By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer – Tara Packer, Founder of The Lighthouse Ridgecrest, recently returned from her fourth visit to Africa, seven weeks in Kenya. The News Review has followed her journey since her first mission trip to Africa in 2021.
Packer reminds us of how this journey began in 2018. “Originally, a local pastor brought in a visiting Kenyan pastor. He was overwhelmed by the power of God that was in this place. He said, ‘You must come to Kenya to open a Lighthouse.’ That original pastor was a catalyst that brought me to Kenya and led me to the men of God I’m working with today.”
As we have observed over the years, divine guidance and faith have led Packer to projects that grow in leaps and bounds. Currently, there are three entities in Kenya that The Lighthouse is supporting. In Narok, the Touch of Love School provides free education and two meals per day for 270 children and is fully funded by The Lighthouse Ridgecrest. They also partially support the Gethsemane Prayer Centre in Nyahururu and an orphanage in Nakura.
On Friday, July 28, The Lighthouse Ridgecrest and the prayer center partnered during 24-hour prayer worship. Packer tells us, “Acacia is an overnight prayer worship where they go from sundown to sunup. They pray and worship God and pray for their nation and families.” The event was planned around the time difference so that at 3 pm our time, both groups would be praying. “It was really neat to see the technology as we were able to live stream from here and live stream from there. They have an American and Kenyan flag, and so do we. It was neat to be able to partner together from across the world.” Locally there were about 25 people in and out through the evening. In Kenya, there were at least 100.
Their next project is purchasing a new school on eight acres of land. “The eight acres of land has a fully-structured school on it already, which is better than our sheet metal school. It has full desks, chalkboards, and just the basic equipment that is needed to run a stable school. It’s $333,000 for the eight acres of land; four acres of it has the school structure and a kitchen, an upgrade from them cooking on the ground. And also four acres of crops that are already there that we can use to feed our children. We could get livestock that would also help us to be able to feed our children.”
Packer doesn’t like to ask for money. Recently she spoke at a Rotary Club luncheon. When asked, “What can we do to help?” She replied in three parts, “No matter where you’re at in your life, know that you live in an amazing country in the United States of America. We are blessed. We are so blessed as a nation.” Second, “Whatever your faith is, love always wins. So whatever you believe, one scripture in the Bible, 1st Corinthians 16:14, says, ‘Let everything you do be done in love.’ If we did that one scripture, our world would look like a different place.” Third, “Pray for us.” Adding, “ Of course, if you want to give financially, we always say do it with a joyful heart. God loves a cheerful giver. Don’t do it under pressure. Don’t do it because you feel bad. Do it because you know that it will really sow into the lives of children, adults, and families for generations. I will have no idea until I get to heaven, all the impact we were blessed to do because it’s way beyond us.”
For the first two weeks of the journey, Todd Owens, a Lighthouse Tribal Council member from Trona, and videographer Paul Sutton traveled with Packer. Sutton is filming a documentary. “Our goal is to release a documentary that will be more than likely about an hour long,” says Packer. The plan is to release it to Ridgecrest Cinemas and distribute it globally with the objective of raising funds for the eight-acre property.
Part of their joy was being able to fulfill a request from their Kenyan staff. These folks have lived in Kenya their entire lives and have never been on safari. They initially asked for a raise so that they could go on safari, but Owens and Packer decided to gift them an adventure. “It was 700 US dollars for us to rent this bus and take all of them on Safari,” smiles Packer. “We were able to bless them by taking them in their own backyard to see the elephants, the lions, the rhinos. They’ve lived in Kenya for all these years and have never gotten to see this, only in pictures. We brought them a box lunch. They said it was the best meal they’ve ever had. It had a sandwich, a piece of chicken, chips, a piece of fruit, and a juice box and some cookies.”
The Lighthouse Ridgecrest recently celebrated its seven-year anniversary. The Ridgecrest Chamber of Commerce came and did a ribbon cutting. “We were pleasantly surprised when Shannon Grove sent us a seven-year recognition for doing what we do in the city.” The embossed certificate reads, in part, “Congratulations on celebrating the 7th Anniversary of the Lighthouse! Thank you for your tireless service and dedication to Ridgecrest and the surrounding area and for sharing the love of Christ, thereby improving the overall quality of life in our community.”
Packer would be happy to share her experiences with churches and organizations that need a guest speaker. She can be reached at (760) 382-3858.
You can contribute financial support by going online at www.thelighthouserc.com, or locally at the Lighthouse, 111 Balsam Street Ridgecrest.