What in the world was going on? It was Monday, February 8 and I was at my mother’s apartment complex in their recreation room watching the local newscast. The newscaster was stating that some students at Fresno City College, and the American Civil Liberty Union were claiming that there was this anti-gay professor there pushing his Christianity on to his students and teaching them from the Bible.
The next day in the newspaper the Fresno Bee, the story was on the first page. It read in large letters: ACLU: Fresno professor anti-gay, City College students also say health science class is religion-based. The professor’s name was Doctor Brad Lopez. This could not the Brad Lopez that I know and love. Please allow me to share with you my story about Brad Lopez and then you can make up your own mind without a rush to judgment.
When I first published my first book “Why we celebrate Christmas” with the Jesus Tree Decorations, Brad was there encouraging me and offering suggestions. I remember when I first put the Jesus Tree Decorations on my Christmas tree, turning my Christmas tree into a witness for Jesus, how I couldn’t wait to show them to someone so I called Brad and he came right over to my house, and shared in my joy. I now offer the decorations to anyone for free to print out at http://www.jesustreedecorations.com .
A few years later when I was working on the first chapters of my novel “The Jesus Tree Ornaments” my wife and I were spending a weekend with Brad and his wife Jan up in the Sierra Mountains of California, at Hume Lake. I was working on the chapter where my main character, Thomas, was about to meet David, the shepherd boy, and the future King of Israel from the Old Testament of the Bible. I was having a hard time trying to find the right word that would best describe David’s interaction and involvement with God so I asked Brad what he thought it should be. He said the word should be “relationship”. I knew at once he was right and it fit perfectly with what I wanted to express in my book about how we can all have a personal relationship with God.
When I think of my relationship with my friend Brad, I remember him all the way back to Clovis High School during the year of 1965. He played on the basketball team and appeared to me to be a very outgoing and happy young man. I didn’t personally know Brad then or his wife Jan, who graduated with me in 1967, however I had a very favorable first impression of him. Brad graduated in 1965 as salutatorian in his class. His grandparents came from Mexico and he had a humble upbringing. He told me his father wouldn’t allow them to speak Spanish at home because he wanted his children to prosper in America. His father died when Brad was only twelve. From then on Brad had to be the man of the house and help his mother raise his two younger brothers.
I didn’t see Brad again after high school until several decades later. One day he and Jan walked into my Sunday school class at Peoples Church in Fresno, California. I didn’t know it but they had been members of Peoples Church longer than my wife and I. It is a big church with several thousand members so it is not unusual to meet at the same place every weekend and not connect with everyone. It was in this class that I finally got to know my future best friend and mentor Dr. Brad Lopez.
I was, and am still astounded by his many accomplishments since high school. It would take too long to list them all here so I will just highlight a few: 1971 Bachelor of Arts, Deans list, Major Zoology, California State University, Fresno. 1972 Associate of Science in Respiratory Care, Loma Linda University, 1973-75 Master of Public Health Program, 1977 Master of Science, Major Health Science, California State University, Fresno, 1977 Community College Instructor Credential, 1979 Community College Supervisor Credential, Doctor of Education, Specialty Educational Leadership, Joint Doctoral Program, University California, Davis, California State University, Fresno. He has taught traditional classes, distance education in live, interactive two-way video conferencing and media streaming online classes over the Internet. Students can actually view online Doctor Lopez’s classes online and make their own determination about his supposed anti-gay teachings. Like any father all of this would have made Brad’s dad extremely proud of him.
Brad and I connected on many different levels and soon started doing things together. I remember early in our friendship we took ours sons to the movies with us. His son Justin and my son Josh. Later Justin told Brad that out of all of his friends he liked me the best and thought he should hang out with me. I was greatly touched by his comment.
Our Sunday school class went camping together one weekend and while it was nice the facilities at the campsite were substandard. I remember mentioning to Brad that we could do better and he informed me about another campground only a few miles away called “Camp Edison” at Shaver Lake. Together we got everyone to agree that the men would do all the cooking during the weekend and have been doing it now for over ten years. It is a great family weekend spent with other Christian friends in worshipping our God in His great outdoors creation. We have had around one hundred people attending on some of the dates and we are still participating in this event.
I have also worked with Brad and our wives plus others from our church in putting together several couple retreats on the west coast. We have had groups of one hundred couples join with us for weekends of teaching, relaxation, and worship. Brad and Jan have also opened up their cabin in the mountains for men and women from our church to stay at for free while we attend the church’s yearly men’s and women’s retreats. Brad has helped put together a helps team in our Sunday school class that has helped people repair their homes, move, or anything else that we may be able to assist them in. Brad and Jan have been involved in a Tuesday night Bible study for years.
My wife for years has been involved in a women’s prison ministry called Kairos. She has been a been a team leader since the start of the ministry at the Chowchilla Prison and has not only served on the Kairos board but has also been a team leader going into the prison for four days at a time. While in the prison talks are given to the inmates about God and how Jesus loves them. We are instructed to listen, listen, love, love. In 2004 her board sent Pamela to Erie Pennsylvania for an International meeting of Kairos ministry. Brad, Jan and I went with Pamela and spent several days at the conference attending training sessions and listening to guest speakers. Brad and I at that time were also part of a men’s Kairos team in Fresno, lead by an retired Sheriff and man of God named Odell McCoy. Brad and I went with the team a couple of times on Saturdays to minister to the prisoners at the Atwater Maximum Security Federal Prison in Atwater, California. One time Brad was the guest speaker to the prisoners.
To me, probably the two most important mission projects Brad and I have started together and worked on is our yearly Mexico mission trip to Ensenada and Christ’s Warriors.
Over ten years ago Brad and I went to visit our missionary friends in Ensenada Mexico, Tim and Kathy Johnston. They had been in our Sunday school class when they had taken a short-term mission trip to Mexico and fell in love with the people. Tim and Kathy sold most of their possessions and moved to Mexico to share Jesus. They became associated with a group called “Youth Unlimited Gospel Outreach” (YUGO). While there I discussed with Kathy how our Sunday school class might be able to come back and help them minister to the local Indians. Once back at the church I asked Brad what he felt the Lord would have us do and he said he would decide by the giving of the class. We were doing a study at that time called “Experiencing God” and I asked the class if they would like to take on a God sized project in Mexico. They agreed, and donated $1,800 that day to get us started. Brad was convinced God was in this large undertaking and has been both a leader in our yearly trips to Mexico and a great mentor to me. We have built several houses for families at no cost to them, and had both women and men ministries. Brad has been our lead in the men’s ministry. At our first gathering with the men at the local church Brad shared how he had lost two sons in their youth. His first son Brad Jr. at the age of thirteen, and his youngest son Justin at age nineteen. Then the pastor of the church stood up and shared how he had lost a young daughter just that past year. It was an awesome moment to see these two men instantly bond together and I will never forget the anointing of the Holy Spirit as he fell upon all the men that night. You can visit the website for YUGO at http://www.eocyugo.org/. Over a thousand homes have now been built in the surrounding area of Ensenada by the ministry started by Tim and Kathy Johnston.
As mentioned before I knew Brad’s son Justin, but I never met his first son Brad Junior. I can’t image the pain that Brad, Jan and their one remaining son Ted, have suffered by the loss of their sons and Ted’s brothers. I remember going to the funeral of Justin and when I embraced Brad he said to me, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.” To my knowledge Brad has no enemies but I knew what he meant. He shared with me sometime later that when he was at the bottom of the pit of despair, he cried out to God for an answer. He immediately sensed the presence of God’s Holy Spirit descend upon him and felt the presence of his son speaking to him and stating, “Dad I’m okay.” From that moment on Brad has continued on with his recovery and in the sharing of faith. He has told me that it is a day-by-day process that you never fully recover from. Nevertheless he and Jan have turned it into a powerful witness to minister to others with.
Some years ago I started going to our church’s Wednesday night men’s Bible study. Jeremy Brown and Craig Eischen facilitated the study. The guys did a great job but attendance at the study was always very low at around four to fifteen men. You just never knew how many guys would show up. Nevertheless Jeremy predicted, but he didn’t know when or how, that something big was going to happened to our men’s group. I remember asking him what he thought that might be but he couldn’t give me an answer. He didn’t know, he just felt God was going to move big in our group. This really started to bother me. It was like God had planted a seed in me to seek out what Jeremy was talking about. I questioned God that didn’t I already have enough to do? Like that did a lot of good. I remember going to a Bible store one day and while waiting for my wife, two books caught my attention. One book entitled “Total Truth” by Nancy Pearcey looked interesting but the cover didn’t do anything for me. Inside it looked like a textbook. However, I felt led by God to purchase it and was I happy that I did. The book covers a lot of the America church and it’s history. I gave the book to Brad for him to read and he loved it too. Ms. Nancy Pearcey had put into print what I have always felt and wanted to express but didn’t know how. Check out the book at http://www.crossway.org/sites/total.truth/ . Sometime also during this period Brad and I were spending a weekend at the men’s retreat at Hume Lake. We were taking our usual walk around the lake and I was sharing with him this strong urging by the Lord on how to reach the men by teaching them the fundamentals of Christianity, however I was having a hard time putting into words what I wanted to do in practice. Brad said, “Oh, you’re talking about a curriculum.” I thought, I am? Shortly after that I was introduced to a DVD series “The Truth Project” by Family Focus, and Brad and I both attended the viewings at our church. Brad and I then presented the Truth Project and Christian apologics to our men’s group. You can check out the Truth Project trailer at http://www.thetruthproject.org/ . Then in January of 2009, along with Pastor Pete Gavrilis of the men’s group we started a new group called “Christ’s Warriors.” Christ’s Warriors is a men’s discipleship group that is meant to help men put on the Full Armor of God. Ephesians 6: 11-18. It is of the men, by the men, and for the men of Peoples Church. We video record all the messages put on by the men of Peoples Church and then upload them with lessons plans onto the internet for anyone to learn from and enjoy. You can view them all at www.pcwarriors.org . There are great lessons on the Trinity, Water Baptism, The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts, Forgiveness, Prayer, Grace, Church and Community, plus many others. Brad’s and my hope is to someday share this discipleship training with men all over the world. Another resource that we have used at our meetings are the DVDs from author Lee Strobel based on his books “The Case for Faith, The Case for Christ, and The Case for a Creator”. Lee Stroble was an atheist until he wife became a Christian and he started to investigate the claims of Christianity. You can visit his website at http://www.leestrobel.com/ for more information.
I’ve recently been made aware that Focus on the Family has produced another DVD series for teens and college students. If you have a child going off to college soon or one already there you should check out TrueU at http://www.mytruthproject.org/truthproject/trueu/home.html . I haven’t reviewed the series yet but the trailers look first class and the information life saving.
Fellow Christians, in closing I would like to ask you to hold up our Christian brother Brad Lopez in prayer. Living here in the center of California I know that the Hollywood elite and the San Francisco liberals do not hold valley people in high regard. Most of them think we are just stupid Bible thumpers and country bumpkins in dire need of their immoral thinking and lifestyles. No thanks.
Professor Brad Lopez is just trying to teach his students to do some critical thinking. My wife took his class and informed me that he does not teach from the Bible or assign any homework from the Bible to the students. Anyway, these students are supposed to be adults not children. If they don’t like the teacher take another class. If your feelings are hurt get over it. There is supposed to be a thing called academic freedom at the college level.
From watching the local news it appears only one girl in the class was offended and she was offended for her homosexual friends. I surmise she is straight. I heard she got an A in the class. Good reason to be upset. I am suspicious of the gentlemen in the same newscast with her. I have not heard any evidence that he was even a student in Professor Lopez’s class. Is it possible that he isn’t even at student at Fresno City College? If not, what agenda is he pushing and whom does he represent? Don’t expect the news to rush on this one. They are about selling papers and being political correct. What does it matter if a Christian is scarified in the process.
I suspect Professor Brad Lopez will stand tall and not walk away small in this ridiculous situation they have put him in. After all, it really isn’t Professor Brad Lopez they are after. Jesus said “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18. They want God completely out of all the schools, even at the college level. Why? Because they don’t want a relationship with Him or his followers. They want to be in control. They don’t want the Truth to be known because Jesus is the Truth, and the Truth is always extreme to those who don’t believe in Him. The battle is the Lord’s!
A relationship can only survive if it is based upon the truth. The shepherd is the truth! Do you share this truth with your family? Do they really know who you are, or are you lying to them about you too?” asked the king.
Guilt washed over Thomas. He lied to Sara and Isaac all the time. But, he rationalized that he only told them little white lies because he did not believe they could handle knowing the whole truth about him. But had his little white lies now become big dark lies, or was a lie always absent of any color and size, nothing more than a deception about the truth?
The Jesus Tree Ornaments, Chapter 7, page 106