Category Archives: Christ

Brooks Buser and Bible translation for the YembiYembi

After years of learning the language, developing an alphabet, teaching literacy, missionary Brooks Buser and team gave the YembiYembi tribe in Papua New Guinea copies of the Bible five years ago.

“It has been a long time, almost 2,000 years, that we the YembiYembi church have waited for this translation of the Bible into our own language,” says a tribe leader on a Radius International video.

Waving palm-like branches (or feathers) and dancing, about 100 tribe members received the printed and bound Bibles – the labor of nine years delivered by small prop plane – with fanfare, preaching and jubilation.

The YembiYembi live in the Lower-Sepik Swamp of remote Papua New Guinea. With an estimated 5,000 members, the tribe with only three villages is so small that it’s not even in Wikipedia. You can reach it by plane or paddling 270 miles upriver. Their language is Bises.

Once the translation was finished, Radius International missionaries sleft trained local pastors to take charge of the church. From the video, it appears the majority of the tribe accepted Jesus, but a “vocal minority” remains in opposition to abandoning the customs of its elders.

“The Bible is important,” preached Brooks, 37, in Bises, which the video translates into English through subtitles. “But what’s more important is what you do with it as the church, the body of Christ. The Bible is here to help believers grow. I will visit you, but this Bible will guide you now.”

Brooks was a missionary child who grew up in Papua New Guinea evangelizing another remote tribe in the lush jungle. “The seeds of missions were planted in my mind,” says the man who counted San Diego as his American hometown.

As a child, Brooks spent half his time in the mud of the jungle with native friends and half his time at the missionary school, playing basketball and learning a traditional Western education.

“I remember getting on the plane here at 9 o’clock in the morning and flying to school and playing a basketball tournament that night in the gymnasium, looking down at my leg and I still have a little bit of mud on my leg from the tribe,” he remembers. “It wasn’t a normal upbringing. The blending of these two worlds was a unique way to grow up.”

Armed with an accounting degree from San Diego Christian College, he married Nina and pursued a career counting numbers. He became finance manager and even traveled to Paris, “on track for the American Dream,” he says.

But on a visit to his parents in Papua New Guinea, the newly married couple’s hearts were stirred. “She got to see where I grew up,” he explains. “God began to lay on our hearts the nation. We felt an incredible level of comfort leaving the American Dream behind and coming back here as missionaries.”

In 2001 with their newborn Bo, they began training with New Tribes Mission where they learned how to set up solar panels and build airfields. “There’s no power, there’s no stores” in these isolated areas where they reach tribes, Brooks says.

“During the class there was a lot of things that brought us out of our comfort zone,” Lynn says. “There was a class on animal butchering which was not my favorite.”

They learned phonetics and grammar to learn and codify the language. They launched into Third World life in Papua New Guinea in 2003. The Busers began surveying and exploring land to find an ideal unreached tribe to work with. Tribes actually write letters requesting missionaries be sent, probably because they have heard of the benefits of civilization and medicine that missionaries bring.

Because the airstrip was flooded at their first choice on the day of their launching into the mission field, the Busers went to their second choice, the YembiYembi. They flew to the nearest airfield, traveled by canoe and then hiked – a five-hour journey – to arrive.

The tribe was so excited and received the missionaries with a welcoming ceremony. “In 2004, we started building our houses,” he says. They had a team of fellow linguist missionaries. They had batteries for their laptops and a two-way radio to communicate with their base.

They began building an airstrip with the help of 1,000 Yembis, removing stumps with power tools. After days of intense labor, the mission group sent a barge with a tractor to finish clearing the field.

“That gave us our lifeline back to base,” Brooks says.

Simultaneously, they learned about their language and culture, hunting in the jungle late at night.

“The callouses on our feet got a lot thicker,” he says. “We learned how to throw a spear and hunt pigs, basically live like a Yembi in their environment.”

Missionaries are routinely criticized by secular intellectuals for altering native people’s customs and “Westernizing” them. The Yembi were animists.

But Brooks… Read the rest: YembiYembi tribe in Papua New Guinea

New Kempsville church pastor loved heavy metal

His dad was The Lawrence Welk Show classical jazz pianist, his mom a concert pianist, but David Smale (rhymes with snail) wanted to play heavy metal.

“Wouldn’t you just love for your daughter to date the singer of ‘Cranial Abortion’?” Dave jokes on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. They played backyard parties, prompting cops to come and shut it down, until they debuted at a club along with Incubus.

With rock ‘n’ roll, came drugs and sex. He smoked cigarettes at 13, smoked weed at 14 and dropped acid by 15.

In the Los Angeles Unified School system, Dave attended middle and high school with Latinos and African Americans who were bused into the San Fernando Valley as part of integration policies.

“We got bullied a lot. We were just these little heavy metal-loving white kids,” he says. “One time this guy said he was going to do a drive-by shooting on us the next day. Because of that, I noticed in my house it was ok for me to express racist things. My dad and my brother would say the N-word and other racial slurs.”

Later he joined a punk rock band “Uneducated,” until his party girl got pregnant and he took up delivering fast food and telemarketing as a high school dropout to put food on the table for his baby and the girl whom he married at 18.

“I remember times stumbling around drunk and high, and all of a sudden, the baby starts crying,” says he, and thought: “I don’t know if I can change his diaper right now. I might put it on his head.”

“It was just awful,” he says. “I was partying and my baby was right there. It was not good.”

Five weeks after his first baby was born by C-section, his wife got pregnant, and the nurse at urged her to abort: “You’re going to die,” she said.

Leaving the women’s health care center, Dave and his wife felt an eerie sensation. “Did you feel like we just murdered somebody?” she asked. “Yeah, I do,” he responded.

Unable to make ends meet, he eventually decided to join the Navy with hopes of learning a trade. “That was my only way forward,” he says. “I was going nowhere. I was lost in dead-end stuff.”

At 20, Dave looked for a new beginning in the Navy, but the same old addictions and racism didn’t let him get that new start.

“I could wear a uniform, I could stand up taller, I could march in a straight line,” he says. “But I was still fighting addiction.”

Stationed a Point Mugu, California, Dave and his wife got invited to a Baptist church. She was gung-ho, he was blasé.

Dave went anyhow, and the sermon made sense. So, he accepted Jesus into his heart on April 1, 1999 and was born again.

“When I raised my head, everything was different,” he says. “My entire perspective changed in a moment. There was no going back. The cursing went away immediately, the addictions were all gone, the racism was gone. I didn’t hate all the guys in the Navy from different races and ethnicities. I loved these guys who didn’t look like me, but I saw them as God saw me. It blew my mind.”

His wife was pregnant with twins when he got deployed for six months. He kept pursuing Jesus the whole time, but when he came home, he realized his wife had given up on God and church.

“The laundry was piled to the ceiling. Checks had bounced,” he says. “There was no food in the house.”

He coaxed her to return to church with him, but she persisted in the party life.

For months, he tried to win her over, but she left him when he got orders to Virginia Beach.

Stung by the abandonment, Dave decided to backslide. He went straight to the oceanfront and ogled every girl in a bikini.

“At that point, I was so mad, so bitter, so upset, I completely decided to backslide,” he acknowledges. “I was on the warpath to find me a girl and do something that I would have totally regretted.”

But every time he leered with lust… Read the rest: Church in Kempsville

Ex Vampire evangelizes Muslims

As an immature Christian, Nathaniel Buzolic got a big bite of international fame as Kol Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries. But now that he’s committed more deeply to Christ, Nate preaches regularly to his 2.4M Instagram followers and many have gotten saved.

A lot of those saved are Muslims behind the “Islamic veil,” a set of borders where strict Muslim beliefs are enforced and evangelizing is punishable by death.

“I won’t name the countries that they’re in for their protection, but I’ve got Muslim people who have converted to Christianity because of my social media,” Nate says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “I interact pretty boldly with the Muslim community on my social media.

“I don’t think God goes, ‘Hey, I’m all for vampire shows,’ but he goes, ‘I’m going to use them for my glory.’ Look how God can use what the world tries to push, a demonic thing and witchcraft, for himself.”

The son of poor immigrants in Australia, Nate dreamed of acting and moved to Los Angeles when he was 24. He first heard the gospel and responded when he was 27 at a Passion Conference in Atlanta but wasn’t strongly impacted until six years later.

“It made me ask what’s my life really all about it in an Ecclesiastes sort of way,” he says. “It made all the things I was pursuing like acting and fame really sort of meaningless. I thought there has to be something more.”

At the time, he was working on The Vampire Diaries, the internationally famous CW teen series that launched him to fame as he played the sympathetic villain Kol Mikaelson.

Regarding Christ, he was convinced but not so committed. He had a French Muslim girlfriend and gloated that he didn’t judge anyone. But when she broke his heart by cheating on him, Nate was so shattered he wanted to die at 33.

“I was at rock bottom,” he admits. “I was in a very dark place. I’d be on an airplane, and I’d say, ‘God bring it down. I want it to all be over.’ I wanted to be numbed. I didn’t want to feel anymore.”

At the time, ISIS was raging and… Read the rest: Nathaniel Buzolic Christian.

Native missionaries go the extra mile in Liberia

To get to some of the most remote Liberian villages, a native missionary walks seven hours through the jungle.

“Sometimes we encounter mosquitoes, snakes or lions, among other animals,” the unnamed missionary told Christian Aid Mission (CAM). “We get sick. Idol worshippers sometimes threaten us, saying that if we don’t leave their village, they will kill us.

“We have to contend with all of that relying on God, the author and finisher of our faith.”

His willingness to endure hardship to bring the gospel to the unreached shows the value of “native missionaries” – locals who carry out the Great Commission to their nation. As a general rule, they are willing to suffer more than foreign missionaries and have the capacity to reach more people.

“In some places we go, there is nowhere to sleep; we just lie on the dirt floor,” says the unnamed ministry leader. “There may be no good, safe drinking water or light. When the battery in the flashlight I carry is finished, there’s nowhere to get additional light at all. There are no shops or stores in the jungle.”

In Liberia, 43% of the population follows an ethnic religion. About 40% are Christian, 12% of which is evangelical. Islam holds 12%.

But the labors of native missionaries are improving those statistics. Within a recent six-month period, the missionary and team led 270 people to confess their belief in Christ, the report says.

One recent convert formerly had lived like a prodigal. As a young girl, she wasted most of her life abusing drugs, alcohol and smoking.

“When I shared the gospel with her, I told her the story of the two sons in Luke 15, then I told her, if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you, He will. Without hesitation, she immediately accepted the Lord Jesus, and she was baptized and is serving in the church as an usher, doing it with joy.”

How do the local missionaries make inroads into remote villages that are resistant to the Gospel? Sometimes, by farming… Read the rest: Missions in Liberia.

Crippling anxiety even as a child

For Mia Dinoto, the crippling anxiety attacks started when she was 8.

“I was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety. I got really, really depressed,” Mia says on her YouTube channel. “I got panic attacks 24/7 every single day. I would not leave my house. I was terrified to leave my house. I felt stuck inside myself. I was trapped inside myself.”

Raised in Christian home, Mia didn’t know Jesus and, trying to pray, found it difficult and neglected it for years at a time.

“Is my life going to be like this?” she asked her parents, who signed her up with a therapist three times a week.

“I got put on medication,” she says.

She wavered between being able to function “like a normal person” and relapsing, she says.

In her teens, Mia was diagnosed with anorexia. “It consumed my life,” she says. “I no longer cared about anything other than what I ate, what I looked like, working out. All my goals, priorities and values got thrown away. I didn’t care about anything else. I would do anything to get skinny and have the perfect body.”

Mia argued with her family members and treated them rudely, she says. “I got in fights with them every day,” she says. “I pushed all my friends away.”

“I got to a really unhealthy point where I was starving myself. I was malnourished,” she says. “I still looked into the mirror and thought I was fat. It consumed my thoughts. My anxiety and depression came back worse this time.”

Under the crushing weight of depression, she was fatigued and slept 16 hours every night. Living in California at the time, she would be outside in 90-degree weather with a jacket and comforter because her malnourished body felt cold; it didn’t have the nutrients to produce heat to warm itself.

Her regular menstrual cycle stopped for a year. “My body was shutting down,” she admits. “I didn’t care about my health. I just wanted to be skinny.”

“Saying it seems so stupid. Anorexia isn’t just a health problem; it is a mental health problem,” she now realizes. “It consumed me.”

Her parents enrolled her in a strict, in-house treatment center, but it didn’t work. Hearing a podcast about overcoming anxiety through chakra meditation and manifesting, she fell into New Age practices trying to get more balanced and “control her destiny.”

Then she stumbled across a video that challenged chakra ideas from the Christian perspective. She considered herself a Christian and was startled to hear, for the first time, that chakra was anti-Christian. She found out she was drifting ever farther from God.

“I didn’t want to do anything against Christianity,” she says. “I watched a lot of videos, and I realized I was being pulled away from God because I was depending on myself to fix things and not the Lord.”

Her brother started reading the Bible and this prompted Mia to do the same.

“I had never… Read the rest: crippling anxiety even as a child

A pastor shares his former infidelity, saves a marriage

After years of being vague about his past sins, Pastor Jason Glasscock finally spoke clearly from the pulpit about the time he cheated on his wife. His vulnerability saved a marriage.

“I would always say, ‘When I messed up.’ I would never give the details,” Jason says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “But a couple years ago, I preached at a Harvester’s (Bible conference) and said it. Right after, this couple comes up and they’re going through it. We talked about it. They’re still in the church today. It really helped them.”

Jason’s story shows how being real in church can help others who are struggling. Christian forgiveness, healing and restoration contrasts with the world’s options of having an “open marriage,” getting revenge, getting a divorce or going off the deep end with perversion.

The anatomy of adultery, for Jason, started not with physical attraction but with pride. A young female Navy sailor flattered Jason because he was good at his job. Meanwhile, he felt useless at home.

“Pride was the root,” he says. “This girl stroked my ego. My wife didn’t understand my job. When you come home and bills aren’t paid, you don’t feel significant. You feel irrelevant. The devil knows how to stroke your ego. It’s pride that led up to that.”

Forgiveness is the answer, but it doesn’t make it easy or wipe away the wounds to marital infidelity. The sequels to unfaithfulness are lingering suspicion and lack of trust. Once, his wife drove by a business with the same name as the girl, and it triggered painful memories. Jason and his wife have had to work through the issue for years.

Jason Glasscock grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, to teenage parents. Dad joined the Navy and they moved up to Norfolk, but he passed away when Jason was four years old. The other men Mom had were unfaithful to her, and none of them adopted Jason. They moved back to Florida to a small town called Lake City.

In high school, Jason liked football and sports but also “nerdy” games like Dungeons & Dragons. Due to laziness, he barely graduated high school. “Homework didn’t go in my vocabulary,” he quips. “The only reason I graduated is because the teachers gave me grace because I had signed up for the military.”

In the Navy, Jason’s first assignment was with the presidential honor guard as a colors bearer. Carrying the flag, he participated in more than 1,000 funerals and went to George Bush’s presidential inauguration.

“It was fun and interesting,” he says. “But it wasn’t the best place for a young man because it was treated like a college dorm. There was a lot of alcohol. You weren’t supposed to have it, but we did. There was a lot of underage drinking and fooling around with women.”

At age 20… Read the rest: infidelity pastor

A vision of her daughter in Heaven helped heal the regret of having an abortion

Dell made the painful decision to abort because she believed she couldn’t provide the upbringing her child deserved. But she was unprepared for the years of anguish and guilt following that decision.

“I felt like my baby would be better off not coming into this world,” Dell says on a 700 Club video. “I wasn’t any good for anybody.”

Immediately after aborting her daughter in the second trimester, Dell wanted to kill herself. She even took a razor blade and began to slit her wrist.

“I went home, and I just wanted to die,” Dell says. “I couldn’t live with what I had done.”

She kept saying over and over, “I’m sorry, Baby. I’m so sorry.”

That’s when a man from church called with a prophetic message: “The Lord told me you were in trouble. The Lord told me that if you will walk in the straight and narrow and trust in him, he will restore what the locusts have eaten and give you back tenfold what Satan has taken from you.”

Eventually, Dell got her life together and married a loving man named Cary (spelling is uncertain). They’ve been married 42 years and have two sons and two daughters.

But she never escaped the regret, depression and nightmares that stem from Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS).

“I longed to see my daughter,” she says. “I thought, how could there be no tears in heaven? When I got there, and when she saw me, what would she say: ‘Why did you do that, Mommy?’ I couldn’t forgive myself.”

In an effort to find a soothing balm to her inner wound, Dell and her husband went to some revival services preached by Pastor Rodney Howard Brown. She was disappointed, not finding the help she sought to heal her emotional wounds.

As she was leaving, she collapsed in the church foyer. While her body lay prone, apparently lifeless, she had a near death experience. Dell was transported to Heaven in a vision.

She saw Jesus – and a child.

“I saw this little girl with pigtails and a little white dress, and she was skipping and dancing and twirling around the feet of Jesus,” Dell says. “She turned and looked at me. Our eyes met, and I immediately… Read the rest: How do I heal from Post Abortion Syndrome?

Robert Borelli, former mafioso

Despite being involved with the Brooklyn mafia, drug dealing, and losing his connection with his daughter, Robert Borelli made a 180 degree turn that changed the future course of his life.

“As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York, being a small guy, I had to be a little rough kid. You had to learn how to fight,” Robert told DadTalk.

Robert’s neighborhood was tough and, unbeknownst to him initially, it was run by the Gambino crime family.

“They protected the neighborhood and got all the respect from just about everybody in it, including police officers.” Robert continues. “There was mutual respect between the officers and the mafia guys.”

Robert was well-liked by the mafia affiliates, and he often attended their social clubs to run errands.

“At the age of 17 years old, I started hanging out with one of the mob guys’ sons,” Robert says. “His dad often had a big spread every Friday night where all the wise guys from the neighborhood would come meet him and give him respect.”

Robert was impressed by the influence of the men there and was drawn towards the criminal lifestyle.

“My family had a hard time making ends meet. There were financial arguments in the house over rent, and at that age, that was not something I was looking forward to having for the rest of my life.”

Robert’s gravitated towards the mafia life, drawn by the respect, money, and nice clothes offered by it.

“See the people?” a mafia man told him one day as they observed some people at a bus stop. “They are the suckers; they have to go to work, and they give half their money to the government. We’re gonna keep that money for ourselves.’”

But by age 20, he was deep into trouble with the law. He had a murder case and possession of a weapon case. Prison offered the proof that he was good for the mafia because he didn’t “rat anybody out.”

So when he was released, he was ready to operate and scale up in the lifestyle portrayed fairly accurately, he says, by the movie “Goodfellas.”

“I was getting recognition,” Robert says. “I got involved in selling drugs.”

Robert was living a fast-paced life of partying, drugs, recognition and excitement. Robert demanded respect, and he would even resort to violence to get it. He wasn’t only running drugs; drugs were running him. He became a “crackhead.”

But then something happened that would change everything.

“In 1993, a little girl was born, my daughter, Brianna, and seven weeks into having her home, I walked out of her life to get high just for that night,” Robert states. “It ended up not being just for that night, and I ended up staying out getting high.”

Mom didn’t like his newly adopted lifestyle and forced him to stay away from their daughter so she wouldn’t get corrupted.

Finally the law caught up with Robert and he was Incarcerated for a long stint. He missed his daughter, but his wife wouldn’t let him talk to her on the prison phone.

“No matter if you’re a mobster or a crackhead, to walk out of your daughter’s life… Read the rest: Robert Borelli mafioso

Little Mermaid actor saved from divorce by God

Jodi Benson, 1989 voice actor for the main character in “The Little Mermaid,” repeatedly begged her Christian husband for a divorce when the movie came out. Jodi’s career was successful, but her home life was failing.

“My personal life was plummeting,” Jodi says in an article published by the Billy Graham Association. “I had a real crisis of belief.”

Jodi wound up staying with her husband Ray. They got counseling and had two kids. Her home life is now successful, as is her career, and she credits Jesus for everything.

Raised in a single parent household in Rockford, Ill., Jodi dreamed of singing.

“This dream that I had in my mind was so far-fetched from where I was,” Jodi said. “I’m sure everybody just thought I was crazy.”

She attended Millikin University in Dacatur, Ill. In 1983, she earned her debut role in the Broadway musical Marilyn: An American Fable. The next year she met Ray Benson, became a Christian, and got married to him.

Moving to New York, Jodi landed an ensemble spot in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Two years later, she landed the starring role in Smile on Broadway.

Her biggest role, however, came when she auditioned for the part of Ariel. Out of a field of hundreds of applicants, Jodi was chosen. Ironically, she wasn’t excited with the part.

At the time, animation voice-overs were viewed as jobs for people whose careers were winding down. Voice-over actors didn’t even get mentioned in the credits. Benson, who was in her mid-20s, didn’t like the idea her career might be viewed as fading.

No one could have imagined how big “The Little Mermaid” would become. Instead of earmarking her for a dying career, it catapulted her to stardom.

But when she hit the apex of her career, her marriage was hitting its lows. She was focusing on her career, but her family was on shaky ground. She and her husband wavered between reaffirming their relationship or trashing it.

“I begged him for a divorce,” she says. “I had my foot on the pedal on a cliff in California. I was ready… Jodi Benson Christian.

Police comandos guard missionaries in Pakistan

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the healing miracles or the massive crowds that impressed me most. It wasn’t the amazing hospitality or the open door for the gospel.

What impressed me most was the burly guys with guns. Local authorities spontaneously assigned us a security detail, 10 police commandos with AK-47s and shotguns. They controlled the perimeter, loomed ominously on the platform, and escorted us about town with sirens blaring everywhere we went.

Why did three Americans and one Aussie get such protection? Because Pakistan harbors an unknown quantity of Muslim extremists who think they are doing the will of Allah by killing Christians. In 2002, extremists threw hand grenades in the Protestant International Church in nearby Islamabad, killing five.

Authorities in Faisalabad weren’t messing around.

On a recent trip to Pakistan in October, I found relations between Muslims and Christians are mostly tolerant. Around Christmas and Easter, however, as one pastor said, “there are a lot of problems.” These historically are dates for Islamist extremists to attack churches. I personally did not sense any hostility in five days of ministering in Pakistan.

Pakistan is a complex nation. It has a secular Constitution and affords some serious protective measures not only for Christians (representing 2% of the population) but all religious minorities (Shiites also face persecution from the Sunni majority).

I’m no stranger to danger. I maintained a low profile in Guatemala as a missionary for 15-and-a-half years. We successfully remained under the radar until a bank teller tipped off his crime syndicate associates, and they cornered us at a stop light. Four guys on two bullet bikes cased us. One guy hopped off the bike, banged his handgun against the window and demanded the bags. He knew where the cash was.

They got more than they bargained for. Unluckily in that backpack were records of bank transfers that – I believed – would make them want to come back for more. I was certain they would stage a kidnapping of my children, and I was unwilling to risk further ministry in the nation I had come to love.

Ten years later, the opportunity to go to Pakistan was different. It turns out that I didn’t need to leave my wedding ring at home. Petty crime doesn’t seem to be the much of a problem (unlike Guatemala). The problem? Jihadists.

I was told NOT to publish on Facebook dates and details of our October trip beforehand. I was warned to be very circumspect when asked questions by strangers. I am a teacher visiting for purpose of tourism, I was instructed to say. Nothing more.

I blew my cover anyway. There were two guys outside the pastor’s hotel room, and I assumed they were disciples from his church and conversed breezily with them. Just hours earlier at that same spot, there were disciples, and I didn’t recognize all the faces. Pastor didn’t know the new guys.

Pastor Sarfraz had a stern talk with me: Don’t tell random people the true reason of our visit. “Not everyone is good in Pakistan,” he cautioned.

I was more embarrassed than nervous. I had prided myself on being a smart secret agent for Jesus, a sort of Jesus 007.

Once on a trip to Cuba, I picked out exactly who was a mole and how she was baiting me to criticize the Cuban government but first bad-mouthing it herself. I wasn’t caught off guard. If I were to openly criticize it, no harm would come to me – it would come to my hosts. So, I disagreed with her, praising Cuba’s health and education system. Crisis averted.

Not so in Pakistan. In my naivete, I confessed sincerely that I had come to preach the gospel. That admission, if heard by the wrong people, could be dangerous. I never saw those two guys again, and I don’t know who they were. But nothing bad came of it either.

We were surrounded by elite police at every step outdoors. They walked in front of us, behind us and to the side of us. When I needed to use the restroom, an AK-47-toting, menacing-faced. dressed-in-all-black cop preceded me. He even checked the bathroom before I could go in to see what terrorist might be lurking inside.

No extremist got me. Traveler’s diarrhea did.

The only attack I suffered was a battle waged by either amoebas or too much curry spice in my guts. ☹

The security measures were elaborate. In addition to the cops, there was a group of 20 ushers who formed a ring around us outside of the ring of police. Holding hands to form a barrier against the crowd, they ran ahead of us to clear the way.

A friend in the United States says I was being treated like a rock star. But my mind compared it more to a presidential motorcade. For a few days, I felt like a celebrity. A celebrity missionary.

It was reassuring to count on these bodyguards. Initially, I was a bit nervous about going to Pakistan, and my wife was more than a little nervous.

As the days passed, these cops with mean faces began to smile, relax and enjoy themselves more. We took pictures together and became friends. We played cricket on the last day.

They heard the gospel, maybe for the first time in their lives. Now that they are my friends, I wouldn’t want them to miss the love of Jesus.

When you go into dangerous countries, you either go low profile or high profile. Low profile means you don’t wear flashy clothes or jewelry. You don’t flaunt expensive cars. You try to blend in with the natives as much as possible… Read the rest: Police comandos protect missionaries in Pakistan.

Claramente

To keep from panicking in tense games, Clara Czer says a keyword to herself when she goes to hit or serve. Usually, the word derives from her personal faith.

“I was really nervous,” the junior says. “The only thing on my mind was Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

Lighthouse Christian Academy fended off a public high school 73 times larger Wednesday to advance into semi-finals, but it drew down a cardiac Game 5 in which they were trailing 6-11.

Chaffey High School from Ontario, with 3,300 students, was within four points to win. Lighthouse, population 45, needed to surmount nine points.

“We had to really struggle in the last set,” says Roxy Photenhauer. “All of us agreed it was God. We came back from that time out, and we did not let a ball drop. We really, really, really fought hard because we owed it to ourselves and the rest of our teammates.”

At the end of the day, Game 5 went 18-16. (Game 5 goes to 15, but you have to win by two points.)

It was a scrappy win that saw the Saints lose some of the former fine form. LCA’s main hatchet-bearer Dahlia Gonzalez struggled with long hits. Squandering opportunities, serves went long. Players played through injury and sickness.

It was an agonizing game.

In Game 1, Lighthouse relapsed into a habitual poor form. Throughout the season, the Saints don’t seem to hit the ground running but take a full first game to find their form. Down for the whole game, they lost 17-25.

In Game 2, after both teams staying neck-and-neck, Lighthouse pulled away to seal off a 25-21 victory.

In Game 3, Lighthouse went down 5-11 receiving Chaffey’s strong serves like mortar shells.

But the girls kept their mental strength and rallied to level at 12-12. Elizabeth Foreman, LCA’s tall center, was slicing up the opposition with hits that cut like a warm knife through a cheesecake.

Having come from behind, Lighthouse finished off 25-18.

Momentum was on the Saints’ side.

But the Tigers pounced on their opportunities in Game 4 and pulled ahead in the middle of the game, while Lighthouse committed errors. The set ended 20-25.

Both teams were even with two wins, but Chaffey were riding high in confidence.

In Game 5, the Tigers continued to wreak havoc with its strong serves, pulling ahead 6-11 — a mere four points from victory. But in the time out, a flush Clara rallied the troops: “There were so many times that we were all so defeated. But I was like no, it’s not 15 yet.”

Suddenly, Dahlia, in the serving position, rediscovered her inner HIMARS. As 200 Saints fans shouted “Do it again, Dahlia!” the sophomore aimed and took fire. The Ukrainians take out Russian tanks, Dahlia hunted Tigers.

It became 13-11.

With hearts leaping out of chests on both sides, went 14-13 and then 16-16.

Either side needed two points.

With Chaffey serving, the girls played for 27 seconds back and forth, with both sides being cautious to not make a mistake, until Chaffey hit the ball into the night and Lighthouse got the point and the serve.

Roxie served a sinking ball that forced the Tigers into a dive on the floor. The return for the Saints was easy but instead of smashing the ball, sophomore Allie Scribner played it safe and lobbed the ball over.

When Chaffey returned it, Allie set… Read the rest: Santa Monica Christian school volleyball.

Schizophrenia and salvation

Three voices screamed at Stacy’s Mom all the time. Sometimes, she screamed back.

“She heard these voices for over 40 years,” Stacy says on a Christian Reads and Classics YouTube video. “These voices were horrible they said the worst things to her; they would cuss at her; they would call her names.”

That made for two sufferers: Stacy’s mom and Stacy. Mom was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, so Stacy was left alone, fearful and resentful.

Stacy was born in Baltimore in 1977. Mom wasn’t diagnosed with schizophrenia until six months after Stacy’s birth, and Dad was a functional alcoholic who spent all evenings at the bar. “A lot of my childhood I spent completely alone,” she says.

“They were in no position to have a kid,” she says. “But they did, and here I am.”

Try as she might, Mom never got the upper hand over the voices and the breakdowns.

“She would make me breakfast, get me off to school, and then I would come home from school and she would be gone,” Stacy says. “I knew she was in the hospital. I blamed the loneliness and a lot of bad things on my mom because as I kid, I thought it was her choice to leave.”

They never went to church, but Mom played Christian music, wrote down scriptures and called herself born-again — things that Stacy didn’t understand.

“We had a very strained relationship,” Stacy admits.

“The voices would scream at her. They would cuss at her. They would call her names,” Stacy says. “My mom would hear this all the time. She was literally being tortured.”

Part of the reason Dad stayed at the bar was to not have to be around Mom, due to her unstable condition.

In high school, Stacy got drunk and high to escape her life. At age 18, she moved in with her boyfriend, not so much because she loved him as because he was the easiest excuse to move away from Mom. That didn’t last.

Eventually, she started dating the man who became her husband, a Marine with whom she moved for a time to England. It was he who suggested they start attending church. But the type of church they attended left much to be desired. When she shared about her fruitless search to help her mom, they glibly responded that she “didn’t have enough faith” in prayer.

Frustrated with longstanding unanswered prayer, Stacy “walked away” from God; they stopped attending church.

Because of her psychosis, Mom complained of “phantom”… Read the rest: Schizophrenia and salvation

Treat people right. Get rich.

Report from the brick fields of Pakistan

FAISALABAD, Pakistan — Kids as young as 2 years old are working in the brick-making fields of Pakistan. One man with a free school wants to change that.

Sarfraz Anwar’s father and brother started in the brick fields. To make bricks, they squat and grab a ball of moist clay-rich earth. They form it into a loaf, cover it with dry dust, and plop it into a mould. It is turned over and dropped onto the ground in long rows to bake under the blistering sun.

It’s a grueling job, and most who fall into this line of work never get out. Some get indebted to their employees when they borrow for their weddings (Pakistanis love 3-day ceremonies with much expenses). They spend the next decades of their life trying to pay off that debt, much like a student loan in America — only they become almost like slaves.

But Dad and Umar escaped the fields. They had a vision to work as Christian laborers. First Dad took at a double shift in security to raise money to launch a school for children that could be free. With whatever free time, he pedaled his bike to the brick fields and sprend the message of hope. Read the rest:

Read the rest: Brick fields in Pakistan.

The Russian mafia didn’t carry out the killing

Vitalii Glopina may never know what the three Russian gangsters sent to kill him saw as one raised the knife to stab Vitalii.

“They turned white. They were shaking,” he says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “He threw the knife down. They ran out of there. In that moment, I knew there was a God.”

Well, of course. He had just prayed that if there were a God, to rescue him.

That was the end of atheism for Vitalii, who blamed God for the death of his sister and played out his anger against the injustice done to his family by getting into drugs, alcohol, and easy money.

With his sister growing up in Ukraine, Vitalii had a peculiar hobby, looking for mushrooms. On one occasion, he asked his sister to get out of work early so they could get a headstart on their mushroom enthusiasm. “I felt responsible for her death,” Vitalii says.

On that fateful night, his sister was kidnapped. They found her injured and took her to a hospital where she lingered between life and death for two days. Young Vitalii pleaded with God for her life, and when she died, he vowed to become an atheist.

From 18 years, he pour his life into substance abuse and crime. He joined a Russian mafia gang and made good money as the key man; he was the one who broke into cars and got them started.

He was a brainiac for technology. He got straight A’s in school, but he also had keyed all the rooms and could break in at will to classrooms and offices.

When he graduated high school, he got a scholarship to Romania, where he would learn cybernetics.

He vowed that in the new place, he would turn over a new leaf. His vow to be sober and make good lasted only three days, within which time he found a dealer and the mafia and fell back into his old habits.

Vitalii would show up and get into the BMW7 series vehicles. Sometimes they would steal the car outright, sometimes they would just steal the parts. When the insurance paid for new parts, his team could fill the order through a front company and rebuild the car they themselves had disassembled.

It was lucrative work, but every night Vitalii was hobbled by crippling guilt.

“I had to be stoned to death to be able to sleep,” he admits.

His penchant for heavy substance abuse caused him to wind up with overdoses: three times on drugs, twice on alcohol. A triple dosage brought him to the hospital on Christmas Eve, where he confessed to hospital staff where the drugs were.

The cops raided, and he lost $5,000 worth of merchandise.

All of sudden, Vitalii was indebted to the mafia, and they weren’t… Read the rest: Vitalli Glopina, pastor in Ukraine

A Bible left on the table saved Deon Howard from drugs

When half his friends carted off to college on sports scholarships, Deon Howard was stuck with the other half, the “knuckleheads,” who hung out at his father’s house taking drugs, breaking crystal tables, punching holes in the wall, and otherwise “disrespecting” his divorced father’s house while he was at work.

“It was so easy for me to have no motivation, no drive because everything was given to me,” Deon says on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “If you’re not moving in life, things will stack up on you and you’ll be in a desperate place.”

As an only child of a military family in Augusta, Georgia, “I was spoiled,” Deon says. “I was always on the receiving end of giving, giving. Because of that, I really struggled with being a giver.”

When he was 12, he got 84 gifts for Christmas. That’s right. Eighty-four.

About half of them he opened with his cousins. When he got home, some burglars had broken into their home and stole the TVs. What was Deon worried about? His gifts. None of them were touched.

While half his friends were bound for the NBA and NFL, Deon was bound to get into trouble. He was ineligible to play sports because of grades and poor behavior. He got kicked out of the 11th grade and had to go to a private school, which he called “bootleg,” founded by a PhD guy from Trinidad that “sold” high school degrees.

When Deon was 21, his parents got divorced. He never knew why his mom, a very private person, simply wrote a letter saying she would never come back. Always self-absorbed, Deon assumed she would come back and by the time he figured out she was never coming back, he was too lost in drugs, drinking and partying to worry anymore.

“It was a mess. Things got really crazy,” Deon says. “My house, if you didn’t know any better, you would’ve thought my house was a club. My dad wanted me to have some respect for his house, which I didn’t. Hangout spot was an understatement. I was disrespecting my father’s house.”

On any given day, upwards of 40 different cars were parked outside to gather, use drugs and gamble inside. Horse play broke the expensive glass table. “My dad would come to see holes in the walls,” Deon says. They would try to clean before Dad got home from work.

From age 20 to 24, that was Deon’s routine. At the clubs, he loved to dance.

“I loved my mom and dad, but I was out there,” he admits. “We grew up good kids. I had a good, middle-class home. I had no reason. I just had no business about myself. We were bums, these spoiled kids living in their parents’ homes. It’s not that I was missing meals; that wasn’t the case. I was just spoiled. It made me not have an urgency about life.”

He neither sold nor bought drugs; his friends just offered them for free. His occasionally used ecstasy.

The lifestyle began to wear on him. When he turned 24, a friend called and offered him a job in the Navy’s Shipyard in Newport News. The friend said he would “rig” a resume for him, enroll him in a sheet metal class, and he would be making $24 per hour – good money at the time.

Despite failing the sheet metal class, Deon’s connections got him the certificate and the job – at which he lasted 15 minutes before getting fired. He didn’t know the first thing about being a sheet metal mechanic.

“He gives me this paper, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I barely passed high school,” Deon says. “I don’t remember 5/16ths of an inch. So I’m going to fake it until I make it. But I’m about to sink this ship.

“He comes back and looks at it. He takes the badge off me and says, ‘This job is not for you,’” Deon remembers. “Twenty-four dollars an hour! I lasted only five minutes on the job.”

Deon wanted nothing more than to smoke marijuana and return to Georgia, but his friend encouraged him to stay. So did his dad, who pointed out that Deon was 24 – plenty old enough to grow up and take responsibility.

Deon got a job at Danny’s Deli making $6/hour.

The roommates moved out with baby mommas, and Deon didn’t have enough money to pay the electricity bill.

One day when he came home exhausted from work, sitting in the dark, he saw a friend’s Bible sitting on the table. The friend read it randomly from time to time, usually while smoking marijuana. That day Deon was discouraged as he contemplated the Bible and remembered his grandmother who honored and cherished the Bible.

Out of the blue, God spoke “as clear as day.”

Son, look, no matter what you try to accomplish, no matter what you do, no matter what the situation is… Read the rest: A Bible on the table at a drug house saved Deon Howard.

Insistent, annoying roommate kept talking about Jesus

Tom Payne’s roommate annoyed the Hell out of him.

Quite literally.

“Just shut up!” he said in his mind, frustrated that Jeff would argue with Louie, who had gotten saved, and that he had to listen to it in their one-bedroom apartment.

Tom, then 19, had come from New York to Prescott, Arizona, because it was famous as a college party town. “Getting saved wasn’t part of the plan. We were in a prolonged adolescence with the feigned attempt at getting an education,” Tom says on a Don’t Sell the Farm podcast.”

So when Louie got cornered by a Christian and acceded to go with him to church one day, Tom offered to provide the alibi when the Christian accompanied him to service.

“Just hide in the bathroom, and we’ll tell him you’re not in,” Tom told him.

But Louie was a nominal Catholic and used to showing up every so often to Mass, so he stayed true to his word.

That night, when Tom and Jeff stumbled out of the bar and walked home, Tom remarked sarcastically: “What if Louie got saved.”

They found him in his bed reading his Bible. Suddenly, their fears, however they were treated in jest, now became reality.

Louie told them he had gotten saved and invited them to church. Jeff started to argue with him. Tom rolled his eyes.

For the next days and weeks, the litany was unending. Louie invited them to church, Jeff argued, Tom fumed. “He was in our faces telling us about Jesus,” Tom told him. “Fine, we’ll go to Hell all by ourselves. But just shut up. I don’t want to hear it.”

Jeff was arguing with him nonstop. Louie was just devouring his Bible and was answering him. I couldn’t escape it.”

One evening as he lay on the bed trying to not hear the other two argue in the other room, Tom asked God if he was real. “I was laying on the bed with my hands behind my head, and I said, ‘God, I’m not going to do this just because Louie did this. But if you’re real, I’ll serve you.”

The “presence of the Holy God of the Universe came into that room,” he says. “I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t believe anybody had heard that prayer or would answer that prayer.”

Awestruck, he told God: “Ok, just don’t kill me.”

Tom attended a new convert’s class with Louie. He accepted Jesus. “I had already been confronted by the Holy Spirit,” he says. He was delivered from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. The next day, he started looking for a job.

Finding a job was no easy matter in Prescott, then a town of 20,000. There weren’t many jobs to be had. He wanted to stay with the Prescott Potter’s House, a booming church. His first job to support himself and continue learning about Jesus as a “disciple” was to water plants at the community college. His last job was working on a trash truck.

Tom and his buddies were used to staying up to 4:00 a.m. partying, so when church let out at 10:00 p.m., he didn’t know what to do with his time. Fortunately, some of the brethren went out for coffee and fellowshipped after service.

He came home buzzed on caffeine, and he and his buddies went home afterward and wrote letters to all their friends back in New York that they were going to Hell and needed to get saved. “We bombarded them with letters,” he recalls… Read the rest: Roommate annoyed the Hell out of him.

Chetra the Buddhist monk from Cambodia

At 16, Chetra became a Buddhist monk in Cambodia. “It was my pride to become a monk,” he says.

But just five years later in 2011, he abandoned the monkhood because “I felt so empty inside. I wondered what my life was for,” he says on a Christ Church of Ewell video. “I felt so lost in my heart.”

In 2021, he got a job in a language school that taught Cambodian to foreigners, most of them missionaries. On his first day at the school, he had to sit through a Bible study.

“I didn’t really know what Christianity was,” he says. “I only thought I can’t believe in Jesus because Buddhism was precious to me. I thought Jesus wasn’t God.”

He stayed in the school for six years, attending Christian Bible studies but never believing. He had lots of Christian friends, all of whom were praying for him.

In 2017, a certain girl named Julia was more insistent. On Sunday, he said, he liked to sleep late, waking up at noon, well after the morning service was over.

She invited him to an evening fellowship. “I didn’t have an excuse,” he says. “I didn’t go to sleep so early.”

He sat as far away from the group as possible – in the kitchen. Then slowly he moved closer, to the kitchen door. Still, he was resistant. “Buddhism was my pride, so I couldn’t lose my pride,” he says.

But something happened in 2018 during the Pchum Ben, a 15-day festival in Cambodia that honors the previous seven generations of ancestors which are believed to be released to roam the Earth.

On these Holy Days, everybody has vacation. On Saturday during incense burning and chantings, Chetra started viewing his practices strangely. “Wow,” he observed. “What are these things?” Read the rest: Chetra the Buddhist monk from Cambodia

Freed from porn, formerly atheist hears God: ‘Those are my daughters’

Ironically, his dad, a devout Buddhist, left the family so that everybody “could be happier.”

Ahn Le felt anything but happy. “I felt panicked,” Ahn says on a Fishers of Men Halifax video. “It didn’t make me happy. It broke everything I knew.” He even cried out to the supernatural he never knew: “If there’s a God, please stop this now.”

That’s the day Ahn became an atheist.

“In my mind I said, look at these religious folks. Not even the religious folks can get it together.” His mom was a nominal Catholic.

Meanwhile at school, Ahn learned about the survival of the fittest, a tenet of evolution. “I liked this idea,” he remembers. “I realized there’s no god because you call out to him and he doesn’t answer. You just got to get by. That message resonated with me: I’m going to be so tough, I’ll never be in this position again where I’m being left, where it’s going to break.”

He vowed to find his happiness, to make money and buy the things he wanted.

Soon he discovered pornography, first in magazines and then with the advent of the Internet online in the 1990s. “When I found these magazines, it was like a drug,” he says. “When I got ahold of my first Hustler magazine, I was like ‘Wow.’”

He dove in unabated. But while he desired a beautiful woman, he was too shy to approach beautiful women. “They were like goddesses to me,” he says. “I couldn’t talk around them. I was gazing from afar with just a lust for them. But deep inside I was l like, ‘Why would that girl ever like me?’ I had a low self-confidence.”

The pornography imbued shame in him and brought his self-confidence even lower, he says.

While he had a secret addiction, he projected an image of being a good guy.

In college, he overcame his shyness and began approaching girls, even to the point that he moved in with a girl. “That lust in me destroyed that girl,” he surmises. “She was a Christian. I convinced her not to listen to her mother. I convinced her to move away from her church. She was such a sweet girl, and I just took her and demoralized her.”

Then, because pornography makes you always look at the next and the next and the next, he dumped her after deflowering her. “I took everything pure from her, chewed it up and spit it out,” he admits. “I used her. I broke her heart heartlessly.”

He ignored the promise ring he had given her. “For me, she wasn’t enough,” he acknowledges. “My lust needed more.”

Ahn got into clubbing and one-night stands. “It was never enough,” he says. “It led to depression. I was feeling depression, but I didn’t link it to my addictions.”

Ahn reenacts his reaction when God told him: ‘Those are my daughters.’

Strangely, the girls who most attracted him were Christian girls, whom he would pretend to listen to about God but would be “little by little be grooming them away from the church,” he explains.

“How do you know if there’s a God?” he would say to them. “How do you know if God’s real? What if God was just a man-made idea? What if there was something better we could do for ourselves? What if God helps those who help themselves?”

Systematically, he turned them away from their faith and got them into extra-marital sex. Eventually, he realized that atheism meant there was no need to project an image of being a good person. “I make my own beliefs,” he says. “In college you’re taught, What is truth? There is no truth. It’s all perspective. It’s all relative. There is no true good, no true bad.” Read the rest: Ahn Le, podcaster, ex atheist, freed from porn.

Will Graham, grandson to Billy Graham

The world may know the name of the late beloved evangelist, Billy Graham, and his son Rev. Franklin Graham, but many may not know about another evangelist in the family, William Franklin Graham IV.

“I was born Billy Graham’s grandson; I will die one day as Billy Graham’s grandson,” the evangelist said on a YouTube video.

William, the son of Franklin Graham, has known nothing other than being the son and grandson of two renowned evangelists. “Not everyone has a famous grandfather or father, but for me, it was normal.”

William, 47, spent his childhood on a farm in Western North Carolina surrounded by cows, horses, dogs, cats, and, at one point, a potbelly pig.

On Jan. 11, 1981, he gave his life to Jesus when he was five at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church his family attended in Boone, North Carolina, after a communion service. His father told him he could not participate until he let Jesus into his heart.

“I believed that Jesus existed, but I never applied him into my heart,” he said. “So that’s when I gave my life to Christ.”

William went to public school in North Carolina growing up, but it wasn’t until he attended college at Liberty University that he not only fell in love with God’s word but got to see how impactful his grandfather was.

“I’d been to his crusades. I knew he was one of the most famous people in America,” he said. “But something hit me at Liberty.”

It changed for Will one day when he was in his dorm room and a man he didn’t know knocked on his door looking for Billy Graham’s grandson.

“What do you want?” William asked him.

“I’m just looking at your room. I wanna see what Billy Graham’s grandson’s room looks like,” he responded. Read the rest: Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham

Darren Munzone, Australian rugby player and pastor

Darren Munzone reacted to his wife’s newfound faith in Jesus and belief in the rapture by sneering: “Oh, you’re still here? The UFOs haven’t gotten you yet?”

He could tolerate the fact that she had gambled away their savings of $10,000. But he couldn’t stand the fact that afterwards she became a born-again Christian. “To me it was like she had become a nun or something. I was just not happy.”

He lashed out at her: “If I would have wanted to marry a Christian, I would have gone to church, But I met you in a pub. This is a rip off.”

Born to an Italian immigrant father, Darren always identified as an Aussie because of discrimination against immigrants, he says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. He had basically no background in Christianity.

Admittedly, he was the bully of the classroom and got into scrapes frequently. When his mother divorced and remarried, he took out his frustrations by fighting with the neighborhood boys. His penchant for violence went right along with his dream to be a rugby player.

“I got into lots of trouble because of fights as a teenager,” he says. “I rebelled against my mom and my stepdad.” He didn’t talk much to his stepdad except two to three times a year.

For rugby league, he practiced very hard but wasn’t big enough and wasn’t gifted in the sport. Ultimately, a series of injuries sidelined him when was semi-professional, so instead, he turned to coaching, where he excelled.

“I’ve broken all my fingers,” he recounts. “I literally had my ear ripped off the side of my head and had to have it sewn back on. My AC joint in my shoulder – serious shoulder problems. I’ve had two knee reconstructions.

“I was far more successful as a semi-professional coach.”

The woman who became his wife was a nurse, and together they made enough money to qualify for a home loan. But when the broker informed them the term would be 30 years, Darren and Joanne looked at each other and walked out.

Instead of tying themselves down for 30 years, they decided to travel to England and Europe for two years for a work-cation. “I was running away from the broken dreams of becoming a professional sportsman,” Darren says. He played cricket in England.

After one year of living in England, Joanne had a miscarriage, and the subsequent sadness deprived her of all desire to keep vacationing. “She was devastated by that,” Darren says.

They returned to Australia, where Joanne’s depression deepened and widened even though they finally married.

“She blamed herself that we’d come back from our overseas trip a year earlier than expected,” Darren says. “She thought I was angry that we’d cut our holiday. To escape the depression, she started gambling.”

She played poker machines at the local bars. “This went on for some time until she had gambled all our money away,” Darren says.

The depleted savings was not just bad – she sought Jesus because of it after a co-worker invited her to church.

She broke the news about her secret gambling addiction and subsequent losses to Darren, who despite being hooked on money didn’t get too upset. “I was annoyed but I thought we’ll recover from that.” Read the rest: Darren Munzone rugby coach Australia now pastor

Revival in Romania: Ovidiu Rusu’s story

The discouraging thing about Romania was not the breadlines. It was the utter lack of hope.

Even after communism fell, the leftover lifestyle was colorless — work, work, work.

Ovidiu Rusu, because he had read widely, dreamed of greater things and despaired of a life assigned by socialism of being just a part of the machine to support the state.

“When I was a child, I was not aware of how bad communism was. But as I became a teenager and then a young man, it was a struggle not seeing a future. There were no opportunities. All the doors were closed,” Ovidiu says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast.” I told my friends, ‘If the end of the year catches me here, I’m going to kill myself. I don’t want to live this life.’”

Life in Brasov under communism, according to Ovidiu, was characterized by:

Fear of authority. “Anybody with any measure of authority wants you to feel that they are the boss. Authority is there to harm and humiliate you. You live walking on eggshells.”

Poverty and boring food. “You have just five options to eat and you cycle through them. I remember being tired of beans and rice. You have one pair of shoes, one pair of pants, one coat. You sew it to fix it.”

You as an individual don’t count.

Thinking is squelched. “Because people who think for themselves are dangerous.”

Even the fall of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989 did not immediately usher in a change of life. Though freedoms were introduced, life continued to appear pretty dull and opportunity-less.

The legacy of communism was atheism. His parents had never attended the Eastern Orthodox church much, but a lot of other Romanians did as a passive resistance to communism. Ovidiu didn’t believe in God because that’s what they had taught in school.

Thinking that if life were to change, he would need to do something himself, Ovidiu fled the country with some of his young adult friends. Their plan was to make their way to France and join the French Foreign Legion. They had heard that the pay was good, and you could apply for citizenship in France.

But they got caught and jailed. It was the first time Ovidiu flew in a plane, since before he could never afford plane travel, much less international tourism. He was flown because he was deported.

“I was very, very distraught,” he says.

He kept trying to escape Romania, but nothing worked. That’s when decided upon suicide to escape Romania.

During the last two weeks of 1992 he stayed in his room, pacing and smoking. He avoided his friends and his girlfriend. He was stewing.

Though he didn’t believe in God, he cried out to him. “If you exist you have to do something,” he said.

On Dec. 31, his mom sent him to the bread lines at 4:00 a.m. You had to get up early to get the special bread that is customary for New Year’s Eve. “It wasn’t a line, it was a mob, and I’m right in the middle of it,” he remembers. “I was standing there frustrated, angry, desperate, no hope.”

He noticed a young guy working his way through the crowd. “Excuse me, excuse me,” he pushed gently through, coming straight over to Ovidiu, whom he addressed.

“I know you from the neighborhood,” the young man said. He began witnessing to him about Jesus.

“I cried out to God three days earlier, and the first time I step out of my house, God sent this guy to talk to me,” Ovidiu marvels.

What hit him was the young man assured him… Read the rest: Revival in Romania

In prison, he found Jesus

Wayne Bradley carried bitterness against his father and mother following years of abuse, turning to drug addiction to cope with the pain. By contrast, his brother, Craig, responded to the abuse by murdering both parents.

“I was strung out on all kinds of drugs and alcohol,” Wayne says on 700 Club Interactive video. “I was mad at my family. I was mad at my dad. I was mad at God for putting me in such a screwed-up family.”

Wayne was born into a physically and verbally abusive family on the south side of Chicago more than 50 years ago. The problem was mainly his father.

“You’re always guessing what kind of reaction you would receive,” he says. “There was always the fear that permeated the air more than anything else.”

He became a loner, ashamed of his home life and generally afraid.

Straight out of high school, Wayne joined the Army and served four years. For 16 years after that, he was a trucker and a security guard.

But drugs got the better of him.

“I think the main reason I was an addict and I used so many drugs is because I was trying to hide,” Wayne says. “I was trying to hide not only from the things that had happened in my life, but I didn’t want to face the me I was: a user and abuser of people. Everything that happened to me, I did to someone else.”

The cycle of abuse was repeating in his life.

In April of 1996, Wayne visited his parents, only to find they had been murdered in a grisly fashion. Read the rest: in prison he could learn about Jesus.

War of the Battleships

Her older sister was quiet, studious and not too sporty. So who was the expect that the younger sister would be loud and make the game-winning hit as a freshman who was in her third game ever?

But Keziah Mendez won the wild cheers of the hometown fans, hitting a smartly-angled ball over the net that Gorman Learning Center couldn’t return for the last point of the game.

She’s 5’0″, and prior to joining Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica, she had never played volleyball, not even at church.

“That was really nice,” she said modestly, deflecting credit. “I missed multiple passes. I hit a few balls that were out. The one ball that was in, I let it go by. The girls on the team are very nice, and the coach is very encouraging.”

Oh, then there was the dive to the ground to rescue a team play. Keziah dove like Superwoman, popped up the ball just before Read the rest: Only third time playing volleyball? No problem. Just do heroics.

Ministry to migrants under the bridge: ‘Jesus says go to the nations but the nations have come to us.’

If there were anyone who might not want to help make sandwiches for migrants entering the United States illegally, Pastor Matthew Mayberry thought of a certain Air Force member whose hardline politics would give him pause.

But no, the airman was right there slapping together ham and cheese between bread to minister the gospel of love to foreigners in August 2021. The Border Patrol who hadn’t yet processed the massive caravan who found shelter beneath a bridge outside Del Rio, Texas.

“The things these people are going through, when I really thought about it, if I were them, I would probably do the same thing,” he told Pastor Matthew. “They have a chance for a better life for their family.”

Pastor Matthew’s City Church got a call from the agent in charge of the Border Patrol on a Saturday. Could his church help provide food for migrants, many of whom hadn’t eaten in several days?

Pastor Matthew couldn’t help but see irony. His sermon for the next morning – as part of series already scheduled – was based on Matthew 5, the passage in which Christians are instructed to be salt and light.

“Within a couple of hours, our church had mobilized, and we made 500 sandwiches that first Sunday,” Pastor Matt told God Reports. “The next day we made 400 sandwiches.”

Over the course of the week and in coordination with two other churches, they made and handed out 3,000 sandwiches to migrants. They shared the gospel with migrants who were fleeing the pulverizing poverty or crushing crime of their Latin American countries.

They helped a second wave of migrants in September, Pastor Matthew says.

“For us as a church, that was a really… Read the rest: Christian ministry to immigrants.

How Emmanuel Zepeda survived and thrived foster care

What freaked tykester Emmanuel Zepeda the most was not be removed by Children Protective Services from Mom and Dad. It was not being separated from his two older sisters in transitional housing. It was the kid who screamed all night long.

“It was the kid I think who was going through some crazy stuff,” he remembers on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “He would be screaming all night. As a kid, I didn’t know what was going on. I was freaking out. I was crying that night.”

Today Emmanuel is a testament of how God can help foster care kids, who suffered under drug-abusing and drug selling parents.

Emmanuel Zepeda’s parents were rebels cast out by their respective families. They were so shunned by their families that when Dad was in jail for trafficking and Mom interned at a rehab trying to clean up her act, none of the family members would take in Emmanuel and his sisters.

“I was in and out of that foster home,” he says. “Growing up we never knew when the police were going to show up and take my dad away. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. Both my parents were heavily involved in drugs and in-and-out of prison. It was always in the back of my mind: Were my parents going to be taken away?”

Emmanuel was born in Brawley, California. When he was taken out of the transitional facility and placed in a foster care home, “you could tell the people did it just for the money, not having a heart for the kids,” he says. “There were a lot of times where they would pull me by the ear where my ear would start ripping and start bleeding. They couldn’t hit us.”

Emmanuel didn’t have a taste for the Foster Mom’s cooking. His punishment for not eating was to have to sleep at the table. “My sister would come at 2:00 a.m. and pick up and take me to bed,” he remembers.

Emmanuel was in kindergarten. His father was in prison for armed robbery. His mother entered a Victory Outreach woman’s home to get clean from drugs. She wanted to clean up for her kids, but he battled with rejection because, ultimately, she sent him away.

“We had a disconnection with the rest of the family because my parents were the rebels of the family,” he explains. “Who wants to take in four kids? So, we definitely went straight into the (foster care) system.”

While he lived in poverty, Emmanuel and his older brother and sisters went to the local church for sandwiches. “To this day, I remember how good they were,” he says.

After so many years, his Uncle Ben and Aunt Rosy got saved in the Potter’s House Church and received the kids into foster care when Emmanuel was seven years old. He started learning the Bible stories, with Veggie Tales.

“My life changed from there,” he says. “The exampleship they set with going to church helped me. I definitely did see a difference coming from a dysfunctional home and seeing how my parents would fight throwing stuff around. I would never see my aunt or my uncle fight at all. I looked at that and said, ‘Wow this is different.’ We felt safe there.”

But Emmanuel didn’t serve God like a straight shot arrow. He dabbled with the ways of the world: girls and marijuana. He learned to be a chameleon: in church he played the part but at school he showed nothing of Christian character.

“I can’t even count on my fingers the times I backslid,” he says. “The last time I backslide, I believed the lie of the world. I looked at my friends from school, and it looked like everyone was happy and having fun. I decided, ‘You know what? I’m just going to do what I want. I’m going to go experience what the world has to offer.’”

By now, his parents were serving Jesus and were adamantly opposed to Emmanuel falling into the gateway drug. One day when he skipped class to smoke weed, school administrators called to alert the parents of his absence in school.

Dad was waiting when Emmanuel, still a little high, got home.

“How was school?” Dad asked.

“School was cool,” Emmanuel replied.

“I got a call that you didn’t go,” Dad responded. Read the rest: Surviving and thriving after foster care.

Halla Mahler escaped government oppression to fall into it again

To escape war-torn Iraq, eight-year-old Halla Mahler and her family fled to Jordan, then Lebanon and finally to the United States, where an uncle had prepared their green cards.

“It was a very traumatic time,” she told God Reports. “I don’t remember much.”

After Covid, Halla, 48, her husband and two children are “closer to Jesus than ever.” They attend a church in Newbury Park that insisted it was an essential service and flouted bans on church services imposed by government authorities.

The masks and distancing rules killed the spirit at her former church, she says.

Halla was born into a small minority of Iraqi Christians who trace their beginnings back to Saint Thomas and have dwindled to about 500,000 in recent years. As a minority among hostile Muslims, her family feared for their lives constantly.

Halla was never allowed to play over at a friend’s house or in the streets because the threat was constant.

“My parents were afraid we would be abducted,” she says. “The Muslims would abduct the Christians. Historically in the Middle East there’s always been that battle.”

Raised at the time of the Iran-Iraq War, Halla never passed a day without sirens. She lived in Baghdad and day and night, awake or asleep, ran for cover whenever the sirens blared to the dugout beneath the house her father had dug. It was a tunnel of sorts that served as a bomb shelter.

One day, an Iranian jet flew over undetected by radar, so no sirens warned the people of its coming. Suddenly, Halla remembers, there was an explosion in the sky and debris fell on their roof. She doesn’t know if the Iranian jet was hit or if it was something else.

“They didn’t care if they bombed homes,” Halla says. “If they saw lights, they would bomb it.”

The dangers of the war and the dangers of Muslims terrorists weren’t the only hazards. The family feared Saddam Hussein himself, who had the custom of personally visiting schools and asking students what their parents thought of him. If the kids unwittingly responded unfavorably, a death squad was dispatched immediately.

“My parents would sit us down every day and coach us on what to say or not say if Saddam Hussein visited our school that day,” Halla remembers. “If we didn’t say exactly the right thing, we would be assassinated.” Read the rest: Halla Mahler Thousand Oaks

Rick ‘the barber’ Warren dropped drugs instantly

Slipped intoxicating beverages by an uncle when he was only five years old, Rick Warren “developed a taste for alcohol” and wanted to stay up all night partying as a young man. So he kept a packet of NoDoz with him at all times.

“I would go to the club, then I would go to the after-hours club, then I would go straight to work from there,” says Rick “the barber” (not “the purpose driven”) Warren. “I was the type of guy who wanted to just keep going and going and going.”

Somebody introduced him to crank, and the snortable meth kept him up for two days straight. “This is it!” he exclaimed at the time, as re-told on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast Testimony Tuesday.

Rick lived in the fast lane because he admired the uncle who delighted in getting him drunk as a kid growing up in Indiana.

”My uncle enjoyed seeing me drunk at a young age,” Rick says. “My uncle was the guy. He partied. He had the girls. He traveled. He lived life on the fast edge. He became the one who I wanted to model my life after.”

When he was 17, he got busted for breaking into cars in a hospital parking lot. When his dad got him a job at the place he had worked for over two decades, Rick stole from there and got his first felony.

“There’s nothing worse than your dad working at the same place for 20-something years, and everybody knows you since you’re a kid, and they watch you getting hauled off in a police car,” Rick says. “Any time I ever got arrested, it was for stealing. I had a problem. I couldn’t keep things that didn’t belong to me out of my pocket.”

When his brother moved to California with the military in 1992, Rick went with him and got on the basketball team at Barstow College. But he quit about three-fourths of the way through the season – during half time! – because “I wanted to party more than play basketball,” he says.

“It was actually half time of a game,” he remembers. “I told the coach, ‘You know, I think I’m done.’ I turned in my uniform and walked away.”

At one point when he was 19, three young women were pregnant with his kids. “I was out there,” he says. He had a daughter and two sons.

He moved back to Indiana and then he moved out of town with a friend. He was the party deejay until they got evicted. Then he moved in with his latest girlfriend.

One night as he watched the NBA all star game in 1993, a boy came to avenge a grudge he had with his girlfriend’s brother.

“He pulls out a gun and points it at me and says, ’Hey come over here and lay on the ground,’” Rick recounts. “He made everybody lay on the ground. I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He shot her in the head. He shot me in the face. He started shooting everybody. He shot me two more times in the back.”

Rick lay motionless, pretending to be dead. When Rick heard the man leave, he got up to run. The perpetrator saw him and shot at him again. One bullet hit him in the butt and he fell to the ground.

Rick eventually made it to a restaurant, where they called an ambulance. Remarkably, his life was saved. His girlfriend, the sister, and one of the four-year-olds died. The other two kids survived multiple bullet wounds.

“You would think that would be enough to cause me to slow down,” he says. “But it didn’t. I continued to live a reckless life.”

After surgeries to reconstruct his face and six months of recovery, Rick simply returned to the fast life.

He got a barber’s license and opened a shop in Indianapolis. It was a good career for him because barbers never had to submit to drug testing, and he could continue smoking marijuana continuously. He cut people’s hair while he was high.

“I had a good thing going making a boatload of money, but still I was under demonic influence and that money was just not enough, so I needed more money and started doing stuff I shouldn’t have been doing,” he acknowledges.

The police were investigating, so he quickly sold his shop and moved to Philadelphia. He sought a place where nobody knew him. He left behind yet another daughter. “I never was a good dad,” he admits.” At that time in my life, it was all about me. The only thing that mattered to me was me – satisfying the flesh with no regard for anything.”

He vowed to never open a barber shop, never get married, and not have any more kids.

From there, Rick moved to Las Vegas and the opportunity to buy another barber shop “fell into my lap,” he says. “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

He met the woman who became his wife and had more children, breaking every one of his vows.

It was at this time that a regular customer, Larry Shomo, invited him to church. Being the type of barber “invested” in his customers’ lives, he attended funerals, weddings, and school programs with his customers.

Why not church?

He had never been taught anything spiritual in his life. His family only did sports. From everything he knew about church, he concluded it was a “clown show.” He thought of hypocrites hitting on young women and high-flying pastors with lavish lifestyles.

“The only repentance I’d ever had was when I was too drunk at night and I would lay down and say, ‘Oh God, please don’t let me die,’” he says. “I had no… Read the rest: Pastor Rick “the barber” Warren

His family thought he was crazy, but he was fighting demonic oppression

Never mind that driving him towards suicide were demonic voices, schizophrenic episodes, and the opposition of his family. What bothered Adrien Lamont in the Bible conference – where he had gone seeking deliverance – was that there was only one other black person.

Fortunately, she came straight over to Adrien with a prophetic word: “God sees what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been chasing after him, and he’s so proud of you and he loves you and all the people that have done you wrong and called you crazy are gonna see what God is doing in your life in the direction that he’s taking you and they’re all gonna apologize.”

Adrien stayed and received intensive prayer. The deliverance was decisive. Today Adrien is a rising star in Christian Hip Hop, though his music is oriented more to the street than the pew, a rough-edged message of salvation, not cleared for Sunday School.

Adrien Lamont’s father abused heroin and died when he was young, so Mom did her best to raise him. Grandma was the driving force behind church attendance, but Adrien never developed a personal relationship with Jesus.

He was drawn to music and wanted to make it big. As he searched for his identity, he began drinking, smoking weed and using other drugs. He also liked to wear a brand of clothing with occult symbols. Today he says those symbols opened him up to demonic interference.

“I was really involved in satanic imagery and satanic clothing,” he says on Testimony Stories, a YouTube channel that focuses on Christian rappers. “It got to a point where all these things I was surrounding myself, started to affect my spirit. I realize now in hindsight that a lot of those garments and things I was wearing actually had demonic forces on them.”

He had a ring that every time he took it off and put it back on, he felt like a different person.

Connected with the producer, he began his path to stardom in secular rap.

“I remember just getting very high and drunk one day and I remember him telling me about all these satanic rituals and blood sacrifice and sacrificing his daughter,” Adrien says. “Under the laptop we were recording on, there was a Ouija board. I felt like I was demon possessed and that demons were speaking out of me into the microphone.”

On that day, he says he felt Satan’s presence. Words were impressed into his mind.

“He asked me if I wanted to sell my soul to Satan,” Adrien relates.

“Yes, okay,” he spoke out.

The rest of the night, he felt a darkness he had never experienced.

Hours later, he was listening to his recording when his computer “glitched.” Up popped another musician who shared his testimony about how demons came out of him and how he ran to his mother, who had a shotgun in her hand. He was saved from evil.

Adriend couldn’t explain the sudden, mysterious site change on his screen. He knew he needed to leave Hollywood immediately and return to his mom, who was living in Long Beach. Early next morning, he wandered around Hollywood asking for a phone to call Mom. Eventually, he got an Uber home.

Immediately… Read the rest: Adrien Lamont Christian rap.

Pastor 007 takes on Mexican drug cartel and wins

Full of excitement to serve God as a missionary, Diego Galvan woke up on his first morning in Tijuana to a freshly decapitated head of a woman left in the street.

The grisly murder was a sign of what was to come for the fearless missionary who tried to avoid angering the wrong people but found himself entangled in a nation and city overrun with rampant corruption and cartels.

“If I die, I’d rather die doing the will of God than live as a coward seeking money and pleasure,” determined Diego, who was born in Uruguay but raised in America just across the border in San Diego and had never known the dark and dangerous world of drug cartels.

Diego Galvan’s father got his family out of Uruguay through some first-class shenanigans. Being a bodyguard for U.S. diplomats, he divorced Diego’s mother, married a lady diplomat, moved to the United States, got U.S. citizenship, divorced the diplomat, returned to Uruguay and brought his family to America.

Diego grew up in the world of guns. His father got into gunfights with terrorists of the likes of Che Guevara.

Diego was saved at a young age and stayed faithful in the church. As he grew up, he got married, got a great job at the Acura-Jaguar dealership and bought a house in San Diego. He had pioneered a church and was currently serving as assistant pastor in the border city when God interrupted his fairytale life with a call to leave luxury and throw himself into the godless land of Tijuana. He would do his best to stay out of harm’s way.

“What you do with the cartel is you ignore it,” Diego says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “They were there before you and they’ll be there after you. You don’t be nosy. You’re just there for souls.”

Diego took over a church in Tijuana established by his brother, who moved on to another ministry. In the yard of his first house, a man was killed by revenge-seekers from the cartels. So he decided to move.

At his second house, a man who had been committing adultery with a drug trafficker was killed on Diego’s doorstep. He moved again.

Unwittingly, he fell out of the frying pan and into the fire. His next-door neighbor was a drug lord. What happens when the drug lord faces off with the Lord God?

The drug lord’s henchmen were annoying, parking in front of Diego’s driveway. When he got home from church, he couldn’t park in his driveway. He asked them to move their cars; they ignored him. They were drinking and partying.

Realizing he was never going to get away from the cartel, Diego decided to send his wife with food to evangelize the dealer’s wife. “My wife can cook some good food,” Diego explains.

“You try to avoid the cartel,” he adds. “But the problem is that as you preach, you begin to mingle in their world.”

It wasn’t the first time he directly evangelized them. Out on the streets passing out handbills for the church, he would run up to their SUVs with darkened windows and pass out flyers to occupants of the cars that only the drug traffickers drove. As a general rule, the cartel members received flyers and were respectful.

One even opened his heart: “God could never forgive me.”

“That’s a lie,” Diego countered.

“I’m in so deep,” the man mused.

But it was his interaction with the drug lord next door that pulled him into a full-blown war with the cartel. The wife got saved, and the drug lord didn’t like it. She showed up to church with black eyes and had clearly been beaten.

For some days, Diego remained quiet about the physical abuse he was witnessing. But eventually, his outrage got the better of him, and he went over to talk to the drug lord. He knocked. Mr. trafficker opened the door.

“Hi, I’m your neighbor. I’m the pastor,” he started. “I see what you’re doing to your wife. Men who beat their wives are cowards. One day you’re going to stand before the living God, and you’re going to give an account for all the mess you’re doing.”

The drug lord didn’t respond a word.

“This man is dead,” he thought (he admitted later).

The drug lord’s four-year-old daughter scampered out. Diego saw her. “This is your daughter, right? Do you want men to treat your daughter the way you are treating your wife?

“Listen, I have the real deal,” he continued. “It’s Christ. If you call upon him, he will save your soul. But you must get right.”

Still the drug lord said nothing. So Diego went home.

A few days later, the drug lord’s wife came over panicked. Diego had been out of town preaching for another church. The wife implored Diego to come over; her husband had been locked up in his room and hadn’t spoken to anyone. He was out of his normal mind.

Diego decided to go and visit. Diego’s wife tried to dissuade him. “It’s a trap,” she cautioned. “He’s going to kill you.”

Diego remained firm in his resolve. He knocked on the neighbor’s door.

“You wanted to see me?” he asked. “Here I am.”

The drug lord’s eyes said it all.

“When I saw his eyes, I knew something had happened for the positive,” Diego tells.

“You know what you told me a few days ago?” the drug lord told him. “That’s real, dude.”

He no longer consumed or wanted to consume drugs. He was going through withdrawals. Diego led him in a sinner’s prayer. It was Friday night. On Saturday morning the former drug lord who had met the Earth’s Lord participated in outreach. He was handing out handbills and testifying to people about the wonders of Christ.

He was filled with wonder and joy and thrilled with the reality of Jesus.

On Sunday morning, Pastor Diego preached about repentance. Unbeknownst to Diego, the ex-drug lord just happened to be carrying 2 kilos of pure cocaine left over from his just-ended trafficking career. In a flourish of enthusiasm, the ex-drug lord flushed them down the toilet after the sermon.

Had Diego known, he probably would have counseled his new convert to give the drugs back to the cartel – and to negotiate an exit from the cartel.

You don’t run off with the cartel’s drugs. You either give them the money or the drugs.

Sure enough, the higher ups showed up. Where’s the money?

I don’t have it. I threw it down the toilet.

Curse words. Threats.

The new convert’s days were numbered.

Sure enough, the hitmen showed up.

It was Sunday after church. Pastor Diego was napping and woke up to the blood-curdling screams of the new convert’s wife. From his second story room, he looked over the wall and saw the screaming wife.

“Help us,” she pleaded. “They’re going to kill us all.” They had four kids.

Diego sprang into action. Once again, his wife warned him not to get involved. “You’ll die,” she said.

“Then I’ll die,” he responded and went out the door.

When he entered his new convert’s house, he distracted the gang of hitmen, so that the new convert grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed one through the heart.

It was the capo’s brother. The capo was a woman.

The hitmen didn’t think. They panicked and packed up the brother and rushed him to the hospital.

Pastor Diego called the Mexican police. Eighteen SWAT-like cops showed up with masks and “AK-47s and AR-15s. Diego explained to them the situation.

Sure enough, the cartel showed up in their bulletproof Suburbans with darkened windows. When the cops saw the high-ranking cartel members, they panicked. Read the rest: Pastor 007 takes on Mexican cartel and wins.

‘Don’t come back’ he told his dad until…

Andrae Brooks, 16, didn’t recognize the man at his door.

“I’m your father,” said the man, who had been in jail for trafficking drugs for most of Andrae’s childhood.

“What do you want?” Andrae retorted.

Awkwardly, Andrae’s father attempted to talk to his estranged son for about 10 minutes before he gave up, saying, “All right, I’m going to come back later.”

“You don’t need to,” Andrae replied, coldly.

Cagey and closed off, Andrae was incredibly gifted at cutting people off and shutting off his feelings toward them.

Born in New Jersey, Andrae never went to church. Because Dad wasn’t in his life, his mom had two jobs to carry the household and leaned heavily on Andrae to take care of his little sister, younger by nine years.

“I didn’t get to play on the basketball team because I always had to pick her up and watch over her. I was the free baby sister,” Andrae says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I loved basketball.”

When Andrae was 14, Dad tried calling him from prison. At 16, Andrae rebuffed Dad at the door. At 18, he didn’t come to the door when his father knocked.

He was guarded, suspicious of others’ motives and ready to fight at the slightest misunderstanding. By choice, he limited his friendships to three all throughout high school.

There were brushes with the supernatural when he was young. On one occasion when walking alone on ice in 14-degree weather, he broke through and should have drowned. But he “popped up” and managed to pull himself out. On another occasion, he hit his head and went unconscious in the pool but miraculously regained consciousness when dragged from the pool, spitting up water and blood and asking what happened.

Andrae avoided drugs because an uncle died from abusing them, and he swore he would never use.

Once he graduated, Andrae was wondering what to do with his life. He was sleeping on his mother’s couch being a “bum.” When his close friend got married and moved to Virginia, he moved in with them. He would do chores to show his appreciation for the free living arrangement.

But when the wife got saved, she invited Andrae to church. He had no intention of going. “If you don’t go, you’ll be on the street,” she replied. Sometimes the harshest of evangelisms work. Thus under the threat of ultimatum, Andrae went to a New Year’s concert and drama activity.

Those Southern folks were strange. He was used to not talking to strangers, not even looking at strangers – the custom of New Jersey. But the church folk from Virginia came up and introduced themselves in a friendly manner. They wouldn’t even let Andrae alone when he got his food. It was awkward.

The Christian rap was corny. But the dramas… Read the rest: Reconciliation with Dad.

The Jamaican hospital dietitian must have been an angel

Her Christmas Eve hope was to die in the hospital and put an end to the endless pain from Crohn’s disease.

Then a Jamaican dietitian showed up and prayed for Cassidy Kellagher, and on Christmas she woke up without pain for the first time in many months.

“I realized that was an angel,” Cassidy says on her YouTube channel. A Christmas angel.

Before coming to the Lord, Cassidy was virulently anti-Christian to the point she wouldn’t even say “Bless you” when somebody sneezed.

By her own account, she was “an extreme atheist, an extreme vegan, pansexual and an egotistical, terrible person,” She marched in gay pride parades and, dressed in a lettuce bikini, handed out veggie dogs to Senators with PETA.

“I wouldn’t eat with anybody who ate meat,” she says. “I just went out of my way to shame people who didn’t believe what I believed in.”

In June 2019 Cassidy began to have severe stomach aches. She soon went to the ER and got a CAT scan and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In three months time, she lost 60 pounds. Doctors pumped her with pain meds to alleviate the excruciating pain.

“Nothing was working,” she says.

She dwindled down to 80 pounds and after six months wished to die.

“I wanted to kill myself,” she says. “I woke up and hated my existence. I hated every second of it. I had no hope. I lost my personal life.”

Then Christmas Eve came, and the pain was so intense that Cassidy asked her mom to take her back to the hospital.

“I felt like it was going to be my last day on Earth,” she says. “I was excited, like no more pain, no more tears. Let’s do it.”

But she didn’t die. On Christmas she woke up and met the Jamaican dietitian. She had never seen her before, which was strange because she had been in and out of the hospital so often, she thought she knew everybody. She didn’t pay too much attention initially.

For the first time in a long time, Cassidy broke down in tears, which was strange because “I didn’t really have any emotions at that time. I was pretty much a vegetable just waiting to die,” she remembers.

The dietitian broke hospital protocol and told Cassidy she was going to pray for her – a decision Cassidy resisted with all the strength she could muster in her weakened condition. But since the Jamaican lady insisted, Cassidy relented. She didn’t expect anything to happen as a result of the words spoken over her.

“She had so much passion for me,” Cassidy recalls.

“You will be healed and you will be a healer,” the woman prophesied.

The day after Christmas, Cassidy woke up and no longer felt any pain. As a matter of fact, she felt so good she wanted to be released from the hospital, which staff wouldn’t allow because of the seriousness of her condition previously.

Her mom was mystified. What happened? Cassidy didn’t know but… read the rest: Atheist, vegan pansexual comes to Christ through vision of an angel.

Christian artist James Tughan doesn’t blame the cops for the death of his son

James Tughan doesn’t blame the cops for shooting his son after he pointed a (toy) gun at them. James himself had called the police after his adult adopted son, his brain altered by drugs and concussions, had called to threaten James’ life. He recognizes the police were there to protect the innocent.

“I can’t really hold anybody responsible for that except Alex,” James says on a 100 Huntley St. video. “He provoked it”

He could not defuse the family tumult that resulted from the incident, so he now pours his pain into his drawings on paper. An accomplished artist in the realism genre, James explores the fragility of relationships in a world fraught with sin, but at the same time offered hope through the redemption of a loving Savior.

“This is how I deal with this phenomenon,” he says.

James Tughan grew up in a Christian home in Toronto and found faith in Christ, but not all was as it seemed. There were fissures. Unlike many who reject the faith of their parents because of some level of inconsistency between action and diction, James incorporated the jarring dissonance into his art.

With eye for detail, James excelled in realism and became a sought-after artist for commercial pieces for 25 years.

But recently, he’s turned more to fine art, wanting to give voice to a vibrant faith struggling with a shattered reality.

He married and had a beautiful family. He and his wife adopted Alex, who excelled in sports.

It was accidents on the snowboard (he preferred not to use a helmet) and a drug habit that started in the 7th grade that doomed Alex. His parents didn’t catch on to his drug use until it had devolved into ecstasy and heroin. Alex warped into an aggressive and hateful young man.

“In the end we ended up with a perfect storm,” James recounts. “Alex stopped being Alex, he became someone else. Our house was a war zone. He had become a con artist and… Read the rest: James Tughan Christian artist, troubled son.

Brushes with suicide, Rick Palma comes to Christ

The Holy Spirit prompted Rick Palma, a sophomore in high school in Guam, to witness to one of his buddies at school. But the friend was talking and the bell rang, so Rick went to class.

At the end of the day, there was no sign of the friend. The next day, no sign. Nor the next. Three days later, the teacher broke the terrible news to the class. That student the Holy Spirit wanted Rick to witness to had taken his own life.

“It shook me,” Rick says on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I felt the Spirit of God just leave me.”

The unsettling tragedy was not the only brush with suicide for Rick Palma, who felt profoundly enmeshed by failure for much of his life due to his own shortcomings and the stalking of the Grim Reaper.

Rick Palma is a Polynesian born in Guam. His family got saved in a church, and he loved witnessing for God. It seemed he had a direct connection of communication with God; whoever God told him to witness to, he carried out with great success.

Until he missed his friend at school.

“There was nothing I could do at that point. I couldn’t pray because I felt such a failure in my life,” Rick admits. “It shocked to my core so bad that I started backing away from the things of God. His blood was on my hands. I couldn’t face myself to go back to God and say, ‘God, I failed you.’ It was that one moment that I let slip that weighed me down. I carried that as such a burden. I ended up backing away from church.”

Not only did Rick miss opportunities for street-preaching, he found ways to schedule work and miss church. The young men invited him, and he would “simply run in the other direction,” Rick says.

“A lot of the girls would invite the guys to the Bible study at school. I would go hide in the bathroom until it was over,” he says. “Failure can really bog you down when you attach that to your life.”

After high school, he moved to the States to stay with relatives. The initial plan to study got lost as he made friends who got him into hip hop, drugs and fornication.

One day at work, God prompted him to witness to a co-worker: I want you to tell him about me.

Rick wavered. He was in sin, and according to his theology, God doesn’t talk to sinners. So he balked at talking to the co-worker.

“I was doing heavy drugs, so I thought there’s no way God could be talking to a sinner like me,” he recalls. “So I ignored it. The next day they had a meeting at work. This same young man had taken his own life.”

Was God trying to call me back? Rick wondered. But still he was in bondage to sensual gratifications.

It wasn’t until his girlfriend took his daughter and left him that Rick hit rock bottom.

“For one whole week, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink,” he says. “I was so stressed out. I lost 24 pounds in one week. I was spiraling out of control.”

His work tried to get him therapy. But… Read the rest: Rick Palma brushes with suicide until God rescues him.

Is the ‘kingdom of God’ synonymous with ‘kingdom of Heaven?’

Skateboarding, drugs, fighting, suicide attempts, Daniel Sherwood’s wild journey to Christ

His last hope to make something of his life – as a skateboarder – shattered when his knee shattered.

“I was a guy who had never heard the gospel and who lived a reckless, dangerous life,” Daniel Sherwood says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast.“

Sherwood grew up in Mesa, AZ, doing normal childhood things like camping, hunting, fishing, and riding his bike. What was less normal was that he started driving when he was 10.

“My father was an alcoholic and he played music, so I spent a lot of time around bars,” Daniel remembers. “He would play his sets, and I started to have to drive him home when I was 10, 12 years old.”

By the time, he was 12, his parents got divorced. “I saw physical and mental divorce of my family,” he says. “I got punted back and forth between Mom and Dad. One would get tired of me and send to the other. I took advantage of that. I wanted to be like my dad, play music and be in bands. What was OK for him seemed OK for me. I kind of just spiraled from there.”

Daniel excelled at baseball and wrestling, even earning a state championship. But when he transferred to Chandler High School and didn’t even make the A-squad, he quit completely in disgust.

I’m just gonna go skateboarding, he thought at the time. “I got really good at skateboarding, started filming, got a few sponsors.”

For Daniel, drugs, liquor and partying came with the skateboarder life. By 16, he had attempted suicide a few times.

“One time I took 80 sleeping pills after a breakup with a girlfriend,” he recalls. “I was pretty much a goner. That will pretty much kill anybody. But somebody found me actually, hauled me down to the hospital, (and they) pumped my stomach.”

Fighting was favorite thing to do when he was drunk at parties.

“I would wake up the next day just covered in blood. No idea what happened,” he says. “I’d have to call around the next day to find out why I was covered in blood. People would tell me, ‘You fought this guy. They hit you over the head with a bottle. You chased this guy down the street with a knife.’

“It was a wild life.”

Daniel got kicked out of high school for leaving a kid so badly beaten he was sent to the intensive care unit.

Daniel scaled up from cigarettes and drinking Dad’s liquor to marijuana, then LSD.

“It was the party life,” he says. “They say skateboarding picked up where rock-n-roll left off.”

With consumption came trafficking also. He sold marijuana by the pound, guns, whatever he could get his hands on. “It just got worse and worse and worse,” he says.

Daniel sold marijuana to an undercover cop at a party. Next thing he knew, the cops raided his house, kicked his door in and put a Glock to his head. Police were disappointed that the sale – only 2 pounds – wasn’t significant under the law, so they pressured him to turn State’s witness and turn in his dealer. At their direction, he bought five pounds of pot, but instead of collaborating with the cops, he turned around and sold it to make money.

“They found out about it and brought me in a small office,” he remembers. “I was so high. I was surrounded by these undercovers: a Mexican cowboy, a biker, a workout bro. They were screaming at me. I’ll never forget what the biker guy said to me: ‘You’re high right now, aren’t you? You are a menace to society.’”

He was 17-and-a-half, which meant he would be tried as a minor and given a lighter sentence.

“They pushed for adult court, and if they would have gotten that, I probably would have done 10, 12, 15 years. I got six months. Like all juveniles, I got a slap on the wrist. I didn’t learn my lesson. When I got out, I went right back to it.”

When he was 18 and moved out on his own, he got a two-bedroom apartment whose second room was exclusively used for growing hallucinogenic mushrooms, which he consumed.

He stopped selling drugs because, as an adult, the sentences in court, if caught, were higher. But he didn’t abandon crime entirely.

“I was very adept at stealing,” he admits. “Me and a buddy of mine would steal carts full of liquor and throw these massive parties. We had a little crew and called ourselves the ‘40 Crew.’ We would get drunk, and the goal was always to find somebody and beat him up. We just loved it.”

But God, in his infinite grace and mercy, was pursuing Sherwood’s heart, and brought the Gospel into his life.

Drunk at 3:00 a.m., he rear-ended two guys on Harleys, pulled a gun on them, drove off and, trying to escape pursuing police, scraped up two cars when he tried to drive his ‘88 Cutlass Sierra between them.

Under the police chopper spotlight, he surrendered to police. He spent a month in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent city jail, shivering at night, wrapped in a plastic bag during winter trying to stay warm.

“My time in tent city was so awful that I swore I would never go back again,” he says. “As critical as people like to be of Joe Arpaio, it worked.”

Daniel was placed on a work release program that… Read the rest: Skateboard, drugs and suicide, Daniel Sherwood’s wild journey to Christ..

Shot by sniper, he remembered his Gideon’s New Testament

Pierced by a 7.62 mm sniper’s round in his chest cavity, Brandon Blair lay on the sands of Fallujah unable to be evacuated because of a sandstorm and remembered the New Testament in his coat pocket that a Gideon-man gave him when he shipped out.

It was the perfect size, and the U.S. Marine had at the time thought it was a “pretty cool” good luck token. But now he pleaded with the God of that New Testament to let him live.

“All I could do was look up, and I begged God right there that he would spare my life because I knew I wasn’t ready to stand before God and I knew I needed to get some things in order,” Brandon says on a LifeChange video on YouTube. “As any military personnel knows, I am a walking miracle. I had no internal bleeding.”

Today he is pastor of the Langston Baptist Church in South Carolina.

When Brandon saw the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Sept. 11th while at college, he called his mom. “I’m going to enlist,” he told her.

“No, you’re not,” Mom tried to dissuade him.

Enlisting in the “first to fight” Marines, he became a machine gunner at Parris Island and was assigned to a Mobile Assault Platoon, which means they would be their own base.

Before he shipped out, an old man with a cane was handing out Gideons’ New Testaments when he boarded the bus with the guys.

“I thought, well that’s pretty cool. I loved the size and loved the color and it matched our uniforms. It fit perfectly right inside of my left breast pocket of my uniform,” Brandon says. “I placed it there in my left breast pocket as a good luck token and thought, maybe it would bring me great success and bring me back home.”

He didn’t read it, however.

The streets of Fallujah, Iraq were a heavily fought zone. It was so bad, their food was dropped by helicopter, and the one time a chaplain showed up to minister to the men, his vehicle hit an improvised explosive and they never came again.

“My chances of coming home were very slim,” Brandon says. “But honestly, I never thought it would get hurt or injured.”

In August of 2006, a sniper’s bullet penetrated his chest.

Sandstorms made evacuation by helicopter impossible, so… Read the rest: Shot by sniper, he remembered his Gideon’s New Testament

Mikhaila Peterson saw her Mom get healed of cancer in the strangest of ways

Mom’s rare form of cancer offered a bleak 0% survival rate, but she declared to her husband – mystically – “I’ll be better by our anniversary.”

Daughter Mikhaila Peterson dismissed the proclamation as “spooky weird.” But when Mom recovered a month later on the day of her anniversary, Mikhaila “couldn’t logic my way out of that.”

“How did you get better?” she asked Mom.

“God,” was her cryptic reply.

Mikhaila is a Canadian podcaster who is almost more famous for being the daughter of heralded culture critic Jordan Peterson, who himself recently passed from admirer of Christian teaching to follower of Christ.

Mikhaila’s journey to Christianity shadows her dad’s, but the critical factor was her mom’s brush with death.

Mikhaila grew up learning the Biblical stories, but they were taught for their psychological significance by her psychologist father who viewed them through the lens of Carl Jung. They weren’t taught as literal events and truth.

“In the 4th grade, somebody asked me if I believed in God,” Mikhaila remembers on a Big Conversation video. “I said, ‘I don’t know.’”

Inwardly, she envied Christians. “I hoped that one day I could find some sort of support, like God,” she says. “I heard Christians talking about it and it was like that sounds fantastic, but I don’t have that.”

Ironically, consuming psychedelic drugs in her youth made her open to the possibility of there being a deity.

“I took a lot of psychedelics, and I do think the psychedelics opened my mind to the possibility that there was something there I couldn’t see,” she says. “I think that had a fairly large role to play.”

Dad, who was a cultural phenomenon, came to Christ and stopped viewing the Biblical narrative only as an expression of humanity’s deep-seated needs and realized they are also true stories. Mikhaela, who always admired her dad, took note.

But it was her mother’s rare cancer that led her towards faith.

“She was unbelievably sick. She was movie sick. She got this rare cancer that nobody gets and there were no studies on it and the death rate was 100%,” Mikhaila relates. “It was a cancer that nothing helps and it kills you right away.

“It tore my family apart because it was so sudden.”

Three consecutive surgeries failed.

Only a Catholic woman who visited her in the hospital to pray with her offered hope.

“A lady started visiting her in the hospital and they were praying together,” Mikhaila says. “My mom’s demeanor changed. She just… Read the rest: Mikhaila Peterson Christian.

When the Goth guy with one blue contact lens showed up at church

He dressed in all black, wore long dark hair, and had one blue contact lens – 90s Goth style. So when a church-goer saw him at the store, he freaked and thought: This guy will never get saved.

So when Genaro Nava showed up at church the following Sunday, the Christian guy felt rebuked internally for judging people: “It was like God just slapped me across the face. It blew my mind.”

Today Genaro is not just rescued from the darkness of underage clubbing across the border in Mexico, he’s a pastor in Brownsville, Texas, his third pastoral assignment.

Genaro came with his family to America to start the 1st grade. When his mom got divorced, she fell into a deep depression. Genaro and his sisters fell into drugs and partying in high school. Genaro’s room was painted black, covered with worldly posters.

One night he left a club, and there were Christian street preachers from the Door Church declaring the love of Jesus. Genaro joked to his girlfriend: “One day, I’m going to do that.”

The next night after a movie, there were the street evangelists again, passing out flyers. Genaro said he wasn’t interested but accepted the flier and pinned it to his wall (where there was a clutter of things on display).

The street evangelist said: “You can’t go to Heaven if you don’t have Jesus in your heart.” Those words haunted Genaro.

Years later, his sister got saved and invited him to church. It was, startlingly, the same Door Church whose flier was still on his wall. It seemed more than coincidental, so Genaro, then 19, agreed to go.

Bit by bit, he began attending church more and leaving his sin behind. At one point, he had to break up with his girlfriend of the time because she vowed to continue using drugs while he wanted to get clean. He left his old friends for the same reason.

“We would do drugs there in my house,” he says. “They would be there drinking and say, ‘Hey come on, join us.’ I had to make a stand.”

Eventually, he needed to read them the riot act: either come to church or stop coming over.

“I invited my friends to church,” he says. “They all went once and never came back. It’s not like you’re cutting them off; you’re just choosing different paths.”

People at church were really nice, and they threw him a small birthday party just a month after showing up at church. That made quite an impression.

“I was asking myself, how could you have a good time without drugs?… Read the rest: Goth gets saved

Military ‘brat’ ran from home after mom jailed for DUIs

By the time Alyssa Gordon went to high school, her mom had been thrown in jail for too many DUIs.

“My family was pretty dysfunctional,” she says on her Wonderful Acts YouTube channel. She was a military brat born and raised in Italy. Her mom was an alcoholic. She ran away from home from time to time and grew up seeking in guys the love she felt was missing in her family.

She played the part of the social butterfly party girl with a smile facade but internally she was frustrated that guy after guy just took advantage of her and never wanted a true and lasting relationship.

“I began to get in this cycle of me really desiring love, to have someone genuinely care about me,” she says. “I would give myself to these men physically looking for that true love that I never got. I got really dark, it got really depressing and the cycle just kept continuing. The last guy who I thought genuinely cared about me cut me off…would act like I didn’t exist.”

The last guy broke her heart badly and she took it out on God.

“I’m cursing at God, I’m throwing things,” she relates. “I was yelling and screaming, ‘God if you’re real, I need you to show me…right now!’”

She had attended church, but, with her mom’s example speaking louder than her words, Alyssa didn’t respond to God’s offer of grace and love.

As a sophomore in college, she luckily had a friend who encouraged her.

“I don’t know if God is real anymore, because if he’s real where is he?” she asked him.

“Alyssa, God has you in the fire right now and… Read the rest: Suicidal military brat gets Jesus, happy and married.

‘Can you hear me now?’ God asked backslider who ran from him once he got in jail

For 15 years, Victor Martel was running from God. His mother got saved, his father, his two brothers and five sisters. He was too busy consuming drugs and hanging with the homies. Everywhere he went, Christians witnessed to him, and he tried to avoid them.

Then he received a life sentence in prison.

During the first week in his cell, God spoke to his heart: Can you hear me now?

Victor’s journey into darkness, coming to Christ at age 19, his subsequent falling away and jail sentence is a lesson of what happens to those who run from God.

Victor grew up in rough neighborhood in Banning, California, where he joined a gang, drank alcohol, and consumed drugs. In his hood, he couldn’t conceive of any other kind of life because it was all he saw.

“I had no choice. I was born in that neighborhood,” Victor explains to God Reports. “There was a principality that covered the area. There was no way out. It was the only lifestyle I knew.”

At 15, he got shot in the back and cried out to God for the first time to spare his life.

Despite God answering his prayer, Victor stubbornly persisted in sin. His house got shot up as result of his involvement in the gang. At 17, he started heroin.

Two years later, Victor lost his best homie, and he cried out to God again.

Then God did something remarkable. He placed a burden on the heart of a pastor from the Potter’s House Church, so the pastor began looking for the most desperate person to evangelize and was drawn to Victor’s house.

“He came to my house,” Victor says. “I wasn’t trying to be famous that way.”

In response to the gospel message, Victor accepted Jesus and began attending church in Beaumont, a few miles away. Victor attended for three months and then “didn’t follow through. I got caught back in doing what I wanted to do.”

The pastor visited regularly to encourage Victor to return to church. “Tell him I’m not here,” Victor told his mom… Read the rest: He ran from God, got jailed, then God got his attention.

Modern day Job: Myron Leavitt

Caleb’s Ford Escape

After being handed a bloody bag of personal items of their dead son, Myron Leavitt was informed that his other son had a 5% chance of surviving surgery and that – if he lived – he would probably be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

“The other kids were 18 years old and were drunk out of their minds, but the state trooper said, We have a witness that thinks that your sons ran the red light,” Myron says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast.

Talk about Job being informed of calamity after calamity.

Myron and Jenny Leavitt

“Over 75% of marriages that have a tragedy like this in their lives, their marriage does not survive because people grieve differently, people process things differently,” Myron says. “But the grace of God, when he is the only answer you have, he is able to navigate you through these things.”

Not only did Myron’s marriage survive, they’re pastoring a church showing mercy, love, compassion and strength to others in Sanford, Florida – as incredible as Job’s recovery.

“I made a decision very early on that I’m going to choose forgiveness. I wasn’t out to hurt these kids,” Myron says. “I wanted, after everything is said and done, to be able to witness to these kids and to share the love of Christ with them.”

Myron as a senior in high school.

Myron’s journey with God began in the U.S. Navy. His girlfriend of the time took him to the recruiter’s office. They were both supposed to sign up so they could be together. But Myron found himself shipped out to Scotland, and his girlfriend never signed up.

His father had been a “Jack Mormon,” an insincere adherent. His violence and alcoholism turned Myron off to Mormonism. In Scotland, he met some on-fire Navy men who served Jesus on and off the ship and showed him an authentic relationship with the living Lord.

Back Stateside, Myron started attending a startup church in Jacksonville, Florida, where the pastor, after one month, asked him to be in a rap group for outreach. “Here I was a corn-fed country boy, what did I know about rap?” he quips. He grew up in Notus, Idaho.

But Myron already sensed a passion for Christ, so he was given a tambourine and went off to the local park to perform in the crowd-getting concert that members preached to. At that outreach, a woman got saved who ultimately became his wife (moral of the story: say yes to pastor).

Myron, the ‘corn-fed country boy,’ performs in a rap group in 1992.

Thirteen times, the Navy gave him orders to ship out. Thirteen times, Myron ignored them. He loved his pastor and wanted to continue growing in the Lord at the Victory Chapel.

“I don’t recommend to anyone they risk a court martial,” Myron cautions. “All I know is that I believed that God wanted me to stay in my church.”

Myron did indeed grow in the Lord, to the point that he was ordained and sent to launch a church, since his church believed launching new works is the most likely way to quickly fulfill the Great Commission. He has pastored a few churches.

The last family photo with Jacob in 2014

Once when he was back in Jacksonville church, his wife, Jenny, got diagnosed with cancer. It was stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with less than 25% chance of survival, and the doctor didn’t give her much hope. “You may want to call your family in,” he told Myron at one point. “I don’t think we’ll be able to bring her back.”

With a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old, Myron felt that God would have to save her, so he told the doctor to do his duty while he prayed. Jenny survived, though she has suffered secondary diseases that resulted from the cancer treatment.

Years later, his sons crashed. They were closing the church after a drama and concert outreach close to midnight in the Jacksonville church. Caleb was 20, and Jacob was 17. Myron and Jenny left first.

Myron got the call as soon as he arrived at home. The pastor’s wife spotted a wrecked car, just like Caleb’s, on fire on the side of the road. Myron called and texted them, neither answered. So Myron drove to the… Read the rest: modern day Job Pastor Myron Leavitt.

Flaky Faith Attitudes that Ruin Christians’ Finance

Gratitude is the mood

Firm atheist shaken by science, eating disorders

Decidedly “100% atheist,” Mariah Jones pitied Christians, believing they reject reason and the advancements of scientific knowledge.

“I did not believe in God,” Mariah says on a 2019 video on her YouTube channel. “I didn’t believe in spirituality at all. I thought believing in such things was silly. Basically I was just a strong believer in science.”

Right after high school, Mariah joined the Navy in 2013. It was in the Navy that she developed anorexia and bulimia.

“It grew more and more aggressive as the years went by,” she says.

Once out of the Navy, she enrolled in college, and she positively relished the science classes which at first affirmed her belief in nothing.

“I used to enjoy when people would bring up God so that I could try and destroy their argument with science.” she admits. “I would ask them impossible questions that would put them in this awkward position and make it pretty much impossible for them to answer.

“I hated when people would talk about Jesus.”

Her distaste for Christianity was extreme, fueled by the grip of the evil one in her life.

“My mentality towards Christians and anyone who was religious was like, You’re wasting your entire life trying to live by these impossible standards and these rules that supposedly God created just to go to a place after you die,” she says. “I thought religion was a man-made construct that was harmful to people.”

Then a boomerang struck in 2017 in her second year in college. The same science that in the first year of college affirmed her atheist became the science of the second year of college that undermined her atheism.

Specifically, how could biological molecules with astronomical number of atoms all sequenced with confunding minute precision have just come together by chance? she wondered.

SEE RELATED ARTICLE: SCIENTIST SY GARTE BECAME A CHRISTIAN WHEN HE STUDIED MOLECULAR BIOLOGY.

So at first science contributed to her atheistic arrogance. Then, as the classes advanced, they deconstructed it.

“Having to accept that everything just formed on its own by itself on accident, it didn’t make sense to me,” Mariah admits. “It really started to bother me because deep down I didn’t want to believe something. I didn’t want to take that responsibility.”

In the Navy, he mocked the Christian. Then…

The thirst for alcohol, the perverted thoughts all left him the instant Mitchell Collins prayed: I don’t want to be the man I am anymore. I’m sorry for the things I’ve done. Jesus if you’ll come into my life and change me, I’ll live out the rest of my days for you.

“When I gave my life to Jesus, there was a dramatic change,” Mitchell told God Reports. “The thoughts that I had towards women changed overnight. Before Jesus I had thoughts all the time about women when they walked by. Afterwards, there was self-control. I no longer wanted to think of women in that manner. I had respect for them.”

As a lead petty officer in the Navy over a group of men, Mitchell had mocked the Christian in his group mercilessly. Now that he had accepted Jesus into his heart, what was he to do? “I didn’t tell anyone that I got saved for two weeks.”

The leadup to salvation was a long history of sin and soullessness. Born in Merkel, Texas, population 2,500, into a family of alcohol and crime, Mitchell didn’t see much future for himself as a cattleman. So he shipped out with the Navy straight out of high school.

He got his porn addiction and promiscuity from his stepdads and his drinking from his grandmother, a back-slidden bartender. He was consumed by dirty thoughts, knew how to get into relationships with women but not how to sustain them.

“I got started into that when I was little,” Mitchells says of being exposed to porn at 10. “I didn’t have an understanding or respect for the value of what it costs to have a woman.”

In the Navy, Mitchell completed one tour in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf and spent the rest of his time in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, assisting with maintenance on the nuclear-powered U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier.

That’s where he met Freddie Valero, who had stopped drinking after accepting Jesus and talked to everybody about salvation. Mitchell, who was in charge of the group, mocked him and incited the others to tell dirty jokes and drink. He also would deny Freddie’s request for Sundays off to attend church.

Pastor Mitchell (right) with Freddie Valero

“I was giving Freddie a very hard time as his supervisor,” Mitchell admits. “I was always telling him he was using his religion as a excuse to get out of his work.”

But then Grandma died. Mitchell had spent the last weeks with her in the hospital and watched how cancer consumed her.

A short time later, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers happened.

Both events shook him to the core.

“Everything that I thought was firm and stable… Read the rest: Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Meat cleaver attack did not deter Rene Celinder from evangelizing Denmark

Rene Celinder was leading an all-night prayer vigil in support of the Jews at the Israel Plads in Copenhagen 2002, when a Palestinian immigrant struck him over the head with a cleaver at 3:00 a.m.

“Luckily, I have a hard head,” Rene quips. The doctor explained that had the attack not been a glancing blow, he could have died or wound up in a wheelchair.

From the hospital, he called his wife: “Don’t worry I’m alive,” he told her. “I just took a cleaver blow to my head. No problem. I’m ok.”

Such is the life of a Christian evangelist is Denmark. Today, he travels internationally to preach the gospel to people lost in darkness. He, too, was once lost in darkness.

Raised by an abusive father, Rene became a painter and a handyman. When he contracted stomach cancer at age 30, he made a promise to God: “If you heal me, I will serve you for the rest of my life.”

He didn’t know God but remembered his childhood prayers from the ritualistic church he visited in his youth. The surgery removing the egg-sized mass was a success. Rene didn’t immediately fulfill his promise to serve God.

Three years later, he received a $50,000 insurance payout for the damage done by chemicals he worked with as a painter and fiberglass worker. He traveled and drank extensively until he spent all the money in under two years. Later he would resonate with the Prodigal Son when he read the Bible.

After the “living it up” was over, he had no money and nothing to do. An aunt told him to go to church and get saved. So that’s what he did.

Almost immediately, he enrolled in Bible school and was fascinated with the truth of Scripture. As he grew in the Lord he stopped swearing.

Unfortunately, he didn’t stop all sin. He fell into fornication with another student at the school. Caught by administrators, he got kicked out.

He returned home and avoided Christians and church because of his guilty conscience for some time. The brethren sought him out. Why aren’t you coming to church? they asked. “ I was afraid because I had been sinning so bad,” he said sincerely.

They encouraged him to return. When he did, he was embraced. He vowed to sin no more.

Eventually, he met and married his second wife, Dora, to whom he has been married for 25 years. He is now 66.

At a Christian camp years later, he spotted the old fling from Bible School. He asked his wife what he should do.

“You need to go ask for forgiveness?” Dora responded.

He did so. Then he asked her “spiritual parents” for forgiveness and then her kids. On the final day of the camp, both went up to the altar and asked the Lord for forgiveness.

“I learned forgiveness,” he comments. “Then I was free.”

Rene and Dora had a child, Emma, who was born with three holes in her heart. Doctors operated for 12 hours but were unable to save her. Baby Emma died six days after birth.

“I was really really angry at God,” he remembers. “I’ve never been angry like this before.”

Rene wanted to run away. But the doctor encouraged him to cradle his baby and to say goodbye. The grieving process was very healing. On the day of Emma’s funeral and burial, snow was falling, and the wind was blowing inhospitably. But after the sermon inside the church when they all came out, the storm had passed, and the sun was shining. It was beautiful moment to bury Emma. The birds were singing. He felt God’s presence.

Rene prayed a very unusual request: “Lord, show us our little girl one more time. I know that we cannot ask anything like this. But if you can, can you do something about it?”

Typically, a request to communicate with the dead is strictly a no-no because it derives from witchcraft. King Saul, in an attempt to contact the dead prophet Samuel, went to a medium. It was his last act of life; the next day he was killed on the field of battle.

But God took Dora to Heaven, Rene says.

One night she had a dream and in the dream she went to heaven. The first person to greet her was God.

“Father, have you seen our daughter?” Dora asked.

Yes, yes, she’s over there crawling around having a joyful time, He responded.

Then she talked to her baby, who, not limited to earthly constrains, could talk, Rene says.

“It’s really beautiful up here,” she told Mom. “I’m going be more blessing here in Heaven.”

Dora woke up happy. “We knew that we are going to see her again,” Rene explains. “She now would be 25 in human years.”

Moved on by the Lord, Rene opened his first cafe in a cellar. He invited people, gave them coffee and food, prayed for them for healing. It was a continual outreach center.

How he got the cafe is a miracle. When he first saw it available, it cost $5,000 a month. He felt God’s urging towards this place but couldn’t afford the rent. So he waited a year. The next time he saw it, the rent was now $2,000. He made his move.

Saying he had no money, he offered to paint for the owner to be able to use the cellar. After thinking it over for three days, the owner told him that he had no need of painting but if he would clean up and repair three flights of stairs, he could use the cellar for free. The job took four days.

“That’s how I got the key for free,” he says.

For three years… Read the rest: René Celinder evangelist in Denmark.

Bloated bodies after the Tet Offensive altered John Wurts’ outlook for life

What affected John Wurts to make him cry so easily was the dump trucks he saw in Vietnam filled with bloated and bloodied bodies of American soldiers after the Tet offensive.

“I think the pivotal point was when I saw all these dump trucks going down the street filled with bodies, purple, black, swollen because they had been in the field for a few days because bullets were still flying around and they couldn’t get to them,” John told God Reports, his voice breaking, his eyes welling with tears.

The appalling horrors he saw in Saigon did not lead John Wurts to Christ. That came a few years earlier when a close friend got off the mission field and studied the Bible with John nonstop, in a three-week marathon.

“He took the time to go over all of it with me,” John says. “We didn’t just read, we studied. He was a great teacher. I had considered myself a Christian before. But after studying with Mike, I realized perhaps I was not saved. After that, he had me get baptized.”

John was a stellar student. A short time later, he took time off from his college studies to work with the Barry Goldwater presidential campaign. He also had enough free time to do Bible study morning, noon and night with Mike, recently returned from 11 years of Bible translation in Paraguay and Bolivia.

Scouring the scriptures showed John that ritual and religion does not save. He needed grace through faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross for salvation.

Later, he attended Cal State University Northridge. He didn’t realize dropping one class would trigger his eligibility for the draft. When the notice came, he was “rudely surprised” and reported to boot camp at Fort Ord.

With a perfect score at the rifle range, John could have opted to become a sharp-shooter. But his superiors gave him the chance to choose, and he asked for a desk job.

What he saw at his desk job for a year starting July 1967 was just as shocking as seeing the dead bodies in dump trucks.

As the administrator in charge of logging all non-military issue supplies – everything from limos for generals to rice for friendly towns, John oversaw it all. He realized that about half of all the supplies came from one company.

At the time, President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, “Lady Bird” Johnson, had a significant stake in that company, John alleges. He saw a fuel pump come in at $450 – almost enough … Read the rest: John Wurts tax preparer.

Thrown in jail? No problem. Start evangelizing

When Danish street-preacher Torben Sondergaard was arrested by the FBI 19 days ago on suspicion of smuggling arms into America, it was a real head-scratcher.

The zealous founder of The Last Reformation decided to leave Denmark after insistent pressure by authorities and the media. His abuses? Treating mental illness as if it were demon possession, encouraging people to stop taking their meds when healed by God, and home-schooling his daughters.

It was a case study of atheistic entities confronting a faith-filled firebrand, and the non-believers marshaling their forces so unrelentingly that Torben determined his name had been tarnished so badly in Denmark that he needed a clean start and applied for asylum in America.

Has he been smuggling arms from Mexico into America? Christians who have known him and his ministry are shaking their heads in disbelief.

“He doesn’t even know how to shoot a gun,” said Rene Celinder, a staunch ally.

Torben has been in jail since his arrest when authorities shackled him hand and foot like a terrorist. Initially, he was shocked. He had a bout with fear as the guards told him he would spend a long time in prison and then be deported, the fate of virtually all the inmates at ICE’s Baker County Facility in Florida.

Then Torben got a Bible and renewed his spirit with constant reading. Eventually, he got out of solitary confinement.

And he did what Paul did when in jail.

He began evangelizing.

In the latest update from The Last Reformation on YouTube which Jón Bjarnastein read, Torben… Read the rest: Torben Sondergaard in jail.

Mamba #5 rewritten for Jesus: Lou Bega turns Christian

David Lou Bega, the Berlin mamba singer whose catchy tune “Mamba #5” set the world dancing, has turned himself over to Christ after reading the Bible in a bungalow in the Maldives when unending rain wouldn’t let him, his wife and daughter out for sun and snorkeling.

“In depression, I found a bible and started to read. After a few pages, I started to realize this was the truth that I was always looking for,” he says in The Last Reformation documentary. “I’ve looked into different sets of religions before, everything that was trendy and cool, like Buddhism and some New Age stuff.

“But I had passed over Jesus Christ for so many years, to my regret,” he adds. “There he was calling me, giving me the opportunity. I started reading and I felt so convicted. I broke down, started crying. That was the Holy Spirit.”

He had seen Torben Sondergaard’s miraculous street evangelism ministry on YouTube and called him to baptize him in 2018. Sondergaard filmed the meeting at which he baptized and prayed for David and his extended family.

“I felt like a baby,” David says. “I felt like a newborn. That’s why the term born-again is really fitting. You’re fresh. Your transgressions, your iniquities are gone. I was so joyful and clean.”

David Lubega Balemezi hit #1 in many European cities in his 1999 remake of Mamba #5 “A Little Bit of Monika in my life.” For it, he earned a Grammy nomination. The pinnacle of his career pales compared to his simple encounter with Christ.

“Even in the days I was rebellious and didn’t listen to you (Jesus), didn’t obey you, you never dropped me, you gave me a family, you gave me love, you gave me everything I have,” he says. “It’s weird; you want to sing; you want to dance. It was the… Read the rest: Lou Bega Christian