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.
After days of thanking the medical clinic doctors with canoes full of flowers or fish, the Manaos tribal leaders dressed in white sang praises to God in their native tongue to celebrate Sean Feucht’s baptism in the Amazon River.
“Dad put me under the water, and when I surfaced, I felt a profound sense of destiny and calling on my life,” Sean writes in the autobiographical Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo. “The presence of God fell heavily upon me in that moment. I had become new and everything changed.”
Worship has marked Sean’s life, ever since that moment at age 10 when he dedicated his life to Christ’s service deep in the Amazon jungle, in the hinterlands of Jim Elliot. He’s played his guitar to bring healing around the world and in the Oval Office.
Sean Feucht loved the outdoors in his birth state of Montana. His dad, a doctor, accepted a 75% reduction of salary to lead missions with Christian Broadcasting Network and the family moved to Virginia. Sean despised the balmy suburbia of his new town and felt disillusioned with the loss of the Rockies until he was taken to the rainforests.
It was Sean’s job to fish for the medical team’s meals as the boat tooled up and down the Amazon River. They ate rainbow bass and large black piranhas. His dad and the medical professionals applied the science of medicine to heal natives, and when science came up short, they prayed and witnessed miraculous healings.
His father’s “brazen” faith became a legacy for Sean.
At first, Sean’s heart was to be a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Being a worship leader was not on his radar. But when a worship leader cancelled for his dad’s home Bible study, Sean was called upon to fill the gap after only owning a guitar for three weeks and knowing only three chords and three songs.
“The night was an absolute train wreck. I continually broke out in a nervous sweat, strained my voice and broke not just one but two guitar strings,” he complains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed in front of 15 of my peers. I remember running to my room afterward, vowing that I would never lead worship in public again.”
Oh, the irony.
He got called on again and again to direct praise in front of people as the Bible study grew to 70 people. Fairly rapidly, he moved into leading youth group worship and then took over church worship. He led youth group and challenged his peers to pray for people in the local hospital’s ICU.
Also in high school, he met Kate, who became his wife. He attended a worship rally in Washington D.C. and won a state football championship.
Despite sport successes, what really pulsed through his heart was the lost. He compiled a list of the least-reached peoples on the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The opportunity to visit Afghanistan came first. It was right after the terrorists had downed the Twin Towers in New York City, and Americans were fighting the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan, right where Sean, just out of high school, wanted to go with his father’s trusted missionary associate.
The U.S. State Department warned Americans not to go there. And the Afghan Embassy refused to grant him — or any American — a visa, “under any circumstances,” Sean writes.
But the team leader was used to obstacles and encouraged Sean to believe more in God than the gloom and doom of so many detractors. “God will make a way, brother!” he told Sean confidently.
Sean was learning to not be deterred. He visited the Afghan Embassy in person and got an interview.
What could go wrong with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year-old leading worships in the mountains owned by the America-kidnapping Taliban? he asked.
The Afghan official couldn’t disguise his astonishment at the visa request.
“Are you truly willing to give your life right now because there’s a high chance of that if you go?” the official said.
Astonishingly, Sean declared he would not leave the embassy until the visa was granted.
Flouting conventional wisdom and doing the contrary of what everyone expects has been Sean’s trademark ever since.
In the isolated mountain villages, the team ministered to peaceful people in the Farsi dialect. Sean discovered that music was a universal language to bridge divides. “My guitar broke down all our walls and misconceptions about one another,” he writes.
The team had been sternly warned: Don’t spend a night in the village. Stay on the move. The Taliban would love to abduct an American and demand a ransom from the American government.
“But after spending all day building relationship, sharing stories, laughing and eating together, it was so hard for us to leave,” he writes. “Many nights, we were invited to stay at the home of tribal leaders.”
Sleeping on the roof to beat the heat, Sean would look at the stars and think of Abraham, to whom God promised to multiply his descendants to be as countless as the stars overhead.
God had done amazing things, and Sean expected to continue with God’s blessing as he carted off to Oral Roberts University. He had seen God move through his guitar in Virginia and Afghanistan, so he offered his services to the worship team at college.
No, was the reply.
It was not the only discouragement. He tried to get involved in missions. No was the answer.
In the dorm, his roommate, despite being at a Christian college, mocked Christianity and blasted explicit hip hop to drown out any praises Sean tried to strum.
“Nothing seemed to work out,” Sean says, and he mothballed his guitar under his bed. Read the rest: Sean Feucht Burn 24/7
The Human Rights Campaign is lobbying President-elect Biden to adopt its “Blueprint for Positive Change,” a collection of 85 policy and legislative recommendations. The group says it’s calling on Biden – if he assumes office — to fulfill his campaign pledge to support “LGBT equality” in the U.S. and around the world, according to the Christian Post.
Under the recommendations, religious groups who deny employment to openly homosexual people would lose their accreditation. For Christian schools and colleges, such a move would decimate them, because students would not be able to transfer credits if they wanted to move to a different school.
“In terms of accreditation, that is an atomic bomb,” says Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The Human Rights Campaign is targeting issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, cloaking them in the language of ‘science.’”
Schools must make available “scientific” studies that justify such things as multiple genders and transgenderism.
Human Rights Campaign sees its fight for LBGTQ rights as the logical extension of the civil rights won for people of color in the 1960s. They want to eliminate “discrimination” in hiring of LBGTQ.
While their goals are ambitious, they could undermine the church, which adheres to Biblical definitions of sin. Teaching morals could be construed as “hate speech” and subject Christian schools to penalties.
Human Rights Campaign accused the Trump administration of reversing advances for LBGTQ and called on Biden to reset the course. In the presidential debates, Biden supported a 9-year-old child’s right to change their gender.
Human Rights Campaign also would ban Christian schools from referring people confused about their sexuality to counseling.
Depending how far Biden and Democratic congressmen are prepared to go, Christian colleges and schools could be threatened. Read the rest: Biden threatens Christian schools.
Today, Burn 24/7 outreach praise concerts led by controversial Sean Feucht have more than 300 hubs — or furnaces — spread out across more than 60 nations, some of which are “closed” to the Gospel.
But the missional worship movement started on a staircase.
That’s where Sean reconnected with God on his guitar after a disillusioning start at Oral Roberts University. The talented musician wasn’t admitted to any band and bombed every tryout. HIs roommate wore him down with worldly hip hop.
So Sean, who had seen God visit him so powerfully before, shelved his guitar and very nearly quit on God. But the day God called him to the 8-story staircase where Sean strummed his guitar for the first time in months brought back the fire.
He married his high school sweetheart, Kate, quit his successful home-flipping business, packed up a 1998 Toyota Camry and hit the road in 2006. The plan? To sing.
“Where are we going, Sean?” his young bride asked, as related by Sean’s autobiographical book Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo.
“I don’t really know,” he answered. “But we are on a journey pursuing his presence, and we’re going to give our entire lives to this.
It didn’t sound like a plan she would enthusiastically endorse, but she was young, naïve, and trusted God with their future.
God didn’t fail. The invitations started flowing in. He turned down fulltime job offers as he traveled relentlessly to some of the most out-of-the-way places. He named the worship concerts The Burn (later Burn 24/7).
He also traveled abroad: Indonesia, India, Nepal, Turkey, China and East Africa. After seeing Hindus and Muslims convert in Uganda, he made a grueling late-night bus ride to the airport and caught a little sleep at a location nearby.
Out of nowhere, three men with AK-47s appeared shouting in Swahili, telling Sean and his team they needed to hand over their money, passports and valuables. Kicking and beating them and driving their gun barrels into their skulls, the men shouted they would “rob, torture and kill the American,” Sean writes.
The fact that they found Christian literature in Sean’s bag only enraged them.
“Are you followers of the Way?” one of them barked.
Here we go, Sean thought to himself expecting the worst.
But then the Holy Spirit filled him with an unnatural courage.
“YES!” he shouted back. “I am a follower of Jesus! YES!”
At least, he wouldn’t go out a sniveling coward.
Sean, whose face was against the concrete, awaited the inevitable.
But instead of gunshots, there was silence.
(Later he learned his wife back in America was awakened and felt an urgent need to pray for Sean — exactly at that moment.)
As he awaited a bullet, Sean felt the presence of God fill the whole room profoundly.
Since, no shots were fired, he eventually turned over and looked around the room. The men were gone. They had taken what little money he had left at the end of his trip but had left him unscathed.
“I don’t know whether those thieves saw giant angels standing in our midst,” Sean admits. “But I firmly believe that God saved our lives that day.”
His home base moved from Dallas to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. After struggling with infertility for years, his wife finally conceived the first of four kids, a girl named Keturah. Her name meant “fragrance,” and she brought great consolation at a time when Sean lost his dad, the example who had taught him to live a “brazen” faith.
For his next mission trip: Pyongyang, the capital of Christian-killing North Korea. Despite incessant supervision from a military escort, Sean and crew were able to pass out Bibles to believers. At the Korean Demilitarized Zone in the “blue room” that straddles the border with South Korea, he brought out his guitar and played worship.
Back in the U.S., he staged concerts where the first and second Great Awakening burned brightly: Boston, New York, Washington D.C. He targeted the Ivy League schools — Harvard, Yale, NYU, Princeton — for concerts. MTV wanted to produce a show on the worship phenomenon Sean led. “They could not fathom university students forgoing the life of independence and unrestraint to commit themselves in the holiness to God,” Sean writes.
After watching Jihadi John cut off journalist James Foley’s head during the rise of ISIS, Sean decided to go to ISIS-held territory in Iraq. Going to the most dangerous hotspots against all sane advice had become his M.O.
As missionaries pulled out and Kurds, Yazidis and Christian Arabs were being slaughtered by the brutal Islamists of ISIS, Sean was going in.
And he brought his wife and three small children.
“Since the rise of ISIS, all the media portrayed was death and destruction that promoted fear,” he says. “I wanted my kids to see things from another perspective, from God’s perspective. I wanted them to witness firsthand God’s power to transform places that the world deemed a lost cause.”
They were ministering to the Kurdish Peshmurga in tents on vast white sand plains. During the day, “my kids were the greatest agents of healing, kindness and joy to the refugees” as they handed out “smiles, toys and candy.” During the night, they fell asleep to constant machine-gun fire.
Sean moved from Harrisburg to Redding, CA, where he joined the influential Bethel Church and recording label. He has recorded 22 albums and written five books.
It was then God opened the doors for Sean to visit Saudi Arabia, another highly restrictive country. He got connected with an underground pastor through encrypted messaging and was set up to lead worship at a secret location in the desert.
Sean expected a few dozen in attendance, since such gatherings could bring the death penalty for Saudis. Instead, up to 1,500 secret followers of Christ showed up, he says.
When he saw it, Sean says, “I immediately broke down and crumpled to the floor. The raw passion, hunger for Jesus and sacrifice of praise mingled together and rose up like an offering before the Lord.”
He was sexually exploited, beaten and filmed for child pornography from age 5 to 9, and now Sean Wheeler goes to meetings to minister to pedophiles.
“How can a man like you forgive a man like me?” asked him a man who did prison for possession of child pornography.
“Because he forgives me,” Sean answered without missing a beat. “We complicate it. God forgives me and I’m required to forgive you. And I do so joyously, because in doing that, I discovered that it’s real.
“Look at somebody who was on the other side of that camera,” he continued. “I release you. Now you take it to the cross and you find that freedom and that forgiveness.
“You can see this weight fall off this man,” Sean recounts on a 100Huntley video.
As sexual exploitation metastasizes across our nation, Christianity’s response may be the only real answer — along with justice — for victim and exploiter.
“I just got tired of remembering my life as defined by something that was evil,” Sean says. “So the Holy Spirit came along and said: ‘I got something better. Come home.’”
For four years, Sean Wheeler got taken advantage of by men. The first time, an adult managed to get him out of the public view and took advantage of him in private. From then on, a group of seven college-aged men exploited him. Sometimes they beat him, sometimes they filmed him.
“I tell people, ‘Look, I went through that and I got beaten and I got used in child pornography and I got all kinds of things that happened to me,” Sean says. “But that is not the end of my story. If it happened to you or somebody you know, that’s not the end of yours or theirs.”
Sean alerted no one of his abusers. He was afraid. Also, as is typical with abuse victims, he blamed himself: “I believed it was my fault, which is a common thing,” he says.
At age 9, Sean somehow asked God to help, and his family moved out of town and out of the clutches of these evil men. The abuse ended, but the haunting memories did not.
He came to Christ, but it wasn’t until he started counseling in 2011 that he was able to work through a lot of the issues that were plaguing his head.
“I’m perfectly comfortable talking about this because God is with us everywhere we go,” Sean says.
For many, the idea that their pornographic images may still lurk somewhere on the Internet — perhaps on the Dark Web — torments them.
But Sean says God has transformed his image.
“He’s restored my picture and he’s restored my voice and he says you take that hope and you share it,” he says. “If it wasn’t the hand of God at work in the life of a nine-year-old, I don’t know what would have happened to me.
“The God we serve is a protector of the innocent and He rushes to our help when we cry out to Him,” Sean says.
Sean’s healing is so complete he has ministered to 400 victims of sexual exploitation and helped them through counseling.
“For years I had heard that God can make people new,” Sean says. “I said that’ll never happen to me. But I get it now. He makes us new.”
Never mind that Ryan Holets put aside his dream of being a missionary pilot to help save souls.
He got side-tracked by the Albuquerque police department, which he joined in 2011 as a step towards his goal. He got stuck being a cop.
“People like to think that the people who need help are the people over there,” he says on a True Crime Daily video. “They never stop and look around and say, ‘The people here need help.’”
When he approached a mother and dad shooting up heroin in September 2017 outside a convenience store, he noticed she was eight months pregnant.
His heart was torn. Babies born from drug-abusing mothers suffer birth defects and may be addicted outside the womb.
But one question bothered him most of all: How would the mother take care of the child?
“Are you pregnant?” he asked her, as recorded on his body camera video. “Why are going to be doing that stuff? It’s going to ruin your baby. You’re going to kill your baby.”
His admonishment brought Crystal Champ to heaving sobs.
“What do you think is going to happen to your baby after it’s born?” he asked.
“It’s going up for adoption,” she responded through tears.
That’s when the compassion of Jesus took over.
Instantly, Ryan realized what he would do. He would offer to adopt the child. She didn’t have anyone else lined up.
So instead of arresting her and hauling her off to jail, he pulled a picture of his wife and four other kids out and began talking to her tenderly. He began to win her confidence.
“I know my wife,” he told her right then and there. “I know she’ll say yes. We are willing to adopt your baby if that’s what you need.”
For Crystal, it seemed too good to be true. She agreed to meet Officer Ryan and his wife the next day.
Ryan had to prep Rebecca.
“Hey honey. I just have to let you know. I found this woman today. She was shooting up heroin, she’s pregnant and I offered to adopt the baby. I just want to let you know.”
They had already discussed adopting or becoming foster parents one day. But their youngest, Abigail, was 10 months old, and the rest of the kids were under five.
Notwithstanding, Rebecca wasn’t taken aback by the suddenness.
“Ok, let’s do this,” she responded promptly.
For her part, Crystal had searched Officer Ryan’s eyes on the day of the confrontation and lodged trust in him.
After dinner with Crystal and her partner, Tom, Ryan and Rebecca put the couple up in a hotel and provided for their needs. The baby came five weeks early. She had meth and heroin in her system and remained in the hospital for two weeks while going through withdrawals. Ryan and Rebecca took turns being with the baby.
As Ryan prayed for her and sang to her, the name of the baby came to him: Hope.
Rebecca readily assented. They both had so much hope for the child.
Ryan’s extraordinary measure flabbergasted his boss.
“This is an act that’s beyond anything I’d ever seen, and I’ll, probably never see it again,” says Sgt. Jim Edison. “I couldn’t believe it. I never met anyone so unselfish. I thought my job was to teach him, to make sure he goes home safe and makes mom proud. But here he was teaching me.”
The baby hasn’t had any complications since leaving the hospital, and the fifth child fits right in with her siblings.
Meanwhile, the Christian couple helped the birth parents also. Crystal enrolled in a rehab to straighten out her life. At the time of the video, they were sober and preparing to be productive members of society.
“We believe that everyone is redeemable,” Rebecca says. “Everyone is lost to some extent.”
The sergeant recommended him for a police department prize for excellent service to the community. When his letter was read to the all the cops in a staff meeting, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Before she found a different path, Daniela Oyeeun was an instagram girl, a party girl and heart breaker.
“All these years i thought i would be happy if i had popularity, wealth and money. All these people around me, admired by men,” she says “i thought i would be happy, but i saw that i became a slave for peoples lust, comments and likes. i couldn’t sleep at night.”
Growing up in a Buddhist and Shamanist home, Daniela would bow down to statues and mumble her prayers, but what she really wanted was to be an atheist who never would have to answer to anyone for her sin.
“For me personally I wished that there was no god,” she says on her YouTube channel, “because If there is a god, it meant that I cannot do what I want to do. I loved sinning so much that I thought god was a god who would morally stop me.”
She made herself beautiful with flash and fashion, but deep inside she feared she was ugly. She was even bullied when she was 12 and 13.
“That’s why I started to put so much makeup on because I felt very insecure and I learned to change my face with makeup,” Daniela says. “The beauty I was trying to gain was related to lust and temptation. I thought that was the only way to get love.”
While she projected an image of confidence, inside she was crumbling. Every New Year’s Eve, she contemplated suicide. But the thing that held her back was the fear of a possible afterlife.
Due to her insecurities, she lashed out at those around her.
“I was a very demonic person. I would really hurt my mother mentally,” Daniela says. “She was very scared of me because I was such a mean person. i thought it was my parents’ fault that I wasn’t special.”
When she was 16 she started clubbing and partying.
“I knew somewhere inside me I was evil and I was so lonely.” she states. “I knew that they only liked me for my body and that if they saw the way I abused my siblings, father and mother they would see me for who I really was.”
As she dove deeper into worldliness, she convinced herself she was a lesbian.
“I would try to find love by having guys and girls like me, but it made me more miserable.” she says.
Her obsession with her appearance led to surgery.
“There came a point in my life when I was hopeless. I even got plastic surgery and I thought I would be more popular.” Daniela says “ I thought I would be more loved.”
To escape the pains of the real world, Daniela became engrossed in the world of anime.
Finally, during one night of despondency, she remembered when she was 12 and had an encounter with God. She turned on a praise song.
“I was compelled to listen to a worship song,” Daniela says. “As I was searching I was mocking myself, ‘There is no god. What are you doing? There is no god.’”
Nevertheless, as the chords flowed melodiously and the words spoke of hope and new life, she felt an overwhelming peace come over her. Read the rest: Instagram party girl finds Jesus
Alton Brown was bored to tears by the cooking shows he watched in the 1990s, so he set out to change that.
“I remember writing down one day: Julia Child/ Mr. Wizard/ Monty Python,” he explains on Mashed. “Everybody thought I was insane, but I knew I was doing what I wasn’t supposed to be doing.”
And that’s how the “greatest genius of the Food Network” remade cooking shows forever to the style of the mad scientist.
A born-again Christian who unabashedly says grace in fancy New York restaurants despite drawing stares, Alton Brown describes himself as a man of faith who’s simply executing a job: he’s a T.V. cook and internet personality.
“One of the things I pray for on a daily basis is that whatever God wants me to be doing, it’s reflected through my actions, how I deal with other people, the way I do my job.,” he told Eater in 2010. “And I hope I do it in a way that pleases Him.”
Born in Los Angeles in a family that soon moved to Georgia, Alton Brown suffered many disturbances in his childhood. First, his dad died on his last day of the sixth grade. It was ruled a suicide, but Alton suspects foul play.
His mom remarried four times, leaving a host of half-siblings scattered around the country, but he doesn’t have any significant relationship with them. He keeps his mom at “a 100-mile distance,” he says. “My mom didn’t respect me until I became famous.”
He married DeAnne Brown, an executive producer on Good Eats, and appeared happy until the couple divorced in 2015. When his Southern Baptist Church insisted he work things out, he resigned from membership of the church. Apparently, the potholes of his mom’s relationships punctured his own tires.
When he upended staid cooking shows, he injected nerdiness and madcap humor to liven things up. Arming himself with a New England Culinary Institute degree in 1997, he revamped the recipe of a TV chef.
A poor student of science in school, he delved into the chemistry of the cooking process, not just explaining how but why. He tiraded against exotic ingredients and single-use cooking utensils, often make-shifting his own with tools from the garage.
He cooked up Good Eats in 1998, which ran 14 seasons and won awards. He adopted the role of Dr. Yukio Hattori in 2004 for Iron Chef America Battle of the Masters, a knockoff of the Japanese cooking competition.
He hit the road on his beloved motorcycle to feature roadside eats on Feasting on Asphalt in 2006, then in 2013 premiered Cutthroat Kitchen in which battling cooks could remove either an ingredient or utensil from their opponents to win $25,000.
During Covid lockdowns, Alton took to YouTube to launch Pantry Raiders and Quarantine Quitchen.
A popular UK Muslim apologist has validated and justified the execution of apostates — people who abandon Islam — in a YouTube video from August.
Ali Dawah, who purports to make Islam palatable to his 516K subscribers, did nothing to play down Islam’s call to execute “unbelievers.” To the contrary, he voiced full support in addressing an ex-Muslim who reached out to Muslim YouTubers..
“There’s a reason why there’s a capital punishment because people like you, little weaklings, who leave their religion and cause corruption in the land by spreading it, the capital punishment will be applied to you,” he says.
“We have no doubt, and we’re proud of that.”
At least Dawah discourages free-lance murderers, lone wolf Islamists who single-handedly carry out the wrath of Allah by themselves. Killing apostates of Islam should and must only be done in an orderly and properly organized way, beneath an Islamic state constituted under a proper Emir.
“Not individuals going and doing it themselves, like idiots,” he clarifies in the Aug. 14, 2020 video. “Not under an emir. It is done, yes. And we, you know what? we’ll be watching. We’ll be watching because if you’re going to cause corruption in the land that’s going to cause more damage to the society as a whole, because the sharia didn’t come to protect an individual’s right.
“No, Islam says the right of the community is greater than you individual. Wanting your right to freedom, which is bs, absolutely bs, yeah don’t get me started.”
Dawah is something of Islam’s Ray Comfort in the United Kingdom. His justifying of the ways of Allah via YouTube is an attempt to make converts and shore up the faith of Muslims. Dawah also goes into the streets and films his debates with random people.
Apologetics is the study of presenting a religion to non-believers in such a way as to win new followers. In Christianity, Josh McDowell did a great service compiling the proof of Christianity’s God in “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.” More recently, atheist-turned-believer Lee Strobel wrote “The Case of Christ.”
In most cases, apologists try to smooth over the rough edges of the Bible. Raymond Abraham says the violence of the Old Testament is “descriptive, not prescriptive,” meaning it was a historic fact of all migrating hordes of people, not an order from God in any circumstance.
What Dawah does then is extremely unusual because he highlights a fact that might turn many off from Islam.
True Christianity has never killed unbelievers. It was born in persecution. It makes no sense that it would then become the source of pain it suffered from the start. (To be sure, the Puritans allowed excesses, as is documented — and perhaps exaggerated in The Scarlet Letter by Nathanael Hawthorne.)
What Muslims do in their Islamic states, and what the secular media turns a blind eye to, would shock Westerners. So why does Dawah, in effect, expose the truth? Read the rest: Muslim YouTuber validates killing apostates.
‘Overzealous’ Mormon missionary Micah Wilder attempted to convert a Baptist pastor during a two-year mission in Orlando, Florida, but something surprising happened instead.
The Baptist pastor told the young man to go home and to read the Bible as a child. “I promise you that if you’ll do that that God will change your life and He will open your eyes and show You for the first time in your life, what the gospel, the true gospel of Jesus Christ really is.”
Micah left the pastor’s office in a huff.
As far as upbringing and credentials in Mormonism, Micah lacked nothing. His zeal surpassed many of his peers.
His mom was a professor at Mormon-stronghold Brigham Young University and his dad was a temple priest.
“I did not believe that I was saved by grace as a free gift,” Micah says in a Kassie West video. “I believed that I had to earn my way into God’s love and prove myself to God and show Him that I was worthy enough to be saved.”
Accordingly, at age 19, he trained to be a Mormon missionary with the best and the brightest the Church of Latter-Day Saints had to offer. After preparing at the Missionary Training Center at Provo, he was sent to Orlando.
“I was being very zealous and trying to convert people into my faith and riding my bicycle and knocking on doors, and I’d been there for a few months, and I got a little, you might say, overzealous in my attempt to convert others because I actually attempted to convert a Baptist minister and his whole congregation to the Mormon Church.”
Micah sat down with the pastor in his office and the two compared notes. Micah wielded the gospel of works, and the pastor illuminated Scripture. Micah was none too pleased with his fruitlessness, but the patient pastor encouraged him to re-read the New Testament, taking off the dark lenses of religion, and begin again “like a child.”
Micah didn’t give him the pleasure to say he’d take up the challenge. But, eventually, he began reading the Bible on his own over a two-year period.
“That seed was planted in my heart as a young Mormon missionary,” he recounts. “I took that Baptist minister’s challenge and I started to read the Word of God as a child for the first time of my life. I started to pour over the pages of the New Testament and every day that I did, God washed me with the water of that Word, and he consumed me with this amazing love that I did not know that my religion could ever offer me and He unveiled to me his grace in a way that I had never before seen.”
Only three weeks before the completion of his two-year mission, Micah was born-again.
“So I now found myself in a very difficult predicament because I’m a born-again Christian and a Mormon missionary, and that doesn’t work,” he confides.
Then came the first of the two most terrifying moments in his entire life.
At three weeks to completion, Mormon missionaries are called to testify about what they’ve learned on their mission trip to area colleagues. Micah agonized: should he tell them he was now born-again?
“I remember standing at the pulpit in this Mormon chapel and just trembling in fear, but Paul says in Philippians, ‘I can do All things through Christ who strengthens me,’ and by the power of God and by His grace, I was able to share a very simple testimony.”
Jesus was his all-sufficient salvation, he shared. He had confidence to enter Heaven, not based on works, but on grace alone. It was an innocuous explanation but the language didn’t line up with the works- and ritual-based salvation prescribed by Mormonism.
“There was a very awkward hush over the audience, and two days after I publicly shared that testimony, I received a phone call from my Mormon leadership and they said that they wanted to have a chat with me.”
If giving his testimony in front of his fellow missionaries had been “very terrifying,” being called in to give account to his leaders was “probably the single most terrifying moment of my entire life,” he says.
Apart from the sheer dread of appearing before something of an Inquisition, Micah stood to lose, practically speaking, his future and family. He would lose his scholarship to BYU. His family were in good standing in the church. His older brothers had been missionaries. Even his girlfriend was Mormon.
“But Jesus says that what is a profit, a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his soul and even though Mormonism had the whole world to offer me,” he says.
No matter how rigorously Sariah Hastings scrubbed her body in the shower, she couldn’t rid herself of the vestige of filthy men.
“I could never get rid of the smell of whatever man,” she says on a 700 Club video. “I didn’t even know these men’s names.”
The pimps told her the only way out of “the game” was death or jail but eventually she discovered another exit door when a crisis pregnancy center counselor led her through a prayer of salvation.
Sariah was molested by a relative when she was only 4. She didn’t know where to turn or who to tell because pretty much everyone in her family was involved in abuse and perversion, she says.
“There was no purpose of me reaching out and saying there’s something wrong with this or help me or get me out of this because it was so normal,” she says.
When she was 12, she was gang-raped at a party. Sex became something she plied in a quixotic search for love. Instead of genuine affection, however, she felt rejection.
“I was then known in my whole city as the slut, the hoe, the girl that you could take to the bathroom and do whatever with and she’ll be fine with it,” Sariah says.
At age 18, she got recruited by a pimp. She walked the streets and the trucker parking lots negotiating prices. One night, she failed to meet her quota and her pimp threatened to kill her.
She ran away and found another pimp who got her addicted to cocaine and crystal meth. Her lifestyle bred self-repugnance which led to cutting herself and burning her skin. The attempt at cleanliness in the shower was in vain since it was her soul that felt stained.
“It got to the extreme, a point where i just started trying to commit suicide,” Sariah remembers.
She was sold from pimp to pimp to pimp. During 17 years of prostitution, she traversed 33 states
Then she got pregnant with a second child. Her pimp told her to give the baby away to family. Instead she ran away.
“This time it would be different,” she says. “I knew at that moment that something had to change and that I couldn’t continue doing the same thing.” Read the rest: Sariah Hastings escapes human trafficking
Haithman Besmar was a closet Muslim in London when he contracted a rare virus that hospital doctors told him would kill him overnight.
“I started praying for Allah to take me because I didn’t want to be a vegetable,” the Damascus-born economist told GodSpeed magazine. “I didn’t want to be dependent on anybody, and I didn’t want to be a burden for my young family.”
Raised by a devout family, Haithman yearned to please Allah. With uncommon intelligence, he memorized the entire Koran in high school. But he started asking questions. Since it is a sin to question Allah, his parents punished him severely “to save him from Hell,” he says.
At age 17, he departed for England to study civil engineering, finance and economics.
In the West, “I concealed my identity as a Muslim because it was so embarrassing for me, everything that was going on in the Muslim world,” he says. Aside from beheading of infidels in the Middle East, the Arabs who came to England displayed flagrant hedonism (while very religious at home, Muslims often give unrestrained abandon to their fleshly desires abroad.)
“I didn’t want to be associated as one of them,” he says.
In the office, he projected the image of being a native from England. But in private, he prayed five times a day, fasted during Ramadan and prayed his beads beyond what was expected — a dreary regimen of trying to appease Allah.
“There was nothing out of love and relationship with Allah, it was always out of fear,” he admits.
His integration into England was so complete that he married a born-again girl. As they fell in love, he confessed to her that he was, in fact, a Muslim. She lost her smile.
“Your religion freaks me out,” she said.
“Don’t worry,” he responded. “It freaks me out too.”
From time to time after marrying him, his wife would sweetly suggest something from the Bible, but Haitham always took refuge in the standard Muslim reply: the Bible has become corrupted through years of copying and translating.
(Not until later did he see that the Koran’s pretensions to being unadulterated are not irreproachable either. Ninth century scholar Sahih al-Bukhari says the Koran comprises 116 chapters, but Sahih Muslim vol. 3 attests to only 111. The current Koran has 114 chapters, which means either two were added or three were removed from the original, he says.)
But the breakdown of his faith in Islam didn’t come from discrediting the Koran. It came from his hospital visit at age 50.
“I lost vision in my left eye from a virus in the optic nerve,” he remembers. Doctors warned him that if the infection invaded the brain, it could be fatal.
“The statistics are against you,” the doctor told him. “If you survive until the morning, we’re gonna have to induce a coma to slow the virus.”
At 82, Paul Cadder, was still an avid snowmobile-rider and a gospel musician. But when he started to lose his vision to a cataract it threatened his vigorous lifestyle.
“Lord if I’m going to keep doing this kind of singing and so forth, I’m going to have to have a change in my eyesight,” he says on a 700 Club video. He was worried he would not be able to continue to lead worship at his local church.
Paul had always been an active man. “I had toys for years,” he says. In the 1960s, he put out three gospel albums with a quartet, with whom he traveled across America ministering. He was a natural worship leader at church.
But with the film covering his eye lens, he couldn’t see the music page from which he directed the choir. The encroaching symptoms of old age in 2018 left him dispirited.
“I accepted it as getting old,” he says. “But when I was leading worship in church, i couldn’t see the music real well. I was kind of frustrated and I thought I’d tell our church, ‘I might not be able to keep doing this.’”
On Jan. 4, 2019, while watching Christian TV with his wife, Yvonne, the speaker prophesied: “It’s almost like a thin film that you can’t see through very clearly. God is just removing that right now. Now your vision’s going to be restored to normal.”
Paul was startled. The person described his condition exactly. “That was for me,” he thought. Read the rest: does God still heal today?
Beaten up with a swollen face, Jeffrey waited in the ER for medical attention and surveyed his life since becoming a transgender. A woman with whom he did drugs had just pushed him down a flight of stairs.
“Where did I get to this point in my life? I hate my life,” he thought as he sat in a wheelchair. “My life is nothing but doing drugs and prostitution. I don’t like myself. How did I end up with breast implants? Why do I have all this confusion in my mind?”
Suddenly, he looked across the room and saw an elderly couple. They beamed love at him. The woman asked him, “Do you know Jesus?”
That was the beginning of the end of a dark journey down the path of gender confusion, of drugs, prostitution and self-loathing. Jeffrey regrets his decades in the underbelly of American sin, but he says he’s gained compassion to help others trapped in the same lifestyle.
It all started in his childhood. Mom told him he should have been born a girl.
“When somebody says that to you, you just live with rejection,” he says. He heard his mom’s voice repeating the refrain over the years and eventually he accepted it.
At age nine, he was raped by one of his dad’s employees, who threatened to kill him if he ever told anyone.
Two years later, his parents divorced and he moved to Portland, Maine. One day in Deering Oaks Park, he met some gay men who invited him drinking. Accepting, he went with them to their apartment, where he was raped by one after another.
At age 18, Jeffrey met some transsexuals in this gay bar who flirted with him and planted more seeds of confusion.
“You’re too pretty to be a boy,” they cooed. “You should start female hormones.”
He meditated on what they were saying: “I would chew on those things that they spoke to me.” It coincided with what his mother had told him.
“I was so sick and tired of the turmoil in my mind of hearing those voices, those lies in my mind: ‘You’re, a girl. You should have been born a girl,’ he remembers. “I was so sick of it that I actually just came into agreement with them.
“Why do I feel like a girl trapped in a man’s body?” he says. “It was a lifelong torture for 41 years.”
He started drugs, prostitution and female hormones all at once.
But the promised happiness of transitioning never materialized. Instead, he had a nervous breakdown.
“In a nightclub one night I just started smashing my fists on a car,” he says.
Living in Boston, he was a transgender by age 20.
“I needed a job,” Jeffrey says. “I met another transgender in a nightclub in Boston and the individual said to me: ‘Well I work at a strip joint called The Combat Zone? I think I can get you a job’. Well anyways, I got that job and I did that job for almost 20 years.”
One day, he was taking drugs with a woman across the hall in the other apartment, and they got into a fight. Lying, he said he would call the police. He walked out and towards the stairs.
“She come running full force and just pushed me face first and my face smashed the handrail as I went down the stairs,” he says.
“But as I lie at the foot of the stairs, something just miraculously came over me and I heard a voice say to me, ‘God had to have been with you’ to have survived the fall.’
“Well, you’re right. God had to have been with me,” he replied in his mind.
At the emergency room, he waited for medical attention. His face was swollen and he ached all over.
“I’m in so much pain,” he said to himself. “There’s no way when the doctor calls my name I’m gonna be able to go walk with him out of this waiting room. So I looked outside the waiting room and there was a wheelchair.”
A Palestinian son of an imam did not sleep for three days after receiving salvation in Jesus.
“He was crying all the time, calling and crying, and said that he was betrayed, that he had been living in a lie,” due to his upbringing in Islam. “And then he just knew what is the truth. His life was so changed that he wanted to tell everyone about Jesus.”
Despite the risk to his life, this joy-filled young convert began sharing Jesus on the streets of Gaza, a Palestinian city off the southwestern border of Israel, according to a One For Israel video that documents his conversion.
To question Islam is a great sin for Muslims. Jews are often derided as “dogs” who deserve death, and Christians are said to follow “corrupt” teachings of the Bible. Since Palestinians frequently engage in terrorism, to abandon Islam, embrace his enemies and then preach Jesus on the streets of Gaza is tempting death. The fact that his father is an imam, a preacher of Islam, made things worse.
The young man came to Christ after watching an Arabic video about Jesus produced by the One For Israel Bible College in Netanya, Israel. It is a Messianic Jewish institution of higher learning and all the course work is taught in Hebrew.
One For Israel also spearheads an online effort to win Israelis to Jesus. What not many people realize is that there are Palestinians who from the foundation of Israel in 1948 decided to become Israelis and not move to Gaza and the West Bank along with their countrymen.
One For Israel has a department that reaches out to Arab/Palestinian Israelis. And their evangelism and discipleship, via the internet, ranges throughout the Middle East and northern Africa. They employ a simple Arabic that everyone can understand (there are variations through all the Arab world of the original Arabic spoken by Mohammad).
When Muslims call in with questions, they answer them at length and engage any objections. Many of these Muslims wind up becoming born-again. A lot of their short videos are oriented towards young Muslims.
Where missionaries cannot cross borders, the internet is providing an open door for evangelism and discipleship.
When anyone gets saved, they continue to disciple them online, since born-again churches may not be easily accessible.
In some cases, when a convert is threatened, they counsel his next moves to spirit him away from danger and relocate to a safe haven.
The Palestinian young man started as a seeker, asking questions. When doubts filled his mind, he sought answers from the imams in Palestine, who either counseled him to not talk to Christians or promised answers at a later time but never followed up. Carlos Damianos, an Arab Israeli convert to Christianity, leads the online evangelism and discipleship.
“Carlos was giving them all the answers he needed from the scriptures,” said Hadil (no last name was provided), who also works on Arab outreach.
The video outreach started in January of 2020 with a series of eight videos which focused on the Muslim’s main rejection of the Bible: that it supposedly was corrupted and altered through the years.
Entitled “The invention of the myth of Biblical corruption,” the series of twice-weekly videos showed the integrity and reliability of the scriptures. They cite the Dead Sea scrolls, which were hand-copied from before Jesus’s day and validate the accurate preservation of holy words from ancient times. Read the rest: One For Israel outreach to Arabs.
As a child, Kalel Pratico yearned to know God but found little guidance at home.
“My parents, you know, wanted me to find my own path,” he says on a CBN video. “I always wanted a connection with God. I was asking about angels, and so I was always hungry for God. I didn’t think that he was a personal God at all. I would pray for him to get me out of trouble. I would pray for, you know, a girl to like me. I would ask him for selfish things.”
Without any guidance he found liquor before the Lord.
“The first time i tried alcohol, I was in about sixth grade,” he says. “I remember the feeling that alcohol gave me and it was this peace that i was looking for.”
In high school, he discovered marijuana.
“I tried other drugs as well,” he says. “It hurt my parents that I was abusing substances. I would drive drunk. I was trying to numb this void I had in my life, this lack of connection that I was looking for.”
One night when he mixed up drugs in a hotel room, he felt he was dying.
“Everything else zoned out and all I was aware of was the presence of God,” Kalel says. “Every breath that I was breathing was given to me from God. I was aware that at any moment he could just stop what he was doing and I would have died.”
After surviving his brush with death, he vowed to never abuse again. Of course, he couldn’t keep that vow.
“I lived a very inconsistent life after high school,” he says. “I went to art college and was dating a girl at the time and she got me a Bible. Eventually I decided to go to church. I would sit in the pew and the message would completely go over my head.” Read the rest: kalel pratico was freed from drugs.
James Story wrote a song for his sister after her death. How could he possibly have known that the same song would save his life?
James contracted Covid-19 in March, in the early stages of the outbreak in America when doctors still did not know much about the pandemic. He very nearly died.
“I had become septic. I started dialysis because the kidneys were failing,” James recounts on a CBN video. “From there it was pretty much downhill.”
James felt chills and fever in March of this year, when Covid first broke out in the U.S. He went to the ER, but doctors, not diagnosing Covid, sent him home. Over the weekend, he grew worse and had to be taken to the hospital.
For several weeks, he went in and out of consciousness and remained on a ventilator for 15 days. His vitals got progressively worse. His kidneys were breaking down, so he required hemodialysis. Among the many afflicted by Covid, his was one of the most severe.
Meanwhile, his friends from church set up a prayer page on Facebook, and the Gallatin, Tennessee Methodist church entreated God on behalf of the retired college music professor.
As he lingered near death, James didn’t just waste his downtime in the hospital. “I took advantage of the time that I had away to meditate and read scriptures and become closer to God,” he says.
That’s when he got a vision.
“I felt like I was in a grave, and I was trying to pull myself up (out of the grave) to the sunlight,” he remembers. “I felt as though I saw the face of God and He was reaching out his hand to me. All I could do was bow down and worship.”
Meanwhile, doctors were concerned the damage would be permanent, which required the installation of a tracheostomy feeding tube.
Will Wang is lucky to be alive. Because of China’s one-child-per-family law, Will should have been aborted. China allowed families to have more than one child only if they pay a huge sum of money to the government.
His parents weighed their decision carefully. It was a lot of money, but they made the sacrifice.
Originally, Will pursued math but in his senior year of high school he grew more fond of English. Being from Shanghai, the metropolitan coastal city, he had the chance to meet and talk to expats. One was Nick, an American with whom he could practice English and enjoy friendship. Nick was a Christian and this intrigued Will.
“I used to be a pretty bad man on the streets,” Nick told him. “It is God of the Bible who has transformed me into what I am today.”
China teaches atheism. Believing in God gives people something other than the government to hope in. A communist, totalitarian government cannot allow any competition.
So Will didn’t, couldn’t believe easily in God. He had been drilled about the preeminence and reliability of science.
“To me reading the Bible was like fairytales and it wasn’t anything real,” Will says.
Will applied and was accepted into college in Detroit Michigan. A Chinese church took him in; he loved the people, but when it came to the Bible studies he was practically dozing off. Making a Christian friend on campus, Will started to believe in God — a little bit.
But what pushed him over the top was placing his wallet — with $900 in cash and credit cards on top of his trunk at the gas station and forgetting it after he filled up, driving away.
“I was really really really upset,” he remembers. “I was blaming God. Why would You make my wallet lost today? That’s a lot of money.”
He did his best to not be gloomy.
The next day, someone came to the dorm looking for him, but he was out and had to be informed. Will waited the following day for him. He was a Black man. (Most Chinese feel some amount of bias towards Blacks, Will says. He overcame his own biases instantly; the guy gave him his wallet.)
“I started hugging him,” Will remembers.
After Will thanked him profusely, the man turned to walk away. But he couldn’t resist asking a question.
“You know sir, um, I’m just curious,” he said. “Why would you return my wallet back to me with the money in it? Most people wouldn’t return it.”
“I’m a Christian,” the man replied. “God wants us to love each other as brothers and sisters. I hope what I have done to you today, you will do to others one day.”
The power of the man’s example of living out his faith with integrity caused Will’s faith to become complete. The wallet was the tipping point. After virtually a lifetime of God calling him out of Buddhism, he knew it was time to surrender completely to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Read the rest: Chinese student find Jesus when man brings him back his wallet with $900.
Mohammad Yamout barely escaped Beirut with his life, so why would he go back into the chaos of Lebanon embroiled in strife four years later and begin witnessing for Christ?
“There was a girl I was in love with. I could have gotten married to her and stayed. I could have taken these job offers,” Mahammad says on a Your Living Manna video. “But somehow I went back and when I went back in 1989 it was war in Lebanon.”
Mohammad’s dad was Palestinian involved in fighting Israel who took refuge in Lebanon and married Mohammad’s mother. When he disappeared, mom had to work two jobs to support the three kids, and Mohammad, lacking parental supervision, frequented the streets.
There was a nearby church that took in the local kids for Sunday school, and Mohammad, who was Muslim, attended for the entertainment and free food. At age 14, he was challenged to receive Jesus, but he waited until he got home in his bed to do it.
There on the plastic sheet he slept on, he asked Jesus into his heart at 3:00 a.m.
“Lord Jesus, please help me,” he prayed. “I am desperate. I’m helpless. I’m hopeless. I cannot take it anymore. I need you and with tears at that time and then within half an hour I slept, and I woke up in the morning excited. I took one of the many New Testaments from Sunday school and put it in my school bag and went to school and started telling people about my experience.”
He was thrilled that he had found the answers to his troubling questions, not where he expected in Islam, but in Christianity, and he boldly told everyone about Jesus. This turned more than a few heads.
“Everybody was wondering why this was happening?” he says. “I was on fire at that time and I couldn’t be quiet. I had to talk. I had to tell people what happened with me. I felt at rest, I felt at peace. All the answers came to the questions that made my life a dilemma and were traumatizing me because being raised without a father is traumatizing to you. God wanted to save me because God had a plan.”
His overly zealous evangelism earned the ire of his neighbors, who pressured his mother to do the Muslim thing: to kick him out. That was no problem for Mohammad. He began sleeping in the warehouse where he worked.
After extremists tried to kill him his pastor hid him for six months in his hometown. When he returned, he continued his bold witness for Christ. He joined an evangelical teacher in street evangelism in Beirut until the teacher got killed.
“You’re next,” his pastor warned him and made arrangements for him to travel to the United States with a student visa to get his undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina in 1986.
Mohammad graduated with an accounting degree in 1989 and was offered a job by Arthur Andersen to work in New York and another by Price Waterhouse in Cairo due to his fluency in Arabic. He was in love with a pretty girl too.
“But somehow the Lord did not let me take these jobs and did not let me stay in the U.S. I felt that I needed to go back.”
Lebanon was in the throes of armed conflict, and Mohammad’s old church was almost non-existent. The pastor had fled, as had most of the members. Only four older women still met together.
Undaunted, Mohammad began ministering in the streets and visiting the brethren of the church, encouraging them to regroup and the Lord brought the increase to 100 members in 1991 when the pastor returned and took charge. Out of the church, Mohammad married a Christian convert, one to whom he witnessed incessantly at Beirut’s American University.
But now that pastor had returned and took charge of the church, Mohammad felt the desire to prove himself in business. Today, he recognizes that this is the part of his history where he veered slightly off course because God was calling him to full time ministry.
“There was ambition and I wanted to pursue that dream, and I was trying to convince God of that dream,” he acknowledges. “Since the day he saved me, he called me into the ministry. I knew that he gave me the talent, he gave me the burden. He gave me the vision to reaching out to people, but I refused to answer God’s call. I wanted to do it my way.”
At age 25, he quickly accumulated half a million dollars in assets, including a factory and several stores. He bankrolled the church and helped needy people, but he felt he wasn’t at the center of God’s will for his life.
Then in 1995, “God got out the big stick,” Mohammad says.
Jordan Manji regarded The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as fun fantasy. But when she tried to answer tough questions — like where does morality come from? — the proud atheist found herself confronted by Aslan.
“I came to John 19, and as I was reading the crucifixion scene, I said, ‘No Aslan, no,’” she said as a student at Harvard University.
In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia classic about another world where animals talk and ally with four children against an evil army of giants and ogres, Aslan is a lion who saves the day by letting himself be sacrificed on the stone table by the evil witch who fails to grasp that her right to kill the supernatural animal is not the end of the story.
Aslan comes back to life and rescues the Narnians when they are on the verge of certain defeat.
Jordan grew up in an atheist home in which members of the family assigned themselves value based on what they do.
“My family is very competitive, she says. “There’s always been a high priority on being the best. So much of my identity was founded on I’m the smartest one in the room right. I’m not the prettiest. I’m not the most athletic, right?”
That worked well throughout high school, where she dominated. She was so brainy that she made it into Harvard University. That’s where her world started to crumble. She was no longer the smartest in the room.
“One of the hardest things as an atheist is all of these values. Why am I important?” she wondered. “Why should people care about me? A lot of those things come from your own performance.”
Jordan decided to be an atheist at 11 years old, at which time she began calling out Christians in the classroom and embarrassing them with “scientific” and “rational” questions that they didn’t know how to answer.
“I would bring the Bible to school with post-it notes through where all the contradictions were,” she remembers. “When I would say tell me why this is a contradiction, people didn’t really know.”
She delighted in making Christians stumble. But she slowly grew aware of her own contradictions, the points of the atheism worldview that don’t have easy explanations. This realization was irritating. What were the answers?
“Where does morality come from if not from God? Why is something right or wrong? Why do I believe in human rights?” she says. “I don’t believe in a God. So where are these things coming from? I had gone and asked all of these other people and nobody had a good answer.”
So she decided to wait for college. Surely in the environment of so much brain power and collective scholarship, she would find answers that satisfied her internal restlessness.
“I got into Harvard and I’m no longer the smartest person in the room, 95 % of the time,” she remembers.
Since her identity was so wrapped up in her being the best student in class, now her self-worth collapsed.
“It destroyed that sense of my identity and worth, and it made me wonder who I am really am and what makes me valuable,” she says.
As she wrestled with these difficult questions, she became friends with a Christian fellow student. He prompted her to think about still more troubling questions.
“I started seeing: Maybe there are these cracks in my own intellectual framework,” Jordan realized.
To quell all doubts, she enrolled into a metaethics, the study of moral thought and language. She really hoped to strengthen her arguments.
Instead, upon reading an essay by C.S. Lewis, she stumbled even more in her line of reasoning. Simple yet profound truth helped her understand the definition and origin of right and wrong.
“Essentially what he said was God is goodness, and our lives are good when we strive to imitate God,” she remembers. “It was mind-blowing.”
The bulwarks of atheism were crumbling. As a last resort, Jordan turned to the Bible.
But instead of finding ammunition to unleash against Christians, she got shot through the heart herself. The Sermon on the Mount exposed your own hypocrisy. She wasn’t sleeping around, but she realized she had sinned in thought.
“I was a good student. It was very easy for me to think of myself as a good person,” she says. “It was only when I went back to the words of Jesus and I saw ‘no, you’re an angry person. You may not be sleeping around, but you experience lust. You are very arrogant. You think too highly of yourself.’
“Seeing those things made me realize that I wasn’t really a good person.”
As she plowed through the Gospels, she got to the section in John about Jesus’ death. She was stunned by the parallels between The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and the Gospel of John.
Just like Edmund was arrogant and resistant to kind Aslan, so too had she been. As Edmund had been redeemed by Aslan, so too she needed redemption. Read the rest: Narnia brought a Harvard atheist to faith.
A picture fell off the wall, cabinets opened and closed by themselves, and the doorbell rang with no one there. Because of these paranormal activities, Isela’s mom believed an enemy had cast a spell on them. She fought it by resorting to tarot cards and palm readers.
Naturally, Isela followed her mom’s example.
“I wanted to seek answers and I needed guidance of some sort,” she says on a CBN video. “I figured, ‘Hey, this is the way to go. This is the way to get answers.’”
But she never found the answer. Instead, she fell into a trap that occasioned despondency.
“I wanted to end my life. I thought what am I living for? What do I have to live for?” she says. “I was lost and I turned to drugs.”
She started drinking heavily and wandered the streets at night with nowhere to sleep.
She wanted to gain control of her life through witchcraft, but more and more fear and loathing took over.
“I knew that the devil was with me this whole time,” Isela says. “I felt him. I felt a negative presence. As weird as it sounds, I wanted the negative presence as weird as it sounds. I thrived on the negative. I thrived on the dark. I was so consumed, and I was in such a bad place. That was all I knew.”
Eventually, Isela kicked the drug habit and had a child. She moved in with her boyfriend whom she would later marry.
If she hoped to leave the darkness behind, she was mistaken. The spirits who had legitimate claim to her soul followed her — and began to afflict her daughter.
“She just randomly out of nowhere started pointing from where she was sitting and she was saying, ‘Monster. The monster close to me. The monster touched my feet.’ Read the rest: What causes paranormal activity?
In his hurry to finish chores before organ practice, 13-year-old Greg McKenzie reached down to fix the lawnmower’s chain without turning the machine off, and his right index finger got caught and fingertip cut off.
“My sister was screaming. My mom thought my whole hand got chopped off,” he says.
In the long term, the accident didn’t impede his musical aspirations. Today, Greg, 58, is a professional musician in Japan. In the short term, he learned to see the bright side of life and apply his Christian faith.
“That was the beginning of a new journey, meaning my spiritual faith. I was kind of depressed as a 13-year-old. Why did this happen to me?” he told God Reports. “To make a long story short, I started talking to other patients. Some of them had missing limbs. Here I’m thinking of how bad I have it, and these people have it twice as bad. I went out of that doctor’s office thinking ‘I’m very blessed. I’m very grateful.’”
Greg McKenzie grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, in a family that never missed a Sunday service.
“Most of our ancestral background comes from spirituality,” he says. “That’s how we keep moving forward in hard times.”
With sheer determination, he pressed through the year-long setback of his missing fingertip to pursue music. He opted to not have the fingertip sewn back on because, as a pianist, he needed full sensitivity. He compensated when it was sore, as musicians often do.
“I was determined to play,” he says. “For at least one year, I couldn’t even use that finger.”
But by the time he entered conservatory, he was at full capacity with the same technique as other students. He graduated and began taking jobs.
The interminable search for jobs led him in 2003 to Japan where the Hyatt International paid him to put together a New York-style jazz and Latin jazz band. Japan paid well, and he paid off his outstanding Sally Mae debt. Read the rest: Christian pianist who lost fingertip
Phil Robertson was good at football — good enough to start ahead of NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw — but the ace quarterback preferred hunting ducks over hunting receivers, so he ditched the NFL draft despite being the #1 overall pick.
Plus, he picked up the nasty habit of drinking at Louisiana Tech University and he ran a bar with his young bride whom he married when they were minors. With beer in the mix and anger and churlishness, the Robertsons were (excuse the pun) dead ducks.
“I was on my way to being a bone to be chewed,” Phil recounts in his Deep South drawl.
But a Bible preacher came in the bar. And that was the beginning of the million-dollar duck commander and the reality TV series Duck Dynasty which ran for 11 seasons on A&E. Today, Phil and fam are perhaps the quirkiest of Christian icons.
Phil was raised in Munroe, Louisiana, amidst poverty of the 1950s that he said looked more like the 1850s. They lived in log house, with no commode, no bathtub and no Coca-Cola.
“I never heard anyone say we were poor, not once,” Phil explains. “No one ever said man we are really up against it here. I wonder why somebody done bail us out.”
He met Marsha Carroway (whom he calls affectionately “Miss Kay”) when she was 14 and married her when she was 16 or 17.
“There’s an old saying in the South that if you marry them when they’re about 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks, if you wait then they get to be 20, they’ll pick your pocket.”
Phil has a brain surgeon’s precision for throwing pinpoint passes, so he got a full scholarship to Louisiana Tech University, where he outplayed Terry Bradshaw. Ultimately, hunting ducks was more of a draw than fame and he dropped out of football, not before learning to get drunk with the guys.
“Phil, who had never drank before, started drinking and what happened with me was it was scary to me,” says Miss Kay. To their first son Alan, Jason and Willie were added and the prospect of a wild living father was unsettling.
“I owned a beer joint when some guy came in with a Bible, and he wanted to introduce me to Jesus.” Phil says. “I ran him away. I said, ‘Get out of here.’”
The circle of his problems expanded. He got into a barroom brawl and went into the woods for three months to hide out from the law. He was becoming more and more mean-spirited.
“I would tell my boys all the time, ‘That’s not your daddy, that’s the devil in your daddy,’” Miss Kay says.
Next, Phil ran off his wife and kids.
“That was the low point,” he says. “You’re all alone and miserable. That’s when I began to seriously contemplate a way out of all this.”
Moping and gloomy, he looked up the wife he’d run off, and Miss Kay suggested he look up the Bible guy who dared to enter his bar.
“Why don’t you sit down with him and just see what he has to say?” she says.
Honestly, Phil didn’t know what the gospel was. He thought it was some kind of music.
As the preacher explained, “I was blown away when I heard that Jesus died for me and was buried and raised from the dead,” Phil says. “It was something so simple but profound.”
Miss Kay got home to see a note that her husband was at church.
“When we got into the auditorium, I just stopped because there he was up in the baptistry with a man,” she says. “The boys started hollering and singing, jumping all over the place, and they said, ‘My daddy‘s saved! My daddy’s saved!’ They were so happy. Tears were rolling down their eyes.”
Phil was tired of the cesspool life.
“I’m gonna make Jesus the Lord of my life,” he pledged to his family. “I want to follow Him from this day forward. I’m turning from my sinful past and I am fixing to make a valiant attempt to be good.”
After running the bar, Phil got into commercial fishing. He had problems with the “River Rats” who kept stealing his fish (in nets left at certain points on the river, as allowed by his commercial fishing license).
The old Phil would roar up in his boat at full speed with his shotgun drawn. But the new Phil read in his Bible to do good to your enemies and pray for those who persecute and not to return evil for evil.
This was a quandary. But Phil had made up his mind to love God and his neighbor as himself. How would he put that into practice?
“Fishing was my livelihood,” he remembers. “I was working my tail off.”
He felt the Lord tell him: “They’re hungry. Feed these River Rats.”
“So one day I heard a motor slowed down and these guys pull over to my float and I’m watching them through the bushes,” he recalls. “So I said, ‘I’m gonna be good to them.’ But I’m carrying my gun just in case they’re not good to me. ‘And I’m gonna do what the Lord said.’”
He started his engine and motored out from behind the bushes.
Just four minutes into his first battle in Iraq as commander of a company of 100 men, 21 tanks, seven Bradleys and a handful of Humvees, Chris Plekenpol heard the three letters no American leader wants to hear: KIA.
KIA stands for Killed In Action. One of his own men died in an explosion that formed a billowing black cloud 250 feet into the air.
“You got one job. And that’s to bring back everyone home alive,” Chris says soberly on an I am Second video. “In the first four minutes, I fail. I’ll, be honest with you, it kind of felt like, you know, God took a day off.”
Ever since he became born-again, Chris Plekenpol was an ardent evangelizer. But on that day of bitter battle, Chris’s faith was wounded. Ironically, it was the death of an enemy combatant that brought him back to Jesus with full force.
It all started when the West Point graduate, after serving six years in the U.S. Army, was persuaded to sign up for one more year. His colonel needed a good leader. He was stationed in South Korea, but in 12 days he shipped out to live combat in Iraq.
Waves of heat rose from the minarets in 125 degree weather. The explosion a quarter mile away sounded off alarms, so Chris, donning his flak jacket, sprinted down to his tank and mounted himself behind a 50 caliber gun. Men and machines moved in, searching for the culprit, the enemy who had blown to pieces one of his men.
After moving towards the city, they searched house to house, kicking in doors. After seven hours of intense searching, they came back with nothing. No enemy.
Frustrated and forlorn, all Chris could do back at his base was write the newly widowed wife, Michaela and their 13-year-old daughter, news about the soldier’s death.
“When I came to faith in Christ at 22, we kind of had a deal,” he says. “So here I am six years later and it kind of feels like that whole thing about ‘never leaving nor forsaking you’ is just kind of church…jargon. Where are You at the moment of when my companies were in battle and in combat?
“I’m frustrated. I’m tired, man. I don’t even feel like I’m a Christian at all. I feel like, you know, I’m not praying. I’m not reading my Bible, I’m struggling here.”
Then came the terrorist attack. Unrecognized because he dressed like a civilian, a man drove a car bomb into one of the unit’s tanks. But the detonator didn’t go off, and the perpetrator fell out of the car and rolled away as gas caught flame.
Chris knew the 7-ton tank would resist the inferno. He saw the terrorist rolling on the ground and realized he could rescue him.
He didn’t. He wouldn’t risk his life to save an enemy combatant.
“I could have saved his life,” Chris remembers. “I saw it, but I didn’t do it. I wasn’t willing to die for my enemy.”
Instead, he just watched. The burning gas set off the bigger explosion of the bomb.
“The explosion erupted and we watched his body ripped apart,” Chris says. “After the explosion, the dust settles. I jumped off my tank. I sprint up to his body and I watched crimson fill the sand.”
It was his enemy. But still it haunted him.
“Sometimes I regret not saving that guy’s life,” he says. “That’s probably what a Christian would do, and yet I didn’t.”