Lighthouse Summer Intern Reflections

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As a church, Lighthouse is committed to investing and training up pastors for the next generation (2 Timothy 2:2). In today’s Spotlight, we interview four young men who participated in Lighthouse’s pastoral internship program this summer and hear about their experiences as well as what they have learned.

Jordan Yamamoto

Tell us a little about yourself?  Anything you’d like for the church family to know about you?

I am originally from the Bay Area and a huge fan of the greatest basketball team ever, the Golden State Warriors. I know 99.9% of the anyone from Lighthouse will probably stop reading this here because of that statement. But, if you keep reading, I truly believe Stephen Curry could be the GOAT if he continues the way he’s playing. So now that I have lost 100% of your attention and probably any respect that was left over, I studied Psychology and Social Behavior at UCI. Upon graduating, I had hopes of pursuing occupational therapy, but I felt God’s call to ministry. Truly only by God’s grace and sovereignty was I accepted into seminary. I spelled sovereignty wrong on my personal statement, so I know for a fact God is truly sovereign. I am currently a student at Talbot School of Theology and have one more year to finish up in the MA Theology program. After graduating, I hope to pursue a masters in biblical counseling.

What ministry were you involved with this summer? How was your experience working with this ministry?

This summer I was involved in Beacon. Francis is dope.

Did you get to know the staff pretty well?  Any weird stories?

The staff are the homies. No weird stories but many funny stories. One being that Chris has a very specific strategy to eating KBBQ. Y’all should ask him about it. The amount of thought and reasoning that goes into it is funny.

What was one highlight or thing you have learned through the summer internship?

Being in the office has been a blessing. Seeing how hard everyone on staff works and learning more of just how intentionally they think through things has been a great encouragement to me.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I never use exclamation points when writing.

Joseph Tejada

Tell us a little about yourself?  Anything you’d like for the church family to know about you?

I grew up in New York before moving here to California. I love meeting new people at church and like to eat! I like to workout in different ways like playing basketball, running (sort of), weightlifting and rock climbing.

What ministry were you involved with this summer? How was your experience working with this ministry?

I was involved with Beacon which is the college ministry. Working side by side with Francis has been a joy. He is so humble, intelligent and really funny. Working with Beacon really has encouraged me to really pursue Christ in everyday life and how it would look like as a student starting or finishing up college.

Did you get to know the staff pretty well?  Any weird stories?

I would not say that I got to know them well, but I did get to know them better. Josh Scott is really funny and has great musicality. Chris Wong is incredibly funny, humble, really loves to eat great food and enjoys romantic movies. Megan is the best administrator this church can have! She does so much work behind the scenes and never skips a beat and always has a smile on her face.

What was one highlight or thing you have learned through the summer internship?

Ministry has a lot more work than one would expect. The staff really cares and prays for the church intensely! One highlight that I remember was at the beginning of the summer internship. I came in late because I was still in school at the time and just finished my class. I was going to be slightly late to our first staff meeting but when I walked in, I see all of the staff praising God and worshiping together! As soon as I walked in and saw that, I knew that this internship was the right thing for me and my walk with Christ this summer. In my mind I was like “YEEEESSSSSS, this is what I’m talking about! Thank you Jesus !!!!!!” 

Anything else you’d like to share?

Please pray that as I transition back to Toyota that I would have the ability to evangelize to co-workers and use the time after the internship to think through everything I’ve learned.

Leighton Okada

Tell us a little about yourself?  Anything you’d like for the church family to know about you?

I grew up in Dallas, Texas in a Christian home with four crazy siblings. My parents are originally from SoCal, and after many trips to visit family in PV and OC and many weeks  at Mt. Hermon every summer I quickly realized that I was not made for the scorching Texas heat; by God’s grace sunny California became my new home when I moved out here for college at the best school in the world, the University of Southern California (fight on)! I finished my second year this past spring and am leaving to study abroad in Nagoya, Japan in a few weeks! I’m currently studying East Asian Languages and Cultures, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and Songwriting at USC, and I chose all these things because God has blessed me with a heart for missions in Japan. Through all these things, in addition to being a summer intern this year, I want to expand my skill set and explore different avenues that will, Lord willing, lead me to long term ministry in Japan down the road. I’m also a musician and freelance photographer, and I spend a lot of my free time making music and taking pictures!

What ministry were you involved with this summer? How was your experience working with this ministry?

I helped pastor Eric out with youth ministry for the summer; I was mainly shadowing the expert and observing all that goes into our youth ministry every week, which was a huge blessing because Eric is a genius. His heart for our youth at Lighthouse and for Christ to be glorified and made known is so evident in the way he leads, prepares, and preaches, in the way that he seeks to build personal relationships, in the way that he delegates responsibility and invests in and builds up the youth staff so that they are equipped to lead the youth, in the way that he’s concerned about ministry both now and ten years down the road; I could go on forever about Eric. Our youth are in good hands! Youth ministry is particularly special to me because of how vital growing up in the church was for my faith, so I really enjoyed getting to know a lot of the junior higher and high schoolers.

Did you get to know the staff pretty well?  Any weird stories?

I have no words to express how much I love this staff. It was a huge blessing to be able to work with people who all love each other and who are often just as weird as me. One time Sammy and I made Eric eat toilet candy. Another time Mat sang the most gorgeous rendition of Piano Man I have ever heard in my life at the top of his lungs. There were just a lot of weird, random moments like that.

What was one highlight or thing you have learned through the summer internship?

This is a hard question because this summer has been a HUGE blessing. Am I allowed to mention a few things? first, I respect my pastors and staff so much more now that I’ve gotten to see all that goes into every week of ministry here at Lighthouse. It is so easy to sit back and take for granted all the things going on every week, and it was humbling and immensely encouraging to see this staff who I respect so much toil hour after hour so that our congregation can grow in our love for Christ, for each other, and for the lost. I also know how to better pray for my pastors who are so lovingly and intentionally shepherding me and praying for me as well. Going off of that, I have a well developed understanding now of why, by the grace of God, our church is the way it is, and it’s a model that I want to be able to take with me wherever I go! This summer has grown my love for the church exponentially, and I can’t thank the Lord enough for the incredible things he has built into this body and the ways that He is using it to proclaim the gospel to the Southbay and to the world.

Finally, one of the things I value most from my time as an intern is the pastoral perspective of missions that has been instilled in my heart, especially by pastor Gavin. I was very very hesitant to intern because of the “pastoral” focus, but Pastor Gavin encouraged me to have a pastoral mindset about doing mission work in Japan; in order to best preach the gospel to the lost in Japan, not only do I need the relevant cultural, lingual, and societal understanding of Japan that I’m developing at school, but I also need the skills necessary to communicate it through the word of God. Having this mindset over the internship has revealed a passion for teaching that i want to further develop as I move forward and consider my next steps as the end of college nears.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have a terrible memory so I really tough time remembering names; I apologize if we met this summer but I can’t remember your name!! Though I wont be around for a few months, I’d still love to get to know you! Please feel free to find me on a Sunday or reach out. I’m blown away by the grace of God shown to me through this church, and I want to get to know more and more of my family!

Winston Chang

Tell us a little about yourself?  Anything you’d like for the church family to know about you?

I’m a huge fan of the Lakers, medium rare steaks, and every kind of Japanese food. I can’t stand temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, most lemon-flavored foods, and the taste of black coffee (which is borderline heresy at Lighthouse, I know). I grew up in Arcadia, which means I forfeited the best Chinese food on the planet outside of China when I moved to Westwood to study at UCLA (class of 2014). I’m now in the middle of yet another career change – away from high school teaching to something that is TBD – and full-time ministry is one of the things I’m considering. I applied to be a summer intern this year in the hopes that it would provide some clarity as I make that decision (it did!). I’ll be getting married to my best friend Elena Inamine in February, and we’re hoping to move to Torrance. So in six months, everything will be different – my career, place of residence, and marital status. Why change one thing in life when you can change everything?

What ministry were you involved with this summer? How was your experience working with this ministry?

I’ve already been on Beacon (college) staff for a while, so I continued there throughout the summer. I love Beacon! I love seeing students earnestly learn and soak up everything they can, learn to invest in the local church during a time when it’s easy to exclusively hang out with other college students, and think about how the Word can be applied to their lives every week. I’ve gotten to see the guys in small group grow a ton over the past few years, and that’s been really encouraging.

Did you get to know the staff pretty well?  Any weird stories?

I did! I didn’t know some of the guys, like Eufemio and Naoto, very well. And I didn’t know Toshi at all. So getting to know those guys and building relationships with them was a joy. In general, it was a huge blessing to spend time with people I look up to, learn a lot from, and love being around. The weirdest thing was probably Chris ordering an entire rotisserie chicken for himself for lunch one day. I also learned that Toshi is amazing at dodgeball and that Kim likes to keep his room even colder than I do. I didn’t think that was possible, but it was always awesome seeing Kim in shorts and everyone else bundled up in sweaters.

What was one highlight or thing you have learned through the summer internship?

I saw firsthand just how others-centric and humble the Christian should be, and I had the privilege of being around people who model that. I saw it in the way they preach not to be applauded but to bless, in the way they jump at opportunities to serve even if it means getting their hands dirty (on a grill for SALT or Iron Sharpens Iron, moving tables and chairs for events, hauling boxes for retreat, etc.), and in the way they guard their hearts against sin by staying out of dangerous positions and making sure they have other people keeping them accountable.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity I was given to learn and grow this past summer. It has helped me tremendously, not just with my career decision, but also in my walk with the Lord in general. Thank you so much!

Categories: Spotlight