When a Kentucky-born Amish leader dared to listen to a gospel preacher on the radio (in violation of Amish rules), he was astounded by the simple message of grace and forgiveness by faith that conflicted with his ideas that “God love you, but he loved you so much he would punish you.”
“I never knew that you could know that you are going to Heaven,” Vern Yoder says on a 700 Club video. “I couldn’t wrap my head around a warm, hug-type love.”
Vern was born to a well-respected deacon of the Amish, an American East Coast religious group that have strict rules for dress and behavior, which includes not using automobiles. The Amish are considered Christian, but their application of scriptures can be seen as legalistic.
Vern struggled through his teen years to maintain the standards of his church.
His constant thought: What can I do to be a better person? What can I do to have a better shot to make it into Heaven? “It would drive me down into this pit of despair.”
The overemphasis on rules and laws weighed on his soul.
“I was so miserable,” Vern says. “I didn’t know (if I would make it to Heaven), so I would work and work and work at trying to be the best Amish.”
He married and had children, but carried the pharisaical spirit into his roles as husband and father. He went overboard as a disciplinarian and his marriage was strained, he says.
Reflecting on the frustration of his brand of Christianity, Vern pleaded with God: “God, I can’t do this any longer. You’re going to have to help me with this.”
One day he got a job as a tractor driver. That day he listened to a radio preacher expound the doctrines of the simple gospel. It challenged everything he knew about God.
“He was going through a series about faith, about grace, about mercy,” Vern says. “He was telling me things I had never… Read the rest: Amish
Guvna B, the mild-mannered British Christian rapper, got smacked to the ground and his face bloodied by some white street thugs for no reason other than the fact that he was black, he contends. He reported the incident to police, but they could find no witnesses and no video footage.
In some cities, it could be enough to ignite civil unrest, but Guvna B sang a song “Bridgeland Road” in conjunction with Wakanda star Michaela Coel.
“What I experienced was tough to deal with and my mind was loaded with nuanced thoughts around race, identity and the structures which contribute to shaping society,” said Guvna B, whose real name is Isaac Borquaye, the son of Ghanian parents.
“Michaela reminded me that art isn’t just for others to consume, but it’s also a processing tool for ourselves. She encouraged me to write about what happened and the result is not only this song, but an album that provided me with the closure I desperately needed.”
The Guvna got saved in a poor neighborhood of London. His parents instilled Christianity in their home, but the neighborhood pulled him toward the unsavory world of gang violence, fights and stabbings. Like many kids who don’t fully comprehend the faith of their parents, Isaac tried to walk both worlds.
When reports of his trouble making in school and running with the wrong crowd out of school got to the church’s youth leader, the pastor knew what to say: “If you want to be a good gangster, you have to go all-in. But if you want to be a good Christian, you have to go all-in. If you decide to be a gangster, you might get stabbed.”
The Guvna, who admits to glaring self-doubt, discovered he was afraid and didn’t want to go all-in with the streets. So instead, he went all-in-for God.
“I made up my mind. I’m too scared to be a gangster,” he admits on Premier on Demand. “I’m just gonna be a Christian.”
Not long after, he was playing soccer (the Brits call it football) on the schoolyard in the rain when a friend got hit by lightning. School administrators could not resuscitate him, and he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, where he was put on life support.
“He couldn’t breathe by himself,” the Guvna remembers. “I had recently become a Christian and was full of faith and optimism. I said a prayer that God would help him pull through. My friends were really struggling because they didn’t have faith back then. It was a big shock when he pulled through. The doctors couldn’t explain.”
Since then, the Guvna has cemented his faith and launched some of Britain’s best Christian rap. “Cast Your Cares” is a swelling anthem that can help anyone going through… Read the rest: Guvna B attacked by racists
His dad was The Lawrence Welk Show classical jazz pianist, his mom a concert pianist, but David Smale (rhymes with snail) wanted to play heavy metal.
“Wouldn’t you just love for your daughter to date the singer of ‘Cranial Abortion’?” Dave jokes on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. They played backyard parties, prompting cops to come and shut it down, until they debuted at a club along with Incubus.
With rock ‘n’ roll, came drugs and sex. He smoked cigarettes at 13, smoked weed at 14 and dropped acid by 15.
In the Los Angeles Unified School system, Dave attended middle and high school with Latinos and African Americans who were bused into the San Fernando Valley as part of integration policies.
“We got bullied a lot. We were just these little heavy metal-loving white kids,” he says. “One time this guy said he was going to do a drive-by shooting on us the next day. Because of that, I noticed in my house it was ok for me to express racist things. My dad and my brother would say the N-word and other racial slurs.”
Later he joined a punk rock band “Uneducated,” until his party girl got pregnant and he took up delivering fast food and telemarketing as a high school dropout to put food on the table for his baby and the girl whom he married at 18.
“I remember times stumbling around drunk and high, and all of a sudden, the baby starts crying,” says he, and thought: “I don’t know if I can change his diaper right now. I might put it on his head.”
“It was just awful,” he says. “I was partying and my baby was right there. It was not good.”
Five weeks after his first baby was born by C-section, his wife got pregnant, and the nurse at urged her to abort: “You’re going to die,” she said.
Leaving the women’s health care center, Dave and his wife felt an eerie sensation. “Did you feel like we just murdered somebody?” she asked. “Yeah, I do,” he responded.
Unable to make ends meet, he eventually decided to join the Navy with hopes of learning a trade. “That was my only way forward,” he says. “I was going nowhere. I was lost in dead-end stuff.”
At 20, Dave looked for a new beginning in the Navy, but the same old addictions and racism didn’t let him get that new start.
“I could wear a uniform, I could stand up taller, I could march in a straight line,” he says. “But I was still fighting addiction.”
Stationed a Point Mugu, California, Dave and his wife got invited to a Baptist church. She was gung-ho, he was blasé.
Dave went anyhow, and the sermon made sense. So, he accepted Jesus into his heart on April 1, 1999 and was born again.
“When I raised my head, everything was different,” he says. “My entire perspective changed in a moment. There was no going back. The cursing went away immediately, the addictions were all gone, the racism was gone. I didn’t hate all the guys in the Navy from different races and ethnicities. I loved these guys who didn’t look like me, but I saw them as God saw me. It blew my mind.”
His wife was pregnant with twins when he got deployed for six months. He kept pursuing Jesus the whole time, but when he came home, he realized his wife had given up on God and church.
“The laundry was piled to the ceiling. Checks had bounced,” he says. “There was no food in the house.”
He coaxed her to return to church with him, but she persisted in the party life.
For months, he tried to win her over, but she left him when he got orders to Virginia Beach.
Stung by the abandonment, Dave decided to backslide. He went straight to the oceanfront and ogled every girl in a bikini.
“At that point, I was so mad, so bitter, so upset, I completely decided to backslide,” he acknowledges. “I was on the warpath to find me a girl and do something that I would have totally regretted.”
Dell made the painful decision to abort because she believed she couldn’t provide the upbringing her child deserved. But she was unprepared for the years of anguish and guilt following that decision.
“I felt like my baby would be better off not coming into this world,” Dell says on a 700 Club video. “I wasn’t any good for anybody.”
Immediately after aborting her daughter in the second trimester, Dell wanted to kill herself. She even took a razor blade and began to slit her wrist.
“I went home, and I just wanted to die,” Dell says. “I couldn’t live with what I had done.”
She kept saying over and over, “I’m sorry, Baby. I’m so sorry.”
That’s when a man from church called with a prophetic message: “The Lord told me you were in trouble. The Lord told me that if you will walk in the straight and narrow and trust in him, he will restore what the locusts have eaten and give you back tenfold what Satan has taken from you.”
Eventually, Dell got her life together and married a loving man named Cary (spelling is uncertain). They’ve been married 42 years and have two sons and two daughters.
But she never escaped the regret, depression and nightmares that stem from Post Abortion Syndrome (PAS).
“I longed to see my daughter,” she says. “I thought, how could there be no tears in heaven? When I got there, and when she saw me, what would she say: ‘Why did you do that, Mommy?’ I couldn’t forgive myself.”
In an effort to find a soothing balm to her inner wound, Dell and her husband went to some revival services preached by Pastor Rodney Howard Brown. She was disappointed, not finding the help she sought to heal her emotional wounds.
As she was leaving, she collapsed in the church foyer. While her body lay prone, apparently lifeless, she had a near death experience. Dell was transported to Heaven in a vision.
She saw Jesus – and a child.
“I saw this little girl with pigtails and a little white dress, and she was skipping and dancing and twirling around the feet of Jesus,” Dell says. “She turned and looked at me. Our eyes met, and I immediately… Read the rest: How do I heal from Post Abortion Syndrome?
Despite being involved with the Brooklyn mafia, drug dealing, and losing his connection with his daughter, Robert Borelli made a 180 degree turn that changed the future course of his life.
“As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York, being a small guy, I had to be a little rough kid. You had to learn how to fight,” Robert told DadTalk.
Robert’s neighborhood was tough and, unbeknownst to him initially, it was run by the Gambino crime family.
“They protected the neighborhood and got all the respect from just about everybody in it, including police officers.” Robert continues. “There was mutual respect between the officers and the mafia guys.”
Robert was well-liked by the mafia affiliates, and he often attended their social clubs to run errands.
“At the age of 17 years old, I started hanging out with one of the mob guys’ sons,” Robert says. “His dad often had a big spread every Friday night where all the wise guys from the neighborhood would come meet him and give him respect.”
Robert was impressed by the influence of the men there and was drawn towards the criminal lifestyle.
“My family had a hard time making ends meet. There were financial arguments in the house over rent, and at that age, that was not something I was looking forward to having for the rest of my life.”
Robert’s gravitated towards the mafia life, drawn by the respect, money, and nice clothes offered by it.
“See the people?” a mafia man told him one day as they observed some people at a bus stop. “They are the suckers; they have to go to work, and they give half their money to the government. We’re gonna keep that money for ourselves.’”
But by age 20, he was deep into trouble with the law. He had a murder case and possession of a weapon case. Prison offered the proof that he was good for the mafia because he didn’t “rat anybody out.”
So when he was released, he was ready to operate and scale up in the lifestyle portrayed fairly accurately, he says, by the movie “Goodfellas.”
“I was getting recognition,” Robert says. “I got involved in selling drugs.”
Robert was living a fast-paced life of partying, drugs, recognition and excitement. Robert demanded respect, and he would even resort to violence to get it. He wasn’t only running drugs; drugs were running him. He became a “crackhead.”
But then something happened that would change everything.
“In 1993, a little girl was born, my daughter, Brianna, and seven weeks into having her home, I walked out of her life to get high just for that night,” Robert states. “It ended up not being just for that night, and I ended up staying out getting high.”
Mom didn’t like his newly adopted lifestyle and forced him to stay away from their daughter so she wouldn’t get corrupted.
Finally the law caught up with Robert and he was Incarcerated for a long stint. He missed his daughter, but his wife wouldn’t let him talk to her on the prison phone.
“No matter if you’re a mobster or a crackhead, to walk out of your daughter’s life… Read the rest: Robert Borelli mafioso
Vitalii Glopina may never know what the three Russian gangsters sent to kill him saw as one raised the knife to stab Vitalii.
“They turned white. They were shaking,” he says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “He threw the knife down. They ran out of there. In that moment, I knew there was a God.”
Well, of course. He had just prayed that if there were a God, to rescue him.
That was the end of atheism for Vitalii, who blamed God for the death of his sister and played out his anger against the injustice done to his family by getting into drugs, alcohol, and easy money.
With his sister growing up in Ukraine, Vitalii had a peculiar hobby, looking for mushrooms. On one occasion, he asked his sister to get out of work early so they could get a headstart on their mushroom enthusiasm. “I felt responsible for her death,” Vitalii says.
On that fateful night, his sister was kidnapped. They found her injured and took her to a hospital where she lingered between life and death for two days. Young Vitalii pleaded with God for her life, and when she died, he vowed to become an atheist.
From 18 years, he pour his life into substance abuse and crime. He joined a Russian mafia gang and made good money as the key man; he was the one who broke into cars and got them started.
He was a brainiac for technology. He got straight A’s in school, but he also had keyed all the rooms and could break in at will to classrooms and offices.
When he graduated high school, he got a scholarship to Romania, where he would learn cybernetics.
He vowed that in the new place, he would turn over a new leaf. His vow to be sober and make good lasted only three days, within which time he found a dealer and the mafia and fell back into his old habits.
Vitalii would show up and get into the BMW7 series vehicles. Sometimes they would steal the car outright, sometimes they would just steal the parts. When the insurance paid for new parts, his team could fill the order through a front company and rebuild the car they themselves had disassembled.
It was lucrative work, but every night Vitalii was hobbled by crippling guilt.
“I had to be stoned to death to be able to sleep,” he admits.
His penchant for heavy substance abuse caused him to wind up with overdoses: three times on drugs, twice on alcohol. A triple dosage brought him to the hospital on Christmas Eve, where he confessed to hospital staff where the drugs were.
The cops raided, and he lost $5,000 worth of merchandise.
Ironically, his dad, a devout Buddhist, left the family so that everybody “could be happier.”
Ahn Le felt anything but happy. “I felt panicked,” Ahn says on a Fishers of Men Halifax video. “It didn’t make me happy. It broke everything I knew.” He even cried out to the supernatural he never knew: “If there’s a God, please stop this now.”
That’s the day Ahn became an atheist.
“In my mind I said, look at these religious folks. Not even the religious folks can get it together.” His mom was a nominal Catholic.
Meanwhile at school, Ahn learned about the survival of the fittest, a tenet of evolution. “I liked this idea,” he remembers. “I realized there’s no god because you call out to him and he doesn’t answer. You just got to get by. That message resonated with me: I’m going to be so tough, I’ll never be in this position again where I’m being left, where it’s going to break.”
He vowed to find his happiness, to make money and buy the things he wanted.
Soon he discovered pornography, first in magazines and then with the advent of the Internet online in the 1990s. “When I found these magazines, it was like a drug,” he says. “When I got ahold of my first Hustler magazine, I was like ‘Wow.’”
He dove in unabated. But while he desired a beautiful woman, he was too shy to approach beautiful women. “They were like goddesses to me,” he says. “I couldn’t talk around them. I was gazing from afar with just a lust for them. But deep inside I was l like, ‘Why would that girl ever like me?’ I had a low self-confidence.”
The pornography imbued shame in him and brought his self-confidence even lower, he says.
While he had a secret addiction, he projected an image of being a good guy.
In college, he overcame his shyness and began approaching girls, even to the point that he moved in with a girl. “That lust in me destroyed that girl,” he surmises. “She was a Christian. I convinced her not to listen to her mother. I convinced her to move away from her church. She was such a sweet girl, and I just took her and demoralized her.”
Then, because pornography makes you always look at the next and the next and the next, he dumped her after deflowering her. “I took everything pure from her, chewed it up and spit it out,” he admits. “I used her. I broke her heart heartlessly.”
He ignored the promise ring he had given her. “For me, she wasn’t enough,” he acknowledges. “My lust needed more.”
Ahn got into clubbing and one-night stands. “It was never enough,” he says. “It led to depression. I was feeling depression, but I didn’t link it to my addictions.”
Strangely, the girls who most attracted him were Christian girls, whom he would pretend to listen to about God but would be “little by little be grooming them away from the church,” he explains.
“How do you know if there’s a God?” he would say to them. “How do you know if God’s real? What if God was just a man-made idea? What if there was something better we could do for ourselves? What if God helps those who help themselves?”
Systematically, he turned them away from their faith and got them into extra-marital sex. Eventually, he realized that atheism meant there was no need to project an image of being a good person. “I make my own beliefs,” he says. “In college you’re taught, What is truth? There is no truth. It’s all perspective. It’s all relative. There is no true good, no true bad.” Read the rest: Ahn Le, podcaster, ex atheist, freed from porn.
Full of excitement to serve God as a missionary, Diego Galvan woke up on his first morning in Tijuana to a freshly decapitated head of a woman left in the street.
The grisly murder was a sign of what was to come for the fearless missionary who tried to avoid angering the wrong people but found himself entangled in a nation and city overrun with rampant corruption and cartels.
“If I die, I’d rather die doing the will of God than live as a coward seeking money and pleasure,” determined Diego, who was born in Uruguay but raised in America just across the border in San Diego and had never known the dark and dangerous world of drug cartels.
Diego Galvan’s father got his family out of Uruguay through some first-class shenanigans. Being a bodyguard for U.S. diplomats, he divorced Diego’s mother, married a lady diplomat, moved to the United States, got U.S. citizenship, divorced the diplomat, returned to Uruguay and brought his family to America.
Diego grew up in the world of guns. His father got into gunfights with terrorists of the likes of Che Guevara.
Diego was saved at a young age and stayed faithful in the church. As he grew up, he got married, got a great job at the Acura-Jaguar dealership and bought a house in San Diego. He had pioneered a church and was currently serving as assistant pastor in the border city when God interrupted his fairytale life with a call to leave luxury and throw himself into the godless land of Tijuana. He would do his best to stay out of harm’s way.
“What you do with the cartel is you ignore it,” Diego says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “They were there before you and they’ll be there after you. You don’t be nosy. You’re just there for souls.”
Diego took over a church in Tijuana established by his brother, who moved on to another ministry. In the yard of his first house, a man was killed by revenge-seekers from the cartels. So he decided to move.
At his second house, a man who had been committing adultery with a drug trafficker was killed on Diego’s doorstep. He moved again.
Unwittingly, he fell out of the frying pan and into the fire. His next-door neighbor was a drug lord. What happens when the drug lord faces off with the Lord God?
The drug lord’s henchmen were annoying, parking in front of Diego’s driveway. When he got home from church, he couldn’t park in his driveway. He asked them to move their cars; they ignored him. They were drinking and partying.
Realizing he was never going to get away from the cartel, Diego decided to send his wife with food to evangelize the dealer’s wife. “My wife can cook some good food,” Diego explains.
“You try to avoid the cartel,” he adds. “But the problem is that as you preach, you begin to mingle in their world.”
It wasn’t the first time he directly evangelized them. Out on the streets passing out handbills for the church, he would run up to their SUVs with darkened windows and pass out flyers to occupants of the cars that only the drug traffickers drove. As a general rule, the cartel members received flyers and were respectful.
One even opened his heart: “God could never forgive me.”
“That’s a lie,” Diego countered.
“I’m in so deep,” the man mused.
But it was his interaction with the drug lord next door that pulled him into a full-blown war with the cartel. The wife got saved, and the drug lord didn’t like it. She showed up to church with black eyes and had clearly been beaten.
For some days, Diego remained quiet about the physical abuse he was witnessing. But eventually, his outrage got the better of him, and he went over to talk to the drug lord. He knocked. Mr. trafficker opened the door.
“Hi, I’m your neighbor. I’m the pastor,” he started. “I see what you’re doing to your wife. Men who beat their wives are cowards. One day you’re going to stand before the living God, and you’re going to give an account for all the mess you’re doing.”
The drug lord didn’t respond a word.
“This man is dead,” he thought (he admitted later).
The drug lord’s four-year-old daughter scampered out. Diego saw her. “This is your daughter, right? Do you want men to treat your daughter the way you are treating your wife?
“Listen, I have the real deal,” he continued. “It’s Christ. If you call upon him, he will save your soul. But you must get right.”
Still the drug lord said nothing. So Diego went home.
A few days later, the drug lord’s wife came over panicked. Diego had been out of town preaching for another church. The wife implored Diego to come over; her husband had been locked up in his room and hadn’t spoken to anyone. He was out of his normal mind.
Diego decided to go and visit. Diego’s wife tried to dissuade him. “It’s a trap,” she cautioned. “He’s going to kill you.”
Diego remained firm in his resolve. He knocked on the neighbor’s door.
“You wanted to see me?” he asked. “Here I am.”
The drug lord’s eyes said it all.
“When I saw his eyes, I knew something had happened for the positive,” Diego tells.
“You know what you told me a few days ago?” the drug lord told him. “That’s real, dude.”
He no longer consumed or wanted to consume drugs. He was going through withdrawals. Diego led him in a sinner’s prayer. It was Friday night. On Saturday morning the former drug lord who had met the Earth’s Lord participated in outreach. He was handing out handbills and testifying to people about the wonders of Christ.
He was filled with wonder and joy and thrilled with the reality of Jesus.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Diego preached about repentance. Unbeknownst to Diego, the ex-drug lord just happened to be carrying 2 kilos of pure cocaine left over from his just-ended trafficking career. In a flourish of enthusiasm, the ex-drug lord flushed them down the toilet after the sermon.
Had Diego known, he probably would have counseled his new convert to give the drugs back to the cartel – and to negotiate an exit from the cartel.
You don’t run off with the cartel’s drugs. You either give them the money or the drugs.
Sure enough, the higher ups showed up. Where’s the money?
I don’t have it. I threw it down the toilet.
Curse words. Threats.
The new convert’s days were numbered.
Sure enough, the hitmen showed up.
It was Sunday after church. Pastor Diego was napping and woke up to the blood-curdling screams of the new convert’s wife. From his second story room, he looked over the wall and saw the screaming wife.
“Help us,” she pleaded. “They’re going to kill us all.” They had four kids.
Diego sprang into action. Once again, his wife warned him not to get involved. “You’ll die,” she said.
“Then I’ll die,” he responded and went out the door.
When he entered his new convert’s house, he distracted the gang of hitmen, so that the new convert grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed one through the heart.
It was the capo’s brother. The capo was a woman.
The hitmen didn’t think. They panicked and packed up the brother and rushed him to the hospital.
Pastor Diego called the Mexican police. Eighteen SWAT-like cops showed up with masks and “AK-47s and AR-15s. Diego explained to them the situation.
Andrae Brooks, 16, didn’t recognize the man at his door.
“I’m your father,” said the man, who had been in jail for trafficking drugs for most of Andrae’s childhood.
“What do you want?” Andrae retorted.
Awkwardly, Andrae’s father attempted to talk to his estranged son for about 10 minutes before he gave up, saying, “All right, I’m going to come back later.”
“You don’t need to,” Andrae replied, coldly.
Cagey and closed off, Andrae was incredibly gifted at cutting people off and shutting off his feelings toward them.
Born in New Jersey, Andrae never went to church. Because Dad wasn’t in his life, his mom had two jobs to carry the household and leaned heavily on Andrae to take care of his little sister, younger by nine years.
“I didn’t get to play on the basketball team because I always had to pick her up and watch over her. I was the free baby sister,” Andrae says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I loved basketball.”
When Andrae was 14, Dad tried calling him from prison. At 16, Andrae rebuffed Dad at the door. At 18, he didn’t come to the door when his father knocked.
He was guarded, suspicious of others’ motives and ready to fight at the slightest misunderstanding. By choice, he limited his friendships to three all throughout high school.
There were brushes with the supernatural when he was young. On one occasion when walking alone on ice in 14-degree weather, he broke through and should have drowned. But he “popped up” and managed to pull himself out. On another occasion, he hit his head and went unconscious in the pool but miraculously regained consciousness when dragged from the pool, spitting up water and blood and asking what happened.
Andrae avoided drugs because an uncle died from abusing them, and he swore he would never use.
Once he graduated, Andrae was wondering what to do with his life. He was sleeping on his mother’s couch being a “bum.” When his close friend got married and moved to Virginia, he moved in with them. He would do chores to show his appreciation for the free living arrangement.
But when the wife got saved, she invited Andrae to church. He had no intention of going. “If you don’t go, you’ll be on the street,” she replied. Sometimes the harshest of evangelisms work. Thus under the threat of ultimatum, Andrae went to a New Year’s concert and drama activity.
Those Southern folks were strange. He was used to not talking to strangers, not even looking at strangers – the custom of New Jersey. But the church folk from Virginia came up and introduced themselves in a friendly manner. They wouldn’t even let Andrae alone when he got his food. It was awkward.
By the time Alyssa Gordon went to high school, her mom had been thrown in jail for too many DUIs.
“My family was pretty dysfunctional,” she says on her Wonderful Acts YouTube channel. She was a military brat born and raised in Italy. Her mom was an alcoholic. She ran away from home from time to time and grew up seeking in guys the love she felt was missing in her family.
She played the part of the social butterfly party girl with a smile facade but internally she was frustrated that guy after guy just took advantage of her and never wanted a true and lasting relationship.
“I began to get in this cycle of me really desiring love, to have someone genuinely care about me,” she says. “I would give myself to these men physically looking for that true love that I never got. I got really dark, it got really depressing and the cycle just kept continuing. The last guy who I thought genuinely cared about me cut me off…would act like I didn’t exist.”
The last guy broke her heart badly and she took it out on God.
“I’m cursing at God, I’m throwing things,” she relates. “I was yelling and screaming, ‘God if you’re real, I need you to show me…right now!’”
She had attended church, but, with her mom’s example speaking louder than her words, Alyssa didn’t respond to God’s offer of grace and love.
As a sophomore in college, she luckily had a friend who encouraged her.
“I don’t know if God is real anymore, because if he’s real where is he?” she asked him.
Rene Celinder was leading an all-night prayer vigil in support of the Jews at the Israel Plads in Copenhagen 2002, when a Palestinian immigrant struck him over the head with a cleaver at 3:00 a.m.
“Luckily, I have a hard head,” Rene quips. The doctor explained that had the attack not been a glancing blow, he could have died or wound up in a wheelchair.
From the hospital, he called his wife: “Don’t worry I’m alive,” he told her. “I just took a cleaver blow to my head. No problem. I’m ok.”
Such is the life of a Christian evangelist is Denmark. Today, he travels internationally to preach the gospel to people lost in darkness. He, too, was once lost in darkness.
Raised by an abusive father, Rene became a painter and a handyman. When he contracted stomach cancer at age 30, he made a promise to God: “If you heal me, I will serve you for the rest of my life.”
He didn’t know God but remembered his childhood prayers from the ritualistic church he visited in his youth. The surgery removing the egg-sized mass was a success. Rene didn’t immediately fulfill his promise to serve God.
Three years later, he received a $50,000 insurance payout for the damage done by chemicals he worked with as a painter and fiberglass worker. He traveled and drank extensively until he spent all the money in under two years. Later he would resonate with the Prodigal Son when he read the Bible.
After the “living it up” was over, he had no money and nothing to do. An aunt told him to go to church and get saved. So that’s what he did.
Almost immediately, he enrolled in Bible school and was fascinated with the truth of Scripture. As he grew in the Lord he stopped swearing.
Unfortunately, he didn’t stop all sin. He fell into fornication with another student at the school. Caught by administrators, he got kicked out.
He returned home and avoided Christians and church because of his guilty conscience for some time. The brethren sought him out. Why aren’t you coming to church? they asked. “ I was afraid because I had been sinning so bad,” he said sincerely.
They encouraged him to return. When he did, he was embraced. He vowed to sin no more.
Eventually, he met and married his second wife, Dora, to whom he has been married for 25 years. He is now 66.
At a Christian camp years later, he spotted the old fling from Bible School. He asked his wife what he should do.
“You need to go ask for forgiveness?” Dora responded.
He did so. Then he asked her “spiritual parents” for forgiveness and then her kids. On the final day of the camp, both went up to the altar and asked the Lord for forgiveness.
“I learned forgiveness,” he comments. “Then I was free.”
Rene and Dora had a child, Emma, who was born with three holes in her heart. Doctors operated for 12 hours but were unable to save her. Baby Emma died six days after birth.
“I was really really angry at God,” he remembers. “I’ve never been angry like this before.”
Rene wanted to run away. But the doctor encouraged him to cradle his baby and to say goodbye. The grieving process was very healing. On the day of Emma’s funeral and burial, snow was falling, and the wind was blowing inhospitably. But after the sermon inside the church when they all came out, the storm had passed, and the sun was shining. It was beautiful moment to bury Emma. The birds were singing. He felt God’s presence.
Rene prayed a very unusual request: “Lord, show us our little girl one more time. I know that we cannot ask anything like this. But if you can, can you do something about it?”
Typically, a request to communicate with the dead is strictly a no-no because it derives from witchcraft. King Saul, in an attempt to contact the dead prophet Samuel, went to a medium. It was his last act of life; the next day he was killed on the field of battle.
But God took Dora to Heaven, Rene says.
One night she had a dream and in the dream she went to heaven. The first person to greet her was God.
“Father, have you seen our daughter?” Dora asked.
Yes, yes, she’s over there crawling around having a joyful time, He responded.
Then she talked to her baby, who, not limited to earthly constrains, could talk, Rene says.
“It’s really beautiful up here,” she told Mom. “I’m going be more blessing here in Heaven.”
Dora woke up happy. “We knew that we are going to see her again,” Rene explains. “She now would be 25 in human years.”
Moved on by the Lord, Rene opened his first cafe in a cellar. He invited people, gave them coffee and food, prayed for them for healing. It was a continual outreach center.
How he got the cafe is a miracle. When he first saw it available, it cost $5,000 a month. He felt God’s urging towards this place but couldn’t afford the rent. So he waited a year. The next time he saw it, the rent was now $2,000. He made his move.
Saying he had no money, he offered to paint for the owner to be able to use the cellar. After thinking it over for three days, the owner told him that he had no need of painting but if he would clean up and repair three flights of stairs, he could use the cellar for free. The job took four days.
After being molested at age 7, Jazmin Santos was haunted by a question about her eventual future husband: How could he love you when you’ve gone through this?
“I battled with those things for so long,” she admits on a Delafe video.
Jazmin’s story shows that Jesus can redeem everything the devil intended for evil.
Born in Honduras, Jazmin Santos immigrated with her family to the United States when she was five. She grew up in church.
Unfortunately, she was molested in church by someone with a close connection to the family.
For years, Jazmin locked the dark secret in the rusted tin box within her heart. She always felt weird around everyone. She felt abandoned and rejected.
“I didn’t really dwell on it,” she says. “I just kept moving forward. It was like, oh well, that happened.”
She was always the good girl and thought she was a Christian automatically because she went to church, but at age 13, Jazmin attended a retreat where in a workshop she poured over a list of sins and checked off ones that applied and realized she was a sinner needing a savior.
“God, I’m a sinner. I’m broken. I’m a mess,” she prayed. “I ran up to the altar and fell on my face and was crying. I felt this conviction come over me.”
She realized she needed healing from the traumatic sexual exploitation.
“I didn’t tell anyone because I was scared,” she says. “The only person I told was my cousin because she was like a sister to me.”
One day, that cousin outed her gently and lovingly with her mom.
High on Xanax, Scootie Wop, now a Christian rapper, swerved his vehicle into a divider after he fell asleep at the wheel, then crashed into a telephone pole.
“You need to go to church and do something,” his mom told him after he drove home. Somehow, he was able to drive the totaled car home after the horrific accident.
Emmanuel “Scootie” Lofton’s father was a pastor and former Marine. Scootie had an idyllic childhood until his father abandoned the family and left the ministry. That forced his mom, along with Scootie and his siblings, to live out of a 95 Mercedes Benz in South Carolina, according to Rapzilla.
“I felt like I lost a piece of myself. Everything switched. I got exposed to drugs and gang culture and fighting with different people,” he says on HolyCulture.net. “I got put into a gang in the fifth grade, so I hung around a lot of older kids. I started smoking in sixth grade and selling stuff in the seventh grade.”
That’s when 12-year-old Emmanuel started experimenting with drugs and gangbanging.
“My mom was praying for me every morning, every night,” he says. “She was always cooking something in the pot, making the house smell good. I got my love from God from her.”
Emmanuel tried to straighten up by playing football, basketball, track and even kickboxing. Eventually, he focused on football, but a broken leg – fractured in six places – right before college destroyed the dream. The months of recovery saw him drop sports and college.
Taneisha Upperman’s idyllic childhood evaporated when she saw her stepdad hit her mom with a hatchet.
“It was in the middle of the night, blood was streaming down her face, and I was terrified, so I ran all the way down the street to my aunt’s house, probably about two in the morning crying,” she says on a Delafe video. “I remember being so scared and not knowing what to do and knocking on my aunt’s door for like 20 minutes because they were asleep.”
From the age of six, Taneisha’s life was a nightmare. Yes, her mother gave birth to Taneisha as a 16-year-old single mom, but they went to church with Grandma, and Taneisha had a happy life singing in church.
But her childhood innocence was tarnished when stepdad let the kids see porn.
Once when arguing with him, Mom locked Taneisha up in a room with her uncle, who sexually abused her.
“I was not understanding it, but being exposed to porn, I’m like, Well maybe this is
supposed to happen,” she says. “I just did not understand.”
She was seven-years-old, and told no one about the incident.
Mom moved the family to New York and then back to the country. Remembering the happy years when she attended church with Grandma, she begged her mom to be allowed to live with Grandma.
Little did she realize, Grandma had changed.
“That’s when I experienced verbal abuse and physical abuse,” Taneisha recalls. “My grandmother was angry. I don’t know why. She would just yell at me and call me names and say, ‘You’re nothing. You’re gonna be nothing. You’re lazy.’”
Grandma provided shabby clothes for Taneisha to wear to school, which was embarrassing and led to being bullied.
But the worst thing was that her uncle would come and go and take advantage of her sexually. At 10, she lost her virginity because of his abuse.
“In the fifth grade, I started having a warped view of guys,” she acknowledges. “I thought in order for them to like me or to be popular I had to let them touch me. I began to get promiscuous in school.”
All the while, Grandma took her to church, where she discovered she had a great singing voice. She was told she had a gift from God. When she sang solos, the church “went crazy.”
Taneisha elevated the family’s status in the church.
In a moment of extreme accumulated frustration, Chiaki Gadsden told her alcoholic mother during a fight: “Shut up and die!”
Chiaki’s mother died that day.
“The next morning my father told me, ‘Chiaki, you mother died today,’” she narrates on a Japan Kingdom Church video on YouTube. “I didn’t feel anything. I just couldn’t believe it. I went home and saw her body and still couldn’t believe it.”
Chiaki’s childhood frustration and source of loneliness and abandonment was her mother’s alcoholism. Her father didn’t like to see his wife drunk, so he stayed away from home. Her older sister had become hardened and unfeeling, so she paid no heed to Chiaki’s pleas that they help Mother.
Eventually, Chiaki became uncaring also and took drugs and became promiscuous as a coping mechanism, she says. The coping mechanism never worked very well.
Meanwhile, she grew hard-hearted and distant from everyone.
That morning Chiaki and her mother fought, as they did many days. The sinister effects of alcoholism over many years reached a boiling point and Chiaki uttered the words she later regretted: “Shut up and die!”
She pronounced the awful words, but didn’t want the horrible result.
So when Mom died that day, Chiaki was staggered.
“I started to blame God: ‘Why didn’t you help me?’” she remembers. “I thought, What’s the point of this life? No one can help. My family didn’t help. God didn’t help. What is this life?”
At a family meeting, Chiaki’s father made a terrible announcement to everyone.
“He said my mother’s death was my fault,” Chiaki says.
“I was shocked that he said that,” she says. “I could not understand why he would say that.”
“Oh, it’s my fault that my mother’s dead?” Chiaki thought. “My father said so. Then it is bad for me to be here. If I’m not here, then everyone will be happy.”
From that moment, Chiaki no longer sought to have relationships with people. She cut herself off. She lost all hope, all purpose.
“Everything just became darkness,” she says.
Then Chiaki was invited to a gospel music festival.
“When I saw and listened to the gospel music, suddenly I felt something warm in my heart,” she recalls. “I thought, wow, gospel music is amazing. Then all of a sudden, tears started to pour out. I thought to myself, Why am I crying? I thought, What is this? What is this?” Read the rest: Christianity in Japan
Steve Prendergast went from diehard Christian in his youth to a hard-to-kill “avid atheist” who drank, took drugs, and ridiculed his praying mom.
“I pretty much ran out of veins to inject crack cocaine with,” says the former wrestler who crashed a vehicle while drunk and had a leg amputated as a result. “Thank God for a persistent mother. I credit a praying mother who prayed with my Aunt Linda for over 20 years.”
After three motorcycle accidents, a boating accident, five overdoses and two suicide attempts, the boy who started on fire with God finally relented and came back to God.
Steve’s start was in a Christian home with lots of love for the Word of God. But curiosity to see what the world had to offer seduced his heart.
“At age 16, I started to binge drink,” Steven says on 100 Huntley Street video on YouTube. “I wanted to see what life was like on the other side of the fence.”
When his young Christian girlfriend moved away, he blamed God and searched for “hypocrisies” in the church to justify his plunge into temptation.
“I became a very avid atheist,” Steve acknowledges. “I actively mocked people, including my mother, and friends of mine who had faith. It didn’t matter what your religion was, I would still mock you if you believed in any form of a deity. That’s how far I drifted away.”
The bar scenes, the drug and alcohol culture began to fill his boat with water, sinking him ever deeper. He worked full time, and as soon as he got home, his phone rang non-stop; he became a drug dealer as well.
Melanie Washington hugged the young man who killed her son.
“It’s more important to love and forgive than to hold on to the pain and the hurt,” Melanie says on a Long Beach Post video. “I found myself putting my arm around him. I didn’t feel a murderer that killed my son. I felt my son.”
Today Melanie Washington, based in Long Beach, CA, is helping troubled youth make it out of a destructive culture. She herself came out of a childhood that was “pure hell,” she says.
At age 8, she was molested by her stepfather. When “Fred” got on top of her sister Mary, Melanie told her mother, who kicked out the abuser.
He left but showed up the next day with a gun.
“No, Daddy, no,” Mary pleaded.
He shot and killed Mom. He tried to kill Melanie, but the gun jammed.
Shocked and overcome by grief, Melanie, who didn’t know where to turn, blamed herself for her mother’s death.
“I was the one who told my mother that he was doing this,” Melanie explains. “She put him out, and then he came back and killed her the day after Thanksgiving. I went through a life of never forgiving myself for that. I kept telling my mother, I’m sorry.”
Melanie graduated from high school and, falling in love with a handsome young man, married him. After the second month of marriage, he began to beat her.
An African American man wrongly convicted of murder won to Christ a KKK member who lynched a black teenager.
“I truly believe God sent me to Death Row to meet Henry Francis Hays and to show him what real love felt like,” says Anthony Ray Hinton on a 700 Club video. “Real love had no color.”
It wasn’t always easy for Ray to forgive. The cop who arrested him told him he had no chance to escape the murder and attempted murder charges connected to a string of armed robberies in Alabama in 1985.
Never mind that the evidence was skimpy and Ray had an unshakeable alibi for at least one of the assaults. The prosecution’s case rested on forensic evidence which affirmed the bullets matched the gun found at Ray’s house. One officer told him:
“You’re black. A white man is going to say you shot him. You’re going to have a white prosecutor. You’re going to have a white judge. You’re going to have an all-white jury.”
Even Ray’s publicly appointed defense attorney didn’t believe he was innocent.
“What do you do when you tell a lawyer that you’re innocent, and he looks at you and says, ‘The problem with that statement is that all of y’all are always doing something and the moment you get caught you say you didn’t do it.’” Ray recounts.
True to the cop’s cold assessment, an all-white jury found Ray guilty of two counts of capital murder and sentenced him to death by the electric chair.
“It hurt so bad. Why me? What did I do?” Ray anguished. “I even asked God, ‘What did I do so bad?’
“The natural reaction was that it’s over. I was going to be executed.”
Ray’s cell was a mere 30 feet from the yellow-painted execution chair they called “Yellow Mama.”
Every legal appeal Ray made was blocked or dismissed.
“For the first three years, I was in a stage of hate. I hated those men who did this to me.”
As time passed, however, he realized the hatred in his heart was unsavory and wasn’t pleasing to God.
“I asked God to remove this hatred,” he says. “In order for me to be free, I had no choice but to pray for those men that did this to me.”
Ray decided that he would serve the Lord, despite the horrible injustice.
“If this is what God intended for me, to be and die, this is where I die,” Ray resolved. “But while I’m here, everything around me is going to live. I’m going to bring the best out of everybody that comes in touch with me.”
A short time later, he met Death Row inmate Henry Francis Hays, a Ku Klux Klan member who lynched a black teenager without any known provocation. Hays was the first Alabama man executed for white-on-black murder since 1913.
But before he sat in the electric chair, Hays accepted Jesus under Ray’s patient and loving witness.
In their last conversations before Hays’ execution in 1997, Ray told him: “Henry, I truly believe that you’re going to Heaven.”
“You know Ray, I’ve been reading the bible and I have changed my views on so many things,” Henry replied. “I’ve finally looked at you as a human being.”
After years of rejected appeals, Ray got the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to take up his case in 1998.
EJI probed the case against Ray and found it was deeply flawed: Witnesses had been manipulated. Ray’s defense counsel had been inept. The surviving victim’s initial description of the assailant bore little resemblance to Ray.
The linchpin in the case against Ray was the forensic report, that the bullets came from the gun retrieved at Ray’s house. EJI hired three of the top experts in forensic analysis to… Read the rest: Racism in Judicial system and what God can do.
The day of reckoning wasn’t when Kurt Warner was unexpectedly thrust on the field as the Rams’ quarterback amid predictions of failure after the first-string QB was seriously injured.
The day of reckoning came years earlier when his wife’s parents were killed by a tornado. That’s when Kurt saw how genuine her faith was – and came to real faith himself.
“Before that my faith was always like: God was out there and whenever I needed him, he was like my spare tire. I get a flat, pop out the spare, God I need this,” Kurt says on an I am Second video. “When her parents were killed by a tornado, she didn’t have all the answers. She was angry. She was willing to call out to God and ask God why and yell and scream.
“But she never lost her faith. She didn’t walk away from God,” Kurt adds. “It was at that moment that I realized that everything she had been talking to me about, this is what it looks like. This is what it is supposed to be. It was at that time that I really committed my life to Jesus.”
By the time Kurt saw himself leading the Rams into the Super Bowl, he was already forged by the furnace. His improbable ascent to NFL Hall of Famer as an undrafted quarterback is the stuff of a consummate underdog. His story – and faith – is portrayed by American Underdog, a movie released in theaters Dec. 25.
Kurt dreamed of football from childhood. The game was a cherished memory he shared with his dad, who left in a divorce.
In college, Kurt was a hotshot with a pinpoint aim, but he had the nasty habit of rolling out of the pocket and making his own plays, not the plays ordered by his coach. For his lack of discipline, the University of Northern Iowa coach kept him on the bench for three seasons.
According to the movie (which sticks closely to his real-life story), he begged for a chance to play, and coach finally leveled with him. He needed to stay in the pocket, a protected bubble formed by collapsing linemen around the QB, to give him time to find a receiver.
As a drill to see if Kurt could handle the pressure, Coach sent wave after wave of defensive linemen crashing into him to hurt him and see if he would stand up under pressure. It worked.
Kurt was named Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and first team all-conference.
At the same time, Kurt met the girl who became his wife and the catalyst to his faith.
The odds were against him striking up a relationship with Brenda. She loved country music; he hated it. Even worse, she detested football.
But as God would have it, Kurt went with his friend to a country-western bar where he was smitten by her good looks and decided he’d better learn to barn dance.
The doctor screamed at Mom to follow through with the abortion she had already paid for, but the janitor who found Christina Bennet’s mom crying in her gown in the hallway said God would provide a way for her to have and support her baby.
Because her mom never wished to tell her the story of how her life hung in the balance between the forces of death (ironically, a doctor) and the forces of life (a humble janitor), Christina never knew until someone whispered prophetically in her ear.
“I was in college and I was attending a church. Someone approached me and said, ‘Christina, God wants you to know something remarkable happened around the time of your birth,’” she recalled on a CBN news video.
Startled, Christina confronted Mom, who was at first only vague saying some Angel had been involved but eventually broke down and spilled the beans.
“Do you want to have this baby?” the janitor had asked Mom.
“Yes,” she replied through the tears.
“God will give you the strength to have your child,” the cleaning man said.
The doctor tried to intervene and obligate Christina’s mom to follow through. “You’ve already paid. You’re just nervous,” he reassured her.
When Robert Polaco got saved, crime statistics went down for the City of Las Vegas, NM. So says his former pastor. People knew him and feared him, and soon the word spread around the city that the Door Church is where the former criminal was saved.
Robert Polaco’s mom lived mostly in a mental hospital with schizophrenia. His dad lived primarily in jail. Robert was raised as a ward of the State.
“I was placed in a foster home,” Robert says on the 2021 video produced by the Door Church. “According to the case work, I was being abused.”
Along with his harsh living conditions, Robert also felt like a pariah — as if something was broken within him.
“I grew up with that chip on my shoulder,” Robert continues. “It was as if there was no answer, I felt there was no hope.”
Later on, Robert would dedicate his life and career to martial arts. His role as an instructor became the new identity he would give himself to.
“I decided to open up my own dojo,” Robert says. “That’s where I met my wife- I gave her free lessons because I thought she was pretty.”
Robert and Jacque Polaco would eventually enter a marriage which was immediately plagued by serious relationship problems. Robert’s life quickly fell apart.
Change would eventually come on May 15th, 1981. The young couple was introduced by Door Church’s pastor Harold Warner to a set of popular Biblical prophecy films. Convicted, Robert and his wife surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.
“When I prayed that prayer on that night, I just felt free.” Robert recounts.
Similarly, Jacque felt as if a massive weight was on her for her entire life. Her prayer for salvation lifted the heavy burdens she carried.
“There was no desire to smoke dope or drink alcohol,” Robert states. “The desire was gone. When I entered the martial arts class on Monday, I shut it all down.”
Robert felt like a brand-new man, a newborn star. It was as if someone had pressed a reset button on him; now Robert found something to live for: Jesus.
“Robert and Jacque proved to be a key couple in the forming of that early church here,” Pastor Ray Rubi of Door Church reminisces.
However, the incredibly small building that represented the Door Church in Las Vegas would eventually be the recipient of God’s miracles in the form of a skilled new pastor, Richard Rubi.
“The city of Las Vegas had about 14,000 people, but everybody knew Robert,” Richard says. “He had a reputation there.” Read the rest: Jesus helps crime rates
On the 17th day of solitary confinement in jail, cop John Cichy broke down and made a confession — not to the crime of which he was accused but to his need for Jesus Christ.
“I realized I needed help because there was no way I was getting out of this, there was no way I was getting through this,” he says on a Psalm Forty video. “January 31st, 2013, right after midnight, I wholeheartedly called out to God. I saw everything that I was doing wrong that was displeasing to God that was harming me, and I realized I got myself into that mess. I said, ‘God, I don’t want to live that life no more.’ I wholeheartedly repented of that life.”
The former undercover detective who lived a high-flying life — with spinning rims, free drinks at bars and 19 girlfriends — was accused with two other Schaumburg Village, Ill, detectives of re-selling part of the drugs they confiscated from busts.
But while the two other cops accepted plea bargains for lesser sentences, Cichy took his fledgling faith seriously. He had heard God say to not break down in fear of getting a longer sentence and to go to trial.
He faced 18 counts which, if convicted, could result in a minimum of 24 years in prison, yet he refused every plea bargain they offered because God told him to.
“I was asking God what should I do,” he says. “I woke up the next morning and turned on the radio, the very first song was Mandisa, ‘Stay in the fight to the final round, you’re not going under.’”
He didn’t think much of it. But then he turned on the radio at mid-day, and the very first words were the same from Mandisa. Then at night when he went home and turned on the radio, again it was Mandisa.
The coincidence seemed too much.
“It was impossible, you cannot recreate that,” he remarks. “That was God speaking to me through that song, which translates to, ‘Go to trial. You’re not going to prison. I got you.’”
That’s why Cichy flouted his lawyer’s advice, his friends’ advice, his family’s advice, from his Christian brothers; everyone told him he didn’t stand a chance in the trial and that the federal case was too strong.
“It made no sense. Everything on paper, judges, lawyers, family, newspapers, Google, said I was going to prison 100%,” he remembers.
During one agonizing day, God told him to check his daily Bible verse in the app on his phone. It was Prov 29:25:
The fear of man lays a snare, but those who trust in the Lord are safe.
While she was praying at church, Chris Singleton’s mom was shot eight times by white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015.
Then only 18, Chris Singleton had to assume the role of parent for his younger siblings.
“It was being thrown into the fire for me,” Chris says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “Something like that, I call it the unthinkable because you never think in a million years that something like that will happen to you. It was tough then, it’s tough now. It made me grow up a lot quicker than a lot of people. I had to take care of two teenagers when I wasn’t even 21 yet.”
Incredibly, Chris chose to forgive the racist mass murderer who snuffed out nine lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Sharonda Coleman-Singleton died, Chris wasn’t exactly strong in his Christian faith.
“I think anybody that loses a loved one, there’s two ways you could go with your faith,” Chris says. “You could say number one, there’s no way God is real. Or you could say, two, God, I don’t know how this happened or why this happened, but I need you to get me through it.”
Chris, who became a minor league baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, drew on his athletics training to develop resilience.
“I didn’t have my mom anymore and I didn’t have my dad, so Jesus became the rock that I would lean on,” he says. “That was comforting for me, it was therapeutic for me.”