Jason Castro, with his dreadlocks and effervescent smile, won America’s hearts even though he didn’t win the American Idol contest in 2008. He launched billboard hits and then disappeared from the secular music scene, leaving fans confused.
“I just felt so detached from a church community,” Jason told CBN. “I just struggled to stay connected to God on the road through the exhaustion, and I wanted more God in my life.”
After dropping a Christian album, Only a Mountain, in 2103, Castro today is married with four kids and selling real estate in Texas, where he lives. His main desire is to be with his kids and God. Of course, he’s still dropping music.
After initial success, Jason Castro went dark on the secular music scene. But more than fame and money, Jason wanted a family.
“Music has that power to calm or to move, the power to give emotions of any kind,” he says on an I am Second video. “What’s the heart behind it? I’ve given my heart to Christ, and that comes through. People are drawn to that even though they don’t always know what it is.”
Jason Rene Castro was raised in Rowlett, Texas, where he was a wing-back on the high school soccer team. The son of Columbian immigrants studied construction science at Texas A&M University and tried out for American Idol. He was the first contestant to play a ukulele as he sang “Over the Rainbow.” Read the rest: Jason Castro disappeared from the music scene.
Benign tumors growing on his larynx require surgeries every three months leaving his voice so weak that his low voice drops off into a whisper constantly. Called Whispering Danny, he’s also a popular tattoo artist in Kansas City, Missouri.
Danny Kobzantsev was a hard-living immigrant from Latvia who hailed from Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. But when his good friend Shane crashed drunk on his motorcycle and very nearly died, he found himself praying to Jesus for a simple reason:
“It seemed like the thing to do,” he says on an I Am Second video.
Danny Kobzantev came to America with his mother in 1975 to seek better options for treatment of his unusual medical condition. As the plane circled the Statue of Liberty, people were hugging and kissing.
“I didn’t know who or what the Statue of Liberty was, but she was the symbol of America and freedom,” he says.
Danny and his mother set up shop in Kansas City, MO. In high school, he was drawn to tattooing. The more ink he got on his arm, the more he realized he wanted to become a tattoo artist.
“I lived a lifestyle that was pretty self-destructive in many ways and I was okay with it,” Danny says. “I pretty much had completely abandoned anything pertaining to God, and I just pursued my own interests.”
At Exile Tattoo shop, his drinking buddy Shane Kampe roared up on his motorcycle Sept. 4, 2001. He was drunk and had no business riding that day. So when Shane tried to drive off, Danny attempted to dissuade him.
“I watched him try to get on his motorcycle and I immediately saw him drop the bike cuz he was so drunk,” he says. “I begged him, ‘Please Shane don’t do this.’”
A couple hours later, Danny inexplicably felt compelled to go for a drive. He had nowhere to go but he arrived exactly where God wanted him: at the accident scene of his friend.
Shane was lying facedown in a pool of his own blood, his skull fractured open.
“His head was busted wide open,” Danny recalls. “He was laying in a pool of dark, dark blood.”
Shane bent down next to his buddy, even getting his own face bloody, and whispered, “Shane, you’re going to be ok.”
Matt Sinkhorn was seven when his mom slammed the door in the face of a woman witnessing about Jesus.
“If my parents don’t need Him, I don’t need Him,” he concluded, a rejection that stayed with him for two decades.
Matt Sinkhorn was always a good student because his dad was a teacher at the same school where he and his twin brother attended. His cumulative high school GPA was 3.6.
He went to college to study anthropology because looking at bones purportedly millions of years old fascinated him. He believed in evolution. “I didn’t care if you believed in God,” he says. “I just knew that I was on my own.”
But when he got on his own — at college, he couldn’t handle the freedom. While his dad had been present at the school, there was accountability, with less peer pressure to try alcohol or drugs.
“I was a teacher’s son. They thought I was going to narc on them,” Matt says. “They pushed me aside.”
But at college he tried weed later dropped acid. Soon he was skipping classes. After two years, he had lost weight and flunked out of college and was forced to return home. His twin, attending another college, did the same.
“When there were no parents around, it was like, ‘Wow this is amazing. We can do whatever we want,’” he says.
Getting kicked out of college was a shocker. “I had never not been good at school,” he admits. “My mom freaked out.”
But he didn’t mend his ways. Instead, he got a job as a busboy earning minimum wage and continued drinking.
Eventually, both boys figured they were too much of a burden to their parents and so they joined the Air Force, where they continued partying unabated. Matt cycled through a failed marriage in New Jersey before shipping out to Korea, where the hedonism knew no bounds.
By age 28, he was in England hanging out with airmen almost half his age. His life had become monotonous.
That’s when Mark Stoneburner, an older gentleman from Navigator’s, showed up in the Air Force dorms. Matt somehow knew the book in his hand was a Bible, but what took him aback was the visitor’s appearance.
“When I saw him, I actually saw that he was glowing,” Matt says. “There was this light that was inside of him. I said to my friend Elena, ‘Do you see him glowing?’”
Matt walked up to him and asked, “Why are you glowing right now? What’s going on?”
Mark chuckled, chatted and asked, “What’s your purpose in life?”
On an unexceptional Tuesday in 2012, Katy Faust finally snapped and could no longer stay silent. Then-president Obama announced the “evolution” in his thinking to support gay marriage and the media immediately branded anyone with contrary concerns as “bigoted.”
She launched an anonymous blog facetiously called “Ask the Bigot.”
Katy’s parents split when she was 10. Her father dated and remarried and her mother partnered with another woman. Being raised with a foot in both of their resulting households gave her a love for the LGBT community but also an understanding of the fallout for children when family breaks down. While she remained connected to her father, some children with lesbian parents were not so fortunate, such as her friend Brandi Walton:
“I yearned for the affection that my friends received from their dads. As far as I was concerned, I already had one mother; I did not need another. My grandfathers and uncles did the best they could when it came to spending time with me and doing all the daddy-daughter stuff, but it was not the same as having a full-time father, and I knew it. It always felt secondhand.”
After being “outed” from her anonymous blog by a gay activist, Katy Faust decided to stand up to cancel culture and co-wrote a book under her own name, Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement. Kids are getting the short stick in the political football of catering to adults’ whims, it says. (Them meaning “children” before us “adults.”)
The activist who “outed” her from her anonymous blog actually emboldened her to find her voice and speak out unafraid.
In all the hype of “marriage equality” with its mantra that kids only need two supportive parents regardless of their gender, no one is asking kids what they think. Decades of data from sociological research tell us what kids need, but in the rush to embrace “forward thinking,” true social science is being ignored and kids will suffer, Katy says.
Many LBGTQ couples claim they have a right to children and a right to parenthood, even if forming their families violate the right of children to be known and loved by their own mother and father. We’re catering to adults’ desires and forgetting about children’s needs, Faust says.
As a child of divorced parents, neither of whom were particularly religious, Katy Faust did not grow up in a Christian world.
But then Katy got saved in high school and married a pastor. After working in youth ministry with kids who suffered from mother and father loss, and recording the stories of children of divorce, those with same-sex parents, and children created through reproductive technologies, she realized that:
Biology matters. Gender is not a social construct. Marriage is a safe space for children and should not be redefined. Same-sex couples don’t and can’t attend to every need of their kids.
“Whenever you see a picture of a kid with same-sex parents, you’re looking at a picture of a child missing a parent,” Katy writes. “No matter how well-heeled, educated, or exceptional at mothering or fathering the moms or dads may be, they’re incapable of providing the gender-specific parenting and biological identity exclusive to the parent missing from the picture. Read the rest: same-sex parents don’t and can’t give best outcomes to children.
The day after being exposed to pornography and being molested, 3-year-old Anne Paulk started dressing like a Tomboy.
“I was no longer interested in dolls,” she says on a CBN video. “It was everything to do with throwing off the feminine because it was unsafe.”
Anne was raised in a Christian home, but the seeds for lesbianism had been planted right there.
“I felt responsible for what an older person did to me,” she says. “I felt uncomfortable in my own body. I felt unsafe.”
When she was six, a little girl “made a pass at” her and kissed her.
“What I realized right then is I felt like I had power as opposed to being powerless in the other circumstance,” she says. “And that ignited a lesbian desire later on in life. That was really the starting point of that turning of my feelings.”
Up until college, she pretty much suppressed the lesbian inclination. But when she entered the university, a libertine environment and substance abuse created the perfect cocktail to carry out her curiosities and cloud her confusion even more.
“I found myself quickly getting involved in alcohol and drugs on campus. They were everywhere. And that also gave me room to explore my sexual desires.”
She sought counseling, but her advisor told her “the Bible and homosexuality go just fine together.”
Nevertheless, “I just sensed that there was something off about that,” she admits.
Even though she had been raised in a Christian home, Anne had only heard about God; she had never known Him personally.
She began attending gay support groups and hoped to find a partner to marry and live happily ever after.
The Holy Spirit had other things in mind. One day right in the middle of the gay support meeting, he spoke to her heart: The love that you’re seeking, you’re not going to find here.
“It felt like a ray of light from heaven hit me right in the middle of this gay meeting,” says Anne. Read the rest: Anne Paulk former lesbian.
At one time, Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett didn’t know that there was an academic degree called a PhD. Now, the outspoken Christian is leading a National Institutes of Health team developing a Covid vaccine.
“I would have never thought that I would be in this moment right now,” the viral immunologist says on Black Enterprise. She wonders if she is living in an alternate universe, one in which God is shaking the table.
Kizzmekia grew up in North Carolina and somehow caught the eye of her high school chemistry teacher who hooked her up with summer internships in a lab at the University of North Carolina after the 10th and 11th grades.
“I was in the middle of a laboratory with this world-renowned organic chemist, his name is James Morkin. And he paired me with a black grad student, Albert Russell,” said Corbett. “Beyond the love for science and the scientific process, I learned that being him was possible.”
Mentors helped her climb the heights of science, along with her Christian faith, she says.
“I am Christian. I’m black. I am Southern, I’m an empath,” she says. “I’m feisty, sassy, and fashionable. That’s kind of how I describe myself. I would say that my role as a scientist is really about my passion and purpose for the world and for giving back to the world.”
Researching on the cutting edge of science to counter the world’s deadliest disease in 100 years allows Kizzmekia to combine her faith and intellect to serve others.
“My team is responding to the world’s most devastating global pandemic in the last hundred years,” she says. “There’s something to be said about knowing who you are.”
Outgoing president Trump visited her lab and became aware of her service to the country. Read the rest: women of color in science.
Michael W. Smith played drums at age five, picking out rhythms from the radio and replicating them precisely. He wrote his first song at the same age.
He joined the choir, felt the call of God in his Baptist church and only ever wanted to pick up the guitar and worship. “My heart was really after the Lord,” he says on an I am Second video.
So how did the laser-focused Christian music prodigy become the disoriented, drug-abusing prodigal around age 17?
“All my older friends went off to college and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to be a songwriter,” he explains. “I was playing in after-hours bars from 1:30 to 5:30, just in a bunch of trouble.
“I began to be enticed that maybe you could play with the fire and you won’t get burned.”
The first joint brought great guilt but it didn’t stop him from continuing down the slippery slope, using LSD and cocaine.
“I’m just doing this stuff and I got sucked into this thing,” he says. “For some reason, I justified it. You lose perspective. It’s almost like your compass sort of just like disappears and you enter this whole other world and you don’t really realize it’s going down. Then all of a sudden it’s too late.”
Next Michael nearly died when he snorted what he thought was cocaine and wasn’t.
“I thought I was going to die literally, but that’s when I began to pray that God would do whatever He had to do to get my attention,” he says. “I needed to be rescued.”
Rescue came in 1979 after midnight on the linoleum floor of his kitchen outside Nashville.
“I went on the floor and just began to shake,” he remembers. “I was curled up like a baby. I was just weeping, just weeping. I cried. I cried out for the God of the universe. I haven’t been the same since; it all changed.
He made key changes in his life. He got into relationship with the right people, brothers who would hold him accountable.
Eight months later, Michael landed his first songwriting contract.
Rev. Walter B. Hoye II believes the Civil Rights movement has sold out on the abortion issue.
“In the middle of the 60s, all of us knew that Planned Parenthood was just a racist dog,” he charges on LiveAction. “We’ve sold our civil rights legacy. We’ve said publicly, ‘a woman’s right to choose’ is a civil right. If you can’t get out of the womb, nothing — nothing — matters.”
In 1965, Cecil Moore, then-president of the NAACP, recognized the threat when he said, “Planned Parenthood’s plan is replete with everything to help the Negroes commit race suicide.”
So how did a movement calling for equality and respect for life degenerate?
It was coopted, Rev. Hoye contends. “The first two pro-life groups in America were Black,” Hoye says. “Even the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers were pro-life. We’ve always known what abortion is and what abortion does. Always. And what we’ve done as a people — it’s us, it’s not white folk, it’s us — we sold out.
“The problem isn’t that Margaret Sanger fooled us,” he adds. “Yeah there was a Negro Project. And yeah, she paid many of the most influential Black history figures to be part of that project. They’re listed and that’s not a secret. They were getting paid to preach birth control sermons in church.”
Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, started advocating birth control as part of her eugenicist’s beliefs (the idea of Hitler that the white race is superior and other races needed to be eliminated from the Earth). Abortion factored into the end game.
As a result of this nefarious plan, the black community is in jeopardy of declining as a population, Hoye says. Read the rest: Civil Rights abortion
As he lay on the floor from a sudden and unexplainable fall, John Hawkins shuddered, pondering the implications. There had been no obstacle to trip on. He had simply collapsed.
“it scared me to death because I didn’t trip on anything,’ the retired carpenter-turned-pastor says on a 700 Club video. “My hip just gave out. I didn’t understand why.”
John was 60. An orthopedic specialist said a tendon in his hip was gone and bone was grinding against bone, generating extreme pain. He would need surgery. But he didn’t like what he read about alloy hip replacement recalls. (Surgeons now use plastic.)
“I’m too young to be acting like I’m 89,” the retired carpenter-turned-pastor says on a 700 Club video. “I couldn’t move, and I didn’t like it.
John started using a cane and needed help from his wife, Rose, to put on his shoes and get in and out of the tub. The pain was so bad that most of the time he just wanted to stay home, feeling miserable.
“I’ve always been active, and I liked to work. I worked with my hands,” he says. “My mom was a good example of work and a lot of good work ethic in my family. Everybody worked all their life, always worked for what you want.”
Eventually, he realized he needed to pray for a healing.
Eight thousand people a month searched Google in Canada to ask about suicide and the first article at the top of the search page is: “Seven Painless Ways to Commit Suicide.”
This fact disturbed James Kelly and he resolved to do something by marrying Christianity to technology.
But the young minister in Waterloo, Ontario, didn’t know what he could do. Fortunately, he knew guys who could, techies who were Christians but didn’t know what role they could fill in the church. They didn’t want to do public speaking, and they couldn’t strum a guitar. They were nerds. What could they do for Jesus?
James gathered a bunch of them together in a coffee shop 2016 and asked how to solve the suicide search conundrum on Google. They went to work on the assignment and managed to place a website on top that offers hope and persuades despairing people to NOT take their lives.
A year later, a team member was talking about the site to a friend who suddenly seized her arm with eyes widening. What was the URL? she asked. The team member answered. The friend started misting in her eyes. Just the night before, she contemplated suicide and searched Google.
“I landed on that website and that site saved my life,” she confided.
The URL is howtokillyourself.org, which is a strategy to respond to the search terms. But inside the website there is encouragement for people struggling. There’s a video about Kevin Hines, who attempted and regretted suicide. The three tenets are: you are not alone, here’s information, here’s a phone number.
“Did anyone know where he could build a website that could literally save people’s lives?” James asks on a This Is Me TV video. “The Lord’s like, yep.”
Today, James leads FaithTech, a place where Christian technology is a thing. Since starting in Waterloo, it has grown to major cities in Canada with “hackathons,” events where techies brainstorm solutions for ministries and kingdom business. It has inspired knockoffs in the United States.
James was drawn toward trouble like many 13-year-olds. He had begun to dabble in the party scene. But his dad slapped a Bible down in front of him and asked him to meditate for a couple hours on Matthew 7:13: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
Kelly got it. Instead of living wobbly faith, he made the convictions his own, got baptized and put on a Jesus bracelet, which he would deliberately leave on the table to witness.
His dad and siblings were all business majors in college, so he followed suit. But when he consulted a mentor, he got clarity as to what he most wanted to do in life: usher people into the Kingdom.
With his wife, he lived in South Sudan for three months to see what the rest of the world looked like. From that experience, he determined not to do “parachute ministry” — live in a rich neighborhood and land in a poor neighborhood for short-term ministry.
After venturing into the isolated Andes mountains of Colombia to reach the unreached Motilone tribe for Jesus, 19-year-old Bruce Olson was ambushed and shot in the leg with an arrow in 1961. His Yukpa guide fled as six warriors moved in and captured him, forcing him to stand and walk six miles to their tribal hut.
The Motilone indigenous peoples (they call themselves Bari) were feared by all outsiders because they killed anyone and everyone who made contact with them. Bruce says that such hostility stemmed from their fear that outsiders were cannibals, according his interview on the Strang Report podcast.
Bruce was allowed to recover, guarded in the hut. Three days after his capture, his first meal was a palm tree maggot, which he didn’t know how to eat. He was famished and when he cracked the exoskeleton with his teeth, the contents burst over his face and tasted like liquefied bacon and eggs.
When he spotted bananas hanging in the upper supports of the communal hut, his eyes pleaded with his captors to be able to eat one, which they granted. He quickly learned the word for banana and would ask often for the tasty treat. On the third occasion that he asked for a banana, they brought him an ax instead, and that’s how he discovered their language is tonal.
“I felt as a young Christian convert in Minneapolis that my place would be among the unevangelized tribal people of South America,” he says. “I felt uniquely drawn to Colombia because I liked the literature of Colombia. I bought a one-way ticket to Colombia. After one year of learning Spanish, I ventured into the jungle to make contact with the Bari people.”
Eventually, the Motilone realized that Bruce was not a hostile threat but a human being just like them. He learned their language and learned to fish and live among these primitives. He was accepted by everyone except a certain fearsome warrior who could not reconcile with the idea of a friendly outsider and threatened to kill Bruce.
On one night, the mighty warrior came to take his life. But Bruce had fallen gravely ill with jaundiced eyes, and so the warrior desisted. Tribal superstitions forbade killing sickly persons.
Bruce — or Bruchko, as they called him — was essentially “civilization’s” first contact with the tribe that killed all previous Colombian emissaries, prospectors and oil explorers. He would travel into cities to buy medicines and supplies. On one such trip, he discovered a newly-invented flea collar for pets. He bought one — for himself — and wore it around his neck.
Success for his efforts came with the winning of a convert, who was just about to be initiated into manhood. The ritual included a contest of chanting lengthy poems among the men. It sounded eerily demonic to Bruce, who was uninitiated as yet to the custom, but as he listened intently, he heard his young convert tell about Jesus as all the others perked up to his tale. Read the rest: Bruce Olson, Bruchko
Jeff Levitan had made millions by age 30, so he did what was expected: he retired to his beautiful home and a life of luxury funded by investments that would continue to churn out income for the rest of his life.
Two months later, he came out of retirement, finding himself bored.
Jeff realized that he needed something better than money and its trappings. He needed to find a higher purpose to animate his life.
Today, he’s back at financial advising and making money. The difference now is that he launched the All For One Foundation, which establishes orphanages around the world.
These are not your typical orphanages. He refers to them as “prosperity centers.”
If that name gave you pause, it does for a lot of people. They’re teaching the lessons of capitalism to poor little kids in countries with weak economies. Are the principles of wealth creation and wealth management the exclusive domain of developed countries? Or do they apply to the rest of the world also?
Jeff’s initiative is going to find out.
While the United Nations throws money at the world’s problems, the All For One Foundation is teaching some of the poorest orphans in the worlds how to break the cycle of poverty for future generations.
“All For One is doing more than just giving children of the world hope,” says a promotional video. “All For One is actively working towards building the systems needed not just to survive but to thrive. We’ve seen firsthand the lasting impact our projects have had around the world.”
For 20 years, these orphanages and schools in Sierra Leone, Nicaragua and 27 other nations, offer 25,000 kids (and sometimes their moms) shelter, food, health care, clothing and education — both regular academic classes and special financial courses.
Financial education – the stuff of Warren Buffett – in the developing world. Wrap your head around that.
For his first crime, Curtis Carroll was congratulated.
“It was the first time that I was told that I had potential and felt like somebody believed in me,” Curtis says on a TED Talk. “Nobody ever told me that I could be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. I mean, how was I supposed to do that? I couldn’t read, write or spell. I was illiterate. So I always thought crime was my way to go.”
Learning on the mean streets of East Oakland that crime was the way to get money led him to a 54-year-to-life sentence in San Quentin for a robbery that backfired and ended in murder.
Today, Curtis has served 24 years on that sentence, gotten saved, taught himself to read and learned about financial investment.
His success at picking stocks earned him the nickname “The Oracle of San Quentin,” but inmates call him “Wall Street” because he teaches a financial literacy class based on the idea that teaching convicts how to make and save money through legitimate modes will keep them from resorting to illegitimate means once they’re out.
Curtis Carroll was surrounded by the vicious hood devastated by the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. His mother donated blood to get money to feed her kids. His uncle taught Curtis to steal quarters from arcade machines.
On one occasion a security guard spotted him stealing the quarters and Curtis ran, climbed a fence, but the weight of the quarters in his backpack caused him to fall back to the ground.
When he was released to his mother from juvenile hall, his uncle told him to be smarter next time: “You weren’t supposed to take ALL the quarters.”
Ten minutes later, they burglarized another arcade game because they needed to buy gas to get home.
At age 17, a botched robbery turned fatal, with Curtis pulling the trigger on 22-year-old Gilberto Medina Gil. Curtis turned himself in to police and was sentenced to prison for the murder of Gil.
Because he was illiterate, he would let his cellmate read the sports page to him. But one time, he accidentally grabbed the business section.
An older inmate casually asked if he traded stocks. Curtis couldn’t read, much less know about stocks, so he asked.
“That’s where white folk put their money,” the older inmate replied.
“It was the first time that I saw a glimpse of hope, a future,” Curtis says. “He gave me this brief description of what stocks were.”
Curious to learn more, Curtis, at age 20, taught himself to read.
“It was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. It was the most agonizing time of my life, trying to learn how to read, (facing) the ostracism from my family, from the homies,” he says. “Little did I know I was receiving the greatest gifts I had ever dreamed of: self-worth, knowledge, discipline.”
Next, he studied finance in general and the stock market in particular. He scoured the business sections of the prison newspapers and checked out books from the prison library. His role models changed from drug pushers to William Bennett and Bill Gates.
He started investing, with the help of family members on the outside of prison, in penny stocks. He used the money he got from selling unused postage stamps and selling tobacco to his fellow inmates, according to MoneyWise. As he earned small returns, he made bigger picks.
Outside prison, his money was growing. He will be well-positioned to become a tax-paying member of society contributing to the economy once he gets out — unlike so many other inmates who are expected to “make it” outside without support or money.
“A typical incarcerated person would enter the California prison system with no financial education, earn 30 cents an hour, over $800 a year, with no real expenses and save no money,” Curtis says. “Upon his parole, he will be given $200 gate money and be told, ‘Hey, good luck, stay out of trouble. Don’t come back to prison.’
“With no meaningful preparation or long-term financial plan, what does he do? Get a good job? Or go back to the very criminal behavior that led him to prison in the first place? You taxpayers, you choose.”
In response, Curtis led the charge to add financial education to prison reform. And prison staff responded, making arrangements for him to teach about finances in San Quentin’s chapel.
Curtis not only picked up financial knowledge in prison. He also picked up Jesus.
“I want to give all glory to God, because without Him I wouldn’t look or feel like this,” he says on Inside the Rift. “Real freedom is a mental state, not a physical one. I remain cheerful due to God’s grace and the gift He’s chosen to give me. I stay focused because with this gift I have been given, there is a job that needs to be done.
Dr. Ayman Srour didn’t mind if innocent Jews were killed alongside guilty ones because Jewish soldiers beheaded his grandfather in retaliation for a Jewish soldier killed at Eilabun in 1948.
“When the Israeli buses were exploding, I would say, ‘Hail, Hamas!’ and ‘Cheers to Fatah!’ I used to say, ‘You are the jihadists, you are the truth, you are the strong who defended my honor!’ I became a young man whose heart was filled with hatred.”
Dr. Ayman no longer rejoices over such atrocities because he started thinking about his sister in Haifa. There was a terrorist attack in Israel’s third largest city and a lot of orthodox Jews were killed. What if his sister had been close to the explosion and been killed? Would he celebrate?
Should the innocent die along with the guilty?
The question began to unnerve him more and more and ultimately overturned his political worldview.
Dr. Ayman’s journey from Jew-hater to Jew-lover is a story of hope for the strife-plagued Middle East.
His story and the conflicts in his heart started in Eilabun, a tiny Arab town in Israel’s territory 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee. The Arabs there are Christians, not Muslims, so getting embroiled in the Muslim-Jewish conflagration surrounding may have been unintended but inevitable.
In 1948, joint Arab Muslim forces moved in to “liberate Palestine” from the United Nations-decreed formation of the Jewish state of Israel. Israel was formed after the world saw the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust. The recently formed U.N. voted to officially recognize a homeland for the Jews.
Palestine had been under colonial rule as part of the British Empire. But the post-World War II zeitgeist was to grant independence to former colonies, and jurisdictional authority was awarded to the Jewish people.
The Palestinians were outraged, and so was the Muslim Arab world, who mustered forces and formed armies to wipe Israel off the map. Fawzi al-Qawuqji occupied Eilabun with his Arab Liberation Army. His forces killed two Israeli soldiers. The head of one of the soldiers was used as a soccer ball in town.
The barbarism was designed to manifest scorn for the hated “Israeli occupiers.” It enraged Israeli soldiers, who shortly thereafter captured the town.
“The people who cut off his head were not from Eilabun. They were the so-called Liberation Army that arrived from Arab countries to save Palestine from the so-called (Jewish) enemy,” Dr. Ayman says. “But the villagers mourned the death of the man. Eilabun’s people did not instill hatred and resentment into their hearts. Instead, they followed the basic human principles: Love your neighbor, Respect, do not scorn the other.”
Israel’s soldiers, which soundly routed the Arab armies on all fronts, came to Eilabun wanting to avenge their fallen comrades. They didn’t have the time to bother with the finer points of difference between the Arab Christians and the Arab Muslims. Though villagers waved white flags upon the advance of the Jews on the town, the Israeli soldiers decided to make an example of their superior power.
Without any trial or deliberation, they executed 14 men in what is known as the Eilabun Massacre.
One of those men was Dr. Ayman’s grandfather.
“He was killed in cold blood,” Dr. Ayman says. “My heart was full of anger. Very deep anger.”
As a child, Dr. Ayman accepted Jesus into his heart upon watching the JESUS film, put out by Campus Crusade for Christ. But his childish enthusiasm for a true relationship with Jesus got smothered by the hate growing in his heart for the loss of his grandfather. Read the rest: Dr. Ayman Srour
Amazon, which once prided itself for offering a “diversity of ideas” in its books, dumped Christian books about homosexuality in July, including a carefully worded account of Anne Paulk about leaving lesbianism, according to Stream.
“These are perilous times for free speech and religious expression in America,” Paulk says. “But Restored Hope Network remains committed to speaking the truth in love to the culture about God’s design for sexuality. Among many in this current generation, there is no longer room for a diversity of belief systems.”
The move by Amazon to silence those who offer hope for people who want to leave homosexuality is part of a broader movement in technology in recent months to censor and “cancel” Bible-adhering Christianity. Silicon Valley, which by and large adopts values from nearby free-wheeling San Francisco, became the force, in the view of some tech observers, that threw the election to transgender-promoting Joseph Biden.
At the center of the Amazon censorship is Anne Paulk, no stranger to secular furor. Her husband, John Paulk, went from being ex-gay to ex-Christian and found himself heralded as a hero by the media. John walked out on Anne and their three children after tripping in temptation.
“My husband [began] stumbling instead of fighting well with his sin struggle,” Anne says on Ministry Watch. “He’d cover it up and hide. So at that point it became multiple situations like that. We had already moved back to Portland, Oregon, where we have family, and he eventually was no longer repentant. Our marriage broke up in 2013, which has been a point of grief. I never, of course, envisioned divorce as a possibility. So it’s a difficult process of grief to walk through.”
Gay exit psychologist Joseph Nicolosi Sr. and counselor Joe Dallas were also deplatformed by the monolithic online sales platform.
“Our mission is to restore hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, particularly those impacted by homosexuality,” Anne Paulk says. +We do that through the Christian faith — the life-changing power and incredible love of Jesus Christ. It’s not about shaming, coercion, or anything else. It’s about joy and peace and resolution of things that have troubled people.
“My book titled Restoring Sexual Identity is designed to help women who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction and want to leave homosexuality,” she says. “When I wrote it several years ago, I took exceptional care for the tone to be understanding and compassionate.”
Paulk founded Restored Hope Network on the heels of the shutdown of Exodus International, a ministry to help gay people that folded in 2012 when the president decided that gay people couldn’t or shouldn’t try to overcome their temptations. At that time, the media ballyhooed the closing of Exodus International and featured stories about a slew of leaders who fell back into sin.
But if the symphony of secularism schemed for the demise of the ex-gay movement, they must have been dismayed to see a phoenix rise from the ashes. It turns out that a lot of leaders from Exodus just moved over to Restored Hope.
Restored Hope now comprises about 60 affiliates all across the United States which vary widely from “small groups to quite large ones” and minister to thousands of people each year. More than 4,000 teens have gone through an on-line program, Paulk says.
“We have a very strong board of directors. They’re active. We have monthly meetings. They’re about an hour and a half long. It’s a very active board,” Paulk says. “We have two retreats in person. So the oversight is very strong. We are very connected to the local ministries. In fact, they’re the ones who put a name out for the board of directors. The board of directors has all authority to remove the executive—that’s me—from the position. We don’t want to do, minimally, what [Exodus] got wrong, which was little to no oversight of the board of directors.”
If her ministry was born under fire, her desire to help others found its impetus in her personal experience.
“I identified as a lesbian in my college days,” Paulk says. “I had struggled for years. I had been molested as a 4-year-old multiple times by a teen boy. What I did as a result of that was reject the danger of being a woman. That was just my story. It isn’t everybody’s story, but it is very common that people who end up dealing with homosexuality have been molested. So in my teen years, I struggled with homosexuality starting at about 12 on up through 19, where I embraced it.”
A headlong hurtling into homosexuality failed to heal the hurt. And, Paulk says, she knew inwardly that what she was doing was wrong. Ironically, it was a gay support group that the Holy Spirit spoke to her and encouraged her to find true healing in Jesus. Read the rest: Amazon censors Christians
On 24-hour shifts, rifle-ready Lee Yih peered across the border into East Germany, guarding against Soviet troops that never came. On his days off, the U.S. Army soldier fought with his wife and got stoned.
“I was real alienated,” Lee says on an “I Am Second” video. “I was just a loser, just not functioning in life.”
Before he lost his way in life, Lee Yih says he was born with great ambitions to be rich — a stark contrast to growing up as the offspring of a date rape in a single parent home. Being Asian, he felt like an outcast among all-white classmates in Mount Joy, Iowa.
“I hated to be Chinese. I told my mom I wanted to be white. In the town where I grew, there were no other Chinese people and I wanted so much to fit in. Basically, I had no identity.”
His mother bristled at his rebellious rejection of Asian culture, so she shipped him off to Taiwan to learn Chinese when he was 15 years old.
“Now I got worse problems because where once I felt so Chinese in Iowa and so foreign and not fitting in, now I’m really not fitting in because I am in China, and I am so American,” he recounts.
Then a friend invited him to a Christian camp. “I got snookered into going to a Baptist youth camp,” he remembers.
At the camp, he heard about Jesus, and, feeling lonely and unloved, he asked the Savior into his heart.
Unfortunately, when he returned to America, he forgot about Jesus. In college he joined a fraternity at UCLA. When some of his peers accepted Jesus through Hal Lindsey’s ministry, the rest of the guys jeered them. Lee pretended he didn’t know Jesus and joined the band of mockers.
He prolonged his four-year degree into five, ran afoul of the draft and found himself in the U.S. Army, stationed at Giessen, West Germany, guarding one of the most sensitive borders of the Cold War.
But as he peered across the Iron Curtain day after day on redeye shifts and no communist soldiers advanced, the nervousness eventually gave way to tedium.
“I had no meaning to my life,” he says.
Like so many other U.S. soldiers facing the noxious mix of tension/boredom guarding the border with East Germany, he fell into drugs.
“All the guys in Germany were back from Vietnam,” he recalls. “Here they are talking about killing gooks (the derogatory term used for North Vietnamese soldiers). And I’m looking in the mirror, saying, ‘Wait a minute. I think I’m a gook to these guys.’”
He also started a family — and promptly it faltered. His wife, Miltinnie, threatened to leave him. Read the rest: Lee Yih Christian
The free house and salary in Nashville offered to allow Drew Worsham to kickstart his career as a magician were tempting.
But the man who had traveled across the country in his car performing magic tricks — with a presentation of the gospel — for a meal, well, he wanted to go to the State of Washington because it was the most unchurched state at the time.
He wanted to minister to college and high school kids using magic, even though he had no financial guarantees.
“I was walking away from this sweet deal of becoming a national performer,” Drew says on a This is Me TV video. “Moving to Washington felt like moving to Africa. It was the farthest point away from where I lived in the continental USA.”
But he was drawn to the overwhelming need. Of 35,000 college students in Washington, only 200 or 300 of them attended church, he says.
So he put aside his dream for a big career in magic and said hello to a life of ministry.
“I decided to kill the dream and plant a church,” Drew says. “Then this phone call comes through. This guy says, ‘I would love for you to come and be a part of this event.’ It was a pretty large event in Texas, one that I’d actually been to as a student. That opened up the door for all of these platforms.”
Drew’s love for magic started with a Disney Mickey Mouse book of magic. Along with telling jokes, magic was a way to delight people, and every time Drew saw a new magic trick in a store, he wanted to buy it.
He wasn’t really interested in the Gospel (when invited to a youth group, he said he would attend, but didn’t show up) until an older man started hanging out with him and showing him what Christianity was without pressuring him.
The strategy of saying less and showing more worked like a magic trick. Drew disappeared from the devil’s hand and wound up in God’s strong grip.
In college, he continued performing while studying psychology. He wanted to be a marriage and family counselor. In psychology, he learned about mentalism, a special area of magic that gets people to say the word you want by subtle suggestions, as if you could read their minds. It causes a sensation in crowds.
Always, Drew incorporated the message of salvation with his magic (which many call illusions since there is no actual magic involved). For example, he’ll make a sponge ball disappear from a person’s hand and show up in his hand.
Then he will talk about how it’s impossible for man to cross the gap between a holy God and sinful man, but God provided a way through the cross of Christ.
Before graduating college during a 3:00 a.m. cram study session, he asked his buddy what he planned to do after college.
For seven years, Julie Mellor left the red New Testament on the top shelf untouched. When the Gideon’s dropped it off in her classroom, Julie was hostile.
“I was an atheist; I didn’t have any time or need for God,” she says on a Jesus Peeps video. “I thought the Gideons were taking up my class time and I thought spreading fairy tales amongst the kids”
Julie, a native of Melbourne, Australia, was a highly educated schoolteacher. She got her Master’s degree from Cambridge University in England.
While she didn’t believe in God, she did explore the New Age Movement.
But then trouble came into her life.
“I went through a traumatic period in my life, and I thought my life was ruined and beyond repair,” she says. “I was actually considering suicide. God I’m going to believe and pray to you for a month, and you got to show me the goods.” Read the rest: Atheist until she read the Gideons Bible.
Matt Cline’s agent gave him certainty: “You will be drafted” in a Canadian Western Hockey League.
But then Matt went inexplicably into a scoring dry spell.
“I had 103 points in 27 games,” he says on a “This is Me” video. “But after Christmas I started struggling a bit. There was a mental block and I couldn’t produce like I did before, and I wasn’t confident making plays.”
To make matters worse, in his second season, while he was still draftable, a big defensive player skated up to him, when he hurled the puck around the backboard and “checked” him — which means he crashed into him with his whole body at high speed. Roughing up players is common in hockey and is meant to intimidate opponents and throw them off their game.
Matt’s helmet slammed the ice severely.
“My head just felt like it was 200 pounds and was just pounding,” Matt says. “It was a pain that to that point in my life I had never felt a pain before. I lay on the ice, and I remember that the crowd was silent and the place stopped and my trainer came running out. I just couldn’t figure out how to think. I couldn’t process what was going on.”
Pain related to his head injury lingered, and he was disqualified from the next game. And the next. And the next.
He missed the rest of the season.
He wanted to start his third and final draftable season but couldn’t. Finally, he left the team for good and returned home.
“I didn’t really cry early on to my injury,” he remembers. “But I cried when I left. I remember just thinking like, ‘What’s next for me? Who am I?’ From the time I was five years old, all I had ever thought about and done was hockey.
“It was the end of a dream.”
At his parents’, he was comforted by Matthew 6, which he stumbled across in an open Bible on the kitchen island: “Do not worry, for who of you by worrying will add a single hour to your life?”
Out of his schooling he started a business, but God called him to walk away from success.
For eight years, he had fallen into the trap of watching porn, and finding release from his addiction led to a ministry to help other struggling men.
When he met a girl and things seemed to get serious, he decided to share with her his besetting sin.
“I didn’t want to have a relationship with secrets, and so I went for it and I told he,” he recalls. I “It literally felt like a million pounds had been lifted off my shoulders because finally the secret was out. Every time I told someone, it became a little bit easier to confess and the shame started dwindling in my life because I realized that people are loving me when they know my secret.” Read the rest: Matt Cline Christian
The crisis of faith came for Hormoz Shariat when Iranian authorities arrested and executed his 18-year-old brother for a minor political crime. Hormoz, who was living in the United States after getting a PhD, wanted revenge.
“Then I realized, ‘Oh, God says, vengeance is mine.’ You’re not supposed to do that,” Hormoz says on a Huntley100 video. “Ok, I hate those people who killed my brother…I’m not supposed to hate. I’m supposed to even love my enemies. Ok, I’m angry…I’m not supposed to be angry in my heart. So I said, ‘God, can I at least cuss?’ No, no bad words because you worship with your mouth. Finally I asked God, ‘What can I do?’”
The loving Father impressed the following on his heart:
Those people who killed your brother are not your enemies. They are victims in the hands of your enemies. When you look at those Muslims killing others, don’t look at them as enemies. They are victims. We have to love them. We have to share the gospel.
Today, Hormoz presides over an evangelistic outreach that is part of the tsunami of salvation washing over Iran, likely the fastest growing church in the world. While Iran’s regional ambitions and nuclear program dominates the news, widespread underground revival is occurring and going mostly unseen.
It may seem ironic that Hormoz Shariat’s beginnings were very much in the anti-American, pro-Islam movement that swept the Shah of Iran from power, instituting an extremist Shiite government.
Hormoz was a naïve young man caught up in the fervor of multitudes in the streets shouting, “Death to America!” It wouldn’t take long for him to see the error of his ways. People were executed on the streets summarily for any association with the previous regime. Austere religious laws were imposed denying people freedom.
Hormoz now says he was being moved by the masses, who mostly wanted democratic change to oust a corrupt dictatorship.
When he came to America to pursue a PhD at the University of Southern California, he saw how blessed America was and changed his mind.
He was achieving the American dream. He had a well-paid career, a house and an American wife. But it seemed empty. He chafed at the grind and a lack of purpose.
So he embarked on a quest to find the truth. He would dedicate his life to serving the true religion, he decided.
Raised Muslim, he gave Islam his first attention. But after reading the Koran in a systematic and scientific way, he didn’t find God.
Next, he purposed to finish the Bible in three months. He started in Matthew.
In his ambition to become a millionaire, Jared Brock graduated college before most finish high school, and became one of the country’s youngest licensed real estate agents. Next he bought a four-plex, flipped it and made a ton of money.
He spent the money as quickly as he earned it.
“I blew it all,” Jared says on a This Is Me video. “I bought two cars. I traveled a lot.”
His ambition began with his dad’s supposed “failure” – in Jared’s eyes.
“My dad’s stated goal was to become a millionaire by the time he was 30, but in his 20s, God really gripped his heart, and he became a pastor instead,” Jared says. “As a teenager, I looked at that and said, ‘My dad has failed.’ So I decided to make it my goal, I vowed that I would become a millionaire by the time I was 30.”
Jared was well on his way to his goal when he married Michelle and honeymooned at Lake Nicaragua where there are fresh-water sharks.
The first disappointment was all the trash along the shore of the lake, which otherwise is a marvel of natural beauty.
The second disappointment was a 19-year-old boy with no legs who hobbled up on crutches to a leaky fire hydrant, pulled out a straw and began drinking.
“Daniel had no hope and it rocked me. I had never seen poverty before. I had never witnessed environmental degradation before,” he says. “And it changed me in that moment. My dream of becoming a millionaire just died there.”
Newlyweds Anthony and Jhanilka Hartzog didn’t worry too much about their $114,000 in combined debt since they both had good jobs. He worked for a New York-based IT firm and she was a licensed mental health counselor.
“I felt like we’ll pay it off whenever we pay it off,” Jhanilka says on a CBN video. “There’s no rush, just kind of like everybody else does, you have car payments, you have student loan payments, this is just part of life.
But as they attended church, they were challenged to think about giving more to help others in need and to think about creating generational wealth, what they hoped to pass along to their children one day.
“I’m going to church now. I want to be a part of it. I want to support,” Anthony says. “The same way we were budgeting for our food and for our clothes, we were budgeting for our tithing as well.”
By budgeting, they reigned in their expenses. The couple took another step; they supplemented their income with side hustles. Anthony signed up his new car for peer-to-peer rental. Jhanilka started a dog sitting business. Anthony worked at a gym on weekends. The industrious couple also started a cleaning business.
Within two years, they had paid off their student loans and credit card debt.
“As we were raising our income, we were tithing,” Anthony confides. “The money we were tithing was never ‘felt’ because we were always getting it back.” Read the rest: Get debt free in God.
Just when doctors asked her family members if they could take her off life support and let the “lost cause” die, Lisa Martin woke up from a 40-day coma induced by Covid.
“God had other plans,” a Dec. 31 hospital statement says. “On the 11th day, Lisa broke out of the sedatives and began following Jeff with her eyes and she even moved her hand.”
Now Lisa, a 49-year-old mother of four, is being called a “miracle patient.” In all, she spent 59 days on a ventilator at Memorial Satillo Health in Georgia, including the induced coma. She suffered a frontal lobe stroke during the health ordeal.
When Lisa didn’t come out of the coma (her eyes were fixed), hospital staff approached the family October 20th and asked them to make the hardest decision of their lives: take Lisa off life support.
They held a family conference. Her youngest son was the last to speak and said, “We are not pulling that plug. I’m not ready to be without my mama.”
“They decided to give it 11 days before making a decision. That would have been the end of one month on the vent. Earlier in September, Lisa had created a living will with a ‘do not resuscitate.’”
But when the family was pressed for a decision, Lisa woke up. Today, she’s re-learning how to walk, talk, swallow and eat.
He smoked a “death bowl” — an overpowering mix of marijuana laced with cocaine, heroin and PCP — and true to its name, he suffered a near-death experience.
“I stayed up for 10 straight days, and on the last day, actually had an encounter with, I believe, Satan. At the time, I thought it was my Buddhist god,” Steve Kang recounts on a video on his YouTube channel.
Satan growled at him: I know you’re having a hard time. It’s time for you to take your own life. Cut your neck; cut your stomach, and I’ll spare you from Hell.
Steve Kang immigrated from Seoul, South Korea, when he was nine. He was among a tiny minority of Asian kids living in the outskirts of Boston in the 1980s and ‘90s and hated standing out like a sore thumb.
“I wanted to be white,” he says. “Everyone was Caucasian or Puerto Rican or African American back then. So Asians were like the minority of minorities. Depression or sadness or anger is a sign of not having something you want, right?”
The confusion, he says, led to anger and rebellion. In college, he started smoking weed with his buddies, and they moved drugs for sale in duffle bags. That made him also a drug dealer.
When the overdose fully kicked in, Steve obeyed his Buddhist god, otherwise known as Satan. He went to the kitchen and got the biggest knife he could find and gashed his neck and stomach. His mom, who was home, came in, saw him and called 911. Police came within a few minutes and wrestled the knife from him.
He passed out and was taken to the hospital. In all, he lost 90% of his blood, he recounts.
While he was unconscious from the overdose, he went to Hell.
“I’m sinking and it feels like an elevator just falling down and after five minutes of just this horrific feeling of being abandoned and fear multiplied by 100,” he says. “I land and I look around and it’s Hell. How do I know it’s Hell? Instinctively, supernaturally, I just knew.”
Demons and people were piled high.
“I feel pain and I knew I was a sinner and I will never leave this place,” he says. “It’s like hopelessness, the spirit of loneliness. There is no quenching of fire and there’s no stopping of the gnashing of teeth and I did feel heat. I did feel darkness.” Read the rest: a visit to Hell.
To combat her painful fibromyalgia, Nancy Johnson tried meditation techniques from Eastern mysticism. It distracted her for a time from the skeletal-muscular pain but provided no lasting relief.
“I wаs оn this seаrсh,” Nancy told CBN. “What am I going tо dо?’ There’s sоmething emрty inside оf me. There’s а seаrсh fоr, Whо аm I? What am I? Аnd hоw соuld anybody love me? because I felt like such а failure аnd sо weak.”
At age 24 after delivering her first child, Nancy developed the mysterious disease, whose causes continue to elude medical science.
By age 40 after delivering their fourth child, Nancy essentially became a shut-in who, befuddled by exhaustion, couldn’t keep house or raise her kids.
“I felt so much shame about that,” she says. “I couldn’t be perfect for my kids or my husband.”
“Оne оf the dосtоrs sent me away with, ‘It’s all in your head,'” says Nancy. “And that was just devastating.” She felt hорeless, facing the grim reality she would have to live with her condition.
At the same time, she developed food allergies that depleted her body. At age 49, she had dwindled down to 82 pounds and was admitted to a trauma center with a temperature of 83 degrees, a hair’s distance from her organs shutting down.
“I very neаrly lоst her,” her husband Riсh told CBN. “Her bоdy hаd just deрleted. She was literally hours аwаy frоm her internal organs shutting down if we can’t get her stаbilized. I did some real soul searching that week.” Read the rest: healing from fibromyalgia.
Despite owing a combined $250,000 in student loan and credit card debt, newlyweds Dwight and Ashley Sanders committed to paying the tithe, 10% of their income to their church.
“Money in God’s kingdom is the opposite of what we think it should be,” Dwight says on a CBN video. “You tithe first, even though it doesn’t make sense, even though you can’t make ends meet, and God will let you make your ends meet.”
Their faith didn’t flounder when three years later Ashley gave birth to Levi, a baby needing expensive bone marrow transplants, and Dwight lost his engineering job and health insurance.
Against all odds and against logic, the couple tithed his severance pay.
Every day was a stressful myriad of calls from medical staff and insurance people. Ashley, a nurse, feared the compounding interest on their debt.
“I looked at Dwight and I said, ‘I have no idea how we are going to pay this off,’” Ashley says. “I just laid my hands on the stack (of bills), and I said, ‘God, I don’t know how it’s going to happen but You do. You are our provider, and we trust in You.’” Read the rest: Does tithing work?
Over and over again, Michaela Lanning came to sleep on Grandma’s couch, amid the piles of hoarded rubbish, toxic mold and asbestos on the ripped carpet.
“Dad was very disconnected, very sociopathic, very narcissistic, very addictive personality,” she says in a video testimony on her YouTube channel.
Without support, Mom kept getting evicted, which led to all sorts of confusion for the children and instability.
In the fifth grade, Michaela got bullied because she wasn’t doing the girlish things of other girls. She was just trying to deal with her mom’s anxiety attacks and make meals of popcorn.
“I would have to put Mom to bed, and I was terrified that she was gonna die,” Michaela remembers. “Like I would tuck her in every night, because I thought that would save her from dying.”
Her mom recovered from the breakdown, but Michaela broke down and began cutting herself as a coping mechanism in the sixth grade.
In the seventh grade, she developed dissociative disorder.
“I thought I was either dead or I was watching a movie,” she says. “I thought I was sleeping and it was a dream I was in. I genuinely was not coherent. I was not aware of anything going on around me and it was terrifying.”
Every day she was in the school nurse’s office and invented reasons to be sent home, usually because of a stomachache or headache.
In the eighth grade, she took classes online because leaving the house gave her panic attacks.
“Things were getting really bad with my parents,” she says. “One time my dad was watching my sister and I, and he chased us down the hall with a knife. Yeah, we moved back in with my grandma.
“My sister and I were sleeping in the living room on two couches, which were probably from the 80s. They were covered in dog pee. They were filthy; they had holes in them. That’s what we slept on for four more years. No bed, no bedroom, no dad, nothing.”
Looking for validation in high school, she “came out” as bisexual and later as lesbian. It was an artsy high school, not a football high school, and that’s where she thought she could find support and sort out the chaos in her mind.
As the founder of the Gay-Straight Alliance, she hung out with transgenders and related to all their confusion and was being heavily influenced to change her thinking.
“I felt all of those things and I, in my brokenness and my self-harm and my eating disorder and my anxiety, all of it was coming together, and I said yeah that sounds right: I’m transgender,” she recalls. She came out as a transgender man, told everyone she wanted to be called a different name, and started seeing a gender therapist
“But in my core I knew I wasn’t transgender the whole time. What I needed was a savior. It’s just I did not know that at the time.”
When she had a nervous breakdown, Michaela dropped out of school and dropped the transgender ploy.
Michaela is currently studying at Moody Bible Institute. In her sophomore year, she attended an “alternative high school,” where the druggies and pregnant teens are sent.
“I did not meet a single kid there that did not do drugs, or at least vape,” she says. She started smoking marijuana and met a friend who persuaded her to get pregnant so they could be teen moms together.
“She was the kind of person that goes out every single weekend and hooks up with guys and does things for money,” Michaela remembers. “I was just chasing anything that would fill my heart and make me feel better. I was like, ‘That makes so much sense. I should do that. I would love to have a baby.’”
Ainsley Earhardt, the perky blonde co-host of Fox & Friends with a conservative outlook, is also a Christian who has endured significant personal challenges.
Raised in Columbia, South Carolina, her heart longed for recognition from an early age.
“I remember sitting on the shag carpet in our den watching the Oscars and our big TV and crying because I wanted to be there so badly,” she says.
Any time film or TV crews rolled through town, she would somehow find a way to get cast as an extra. She frequented auditions and worked in theater. At college, she graduated with a BA in journalism, after which she worked for WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina.
It was during college that she felt drawn to study the Scriptures.
“I just really admired some people in my life that had such strong faith and they actually lived it…I wanted to be like them because they were such good people,” she told Todd Starnes.
Moved by the power of the Word and the Spirit, she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. “I asked God to come into my life and change me.”
From South Carolina, she moved to Texas, accepting a position as a TV anchor. In 2007, Robert Ailes hired her for Fox News at a time when she “did not know the first thing about politics,” she says. Today, she does the early morning shift on Fox & Friends.
Earhardt’s first marriage to Kevin McKinney in 2005 ended in divorce four years later. In 2012, Earhardt married former Clemson University quarterback Will Proctor and the two decided to start a family.
At the first doctor’s visit after they discovered Ainsley was expecting, everything seemed fine. The baby was small for her age, but there were no concerns.
At the second doctor’s visit they received the terrible news that the baby’s heart wasn’t working.
“There was no heartbeat” visible on the ultrasound, Ainsley remembers on an I am Second video. “The doctor looked at us and she just said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ She just tried and she tried, and there was nothing there. There was no heartbeat.” Read the rest: Ainsley Earhardt miscarriage and baby.
The dead bodies hanging by a noose on public streets and markets disturbed Ramin Parsa, a child growing up in Iran during the strict Shiite Muslim regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
“They executed people in front of children,” Ramin says on a video posted to his channel. “I could not eat for two weeks, I was so shocked.”
When Khomeini and the anti-American Islamic radicals staged a coup and ousted the Shah of Iran, they implemented a stringent form of Islam that included public executions of alleged enemies and self-flagellation while walking barefoot through the streets.
“The newspaper is Islamic. The media is Islamic. Schools are Islamic. Society is Islamic. Everything you can see and hear is Islamic,” he says. They want to dish in doctrine. They want to brainwash you. We had no magazines, no books. They showed the caricature of the Israeli soldiers, killing Palestinian babies and they sowed the seed of hatred in our hearts.”
Deeply motivated to live for Allah, Ramin went to the mosque every morning at 5:00 am for the earliest of five callings to prayer a day. Every morning at school, they shouted, “Death to Israel! Death to America!”
But when his dad died, life dried up for him. He was no longer able to go to school.
“I started questioning my faith,” he admits. “Is this really the truth that we believe? I started going down and down and down into hopelessness, into depression. I left all my friends. I left all my family. I left everybody that I knew and I locked myself in a dark room, turned the lights off and was thinking about past and present and future.”
Death haunted him after his father’s death. It haunted him because Islam offers no real assurance that you will be admitted into Paradise. The true Muslim is constantly warned to do more, to pray and fast — and even join jihad — to curry Allah’s elusive favor and be granted entrance into the afterlife..
“Out of fear I said, ‘What is gonna happen to me when I die?” he says.
Aside from the public hangings, he also saw men’s backs slashed and bloodied for drinking alcohol. Mohammad prescribed public punishments to instill fear in the populace.
The Revolutionary Guard routinely prowled the streets. If you were wearing a T-shirt with the image of someone, they took it from you and punished you. Islam stringently prohibits artistic renditions of any person or animal as a means to avoid people falling into idolatry. This is why so many of the earliest architecture has ornate geometric patterns but no other artwork.
“I came to the conclusion that Islam is empty,” Ramin says. “I said, ‘If there is no god, then who made this creation, who made the stars, who made the heaven, who made the humans? If there is a God, then why isn’t He helping us?”
In spite of it being illegal, every house has a satellite dish, which is a great alternative to the non-stop religious propaganda pumped out over government-run channels.
So he flipped on Trinity Broadcast Network. He heard about Jesus. Everything he heard through Islam about Jesus was contradicted: The Son of God did indeed die for our sins; he was more than just a prophet.
Importantly, he rose from the dead.
Ramin didn’t immediately believe. He had been taught it was “baloney,” so he turned it off. Read the rest: Who is Ramin Parsa?
How dare Kumar Swamy, born an “untouchable” in India, carelessly bump into a Brahmin playing cricket on the street one day in his village in India? It was only an accident, but the upper caste boy was incensed.
“You dirty Dalit (untouchable) dog!” he says on a 100Huntley video. “I became very mad. I had the cricket bat in my hand. It’s like your baseball bat, thick and hard. I took it and gave him a whack.”
According to Hinduism, the Dalit must be careful to never “contaminate” an upper caste. Immediately, people started to gather and formed an angry mob of about 100. Stirred and restive, the people ultimately forced Kumar’s family to leave the village forever.
“My mom was constantly telling us we were untouchables,” he says. “Oftentimes she would use the words, ‘we are sub-humans’ — not really human beings. You can imagine how I would feel like a child, constantly hearing it from my parents, my mom, telling me that we are not real human beings.”
The ‘untouchables’ or dalit are born in the bottom of society and can never leave. Frequently, the untouchables perform the most menial of jobs, such as cleaning sewers, for a pittance. But Kumar’s dad made good money as a witch doctor. He talked to spirits, cast and broke spells and was highly sought after because of the dark arts.
“You could imagine how totally my family was under the clutches of the evil spirits,” he says. “It was an oppressive, grim, gloomy reality of my childhood.”
Kumar was 11 years old when he struck the Brahmin boy with a cricket bat. Usually, he played only with other untouchables, but sometimes they played with others.
“He was hurt, he was bleeding and there was a big commotion in the village,” he says. “Nearly 100 of his relatives came from nowhere within no time and they just held me guilty.”
It was probably a good thing that they didn’t kill Kumar. Instead, they exiled him.
“We packed what little stuff we had and just left the village to another village, where the Dalits were predominantly gathering,” he says. “That left a very deep wound in my heart.”
With the move, his father lost work and they suffered scarcity. Kumar asked himself many searching questions.
“Why did God create me as a Dalit, as untouchable, as a sub-human?” he said. “We were praying to all these millions of Hindu gods — and no answer. So, as you can imagine, I was left a very depressed, disillusioned, young man seeking for hope in my life, seeking for reality.” Read the rest: Untouchable touched by Jesus.
He lived in America, she in South Africa. He fell into depression. She thought he was cute on Facebook and sent a friend request. God brought them together to get married.
“I was actually struggling with severe depression and I was seeing a counselor for two or three years and I remember just losing interest in the things that I loved,” Christian says on his YouTube channel. “I was in my car and I just said a little prayer to Heavenly Father: ‘What can I do to get out of this depression?”
He felt like he needed a vacation. Oblivious to Ziya’s friend request which he ignored for weeks, he selected his vacation location: South Africa.
“I honestly thought he was really really cute. I sent him a friend request” on Facebook, Ziya says. “He never accepted my friend request, so I decided to delete my friend request because I was a little bit embarrassed.”
Months went by. Christian says he wasn’t ready for Ziya. But as his vacation to South Africa approached, he happened to notice her message in Facebook to see if he wanted to be “friends.” He sent her a friend request in August 2018.
“I looked at her profile and gosh dang that’s a beautiful girl wow,” Christian says. “She was absolutely stunning.”
When Ziya saw his friend request, she was flattered and pleased. The two started chatting.
“I was crushing on her so much,” Christian admits. “She was so fun to talk to. She was funny. We could talk about anything. We talked about each other’s families, each other’s interests. We both love sports, love soccer. It was just perfect. It was too good to be true.”
For her part, Ziya kept a poker face, but inside she felt very attracted. She asked if marriage could happen.
“I knew this was a guy I wanted to be with, but I didn’t know how because he was halfway across the world,” Ziya shares. “I was in the other part of the world and it seemed so impossible. I knew that I was falling in love with him.”
It seemed natural, since he was going to visit her country, to meet up with her in person. She lived in the city of George, so Christian and his brother scheduled a visit.
In November of 2018, Christian and Connor landed in Johannesburg. Their first activity was diving in the shark cage, which was exciting. But all the while, he kept thinking about Ziya.
“I was so nervous and excited at the same time,” Christian says. “I kind of wanted this stuff to just be done with this, so I could go see her.” Read the rest: Christian and Ziya interracial romance.
With the exception of her husband who was Christian, Deepa Srinivas disdained Christians in her native area of Andhra Pradesh, India.
“Back in my village, even today, Christianity is treated very low,” Deepa says on a 100Huntley video. “During those days, I never liked to get connected to Christians or Christianity.”
That’s why she performed endless rituals to the Hindu pantheon worshiped by her family.
“My family is from a strong Hindu religion background with traditions, a lot of traditions,” she says. “My parents would be into a lot of idol worship. I used to think if I perform rituals, something good would happen to me and my family. Wherever I used to see a tree, I used to bow down to it and pray, even if it is on a road.”
While she married a Christian man, she never intended to adopt his religion.
God surprised her, however, with several miraculous incidents. One was a girl who spread rumors about her.
Deepa had tried to help her. This girl was a beautician but needed clients, so Deepa connected her with some contacts.
Biting the hand that fed her, the beautician spread a rumor about Deepa, causing her to lose all her friends.
“I was left all alone” Deepa says. “I was really upset, and I was not really happy with that girl at that point of time.”
Because she interacted with churches due to her husband, a pastor called her randomly one day and prophetically asked her if she was experiencing anxiety
“I was surprised and asked God, ‘Can God speak to someone about me?’” she says.
Taken aback by the insight into her heart, she shared her disillusionment.
The pastor responded: “If you love someone who loves you, then there is no point. Anyone can do that. But if you love someone who does not love you, then that is commendable in the sight of God.”
“I was shocked,” she admits.
The truth of scripture conflicted with everything she had known from Hinduism and Indian culture.
“Then I thought, ‘OK, Lord, I don’t know much about you. Whoever has hurt me and caused this grief to me, that girl should come and apologize the next day at 6:00 a.m.”
Guess who showed up bright and early “knocking at my door at six a.m.?” Deepa asks.
At age 12, Rachael Havupalo was lured into a compromising situation by two boys and raped. It was devastating.
“I felt like so dirty,” Rachael recounts on a CBN video. “I felt so defiled. And I felt like all the innocence that I ever had was taken from me. It crushed my heart. It broke my trust in men and of people.”
Eventually, the culprits were captured and punished. But this provided no solace for Rachael, who suffered internal agony.
At 14, she began cutting herself and picking up Gothic dress and lifestyle. She dabbled in Wicca and fantasized about death.
“On the inside I felt so dead and so numb,” she says. “I just really wanted to die.”
All through her teens and 20s, Rachael used drugs and did time in prison for her addiction.
At age 21, she had a little girl and became a single parent. She had a brief marriage that ended in divorce, then lost custody of her child.
Sadly, her response to the trauma was to self-medicate with meth.
“My heart was really broken,” says Rachael. “There was an emptiness that came that’s indescribable.”
One day, she visited a “friend,” who locked her in, drugged her with heroin and raped her for three days.
“Any amount of peace I had in my heart and any hope that I had of anything that would ever get better was completely taken away,” she says. “I was so terrified and I asked God, ‘Please, please God, don’t let me die.’” Read the rest: From medicating to missionary.
After four failed marriages, Ruth Graham, the famous evangelist’s daughter, realized she had abandonment issues that could be traced to her childhood.
Billy Graham was always on the road for crusades or preparing for an event. Daughter Ruth had little quality time with her dad as she was growing up.
“If we find that we are repeating a sin or repeating a pattern, we have to look at the core issue and I had to look at the core issue,” Ruth says on a 100Huntley video. “My father is my hero and he would never have hurt my heart. But I knew it was true that piece of the puzzle fit and once I put it in the puzzle, everything sort of calmed down.”
One of five children born to America’s most famous evangelist, Ruth was taught to never show anger or be upset that her father was often absent. So, she put on a mask to hide feeling neglected.
“We grew up a normal family,” Ruth says. “I mean it was just as dysfunctional as everybody else. I didn’t have that kind of time with my father and I missed it and I wasn’t the kind that would assert myself and grab it.”
Her first marriage unraveled because her husband cheated on her.
“I grew up around honorable men. So it never occurred to me that my husband of 18 years had been unfaithful to me for a number of years,” she says. “It just pulled the rug out from under me.”
Ruth says she and her husband went through counseling and she forgave him, but after he kept cheating on her, she decided to call it quits.
“Forgiveness is unconditional. Reconciliation is conditioned on the changed behavior of the one who’s done the wounding,” she says. “My husband wasn’t changing.”
Finally, the anger she repressed boiled over.
She and her siblings were not allowed to be angry as youngsters, she says. “So I just stuffed it and I stuffed it and I stuffed it and I stuffed it and that’s not a healthy thing.”
Shortly after the divorce, her ex died, and she forgave him.
Her second marriage was a “rebound,” she admits. On the outside, she was saying Christ was her security, but deep inside in the secret place of her heart, she was filled with insecurities.
The marriage lasted only three months because the man was abusive.
“I think it’s important to remove ourselves from a toxic situation, out of an abusive situation,” she says.
Not long afterward, she remarried a man she adored, but he called it quits after a decade.
“I was just devastated, just totally devastated,” she says.
Annie Lobert was raised in Minneapolis. Her alcoholic father was relentlessly harsh toward her, so when the boys paid her compliments in high school, she swooned. Her high school sweetheart talked of forming a family, but then she found out he was cheating.
“I completely took my entire heart and gave it to this boy and when I found out that he was sleeping with several of my best girlfriends, it was such a shock to me.”
Annie moved out on graduation day. She was working three jobs to make ends meet, so when a friend told her she had a Corvette in Waikiki and a lavish lifestyle spending days on the beach, she agreed to visit.
“I knew something wasn’t right, but the lure of the possibility of having nice things and finally having money that I never had growing up” was too much to resist, she says.
Her friend was prostituting herself, and Annie joined her.
“I became a different person, became the harlot, became the Queen of Lies, that Jezebel,” she says. “I was embraced by the devil and his false love.”
At first the money was good, really good: between $1,000 and $10,000. But later she fell for a sweet-talking guy who took her to Las Vegas.
After she arrived she discovered her “boyfriend” was actually a pimp. She now had to work for him under threat of life.
After a day of working, she came home with a wad. “Break yourself,” he told her, meaning that she must hand over all the money to him. This was very different from his charming demeanor earlier, so she resisted.
“He proceeded to take me out by my hair,” she remembers on an I am Second video. “He choked me. He threw me on the porch on my knees and he started kicking me. My nose broke. My ribs broke.
“I was looking at the devil.”
He raped her, held a gun to her head and let her know she would never escape alive.
After five years, she managed to get free.
“You’ll leave the money, the cars, the houses all behind, because when you leave a pimp, you leave with nothing,” she says.
Annie wasn’t as young anymore, so the money wasn’t as good. She developed cancer and lost all her hair undergoing chemotherapy.
She started taking painkillers for bone pain and became addicted. From there, she went on to cocaine. She was wearing wigs and staying in seedy motels. Feeling debased and dirty, she decided one night to end it all with an overdose of freebase cocaine
“I went completely blind,” she recalls. “It’s like the whole room, the light that was on in that room turned dark, and I remember laying there. And I felt this demonic presence just come over me. I got really really scared and I just instinctively knew I knew that I was at death’s door.” Read the rest: Annie Lobert Hookers for Jesus.
As far as required qualifications, Brigitte Bedard possessed all that is needed for a militant feminist: she hated men, she hated Christianity and she was a lesbian.
As a young person growing up in Montreal, she got into drinking and drugs and experienced the thrill of libertine life.
“I discovered intensity of what I experienced for the first time in my life, something that was you know like so strong,” she says.” I was feeling alive.”
Hurtling into sin, she left behind any notion of faith and the ways of her parents. She was particular impressed with feminist teachings at college and fully adopted them.
“I was the good one. I was the victim, I was a woman,” she says. “Men, history, the church and God were wrong.”
She fell into the lesbian lifestyle and adopted it as her identity. She felt complete, whole and independent. She didn’t need a man.
While she projected affirmations of feminism, she secretly longed for a family and children.
“It was a big paradox. You hate men, but you want to be with them,” Brigitte says. “You cannot live with them and you can’t live without them. I wanted to marry, have children and a house — secretly, secretly, deep down.”
The internal contradictions bugged her and left her feeling ultimately dissatisfied
“The emptiness was like I didn’t feel anything,” she says. “I felt like when I was a little child. When you’re a feminist after eight years in that lifestyle, I was very confused.” Read the rest: militant feminist won over by priest.
Anastasia Ohkrimenko grew up knowing the terror of Palestinian attacks in a small Jewish settlement on the West Bank.
“The thing that scared me the most was the Arab language when I heard it,” she says on a One For Israel video. “It reminded me of shootings and rocks flying and people I knew who got killed.”
But then she was led by Isaiah 53 to enroll in the One For Israel Bible College. On her first day in Chapel, they played a worship song to Yeshua — in Arabic.
“Every note that they played took off layers and layers of fear, hate, pain, war, everything that was just choking me,” she says. “Every word that they said in that same language — that terrified me to death a few years before — sounded like the most beautiful thing in the world to me.
“And that is the power of the Gospel. It has the power to clean and heal and make us new again.”
Anastasia Ohkrimenko (also spelled Ohrimenco) was born into a Jewish immigrant family from Moscow in the milieu of conflict on the West Bank, the area of longstanding dispute between Palestinians and Jews, which contains many Israeli settlements.
As a kindergartner, Anastasia had no idea about the enduring conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, who still claim the Holy Land is theirs from before the foundation of modern Israel in 1948.
All she knew was that at any moment, an angry Arab might kill her, her family or her friends. The Jews would repeat often: “The Arabs are the enemy.”
Unlike some of her friends, she wasn’t attacked. As she became a teenager, she noted a dissonance between the loving God of the Bible and the description by the rabbis of a vengeful sovereign who would inflict punishment if you violated Sabbath. Read the rest: Anastasia Ohkrimenko One For Israel
After dropping his family off at church, Chris Wright circled back to pick up a lady walking down the side of the road with a gas can that he had seen on his way to Sunday morning service.
“She was down on her luck,” Chris said on the Today Show. “She had only $ 5 in a purse and was worried about feeding her child. I filled her gas can and drove the woman back to her car. As I started to leave, I felt a nudge to give her what I had in my wallet $40.”
The act of kindness toward TunDe Hector came at her neediest moment, and tears welled up in her eyes.
Three years later, Chris’s mom suffered a life-threatening disease and was hospitalized. After days, she was released but needed a nurse’s aide to monitor her at home.
The nurse’s aide turned out to be the same woman he helped at the side of the road – TunDe. At first, Chris didn’t recognize her and TunDe didn’t recognize Chris because the day he popped by he was wearing sweatpants and a cap on backwards.
But they did get to talking, and TunDe found out that Chris attended Cornerstone Church in Athens, Georgia. That’s when she brightened and recounted the story of how “a young man” from that church had performed an act of kindness to her three years earlier.
“My jaw dropped,” Chris says.” I couldn’t believe it. I saw myself three years earlier being tugged to help a stranger.” Read the rest: What it means to be Christian?
Vivian Herrera worked out intensely. She wanted her ex to feel sorry for cheating on her. She called the results her “revenge body.”
She uploaded 10,000 sexy shots to Instagram, attended raves and did drugs every other weekend when her ex had custody of their baby. She also fought with him every chance she could.
Vivian didn’t really know God through her church upbringing. By 18, she picked up on the “law of attraction,” the New Age idea that positive thoughts bring positive results, and she was making good money as a saleswoman at LA Fitness in La Habra, CA.
“I was attracting all this stuff, but I was still empty,” she says on her Faith with Vivian channel.
As she grew more self-centered in the quest for money and adulation from boys, she lost all her friends from high school. “All I cared about was money and working out,” she admits. “They wanted nothing to do with me because I was so selfish.”
She fell in love, moved in with her boyfriend and had a child by him, but when he cheated on her, she reacted with volcanic anger.
“I got so mad guys. I went to his job, and I keyed his car,” she admits. “I threw all his stuff. I cursed him. I told him he deserves to go to hell.”
The purpose of her life was to make him regret his infidelity. She trained hard to get a sexy body for a bikini competition that would make him eat his heart out.
“I was getting my revenge body,” she says.
In her headlong plunge into sin she slept around, did drugs, and traveled to Las Vegas as often as possible to party. Instead of worrying about her baby daughter, she danced the night away at raves whenever her ex had their daughter.
“I was literally doing anything to numb the pain,” she says. “Living for money, weed, alcohol partying, concerts, it was pretty empty. My life really had no meaning at this point. I was literally just trying to forget the pain that I was in. I knew what I was doing was wrong.”
She had started going to church, but instead of “leaning in” on God in her time of crisis, she walked away from Him.
Sayeed Badshah doesn’t know his birthday, his mother’s name, his father’s name or where he was born.
The last thing he remembers, when he was 3, his mother tried to run away, and the alcoholic father caught them in their flight and beat his mother to death. His two older sisters took him to Mumbai, where he was separated from them.
An Indian constable brought him to an orphanage, where he was abused both physically and sexually until age 7.
“At the age when children are supposed to play with their toys, I went through things that I can’t even describe,” Sayeed says on a Your Living Manna video. “That brought a lot of hatred in my life.”
He ran away and asked for a job everywhere. Nobody took him seriously, until he got a washer job. When he got fired from that, he resorted to begging at stop lights and in the trains. With his only T-shirt, he would sweep the inside of the passenger train and then pass through the crowd asking for a handout.
“That became my life,” he says. “Many a time I would not get even one single meal all day long. I used to wait outside the restaurant for people to throw away their food. I used to fight with dogs and grab food from their mouths.”
Baths were twice a year. He didn’t have a change of clothes.
“My body used to smell,” he says. “Nobody would come close to me.”
Born a Muslim, he went to the mosque and prayed “with all my heart thinking that Allah would give me love, that Allah would save me,” he says. “But I was wrong. Allah did not save me.”
He tried the Hindu temple and prayed. Likewise, no one answered.
A friend said that anything you believe in is god. So he erected a small temple to a stone next to the traffic light where he begged.
“I began to worship that stone every day and put flowers and everything on that stone,” he says. “I was thinking something would happen, but nothing happened. So I kicked the stone and said, ‘There is no god.’” Read Sayeed Badshah, pickpocket from India comes to Christ
Backslidden Jesse Holguin was going to avenge the shooting of his cousin, but as he was kicking down the murderer’s door, the man fired at him from a side window.
“I got shot; I didn’t know I was,” Jesse says on a Prager U. video. “I didn’t hear the gunshot and I didn’t feel it or nothing. I just I was on the floor, and he was trying to shoot me some more and I was trying to pull myself with my arms.”
He fell into gangs because “every single member in my family, every single male was a gang member,” he says.
From a young age, Jesse was involved in shootings.
“As other kids wanted to maybe grow up to be an athlete or wanted to be a movie star or something like that, my goal my whole life since I can remember I was wanting to be a gang member,” Jesse says.
Every weekend, he, his brothers and his homies were getting shot at.
“My family had a good reputation around the neighborhood I was in and all that,” Jesse relates. “I tried to earn my own respect.”
It wasn’t long before he wound up in Youth Authority jail, “our worst nightmare.”
“My first night, I go in the shower and some guy runs in the shower with me with a shank (a knife),” he says. “I’m in the shower a little kid naked. He’s gonna stab me in the shower, and I was scared. But I told him, ‘What? Go ahead, stab me. What’s up? I ain’t scared. What’s up?’”
The front of fearlessness worked. The threatening kid backed down.
“That was just my first day,” he says. “They called it gladiator school.”
Jesse was released from the Youth Authority to a hero’s homecoming. In thug life, serving time is like earning your stripes in the military. Upon release, he was named leader of the entire gang.
“I ended up achieving the greatest that you could hope for in that lifestyle,” Jesse says. “I ended up being the leader of my gang and my gang was a big, powerful respected gang. I had respect. I had women, I had everything. But I still wasn’t happy.”
In addition to being the leader of the gang, Jesse also worked a job. His boss happened to be a Christian and would talk constantly about Jesus.
“I never heard it the way he was sharing it with me,” Jesse says. “So he was sharing me telling him about Jesus and things like that, and I told him, ‘You know what? That sounds good. Maybe one day, if I ever get married and stuff like that, maybe maybe I’ll go to church.’”
The Undertaker — WWE’s longest-running and most-heralded villain — has had a major change of heart thanks to his wife Michelle McCool who married him only after “she realized I wasn’t Satan,” he says.
Mark Calaway resisted accompanying his blonde wrestler wife to church because, after 17 surgeries, he didn’t look forward to bowing down at the altar and because he feared “the pastor’s going to see me and he is just going to throw fire and brimstone right me,” he says on a YouTube video.
“I went reluctantly, but once I got there I found myself going from being tense and pensive to kind of leaning in and like, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’ That started my journey.”
Mark grew up in a Catholic school with nuns enforcing the rules with cracks on the head in Houston, Texas. The 6’10” 309-lb behemoth was drawn to sports, basketball and football, and even played for the Rams in 1985-86 before donning a red mask in the ring in his original guise as Texas Red.
In 1989, he was re-christened “The Master of Pain,” with an invented criminal backstory as a recently-released killer from Atlanta, but by the end of the year he had a new name with a new schtick that stuck: he became The Undertaker, a persona that endured three decades and won 21 straight matches.
All the way, he lived “a life of excess” and cycled through two marriages before he met and married Michelle McCool in 2010. He retired from wrestling in June of 2020 after concussions and injuries made it increasingly difficult to perform on par.
When he saw Michelle McCool, he noticed her terrific work ethic and golden locks.
She wanted nothing to do with him.
“She was truly terrified of me,” Mark says. “She did not want anything to do with me.”
But he wore he down. He also proved to her that the bad guy persona in front of the camera had nothing in common with his heart. Read the rest: The Undertaker is Christian
A desperate mother’s voice pleaded on the other end of the phone, apologizing, crying and begging Pastor Lee at 3:00 a.m. to open his front door and save a baby she had just abandoned.
It was too late. The frigid temperatures had already claimed the small life inside a box.
Pastor Lee Jong-rak held the cold baby to his chest and cried until morning.
Then he came up with an idea. He installed a “baby box” to the front of his church where women could drop off their baby and it would be rescued.
“It was to save just one more life,” Pastor Lee told The Korea Times.
Faced with a life-long stigma for babies born out of wedlock (and with no legal abortion laws at the time), single Korean mothers for years hid their pregnancies, gave birth in secret and then left their babies to die in garbage dumpsters, public bathrooms and subway station lockers.
When the heart-rending trend came directly to Pastor Lee, it moved him to compassion and to action. He installed the first baby box in 2009 and ran it for 10 years. When a mother drops off a child, weight sensors alert Pastor Lee to the presence of a child.
When the alarm sounds, he immediately goes to rescue the abandoned infant. His miniscule staff cares for the baby and provides rudimentary medical attention. Eventually, the child is transferred to an orphanage. To date, Pastor Lee and the Jusarang Community Church have rescued 1,500 babies.
Many of the mothers, who are guaranteed anonymity, are single and young. Others are victims of rape. Usually, they profoundly regret abandoning their child and many times pledge to return to rescue it.
“Moms usually leave a letter that carries heart-breaking stories and resolute pledges to return someday,” Pastor Lee told Yonhap News. “They are mostly in desperate circumstances, having nowhere to go and nobody to turn to.”
Ironically, Pastor Lee’s good will ran afoul of bureaucratic laws, which require mothers to register their babies before adoption can be allowed. Some lawmakers accused Dr. Lee of encouraging child abandonment and tried to shut down his baby box. Read the rest: Pastor Lee’s baby box in South Korea.
After years of crime with the Northern California gang, Jesus Gallegos finally made it to the infamous State Prison known simply as Pelican Bay. Upon his release, he would be the one calling the shots, respected and feared by the up-and-coming rank and file on the streets of Salinas, CA.
“I thought I was on top of the world. I would be looked up to. I had a lot of influence on whatever happened on the streets,” he told God Reports. “That way of thinking shows just how lost I really was in sin.”
Jesus (pronounced Heh-SOOS; a common name in Hispanic culture) Gallegos only knew the life of the norteño gang, which competed with the Southern Californian rivals the Mexican Mafia. As he grew up in poverty, he fixed his eyesight on making it big in the the with norteños.
He earned 4 strikes — enough felonies to get locked up for life. But for some reason, the judge gave him a lighter sentence. Unlike almost everyone else at Pelican Bay, he had a release date. He expected nothing more of his life than prison time or death in the streets.
Something happened when he got released from Pelican Bay in 2005. The plan was to lay low during the time of his “high risk” parole and avoid associating with fellow gang members. The anti-gang task force and FBI would be watching him closely, ready to snatch him up for any violation.
The plan was to get a job, get married, get a house and show every sign of turning over a new leaf. Then when the parole was over, he would report for duty and fall in with the troops.
During those months, he decided to drop out of the gang. He had married for all the wrong reasons, and so things weren’t going well with his wife. Any time they had an argument she would call the cops, he says.
He worked with his parole officer, who let him to ditch the last three months of parole and travel to Texas, where he took up residence with his sister.
In Fort Worth he started drinking again. When he moved to San Antonio, he started using heroin and methadone. He resigned himself to a life of failure.
“I’m just going to go back to prison,” he realized. “That was my M.O.” Read the rest: from gangs to God
The voice was good, the look was good, but American Idol judges summarily dismissed Moriah Peters’ performance based on her Christian testimony. She wrote on her bio that she was reserving her first kiss for marriage.
“You need to go out into the world and make some mistakes and get some life experience and come back,” one of the judges said. “You need to go out and kiss somebody and that’ll make you feel sexier and then come back after for a hearing.”
Moriah had given up her high school prom and cut back on studies so she could participate in multiple auditions. Their response was crushing, but she maintained her faith in God.
“I was fighting the tears,” Moriah recounts on an I Am Second video. God had opened up the doors until that point, but now He seemed to close them, but she knew God had a greater plan and His strength would see her through.
Moriah got her start in Christian music at a church camp in the sixth grade. The worship music moved her and she felt drawn to God. Soon, she was singing in her church and leading worship. After a sensational Easter performance, people encouraged the Pomona, California, native to try out for American Idol.
But judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Avril Lavigne were harsh with her and sent her down the elevator.
As she walked out of the building, a random stranger congratulated her and asked to introduce her to Wendi Foy, who helped her put together a demo for record labels in Nashville.
She was struck by how quickly God opened the next door and saw it as a miracle. Since then, she signed with Reunion Records.
Then she got engaged to Christian music legend Joel Smallbone of For King and Country. How they met was the stuff of a Hallmark Channel movie.
The woman who invited her to a wedding that Joel also attended raved about him in the car, which made Moriah feel awkward. Then there was the line of women waiting to talk with him. She felt uncomfortable joining the line.
“This is not Disneyland, and you are not Pocahontas,” she was thinking. “I’m not standing in line. This is ridiculous.”
When she made it to the front of the line she still felt odd. The dude looked like a Ken doll.
Boonk Gang — who garnered five million followers on Instagram filming himself steal stuff — has apparently come to Christ and repented of his antics.
“I know better than that, I know why I’m still standing here,” he narrates through tears in an emotional Dec. 14th video on Facebook. “Father, I just want to stand in front of You. I bow down in front of You. I wanna ask that You forgive me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
His real name is John Robert Hill Jr. and his new online moniker is John Gabbana. The 24-year-old was in foster care and got kicked out of his house at age 17, at which time he resorted to dumpster diving and shoplifting to eat, he says on a Facebook video.
At the same time, he launched a hip hop career. To get attention to his emerging music, he started filming himself stealing from people and uploaded the videos to Instagram. In one, he offers to sell a Rolex watch to a man, receives $1,000 cash and makes a dash.
In another, he gets a tattoo and moves towards the door “to see it better in the sunlight” and takes to flight without paying the $50. In all of his getaways, he hurls expletives at his pursuer.
His illegal antics got him into trouble with the law. For climbing over the counter, grabbing a whole tray of Dunkin Donuts and running off, he was arrested in May 2017. In 2018, he was arrested in his Calabasas, CA, home on charges of illegal possession of weapons.
It was in the Los Angeles County Jail that he came to know about God. His cellmate witnessed to him continually about the Bible, and Boonk Gang reports on the Facebook video that he felt mysteriously touched.
“It was a humbling experience because me learning about the power of Jesus and how humble he was with how much power he had really made me humble myself knowing how much fame I had and how I carried myself,” he narrates. “It was evil. I had wickedness in me.” Read the rest: Boonk Gang Christian now
As a part of the traveling Romani Gypsies in Scotland, David Buckland grew up in a trailer without heat or running water. His father was a farmworker and they connected the T.V. to the car battery when they wanted to watch something.
The Scottish kids called him a pikey, a pejorative term for the minority European group.
“We had to learn to defend ourselves. It was the only way I knew was fighting. I had a younger brother to defend as well,” David told God Reports.
Today at 49, David is saved after 25 years of heroin addiction. “I was a king of sin, but He is The King of Salvation,” the Victory Outreach volunteer says.
David Buckland’s dad was a given to blows.
“My father was a violent man and we were all terrified of him,” David says. “He beat up everybody, me, my brother, the neighbors.”
His mother abused alcohol and prescription drugs.
To cope with the brokenness of his home, David got into boxing.
“When I was eight, I got obsessed by boxing and put my all into becoming a Sugar Ray or Ali,” he says. “I loved boxing. That was my claim to escape.”
But at 17, his claim to escape became running with a youth gang. He drank and started smoking weed, along with hallucinogenic drugs.
“I dabbled in the occult not knowing what I was opening doors to,” he says. “I ended up becoming a heroin addict for 25 years.”
Once while serving a jail sentence, he read Blood in Blood Out, the story of Art Blajos who trained for the Mexican Mafia in San Quentin and became a big-time drug dealer and abuser before coming to Christ and dedicating… Read the rest: Victory Outreach England.
Of 50 top mob bosses in the 1980s, 47 are dead, two are doing life in prison, but one, Michael Franzese, found a way to exit the luxurious but violent life of extortion and racketeering.
“I spend a lot of my time with young people, and they’ll watch a movie like The Godfather and Goodfellas, and they’ll see all of the glamour, they’ll see the riches and the wealth and all,” Michael says on a YouTube video. “I always tell them, ‘But did you see the end of the movie? Who went to jail? Who got killed? Whose family don’t have a father?”
As a kid, Michael wanted to play centerfield for the New York Giants, but he wasn’t good enough. He tried to become a medical student because his dad didn’t want him to follow in his footsteps. But when he had a scrape with the law, Michael decided to join the Colombo family mob.
“I grew up with a distorted sense that good was bad and bed was good,” he says. “I was never addicted really to anything. I was worse. I was a stone-cold criminal. For God to change my heart and mind, it took years.”
In 1980, Michael was named a captain on the streets. With a shrewd cunning to cook up scams, he worked his way up in the mob, generating $5 million a week defrauding gas tax from the government all along the East Coast.
“The gang life is an evil lifestyle,” he says. “The reason I say that is because I don’t know any family or any member of that life that hasn’t been totally destroyed.”
His renown splashed on the pages of Fortune magazine. They profiled him and five others in an article featuring the “most powerful mob bosses in America.”
What brought 15 years of mafia life to an end? It was a beautiful girl named Camille. She was a girl from Southern California who met him in South Florida when he was producing a film. For all she knew, he was just a movie producer.
“I realized I wanted her in my life and that my life was really a direct contradiction to what her and her mom believed,” Michael says. “I respected their faith because it was true to them yeah, and I knew that I had to make some changes.”
So his plan was to marry Camille, move West, serve a couple of years in prison, get out and drop all communications with the Colombo family and turn over a new leaf.
“I figured maybe after 10 or 12 years the guys in New York will forget about me. I’d live happily ever after out in California, so that was my plan,” Michael recounts. “Unfortunately, someone above had a different plan for me and it didn’t work out.” Read the rest: Michael Franzese Christian mob leader
Add to Dave Ramsey’s credentials of Christian financial guru, best-selling author, radio cohost and television show presenter, a new title: Santa Claus.
That’s right, because Christendom’s Apostle of Assets just paid off $10 million of debt of thousands of random strangers just in time for Christmas.
By melding secular financial planning principles with Biblical concepts of stewardship, the Tennessee resident amassed a huge following after nearly three decades of counseling church members to get out of debt and save for retirement. He is famous for 10 books and “The Dave Ramsey Show” on 500 local radio stations heard by more than 14 million across the nation.
That was not enough for Dave. Apparently, he aspired to become Saint Nick also.
In December, his Ramsey Solutions bought $10 million worth of debt from two private debt collectors representing medical and car bills and canceled it. His employees (they’re not elves though) have been working feverishly to call and notify the 8,000 individuals involved that they no longer owe any money.
“I always tell my team that we are blessed for one reason, and that is so we can be a blessing to others,” he told the Christian Post. “Why the heck would anyone scoop up $10 million worth of debt and pay it off just like that? Well, the answer is simple: to show the love of Jesus Christ. You see, this whole completely forgiving a debt thing has been done before — by Him. No other gift could compare to that one, but we felt this was one small way we could continue to pass on that love.”
Recently Ramsey ran his Santa sleigh into a bit of controversy when at one of his seminars he encouraged attendants to not wear masks during the time of Covid. The media howled and portrayed him as a holiday villain.
But his latest un-Scrooge-like debt cancellation will undoubtedly improve his public relations image.
Just moments before a terrorist-hijacked American Airlines plane slammed into the Pentagon where he worked, he had stepped away from his office – the precise impact zone — to use the bathroom because of an early morning Coke that filled his bladder.
“When you are 15 to 20 yards from an 80-ton jet coming through the building at 530 miles an hour with 3,000 gallons of jet fuel and you live to tell about it, it’s not because the United States Army made me the toughest guy in that building but because the toughest guy who ever walked this Earth 2000 years ago sits at the right hand of the Father had something else in mind.”
He was seven steps into returning from the bathroom when Flight 77 impacted the Pentagon at a 45 degree angle, the third of four coordinated terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The first two leveled the World Trade Center twin towers in New York. A fourth attack planned for the White House or the Capitol building was thwarted due to delays at takeoff. As passengers became aware of what was happening, they attacked and overpowered their hijackers, saving the White House; the plane crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
“I was thrown around, tossed around inside like a rag doll, set ablaze,” Brian remembers on an I am Second video. “The black putrid smoke that I’m breathing in, the aerosolized jet fuel that I’m breathing in, the temperature of which is somewhere between 300 and 350 degrees.
“You could see the flesh hanging off my arms. My eyes are already beginning to swell closed. The front of my shirt is still intact. My access badge is melted by still hanging covered the black soot of scorched blood. The flame was consuming me and I expected to pass.”
Brian had no escape. He didn’t know which route to take out of the hallways he was intimately familiar with.
“I did what I was trained in the military to never do, which is to surrender,” he says. “I crossed over that line of the desire to live and the acceptance of my death recognizing that this was how the Lord was going to call me home.
“Jesus, I’m coming to see ya’,” he screamed loudly.