Our Story, for His Glory
Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
Every Church is full of people with special stories... they are the people who make our congregation who we are. Have you ever wondered about that quiet woman that sat on the third pew who wears those beautiful hats? What about that man who always wears a bow tie? Here, you will meet some of our special members who have a story to tell. We will be adding a story once a month.
Behind the Badge of Courage
As a young boy, Juan Hinojosa never forgot how in awe he was of a tall man named Deputy Battle the very first time he saw him. Deputy Battle was a substitute teacher in Juan’s class at school. Deputy Battle presented and carried himself in such an unforgettable way that Juan’s first impression of him lasted throughout the years!
Juan dreamed of becoming a deputy, too, someday. Because God had a plan, the meeting with Deputy Battle was definitely meant guide young Juan down a specific path. Juan, the young boy, would never have imagined that in later years, he – Juan – would become Deputy Battle’s Sergeant!
At about age 15, Jacinto Avarog – Juan’s cousin – was a deputy who sparked Juan’s
interest in joining the Sheriff’s “Explorer Program.” Juan participated in the program for about three years. Later, Juan worked part-time in the Sheriff’s Office and was a member of the Cadet Program. By 2000, Juan became a Certified Deputy Sheriff, a job that gave him more ways to help people.
As Deputy Sheriff, Juan found great satisfaction in the Field Training Office where he taught new deputies various ways to talk to people, which might include kindness and compassion when needed.
It was about this time that Juan met Pastor Jim Weist who was the Chaplain at the Sheriff’s Office. Pastor Weist was also the Pastor of the Epiphany Lutheran Church. Juan was raised as a Catholic. Meeting Pastor Weist sparked Juan’s curiosity to visit other churches of different faiths.
One day Juan visited St. Andrew Lutheran Church where he met Pastor Randy. Juan and his family attended the “Pizza with the Pastor” events following church services. Juan and his family felt welcomed and accepted by all they met.
Juan says that it was then that he felt that his “Life Is Good.” He felt a sense of peace. Juan likes watching our St. Andrew youth members as they grow up here. St. Andrew Church gives Juan and his family a “sense of being part of the St. Andrew Church family.”
As we approached the end of our conversation, Juan gave me (Donna Timmons) a “Peace Officer’s Prayer” medallion. Juan gives this medallion to most all of his deputies. This is his way of serving the Lord.
One side says:
“God will judge our enemies. We’ll arrange the meeting”.
The other side has the following prayer:
“Oh, All Mighty God, watch over all policemen and law enforcement officers. Protect them from harm in the performance of their duty to stop crime, robberies, riots, and violence. Grant them your unending strength, and courage in their daily assignments. Dear God, protect these brave men and women. Grant them Your Almighty protection. Unite them safely with their families after duty has ended. Amen.”
This prayer reflects the quality of humility, humbleness, and the character of the brave people who carry it. They are walking with God.
My parents worked hard. They still do. While I respect them, I often felt a craving for attention from my parents, especially acceptance and love. Like many rebellious children, I got involved with “the wrong crowd.” They were the ones who accepted me and listened to me. Then things got worse. My parents moved our family to another Florida community. I hated it. I was ripped from the house I grew up in and all my friends too. I joined the military to get away from my family. I wanted to avoid feelings of never being good enough, my brother always stealing my thunder. However, just prior to leaving for active duty I did meet a guy. He proposed to me after my basic training graduation. But what I thought would be a blessing was not. I found myself involved with a verbally abusive person who also was a manipulative liar and addict. Few years later, back in Florida and out of the service, I had crossed paths with a former teacher who I always had a bond with. She invited me to be a guest at her church. I accepted. After attending services, and having deep conversations with her, she gave me a book that I still have titled Beautiful in God’s Eyes. After connecting with this devotional book, I grasped the meaning of being a virtuous woman. I asked God to change my heart and help me to be a Christian He can be proud of. Eventually I took a leap of faith and ended the abusive relationship. I gave up everything. I swallowed my pride, let go of my home, and my car. I lived super simply. I was just about to graduate with my paralegal degree, as a distinguished honor graduate with a 4.0 GPA (yes, I’m proud) when I met Gary. I had just left being a senior dance instructor and had entered the insurance industry while working part time at a law firm. Gary and I met online on a Facebook app. We communicated for three months online prior to even hearing each other’s voices! Finally, we both took a leap of faith and went on a double-blind date with our friends. I knew from that evening that Gary was my soul mate. God had sent him especially for me. During our early years of engagement, we had decided that wherever we get married we would like it to be our church home. Over the next 12 months, we made many church visits. We felt St. Andrew Church and Academy was calling us. We made St. Andrew our church home. Pastor Dave Dangerfield was the pastor when we joined. During the early stages of our engagement, we learned that it may be too late for me to have children. We prayed. We promised that we would dedicate our child to God if we were able to become parents. We had two failures with fertility treatments. Gary and I went to my grandma in Georgia. We had explained to her what was going on and asked for her blessing. Having her blessing meant more than anything as my spiritual mentor. God blessed us with a boy, Nathaniel, and a beautiful daughter, Gracelyn who we were not expecting. Both are a “Gift of God” to us I my true spiritual journey began after leaving the service and reading a book that a teacher provided me. Because another Christian took the time to invite me to church who saw I was hurting and needed love. A love and acceptance that Gary and I also felt our first time here and still feel today. We are a family forever in faith.
Paul Culler is a newlywed at 89 years old. He is also an inventor with 10 patents. He continues to work on improving a highly efficient wastewater system he developed. “I love membranes!” he declared. Paul and his late wife were long time Lutherans from Wycoff, New Jersey. Paul attended eight churches throughout his lifetime. He desired to live a full Christian life in service to others. It was also important to Paul to remain involved in a Lutheran Church. He then met Randy Kennedy, an aspiring minister. Paul hired him to take on several home remodeling projects. Paul and Randy bonded. After Pastor Randy was called as the senior pastor of St. Andrew, Paul decided to give the community a try. Paul says Pastor Randy is truly a man of God. But there is more to the story. Today Paul says, “If Pastor Randy were to leave, and I hope he doesn’t, I would stay at St. Andrew.” Paul explains that the new friends he found at St. Andrew have changed his life. St. Andrew provides him with the “raw material” to serve God. One Sunday a friend from St. Andrew took Paul to lunch at a nearby restaurant after Sunday services. Paul was seated next to Thelma. Unbelievably, they were both from the same town of Mansfield, Ohio. They talked. One thing led to another. Soon they were married at St. Andrew. Paul attributes his growing connection to God through St. Andrew being his church home. There are people in the congregation that need help. Paul and Thelma, both trained as Stephan Ministers, find fulfillment taking communion to people who can’t make it to church and providing guidance to others who could use a little help. Paul says, “Every day, I feel a little closer to God. Every day, sanctification is working on me.”
As We Cruise Through Life
Cindy and her husband were from Baltimore, Maryland. Cindy was very active in her church and loved being with fellow Christians and worshipping the Lord. It was important for her to resume her activities and attendance in the church once she retired and moved to Florida. Cindy was on a cruise chat-line when she struck up a friendship with a woman who, as it turned out, was a fellow Christian and was involved in St. Andrew Lutheran Church. Cindy feels that it was divine intervention that she met this woman and it was through her that Cindy moved to Port St. Lucie and began worshipping at St. Andrew and ultimately joined. Cindy was on the Nominating Committee for Pastor Randy and stated that it was the most gratifying church project she was involved in. She loves his enthusiasm and dedication to the Lord. She says of Pastor Randy, “He is the best.” It was Pastor Randy and the friendly people who were the motivating factors for her continuing attendance and involvement here. She has been the President of the ELCA’s Women’s ministry for 10 years at St. Andrew and is active in many other ways. As she says, “when you are involved in church, you are on 24-hour call.” She is self-motivated and enjoys every moment. She says that coming to St. Andrew was one of the best decisions of her life.
I Feel That
Donna Timmons is an accomplished musician with a Bachelors and Masters degree from Julliard School of Music and a doctorate from George Mason University. She was excited to offer her talents at St. Andrew to play music for the youth of the church. That turned out to be a greater blessing than she could imagine. After 30 years of devoting herself to her career and caring for her parents, Donna met Jaime who played the guitar in the Praise Band at St. Andrew and is now her husband. “What I have with Jaime, I never knew before. God led me to this.” Growing up, Donna attended a Lutheran church in Long Island, New York but stopped attending church regularly once she went to college. She moved to Port St. Lucie in 2015 to be near her parents. In 2017 Donna’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. Near the time of her mother’s death, Donna had a profound spiritual experience where the Spirit brought her mother’s soul to her one night in bed before she went to sleep. “I felt a definite touch on my arm followed by a series of pulsations going up my arm. I said “I’m okay, Mom. I will be all right. I will see you again some time.” Then the sensations stopped. It was not much more than a minute since Donna laid down. Her mother passed 15 hours later. Donna began attending St. Andrew after Pastor Randy had been installed as Pastor. “After hearing him preach, she shared, I just knew this was the place for me.” “Before coming to St. Andrew, I had never heard people saying “I have a church family. This really is! I feel that.”
My Story for His Glory
One Note At A Time
Bill Dake's dad was instrumental in promoting his love of the arts. He and his family lived in Washington, D.C. where plays, operas and concerts and other cultural events were readily available to them. Later in his early years he moved with his family to Ft. Pierce, Florida where he completed his schooling. Bill's love for the organ and sacred choral music was awakened when his dad, who was Episcopalian, often took him to the National Cathedral in Washington for services and sacred concerts. His mother was a United Methodist. Bill attended both services and developed a rich passion for the varying types of worship styles. As Bill grew into adulthood, he felt he was missing the real spiritual meaning for the church. He was enamored with all the trappings and the grand music. His mom invited him to join her at a Billy Graham revival in Miami. She had seen Rev. Graham on numerous occasions during her life in Washington. At first Bill was hesitant to go but knew how important it was to his mom. She was determined that he understand more fully the true meaning behind being spiritually right with God. The stadium altar call led Bill to Christ as the choir sang “Just as I Am”. His college education led to degrees in Humanities and Music Education. He felt a calling to teach young people while continuing his church music passion. After college Bill accepted high school choral teaching positions in Bartow and Tampa, Florida, Bill returned home to accept the choral position at Westwood High School in Ft. Pierce. He was also hired as music director at First Baptist Church in Ft. Pierce. After successfully serving as choir director, he moved on to an open position at St. Andrew Lutheran Church. Over the years Bill has been blessed to play the organs at the Crystal Cathedral (Christ Cathedral) in California, Central Lutheran in Minneapolis, Riverside Church in New York City, First Presbyterian Church in Tampa, and the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale. After 39 years Bill continues to serve St. Andrew. He attributes his longevity to many things including our church family, fellow musicians, outstanding staff, and the joy of spreading God’s ministry alongside Pastor Randy Kennedy. Bill knows that music is ultimately from God, and when we sing or play our music for His glory, we are extending our gifts and talents as a dedication and offering to Him. Music is more than a study. It is the stewardship of a God-given skill and a means of giving back to He who has blessed us in many ways.
My St. Andrew Story
Growing up, in Washington, D.C., Lorraine Fasci was raised as a Catholic and attended parochial school. Her Grandmother was a major influence on her spiritual life and her faith in the Lord. When she got older, she married and converted to Lutheranism. She was a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Lake Park, FL where she became a Pre-K Sunday school teacher. Many years later, she inherited and adopted 3 wonderful grandchildren. When they were young, she read children’s Bible stories and explained the true meaning behind religious holidays and they were very active in their close-knit community of West Hartford, CT. After living in Northern California, she felt there was a very little “sense of community” there. And when she and her family moved to Port St. Lucie, she found herself in a similar situation and having to start all over again. Besides taking all the steps to settle in, there was still something missing. As COVID restrictions began to ease, Lorraine and her family began to get back into the swing of things. It may have started with Scouts, but she has also been blessed with children that clamored for more spiritual growth. Though they visited several troops and churches that were closer to home, her children were drawn to St. Andrew where not only did they want to join Scouts but also wanted to attend church after meeting Pastor Randy. The first sermon of the service that she and her family attended, and one of her favorites, was about God’s Plan for Us. The congregation was given a piece of paper with a list of 10 items, but it was blank! Most people would think to fill in those blanks, but as Pastor Randy continued his sermon, it became so profound as we can plan out our whole lives but end up somewhere else. Sometimes we forget, along the way, that we are here for a purpose. God’s Purpose. And we must learn to get out of our own way to make room for His Plan, not ours, to come to fruition. Ever since that day, Lorraine became a member of the congregation and attended the “Knowing Christ” class for a re-confirmation of her faith. She also heads the Scouting portion of our Youth Ministry, is a member of the Altar Guild and helps with our Brown Bag Lunch Ministry. Her children are just as active and are a part of the Altar Guild also and assist with services as Acolytes. They also help with BBLM, attend Youth Group, went to Camp Lutherock and are in their second year of confirmation class. Lorraine and her family feel very blessed to be a part of St. Andrew. From day one, they were welcomed with open arms. Combine that with the tremendous amount of support and guidance they continue to receive, they are finally have a place to call Home and found their community they were so longing for. She cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings.
Jaime Listens & Follows God To Conduct The Way To St. Andrew
There are many interesting things about Jaime Alberto Ortiz-Munoz, who was born & raised in Bogota, Colombia. He hails from a family of actors, the most famous being his Uncle Carlos Muñoz, who was awarded the “1st Actor of the Century of Colombia”. Jaime himself has had training in acting, but it was God who led Jaime at age 4 to teach himself to read. At age 5, God then led Jaime to teach himself to play the guitar through playing by ear and being able to read articles and books about learning guitar. When Jaime first entered school (age 5), he was placed directly into second grade. Then by the age of 6, Jaime was singing and playing guitar at the same time. When it came to third grade, he was placed in a special school: Saint John Bosco Salesian College. Jaime comes from a large family and likes helping others. At age 7, Jaime loved singing in the well-known Colombian singing group “Viva La Gente” and continued doing so for 10-1/2 years. He likes working for the common cause to help others especially through performing music.
A Mothers Gift
Each of us has received a special gift, a Grace from God that has influenced us to share with others. My gift, my Grace, my influence…was my mother. I grew up in New York, in the “typical” Italian family, Church every Wednesday and Sunday, shortly followed by an early spaghetti and meatball dinner. After dinner we would clean up and then load the back seat of the Caddy with 4 big Tupperware of leftovers and a baggie of scraps and a ham bone from the previous night’s dinner. Our first stop was to a man name Marty, who I thought at the time lived inside Shoprite, but he was homeless. After sharing some food and laughs with Marty we would head over to the man and woman who “lived” inside Rickles with their dog, Buddy. This was my favorite stop, not just because of Buddy, but because after they gobbled up the spaghetti, my mom would always have a large art pad or canvas in her trunk, and we would spend some time painting or coloring in the parking lot- because the lady was an artist. Just before it got dark, we stopped by Uncle Bill’s and made sure he had a full belly, gave him a breathing treatment, and prepped his morning breakfast and meds. When it was time for bed we prayed and counted our blessings. When morning came, my mom would pack my lunch box. 2 sandwiches, 2 juice boxes, 2 fresh pieces of fruit and 2 snacks… just in case someone else was hungry or didn’t have enough to eat. As fall turned into winter and the cold became intolerable my mother had a hard time making our dinner visits, because she was very ill herself. She worried most for Marty, and for Buddy and his humans, this was going to be a long winter for all of us. And it was, my mother was hospitalized once again for most of the winter and for the first time I questioned God, why would He make my mother so sick all the time…? When my mom was finally discharged from the hospital and we were on our way home I had to ask, I had to know why God would do this to her, I was mad and confused. So, I asked, and I could literally still hear my mother’s reply, it was so matter of fact. She looked right at me and said, “Baby, God is the one who brings me home to you”. My anger instantly lifted, it was a simple explanation, that made all the difference in the world to me. With that my mother hugged me tightly and then said, “let’s stop at Bradley’s to pick up a winter jacket for Marty, it’s freezing!” St. Peter in his first epistle tells us, "Each one of you has received a special grace, so like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others."