspect of their lives. We are just sinners "Forever in Love" with God, ministering with a common goal of edifying the body, to God's glory. The members of TitusJustus have become a very special part of my life.
Bethany Smith - gkeyboard & violin
I grew up in Indiana, and was led to the Lord by my mom at the age of 10. I am blessed to be a part of a loving Christian family and have attended Christian schools all my life. Despite the constant Christian influence I struggled with developing a close relationship with Christ until I began college. A change of scene seemed to be just what I needed, and these four years in such a Christ-centered environment challenged and encouraged me in new ways that allowed my faith and love for the Lord to grow.
Music has always been a part of my life. I began piano lessons at the early age of 4, and violin at age 8. Throughout high school I accompanied choirs, competed in various events, and joined the local Symphony Orchestra my junior year. There were times I wanted to give it up, but thanks to my parents, that never happened, and I eventually went on to earn my degree in music performance. During my college years I served as concertmaster of the University Orchestra for 4 years, and led a string quartet, performing for various events in the community. I currently serve on the Worship Team at Faith Baptist Church, as well as subbing for symphony orchestras in the surrounding areas.
I guess I'm the classical music nerd of the group. I received my BS in Piano Performance from Olivet Nazarene University in 2005, and currently work as a private piano and violin instructor. Being a part of TitusJustus has been an awesome experience and I am thankful for this opportunity.