Category Archives: Christian attitude

When Morolake Akinosun Christian track star ruptured her Achilles

The end of her running — the end of her very identity — came when Olympian Morolake Akinosun hit a wall at the end of a race in 2018 and ruptured her Achilles tendon.

“The Achilles is the strongest tendon in the human body, and you need it to do literally everything: walk, jump, crawl, climb stairs, stand up, sit down,” Morolake says on an I am Second video. “I had it surgically repaired but I was being told, ‘Hey, you might never be the same runner that you were ever again. This may be a career-ending injury for you.’”

What rescued Morolake was her spiritual community.

“For the first time I realized that I was surrounded by people who believed in me and not only did they believe in me, they believed that God had a plan for my life and that He was still going to be faithful through it all,” she says.

Morolake Akinosun was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to parents who were Christian pastors. The family immigrated to America when she was two years old, and she flourished at track and field at the University of Texas at Austin, where she won consistently.

“Every training cycle is about figuring out how can I break my body,” she says. “We push ourselves to the limit, breaking your body apart and coming back the next day and doing it over and over again.”

In prelims for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, her teammates dropped the baton in between the 2nd and 3rd leg of the relay race. Morolake, who stood waiting at the 4th spot, was stunned.

“In that moment I had that thought of like, ‘Wow, I’ve trained what feels like your whole life for a moment that now seemed to be gone and stripped from me within the blink of an eye,’” she remembers.

As it turns out, the American women’s team was allowed to re-run the qualifying race. In the final competition, they took gold.

But everything she trained for her entire life was stripped away when she crashed into the wall on that fateful day in 2018.

Angry thoughts ran through her mind toward God: I thought this is what I was supposed to be doing and if this is what I’m supposed to be doing then why did You take it away from me? she questioned. My identity was built in track and field. Read the rest: Morolake Akinosun Christian track star ruptured her Achilles

IED burned off his ears, the tip of his nose and 35% of his skin

To make kids laugh and to avoid making them nervous because of his disfigurement, Shilo Harris wears “elf ears” like Spock from Star Trek.

The prosthetic ears attach magnetically. He lost his ears — and the skin on 35% of his body — in Feb. 19, 2007 when, as a soldier, his Humvee was hit by an IED on patrol on a stretch of Southern Bagdad road so dangerous it was called “Metallica.”

The IED killed three other soldiers, wounded a fourth and sent Shilo into a 48-day coma. When he awoke from the coma, he endured years of surgery and rehab. The whole experience and the murky, painful time he spent in a coma, Shilo calls “hell.”

“It was the most scariest, most dark, creepiest thing,” Shilo says on a 100Huntley video. “Everything was sharp and painful. The helpless feeling. It had to have been Hell. That’s the way I interpreted it.”

Today, Shilo Harris is a Christian man who has drawn close to God because of his experiences. He’s written a book, Steel Will: My Journey through Hell to Become the Man I was Meant to be. He’s a motivational speaker in schools.

Shilo grew up in Coleman, Texas, working at a bait and tackle shop run by his dad, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from untreated PTSD.

When Shilo saw the Twin Towers fall in New York City, he felt the need to serve his country to fight the terrorists who had decimated civilians with no prior declaration of war. He found himself in the U.S. Calvary during the Iraq War.

The fateful explosion engulfed the Humvee with flames. He managed to escape the vehicle. His body armor, made of nylon and plastic, melted onto his body. His ammo pouch was on fire. He rolled on the ground to snuff the flames. How did his own ammo not erupt and perforate him with rounds?

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Shilo Harris is fitted for prosthetic ears at MacKowan Dental Clinic, Lackland Air Force Base, Oct. 5, 2010. A wax model of the ear is first molded to ensure proper placement and fit before applying the prosthetic. The Maxillofacial Prosthetics Department at MacKown Dental Clinic employs a team that deals with the rehabilitation of patients with acquired and congenital defects of the head and neck region. They are one of only a few in the Department of Defense that creates prosthetic body parts, such as eyes, ears and noses. (U.S. Air Force photo /Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett)

“I guess you could say I was pretty fortunate on a couple of accounts that day,” he told NPR.

He woke up from a medically-induced 48-day coma. In addition to his ears, he lost three fingers and the tip of his nose. He had a fractured collarbone and vertebrae. Read the rest: Shilo Harris on beating suicide

Voices in her head told her to take her life

Lorena Saylor would get in her car and wind up at some random place, having no idea how she got there.

Depression had taken over her life.

“I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to go outside. I didn’t want to get dressed. I just basically wanted to be alone,” Lorena says on a CBN video. “There was times I wanted to commit suicide.”

Lorena’s problems started with sexual abuse in her childhood home in Kentucky. Although she was the victim, she was punished. “I was the one that got spanked for it,” she says.

Migraines set in at the same time. She couldn’t concentrate in school and was diagnosed with dyslexia. She also suffered from anxiety and low self-esteem.

Lorena married at age 25, but her problems persisted. Her husband was enlisted in the Air Force and would frequently be sent for lengthy deployments, leaving her and the two children alone for long periods of time.

“This voice would say, ‘Ram your car into this tree. Your family would be so much better off if you’re just gone.’”

She was raised in church, but “the back-stabbing of people talking about people, just the things I had heard and seen within the church, I didn’t want anything to do with it,” she says.

At age 33, Lorena suffered a back and hip injury at work. Unfortunately, her prescription pain medication turned into an addiction. “My body just craved more and more,” she says. “I become a functioning addict.”

She felt unloved. She wanted to be alone but despaired of the loneliness. Whenever she drove, she got lost in her thoughts and direction. The voices would tell her to commit suicide.

“I wanted to die,” she says. “Many times I put pills in my hands ready to take them. This voice would say, ‘Just take it. Your family would be so much better off.’”

But another voice… Read the rest: voices in her head.

Melanoma tried to tackle Kentucky defensive end Josh Paschal

Standing at 6’3” with 300 pounds of muscle, Kentucky defensive end Josh Paschal strikes fear into opponents. When he was diagnosed with cancer, the Christian player got his own chance to be afraid.

“I knew Who I was living for and why I’m here, and so I leaned on the Lord and I trusted in Him,” Paschal says on a CBN video. “No matter the outcome, I knew it was in His plan and that’s how I got through.”

From age five, the Washington D.C. native dreamed of joining the NFL.

“Even when I was little, I would go outside and get the kids in the neighborhood and we’d have a big game right in the middle of the field,” he remembers. “I would act like I was an NFL player. I had my jersey on while we were outside playing. When I would score, I would celebrate like the pros.”

His parents took him to church, but he didn’t accept Christ into his heart until he heard a chapel sermon from Fellowship of Christian Athletes chaplain Aaron Hogue during his sophomore year.

“I felt joyful. I saw what it looked like to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, not just pray to Him when times get hard,” he says. “I wanted to have a full-on relationship with Him, to trust Him and to let Him guide your life.”

Four months later, the team doctor wanted him to get a spot on his foot tested. It was malignant melanoma.

The fearsome footballer didn’t surrender to fear. He trusted in God and was concerned for his family and team.

“I really wanted to stay strong in order to keep them strong as well, for them to know that ‘I had it’ and that I was going to fight it and we were going to be okay,” Paschal says. Read the rest: Melanoma couldn’t take out Josh Paschal.

Egg-sized brain tumors didn’t kill him

The parents of Jason Ong assumed he would wind up in jail or dead because he was such a poorly behaved boy, fighting and often getting into trouble. But God had other plans and purposes for his life.

Jason met the one true living God when his dad was dying. By his father’s bedside, Jason prayed to nearly all the gods he had ever heard of and nothing happened.

But when he invoked the powerful name of Jesus, Dad opened his eyes.

“Later on, there’ll be somebody in white.” he told his dad while his eyes were open. “He will stretch out his hand, so you can just take his hand and follow him, and you’ll be safe.”

Jason didn’t know what he was saying, but his dad closed his eyes and passed peacefully. Later Jason realized he had spoken prophetically, and the Good Shepherd, Jesus, had opened heaven’s door to his father.

“Jesus, You know that You saved my dad, so I owe You my life,” he said.

Jason went to church. That’s where he met Judith, a divorced mom with a special needs daughter, Joelle.

“We somehow knew that we are supposed to be together, so we prayed about it,” Jason says.

Two years into his marriage, he began experiencing dizziness and pain in his head, so he went to the doctor. The prognosis: an extremely rare brain tumor. It was so rare that there were no drugs and no protocols for treatment.

“Suddenly everything just went to darkness,” he says.

The surgeon removed 90% of it, leaving the optic nerves and main artery with a vestige of the tumor so he could still see, eat and not die from a broken artery. It was 2004.

The doctor told Jason he had six months to live.

The news was discouraging, but Jason and Judith decided to make the best of it. They decided to dedicate 100% of their efforts towards the Lord’s service. They launched a street food vendor business, working 12 hours a day, with profits destined for orphanages around Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Myanmar and the Philippines. The proceeds from the business allowed them to contribute to the care of 600 kids.

After six months, Jason showed up to see the doctor. He was surprised to see Jason alive.

The title of Jason’s testimony video is “If Tomorrow Never Comes” on the Hope Singapore channel.

Jason outlived the six-month prognosis. In 2007, the cancer flared up again. His new doctor said it was absolutely necessary to remove all the affected areas, including the nerves to his mouth and eyes. He would be blind. He would feed through a tube. And devastatingly for Jason, he would not be able to speak.

Jason declined the surgery. He needed to speak because his life’s purpose was to preach in the orphanages to the children about the good news of Jesus. He would rather die than lose his ability to preach.

“So there wasn’t an option for me because I still have to continue in the ministry and I said, If I cannot speak, that means I cannot share the gospel, I cannot teach, I cannot preach. So what is the point?” he says.

The doctor was grim, telling him: You don’t need to come back. You’re going to die. The cancer will eventually cause your brain to explode.

He took pain medications and kept hawking food on the street. He kept visiting orphanages with his wife and preaching.

“My encouragement to all the Christians was, ‘Even though I’m going to die, I still choose to stand and say God is good. I still choose to say: Jesus is my Lord,’” he relates.

By 2013, Jason sensed he was going to die. For his “last” birthday, he asked his wife to visit the orphanage once last time.

By 2014, he was bedridden and partially paralyzed. “Jesus, I’m coming home,” he declared.

But one night, Jesus spoke to him in a dream: I’m moved by the tears of your wife. I’m going to heal you.

Days later, he called the doctor to reorder morphine for the pain, and the doctor, a Christian and a medical professor, told him to come in. He got new scans and proposed another surgery. He would save the eye nerve, the voice nerve and the artery. He believed God would help him.

“It’s so amazing that you are still able to talk and sitting in front of me because looking at the scan, it has now grown to the size of two eggs,” the doctor told him. “One in the brain and one outside the cranium. Technically, it is supposed to have pushed your brain out of the brain cavity already. Or you should just get a coma or stroke and die. The fact that you are still alive and talking to me is a miracle.”

When Jason woke up from the surgery, he felt intense pain, couldn’t see or breathe.

“After 10 years of fighting cancer, that was my lowest point,” he says. “I just felt so tired.”

“I think I’m not gonna make it,” he told Judith. “Release me. I wanna go home.” Read the rest: Healed from brain tumors.

He killed her dad. How could she ever forgive him?

Figure skating brought moments of peace to Katherine Thacker. She needed a healthy outlet because her mind was obsessed with hateful thoughts directed toward the suspect who killed her father, a cop, while he was on duty.

“I started writing very angry letters to the man who killed my dad and expressed my hurt,” Katherine says on a 700 Club video. “But not only did I express my hurt, I also expressed what I wished could happen to him. And they were really really hateful.”

Her ever-present hatred started in 1998. That’s when three Kentucky police officers arrived at the front door of their home to break the bad news to the family.

“It was like being hit by a Mack truck,” she says. “Watching the relationships that my friends had with their dads, I definitely envied them.”

Ice skating was a moment of beauty in her life. “It was always an outlet for me,” she remembers.

Broken in spirit, she turned away from God.

“Why did God let my dad die?” she asked. “If God’s good, why did He let the man who killed my dad do this?”

Her distancing from God continued until she became a junior in high school when she went to a week-long summer Christian camp. The motivational speaker displayed a genuine joy that Katherine realized she lacked. Read the rest: Forgiveness for her dad’s murderer.

He lost his house, car, kept tithing

When he broke his walkie-talkie as a child, he was able to fix it himself. But when his finances were broken, God fixed it.

“I broke the walkie-talkie on my birthday, and I was like, ‘Ah, man, I can’t tell Mom I broke it,’” Dennis Dixon says on a CBN video. “So I was like, ‘I’m gonna try to fix it.’ And I didn’t know how to fix it. But I opened it up and I saw the inside and it just caught me. And I’ve always been interested with electronics since then.”

Being adept with electronics came in handy. First, he repaired some friends’ devices, and they told others. At the encouragement of his father, he placed an ad as an adolescent, and the calls for help flooded in.

As money came in for his services, his father encouraged Dennis to honor God with the tithe.

“Tithing is you trusting God with what He’s given you and honoring Him, you know, 10% of the 100% that He gives us every day,” says Dennis. “Setting aside money for God, for His kingdom and for His purpose and learning how to trust God with everything you have including finances.”

He got a work at a large electronic store, but the company went bankrupt. Dennis lost his job at the same time his mother was laid off. Then they lost their car and their house.

How could he, under duress, stay faithful with his tithe? Read the rest: tithing

Good Sam got blessed 3 years later by the very person he helped

After dropping his family off at church, Chris Wright circled back to pick up a lady walking down the side of the road with a gas can that he had seen on his way to Sunday morning service.

“She was down on her luck,” Chris said on the Today Show. “She had only $ 5 in a purse and was worried about feeding her child. I filled her gas can and drove the woman back to her car. As I started to leave, I felt a nudge to give her what I had in my wallet $40.”

The act of kindness toward TunDe Hector came at her neediest moment, and tears welled up in her eyes.

Three years later, Chris’s mom suffered a life-threatening disease and was hospitalized. After days, she was released but needed a nurse’s aide to monitor her at home.

The nurse’s aide turned out to be the same woman he helped at the side of the road – TunDe. At first, Chris didn’t recognize her and TunDe didn’t recognize Chris because the day he popped by he was wearing sweatpants and a cap on backwards.

But they did get to talking, and TunDe found out that Chris attended Cornerstone Church in Athens, Georgia. That’s when she brightened and recounted the story of how “a young man” from that church had performed an act of kindness to her three years earlier.

“My jaw dropped,” Chris says.” I couldn’t believe it. I saw myself three years earlier being tugged to help a stranger.” Read the rest: What it means to be Christian?

She called it her ‘revenge body’

Vivian Herrera worked out intensely. She wanted her ex to feel sorry for cheating on her. She called the results her “revenge body.”

She uploaded 10,000 sexy shots to Instagram, attended raves and did drugs every other weekend when her ex had custody of their baby. She also fought with him every chance she could.

Vivian didn’t really know God through her church upbringing. By 18, she picked up on the “law of attraction,” the New Age idea that positive thoughts bring positive results, and she was making good money as a saleswoman at LA Fitness in La Habra, CA.

“I was attracting all this stuff, but I was still empty,” she says on her Faith with Vivian channel.

As she grew more self-centered in the quest for money and adulation from boys, she lost all her friends from high school. “All I cared about was money and working out,” she admits. “They wanted nothing to do with me because I was so selfish.”

She fell in love, moved in with her boyfriend and had a child by him, but when he cheated on her, she reacted with volcanic anger.

“I got so mad guys. I went to his job, and I keyed his car,” she admits. “I threw all his stuff. I cursed him. I told him he deserves to go to hell.”

The purpose of her life was to make him regret his infidelity. She trained hard to get a sexy body for a bikini competition that would make him eat his heart out.

“I was getting my revenge body,” she says.

In her headlong plunge into sin she slept around, did drugs, and traveled to Las Vegas as often as possible to party. Instead of worrying about her baby daughter, she danced the night away at raves whenever her ex had their daughter.

“I was literally doing anything to numb the pain,” she says. “Living for money, weed, alcohol partying, concerts, it was pretty empty. My life really had no meaning at this point. I was literally just trying to forget the pain that I was in. I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

She had started going to church, but instead of “leaning in” on God in her time of crisis, she walked away from Him.

The rampage was unstoppable, until Covid struck. Read the rest: Covid saved reckless girl hellbent on revenge.

The beginnings of Sean Feucht in Christianity and worship

After days of thanking the medical clinic doctors with canoes full of flowers or fish, the Manaos tribal leaders dressed in white sang praises to God in their native tongue to celebrate Sean Feucht’s baptism in the Amazon River.

“Dad put me under the water, and when I surfaced, I felt a profound sense of destiny and calling on my life,” Sean writes in the autobiographical Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo. “The presence of God fell heavily upon me in that moment. I had become new and everything changed.”

Worship has marked Sean’s life, ever since that moment at age 10 when he dedicated his life to Christ’s service deep in the Amazon jungle, in the hinterlands of Jim Elliot. He’s played his guitar to bring healing around the world and in the Oval Office.

Sean Feucht loved the outdoors in his birth state of Montana. His dad, a doctor, accepted a 75% reduction of salary to lead missions with Christian Broadcasting Network and the family moved to Virginia. Sean despised the balmy suburbia of his new town and felt disillusioned with the loss of the Rockies until he was taken to the rainforests.

Sean Feucht with Mike Pence (Facebook)

It was Sean’s job to fish for the medical team’s meals as the boat tooled up and down the Amazon River. They ate rainbow bass and large black piranhas. His dad and the medical professionals applied the science of medicine to heal natives, and when science came up short, they prayed and witnessed miraculous healings.

His father’s “brazen” faith became a legacy for Sean.

At first, Sean’s heart was to be a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Being a worship leader was not on his radar. But when a worship leader cancelled for his dad’s home Bible study, Sean was called upon to fill the gap after only owning a guitar for three weeks and knowing only three chords and three songs.

“The night was an absolute train wreck. I continually broke out in a nervous sweat, strained my voice and broke not just one but two guitar strings,” he complains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed in front of 15 of my peers. I remember running to my room afterward, vowing that I would never lead worship in public again.”

Oh, the irony.

He got called on again and again to direct praise in front of people as the Bible study grew to 70 people. Fairly rapidly, he moved into leading youth group worship and then took over church worship. He led youth group and challenged his peers to pray for people in the local hospital’s ICU.

Also in high school, he met Kate, who became his wife. He attended a worship rally in Washington D.C. and won a state football championship.

Despite sport successes, what really pulsed through his heart was the lost. He compiled a list of the least-reached peoples on the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The opportunity to visit Afghanistan came first. It was right after the terrorists had downed the Twin Towers in New York City, and Americans were fighting the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan, right where Sean, just out of high school, wanted to go with his father’s trusted missionary associate.

The U.S. State Department warned Americans not to go there. And the Afghan Embassy refused to grant him — or any American — a visa, “under any circumstances,” Sean writes.

But the team leader was used to obstacles and encouraged Sean to believe more in God than the gloom and doom of so many detractors. “God will make a way, brother!” he told Sean confidently.

Sean was learning to not be deterred. He visited the Afghan Embassy in person and got an interview.

What could go wrong with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year-old leading worships in the mountains owned by the America-kidnapping Taliban? he asked.

The Afghan official couldn’t disguise his astonishment at the visa request.

“Are you truly willing to give your life right now because there’s a high chance of that if you go?” the official said.

Astonishingly, Sean declared he would not leave the embassy until the visa was granted.

Flouting conventional wisdom and doing the contrary of what everyone expects has been Sean’s trademark ever since.

In the isolated mountain villages, the team ministered to peaceful people in the Farsi dialect. Sean discovered that music was a universal language to bridge divides. “My guitar broke down all our walls and misconceptions about one another,” he writes.

The team had been sternly warned: Don’t spend a night in the village. Stay on the move. The Taliban would love to abduct an American and demand a ransom from the American government.

“But after spending all day building relationship, sharing stories, laughing and eating together, it was so hard for us to leave,” he writes. “Many nights, we were invited to stay at the home of tribal leaders.”

Sleeping on the roof to beat the heat, Sean would look at the stars and think of Abraham, to whom God promised to multiply his descendants to be as countless as the stars overhead.

God had done amazing things, and Sean expected to continue with God’s blessing as he carted off to Oral Roberts University. He had seen God move through his guitar in Virginia and Afghanistan, so he offered his services to the worship team at college.

No, was the reply.

It was not the only discouragement. He tried to get involved in missions. No was the answer.

In the dorm, his roommate, despite being at a Christian college, mocked Christianity and blasted explicit hip hop to drown out any praises Sean tried to strum.

“Nothing seemed to work out,” Sean says, and he mothballed his guitar under his bed. Read the rest: Sean Feucht Burn 24/7

Wannabe terrorist turned to Jesus

The reason why so many Saudis fill the ranks and leadership of terrorist organizations today is because teachers and preachers in Saudi Arabia praised the “holy war” of Muslims against non-Muslims in Afghanistan in the 1980s, says a convert to Christianity.

“A whole generation was brought up this way and taught to think this way,” says Nasser al’Qahtan. “Sadly the world is reaping the fruit for what we were taught when we were young.”

Nasser, who was born and raised on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, longed to die for Allah by waging jihad, and thus improving his chances of making it into Paradise. But along the way he converted to Christ and now exposes the diabolical beginnings of today’s world upheaval.

Nasser’s parents were opposed to the idea of their 12-year-old going to Pakistan for training and being smuggled into Afghanistan to fight the Russians, but many of his older friends did join jihad.

“God had other plans for me,” he says on a Your Living Manna video.

In the summer of 1990, Nasser plotted to run away and join jihad, but Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At the time, he was actually in the United States with his mother visiting relatives and the ensuing world chaos prevented him from leaving “this evil nation” of America.

Nasser hunkered down for the long haul, playing the role of the religious police with his younger siblings to make sure they still prayed and read the Koran. He didn’t want them to come under Satanic influences in America. Eventually, he worried about himself and eyed with suspicion the Americans around him.

“What was I going to do? I was surrounded by infidels. You either make a war against them or you try to bring them into Islam another way,” he says. “I thought Allah brought me here to evangelize them.”

Nasser’s English was very good and he thought his Islamic apologetics weren’t bad either.

“I began to tell everybody about Islam, my fellow students, my teachers, my neighbors, everybody I came into contact with,” he says. “I started to see some fruit. I started to see regular American people abandoning their prior beliefs and becoming Muslims. Some of them grew up in the church and they renounced Jesus. I thought I was fantastic.”

As he learned about American culture, he eventually perceived that born-again Christians were different than the rest of Americans (who he wrongly assumed to all be Christians), and he began to target them because he figured it would be easy for them to switch since they already lived clean lives.

One of those loving and clean-living Christians was a woman with whom Nasser fell in love.

“That was my undoing,” he admits.

Only after marrying Daisy did he begin to correct her beliefs about Jesus. She should no longer idolize Jesus, who was nothing more than just another of Allah’s prophets, he said. Mohammad was the main guy.

The pressure he put on her grew in time and caused great strain on their marriage, and even some Christian friends counseled her to divorce for being “unequally yoked,” a mistake she had made while being a nominal Christian.

But Daisy, pressured to evaluate her childhood faith, wound up affirming her relationship with Christ. Encouraged by an aunt who had been a missionary for decades in Brazil, she not only prayed for her husband but mobilized thousands of Christians in mega churches in North Texas to pray.

Those prayers began to take effect. Outwardly, her husband appeared secure in his beliefs, but inwardly he was struggling. He knew his sins were too great and the mountain of good works and prayers needed to offset them too much. He began to ponder again the easiest and most and most assured path to Paradise — jihad.

Finally, his wife ventured to invite him to church, which, out of curiosity, he accepted. His consciousness of his sin was so great that he concluded, “If I’m going to go to Hell, I might as well find out what they do in church.”

“I thought it was the most Satanic thing I had ever seen,” he says. “But I was so drawn to keep coming back by the love I felt there. Eventually he broke down and asked God for the truth.

“Immediately I had a vision. Everything before me was wiped away and I was transported to this rocky hill, looking down at this man who was so brutally beaten to the point of being unrecognizable,” he says. “He was being nailed to a cross. I knew this was Jesus.

“I watched as the cross was lifted up and He’s hanging there bleeding and struggling for breath. I’m looking Him in the eyes. He’s looking at me and through me. He sees all of my junk, the hidden things in my life. I feel this wave of shame.

“But he’s not looking at me with disgust, which is what I expected. He’s looking at me with this fierce love. As He’s fighting for every breath on the cross, He’s fighting with every breath for me.”

The darkness from all humanity was put on Him on the cross.

“The darkness wasn’t overcoming Him. He was overcoming it.”

Then Jesus said, “It is finished.”

“The reason I did this is that you and all the people that were meant to be my children were snatched away from Me, and you sold yourselves to other powers. To buy you back, this was the cost. This was the price that I paid for you Nasser.”

The vision disappeared. Nasser hadn’t heard the sermon. Read the rest: Saudi terrorist turned to Jesus.

Career-ending injury brought Inky Johnson his dream life

The dream from age 7 was coming true. Inky Johnson was in his junior year in college with all the paperwork signed for the NFL draft. He was among the top 30 and was guaranteed to make millions doing what he loved.

All he had to do was play 10 more games and his future would be set, but when he went to make a regular tackle against an Air Force player in 2006 — a tackle “I could make with my eyes closed” — the cornerback ruptured his subclavian artery and could not get up.

“I never thought about a career-ending injury,” Inky says in an Above Inspiration video. “I woke up from that surgery and the thing I placed my identity in was now gone.”

His right arm was paralyzed. Every day he lives with pain. But he rose above the crushed spirit and now delivers motivational speeches, encouraging people to serve Jesus and trust Him with their destiny.

Inquoris Johnson was raised in a 14-member household crammed in a two-bedroom home on Atlanta’s poor and violent side. His mom pulled double shifts to put food on the table, and Inky says he wanted to pull the whole family out of poverty.

Every day was dedicated to training to fulfill the dream. He drilled, worked out and practiced. His family attended church, and he asked God to bless his dream.

When he joined the Volunteers at the University of Tennessee, he became their starting cornerback and was on the trajectory to success; the commitment and effort was paying off.

Then he woke up on the fateful day and followed his usual routine: run two miles to the fire station and two miles back to warm up. Throw the football at the ceiling to practice catches at all angles by surprise. Visualize himself performing to perfection.

“Two minutes left in the game, and I go to make a tackle – that I can make with my eyes closed And I hit this guy and as soon as I hit him, I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t think it would be this type of problem. When I hit him every breath from my body left, my body goes completely limp. I fall to the ground.”

Inky blacked out. His teammates came over to him and told him to get up. “Let’s rock man,” they said. Read the rest: When bad things happen to good people: Inky Johnson’s career-ending injury.

Dying of AIDS, man comes back to Christ because of a family’s love

On the very night Jerry Arterburn accepted Jesus at a church camp, the 5-year-old was also molested by the pastor’s son.

“When that molestation occurred, it ignited something in him that he didn’t think other guys had to struggle with,” his brother Stephen says on a Pure Passion Media video. “It produced an uneasiness with relationships with women.”

Jerry died of AIDS on June 13, 1988, at a time when the epidemic was raging largely unchecked and medical science was trying to figure out how to tame it.

“When my brother and I moved to Laguna (Beach, California) at the same time, there was another person who moved to Laguna. He was identified as Patient 0,” Stephen says. “This was a flight attendant who flew around the world and slept with about 2,000 different people. He infected so many people in that town that the AIDS virus was extremely virulent in there. I watched business after business close because there was such a high per capita gay population there. They were dying right and left.”

Before Jerry’s death, Stephen began to formulate the best way to encourage his brother to come back to Christ.

“I loved him. But I knew that what he was doing was wrong,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to convince him that he was wrong. I just tried to find a way to have a relationship with him that I could love him with.”

There were three Arterburn boys who grew up with a mom who bitterly hid her father’s suicide and a dad who was “redneck, disconnected,” Stephen says. All three sons went prodigal from their otherwise “strong Christian household” in Texas.

Stephen — who now is an author, a radio host and the founder of New Life Ministries — thought he was the worst rebel of the lot because he forced his girlfriend (attending Bible college) to get an abortion.

Jerry, who loved design and became an architect, didn’t immediately show how he was getting off course.

Stephen describes his brother as “the moral one” who owned up to his mistake, while Stephen was actually the immoral one who had slept with many young women.

“I hadn’t slept with a man. I killed my own baby,” Stephen confesses.

Jerry was about to get married, but it was called off. Both had frequent fights. Still, no one really knew why the wedding was called off.

When Jerry, at age 26, was appointed to a city planning post in Easley, South Carolina, he met a man who took him to a gay bar. He had never had sex before, but that night, “my brother felt like he was at home,” Stephen says.

“He felt total acceptance, freedom — all this stuff that he had never known: all of this love, affection, connection,” Stephen says.

From then on, it was relationship after relationship. When Jerry and Stephen both, by chance, moved to Laguna Beach, they started reconnecting. Sometimes in their talks they would debate. One topic that came up was whether homosexuality was right or wrong.

Stephen, who had come back to the Lord by now, stuck to his guns — until he realized the reason why his brother was arguing the aberrant position. His brother was gay.

As soon as Stephen found out, the arguments were over. A new phase in their relationship started, one of reaching out to Jerry with love and acceptance, though not approval of his sin.

“I was able to develop a close relationship with him, and then he got sick. I’m so glad I did because he needed me. I’m so glad he felt safe with me, that I could be there with him when he needed a lot of help — just getting up and going to the bathroom. He lost 100 pounds. It was horrible. He looked like something out of a concentration camp.”

Devastated by the news that not only their son was gay but also had AIDS, the “redneck ” father visited Jerry in the hospital and said, “You’re coming home with us. We’re going to help you through this.”

The Southern Baptist Church of his parents, instead of ostracizing Jerry, were loving and inclusive. (The Southern Baptists were conservative on social acceptance at a time when much of America was unmoved by the AIDS crisis.)

“We loved him when he was (younger). We’re going to love him through this,” a deacon said, according to Stephen. “Here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to go over to his house and we’re going to lay hands on him and pray for him to be healed… Whatever his insurance doesn’t cover for his treatment of AIDS, this church is going to pay for. Whenever his brothers want to come in and see him, we’ll pay their air fare.” Read the rest: How to treat LBGTQ family members if you’re Christian

First Deny. the war dog. Now Thomas Locke own faces death.

Thomas Locke, the Texas attorney who adopts retired military dogs, needs to be rescued himself.

The Christian Harley rider who can be seen with a cigar in his mouth and his wife on the back of the bike announced in August he’s battling cancer.

“I’m not scared at all, not even a little bit, not even nervous,” he says, shirt off showing a still-chiseled frame at 59 in a video uploaded to his Facebook account. “I have strong faith, so death has never scared me. It doesn’t even annoy me.”

The military veteran went viral on TikTok in May of this year when he had to put down his constant companion, Deny, a military dog that had been classified as “unadoptable” after eight years of hard service sniffing out bombs in Kuwait. Thomas found him for Christmas 2018 in the 21-acre ranch of Mission K9 which tries to finds homes for military assets.

The bond between man and dog challenged the notion of mere earthly affection. Often, Thomas would sleep with the German shepherd, who followed at his heals everywhere around the house. But when his back legs stopped working, Deny had to be put down, and Thomas carried out the painful task Texas style: after a last meal of brisket and sausage.

“I’m ready to turn in my man card,” Thomas said, holding back tears, as he fed Deny from a plate. “This wasn’t supposed to be a cry fest.”

This time, Thomas is NOT crying.

“Cancer affects babies, children and women. It’s a coward disease. I say ‘F you, cancer.’ I’m glad you came and picked on somebody your own size because I’m ready for you.” Read the rest: Animal rescue needs to be rescued.

‘From hoe to housewife’: How God helped one women break out of the strip club and get into financial services

Theirs was a marriage made in Heav…

Well, maybe not.

Theirs was a marriage made in a strip club.

The first time Kris-Lynn saw Justin Williams, he was wending his way through the crowd at After Hours in Tampa, FL, offering molly, X, weed and cocaine. She saw he was popular and handsome.

The next night, they were consuming drugs together, and from that moment on, they were inseparable.

But the fast life of money, drugs, pimps and stripping eventually slowed down. It had to. After all, she was a wayward pastor’s kid whom the Good Shepherd went seeking.

And Justin got let off a 15-year prison sentence with just one year of house arrest. When the miracle of the lighter sentence occurred, he told Kris-Lynn her days of dancing were over.

Kris-Lynn was a bright child, good with the books. Being raised as a pastor’s child in Florida didn’t mean she knew God. She went to all the retreats, heard about Moses and Daniel and constantly attended church, as was expected.

But when she saw church members doing ungodly things, she secretly wondered if there was any authenticity behind the religion.

“I didn’t like the things that I saw in the church that I knew weren’t God. Sometimes humans can pervert who He is,” she says. “I had a tainted view of what Christianity was.”

When she returned pregnant to her hometown from high school in Gainesville, she faced harsh rejection from the Christians who ought to have had compassion. She was kicked out of homes and wound up on the floor of a local Salvation Army in 2006.

“I was church hurt,” she remembers. “Wow, the people in the church are turning me away when I’m pregnant? If this is the Lord, then I want nothing to do with it.”

Actually, she wanted more than just to disassociate herself from the church. She wanted to disassociate herself from her emotional pain.

“I never wanted to feel like that again,” she says. “So I determined in my mind not to feel anything at all. And to get money.”

Dancing in the clubs was a quick way to make big bucks. And it provided her with access to drugs to numb the internal pain.

Then she saw Justin and was smitten in 2013. She plied her trade, he, his. Together they lived the high life of hustlers. Read the rest: From hoe to a housewife: How Christ helped one woman break out of the strip club and get into financial advising.

After murder and hurricane destruction, she found hope in a hug

Cassenda Nelson often spent the day crying in her truck because she didn’t want to be reminded of the brutal murder of her mom and aunt in her home.

In August 2017, Cassa’s mother, Frances Nelson, and her aunt, Mamie Childs, were murdered in an alleged domestic violence dispute.

“My mom and my aunt were murdered in front of my children at her home,” Cassa reports. “My mom was someone I could go and talk to about anything. It felt like something was ripped out of me. How do you bounce back from being in that place of so much despair?”

Life became unbearable.

“I lost all hope. I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I didn’t want to see sunlight,” Cassa recounts on a Billy Graham video. “My plan was to take a whole bunch of pills to commit suicide.”

Then barely over a year later on Oct. 9, 2018, Hurricane Michael swept through her town with blockbuster Category 5 ferocity and tore up houses, knocked over trees and left the town a shambles.

Cassa’s home was also damaged.

“I’m standing here at the door watching this storm, and I’m saying, ‘Oh my God. When am I going to get a break?’” Cassa remembers. “I lost the most important people that would have been right here with me.” Read the rest: Hope in a hug for Cassenda Nelson

Church after Covid: many will not return

By the time your church re-opens following the Covid crisis, as many as one in five members won’t return, according to one analyst.

Church dynamics expert Thom Rainer told Baptist Press that the recent global pandemic is revealing the true colors of church members.

That means a church of 200 will be a church of 160 after restrictions lift.

Many churches went online when health officials banned large gatherings as hot points for contagion. They resorted to Zoom Bible studies and live-streaming their worship services on YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook and the like.

While online has the advantage of convenience (no drive to church, and if you want you can wear your jammies), it lacks the human touch of a handshake, hug or affirmation that is also an important part of the service.

While introverts probably liked avoiding the social demands, there are others who may also find it easier to drop out.

Rainer describes several categories of believers who will probably not return to church:

The declining-attendance Christian: If their faithfulness to regular services was already waning, Covid only hastened their demise. Now completely overtaken by inertia, they won’t likely return Sunday mornings unless some drastic jumpstart revives them.

The loosely-connected member: The person who didn’t want to get involved in a small group and develop lasting bonds of friendship and was only a Sunday apparition is likely to continue their stay-at-home habits.

Conversely, the person who has strong friendships developed in community will want to be with his or her friends and will show up as soon as the doors open.

The just-another-activity Christian: The soccer mom whose calendar is chock full of commitments might find the relief from Sunday morning obligations a welcome change.

The critical attendee: The person who was constantly carping, finding fault, and complaining will probably not be returning to services. Read the rest: Church after Covid.

Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world

caleb katlenbachThe ugliest thing Caleb Kaltenbach saw through a childhood of being taken to gay pride marches and wild parties was…. Christians holding up signs saying “God hates you.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he said at the time. But Caleb came to Christ in high school, became a pastor afterwards and started a church that doesn’t compromise on truth while still extending love to those with “messy” lives.

His incredible journey from Christian-hater to loving Christian is more than just one man’s testimony. It is a shining light on the path for the church re-calibrating its message, as the world grows more worldly, to wooing sinners instead of saying “Woe!” to sinners.

When Caleb was only two years old, both his mom and dad divorced and “came out of the closet at the same time,” he says on an Outreach video. “My whole life I was raised by two lesbians and a gay man.”

caleb katlenbach and wifeHis dad was professor of philosophy, law and rhetoric at the University of Missouri, Columbia, while his mom was a professor of English at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

“My whole life I was raised in the gay and lesbian community,” he says. “My parents didn’t want to get baby sitters, so they basically took me to parties when I was 4, 6, 7 years old. I went to camp outs, clubs and gay pride parades.

“I hated Christians,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with Christians.”

At the end of a gay pride parade, he was met by Christians with placards that said “God hates you” and “Turn or burn.”

They were spraying water and urine on everybody.

Caleb, who was a young and impressionable 9 years old, turned to Mom and asked why they were doing this.

CTz9RlFUsAACsqX“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she replied. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he replied.

His next memory was when he was a teen, accompanying Mom to her parties. His custom was to find a room to play video games, Duck Hunt or Kung Fu (in the days of primitive video games — Atari, etc).

Louis, a well-built 30-year-old, befriended him at these parties.

Years later at the doctor, Caleb saw Louis, who had was emaciated and had strange markings on his forehead. Caleb asked what was wrong.

“Caleb, I have AIDS, and I’m getting read to die,” Louis responded.

Visiting him “a shell of the man he used to be” in the hospital just days before Louis died, Caleb witnessed a “horrifying sight.” As Louis shivered uncontrollably cold under nine blankets, his family watched unfeelingly from across the room.

“Plastered against the wall with their big ol’ KJV bibles out and looking like they expected a firing squad to come at them” was the compassionless immediate family. When he asked for water, they made sure to give him some without touching him.

“Why are they acting like that?” he asked his mom.

“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she responded. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” Caleb said again. Read the rest: Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world.

Fear of God clothing brand founder really does fear God

jerry lorenzo ChristianJerry Lorenzo was supposed to give his $100 sneakers to 100 influencers around the nation to promote the brand in October 2016, but instead he decided hand them out to the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

“I work in Downtown LA and we pass the homeless people sleeping in tents and sleeping bags as we come into work every day,” Jerry says on Fast Company. “We were in a position to give and were ignoring these people that are around us. I just told my staff, ‘We’re going to pack up all these shoes and clothing and give it to people who need it.’ If I’m in a position to give, how dare I give it to someone that doesn’t need it?”

Jerry’s charity that day totaled more than $10,000. But Jerry is a born-again Christian and understands that high-end fashion and fame are ephemeral; only what’s done for Jesus is eternal.

“I’m a Christian, and I love God with all my heart,” he says.

jerry lorenzo shoes skid row homelessHis brand — Fear of God, which he says is cool, not corny, because it counters a lot of dark, empty religious symbolism in fashion — produces street luxury garments that have caught the eye of Kanye West, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber and Travis Scott. His Desert Storm-inspired tennies sold for $1,100.

“The idea for my brand came one day when I was reading a devotion that talked about clouds and darkness around the Kingdom of God. It talked about the layers to Him. For the first time in my mind, God was really cool. He was a dark image in my mind, not in a demonic way, just dark in terms of the layers and depth to him — the kind of figure that is beyond our understanding.

“When you’re at peace with God, there’s a fear of God that’s a reverence. On the flip side, when you don’t know God, there’s a literal fear. I wanted my brand’s name to play on these two different meanings. If people dig deeper with this brand, they can find truth.”

Jerry_LorenzoJerry Lorenzo came to Los Angeles to finish grad school. Being out from under his parents’ covering, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery, ditched his Christian upbringing and sampled the party life in Hollywood. He made lots of friends and supplemented his own income by staging his own parties. At the time, there were either black/ hip hop scenes or white/techno. Jerry fused the two and created his own space.

“It was through the night life that I really began to understand the power of my own influence here in Los Angeles,” he says on a “Now with Natalie” video on the Hillsong YouTube channel. “I had the ability to get people out of their homes five nights a week. I had the ability to influence fashion trends. I saw that I would wear something and people would start to dress like me.”

After eight years in the party scene, he realized he could launch a successful fashion brand.

“I enjoyed the partying. It was fun,” Jerry admits. “Yes, I had my own battles with my convictions, but we are as much human as we are spirit. But as my faith started to grow, I realized that I was not only in the wrong circles but that I was the creator of this platform. I was bringing the alcohol sponsor and the women. It was a heavy realization.

“Being from a Christian home, you think you know what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “I thought I was doing a good job juggling the two. But it got to the point where God said, ‘That’s enough. I have something for you to do and you either do this or you live this other life.’”

His party scene was THE place to be seen in L.A. and have significance.

“But as I grew in Christ and grew spiritually, I realized how insignificant this platform was that we had made,” Jerry admits. “I was fearful that my personal significance would be tied up with something as empty to that.”

He was coming to the end of himself, squandering his resources in his own plan to the exclusion of God.

“I just fell on my face and realized that I can’t do anything without God and that He is the source of anything good and positive in my life,” he says. “If I needed anything, it was to seek Him and not promote myself. Once the blinders were off and I saw if for what it was, I knew that wasn’t the place for me.” Read the rest:Jerry Lorenzo Fear of God clothing Christian.

Out of trauma, out of fears

Demetrius FearsHer mother was scolding Demetrius Fears because the 4th grader was STARTING homework at 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Then just outside, gunfire erupted.

“Stop! No!” her Uncle Robert shouted, and then they heard a loud pop, pop, pop.

Robert staggered into the house with blood streaming down his face and body.

“When everything happened, I froze. I didn’t know what to do. Everything happened in slow motion,” says Dee, 22.

overcoming fearsDee’s grandma, Yvonne, wasn’t too strong in the Lord at that time. But the Holy Spirit kicked in and she began praying and prophesying that Uncle Robert would live. “She spoke life over him in the name of Jesus,” Dee says.

Their prayers were answered and Uncle Robert survived the shooting.

Dee is named after her father, who died from gunshots weeks before she was born.

After the incident, Dee decided to stay home as much as possible. Because she was always at home, everybody took advantage of her baby-sitting services. She loved babies.

In community college, Dee started attending church and also studied child development. At church, she developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and was born again.

“As I began to do what God wanted me to do and follow His plan for my life, I saw a lot of doors open for opportunities and to be in child ministry,” she says.

She got a job at Starbucks and then added a part-time position at a Christian infant care in Santa Monica.

As time went on, she wondered why she was even bothering with coffee, which she doesn’t like, and not working full-time with babies, which she loves. She offered to her boss, Anita, to go full-time at the Lighthouse Center for Infants.

“She started crying tears of joy,” Dee says. The Infant Care badly needed qualified workers. “She told me I was an answer to prayer.”

“Whoa,” Dee thought in response. “I never thought I could be somebody’s answer to prayer.”

Dee has gained new friendship and developed her classroom learning about child development in real life practice.

One day in church, a sister prophesied that she would overcome her insecurities, which stem from not having a father. During the initial stages of the Coronavirus lockdown, she began to feel unloved.

“I began feeling worthless, like I was useless in every way possible, like I wasn’t worth it, like nobody wants you here,” Dee remembers. “The thoughts were so loud that I began believing they were true.” Read the rest: overcoming trauma and fears.

Incorrigible drug addict found hope in Jesus

Jim rouches christianUnattended by his career-ambitious parents, Jim Rouches discovered his older brother’s stash of pot and LSD when he was only seven.

“The first time the euphoria hit me, my first thought was, I’m going to do this the rest of my life,” Jim says on a CBN video. “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever felt.’

He very nearly carried out the vow to life-long drug abuse.

Jim was the youngest (with his twin) of five siblings. His dad was an IBM executive; his mom, an entrepreneur. He would act up to try to get their attention. They were busy, busy, busy making money.

AY13_jim_rouches_LSBy middle school, he was a committed pothead. His parents divorced. After misbehaving with his mom, he was moved to his dad’s, where he shaped up for a time.

But when his mother developed lung cancer, Jim lost all motivation to stay on the higher path and resorted to his earlier vices, this time adding cocaine into the mix.

“I could go through $300, $400, $500 worth of coke very quickly,” he says.

When mom died, he got mad at her, as if she had given up and wouldn’t be there for him.

“I thought that she gave up and that she could beat cancer and that if I had cancer I would definitely beat it for her, or anyone else that I loved.”

Jim figured out how to graduate yet bombed each effort his family made to get him off drugs.

“I just thought it was garbage,” he says. “At that time, I would rather be dead than have to live without being high all the time.”

A year after graduating, Jim wedded his secondary school darling. The couple had twins, a boy and a girl. But as one might expect of a marriage where the man suffers from drug addiction, the wedded bliss didn’t last.

“I was in the grips of an addiction that was just massive,” he says. “As much as I wanted to stop for my family I could not stop. And, even then I would have died for them, I just couldn’t quit doing drugs.”

For the next quarter century he was either spending time in jail, in a recovery program or running from the law.

In 2004 he was arrested for credit card fraud and an extensive list of other unlawful offenses.

At 41 years of age, he was worn out, confronting his third strike, and facing 49 years to life in prison.

“That was the first time in my life I just didn’t want to live anymore. I said, ‘God, if you’re real, if you’re real like they say you’re real, help me.’ Read the rest:freed from drugs Jim Rouches.

‘I was shaking like a leaf’ Hispanic gangster had never felt God’s power before

angel frias in yosemiteLeft with the baby sitter, 4-year-old Angel Frias, one of nine siblings, was approached by a blonde woman who led him in a sinner’s prayer. She looked bright, almost angelic.

“I felt so protected,” he remembers. “I felt like there was a shield around me when I was a little boy.”

But by junior high, “Angel” stopped being an angel. He followed his older brothers into a Hispanic gang in Culver City, California.

angel frias fishing“That’s when I got into more of mess. I became a problem to society and not a solution.”

He fell into drugs, alcohol, rage and revenge.

“I had so much anger in my life that if I dropped a pen, I started kicking in doors. I started turning over tables. I started to cuss. If you looked at me the wrong way, the fight was on.”

God saved him from the worst scrapes and kept sending messengers to evangelize.

“When I had a can of beer on me or I was loaded, there was always a servant of the Lord that God would send into the Culver City projects to preach the Gospel and I would hear it,” he says. “They kept coming and they kept coming. There was one time this guy said, ‘God has a better plan for your life.’ I listened to his words, but I kept on the same road of destruction.”

He was in and out of county jail. He had guns pointed at his head, but the guns jammed.

“When my brother was there, he said, ‘That was God,’” Angel remembers. “But we were still in our mess.”

He spent three years in prison, only to return to more drugs and alcohol. He returned to prison for four years and four months. He never turned to God.

“I was the worst of the worst. I was down to 90 lbs.,” he says. “My medium shirts felt like they were extra larges on me.”

Finally, he committed an offense that could lock him up for 25 years to life.

Again, he listened to the preachers in the projects.

“God loves you so much,” the preacher said. “He doesn’t want this for your life. He has more for you.”

His sisters were praying for him. Finally he broke down.

“I fell to my knees and said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Here’s my life,’” he recalls. “I’m totally out of it. I don’t know what to do. I’ve heard about you. I need you to take over because I am out of control.”

For years he mocked people who were healed and fell under the power of the Spirit on Christian television programming.

But when he finally broke before God, he decided to go to church.

“As this preacher’s preaching, my body starts to shake. It felt like something wanted to come out it,” he says. He went up to the altar.

“I was shaking like a leaf. My eyes were blinking like 90 mph,” he says. “I was out of control. I knew God was in control. I surrendered. I opened up my arms and said, ‘Here’s my life. Do what you want with it.’ The guy was about to pray for me, but before he can touch me, I fell back and could not get up. My waist down to my legs, I could not move.” Read the rest: Culver City Hispanic gangster had never felt slain the Spirit before.

Abused as a child, she forgave and got freed from alcohol

abuse survivorWhen Cornelia Jude came home drunk from clubbing at 5:00 a.m., she would see her husband sitting on the bed, praying, and she hated him for it.

“I would get so mad” she says on a CBN video. “ I felt like that was his way of trying to manipulate me.”

Cornelia felt like all men were manipulators ever since her mom’s boyfriend sexually abused her as a child.

“I didn’t tell my mom in the beginning because he manipulated situations,” she says. “She always believed him. She never believed me.”

Born in Germany, Cornelia was the victim of sexual abuse from 12 years old. When she grew older, she started sleeping in the park with the homeless, taking drugs and alcohol, and cutting herself as an emotional release to ease the inner torment.

Cornelia Jude ChristianAt 18, she escaped home by marrying, but her young husband was also a drug addict who beat her so badly that she had to have her teeth fixed by a dentist.

“The beating was better then the sexual abuse,” she says.

After four months of marriage, she left her husband. She met and married an American and followed him to the United States. But her second attempt at happiness was also far from a fairytale.

“He was out all the time drinking,” Cornelia says. “I don’t know how many times he cheated on me during that time. I was cool with it. I was fine with it. I wasn’t being sexually abused. I wasn’t being beaten.”

Cornelia Jude saved from sexual abuseCornelia began to suffer panic attacks, nightmares and breakdowns. A therapist diagnosed her with PTSD.

“I isolated myself a lot and really really cried a lot,” she says.

After two years, she left with her two children.

“I always said there was no God because there’s no way he would allow one person to go through all of this,” she remembers with tears.

For five years, she raised her kids alone and numbed her pain with drinking.

Cornelia met a man named Lawrence and they had a daughter together.

Lawrence had some experience with God and tried to set a good example for his new wife, but Cornelia didn’t readily give up her vices.

“I was out drinking and clubbing, and Lawrence was home with the kids most of the time. Sometimes I would come home at 5:00, 6:00 in the morning and I’m still drunk and I’ll see him, he’ll sit on the bed and he’s praying.”

After years of abuse from manipulating men, Cornelia assumed her current husband was just manipulating and she resisted.

God finally moved in her life in 2015. She got the sudden urge to “check out” a little church she noticed during her commute. However, the devil would not give up without a fight and she thought: “I’m not going to go in there. Why would I go in there?”

But the inner prompting persisted. So one day she suggested to her husband that he accompany her. Read the rest of how to overcome PTSD from sexual abuse.

Abortion survivor meets biological mom

melissa ohden abortion survivor meets momWhen Melissa Ohden’s mom left the abortion clinic more than 30 years ago, she thought her fetus was disposed of properly.

She was a 19-year-old college student and was told the baby in her womb would ruin her life. She was pressured to “terminate the pregnancy” quickly and “conveniently,” and she followed their advice, according to her testimonial video on Eternal Word Television Network’s YouTube channel.

But baby Melissa didn’t die from the saline infusion of toxic water that was injected into the amniotic sack to kill her. She was removed from the womb very much alive.

Melissa weighed less than three pounds. After nurses sustained her with hospital care, she was adopted into a loving home.

abortion survivor forgives mom“God had a plan,” she says.

Today Melissa is married and an outspoken critic of abortion who has testified before Congress. She documents the trials and travails of finding out the truth of her origin in the stirring book, You Carried Me: A Daughter’s memoir.

At 14, Melissa was told about her adoption. But the news that her biological mother had tried to kill her hit like a tsunami. Negative emotions were born and took root.

Under the crushing rejection of her biological mother, Melissa spun out of control with bulimia, alcohol and sexuality — all coping mechanisms to deal with the raw pain.

“It absolutely devastated my life,” she says. “I didn’t want anyone else to know how much I was hurting.”

melissa ohdenHow did she break the cycle of self-destruction?

“It was the grace of God that saved me,” she says. “I had to be willing to wake up and say, ‘I’m not going to do that’” anymore.

As she grew, married, and had children, Melissa kept thinking about her biological mom. Who was she? Under what circumstances did she resort to such a drastic procedure? What was she like?

She embarked on a quest to find her mother.

“I loved her,” she says. “My love for her deepens year after year. Now I know the truth of how she was forced into that abortion.”

Initially through correspondence, she began to get to know her mother, and she came to understand and forgive her mom, who suffered 30 years of agonizing guilt, hiding the painful memory of killing her child.

Her journey led her embrace her mother and feel empathy for all women who feel cornered into abortion, she says. Read the rest: abortion survivor meets her mom.

Mark of the Beast? 1984? Or something worse? Microchips implanted in hand

microchip inserted in handOn the surface, microchips implanted into your hand could be — excuse the pun — really handy.

They could be a ready substitute for cash or credit card in the check-out line and can’t be stolen by thieves. They could carry critical medical information for an emergency surgery when you’re unconscious.

Companies in Sweden are hailing their microchips as the wave of the future. The size of a grain of rice, the microchip can be injected by syringe in the loose flesh between the thumb and forefinger. With just a wave the hand, doors are opened, transactions completed, printers operate and life becomes automatized.

M7EZZVHFWNA7PDCNOARFKDAYEU“The biggest benefit I think is convenience,” Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of Epicenter told AP. “It basically replaces a lot of things you have, other communication devices, whether it be credit cards or keys.”

But many are not so enthusiastic. Ethicists warn that the new technology raises the specter of a dystopian, Orwellian reality in which people can be monitored by government and hacked by programmers.

Christians — who for decades have speculated that the coming 666 “mark of the Beast” in Revelation could be by a similar technological implant — want nothing to do with it.

“Microchip fears have stoked prophetic speculations for years — but many biblical scholars note that Revelation is not pointing to some inadvertently-adopted technology, but is speaking symbolically of those who cast their lot with the opponents of Christ for societal approval,” noted Jerry Newcombe in The Christian Post.

microchipping payRevelations 13:16-18 says the Anti Christ “forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.[e] That number is 666.”

But when the CEO of a Wisconsin company calls the bio-insert “the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen,” Christians can’t be faulted for seeing an uncanny similarity to what the Bible foretells.

“We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office break room market, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals,” said Todd Westby of Three Square Market.

Westby — who either is ignorant of biblical apocalyptic scenarios or doesn’t give a fig about them — got 50 of his 80 employees to voluntarily receive the injected microchips for their convenience.

“Eventually, this technology will become standardized allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc,” he said to WKYC studio news.

As far back as 2012, Pastor John Haggee warned that microchipping would be the vehicle for the mark of the Beast. Already, governments are forcing citizens to vaccinate and snitch on each other for not obeying lockdowns. They could very easily make a minor step forward and “start forcing you to wear a chip and they start forcing you to keep laws that you don’t want to keep,” he wrote in Christian Headlines. Read the rest of microchips mark of the Beast.

Winning Muslims to Christ with a hug

outreach to MuslimsForget the bombs, commando squads, closed borders and anti-Sharia laws. The way to defeat Islamic threat here in America is to evangelize Muslims with love, says one expert.

“Islam is a spiritual enemy. It’s not physical. It’s not people. The only way to encounter is prayer and outreach,” says Daniel Ted, head of the Christian Islamic Dialogue. “Without preaching the gospel, there is no ability to change people’s minds and hearts. That’s the only hope.

shariah threat“If we address spiritual problems with physical means like politically, economically, it’s not going to work,” he tells God Reports. “We appreciate everybody’s job — like our troops — but they’re not going to solve the problem because the problem is spiritual in origin.”

Daniel Ted was born into the Orthodox Church in a Northern African nation but came to real faith in Jesus in an evangelical church when he was 17. He began the dangerous task of reaching out to Muslims and helped launch 15 churches. If only one Muslim had turned him over to authorities, Daniel would have been thrown into prison and tortured.

Christian Islamic DialogueAfter several years, he took a break/vacation to the U.S. and ultimately decided to stay. He started reaching out to Muslims in their communities, outside their mosques and over the internet, a ministry he has led for 10 years.

His technique is simple: no fancy arguments or disputation of any kind. Talk about Jesus and points of the Koran that mention personages in the Bible. Then after the discussion, no matter how heated it may have become, he hugs the man with whom he’s held the discussion.

“The main key to reach out to Muslims is to love them. That’s why after strong discussions, when I give them a hug, they melt down. I’ve seen this many times. And in some cases, I’ve seen tears in their eyes,” Daniel says. “If you start with apologetics or polemics, you lose the friendship. We start with Jesus, and when they accept Jesus in their hearts, they will be open to other things.”

Many, many Muslims have converted, he says. He doesn’t like to provide numbers because his work is only the seed. Only God knows the true number of Muslims who complete the journey to Christ, he says.

Pastor Adrian Rodriguez, who has four ex-Muslims in his church outside Hartford, Connecticut, has gone with Daniel on outreaches. Around the neighborhood is a community of refugees from the Middle East.

“He just starts talking with them about the Koran and the Bible. He goes and witnesses to Muslims. That’s all he does,” Adrian says. “He knows the root of Arabic. He’s a very intelligent guy. He meets with imams. He witnesses to them.”

Traveling around 11 states where Muslim communities are, Daniel leads teams to evangelize their Islamic neighbors with the love of Christ. Not much chalkboard learning, just walking the streets and striking up conversations.

“Jesus taught his disciples how to do outreach practically and then after that theoretically,” Daniel explains. “Many Christians want to learn without doing it practically. I encourage them that without doing it practically there is no way to do it.” Read the rest: Winning Muslims to Christ with love.

Could he forgive the death of his brother? Bryann Trejo punches the devil and doesn’t retaliate against the killers

AR-190919667Bryann Trejo was a cold-blooded killer* who’d already spent half his adult life in jail. So when gangsters gunned down his twin brother, Bryann T was tempted to exact a brutal and immediate revenge.

“Even after he was saved, he was murdered,” Bryann says about his brother to Rapzilla. “I came to know Christ as well. I forgave his enemies and murderers and God wrote a new song in my heart.”

Bryann’s twin, named Ryan, is a frequent subject in the hip hop of Bryann Trejo, who is leader of the Kingdom Music Family based in Abilene, Texas. The gangster-turned-pastor’s music, which recently catapulted to the highest levels in CHH, communicates an urgency and passion to get lost souls out of the unforgiving streets and into Jesus’ eternal forgiveness.

bryann trejoBryann was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, but his family moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, when he was 13. There, he fell into armed robberies and selling narcotics. The juvenile delinquent system and then later adult jail, had a “revolving door” for Bryann, he admits on his website.

“I was thugging, out whiling, a Mexican with a cohete (Spanish slang for a gun) with the love the streets,” Bryann says on a Frontline Ministries Braden Hall YouTube video. “That type of love landed me in shootouts, prison, depression and suicide attempts.”

Because FIRST TIME gangsters attempted to kill his brother, Bryann unleashed a furious retaliation that landed him 30 years in jail for two attempted murders. Eventually the charges were lowered with a plea bargain.

Bryann got out of jail at age 27. His brother had gotten saved and Bryann determined to straighten up with God too.

“I’m a knucklehead. I had an identical twin, and we were mixed up in all kinds of bad stuff,” Bryann told Rapzilla. “But he came to know Christ. We started rapping together. But even after he was saved, he was murdered. I came to know Christ as well.”

bryann and monica trejoThe SECOND ATTEMPT on Ryan’s life was a case of mistaken identity on May 28, 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Ryan was trying to disciple a young hoodlum, whom the gangsters were looking for in reprisal for a murder days earlier. The killers showered him with bullets.

Bryann was enraged and broken beyond belief. But he was committed to not relapsing into the old life. Even though he knew who the killers were and could have easily tracked them down, he decided to walk in Christian forgiveness.

“The anger came. God, how could you let my brother get murdered? He served You. I wanted to question Him,” Bryann says on a CUTV video. “I wanted revenge. I’d been in prison before for attempted murder, so when he died it’s already in me to retaliate, especially since he was innocent. I wanted them to pay.”

Bryann came to a crossroads. He faced a momentous decision: either relapse into ravenous revenge or make an audacious stand of forgiveness.

He cried out to God: “Lord, I’m about to go cuckoo. I’m about to lose everything. I got six kids; he got six kids. They’re going to lose daddy and uncle. I knew right then and there, I had to forgive.

“I argued with God, ‘But my brother was innocent,’” he continues. “And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus was innocent.’ Then I was like, ‘But he didn’t deserve this.’ And the Holy Spirit was like, ‘Jesus didn’t deserve it.’”

It wasn’t by any means easy, but Bryann struggled to truly forgive. He still struggles with “bitterness and poison” in his heart. Every day he’s reminded about his brother’s death every day.

“I see his face in the mirror. We’re identical twins,” Bryann says. “His case is still open. The so-called friends didn’t want to be snitches, so they didn’t say nothing. Everything I thought was real in the streets was fake. So now I have this passion to expose Satan and tell people that he is a liar.”

When he returns to the neighborhood, his former friends still provoke him to take revenge.

“The people ridicule me,” he says. “Homeboys be like, ‘You ain’t going to retaliate? That’s your brother. What kind of brother are you?’” he says. Those words stir up the old street pride.

“What, you don’t think I will?” he counters. But then he remembers he’s living in forgiveness.

“I’m not that man. I don’t fight the way I used to fight,” he says. “I trust through Christ that His way of fighting is better than my way of fighting. I’m really punching Satan every time I forgive. I just didn’t know that was the way to fight back because it didn’t make no sense in the physical. We all want to fight the enemy.” Read the rest: Bryann Trejo rapper no revenge

Handi-capable man McLeod’s Coffee House

mcleods-coffeeFirst he staged a prom for special needs people at his church. Now, he’s opened a coffee shop staffed by special needs employees.

Retired Pastor Brewster McLeod of Lexington, Kentucky, opened McLeod’s Coffee House in 2019. The coffee shop is a non profit with 50 employees who happen to have autism and developmental disabilities.

“They got joy, they got heart, they want to work,” McLeod said.

The purpose for the special coffee house is twofold: to give an income to people who might find it hard to get another job, AND to sensitize regular folk to their needs.

mcleods special needs coffee house“If Down syndrome or special needs make you nervous,” McLeod says, “you probably need to come in here and relax and just treat them like anyone else.”

Megan Gaines, 29, works the cash register. She was born with spina bifida, which paralyzes her from the waist down.

“I’m exactly like anybody else. I can do the same things you can do. I just may do things differently,” Megan says. “We still want to have friends, we still want to do things, we still want to go out and hang out with our friends, and just do normal stuff.”

Working at McLeod’s Coffee has brought joy and safety to the 50 employees, whom McLeod calls “VIPs.” They wear super hero T-shirts to work as part of their uniform. McLeod says they’re “handi-capable.” Some are greeters, others baristas, others work the cash register.

McLeod was pastor of the Southland Christian Church in Lexington for 40 years. Since 2000, he’s ministered specifically to people with special needs. He held a “Jesus prom” for people with special needs because they felt excluded from regular Cinderella-like events. Read the rest: special needs employees coffee shop.

Crushed by stress and hate, cops have nowhere to turn except Jesus

5-8m3xyxGruesome crimes that cannot be “unseen” sometimes weigh down on and break the heart of police officers who got into law enforcement with enthusiasm and idealism.

Without a “Biblical mindset,” the men and women in blue turn to anger, alcohol and divorce at higher frequencies than almost any other group in society, says Paul Lee, executive director of the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (FCPO).

Police have a divorce rate of 75 percent and a domestic abuse rate of 40 percent, the FCPO website says.

740460_354217591351768_1007974035_o-lzgduy“If you have the scriptures behind you and you have a firm foundation, then you know that lost people are acting like lost people,” Lee says. “Today we have lost people and lost cops out on the streets clashing and acting like lost people while Satan claps his hands together with glee.”

The FCPO’s 250 local chapters reach out to the nation’s 1.1 million local, state and national enforcement officers with the Gospel from a perspective that cops can understand.

p5110042-rpxqbfLee accepted Jesus into his heart in 1995 — after 17 years of handling the stress of police work in his own strength. He immediately joined the Chattanooga chapter of FCPO and was hooked to their Bible studies and discipleship support group.

“Once I realized I had this whole new family that loved me, I was sold,” Lee says. “We began to read scriptures and learn to apply the scripture on the streets, which was a challenge. If you’re not reading the Bible, you don’t know what to do.”

Many officers don’t have the advantage of growing up in a Christian home, Lee says.

Raised in church, Lee left God and began working in law enforcement. After years of apprehending criminals and witnessing unimaginable monstrosities on the cruel streets, Lee descended into an abyss of anger, distrustful cynicism and heavy drinking.

He divorced his wife.

“Being a police officer and seeing all the evil and trying to deal with that evil in my own strength, I had become calloused,” he remembers. “I felt nothing. I hated everybody. Nobody told you the truth.”

When his mother died, he thought over his life. In the shower before her funeral, Lee remembered her dedication to Christ and reflected on his own prodigality.

“I knew the life I was living was totally wrong. I had faulted God for 20 years. But the death of my mother totally broke me and brought me to the lowest point in my life.” Lee says. “My life was passing before my eyes like a bad B-movie. I was crying uncontrollably.”

In the shower, Lee said three things to the Lord: “I give up. I surrender. and continue reading about Police PSTD and Jesus.

Mahomes, hot arm, cool character, Christian QB

chiefs_0QB Patrick Mahomes, whose confident leadership and hot arm provided the edge for the Kansas City Chiefs first Super Bowl win in 50 years, is very open about his convictions.

“Faith has always been big with me,” the Super Bowl MVP told Fox News. “I’m glorifying Him every single time I’m out there. I understand that He’s given me a lot of blessings in my life, and I’m trying to maximize them and glorify Him.”

The young QB kept his poise under pressure as the Chiefs were squelched for three quarters and appeared ready to lose their first Super Bowl appearance in half a century. But in the last seven minutes of the game, trailing 20-10 to the San Francisco 49ers, the 24-year-old reignited his precision passing and overturned the score.

440px-Patrick_Mahomes_IIMahomes made his decision to accept and follow Jesus in the seventh grade when his parents got divorced. He wanted to be a man of the church, attended youth group, raised his hands to worship God, declined invitations to hang out so he could do more chores and watch over his siblings at home, according to Belief Net.

His dad, Pat Mahomes, was a Major League Baseball pitcher, and Mahomes almost followed in his father’s footsteps, pitching a no hitter with 16 strikeouts his senior year at Whitehouse High School in Whitehouse Texas.

He also played basketball, but football intrigued him with the vast amount of plays and strategies to learn. During his senior year, Mahomes threw 4,619 passing yards and 50 passing touchdowns. He rushed 948 yards, including 15 touchdowns.

Being a two-prong attacking quarterback proved critical during the Super Bowl. One of the Chiefs’ touchdowns was by Mahomes, who ran the ball in.

Mahomes was a top prospect for MLB draft in 2014, but he committed to Texas Tech University with a football scholarship. As a junior, Mahomes led the country in yards per game (421), passing yards (5,052), total offense (5,312), points responsible for (318) and total touchdowns (53).

He opted out of his senior year to go pro and was drafted by the Chiefs in 2017. He became the starting quarterback the next year and cultivated a great rapport with the team. “He was always about the team, always about his teammates, always about the other person,” one coach told the Christian Post.

His Christianity played out in humility. “There would be a play where he’d make an incredible throw or he’d scramble around and make a big run for a touchdown and he’d come off the field saying to his teammates, ‘great catch’ or ‘great block,’” said Brad Cook, who was Whitehouse’s offensive coordinator Mahomes’ senior season, in Yahoo Sports. Read the rest: Patrick Mahomes Christian.

Once he let go of bridge rail, he regretted it

kevin hines suicide christianBy Hannah Hughes —

Wrenched by depression, John Kevin Hines, 19, followed through on his plans to plunge from the Golden Gate Bridge to snuff out his life.

“In the millisecond after my hands left the rail, I said to myself, ‘What have I just done? I don’t want to die. God, please save me!’” he remembers. “I felt instant regret for my actions.”

Unlike 57 other bodies fished out by a Coast Guard crew in recent years, Kevin survived.

After falling 25 stories in four seconds, he broke the frigid San Francisco Bay waters in the perfect feat first, the optimal position to cheat death. Only some vertebrae were shattered. An eyewitness phoned the Coast Guard, who rescued him, bobbing in the water, minutes later.

kevin hines golden gate bridge suicide attempt

Kevin, with his father, today

For Kevin, the makings of bipolar disorder started early. Born to poor, troubled parents, Kevin was left abandoned in a flophouse as a baby and taken by Child Protective Services, according to SFGate news

When his parents got their act together, he returned home at nine months. His father, Pat, started work as a banker and thrived. His mother adopted two other kids, and they had a home in the Twin Peaks neighborhood of San Francisco. Everything was turning ideal.

Then at age 10, Kevin experience an epileptic seizure and was prescribed Tegretol.

Overcoming these early difficulties, Kevin progresssed through his education and got into acting and athletics. Despite having asthma, he played on Riordan High School’s wrestling team and its football team.

At age 16, his parents initiated a divorce.

Since Kevin hadn’t experienced a seizure in so many years, he was taken off Tegretol, which no one knew at the time had a secondary benefit of suppressing the violent mood swings typical of bipolar disorder.

13274916_web1_L1-Julcol-Survived-180831After going off the meds, immediately “Kevin went down Alice’s hole,” Pat recalls.

He experienced a breakdown on stage during a school play. He fought with his mom and moved in with dad only to butt heads. He was irritable and spiraled cyclically in despair, usually bottoming out on Thursdays and Fridays.

When his drama teacher commited suicide, he was deeply affected, marked by the memory of the harrowing event.

He was struggling emotionally. But Kevin was in denial about his own need to seek help. He shored up his facade reminding himself of his triumphs in sports.

Other people were failures, needy, unstable — not him, he kept saying to himself.

“I was so much denial and that denial ruled the day until I crashed hard,” he says in a YouTube video.

12347833_10153769129882008_3364030419052064986_nOn Sept. 22, 2000, his girlfriend broke up with him.

That weekend, he experienced hallucinations and heard voices.

“I don’t want to be here anymore,” he told his dad.

“You have an obligation to be here,” Pat responded. “We love you.”

Despite the exchange of words, his dad didn’t really know the full extent of Kevin’s inner anguish. And Kevin didn’t really feel loved.

“I thought I was my family’s burden,” he explains.

After six attempts at writing a suicide note, he left the seventh version in his room.

“I sat at my desk and I penned that note mom: Dad,brother, sister, girlfriend, best friend, love you but I gotta go,” he says.

On Sunday morning Sept 24, he went to Walgreens of a “breakfast” of skittles and starburst. Then Kevin boarded a bus bound for the iconic bridge that links San Francisco with the northern peninsula that’s the inlet to the San Francisco Bay.

It is a postcard picturesque place — and a notorious choice for suicide.

As the bus drove, he mulled his determination. There were conflicting emotions. He actually felt relief that all the pain would be over. The voices kept telling him: “You must die! You can’t go back! You are a burden to those who love you!”

When he got off the Golden Gate Bridge, he was crying.

If anyone stopped to ask him what was wrong, he thought, he wouldn’t jump. He walked down the bridge. Joggers passed without apparently noticing the tears on his face. A German tourist came up to him. He thought this was his chance. But no, she ignored his tears and only asked for him to take her picture.

Police officers on a bike, whose job it is to stop suicide attempts, also passed by him and ignored him.

So he jumped.

He plummeted the 200 feet. The voices telling him he had to die stopped talking, and his rationale returned. He cried out to God, as reported by Lifezette.

Kevin broke the surface of the water feet first. This gave him the best chance to survive. The impact shattered vertebrae and very nearly severed his spinal cord completely. But it didn’t kill him.

The momentum of the fall carried him into the depths of the bay. As he speed wore off with the friction and pressure of the waters, he slowed, stopped and began to rise. A survival instinct took over and he struggled to swim to the surface, through which he popped shortly.

The felt excruciating pain in his back. He tried to tread water, but he began to sink.

He felt something underneath him seem to push him again. He thought it was some sea creature, maybe even a shark or a sea lion.

He heard a boat motor and seconds later hands were pulling him out before he went into shock from hypothermia.

The Coast Guard crew put a neck brace on him. One member leaned over him and addressed him.

“Kid, do you know how many people we pull out of this water who are already gone?” he recalls on a Power 106 YouTube video. “This unit has pulled out 57 dead bodies out of this water — and one live one.”

At the hospital, Kevin’s dad was the first to arrive.

“I looked up at my dad, and I said, ‘Dad, I’m sorry,’” he says. “And he looked at me and said with great conviction, ‘No, Kevin, I’M sorry.’ And waterfalls flew from his eyes. He put his hand on my forehead and said words I have never forgotten: ‘Kevin, you are going to be ok, I promise.’”

His recovery from suicidal thoughts and bipolar disorder has not been seamless. Kevin has been admitted to psych wards seven times in the 10 years after his suicide attempt. The first three admittances were against his will.

It eventually became beneficial for Kevin to acknowledge his struggles as mental illness and to attack it with the help of medical professionals as a sickness. God has helped him make it through.

“Every night that I spent in psych wards — and I’ve been an inpatient seven times for suicidal crisis — I prayed,” Kevin says. “Every night I spent in a halfway home for the mentally ill, I have prayed. I have prayed through dangerous and scary situations.”

Today he is happily married and lives in Atlanta. He’s a motivational speaker and an advocate for suicide prevention.

christian school los angeles“I pray every day. I feel human beings take so many little things for granted,” Kevin says. “But after what happened to me, I tend not to. I do my very best in life to not take every person I get the privilege of meeting — every place I get the honor of going to, and everything I get the grace of doing — for granted. I walk into a hotel, for example, and I’m appreciative of the people who came before me who made that hotel. I appreciate the people who set up the coffee machine.”

Hannah Hughes is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

Chained in basement 11 years, she now offers hope to victims of abuse

cleveland-kidnapper-ariel-castro-sentenced-in-clevelandMichelle Knight was held hostage, chained and raped for almost 11 years by a macabre man. She also endured starvation, lack of sunlight and extreme thirst.

“Almost every day he did beat, rape, and do horrible, unimaginable things to me,” Michelle said on the Today Show. “I just thought of myself as a punching bag because that’s all he did to me.”

Since her ordeal, Michelle has gathered her courage — with God’s help — to forgive her tormentor, Ariel Castro, who hanged himself with bed sheets in his prison cell one month into a sentence of life plus 1,000 years.

ariel castro“He had a disease,” Michelle told Christian Today. “I was able to forgive him. God put us on earth for one reason, to do his work. The situation (he) put me in didn’t define me. I choose to live a meaningful life.”

On May 6, 2013, fellow captive Amanda Berry escaped and fled to police, who rescued Michelle and another girl, Gina de Jesus. Shortly after that, they arrested Castro. Since then, Michelle has married and moved on from the trauma. As part of her new life, she legally renamed herself Lily Rose because she wants to disassociate herself from the ugly past.

Raised in a troubled home, Michelle, 20, was living under a bridge in 2002, upset over losing custody of her 2-year-old son. On August 23rd of that year, she left her cousin’s house in Cleveland and accepted a ride from Ariel Castro, the father of a friend. He took her to his Tremont home, where he chained her in the basement.

Amanda Berry was abducted the following year, and they were joined by Gina DeJesus in 2004.

ariel castro victimsCastro first starved his victims for days to break their will to resist. Then he beat them and raped them. Michelle got pregnant from Castro at least four times, and the beast beat her with his fists and even dumbbells, sometimes slamming her against the wall to induce miscarriage.

Amanda somehow gave birth to a child in 2006.

Neighbors say they reported to police suspicious activity at the home on Cleveland’s rough west side, but police found nothing unusual, even though parts of the home were locked and inaccessible.

In 2013, Amanda managed to escape, catalyzing the subsequent rescue of her co-captives and arrest of Castro. Michelle was only 80 pounds when she was found and taken to the hospital. She had lost the will to live.

“They told me I only had two days to live, I was dying of a bacterial infection. I just wanted to let go.” Michelle recounted. “The first time that I tried to let go (and die), the first thought that came to my mind was my son. I don’t want my son to see me as a person that took the easy way out. That’s the real reason why I didn’t commit suicide.” Read the rest of the harrowing story with a happy ending of Michelle Knight Christian.

Rockstar JT, one of the sincerest Christian rappers, appeals to the church to use compassion with homosexual members

rockstarjtWhen his sin was exposed in 2017, Jaterrius Johnson felt church leaders over-reacted in their approach to church discipline.

“I’ve been scarred by the church,” the Christian rapper says on a DJ Wade-O video.

His sin was homosexuality. He believes it if it had been fornication with a girlfriend, treatment would have been gentler.

Jaterrius, who is better known by his hip hop handle Rockstar JT, survived the discipline and stands today as a shining example of repentance, forgiveness and restoration. And he is openly asking the church to treat sin as sin, without stigmatization or discrimination.

“A lot of Christians, we struggling,” he says. “A lot of Christians, we depressed. On social media we all pretending it’s all good, when it’s not. My philosophy on that is that it’s ok to not be ok.”\

rockstar jtJaterrius was raised by a single mom in Birmingham, Alabama. In poverty and without a dad, Jatterius fell into fighting and the streets. He broke into homes, used guns and became violent with his own family.

“I was doing so much things that I know did not glorify God,” he says on Jam the Hype. “I punched my sister in the face my eight-grade year.

Mom was worried about the direction her son was headed, so she enlisted the help of Kevin King, who runs a Christian non-profit called Common Ground that reaches out to wayward youth.

Kevin began visiting and ministering to the young Jaterrius, who described himself at the time as “lukewarm.”

Kevin “wouldn’t let me go. He said, ‘JT, you gonna be mine.’” he recalls. “Kevin, that’s my dog. He wouldn’t let me go. He said, ‘I know you aint saved but you still not going nowhere. Just loving on me, not preaching to me every time, but hanging around me, taking me to concerts and taking me to different conferences.”

At 16, Jaterrius converted to Christ at a 2015 Impact Conference. His mentor, Kevin, urged him to use his obvious talent for rap in the kingdom.

“You gonna need something to do. You know you’re a talented rapper. You need to use your gifts for the Lord,” Kevin told him.

Jaterrius saw no compelling reason to change his stage name, so he remains “Rockstar JT.”

He broke through ceilings with “Getcha weight up,” which in addition to being catching was picked up by HBO’s Euphoria.

When he first started rapping he wouldn’t even listen to worldly music because he was nurturing his relationship with Christ. As he felt more solid in his faith, he allowed himself to take a peak at his secular counterparts and decided he needed to update his style to keep abreast of trends.

He also decided to write music for the streets, not for the church sanctuary. His intention was outreach, not inreach.

“I’m finally being who God wanted me to be and that is a trapper,” he says on Rapzilla. “They dope dealing but I’m hope dealing.” Read the rest: Rockstar JT and compassion for same-sex attracted Christians

Leader of L.A. Rescue Mission lost leg in fight against homelessness, willing to sacrifice the other if it would make a difference

union rescue mission changes livesAndy Bales’ leg was amputated in 2016 after he contracted an infection related to homeless people defecating on LA’s Skid Row.

“I’d give my other leg if they would actually do something” to get people off the streets, he declares.

While politicians dicker about who’s to blame for the city’s acute homelessness crisis, Andy, CEO of Union Rescue Mission, believes they have the answer that manifests Christ’s love in a pragmatic way. It’s called a Sprung Structure, a cheap and durable fabric tent that can house 120 people.

andrew bales ceo union rescue mission outside city hall“The answer is IMMEDIATELY getting people off the streets so they are not continuing to be devastated,” he says. “The longer we leave so many people on the streets, the worse it gets for them and for all of us.”

In 2014, Andy participated in a triathlon and scraped open a sore on his foot. He was wearing a “wound boot” when he walked around with staff handing out bottled water and invited people to take advantage of Union Rescue Mission’s services.

“I got an infection from human waste outside on the sidewalk on Skid Row,” he says.

Andy Bales CEO Union Rescue MissionRight now, there are only nine public toilets to service 2,800 people on Skid Row. The numbers don’t add up and actually fall short of toilets available for refugee camps in Syria (the refugees have it better). He calculates 184 toilets would be needed to keep the homeless from defecating and urinating on the sidewalk.

He describes a dangerous situation with grave infections happening to people all the time. Aside from cleaning the street every two weeks, the City hasn’t done much, he says.

Los Angeles’ homeless crisis is worse than New York’s or San Francisco’s. Last year, there were 41,000 on the streets. This year, there are 44,000, Andy says.

Andy, 61, is no Ivory Tower theorist. He’s a man of the trenches.

To remind himself and draw attention to the plight of the homeless, Andy spends New Year’s Eve on the streets every year. He denies himself his bed, his warm room, his shower, his bathroom, and his dinner. He spends the entire night outside, with whoever volunteers to help him, on the streets.

The first time he did it many years ago, he did it alone. Throughout the night, he broke up fights and fought off rapists — five physical altercations in total, he says. Never again would he brave the streets alone. Sometimes he’s accompanied by Bible college students, sometimes by staff.

So he experiences firsthand the horrors of homelessness. When the news reports of violence and even murder perpetrated by the homeless, Andy knows what goes wrong.

“I don’t know how anyone continues to sleep on the streets night after night without beginning to think in a wrong way,” he says. “I’m still recovering two days later. You can see I have a shake in my hands. And that was just one night. I can’t survive one night on the streets. How can I survive two. Or how could I survive weeks or months or decades on the streets?” Read the rest: Homelessness Los Angeles.

Joey Vantes, suicide rapper

62335bc62cfb6ff575a23f9280507c1b.1000x1000x1“Sending love and prayers for all those facing loss, depression, or heartache this season. DM me if you need someone to talk to and to pray with you.”

That’s what Christian Hip Hop sensation Joey Vantes wrote on Facebook Dec. 14th. He knows that Christmas, for many, heightens their isolation, depression and thoughts of suicide. He has a heart for more than just music or stardom. He has a heart for the hurting.

joey vantes suicideThat’s because Joey Vantes (formerly Joey Jewish) tried to commit suicide himself. He was trying to quit the partying and drugs from his days at the University of Arizona. But he kept lapsing back into drinking, and the cycle of failure detonated depression.

“It was just a mess. I couldn’t break free,” Joey told Rapzilla. “I was so depressed. I was so bound to this thing that I just wanted to die to escape what I was feeling on a daily basis.”

One day when his wife sent him for groceries, he decided to end his life. He would drive off the road down a steep embankment.

“I jerked my wheel to the left to pull off at this ramp and right when I [did] it, my wheel locks, my car shuts off and I slowly just kind of fade over to the left side of the road,” Joey said. “Immediately, the Spirit of God just hits me right where I am in my car.I feel this intense love come over me and say, ‘I love you and I forgive you. Just call out to me.’” Read the rest: Suicide rapper Joey Vantes

But how do I deal with the pain? A book explores options

Dawn Forman human sufferingOne woman’s husband died at war while she was pregnant. Another lost 198 Jewish family members during the Holocaust. A man witnessed the sexual abuse of his sister and withdrew into himself, drinking excessively to deaden the memory.

How do you move beyond life’s pain and suffering? Between the Lines, Beyond the Pain examines that question and weighs why some people never recover from the injustices of our fallen world.

The author, Dawn Forman, personally experienced her own torment when she was raped by her step-dad.

Dawn Forman's sistersRemarkably, she makes the case for compassion — and empathy — for everyone. She urges her readers to stop judging others or writing them off. She exhorts them to greater understanding, valuing everyone.

“The stars cannot be seen until they are set against ebony background of the night sky,” Forman writes. “So it is with people… (they) shine as stars (when we learn) what they have endured or overcome in their lives.”

Forman is a poet and includes some of her poems in the small volume. In the process of overcoming pain, poetry can be part of the healing journey, as evidenced by David in the Psalms.

Forman was born in the San Fernando Valley to an angry, distant father, who never processed his childhood trauma and lashed out at those around him, including his three girls.

Dawn and Charlie Forman“Though I have found much healing,” she says, “I still bear scars.”

Absent a loving father, Forman became promiscuous. Sex, drugs and the under-21 dance club “The Sugar Shack” were part of the equation.

“Emotionally crippled by my formative years spent with my father, the choices I began to make as a teenager reflect my aching soul,” she narrates in the autobiographical volume. “Unworthy, unloved and unequal to those around me, I was always searching for a place where I felt I belonged. This left me extremely vulnerable. Male attention became like a drug itself. I was gouging multiple, deeper scars into my already wounded heart and soul.”

Her parents divorced when she was 16. She started spending more time with friends as lost as herself. Quaaludes, cocaine, barbiturates and angel dust became her thing, all to the beat of David Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel.”

She went from hanging out with drug addicts to hanging out with drug dealers. Once she got accused of being a narc at a satanic party in San Francisco. Several times she had brushes with death.

After a three-day drug binge, she overdosed. Only then did she think of the Jesus freaks she ridiculed when she passed them on the sidewalk. They told her Jesus loved her and had a plan for her; she sneered and moved on. But when she overdosed, she remembered.

“My life was a miserable mess,” she recalls. “In my eyes, I was a pathetic waste of flesh, a failure, unlovable wretch, full of anger and pain.”

As she lingered close to death, she cried out. “Jesus, if you are real, I do not want to die.” Read the rest: No easy answers for emotional pain Between the Lines, Beyond the Pain

Refreshingly humble foot soldier of the Lord rapper YB

spotify+coverBrandon “YB” Farris is a soldier.

While other Christian rappers seek to be titans of hip hop, YB approaches music from a different perspective. He doesn’t aspire to be the superstar or super-celeb in the spotlight. He’s happy being the unpretentious, humble, and effective foot soldier for God’s kingdom.

The braggadocio common in Christian rap MAY be excused as a sine qua non of the hip hop genre. Or it may be simply the sin of pride.

Whether we condemn CHH or overlook its faults is moot for the moment. What we can say is that YB is a breath of fresh air.

YB Christian rapper“I believe God still has soldiers in this generation and in the generations to come,” YB says on Alysia Paige’s blog. “As long as I’m breathing I’m in full pursuit to gather soldiers to build God’s army.”

YB grew up one of eight children of a single mother in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. From the age of eight, music was his escape from the harsh realities of poverty. Growing up without a father caused him as a 13-year-old to have many unanswered questions, according to Top40 Charts.

“It was being surrounded by a tough environment, and you were being forced to make something from the environment you were coming up in,” YB told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “A lot of my story was in the valley.”

He idolized Ludacris and Eminem and got serious about music in high school. He honed his craft breaking curfew, staying up late writing and playing the music too loud. Ever sympathetic, his mother pardoned his peccadillos.

From a young age, YB knew the presence of God, but he kept God at a distance, leery of the level of commitment required. He did music for himself, not ready to enlist in God’s army. But he found self-glorification and self-promotion hollow at the end of the day.

“When I did music for me, I truly had nothing to offer people,” he observes. “In reality, people walk through life looking and hoping for ‘something’ but sometimes it’s hard to articulate your needs in darkness.”

All that changed when he went to Southern Arkansas University Tech in East Camden. He ran across so many on-fire, sold-out Christians it turned his worldview upside down. Instead of seeing the commitment as daunting, he was drawn to God.

At a college “Passion Conference,” he came to terms with God and decided to serve Jesus unreservedly, like a soldier.

He dropped his freshman album in 2014, aptly named “Salvation.” Four years later… Read the rest: Humble Christian rapper YB a soldier of Jesus.

Lamar Jackson shows biblical principal ‘last shall be first’

ravens quarterback lamar jacksonThe Ravens quarterback is not out to win. He’s out to destroy his opponents, to bury them under so many points, both passed and rushed. His mindset is insanely competitive.

He’s been compared to Mike Vick, but he passes more, and he’s been hailed as a prototype revolutionizing football for future generations of QBs, who ought to be both athletic like a running back and precise passers. The 22-year-old, who outgunned both Tom Brady and Russell Wilson in double digits this season, is charging madly into the NFL’s MVP.

On top of all that, Lamar Jackson is a Christian, who credited his faith when he won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016 at the University of Louisville.

passing and running lamar jackson“First and foremost, before I go further along in my speech, I want to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Lamar said. “Without Him, none of us would be here right now.”

Lamar Jackson lost his dad in an automobile accident when he was eight. From then on, his single mother raised Lamar and his siblings in poverty in Pompano Beach, Florida. He credits Mom with doing her best to fill the role of Mom and Dad.

And the role of football coach.

lamar jackson heisman speechFelicia Jones was a passionate athlete herself and pushed her son into football. Even at eight, he outran and outpassed all the other kids in Pop Warner football. Felicia watched intently from the sidelines and then took little Lamar home to give him more drills, either ones she saw or ones she made up. She even tackled him roughly so that he would intensify his game to beat bigger people.

“People don’t believe me,” Jackson said on ESPN. “She was an athlete. She used to play basketball. She saw what we were able to do, and she’d go back there and play football with us. She was just making us tougher because she’s older, so she’s bringing power that we’re not used to feeling. We didn’t take it like anything different.”

In addition to intense workouts, she drilled Lamar with a code of moral principles called The Super 8: God, prayer, faith, family, education, sacrifice, character and discipline.

By the time Lamar got to college he was a football machine, chewing up opponents and spitting them out. In his opening game during his sophomore year, he established the school record scoring eight touchdowns, all in the first half. He went on to become the youngest ever recipient of the Heisman trophy at age 19.

But when it came time for the NFL draft in 2018, 28 teams overlooked him in their picks. He was the last pick of the first round.

But the snub only inspired him. Lamar and his mom, who acted as his agent, remembered and repeated Matt. 20:16: “The last will be first, and the first last,” according to CBS Sports. He wasn’t a first in NFL draft; he came in last. Now on the football field, he determined to finish first. Read the rest Lamar Jackson Christian

First dyslexia, then cancer, Mark Hall has gone through some trials

Mark-and-Melanie-Hall-Feature-2His doctor said, “You’ve got cancer,” but John Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns, heard, “You’re going to die.”

It was 2015 and the Grammy-winning Christian worship band was approaching 10 million sales of its albums. Mark was youth pastor in Georgia, happily married and fulfilling his call in God. He consulted a doctor friend about what he imagined to be acid reflux.

After getting the results of some scans, the doctor texted Mark: Dude, you need to call me.

308650In a subsequent phone call he told Mark there was a mass on his kidney. “It looks solid. I think it’s cancer,” he said.

Mark was thunderstruck.

“I hung up and walked to my car in a daze, wondering how I was going to break the news to my wife, Melanie; our four kids; our church; the youth group; the band,” Mark recalls in Guideposts. “The idea of telling them all made my head spin.”

God felt far away.

Two weeks before his surgery, Mark was singing with Casting Crowns at the Carson Center in Paducah, Kentucky, wondering what would happen. The band’s next song was “Just Be Held.” Unlike most of their songs, there was no story behind the song – until that night.

At that moment he had the stunning realization that God had inspired him to pen lyrics that would speak to him later in life, in the midst of his cancer.

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

Casting-Crowns-press-photo-2016-billboard-1548“It was as though I was hearing those words for the very first time. Suddenly I knew who this song had been written for, and why. God in his infinite wisdom had given it to me two years earlier, knowing how desperate I would be after my diagnosis,” Mark explained. “I didn’t need to hold it together. I needed to be held, to accept his love from as many people as wanted to share it with me, to receive their prayers, all the prayers I could get.”

Doctors removed his cancerous kidney and later told him it was an aggressive form of the deadly disease, but mercifully, it was self-contained and had not spread.

The weeks following the surgery were sometimes difficult. The band cancelled a week of shows before Mark could rejoin them.

God has helped the band continue to reach hundreds of thousands with their inspirational music. Casting Crowns has won Dove, Billboard and American Music awards. The group is one of the only American bands to ever perform in North Korea., playing at the 2009 Spring Friendship Arts Festival in Pyongyang. Their single “Slow Fade” was included in Kirk Cameron’s blockbuster movie FireproofRead the rest: Dyslexia, cancer, Mark Hall.

Lamar Odom gets saved

lamar odom basketball starHe lived fast and punished his body with riotous living. Four years ago, NBA Legend Lamar Odom nearly lost his life to a drug overdose in Las Vegas. Last month, he finally surrendered his heart and life to Jesus Christ in Atlanta.

“I had to show Jesus my appreciation for keeping me alive!” he told People magazine. “Nowadays I’m doing the best I can in walking with the Lord. Thanks to Pastor Vernon @drravernon, I got saved at @thewordchurch this weekend.”

lamar odom and khoe kardashianLamar was named Parade’s national player of the year out of high school in 1997. After playing one season at the University of Rhode Island, he signed for the LA Clippers and was named the NBA rookie of the year. He formed part of the LA Lakers’ league winning teams in 2009 and 2010.

But the South Jamaica Queens native followed his father, a heroin user, into addiction. While on the Clippers he was busted twice by the NBA’s anti drug rules and later he faked urine tests with the help of friends and fake body parts, he admitted.

Lamar, who no longer plays basketball, met and married Khloe Kardashian in 2009 but says he cheated on her innumerable times, and eventually the reality show star divorced him in October 2015.

“I had broken my vows with Khloé so many times it’s just impossible for me to remember them all,” he told US Weekly. “I don’t know why Khloé stayed with me.”

Lamar was a consummate team player on the court, but off the court, his life was a mess. After catching a DUI in 2013, Lamar overdosed two years later after crossing cocaine, cognac and cannabis at a Las Vegas brothel called the Love Ranch.

This was his lifestyle, when days blended into nights surrounded by beautiful women and “a mound of drugs.”

On October 13, 2015, his world came crashing down when his body finally rebelled against the excesses. “I lay on the floor in my room at the Ranch, dying,” he said later. “My body was convulsing. The women who kept me company screamed and called 911.”

Lamar was rushed to the Sunrise Hospital where he lingered between life and death.

“My heart stopped twice. I had twelve seizures and six strokes,” he said. “My lungs collapsed and my kidneys ruptured. I was on life support. Everyone I’d ever loved was looking at me through bleary eyes.”

He woke up the next day confused and disoriented. He tried to pull out the tubes from his body. He tried to speak and panicked because he couldn’t.

“That was the scariest part. And not being able to walk,” he says. “I’m a big athlete you know?” Read the rest: Lamar Odom Christian

Kanye’s remarkable journey with Jesus shakes the cultural landscape

kanye-jesus-is-king-1Kanye West’s porn addiction started when he was 5.

“Playboy was my gateway to full-on pornography addiction. My dad left out a Playboy,” he says. “And it’s affected almost every choice I made for the rest of my life.”

That simple fact accounts for why Kanye West — one of the most influential hip hop artists in America — has mired his music with muck and why he married hyper hot reality star Kim Kardashian, who became famous through the release of a sex tape (supposedly “purloined” though some saw it as self-release publicity stunt).

Today, Kanye West acknowledges the damage he has done to American culture and is allowing Jesus to undo the damage, beginning with himself. With the release of his ninth album called Jesus is King — with strictly Christian themes — the former devil’s child has declared himself unalterably God’s child.

kanye-west_sunday-servicePornography “presents itself out in the open (on billboards and such) as if it were ok, and I stand up and say, ‘It’s not ok,’” he says.

In April of this year — after performing at Coachella, — Kanye, who has dallied with God, finally decided to go full bore and become born-again, he said in an Apple Music video interview.

“Now that I’m in service to Christ, my job is to spread the gospel, to let people know what Jesus has done for me,” he said. “I’ve spread a lot of (messages). There was a time when I was letting you know what high fashion had done for me. I was letting you know what the Hennessy (cognac) had done for me. But now I’m letting you know what Jesus has done for me.

Sunday Service“I’m no longer a slave,” he said. “I’m a son. I’m a son of God now. I’m free through Christ. I’m no longer an entertainer. I’m no longer in this for entertainment.”

Kanye was raised in Chicago by a divorced father who was a Black Panther, a photojournalist and later a Christian counselor.

HIs mother had participated in sit-ins in the fight for Civil Rights. When he was 10, he accompanied his mother to Nanjing University in China. A college professor, she was teaching in an exchange program, and little Kanye enrolled in school, readily picking up Chinese (which he has now forgotten).

Kanye was drawn to music from the third grade. One of his earliest raps was a revision of Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.” After graduating from high school, he received a scholarship for Chicago’s American Academy of Art in 1997 and began taking painting classes, then transferred to Chicago State University.

kanye-west-1572027409But the class load interfered with his music production, so he dropped out of college at age 20, to the chagrin of his mother.

He joined Roc-A-Fella Records and made a name for himself producing for Jay-Z, Ludacris and Alicia Keys and Janet Jackson. He was widely credited in revitalizing Jay-Z’s career.

When he launched his solo career, he tirelessly revised and improved his first album, College Dropout. The perfectionism in craftsmanship paid off; the album went triple platinum, won almost universal critical acclaim and earned 10 Grammy nominations.

He founded GOOD Music label in 2004 and subsequently conquered the industry with pioneering hip hop from eight studio albums that netted 21 Grammys.

20189492-7614449-At_long_last_After_a_string_of_delays_Kanye_West_s_new_Christian-m-63_1572023093625He struck some as a self-aggrandizing narcissist who spouted off wild and controversial rants.

After that, he launched a sports shoe with Nike and also a fashion line.

In 2014, Kanye married Kim Kardashian, the daughter of OJ Simpson defense lawyer Robert Kardashian. Famous for being famous, Kim made money through her reality show “Keeping up with the Kardashians” with her sisters Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie since 2007.

Kim eased into celebrity life with the help of her friend, Paris Hilton. Her career catapulted with the infamous “release” of a sex tape with her then boyfriend, Ray J, in 2002, which many saw as a quick and dirty way to acquire notoriety.

Kim was famous for her sultry style and seemed to accentuate her figure with fillings and plastic surgery (she denies having surgery). She was the perfect match for the porn-crazed rapper. He later shared that he liked to see his wife dress immodestly to compete at bod-flaunting in front of the paparazzi. He later admitted that he influenced his daughter North with the same shameless fashion sense.

The couple has four children, and they’ve stayed together for five years — no small feat in Hollywood!

Then on Nov. 20, 2016, Kanye had a breakdown. Troubled by his mom’s death and reportedly using opioids after a surgery, Kanye publicly denounced his buddy Jay-Z, because he did not attend his wedding: “Jay-Z—call me, bruh. You still ain’t called me. Jay-Z, I know you got killers. Please don’t send them at my head. Please call me. Talk to me like a man.” Read the rest: Is Kanye West really Christian?

Sk8erpat now is famous in football too

sk8erpatHe could have mangled his fingers, broken his toes, fractured his ribs… any number of ER trauma from high school football.

Pat Cannon — known on Instagram is Sk8erpat with 19K followers worldwide — wants to go pro skateboarding, so what was he doing playing football for the Lighthouse Christian Academy?

On Saturday, the senior scored a touchdown, handed off and passed for touchdowns as quarterback to help the Saints win 34-30 against Cal Lutheran Wildomar in LCA’s season closer.

He gambled with jeopardizing his true passion for somebody else’s.

“I just wanted to help my teammates out. I wanted to help my school,” Pat said. “It was worth it. It was one of the best decisions of my life.”

Lighthouse christian academy football santa monica private schoolThe Saints’ high hopes for its 2019 season were dashed in the first game of the season.

That’s because Levi Photenhauer, a slick runner with unflagging tenacity, went down with a torn ACL. It was as if LCA had lost its queen early in a game of chess.

The Saints still had Seniors Marcus Scribner and Hosea Ashcraft to marshal the defense and ramrod the offense. But their core horsepower was cut by one-third. LCA only won two games all season.

Out of the crater of the first game, coaches asked soldiers to rise up and (attempt to) fill the gap.

Josie Bowen was a notable revelation. The sophomore was a beast on kickoff returns and tackling. He scored a TD Saturday that was called back because of an illegal block.

Sophomore Steven Lahood, who grew like Gulliver over the summer, rose to the challenge and became an offensive threat and a stolid defensive player. He blocked a key pass in the final moments of the game to assure LCA’s victory.

Rob Scribner, an unobtrusive freshman, exploited his unmenacing frame, to surprise with touchdown catches. David Hutchinson, a newbie to football, became a solid lineman and tackler. Brandon Farah learned how to do in real life what previously he had done only on video games, and Luke Mammana performed pinpoint kicks under pressure.

“We didn’t have all the pieces on defense, so we had to decide where we were going to bend,” said Assistant Coach Josh Scribner, father to Marcus and Rob. “Marcus is our backer or end, but we decided to put him deep so there was never a breakout. Our game plan was give them a 5-yard play, give them a 7-yard play, give them a 3-yard play. But we never give up the 60-yard breakout blow.

“For their touchdowns, they had to drive it all the way down, and time went off the clock, and we scored fast. Bam, bam, bam,” Josh said. “We’d get up, and maybe they’d make a mistake, and we’d get the ball back, and that’s when the game was played. I think the key to the game was we had a lot of people that we’re involved. Everybody made great plays.”

In the first five minutes, Lighthouse scored two touchdowns. Rob intercepted a pass, and immediately Marcus caught the pass on LCA’s first play to burn defenders and run for a touchdown. Then LCA came in for hard hits on kickoff, provoking a fumble, which Brandon recovered. On the first play, a pass to Hosea brought another TD. Read the rest of sk8erpat on football.

 

Who was #9? LCA football

Lighthouse lossSaints fans spent the whole game Saturday against Meadows School waiting for Lighthouse’s now-typical late game rally.

They thought they saw it when a totally unrecognizable player intercepted a long pass late the second quarter. Who is number 9? fans asked.

The 5’3″, 130-pounder was easily the shortest and smallest player on the field. Saturday’s was his first game because, new to the school, Johnny Flores was ruled out of the first month of games.

Unfortunately, Johnny’s brilliant pick didn’t spark an LCA comeback.

Nor did Marcus Scribner‘s block of a field goal attempt.

Nor did a TD run by the senior Marcus in the third quarter.

Nothing could reboot LCA.

The prince’s kiss didn’t wake the sleeping princess. The glass slipper never find Cinderella’s foot. The frog croaked unheard and unfound in the stream. There was no fairy tale ending.

Lighthouse limped to 7-68 loss to Meadows School, which traveled from Las Vegas because there reportedly aren’t many 8-man private school teams in Sin City so they have to pick up games wherever they can and usually travel far.

Lighthouse Christian Academy looked like the car that keeps stalling out on the road.

Missing was their bulldogish determination to bring the game to bigger players and humble bigger schools. The Saints didn’t run with typical speed or break their opponents with scary hits. They fumbled and ran into each other. There weren’t too many bright spots.

“We made a lot of mistakes. We lacked a lot of heart and effort,” surmised Head Coach Zach Scribner grimly. “We got a lot of work to do. If we don’t want to feel like this, we’ve got to make practice a priority. At practice we’ve got to give 110% so that when we’re in the game, we know what it’s like.”

Read the rest about breakout star in Santa Monica football

Growing confidence leads to win at Santa Monica Christian school in volleyball

santa monica private school girls volleyballOverconfidence preceded lack of confidence.

We would start most games cocky. Then when we started to make mistakes or face tougher-than-expected competition, the false confidence gave way to self-defeatism.

We would jinx ourselves.

But on Tuesday, Lighthouse Christian Academy decided to start the game different: with humility and determination.

As is the case with most sports, the psychological game wins the game.

We won against Hillcrest Christian School of Thousand Oaks in three sets, confirming dominance started in a pre-season face-off.

In the first game, a big hit against our confidence was a ref’s call. We saw the ball as clearly landing in, but the line ref said it was out. Even an opponent volunteered to the ref that the call was wrong, that it was in.

But the head ref ruled it out.

It blasted our momentum. Read the rest of Psychological game wins the game – Santa Monica Christian school.

Not succumbing is overcoming

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica volleyballHeidi Hutchinson wasn’t too upset by Lighthouse’s loss Wednesday.

That’s because she’s winning, though losing.

Heidi comes from a rough background. So now, not only does she attend a school she says loves her, she’s part of a team actually playing league sport.

“I’m learning about being on a team instead of just working by myself,” says Heidi. “They never gave up on me when I couldn’t hit the ball straight. When I first started, I didn’t know how to do anything, but now we’re playing actual games. I have some real friends.”

Lighthouse Christian Academy lost in three sets to Delphi Academy of Santa Monica 21-25, 14-25 and 17-25. LCA’s record is 3-4.

But Heidi knows that winning has many measures. If you’re a school that regularly churns out batches of Ivy League-bound college kids and draws from club team sports, then congratulations, you’re a winner.

But for others in life who don’t get the supportive, nurturing start of a dual parent home with no financial lack, just making the decision to not succumb is to overcome.

Eventually, Child Protective Services intervened for Heidi and her twin brother David. After years of neglect and abuse, they are now adopted by their grandparents, who enrolled them at LCA.

The last time Heidi saw her mom was 2017. And her dad? When she was 4.

This is not a sob story. This is a story of how people can be winners. All of society is a winner for every kid who chooses to rise above hardship, process and hopefully heal from the trauma and not spiral out of control with some pernicious coping mechanism.

“It wasn’t until the middle of 9th grade when I came to the Lighthouse, and me and my brother finally felt cared about by teachers and friends,” Heidi says.

Good things happened because Sarah Montez and I wanted to play volleyball badly.Read the rest: Not succumbing is overcoming – Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

S.O. turned tragedy into tunes

seun otukpe fathers deathSeun Otukpe, known as Christian emo rapper S.O., has had a life punctuated by tragedy.

At 15 he was shocked by the sudden death of a friend. He realized he had better stop playing church and get serious about God. S.O. began to question his assumption that he would have years to enjoy sin before getting serious about God.

Then his father died unexpectedly when he was 17. S.O. numbly asked why and felt the pressure to carry his family forward on his shoulders.

He had good friends leave the Christian faith, first an unnamed buddy who was the subject of “memoirs” and then his mentor in Christian hip hop, Jahaziel, who opted for “panafricanism” because he saw Christianity as the white man’s religion.

15658174451033With each album, S.O., now 30, pours out his hurt in melancholic musings that mix vulnerability, despair and Christian hope in astonishing sincerity.

S.O. was born in Nigeria, but the family moved to England when he was nine-years-old to pursue better educational opportunities. As a result of growing up in London, his heavy accent remains even though he now lives in Dallas with his wife of three years.

It was in London that he connected with his lifelong producer, G.P., who gained notoriety producing Tedashii’s Identity Crisis and Lecrae’s Rehab.

Some considered S.O. as nothing more than two-bit church rapper who got his start at Grandma’s birthday when he was 6. But on a chance ride he was given by G.P. associate Prince Adu Poku, S.O. put his best foot forward: “I can rap.” The following bars he spit in the car opened the door for him to meet the master, who was initially skeptical.

“Don’t bring this guy unless he can spit bars,” G.P. recounted to Rapzilla. “I ain’t got time to waste.”

When S.O. arrived, G.P. knew immediately he was pro material. The subsequent Five Solas Mixtape garnered attention and S.O. was signed by Lamp Mode Recordings. In 2011 he released So It Begins, which cracked Billboard charts. Read the rest of S.O. Christian rapper.

Brother forgives cop who accidentally killed accountant

brandt-jean-hug-amber-guyger-10-yearsA Christian man said he forgave and loved the killer of his brother in court Oct. 2. He then asked the cop to turn to Jesus and gave her a long hug at her sentencing in a case that is sending goose bumps up and down the spine of the nation.

The extraordinary demonstration of love over hate was a powerful testimony of what Christ can do in our nation if we’ll turn to God.

“I wasn’t going to ever say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail,” said Brandt Jean in court. “If you truly are sorry, I know I can speak for myself: I forgive you. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want for you. I love you as a persona and I don’t wish anything bad on you.”

Brandt then asked state district Judge Tammy Kemp for permission to hug former Dallas cop Amber R. Guyger, 31, right then and there. The hug, which renewed lengthily after almost pulling apart twice, finally ended, and Brandt’s father gave him the a thumbs up. His mother was left in tears.

Guyger burst into Botham Jean’s apartment Sept 6, 2018 in the South Side Flats and shot and killed him while he was eating ice cream. Guyger said she thought she was in her own apartment, and believed she was confronting an intruder. She said a similar red door mat at the door contributed to her confusion. She got off on the fourth floor instead of the fifth.

Because Guyger was white and Brandt was black, the case was seen nationally as another in the long line of racial injustice, but Brandt upended the polarizing narrative by injecting an unusual dose of Christian forgiveness in a scene of outrage and grief.

Judge Kemp also gave Guyger a Bible and praised Brandt for his gesture saying to the mom: “Thank you for the way you modeled Christ.”

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of at least 28 years, a symbolic sentence reflecting Botham’s would-be 28th birthday. Guyger was off duty and in uniform when she arrived at what she apparently thought was her apartment. She failed to follow police procedure, which mandates she first call for a backup in a similar situation. Guyger was fired first and then put on trial.

The tragedy provoked turmoil in the black community. Read the rest Christian forgiveness trumps racial hatred.

Now she’s motivated

lighthouse christian academy santa monica girls volleyball 2019As part of last year’s soccer team, Cece Hang’andu refused to run on the pitch.

There was one moment in which Coach yelled from the sideline: “Cece, run!”

She turned and looked at the sideline with something of a glare. Some people say they can read palms. But that day, Coach could read her face: “I’m not running. I’m going to continue to walk.”

Today, Cecelia, a junior at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, is part of the Saints girls volleyball team. Now that she is contributing in this sport, she comments about her lackluster participation in last year’s soccer.

“Running? Heck no. Too much cardio,” she complained to this reporter. “It was too much effort. Too much, too much, too much. They weren’t depending on me. Anyway, the boys were going to get the ball and were going to win. They didn’t need me.”

Cece is not completely wrong in her assessment. Lighthouse soccer last year did not depend on her. She was given the opportunity to participate, thrown on the pitch from time to time. But there were motors driving last year’s successful soccer team, and she was not one. So she walked.

But now Cece has to be a motor on the volleyball team.

“They needed seven players to have a team, and I wanted to be there to help them out,” she says. “They needed me.”

After winning the first set Wednesday, the Saints ultimately fell to Westmark School of Encino 27-25, 16-25, 23-25, 24-26. LCA now has one win and three losses.

It almost didn’t have a team — at the beginning of the year.

Lighthouse is a small school. With limited resources, they’re always trying to squeeze just one more drop out of the grape. First they needed enough players. Cece stepped up. Then they needed a coach.

Lighthouse is not alone among small private schools. As a matter of fact, another team dropped out of the league because of lack of players. This provided LCA a chance to participate in league play (it originally wasn’t going to figure in the league because it didn’t foresee enough players).

Because she stepped up, Cece is discovering a motivation she previously lacked. Read the rest of finding motivation.

It’s Africa Time

Wakanda powerNine years ago, Josie Bowen was the awkward, shy adopted missionaries’ kid from West Africa who didn’t fit in the small private school in Santa Monica.

Today, the sophomore is ready to take over America.

Milken Community School was probably glad they racked up 47 points in the first half against Lighthouse Christian Academy to assure their final victory.

Because a sleeping giant was waking.

In the second half, Josie beasted out. On kickoff return, he ran the full 80-yard field, smashing through Wildcats, to score a touchdown. There were no cuts, no jukes, just Cruise missile launched straight up the field.

This was no fluke. The volcano had been rumbling for three games. On Lighthouse’s fourth game Thursday night, Josie Bowen was in full eruption.

Gentle Jekyll transformed into hideous Hyde, and CIF’s southern section 8-man football won’t ever be the same again.

Josie made seven tackles, three kickoff returns and one run. He appeared to harness the kinetic energy from hits received to increase his speed and power. Or maybe the Vibranium kicked in.

Fledgling Lighthouse suffered a serious casualty in its first game when point man, Levi Photenhauer tore his ACL. Fellow senior Marcus Scribner would be hard-pressed to drive the team forward single-handedly and a dour season was forecast.

But other players stepped up. Sophomore Steven Lahood and senior Hosea Ashcraft delivered on offense, and skater Pat Cannon showed a previously unseen maturity as QB. But the biggest revelation was the kid weened on soccer in Africa.

“I was kind of lost last year. I was crying, like, ‘I don’t wanna be on this team,'” Josie says. “My team did amazing blocks, and I just ran through the hole. I feel amazing. I just feel like I ran 100 laps and I feel nothing. I just ran through the herd.” Read the rest of African missionary turns beast in American football high school.

Gamer turns the tide to the (real) game

brandon farah, hero of lighthouse christian academyBrandon Farah hadn’t figured prominently in any play this year. Or last year.

But on Friday, the senior — who’s 99 parts gamer and 1 part football player — came up big in the third quarter with an interception that hammered the nail into the coffin of Beacon Hill Classical Academy. His heroics, in the red zone, preceded a 70-yard touchdown run by Marcus Scribner that left no doubt that tide had turned. Lighthouse Christian Academy won 56-28.

“I didn’t know the ball hit me until I got it, until I looked down,” Brandon said, projecting modesty in his moment of glory.

Brandon Farah, the softie, played hard. The cocoon burst, and the kid who always said he loved football was finally playing real football. Not just on a monitor.

“It was a great game. It was a great four quarters,” said Justin Kayne, offensive coordinator filling in for head coach Zach Scribner who was out sick. “We came out and it was a battle. We scored, they scored, we scored, they scored. We made a few adjustments. Our guys answered the call, and look what happened when we played four quarters of sound, hard-hitting football.

“This was a statement game,” Kayne added. “We made a statement. This is what Lighthouse football is all about. This is one win. We are going to build on this win. We’re going to continue to build on this.”

The Saints now have one win and two losses in CIF Southern Section 8-man football.

No one could have predicted a landslide victory by half time. Both teams seemed pretty even, score for score, man for man, plays for plays. One ref called the high-scoring 1st quarter a “track event” because there was so much running for touchdowns. LCA was ahead by a slim 22-20.

When the Saints fumbled in the 2nd quarter, it gave the Gryphons a chance to pull ahead.

However, the team from Camarillo failed to capitalize on that gift. In response, the Santa Monica boys scored. It was 30-20 at half time.

In the second half, both teams wanted to come out strong. LCA got the upper hand.

Marcus Scribner was running rampant with the ball. He was burning opponents with speed, breaking ankles with cuts and punishing with stinging hits when Gryphons were making tackles. He smashed them, strong-armed them and ground down their will to put up a fight. Every WWF body slam was an injection of intimidation for opponents.

While Marcus was playing the unstoppable superhero, his LCA teammates were stepping up and making contributions.

Senior Hosea Ashcraft, alternating with Marcus, ran the ball to keep the Gryphon defense guessing. Originally a soccer player who never really understood the intricacies of football, Hosea was dashing with speed, power and cuts that he had never made before.

Quarterback Pat Canon was making unaccustomed tackles on defense, and secret weapon Steven Lahood was catching passes when the opponents concentrated too much on countering the “thunder and lightning” attack of Marcus and Hosea.

Even the kid brother, freshman Rob Scribner made a 2-point conversion reception. Overwhelmed with excitement that as a slender and small freshman he had succeeded in varsity football, Rob spiked the football, a violation that penalized the Saints kickoff 10 yards.

The offensive and defensive lines are to be credited. The Gryphons couldn’t make a single sack.

But the runaway surprise was Brandon. Read the rest of Making men out of boys through football at Christian school in Santa Monica.