Category Archives: Christian leadership

Lighthouse Christian Academy Santa Monica volleyball team 2019For administration class, A+. Actual volleyball, a C, at best.

Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica won four out of nine games this season in varsity volleyball. Girls from all different levels banded together and put forth their best effort. On Wednesday, the Saints limped out of its season against Westmark School of Encino.

“We all got in our heads,” says Sarah Montez, sophomore. Our emotions got to us. When somebody wouldn’t do good, we would think, Oh, well, she’s not going to get anymore. We got frustrated with each other. That was our worst game we’ve ever done.”

But while LCA’s volleyball has fallen off from the years when the slashed their way into playoffs, other skills associated with participating on team soared.

Namely, Sarah Montez became an entrepreneur.

When she found out that LCA wasn’t going to even have a team due to lack of interest among the girls, she spearheaded a move to assemble a team.

“Sarah and her parents were a major driving force in wanting to make sure there was a team this year,” says LCA Principal Josh Young.

Sarah, with the help of her parents and her close friend Laken Wilson, communicated with all the school’s girls and encouraged, cajoled, persuaded, spammed by text until enough players relented from the low self confidence and agreed to integrate on the squad.

Then, having mastered the business strategies of forming “a staff” and motivating them to their optimal performance, Sarah forayed into a search for a CEO. (There was no coach, which is a volunteer position.)

She held brainstorming session with interested parties. She formed a search committee to identify and recruit a ideal candidate. (She got her parents involved.)

They used software to scoure LinkedIn. Just kidding. They thought of who might pitch in from the Lighthouse Church, LCA’s oversight organization.

They zeroed in on Felipe Rodriguez for all his merits: He had time. He liked working with the youth. He was an expert at sports and teams.

There was only one drawback: Felipe didn’t know a thing about volleyball.

But options were few, and Felipe had the will to serve — even if he didn’t know how to serve (a volleyball).

Felipe contacted his good friend and fellow youth worker, Xiovana Moraida, who assists her husband, Lucas Moraida, as youth leaders in the Lighthouse Church of Santa Monica.

X — as she prefers to be called — agreed immediately to be head coach while Felipe was assistant. X had played volleyball in high school and played soccer in college, so she knew about competition and team dynamics. Read the rest: Learning business schools at a small school in Santa Monica.

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When her husband (a pastor) died of AIDS, Tamara Bennett thought her life was over

tamara bennett healing hurtsTamara Bennett didn’t believe the doctor when he said her husband had AIDS and was dying.

“Tell him,” Tamara told her husband, “tell him that’s not right, that he’s got the wrong guy.

Her husband was silent in the face of the news.

The doctor said he would give the couple a few minutes to talk in private and discuss things.

Tamara’s husband was a dynamic pastor of a burgeoning church. How could he have AIDS?

After the doctor left the room, her husband spoke quietly but firmly. “I never had an affair on you,” he said. “This was something that happened before I met you.”

tamara bennet and husbandTamara went to the bathroom and stuffed all the toilet paper into her face as she cried.

The last five years of her 13-year marriage would be taking care of her dying husband at a time when you didn’t openly discuss AIDS in the church, she says in a Journey Faith Film video.

As she sought the Lord, He spoke to spoke to her heart and encouraged her that He wasn’t abandoning her in the crisis.

Her husband refused to take any medication because of the amount of drugs he would have to ingest and the horrible side effects.

Tamara knew that her husband could no longer function in ministry when the AIDS progressed and caused dementia. Three times in one morning, he asked, “What day is it today?

“It’s Sunday,” she responded.

“Oh, we have to go to church,” he replied. Then he repeated the same question. Read the rest: Life after AIDS.

Rebel Jewish rocker went forward to receive Jesus as a joke, got surprised by joy

michael brownGrowing up in a Jewish household, Dr. Michael L. Brown believed Jesus was the God of Christians and had nothing to do with the Jews.

During his high school years he became a pothead and eventually earned the nicknames “Drug-Bear” and “Iron Man” due to his prodigious intake of drugs. He abused pot, hash, LSD, mescaline, amphetamines, cocaine and heroin.

“I would take massive quantities just to see how far I could go,” Brown says on a One For Israel video. ”I once did enough mescaline (a hallucinogenic drug) for 30 people — the equivalent of one ounce. I couldn’t distinguish between reality and hallucination.”

dr michael brownBetween 1996 and 2000, Brown led the Brownsville Revival, a Christian Pentecostal Movement at the Brownsville Assembly of God church in Pensacola, Florida. He is currently a radio talk show host and also president and professor of practical theology at FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, NC.

Born in New York City in a respectable family, his father served as the senior lawyer in the New York Supreme Court.

“My upbringing was typical of many New York, Conservative Jewish children. We moved to Long Island, I did well in school, I played lots of sports, and, like all my friends, I basically stayed out of trouble. But something changed. It all began innocently enough,” he said.

“When I was eight years old I started to play drums. There was no question that I had ability. In fact by the time I was fifteen I had played on a studio album. But my favorite music was rock, and after my Bar Mitzvah in 1968, I got interested in playing in a band. I wanted to be a rock drummer, and all my role models were known for their heavy drug use, rebellion, and flagrant immorality. I wanted to be like them!”

In 1969, at age 14, he was offered pot.

“I was only too happy to oblige,” he says. “Soon I tried smoking hash too. But neither one had any effect on me. So I tried harder drugs until I started using uppers, downers and LSD. I thought I wouldn’t do anything worse than that, but I was deceived.”

By age 15, he tried speed and heroin.

“I loved it,” he says.

His grades crashed. Drugs, rock and “filthy living” were his daily portion. He and his friends broke into homes and a doctor’s office just for fun. Snatching up drugs wherever they entered, they nearly killed themselves.

He was binging drugs, constantly pushing the outer edge of the envelope toward overdose.

At times, it was difficult to distinguish between hallucination and reality. “I would walk with my hand in front of my face at night because I didn’t know if the tree that was growing up in front of me was really there, or if the tree that grew up into fireworks, that they were really taking place,” he noted.

”I’d see a car coming at me, and suddenly it became a person: the lights became eyes and a mouth. I’d see someone walking their dog and they’d morph until they each became a little bit of each other.”

Brown wasn’t the type of person to fight, but he would bring people down with verbal volleys. He ripped into people until they were in tears.

He had been raised a conservative Jew, but wandered far from the faith of his family. He rarely thought of God, but when he did, he rationalized that he was a good person.

“If there really is a God, He knows I have a good heart,” he thought at the time.

Ultimately, it was the Book of Revelation that brought him to account. Some friends began attending church and telling him about the Beast with seven heads and 10 horns that emerged from the Bottomless Pit to rule the world. It sounded like an LSD trip.

“That’s in the Bible?” Brown asked his buddies. “That’s what they talk about in this church? That’s a cool church.” Read the rest: Dr. Michael Brown started as a Jewish rocker on drugs and came to Jesus.

Rough biker went to church to confront people, was confronted by Holy Spirit

IMG_0553By Lortourme Hang’andu —

As a biker in the 1960s, Joe Campbell always carried a gun with him. He had gotten into many fights and stolen from people. He needed to be ready for anything.

“I carried a gun around,” he said, “because of the amount of people I had wronged.”

His life was a chaotic mix of violence, drugs, alcohol, gambling and other biker gang activity in Illinois, and he knew it “would destroy my marriage,” Campbell says.

When his wife Connie got saved, Joe didn’t immediately join her. In fact, he mocked her and constantly hounded her to return to their former sinful lifestyle.

After six months, Connie invited a church couple over for lunch and when they skipped out on the date, Joe got mad — mad enough to go to the church of 25 members and find out why they were a no-show. (At the time, Joe and Connie didn’t have a landline phone to call and find out.)

IMG_0554But instead of confronting the couple for standing them up, Joe got confronted by the Holy Spirit in the sermon. At the altar call, the lanky, longhaired, rough and tumble character responded to the invitation for salvation.

At 29 years old, he didn’t immediately feel any different. But Jesus had come into his heart at that moment in 1971.

The next day, two of his friends came to visit and asked him if it were true, according to word on the street, that he “got religious.”

Yes, he said.

They invited him to their normal routine of parties, but instead of using and abusing drugs, Joe witnessed to all his old friends. He was a changed man.

This was the 1960s, a time when it wasn’t uncommon for churches to hold revival services every night for a month. Joe’s church was in the midst of one of those extended revivals, and he attended faithfully.

After a month, he poured his Jack Daniel’s down the drain and disposed of his drugs. Nobody knew about his stash, so nobody told him he should do this. It was simply the Holy Spirit who convicted him, and he spontaneously responded.

“I didn’t have a real problem turning away from the drugs and alcohol,” he said. “It was just such a powerful experience that my wife and I just walked away from.” Read the rest of biker to Jesus.

Ada Betsabe almost signed but execs’ Luciferianism scared her off

Ada Betsabe woman rapper CHHAs a three year old, Ada Betsabe Ruiz would sing in the church and wind up crying under the power of the Holy Spirit.

But when she was 14, she left the church because of controlling and abusive leaders. She became a skeptic and rebelled against everything she had learned. God had been “misrepresented” to her, so she turned her back on Him.

As an immigrant from the Dominican Republic with her parents, she lived from age three in New York’s Bronx where people blasted from cars either salsa, bachata or hip hop. Biggie and Pun enthralled her, and she started mimicking and composing verses herself.

ada betsabeWith no moral compass, Ada fell into lesbianism. She began a formal relationship in 2012 with a domestic partner who had no background in Christianity. Their home was adorned with Buddhas and crystals. “We were both really searching,” she says.

Ada launched a secular hip hop career in English, and she was gaining notoriety. She got a handler and was at the point of signing a major record label. She attended a music conference in Los Angeles in April 2014 to interview with executives.

But the bosses and her new friends did more than just worldly music; they were into Luciferianism, and they invited Ada to participate. They drank wine mixed with blood and apparently performed human sacrifices. Somebody in the cult died mysteriously during the conference, Ada tells God Reports.

ada betsabe famous female christian rapperFrightened by what she saw and by what was happening, Ada declined to join.

“I had the opportunity to be a part of it, but instead decided to run to Jesus,” she says.

She never signed the record deal and, no longer “skeptical” about the reality of supernatural things, went to her Airbnb in Hollywood to reconcile with Jesus.

“I was terrified after the things that took place in LA,” Ada says. “This situation, however, proved to me that evil was real and good was real.”

Ada returned to the East Coast and shared with her domestic partner what she had experienced. Both of them went to church, repented of their sins and broke off their relationship, she says. Read the rest Spanish female Christian rapper scared to Jesus by Luciferianism.

Russian Armenian ex-atheist Christian rapper who signs black artists for his label

Ruslan Christian hip hopAt age 10, Ruslan became a decided atheist after his father, immigrating from Azerbaijan with the family, dumped his mother and married another woman.

“At the time, my mom was so distraught over this, she stopped going to this Armenian Orthodox church where we found a lot of community,” he says on a video on his YouTube channel. “I was 10, 11 or 12, and I was literally convinced that there was no God. I was saying, ‘I’m an atheist,’ at a very young age.”

But when Ruslan, who today is a top Christian hip hop artist, got to high school, he was torn between girls: one was Christian, the other was Jehovah’s Witness. He decided to settle the dispute of whether Jesus was God by studying. He read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel and the encyclopedic New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell.

ruslan rapper wife child

With his wife, Monette, and son, Levi.

The verdict came in.

“I — based on a very intellectual rational experience — came to faith,” he says. “My faith wasn’t hinged upon an experience. It hinged on the evidence that Jesus was God and He resurrected from the death.”

Ruslan Karaoglanov was born in Baku, Azerbaijan to a Russian mother who had been adopted by an Armenian family and an Armenian father. As an infant in the 1980s, he contracted an acute urinary tract infection, and a doctor at a remote clinic on the Caspian Sea performed a circumcision to save his life.

Five years later, Muslim extremists fanned out through the region to massacre Christian men and boys. Toting automatic weapons, rebels fighting the Soviet Army very nearly killed Ruslan, but his mom argued they were Muslims and showed her son’s circumcision as proof (in that region of the world, Christians do not usually circumcise while Muslims do).

ruslan“No! No! No!” Marina shouted in Russian, as narrated by Christianity Today. “We’re not Armenians. Look, my son is circumcised!”

The ruse worked.

The reign of terror didn’t abate, and finally the family applied for visas to America on the basis of religious persecution. They settled in San Diego in 1990.

Little Ruslan spoke only Russian and was one of just five a few “white” kids mixed with “black and brown” youngsters at school. His apartment complex and community had roughly the same ratio.

So while he studied English, Ruslan also learned “basketball, break dancing, graffiti and rap,” he wrote to God Reports via Instagram DM. “My experience with the black community is they tend to be very gracious and welcoming of outsiders. Specifically black church folk. I’ve never felt out of place or anything. Always the opposite.”

Ruslan free-styled with his friends from age 10 and performed at open mic night by age 12. He bought as many hip hop CDs as he could and started gravitating towards the gang culture of the hip hop in that era. For attempting to break in to a house, he was arrested and put on probation at age 12.

ruslan christian rapperAs part of his probation, he was required to do community service, so he decided to perform it at a church where a lady named Charee, an ex convict who converted radically to Christ, attended. He cleaned the church but also heard the Word. People kept prophesying to him: “You’re going to do things for the Lord.”

Afterwards, his mom still worried and wondered how to help her son escape the bad influences, so she moved to San Marcos, to the immediate north of San Diego. Ruslan got better grades, stayed out of trouble and stayed in the rap game. “Yo, you’re really dope,” friends told him repeatedly.

“I was super into basketball and thought I was going to play for the NBA. In my sophomore year, I got cut from my JV basketball team” at Vista High School, Ruslan says on a video. “Ever since then, I made the mental switch that I was going to take music more seriously. I started entering all the talent shows. I won second place in our high school’s battle of the bands in 2001.” Read the rest: Ruslan Russian Armenian ex atheist Christian immigrant rapper.

Tobe Nwigwe went from football greatness to rap greatness

tumblr_plh6b0hx461r6ccbh_540Tobe Nwigwe’s dreams of making the NFL pulverized when the top-ranked linebacker suffered a career-ending foot injury. On lengthy bedrest, with no one visiting him, his crutches out of reach, his left leg in a full cast, the University of North Texas MVP and captain had to Army-crawl to the bathroom. That’s where, lying on the floor, he broke down.

“Tears were coming strong down my face,” he says on a Behind the Artist video. “I was on some real carnal stuff with God, like ‘Why would You do this to me. I didn’t kill nobody. I ain’t robbed nobody. I’m bad, but I’m not as bad.’ It was at that moment on the bathroom floor that God was like, ‘You have lost your identity in the game, and you have purpose in your life outside of your circumstances and your situation.’”

The injury represented a major reset for the man who once thought “you have to suck at football” to need to devise a Plan B. Today, Tobechukwu Nwigwe helps drifting youth avoid gangs, violence and drugs by discovering their God-given purpose.

maxresdefault“If you would’ve asked me what my purpose was back in college, I promise you I would’ve said something like, ‘Hit the league, money, cars, clothes,’” he says. “I literally got to the lowest of the lows because the only thing I ever dedicated all of my time, effort and energy to was football and when that was gone, I literally had to rethink life. I became like a monk as it relates to the study of purpose. Once I was able to cut off the mania of the world, I was able to figure out who I am and what my calling is and what my natural gifts are.”

His hip-hop has blasted through the stratosphere with millions of views on YouTube. Tobe is the T.S. Elliot of rap. Elliot was the most heralded poet of the 20th century who led readers to “certain half-deserted streets.” Tobe takes his listeners to the SWAT — South West Alief, Houston, the roughest of slums where he “dropped a bullet” in the fourth grade and got treated like “King Arthur with his sword raised.”

tobe nwigweTobe evokes the poignant experience of being a poor child of immigrant parents and fighting to survive in much of his music. He was a “hard-headed” kid who smoked weed, listened to Biggie and snuck out at night, to the chagrin of his mom, who prayed for him and counseled him. They were five kids in one room.

Tobe discovered he was good at football and won a scholarship to North Texas, where he ranked #5 nationally in tackles and reading defenses, a good foundation for an NFL career. The dream was coming true until his teammate fell on his foot, causing the “best worst injury of my life,” he says.

“It ended my football career. It made me think of who is Tobe outside of the Tobe the football player,” he says. “I had to realize that before I was in the sport, I had a purpose. It was a blessing in disguise.”

He planned to recover from the injury and try out for the NFL, but “God shut almost every single door to football and halted a whole bunch of stuff in my life until I made a conscious decision to let my little dreams die and move in the direction with the non profit organization,” he says.

The injury brought him close to the God of his parents, and the God of his parents brought him to his purpose: a non profit that he launched in 2016 called TeamGINI (from “Gini Bu Nkpa Gi?” — Igbo for “What’s your purpose?”) which brought “edu-tainment” to high schoolers. If there is no meaning to life, all the kids would fall into “the trap” — rap speak for a hood out of which you escape only by jail or a casket. By imbuing their existence with purpose, it is hoped kids will choose college and meaning.

It was a stroke of genius born of his own “monk-like” quest to find his own purpose. And it led him to stage two in his life: he linked up with motivational speaker PhD Eric Thomas, the “hip hop preacher.” ET, as he goes by, was making waves in Texas encouraging African Americans to dream big. On a fluke, Tobe called him and got him on the line.

“We don’t have any money right now,” Tobe told the man he watched “religiously.” “But as soon as we have some money, we want to have you come.”

ET declined the speaker’s fees and came for free. What he saw surprised him. Tobe moved the high school kids at the event as a warm-up for ET. Reportedly, ET had never seen anybody move the crowd in that way.

So he signed Tobe to be part of his motivational speakers team.

Then, team members found his Facebook page and watched a video of him free-styling. It was a video made with the family that was only meant to be fun and funny. ET thought Tobe had talent and wanted his ministry to branch out into the music of the community. ETA Records was born with Tobe as their first artist.

It wasn’t long before Tobe outgrew the team. He began uploading new music every single Sunday. His then-girlfriend, Ivory, would twist tufts of his hair on the couch as he would sing. The set was called “getTWISTEDsundays.” LaNell Grant, the kid sister of a high school football chum, produced the beats. Read the rest about Tobe Nwigwe, from football to rap.

Son of Pastor of Calvary Chapel went prodigal but came back

ryan ries skateThey called him the “cocaine pirate.”

“In one point in my life I was in this room at my friends house and I was putting ecstasy, heroine, and coke together and I was shooting it up while smoking crack and drinking,” Ryan Ries says in a “This is Me” video. “I mean it got dark in my life, and I’m just sitting in this big mansion going, ‘Is this what my life has become?’”

Growing up in Southern California, Ryan loved skateboarding and partying. As a freshman, he was invited for rides in the cars of the senior girls at lunch. They lit up joints, so he did too.

“That was the beginning of a whole snowball effect of things that would happen,” Ryan says. “You got the hottest chicks in school. They’re seniors, you’re a freshman.”

He was introduced to electronic scene in 1990 where people did hallucinogenics and LSD for hours in the hills.

Ryan started dating a girl. Weeks later, she got an abortion. When he found out, he objected.

ryan ries baptism“I didn’t even know you were pregnant,” he told her. “Next time something like this happens, call me. I’m in love with you. The next time you get pregnant, let’s have the kid.”

Five months later, she informed him of her second pregnancy. By then, Ryan was making money, so he offered to buy a condo for her to raise the kid in.

“I’m too young to have a kid,” she informed him. “Ryan, I love you. I wanna stay with you. But I need to get the abortion.”

He responded that he would leave her if she carried out the plan.

She aborted the baby anyway.

Ryan broke up with her and got mad at God.

ryan-and-crystal ries“How could God do this to me?” Ryan recalls. “I remember being in my room and saying, ‘God, I want nothing to do with You. I hate You, and I’m going to live for myself.’”

It was a chaotic relationship anyhow, more founded on sex than on real love, he says.

A few weeks later, he started a job as director of Skate & Music Marketing for internationally known brands such as Forum Snowboards, C1RCA Footwear, Special Blend, and Foursquare Outerwear. They traveled nine months out of the year doing skating activities and staging concerts. His party routine ramped up. He was in a feeding-the-flesh frenzy.

“Playboy mansion parties, porn stars hosting our events, taking cocaine like crazy,” he remembers. “It feels good for a while. But what happens is the hole in my heart keeps getting bigger and bigger. I keep having to fill it with more alcohol, more drugs, more girls. It’s like the dog that chases its tail. That’s what I felt my life was.”

During 10 years of partying, Ryan tried to go sober three times.

“The problem is you become accustomed to the routine, the habits,” he says. Read the rest: Ryan Ries comes back to Jesus.

Out of a dark place, Manafest found his call.

manafestChristopher Greenwood fell more than four steps when he attempted a kick-flip off some stairs on a skateboard while trying to go pro in high school.

Permanently injured, his dreams crushed, Greenwood fell into depression.

“My world just fell apart. Everything I had ever wanted to be was just taken from me,” he says. “I was in a dark and discouraged place for a while.”

Since he wasn’t skating anymore, he hung out with musicians and he made rhymes just for fun to while away the time. He discovered he was good at it.

One thing led to another, and today he’s a Dove-award winning Christian rap-rocker using the stage name Manafest (as in manifesting the truth). His daily passion of skating was replaced with singing for the glory of God.

Manafest was born in Pickering, Ontario. His father committed suicide when he was five-years-old, leaving him with his mother and sister. He accepted Christ into his heart a few years later at a Bible camp.

maxresdefaultHe started skating at age 14 and skated every day of his life. After high school, he took off a year from skating and tried to pick up sponsors. Then the fateful accident happened.

Life was doom and doom and gloom. But his buddies helped lift his spirits. Because they played music, he started tinkering. He wasn’t any good — at first.

“I really sucked at it for a while — at rapping. I had to work at it,” he says. “But God just gave me a dream and a passion for this music. I saw a picture of performing in front of a lot of people and sharing my heart on things.

“God did a lot of big things in my life and set me free from a lot of junk,” he says. “I was embarrassed about my past. I wasn’t proud about it. That was a turning point when I was starting to do music.”

Since 2003, he’s produced nine studio albums. He has won multiple awards for the GMA Canada Covenant Awards and GMA Dove Awards. Read the rest: Manafest, out of dark place, he found his call.

‘That’s MY Messiah’ Jewish politician declares upon reading Sermon on the Mount

john besser jewish christianJohn Desser has a rich Jewish heritage that includes a maternal grandfather who participated in the First Zionist Congress, which led to the formation of modern Israel.

His father studied at an orthodox Jewish seminary in New York City. When he was in medical school, he donated blood on Shabbat to a Gentile, an infraction under the Jewish code.

“While he knew this wasn’t right under the law, it felt right in his heart, so he went ahead and did it,” Desser says on a One For Israel video. When he consulted rabbis later about his decision, he received a tongue-lashing. It was disillusioning.

“He walked out of the yeshiva, bought a ham sandwich (also prohibited for the Jew) and was never going to look back,” Desser says. “Because if the laws aren’t true, then God’s not true. My father’s heart was broken.”

As a result, Desser was raised in a secular Jewish home and never attended synagogue. “We had a Christmas tree growing up because my father wanted us to be Americans,” he recalls.

jews in politicsWhen Desser finished college, he decided to get involved in politics, so he moved to Washington D.C. where he was hired on the staff of a little-known freshman senator, John McCain.

“While I was working with the staff of McCain, I was invited by another staff member to a breakfast, and another man pulled out a book, and began reading it and as he was reading it, the thought crossed my mind, ‘Is that the Bible?’” he remembers. “‘Is he reading the Bible in front of all these people? Is this a Bible study?’”

When a friend asked Desser what church he attended, he responded curtly: “I DON’T!”

Next, he was invited to a National Day of Prayer breakfast. Because he admired one of the speakers, Secretary of State James Baker, he went.

“He got up in front of 3,000 people and said, ‘It’s pretty neat being Secretary of State to the wealthiest nation in the world, and it’s pretty neat being chief of staff to the most powerful man in the world, and it’s pretty neat being Secretary of State to the most influential country in the world,’” he remembers. “‘But the thing that’s really getting me up in the morning these days and I’m excited about is Jesus.”

Desser was flabbergasted.

“Did he just say, ‘Jesus?” he thought at the time. “Why would James Baker talk about Jesus as something that’s interesting to him?” Read the rest of Jew who found Jesus in politics.

She overcame lack of love of father: CASS

Cass synthesizer musicHaving a distant dad only heightened her teenage insecurities.

Cassandra Kanda, a Zimbabwe-born Christian musician making waves in Christian Hip Hop now, grew up in New Zealand where she NEVER fit in high school.

“I struggled with rejection. I was bullied pretty badly when I was 8 years old in school,” she says an exclusive interview with God Reports. “So by the time I was a teenager, rejection was something I didn’t want to ever experience. And when I did experience it, it would hurt more than anything because of all the baggage I was carrying from it since I was young.”

In her soon-to-be-released album, Cass (usually her stage name is stylized CASS) explores the perceived lack of fatherly love and its subsequent repercussions in low self-esteem. It wasn’t until she profoundly understood the Heavenly Father’s love that she righted.

Cass in christian hip hop“When I discovered God’s fatherly love, it revolutionized my life,” she says in email interview. “It’s something till this day that still makes me emotional because I’ve only ever experienced a Father’s love from God. That’s why I’m so passionate about it.”

Cass is the synthesizer wunderkind of Christian music. She was featured recently on Reach Record’s collective song “Light Bearer,” which was a mantra for the label starting 2018.

Who would have thought the immigrant would amount to — or surmount such hardships — to attain renown in Christian music? Her beginnings were humble.

She immigrated, with her family, when she was 7. She attended church unrelentingly with her family and accepted Jesus as a youngster and then rededicated her life to Christ when she saw the play “Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames” at age 16.

cass in concert christian“That’s when I really started to walk with God fully,” she says.

The adjustment to a new culture was worsened by a hostile reception at grade school where she, as a small African girl, was bullied by the New Zealand kids so badly that her parents had to change her educational center.

Her father, perhaps because of the African culture, was emotionally detached, Cass says, and this further damaged her self-concept.

“I grew up with a distant parent. This teamed up with the fact that I was bullied pretty badly,” she says. “So I tried everything I could do to fit in (which never worked cause I NEVER did fit in in high school), and it would bother me so much.”

Fortunately, she was growing in the Word and prayer, and eventually she realized fully God’s love.

“It’s not until I realized who I was in Christ, that’s when that fear of rejection broke of me,” Cass says. “What I was looking for — that acceptance or approval from people I was never going to find from the crowd. I would only find it in God.” Read the rest of CASS Christian musician.

When the voodoo lords tried to kill him, Nestor Kouassi had to pray and stand up to them

nestor kouassi christianity vs voodooNestor Kouassi had seen the voodoo priests and witches do unutterable things: make statues move, bury people alive who later come out of the jungle, send bird spirits to kill enemies.

So when he accepted Jesus in 1997 and started what became a high-stakes spiritual battle with them in his town of Houndjohoundji, Benin, it was a fearful thing.

“A lot of people didn’t like it that we were calling with fire and praying all night,” Nestor says. “They threatened us they would kill us. They make false accusations. Anything to get us in trouble.”

Nestor got introduced to the gospel even when there wasn’t a single Christian church in his village of 1,400 people. His nation, Benin, is renowned for being the worldwide birthplace of voodoo. Even the name of his village was a satanic incantation.

voodoo ritualPeople feared the voodoo lords. Christianity couldn’t crack the town.

But then one Christian, a certain Mr. Lawson, when he came to visit his mom in town from time to time, would preach and share the gospel with anyone who wished to listen.

“We would mock him,” Nestor remembers. “People would insult him.”

Then his best friend, Cyrille, accepted Jesus to get cured of a nasty, prolonged stomach pain. Cyrille was a “rough man” who would steal and fight for nothing, so when Nestor saw an authentic change in him after two weeks, he became convinced.

“He completely changed,” he says. “I said, ‘If this guy can change, there must be a God. I want to get to know that God.’”

HoundjohoundjiBut Cyrille didn’t remember the “sinner’s prayer.” So they just read the Bible together 4-5 hours a day. After one week, Nestor was born again.

“Something happened in my life, and I knew that I knew that I knew that I had met the man Jesus,” Nestor recalls. “It felt like a liquid fire going through my soul, and all of my fears of witchcraft and voodoo disappeared and the river flowed from the inside.”

The nearest church was seven miles away. When they couldn’t attend service there, they devoured the Bible together. After two weeks, they were inspired to share their faith.

“We could not hide it anymore. We took to the streets and wanted to share with people our new discovery: Jesus of Nazareth, woo!” he recounts, relishing the memory.

The power of Jesus began to be proclaimed and demonstrated with healing miracles in town, and the town chief and ruling class — all priests and witches of satanic magic — didn’t like the competition.

“Our preaching was met with hostility like you’ve never seen before,” Nestor says. “What made them furious is that we would pray for people and they would get healed. People would say, ‘If you’re sick, go to the Jesus guys.’”

V4Another friend, Valentin, converted and the three friends read the word and ministered in the streets together. But nobody else dared cross the powers of the town and join their group, even though they viewed them favorably.

The prayers of Nestor and his friends began to disrupt the voodoo power, he says. So the witches attacked them.

“They didn’t want real Christianity. It disturbed them,” Nestor says. “They wouldn’t be able to operate anymore. If we’re calling upon Jesus, there is a power struggle. The witches cannot operate when we are calling upon Jesus.”

The witches had a technique they called a “spiritual gun,” and the victim target of their incantations would writhe in pain from what felt like shards of glass cutting his insides. But the gun didn’t work on Nestor and his buddies, he says.

The priests had a special “founder drum” that when they beat it and pronounced their incantations, lightning would strike the targeted victim even when there was no thunderstorm. Again, it didn’t work.

For six or seven years, the arm-wrestling match continued. Nestor was going to high school in the biggest town in the area nearby, Grand-popo. He would face off with the voodoo priests on weekends and vacations.

The voodoo festivals began to misfire. Things didn’t work. The supernatural tricks fizzled. The town was abuzz with the goings-on.

“People began to question the witches’ power,” he says. “They said, ‘These Jesus guys must have something.’ They were scared. They listened to us, they admired us, but joining us was a real problem.”

Tensions were rising and the threats were increasing. When the chief witch threatened Nestor’s mother with her son’s death, Nestor went to confront him. He found all the witches together in their afternoon gathering in the public place.

“They told us they would reduce us to nothing. I told them nothing would happen,” Nestor remembers.

“In this battle, you will definitely see Jesus,” he responded to their threats. Find out what happened in this power struggle between this new Christian and voodoo witches and priests in Benin.

Fentanyl: the killingest drug yet


Hi guys. I’ve been teaching health class at the our private Christian school in Los Angeles, the Lighthouse Christian Academy. Naturally, I have been researching for the units, including the latest on drug abuse. The emergency of fentanyl alarms me. So this video is to increase awareness. From the internet, it looks like there is hope for fentanyl addicts, but there are some scary stories too. The easiest way to get off is to never get on.

Born-again Palestinian pastor holds hope for Israel, Palestine

Sameer.DabitAs a Palestinian born-again pastor in Los Angeles, Sameer Dabit sees himself as a bridge-maker.

“My dad grew up with a lot of wounds, so I grew up with the mindset of hating Jews and hating Muslims,” Sameer says. “When I got saved at age 16 and started reading scriptures for myself and learning more about God and history, I started to realize, ‘Hey wait a minute. I shouldn’t hate anybody.’”

palestinian pastorSlowly, he began to form his own convictions about what he believes.

Sameer’s Arab father was born in Palestine in 1948 and was forced to move when the Jews took over the newly formed nation of Israel. So he resented the Jews.

But as an orthodox Christian, he also resented the Muslim Palestinians who subjected him to cruel jeering and constant antagonism in school, Sameer says.

When he came of age, dad decided to leave behind the nightmare of the Middle East, move to the United States, study and make his life in L.A. He worked hard at the front desk of a hotel, saved his money and bought properties.

Sameer got to know the simmering anger in his father for the injustices suffered, but he identified himself first and foremost as an American. He changed his name to Sam so that it was easier for classmates and elicited fewer questions about his origins. He loved football.

“I assimilated to America,” he says. “I identified myself more as American than Palestinian.”

kingdom reality LAThen he did something that went beyond his newfound cultural identification. He accepted Jesus into his heart.

At a basketball clinic run by a church, he liked the dynamic music, heard about the forgiveness of sins and wound up wondering why this environment was drastically different from the reverence and mysticism of his family’s religious practice.

Joining the born-again Christians in America created conflict with his dad, who wondered why his son left their church, got re-baptized and hung out with evangelicals who supported Zionism.

“It started to bring an interesting conflict between my dad and me,” says Sameer, now 31. “I was trying to help him understand that I understood where he was coming from. Whatever someone had done to him or his family, I don’t agree with. He was abused. But at the same time, I believe everyone has a right to a place to live, and at the time, the Jewish people were distributed around the world and suffered the Holocaust. That wasn’t right as well. They did need a place to live. Israel needed to be established again, and obviously that was Biblical.

“It was an interesting balance that I had to help him understand,” he says. “That’s why my perspective is interesting because I love the Palestinian people. I love the Jewish people. I love the Muslim people. I love the Christian people. I love that place.

“I desire to see Jesus restore it all. I know ultimately He will when He returns, but I believe He’s preparing His bride to receive Him in Israel as well as everywhere around the world.” Read the rest about Palestinian pastor thinks peace in Middle East possible through Jesus.

Pastor overcomes tragic accident, paralysis, to lead vibrant ministry

harold and mona warner door tucsonHarold Warner was driving back from a failed pastoral assignment when he hit a new patch of asphalt sprinkled with fresh rain, and his orange Dodge Colt spun out of control, went off the side of road and rolled down an embankment.

The car roof caved in, paralyzing him. Within nine months, the 23-year-old ex-hippie shifted into a new, dynamic pastoral assignment, this time in a wheelchair.

beginnings of ministry of pastor harold warner“Everything in my life was disrupted permanently. My world was turned upside down,” says Warner. “But my relationship with God didn’t change one bit. His grace, His presence never wavered. I had confidence that God was in control in my life.”

Today, Pastor Warner’s church, which he charged into as an idealistic young man, has grown to over 1,000. The Door Church in Tucson moved from a humble stucco and adobe building to a massive facility.

Affiliated with Christian Fellowship Ministries as a church planter, Warner and his leadership team have planted 750 churches worldwide.

pastor harold warner bicycleHow did he avoid the trap of blaming God for the inexplicable tragedy?

“A lot of things happen in life that you don’t have control over,” Warner says, as he considers the destiny he might have missed. “I kept going forward with a combination of faith, naiveté and confidence.”

When he was a young man, Warner liked hockey so much he went to the University of Connecticut specifically to play for the team. But, like so many other young people of the 1960s, alcohol and drugs beckoned, and he dropped out of school, grew his hair long, wore torn jeans and hitchhiked to Woodstock.

Being a hippie didn’t live up to “the propaganda of love,” he says. “The one thing that prevailed was the aimlessness.” Read the rest of Harold Warner The Door Church Tucson.

The upside down pastor

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For the upside down pastor, the church is there to serve him, not he the church. And not only serve him, they must admire him. He alone does everything right. He alone hears from God. He alone tells everyone what to do. He gets all the credit and doesn’t credit others.

I think I was an upside down pastor when I started 20 years ago. Success bolstered my fragile ego. Being a pastor provided me with the affirmation I so often lacked in life. The incredible thing is that God used me despite being upside down.

Now I’m starting a new church, and I hope to get it right. The people are the focus, not me. I’m there to serve them, to help them realize their destiny in God. It’s not about me. It’s about them, and it’s about Jesus.

The upside down pastor gets mad easily when things don’t go his way. He prays for people to do what he thinks they should do. He alone hears from God. Praise time is showmanship.

If you’re an upside down pastor, you can put things right side up. 2 Cor. 10:8 says God has given the pastor authority to build up his congregants, not tear them down. 2 Sam. 5:12 says that David perceived that God had established him, not because he was better than others, but “for his people Israel’s sake.” Your existence is for them.

You can turn things right side up.

Loneliness, a great fear

loneliness

In Ender’s Game, Col Graeff isolates the child military prodigy: He must never think others will come to help him. He must find within himself the resources to solve his problems and triumph. In the end, the traumatizing “training” pays high dividends. Ender brilliantly defeats the buggers, who twice threatened to wipe out humanity. But the dividends come at a high cost: Ender can have no friends.

I loathe loneliness. I long for friendship, love, acceptance. Why must I face rejection in the place I expect to find love? Does God want me to learn to depend only on Him?

God made us to be social creatures. We thrive on affirmation. Without it, we can spiral. Social interaction can either help us serve Jesus or — depending on our friends — pull us away from Jesus. This is my basic ministerial tenet: give friendship to people and show them the way to Christ. Truth is critically important, but most people are not Socratic. They’re looking for friends, not truth.

Jesus associated himself with the despised: the prostitute, the tax collector, the leper. He touched a leper. That was forbidden by the law. He broke the law of God to grace an affection-starved human being. In medical terms, he risked getting sick to show love.

The church should not have outcasts, pariahs or blacklists. If it does, it approximates more the religious order of the Pharisees than of the disciples.

Ha ha ha! Orange marmalade has ‘wires’

Orange-marmalade1The pungent and sweet taste of orange marmalade is one I missed as a missionary in Guatemala. So when we got back to the U.S. a few years ago after 16 years abroad, I got it, and I shared it with my youngest son. To put it mildly, Hosea didn’t like it.

“Dad! It tastes like it has wires!” He was somewhere between aghast and livid. He believed it was his duty to inform me what I didn’t know. The rind gratings — um — were grating to his palate.

Of course, I cracked up. For his ingenuousness, thinking I didn’t know it had rind gratings. For his descriptiveness.

This is how I feel when newbie leaders want to give me a lecture on spirituality. When does the senior ever let the freshman tell him how to play varsity football? You have to take things with humor or it can be a discouraging thing coming back into your mother church. And you gotta enjoy the orange marmalade despite what people say.

Suspicion is not proof

It looks like this was a production in England. I gather this is the part where the conspirators smear Caesar's blood on their hands to celebrate their

It looks like this was a production in England. I gather this is the part where the conspirators smear Caesar’s blood on their hands to celebrate their “victory over tyranny.” But Brutus got it wrong.

Brutus broods. He strongly believes power corrupts. So he worries his friends, Julius Caesar, has given way to ambition. Brutus believes to save the Roman Republic, he must kill his friend in Shakespeare’s play.

Never mind that Caesar thrice has refused the crown. Never mind that when the Brutus and the conspirators bow before Caesar supposedly making a petition (really, they just want to get close to knife him), Caesar begs them to rise and speak as equals. Never mind the facts. In the mind of Brutus, Caesar is guilty, so the noble thing to do is kill him.

Brutus believes too much in his own character. He believes he is invariably right. So from accusing his friend, he passes to conviction, without bothering to trifle with evidence.

This hurts.

It is normal to be suspected of wrong-doing at any given moment. But if the authority doesn’t bother with evidence but simply convinces himself and lashes out at you, it hurts.

If you are in Christian leadership, you should exercise much wisdom:

  1. Always use the lightest correctionary discipline possible, not the heaviest.
  2. Be suspect of “revelation or confirmation of the Holy Spirit.”
  3. Be aware of your own personality and flesh and how that might color your judgement.
  4. Use grace. Forgive others.
  5. Don’t insist on having your way but look for God’s.
  6. Allow the Holy Spirit to rule the church. You are not the Holy Spirit.
  7. Know that the Pharisees exceeded their authority and punished the innocent (Jesus). Don’t join the company of the Pharisees.

Hope these tips are helpful.

* A word about this image: Not mine. Not making $ on it.