Steve was a dear friend—one of my A-list friends that I have walked beside for 20 years. That included service on the Shepherd’s Gate board and lots of time together since he suffered a catastrophic fall on Dec. 23, 2013. He was initially paralyzed, but after his wife, Carla, prayed in the emergency room, he could move his arms.
He made a slow and steady recovery, surprising the medical folks with how far he had come. During the last three years, he continued to lead the ministry. When we met a couple of weeks ago, he shared plans for expanding the ministry by serving rescued victims of sex trafficking.
He was determined to use the golf ball that had arrived in the mail when he arrived home in January 2014 after weeks in the hospital. I was ready to join him on that tee.
Surprisingly, after a hospitalization for an infection that seemed under control, God took him home. It was shockingly quick, but we can rejoice knowing that he’s running, dancing and celebrating with Jesus in Heaven.
As another dear friend said, anytime you were around Steve, you knew about Jesus.
Steve and Carla ran Shepherd’s Gate for more than 20 years and God used them to take the ministry to new levels. When they arrived, the ministry was a 30-day emergency shelter in the old home on Portola Avenue in Livermore where Alice Ann Cantelow founded the shelter for women and their children. Steve told the story many times about how he had thought he would never move to California or run a women’s shelter—he learned as have I—never say never to God.
When he arrived, the board had its eye on a property across the street. Over the next few years, God opened the doors so the residence hall and the office were built. HomeAid, which earlier had turned Shepherd’s Gate away, then stepped up and built the second residence hall and the cottages for women who were ready to leave the program. The organization, which is the charitable arm of the the homebuilders association, stepped up a final time and completed the long-delayed Life Center last year.
In addition, another builder, Signature Homes, approached Steve about building a turn-key shelter in Brentwood instead of contributing to an affordable housing fund. Steve told them yes, if there was no government money involved. Signature had planned to tap some government funds, but followed Steve’s request. Shepherd’s Gate never has taken government money.
Steve and God had a straight forward agreement. Steve was to minister to the people that God sent to him and God would take care of the financial resources. Over the 20 years, there were many times when the financial situation appeared dire and then a check or checks would show up in the mail to cover the gap.
I knew Steve well enough that he told me that the few times he tried to raise funds on his own—even with good friends of the ministry—he was turned down every time. So, he relied on his Heavenly Father who took good, good care of the ministry and the more than 10,000 women and children who have been served over the last 30 years.
We met the first time when he came to my newspaper office seeking a sponsorship for the golf tournament. We spent two hours plus talking about God and life and then, as he was about to leave, we got around to golf. That was the start of a dear friendship.
Through Steve and Shepherd’s Gate, I was introduced to the charismatic branch of Christianity. I have seen miracles and been privileged to be used in a few. God’s anointing on Shepherd’s Gate is so strong that miracles are common on the campus—broken limbs have been healed and cancer has vanished.
God used Shepherd’s Gate, Steve and the people he connected me with, to train me for leadership with Heart for Africa and other faith-based non-profits. Today, there are more than 150 children living on Project Canaan in Swaziland because of what God taught me through Shepherd’s Gate and Steve’s brothers and sisters in Christ.
His legacy is being lived out daily by the women and children God used Shepherd’s Gate to change during his tenure. He did, as it reads at the Livermore campus, bring glory to God.
A memorial service to celebrate Steve's life is set for 4 p.m., Friday, April 21 at Community Presbyterian Church, 222 El Pintado, Danville. Carla prefers contributions in his memory to Shepherd's Gate.