In a strict Muslim nation? No worries. If you are a Christian player in the World Cup in Qatar, you can raise your hands and praise Jesus, despite the host nation’s law punishing evangelism with five years in prison.
This is what Ecuadorians did when they defeated the Qatari team in the opening match. They formed a circle and lifted up praises to God, an offense that would have landed them in a cold jail cell had they not been the country’s special guests.
“Today begins a new story and who guides our steps is God, without you nothing we can do, we give you all the glory and honor,” wrote Ecuadorian midfielder Carlos Gruezo in the Instagram post before the inaugural game.
When sports figures acclaim Jesus in the United States, T.V. cameras cut away and pundits frown. Muslim nations could potentially unleash a more severe crackdown. But because these “closed” nations are projecting a more welcoming and open image, they are likely to cast a blind eye.
That’s good news for the U.S. team. Two players flaunt their faith, midfielder Christian Pulisic and central defender Walker Zimmerman.
Pulisic is the driving force behind the U.S. attack. He’s the most dangerous and most defended player. The 24-year-old Pennsylvania native plays on club for Chelsea, a prominent English outfit. But on that high-profile team, he’s struggled for goals and playing time, and the struggle has brought him closer to God.
“I’ve had to continue to prove myself over and over again,” Pulisic told CBS in 2021. “But, as always, I reach out to God to give me strength. With that behind me, nothing can stop me, really.”
“[With God] I feel like I always have someone who’s with me,” Pulisic added to GQ. “I don’t know how I’d do any of this without feeling that He’s watching over me and there’s a reason why I’m here.”
While Pulisic commands the attack, fellow Christian Walker Zimmer leads the defense. The son of a pastor, Zimmerman has put in a solid performance shutting down some of the world’s most elite attackers. He was part of the force limiting soccer powerhouse England to a tie in the U.S.’s most recent group matchup.
After years of learning the language, developing an alphabet, teaching literacy, missionary Brooks Buser and team gave the YembiYembi tribe in Papua New Guinea copies of the Bible five years ago.
“It has been a long time, almost 2,000 years, that we the YembiYembi church have waited for this translation of the Bible into our own language,” says a tribe leader on a Radius International video.
Waving palm-like branches (or feathers) and dancing, about 100 tribe members received the printed and bound Bibles – the labor of nine years delivered by small prop plane – with fanfare, preaching and jubilation.
The YembiYembi live in the Lower-Sepik Swamp of remote Papua New Guinea. With an estimated 5,000 members, the tribe with only three villages is so small that it’s not even in Wikipedia. You can reach it by plane or paddling 270 miles upriver. Their language is Bises.
Once the translation was finished, Radius International missionaries sleft trained local pastors to take charge of the church. From the video, it appears the majority of the tribe accepted Jesus, but a “vocal minority” remains in opposition to abandoning the customs of its elders.
“The Bible is important,” preached Brooks, 37, in Bises, which the video translates into English through subtitles. “But what’s more important is what you do with it as the church, the body of Christ. The Bible is here to help believers grow. I will visit you, but this Bible will guide you now.”
Brooks was a missionary child who grew up in Papua New Guinea evangelizing another remote tribe in the lush jungle. “The seeds of missions were planted in my mind,” says the man who counted San Diego as his American hometown.
As a child, Brooks spent half his time in the mud of the jungle with native friends and half his time at the missionary school, playing basketball and learning a traditional Western education.
“I remember getting on the plane here at 9 o’clock in the morning and flying to school and playing a basketball tournament that night in the gymnasium, looking down at my leg and I still have a little bit of mud on my leg from the tribe,” he remembers. “It wasn’t a normal upbringing. The blending of these two worlds was a unique way to grow up.”
Armed with an accounting degree from San Diego Christian College, he married Nina and pursued a career counting numbers. He became finance manager and even traveled to Paris, “on track for the American Dream,” he says.
But on a visit to his parents in Papua New Guinea, the newly married couple’s hearts were stirred. “She got to see where I grew up,” he explains. “God began to lay on our hearts the nation. We felt an incredible level of comfort leaving the American Dream behind and coming back here as missionaries.”
In 2001 with their newborn Bo, they began training with New Tribes Mission where they learned how to set up solar panels and build airfields. “There’s no power, there’s no stores” in these isolated areas where they reach tribes, Brooks says.
“During the class there was a lot of things that brought us out of our comfort zone,” Lynn says. “There was a class on animal butchering which was not my favorite.”
They learned phonetics and grammar to learn and codify the language. They launched into Third World life in Papua New Guinea in 2003. The Busers began surveying and exploring land to find an ideal unreached tribe to work with. Tribes actually write letters requesting missionaries be sent, probably because they have heard of the benefits of civilization and medicine that missionaries bring.
Because the airstrip was flooded at their first choice on the day of their launching into the mission field, the Busers went to their second choice, the YembiYembi. They flew to the nearest airfield, traveled by canoe and then hiked – a five-hour journey – to arrive.
The tribe was so excited and received the missionaries with a welcoming ceremony. “In 2004, we started building our houses,” he says. They had a team of fellow linguist missionaries. They had batteries for their laptops and a two-way radio to communicate with their base.
They began building an airstrip with the help of 1,000 Yembis, removing stumps with power tools. After days of intense labor, the mission group sent a barge with a tractor to finish clearing the field.
“That gave us our lifeline back to base,” Brooks says.
Simultaneously, they learned about their language and culture, hunting in the jungle late at night.
“The callouses on our feet got a lot thicker,” he says. “We learned how to throw a spear and hunt pigs, basically live like a Yembi in their environment.”
Missionaries are routinely criticized by secular intellectuals for altering native people’s customs and “Westernizing” them. The Yembi were animists.
His dad was The Lawrence Welk Show classical jazz pianist, his mom a concert pianist, but David Smale (rhymes with snail) wanted to play heavy metal.
“Wouldn’t you just love for your daughter to date the singer of ‘Cranial Abortion’?” Dave jokes on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. They played backyard parties, prompting cops to come and shut it down, until they debuted at a club along with Incubus.
With rock ‘n’ roll, came drugs and sex. He smoked cigarettes at 13, smoked weed at 14 and dropped acid by 15.
In the Los Angeles Unified School system, Dave attended middle and high school with Latinos and African Americans who were bused into the San Fernando Valley as part of integration policies.
“We got bullied a lot. We were just these little heavy metal-loving white kids,” he says. “One time this guy said he was going to do a drive-by shooting on us the next day. Because of that, I noticed in my house it was ok for me to express racist things. My dad and my brother would say the N-word and other racial slurs.”
Later he joined a punk rock band “Uneducated,” until his party girl got pregnant and he took up delivering fast food and telemarketing as a high school dropout to put food on the table for his baby and the girl whom he married at 18.
“I remember times stumbling around drunk and high, and all of a sudden, the baby starts crying,” says he, and thought: “I don’t know if I can change his diaper right now. I might put it on his head.”
“It was just awful,” he says. “I was partying and my baby was right there. It was not good.”
Five weeks after his first baby was born by C-section, his wife got pregnant, and the nurse at urged her to abort: “You’re going to die,” she said.
Leaving the women’s health care center, Dave and his wife felt an eerie sensation. “Did you feel like we just murdered somebody?” she asked. “Yeah, I do,” he responded.
Unable to make ends meet, he eventually decided to join the Navy with hopes of learning a trade. “That was my only way forward,” he says. “I was going nowhere. I was lost in dead-end stuff.”
At 20, Dave looked for a new beginning in the Navy, but the same old addictions and racism didn’t let him get that new start.
“I could wear a uniform, I could stand up taller, I could march in a straight line,” he says. “But I was still fighting addiction.”
Stationed a Point Mugu, California, Dave and his wife got invited to a Baptist church. She was gung-ho, he was blasé.
Dave went anyhow, and the sermon made sense. So, he accepted Jesus into his heart on April 1, 1999 and was born again.
“When I raised my head, everything was different,” he says. “My entire perspective changed in a moment. There was no going back. The cursing went away immediately, the addictions were all gone, the racism was gone. I didn’t hate all the guys in the Navy from different races and ethnicities. I loved these guys who didn’t look like me, but I saw them as God saw me. It blew my mind.”
His wife was pregnant with twins when he got deployed for six months. He kept pursuing Jesus the whole time, but when he came home, he realized his wife had given up on God and church.
“The laundry was piled to the ceiling. Checks had bounced,” he says. “There was no food in the house.”
He coaxed her to return to church with him, but she persisted in the party life.
For months, he tried to win her over, but she left him when he got orders to Virginia Beach.
Stung by the abandonment, Dave decided to backslide. He went straight to the oceanfront and ogled every girl in a bikini.
“At that point, I was so mad, so bitter, so upset, I completely decided to backslide,” he acknowledges. “I was on the warpath to find me a girl and do something that I would have totally regretted.”
As an immature Christian, Nathaniel Buzolic got a big bite of international fame as Kol Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries. But now that he’s committed more deeply to Christ, Nate preaches regularly to his 2.4M Instagram followers and many have gotten saved.
A lot of those saved are Muslims behind the “Islamic veil,” a set of borders where strict Muslim beliefs are enforced and evangelizing is punishable by death.
“I won’t name the countries that they’re in for their protection, but I’ve got Muslim people who have converted to Christianity because of my social media,” Nate says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “I interact pretty boldly with the Muslim community on my social media.
“I don’t think God goes, ‘Hey, I’m all for vampire shows,’ but he goes, ‘I’m going to use them for my glory.’ Look how God can use what the world tries to push, a demonic thing and witchcraft, for himself.”
The son of poor immigrants in Australia, Nate dreamed of acting and moved to Los Angeles when he was 24. He first heard the gospel and responded when he was 27 at a Passion Conference in Atlanta but wasn’t strongly impacted until six years later.
“It made me ask what’s my life really all about it in an Ecclesiastes sort of way,” he says. “It made all the things I was pursuing like acting and fame really sort of meaningless. I thought there has to be something more.”
At the time, he was working on The Vampire Diaries, the internationally famous CW teen series that launched him to fame as he played the sympathetic villain Kol Mikaelson.
Regarding Christ, he was convinced but not so committed. He had a French Muslim girlfriend and gloated that he didn’t judge anyone. But when she broke his heart by cheating on him, Nate was so shattered he wanted to die at 33.
“I was at rock bottom,” he admits. “I was in a very dark place. I’d be on an airplane, and I’d say, ‘God bring it down. I want it to all be over.’ I wanted to be numbed. I didn’t want to feel anymore.”
To get to some of the most remote Liberian villages, a native missionary walks seven hours through the jungle.
“Sometimes we encounter mosquitoes, snakes or lions, among other animals,” the unnamed missionary told Christian Aid Mission (CAM). “We get sick. Idol worshippers sometimes threaten us, saying that if we don’t leave their village, they will kill us.
“We have to contend with all of that relying on God, the author and finisher of our faith.”
His willingness to endure hardship to bring the gospel to the unreached shows the value of “native missionaries” – locals who carry out the Great Commission to their nation. As a general rule, they are willing to suffer more than foreign missionaries and have the capacity to reach more people.
“In some places we go, there is nowhere to sleep; we just lie on the dirt floor,” says the unnamed ministry leader. “There may be no good, safe drinking water or light. When the battery in the flashlight I carry is finished, there’s nowhere to get additional light at all. There are no shops or stores in the jungle.”
In Liberia, 43% of the population follows an ethnic religion. About 40% are Christian, 12% of which is evangelical. Islam holds 12%.
But the labors of native missionaries are improving those statistics. Within a recent six-month period, the missionary and team led 270 people to confess their belief in Christ, the report says.
One recent convert formerly had lived like a prodigal. As a young girl, she wasted most of her life abusing drugs, alcohol and smoking.
“When I shared the gospel with her, I told her the story of the two sons in Luke 15, then I told her, if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you, He will. Without hesitation, she immediately accepted the Lord Jesus, and she was baptized and is serving in the church as an usher, doing it with joy.”
How do the local missionaries make inroads into remote villages that are resistant to the Gospel? Sometimes, by farming… Read the rest: Missions in Liberia.
For Mia Dinoto, the crippling anxiety attacks started when she was 8.
“I was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety. I got really, really depressed,” Mia says on her YouTube channel. “I got panic attacks 24/7 every single day. I would not leave my house. I was terrified to leave my house. I felt stuck inside myself. I was trapped inside myself.”
Raised in Christian home, Mia didn’t know Jesus and, trying to pray, found it difficult and neglected it for years at a time.
“Is my life going to be like this?” she asked her parents, who signed her up with a therapist three times a week.
“I got put on medication,” she says.
She wavered between being able to function “like a normal person” and relapsing, she says.
In her teens, Mia was diagnosed with anorexia. “It consumed my life,” she says. “I no longer cared about anything other than what I ate, what I looked like, working out. All my goals, priorities and values got thrown away. I didn’t care about anything else. I would do anything to get skinny and have the perfect body.”
Mia argued with her family members and treated them rudely, she says. “I got in fights with them every day,” she says. “I pushed all my friends away.”
“I got to a really unhealthy point where I was starving myself. I was malnourished,” she says. “I still looked into the mirror and thought I was fat. It consumed my thoughts. My anxiety and depression came back worse this time.”
Under the crushing weight of depression, she was fatigued and slept 16 hours every night. Living in California at the time, she would be outside in 90-degree weather with a jacket and comforter because her malnourished body felt cold; it didn’t have the nutrients to produce heat to warm itself.
Her regular menstrual cycle stopped for a year. “My body was shutting down,” she admits. “I didn’t care about my health. I just wanted to be skinny.”
“Saying it seems so stupid. Anorexia isn’t just a health problem; it is a mental health problem,” she now realizes. “It consumed me.”
Her parents enrolled her in a strict, in-house treatment center, but it didn’t work. Hearing a podcast about overcoming anxiety through chakra meditation and manifesting, she fell into New Age practices trying to get more balanced and “control her destiny.”
Then she stumbled across a video that challenged chakra ideas from the Christian perspective. She considered herself a Christian and was startled to hear, for the first time, that chakra was anti-Christian. She found out she was drifting ever farther from God.
“I didn’t want to do anything against Christianity,” she says. “I watched a lot of videos, and I realized I was being pulled away from God because I was depending on myself to fix things and not the Lord.”
Her brother started reading the Bible and this prompted Mia to do the same.
The first time Nick Thimmig glimpsed the undeniable reality of evil in the world was when “Crazy Robert” — screaming expletives and growling at a party — randomly punched a taller dude and left him bleeding on the ground before running off into the woods howling.
“That’s when I knew there was evil in the world. I just saw evil manifest right in front of my eyes for no apparent reason,” Nick says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “Why did he do this? Because he was from Humble (Texas). People from Huffman didn’t like people from Humble. Well, I was from Humble, so I got the heck out of there.”
Nick Thimmig was born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, but went to Texas for his senior year of high school because his mom didn’t pay attention to his comings and goings, and he could “live it up” with parties and drugs.
He missed applying for college and instead got a job to fund his trips to different colleges on weekends to party. That’s when he started the heavier drugs: ecstasy, acid, cocaine. Under the effects of acid, he would see demonic manifestations and thought to himself, “I am a child of Satan.”
At 19, he smoked so much marijuana in one week that he coughed up blood. That Friday he was drunk and high (on ecstasy and acid), and he got pulled over by cops on suspicion of trafficking. Nick shoved as much marijuana as he could in his underpants but missed one bag.
“They put me up the hood of the car. They found the bag of marijuana and said, ‘Look what we found. You’re going to jail. Is there anything else we should know about,’” Nick remembers.
Wanting to get out of the problem by cooperating with cops, Nick reached into his pants with the intention of removing the stashed weed. But the cops panicked because they thought he was reaching for a gun.
Fortunately for Nick, he was able to de-escalate the tense arrest and was not shot.
Nick pretended to turn informant to work his felony down to a misdemeanor. When he was released from jail, he asked the judge and was granted (miraculously) the opportunity to work off his fines and community service by joining the military.
In the Navy, he kept getting into trouble through Boot Camp and A School. During his first weekend on the ship, he joined buddies going to a club and got drunk. Upon his return, he was confronted for underage drinking.
“For the next few days, I lay in my rack and cried out to God,” he remembers. “I needed to change. I was in trouble here and trouble there. Now I just got to my duty station, and I was in trouble.”
The next day at the laundromat, he asked a random guy for the time. The guy invited him to church and asked him where he would go if he were to die. “I would hope I would go to Heaven,” Nick replied. Thinking of some way to justify himself, he said, “You can trust me to babysit your kids.”
“But do you have a relationship where you speak to God, and he speaks back to you?” the man responded.Nick says that stuck out to him because he had prayed many times before and never heard from God.
As Nick continued processing, he said, “Yeah, he (God) probably wouldn’t let me crash on his couch for eternity.”
“You can be saved,” the man responded.
“Saved? What do you mean saved?” Nick asked.
If a man wishes to save his life, he will lose it. If he loses his life for my sake and for the gospel’s, you will save it, the man quoted scripture.
“Let’s do this saved thing,” Nick responded, even though he didn’t know what that meant. He only knew he needed to change.
Nick prayed the sinner’s prayer and was became born-again at age 19.
“I had this weight of sin that was on my shoulders,” Nick recalls. “The moment I prayed that prayer, I felt the weight of sin lifted off. I felt changes. I felt delivered. God touched me in that prayer.”
The effects became immediately evident. That same night he was at Popeye’s Chicken and spotted an attractive girl when God impressed this on his heart: Don’t look at her. I’ve called you to reach out to her.
Then God convicted him about his unchristian music. This is trash, throw it out, he felt the Lord instruct.
He called his girlfriend and announced getting saved. She responded that she too was saved.
University High volleyball star Naryah Burton buried Lighthouse’s shot at State playoffs. The junior exploited her intimate knowledge of the playing skills of Lighthouse’s four stars against them. She had played with them as a club teammate.
The Wildcats tore open the Saints 25-22, 25-12 and 25-20.
Hmf. What kind of friendship is treachery?
Find out what’s happening in Santa Monicawith free, real-time updates from Patch. email@example.com Let’s go! “It was very bittersweet. I played with them for a year in club,” Naryah says, feeling sorry for her friends but happy with her own performance. “I know how they play, so I kind of used that to my advantage. I didn’t want to beat them bad.”
Allie Scribner, Roxy Photenhauer, Clara Czer and Dahlia Gonzalez went home with no spoils.
Like a spy embedded deep in enemy territory, Naryah utilized espionage of her adversaries’ (former friends’) strengths, weaknesses, strategies, emotional resilence — everything.
It was a hacker’s haul, like the time when North Korea breached the Pentagon’s computers and downloaded top secret military plans of South Korea and the United States against it.
Dirty and devastating.
But as Coach Jessica Scribner points out, not all the blame can be pinned on enemy reconnaissance. As not all the blame can be assigned to notably taller players.
Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica entered the Uni High gym with saucer eyes — like country girls visiting Chicago for the first time and gazing upwards amazed at the skyscrapers. It’s been 10 years since Lighthouse has advanced to semi finals in playoffs.
“We could’ve done it,” Jessica says. “I think we could’ve at least fought harder than they did. They’re not sweating. Sure, we started a little slow. They were so wanting to do good that they didn’t actually do it. They didn’t get down and dirty. Some of them were sweating, but I didn’t see them fighting for it like they normally do. I think some of them were a little lazy.”
Not all was bad. Frida Macías played at a higher-than-normal level. Rally Allie never gave up. Her push in the third game raised the Saints from losing 17-9 to nearly come-from-behind win of 17-17.
After years of being vague about his past sins, Pastor Jason Glasscock finally spoke clearly from the pulpit about the time he cheated on his wife. His vulnerability saved a marriage.
“I would always say, ‘When I messed up.’ I would never give the details,” Jason says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “But a couple years ago, I preached at a Harvester’s (Bible conference) and said it. Right after, this couple comes up and they’re going through it. We talked about it. They’re still in the church today. It really helped them.”
Jason’s story shows how being real in church can help others who are struggling. Christian forgiveness, healing and restoration contrasts with the world’s options of having an “open marriage,” getting revenge, getting a divorce or going off the deep end with perversion.
The anatomy of adultery, for Jason, started not with physical attraction but with pride. A young female Navy sailor flattered Jason because he was good at his job. Meanwhile, he felt useless at home.
“Pride was the root,” he says. “This girl stroked my ego. My wife didn’t understand my job. When you come home and bills aren’t paid, you don’t feel significant. You feel irrelevant. The devil knows how to stroke your ego. It’s pride that led up to that.”
Forgiveness is the answer, but it doesn’t make it easy or wipe away the wounds to marital infidelity. The sequels to unfaithfulness are lingering suspicion and lack of trust. Once, his wife drove by a business with the same name as the girl, and it triggered painful memories. Jason and his wife have had to work through the issue for years.
Jason Glasscock grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, to teenage parents. Dad joined the Navy and they moved up to Norfolk, but he passed away when Jason was four years old. The other men Mom had were unfaithful to her, and none of them adopted Jason. They moved back to Florida to a small town called Lake City.
In high school, Jason liked football and sports but also “nerdy” games like Dungeons & Dragons. Due to laziness, he barely graduated high school. “Homework didn’t go in my vocabulary,” he quips. “The only reason I graduated is because the teachers gave me grace because I had signed up for the military.”
In the Navy, Jason’s first assignment was with the presidential honor guard as a colors bearer. Carrying the flag, he participated in more than 1,000 funerals and went to George Bush’s presidential inauguration.
“It was fun and interesting,” he says. “But it wasn’t the best place for a young man because it was treated like a college dorm. There was a lot of alcohol. You weren’t supposed to have it, but we did. There was a lot of underage drinking and fooling around with women.”
Dell made the painful decision to abort because she believed she couldn’t provide the upbringing her child deserved. But she was unprepared for the years of anguish and guilt following that decision.
“I felt like my baby would be better off not coming into this world,” Dell says on a 700 Club video. “I wasn’t any good for anybody.”
Immediately after aborting her daughter in the second trimester, Dell wanted to kill herself. She even took a razor blade and began to slit her wrist.
“I went home, and I just wanted to die,” Dell says. “I couldn’t live with what I had done.”
She kept saying over and over, “I’m sorry, Baby. I’m so sorry.”
That’s when a man from church called with a prophetic message: “The Lord told me you were in trouble. The Lord told me that if you will walk in the straight and narrow and trust in him, he will restore what the locusts have eaten and give you back tenfold what Satan has taken from you.”
Eventually, Dell got her life together and married a loving man named Cary (spelling is uncertain). They’ve been married 42 years and have two sons and two daughters.
But she never escaped the regret, depression and nightmares that stem from Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS).
“I longed to see my daughter,” she says. “I thought, how could there be no tears in heaven? When I got there, and when she saw me, what would she say: ‘Why did you do that, Mommy?’ I couldn’t forgive myself.”
In an effort to find a soothing balm to her inner wound, Dell and her husband went to some revival services preached by Pastor Rodney Howard Brown. She was disappointed, not finding the help she sought to heal her emotional wounds.
As she was leaving, she collapsed in the church foyer. While her body lay prone, apparently lifeless, she had a near death experience. Dell was transported to Heaven in a vision.
She saw Jesus – and a child.
“I saw this little girl with pigtails and a little white dress, and she was skipping and dancing and twirling around the feet of Jesus,” Dell says. “She turned and looked at me. Our eyes met, and I immediately… Read the rest: How do I heal from Post Abortion Syndrome?