Jesus Film Project

The Man Who Mixed Hotel California Now Records JESUS

Elizabeth Bahe

Bruce Hensal's business card used to read, "My mornings are your afternoons."

In Los Angeles in 1977, the assistant sound engineer began his workday at 2 p.m. with the Eagles, the legendary rock band.

After nine and a half months of greasy breakfasts, setting up instrument microphones in the basketball-court-sized recording studio, and splicing together as many as 40 takes of parts of songs, the Grammy Award-winning album Hotel California was produced.

Today, 30 years later, Bruce Hensal is a senior mix engineer for The JESUS Film Project® in Orlando, Fla.

After working concert audio in the early 1970s, Bruce ended up in Los Angeles in an attempt to settle down. Unhappy with the recording-industry lifestyle there after a few years, Bruce tried Miami, living there for five years and working with acts like Julio Iglesias and Aerosmith.

When his father got ill in early 1982, Bruce moved back to his home state of Ohio.

Within a few years, he met Carol, a recent college graduate and his future wife. Carol, a new Christian, introduced Bruce to Jesus Christ. At age 40, Bruce found peace.

"Having spent 20 years wandering around in the wilderness of the music industry," says Bruce, "I realized there was a lot more to life. I had lost a lot of friends to the casualties of the industry -- drinking and drugs, among other things. Something had to give."

After they married three years later, the Hensals moved to Florida, where Bruce worked in Web design. When he ended up out of work in 1997, he heard about the JESUS film -- a feature-length movie about Christ's life based on the gospel of Luke.

"There aren't a lot of people who can spend 40 years developing a talent and not knowing why God gave it to them, then have it become as clear as it has to me," Bruce explains, smiling. "When the opportunity came along for me, it was such a perfect fit, I took it right away."

With each new language recording of the powerful evangelism tool, Bruce applies the dialogue to the film, mixing it with music and sound effects. After completing 80 of the 750 translations, Bruce explains, "I had the same enthusiasm coming to work this morning as I did my first morning of work."

It's an answer to Carol's prayers. Though they were regular churchgoers, Carol longed to see Bruce really study the Bible.

"He's been on fire for the Lord since he started working at Cru," she explains. "I prayed that the Lord would get him back in the Word, and now he's working with the book of Luke 40 hours a week!"

In his free time, Bruce works on two advisory committees at Valencia Community College. The 59-year-old loves to interact with college-age kids, and they respect his long and varied career.

Bewildered, the students ask how he can stand to work on the same thing day after day. "I enjoy it," he tells them. "At night I think about ways to make it better, and to me, it's one of the most exciting things I've ever done. I'm working with the gospel, and we're affecting people's lives."

"This is the job I want to retire from, and I never felt that way [before]," says Bruce, who now starts his workday at 7 a.m. "In the recording industry, it's job to job, and you never find any security. To me this is the ultimate security."

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