Tag Archives: Lighthouse Christian Academy

Ex-Pacoima tagger turned his life around with Jesus

Junior Cervantes in Guatemala

Junior Cervantes preaching the gospel in Guatemala recently.

Born into a family beset by drugs and gangs in Pacoima, California, his future prospects seemed dim. Junior Cervantes displayed athletic promise on the soccer field, but depression dragged him down. His uncles were shot in front of the house. There were family arrests, fighting, and chaos.

Junior decided to run away from home and drop out of his beloved soccer. He opted for hanging out with friends, robbing houses, smoking marijuana and tagging.

“I was a stealer. I was a liar. I was angry. I was depressed. I was lonely. I was an outcast,” Junior recalls.

His uncle, Edgar Cervantes, kept insisting that Junior move in with him in Santa Monica – about 25 miles away — and straighten up his life. In and out of jail for most of his life, Edgar had two “strikes” under California penal law and was scared of getting the third, so he turned to Jesus to clean up his life. He worked a restaurant job in Santa Monica and preached on the Third Street Promenade every week.

It was through Edgar’s influence that Junior prayed to receive Christ as his Lord and Savior. But because of Junior’s background and some of the influences swirling around him, he faced a rocky road to maturity in Christ. Read the rest of the story.

Rob Scribner, my pastor, is inspiring

Rob Scribner

Rob Scribner with his daughter, Susie.

He made millions. He played professional football. He was a TV football announcer. But every worldly “success” he achieved pale compared to the daily good of teaching students at the Lighthouse Christian Academy. Read more about Pastor Rob Scribner here.

Whoa! Me, a winner?!!?

fun Santa Monica

Lighthouse Christian Academy made even teams: one good player, one bad (me) and one girl on each team.

When Pastor Zach asked me to be on his team, I refused. “You don’t want to lose,” I warned him. Apparently, Zach wanted me because I was a friend. I help him do the cleaning around the church. So we called our basketball team “Lighthouse Cleaning Crew” in the Lighthouse Christian Academy spirit week tournament 3-on-3. And we won!

Some lessons emerge:

1. Believe in yourself — and in a friend. I thought we were going to be knocked out in the first round, and we weren’t. By the championship, I was nervous. Probably sensing the pressure mounting on me, he told me, “Here’s our strategy: Relax and have fun.”

Lighthouse Christian Academy basketball 2014

Not all of the kids enjoyed the game.

2. Play your strengths. More of a nerd than an athlete, I didn’t think I had much to offer. I’m not in shape. But I’m tall. If I defended in the key, I could jump and grab rebounds. If I came out of the key, I got tired and didn’t jump well.

3. Analyze and adapt. We shut down our competition by blunting his strength. Michael Moore was fast and produced some eye-blurring fakes. No other team had been able to frustrate his left lay-ups. But I realized that Michael, a leftie, only drove to the left. On the right, his effectiveness was much lower. In the game, we limited Michael to outside shots, some of which he made, but fewer than he would have, had he penetrated the key.

church adaptability

I missed easy shouts by a lot. But by shooting occasionally, I obliged opponents to guard me. This freed up Zach to make shots.

Too often the church misses the opportunity to play its strengths. One of the worst things that can happen to any church is to bad-mouth deficiencies. At the same time, we fail to see, promote and exploit the positives. LCA is a school of 50, so I know what I’m talking about.

Too often the church follows an antiquated model. We place ads in the yellow pages in the age of the internet. What worked for the man of God in the past may not work today. If Zach and I had played the same in the last game as the first, we would have lost. But we analyzed and adapted and beat “the stronger team.”

And this is how the nerd, who never really got picked for sports teams before, wound up a winner.

UCLA star Jordan Payton honors God

Jordan paytonWhen former Lighthouse student Jordan Payton scored a touchdown for the UCLA on Saturday, he took a knee and bowed his head to thank God.

Move over, Tim Tebow. There’s a sophomore with sticky fingers and fancy footwork who’s also publicly acknowledging something greater than thousands of raucous fans.

Payton – known as “JP” by his Bruin teammates but as “Big Joe” when he was a student at Lighthouse K-8th grade – credits Christ as the big motivation of his life – even bigger than one day winning a Super Bowl.

Lighthouse prepared me in every aspect – spiritually and physically,” Payton told LCA News last year. “Spiritually, they’ve given me the best path to stay on. I understand the world’s a crazy place, and I need God in my life.”

UCLA football

Mom Kathy Payton holds up the newspaper the day her son signed for UCLA.

Payton’s mom, Kathy, who teaches at Lighthouse Christian Academy in the Independent Study Program, is not surprised her son has gone so far in football.

It was Kathy who scolded his Pop Warner coach at half time for not playing him in a Las Vegas tournament – Jordan was only eight playing with 10- to 12-year-olds. “You need to play Jordan,” she told the Pacific Palisades team coach. “He can catch the ball.”

Wisely, that coach heeded Kathy, and Jordan went in to catch a long bomb pass that ultimately led the Bruins (was the name prophetic?) to overturning the halftime losing scoreline.

UCLA football team

Extreme left, Jordan Payton

Payton has always been big and strong – so big that he was out of his weight class in seventh grade and couldn’t play Pop Warner. Now 6’2” and 212 pounds, he’s fast and fierce on the field. On the Oct. 5 game against the University of Utah, the wide-receiver caught a pass and strong-armed his coverage to score a touchdown, his first this season. See touchdown here.

While he’s fearsome to foes, he’s humble and gentle to everyone else. Christianity marks his life more than the pigskin. In the pre-season, Payton wisely avoided an antagonistic war of words with another UCLA player competing for Jordan’s first string spot.

“God is #1 in his life,” said Kathy. “He knows that God has given him a gift. He really believes he’s going to go to the NFL. From that point, how ever God uses him to help others – physically, spiritually or financially – that’s just how Jordan is.”

Payton didn’t feature in Lighthouse football because he wanted to play 11-man, so he opted for Westlake Village-based Oaks Christian High. LCA only has 8-man football.

The biggest influence in his life was his older brother, Michael Payton, who played for Santa Monica College, then for Oregon State University and finally for West Virginia Tech – all after wreaking havoc on opponents as an LCA player, Kathy said.

LCA’s football program launched with Pastor Rob Scribner, an LA Rams player  1973-74, as coach. Later it flourished under the direction of former Principal George Neos, a three time Ivy League champion at Dartmouth University.

The Saints’ football program is experiencing an unexpected revival this year under coach Justin Kayne. They are currently 5-1 in CIF southern section.

While at Oaks, Jordan Payton went on mission trips to China and Haiti. In that Caribbean island, he and fellow students built a house after an earthquake decimated the island. “It was hard for him to see,” Kathy said.

There’s a compassionate side to Jordan side that opponents don’t see.

Since he “pulled a Tim Tebow,” does Payton admire that NFL quarterback who sparked controversy a few years ago by openly honoring God?

“He doesn’t watch Tim Tebow,” Kathy said. “He took a knee just because he was so thankful he got a touchdown after all the rigmarole he has had to go through fighting for a position. He has to work extra hard every single practice to show the coaches that he’s the one to play.”

To date, Payton has made 9 receptions and rushed 163 yards this season.

This article originally ran at http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com/jordan-payton-offers-power-as-wide-receiver-at-ucla/

No Heartbreak over Loss to 8-man Football Superpower Upland

believe in yourself

Quarterback Joel Lahood frustrates an Upland tackle.

RANCHO CUCAMONGA – For a few minutes in the fourth quarter, Saints Christian school football got the sensation it would engineer the greatest upset of CIF Southern Section 2013 when Senior Joel Lahood intercepted a pitch and scored, making it 22-28, one touchdown away from a tie on Friday.

It’s nothing new for Lighthouse Christian Academy, student population 46, to face teams that are both bigger in bodily size and in terms of team members. LCA has flouted the odds-against with grit and its rediscovered sense of greatness, winning four games in a row before Sept. 27.

faith for footballBut Upland Christian Academy, student population 230, was simply superior to any team yet seen. In the first minutes of the game, an Upland player broke through and sprinted for a touchdown. To watch him pull away from pursuers like a train produced a sinking feeling of helplessness. Never before had we faced someone faster than us.

Mustering character, the Saints squelched the sinking feeling and responded with a touchdown. Nate Peterson ran the ball with verve and swerve, timing his cuts and crashes perfectly to exploit any millimetric miscalculation of a foe’s counterbalance.

Lighthouse Christian Academy football

Nate Peterson breaks through and sprints for a touchdown

“This is going to be a game,” observed Michael Moore, whose transfer has delayed his start with our Christian school football.

But Upland was far better than they were last year, when the Saints’ bobbling gifted them a win. With players 20-30 pounds heftier than ours in every position, and with a humming discipline, Upland finished the half with 28 points.

LCA conjured a determination to play to win – not just limp through the rest of the game, praying for the final whistle to come. The Saints denied Upland any more points until Lahood put LCA within striking distance.

That is when a missed tackled allowed another touchdown sprint to assure Upland the victory. LCA suffered its first defeat of the season 22-34.

The opposing coach praised LCA’s Christian school football: “You guys are the toughest team we’ve faced all season.” At the end of the game, the two teams prayed in a circle in the center of the field, and the opposing coached singled out Peterson for particular praise. It was a loss, yes, but a loss we could take pride in.

LCA Head Coach Justin Kayne pumped up his players. We were simple outgunned. One loss doesn’t sink a season, he said. “We’re going to the playoffs!”

And so, the legacy of Christian determination manifested in toughness and fighting spirit on the field – a legacy founded by former Rams football player Pastor Rob Scribner, marches on in pursuit of excellence.

High school football on a bullet bike

high school football

Ricky Rand pulled off a never-before-seen touchdown.

SIMI VALLEY – By the end of the game, the Saints had swept to their fourth win, with a dominant 46-0 showing, but the game was over after the first play.

Lighthouse Saints Football

Principal Jack Mefford and Athletics Director Pam Sommer pose with our mascot, the Saint Bernard

That’s when Hillcrest Christian quarterback got pummeled by Lighthouse Senior Nate Peterson. Teammates said he catapulted the quarterback up five feet in the air and the poor guys hurtled back down to earth, like an aborted rocket launch, smashing his back on the turf. Maybe five feet’s an exaggeration. What’s sure is Peterson tackled low and used his weight smartly to topple the giant, who was rendered useless for the rest of the game.

where can I play varsity football?

Will and Nick after the game are all smiles. We wouldn’t have been able to play without Will stepping up to the plate.

Lighthouse Christian Academy is surprising pundits in 2013, undefeated so far. The reversal of fortunes from last year – in which LCA eked out only one win – is something like the difference between Friday night’s crucifixion and Sunday’s resurrection.

“Excellent, excellent, excellent,” crowed Coach Justin Kayne to his huddled, hoo-rahing Saints after they crushed their same-named Saints Hillcrest opponents in the Sept. 20 game.

Peterson the Pummeler also scored touchdowns. Rushing the ball for an estimated 200 yards, Peterson swerved and accelerated as if he had pulled a bullet bike out of his pocket, mounted it and blasted to unthinkable velocity that left opponents aghast, waving good-bye. He totaled three touch downs.

But if Peterson had an extraordinary game, Ricky Rand got the most extraordinary play. Rushing in on defense, Rand, in a nano second, realized he just as easily as sack him could steal the ball right out of his cocked, pass-throwing arm. Nicknamed “the Rand Corporation” because he gives the sensation there’s more than one of him on the field, Ricky ran unopposed for a touchdown. Watch 30-second video below:

But if “the Rand Corporation” astounded people with a play no one had ever seen before, it was Will Clancy, a measly 130-pound freshman, who arguably became the game’s hero. Will — whose older brother, Senior Nick Clancy, batted down two passes while rushing – only went on the field last game because key player Tex Hagoski injured his knee.

A newcomer to football, Will tried to mask his fear “I was scared for both Tex and myself,” he said. “Tex is my friend. I didn’t want him to have a broken leg. I was scared for myself. I didn’t want to have a broken leg.”

In his trial by fire last week, Will nabbed a fumble for a turnover against Rolling Hills. This week was his first full game. “I was excited,” he said. “I was still nervous. I was having trouble breathing because I have anxiety issues.”

Touchdowns were scored by Joseph “Raising Cain” Kayne (2), Peterson the Pummeler (3), “the Rand Corporation” (1).

With no more substitutes available, the 2013 squad lacks depth, so it will be difficult for them to equal storied Saints squads of years past that twice nearly won CIF championship. But given its lack of resources, it is certainly writing itself into high school football history and can rightfully join the Lighthouse legends of years gone by. Hillcrest went home crestfallen.

Believe

believe

Senior Joel Lahood makes a mad dash to the touchdown line

ROLLING HILLS, CA – Lighthouse suckerpunched Rolling Hills Preparatory 41-15 Friday in its third straight win since the 2013 season of CIF 8-man football began.

Lighthouse Christian Academy

LCA Saints can’t stop smiling after an improbable win, product of hard work and faith in themselves.

The undermanned Saints outgunned their numerous opponents on Sept. 13 and avenged two straight losses to their South Bay rivals from previous years. Sophomore Tex Hagoski opened scoring within minutes of the game start with a daring dash, wiggling free of would-be tackles. With each play, Santa Monica’s Lighthouse Christian Academy showed its intentions of rolling all over Rolling Hills.

8-man football in Los Angeles

Hagoki limps off the field

Next, senior Joseph “Raising Cain” Kayne powered through to the big 6 points. Next came senior and toughguy quarterback Joel Lahood to sprint into the end zone. In the second half, sophomore Adrian Brizuela, a soccer star cajoled into playing football, intercepted a pass and demonstrated fancy footwork to cross the touchdown line.

where can I get on a varsity football team?

Brizuela makes a touchdown??? But his sport is soccer!

Finally, senior Nate Peterson jack-knifed through an onslaught of hulking opponents to get his name on the scoreboard.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Rolling Hills had requested a game with the slumping Saints (slumping for the last two years) because RHP had lost a slew of seniors this year. They had hoped for at least one easy win (against us). Instead, our lopsided victory will be sure to pile up their misery.

believe

Lighthouse fans have yet to show they have the faith in their team

But if Rolling Hills had fewer seniors, their entire squad outnumbered ours by almost three to one. In a now-common pattern of brutal injustice, our opponents field both a defensive and offensive squad, which gives their players a needed respite. Meanwhile, our dogged dudes must dig deep down inside to find the energy to equal their adversaries, moving both forward and backward.

football is for men

War Wounds: “Raising Cain” Kayne shows scrapes on the forehead (barely visible in the photo) and on both arms.

When starlet Hagoski limped off the field with a knee injury, Lighthouse threw on its one and only substitute, freshman Will Clancy, who’s never played football before

When his older brother, senior Nick Clancy, took a particularly hard hit, Hagoski removed his ice pack and hobbled back onto to the field to fill the position for one play.

On the surface, it’s pure insanity. But it was a gutsy kind of testosterone  display that men love to see on the gridiron. When you analyze the numbers, Lighthouse, with fledgling resources, should NOT be winning. But these kids believe in themselves enough to make every tackle, to make every wild run, to make every handoff.

In a sign of their growing confidence, Lighthouse is making pass completions and surprising opponents with unsuspected plays. That these young men believe in their own leadership and ability is clear. Will the Lighthouse fans, jaded by previous losing seasons, believe in them also?

He sees what can be

Coach Neos today with his wife, Bethany -- that certain pair of eyes. He now pastors in Hesperia, California.

Coach Neos today with his wife, Bethany — that certain pair of eyes. He now pastors in Hesperia, California.

Twice the lowly Lighthouse was runner-up in eight man football in California championship. With a student population of 50, that’s spectacular.

With his typical one-day stubble, just out of GQ.

With his typical one-day stubble, just out of GQ.

Those heady heights were owed to an extraordinary coach, George Neos, who served as principal of the high school for many years. Not only was Neos a Dartmouth football champion, he was well on his way to becoming a college coach. God interrupted his career launch and brought him to the Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica, California. Neos came to teach football and for a certain pair of brown eyes.

The hulking coach had a knack for seeing every milligram of potential in a player. He coached nuances to perfection so that kids produced stellar output. Neos never saw a kid as chubby, lazy, or out of shape. He saw what a kid could become, and he worked relentlessly towards that goal.

Tex Hagoski on this year's team.

Tex Hagoski on this year’s team.

When God looks at you, he doesn’t see your flops and your flabbiness. He sees your future fabulousness. God sees a finished product. And He’s willing to work with all your failures and flailings to machine out the ideal Christian leader.

If you are a Christian leader, you can’t get stuck in the present. You’ve got to see ahead, what can become of the sheep God has brought under your care. Prayer is believing in the future and striving for it.

Formerly scavengers, rising up the food chain

Surrounded by opponents, forward Rob Ashcraft dribbles toward goal

Surrounded by opponents, forward Rob Ashcraft dribbles toward goal

Untiringly aggressive, Tex Hagoski shut them down in the field.

Untiringly aggressive, Tex Hagoski shut them down in the field.

They played their hearts out — and at the final whistle Lighthouse Christian Academy had executed the most improbable upset in the league, defeating touch-perfect New Roads 3-2 in varsity soccer.

With girls, freshmen, and inexperienced players on the team, LCA Saints are

Only our team has girls on the team in our league, but with Tori Scribner it doesn't make a difference.

Only our team has girls in our league, but with Tori Scribner it doesn’t make a difference.

understandably bottom-dwelling fish. But somehow this season, they believed in themselves, winning four and tying one. Friday’s game was the crown jewel of the season. New Roads left the field in despair.

These kids who played with unaccustomed verve teach us a lesson in life.

Robert Ashcraft was unstoppable.

Robert Ashcraft was unstoppable.

No matter how many failures, no matter what the man-to-man analysis, you can prevail with spunk and belief.

When you go to prayer today, when you minister, expect the victory. Whatever your shortcomings, whatever your handicaps, remember God grants triumph. Faith is key. Last year, we lost every single game.

For the full story, read http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com/saints-embarrass-in-big-upset/

Small victories

Rob Ashcraft poses with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Rob Ashcraft poses after the game with Elijah Symonds, who provided the assist.

Saints soccer continues to rock and roll.

The Lighthouse Christian Academy entered the Christmas break with its third victory – a scrappy 1-0 win against Wildwood. A handy piece of footwork by Junior Luis Secaira confounded defenders and stunned the goalie, who watched woefully as the ball slotted on the near post.

After the vacation, the Saints have simply been outgunned by vastly superior teams. They lost to league leaders Lennox 0-8 and to New Roads 0-7. To the uninitiated, the defeats appear to spell out an uncommon nosedive.

In reality, the team keeps improving. It’s just hard to take on varsity teams with mostly senior and club players when you have half a team of girls and players from all grades. How are freshman girls going to beat senior boys?

On Monday, the Saints put a thump on the slump. Facing the impeccable Vistamar, the Saints scored in the last minute. Midfielder Elijah “Taz” Symonds chipped from the corner to Freshman Rob Ashcraft, who didn’t err with an unusual karate kick in front of goal.

It was the first time in the history of LCA soccer that the Saints scored against Vistamar, whose players are groomed for soccer from the cradle. With that goal, Lighthouse sent a message that it will not succumb to defeatism. It is no longer the whipping boy of the league.

Though much progress needs to be made, LCA can revel in solid – though incremental — improvement and press on to a glorious future.

“We won!” quipped Junior Tori Scribner, comprehending the significance of the goal, in spite of losing 1-8.

Remaining for the Saints are only four games, and Coach Mike Ashcraft thinks we stand a good chance to win against Rolling Hills in Palos Verdes on Wednesday.

Whatever your stage in life, celebrate the small victories. They lead to big ones!

Handling losing

From Smashing Photo

From Smashing Photo

That's me with the kids!

That’s me with the kids!

We lost Tuesday 8-0. We lost today 8-0. We are facing tougher teams; ours is absorbing injuries. Kids have skipped practices, and the results are manifest on the field. When Lighthouse Christian Academy tied our first soccer game, when won our second 9-2, when we won a

From Via Vigevano

From Via Vigevano: Read closely!

couple more, it was exciting, easy to want to play and put in the effort.

Now it is hard. Kids might want to bail out. But now is exactly the moment of character, the foundation of excellence. If we allow ourselves to become “losers” in our minds, then we will. If not, we will win again this season, and we will win next year!

The reality of life is that everyone loses more than wins. What you do when you lose makes you win.

Faith does not drag down with discouragement. It remains buoyant, hopeful, expectant of good. It persists. It constantly looks for the victory just around the corner.

Score at will!

images-1We have won and lost games at Lighthouse Christian Academy this season, but the most memorable was the game against P.H. In that game, we literally could score at will. It was so much fun, images-2and most of the kids were going for hattricks (three goals in one game). As coach, I actually pulled my stars out of scoring position and even took them off the field to NOT humiliate our opponents any more. In the first 20 minutes, we racked up seven!

In life, when you pray with faith and urgency, you literally score at will. The successes hum. But when I pray tepid prayers, or when we neglect pray altogether, then we go through a losing streak. Step up your game today and pray! Have no mercy on the devil!

Scheduled victory

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Enjoying In-N-Out afterwards is a Lighthouse sports tradition. Nate (rt) proved his Fall injury has not hampered his bursts of speed on defense.

Rob and Adrian were decisive

Adrian and Rob were decisive

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

Tex cut surgically through their defense.

People are congratulating “my” 9-2 win last night. I just shrug. The truth is that “I” didn’t win with Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer.

The AD did.

The AD — Athletics Director, for those who don’t know the lingo — won the game. She scheduled it.

Pretty much all I did was shuffle our lineup so as to NOT score any more goals. In the first 20 minutes — one-fourth of the game — we had made 7 goals. So to lessen the humiliation for the other team, I pulled off good players and threw on beginners. I pulled attackers back into defense.

The lopsided victory was no coaching genius. It was guaranteed even before we started simply because we had superior players.

It felt like the gospel. God as AD schedules us trials that we are destined to win. We may celebrate on the field, but it was God who ordained everything to begin with.

To be sure, God schedules defeats for us too. To teach us humility, patience, effort, dependence on Him, etc.

You can have your cosmovision of universal randomness. I like being a Christian.

Look to learn from anyone

praycoupleNino slept during my class. If not asleep, he was combing his hair. He didn’t turn in homework. Needless to say, this did not ingratiate him with me.

Then, he taught me a valuable lesson. He was talking about racism. Our school embraces people from all backgrounds. He was attacking inappropriate jokes.

prayAsiantoddlerHe explained how African Americans “empower” themselves by using the N-word. Previously, I didn’t understand why the oppressed used the word of oppression. Nino explained that by employing the evil word in jest, they are stepping on it and affirming their triumph over it.

4530272-business-team--smiling-people-standing-in-line

I rejoice to see that my kids make friends with kids of all races without even apparently noticing. Yet racism remains a problem for our nation. If you google “attractive people” on images, you’ll see a disproportionate amount of whites. Nino says this is because they’re the “de facto” definition of beauty. Strides must be taken to continue to correct the evils of racism.

Everyone has something to teach, no matter how they comb their hair or what irksome habits they have. Every single human being on the planet has a valuable insight, if we will only take the time to listen.

Hey, Coach!

Lighthouse Christian Academy lost every single soccer game last year. This year, it took us one minute to score our first goal, and we finished tied 2-2 against a team that won 8 last year. I’m ecstatic because I’m the coach now.

The kids can’t contain their happiness after the game

I have coached before, first on middle school team, then park league. Then I stepped back from coaching for six months. My kids were on other teams, and I observed the other coaches, who are better than I. One is a Scot with the highest level accreditation for coaching. I’ve eavesdropped and spied.

No use thinking I know it all. I can always pick up something new from others, even if it’s what NOT to do (like cuss).

I see that life coaching is in

We prayed with the other team before the game

vogue. I’ve always enjoyed having a FREE life coach: he’s called “my pastor.” As a generation has distanced itself from the church, people look down their noses upon the pastor and his unwanted advice. As a result, divorce has skyrocketed; kids are cutting themselves in unheard-of numbers as the home disintegrates.

Because we are a small Christian school, we have great players and total beginners.

I’m not saying I’m better than anyone; I just enjoy the benefits of being among the dwindling number of Americans who still go to church. A coach — a pastor — is there to bring out the best in you.

Punk-turned-pastor Steven Ferandez took over my church in Guatemala

Diane, Steve, with Stetson and Faith

By Hanna Jones, LCA sophomore

SANTA MONICA – Actually, it was a moment of great personal pride when police officers handcuffed and arrested Steven Fernandez out of his University High School classroom. All his classmates would fear him even more. At 15 years of age, he was a full-fledged thug.

Pastor George Neos who made such an impact in Pastor Steven’s life. He’s with his wife, Bethany, and son.

After getting out of juvenile hall on counts of armed robbery and vandalism, he had a hard time finding a school to enroll. His grandfather, a born-again Christian, was given responsibility for Steven by the court and enrolled him at Lighthouse Christian Academy, a ministry of the Lighthouse Church.

He hated it.

Bristling at just about any authority, Steven hated then-principal George Neos. Seething with street rage but lacking street smarts, he threatened the principal. A hulking 280-pound behemoth from Dartmouth University’s national winning football team, Neos just chuckled.

Once, Fernandez jumped on Neos’ back and grappled his neck in a chokehold. But Neos just whisked him off his back and slammed his body against the wall. (Such non-standard academic occurrences have not been seen since at LCA.)

Eventually, Neos’s tough love broke through. At the same time as being a principal, Neos was a pioneer pastor and invited Steven to his church. He even let the repentant street hoodlum stay overnight in his house. Steven became a Christian and began to turn his life around.

Diane and Steve were announced in June at the Tucson Door Christian Center Bible conference

Out of high school, he married a Bible study leader and headed up the Lighthouse Church’s Thrift Store, an evangelism disguised as retail. He learned to smile.

Now, with two children – Faith and Stetson, he has taken the plunge into ministry. Ordained a pastor in June 2012, Steven is now assisting in the Guatemalan church pioneered for 16 years by Lighthouse son, Mike Ashcraft, who now teaches at LCA. Guatemalan Pastor Ludving Navarro needed some help since his wife is due for a hernia operation in coming weeks.

“The challenges just keep getting bigger,” Steven said. “But I never forget where I came from and how I very likely would have died, had not God intervened. Moving forward is easier when you remember where you came from.”

_________

This article first appeared on LCA’s website: http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com

 

Piano movers and piano players

Tex and Luis, after the blow to the nose.

A complete soccer team has its burly bruisers and its exquisite finesse players who can deliver a ball directly to the feet of a goal-scorer through a forest of opponents.

So Tex smashed Luis at high school practice today so hard that his nose bled out of both nostrils. I had to remind him to take out competitors, not teammates. Of course he did it unconsciously; without thinking the football player manifests.

A good soccer team is like the church. Everybody’s talents compliment and complete ministry in the church. No one’s is superior, nor inferior. We need people. Reaching out over the blogosphere is fabulous, but sometimes you need flesh and blood right nearby. I have prayed for other bloggers, but sometimes I need a church member to fix my washer. It is the combined effort that wins games.

It is the combination of so many different people that makes the church triumph over Satan. Surely, the church is guilty of so many crimes (judging others, drama, for example). I don’t like its ugly moments, but there’s nothing to take its place. Church is like marriage: detractors abound, but nothing better has every replaced it.