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.
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.
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