To chop off an enemy’s head and carry it back to the village to be put on display was a great honor for the Konyaks, a tribal people on the Northeastern edge of India.
“I marked my enemy like a sniper,” says Wangloi Wangshu on a National Geographic video. “And when I got him, I chopped their heads off with a knife. If I happened upon an enemy, it didn’t matter if it was man, woman or child, I chopped the head off.”
“We used to compete with each other. We said, ‘This one is mine!’” Hongo Konyak says. “The person who took the head gained power in the community.”
Once a Konyak scored a kill, he got a tattoo on his face. It was a rite of passage, says Aloh Wang, chieftain of the Shengha Chingnyu tribe. “In those days, killing each other was part of the education.”
Today, the Konyak are no longer headhunters. They’ve left behind their ancient warfare and converted to Christianity, the last of the tribes to do so in the region. About 90% adhere to the teachings of Christ.
At a time when secular thinkers find it offensive to describe native people as “savages,” the Konyak are a reminder that the term was less offensive than the customs that gave rise to the term.
“When the Christian missionary came to the Konyak tribes, some people said they weren’t going to accept the religion,” says Wanton Kano, a Konyak pastor in the village of Lungwa. Read the rest: Headhunters come to Christ
He’s been called “America’s most self-loathing homosexual,” but Doug Mainwaring, who struggled with same-sex attraction, was just trying to do the best thing for his kids and for the nation.
“I was living as a gay man at the time and I began to write about the need to maintain the definition of marriage,” Mainwaring says on a Ruth Institute video. “President Obama had just come out that he had evolved on the issue. It was suddenly becoming front and center in the national debate.”
His 2012 piece, “The Myth of the Same-Sex Marriage Mandate,” caused a commotion.
While he was sounding the alarm, writing and speaking on major media platforms about his concerns for his family and America, he was dating men.
Recently divorced and resentful about the dissolution, Mainwaring was indulging a same-sex attraction he had felt but never acted upon. But as he wrote, he began to see that he needed to fix more than just the nation. He needed to fix himself!
He was married in 1985 and adopted two boys. He told his fiancé of his attractions to men, but had never acted on the attraction.
In the late 1990s, his marriage fell apart.
“It remains the saddest moment of my life,” he says. “I knew I was same-sex attracted going into our marriage. I had been aware of that since I was a boy. I can understand when people say they were born that way because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t same-sex attracted.”
His marriage had been a dream: kids, home, picket fence, dogs. When the dream ended like a nightmare, he decided to indulge his homosexual tendencies.
“I thought, ‘Dang it, I’m going to go check this out,’” he says. “I was just being selfish. And in a sense it was retaliatory.”
He answered ads, which is what you did in the late ‘90s. “I went and started meeting guys. I didn’t do anything. We just met for coffee or lunch. Eventually I did have a few relationships.”
Mainwaring was apolitical. But then Obama publicly affirmed his support for letting abortion survivors die on the operating table.
“That was a riveting moment for me,” he says. “That was when I got radicalized to a degree, especially since our children are adopted, I was well aware they could have been aborted.”
When the Tea Party movement launched with conservatives on the East Coast, he got on board. As he saw the media only slander the Tea Party, he began writing to dispel the media’s attempt to demonize it. He captured attention and was offered a chance to write for the Washington Examiner.
“But I quickly realized that our problem wasn’t fiscal in nature, but it was society,” he says. “As I began to write about social issues, I began to start looking at my own life. I couldn’t write about the importance of family life without doing something about my own family.”
He had been separated for more than a decade.
“I realized I’d better try to do something to put my marriage back together,” he says. “The evidence was everywhere screaming at me, ‘Doug, you need to put your life together.’”
His youngest son was beginning to act up at school. He was biting other kids and falling into disproportionately huge rages. He sat with his ex-wife to discuss how to respond.
“One day I realized, he’s not to blame. We’re to blame,” he narrates. “We took away his happy home and placed on him our stress on his shoulders and this was the result of it.” Read the rest: Homosexual opposes gay marriage
For decades, Antti and Esko would smuggle Bibles into the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc nations starting from his hinterland farm in Finland. It was a private, top-secret volunteer operation they’ve kept mum until now.
“We never spoke to anyone about this,” Antti recounts on a 2018 Stefanus video. To do so could jeopardize their safety and cut off the supply of Bibles to people hungry for Scriptures under repressive governments that banned Christianity and punished anyone found with Bibles.
“The people there in the country that were working with us, when they were caught, some of them got three years, some got five years,” Esko says. “Mr. Horev who was one of the leaders of this operation (the Mission Behind the Iron Curtain), he got five years in prison, and after he had served that, they added two more years on to his sentence.”
Antti and Esko never got caught. Theirs was a game of cat-and-mouse, a Christian version of spy wars as was similarly carried on by Brother Andrew and is being carried out now in restrictive Islamic countries.
Antti had a great love for Scripture and felt he could help brothers just across the border in the neighboring Soviet Union. Through the Finnish forest, there were no check points, no fence, so getting in and out was relatively easy.
He rode his bike in, carrying 20 New Testaments, two under his jacket, on his shoulders, and the rest hidden in pockets inside loose trousers. Later he devised a gas tank with a hidden compartment to hide 40 Bibles.
But the cry for more Scripture was endless, so Antti secured a nine-seater Bedford minivan that could conceal 250 Bibles.
“When we realized the need was so big, and we had to constantly create news of doing it. Eventually they started to build pre-fabricated housing to transport through Greece and Cyprus, Esko explains.
In between the pre-fab wooden house structures loaded on tractor trailers, they stowed up to 40,000 Bibles to be unloaded under the cover of night by local collaborators in the Soviet Union, Romania and Czechoslovakia. They also took children’s Bibles and tracts. Read the rest: Smuggle Bibles in the Communist Russia.
For seven years, Julie Mellor left the red New Testament on the top shelf untouched. When the Gideon’s dropped it off in her classroom, Julie was hostile.
“I was an atheist; I didn’t have any time or need for God,” she says on a Jesus Peeps video. “I thought the Gideons were taking up my class time and I thought spreading fairy tales amongst the kids”
Julie, a native of Melbourne, Australia, was a highly educated schoolteacher. She got her Master’s degree from Cambridge University in England.
While she didn’t believe in God, she did explore the New Age Movement.
But then trouble came into her life.
“I went through a traumatic period in my life, and I thought my life was ruined and beyond repair,” she says. “I was actually considering suicide. God I’m going to believe and pray to you for a month, and you got to show me the goods.” Read the rest: Atheist until she read the Gideons Bible.
Sayeed Badshah doesn’t know his birthday, his mother’s name, his father’s name or where he was born.
The last thing he remembers, when he was 3, his mother tried to run away, and the alcoholic father caught them in their flight and beat his mother to death. His two older sisters took him to Mumbai, where he was separated from them.
An Indian constable brought him to an orphanage, where he was abused both physically and sexually until age 7.
“At the age when children are supposed to play with their toys, I went through things that I can’t even describe,” Sayeed says on a Your Living Manna video. “That brought a lot of hatred in my life.”
He ran away and asked for a job everywhere. Nobody took him seriously, until he got a washer job. When he got fired from that, he resorted to begging at stop lights and in the trains. With his only T-shirt, he would sweep the inside of the passenger train and then pass through the crowd asking for a handout.
“That became my life,” he says. “Many a time I would not get even one single meal all day long. I used to wait outside the restaurant for people to throw away their food. I used to fight with dogs and grab food from their mouths.”
Baths were twice a year. He didn’t have a change of clothes.
“My body used to smell,” he says. “Nobody would come close to me.”
Born a Muslim, he went to the mosque and prayed “with all my heart thinking that Allah would give me love, that Allah would save me,” he says. “But I was wrong. Allah did not save me.”
He tried the Hindu temple and prayed. Likewise, no one answered.
A friend said that anything you believe in is god. So he erected a small temple to a stone next to the traffic light where he begged.
“I began to worship that stone every day and put flowers and everything on that stone,” he says. “I was thinking something would happen, but nothing happened. So I kicked the stone and said, ‘There is no god.’” Read Sayeed Badshah, pickpocket from India comes to Christ
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
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.
Eight-year-old Emmanuel Ntibonera was just sitting down to dinner when the rebel takeover of his town in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) broke out. The next day, the whole family (nine children) fled — walking miles barefoot.
Eventually, he made it to a refugee camp in Kenya, from where he immigrated to America nine years later in 2009 with his family, who are Christians (the dad is a pastor).
“Remember where you came from,” God impressed on the heart of the young man who studied hard and eventually graduated from Liberty University. In 2015, he visited his native country and was appalled to see conditions had not improved. He never owned shoes during his childhood in the DRC, and he observed the same thing on his return trip.
“I’m seeing kids with no shoes (getting) infections and parasites,” he says on a Liberty convocation video. “God had blessed me. I have more than 10 pairs of shoes in my home. I can literally bring these here and saves lives. The parasites can only be prevented by appropriate footwear.
“I looked at myself and I felt guilty.”
And so began a shoe drive that became the Ntibonera foundation, in Greensboro, NC. He started doing concerts, at which the entry ticket was at least one pair of shoes. His home became a shoe storage. It soon became so full they had to look for a warehouse.
“In my room, the only place I had was to lay my head. Everywhere else was full of shoes,” he remembers. “I had 10,000 pairs of shoes in my house.”
Eventually, Emmanuel recruited the support of university staff to stage a campus-wide shoe drive to ship containers full of shoes to the DRC. Eventually, basketball legend Steph Curry lent his name to support the cause.
“God has been unfolding things. God was doing all these amazing things,” he says. On the scheduled day, Liberty University students all brought shoes to convocation, filling the stage with piles and piles of shoes. Liberty University paid for Emmanuel’s flight with 20,000 shoes.
A convinced atheist, Rachel Gilson thought Yale University would be the perfect opportunity to “dive in” to same-sex attraction as a freshman, but after reading “Mere Christianity” her thoughts changed.
“I had sort of heard of Jesus before in my life, of course, but I always thought of him kind of as a lame cartoon character,” Rachel says on a 700 Club interview. “But instead I started to realize: ‘No, Jesus is alive and powerful and interesting and loving and he’s offering me something that I can’t get anywhere else.’”
Her 2004 conversion to Christianity led to a re-orientation, not of her sexual “orientation,” but of her entire life. Today, she still struggles with same-sex attraction, but she submits her feelings to God no differently than anyone who feels attraction outside of marriage.
“It’s been a big part of my journey to figure out, who owns me?” says Rachel, who has written a book Born Again This Way about her testimony. “Or is it my desires, or is it Jesus Christ?”
There’s a growing tendency among homosexuals to revise Biblical doctrine to assume God accepts homosexuality as a valid expression of sexuality, Rachel says. This movement represents a pushback against the unaccepting Christian church.
“They’ve seen a church be unfriendly or unwelcoming to LGBT people. Sometimes they’ve, seen Christians respond to gay and lesbian people in ways that don’t look like Jesus would have acted towards outsiders,” Rachel says. “They basically do an overcorrection. They say, ‘Well that type of exclusion doesn’t look like love, so maybe we got the words wrong.’”
Rachel grew up in a small conservative town. Because her parents never went to church, she couldn’t figure out God.
“I didn’t grow up in a household that went to church or read the Bible,” she remembers. “As I started thinking about you know, where did all this come from? What are the big ideas of the world? I just didn’t see Christianity as a valid source of the answers.”
She had just broken up with a girlfriend when she carted off to Yale College. “I thought being at college is gonna be a great place for me to actually live out” same sex attraction, she says. “But before I had a chance to really dive in there, that was when I met the Lord. I think He saved me from going too far down that path.”
Coming to Christ for Rachel, really, was no different than anyone lost in their sin.
“No matter what our orientation is, we all need the grace and the truth of Jesus Christ,” she says. “If we have just the grace without the truth, it’s, all fuzzy, but it doesn’t produce any change. But if we only have the truth without the grace, we end up crushed.” Read the rest: You can’t pray the gay away.
“I knew that I was extremely hated by Allah,” Aisha from Jordan says.
Born of an American mother into a conservative Muslim family, Aisha had racked up a lot of sins: first she questioned Allah, Mohammad, the Koran and salvation.
Then she came to America with her mother looking for better opportunities and got an abortion.
“I was feeling so much fear and hopelessness,” she says on a StrongTower27 video.
Even though her family was entrenched in Islam, her dad was an alcoholic who kicked her and spat on her. “He called me names that no father should ever call his daughter,” she says.
Other than his besetting sin, he tried to keep the traditions of Islam religiously.
Aisha found no love in her family or in her religion.
“I felt like I could never keep up or measure up to what was expected,” she says. “And my family wasn’t too keen on my asking questions.”
Mom was mortified by the downward slide of the family. She even feared for her own life. So she asked her husband to move the family to America where her kids could learn English and have better job prospects.
He agreed, and they moved in 2000, while he stayed in Jordan. His alcoholism only worsened.
Longing for love, Aisha got a boyfriend in high school and got pregnant at age 17. Lying on the bathroom floor with the positive pregnancy test, she cried. She couldn’t tell her dad; he would kill her out of Islam’s call for “honor killing.”
“He would have murdered me, literally,” she says.
Aisha couldn’t tell her Mom; she would tell her Dad.
Feeling like she had no options, she made the terrible choice to kill her baby.
“That was very hard for me because I always valued life,” she says. “I always daydreamed about what it would be like to hold my baby one day. To have gone through that was very devastating for me. I struggled with shame, embarrassment, depression, anxiety and self-worth.”
Her attempt to fill the void with things of the world left her empty.
“I was going down a dangerous and dark and downward spiral,” she admits. “I knew that my sins were deep and unforgivable in Islam. I knew that I was so extremely hated by Allah.”
In her quest for forgiveness and hope, she actually opened the only “holy book” she knew and read Surah 4:168-169: Those who disbelieve and commit wrong Allah will never forgive them, nor will he guide them to a path. Except the path of Hell.
“I remember reading that and feeling so much fear and hopelessness,” she says.
“Allah, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you even exist,” she prayed. “I’ve been praying to you for 27 years, and I’ve never felt your presence.”
She wept bitterly. In the depths of despair, her mind began to consider suicide.
“If there’s no form of forgiveness for me in Islam, what’s the point of me living?” she reasoned.
Then something happened that was totally unexpected.
“As I was crying I heard an audible voice,” she remembers. “I heard the name, ‘Jesus.’”
With tears streaming down her face, she looked up to Heaven and raised her hands.
“Jesus, I don’t know who you are, but if you are who they say you are, please reveal yourself to me because I can’t go on living life like this anymore,” she prayed. Read the rest: Freed from the wrath of Allah
On the very night Jerry Arterburn accepted Jesus at a church camp, the 5-year-old was also molested by the pastor’s son.
“When that molestation occurred, it ignited something in him that he didn’t think other guys had to struggle with,” his brother Stephen says on a Pure Passion Media video. “It produced an uneasiness with relationships with women.”
Jerry died of AIDS on June 13, 1988, at a time when the epidemic was raging largely unchecked and medical science was trying to figure out how to tame it.
“When my brother and I moved to Laguna (Beach, California) at the same time, there was another person who moved to Laguna. He was identified as Patient 0,” Stephen says. “This was a flight attendant who flew around the world and slept with about 2,000 different people. He infected so many people in that town that the AIDS virus was extremely virulent in there. I watched business after business close because there was such a high per capita gay population there. They were dying right and left.”
Before Jerry’s death, Stephen began to formulate the best way to encourage his brother to come back to Christ.
“I loved him. But I knew that what he was doing was wrong,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to convince him that he was wrong. I just tried to find a way to have a relationship with him that I could love him with.”
There were three Arterburn boys who grew up with a mom who bitterly hid her father’s suicide and a dad who was “redneck, disconnected,” Stephen says. All three sons went prodigal from their otherwise “strong Christian household” in Texas.
Stephen — who now is an author, a radio host and the founder of New Life Ministries — thought he was the worst rebel of the lot because he forced his girlfriend (attending Bible college) to get an abortion.
Jerry, who loved design and became an architect, didn’t immediately show how he was getting off course.
Stephen describes his brother as “the moral one” who owned up to his mistake, while Stephen was actually the immoral one who had slept with many young women.
“I hadn’t slept with a man. I killed my own baby,” Stephen confesses.
Jerry was about to get married, but it was called off. Both had frequent fights. Still, no one really knew why the wedding was called off.
When Jerry, at age 26, was appointed to a city planning post in Easley, South Carolina, he met a man who took him to a gay bar. He had never had sex before, but that night, “my brother felt like he was at home,” Stephen says.
“He felt total acceptance, freedom — all this stuff that he had never known: all of this love, affection, connection,” Stephen says.
From then on, it was relationship after relationship. When Jerry and Stephen both, by chance, moved to Laguna Beach, they started reconnecting. Sometimes in their talks they would debate. One topic that came up was whether homosexuality was right or wrong.
Stephen, who had come back to the Lord by now, stuck to his guns — until he realized the reason why his brother was arguing the aberrant position. His brother was gay.
As soon as Stephen found out, the arguments were over. A new phase in their relationship started, one of reaching out to Jerry with love and acceptance, though not approval of his sin.
“I was able to develop a close relationship with him, and then he got sick. I’m so glad I did because he needed me. I’m so glad he felt safe with me, that I could be there with him when he needed a lot of help — just getting up and going to the bathroom. He lost 100 pounds. It was horrible. He looked like something out of a concentration camp.”
Devastated by the news that not only their son was gay but also had AIDS, the “redneck ” father visited Jerry in the hospital and said, “You’re coming home with us. We’re going to help you through this.”
The Southern Baptist Church of his parents, instead of ostracizing Jerry, were loving and inclusive. (The Southern Baptists were conservative on social acceptance at a time when much of America was unmoved by the AIDS crisis.)
“We loved him when he was (younger). We’re going to love him through this,” a deacon said, according to Stephen. “Here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to go over to his house and we’re going to lay hands on him and pray for him to be healed… Whatever his insurance doesn’t cover for his treatment of AIDS, this church is going to pay for. Whenever his brothers want to come in and see him, we’ll pay their air fare.” Read the rest: How to treat LBGTQ family members if you’re Christian
Frank Mesa put the gun in his mouth many times. Sometimes, he pointed it to his temple. But he could never pull the trigger.
“I hated life. I hated people. I was just bitter,” Frank says. “I used to argue a lot with my parents. I told my mom, ‘I hope you die.’ Two weeks later she became real ill and went to the hospital and within a week, she passed away.”
Frank, then 23, blamed himself. He had been taking care of both his parents, who were ill. He grew up in Apple Valley, California.
The family moved away from the gang violence in L.A. in 1978 at the time his dad retired. An only child, Frank was mischievous.
“As a kid, I remember being bullied a lot, getting picked on,” he recalls. “I was jumped by a number of older kids. They stole my brand new bike. This is where I started hating people.”
As he grew up, he fell in with the Heavy Metal crowd during middle school, groups like Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leopard.
“One of my favorite songs was from Pat Bennetar. It was ‘Hell is for Children,’” Frank says. “It was an addiction. It helped me to forget about issues, stress, peer pressure. I just wanted to be accepted.”
The first time he inhaled second-hand marijuana smoke, it gave him hallucinations for three days, so he stuck with alcohol.
“Almost every weekend, I would look for parties that I wasn’t invited to,” he says. “We would just get blasted. I would show up to work intoxicated.”
Naturally, his parents scolded him for this behavior. He argued over this. “This is my own life,” he responded. “My mother didn’t approve of anything I was doing. I brought home a girlfriend so she could meet her. My mom just called her a whore straight out.
“I got into an argument with her, and I said, ‘I hope you die,’” he remembers. “Before the month was over, she had passed away.”
After his mom fell into the coma and passed, Frank felt bad for what he had said. He could never apologize. He wondered what would become of himself.
“Is this life? Is that all there is?” he asked.
Frank had never been a church person. A few months later, somebody knocked on his door and explained the gospel to him.
“I had all kinds of questions about God at the time,” he says.
Thomas Locke, the Texas attorney who adopts retired military dogs, needs to be rescued himself.
The Christian Harley rider who can be seen with a cigar in his mouth and his wife on the back of the bike announced in August he’s battling cancer.
“I’m not scared at all, not even a little bit, not even nervous,” he says, shirt off showing a still-chiseled frame at 59 in a video uploaded to his Facebook account. “I have strong faith, so death has never scared me. It doesn’t even annoy me.”
The military veteran went viral on TikTok in May of this year when he had to put down his constant companion, Deny, a military dog that had been classified as “unadoptable” after eight years of hard service sniffing out bombs in Kuwait. Thomas found him for Christmas 2018 in the 21-acre ranch of Mission K9 which tries to finds homes for military assets.
The bond between man and dog challenged the notion of mere earthly affection. Often, Thomas would sleep with the German shepherd, who followed at his heals everywhere around the house. But when his back legs stopped working, Deny had to be put down, and Thomas carried out the painful task Texas style: after a last meal of brisket and sausage.
“I’m ready to turn in my man card,” Thomas said, holding back tears, as he fed Deny from a plate. “This wasn’t supposed to be a cry fest.”
This time, Thomas is NOT crying.
“Cancer affects babies, children and women. It’s a coward disease. I say ‘F you, cancer.’ I’m glad you came and picked on somebody your own size because I’m ready for you.” Read the rest: Animal rescue needs to be rescued.
“You would have had to put a dagger in her heart to stop,” her coach said of Jenny Johnson Jordan, team captain of the under-manned UCLA volleyball squad that triumphed in semi-finals against Penn State in 1994.
With only nine healthy players, the team had to fight for every single victory in their second place finish nationally.
Jenny never left her faith on the bench.
“The culture is trying to say, ‘Hey, you leave your faith over there and now you can come play your sport. Pick it up when you’re done. We don’t want to see it,’” Jenny says. “I was like, ‘How can you be super competitive and fiery (which I was) and also honor the Lord. I learned very quickly that me and my fire and desire to win and to honor the Lord came when I would do it the right way. “
That zeal led Jenny and her team to a national championship and two runner-ups in 1992 and 1994. She won All-Tournament Team honors in 1994.
Later, she won the silver medal at the 1999 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Marseille with her partner.
The daughter of 1960 decathlete gold-medal winner Rafer Johnson, Jenny grew up in the world of sports. Naturally, she wanted to join a highly competitive college program, so she went to UCLA.
“When I made it to the collegiate level I was just learning how to own my faith and what it means to have God in my sport, that they’re not separate things because that’s how I saw it,” she told Gospel Light Society.
Even in the locker room, she says, you’re pressured to listen to certain pump-up music. “These are places we can take stands as believers, which I know is not always comfortable or easy,” she says. “But it’s important.”
She had one coach at UCLA who was a Christian and encouraged her to keep up her Christian testimony. As she accepted the challenge, she got even better at volleyball and became the team captain.
Paul Ernst was a natural tinkerer who based his outlook on life on the material world that could be seen, quantified and studied.
“I liked knowing how things worked,” Paul says in a CBN video. “I wanted to drill down to the basis of something where it was, you know, like taking apart an alarm clock or later a motorcycle or a car engine.”
Attracted to sciences, he graduated from college with a degree in chemistry. He didn’t bother much with the notion of God because if he existed, he couldn’t be documented by scientific means.
“Even though I might think about where the universe came from, ‘Where there’s a God,’ ‘Is there life after death?’ I pushed those into unknowables.
“The picture I had of Christians is that since they weren’t in science, they were in another realm that was unknowable, and some of it actually looked kind of silly to me and I just wasn’t interested in that.”
He stayed the course of scientific atheism through his 40s, but when he turned 50, a nagging sense of his mortality began to irritate him.
“I had a fear of dying,” Paul says. “I didn’t want to go into oblivion or even, or worse yet, into some kind of judgment.”
A friend, Tom Anderson, composed a paper called “A Lawyer Gives a Defense of the Divinity of Christ.” After reading it, Paul realized it made a lot of sense.
From a very young age, Bob Siegel identified with being a Jew.
His dad, however, saw Judaism as a legacy, not a religion and ingrained in him the message “that there was no God, that the Bible was a bunch of fairy tales, even the Old Testament,” he recalls in a 2007 CBN video. “So I learned a lot about the nation of Israel, I learned about the Holocaust, I learned about anti-Semitism, but I learned nothing about God.”
Outfitted with a researcher’s affection for learning, Siegel hit college running. In addition to examining books, he began to examine himself.
“I began to notice a selfishness in me that I couldn’t control or do something about. Even if I donated money to a charity, I realized I was trying to make myself feel better than to have an altruistic emotion that I really cared about the people,” he remembers.
Those self-centered characteristics came to head one day when Jews for Jesus visited the campus and set up a sign.
“That absolutely infuriated me,” he says. “I thought that people were making this bug-a-boo about a man who had been dead. I thought that Jesus could never be proven, that anyone who read the Bible was a moron. So I thought these people were cowardly and dishonest. It was just plain stupid.”
He began to argue with the Jews for Jesus, but when he went home that night, he was perplexed.
So he said a simple prayer.
“God, all my life I’ve been told Jesus is forbidden knowledge. A second grader in Sunday school knows more about Jesus than I do, and I’m almost 20 years old. But if I’m missing out on something, if I can have a relationship with you and it is through Jesus, then help me to learn about him because I know nothing about him.”
He went to sleep.
The next day, two young women told him about having a relationship with Jesus.
After hearing them out, his mind was unconvinced, but then something happened that melted his heart – for the first time in his life he felt the presence of God!
“They didn’t necessarily say anything that was particularly persuasive, but after they left me, I was bombarded by a very difficult-to-describe mystical, supernatural, loving presence. Read the rest: Jew becomes Christian
For almost half his life, Matt Whitman lived off of the faith he found in Christ at age 15. But at age 29, after a falling out in his church, he decided that none of it made sense anymore and he became an atheist.
“I went from being in a Christian home and being a Christian as a young person to having my faith fall apart completely in adulthood,” he says on a Ten Minute Bible Hour video on YouTube.
Matt documents his own “spiritual deconstruction” to counter an emerging trend on YouTube of former Christians posting “anti-testimonies.” They explain how “reason” made them doubt and abandon their faith. Included are Hillsong song-writer Marty Sampson, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” author Joshua Harris and singer Lisa Gungor, who “anti-testified: on Buzzfeed.
Matt Whitman was raised in a household where they discussed theology, history, philosophy and art. His dad was a pastor, and home life in Fort Collins, Colorado, was nothing but enjoyable.
“We did ‘thought’ for fun growing up,” he remembers. “We talked about books and movies and music and stories. I loved it. It was a blast to process all this. Through and in that context, the basics of the Christian concept made sense, and I signed up.”
He was 15 when he completed “Christianity 101,” gaining an understanding of some of the fundamentals of faith like God’s eternal nature.
“I got a lot of applause for being a good Christian young man,” he recalls. “I got a Christian job at the Christian bookstore. I went to a Christian high school. I got an award there for being a good Christian or whatnot. I felt like I had arrived.”
But his young mind had fixed mostly on behaving well to earn people’s admiration, which is a “pretty ugly build of faith to take out of childhood,” he says.
“Sure enough, I crashed against the rocks,” he explains. “The wheels fell off.”
As he grew up, got married, became a leader in the church, the simplistic answers of his childhood faith never got updated and were inadequate for the interpersonal relationship struggles and daunting philosophical questions presented to his maturing mind.
At age 29, he was driving away in a moving van with his young wife and weeks-old daughter from a church where he worked after “stuff got weird.” He never wanted to work at a church again and had nowhere to go.
“I started crying — like ugly crying,” he says. “Part of the reason is because that was the time that I wanted to have everything together for (my family),” he says. “I didn’t want there to not be a God, but I really felt there was no God.”
But in all honesty, his faith had vanished. “On that drive I kept coming to the conclusion that it was all fake,” he says.
Months later, he decided to re-read the Bible before he shared his atheism with his wife. But this time he vowed to read the Bible with an open and critical mind. He decided to jettison any and all delusions and break past his once infantile faith.
Viewed with fresh eyes, what he saw in the Bible shattered his preconceived notions.
“Very quickly I realized, ‘Oh, I have a false assumption here. My false assumption was that I was the main character of the document, that humans were the point’ but we’re not,” he says. “God is clearly the main character of the document.”
First they toned down Barbie’s hyper femininity. Now Mattel has launched dolls that are “gender neutral.” That means, you can’t tell if it’s a boy or a girl.
Creatable World is a series of six dolls that have interchangeable hair, clothes that could be either for boys or girls, facial features and body types that are not readily recognizable as either masculine or feminine. The $30 doll, the toy maker says, can be male, female or neither. They are “non-binary.”
Bible-flouting political progressives are delighted, while Christians who adhere to the Bible’s account of the genetic separation of the sexes are dismayed that another potshot is being fired at vulnerable children.
Maybe Creatable World should be rebranded “Confusable World.” This is the latest salvo from “woke” culture, liberal progressives who are “aware” of current trends and sensitive to everyone’s feelings except God’s.
“There were a couple of gender-creative kids who told us that they dreaded Christmas Day because they knew whatever they got under the Christmas tree, it wasn’t made for them,” says Monica Dreger, who worked on Mattel’s test-marketing of the dolls. “This is the first doll that you can find under the tree and see is for them because it can be for anyone.”
But Christians who monitor culture are concerned that the toys represent another attempt to confuse kids about the God-ordained order of male and female. Already, liberals have infiltrated heavily public schools where they are pushing LBGT agenda through books and teaching.
“These are dolls created by adults for adults to make them feel good about their radical gender theories,” said Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton in Baptist Press. “You’re going to be able to find these toys on the discount table in about four months, after Christmas. Parents are not clamoring for this. Kids are not clamoring for this.”
Indeed, while Time Magazine, the New York Times and a slew of other progressive media hailed the dolls as “ground-breaking,” USA Today noted that a mere 5% of consumers, according to a survey, considered buying them just before Christmas when they were launched.
“While people are open to it, it shows that fundamental things that are instilled in us are hard to move,” said Karen Van Vleet, vice president of strategy at Horizon Media’s WHY Group in USA Today. “It’s hard to go against what they were brought up with their whole lives.”
Toy stores and toy aisles have been shifting away from the pink and blue aisles. As part of a push to steer girls into STEM, science kits and cars are not just pushed on boys. Girls are encouraged to play sports and boys aren’t discouraged away from nursing.
But Mattel’s move is on a whole other level and lines more up with Drag Queens reading stories to children at the library. Conservative Christians fear they aim for more than just tolerance of all kinds of people – they are cultivating aberrant lifestyles on impressionable children.
“Children can be notoriously fluid in many of their choices,” said Bob Stith, a Southern Baptist gender issues expert. “So why would we blur the boundaries on something so significant [as gender]? That is the height of irresponsibility.” Read the rest: gender neutral dolls influence unsuspecting kids.
Figure skating sensation Scott Hamilton owes his Olympic gold medal to… a brain tumor.
It limited his growth as a child and baffled doctors who could never find the cause of the problem. Through an unlikely series of events related to his frequent visits to doctors, he wound up in figure skating.
“Who would I be without a brain tumor?” Scott reflects in a White Chair Productions video. “I could choose to look at it as debilitating, to choose to focus on the suffering. (But) I choose to look at that brain tumor as the greatest gift I’ve ever gotten because it made everything else possible.”
In 1984, the United States hadn’t won a gold medal in men’s figure skating for 24 years. Hamilton’s feat made him one of the top eight most popular American athletes, according to an Associated Press study.
The 5’4” athlete was adopted by two college professors who raised him in Bowling Green, Ohio. Badgered by health issues from childhood, his lack of normal growth caused experts to search in vain for a cause.
“When I came back from being in and out of hospitals, I ended up going to the skating club by accident,” Scott remembers. “I found skating.”
He excelled on ice. His progress in the sport caused him to move away from home to receive training by better coaches.
His first awareness of a need for God arose after his mother lost a battle to cancer. “Something awakened in me,” he says. “I knew I needed something better. I knew I needed some strength.”
Beginning in 1981, Scott won 16 consecutive national and international championships. He loved entertaining spectators. His signature move was a backflip, a move so dangerous it was banned by U.S. Figure Skating and Olympic competition rules. Because it was risky, it was also a crowd-pleaser.
After bringing Olympic gold to male figure skating, Scott won another world championship and retired from amateur competition to the professional, entertainment sector, where he performed until 2001.
In 1997 Hamilton was forced to leave figure skating to undergo chemotherapy for testicular cancer. It was a scary moment because cancer had claimed the life of his mother. With God’s help Scott overcame the health battle, but it was emotionally staggering.
“I survived something that took the most important person, my mother, off this planet,” he says. “My mom died. I survived. Why?”
He started to ask what his purpose was. His soon-to-be wife helped answer that question. Tracie Hamilton introduced him to Jesus and they began to attend church together.
As he was getting to know the principles of Christianity, Scott and his wife prayed to be able to have a child — no easy thing for a survivor of testicular cancer.
But God answered their prayers. Nine months after their wedding in 2002 they were blessed with a baby boy, Aiden.
Anyone would say that Scott had already suffered through more than his share of health issues. But after the growth deficiency and his battle with testicular cancer, Hamilton discovered he had a brain tumor.
His wife took his hands in hers and they started to pray.
“It was in that moment I knew where I was going to put everything, my trust, my faith, everything,” he remembers. “That was the most powerful moment in my life. From that moment forward, we just said, whatever it is, whatever it takes.”
The biopsy was fear-provoking in itself. Doctors drilled a hole through Hamilton’s skull, weaved their way through the coils of the brain, cut out a small piece of the tumor, extracting it for later analysis.
“We seem to have found a safe corridor to do that,” the doctors told him at the time. Read the rest: Scott Hamilton Christian.
Becket Cook lived a dream life as a set designer in the fashion world. Flaunting an openly gay lifestyle, he swam in Drew Barrymore’s pool and vacationed in Diane Keaton’s vacation home.
But the luster lost its shine at one party: “I can’t do this anymore,” he realized.
In his book Change Of Affection, Beckett documents his identity transformation, as well as a peace and freedom previously unimaginable.
Becket’s demise into homosexuality began when he was 10 at a sleepover with a friend in Texas where he grew up. The friend’s dad molested him at midnight.
“It was very shocking and scary, and I had this image in my mind that if I didn’t allow him to do what he was doing, I had a picture of him with a knife,” Becket recalls on a 700 Club video. “He was going to stab me or kill me.”
The molester came back three times during the night.
“I did not tell my parents because I knew my father probably would of had him killed,” he said. “I didn’t want my father going to prison over this.” He was the youngest of eight and didn’t want his siblings to be fatherless.
“Also I didn’t want people to know,” he says. “It was a shameful experience.”
So he locked up the horrors in the safe deposit box of his heart.
“Living as a gay man, I never really thought that affected me,” Becket said. “I didn’t want my identity as a gay man to tied to such a scary, weird, gross night. After I became a Christian, I realized, that night had a huge impact on my sexuality. It cemented it.”
He was popular in high school with the girls and went to dances, but when he got older, he had gay bestfriends and went to gay bars and explored the gay life.
“I kind of felt like this was home for me, these are my people. But it wasn’t until after college when I had my first relationship with a guy,” Becket says. “We fell in love and that is when homosexuality as my identity was known.”
He “came out to his parents and family.
His parents were Christians and believed it was a sin, but they were very loving about it. His father asked him if he did anything wrong and if he was angry towards him about anything.
“No dad, I’m fine,” Becket responded. “This who I am, and it’s not your fault.”
Over the years in LA, he went through five serious relationships.
He was at Paris Fashion Week March 2009 at an after-party when he looked over the crowd and remembered asking himself: “This is not it. This is not the meaning of life. What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”
He went to a coffee shop where he came across people with Bibles, and he and his best friend ended up having a conversation with them.
They invited him to their church the next week. Becket asked them what they believed in about homosexuality. They replied it was a sin. Becket ended up going to the church the following Sunday, and while he was listening to the sermon everything was resonating as truth to him and heart.
“I was processing the sermon and worship music, and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit just overwhelmed me.” he remembers. “God was like, I’m God, Jesus is my son, Heaven is real, Hell’s real, the Bible is true and you are now adopted into my kingdom. Welcome.”
Becket started bawling and was able to see the truth for the first time in his life — and the new meaning of life for the first time. He knew in that moment that that was no longer the gay man he used to be.
“The curtains just parted,” Becket said. “I knew instantly in that moment that this was no longer who I was. Being gay was not who I was. It was over. I was done with it.”
Andy Bales’ leg was amputated in 2016 after he contracted an infection related to homeless people defecating on LA’s Skid Row.
“I’d give my other leg if they would actually do something” to get people off the streets, he declares.
While politicians dicker about who’s to blame for the city’s acute homelessness crisis, Andy, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, believes they have the answer that manifests Christ’s love in a pragmatic way. It’s called a Sprung Structure, a cheap and durable fabric tent that can house 120 people.
“The answer is IMMEDIATELY getting people off the streets so they are not continuing to be devastated,” he says. “The longer we leave so many people on the streets, the worse it gets for them and for all of us.”
In 2014, Andy participated in a triathlon and scraped open a sore on his foot. He was wearing a “wound boot” when he walked around with staff handing out bottled water and invited people to take advantage of Union Rescue Mission’s services.
“I got an infection from human waste outside on the sidewalk on Skid Row,” he says.
Right now, there are only nine public toilets to service 2,800 people on Skid Row. The numbers don’t add up and actually fall short of toilets available for refugee camps in Syria (the refugees have it better). He calculates 184 toilets would be needed to keep the homeless from defecating and urinating on the sidewalk.
He describes a dangerous situation with grave infections happening to people all the time. Aside from cleaning the street every two weeks, the City hasn’t done much, he says.
Los Angeles’ homeless crisis is worse than New York’s or San Francisco’s. Last year, there were 41,000 on the streets. This year, there are 44,000, Andy says.
Andy, 61, is no Ivory Tower theorist. He’s a man of the trenches.
To remind himself and draw attention to the plight of the homeless, Andy spends New Year’s Eve on the streets every year. He denies himself his bed, his warm room, his shower, his bathroom, and his dinner. He spends the entire night outside, with whoever volunteers to help him, on the streets.
The first time he did it many years ago, he did it alone. Throughout the night, he broke up fights and fought off rapists — five physical altercations in total, he says. Never again would he brave the streets alone. Sometimes he’s accompanied by Bible college students, sometimes by staff.
So he experiences firsthand the horrors of homelessness. When the news reports of violence and even murder perpetrated by the homeless, Andy knows what goes wrong.
“I don’t know how anyone continues to sleep on the streets night after night without beginning to think in a wrong way,” he says. “I’m still recovering two days later. You can see I have a shake in my hands. And that was just one night. I can’t survive one night on the streets. How can I survive two. Or how could I survive weeks or months or decades on the streets?” Read the rest: Homelessness Los Angeles.
Young Noah was succeeding wildly in the secular rap game while his life was going down the drain, but he turned things around after he nearly got shot to pieces.
“Duck,” God told him.
“I ducked down in the car and pushed my buddy’s head down into the steering wheel,” he says on a 2016 Testimony Stories video. “The next thing I knew there were shots fired and glass was just flying everywhere,” “It was at that moment I realized that I was about to die.”
He had been trying to help some girls escape a college party, and “a hundred football guys, drunk and high and out of their minds” chased him down because they wanted the girls, he says. He had pulled out a non-working gun to scare them off and keep from getting beat up. They had run off but returned before Noah and his buddy could escape in their car. They had at least one gun, and it worked.
William Noah Bohannon aka Young Noah was born in Neunan, Georgia, into a family so Christian that he wasn’t hardly aware of the world. He accepted Jesus at a young age and got baptized. He was being home-schooled, but when he attended secular high school he got involved in hip hop, alcohol, marijuana, gangs and robbery.
“It was weird to grow up in church and end up so far away from God,” he says. “Church and growing up in church can’t save your soul. It kind of shapes you, but eventually you have to make a decision whether or not you’re going to allow God to live in you and cause you to do good works. Church can’t save you. You need to accept Christ. You need to have a regeneration in your mind. You have to be born-again.”
Winning a rap contest, he was given the chance to record in Los Angeles. By the time he got there, however, God had already orchestrated events to the point that he was already questioning his great breakthrough.
“I found myself succeeding in this dark industry,” he says. “At the same time I began to wonder if God really approved of my lifestyle. I knew that if I was really going to be a Christian, I was going to have to let this music thing go. I told my manager, I told the record company, I told everybody that I couldn’t continue. Read the rest: Young Noah’s testimony
“Sending love and prayers for all those facing loss, depression, or heartache this season. DM me if you need someone to talk to and to pray with you.”
That’s what Christian Hip Hop sensation Joey Vantes wrote on Facebook Dec. 14th. He knows that Christmas, for many, heightens their isolation, depression and thoughts of suicide. He has a heart for more than just music or stardom. He has a heart for the hurting.
That’s because Joey Vantes (formerly Joey Jewish) tried to commit suicide himself. He was trying to quit the partying and drugs from his days at the University of Arizona. But he kept lapsing back into drinking, and the cycle of failure detonated depression.
“It was just a mess. I couldn’t break free,” Joey told Rapzilla. “I was so depressed. I was so bound to this thing that I just wanted to die to escape what I was feeling on a daily basis.”
One day when his wife sent him for groceries, he decided to end his life. He would drive off the road down a steep embankment.
“I jerked my wheel to the left to pull off at this ramp and right when I [did] it, my wheel locks, my car shuts off and I slowly just kind of fade over to the left side of the road,” Joey said. “Immediately, the Spirit of God just hits me right where I am in my car.I feel this intense love come over me and say, ‘I love you and I forgive you. Just call out to me.’” Read the rest: Suicide rapper Joey Vantes
Merry Christmas! The gift to America this year is life.
According to a 2019 report from a pro-abortion group, one third of independent abortion facilities have closed since 2012, limiting access to the nefarious practice that pro-abortion forces call “health care,” a LifeSite news article reports.
The 2019 report titled “Communities Need Clinics” by the pro-abortion group Abortion Care Network blamed new state laws that restrict abortion, such as “heartbeat” legislation or tougher safety requirements to open or maintain an abortion facility.
But other factors may come into play, including the role of education in preventing pregnancy through contraceptives or the increasing use of the abortion pill, which can be ordered via mail and administered at home thus making it impossible to track abortion statistics in America. Also, the role of internet and the available of videos online showing the horrendously graphic nature of abortion may be a factor.
Regardless of the cause, abortion advocates lamented the closures and seem to want to marshal the report as a tool to spark funding-raising in support of the abortion industry.
“Anti-abortion politicians have long used onerous restrictions to try and shut down independent abortion providers,” said Nikki Madsen, executive director of the Abortion Care Network, on CBS News as quoted in LifeSite. “Since 2010, anti-abortion politicians have passed more than 400 laws that attempt to make it too expensive or logistically impossible for abortion clinics to operate.”
The Abortion Care Network is not associated with Planned Parenthood and accounts for about half of the abortions in America. Read the rest: decline in abortion clinics
When an 18-year-old was sent to a psych ward and encountered Satan, a surprising series of events led him from darkness into the light.
As a teenager, Jeph Hoagland smoked weed and used psychedelics.
“I realized now that it’s wrong, and I really don’t support that way. It led me to nowhere,” Jeph says.
While he was still in rebellion, God was trying to get his attention. One day Jeph came to work drunk and was instantly sent home. Driving home, he raced around a turn too quickly, veered off the pavement, and crashed into a tree.
“The airbag went off. I got out of the car, I was fine, but the car was totaled,” Jeph recounted in a video.
After a few days, he went back to the tree where the crash happened. What he saw there was shocking.
“I saw on the tree my initials, J.H. I was like, ‘Wow, this is insane. I didn’t put that there, no one put that there.’ It wasn’t like it was carved in, it was engraved in the tree,” Jeph recalled.
Did God do that? he wondered.
Jeph instantly thought there must be a higher power calling him. From then on, he started to believe God is real.
However, as he considered the reality of God’s existence he still continued to abuse drugs.
‘’I had these experiences searching for God. I had experiences on acid, where I thought I was enlightened. I felt good, and I was still feeling this void, this God-sized hole in me,” he explained.
In the process of searching for God, Jeph gave up drinking. But even without alcohol in his life, he still used mushrooms and LSD.
Then he moved to Florida and lived on his own. He was invited over to party at the house of a friend, an “angry drunk.” Jeph brought his own mushrooms.
“I felt that there was this negative presence in the room. This was the time God revealed himself to me,” Jeph recalled.
His friend suddenly got angry and demanded, with others, that Jeph drink alcohol.
“I got up and I got into a fighting stance. I saw where I was going without
having my eyes open. It was like an out-of-body experience, and I felt like I was being taken over by something,” he said.
Jeph got hit by someone. He threw the person off, and everyone started attacking him. He eventually passed out after being choked.
“When I opened my eyes, there were people circled around me. All of a sudden I felt this amazing peace, this incredible peace in me,” Jeph said.
Due to the mushrooms, Jeph continued to act erratically. He removed his clothing and began to hug the friends who had beaten him.
She grew up fatherless in India. Her mother was poor, so they could not do anything when Ishwari started to have trouble seeing.
“I can see things that are very close to me, but far away things I am not able to see,” Ishwari said at the time.
“I took her to the eye clinic; they told me she needed surgery immediately,” her mother remembers. “But with my meager earnings, I could never afford it. I didn’t know what to do.”
Ishwari had a case of bilateral degenerative cataracts, a cloudy area in the lens of the eye. This eye problem can cause blurry and less colorful vision.
Without surgery, Ishwari could eventually go blind.
When Operation Blessing — a CBN associated donation program focused on demonstrating God’s love by helping people in need — found out about Ishwari’s eye disease, they gave her family all the necessary money for the surgery to save her sight.
Christian medical missions from Africa to Southeast Asia speak volumes about the love of Christ.
For 30 years, Wanda Jo Taylor was gay, butch and a stud.
She grew up rough and tough like the boys — and attracted to girls from a very young age.
At first she thought she was just a tomboy, but she never grew out of it. “I felt like a boy trapped in a girl’s body,” she recounts on a CBN video. “I didn’t understand me.”
When she was caught in sexual contact with a neighbor girl at age 18, she “came out” to the world as gay and proud.
“I told the whole world,” she says. “I lived my life the way I wanted to live my life. I couldn’t live my life like my mother (wanted).”
After high school, she made big money in computer programming and used that money to satiate her desires in gay clubs, gay parades, gay parties. She cycled through relationships, some serious, some chaotic, and sometimes violent.
“You’re fighting and there’s the jealousy, the envy, the drama that’s in that lifestyle,” she says.
“I was searching for love in all the wrong places,” she adds.
She wisely avoided drugs for years.
But after one of her lovers stabbed and nearly killed her, she turned to crack cocaine to mitigate the physical and emotional pain.
“I was just tired,” she says. “I was so tired. I didn’t know what to do.”
The crack cocaine addiction lasted an agonizing two-and-a-half years. She whittled down to 98 pounds.
Finally she remembered the God of her childhood in Sunday School.
“Next thing you know I was so broken,” she says. “I was so tired. I went home and got on my knees and cried out to God and said, ‘Take this away from me. Jesus help me.’”
God freed her from crack cocaine addiction.
That deliverance gave her a desire to return to church. She found a congregation that accepted her as she was.
Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem represented a watershed in Jewish history, ushering in the era of the captivity. The carnage in Jerusalem was catastrophic and was lamented by generations of Jews.
But the conquest, narrated assiduously in the Bible, was never discovered in archaeological digs and documented by field researchers.
Archaeologists, led by a professor with North Carolina University at Charlotte, have uncovered ruins that correspond to the Babylonian attack. The team unearthed layers of ash, carbonized wood, broken pottery and a mansion.
“What we’re finding is the result of that destruction. It’s the kind of jumble that you would expect to find in a ruined household following a raid or battle,” says Shimon Gibson, professor of history at the university. “Household objects, lamps, broken bits from pottery which had been overturned and shattered and arrowheads and a piece of jewelry which might have been lost and buried in the destruction.”
Every turn of the archaeologist’s spade confirms another page of the Bible.
Jerusalem became a vassal state of Babylon during the Iron Age but rebelled twice — first under King Jehoiakim and then again under King Zedekiah. In 586 BC, Nabuchadnezzar — the “Destroyer of Nations” — set out to make an example of their repeated resistance and, after a two year siege, breached the gate and tore down all “great houses” and burned them with fire.
King Solomon’s temple was stripped of its treasures and razed. The wall around Jerusalem was leveled.
Gibson and his team found that Jerusalem was a sprawling and rich cosmopolitan city, larger than previously thought, at the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest.
“The combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction,” Gibson says in a Haaretz news article. “Nobody abandons golden jewelry, and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse.”
The arrowheads have been identified as Scythian, used during the 7th and 6th centuries BC by Nebuchadnezzar’s troops.
“They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors,” Professor Gibson says. “Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE.”
The jewelry piece is half gold and half silver. It consists of a cluster of grapes suspended from a cup-like top that might have been an earring or a tassel and seems to be a bauble for a Jerusalem elite, not a temple decoration, Gibson says.
“Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down,” Gibson says. “(It) is a unique find and it is a clear indication of the wealth of the inhabitants of the city at the time of the siege.”
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and Cole Walowac, a Washington D.C. native, didn’t know which to take: the assured but boring career path or to follow his dreams combining music and ministry.
He was two years out of high school, not holding a job, making music with his church friend, Jon White, under the band name “Capital Kings.” They were doing something completely unique: Christian electronic dance music. Prior to the Capital Kings, all EDM was secular and played at the raves — all night dance parties renowned for ecstasy consumption.
Cole liked the music, not the drug abuse.
He was living at home on mom and dad’s tab seemingly endlessly. Finally, his parents delivered an ultimatum: Cole needed to do something productive with his life. He needed to grow up, move out and be responsible.
It was a frightening prospect because music was his passion and he hadn’t figure out how to make money at it. Some friends encouraged him to move to the Christian music capital of the nation: Nashville.
“We took a leap of faith and did it,” Walowac says on a This is Me video. “I just trusted God was leading me a whole other direction in my life. Doubt is like a disease. Even if you don’t see results immediately, it will lead to something good eventually if you work hard.”
The duo signed a record deal with Gotee Records and released an eponymous album in 2013, which charted in the Top 5 of Christian Albums on Billboard. The Houston Chronicle noted that no other Christian EDM met with so much crossover success. Toby Mac, Mandisa and Group 1 Crew all took note and started collaborations.
Their second album, titled simply II, was released in 2015. They did remixes for Britt Nicole, David Crowder Band, Nathalie Grant and Colton Dixon.
As a biker in the 1960s, Joe Campbell always carried a gun with him. He had gotten into many fights and stolen from people. He needed to be ready for anything.
“I carried a gun around,” he said, “because of the amount of people I had wronged.”
His life was a chaotic mix of violence, drugs, alcohol, gambling and other biker gang activity in Illinois, and he knew it “would destroy my marriage,” Campbell says.
When his wife Connie got saved, Joe didn’t immediately join her. In fact, he mocked her and constantly hounded her to return to their former sinful lifestyle.
After six months, Connie invited a church couple over for lunch and when they skipped out on the date, Joe got mad — mad enough to go to the church of 25 members and find out why they were a no-show. (At the time, Joe and Connie didn’t have a landline phone to call and find out.)
But instead of confronting the couple for standing them up, Joe got confronted by the Holy Spirit in the sermon. At the altar call, the lanky, longhaired, rough and tumble character responded to the invitation for salvation.
At 29 years old, he didn’t immediately feel any different. But Jesus had come into his heart at that moment in 1971.
The next day, two of his friends came to visit and asked him if it were true, according to word on the street, that he “got religious.”
Yes, he said.
They invited him to their normal routine of parties, but instead of using and abusing drugs, Joe witnessed to all his old friends. He was a changed man.
This was the 1960s, a time when it wasn’t uncommon for churches to hold revival services every night for a month. Joe’s church was in the midst of one of those extended revivals, and he attended faithfully.
After a month, he poured his Jack Daniel’s down the drain and disposed of his drugs. Nobody knew about his stash, so nobody told him he should do this. It was simply the Holy Spirit who convicted him, and he spontaneously responded.
“I didn’t have a real problem turning away from the drugs and alcohol,” he said. “It was just such a powerful experience that my wife and I just walked away from.” Read the rest of biker to Jesus.
In the cage, Mark Munoz is known as the Filipino Wrecking Machine who bested Tim Boetsch after Munoz recovered from a foot injury and depression-induced obesity. Outside, Mark Munoz is the nicest guy in the UFC and a Christian whose life changed when he turned to God.
“You look back on what happened and all the events that happen in your life, and I see God’s hand on it all,” Mark says in a This Is Me video. “And now I can give people hope.”
Mark’s introduction to professional fighting came by way of getting mugged in the 8th grade. Five kids shoe-lace-tackled him from behind, beat and kicked him and stripped him of his Jordans. He walked home barefoot and, ashamed, faked sickness for as long as he could to not go back to school.
“What happened to your J’s,” a friend taunted.
Mark didn’t want to recount his humiliation on the street. But eventually word got out. That’s when a friend, wanting him to learn how to stand up to bullies and young thugs, invited him to train in wrestling, but Mark wanted no part of it.
“Nah man,” he retorted. “You guys wear tight leotards and touch each other in funny places, man. I’m good.”
His buddy wasn’t going to be denied so quickly. “I bet you I can take you down in 10 seconds,” he challenged.
“Yeah right,” Mark responded. “I’m 150 pounds, and you’re barely 100 pounds. There’s no way you’re going to take me down.”
Mark broke into a fighting stance.
With two seconds, his friend darted in, picked him up and slammed him on his back.
“I’m like, if wrestling gives you superpowers, I want it,” Mark surmised.
What started in the eighth grade carried through to his senior year in high school. Mark became state champion twice, placed second at junior nationals and second at junior worlds, he says. He earned a full-ride scholarship to Oklahoma State University. He was on the national team twice and tried out for the Olympic team.
“But God had different plans,” he says.
He returned to California to study at UC Davis and met Urijah Favor, who introduced him to MMA. At first, Mark wanted no part of professional fighting; he was coaching and had a wife with four kids while getting his master’s degree.
“And probably my wife won’t allow me to do it either,” he told Urijah.
Just like the wrestling friend in eighth grade, Urijah wasn’t going to be denied so quickly.
Mark wound up going to a UFC practice. The “Who’s Who of UFC” at the time were all there. Spontaneously, he got in the ring to spar with Randy Couture, a legend in UFC and former Army sergeant with training in Greco-Roman wrestling.
Mark didn’t know what the MMA techniques were and was trying to learn and incorporate them in the ring.
“I end up snapping Randy Couture’s head back a little bit, and Urijah smacked into my chest and said, ‘See bro, I told you homie, you can do this,’” Mark remembers. Read the rest: Mark Munoz Christian UFC fighter.
As president of a Jewish synagogue, Steven decided to divorce his wife when she started attending a Christian church. But later he did some soul-searching to find the truth and made a surprising discovery.
Steven’s first encounter with Christianity as a Jewish boy growing up on the East Coast was when his grade school friend leveled a malicious accusation: “You killed Jesus!”
“What are you talking about?” Steven responded, on a One for Israel video. (His last name was not provided.)
For centuries, American and nominal European “Christians” have perpetuated anti-Semitism by calling Jews “Christ killers” when in fact Jesus willingly laid down his life to pay the penalty for everyone’s sins.
In college, a musician friend introduced Steven to drugs. The sensation induced was like nothing he’d ever experienced before.
“What is this stuff?” he said at the time. “It was the most incredible feeling I’ve ever felt.”
He decided to become a musician and left his Jewish faith behind.
While performing at a club one night, he noticed a really cute girl in the attached cafe, and he asked her out. It didn’t take long for him to decide he wanted to marry Monica.
Steven got into the scrap metal business with a couple named Sam and Louise.
Louise “started talking about the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua,” he remembers. “She was like, ‘You’ve gotta hear about this, it’s changed my life. You’ve never heard of Yeshua?’ I said no, and she said, ‘I bet you’ve heard of him as Jesus.’”
“Stop right there,” he cut her off. “I’m Jewish. I don’t believe in Jesus.”
Nevertheless, she had piqued his curiosity.
“I was intrigued about this Yeshua guy, but this Jesus is a no, no, it’s not for me.”
During the next decade, Steven continued to use drugs. After his father passed away at the age of 52 from cancer, Steven felt intense pain and began to abuse drugs even more.
While driving home one day after taking himself to the emergency room, he decided to commit suicide. He knew that the stretch of highway was frequented at that time by heavy trucks, so he decided to spontaneously swerve in front of one and die.
When Ayesha Curry tweeted that women should dress modestly, a maelstrom of criticism rained down on her from people who felt she was “shaming” women.
”Its okay for Ayesha Curry to have a preference for how she dresses,” retorted Brandon Patterson a day later in December 2015. “It’s not okay for her to shame other women who don’t share it as classless.”
When it comes to strong faith, Ayesha Curry, wife to NBA sensation Stephen Curry, is a very passionate Christian. She also is the author of the best selling cookbook The Seasoned Life: Food, Family, Faith, and the Joy of Eating Well. She began her career by posting videos of herself cooking on YouTube, which have also featured Steph Curry.
Ayesha invented a meal kit called “Homemade” which delivers family inspired ingredients and recipes that she handpicked herself. The meals are available in the San Francisco Bay area through Whole Foods or can be ordered in 48 states for $75 per week.
Ayesha also thinks about the community. She is an active brand ambassador for team FNV and No Kid Hungry, which are organizations built to end worldwide child hunger.
Her love for cooking and giving back to the community brings out her happy side. But her opinion on apparel brings out controversy.
“Everyone’s into barely wearing clothes these days huh?” tweeted Ayesha on the fifth of December in 2015,” Not my style. I like to keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters.”
A backlash came immediately.
”Sounds as if Ayesha Curry thinks her body/other women’s bodies are like consumer goods marketed exclusively for use by men, or something,” tweeted Félicicette La Critique Ayesha.
“@ayeshacurry you’re tearing women down by saying that certain types of dresses make them not ‘classy,’” tweeted Paige.
Some people defended Ayesha.
“Twitter feminists: your body, your rules! Ayesha Curry: I prefer to be covered up. Twitter feminists: No, you can’t do that,” tweeted Kingdakkar.
Ayesha responded, “Regardless of if you like my “style of clothes” or not (which I don’t care) please do not tear women down and degrade them… Not cool peeps” Read the rest of Ayesha Curry modesty controversy.
Saying these words of grim humor, the doctor pushed the vacuum closer, sucking up legs, then torso, then the head.
Abby Johnson had been a Planned Parenthood director but had never seen images of the baby during an abortion. Today, she was pitching in to help the surgeon perform the procedure by manning the ultrasound.
What she saw made her cry. The baby wriggled and tried to escape the vacuum.
“They always do,” the doctor deadpanned.
Unplanned — in theaters now to coincide with the 40 Days for Life to mobilize prayer warriors outside abortion clinics — is the dramatization of a former clinic director who turned pro-life based on a book of her life.
Abby became the head of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas following missteps in college and out of a sincere desire to help women. She was born into a Christian family, but got attracted to the Planned Parenthood pro-woman propaganda at college club day.
First she volunteered. Then she had two abortions, one surgical, the other chemical. After graduating, she went on staff and worked her way up to director. During her tenure, she oversaw approximately 22,000 abortions.
Despite the trauma of her own abortions, she still clung to the ideals of the pro-choice movement — that is, until she saw the baby squirm and try to escape death on the ultrasound screen that guided the surgeon’s aim of the vacuum.
She fled to the bathroom and cried. Later, she walked down the street to the Coalition for Life’s office. She decided to resign. Read the rest Unplanned movie.
After singing for Christian Hip Hop for two years, talented musician John Givez stepped away from faith and returned to smoking pot, as seen in his music video “After Hours,” filmed in 2017.
When the rhythms & blues artist from Oceanside joined with Christian rappers Ruslan and Beleaf, it was heralded as a huge catch for Christian music.
But his turning away brought the CHH world great sadness, with many praying for the return of a prodigal.
Growing up, Givez attended church five times a week. His dad was a preacher and his mom worked in the choir. But his church and home were in the rough east side of town, and he was constantly harassed about joining a gang — either Pozole or East Side Crip — inside school and even coming out of church.
Add to that the fact that his dad suffered emotional issues of PTSD as a veteran and schizophrenia, and you have the perfect storm for a trouble-prone youth who had an uneasy relationship with his father.
“The devil really tried to have his way with my family,” he remembers. “It took awhile for him to be diagnosed. That took a toll on me.” He stopped attending church during his teen years.
“I started getting into trouble with the law,” he says. “I caught a case for burglary, and I got caught with some Oxycontin. The burglary was a misdemeanor, but (the drug) took my case to the next level.”
Givez faced a three-year prison term.
His dad bailed him out of county jail in 2014. The gesture of love and compassion from his father paved the way toward reconciliation.
“I remember sitting in the holding tank with these other fools, I remember God speaking to me. That was the first time I heard Him” in a long time, Gives said.
Look around you, God impressed on his heart.
“I look around, and all of us in there hated authority, and I didn’t know why,” he remembers. “That right there was a life-altering moment for me, in my own life, having to learn, just being hard headed, being smacked by the way things go.”
When he was bailed out, his dad urged him to get a job to show the judge he was changing.
At that time, a Christian rapper named “Beleaf” started dating John’s sister. He invited John, then 19, to church and offered him a job.
“That took me off the streets to where I didn’t have so much idle time, you know, to be bored and get into something stupid,” he says. “The Lord really started working on me. I was still smoking and drinking.”
Givez started reading his Bible, which was hard because he didn’t like to read. He wound up reading the Bible for eight hours.
“I gave my life to the Lord right there,” he remembers. “This was real. I would start in Revelations. (I realized) I’m going to Hell, for sure. Then I learned that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. From that moment I was like, ‘I don’t know how my homies are going to feel about this.’”
When he finally emerged from his room, his mom looked at him quizzically and remarked: “It looks like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.” Read the rest of: Is John Givez still Christian?
After “coming out” as homosexual in June, Jeremiah Givens, a gifted lyricist who stormed Christian Hip Hop, just announced he has HIV.
“As a man living with HIV, I’m taken aback right now,” tweeted the man whose Twitter handle is @pray4jgivens. In response, his peers in the industry have shown him love. “You are in my prayers bro,” responded DJ Wade-O, for example.
This is not a tidy gutter-to-glory story. This is a Christian tragedy in five acts, which includes the latest doctrinal assault on 2000 years of church teaching. Some may debate whether this story ends in glory or tragedy, but most will be praying a redemptive thread prevails.
Jeremiah Timothy Givens was born on May 27, 1987 in Los Angeles, California, but his parents moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, so that their son wouldn’t get ensnared in gangs.
Givens was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from USC when he was introduced to drugs.
He partied on weekends, but followed a pattern of cleaning up his mess so he could return to school on Monday. A friend introduced him to crystal meth, a potent and deadly drug, and it became nine-year battle to finally get free.
Towards the end, Givens was lying on a bathroom floor, not caring if he died. He walked away from that near overdose and eventually stumbled across the hip hop of Jackie Hill-Perry. She was a Christian rapper who had turned her back on lesbianism.
Because of her music, Givens started attending church. Eventually, he met Propaganda, a CHH sensation, and Prop helped him get signed on his then-label Humble Beast Records in 2014. His album Fly Exam, a takeoff of the Icarus myth, was an examination of the fallacies and enticements of drug addiction.
“It’s about being dope and struggling with doing dope while being dope in Hip Hop,” Givens told HipHopDX. “It’s kind of a chronicle of my life in that time period of writing it. It’s sad that the older generation can’t forewarn these teenagers about the comedown part” after getting high.
Rappers who praise drugs should be truthful about the negatives, Givens said. They should say, “Yo if you go down this road, you’re gonna feel like a superstar at the party, but it’s gonna lead to this and this and this and this.’”
Fly Exam peaked at number 19 on BillBoard in the category of Top Christian Rap Albums.
After erupting in CHH, Givens broke the Internet when he announced his homosexuality in June 2018. He responded to a Twitter follower who said, “You gay bro. Instead of hearing form others, imma (sic) just ask.” His reply: “Yup.”
CHH colleagues were quick to express love towards him and suggest fans pray for him, but other commenters resorted to a more confrontational approach: “He just needs to get delivered,” one said.
Givens retorted with a flurry of blistering responses until 5:00 a.m., according to Jay from The Crew who monitors CHH.
“Y’all are in a cult and calling me the devil,” he retorted. “Zealots are insane.”
Again: “I see why people have disgust for self righteous. They’re so fragile & full of false piety… They can curse you to hell, attack your business, defame your character, while secretly jerking off to incognito browser tabs.”
Givens response contained some valid points: Most Christians would be wise to remember that Jesus says the one without sin should be the first to cast the stone.
But behind the conflagration is an even bigger issue: Should homosexuals be accepted in evangelical churches and doctrine revised to no longer see it as a sin? Intentionally or not, Givens became a beacon for those pushing for a major revision of the Bible. Read the rest of JGivens gay CHH artist.
First she got cut from a record label. Then she got cut from American Idol.
Tori Kelly was told she wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t bubbly enough, wasn’t talented enough.
“This wasn’t just one door closing. This was ANOTHER door closing out of all these doors that have closed in my face,” Tori says on an “I am Second” video. “I was so devastated. I was this singer who if I failed, then people would be disappointed.”
Wut? Tori Kelly cut?
Today, Victoria Loren Kelly, 27, is one of the most heralded singers in pop music. The Capital Records-signed Christian gospel musician has won two Grammys after songs on her two albums “Unbreakable Smile” and “Hiding Place” charted Billboard’s Hot 100.
The painful rejections in her attempt to follow her dreams have led her to some insights valuable to young girls who think they don’t measure up.
“It might take a while but one day your going to grow into your own skin and be the woman that God uniquely made as you,” the star says. “You’re being built into the woman that God wants you to be. And you don’t have to compare yourself to anybody.”
Born in Wildomar, California, Tori had a dad of Jamaican and Puerto Rican ancestry and a mom descended from German and Irish blood. Her parents loved music, exposed her to every genre and encouraged her early interest.
At age 12, she signed with Geffen Records, but that deal fizzled. She taught herself the guitar and began composing songs, which she uploaded to YouTube, getting one million subscribers. She competed in American Idol’s ninth season but fell out before the final 24.
“That’s when I went back into my room and I started to journal a lot,” she confides. “I wrote about confusion, feeling different. I was getting out these emotions that I’ve never been really good at explaining. It was just kind of this messy book of all my thoughts and prayers. (I wrote down:) ‘Lord, guide me. I don’t know who I am without singing.’”
The downtime — the time alone crying with God — was unpleasant. But ultimately, they were good for her. Read the rest: Tori Kelly failed.
They are simply dangerous foes. They send you into drugs or some other sin.
When the Bible exhorts to “take captive” every thought, these are intended to be arrested and hauled off to jail. It’s a telling image, but how?
How many a saint has dabbled with sin simply out of boredom? How many a saint has sought a release from stress? How many a Christian has reacted against frustration by throwing himself into sin?
Because of boredom, David falls with Bathsheba. Because of stress, Elijah abandons post and runs off to the desert. Because of frustration, Moses calls it quits and retires to shepherding.
If you are in Christianity for the long haul, you will eventually grapple with these three, which threaten to become your demise.
This is why the fruits of the spirit counter each. Instead of boredom, we have joy. For stress, peace. In place of frustration, trust. In Christ, we possess the arms to counter the devil’s wiles. This is not to say I have perfectly mastered it. No, I rather encourage myself while encouraging others.
For decades, Bible-believing Christians have been told and retold that one of God’s promises is they can live to a ripe old age, 80 years to be exact. This “promise” is based on Psalm 90:10 NIV: ” “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures…:” It was a mantra for decades.
There’s a problem with this thesis though. First off, this psalm was written by Moses, who lived to 120. Secondly, there’s another verse equally valid that seems to have been overlooked. It is Genesis 6:3 (NIV): humans’ “days will be be a hundred and twenty years.”
Why was the promise for Psalm preferred over Genesis? There is no exegetical reason.
So I adhered to 120 years. I started proclaiming in faith, as we Christians are wont to do, that I would live 120 years. “If you want to live only 80 years, that’s fine,” I would tell my friends. “But I’m believing the promise in Gen. 6:3 for 120 years.”
I was onto something. I mean, who wants to die?
But I also understood that I played a part in the fulfillment of that promise. I knew enough to understand that my body is “temple to the Holy Spirit,” as 1 Corinthians 3:16. I wouldn’t “trash” the temple. In Christian terms, I would “steward” by body as a precious gift from God, not to be abused.
Here’s what you need to do if you want to push the upper limits of the Bible’s longevity promises:
Exercise – So much good comes from a vigorous walk through the neighborhood or a trip to the gym! God didn’t design the body for today’s sedentary jobs; they were supposed to labor in the fields. The switch to desk jobs has been a death knell for health: obesity, heart disease, even cancer. Make time for exercise and it will make time lengthen in your life.
Cut down on fat – Nor did God intend for us to eat so much meat. In New Testament times, some sort of porridge was the everyday fare. Only on special occasions did the common man enjoy meat. Modern man has multiplied exponentially its consumption, and the the overload has clogged up our blood vessels and burdened the heart. Saturated fats are loaded into processed foods to improve taste. Is it any wonder that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America?
“I loved to see people dying, I loved to see them bleeding,” Chaima says on a Peter Ahlman video on YouTube. “I was seeing videos of decapitation on the Internet and I loved it. I was just blind.”
Her mother was an immigrant from Africa to Sweden and both parents were devout Muslims. Chaima saw life as cruel and wondered, “What am I doing in this world?”
“I tried to kill myself 3 times. I was doing drugs. I just wanted to destroy myself.”
As a teenager, she contemplated running away to Syria to join the ISIS terrorist group. She had friends who encouraged her and she even arranged to marry a man in Ankara.
“I hated people who were not Muslim. I wanted to kill them. I was bound to dangerous things,” she says. “I didn’t feel loved by anyone. I was weak; she showed me love. I fell in the trap.”
She had a passion for reading, so her mom, concerned for her bouts with depression, brought her library books. One of the books, by accident, was the Bible. Chaima decided to read it and try to prove to Christians that they were wrong.
“I started to read the Bible to prove to Christian that they were wrong,” she says. “But I was wrong. The grace of Jesus Christ started to touch me. I started to read things like, ‘Pray for your enemies’ and ‘love them.’”
This cast in stark contrast her own murderous religious ideas.
Everything inside her mind told her to reject the Gospel. “But in my heart Jesus started to do a work.”
She finally let down her defenses against the pure Word of God and the Holy Spirit. She accepted Jesus into her heart and became born-again.
Soon, she felt the need to inform her Muslim family of the change in her heart.
“That’s when the persecution started,” she says. “They stopped talking to me. During months, I was alone in my room. It was like a prison. Because I had a past of being alone and thinking about suicide and feeling depression, it wasn’t good for me.”
Jourdan Ortiz first got free from the witch, then from the Hebrew Israelites.
When his parents got divorced, Mom was distraught and went to the witch “doctor.” Little Jourdan thought that the waiting room looked very similar to a regular medical office.
But when he went in the patient room, his stomach turned from a bitter smoke smell. His mom took off his shirt and rubbed oil on his body. Then the “doctor” blew cigar smoke on him. There was also a voodoo doll with a cigar in the corner.
The appointment had no effect on him, but his mom seemed adversely affected. She started losing her vision and hair.
One day, his mom seemed terror-stricken. “Promise me you won’t leave me,” she pleaded to her son, who was full of fear and incomprehension. He tried to calm and console her, but he had no idea what to do.
Another day, his mom was sitting at the edge of the bed looking angry and afraid. “Mom are you ok?” a scared Jourdan recounts on a YouTube video.
She responded in Spanish, but since he never learned his mom’s native language, he only caught “God” and “cross.”
He drew crosses in the dust of the TV set and in a foggy windowpane.
“What do you think that is going to do?” his mom asked. It wasn’t his mom speaking.
But Jourdan didn’t know what to do.
“Jourdan please help, please help me,” his mom pleaded.
Both mom and son were traumatized by the event.
Eventually, mom met and married a good man who cared for and loved them. He was part of the Hebrew Israelites, a group of blacks and other minorities who believe they are descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The movement is active in the jails and in the ghettos and helps people get out of drugs and gangbanging with a message that promotes obedience to the Old Testament.
Observers have described the group as black supremacist at its extremist fringe. Some members “believe that Jews are devilish impostors and … openly condemn whites as evil personified, deserving only death or slavery,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Happy to find some stability in his family and life, Jourdan naively joined the group all the way up to high school.
But then he got a retail job and met a girl. They started going out and eventually kissed, which was a grave infraction of Hebrew Israelite norms. Read the rest of the story about freedom from Hebrew Israelites.
Is eating the area where Christians have trouble with self-control? There are fellowship dinners and snacks at Bible studies. We may not go to the bar to drain alcoholic beverages, but we go to the restaurant and knock back the extra fries and milkshakes. It’s not a beer belly; it’s a potluck paunch.
Extra pounds around the waist or on the thighs are more often carried to church than Bibles. In fact, one pastor in Guatemala teased a slim colleague, “Pastor sin panza no da confianza,” which translated means: A pastor without a paunch doesn’t inspire confidence (it’s mirthful in Spanish because it rhymes).
But while there is a disturbing trend in Christianity toward obesity, there is a new generation of shepherds who are saying no to the second helping of shepherd’s pie.
Take Steve Reynold for example. The way he sees it, he was “trashing” his temple of the Holy Spirit (his body), according to US News & World Report. The pastor of Capital Baptist Church in Annandale, Virginia weighed 340 pounds.
While Reynolds never pumped iron, he downed a tub of ice cream each night. While he circumvented cardio, he crammed carbs.
As a result, doctors ordered him to take eight separate medications to stave off diabetes and other disorders. At some point, Reynolds had an epiphany.
“I’m looking forward to heaven,” came the flash, “but I’m not ready to get there yet.”
Reynolds had to upend some bad habits. He started an exercise regime and began a diet inspired by the Bible. It turns out the Holy Writ has much to say about healthy living, but he hadn’t noticed previously. By searching the word “body” in his concordance, he found some inspired guidance.
According to Reynolds, healthy diet and exercise “has been a kind of forsaken thing in churches.”
Health Fitness Revolution unearthed stats to back up Reynolds’ claim: A 2006 Purdue study found that the fundamental Christians are by far the heaviest of all religious groups, led by the Baptists with a 30% obesity rate. A 2011 Northwestern University study tracking 3,433 men and women for 18 years found that young adults who attend church or a bible study once a week are 50% likelier be obese.
Jesus “could walk 40 miles, not in Reeboks but in leather sandals,” Reynolds wrote in his book. “Yet His followers on this planet are unhealthy, overweight, sedentary couch potatoes.”
As a result of the regimen developed by Reynolds, he dropped 100 pounds and no longer needed the medications. His findings and testimony were published in his book Bod4God.
“We believe our bodies are very important to our faith,” says Scott Roberts, head of William Jessup University’s kinesiology department, where faith-based fitness courses are offered.
Pastor Chuck Bernal
If 1 Timothy 4:7 says, “Bodily exercise profiteth little” to highlight spiritual health, nevertheless the verse does says that there is value in physical health. The purpose is not to counter pose bad/good, but to compare good/better.
In 2014, Health Fitness Revolution named the top 10 fittest pastors. Joel Olsteen topped the list for his enviable six pack.
Scott Bennefield was also featured as the “Iron Man Pastor.” Prior to 1991, he never gave much thought to fitness. But then he decided he’d better start running for exercise. He progressed and amplified his goals: at age 43, the pastor of the New Covenant Church in New Mexico competed in his first Iron Man competition and completed six more by time of publication.
Chuck Bernal, pastor of the LifePointe Church in Crowley, Texas, also earned an honorable mention. Through diet and exercise, he slimmed down from 367 pounds to a fit 226.
Mega-church Pastor Rick Warren joined the list. His introduction to health came by way of baptizing 858 people. Two-thirds of the way through dunking disciples, his arms grew tired. And he noticed the excess water displacement by the obese — including himself. Consequently, he lost 30 pounds.
Today, there are Christian diet plans, aps, tapes, exercise routines — all of which motivate through the Word of God for the goal of fitness. Exercising has become as important to some as healthy eating. Read the rest of Christian health.
When Katelyn Ohashi dropped out of elite gymnastics due to injury, she felt relieved.
“I was happy to be injured,” she says starkly in a video.
Katelyn broke the Internet last week when her perfect-10 floor routine at UCLA wowed people with rarely seen feats that included a mind-boggling splits bounce.
Katelyn, who has identified as Christian, was born to a Japanese dad and German mom and raised in Seattle. She thrived at gymnastics from childhood and made the national team at age 12.
She actually beat her famous teammate Simone Biles in the 2013 American Cup, but a shoulder injury and subsequent back injury ruled her out of competition for two years.
The blow would have been crushing to any aspiring star and might have provoked an identity crisis. But for Katelyn, it meant the end of unbearable pressure and body shaming she was subjected to over the Internet.
“After my first and last senior competition, I was told that I might never be able to do gymnastics again,” she said on Good Morning America. “It was like this weight was lifted off of me.”
Unlike her comrades, she was happy to drop down to Level 10 gymnastics and enter UCLA as a freshman in 2015. Without the glare of the cameras, she was able to rediscover her love for the sport and simply enjoy life. She could eat a burger and fries without feeling guilty and fretting about getting chubby, which had elicited anonymous snipes online.
“As a 14 year old, it’s kind of hard to cope with because you are still developing as a person,” she says. It’s an age when “everything really impacts you.”
During her freshman year in UCLA gymnastics, she told her coach, “I just don’t want to be great again. When I was great, there was nothing joyful about it. I wasn’t happy. So why would I want to go back there?”
Recently she interviewed with Serve Your Truth and confided: “Right now, I’m reading a lot to get more content with my blog. I’ve been reading the New Testament in the Bible because I am trying to improve my relationship with God. Someone once told me, ‘I don’t put my trust in people down here; I put my trust in God up there.’”
Apparently, it worked because joy permeated her most recent floor routine from start to finish.
Today, the 21-year-old sensation wants to shame the body shamers.
“In gym, makeup is forced on really young girls. If we don’t put on makeup, we are docked points,” she says. “I never felt the need to present myself with makeup because I believed I should be judged on my skills. After that competition, there were so many comments about my hair not being perfect. I won a big competition and people only cared about how I look.”
She wrote a poem entitled “Self-Hatred Goodbyes.” Here are some lines:
That only those people with the right, perfect bodies have the right to stand.
But here today, I stand, with the love that penetrates deeper than any wedding band.
Because I am my own size, and no words or judgmental stares will make me compromise.
For the bittersweet satisfaction that lays within my eyes, within my thighs,
I finally got my cake and ate it too for my old self-cries.
And today, my self-hatred says its goodbyes.
“There was a time when I was on top of the world, an Olympic hopeful. I was unbeatable — until I wasn’t,” Katelyn says on a video uploaded by the Players Tribune. “That girl that you would think had it all — all these medals in her room, the podium she’s standing on, she thought she had nothing.”
Her confidence wavered over fan criticisms that focused on her looks or weight, the shape of her body. She wanted to eat junk food and exercised constantly after eating so that she would pass periodic weight tests to not be kicked off the team.
“(I) was on this path of almost invincibility, and then (my) back just gave out,” she says. “I was broken.”
But the brokenness wasn’t the disappointment over the injury. It was the internal self-doubt from the lacerating comments from nasty “fans.” She embraced the pull away from gymnastics.
“I wanted to experience what it was like to be a kid again,” Katelyn says. “Nobody ever knew really what I was going through, and I could never say what was wrong with me. I couldn’t accept myself. I was happy to be injured.”
Others, however, didn’t embrace her injury and urged her to strive to return to the top flight. “I was compared to a bird that couldn’t fly. I hated myself.” Read the rest about Katelyn Ohashi Christian.
When the collegiate national championship game is played Monday, the two quarterbacks competing against each other on the gridiron will both be Christians.
Trevor Lawrence at Clemson and Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama are outspoken believers who put their faith before football.
Lawrence boasts a 67% passing accuracy this season, while Tua enjoyed 70% pinpoint precision.
Tua, whose full Somoan name is Tuanigamanuolepola, made Hawaiian waves (he’s from Hawaii, so of course…) when he posted a picture of himself with eye black painted in the form of the cross under his eyes against Tennessee University.
“Jesus pride!!! Go Tua…and all others who stand for Christ,” one person commented on Facebook. “I appreciate the fact that he isn’t at all shy about his faith. Way to go Tua!”
Tua selected the Crimson Tide of Alabama University despite intense competition for the quarterback position because Christianity is a big part of the locker room. The previous year, Jalen Hurts won the SEC offensive player of the year as the Crimson QB.
“A lot of people are rooted in the Word over here just like back home,” Tagovailoa noted on BamaInsider. “The Southern hospitality is almost the same as the love and the kindness that they show back at home.
“You have to go places to compete, so why not come to the best place?” he added. “You want to play with the best, I guess. That’s kind of my thing. Anywhere you go, you’re going to have to compete.”
Tua was given a chance to play during some blowout games during his freshman season. But in the championship game when Hurts was losing at the first half, Tua was given the nod to lead his team to a comeback 26-23 victory against Georgia last season. Read the rest of the story of Tua Christian
Clemson freshman sensation quarterback Trevor Lawrence made clear that he doesn’t care as much about football as he does about Jesus.
“Eerily similar” to Deshaun Watson, Lawrence made heads turn as he threw for 2,933 total yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions with a 65.5 completion percentage, leading his team to the national championship game on Jan. 7th.
“Football is important to me, obviously, but it’s not my life; it’s not like the biggest thing in my life, I would say my faith is,” the 6’5” 215-pound precision passer said in a postgame interview. “That just comes from knowing who I am outside of (football). No matter how big the situation is, it’s not going to define me. I put my identity in what Christ says and who He thinks I am and who He says I am.
“So really, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what people think about me or how good they think I play or whatever.”
Clemson University is happy to have the calm, cool and collected QB marshaling their missiles.
“When he first got here, you could always tell. He just had a presence about him. His talent, it’s fun to watch.” says senior offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt on The State website. “I always sensed it in practice.” Read he rest of Trevor Lawrence Christian.
Jordan Sheppard was the hero Wednesday as Lighthouse Christian Academy attempted to hold back the tsunami of Newbury Park Adventist Academy in co-ed soccer.
That’s because the inexperienced goalie parried countless shots.
“His hands must be hurting,” the referee quipped after the game.
Jordan, 17, appreciates the chance to play. Had it not been for Lighthouse opening its doors, Jordan says he’d be on the wrong path in life.
“Without Lighthouse, I think my life would be somewhere on the lines of being in jail or about to go to jail — or dead,” Jordan says bluntly. “One of those three.”
Lighthouse lost 1-6. Without Jordan’s class act in the box, it would have been worse.
But even when it loses, Lighthouse is winning — with what matters most.
It’s stories like Jordan’s that people LCA’s fabled history. As a Christian ministry, LCA prepares the college-bound, and at the same time it reaches at-risk youth. Understandably, not all succeed, but the stories of those who do are pure gold.
Coach Junior Cervantes was a similar story; from a Pacoima street tagger he turned into a college student, outstanding husband, son-in-law to Senior Pastor Rob Scribner of the Lighthouse Church in Santa Monica.
In terms of pure sports, Wednesday’s loss was an act of revenge. Newbury has been a league champion and a tough rival for Lighthouse. For the last three or four matchups, LCA has managed to get the upper hand.
The Gators were anxious to best the Saints. They fielded a top-notch team that moved the ball with precision and speed. They harried LCA all over the field. The Gators came ready to bite.
So unrelenting was their offense, the Saints were driven back to their half and only defended for most of the first half.
Coach Junior had to re-adjust at half time to offer some counter attack. Hosea Ashcraft pulled a foul outside of the box, fired the free kick around the wall bending it low on the far post for a consolation goal.
It was the Saints’ first loss of the season in four games in CIF Southern Section’s Omega League.
While the results were disheartening for the Saints, the game was nevertheless exhilarating. That’s because Newbury, playing at a high level, raised the level of the Saints players. The best way to get better is to play against better teams.
The supporting cast of non-soccer players got takeaways. They would have to work on ball control, improve on their passing, use their brain more in terms finding their position on the field. They need to use less touches and execute quicker.
As a newbie before the net, Jordan had to learn too. But the hulking 6-footer was up for the challenge and came off like a pro. How did he learn how to dive and perform the acrobats to frustrate Gator shot time after time?
“I just watched videos and I learned from different coaches. They all taught me what to do,” Jordan says. “I just go with the flow. People tell me what to do and I accept it and I learn from my mistakes.”
After learning to escape the unforgiving streets, learning goalie is easy. The senior credits a higher source for his own personal beating-of-the-odds.
“I didn’t do anything. It was all God. It was because of the friends He gave me,” Jordan says. “It was because of the stepping stones that He put in my life and the different achievements. If I wasn’t at Lighthouse I don’t think I would be a Christian and having so much fun playing.”
The mind-blowing part about Wreck-It Ralph was that it aimed to teach kids empathy. It was also a brilliant idea and tightly written script. In fact, the only thing wrong with it was its publicity: an unappealing gorilla of a man.
The sequel had much to live up to, and it fell short (except for the publicity). To be sure, the script is clever: Vanellope’s game is being shut down, so she and Ralph go into the Internet to attempt to buy the steering wheel to save the game. There, they fall into a series of hilarious misadventures as they attempt to raise money to pay for their EBay purchase.
But when it comes to underlying theme, Ralph Breaks the Internet disappoints. The lesson? Be secure enough to let your friends go. Vanellope wants to driver around in an online game called Slaughter Race with her new friend Shank. Ralph doesn’t want to let go.
It is 1000-foot drop down from the lofty notion of teaching kids empathy. It was just jaw-dropping that the first film even attempted such a great undertaking. Empathy is one of those abstract human qualities that only the mature can hope to acquire. And this movie want to inculcate it into kids? It got my all my admiration.
Ralph Breaks the Internet prefers a clever plot with smooth jokes over a transcendent theme. The princess scene is delightful, and the King Kong part a handy evocation of past cinematography. You can enjoy the sequel with your kids. It’s safe. But if you’re hoping for your mind to be challenged and heart to be stirred to growing nobility, you’ll be disappointed.
One final note: Wreck-It Ralph‘s script was genius. There were no untied loose ends at the end. The hurtling spaceship crashing into Sugar Crush is paralleled by Vanellope’s race car glitching past King Candy. It’s one of those internal structures that you don’t see until you’ve watched several times, and it stirs awe at the writer’s ability to seamlessly weave such a delightful and structured tale. Ralph Breaks the Internet sadly ends with loose ends. What happened to that virus? It just drops out of the story with no explanation. Unsatisfying.