Category Archives: Christian love

She was becoming too Westernized, so her Muslim parents married her off back in Pakistan

Muslims in EnglandBorn in a strict Shia Muslim Pakistani family in South London, Rayeesa was becoming too westernized, too worldly, according to her family, because she wanted to… play tennis.

Yes, that’s right. She wanted to play tennis. Compete, to be more exact. And that was wholly inappropriate for a proper Muslim girl, she was told. So her parents sent her and her sister back to Pakistan and married them off to Muslim men.

“We loved tennis. And I wanted to enter competitions,” Rayeesa said in a CBN video. “They wouldn’t allow that because it was not respectable for a Muslim girl. My parents told me and my sister, ‘You are going to in Pakistan and we are going to find you suitable husbands.’ I had never ever thought that would happen to me. It actually made me feel completely alone.”

Shia muslims in EnglandOne night Rayeesa and her sister tried to escape. In their flight, they tried to enlist the assistance of some guards. But when the guards tried to get “overly friendly” with them, they resisted their advances. Giving up, the guards instead forced them to return home.

Rayeesa was married against her will in accordance with Muslim practices to an Indian man she didn’t even know.

The good news is that he didn’t really love her and only wanted to use her as a means to get to England himself. He sent Rayeesa to England with the plan that she would arrange his paperwork to immigrate later.

westernized muslimsShe never did.

Instead, she joined the police force.

In was on the force that she met a colleague with a deep and vibrant relationship with Christ. Rayeesa had read the Bible and the Koran but didn’t know which to believe. But her friend, Anna, had a recognizable glow missing from Rayeesa’s life.

“What’s so special about Jesus? Just tell me,” Rayeesa asked her one day. “Why do you love Jesus so much?”

Anna wore down Rayeesa’s skepticism.

“I thought that was the most crazy thing. She told me who God was. That was so different to what I had been taught,” Rayeesa recalls. “I was taught that Jesus was a prophet and He was like Mohammed. But hearing Anna’s explanation of how Jesus was actually God in human form coming and then giving his life and dying so that we could have a relationship with God.”

Rayeesa mulled the presentation. What if it is true? What if Jesus really is God? I am believing in Mohammed and Allah, but what if it is not the truth?

Rayeesa committed to the quest of unearthing the truth.

From that point onwards, she was determined to find the truth about God. Who is God? she wondered.

Finally, she got down on her knees and prayed: “Jesus if you are real, if you are who you say you are then I hear your voice that you are knocking on the door. I open my heart and I want you to come in.”

Then God answered her prayer in a remarkable way. “Suddenly the minute I said that it just felt like I was flooded with love. It was an instant feeling of being washed and accepted and I knew then that this Jesus is real,” she recounts. “Worry and fear and everything was just washed away by this love and I felt complete. Read the rest: Westernized Muslims in England.

Covid’s silver lining: sex workers freed in India

project rescue imageWhile Covid-19 has killed myriads, shut down economies and closed churches around the world, the deadly virus has liberated thousands of exploited sex workers in India, according to a report from Project Rescue.

“What Project Rescue hasn’t been able to do in 24 years of giving itself to rescuing and restoring the lives of thousands of women and their children, this virus has shut down the Red Light Districts in India,” says founder David Grant. “God has given us an opportunity to reach out to these women that we’ve never seen in all these years. In 50 years of being involved in missions, this is the greatest moment we have ever experienced.”

human trafficking indiaBecause of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s particularly drastic quarantine, there are no businesses open, no transit, and no industry. With the streets virtually deserted, brothels have no customers and human traffickers are simply releasing their prey rather than have to feed them without them generating any income, Grant says.

“This is the greatest miracle in Project Rescue’s entire history,” he adds.

Other nonprofits report a spike in human enslavement in other parts of the world, as governments repurpose resources usually dedicated to fight traffickers. Perhaps what Project Rescue is reporting is unique to India where stringent restrictions were put in place.

grants

David and Beth Grant

“In the middle of unimaginable crisis comes unprecedented opportunity,” says Rod Loy, director of strategic initiatives. “For the first time in our life time, sex trafficking is shut down. No one is visiting the Red Light District, customers are non-existent, demand is at an all time low. Traffickers are losing money.

“As a result, traffickers are giving women permission to leave and take their children with them,” Rod adds. “In the years of Project Rescue, this has only been a dream. It’s never happened. What the enemy intended for evil, God is using for good. These are the most exciting days in the history of Project Rescue.”

Many of the women who find themselves trapped in the brothel were either kidnapped or sold into the trade. In some cases, they are chained with actual shackles. But often those chains are financial. The women know no other way to make a living for themselves and their children, Rod says.

“We need to be ready to seize the moment of what He wants us to do in the middle of the storm,” Executive Director Beth Grant says.

Project Rescue is issuing a plea for financing to help released sex slaves return to their hometowns to find food. Project Rescue will feed and provide vocational training so that when Covid dies away the sex workers will have a practical alternative to make money other than the life they have lived for years.

The nonprofit deploys 422 international staff and 226 national staff to rescue and restore youth who have been coerced or enticed into a living they now feel trapped by, its website says.

Pastor Rajneesh of Jaipur reports 300 women and children rescued from such slavery, so the urgency to meet their need is great or “they’ll be forced to return the Red Light districts so they’re children won’t die,” Rod says. “The window of opportunity is short.” Read the rest: Sex workers freed in India due to Covid.

Out of trauma, out of fears

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

Then just outside, gunfire erupted.

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

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

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

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

Their prayers were answered and Uncle Robert survived the shooting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She prayed husband out of drugs and into pastoring

time and norma pena indio california free from drugsFirst there was blood on the pillowcase. Second, her husband slept all day, had circles under his eyes, and a persistent bad attitude. Eventually, he lost his job, his car and his dignity.

“I was naive,” Norma Pena says. “I didn’t recognize the signs of drug abuse. Although I came from a dysfunctional home, I didn’t know what addiction was.”

It got so bad, Norma told Tim to move out. Three years of marriage was coming to an end. She felt “numb to him,” she says. “I had no feelings for him anymore.”

Today, Tim Pena has been pastoring a church in Visalia, California, for almost 20 years. It’s a mind-boggling turnaround. And they are still married.

Tim Pena and Norma Pena Visalia pastorWhen Norma accepted Jesus into her heart in 1997, the marriage was on a fast train to Splitsville. Her friend, Sandra, who had evangelized her tirelessly for three years, encouraged Norma to contend for restoration of their relationship.

“At first I didn’t believe he could get saved,” Norma says. “He made my life a living hell.”

But there was a grain of sand in the oyster that irritated her thoughts. Her mother was a single mother of four, her grandmother a single mother of six.

At the time, Norma had only one child — but she was worried that she was falling victim to a vicious legacy.

At the constant encouragement of Sandra, Norma prayed for her husband. Things were not going well for him. He was sofa-surfing at friends’ houses. His life was spiraling downward, propelled by cocaine and alcohol.

Then one day, he showed up at the same church Norma attended, the Potter’s House in Indio, California. Tim answered the altar call for salvation.

She watched from the congregation. She thought the conversion was faked.

But her friend urged her to persevere in pray.

“The Bible says you have to pray for your enemies. He was my enemy because he made my life a living hell,” Norma relates. “But he was the father of my daughter, and I wanted him to be a good example to her.”

She did NOT pray for her marriage to be restored however. Read the rest: Wife prayed husband out of drugs and into pastoring.

Repented abortionist struggled with guilt of being a ‘mass murderer’

dr kathi aultmanBy Nazarii Baytler —

Working in an abortion clinic, Dr. Kathi Aultman had no qualms about her job.

After she went on to become the director of a local Planned Parenthood clinic, Dr. Aultman even found it fascinating to examine the body parts of aborted babies.

“I was looking at it completely from a scientific standpoint, totally devoid of emotion,” Dr. Aultman states in an interview with CBN.

Dr. Aultman even performed abortions while she herself was pregnant. Her reasoning for doing so was that her baby was wanted, and the women she was operating on didn’t want theirs.

prolifeThe only times when she considered the moral ramifications of her job was when she worked in the intensive care unit for newborns.

After birthing her first child, Dr. Aultman went through three cases that changed her viewpoint about abortion. The first involved a young woman who had three abortions, all performed by Dr. Aultman.

“I went to the clinic manager and said, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” Dr. Aultman continues. “She’s just using abortion as birth control.”

However, the manager promptly rejected her misgivings and sent Aultman back to perform the procedure.

The next scenario was with a woman coming in for an abortion. When asked whether she wanted to see the tissue, the patient snapped.

“I don’t want to look at it, I just want to kill it,” she shrieked at Dr. Aultman. Read the rest: abortion.

Taught that Bible is ‘fairy tales,’ Jewish college student was bombarded by Jesus’ love

Bob Siegel Jews for JesusFrom a very young age, Bob Siegel identified with being a Jew.

His dad, however, saw Judaism as a legacy, not a religion and ingrained in him the message “that there was no God, that the Bible was a bunch of fairy tales, even the Old Testament,” he recalls in a 2007 CBN video. “So I learned a lot about the nation of Israel, I learned about the Holocaust, I learned about anti-Semitism, but I learned nothing about God.”

Outfitted with a researcher’s affection for learning, Siegel hit college running. In addition to examining books, he began to examine himself.

“I began to notice a selfishness in me that I couldn’t control or do something about. Even if I donated money to a charity, I realized I was trying to make myself feel better than to have an altruistic emotion that I really cared about the people,” he remembers.

young Jewish boy Bob SiegelThose self-centered characteristics came to head one day when Jews for Jesus visited the campus and set up a sign.

“That absolutely infuriated me,” he says. “I thought that people were making this bug-a-boo about a man who had been dead. I thought that Jesus could never be proven, that anyone who read the Bible was a moron. So I thought these people were cowardly and dishonest. It was just plain stupid.”

He began to argue with the Jews for Jesus, but when he went home that night, he was perplexed.

So he said a simple prayer.

“God, all my life I’ve been told Jesus is forbidden knowledge. A second grader in Sunday school knows more about Jesus than I do, and I’m almost 20 years old. But if I’m missing out on something, if I can have a relationship with you and it is through Jesus, then help me to learn about him because I know nothing about him.”

He went to sleep.

The next day, two young women told him about having a relationship with Jesus.

After hearing them out, his mind was unconvinced, but then something happened that melted his heart – for the first time in his life he felt the presence of God!

“They didn’t necessarily say anything that was particularly persuasive, but after they left me, I was bombarded by a very difficult-to-describe mystical, supernatural, loving presence. Read the rest: Jew becomes Christian

After George Floyd, revival on the corner where he was killed

baptism Minneapolis George FloydReclaiming the heritage left by Martin Luther King Jr. and William Wilberforce, a group of Christians is preaching and baptizing on the street corner of Minneapolis where George Floyd’s life was snuffed out by a rogue cop. They’re seeking to effect real social change from the ground up.

“This is what God is trying to do. He’s trying to bring everybody together, all races, all ethnicities,” said Pastor Curtis Farrar, of the Worldwide Outreach for Christ Ministries in Minneapolis in his Sunday June 7th outdoor service. “His people are out here as one as the family of God. Only God can change.”

Floyd-Ministry-5-David-ParksPastor Curtis has labored for 38 years in a neighborhood that used to be overrun with gangs, on the same corner of E. 38th St and Chicago Avenue where Floyd was murdered. His patient service has helped multitudes escape sinful lifestyles and come to Christ.

“The mayor came out here and said our church has had a profound effect on the neighborhood,” Pastor Curtis related. “Man cannot do that. It takes the power of God.”

Pastor Curtis and his church have been joined by teams from Youth With a Mission (YWAM) and Circuit Riders, a California-based mission movement named after John Wesley’s Methodist preachers who rode “circuits” on horseback to preach throughout rural America.

Floyd-Ministry-3-David-Parks“I came here and I was broken,” said WYAM’s Christophe Ulysse in Fox News. “It affects team members differently, but those of us of color, as we’re here, we’re watching the change happen through the gospel. My heart is so filled with hope. Those in the neighborhood are saying this is unprecedented unity. They’re feeling an outpouring of love and hope from this nation.”

The groups led praise and worship, held prayer, evangelized and even baptized in the street. While fear and anguish have convulsed people of color facing police abuses, the gospel is bringing hope and love, Christian leaders said.

“For us, there is this deep conviction that we have tried everything to deal with this issue. We’ve tried politics, we’ve tried economics, and we’ve tried social reform,” says Ulysse, a black Canadian stationed in Hawaii. “It’s the same thing over and over. We have to go back to what actually works. We’re going from pain and hatred to healing and hope. There’s this new narrative of the gospel.”

On the street, Yasmin Pierce of Circuit Riders delivered an emotional altar call before hundreds of listeners: “On the cross he was beaten to death. He could not breathe. He gave his last breath for every person here. He gave his last breath for me, for you, and he says, ‘Father, forgive them. Father, heal them. Father, save them from this dark world that they would know your love.” Read the rest: The gospel is the answer to police violence.

Either the booze or the marriage

mary linkaErik and Mary Lanka worked hard and partied hard until alcohol became a nightmare. Then Mary delivered an ultimatum: Either me or the booze.

“This is a long road down a big black hole,” Mary says on a CBN video. “We were acting like college students in parent bodies. You can’t just keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

As a young coupled married in 1998, Erik and Mary had ambitions. He was a real estate developer and she was a creative director in real estate and an artist.

“We knew that together we could make a lot of money and do a lot of great things,” Mary recounts.

“We worked really hard,” Erik says. “Mary was drinking then. I was drinking then. All of our friends were drinking then.”

one more drinkTheir firstborn son, Zach, arrived soon. “I didn’t have time for him,” Mary says. “I was too busy.”

With dreams of retiring young, Erik invested their wealth into a huge condominium project in 2002. But the remodeling was stymied by city officials and family members.

“Therefore, I started to drink more,” he recalls.

The next year, their second son, Joshua, was born. At the same time, the real estate market crashed and he couldn’t rent units for two years. The bank began to foreclose.

“I was seeing the writing on the wall,” Erik says. “I started to literally drink myself to sleep every night.”

“He went from being this jovial social drinker to someone who would pass out at five o’clock,” Mary remembers. “I couldn’t rouse him. We were having arguments that he wouldn’t even remember the next day.”

For her part, Mary stopped drinking. “I began to hate him for checking out,” she admits. “I began thinking, ‘This isn’t what I signed up for.’”

When he drove drunk with the kids in the car, she gave him the ultimatum: “She had to take me aside and say, ‘It’s either your booze or us,’” Erik remembers.

“That’s when I had an epiphany,” he says. “This social crutch had turned into a gotta-have-it-in-the-morning addiction.” Read the rest: booze or marriage.

Swami priest kept searching… and found Jesus

Rahil patelSwarmed with doubts about his family’s Hinduism, Rahil Patel, a respected Swami priest in London, thumbed through a children’s Bible in a bookstore.

“I opened it and started reading and I felt a connection so quickly, so easily I then had to shut the book quickly,” Rahil says in a Billy Graham Organization video. “I had to shut it quickly. It represented something completely opposite to what I represented.”

He was raised in England in a Hindu family and hungered for whoever God was.

hindu priest converts to christianity“Hinduism is a canvas of hundreds of religions with different doctrines and ideas and philosophies,” Rahil says. “I was so desperate to search for God.”

His drive to find God led him to travel to India, his parents’ homeland.

“I trained to become a Hindu priest,” he says.

After only one month, however, a small voice spoke in his left ear: “Have you made the right choice?”

It was the first seed of doubt.

Swami priest ChristianBut he didn’t immediately renounce Hinduism. He kept an open mind and continued his studies. After all, his parents had brought him up that way and millions of people worldwide adhere to Hinduism. He ought to give it a fair shake, he thought.

His branch of Hinduism affirmed that the guru was god. Rahil began to show promise, and the guru took a special interest in him.

“When the guru speaks, it is god speaking,” he says. “To be chosen as one of his favorite priests is the most incredible dream coming true.”

While he was pleased with the approval he got from his leaders, he was troubled by the doubts surging in his mind.

“The more I studied, the more questions I had,” he relates. “I asked tough questions to the scholars in India, and they weren’t liking it.”

One scholar told him: “Submit to what we are teaching you. You have decided to wear these clothes. This is forever.”

When he said that, “I knew there was a problem,” Rahil says.

He really only wanted to ask sincere questions. He thought having the confidence of the guru allowed him to try to get his real questions answered. The blunt shutdown only turned Rahil off.

“I feel that I’m being brainwashed,” he responded to the guru.

“There was a dead silence in the room,” Rahil remembers.

“You think too much,” the guru replied. “Just get on with it, and as time goes on, your questions will be answered.”

Rahil left the room but not Hinduism — yet.

He returned to London where he continued as a swami priest and teacher of Hindu immigrants.

Eventually, he spotted the children’s Bible at the bookstore. As he scanned and read passages, he realized that the message of grace was totally the opposite of Hinduism’s works mentality. The idea of Christ’s sacrifice for sin was completely foreign.

Was he treading on thin ice? he wondered. Read the rest: swami priest found Jesus.

Fake $10 bill led drug addict to Proverbs and to Christ

matthew mcpheronMatthew McPheron just wanted a cheap high, but heroin drove him to the streets. He slept on a playground, using a smelly trashbag as a blanket.

“I had finally reached the place that I belonged: homeless, strung out on dope,” he says in 2013 CBN video. He spent years living in a drainage ditch under a freeway. “I crawled out from underneath a bridge, and I didn’t spontaneously combust into a different person. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of pain, a lot of tears.”

Today, Matthew runs recovery programs and hires his own patients into TrueCore Cleaning, a janitorial company he bought on his 10-year sober anniversary in 2016.

Miracle Healing RecoveryWhen it comes to finding the reason he fell into drugs, Matthew can’t blame his dad, who was first a fireman and then a minister. Mom left him alone during his early years — and then left him for good in Youngstown, Ohio.

“She would just put me behind a door with some Legos and leave me and not even talk to me,” Matt says. “It really put me in a place where I thought I was meant to be abandoned and rejected.”

After his dad remarried, his step mom died.

matthew and jennifer mcpheron“I took a really selfish perspective, where it was like, ‘I’m being abandoned again,’ Matt recalls. “So it made those walls go right back up.”

In the wake of losing a mother for the second time, Matthew, who was then in secondary school, self-medicated to ease the torment.

“I felt hurt; I felt lost, and I didn’t know what to do, but I knew for me, at that age, going to church didn’t work for me. What worked was putting a haze in front of me so that I didn’t have to deal with reality.”

As a young man, Matthew sold drugs and stole vehicles to fund his craving for drugs.

“One night I was at a party and I was getting drunk,” he says. “There was a gentleman there who said, ‘I have a buddy who runs a chop shop and they need a Nissan, and they’re going to give $1,500 for the person that gets it. I thought, ‘Fifteen hundred dollars! That’s like three weeks worth of selling dope.’”

The deal wasn’t lucrative enough to keep the law from catching up to him. In jail, he began to deal with his conscience.

“When I was in prison, I had a little bit of time to reflect and think about the things I had done, and the people that I had hurt,” he says. “It consumed me.”

Once released from jail, he decided he would not commit any more felonies. He needed a cheap drug.

“Three months into shooting heroin, I found myself with nothing, broke, and homeless. I had finally reached the place that I belonged: homeless, strung out on dope, sleeping in a trash can liner. The plastic kept me warm, but it smelled like trash.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is where you belong. This is what you deserve.’”

One night, Matthew was out searching for his next fix.

“I was walking northbound on Sixth Avenue, and I started praying, and I was saying, ‘Lord please, just give me ten dollars so I can buy a shot of dope. And I look off into the distance, and I see something that looks to be currency. About ten yards, I could see a ‘10’ on it, so I thought, ‘It’s a ten dollar bill.’ And I said, ‘Oh, there is a God! Here, My whole life I’m waiting for You to show yourself to me, and here You are giving me a ten dollar bill for dope,’” Matt says. Read the rest: Bible tract and Proverbs led addict to Christ.

Deny’s last meal, a military dog ends his retirement


Ten days ago*, Deny — the retired bomb-locating German shepherd from US military service in Kuwait — was put to rest after a meal of Texas brisket and rib sausage. (*longer now. date was from original publication)

“This was not supposed to be a cry fest,” says the Texas lawyer who adopted the unadoptable, aggressive dog in a video that was supposed to be private but went viral.

deny last meal“It was supposed to be a private moment of closure for me and my dog, but I recorded it for Mission K9,” the Texas service that places retired service dogs in loving homes, Thomas Locke told God Reports. “They put it on Tiktok and it just blew up.

“I’m ready to give my Man Card, just turn it in.”

Ever since Thomas, 59, who himself served in the military, adopted Deny on Christmas of 2018, a special bond was formed.

thomas locke and deny“These dogs have unconditional love,” Thomas says. “They don’t care if you’re white black, Christian, not a Christian, Muslim, they don’t care. All they want is love. They don’t judge. How beautiful is that?”

Deny was going to be a challenge. After working 12 hours a day, seven days a week sniffing out explosives for eight years of service in Kuwait, the Dutch-born and -trained dog had developed PTSD and was categorized by the overseas veteran as “unadoptable.”

Other parents looking to bring home dogs had passed over Deny at the 21-acre ranch at Magnolia, Texas, where Mission K9 saves work and service dogs from euthanasia.

Thomas and Elizabeth LockeBut when Thomas saw the 90-pound animal, his heart was moved and he took the dog to his home to Pearland, south of Houston.

“Deny had a hip problem. He was a medical nightmare,” Thomas says. “So people kept passing on him. But when I passed him, his profile was majestic. He was very regal looking. The sun was starting to go down. And when I saw him I realized he was the dog I wanted to get.”

The worries were over his hostility, but Deny’s first problem arose when he tried to pee on the Christmas tree to mark his territory.

After that, the aggressiveness melted away into those sad brown eyes and huggable muzzle. Deny followed Thomas everywhere he went. He watched him incessantly. Thomas even slept with the dog many nights on the floor. Deny understood only Dutch commands from his trainers in Holland, so Thomas had to learn Dutch.

“My wife was very understanding,” he says. “She knew a special relationship had formed. When you adopt a dog — especially a working dog — they never take their eyes off of you. Whenever I left the house, he was right there when I came home looking at the door where I left. We had entire conversations without saying a word.”

Thomas’s dad was a Vietnam vet and his mom was an alcoholic and drug addict, so he was sent off to Church of Christ-run foster homes where he had to go to church and watch preachers on the television.

“It was very comforting for me to have that stability and that moral compass. I knew there was something bigger than me out there,” Thomas says. “My testimony is a country music song.”

Ironically, Thomas worked with explosives in the military from 1978 to 1981 but saw no combat. When he got out, he found “there wasn’t much need for my skills” in the American job market and took up construction. He married Elizabeth Garcia and had a son, who today is a police officer in Seabrook, Texas.

After he got injured on the job site, he became an RN and then a lawyer, initially a prosecutor and then a defense attorney in private practice.

Whenever he was home, Deny was always nuzzling at his ankle, until recently when they installed a Jacuzzi. When Thomas realized his dog was not right behind him he looked over. Deny, whose spine was fractured from military service, was breaking down with old age.

“He was literally dragging his 90 pound body trying to follow me, never crying,” Thomas says. “I looked around and saw and just dropped to the ground. I can’t tell you how much I just loved this dog. There was a bond. I just can’t explain it.”

Deny’s back legs didn’t work, nor did his bladder. Thomas realized that the workload was bearing down on poor Deny and that it would be best to release him into Heaven. He called the vet and prepared Deny’s last meal, which he filmed originally only with the intent to encourage people to adopt dogs from Mission K9. The video went viral and a nation’s tears almost caused regional flooding. Read the rest: Deny, the military dog, put to rest after retirement in Christian home.

MAGAhulk all over #OpenCalifornia rallies is a Christian

magahulkThe MAGAhulk who erupted on social media after appearing at #OpenCalifornia rallies all over the state is a Christian who walked away from God after his mom died of cancer when he was 17.

“I completely turned my back on God after being raised in a strict Christian home,” says Stephen Davis, 35. “I was like, ‘Why, God, why? You know how much I need my mom.”

He fell into the party scene and dropped out of college after the first year. “I always knew there was a God. I just didn’t want to have anything to do with him.”

stephen davis magahulkBut at age 25, a series of “eye-opening miracles” eventually brought him back to Jesus — things like financial miracles. He found himself in a church service thinking, “I was too far gone to come back. God didn’t want me anymore.”

But the service seemed entirely centered around him with a message of hope that he could find forgiveness and begin serving Christ again.

“It hit me that He wanted me back,” Stephen says.

Stephen’s handle on Instagram is @realtalkperiod, but he’s been dubbed the MAGAhulk after he began showing up at rallies protesting what many view as senselessly prolonged shutdown of California’s economy.

go ahead knock my cap offAt 6’4” and 335 pounds of lean muscle mass, he carries a commanding presence, dressed in a dark blue 45 T-shirt and MAGA cap with a Trump flag and American flag slung over his shoulder.

People are drawn to him and begin to talk to him and he jovially but forcefully talks about the need of Governor Newsom to loosen lockdown restrictions and the blowback he’s gotten from the Left after he “came out” as a Trump supporter. A popular meme showing him in Trump cap saying “Go ahead bro, knock my cap off” taunts liberals, but Stephen is amiable and non-threatening.

“I used to hate Trump, but I didn’t know why,” he confides. “I was told he was a racist. I was told he was a horrible person. I believed all the media’s lies. But then I started to have doubts because in the 90s, all these prominent black leaders and rappers loved Trump. They wanted to be with Trump and be like Trump. I was a little confused. How is he now a racist?”

After being troubled by these considerations, Stephen decided he wouldn’t accept the standard story told by the Left and would conduct an inquiry for himself. What he found astounded him.

“I started to do my own research. I started reading his policies and what he stood for and how much he loved his country. I loved what he stood for. I asked, ‘Why is the media lying?’ He has American ideals.” Read the rest MAGAhulk at OpenCalifornia rallies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After two years, she left with her two children.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erez Soref thought he was the only Jew who came to know Jesus

erez sorefErez Soref discovered spiritual reality on a trip to India as he conversed with Buddhists and Hindus.

Then he stumbled on a Christian group in Amsterdam that challenged him to read Messianic prophecies and compare them to their fulfillment in the New Testament.

“The best kept secret among the Jewish people,” says the president of One For Israel videos.

Erez Soref’s dad was a Sephardic Jew and his mom was of Babylonian Jewish descent. Going to synagogue seemed boring to him as a kid. The history of the Jewish people from thousands of years ago seemed to have little current relevance.

“God was very, very far away,” he says.

All through K-12, he studied the Old Testament for its historical and literary value only.

“It was something one needs to know being Jewish but not the Word of God,” he says.

Like many young Israelis, he traveled the world and landed on the “Mysticism Trail” — which is simultaneously the “Drug Trail” — in India, where he was exposed to Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.

“I got to understand there is a spiritual reality,” he says. “That spiritual reality was very scary, very negative, very dark, but it was very real.”

Erez_Soref_1_600_400_s_c1In Amsterdam, Erez fell in with some young vibrant Christians.

“I’m Jewish,” he told them right from the start. “We don’t believe in Jesus.”

“Why?” they responded. “Jesus is Jewish.”

“I’m not sure why, but I’m SURE we don’t believe in Jesus,” he answered.

Nevertheless a seed of inquiry began to germinate in his heart.

He was struck by their enthusiastic faith. The way they called it a “personal relationship with God” seemed totally foreign to him.

“What was even more shocking than that was that some of them were familiar with passages in the Hebrew Scriptures that I wasn’t ever well familiar with,” he says.

His new friends called them “prophetic” or “Messianic” passages.

“I was amazed. How do you guys know these passages? This is ours!” he says.

He referenced his own Bible in Hebrew and verified that the Messianic passages were legit.

Then he cajoled himself into peeking into the New Testament. He had already read Buddhist and Hindu literature, so what could be wrong with reading the Christian writings?

“I was very surprised. First of all it took place in Israel and places I’ve been to many many times,” he says. “Growing up in Israel, I never ever heard anything about Jesus of Nazareth.”

“Jesus is the best-kept secret among the Jews,” he says. It seemed incomprehensible that he hadn’t learned a thing about Jesus when his family lived near the Sea of Galilee.

“I was very drawn to Yeshua,” he recounts. “He did not do things to try to win men’s favor.” Read more about the best kept secret of the Jews.

Matt Whitman and the anti-testimony

matt whitmanFor almost half his life, Matt Whitman lived off of the faith he found in Christ at age 15. But at age 29, after a falling out in his church, he decided that none of it made sense anymore and he became an atheist.

“I went from being in a Christian home and being a Christian as a young person to having my faith fall apart completely in adulthood,” he says on a Ten Minute Bible Hour video on YouTube.

Matt documents his own “spiritual deconstruction” to counter an emerging trend on YouTube of former Christians posting “anti-testimonies.” They explain how “reason” made them doubt and abandon their faith. Included are Hillsong song-writer Marty Sampson, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” author Joshua Harris and singer Lisa Gungor, who “anti-testified: on Buzzfeed.

matt whitman familyMatt Whitman was raised in a household where they discussed theology, history, philosophy and art. His dad was a pastor, and home life in Fort Collins, Colorado, was nothing but enjoyable.

“We did ‘thought’ for fun growing up,” he remembers. “We talked about books and movies and music and stories. I loved it. It was a blast to process all this. Through and in that context, the basics of the Christian concept made sense, and I signed up.”

He was 15 when he completed “Christianity 101,” gaining an understanding of some of the fundamentals of faith like God’s eternal nature.

“I got a lot of applause for being a good Christian young man,” he recalls. “I got a Christian job at the Christian bookstore. I went to a Christian high school. I got an award there for being a good Christian or whatnot. I felt like I had arrived.”

Ten Minute Bible HourBut his young mind had fixed mostly on behaving well to earn people’s admiration, which is a “pretty ugly build of faith to take out of childhood,” he says.

“Sure enough, I crashed against the rocks,” he explains. “The wheels fell off.”

As he grew up, got married, became a leader in the church, the simplistic answers of his childhood faith never got updated and were inadequate for the interpersonal relationship struggles and daunting philosophical questions presented to his maturing mind.

At age 29, he was driving away in a moving van with his young wife and weeks-old daughter from a church where he worked after “stuff got weird.” He never wanted to work at a church again and had nowhere to go.

“I started crying — like ugly crying,” he says. “Part of the reason is because that was the time that I wanted to have everything together for (my family),” he says. “I didn’t want there to not be a God, but I really felt there was no God.”

But in all honesty, his faith had vanished. “On that drive I kept coming to the conclusion that it was all fake,” he says.

Months later, he decided to re-read the Bible before he shared his atheism with his wife. But this time he vowed to read the Bible with an open and critical mind. He decided to jettison any and all delusions and break past his once infantile faith.

Viewed with fresh eyes, what he saw in the Bible shattered his preconceived notions.

“Very quickly I realized, ‘Oh, I have a false assumption here. My false assumption was that I was the main character of the document, that humans were the point’ but we’re not,” he says. “God is clearly the main character of the document.”

Whoa! Mind-blown. Read the rest of Why I’m Glad I didn’t make an Anti-Testimony.

Edwin Arroyave and Real Wives of Beverly Hills’ Teddi Mellencamp unashamed to tout Jesus

Edwin Arroyave and Teddi MellencampJust two weeks after he arrived from Colombia as a child and was taken to a luxurious home in Glendora, CA, little Edwin Arroyave watched his home raided because his father was under suspicion for drug trafficking.

Both mom and dad were hauled away, and Edwin and his two siblings saw their dream-like landing in America turn into nightmare as they went into foster care.

“After that, our home would get raided once a year,” he told Ed Mylett on a YouTube video. “It’s exactly like you see in the movies, probably worse. They just come in and turn that house upside down. The first three times they raided, my dad wasn’t there. I could hear the helicopter flying overhead looking for him.”

edwin arroyave christianOn the fourth raid, federal agents arrested and convicted Edwin’s dad. The family moved into poverty-stricken Huntington Park.

“Son, you need to be the man of house now,” his dad managed to tell him before being locked away “for a long time.”

“That was a blow to me because my dad was my hero,” Edwin says. “I was 10. Even though I didn’t know what he did for a living, I admired that he took care of everyone. He showed me a lot of love. It was a big blow.”

Mom and the kids were so poor they had to rent two of the rooms in the 3-bedroom apartment to make rent. Eight people lived in the apartment. “It was very cramped,” he says. “I remember roaches waking me up every night.”

teddi-mellencamp-dove-baby-girlThrough the chaos of their lives, mom prayed over him and built up his self-esteem. Edwin came to accept Jesus into his heart.

“You have greatness in you,” mom told him.

He dreamed of fulfilling the American Dream.

Because his sister’s boyfriend made $100,000 a year, Edwin decided he would earn that amount too.

He ditched high school classes and went to a posh Rodeo Drive upscale shopping district to window-shop and then tour the priciest neighborhoods of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Hills to see the mansions.

“One day, I’m going to be here,” he announced dreamily.

At 15 he got his first job. It was tele-marketing.

“I was just so grateful to get a job,” he says. “I was the youngest guy they hired. I just worked my butt off.”

At 16, he was promoted to supervisor of five employees. At 18, he was made manager of 40 employees. He was making $1,000 a week and became the right hand of the vice president of sales.

A short time later, the VP resigned and invited Edwin to help him found an alarm system company. Edwin would have to quit his $60,000 a year job and had no guarantee of success at the startup.

Today, that startup is Skyline Security, a $34 million giant in the domain of home security systems.

“A lot of success comes from common sense. I thought, ‘This guy is making 250 grand a year, he’s risking everything for it. He must be pretty serious.’”

“I took a risk to follow my dreams,” he says. “Everyone told me, ‘There’s no way you’re going to leave another $70,000 a year job for the unknown.’ But if you’re going to make it big, you have to go all in.”

He married Teddi Mellencamp, daughter of rocker John Mellencamp, who launched a weight loss program after she got her own fluctuating weight under control. They have three kids together and attend Mosaic Church, a hipster magnet, in Hollywood.

Teddi is also featured in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality show.

“Faith is huge for both of us,” Edwin says. “Before we went on the show, I had fear of the unknown. But we prayed about it and felt that God was putting this opportunity before us to show our faith and give Him glory.” Read the rest: Edwin Arroyave and Teddi Mellencamp Christian.

Hordes of prayer warriors unseen behind Trump

PastorsprayforTrump1 (1)There’s an army of unseen, anonymous prayer warriors backing up President Trump during the COVID crisis, which possibly accounts for his popularity and success in spite of the apparent hostile mass media and entrenched intelligentsia.

“Dear Lord please heal our nation and protect our President so that he can serve a second term and lead our land,” Grandma CJ wrote on President Trump’s Facebook Prayer Team page.

trump-prayerCJ joined a hailstorm of enthusiastic comments in response to photos showing pastors praying for Trump. The post read simply, “I’m praying for my president. You too?”

After 13 hours, the Facebook post had gathered 1,200 thumbs-up or hearts, 203 shares and 294 comments. It wasn’t viral, but it was a strong signal of support.

The interaction suggests hordes of praying people undergirding President Trump with much more than just their votes. They’re standing up for Christian pro-life values and bending their knees in repentance, asking the Father to bring healing to a hurting nation and world.

trump-praying-1584294333It is hard to estimate how many people across America are actively and earnestly praying for the president – especially during the current crisis.

One survey indicates that posts often get four times the exposure you may think. In other words, Facebook users who thought a post was seen by 20 friends was actually seen by 80. If this rule applies, this innocuous call for prayer for the president may have reverberated through tens of thousands.

Another important metric is the criticism leveled by anti-Trumpers who allege Facebook “threw” the election to Trump, blaming nefarious Russian bot plots.

But the fact of the matter is that while poll after poll predicted a certain Clinton win, posts on Facebook were frequently in favor of Trump. It seemed that Christians, who are ignored by traditional media, were resorting to social media to voice their frustrations.

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The upshot? What gets posted on Facebook reveals a behemoth. So it’s not far-fetched to conjecture that there are literally millions of American Christians praying for the president.

It’s no secret that the traditional media outlets hate Trump. Some outright vilify him daily, filling news columns with controversies, even to the point of making them up. Early in his presidency, it was claimed First Lady Melania didn’t want to hold his hand after a camera recorded her rebuffing his gesture of affection. Whole articles were confabulated speculating that their marriage was on the rocks. Four years later, Melania is still by his side. Read the rest: Pray for Trump.

Long Beach church girl found her way back to God

praising JesusAt 10, Veronyka dressed like a boy and wanted to be a gangster. Then her father got radically saved and she started attending church.

“My family gang-bangs,” she said on a video posted by the Long Beach Door Church. “That’s just the life I came from. I come from generations and generations of gangsters. When you come from the lifestyle that I come from, there are strongholds.”

But after tasting church life, she decided to follow her secular friends and leave the church.

veronyka sanchez“I was going to church but I was also walling out, drinking and going to parties,” she said. I was living a double life. I never had a real one on one relationship with God. When I was 17 and I got my first real taste of the world, I decided, ‘This is awesome. I love it,’ and, ‘Freedom!’ and I got pregnant. I just kind of went downhill from there.”

Veronyka left home and lived house to house during the pregnancy and after giving birth. Then when her baby turned one, Veronyka turned to do what she thought was the only career available to her.

“I started dancing,” she says. “I was in a really hard place, and I felt very alone. I felt like I needed to get quick money fast. Everything that I ever knew was unraveling so fast, so I started dancing. Little did I know that I was going to go down a really dark rabbit hole once I opened that door.”

For three years, she made good money “dancing.” She got her own place and her own car and lived in San Bernardino.

“I got involved with some people who definitely took advantage of me and manipulated me,” she says. “As dark as an environment that I got in, I could have gotten deeper. It scared me to a point where I was like, ‘Am I going to go fully into what I’m doing or am I going to stop all of this and turn back to God?’ Read the rest: Church in Long Beach.

Best-selling author Andrew Klavan came to Christ

Author 1Andrew Klavan, international best-selling author, grew up in a Jewish household devoid of God.

He felt like a hypocrite at his bar mitzvah when he recited Hebrew statements of faith neither he nor his parents believed. “Judaism is a beautiful religion, but when you empty it of God, it has no meaning,” he told CBN.

He threw himself into reading. He didn’t get along with his dad, so he searched for male role models in books. He struck on the noir, Hemingwayesque hero, the tough guy womanizer who held to his own moral code.

The Long Island native liked reading so much that he started writing, first for a newspaper in Putnam County, NY, and then riveting detective novels. He wrote prolifically and read widely.

100780_w_760_724“The more I read, the more I found that Christianity was at the center of almost every great story that I loved,” Klavan said. “I started to read the Gospel according to Luke as a piece of literature just to find out what everybody was talking about, and I found that the figure of Jesus Christ was at the center of Western Culture.”

At first, he examined the issues only as a sociologist, trying to understand the origins and evolution of Western Civilization’s values and development. But the quest for truth that his protagonists portrayed resonated in his heart and eventually Klavan realized nothing made sense without the existence of God.

“I began to believe in my mind that there actually was a God, but I didn’t know Him yet,” he explained to CBN.

One day he read in a book that a character prayed before going to sleep and Klavan decided he could try the same. Tentatively, he muttered a very terse prayer.

“Thank, You, Lord,” he uttered.

Undramatically, he fell asleep.

“I woke up the next morning and truly everything had changed,” he says. ”There was a new clarity to everything. My heart was filled with gratitude. I was experiencing a joy that had been locked away. Suddenly, knowing God opened me up to my own experience of life.”

That tiny prayer turned into titanic growth in the Lord. Read the rest of the article Andrew Klavan Christian

Before there was Corona, there was crisis in Venezuela on border of Colombia

dr. bob hamilton and ligthhouse medical missions in columbia 2020Some of them walked 10 days to cross the border into Colombia in search of food or medical supplies they could take back to socialism-starved Venezuela.

Johnny Huerta and a team of six doctors, eight nurses and 24 other volunteers were in Cucuta, Colombia, on a temporary medical and feeding mission to show the love of Christ in a tangible way.

“We were swarmed by people,” said Johnny, who’s a painter and baseball player from Santa Monica. “They were grabbing us, grabbing us, like, ‘Pray for me. Pray for me.’”

food for venezuelan refugeesThe pleas for prayers grew to a fevered pitch after some miraculous healings and exorcisms, Johnny says.

The Lighthouse Medical Mission, which got its start 25 years ago in war-torn West Africa, landed on the border of Venezuela on March 7th — before most of the U.S. got locked down over Coronavirus fears. The humanitarian crisis of 40,000 daily border crossings there has been essentially eclipsed.

The Santa Monica-based team provided medical attention and drugs and handed out 3,000 meals a day in conjunction with World Central Kitchen in three areas: in Cucuta, in a Yukpa village on the outskirts of town and in nearby Pamplona. The 39 people divided up in teams to minister in each area.

Johnny Huerta Cucuta Columbia

Johnny Huerta shares fun with the kids.

Johnny was assigned logistics, took pictures, but mostly got roped into translation. The stories he heard of dead family members and left-behind family members appalled him as well as the squalor he witnessed. In the Yukpa village, there were no bathrooms and people lived in huts fashioned with tree limbs and plastic tarp.

“People can live with little and still be happy, but this was not healthy,” Johnny says. “They bathe in an unsanitary river, and that’s why they get lots of infections. They also drink out of that river.

“They have makeshift huts built out of garbage. Babies are walking around naked. They pretty much have nothing. It was one of those shocking situations where you say, ‘Wow people are waking up and living like this every day with unhealthy conditions.’”

The team brought two chefs, but they were prevented from serving until they scrambled to obtain Columbia food preparation licenses.

When they arrived at the border on the first day, “we weren’t sure how they were going to respond as we got out of the van to serve the food,” Johnny says. “They were desperate for food and outnumbered us. Immediately they ran over and we tried to get them in a line, which eventually became a crowd.

“As we tried to transport apples from the back of the van to the food serving area they began to crowd the back of the van as well. We ended up handing out the apples from the van as we were never gonna get through. The next couple of times we fed at the border we organized police protection in advance and were a bit more organized. Even then it was still a bit chaotic.”

Short-term missions are highly recommended because they can impact American church-goers forever: they broaden horizons, impart vision and erode entitlement.

“I was just thankful they gave me the privilege of being able to go with me,” Johnny says. “You feel like you get more out than you put into it. I’m more mature in my faith and in my life than I was before.”

As busy as he was being pulled this way and that, Johnny still found time to share his passion for painting with the kids. It was a personal connection he’ll treasure for life.

In Pamplona, the team attended 3,000 patients.

Many people are losing their eyesight because of rampant infections, Johnny says.

While the doctors saw patients, the pastors and lay leaders were praying for people, many of whom got healed even before they received medical attention, Johnny says.

That’s when they started getting swarmed.

Because witchcraft is widely practiced in the region, several people were delivered from demonic spirits, Johnny says.

“One lady was released from demon possession. She looked super oppressed beforehand and was all smiles afterward,” Johnny says. “They practice witchcraft and spiritism because of their circumstances. They’re reaching out for help. But when we came to them with the gospel, they were open.” Read the rest: Venezuelan refugees Christian response

Winning Muslims to Christ with a hug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He tried to be the devil’s #1

Ronnie Legg Texas gangster turned to ChristIncarcerated for a schoolyard murder, a psychologist told 12-year-old Ronnie Legg there was no forgiveness available to Him from God.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’ll never be able to get into Heaven,” he says on a video published by a Texas outreach group. “I might as well be the devil’s #1. As soon as I was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years, I started pushing hard to try to do the devil’s work. I was pushing hard to be the ultimate gangster.”

Ronnie’s troubles began early: a single mom, abused as a tyke, living in poverty. For selling drugs on the wrong street in East Houston, his brother was killed. Nine-year-old Ronnie followed in his footsteps with drinking and smoking dope.

Ronnie Legg saved from gangsHis mother, brokenhearted at the loss of one son, steeled her heart against what she thought was the inevitable demise of Ronnie.

“There’s no more love here for you because you’re going down the same path your brother went down,” his mom told him. “You ain’t going to do nothing different, so I’ll be danged if you break my heart.”

Ronnie responded to the rejection by throwing the first object he could find at her.

“I hate you,” he yelled.

At age 12, he was on the schoolyard when a group of young gangsters tried to jump him. But they didn’t count on Ronnie being armed and he shot three of them, killing one. He was arrested four days later. Even without a jailhouse confession, prosecutors secured a conviction.

Ronnie Legg Game OverBy age 15, he was in the penitentiary because he was so dangerous. While there, he joined the Houstone Blast gang and fought every day to make a name for himself.

“As I started doing that, everybody was patting me on the back,” he recalls.

Released from prison, he trafficked dope, pimping and kidnapping in Houston.

In December 1999, the Feds tracked him down. It seems his best friend snitched on him. Sentenced to 72 months, he got into trouble in prison so much that his sentence was lengthened to 9 years and 4 months and then into 12 years.

“I ended up walking around some of the worst prisons in the whole United States,” he says. He was in Beaumont prison during the racial riots. He was transferred to Oklahoma and then to Pollack, Louisiana. Of 100 Texans in Pollack, only he and another survived.

Ronnie eventually was transferred to a Death Row penitentiary in Indiana. In Victorville penitentiary, he was thrown in with the Crips and Bloods. It didn’t matter to him that he was the only Houstone. Almost immediately, he stabbed someone on the yard.

Finally, he was transferred to the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” in Florence, Colorado, the “worst of the worst. Everybody there is a killer. Three people a day get stabbed,” Ronnie says.

When he was admitted, the warden gave him one warning:

“All I ask is that you don’t put no steel in my officers.”

When he was finally released, Ronnie went home and immediately resumed drug trafficking.

He got busted for a crime he didn’t commit. Read the rest: Houstone gang Christian.

‘I started punching myself in the face,’ says Muslim in disbelief after Jesus healed his mouth pain

khaleed-matmatiAs a Muslim, Khaleed Matmati was skeptical that Jesus would take away the pain from his mouth infection. But after prayer he was so astonished that the pain was gone the next morning.

“I started punching myself in my face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and my face,” Khaleed says on a CBN video. “I realized Jesus was God. I just told Him, ‘Okay, Jesus, I give you my life.’”

Khaleed grew up as a Muslim immigrant who wasn’t particularly drawn to the rigorous disciplines of Islam. What drew him was music.

“I always believed that Allah was God,” he says. “But growing up in high school I wanted to have fun. I saw everybody else having fun. What’s fun about not smoking pot? What’s fun about not drinking? What’s fun about not partying? I thought, ‘Later on when I become a parent and have children, then I’ll be a good Muslim.’”

When worship leader Eddie James met Khaleed, the Lord spoke to him about taking Khaleed on the road with him. Even though Khaleed wasn’t Christian, Eddie James hired him because God had told him that Khaleed would convert.

2593-1498622988-31495“It was right after 9/11 had happened, and Eddie was not trying to take no Muslim into his ministry,” Khaleed says now laughing.

Khaleed didn’t care for the religion. What he liked was the chance to learn music. ”I thought this was my big break,” he says. “I wanted to learn what I could from Eddie and go and do my own thing.”

His initial sign from God was on his first stop in Nashville Tennessee.

It started off with his friend David, who got bitten by a bug, which later began to swell.

They were staying in a Christian’s house and the mother of the household announced she would pray for David.

“This lady has gotta be out of her mind,” Khaleed thought to himself at the time. “Jesus healing a hand? That’s the stuff they do on TV. Who believes that crap?”

1f5efd4778b9544cc50ec70fc00a5e1fShe prayed, and then — to Khaleed’s astonishment — the swelling went down.

“Right in front of my face, the swelling goes away,” Khaleed remembers. “You couldn’t even tell anything was wrong with his hand.”

After he saw that, Khaleed wondered if he himself could be healed. He had been experiencing pain due to an infection in his mouth and gums.

“Can you do for my mouth what I saw you do for his hand?” he asked.

“When she started praying for me, the pain was gone,” he recalls. “I needed a minute to comes to grips with what just happened. I remember sitting in the chair after she prayed for me thinking, ‘Oh my God, my whole life is going to change.’”

Still, Khaleed was not ready to ditch Islam. So he thought that perhaps the painkillers he’d been taking had finally kicked in. They asked him if he was healed. He responded: “Let me tell you in the morning” after the painkillers will have worn off.

The next morning, he woke up and began munching sugar molasses cookies. As he savored them, he swished them around in his mouth trying to re-provoke the pain.

“There was absolutely no pain,” he says. “I began to really start freaking out. I began to start punching myself in the face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and in my mouth. I realized that Jesus was God. Read the rest: what happens when Muslims get healed by Jesus?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One month after his wife died, Danny Gokey tried out for American Idol

danny gokeyDanny Gokey’s wife died unexpectedly during a routine heart surgery in 2009.

“They gave me a private room and I yelled out loud, ‘God you have to save her! You have to heal her! You have to. You cannot leave me alone like this!’” he said on an I am Second video. “It got to the point where she was gone, and once again that old familiar thing of fear came back into my life.

“I felt in my heart, God’s mad at me.”

Christian singer Daniel Jay Gokey, 40, is best known for his first single, “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” which peaked at number 29 on the country chart, inspiring him to release his full record My Best Days in early 2010.

Born in Milwaukee, Danny attended Heritage Christian Schools and sang with his family in church. In his mid twenties he became the director of Faith Builders International Ministries.

Leyicet-Peralta-WikiDuring this time, he married Sophia Martinez, who was also a fellow church-going music fan.

It was Sophia who encouraged Danny to audition for American Idol. He was accepted as a recipient and ultimately placed third in 2009. This launched his music career, which he aimed at the Christian pop segment.

Four weeks before Danny’s tryout on American Idol, Sophia died. He performed his best in devotion to her.

“I made a promise that I would go try out,” Danny says. “Little did I know that when I would try out for this show, it would be a month after she passed.”

Sophia had a heart condition from birth but had gotten it fixed in a surgery when she was young. Or so Danny thought.

“Little did I know that in our first year of marriage that we’d be in the hospital together because her heart was beating 200 times per minute,” Danny recalls. “And that’s when the doctor dropped the news on us. We were both 24 years old. He said, ‘We’re going to have to have another heart surgery.’”

In his youth, Danny was plagued by all kinds of irrational fears. Many of his fears centered on whether God truly and unconditionally loved him.

Now all the old fears rose up. Read the rest: Danny Gokey’s wife died.

She found no peace in the ‘religion of peace’ until she found the Prince of Peace

Jazal KhatriAll the praying to Allah did little good for Jazal Khatri, whose parents fought contiually and finally divorced.

But when a co-worker’s prayers calmed her panic attack, Jazal experienced a peace never before felt.

“I can no longer think that I’m worthless because if my name is written on God’s hand, as Isaiah 49 mentions, that means He always cares about me,” says Jazal on a 700 Club video. “

Jazal (now with a new last name, Osorio, as a married woman) grew up in a strict Muslim family in America.

Jazal Osorio“I believed that staying true to Islam was something my parents and I would bond over,” she says. “As I did as they requested me to do — like going to the mosque with them, participating in Ramadan fasting — it would bring us closer.”

The hoped-for result never materialized. Instead, she and her mom would flee at midnight frequently.

“I could go to bed thinking everything’s fine and wake up the next morning and it would be disaster,” she says.

And Allah responded with no peace when she prayed.

“Allah seemed really distant for me. I didn’t really feel like I was being listened to. I felt more of like I was going through the motions. I was not really feeling anything in return from god, any love or support or hope. I wanted.

“I wanted that peace that people keep talking about that Islam represents and I didn’t ever feel that.”

When she was a senior in high school, her father called it quits to the tumultuous marriage. Subsequently, mom started a new family.

“After I went through all that with my family, I kind of felt like I wasn’t worthy of any affection or love,” she recounts. “I looked for it from my parents and didn’t get it. It was kind of a reminder: Hey Jazal, you’re not that great. If you were great, your family wouldn’t have left you behind.” Read the rest: no peace in the ‘religion of peace.’

A ‘time of death’ brought Derek Minor to God

derekminor-1Excuse Derek Minor for bragging in his Christian hip hop, but it’s hard to not be excited about how God brought him out of poverty: While Dad and Grandma were on dope, mom was Wonder Woman raising up the middle Tennessee youngster with strict Christian principles.

The founder of Reflection Music Group can’t tone down the boasting since God helped him pay back his mother.

“They say I’m bragging when I tell ‘em I pull up in foreign cars with wife and children,” Minor says on the song “Maybe.” “You would too if you grew up in a broken home.”

Today, Derek Minor is considered by some to be one of the four “new OGs” — the new “Old Gangsters” who are leading the current crop of CHH. (He shares that with Lecrae, Bizzle and Ruslan — all of whom operate CHH labels that crank out music from multiple artists).

derek minorDerek Minor is also CHH’s professor of sociology, explaining the harsh realities of the hood to the kids in the suburbs. He goes so far as to say kids from the hood realistically have no other option other than to sell drugs, but before you fire your judgment gun, consider the ease with which suburbanites justify funny accounting and tax evasion, or other white collar offenses. Minor is only promoting understanding, compassion and mercy toward those facing daunting challenges.

Derek Johnson, Jr. was born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1984, but the family moved to Tennessee when he was young. His relationship with his birth father was poor, and then his mom remarried a drug-abusing jazz musician. Step dad inspired his musical inclinations, while mom kept him on track with a brand of devout Christianity, according to his former website.

From age 12, Derek Minor — which was his second stage name — was rapping to beats produced by his step dad. By age 15, he decided to study recording industry management at Tennessee State University. His mom bought production equipment and he graduated in 2006.

At 21, his bunk bed was his mic stand. As he released his first mixed tape with an independent company that failed, he started to rebel. Free from the strict oversight of his mom, Minor lost control after he discovered women and money.

A “season of death”‘ shook him up and he was forced to come to grips with humanity’s mortality. In a short span, he lost his grandfather, grandmother and his godmother. The sobering tragedies prompted him to dedicate his life and music to God.

His first stage name was PRo, a take off of “prodigal.” Read the rest: Derek Minor Christian rapper.

Handi-capable man McLeod’s Coffee House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Run DMC, now ‘Rev Run’

RevRun-Justine-SimmonsBefore his influence, hip hop was a backwater movement off most people’s radar. Then Joseph Simmons and his group Run DMC brought rap to the mainstream in the mid 1980s and suddenly it became an international sensation.

Joseph Simmons banked millions, landed his own $2.0 million Adidas shoe deal and had innumerable adoring fans. A few albums later, he had fallen off.

One member of the trio was murdered, another was lost in drugs, and Joseph Simmons, succumbing to alcoholism, was left scratching his head wondering why the genre he helped found had all but forgotten him. His wife was divorcing him. He was accused of rape. His fame, finances and family were frittering away.

Thankfully the New York native turned to God.

run-dmc-portrait-joseph-run-simmons-darryl-d-m-c-news-photo-1579816339“There are always your darkest moments before the birth of a beautiful thing. Rev Run at his low point was not quite Rev Run,” he says, speaking in third person about himself, to the Guardian. “He was trying to understand this great thing that was happening to him. There was a time to reap, a time to sow. A time for it to be sunny outside and a time when it’s so dark you have no option but to just be or you’ll go nuts.”

“Records sales weren’t as high as they was (sic),” he says on NPR. “I was a little unhappy with what was going on so I started going to church. And when I started going to church I started to feel better. Things were starting to look brighter for me. I started to see that learning the principles of God was helping to shape my life better.”

RevFamily-panoramaAs the rap genre turned dark and promoted drugs and gang violence, Simmons turned to church. It was a former Run DMC bodyguard, Bobby Walker, who finding Run wallowing in depression persuaded him to attend New York’s Zoe Ministries Church in 1990. Within five years Run had gone from usher to ordained minister, donning the moniker Reverend Run.

Today, the 55-year-old who once rapped Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” on colab now teaches people to “walk His way” and preaches an aggressive, rhapsodic message wherever he’s invited: “You must be born again, my friend, or you’re going straight to hell,” Southcoast Today quoted him at a 1996 church service.

As a Pentecostal pastor, Rev Run was turning heads. In 2005, he got the chance to bring God’s truths about family and marriage to a reality show on MTV.

Yes, you read that right. MTV — that profane purveyor of hedonism, anti-God-ism and ADD — the last a result of the rapid fire succession of endless images to music. It was MTV where potty-mouthed Ozzy Osbourne, the satanic concert chicken-head decapitator, had his reality show. It was an imponderable spot for a reverend to be preaching — or rather practicing what he preaches.

MTV was also an extraordinary opportunity to shine light into an incredible dark space, and he was given the opportunity to dispense sound spiritual advice on “Run’s House” because of his previous work as Run DMC’s front man. Now he had, instead of platinum sales, an eternal view toward streets of gold. Read the rest: How did Rev Run become Christian?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He divorced his wife.

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

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

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

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

Homeless 11-year-old waif rescued because of Christian group in Honduras

Operation Blessing HondurasEleven-year-old Linda was rescued off the streets by her cousin from another village.

Cousin Myrna was able to take her in because of her affiliation with Operation Blessing.

poverty in HondurasLinda’s demise began because of extreme poverty in a remote village in Honduras. Her parents left her to fend for herself and she found shelter in an old abandoned house, where she slept.

“When I slept at that house, I used to hear some very scary noises. Then I would become very afraid,” she told Operation Blessing. “I wanted sunrise to come quickly.”

During the day, the little street urchin begged for food, and sometimes people gave her tortillas with nothing on them to stave off starvation. Other times she went hungry.

“Some people gave me something to eat,” she said. “Other people just looked away.”

Because of the poverty in the rural area, Linda lacked a birth certificate and wasn’t allowed to enroll in school. Read the rest: Honduras poverty Christian help.

“I wanted to learn to write my name, read, study and do homework,” Linda says.

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Mahomes, hot arm, cool character, Christian QB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda somehow gave birth to a child in 2006.

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

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

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

Transformed by glory from gay lifestyle

ECJym7ZXoAEZ4KJBy Laken Wilson —

Becket Cook lived a dream life as a set designer in the fashion world. Flaunting an openly gay lifestyle, he swam in Drew Barrymore’s pool and vacationed in Diane Keaton’s vacation home.

But the luster lost its shine at one party: “I can’t do this anymore,” he realized.

In his book Change Of Affection, Beckett documents his identity transformation, as well as a peace and freedom previously unimaginable.

Becket’s demise into homosexuality began when he was 10 at a sleepover with a friend in Texas where he grew up. The friend’s dad molested him at midnight.

becketcook2-8b38574“It was very shocking and scary, and I had this image in my mind that if I didn’t allow him to do what he was doing, I had a picture of him with a knife,” Becket recalls on a 700 Club video. “He was going to stab me or kill me.”

The molester came back three times during the night.

“I did not tell my parents because I knew my father probably would of had him killed,” he said. “I didn’t want my father going to prison over this.” He was the youngest of eight and didn’t want his siblings to be fatherless.

“Also I didn’t want people to know,” he says. “It was a shameful experience.”

gay no moreSo he locked up the horrors in the safe deposit box of his heart.

“Living as a gay man, I never really thought that affected me,” Becket said. “I didn’t want my identity as a gay man to tied to such a scary, weird, gross night. After I became a Christian, I realized, that night had a huge impact on my sexuality. It cemented it.”

He was popular in high school with the girls and went to dances, but when he got older, he had gay bestfriends and went to gay bars and explored the gay life.

“I kind of felt like this was home for me, these are my people. But it wasn’t until after college when I had my first relationship with a guy,” Becket says. “We fell in love and that is when homosexuality as my identity was known.”

He “came out to his parents and family.

His parents were Christians and believed it was a sin, but they were very loving about it. His father asked him if he did anything wrong and if he was angry towards him about anything.

“No dad, I’m fine,” Becket responded. “This who I am, and it’s not your fault.”

Over the years in LA, he went through five serious relationships.

He was at Paris Fashion Week March 2009 at an after-party when he looked over the crowd and remembered asking himself: “This is not it. This is not the meaning of life. What am I going to do for the rest of my life?”

He went to a coffee shop where he came across people with Bibles, and he and his best friend ended up having a conversation with them.

They invited him to their church the next week. Becket asked them what they believed in about homosexuality. They replied it was a sin. Becket ended up going to the church the following Sunday, and while he was listening to the sermon everything was resonating as truth to him and heart.

“I was processing the sermon and worship music, and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit just overwhelmed me.” he remembers. “God was like, I’m God, Jesus is my son, Heaven is real, Hell’s real, the Bible is true and you are now adopted into my kingdom. Welcome.”

Becket started bawling and was able to see the truth for the first time in his life — and the new meaning of life for the first time. He knew in that moment that that was no longer the gay man he used to be.

“The curtains just parted,” Becket said. “I knew instantly in that moment that this was no longer who I was. Being gay was not who I was. It was over. I was done with it.”

Laken Wilson is my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica and wrote this for extra credit in literature class.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gotta keep your cool

IMG_6230Coach poured coolant into the radiators at halftime.

Down 5-18, Lighthouse Christian Academy performed better in the second half, though not good enough to beat its amaranthine rival Hillcrest of Thousand Oaks in a foul fest of a basketball game on Friday.

“These guys have to learn to handle their frustrations with referees, with contact in these games,” said coach David Horowitz. “I’m trying to remind them that when you play with the power of God, you answer to that. You don’t have to get fired up about it.”

Senior Marcus Scribner was bringing competition to Hillcrest with speed and physicality. He was beating players and putting up shots. Others on the Lighthouse were missing and misunderstanding passes.

After the half time pep talk from coach, others calmed their nerves and began to score, including the ever-calm Pat Cannon, who uncharacteristically reacted a ref’s call in the first half, resulting in free throws for the opponents.

Senior Zachary Brewer found his rhythm, and Daniel O’Neil, the tallest player in the court, lurked into the key to receive passes and score. The Santa Monica Christian school hit 25 points in the second half.

But its defense leaked.

“We definitely played better in the second half. Our energy was better,” said Coach David. “But we didn’t have the defense we wanted to be able to shut (them) down. Our defense didn’t hone it down.

“We had no business being that ugly early. We’re just better than that,” he added. “We put ourselves in a hole, and you start playing the other team’s game and you give them confidence. We had the ability and the skill to not only compete with these guys but to overcome it. Read the rest: Gotta keep your cool to win basketball.

Fired on at close range, Todd White turned to Jesus

todd-whiteTodd White joined the Marines to prove to his stepdad he was a man, but on break after boot camp he partied so much with drugs he forgot to report for duty.

“I went home and I stole a bunch of money in a drug deal, went out West and hid in the Rocky Mountains,” Todd says on a YouTube video. “A little while later I got busted and put in jail, extradited across the United States and put into the military prison.”

Today Todd White is a pastor helping myriads of people tripped up by Satan’s snares. But his past was beset with foundering and failure.

He was born out of a hookup when his father came back “messed up” following service in the Vietnam War. Two other siblings arrived from that union and his parents eventually married. It was perhaps inevitable that what started wrong wouldn’t end well, and his parents divorced when Todd was 11.

todd white ministryHe was thrown into the foster care system and raised by Free Masons. Frustrated by the breakup of his family, Todd turned to drugs.

“I was rebellious, angry, bitter, so mad,” he says. “I was fully addicted to anything I could get my hands on. It started with weed and it just escalated more and more.”

On a dare from his step dad, he joined the Marines to become a man — and to straighten up his life. Boot camp saw him drop 83 pounds and transform into a lean, mean, fighting machine.

“They kicked my butt,” he says.

Granted leave before he had to report for duty, Todd reverted to partying, drinking and drugs. He fled to the Rocky Mountains, where he eventually got arrested. In the computer system, cops found he was an AWOL Marine and shipped him back to the military to be tried and punished.

After five and half months in a military jail, Todd told his superiors he wanted to quit the Marines. But he had signed up for a period of service and they refused.

So he ran away again.

“I ended up getting arrested again,” he says.

todd white familySo now the Marines court-martialed him and gave him a dishonorable discharge, a black stain on his record. “Boom. Kicked me out of the military. This is the way I started out my life,” he says. “That’s not too good on a resume.”

Drinking and clubbing, he met a girl and tricked her into thinking he was an amazing guy.

She got pregnant and gave birth to a baby girl. Sadly, Todd was repeating the cycle of hopelessness and broken family that he inherited from his own dad. But the tiny baby in his arms melted his heart and sparked a motivation to seek change.

“When I held my little daughter I was like, I don’t know how to be a dad. I have a lifetime subscription to issues,” he recounts.

No one in Todd’s family was Christian. They were all atheists, not theoretical atheists who think up all the reasons to not believe in God, but practical atheists who live out the consequences of not having God.

“I am lost, and I’m floundering, and I’m hurting, and I’m hurting people,” Todd recounted.

When Todd’s daughter was a couple months old, the mother said she was leaving.

The emotional wallop caused Todd to entertain suicidal thoughts.

“Those thoughts have always been there at times more and more, but now it was like everyday. I became massively depressed and suicidal. Mixed with all kinds of drugs in my body. It was just a twisted life.”

Then his girlfriend announced she was going to leave Todd for another man and he went crazy.

”That’s it,” he responded furiously. “I’m taking them out. I’m taking you out. I will make you watch and then I’m going to take myself out. And then we’re going to leave our daughter with no one.”

Out of fear, his girlfriend stayed — for a time.

When she finally got up the nerve, she left when Todd was out.

”Finally one night I come home and she’s gone,” he recalls. “I said to myself, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ I drive to her stepdad’s house because he has rifles. I’m going to end my life. I head over to the gun cabinet on the way to the gun cabinet I pass by this ledge with a phone book on it.

Then something remarkable happened. When Todd randomly flipped open the phone book, in God providence it opened to a page displaying churches.

“I’m thinking, this is stupid, yet I drove to the church,” he says. “I needed to talk to somebody.”

“Praise Jesus!” a man said heartily when Todd walked into the church. He began to share Jesus with Todd.

When the man asked Todd to give his life to Jesus, Todd thought, Who would want my life?

“If He wants my life, fine, then, here, He can have it,” Todd told the man, as if his life were a recycled can. Obviously the man was more enthusiastic about Todd’s “conversion” than Todd was himself.

When Todd went home though, he noticed that he no longer wanted to kill himself.

He got his little girl to beg her mother to come back home.

“When she came home, man, was she mad,” Todd says. “I put my daughter to bed and that same night I’m out on a cocaine bid.”

The next morning Todd called the man from church and confessed he’d stumbled into cocaine again. “ Your Jesus didn’t work,” he said.

“How did the cocaine make you feel?” the man replied.

“Horrible,” Todd responded.

“Good for you because that means there’s a seed that growing inside of you,” the man said.

For five and a half months Todd continued to struggle with his addiction to cocaine.

One night, Todd was making a call to his dealer. He didn’t answer. As soon as Todd finished the call and turned around, there was his daughter and girlfriend looking distraught.

“You promised you would never do it again, daddy,” his daughter cried. ”You say it every night you promise and every night you do it again.”

Todd wanted to stop but couldn’t.

That same night, Todd went down to a place where people deal drugs. He planned to steal drugs from someone. He found a young guy in his car, took his cocaine and then “reads him his rights,” as if the kid was being arrested and he was a cop.

“The kid gets out of the car and when I hit the gas he pulled out a nine millimeter gun and unloaded at me,” Todd recounts. Read the rest: Todd White Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joey Vantes, suicide rapper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He loved to intimidate people until he despaired of life itself

Brian Cole, pastor and bikerBecause of his buck teeth and because he was short, Brian was the kid who got pushed around at school, but the nightmare of being pushed around at school paled in comparison to the emotional and physical abuse meted out by his father.

“I hated my father,” Brian Cole says in a CBN video. “I had this idea all through life, till I got to the age where I could take my dad on fist to cuffs that I would never be right with him.”

Eventually some kids from high school, outcasts and trouble-makers themselves, extended to Brian friendship — and cigarettes. Brian quickly realized that the tables had turned for his tormentors. With older kids sticking up for him, it was now his turn to terrorize them.

satanist bikerBrian began picking fights everywhere — in school, in church. He started stealing and using drugs regularly. Instead of finding compassion at church, he found condemnation and finger-pointing that only turned him away from God. He became

Brian began breaking into churches, stealing their sounds systems and vandalizing them. He trafficked drugs and porn at school

“Here I was 10 years old, and I didn’t want to be at home, I didn’t want to be in school, and I didn’t want to be in church,” he says, now with tears at the painful memories.

Only his mother, Dorothy, gave him unconditional love and prayed for him continuously.

“I loved that people looked up to me,” he says. “I loved that people were scared of me. I was the man.”

Brian Cole and his abusive fatherAt age 14, Brian got turned over to police for selling pot — by his own father.

From there, he cycled through the police system, the judicial system, treatment centers and psych wards. He never stop using drugs and stealing.

At 18, Brian caught a case for breaking and entering 250 homes that landed him with 10 years in a maximum security prison. While there, he turned to Satanism because it offered him a way to generate even more fear in others. He was taking speed and LSD heavily.

“Seeing the fear in people’s eyes — even the guards’ eyes — boy that really fed my ego,” he says.

After being released in 1994, Brian got a girlfriend. When she cheated on him, he hunted down the offending man and shot him point blank. Miraculously, the man survived. Read the rest: Satanist biker saved from drugs by Jesus.

Used to outwitting the KGB in Ukraine, immigrant outwits rabbis in the Yeshiva

persecuted christians in ukraineBy the time the KGB showed up, the Torahs were gone, stowed safely with their Ukrainian neighbors.

This the game of cat and mouse of being a Christian or a Jew under Communist Soviet domination in the 1980s. Foer her part, Andrew Scokovsky’s mom was born ethnic Jew but had decided to convert to Christianity after a lifelong search for truth.

My mom always searched for the meaning of life,” says Andrew*. “So she turned to socialism and communsim to see if it had the truth. She read Marx and Lenin and she couldn’t find it there. She was looking all theese places. Finally her friend said, Hey why don’t you read the Bible? It changed her life. Then she told it to my father and then he accepted Jesus too.”

Little Andrew grew up in the underground church of Odessa, always dodging the KGB and the communist authority.

“Whether Jewish or Christian, persecution was the same,” Andrew says. “According to socialistic creed, you’re supposed to believe in Lenin, so there is no higher authority than the communist party, there is a higher authority. They couldn’t allow that.”

persecuted christians in ukraine 2So when Andrew’s neighbors got wind that the KGB was planning to raid their house on a certain day, they spirited away the Torahs to Andrew’s house just in the nick of time. When the KGB — the feared security apparatus that propped up the communist dictatorship — arrived, agents found nothing.

Andrew says there were officially sanctioned churches but that you couldn’t hear the full gospel in them.

“We were part of the underground church,” he recalls. “You could not go to the regular church because if you went to a regular church, the KGB made a list of what you could preach. If you want to preach the whole Bible, you have to go to the underground church.”

As a young child, he was brought to church and dedicated to God. Accordingly, he grew up always wanting to pray, read his Bible and pursue a relationship with Jesus, he says.

At age 14, his parents were granted asylum to the United States under the religious persecution clause, and they settled in Brooklyn, NY, 1989.

“At the time we left, revival was going on,” Andrew says. “Just before communism fell, they opened up the region to foreigners, and Americans would come and preach. It was like a voice of angels in the late 80s. A lot of people converted during that time.”

In New York, his parents enrolled him in a public high school. But the fights — even with knives — frightened them, so they switched him to a conservative Jewish school, called a Yeshiva. They were not Jewish but resorted there because it was a “safe place,” he says.

Andrew knew he couldn’t talk about Christianity.

“Teachers taught us you only worship God and that Christians worship a man who claimed to be God, which is idolatry, the worst sin,” he said. Read the rest: Ukrainian persecuted Christian.

Gambling addiction broken after man sees in Bible what God told him

john simmonsJohn Simmons first entered a dingy poker room where guys were smoking on his 21st birthday in Vegas.

“There’s no better feeling than putting in a wad of money in your pocket knowing you didn’t really do anything to earn it,” says Simmons on a CBN video. “There’s a lot of adrenaline that builds up in your heart. The feeling of chasing that moment is intense.”

It was the start of a decade-long gambling addiction that saw John, from St. Louise, Missouri, fall into more than $200,000 of debt, depression and hopelessness.

IMG_5510His demise began with a celebration for his birthday, when it was finally legal for him to go into a casino.

“The guys at the tables got their sunglasses on and they’re bluffing each other,” John says. “It’s just filling me up with all this joy and i’m like I love this.”

John decided to pursue poker as a career. He got a job as a casino card dealer and he made good money.

‘Gambling gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of identity,” John says. “I would be a person that could be seen by others as a multimillionaire. If I wasn’t working, I was playing. If I wasn’t playing, I was sleeping.”

IMG_5509But when gambled on his free time, he lost.

After three years at the poker table, John was more than $200,000 in debt and had to declare bankruptcy. As part of the court settlement, he still had to pay off some debt. So John worked overtime to scramble the money.

“In my mind, it wasn’t that I was failing. I just needed to keep going and figure out how to fix it,” he says. “If only I could win the next thing, none of these losses matter. I would spend my entire paycheck over the course of a weekend trying to chase my debts. A lot of times, I had zero dollars in my pocket.

“It was such a terrible way to live,” he adds. “I couldn’t stop though. I kept thinking, ‘If all I do is win this one tournament, if I win a million dollars, no one will be mad at me anymore.’”

At age 30, he was again hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

He decided to survey the debris of his life. Read the rest of gambling addiction.

Hair-raising ‘Harriet’ includes positive portrayal of Christianity

LMKEBRX3HYI6THQCDVC4WPP2R4(spoiler alert) After several hair-raising chase scenes, armed runaway slave Harriet Tubman gets the drop on her former slave master.

Aiming her revolver, she steps out from behind a tree and demands Gideon Brodess, riding on horseback, to drop his rifle, which he does. But he tries to surprise her and pulls his handgun.

Harriet shoots his hand, walks over and grabs his rifle and trains it on him.

TEAZJN2ZXBDCPHCGKYDSIV7POI“God did not make people to own people,” she declares.

The fact that the biopic Harriet, in theaters now, portrays Christianity in a positive light is refreshing and rare from a secular production company from Hollywood. It would have been so easy for them to gloss over the ‘Black Moses’ connection to God in a rewrite that could have highlighted only feminism and race equality.

Harriet (played by Cynthia Erivo) decided to flee slavery in Maryland rather than be sold “down the river” and parted from her husband. Despite being illiterate, she successfully made the dangerous 100-mile journey to anti-slavery Pennsylvania.

A year later, she made the dangerous incursion back into Maryland to free her family. This became the mission of her life. Harriet Tubman, born Araminta “Minty” Ross, disguised herself, often as a man, to lead more than 100 slaves to freedom. She became notorious among white slave owners, who kept increasing the bounty on her head. Several riveting chase scenes are the fodder of this movie. Read the rest: Christianity in ‘Harriet.’

The ‘War on Christmas’ and other Christian click bait

holiday-cups-starbucksCheck your coffee cup because it’s time for the war on Christmas — and other click bait controversies.

Four years ago, provocateur Joshua Feuerstein stirred up more than a coffee cup of controversy when he posted a YouTube video claiming Starbucks “hates Jesus” after the company unveiled a plain red seasonal cup devoid of Christmas symbols and the word “Christmas.” Hundreds of Christians rolled their eyes, but the video racked up more than one million views before being mysteriously taken off YouTube.

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Joshua Feuerstein.

Such are the ways of a segment of Christians, who make waves — and money — spreading Christian controversy on the Internet. They may think they are sincerely warning fellow Christians about the evil of leaders or ideas — or maybe they’re just taking advantage of the Internet phenomenon called “click bait.” (Hosting services like YouTube pay content creators for viral material, so they entice people to click with tantalizing, sometimes polemical, headlines.

If Christians want to win the world for Christ, should they consider a different approach than rants or boycotts directed against Target because they don’t say “Merry Christmas?”

Other online provocateurs allege that Lecrae belongs to the Illuminati, that Joel Olsteen doesn’t preach Jesus and that Kanye West didn’t really get saved. Perhaps it would be best to not click on such stories because it affords traction in search engines.

article-5155-1Of course, there IS a sustained effort by secularists to eradicate Christmas from public life. In 2012, Santa Monica banned nativity scenes from its public park. The ACLU has tried to ban Christian displays on government land arguing it violates the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment. In 2017, President Trump pushed back against these attacks, tweeting, “People are proud to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”

And some retailers have come under fire by the American Family Association and the Catholic League for preferring “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas,” ostensibly to include Jews, Muslims and other customers who may not observe Christmas. An AFA boycott of Target in 2005 got the retailer to reincorporate “Christmas” in its publicity.

But many of the online attacks seem more like wild conspiracy theories, having just as much credibility as tabloid news. Just because the person who uploads the criticism claims to adhere to the Bible doesn’t mean his attack has the same authority as the Bible.

Online you can find accusations that Christian rapper Lecrae has sold out to the Illuminati and become an undercover agent. And you can find accusations that Joel Osteen is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Read the rest: War on Christmas and other Christian click bait.

He met the devil in the psych ward

JephHoagland5When an 18-year-old was sent to a psych ward and encountered Satan, a surprising series of events led him from darkness into the light.

As a teenager, Jeph Hoagland smoked weed and used psychedelics.

“I realized now that it’s wrong, and I really don’t support that way. It led me to nowhere,” Jeph says.

While he was still in rebellion, God was trying to get his attention. One day Jeph came to work drunk and was instantly sent home. Driving home, he raced around a turn too quickly, veered off the pavement, and crashed into a tree.

“The airbag went off. I got out of the car, I was fine, but the car was totaled,” Jeph recounted in a video.

After a few days, he went back to the tree where the crash happened. What he saw there was shocking.

JephHoagland1“I saw on the tree my initials, J.H. I was like, ‘Wow, this is insane. I didn’t put that there, no one put that there.’ It wasn’t like it was carved in, it was engraved in the tree,” Jeph recalled.

Did God do that? he wondered.

Jeph instantly thought there must be a higher power calling him. From then on, he started to believe God is real.

However, as he considered the reality of God’s existence he still continued to abuse drugs.

‘’I had these experiences searching for God. I had experiences on acid, where I thought I was enlightened. I felt good, and I was still feeling this void, this God-sized hole in me,” he explained.

In the process of searching for God, Jeph gave up drinking. But even without alcohol in his life, he still used mushrooms and LSD.

Then he moved to Florida and lived on his own. He was invited over to party at the house of a friend, an “angry drunk.” Jeph brought his own mushrooms.

“I felt that there was this negative presence in the room. This was the time God revealed himself to me,” Jeph recalled.

His friend suddenly got angry and demanded, with others, that Jeph drink alcohol.

“I got up and I got into a fighting stance. I saw where I was going without

having my eyes open. It was like an out-of-body experience, and I felt like I was being taken over by something,” he said.

Jeph got hit by someone. He threw the person off, and everyone started attacking him. He eventually passed out after being choked.

“When I opened my eyes, there were people circled around me. All of a sudden I felt this amazing peace, this incredible peace in me,” Jeph said.

Due to the mushrooms, Jeph continued to act erratically. He removed his clothing and began to hug the friends who had beaten him.

In response, they called the police and reported him for possessing psychedelics. Read the rest: He met the devil in the psych ward.

It’s over

pummeler 8 man football in santa monica

They call them the twins: Hosea Ashcraft (my son, at left) and David Hutchinson.

They may have wanted the story of the Athenians against the Persians or Charles Martel against the Arabs, but Lighthouse Christian Academy‘s battle — despite a dazzling display of force and finesse — was that of Col. Custer.

“We laid the boom on the other team,” boasted head coach Zach Scribner. “But it was the classic David vs. Goliath. When they were looking at the schedule, probably the other team was happy to play us because we were 2 and 6. But I can guarantee that walking off the field they wished they could have played anybody else because nobody is as physical as us. Nine guys against 40. If we just had a few more guys, we would have been able to beat them. At the end of the game, they were all limping.”

LCA got its playoff spot unexpectedly. The Saints had lost most of their games, but those losses were against high-ranking division 1 teams. In their own division 2, they were 2-2. The surprise playoff call-up also meant they were matched against a top bracket team.

Pat cannon TD Lighthouse Christian Academy football santa monica“We knew what we were up against,” Coach Zach said.

Lancaster Baptist School had both an offense and a defense. Most Lighthouse players played every single down. Given the uneven match-up, the result was nothing to be ashamed of: 27-68.

It wasn’t realistic to believe the impossible dream. Still the Saints played brash ball. Hosea Ashcraft — who has been the team’s enforcer all season — was again at his antics of laying hard hits on key players, sowing misgivings and intimidation in their hearts.

“I felt like I hit the Great Wall of China,” said the battering ram, who was taken out of play in the third quarter because a face guard penetrated and hit his bridge of nose, drawing blood and momentarily impairing his vision. Read the rest: Santa Monica private school sports program.

Kanye’s remarkable journey with Jesus shakes the cultural landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sk8erpat now is famous in football too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

When you Sunday school teachers look like The Addams Family

Jeff fischerJeff Fischer thought the Sunday school teachers of his childhood mainline church resembled the spooky characters on The Addams Family TV series, so he had no desire to go to church or come to Jesus.

But when he suffered a collapsed lung and a painful air bubble between his heart and lung, he grappled with neurotic fear of death and finally relented to accompany a co-worker to a “weird” Jesus People movement church where they asked him, “Have you been washed by the blood?”

He thought it was a cult and dashed for the door.

But he started reading his Bible — and he pasted a “Jesus Lives” bumper sticker on his car. (He didn’t know what the One Way index finger pointed to Heaven sign was about, so he flipped off someone on the road who attempted to congratulate him for the bumper sticker.)

Just got saved--surfer interview 1981“I started with Matthew and read straight through the gospels,” Jeff says. “All I remember is seeing my sin in the pages and seeing Jesus so gracious and so accepting of sinners. My father left when I was 10 years old, so I had real issues with being accepted. I kept reading and kept seeing Jesus accepting all these people.”

Maybe he can accept me, he thought.

The next time Jeff attended a born-again function, it was a Bible study in Woodland Hills, California, taught by a bassist he had seen on The Tonight Show — a “cool guy who knows Jesus.”

What’s going on?” he thought.

“I was thinking seriously about my mortality and my fear of death. I had people talking about Jesus and how He could save me and set me free from fear and that I could know that if I die I could go to Heaven. I didn’t have to live the way I was living and I could be free,” Jeff says. “That was utterly compelling, but I was also scared to death to give up my life because I wanted to continue to sin, to do my life and not God’s.”

He was living his dream life in Manhattan Beach, California — abusing drugs and alcohol, playing in a rock band called “Tyme,” and surfing everyday — but he was miserable and hung over most of the time.

As The Tonight Show musician taught, Jeff’s fears subsided and the Spirit welled up in him. At the end of the Bible study, the leader asked for everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. “If anyone wants to receive Jesus, raise your hand,” he said.

Don’t put your hand in the air, he told himself, but his hand leaped off his lap. Read the rest: surfer druggie saved in Jesus People Movement pastors in San Fernando Valley.