Tag Archives: education

A fallen hero raises other heroes

This is my son. Thank you for praying for him.

This is my son. Thank you for praying for him.

Yes, Lighthouse slumped to its third loss in the football season Friday against Ribet Academy (42-44), but if you looked below the surface, something more important was going on, something victorious. God was at work, and the 11 kids who took to the field left it with their heads held high.

Heroes were christened.

Senior Rob Ashcraft (yes, that’s my son) was taken out of the game on the first kickoff. Without their strong all-terrain player (he plays fullback, running back and wide receiver on offense, right end on defense), the team needed somebody to step up and fill the void.

Always camera shy, Alex before the game.

Always camera shy, Alex before the game.

And that’s what happened. A125-pound sophomore Alex Cervantes emerged as more than the timid team member who only played because he was pressured into it. In his heart, Alex is a basketball player. When it comes to football, he was pretty much scared of the big thrashers.

But on Sept. 11 against Ribet, Alex came up with a couple of touchdowns, a number of receptions, a key interception and a tackle of a bigger after whom he kept scrambling and would not let go.

“I feel like sometimes I’m not very helpful, that I’m small,” Alex said. “But yesterday I felt like I was helpful. I felt like I was part of the team.

Part of the team may be an understatement. Among the 60 Lighthouse fans in the bleachers, many were shouting out his name for his gridiron heroics. “I felt good about myself,” Alex confided.

texIf the truth be told, the Pacoima native has suffered something of an inferiority complex and wondered if he could ever fit into the private school from upscale Santa Monica. In one game, Alex shot up from “outsider” to hero status.

This is more than everybody’s-a-winner gibberish. Of course, the Saints long to win games. But if we look at other factors, it’s hard not to see how God is doing what He wants to do. And if the ultimate goal of Lighthouse is to bring souls to Christ, we have to conclude that we are winning. Find out more how Lighthouse is rescuing at-risk youth with studies and sports.

Tex’s Team | This is the school where I teach and my son studies

Santa Monica Christian high school | footballThen Tex got mad.

In the first half of Lighthouse Christian Academy‘s loss to The Rock Academy of Point Loma on Sept. 4, Tex Hagoski played well.

In the second half, Tex played like Attila the Hun. He scored the Saints’ only touchdown and converted, smashing and spinning his way mercilessly through four defenders to fall across the End Zone line.

The Saints were simply outgunned. For 10 years, the Warriors were in the much more taxing 11-man league. But they voluntarily descended to 8-man football this year, and the they brought with them overwhelming experience. The Saints lost 8-42 on the San Diego gridiron.

Tex’s runs and tackles were a Lighthouse signature. By coaches’ estimates, he carried the ball for 170 yards, made 10 solo tackles and joined five group tackles. It was his reception on a gun sprint pass that brought respectability to the Saints’ loss. Read the rest of the article: Santa Monica private school.

This ice-breaker is a gut-buster | Santa Monica Christian High School

This is how we welcomed students today to the family of Lighthouse Christian Academy, a small Westside college prep with a strong Biblical base.

This sort of thing is not my specialty. The donut-eating race was promoted by the student council, of which my son is a part. It seems like the new kids really felt welcomed. Now it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get into studies. As always, I’m teaching English literature and Spanish. I’ll keep y’all up to date, and I thank you for your prayers for our school.

The meaning of the long hug

Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta | Guatemala zona 1

Joe and me at the Door Church in Zone 1 of Guatemala City.

Joe hasn’t been to church.

He was once a stellar disciple in our missionary church in Guatemala. His mom enrolled him in our school, and he got saved. He had a spectacular voice and led worship. But then I had to leave Guatemala. Joe went from a delivery job to a bank job and married his high school sweetheart. I guess he got busy and also maybe a little discouraged. To my great sadness, he stopped being a leader.

On my trip to Guatemala recently, I visited him with a bunch of church members. We wanted to show him he’s still super important. He still has a call of God on his life. He still is useful in the Lord’s service. As we left, he gave me a long hug.

I thank God for that hug. It was full of meaning. It wasn’t a short, customary thing. It communicated years of love and appreciation and maybe a little bit of hurt.

I hope Joe can find his way back to church. I love the dude. He’s like a son for me.

What does “onomatopoeia” sound like to you?

Sorry again for the sorry puns, but the English literature major in me can’t resist.


After all, I’m getting ready for Fall classes. You don’t have to be offensive to have fun. You don’t have to be risque to enjoy life.

English lessons for Spanish speakers

When I was a missionary in Guatemala, I taught English. In fact, I designed an English method. I am currently publishing that onto the Guatemala Christian school I left behind. You can check it out here: American English.

Here’s my first video:

Actually, it’s been fun using the cursor highlighter and the screen capture narrator. Ha! Well, if you know any Spanish speaker who wants to learn English, it’s good for middle schoolers on up.

Love what you do or look for something else to do

do what you love

The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the herat, you’ll know when you find it. — Steve Jobs

Image with quote: from Pinterest

A bit nervy… Need to keep trusting Jesus

John Mira | Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica

Mike Ashcraft and John Mira, members of the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica.

I’m writing this from LAX. We put the ticket on the credit card, and so I’m off to Guatemala. My fundraising campaign has been a bit hair-raising. Hahaha. JK. What I mean to say is that you can still donate because I haven’t raised all the funds yet. Gofundme is convenient gofund.me/MikeToGuatemala

Taking this trip is moving by faith. I’m praying and believing that God will bring in all the finances. It’s easier for me to just stay in America and not risk, but there are critical needs now in the church I founded 16 years ago — paperwork that only I can do as the owner of the school, el Liceo Bilingue La Puerta.

Pastor John Mira is going with me. He was born in the Philippines and got saved in the United States. He became a lawyer, works with stocks, but his real vocation is preaching the gospel. He’s passionate about it.

He was one of my first friends when I returned to the States five years ago from the mission field. His son was in my class, and I reached out to him. And he always encouraged me. This is the first time I’m tag-teaming up with him for some spiritual warfare abroad.

I ask you to pray for us! Thank you!

How a Taiwanese student came to our Santa Monica Christian high school

Taiwan | study in America | high school

At left, eating pizza with a new friend in America.

Elvin Chen drank coffee like water, staying up to 3:00 a.m. every night, as he studied intensively for his national high school entrance exams in Taiwan to get into the best schools.

He did everything he was told, practiced constantly, went to school 14 hours a day. Even on holidays, he gave no time to relaxing but kept poring over his books.

But no matter how hard he tried, he scored low. Like many countries, Taiwan’s national exams are restricting; if you don’t do well, you are eliminated from the better colleges and careers. One slip-up, and you’re sunk.

So much was riding on the test that nerves sunk him.

“I started crying, ‘Why God? It’s unfair,’” he recalled. “I worked really hard, and I didn’t achieve my goal.”

Then Chen’s father spoke to him. “You did a great job, even if you didn’t achieve your goal. Don’t feel bad about this. You already learn the best lesson of your life.”

What was that lesson? That “failure” is the door to success. That hard work is the key to success, regardless of setbacks.

His father opted to send him to America. For the 2014-25 year, Elvin (not his Chinese name) studied at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.

Read the rest of the article about how a Taiwanese high school student came to America.

Privileged to have on staff a 20-year missionary

Christian school staff

With her brood on 50s day, Brenda Bowen, a missionary for 20 years in Africa.

With an art degree, she became a high-powered finance manager, then ditched it all to be a missionary’s wife in Africa for 20 years.

After so many unusual twists in her life, Brenda Bowen is now teaching 6th grade at the Lighthouse Church School.

Good thing she was a military brat. She got used to moving around.

Actually, it’s hard to describe Mrs. Bowen as a brat because she’s so loving, sweet and humble.

“Mrs. Bowen is really good at art, and she loooves to help kids,” said Ana D.,  her student. “She’s hip. She won’t yell at you. She’s very understanding. She knows when something is up, and she’ll do something positive about it. She’s a well-rounded teacher. She does tons of things. Just the other day we did clay.”

She never got her second degree in education because her father, a major in the Air Force, looked askance at perennial students. So with a bachelors degree from Southern Florida University, Mrs. Bowen landed a job with 1,000-employee Dun & Bradstreet’s Insurance. Read the rest of the story.

This profile is on Hosea’s first teacher when he came off the mission field

Editor’s note: I’ve always believed that “ordinary” people do “extraordinary” things in the common daily service rendered to our Lord. Here’s the charming story of a Southern teacher in Southern California at a Christian private school.

Lighthouse Church School | Santa Monica

Mrs. Cornett with her kids

Most cheerleaders lose their spunk as they grow older.

Not Patti Cornett, Lighthouse Church School‘s 3rd and 4th grade teacher, who is every bit as vivacious as when she was a high school cheerleader in the second half of the 1960s.

“Even when she’s in a bad mood, she forgets about it and is positive,” said third-grader Roxy Photenhauer, who appears to have imbibed her teacher’s enthusiasm. “She SUHCKS it up, and the rest of the day, she’s positive. She’s very forgiving, but she still disciplines us.” (Yes, I know that’s a gross misspelling, but that’s how Roxy said it.)

In addition to her buoyant charm, Mrs. Cornett is loved for her southern accent.

Here are some Mrs. Cornettisms:
Y’all better sit down now.
You better put that away or might get gone. (Translation: it might get stolen.)
Go and bowance the ball.

And being from the South, she calls her kids “Honey.” But she says it like this: Huh-nee.

She’ll call even grown men Huh-nee. It’s not a pickup line.

Or maybe she’ll call her students, Mah sweets. In Californian dialect: My sweet. (She’s lived in Southern California for 14 years and hasn’t picked up the lazy-lip deadpan, but her students, giggling, remind her daily to drop the drawl.) Read the rest.

I’m not playing basketball. I’m break-dancing.

basketball klutz

At this point in the game, I decided to do something very random: practice break-dancing. I have never done break-dancing in my life. And fortunately, I didn’t break anything. Ruby, my opponents, asks, “What are you doing on the ground again for?”

At Lighthouse Christian Academy’s opening of our annual student-teacher mixup 3-on-3 basketball tournament, I spent more time on the ground than on my feet.

Despite the inordinate clumsiness, we still won. One of my teammates, Raymond, a Chinese student who LOVES bball, did just about everything. He scored, defended, hustled, passed, pressured, ran. dribbled, shot.

I fell.

Don't laugh. I'm playing basketball.

Don’t laugh. I’m grimacing to intimidate opponents.

This all fun in the Son. This is what having a small Christian school is all about: good friends, lots of fun, lots of learning.

I’ve been teaching at LCA since I got back from missionary work in Guatemala, where in addition to a church, I planted a church, during almost 16 years. While I was there, I learned soccer.

What am I doing playing basketball?

He shoots and -- he falls.

He shoots and — he falls.

My height — at 6’3″ — should be an asset. My weight too. (Well, I guess my height isn’t going to help much since I pass most of the time on lying on the ground.)

Last year, I was on the winning team. But that was due mostly to Pastor Zach Scribner, who took me. Pastor Zach snuffed his competition in another game today. He looks like the team to beat.

I know, I know. I’m not supposed to ask for prayer to win basketball games. The next one is Wednesday for me. Basketball is game played by talented people.

The team star can’t shine without the support of the team

Virtually a one-man team, O.J. Simpson always praised his blockers.

A leader is measured not by his individual talent but by his ability to “rub off” on others. There’s no use bragging about how good you are if you don’t make others good around you.

Even Jesus “rubbed off” on his followers. In Christianity, this is called “discipleship,” and due to an excellent process of discipleship, Jesus could leave the entire ship in capable hands when he resurrected and handed off responsibility to his disciples.

Will we learn this in high school soccer?

You have to lose in order to win

Christian school Santa MonicaOur first game was against a C-team. We won 2-0. Our kids didn’t learn anything from the win.

But when we started playing B- and A-teams, we lost 0-8. Then the kids realized they didn’t know squat about soccer and would need to really learn. We have lost every league game (the win was a scrimmage) — except yesterday.

In the last game of the regular season, we tied 2-2. Now the kids are learning how to play.

Losses are valuable. You tend to learn more from a loss — if you don’t cast yourself in the pit of self-pity. A lot of people learn nothing from a win — in the self-congratulation there is no self-study, no refining, no fixing.

If you are currently losing, rejoice. Study, work and improve. The win is ahead. You can’t get to win except by losses.

I’m proud of the progress of my co-ed team (playing against all boys teams) at Lighthouse Church School in Santa Monica.

Teachers who inspire

inspiring friendsIn 2007, Marcelino de Leon saw kids in the his neighborhood who didn’t sign up for first grade. Illiteracy is high in Guatemala, where people struggle to survive and have a hard time supporting their kids in education.

So Marcelino decided to teach them himself. Every Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 he taught nine kids first grade materials. When the next year came around four of those kids tested into second grade.

Nobody paid him for this. No one applauded. Marcelino didn’t get any awards. A professional teacher, Marcelino just wanted to help where he could. He lost track of those kids when he moved, but we expect them to find him one day and report on their success at college.

Marcelino helped us at the Liceo Bilingue La Puerta. As always, it was voluntary, since we were/are strapped for money. We charge most students a minimal fee, and it doesn’t cover expenses.

I was so impressed by his willingness to pitch that I offered to teach him English. Extraordinarily, after I left Guatemala, he continued helping our school.

It’s people like Marcelino who inspire me.  Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds — Heb. 10:24. He came to visit me today. I’m wanting to do more for God.

My son, at 16, is working for NASA

LCA student works for NASA

In the background, Rob Ashcraft participates in some hands-on work with NASA.

No kidding! No, he’s not a child prodigy. It’s simply a story how if you stay where God has planted you and remain faithful, He’ll bring big opportunities to you. Read the full story.

Rob made a wise but hard decision to give up summer fun for a pre-calculus class. He wanted to be an engineer, so he wanted a jump on math. It turns out the teacher, a member in our church, was working on NASA’s antenna for the 2020 Mars rover (yes, they’re still looking for life up there). Eventually, he invited Rob to see the practical applications of the math he was working on.

What an opportunity! To work on a NASA project! Being exposed to greatness doesn’t make you great, but it sure gives you the chance to aim for greatness. See also.

One of the last things I did in Guatemala…

It was the fountain, seen in the background as this young girl explains why she likes the Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta, the school I founded and worked for 14 years. Whew! What a labor of love!

As I think back now, it is almost hard to remember the blood, sweat and tears invested into this place. The fountain is symbolic, a splash of beauty and tranquility to crown more than a decade of untiring work.

The beauty heals. To see children still being ministered to, to see the school functioning as a safe place, to see kids be raised up in God’s gold standard, is rewarding.

Even if you don’t understand Spanish, I invite you to watch this video, in which the girl, unprompted, unscripted, shares naturally what flows from her heart.

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.

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