Meet Our Staff: Leighton Okada

Please meet Leighton! He’s the newest addition to Lighthouse’s staff and he’ll be serving as a pastoral intern in our youth ministry, working closely with Pastor Eric Cai and Pastoral Intern Keith! Learn a little bit about him through these questions and answers, then give him a warm welcome! (

Tell us a little bit about yourself! 

I was born and raised in Dallas, TX but have ZERO Texas pride. California is where it’s at! I am very proud to say that I am an alumnus of the truly glorious University of Southern California (Fight on!!!), and I’ve been going to Lighthouse since my first week of freshman year all the way back in 2016. In the future, if it is the Lord’s will I hope to be serving the church in Japan!

What are your hobbies and interests? What do you do in your free time?

I love listening to and making music! I play the piano and a little bit of guitar, but my favorite is definitely singing & vocal arranging. Although nothing really significant has come of it yet, In college I minored in songwriting! I also really enjoy photography (digital & film), taking good care of my plants, going to the ocean, and seeing the sun rise and set.

As you may know by now, the Lighthouse staff LOVE food. What are your favorite foods?

I absolutely LOVE Japanese food. Like I tear up when I eat at my favorite Japanese restaurants. People often say that I have the taste of a grandpa though; I bonded with one of my Japanese professors because we both agreed we could happily live off of white rice and Napa cabbage pickles for the rest of our lives. How to win Leighton’s heart: Japanese pickles, hiyayakkou, chawanmushi, edamame, shabu shabu, maguro sashimi, grated nagaimo, udon/soba/somen. Ponzu is good on pretty much everything, and the key to good Japanese cooking is a good tsuyu/dashi stock.

Are there any interesting facts we should know about you?

I don’t know about interesting facts, but personality wise people say I come off as intimidating at first but turn out to actually just be a total weirdo. I definitely am not afraid to make a fool of myself! Also one thing that sets me apart from the rest of the staff is my general indifference toward coffee, including specialty coffee. Am I going to lose my job for saying that?

I know that you were previously an intern at Lighthouse, but we’re excited that you’re back! What are you looking forward to?  In what ways are you looking forward to doing ministry at Lighthouse?
This is my DREAM JOB! My first summer on staff was an eye-opening experience. At the time I wasn’t super sure if ministry was for me, but seeing humility, intentionality, and true gospel-centered care poured into our church family so lovingly by our staff set a trajectory for my own ministry; God was giving me a picture of hope for what the church in Japan can look like and for how I might get to be part of it! I look forward to further deepening those convictions and especially getting to know more of our church body more personally! 

What will your role be on staff at Lighthouse?

I’ll be serving as a pastoral intern helping Pastor Eric out in our High School ministry. I’ll be preaching, discipling, leading worship, and doing everything I can to encourage our youth to Christlikeness!

How can we, as your church family, be praying for you?

It is a beautiful thing to be part of a family that is so constant and so faithful in prayer! Here are a few things you can pray for:

  • That I would grow in godliness as the Lord carries out his work in and through me, and for daily confidence in God’s grace in my failing as I am sanctified through ministry.
  • That my work would be a testament to the Lord’s power and not my own (2 Cor. 4:7), for the sake of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:23), and to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
  • That I would be working faithfully for the good of God’s people now and in preparation for service to God’s people in Japan in the future.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would absolutely love to get to know my church family better, so please reach out!!