We have a heart for others...
Notably, for those who may be seen as the least, the last, and the lost. Having received love and grace from our Lord Jesus, we extend this to others. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).
Our Mission Statement
Lighthouse Ministries is set apart by the Spirit of God to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to meet the physical, emotional, and other needs of the poor and at-risk population.
Our vision is for the individuals we serve to achieve an overall outcome of God's peace, life purpose, and fulfillment of potential.
Jesus Christ – He made us and redeemed us, so we joyfully live for Him!
Truth – anchored to the Bible as unshakeable truth, speaking to each other with honesty
Integrity – uphold high standards of conduct, even when no one’s watching
Compassion – grace and mercy for others, expressed in deeds
Accountability – to self and to others, for our behavior and performance
Discipline – self-control, as well as accepting correction when in need of guidance
Unity – teamwork, acting in harmony as members of one body
Pathways of Progress
Spiritual growth – deepen relationship with Jesus
Community – garner support from others, and serve others
Industry – invigorate a work ethic through daily chores and via internships
Education – improve memory and comprehension, plus acquire academic learning
2018 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
HISTORY OF LIGHTHOUSE
Jim Welch was born in Watertown, South Dakota. Upon graduating from high school
in 1934, Jim enrolled in Pacific University. Jim earned his pilot’s license at this time.
From 1942-1945, Jim served as a fighter pilot for the Navy Air Force during World War
II, flying combat missions over the South Pacific. In 1948, Jim received his Bachelor
of Arts degree in Law from the University of Florida. He practiced law from 1948-2002.
He also served as Judge of the Municipal Court for the City of Lakeland from 1961-1971.
Carl Warnock was born in Georgia and has lived in Lakeland for approximately 85
years. During World War II, Carl served in the Combat Infantry in Europe. He is a
Purple Heart recipient for machine gun wounds in his neck and shoulder. After going
through Normandy and Brittany campaigns in France, Carl attended military
school in Swindon, England.
From combat veterans to brothers in Christ, Carl and Jim have dedicated their lives
to being available for God. Carl and Jim helped found many ministries, such as the first
Word of Life Bible Club (which was started in Carl’s home in 1955 and has now spread
to six continents around the world); Missions for Christ, Inc; Lakeland Christian School;
and other ventures locally and abroad. They were also involved with the
Gideons International. Both men went on to play active roles with CBMC (Christian
Business Men Committees, International). They have been a part of various ministries
that have allowed them to reach thousands of people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet,
as Carl points out, it is no accomplishment for him or Jim. All credit and glory is given to
God. Carl and Jim are just thankful for the opportunity to be used by God in such an
Jim Welch passed away in October 15, 2005. He was 84. Carl went to be with the Lord
on May 2, 2014. He was 89.
How it all began…
How It All Began: A History of Lighthouse Ministries
Ministries such as Lighthouse Ministries are not created overnight. They start with an available spirit, an idea, a vision, a plan, and a step of action. This is the story of how Lighthouse Ministries began, and a story of how Carl Warnock and Jim Welch’s choice to be available to God not only impacted their lives, but also impacted the lives of others.
In the mid 1970s, Carl Warnock, a businessman in Lakeland, was asked to counsel a young man who was interested in starting a homeless shelter. Carl had visited a shelter in the Tampa area and knew that location was a key step in the process. Carl agreed to help the young man. They discovered many locations, but they weren’t the right ones. The locations were too far from the city and the transient population. “You need to be down around where the transients hang out,” Carl told him.
The young man needed to bring a shelter to the people. He needed a location near the train stations and bus terminals. Soon, a former liquor store and bar located on the corner of Kentucky Avenue and Bay Street – the heart of Lakeland’s transient community – was chosen.
Carl had allowed himself to be used by God in helping the young man fulfill his vision for a shelter. Carl spoke with the property owner about purchasing the building, and he agreed. However, he had one condition: Carl had to take responsibility for the building in case the young man was unable to open the shelter. Carl agreed.
Putting his trust in God, Carl informed the young man that he was successful in purchasing the property, but the young man had bad news: He was not going to be able to open the shelter. His church and other supporters had decided not to back him up in his efforts at the time. In a matter of moments, Carl found himself standing outside of a rundown liquor store that he was now the sole owner of.
Standing there at the corner of Kentucky and Bay, Carl immediately called his friend Jim Welch, a judge and practicing lawyer. He asked him to come down and see the building. When Jim got there, Carl explained what happened. Jim looked at Carl and responded, “God’s using you. He knows you’re available.”
“It’s not about ability or inability. It’s about availability.” It didn’t matter if Carl and Jim had the ability or inability to run a shelter. God only asks that people make themselves available to be used as tools to accomplish His will. Carl and Jim were available.
That day, both Carl and Jim stood on the street corner and prayed. They prayed thanking God for the journey they were about to take. They prayed for guidance in the days to come. They prayed to be used by God in a way that would help others.
In 1977, the former liquor store opened as the new Lakeland Lighthouse Rescue Mission. Dedicated to reaching the least, the last, and the lost for Jesus Christ, the ministry grew and later became Lighthouse Ministries, Inc.
Today, Lighthouse Ministries, Inc. continues its fight against homelessness by providing food, clothing, shelter, and various programs to the homeless communities of Central Florida.