Tag Archives: Pepperdine University

Leader of first Iranian church in America got saved after bargaining with God over grades

Iran ChristiansFlunking out of engineering at Pepperdine College, Shah Afshar contemplated suicide as he faced the fact that he was failing his family in Iran.

“The pressure of trying to make it, being the oldest son in the family, and trying to make an honorable name for myself and thus bring honor to my family, I very nearly committed suicide, because I was bringing shame to my family,” he said.

But Shah, whose full name is Shahrokh, fell in with a group of ex-hippies.

“They had two things that were very lacking in my life. They had peace and joy,” he said. “When I asked them, ‘what makes you different?’ They told me, ‘We’ve become born-again.’ They were followers of Jesus Christ.

new-tv-show-shazam-factor“Of course, that really offended me, coming from a Muslim background. I began to argue with them because I believed I had Mohammad, the greatest and the last prophet in the world. Who were they to tell me that a second-class prophet named Jesus was better?

“But I couldn’t deny the fact that they had something I didn’t have,” he added. “And as long as I was around them, I could experience the peace.”

Because Islam was deeply ingrained in his life, he retrenched and became a devout Muslim. But the suicidal broodings haunted him everywhere – except when he hung out with the Christians.

“They continued to love me and accept me,” he said. “And they would take me to their Bible studies – where I would never understand what is going on. I kept going because I couldn’t deny the fact that they had something I didn’t have.”

He was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner. The father prayed for the food. “That really touched me,” he said.

On the way home, Shah cried out to God.

“Look at me, I’ve tried Mohammad, I’ve tried Ali, but I want to kill myself today,” he said. “Then I said, ‘Jesus, if you’re really who these people tell me you are, I’ll accept you if you give me good grades in school.

“I had no idea who Jesus was. I didn’t believe he was the Son of God. I didn’t believe he was divine. I certainly didn’t believe he died on the cross. I just knew that if anyone could get me out of the mess, it would be him. I had nothing to lose. So I called on him.”

Part of accepting Jesus was a condition. “I said, ‘Jesus, I’ll follow you if you give me good grades in school.” It was a “feeble and theologically wrong” prayer, but God met Shah at the encounter.

A month later, he was expelled from college, but he still Read the rest about Iranian Christians.

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Banned from baking, she bounced back to a hot business

sweet laurel bakesDepression loomed for Laurel Gallucci when her doctor forbade three years ago her favorite indulgence, cakes, because she contracted a rare autoimmune disorder.

Instead of succumbing to sadness, the Lighthouse graduate sought healthy alternatives and parlayed her delectable discoveries into a Venice-based business, Sweet Laurel Bakes, that is the latest rage in the paleo diet fad.

“I was on a personal quest to find health,” the 29-year-old said. “I wanted to bake things that I and other people could enjoy that would have positive and healthy outcomes.”

The second of seven children, Laurel was part of the Czer clan that joined the Lighthouse Church from Pastor Rob Scribner’s popular conservative Republican bid for congress. Though Scribner ultimately was not elected, he attracted to the church a contingent of people who liked his sharp thinking on politics and the role of God in American history.

yumLaurel’s mom, Kari Czer, became the cornerstone of the only Christian kindergarten in Santa Monica. Lighthouse Church School‘s kindergarten boasts reading proficiency before Christmas.

Her dad is the quiet and steadfast Dr. Lawrence Czer, a cardiologist who leads the heart transplant program at  Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He’s an internationally-respected pioneer in stem cell research for heart disease is a regular on the Lighthouse Medical Missions to Africa.

Laurel enrolled in the Lighthouse Church School as a sweet smiling tyke who excelled at pretty much everything she did. She graduated from Lighthouse Christian Academy in 1984 and then from UCLA with a degree in history and then got a masters in education from Pepperdine University.

SweetLaurel-11When she was 26, Laurel married Nick Gallucci, an engineer who recently joined Lighthouse Church. As she was a passionate baker, they fell in love over banana bread.

Then for reasons unknown, she started experiencing problems that led to her diagnosis of autoimmune disorder. The doctor blacklisted all of Laurel’s favorite foods.

Instead of going glum, she bounced back with a quest to find palatable replacements to her baking savories.

She tinkered with the paleo diet, which theorizes that humans should eat like hunter-gatherers, avoiding processed, refined and sugary foods. They also do cross-fit training to replace fat with muscle.

“I don’t like to say that I’m paleo,” she said. “A paleo diet means you eat a lot of meat, do cross fit, have big muscles and that’s not really who I am. I like to say that I eat grain free, refined sugar free, and dairy free.”

In her quest for tantalizing treats that unfrown her doctor’s face, Laurel discovered a niche in L.A.’s ever-evolving health crazes. She’s been featured on popular blogs and healthy-eating articles. In the online magazine Chalkboard, she was called a “kitchen goddess and a real life mermaid” for her exquisite cuisine and her slender figure. Read the rest of the article: cooking class.