ELKO — For almost eight years, Nathan Hornback has been lead pastor of Living Stones Church Elko. Whether he’s serving his growing congregation or accepting foster children into his home, Hornback inspires others to show love whenever possible.
In his tenure, the church has made a list of top 100 fastest-growing churches in America, changing locations three times to accommodate the growth.
This year the church is gearing up for a massive expansion and remodeling project, turning the current buildings into a beautiful place of learning and worship.
“We’ll be paying cash for everything. We have a no-debt policy across the Living Stones churches … I’m pretty stoked. We’re almost done raising it in two years.” Hornback said.
Elko’s Living Stones is one of five Living Stones Churches in Nevada.
“My reason for existing in Elko is that people would see the love of God in a true and Biblical sense. … It bothers me that Christians are more known … for all the things we are against than for all the things that we’re for. I want to be a place that changes that. I want people to know what we are for. I want to be a church where anybody from any walk of life can come in, wherever they are, and investigate Jesus and work through the Scriptures.”
Hornback always felt he would be in the ministry, but he never thought he’d being doing what he is doing today. In 2007, he and his wife, Audrey, moved to Reno where they attended Living Stones Church. Under the teaching of Pastor Harvey Turner, “our whole lives began to change. It was verse by verse preaching through whole books of the Bible. …. Growing up, I thought you only heard sermons on the verses you had underlined. … God changed our lives, changed our marriage.”
In 2009, Barrick called him with a job offer.
“Within 72 hours, I had moved back to Elko … I just moved here and started doing the mine thing, making a ton of money. More money than I knew what to do with. … Over time, the marriage started to deteriorate a little bit. I was gone so much, and she was working, too. We had this moment where it was like, ‘We have to get back to the Lord.’”
While looking for the right fit, they began a small Bible study at their home. Instead of reading a book or sharing what they had learned on their own, they listened to podcasts from Living Stones in Reno. Within three months, 35 people gathered in his living room.
It was then that a fortuitous meeting occurred at GNC. “While I was in there, Pastor Fred [Earnhart], who used to pastor the Foursquare church in the airport building, he came over and goes ‘You’re Nathan. Tell me about this Bible study that’s going on. I’m hearing about it.’
“So I just told him, ‘We just want to get back to the basics. We want people to know the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus that the culture is painting to everybody. Just the Scriptures. Who is Jesus of the Bible? What is the gospel of grace?’ Right after I said that, he handed me a key."
“‘What’s this?’" Hornback remembered asking.
“‘Well, if that’s the message that’s going out, you guys need more space, so we want to let you use our building at the airport terminal,’” Earnhart said to Hornback.
As the Bible study continued to grow, Hornback recognized that listening to a podcast was not practical. He began to listen on his own, taking notes and then sharing what he’d learned “community style.” It was then that people began calling him “Pastor Nathan.” When members of the group began asking about communion, tithing and baptism, Hornback realized the Bible study was growing into something more.
In August 2011, Pastor Harvey Turner came up from Reno to make the official announcement. That night, 128 people packed the terminal.
“Do you want to become a Living Stones Church?” he asked.
“And right when he asked the question,” Hornback said, leaning forward in his chair, “the place erupted. I was standing in the back and I was bawling. I was so overwhelmed with what God was doing. The glass walls behind me were moving because people were cheering so loud.”
When Living Stones outgrew the airport building, they moved to the Girl Scout house and then to their current location on the corner of Fifth and Silver streets. Now, with a staff of seven, Living Stones holds four services to accommodate its more than 500 members.
But success breeds rumors. By relying on his faith and at times employing humor, he’s been able to deploy the oldest weapon in the war against gossip: the truth. He once did a Facebook live video that went viral. In it he addressed the top 10 rumors about Living Stones, and in a fun and engaging way told the truth.
“What else do you do?” he asked. “If you’re not going to laugh about it, are you going to just let people define you and smash you into the ground?”
While combating rumors was his greatest professional battle, his greatest personal one was the one to grow his family. After being married for 10 years, the couple had not been able to have children.
“We didn’t have money to go get poked and prodded and figure out why we can’t get pregnant.” But when Audrey finally got pregnant, the child they had so anticipated was stillborn.
“Then getting pregnant that same year and having it happen again. …Overcoming that personally, even as a pastor, really, really shook me up,” Hornback said.
During this time of grief, one of Hornback’s mentors gave him words that would change his suffering into hope.
“He said, ‘Nathan, it’s OK to not be OK.’
“I was raised to suck it up, pretend that it’s all right,” Hornback said. “I had grown up feeling like if I wasn’t good all the time, then something was wrong with me …. and I broke.”
His mentor continued to explain: “When you admit that you’re just not OK, that is when Jesus can come in and heal.”
Now, Nathan and his wife, Audrey, have two adopted daughters: Finleigh May and Lennon Ivy.
“Adoption has always been part of our story,” Hornback said. “My wife was adopted. Her mom was adopted. And now, we are this third generation of adopting little girls. We wanted to do that before we knew my wife and I couldn’t have our own kids. Adoption was always part of it.”
Finleigh May’s adoption happened privately, while Lennon’s was through the foster care system.
After a full morning of church, the family had gone home to relax before the last service of the evening. When they heard a knock at the door, Audrey answered it.
A lady stood there holding a car seat. “Please, take care of my baby,” she said. “I have to go to work. I’ll call you later.” But she was never heard from again.
As officials searched for the birth mother, the Hornbacks learned to open not just their home but their hearts.
“I guarded my heart a lot,” Hornback said. “Trying to emotionally protect my family, and maybe myself, from the event of someone taking her.”
At the end of a training course held at the hospital, he found the strength to love.
“We are listening to 12 hours of trauma counseling .… watching all these videos about fetal alcoholism and all of these things … at the very, very end of the class in this video, this doctor talks about all the damaging effects of all this stuff. And then, at the very end, he goes, ‘But you know, no matter how much we say in the medical field about all of these damages that are done,’ he says, ‘You never underestimate the power of a healing home.’"
“It was in that moment, when I had this heart shift; for not just this little girl, but for foster care, and it was an accident,” he said. “It was something I was thrust into.”
WASHINGTON — Face to face with emboldened Democrats, President Donald Trump on Tuesday called on Washington to cast aside "revenge, resistance and retribution" and end "ridiculous partisan investigations" in a State of the Union address delivered at a vulnerable moment for his presidency.
Trump appealed for bipartisanship but refused to yield on the hard-line immigration policies that have infuriated Democrats and forced the recent government shutdown. He renewed his call for a border wall and cast illegal immigration as a threat to Americans' safety and economic security.
Trump accepted no blame for his role in cultivating the rancorous atmosphere in the nation's capital, and he didn't outline a clear path for collaborating with Democrats who are eager to block his agenda. Their opposition was on vivid display as Democratic congresswomen in the audience formed a sea of white in a nod to early 20th-century suffragettes.
Trump is staring down a two-year stretch that will determine whether he is re-elected or leaves office in defeat. His speech sought to shore up Republican support that had eroded slightly during the recent government shutdown and previewed a fresh defense against Democrats as they ready a round of investigations into every aspect of his administration.
"If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation," he declared. Lawmakers in the cavernous House chamber sat largely silent.
Looming over the president's address was a fast-approaching Feb. 15 deadline to fund the government and avoid another shutdown. Democrats have refused to acquiesce to his demands for a border wall, and Republicans are increasingly unwilling to shut down the government to help him fulfill his signature campaign pledge. Nor does the GOP support the president's plan to declare a national emergency if Congress won't fund the wall.
Wary of publicly highlighting those intraparty divisions, Trump made no mention of an emergency declaration in his remarks. He did offer a lengthy defense of his call for a border wall, declaring: "I will build it." But he delivered no ultimatums about what it would take for him to sign legislation to keep the government open.
"I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country," he said, painting a dark and foreboding picture of the risks posed to Americans by illegal immigration.
The 72-year-old Trump harkened back to moments of American greatness, celebrating the moon landing as astronaut Buzz Aldrin looked on from the audience and heralding the liberation of Europe from the Nazis.
"Together, we represent the most extraordinary nation in all of history. What will we do with this moment? How will we be remembered?" Trump said.
The president ticked through a litany of issues with crossover appeal, including boosting infrastructure, lowering prescription drug costs and combating childhood cancer. But he also appealed to his political base, both with his harsh rhetoric on immigration and a call for Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the "late-term abortion of children."
Trump devoted much of his speech to foreign policy, another area where Republicans have increasingly distanced themselves from the White House. He announced details of a second meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, outlining a Feb. 27-28 summit in Vietnam.
As he condemned political turmoil in Venezuela, Trump declared that "America will never be a socialist country" — a remark that may also have been targeted at high-profile Democrats who identify as socialists.
The president was surrounded by symbols of his emboldened political opposition. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was praised by Democrats for her hard-line negotiating during the shutdown, sat behind Trump as he spoke.
Stacey Abrams delivered the Democratic response to Trump. Abrams narrowly lost her bid in November to become America's first black female governor, and party leaders are aggressively recruiting her to run for U.S. Senate from Georgia.
Speaking from Atlanta, Abrams calls the shutdown a political stunt that "defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values."
Trump's address amounted to an opening argument for his re-election campaign. Polls show he has work to do, with his approval rating falling to just 34 percent after the shutdown, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
One bright spot for the president has been the economy, which has added jobs for 100 straight months.
"The only thing that can stop it," he said, "are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations" — an apparent swipe at the special counsel investigation into ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign, as well as the upcoming congressional investigations.
The diverse Democratic caucus, which includes a bevy of women, sat silently for much of Trump's speech. But they leapt to their feet when he noted there are "more women in the workforce than ever before."
The increase is due to population growth — and not something Trump can credit to any of his policies.
ELKO — A traffic stop on Carlin Court led to the arrest of an Elko woman in possession of suspected drugs on Feb. 1.
An Elko police officer made a traffic stop and found that the driver, Crystal M. Ayers, 31, had a warrant and probation hold.
“Upon arrest, she had drug paraphernalia upon her person,” said Elko Police Capt. Ty Trouten.
Additional paraphernalia, and substances suspected to be a small amount of methamphetamine and 15 grams of heroin were found in the vehicle, he reported. A rifle was also in the car.
In addition to being arrested for the warrant and probation hold, Ayers was also arrested for two counts of unlawful possession of a schedule I, II, III or IV controlled substance; unlawful possession to sell a schedule III, IV or V controlled substance; unlawful possession for sale of a schedule I or II substances; and owning or possession of a gun by a prohibited person, according to the Elko County Sheriff’s Office media report.
Her bail was set at $126,015.
Ayers was previously arrested in April 2018 for felony possession of a controlled substance, and in March 2016 for domestic battery, battery, disturbing the peace and two NCJIS detainers, according to Elko Daily Free Press archives.
ELKO – The storm that passed through Elko County eased in strength as it moved east, but parts of the area were still under a winter weather advisory Tuesday night, according to Elko National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Boyd.
As of midnight Feb. 5 snow accumulations totaled 2.5 inches in Elko and 9 inches in Lamoille. Additional snowfall of 1 to 2 inches was expected overnight.
“The storm is winding down,” Boyd said. “Most of the snow is heading east of Elko to places like Ely, Wells and Great Basin National Park.”
A winter storm warning was in effect for White Pine County until 4 p.m. Tuesday. Mountain areas were expected to experience 8 to 16 inches of snow, with 4 to 6 inches in valleys.
“Highway 278 south of Carlin is pretty snowy,” Boyd said. “And, if anyone is heading south of Ely on Highway 93, they will need chains.”
Boyd warned that temperatures may plummet to zero, causing icy roads. Blowing snow could also create hazardous driving with possible wind guts.