BY LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer –
When The News Review spoke to Tara Packer, founder of the Lighthouse Ridgecrest, in November 2021, she said, “God released the blueprints for The Lighthouse Ridgecrest. Perhaps He will release the blueprints for Kenya however that looks. We will wait upon Him.” Although they were originally invited to build a Lighthouse Prayer House, God had another plan.
After Packer’s first trip to Africa she commented on her Safari tour guide’s Facebook page. “I told him how awesome he was and how much we appreciated him being a phenomenal Safari driver.” Jackson Masago, Assistant Dean of Students at the Maasai University and a church pastor, saw her comment and could feel the love in her comments. He reached out to her and said he would love to meet her the next time she visited Kenya. On her second journey Masago drove three hours across Africa to attend a meeting of pastors led by Packer. “For him to drive three hours is no little task in Kenya. It’s a lot. The roads are not three hours straight; it is bumpy with potholes. It’s not clear roads. I felt very led to cancel a couple of my days with another person and I went to his church that Sunday and that’s when he asked me to pray over that land at the school in Nakuru.
“In January, I prayed over the land; they just asked me to pray. We weren’t planning on being a part of that school. I anointed the land with oil, prayed over the land and gave them some money. They immediately started work. we went in April when they dedicated the school and it opened at the end of May. It was very fast how the school opened.” Packer continued sending money to the school and eventually learned that The Lighthouse Ridgecrest was its sole donor. When it came to name the school, Masago asked her what she thought about the name: Lighthouse Touch of Love School. “So that’s how it became our school and our being partners with him because we’re the ones resourcing all of it.”
This school is not on the land that the Lighthouse was originally gifted. In fact, every time they visit Kenya they are gifted land. However, none of it has been officially accepted. “We have not accepted any land that has been given to us because there’s manipulation and territorialism and that’s why we haven’t opened a Lighthouse Prayer House yet. God’s ways are not our ways and He had us open a school for children before we opened the Lighthouse.” The school is on leased land with a 30-year lease. Until someone has a deed in hand and says “You can sign on the dotted line,” Packer will not consider land as a gift.
Lighthouse Tribal Council members Todd Owens and Jeanne Young traveled with Packer for the first visit to the school.
The Lighthouse Touch of Love School educates and feeds two meals per day to 270 children aged three to eight years old from 24 different tribes. There are 10 teachers and 12 support staff which The Lighthouse Ridgecrest funds.
As we have seen demonstrated many times, when God speaks to Packer, she follows and what she needs is almost miraculously provided. “We didn’t have a fund for this. God just really opened up the floodgates of heaven and let it rain. It’s like The Lighthouse Ridgecrest. The Lighthouse erupted because God put the vision on my heart to do it. And he supplied everything we needed. He said He would do it.
“This last time that I went to Kenya, I asked God, ‘What do you want me to do?’ Because the second time I went, the Lord had me take money out of my own retirement fund. And so I did that twice. I’m not good at asking people for money because I want them to give because it’s out of their heart. And so I was praying to the Lord, ‘What do you want me to do this time because we’re going to need to pay these teachers continuously. There’s going to be things along the way. How do you want me to do this?’ And so I wrote a letter to some people and shared what we had done through the journey. “I’ll never forget this day. I’m up in my office and I go down stairs before I leave at midnight. I check the mail and I go to put some money into the offering box. There was a check for $7,777.77 and I literally fell to my knees and started crying. And I said, ‘Thank you God and forgive me for not having as much faith’ because he reminded me if it’s God’s will, he will pay the bill. I can’t imagine him having us start this school and just say ‘Just kidding’ to children, because all the children are depending on it and not only the children it’s the teachers whose lives are being affected.”
The teachers were being paid about $100 per month. Packer continues, “Before we went over this last time, God really put on my heart to increase their salary by 50%. We told them, ‘We’re going to take a leap of faith and we’re going to pay the teachers 50% more.’“ The other staff also received an increase but not 50%. “I said, ‘I can’t guarantee that we’re going to do this every month because whatever we get we will give. It’s a blessing to be a blessing. But you pray for us like we pray for you, because God is the God of more than enough and if it’s His will, He will pay the bill. So we’re going to take a leap of faith and bless you guys.’ They were overwhelmed. Praise God, I just sent the money over last week. And we probably have less than we’ve ever had before in our bank account, but I knew that God’s going to do it. So we sent the money for these people. And we’re talking 300 lives just at the school.”
The two meals per day that are fed to the children is often the only food the children are getting. The daily cost of feeding the 270 children is $57. In the morning the children get porridge. Their second meal is ugali which is maze, tea, and boiled cabbage. “That’s their favorite.” Owens winces and says, “I’m glad THEY like it.”
When the Lighthouse team arrived at the school, there were no books. The teachers were using google to find information. “When we found that out, we went to a bookstore and bought them about $1,000 worth of curriculum. It was like Christmas for them. Some of the teachers have opportunities to work at better schools that would pay more, but they love the vision of what is happening at the Lighthouse Touch of Love School.” Going to school is not free in Kenya. “And then Todd, being handy as he is, was amazing. He went and got some plywood and built a classroom inside that they’re going to be able to use.” Owens says the plywood over there is very flimsy and about 1/8” thick.
In our next edition the three travelers reflect upon their journey. The Lighthouse is located at 111 Balsam, Ridgecrest. It is open for prayer and worship Monday – Saturday with a midweek service on Thursdays at 7pm and City Prayer on Wednesday at noon, Mens Group Friday nights at 6:30 and a Grief Group every other Tuesday at 6pm. They also have a food pantry for anybody for any reason. Contributions can be mailed, dropped in the donation box or online with a link on Facebook: http://www.thelighthouserc.com/donations