The circus brought Tanzanian Solomon Kuria to America. Beer brought him to Jesus.
“I wanted to stop drinking but I didn’t know how,” says Solomon, now a resident of Anaheim, CA.
Solomon Kuria was raised a strict Muslim in Tanga, a small village in Tanzania. His grandmother sent him to a madrassa school to learn Arabic and read the Koran. His cousin became a leader of the mosque.
Solomon became an acrobat. How did this happen?
At the time, China forged close ties with Tanzania, which had turned politically to socialism. As a result of its involvement and influence, China recruited and trained willing Tanzanians in the Chinese art of acrobatic performance.
A Chinese official representing a program to promote culture and the arts trained Solomon and his buddies. At the same time, he being steeped in Islam at the madrassa, and was unaware of other religions.
“Everything you see is about Islam,” he remembers. “I didn’t know anything about Christianity.”
At the time, tourists were rare in Tanzania. But a Swiss tourist happened to see Solomon and his buddies perform and asked for a video of their stunts, which he took back to Switzerland and showed to some key people.
The next thing he knew, Solomon got offered the chance to work and perform in Europe, which he did from 1985 to 1994.
The next place to call was America, where he was offered work at Las Vegas’ Circus Circus, a distinctively family-friendly destination in the City of Sin. On other weeks, he worked at Disneyland’s California Adventure in Anaheim.
Solomon didn’t go to mosque but considered himself a good man, faithful to Islam.
The one nasty habit he picked up was drinking alcohol, which is strictly forbidden in Islam.
The Muslim uncle of a 17-year-old girl under demonic influence was upset when local missionaries arrived at the door of their home in a Syrian refugee camp.
It was the Islamic month of Ramadan, and she had reacted violently when a Muslim cleric attempted to help her, according to a report by Christian Aid Mission.
“The cleric had been met by the young woman’s screams and her aggressively pushing him away from the home,” a local ministry’s leader says. “As he began to leave, their daughter encouraged his quick movement from the property as she picked up stones and began throwing them his way. He left promptly and did not return nor seek out her parents.”
The girl’s parents mentioned she often would shout at no one and for no apparent reason, and she would throw objects at others. Being Muslims, the family requested a visit by a Muslim cleric for three days. But when he finally showed up, the girl repulsed him.
The Muslim parents then decided to seek help from Christian missionaries. When they showed up, the girl’s uncle was none too happy. Muslims often detest Christian missionaries.
Reluctantly, the uncle… Read the rest: demon-possessed Syrian refugee girl
Caught for the third time by the cops at age 19, Rick Buchholz knew he was going to prison but pleaded desperately to God for reprieve even as he did pushups to prepare to defend himself against the inevitable prison violence.
“I’m thinking, ‘I can’t go to prison’,” Rick says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I remember saying, ‘God, you’ve got to help me.’ I felt the love of God. Something came down and gave me goosebumps.”
Rick got off course when his father abandoned the home when he was only 11. Rick was the youngest of six kids.
”My dad wound up getting into an affair. That really spun out our family. I was really hurt,” he recalled. “I remember looking out the window as my dad left, somehow I felt like it was my fault. I was devastated to see my dad walk away in the ark like that. I never really recovered from that.”
At a cousin’s house, Rick got snagged by pornography. The cousin had turned the garage into a pool room with pinups covering the walls and adult magazines piled everywhere.
“That wasn’t a very good place for an ll-year-old kid to spend all day,” Rick says. “That really messed with my head. My mind became messed up and perverted from a very young age.”
At the same time, Rick began stealing. He broke into a neighbor’s house, stole a jar of coins, which he buried in his yard and would use to buy from the ice cream truck that passed through the neighborhood.
His mother hooked up with an escaped convict who taught him to shoplift with brazen audacity. “He taught me everything I knew,” Ricky says. “It wasn’t so much for the money. It really was just for the thrill.”
Being encouraged to continue stealing, Rick started getting arrested for stealing. He fell in love with a high school girl, whose dad was a cop, a fact that prompted him to try to clean up his act. When she broke up with him, he despaired, filled with rage and hopelessness, and proceeded to driver his car recklessly through town. The police chased him, but he didn’t care.
Meanwhile, he heard here and there bits and pieces of Jesus. He saw “The Cross and the Switchblade” and became infatuated with the testimony of gang members getting saved. He even went to church once and accepted Jesus.
But he didn’t stop stealing and didn’t follow up with salvation. One time, he had stolen some guns, which he tried to sell. The prospective buyers turned out to be undercover cops. That was his third offense; he was 19 years old; there was no way he could avoid prison.
Miraculously, Rick walked free from the courthouse. “You would have thought I would have walked out of there and would’ve gone looking for a church,” he says. “But that didn’t happen.”… Read the rest: Rick Buchholz Pastor
The judge who denied Torben Sondergaard’s asylum application probably didn’t want to set a precedent for hundreds of Nordic Christians to flee to the United States, claiming religious persecution, the lawyer for Torben speculated in an interview with Dr. Michael Brown.
“Excuse me for speculating, but I think I’m making a very good educated guess: In the back of that judge’s mind, he doesn’t want to set a precedent that would allow other individuals to apply for asylum,” said Michelle Sanchez, immigration attorney for Torben.
“The immigration judge would open up the floodgates and say, ‘Christians who are persecuted in this way in Nordic countries can apply for asylum because I’m finding that Mr. Sondergaard fears persecution should he return,’” she added.
Danish evangelist Torben Sondergaard started a cutting-edge international movement of evangelizing in the streets, casting out demons and baptizing people. His movement, dubbed The Last Reformation (TLR), has generated myriad supporters who gush about his ministry. Other Christians, rankled or disgruntled, lambasted his methods and even went so far as to call Torben a con man.
Torben fled Denmark in 2019 after video journalists performed a hit piece on him. The video portrayals appeared to traumatize kids with prayers of exorcism. TLR discredited the hit piece alleging that the child in question was actually special needs and not traumatized, but the nationally televised piece prompted politicians to pass a law banning deliverance-style prayers.
Torben believed he was completely discredited in Denmark and feared his children would be taken away from him by Danish authorities. He applied for asylum in the United States and continued ministering, performing his trademark “kick starts” that train Christians who are hungry for more effective ministry.
On June 30, 2022, Torben was suddenly arrested, shackled hand and foot, when he showed up for an interview with ICE. TLR initially quoted Torben saying he was accused of smuggling arms from Mexico (where he had ministered).
Torben was held, with no charges formally lodged against him, from July until January, when he was given a chance to make his case in front of an immigration attorney. Nothing of the supposed charges apparently even entered into discussions at the court hearing, Sanchez says. It was purely an immigration hearing.
Weeks later, the charges were changed to smuggling people (helping Mexican nationals to come into the United States?). The charge seems implausible. Why would he jeopardize his own chances for asylum by doing something so blatantly illegal?
Torben relates to the Apostle Paul and other New Testament heroes who were unjustly jailed. He did what Paul did: He evangelized his fellow prisoners, baptized them and held Bible studies. He fasted, prayed, read his Bible and struggled to stave off becoming demoralized, he says. Outside, his wife, Lena, and children were distraught and confused, with their immigration status in limbo.
At the January hearing, the well-respected Dr. Michael Brown testified on behalf of Torben. Torben’s lawyer endeavored to show that the hit piece singled out Torben and was capable of generating reprisals against him.
Danish politicians – who have also denied religious liberties to Jews to circumcise and to Muslims to wear burqas – pounced at the opportunity to extend their persecutions to non-Danish church Christians.
“Torben was determined to be 100% credible,” Sanchez said. “All the persecution he fears was subjectively and objectively grounded and that’s what we had to establish. If there were a law passed on the parliamentary floor (of Denmark) and a politician speaking about (the documentary in which Torben was criticized). The only preacher that the politician was referring to was Torben Sondergaard. How could there be any room for further judgment than seeing this gentleman, Torben Sondergaard fears persecution should he return to Denmark?”
Meanwhile, The Last Reformation, weary of relentless attacks online, has decided to go on the offensive and sue a YouTube channel operator for slander and defamation, because he allegedly attempted to discredit Torben and his ministry, the TLR channel says.
Torben continues his incarceration, apparently at the sole discretion of ICE, with no recourse for appeal, TLR reports. A CBN report quotes an ICE official saying Torben was arrested for overstaying his visa.
Torben’s legal team charges foul play in the proceedings. First, unauthorized persons allegedly were granted access to see and film the hearings. They say some of the footage was initially posted online, in violation of U.S. law. The most recent TLR video alleges Torben’s lawyer was not duly notified that transcripts were available to formulate an appeal.
Any or all of these procedural glitches (or missteps) may open the door in a subsequent hearing for an appellate judge to overturn the initial decision of Judge Yon Alberdi, an appointee of Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, TLR says.
Waving flags that said “Jesus is King,” 650 Christians marched up the beach bike path to the pier Saturday in an event that was meant to spark revival.
“This is not a protest,” said Vadim Semenchuk, a coordinator with United Revival of Sacramento which staged the event. “We’re here to proclaim the name of Jesus.”
Drawing smiles, smirks and wondering glances on a walk more famous for fun and flashing flesh, the gathering first worshipped, prayed and preached on the grass next to the beach at Barnard Way, before walking up to the pier shouting Jesus chants.
“The church of California has gotten its roar back,” said Ross Johnston, who leads the Orange County based group California Will be Saved. “The only hope for America, the only hope for California is Jesus. We’re not just here to get excited and feel good, we’re here to start a move. We pray for the Golden State to become golden again.”
Police initially estimated the event to have 325 people, but a more careful count by this reporter as they marched up the bike path revealed there were in fact 650. Latecomers may account for the discrepancy.
United Revival started doing outdoor revival events and marches during Covid when riots convulsed America over racial police brutality.
“When the world was protesting and riots were happening, we were like, why doesn’t the church go out and march and proclaim the goodness of Christ,” says co-founder Ivan Katrenyak. “The whole goal is to rally the church. As Joshua took cities (in the Old Testament), we’re here doing that today and exalting the name of Jesus.”
Coming Jesus marches this year will be held in Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Francisco and Sacramento, where United Revival is based and is raising up a local church in the North Islands neighborhood. Read the rest: Revival in Santa Monica.
After Shin-Wook Kim scored a 2014 World Cup goal against Costa Rica, a TV broadcaster asked who he wanted to thank in his moment of glory. Usually, players honor their parents or fans, but Shin-Wook surprised the reporter.
“God!” he boldly declared. “I am a soccer player who belongs to God.”
Today, Shin-Wook plays for the Hong Kong premier league team Kitchee. Whether on the field or off, he talks about Jesus so much his teammates call him “Church Brother.”
Shin-Wook Kim made his professional debut in 2009 and quickly rose to the top of the K League 1 and won the MVP Award, Best 11 Strikers, and Adidas All-In Fantastic Player Award in his first five years. Because he’s so tall (he’s 6’5”), Shin-Wook’s nickname is “The Advancing Giant,” a reference to the Japanese manga series “Attack on Titan” in which humans fight giants. Height is often an advantage in soccer to win balls in the air.
During the 2014 World Cup selection, Shin-Wook was not a starting player but was used to great effect as a substitute. He cemented a reputation as a “super sub” by often scoring within three minutes of being substituted on to the field.
Reporters have often been surprised by his answers to their questions. They expect a lengthy dialog about soccer, but he gives short discourses about Jesus.
“The average person doesn’t understand, but every soccer player has abandoned everything for the goal in front of him since he was young,” Shin-Wook told the CTS channel. “That is how soccer is played.”
The first time Shin-Wook attended church was during middle school. It began with a book that his friend gave him: Joy Dawson’s Forever Ruined for the Ordinary. At the time, he didn’t believe in God, but it caused some self-introspection.
Is there such a thing as a god? he wondered. Wouldn’t I really need someone to rely on in my life? He kept such thoughts to himself.
Since the third grade, Shin-Wook had played soccer. But suddenly he was presented with something to consider that is bigger than sports.
When dual-threat quarterback Patrick Mahomes sprained his ankle in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 21st, it was a huge concern. If he were to return to the gridiron, his attack would be limited to passing. No running.
But the chief of the Chiefs courageously emerged in the second half and helped clinch the division. The next week against the Bengals for the AFC conference, he scrambled five yards right, got a 15-yard penalty, giving his team range for the field goal.
“I wanna thank God, man. He healed my body this week,” Mahomes told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson. “To battle through that, He gave me the strength to be out here.”
Mahomes is the man of the NFL right now. Since taking command behind the O-line, Mahomes has lifted Kansas City to three Super Bowl appearances, ending a bitter 50-year Super Bowl drought.
When in his rookie season he won the MVP of 2019 Super Bowl LIV, he became only the second African American to do so and the youngest overall to win it. In 2020, he led his team to the Super Bowl again, only to endure a stinging defeat at the hands of Tom Brady’s Buccaneers.
Again, for the 2021 season Mahomes carried his team… Read the rest: Mahomes Christian
Josh Hamilton turned the baseball world upside down on July 14, 2008, when he broke the record at the Yankee stadium for home runs at a home run derby contest, hitting 28 home runs.
It was an imponderable feat, considering that he had just been banned for three years from MLB for his drug addiction.
“People think there’s coincidence in life and there is no coincidence,” Josh says on an Idols Aside Ministries video. “God’s got a plan. There is nothing I did besides try to make the right choices and let God take over from there.”
On June 2, 1999, Josh Hamilton was drafted by Tampa Bay, but a car accident put him on the injured roster. While he was recovering, he spent time hanging out at a tattoo parlor with some unsavory friends. That’s where he tried alcohol and cocaine together for the first time.
“I was just curious,” Josh says.
What started as a curiosity resulting from boredom turned into a full blown habit. Josh was in and out of rehab eight times.
When Josh took a drug test for the MLB, they found out he was taking drugs and was suspended from playing.
Josh tried cleaning up his act and getting himself together. When he met a stunning blond named Katie, he leveled with her. He had been sober for five months, he told her. She assumed the best.
They got married in September and she got pregnant a few months later. In January, Josh Hamilton was back doing drugs.
His marriage began to fail. Josh and Katie separated after he took another drug test and failed, suspending him again.
By now Josh had lost fifty pounds and had gone to his grandmother’s house to ask to stay there.
The day after watching a church play about Heaven and Hell, Torii Hunter got married.
“We were tired of fornicating,” Torri says on an Idols Aside Ministries video.
Torii had been raised in church but took sin lightly and paid scant attention to the reality of God’s hand of discipline. When he saw the church play, he was deeply shaken and wasted no time repenting. He didn’t dawdle planning a wedding for months. He went out immediately, the very next day, and formalized his relationship with his high school sweetheart, Katrina. He was 21.
“Let’s get married and be together for the rest of our lives,” he remembers saying. It is a decision he doesn’t regret. He praises his wife for being an untiring and exemplary mother.
“She did a great job,” Torii said on MLB’s website at the time. “She had these kids getting straight A’s. She had these kids on time. She’s done all these little things that makes them young men, and I really appreciate her and I thank God for her. She lifts me up. She lifts the kids up. She’s a helper. She’s a completer.”
Torii Hunter was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. His father was a Vietnam veteran who had issues with anger and drug addiction.
One day while his father slept, Torii grabbed his Chicago Bulls jacket that his father had been using. It smelled like smoke, so Torii sprayed it with cologne and took it with him to middle school, according to the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.
“The teacher asked a question with her back turned,” Hunter recounted. “I raised my hand and a crack pipe fell out. It made this noise.”
The last thing that Malta Christian charity worker Matthew Grech expected was jail time after speaking out about how this faith enabled him to abandon the homosexual lifestyle.
“Jesus consumed my life. His presence brought a freedom, a freedom that I never had, joy and continuous peace in my life,” Grech told PMnews Malta. “This is the basic gospel, that one needs to repent from sin, and homosexuality is not the only sin.”
His Christian testimony, recorded and broadcast by PMnews Malta, is what landed Grech in legal trouble on the island of Malta, which has one of the strictest anti-conversion therapy laws in the world.
The trial is the first time Christians are being put on trial under “conversion therapy” bans and could set a precedent unleashing a wave of prosecution against the free exercise of religion, Grech’s lawyer says. How the case winds up could start a “domino effect” throughout the Western World.
“They want to ban Christian counseling in churches simply because it does not conform to their religion,” the lawyer says. “They claim not to be religious, but I can tell you that they are just as religious as everybody else.”
Grech, 33, a contributor to the Christian nonprofit Core Issues Trust, faces trial at the Court of Magistrates in Valetta, being charged along with the presenters of a media outlet, PMnews Malta, for allegedly violating Chapter 567 of a Maltese law of their ban on “conversion practices” when he was asked by local media outlet last year to tell his story.
Grech did not advertise conversion therapy according to the transcript. He told his personal story and spoke up about advocating for therapists’ freedom to counsel their clients as they would want without any government intervention.
“I was invited by this new emerging platform in Malta called PMnews to share my story and to discuss sexuality in general,” Grech reported to Fox News, sharing that he was surprised when police served him with a summons to court on Feb. 3.
During his teenage years Grech was confused about his sexuality and started a same-sex relationship when he moved to London, keeping it secret from his family, he says.
Guvna B, the mild-mannered British Christian rapper, got smacked to the ground and his face bloodied by some white street thugs for no reason other than the fact that he was black, he contends. He reported the incident to police, but they could find no witnesses and no video footage.
In some cities, it could be enough to ignite civil unrest, but Guvna B sang a song “Bridgeland Road” in conjunction with Wakanda star Michaela Coel.
“What I experienced was tough to deal with and my mind was loaded with nuanced thoughts around race, identity and the structures which contribute to shaping society,” said Guvna B, whose real name is Isaac Borquaye, the son of Ghanian parents.
“Michaela reminded me that art isn’t just for others to consume, but it’s also a processing tool for ourselves. She encouraged me to write about what happened and the result is not only this song, but an album that provided me with the closure I desperately needed.”
The Guvna got saved in a poor neighborhood of London. His parents instilled Christianity in their home, but the neighborhood pulled him toward the unsavory world of gang violence, fights and stabbings. Like many kids who don’t fully comprehend the faith of their parents, Isaac tried to walk both worlds.
When reports of his trouble making in school and running with the wrong crowd out of school got to the church’s youth leader, the pastor knew what to say: “If you want to be a good gangster, you have to go all-in. But if you want to be a good Christian, you have to go all-in. If you decide to be a gangster, you might get stabbed.”
The Guvna, who admits to glaring self-doubt, discovered he was afraid and didn’t want to go all-in with the streets. So instead, he went all-in-for God.
“I made up my mind. I’m too scared to be a gangster,” he admits on Premier on Demand. “I’m just gonna be a Christian.”
Not long after, he was playing soccer (the Brits call it football) on the schoolyard in the rain when a friend got hit by lightning. School administrators could not resuscitate him, and he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, where he was put on life support.
“He couldn’t breathe by himself,” the Guvna remembers. “I had recently become a Christian and was full of faith and optimism. I said a prayer that God would help him pull through. My friends were really struggling because they didn’t have faith back then. It was a big shock when he pulled through. The doctors couldn’t explain.”
Since then, the Guvna has cemented his faith and launched some of Britain’s best Christian rap. “Cast Your Cares” is a swelling anthem that can help anyone going through… Read the rest: Guvna B attacked by racists
Capitulating to the woke agenda for remaking America, The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook – long the guide for the use of language by journalists – has been updated to include such ideas as gender fluidity.
The Stylebook is the behind-the-scenes manual for most news organizations. Though virtually unknown outside the industry, the Stylebook exercises an outsized influence to standardize communications by the news media and public corporations.
The update purports to promote “unbiased language” and “avoid false balance [by] giving a platform to unqualified claims or sources in the guise of balancing a story by including all views.”
Conservative voices at the National Review disagreed, stating it “appears to explicitly embrace the language and claims of transgender activists, a move likely to steer newsrooms away from objectively framing the issue.”
It’s just another domino to fall in the wholesale adoption of wokeism that has swept America like an avalanche. In 2015, progressives said they just wanted equal rights for gays to marry. Five short years later, they began telling us a boy is no longer a boy and pedophilia is acceptable.
In the AP Stylebook, the “Transgender Coverage Topical Guide” explains: “A person’s sex and gender are usually assigned at birth by parents or attendants and can turn out to be inaccurate. Experts say gender is a spectrum, not a binary structure consisting of only men and women, that can vary among societies and can change over time.”
New guidelines also exhort reporters to:
Refer to persons by their preferred gender identity.
Avoid “deadnaming,” using the given name that was abandoned when someone changed gender.
Use the word “identify” as in “identifies as a woman.”
Don’t use “biological male or female.”
Call it “gender-confirmation procedures” and “gender-affirming care” instead of sex change because, as they explain, these “treatments can improve psychological well-being and reduce suicidal behavior.” If you want to read more, click on AP Stylebook standardizes extreme woke agenda
The first American Protestant missionary was NOT who is often credited. It may surprise some to learn that George Liele, a former black slave, was the first.
Liele sailed for Jamaica to reach the lost in 1782, 11 years ahead of heralded British missionary William Carey and long before American Adoniram Judson sailed to India in 1812 (and later Burma).
For some encyclopedias and missiology schools, that’s an update. The fact was brought to light by E. A. Holmes, a professor of church history at Stetson University, according to Baptist Press.
Liele was a slave in Georgia who received Jesus into his heart in 1773 under the coaxing of his master, Henry Sharp, at the local Baptist church. Genuinely touched by the Lord, Liele began to propagate the gospel among his fellow slaves.
He was ordained on May 20, 1775, becoming the first officially recognized black preacher in the Colonies. He preached for two years in the slave quarters of plantations around Savannah and even led a congregation at Silver Bluff, South Carolina, according to the Union Review.
Seeing the anointing on Liele’s life, his master freed him from slavery.
Hearing of family members in Jamaica who needed the gospel, Pastor Liele migrated to Jamaica with the help of British colonel Moses Kirkland. Landing at Kingston, Liele and his wife, Hannah, planted a church there by preaching among the slaves of Jamaica.
He served for 10 fruitful years but also faced severe opposition from the slave owners, who cynically viewed his preaching as agitating the slaves, and even was thrown in jail for a time.
Liele baptized hundreds of… Read the rest: First American missionary was black
Kat Von D, the black-lipstick-wearing Queen of Goth who seized fame as a tattoo artist, has thrown out her witchcraft books and covered her tattoos in a return to the “love and light” of her parents who were missionaries in Mexico.
“I got a lot of things wrong in my past,” Kat wrote on Instagram in July. “I’ve always found beauty in the macabre, but at this point, I just had to ask myself what is my relationship with this content? And the truth is, I just don’t want to invite any of these things into our family’s lives, even if it comes disguised in beautiful covers, collecting dust on my shelves.”
The diva of deviance came short of saying she accepted Jesus though. She has gotten married and had a child and now sees things through the lens of what is best for her child.
Katherine von Drachenberg was born in 1982 in Morelos, Mexico, to Argentinian parents who worked as missionaries in a rural community with running water and electricity. Her dad was a doctor with the Seventh Day Adventists. They lived in relative poverty with dirt floors, but Kat only has beautiful memories from that time.
“One of my favorite photos from our family album is one of me taking a bath in a plastic bucket,” she stated on the List. “In this town, you were more likely to see a horse than you would a car. They were some of the happiest times in my life.”
Her family moved to San Bernardino when she was six. In her early teens, she began to rebel against her Christian roots under the influence of punk rock culture and started getting and giving tattoos. She dropped out of high school.
When reality show Miami Ink looked to diversify its all-male tattoo artist show, producers tapped Kat, and she was launched into fame in 2005. Two years later, she returned to Los Angeles and starred in TLC’s spinoff LA Ink.
Kat became an icon, normalizing tattoos. In 2008, Sephora capitalized on her fame to launch a make-up line with her, and she became a millionaire offering eye-liner, lipstick and foundation.
Meanwhile, she got sober. “Looking back at my wild drinking days, I really never imagined that I would be excited about being sober,” she says on The Fix. “When you are on the other side of things, you have such a profoundly different perspective on life. On this side, you realize it’s something to be celebrated.”
Dropping the drink helped her work ethic. In 2008, she snatched the world record for tattoos given in a single 24-hour period when she inked 400 – a record held for six months.
After dating such flamboyant iconoclasts as Nikki Sixx, Deadmau5 and Jesse James, she finally settled down and married fellow Goth prophet Leafar Seyer (born Rafael Reyes), father of Cholo Goth music.
It may be that her marriage in 2018 has shifted her thinking from her rebellious days.
While she always said she would never have children, she gave birth to Leafar Von D Reyes later that year.
In July of 2022, Kat got rid of the books of witchcraft, magic spells and tarot cards from her library because they didn’t “align with who I am and who I want to be,” she says on IG… Read the rest: Kat von D Christian?
In 2010, Chris “Crush” Davis was getting crushed by bad stats. He was batting .192 with one measly homer in 45 at-bats, far removed from his reputation as a great hitter. He even got left off the playoff roster.
“I was really, really struggling,” Chris says on an Idols Aside Ministries video. “I had a lot of hatred and animosity. I wanted to blame everybody except myself.”
The slump led him to soul-searching, which in turn led him back to the Savior he had known as a five-year-old in Mom and Dad’s Baptist church in Longview, Texas.
Chris Davis was nicknamed “Crush” because he was a power hitter. At 22, he was already in the Big Leagues, playing for the Texas Rangers.
“I had all the money I could have ever wanted, had my own place in downtown Dallas. I had as much fame as I ever wanted,” he remembers. “But I woke up everyone morning feeling this huge void. I tried to fill it with alcohol, girls, going out every night, whatever I could to distract myself.”
When he was in a slump, he reached out to some fellow baseball players who were Christians. One was David Murphy, a strong Christian who had never wavered in his faith, and Josh Hamilton, who had overcome drugs to make it back into the Big Leagues. Those men counseled him and had a major impact on his life, still advising him to this day, he says.
He started reading his Bible and really praying. But the real turning point came one night when he woke up in his hotel following a World Series game against San Francisco. He felt an evil presence that freaked him out.
“The lights were completely off; it was pitch black,” he remembers. “I didn’t feel like I was alone. Whatever was in there with me was not on my side. I started praying and really crying out to God. That was the night I really surrendered to Christ.”
In high school, Charlie Foreman was a chanting Buddhist. Then he took LSD, read Carlos Castaneda and hoped to meet a Yaqui Indian witchcraft guide. But because he was high or drunk every day, he joined the Air Force to clean up his act.
“Nothing really worked,” he says.
Stationed at a radar site in the Philippines, he fell back into partying. “A lot of the officers partied like we did. I got in trouble; there were some drugs in my car.”
When he returned Stateside to Nellis Air Force Base, he was supposed to report to the Social Action of the Air Force to continue his rehabilitation. But his records took forever to catch up to him, and he didn’t mind because he didn’t want to be known as a dopehead.
What he did do was work hard and steer clear of drugs and alcohol. He wanted to go straight “but life was so boring. There was no purpose,” he says.
Ever since his mom died of cancer when he was seven-years-old, Charlie was on a quest to find the meaning of life. One thing he knew for sure, “it wasn’t Christianity. It was something mystical, maybe Transcendental Meditation.”
That’s when a man came into his barracks and shared his testimony.
“I was listening to Pink Floyd, “Charlie recalls. “I wasn’t really interested. This guy started talking and was fighting with the noise, so he asked if could turn it down. He seemed like a nice guy, so I turned it off. And listened. I really related to him. He had gone through similar experiences like me.”
He accepted Jesus.
“It was incredible. I felt like I was high. I had joy and peace. Immediately I was delivered from the drugs. Whereas before I had tried to quit and fell back, I was completely delivered. I had no interest in drugs. I was sauced on Jesus.”
In the Air Force, he was given the job of keeping and clarifying bombing range scheduling for pilots, a job that required three telephone calls a day “if it was a busy day.” The rest of the time, he read his bible voraciously.
But when he married his Filipina girlfriend and brought her to the United States while he was still in the Air Force, things went sour. At first, she got “truly and wonderfully saved. God just whacked her,” Charlie says.
“But she held on to a lot of things from Catholicism. She would not let go of the idea that you shouldn’t be fanatical about God, and she was insanely jealous,” Charlie says.
When he got out of the Air Force, Syvia decided she wanted an airman so she could go back and forth to the Philippines. One day she came home with a hickey. Charlie encouraged her he could forgive her if she would stop.
After Covid, the number of homeschooling students has doubled, as parents react against government overreach, the teaching of transgender ideology and racially divisive economic theory.
“We find right now in our public schools more emphasis on teaching critical race theory than we have teaching critical math theory,” says Ben Carson, former White House secretary of housing and urban development on Vice News.
Before the pandemic, a mere three percent of American children were home-schooled. In the first year of Covid, that number doubled – and most never returned to public schools after Covid, Vice News reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that public schools have lost one million students nationwide.
Third grader Reagan Webster was part of the exodus. “I like it a lot more because we get to do a lot of adventures,” she says of her new homeschool group that teaches some days at a nearby lake. “At my other school, they made you wear masks all the time.”
Homeschooling is an alternative way of K-12. Instead of having a certified teacher, Mom or Dad teaches the children the three R’s (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic) as well as history, music, art and just about any other class offered by the public schools.
Homeschoolers team up in consortiums to cover weak spots (if one mom is strong on math and another on grammar, they might meet at a local church and swap subjects). Homeschoolers even band together to form sports teams that compete against regular schools.
They are usually tested according to state requirements and must fulfill the hours of study per year. And the statistics prove that the homeschooled children are crushing it.
According to the National Home Education Research Institute’s 2016 report, homeschooled kids scored 15-30% higher on standardized tests. Who is more likely to graduate college? According to an NHERI analysis, 67% of homeschooled students graduated college compared to 59% of public-school students.
Homeschoolers avoid bullying, drugs and other bad influences.
Still, critics cite the lack of academic credentials among parents as troubling.
Ryan Spitz founded the California Adventure Academy of Redding, CA, in the Fall of 2022, to foster cooperation among homeschooling parents. He supplements traditional classes with wilderness survival skills like fishing, camping, paddling, and camping – as well as self-defense, boxing and jiu jitsu.
“It takes all these skills to raise up and unleash your powerful child,” Ryan says. “I’ve created a support structure to homeschooling parents. This is parents taking back control over the raising of their kids. What they are teaching in public schools about sex, especially anal sex, my third-grade daughter doesn’t need to learn.”
The mass migration towards homeschooling was started with school shutdowns, forced vaccinations, mandatory masking, social distancing, and plexiglass barriers – all of which were mandated to varying degrees by school boards around the country.
Those restrictions – touted as health safety – devastatingly dumbed down the current slew of students, who found it much easier to not pay attention via zoom. Two-thirds of Texas third graders tested below their grade level in math in 2021, according to a Unicef study. As a whole, the deficiencies in literacy and math are now “nearly insurmountable,” the study concludes.
“People homeschool for faith-based reasons and because they don’t want their children to get indoctrinated with certain ideas,” says one mom from the group Florida Moms for Homeschooling. “We are just for parents’ rights.”
Eighty percent of homeschoolers fear the public-school environment for their kids, according to Admissionsly.
“We need to recognize that political correctness which has morphed into wokeness is antithetical to liberty and freedom of speech,” Ben Carson told homeschoolers at a convention in Orlando. “I’m very glad to see alternatives to the public schools.”
Homeschooling got a major boost in the 1980s with the formation of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association which fought to restore parents’ rights to educate their own children. Prior to that, most states treated homeschooling as no schooling and didn’t award or validate diplomas.
Today, 16 states have no curriculum requirements, and 32 states have no mandatory testing restricting homeschoolers – considered a win for the homeschoolers who view government regulation as part of the problem of the state education system.
But the recent surge of homeschooling has come from anti-vaxxers and people opposed to normalizing aberrant sex practices and force-feeding radical ideology like CRT, which sees racism everywhere. Some say CRT teaches kids of color to not try to succeed because “institutional racism” won’t let them.
Derek Rabelo wanted to surf one of the most exciting and dangerous waves on the planet: Pipeline, on Oahu’s legendary North Shore. The only problem was he was blind.
“When you’ve been surfing for 30 years and you know what you’re doing and you can see, you can die” at Pipeline, according to Laird Hamilton, a pioneer of big wave surfing.
But Derek, who was born with congenital glaucoma that rendered him blind, wanted to surf, despite not being able to see. He believed his faith in God would carry him where others failed.
“Humble yourself and ask God for help in the challenges,” Derek told a church audience on a Grove Baptist Church video, explaining his undaunted determination to surf Pipeline.
Three surgeries failed to give Derek sight from his congenital glaucoma. Born to a surfer in Guarapari, Brazil, Derek had trouble enough making his way through school, where he was bullied, and getting around the city by himself. Life by itself was already a formidable challenge. Why try the impossible?
But Derek felt a strange magnetism in the ocean next to which his town was built. The feeling of the sand and water, the warmth of the sun, the pounding sound of the waves exerted a sort of mystical gravity.
“I lived near the beach, and I was obsessed with the sound of the waves. I could hear the waves from my bedroom window,” he said on a Jeunesse VIP Leader video. “I had the dream to surf. I wanted to surf more than anything.”
A local surf school coach agreed to help him learn, but his parents felt some serious misgivings.
“On a beautiful day, Derek came to me and told me he was going to surf,” his mother, Lia Nascimiento, says. “I said, ‘No, Derek, no. Are you crazy? How?”
Derek had already signed himself up for the surfing class.
Ernesto Rabelo, his father who named him after famous Hawaiian surf champion Derek Ho, shared his mother’s concern but kept quiet.
“I didn’t like the idea” of him surfing,” Ernesto says. “But I didn’t interfere.”
The local surf instructor, Fabio “Maru” Castor, was the only one on board. He devised a system by which Derek could pay attention to the sound of the water and feel the movement of the water to calculate when to start, when to drop and when to cut.
“I listen to the ocean and feel it,” Derek said. “And every single part of a wave makes different noises. So, I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards. If you have a dream, you have to believe in yourself. Otherwise, you cannot do it. I believe all of us have strong senses given by God. Use them with passion and perseverance.”
Initially, Derek struggled with the bigger waves and grew discouraged, even to the point of wanting to quit. But he persevered and eventually gained a footing with 8-foot waves.
But could he dare to dream of the massive hollow tubes that break like thunder at the North Shore? He trained intensely for three years. Naysayers abounded. The infamous North Shore broke surfboards and surfer bodies of the best seeing-eyed surfers.
“Pipeline is one the most challenging spots in the world,” says three-time world champion Tom Curren.
To combat depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, Eden Frenkel delved into personal development, self actualization, Buddhism, meditation, Hinduism and the mystical interpretation within Judaism known as Kabbalah.
“To be honest, I enjoyed the process of studying those cultures, but they were very temporary fulfillments,” the Jewish born singer says on her YouTube channel, Graves into Gardens. “I constantly needed to go back and search for more. They didn’t fill the emptiness. I was looking for peace and happiness.”
As a 12-year-old in the synagogue, she stayed before the ark and prayed longingly to God after everyone had left and gone to eat.
“God, I know there is something,” she uttered. “I don’t understand. I feel like there is something between us.”
Eden had a proclivity for music but joined the Canadian Army as a career. In addition to seeking peace from religion, she sought peace from psychedelics. She had suffered some abuse as a child, she says, and sought in vain to resolve the trauma.
When she got stationed in Toronto, she met some Christian women who were extremely friendly and they invited her to study the Bible. Why not? she thought, since she had studied so many other religions.
What she found out about Jesus startled her.
“All I knew growing up was he was a man who did miracles. In the beginning, I didn’t really take it seriously,” she says. “But after getting to know who Jesus was and what He did and what he claimed to be and what he wanted for his people, it was incredible.
George Rose’s grandma clashed with his mom while the 5-year-old was listening.
“Cookie, what are you bringing these men home for?” she said.
“Shut up, Mom, I’m a grown woman,” Mom snapped.
“You’re a MARRIED woman,” Grandma answered. “You have no business bringing these men home.
When Dad got home, he packed their belongings and drove George and his little sister to the shelter where he dumped them off.
Mom was too busy with other men to visit. Months later, George and his sister returned to Mom, but her current lover said: “Get these kids out of her. Either they go or I go.”
A co-worker of Mom took the kids in and raised them. “You want my kids, Rose?” Mom asked her. “I’ve got no use for them.”
Rose and her husband became the adopted parents. That was George’s upbringing in Rochester, New York, during the 50s. Rose was a Sunday School superintendent in the Presbyterian church who read her Bible regularly.
One day, she stumbled across the verse, “Except you repent, you shall also perish.” Tears streamed down her face. She became born-again and immediately started incorporating a vibrant understanding of the Word into her teaching. This rankled the religious elders of the liturgical church.
“We don’t need your slaughterhouse religion here,” they told her. She got fired from the superintendent position. They found a new church.
A sufferer of migraines, Rose consumed half a bottle of Aspirins until God healed her at a Pentecostal church. The preacher prophesied from the pulpit: “There’s a woman visiting for the first time. You suffer from migraines. In fact, you told God that if he didn’t heal you within the week, you’d take your life.”
Linda Seiler’s struggle with transgender desires and same-sex attraction had always made her feel like God was condemning her– but it wasn’t until she spoke to fellow Christians about her issue that her journey towards healing truly began.
“From my earliest memory I wanted to be a boy instead of a girl,” Linda says on her personal webpage. “As a child, I prayed repeatedly for God to make me into a boy and became obsessed with my pursuit.”
No one knew about Linda’s frustrations. To everyone around her, she was simply a tomboy, and nothing more.
“Around fourth grade, I heard about sex reassignment surgeries and vowed I would have the operation as soon as I was old enough and had the money,” Linda recounts.
Linda’s sexuality was further confused when her friends introduced her to pornography. Watching it, she envisioned herself as a male, reinforcing her dysphoria.
“In junior high, when all the other girls were interested in makeup and boys, to my horror, I found myself attracted to women, especially older teachers who were strong yet nurturing.”
Distressed by her fantasies and set back by the difficulties of getting a sex reassignment surgery, Linda decided to conform to societal expectations for women. This didn’t rid her of her mental troubles, however.
“I envied the boys around me whose voices were beginning to change, and I mourned the fact that mine would never change like that,” Linda says. “Instead, I had to submit to wearing training bras and being inconvenienced by monthly periods.”
During her junior year of high school, Linda gave her life to Christ. But things didn’t immediately get better.
“I began doubting my salvation experience because my struggles didn’t go away like I thought they would,” Linda recounts. “Yet, I knew Jesus had done something in my heart, and I wanted to follow Him.”
Linda began to experience a spiritual battle for her heart and mind. She attempted to do everything to fit in with other girls– including dating men in hopes of “curing” herself– but her inner thoughts told her that she was meant to be male. Suicide became a real consideration.
“In college, I got involved with a campus ministry and developed a deeper relationship with God, praying and reading my Bible regularly, even sharing Christ with the lost,” Linda says. “I eventually became a student leader despite the fact that I was deeply attracted to women who mentored me and was enslaved to sexual addictions behind closed doors.”
Linda begged for God to take away her transgender desires, praying earnestly for healing.
“My senior year in college, I attended a campus ministry talk on overcoming habitual sin,” Linda recounts. “The speaker quoted James 5:16, ‘Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’”
Linda was convicted by this message and confessed her secret struggle to her campus pastor.
“He responded to me in love, assuring me that he was committed to finding me the help I needed,” Linda states. “I couldn’t believe it. I walked away from that conversation with a fresh revelation of God’s grace.”
Up until that point, Linda had felt that God hated her for her sin. However, this experience shifted her view of God from a severe judge to a loving father.
“For the first time, I discovered that being completely transparent with another person was very healing,” Linda says. “I didn’t have to hide anymore.”
Linda’s campus pastor ended up connecting her with a professional counselor. The next ten years were full of turbulence as Linda sought healing.
“It was a slow process, as there were not a multitude of resources at that time to help women struggling with transgender issues,” Linda states. “In fact, well-meaning Christian counselors told me they had seen homosexuals and lesbians set free but never… Read the rest: Transformation for Transgenders
Faced with no finances, no family and no friends, Aicha Dramé fell into stripping in Ottawa, Canada, and Nicki Minaj’s lyrics helped push her into the disreputable but profitable lifestyle, she says.
“At that time, Nicki was popping,” the ex-Muslim recounts on her YouTube channel. “She came out with the song “Rich Sex” which is basically about, if you’re gonna have sex with a man, he’d better have mad money, songs glorifying strippers, glorifying sex in exchange for money.”
Aicha began as an immigrant from Guinea, Africa. Her mother prayed five times a day like a traditional Muslim, and her father put her in Islam’s version of Sunday school so she would learn the basics of the family’s native religion.
But when he had to move for work to a smaller town, they lost touch with their Muslim community, and Aicha grew up feeling the pull of the world. It started with dance parties and fashion posts on Instagram that got her attention. She got private messages from NBA players in her DM.
Obsessed with her boyfriend, Aicha planned on studying fashion and going with him to Toronto. “Life was amazing,” she says.
But when she got to Toronto, the boyfriend didn’t come with her. After losing her wallet on the train, she took up living with her aunt while going to fashion school.
That’s where she met a bubbly and beautiful girlfriend who invited her into a lifestyle that involved clubbing, liquor and marijuana.
“I was getting high every day,” Aicha admits. “I was so high, I couldn’t even go to class.”
When her Auntie worried openly about her friendship, Aicha moved out and moved in with her friend, who was supported by a sugar daddy who only came every weekend, sometimes every other weekend.
Until Aicha’s friend broke up with him.
“He ends up cutting her off, and he is the money maker,” Aicha remarks. “This girl had made me quit my other jobs at this point. My income was coming from her, which was coming from him. She was cut off, so I was cut off.
“We have to strip,” her friend told her.
It was a shocking suggestion. But Aicha had been traveling down the road of clubs, intoxication and fast money already. And Minaj’s music encouraged her as well.
At first, Aicha couldn’t dance because she didn’t have an ID. But her girlfriend hooked up with an underworld figure. “I don’t know if he was dealing drugs or scamming or what,” she says. But that guy’s associate made romantic moves on Aicha, and she complied.
“He was about that life. He was a poom, poom, poom gangsta, a straight up G. He was a straight up drug dealer. He carried a glock! He makes money! He moves his weight!
“That’s what I wanted. I was so ghetto,” she adds. “My idea of success, my idea of the kind of man I wanted – I wanted a hoodie. I was so stupid.”
Aicha hooked up with the gangsta and eventually danced herself. Since no one knew her in town and since no one would find out the depths into which she had fallen, the plan was to save up money and start her business in fashion.
But when it came time to put money down on a condo, the guy let Aicha know he was “married to the streets.”
Her heart was broken. She was obsessed with his bad boy image, but ultimately wanted security and lifelong love.
Simultaneously, she felt trapped by the dancing lifestyle. She was 19.
“A lot of women get in a place where they think that the only way they are going to make it in life is through this lifestyle. You can make thousands and thousands a night,” she recognized. “Dancing like this is not something girls grow up wanting to do.”
When she got pregnant, she didn’t even consider bringing the child to term, but went straight for an abortion. Of course, she was alone and abandoned.
God moves mountains and U.S. Navy ships, just ask Rocky Colona.
Growing up in St. Louis under remarried parents, Rocky, half Sicilian, had one half-brother and three half-sisters. Because his dad was excommunicated from the Catholic church for his divorce, Rocky attended church sporadically.
He was a straight-A student who got into a lot of trouble in the public school (he started drinking at 13), so his parents moved him to an expensive private Catholic school, a strategy that didn’t help much. He graduated early because of some shameful things he told a teacher with cancer.
“They passed me a year early because I was so bad,” Rocky says on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I said some things to her that I was just in a bad state in life.”
At the University of Missouri-St Louis, he drank his way to failing grades and decided to drop out and join the Navy, at the urging of a fellow sporty friend, with the aim of becoming a SEAL.
He never became a SEAL because he fell in love and married a woman named Ingrid in the Presidential Honor Guard. He viewed the Honor Guard as a stepping stone to his goal. Ultimately, he abandoned the SEAL dream at the warning of his friend.
“All these (SEALs) guys are divorced,” Joe told him. “I don’t know if this is going to be good for you.”
As a secondary plan, Rocky wanted to work his way into the CIA, FBI, or Secret Service. At the top of his class in A school, he got his pick of ships and opted for the Kearsarge, which wasn’t to deploy for 1 ½ years — after he planned to leave the Navy.
But when he reported for duty Jan. 6, 2002, he was hit with shocking news. They would leave on an unscheduled deployment in three days. At the time, President Bush was accusing Iraq of secretly building weapons of mass destruction, and the Navy was getting into position for possible action. His wife was stationed on the USS Eisenhower, so they were apart.
“We literally didn’t see land for the entire 6 ½ months except for two days,” Rocky remembers. “I got really depressed. Eating habits went away. I stopped working out.”
So, he did something he never had done. He prayed a non-ritualistic prayer, a sincere heartfelt plea: “God, if you can get me home for the 4th of July, I’ll quit drinking, I’ll quit smoking, I’ll live like a priest,” he implored. “That’s what I thought God wanted.”
The next day, the amphibious assault ship’s chief petty officer announced over the public address system: “Somebody else took our spot, and we’re going to head home. We’re going to be home on the 3rd of July.”
Rocky went up to the deck, threw his cigarettes and chewing tobacco overboard and marveled how God had moved an entire ship due to his tiny prayer. He didn’t know the scripture about the mustard seed of faith yet.
He promised to nix his vices, a pledge he wasn’t able to keep.
After years of learning the language, developing an alphabet, teaching literacy, missionary Brooks Buser and team gave the YembiYembi tribe in Papua New Guinea copies of the Bible five years ago.
“It has been a long time, almost 2,000 years, that we the YembiYembi church have waited for this translation of the Bible into our own language,” says a tribe leader on a Radius International video.
Waving palm-like branches (or feathers) and dancing, about 100 tribe members received the printed and bound Bibles – the labor of nine years delivered by small prop plane – with fanfare, preaching and jubilation.
The YembiYembi live in the Lower-Sepik Swamp of remote Papua New Guinea. With an estimated 5,000 members, the tribe with only three villages is so small that it’s not even in Wikipedia. You can reach it by plane or paddling 270 miles upriver. Their language is Bises.
Once the translation was finished, Radius International missionaries sleft trained local pastors to take charge of the church. From the video, it appears the majority of the tribe accepted Jesus, but a “vocal minority” remains in opposition to abandoning the customs of its elders.
“The Bible is important,” preached Brooks, 37, in Bises, which the video translates into English through subtitles. “But what’s more important is what you do with it as the church, the body of Christ. The Bible is here to help believers grow. I will visit you, but this Bible will guide you now.”
Brooks was a missionary child who grew up in Papua New Guinea evangelizing another remote tribe in the lush jungle. “The seeds of missions were planted in my mind,” says the man who counted San Diego as his American hometown.
As a child, Brooks spent half his time in the mud of the jungle with native friends and half his time at the missionary school, playing basketball and learning a traditional Western education.
“I remember getting on the plane here at 9 o’clock in the morning and flying to school and playing a basketball tournament that night in the gymnasium, looking down at my leg and I still have a little bit of mud on my leg from the tribe,” he remembers. “It wasn’t a normal upbringing. The blending of these two worlds was a unique way to grow up.”
Armed with an accounting degree from San Diego Christian College, he married Nina and pursued a career counting numbers. He became finance manager and even traveled to Paris, “on track for the American Dream,” he says.
But on a visit to his parents in Papua New Guinea, the newly married couple’s hearts were stirred. “She got to see where I grew up,” he explains. “God began to lay on our hearts the nation. We felt an incredible level of comfort leaving the American Dream behind and coming back here as missionaries.”
In 2001 with their newborn Bo, they began training with New Tribes Mission where they learned how to set up solar panels and build airfields. “There’s no power, there’s no stores” in these isolated areas where they reach tribes, Brooks says.
“During the class there was a lot of things that brought us out of our comfort zone,” Lynn says. “There was a class on animal butchering which was not my favorite.”
They learned phonetics and grammar to learn and codify the language. They launched into Third World life in Papua New Guinea in 2003. The Busers began surveying and exploring land to find an ideal unreached tribe to work with. Tribes actually write letters requesting missionaries be sent, probably because they have heard of the benefits of civilization and medicine that missionaries bring.
Because the airstrip was flooded at their first choice on the day of their launching into the mission field, the Busers went to their second choice, the YembiYembi. They flew to the nearest airfield, traveled by canoe and then hiked – a five-hour journey – to arrive.
The tribe was so excited and received the missionaries with a welcoming ceremony. “In 2004, we started building our houses,” he says. They had a team of fellow linguist missionaries. They had batteries for their laptops and a two-way radio to communicate with their base.
They began building an airstrip with the help of 1,000 Yembis, removing stumps with power tools. After days of intense labor, the mission group sent a barge with a tractor to finish clearing the field.
“That gave us our lifeline back to base,” Brooks says.
Simultaneously, they learned about their language and culture, hunting in the jungle late at night.
“The callouses on our feet got a lot thicker,” he says. “We learned how to throw a spear and hunt pigs, basically live like a Yembi in their environment.”
Missionaries are routinely criticized by secular intellectuals for altering native people’s customs and “Westernizing” them. The Yembi were animists.
His dad was The Lawrence Welk Show classical jazz pianist, his mom a concert pianist, but David Smale (rhymes with snail) wanted to play heavy metal.
“Wouldn’t you just love for your daughter to date the singer of ‘Cranial Abortion’?” Dave jokes on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. They played backyard parties, prompting cops to come and shut it down, until they debuted at a club along with Incubus.
With rock ‘n’ roll, came drugs and sex. He smoked cigarettes at 13, smoked weed at 14 and dropped acid by 15.
In the Los Angeles Unified School system, Dave attended middle and high school with Latinos and African Americans who were bused into the San Fernando Valley as part of integration policies.
“We got bullied a lot. We were just these little heavy metal-loving white kids,” he says. “One time this guy said he was going to do a drive-by shooting on us the next day. Because of that, I noticed in my house it was ok for me to express racist things. My dad and my brother would say the N-word and other racial slurs.”
Later he joined a punk rock band “Uneducated,” until his party girl got pregnant and he took up delivering fast food and telemarketing as a high school dropout to put food on the table for his baby and the girl whom he married at 18.
“I remember times stumbling around drunk and high, and all of a sudden, the baby starts crying,” says he, and thought: “I don’t know if I can change his diaper right now. I might put it on his head.”
“It was just awful,” he says. “I was partying and my baby was right there. It was not good.”
Five weeks after his first baby was born by C-section, his wife got pregnant, and the nurse at urged her to abort: “You’re going to die,” she said.
Leaving the women’s health care center, Dave and his wife felt an eerie sensation. “Did you feel like we just murdered somebody?” she asked. “Yeah, I do,” he responded.
Unable to make ends meet, he eventually decided to join the Navy with hopes of learning a trade. “That was my only way forward,” he says. “I was going nowhere. I was lost in dead-end stuff.”
At 20, Dave looked for a new beginning in the Navy, but the same old addictions and racism didn’t let him get that new start.
“I could wear a uniform, I could stand up taller, I could march in a straight line,” he says. “But I was still fighting addiction.”
Stationed a Point Mugu, California, Dave and his wife got invited to a Baptist church. She was gung-ho, he was blasé.
Dave went anyhow, and the sermon made sense. So, he accepted Jesus into his heart on April 1, 1999 and was born again.
“When I raised my head, everything was different,” he says. “My entire perspective changed in a moment. There was no going back. The cursing went away immediately, the addictions were all gone, the racism was gone. I didn’t hate all the guys in the Navy from different races and ethnicities. I loved these guys who didn’t look like me, but I saw them as God saw me. It blew my mind.”
His wife was pregnant with twins when he got deployed for six months. He kept pursuing Jesus the whole time, but when he came home, he realized his wife had given up on God and church.
“The laundry was piled to the ceiling. Checks had bounced,” he says. “There was no food in the house.”
He coaxed her to return to church with him, but she persisted in the party life.
For months, he tried to win her over, but she left him when he got orders to Virginia Beach.
Stung by the abandonment, Dave decided to backslide. He went straight to the oceanfront and ogled every girl in a bikini.
“At that point, I was so mad, so bitter, so upset, I completely decided to backslide,” he acknowledges. “I was on the warpath to find me a girl and do something that I would have totally regretted.”
As an immature Christian, Nathaniel Buzolic got a big bite of international fame as Kol Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries. But now that he’s committed more deeply to Christ, Nate preaches regularly to his 2.4M Instagram followers and many have gotten saved.
A lot of those saved are Muslims behind the “Islamic veil,” a set of borders where strict Muslim beliefs are enforced and evangelizing is punishable by death.
“I won’t name the countries that they’re in for their protection, but I’ve got Muslim people who have converted to Christianity because of my social media,” Nate says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “I interact pretty boldly with the Muslim community on my social media.
“I don’t think God goes, ‘Hey, I’m all for vampire shows,’ but he goes, ‘I’m going to use them for my glory.’ Look how God can use what the world tries to push, a demonic thing and witchcraft, for himself.”
The son of poor immigrants in Australia, Nate dreamed of acting and moved to Los Angeles when he was 24. He first heard the gospel and responded when he was 27 at a Passion Conference in Atlanta but wasn’t strongly impacted until six years later.
“It made me ask what’s my life really all about it in an Ecclesiastes sort of way,” he says. “It made all the things I was pursuing like acting and fame really sort of meaningless. I thought there has to be something more.”
At the time, he was working on The Vampire Diaries, the internationally famous CW teen series that launched him to fame as he played the sympathetic villain Kol Mikaelson.
Regarding Christ, he was convinced but not so committed. He had a French Muslim girlfriend and gloated that he didn’t judge anyone. But when she broke his heart by cheating on him, Nate was so shattered he wanted to die at 33.
“I was at rock bottom,” he admits. “I was in a very dark place. I’d be on an airplane, and I’d say, ‘God bring it down. I want it to all be over.’ I wanted to be numbed. I didn’t want to feel anymore.”
To get to some of the most remote Liberian villages, a native missionary walks seven hours through the jungle.
“Sometimes we encounter mosquitoes, snakes or lions, among other animals,” the unnamed missionary told Christian Aid Mission (CAM). “We get sick. Idol worshippers sometimes threaten us, saying that if we don’t leave their village, they will kill us.
“We have to contend with all of that relying on God, the author and finisher of our faith.”
His willingness to endure hardship to bring the gospel to the unreached shows the value of “native missionaries” – locals who carry out the Great Commission to their nation. As a general rule, they are willing to suffer more than foreign missionaries and have the capacity to reach more people.
“In some places we go, there is nowhere to sleep; we just lie on the dirt floor,” says the unnamed ministry leader. “There may be no good, safe drinking water or light. When the battery in the flashlight I carry is finished, there’s nowhere to get additional light at all. There are no shops or stores in the jungle.”
In Liberia, 43% of the population follows an ethnic religion. About 40% are Christian, 12% of which is evangelical. Islam holds 12%.
But the labors of native missionaries are improving those statistics. Within a recent six-month period, the missionary and team led 270 people to confess their belief in Christ, the report says.
One recent convert formerly had lived like a prodigal. As a young girl, she wasted most of her life abusing drugs, alcohol and smoking.
“When I shared the gospel with her, I told her the story of the two sons in Luke 15, then I told her, if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you, He will. Without hesitation, she immediately accepted the Lord Jesus, and she was baptized and is serving in the church as an usher, doing it with joy.”
How do the local missionaries make inroads into remote villages that are resistant to the Gospel? Sometimes, by farming… Read the rest: Missions in Liberia.
For Mia Dinoto, the crippling anxiety attacks started when she was 8.
“I was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety. I got really, really depressed,” Mia says on her YouTube channel. “I got panic attacks 24/7 every single day. I would not leave my house. I was terrified to leave my house. I felt stuck inside myself. I was trapped inside myself.”
Raised in Christian home, Mia didn’t know Jesus and, trying to pray, found it difficult and neglected it for years at a time.
“Is my life going to be like this?” she asked her parents, who signed her up with a therapist three times a week.
“I got put on medication,” she says.
She wavered between being able to function “like a normal person” and relapsing, she says.
In her teens, Mia was diagnosed with anorexia. “It consumed my life,” she says. “I no longer cared about anything other than what I ate, what I looked like, working out. All my goals, priorities and values got thrown away. I didn’t care about anything else. I would do anything to get skinny and have the perfect body.”
Mia argued with her family members and treated them rudely, she says. “I got in fights with them every day,” she says. “I pushed all my friends away.”
“I got to a really unhealthy point where I was starving myself. I was malnourished,” she says. “I still looked into the mirror and thought I was fat. It consumed my thoughts. My anxiety and depression came back worse this time.”
Under the crushing weight of depression, she was fatigued and slept 16 hours every night. Living in California at the time, she would be outside in 90-degree weather with a jacket and comforter because her malnourished body felt cold; it didn’t have the nutrients to produce heat to warm itself.
Her regular menstrual cycle stopped for a year. “My body was shutting down,” she admits. “I didn’t care about my health. I just wanted to be skinny.”
“Saying it seems so stupid. Anorexia isn’t just a health problem; it is a mental health problem,” she now realizes. “It consumed me.”
Her parents enrolled her in a strict, in-house treatment center, but it didn’t work. Hearing a podcast about overcoming anxiety through chakra meditation and manifesting, she fell into New Age practices trying to get more balanced and “control her destiny.”
Then she stumbled across a video that challenged chakra ideas from the Christian perspective. She considered herself a Christian and was startled to hear, for the first time, that chakra was anti-Christian. She found out she was drifting ever farther from God.
“I didn’t want to do anything against Christianity,” she says. “I watched a lot of videos, and I realized I was being pulled away from God because I was depending on myself to fix things and not the Lord.”
Her brother started reading the Bible and this prompted Mia to do the same.
After years of being vague about his past sins, Pastor Jason Glasscock finally spoke clearly from the pulpit about the time he cheated on his wife. His vulnerability saved a marriage.
“I would always say, ‘When I messed up.’ I would never give the details,” Jason says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “But a couple years ago, I preached at a Harvester’s (Bible conference) and said it. Right after, this couple comes up and they’re going through it. We talked about it. They’re still in the church today. It really helped them.”
Jason’s story shows how being real in church can help others who are struggling. Christian forgiveness, healing and restoration contrasts with the world’s options of having an “open marriage,” getting revenge, getting a divorce or going off the deep end with perversion.
The anatomy of adultery, for Jason, started not with physical attraction but with pride. A young female Navy sailor flattered Jason because he was good at his job. Meanwhile, he felt useless at home.
“Pride was the root,” he says. “This girl stroked my ego. My wife didn’t understand my job. When you come home and bills aren’t paid, you don’t feel significant. You feel irrelevant. The devil knows how to stroke your ego. It’s pride that led up to that.”
Forgiveness is the answer, but it doesn’t make it easy or wipe away the wounds to marital infidelity. The sequels to unfaithfulness are lingering suspicion and lack of trust. Once, his wife drove by a business with the same name as the girl, and it triggered painful memories. Jason and his wife have had to work through the issue for years.
Jason Glasscock grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, to teenage parents. Dad joined the Navy and they moved up to Norfolk, but he passed away when Jason was four years old. The other men Mom had were unfaithful to her, and none of them adopted Jason. They moved back to Florida to a small town called Lake City.
In high school, Jason liked football and sports but also “nerdy” games like Dungeons & Dragons. Due to laziness, he barely graduated high school. “Homework didn’t go in my vocabulary,” he quips. “The only reason I graduated is because the teachers gave me grace because I had signed up for the military.”
In the Navy, Jason’s first assignment was with the presidential honor guard as a colors bearer. Carrying the flag, he participated in more than 1,000 funerals and went to George Bush’s presidential inauguration.
“It was fun and interesting,” he says. “But it wasn’t the best place for a young man because it was treated like a college dorm. There was a lot of alcohol. You weren’t supposed to have it, but we did. There was a lot of underage drinking and fooling around with women.”
Dell made the painful decision to abort because she believed she couldn’t provide the upbringing her child deserved. But she was unprepared for the years of anguish and guilt following that decision.
“I felt like my baby would be better off not coming into this world,” Dell says on a 700 Club video. “I wasn’t any good for anybody.”
Immediately after aborting her daughter in the second trimester, Dell wanted to kill herself. She even took a razor blade and began to slit her wrist.
“I went home, and I just wanted to die,” Dell says. “I couldn’t live with what I had done.”
She kept saying over and over, “I’m sorry, Baby. I’m so sorry.”
That’s when a man from church called with a prophetic message: “The Lord told me you were in trouble. The Lord told me that if you will walk in the straight and narrow and trust in him, he will restore what the locusts have eaten and give you back tenfold what Satan has taken from you.”
Eventually, Dell got her life together and married a loving man named Cary (spelling is uncertain). They’ve been married 42 years and have two sons and two daughters.
But she never escaped the regret, depression and nightmares that stem from Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS).
“I longed to see my daughter,” she says. “I thought, how could there be no tears in heaven? When I got there, and when she saw me, what would she say: ‘Why did you do that, Mommy?’ I couldn’t forgive myself.”
In an effort to find a soothing balm to her inner wound, Dell and her husband went to some revival services preached by Pastor Rodney Howard Brown. She was disappointed, not finding the help she sought to heal her emotional wounds.
As she was leaving, she collapsed in the church foyer. While her body lay prone, apparently lifeless, she had a near death experience. Dell was transported to Heaven in a vision.
She saw Jesus – and a child.
“I saw this little girl with pigtails and a little white dress, and she was skipping and dancing and twirling around the feet of Jesus,” Dell says. “She turned and looked at me. Our eyes met, and I immediately… Read the rest: How do I heal from Post Abortion Syndrome?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.