Pastor Paul Bryan
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Raised in a military family, Pastor Paul gave his life to Jesus as a young teenager after witnessing his dad’s salvation and radical transformation. But during his college years at Troy University, where Pastor Paul was attending on basketball scholarship, he turned his back on God, letting his relationship with Jesus slide into decay as he chose to live a worldly lifestyle. When his father became ill and passed away, Pastor Paul, confused and hurting, dropped out of college.
Struggling with the death of his father and coping through drugs and alcohol, Pastor Paul was invited by a friend to attend a service at Brownsville Assemblies of God in Pensacola, FL, right as the revival was beginning to take place in 1995. “At the first service I attended there, I rededicated my life to Christ. I remember thinking to myself that the preacher was talking directly to me, addressing the hurts and habits that I was hung up on. It was life changing.”
Pastor Paul began a new chapter in his life. He and his wife Labecka had their first child, Seyla. The same year, Paul and Labecka were baptized and began serving God as much as they could in their church. Driven to provide for his new family, Pastor Paul began working as much and as hard as he could to get promoted up the ranks at Eckerd’s Pharmacy, the drugstore where he started as an assistant store manager. He quickly moved up the chain of command, eventually ending up as the Orlando regional manager for Eckerd’s.
Upon joining TLC (called Lighthouse Christian Center at the time), Pastor Paul and Labecka came under the mentorship of Dave Walker, the Senior Pastor, and his wife Jean, who became “spiritual parents” to Paul and Labecka. Pastor Paul began a simple act of servant-hood on Sunday mornings: holding the door open for church-goers as they arrived. Pastor Dave saw this, and asked Paul to become an usher. After serving as an usher for a time, he became the head usher. Then Pastor Dave asked him to become the church evangelist; then church sexton (responsible for opening and closing the church for services); then youth pastor; then board member because of his business experience. He became the head of discipleship, and then the director of men’s ministries.
Pastor Paul brought the same drive he had exhibited in his business career to his positions at the church, and was experiencing important spiritual development through weekly men’s accountability groups, which were helping him become a better father and husband. When Pastor Dave received a vision from God that Paul was to become the next Lead Pastor of the church, Paul was made Assistant Pastor and a 7 year transition period was initiated wherein Pastor Dave would mentor Pastor Paul and eventually retire. Pastor Paul gradually began taking on greater responsibilities, starting with management of Lighthouse Christian Preparatory Academy.
Three years after Pastor Paul had become the Assistant Pastor at Lighthouse, he and Pastor Dave traveled to Africa on a mission trip. It was on this trip that Pastor Dave received a word from God, telling him the time was right to retire and make Pastor Paul the Lead Pastor of the church. Only 3 years into the planned 7 year transition period, Pastor Dave and Pastor Paul obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit, and Pastor Paul became the Lead Pastor. The hand of God was so evidently at work in the timing of this change. Right after Pastor Paul took over leadership of the church, the Economic Recession hit, and financial giving to the church plummeted. Having a leader with a strong business background was an invaluable asset to the church, and Pastor Paul’s financial management carried TLC through an uncertain time in our history.
A Man of Passion
We have to have a passion for God and compassion for people.
City Transformation is Pastor Paul’s driving passion. He sums up his vision in this way:
I want to see people find what their gifting is and what they’re passionate about. I really see city transformation as helping people find their passions and gifts, and getting them plugged in with whatever that is. I just envision a church full of people doing what they love doing. And people hitting their boiling point, and being equipped, and seeing their lives changed. That’s what I’m really passionate about.
Pastor Paul and his wife, Labecka, have been married for nearly 20 years. They make spending time with each other a priority, and love to “date each other.” They have three daughters: Seyla, Zoe, and Joy. Every month, he takes each of his girls on several Daddy-Daughter Date Nights. The one-on-one time is something the girls and he cherish, and Pastor also feels he is setting an important standard for his daughters as they grow older and choose boyfriends.
The Lighthouse Church (TLC) is immensely blessed by the leadership of Pastor Paul Bryan, a man of passion and vision, whose past experiences have divinely prepared him for a life of leadership. We are thankful for his wisdom that has seen the church through times of change, as well as for the direction and ongoing improvements he provides for Lighthouse Christian Preparatory Academy.
Pastor Paul has assembled a church staff that is passionate about their ministry roles, so that every major position is filled by someone who truly loves what he or she does. This is a fulfillment of one of his earliest goals as Pastor. Pastor Paul’s vision to create a holistic approach to ministry can be seen in action through the efforts of the Food Pantry, where we meet people’s physical needs; the activities of the Men’s and Women’s ministries, where people are discipled to become more like Jesus; and many other ministries that help people with different aspects of their lives. We greet the future with excitement as TLC continues to grow and impact our community under the leadership of Pastor Paul Bryan.