Born in New York City in 1934, General Rader spent his undergraduate years at Asbury College, then studied at the Asbury Theological Seminary and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, graduating with BA, BD and MTh degrees.
At Asbury, he met and married his wife, Kay, who upon graduating with a BA degree, qualified as a teacher. Together, they entered the Salvation Army School for Officers Training in New York in September 1960 were commissioned a year later.
Lieutenant Rader and his wife temporarily assisted at Newark, New Jersey Central Corps, while learning the Korean language with the intention to serve as missionaries there. They arrived in Seoul, Korea, in January 1962 to serve on the staff of the Officer Training College. After five years, Captain Rader was appointed Vice Principal.
They returned to America for two years in 1971 where Rader now a Captain and then a Major was assigned to Southern California Divisional Headquarters and his wife to Pasadena Corps, in California. While in California, Rader studied at Fuller Seminary, earning his doctorate in Missiology. In August 1973, they again returned to Korea, to serve first as Training Principal, then later as Territorial Education Secretary. In October 1977, Major Rader was appointed Chief Secretary with the new rank of Lieut-Colonel. In February 1984, Rader returned to the United States after 22 years of service there to serve as Principal of the School for Officers Training in Suffern, New York. He then won a Doctor of Laws (LLD) certificate from Asbury.
In January 1989, Colonel Rader was appointed Chief Secretary of the USA Eastern Territory, and in October 1989 was promoted as a Commissioner and became leader of the USA Western Territory. Then in 1994 he became General of the Salvation Army which he served until 1999,
He served as President of Asbury College from 2001 through 2006 and was Asbury's 15th president.] Rader resigned his post in 2006 during a college chapel service.