He is also notable for pairing with General John Larsson in the composition of many songs and musicals. At age 18, he undertook national service, with plans to train for the teaching profession. He eventually decided to join the British Army, where his first choice was the Army Catering Corps.
However, the Army recommended he join the Royal Army Educational Corps.
He then spent his two years of national service in Germany. The couple were married in Paris in 1957 and have two sons, John-Marc and Christophe.
Beginning in 1967 Gowans demonstrated his writing capacity when, with John Larsson, co-authored ten full-length stage musicals. These were Take-Over Bid (1967), Hosea (1969), Jesus Folk (1972), Spirit (1973), Glory (1975), White Rose (1977), The Blood of the Lamb (1978), Son of Manitoba (1983), Manitoba Mark II (1985), and The Meeting (1990).
He has also written three books of prayer poems under the title of O Lord! and an autobiography, There"s a Boy Here.
After a period as divisional leaders in Manchester, United Kingdom, Gowans, then a lieutenant-colonel, became chief secretary of the France Territory. He was then appointed to Los Angeles in the United States of America Western Territory where he served as Secretary for Programme. After serving as leaders of the Southern California Division the couple returned to France in 1986 as territorial leaders.
Seven years later they were appointed territorial leaders of the Australia Eastern and Papua New Guinea Territory, which included responsibility for the work of the Army in New South Wales, Queensland, the Australia Capital Territory and Papua New Guinea.
In 1997, John Gowans was promoted to commissioner and took command of the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland. Gowans died on 8 December 2012. His funeral service took place at the William Booth Memorial Buildings, Denmark Hill, London on Friday 14 December 2012.