Becoming the Light
By Gabriel Cardona
It can be heartbreaking when a door closes on a chapter in one’s life, but with one door closing, the hope of a new chapter fills you with anticipation, excitement, and maybe even a little fear.
In 2008 our church, Lighthouse Community in Altamonte Springs, felt the call of God on our hearts to begin ministering on the streets of Orange Blossom Trail (OBT) in the heart of Orlando. Even though ministering in such a dangerous area led us to feel that we were going against the current of God’s plan, time and time again. we felt the Holy Spirit guiding our path. As we passed out flyers, started Bible studies, and prayed with drug dealers, drug users, prostitutes, and those who had been abandoned, we felt God telling us, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” Matthew 25:40. This verse was what kept us going during those scary moments when we were surrounded by gangs, having guns drawn on us, and entered neighborhoods right after the SWAT teams had raided them. But we would continue to go, praying for guidance as we felt the Holy Spirit telling us that this was where we needed to be.
After 15 years of ministry, meeting at homes, renting out hotel rooms for church gatherings, then finally being able to rent a storefront of our own to use full time, we were faced with the same predicament as any other church when COVID hit. What would be our next step in continuing to share Jesus with others without sharing COVID too? After much prayer, we decided to take the leap of faith and close our doors. You see, our building was too small to accommodate our members safely during the pandemic, yet what God called us to do hadn’t changed. We still had to speak light into the darkness even if that darkness seemed consuming at times. Taking that leap of faith to close the doors on the physical church was tough. We experienced highs and lows from this decision. It was hard to believe that closing the physical doors to our church was what God desired, but it also allowed us to remember that we are the church, and it is our job to spread his light for the world to see. As Christ-followers, we began to ask the hard questions. COVID allowed us to go home and study the word for ourselves without anyone interpreting it for us except the Holy Spirit. Light House Community became very excited about this new venture because it caused our members to search the scriptures and study with family independently.
After taking the time to study and pray, we felt impressed. We created a “Home Church” initiative where people interested in becoming a part of Lighthouse Community could text the letters LHC to a number one time and then receive a video and a Home Church study every Friday evening.
We were amazed to watch small Light House’s popping up all over the central Florida area in member’s homes. It was evident that God was at work. During this time, we were shocked to learn that we had received a grant for evangelism that we had applied for in 2019.
Continuing to pray and seek God’s direction led us to build a mobile stage by which we could meet anywhere and truly become the light. Being mobile has not only allowed us the ability to go anywhere, but it has also allowed us to minister at any time. It has been incredible to have services by the beach, parking lots, fields, and different churches. It has also opened doors to have random people show up and worship with us and watch those same people choosing baptism. When you think we would be losing members, we have watched in awe as God has led more to join the church.
Light House Community is now composed of small groups and gatherings, with a jubilee service at the end of each month. Our goal is to build a healthy member family, and eventually, a healthy church equipped to disciple others and lead them to Christ. With our mobile truck and home church, we pray that in 2021 we succeed through the Holy Spirit to complete our goal and spread the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.