After being molested at age 7, Jazmin Santos was haunted by a question about her eventual future husband: How could he love you when you’ve gone through this?
“I battled with those things for so long,” she admits on a Delafe video.
Jazmin’s story shows that Jesus can redeem everything the devil intended for evil.
Born in Honduras, Jazmin Santos immigrated with her family to the United States when she was five. She grew up in church.
Unfortunately, she was molested in church by someone with a close connection to the family.
For years, Jazmin locked the dark secret in the rusted tin box within her heart. She always felt weird around everyone. She felt abandoned and rejected.
“I didn’t really dwell on it,” she says. “I just kept moving forward. It was like, oh well, that happened.”
She was always the good girl and thought she was a Christian automatically because she went to church, but at age 13, Jazmin attended a retreat where in a workshop she poured over a list of sins and checked off ones that applied and realized she was a sinner needing a savior.
“God, I’m a sinner. I’m broken. I’m a mess,” she prayed. “I ran up to the altar and fell on my face and was crying. I felt this conviction come over me.”
She realized she needed healing from the traumatic sexual exploitation.
“I didn’t tell anyone because I was scared,” she says. “The only person I told was my cousin because she was like a sister to me.”
One day, that cousin outed her gently and lovingly with her mom.
Shinichi Tanaka believed vaguely that an all-powerful god who created the universe was out there somewhere. But it was not until a near death experience that he found his way to God.
From a young age, Shinichi had a great respect for nature and the “gods” of the Shinto religion. However, when visiting the shrines to pray, he felt that something was missing.
“I went there to feel a sense of purification, also to pray and give thanks,” Shinichi says on a Japan Kingdom Church video. “But it was like praying to a vague God, like the air.”
It was at 40 years old that Shinchi began to take on a different perspective on God. In a moment of introspection, he began to see God not as a group, but as an omnipotent Creator.
“I realized the existence of God, which had immeasurable power,” he continues. “Since then, I would close my eyes and meditate that the universe would send energy like bright and dazzling lights. That was my God.”
Shinichi did not know God yet. This would change when, at 49 years old, he experienced a heart attack that left him hospitalized.
“My life hung in a fifty-fifty balance,” Shinichi says. “But I kept a strong will to survive.”
At one point during his hospitalization, Shinichi underwent a near-death experience that led him closer to finding God.
“One night, while sleeping on the bed in the hospital, a beautiful world spread out before me, and I was drawn outside my body,” Shinichi recounts. “It was actually the entrance to death.”
“Then, suddenly, a voice shouted ‘No! Don’t go!’” Shinichi continues. “When I regained consciousness, I suffered from strong pain, and tried to get out of it.”
Shinichi believed that an invisible being saved him from entering death’s… Read the rest: Shintoist finds God.
As a result of her parent’s divorce, Savannah Hernandez felt shame, had insecurities, depression, and had given up on believing in God.
“I hated God at this point of my life,” says Savannah on YouTube, “I just felt like, man, there is no way that God is real. I’m going through so much stuff. How is God real? How did he make this earth?”
Many fall away from God and don’t come back, but Savannah is proof that restoration of faith is possible.
Savannah’s parents got divorced when she was 11 years old. From there, she swirled downward emotionally.
“It was really hard on me just to face as a child and trying to figure out what was going on and just how to really just grow up to be a woman,” she says.
Savannah had a strong dad who never left her or made her feel alone, but she still felt an emptiness inside. She looked for masculine approval, which caused her to feel worse about herself and develop more insecurities.
“I did feel like I was alone at some point in my house, and I did run to guys and just love to try to find some type of love and temporary fix in those areas that I was hurting,” Savannah says. “It just caused me to hurt, and it caused me just shame and feeling like I wasn’t worthy and that was really hard for any girl to face.”
After she graduated, Savannah tried smoking and became stubborn and prideful.
“I was just doing all these things behind my dad’s back,” she recounts. “I’m not doing anything to pursue any of my goals, I’m not doing anything, I don’t believe in a God.
His vaunted career in aerospace engineering led him to being featured in National Geographic for his research with NASA.
But the PhD from a German university couldn’t save Dr. Dragos Bratasanu from personal heartbreak when his startup flopped, and he went back to his parents apartment depressed, in wretched pain and envying the dead in the local cemetery.
“The pain was so intense, I took my pillow and cried out to God from the bottom of my heart,” he recalls on a CBN video. “God, if you’re real, I need you.”
Growing up in Romania, Dragos was turned off by religion because it involved “bowing down to bones,” burning candles and the belief that you can only get to Heaven through your local priest.
Instead of seeking religious truth, he sought scientific truth. Excelling in his studies, he got the chance to study in Germany, where earned his PhD in space science. He worked with the Romanian Space Agency, got a chance to work with NASA and was commended in a National Geographic article.
At the top of his scientific career, he fell to the depths of inner despair. His business failing, he was humbled to the point of not being able to pay his bills and moved back with his parents. He cursed his fate.
When he considered embarking on a spiritual quest, Christianity was his last option. He studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and other major religions. He even traveled to the Himalayas to study under the most renowned Buddhist monks. All seemed to offer good tenets, but didn’t resonate with his soul.
Isaac Perez descended into the inner regions of the earth, down a spiral staircase, through the forest, over a bridge to the place he had been told he would meet his animal spirit guide. Finally, a hawk with a penetrating gaze faced him.
“What are you doing here?” the hawk asked him. “You don’t belong here. They are coming after you.”
It was a strange message for Isaac, who sought to become a full-fledged shaman through practices he learned online, which resonated with his Mayan heritage.
It was strange for Isaac, the son of a pastor from a charismatic church, to be seeking supernatural experiences in the occult.
“The Holy Spirit worked somehow to tell me I didn’t belong and what I thought was my spirit animal was very much definitely the Holy Spirit telling me this isn’t it, you need to get out, this is not the place,” Isaac says on a Doreen Virtue video.
Isaac’s testimony shows you can’t blend New Age teachings and shamanism with Christianity and that Jesus Christ is the only way.
Isaac’s parents were both charismatic pastors. Isaac became a youth pastor, but when he began to have unanswered questions about the supernatural, he turned to shamans online.
“I thought that I really understood this,” he says. “God created nature, so why can’t I serve God but also you know just enjoy this, his natural beauty and all the work that he’s done and created.”
Isaac began to explore shamanism and thought that with his Mayan ancestry he could blend Christianity with shamanism.
At first, he got involved with drumming circles in nature, then he began using crystals and other New Age practices. He didn’t go to his parents for answers out of shame and guilt.
“It killed me,” he said. “I kept thinking am I failing God being in this charismatic church, or am I failing God being in shamanism? So, I could really never figure that out.”
While he was involved in shamanism, there were works, like a sun dance, which was a dance including fire and self-mutilation in order to be forgiven for his sins and for God to hear what he was saying.
“I sacrificed myself physically either by physical pain through burning, or through cutting,” he said. “There was supposed to be some sort of release. There was supposed to be some sort of… Read the rest: Shamanism vs Christianity
M.I.A. – the UK rapper who was banned for a time from the United States because she was thought to have ties to terrorism – has become a born-again Christian after a supernatural encounter with the Messiah.
“I had a vision and I saw the vision of Jesus Christ,” she told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in an interview.
Born to a Sri Lankan Tamil family in the United Kingdom, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam reached overnight success with her multiple platinum song “Paper Planes,” which pokes fun at discrimination against immigrants from war-torn countries.
After being denied a visa into the U.S. in 2006, M.I.A. blamed “them thinking I might fly a plane into the World Trade Center.” Her hit was born.
M.I.A. is an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan repression of Tamil peoples. She has also spoken up for Palestinians on Israel’s West Bank.
Turning to Christ, she says, has caused her worldview to shift – a makeover that jeopardizes her standing with her mostly progressive fanbase.
“Basically, all of my fans might turn against me because they are all progressives who hate people that believe in Jesus Christ in this country,” says the singer.
M.I.A. was born in London. When she was six months old, the family moved to Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, where her father founded the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students, after a succession of pogroms against Tamils in the island nation off the coast of India.
For a time, M.I.A.’s family went into hiding, as the government hunted them down. Though born Hindu, M.I.A. studied at Catholic convent schools. The Sri Lankan army reputedly shot bullets randomly into the school on a regular basis to terrorize the locals. Along with all the other students, M.I.A. would dive under the desks and tables to avoid getting shot, a regular occurrence she described as “fun.”
At age 11, M.I.A. was brought as a refugee to England where she grew up in the “incredibly racist” Phipps Bridge Estate, a slum. There, she mastered English, and her mom worked as a seamstress for British royalty. Immersed in political activism, M.I.A.’s father was absent from the family, leaving a hole in her heart. Her mom became Christian.
M.I.A. loved art and pursued film but got sidetracked by hip hop and dancehall music, which she was introduced to by eavesdropping on the beats blaring from neighbor flats after her own radio was stolen. Her stage name came from the time she lived in Acton and was looking for her cousin who was “Missing in Acton.”
Once on vacation in the Bequia in the Caribbean, M.I.A. was dancing in the street at a “chicken shed with a sound system,” and some Christians… Read the rest: M.I.A. Christian
The first time Bud Greenberg showed up at a Bible study, he introduced himself as a Jew, and the leader asked him to teach the next week’s study.
“You’re Jewish,” the leader told him. “Wow, you’re an expert on the scriptures. We’re just finishing up the study and we’re going to start the book of Esther. Since you know it a lot better than us, you being Jewish, will you teach us?”
There was only one problem: Bud had never read the Bible.
Notwithstanding, he assumed the invitation to teach was standard operating procedure. He went home and, starting from Genesis, thumbed through the Bible until he got to Esther.
“I didn’t want to disappoint,” he says on a Delafe Testimonies video. “It gave me a desire to read more, so I thought to myself, ‘Well, maybe I’ll read the New Testament.’ So I started in the book of Matthew.”
Today, Bud leads Bible studies in the Pentagon with Navy Seals and Special Operators, leading America’s elite fighters to Jesus. God has spoken through him in a way that unnerves the highest military professionals famed for having nerves of steel.
“I’m scared of you,” a Delta Force operator told him one day, arriving at the Bible study.
“You’re scared of me?” Bud responded. “I’m just a pencil-neck geek bureaucrat; you’re the killer.”
“No, no,” the operator said. “They tell me what goes on in these bible studies. I have no idea. I came early just to see for myself.”
Bud Greenberg was born Jewish but married a Christian girl. He loved baseball but wasn’t good enough in umpire school to make it in the Big Leagues. So, he joined the military and carted his wife with him to Germany.
She wasn’t too happy with the sudden move, and their marriage began to suffer. He asked a social worker what he could do to improve his marriage. Do something with your wife that she likes to do, was the answer.
With $2.7 million on the line to win or lose the most legendary golf tournament in the world, the fabled Masters of Augusta, Georgia, 25-year-old Scottie Scheffler, who had won his first PGA Tour title only weeks earlier, broke into tears of nervousness on the morning of the final day.
“I cried like a baby this morning, I was so stressed out,” he admitted later.
His wife, Meredith, a strong Christian, told him: “Who are you to say that you’re not ready? Who are you to say that you know what’s best for your life?”
“If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, I’m still going to love you,” she said. “You are still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you, and nothing changes.”
Scheffler was grateful for her wisdom, “What we talked about is that God is in control and the Lord is leading me and if today’s my time, then it’s my time…if I shot 82 today then somehow I was going to use it for His glory.”
His wife’s advice and the Lord’s presence helped calm his nerves, and Scottie coolly chipped his way to the championship. As he donned the storied green jacket given to Master’s tournament winners, Scottie spoke about his Christian faith.
“All I’m trying to do is glorify God,” he said. “That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in this position and so for me it’s not about a golf score. I need a Savior and that’s probably one of the coolest things about our faith is recognizing your need for a Savior.”
Scheffler was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but moved with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was six. Throughout grade school Scheffler, filled with a fascination for professional golf, would wear golf attire to school, even though his peers made fun of him.
He attended Highland Park High School, where he played both golf and basketball, and then the University of Texas, where it was strictly golf. He helped the team win multiple championships.
It was in college that Scheffler “truly felt alone and didn’t know what to do.” He then started attending church and began to give his heart to God, piece by piece. “Gradually with time he just started taking over my heart,” he recalls.
As she sat on the playground at the Waldorf Steiner school in England, 11-year-old Naela Rose became demon possessed.
“I remember sitting in the playground and I felt the spirit enter me, and I was instantly suicidal,” says Naela on a Doreen Virtue video. “I knew this was an outside entity. From that moment on, I suffered from obsessive thoughts of self-harm and depression. It just hit me.
“Satan just loves to go after children. Children are so young and open and sensitive. If you’re unprotected, it’s very dangerous.”
Naela’s parents were liberal, open-minded, Reiki-instructed and thought the occult-based school, a real-life version of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, would be perfect.
Beginning at Waldorf, she learned pagan rituals, worship of the creation, tantra yoga and empowering the feminine through worship of ancient goddesses.
“I was a proud pagan. I loved Mother Earth. I called myself a witch. I was into all these things,” Naela says. “I was completely seduced by the idea of divine feminine rising, and that I am in fact a goddess.”
At first she touted herself as a high priestess only. But as the adulation of followers progressed, she decided to become a full-on goddess. She felt it very flattering to hear followers in her training affirm her god-status.
Naela had become a New Age master raking in beaucoup bucks with constant seminars and training. “At the peak of my success in New Age, I felt the most hollow and empty,” she recognizes.
After they both became Christians years later, Tomas Bueno became friends with the gang banger who smashed his skull and left a scar on the back of his head.
“I’ve been able to reconnect with him,” Tomas says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House premium podcast on Spotify.
Tomas Bueno grew up in the Los Angeles area. His dad was a bar owner and often wouldn’t come home from drinking, and his Mom took the kids driving around at 1:00 a.m. looking for him.
“It was around the age of 12 that I started getting enticed by what I saw around me,” Tomas says. “I started seeing these guys. It was the time when Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre had an influence on the white kids in suburbia. I thought this was really cool watching MTV for hours.”
When his dad was followed home and shot up in a case that originated from Mexico, the family moved to Huntington Beach in 1992 where few Hispanics lived.
“He came in, he was shot in the shoulders, he was wounded, he was asking for a gun,” Tomas says. “I was a little kid just trying to process this. Come to find out it came from Mexico, problems there that spilled over to the U.S. Needless to say, we had to move. We moved in the middle of the night.”
At 13, he started ditching school getting high, giving sway to the influence of a street kid. By 15, he was “running amok and being crazy, partying and going wild.” At 16, he smoked meth.
“All my friends were already doing it and they were like ‘You gotta try it. You can stay up all night and drink,’” he recalls. He worked at Subway and a co-worker showed him how to pack the balls and smoke speed.
By 1995 his friends were gang members when he lived in Fullerton. He met a girl, Karina (who now is his wife), and got her pregnant at 17.
“My dad’s not going to be down for this,” she told him. “I’m going to have to move in with you.”
“Ok, no worries, we’ll make it work,” he replied. They barely knew each other. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
But because he was partying, Tomas didn’t call her the next day. Nor the next. Nor the next.
For three months, he didn’t call.
“Basically, I left her hanging,” he admits. “It’s not that I was trying to avoid this. It’s just that I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I was in the streets doing drugs partying that kind of procrastinating. After three months I was embarrassed. What do you say? I just kept partying and doing whatever I was doing.” Read the rest: Hunted by rivals, Tomas Bueno rescued by God.
Taneisha Upperman’s idyllic childhood evaporated when she saw her stepdad hit her mom with a hatchet.
“It was in the middle of the night, blood was streaming down her face, and I was terrified, so I ran all the way down the street to my aunt’s house, probably about two in the morning crying,” she says on a Delafe video. “I remember being so scared and not knowing what to do and knocking on my aunt’s door for like 20 minutes because they were asleep.”
From the age of six, Taneisha’s life was a nightmare. Yes, her mother gave birth to Taneisha as a 16-year-old single mom, but they went to church with Grandma, and Taneisha had a happy life singing in church.
But her childhood innocence was tarnished when stepdad let the kids see porn.
Once when arguing with him, Mom locked Taneisha up in a room with her uncle, who sexually abused her.
“I was not understanding it, but being exposed to porn, I’m like, Well maybe this is
supposed to happen,” she says. “I just did not understand.”
She was seven-years-old, and told no one about the incident.
Mom moved the family to New York and then back to the country. Remembering the happy years when she attended church with Grandma, she begged her mom to be allowed to live with Grandma.
Little did she realize, Grandma had changed.
“That’s when I experienced verbal abuse and physical abuse,” Taneisha recalls. “My grandmother was angry. I don’t know why. She would just yell at me and call me names and say, ‘You’re nothing. You’re gonna be nothing. You’re lazy.’”
Grandma provided shabby clothes for Taneisha to wear to school, which was embarrassing and led to being bullied.
But the worst thing was that her uncle would come and go and take advantage of her sexually. At 10, she lost her virginity because of his abuse.
“In the fifth grade, I started having a warped view of guys,” she acknowledges. “I thought in order for them to like me or to be popular I had to let them touch me. I began to get promiscuous in school.”
All the while, Grandma took her to church, where she discovered she had a great singing voice. She was told she had a gift from God. When she sang solos, the church “went crazy.”
Taneisha elevated the family’s status in the church.
In a moment of extreme accumulated frustration, Chiaki Gadsden told her alcoholic mother during a fight: “Shut up and die!”
Chiaki’s mother died that day.
“The next morning my father told me, ‘Chiaki, you mother died today,’” she narrates on a Japan Kingdom Church video on YouTube. “I didn’t feel anything. I just couldn’t believe it. I went home and saw her body and still couldn’t believe it.”
Chiaki’s childhood frustration and source of loneliness and abandonment was her mother’s alcoholism. Her father didn’t like to see his wife drunk, so he stayed away from home. Her older sister had become hardened and unfeeling, so she paid no heed to Chiaki’s pleas that they help Mother.
Eventually, Chiaki became uncaring also and took drugs and became promiscuous as a coping mechanism, she says. The coping mechanism never worked very well.
Meanwhile, she grew hard-hearted and distant from everyone.
That morning Chiaki and her mother fought, as they did many days. The sinister effects of alcoholism over many years reached a boiling point and Chiaki uttered the words she later regretted: “Shut up and die!”
She pronounced the awful words, but didn’t want the horrible result.
So when Mom died that day, Chiaki was staggered.
“I started to blame God: ‘Why didn’t you help me?’” she remembers. “I thought, What’s the point of this life? No one can help. My family didn’t help. God didn’t help. What is this life?”
At a family meeting, Chiaki’s father made a terrible announcement to everyone.
“He said my mother’s death was my fault,” Chiaki says.
“I was shocked that he said that,” she says. “I could not understand why he would say that.”
“Oh, it’s my fault that my mother’s dead?” Chiaki thought. “My father said so. Then it is bad for me to be here. If I’m not here, then everyone will be happy.”
From that moment, Chiaki no longer sought to have relationships with people. She cut herself off. She lost all hope, all purpose.
“Everything just became darkness,” she says.
Then Chiaki was invited to a gospel music festival.
“When I saw and listened to the gospel music, suddenly I felt something warm in my heart,” she recalls. “I thought, wow, gospel music is amazing. Then all of a sudden, tears started to pour out. I thought to myself, Why am I crying? I thought, What is this? What is this?” Read the rest: Christianity in Japan
Blacks aren’t generally accepted in Japan. Even Japan’s 2015 Miss Universe candidate Ariana Miyamoto, being half black, was widely rejected on social media as not being truly Japanese.
So how does Marcel Jonte Gadsden – and a handful of other black pastors – lead churches and evangelize in Japan?
“No matter what you do, no matter how you treat me, I respond with a deeper love, an unconditional love, agape love,” Marcel says on The Black Experience Japan YouTube channel. “The Bible tells us to love our enemies. How can you love your enemy? You can’t do it. That’s why the L of love is written from the top down. You must receive love vertically from the Father, down to you and then you can give it out.”
Marcel arrived in Japan as a military brat in 1999.
“I thought coming here there’d be samurais everywhere with swords,” he says. “I was scared to come to Japan. I thought we’d be the only black people in Japan. All I knew was Ramen noodles and samurais.”
When he got out among the people, he was smitten with compassion – so many hordes without hope, without Jesus.
“If what I believe is true about God, what is the hope for these people?” Marcel remembers. “The passion began to rise.”
Motivated to reach the people, Marcel threw himself into learning Japanese and when he had memorized some verses, went out as an adolescent to street-preach in Japanese in the Shinjuku neighborhood.
Japan has virtually no context for understanding street preachers. While there are street performers, they make a poor reference point. Some stared at him as if he were crazy, others ignored him.
While the initial response wasn’t exactly warm, Marcel was warmed by the fires of the love of God.
“Some people were listening and others were like who is this guy?” he remembers. “I began to learn about Japanese people and how they’re not expressive like we are.”
He took a job at 7Eleven to immerse himself in the culture and get to know the people. When he started a church in his living room, many of his first visitors had met him at 7Eleven.
“It was a training ground. I learned so much. It turned a lot of heads when they saw me at the counter. To see the reactions in people’s faces, they look and look again like, he works here?”
When Marcel met and married a Japanese girl from church, he had to overcome the resistance of his father-in-law, who shared the typical entrenched racism of Japan. Every day his future father-in-law would drop his girlfriend off at church, he would pop up to the car, open the door for Chiaki and warmly greet her dad.
“I think he had this image of me being a gangster and trying to steal his daughter,” Marcel relates. “He totally ignored me. And this continued until finally one day, he slightly looked like he slightly acknowledged me. He gave an inch of a nod. I was really convinced that love could destroy his prejudice.”
After Marcel and Chiaki were married, the formation of a relationship with his father-in-law began… Read the rest: black pastors in Japan
Four out of 10 women who received an abortion, according to a 2015 Care Net study, got pregnant out of wedlock and had also been attending church. They said the church had no influence on their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
How could this be when the church is at the heart of the Pro-Life movement?
A new documentary attempts to resolve this dark paradox. “The Matter of Life,” in theaters May 16 and 17 only, suggests that the church needs to work on a secondary message. Without easing off the preaching against abortion, it needs to strengthen its message of extending grace to people who slip up.
“I thought all of them were going to judge me,” one young woman says in the film.
“My expectation was that everyone was going to look at me and not see a ring on my finger,” another says.
“These people are going to look at me and say, ‘Uh oh, somebody messed up,’” still another says.
“The Matter of Life” searches the soul of the church.
“Many American churches – including those considered to be Pro-Life – are not considered to be welcoming places for pregnant single women,” the narrator says.
Lisa Cannon Green, who reported the findings, also said:
Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.
A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
Wanting to “unleash” himself from society’s norms, David Wood decided to flout rules in the biggest and worst way, by murdering someone. Not just anyone. He developed a plan to murder his own father.
“Some people don’t want to live like cattle,” David explains on his Acts 17 Apologetics YouTube channel. “Some people don’t want to follow this pattern that we are all expected to mindlessly follow. Some would rather bash a man’s head in, or shoot up a theater, or walk down their school hallway stabbing people. Why shouldn’t they? Because it’s wrong? Because of your grandma? Or do people have intrinsic value? Human beings were (to me) nothing but machines for propagating DNA.”
From childhood, David had psychopathic tendencies. He was further influenced by an atheistic moral vacuum and the destructive philosophy of nihilism, a poisonous mixture that influenced the monster he became.
As a boy, when his dog died, his mother cried, but he felt nothing.
Crying isn’t going to change the fact that it’s dead so why are you crying? he thought.
Years later, when his friend died, David again felt nothing. When his mother got beaten up by a boyfriend, he felt nothing.
“I don’t remember ever not living with violence in the family,” David says on Premier Christianity. “My mum was habitually with very abusive boyfriends. One of my earliest memories was hearing a lot of screaming and walking into the kitchen and seeing blood everywhere, and my mum saying: ‘It’s ketchup, go back to bed.’”
David became a habitual rules breaker. He broke into homes, ran from police, and trampled people’s gardens. For David, morality was, at best, a “useful fiction.”
“My atheist worldview was throughout the universe or through time, we’re collections of cells,” he says. “You could kill 1,000 people, or you could spend your entire life helping people. It doesn’t make any real difference. You might as well just do whatever you feel like doing with the time you’ve got.
With a nihilist worldview, he adopted the Nietzschean self-concept of an ubermensch. He was mad at society for trying to “brainwash” him with its rules. The right thing to do, he believed, was to throw off all restraint and prove his superiority. He was “Humanity 2.0.”
There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s everyone else who has a problem. I’m the only smart, sane one, he thought.
David started studying how to build bombs but ultimately rejected mass murder because it was so prosaic.
“Anyone can blow up a bunch of random people, you don’t know them,” he says, “If you’re sick of life dangling at the end of society’s puppy strings, the killing has to start much closer to home. My dad was the only relative I had within a few hundred miles and so he obviously needed to die, and I had a ball-peen hammer that would do the trick.”
Later diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, David felt no remorse, no guilt, no sense of right and wrong. His determination to live “unleashed” knew no bounds.
On the night he planned to murder his father, 18-year-old David sat trying to think of one thing wrong his dad had done to him. He couldn’t think of a thing. He attacked him anyway with the hammer. His goal was to kill him, but he failed.
“I underestimated the amount of damage a human head could endure, crushed skulls could apparently be pieced back together by doctors,” he says. “My dad had brain damage, but he survived the attack.”
David was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison for malicious wounding under New York’s law.
In jail, he met a Christian named Randy whom he mocked. Randy wouldn’t back down easily. In fact, Randy engaged in a spirited debate with David. Surprisingly, they became friends. To compose arguments to refute Christianity, David began to read… Read the rest David Wood.
Actor Denzel Washington is once again unleashing a furious attack against social media.
“The No. 1 photograph today is a selfie, ‘Oh, me at the protest.’ ‘Me with the fire.’ ‘Follow me.’ ‘Listen to me,’” he told the New York Times. “The Bible says in the last days – I don’t know if it’s the last days, it’s not my place to know – but it says we’ll be lovers of ourselves. We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed.”
Not only that, people are committing suicide because of snide remarks on social media.
“This is spiritual warfare. So, I’m not looking at it from an earthly perspective,” the two-time Academy Award winner says. “If you don’t have a spiritual anchor you’ll be easily blown by the wind and you’ll be led to depression.”
The 67-year-old goes so far as to give youth advice regarding Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat: “Turn it off. It’s hard for young people now because they’re addicted. If you don’t think you’re addicted, see if you can turn it off for a week.”
Denzel just portrayed MacBeth in an Apple Movie released Dec. 25 and now available on streaming. The Shakespearean tragedy explores the demise and demonization of a once-loyal general who allows ambition to take over his heart. Read the rest: Denzel Washington social media
A Daasanach warrior chief named John was outraged that the Roman centurions were killing Jesus on screen in his Ethiopian village, according to a Timothy Initiative Vimeo video.
“I couldn’t believe that while Jesus was being tortured, my people sat idle,” John recalled. “I threw a stone at the soldiers and even ran behind the screen with my knife drawn.”
Some remote people groups who still live out of touch with civilization and technology don’t immediately discern between the acting in the Jesus Film and reality. So John attempted to engage the Roman soldiers to defend “an innocent man.”
Of course, John didn’t find anything behind the screen. He had never seen a movie. When he understood that the film’s action scenes were only on the screen, he took his seat on the ground and watched with horror and anguish as the Romans crucified Jesus.
While John found no one behind the screen that day, he did find Jesus. A member of the team that projected the film led him in a sinner’s prayer and began to disciple him.
When Stuart Long crashed his motorcycle into a car, he was launched into oncoming traffic and hit the windshield of an oncoming car headfirst. Witnesses say he then rolled on the street and got run over by another car.
“And here I am” still alive, he remarked later.
Out of the death-defying experience, Stuart turned to God and became a priest, known as Father Stu. He’s the subject of a new biopic starring Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg, who were inspired by the story and decided to make the movie.
The movie “Father Stu” will be released on Good Friday by Sony. Wahlberg has pursued this project for six years. His own father died of cancer, so when Wahlberg heard two priests talk over dinner with him about Stuart Long, it resonated with him.
Born in Seattle on July 26, 1963, Stuart Long was adventurous and ambitious as a young rascal he explains, according to the Daily Mail. After graduating high school in 1981, he arrived at Carroll College, a private Catholic university. His focus was completely on sports, primarily football and soon, boxing, which became his sole passion.
“I wasn’t Catholic. I always felt like kind of an outsider,” Long revealed while thinking about attending mass with the football team.
Long admitted to constantly questioning his college professors. When he discovered boxing, he found his calling.
“The individual sport fit with my personality better than the team sport,” Long said in a 2011 interview with the Diocese of Helena. Read the rest: Father Stu
For 13 months, Isaiah Trujillo was vomiting every day, as he battled stage 4 cancer with chemotherapy. Sometimes all his wife could do was rub his back – and stay by his side.
“It was worth it. It’s what God had for us. I knew that God had more for us,” Amanda Trujillo says.
This is a different Valentine’s Day story. At a time when marriage is grounds for divorce, some Christian couples – like the Trujillos – still hold marriage as sacred. Their vows “to death do us part,” they take seriously.
Meanwhile worldly marriages are built on the proverbial sand that the flood waters buffet and break down.
“We definitely questioned why we were going through that,” says Amanda. The two-year ordeal is finally over. Isaiah just was declared cancer-free and the port in his chest is being removed. “You have this idea that if you serve God and do what’s right and do the will of God that you live in a bubble and nothing will touch you and you’re safe. That’s just not true.”
Theirs was the church kids who did everything right fairy tale love story. Their first kiss was on their wedding day.
Then one night, Isaiah, who is pastor in Fort Collins, Colorado, got acute stomach pain. Even though he thought it was due to bad tacos, he went to the emergency room.
After checking him over, the doctor off-handedly ordered a CAT scan, thinking it was probably not necessary, but might turn up something.
Isaiah, who naturally is doctor-averse, ordinarily would have declined. But for some strange reason, he got the scan. It turned out there was a small spot in his intestines that the doctor thought might be diverticulosis, not a serious condition.
After further studies, however, 36-year-old Isaiah was diagnosed with advanced cancer. He could die, leaving his young bride with four kids to fend for themselves. It was a trial of the size of Job’s. Read the rest: a love story of marriage
Shelby and LeGrand started a family with illusions of having a fairy tale life.
But when Shelby was expecting twins – during a high-risk pregnancy that precluded working – the young couple worried how they would pay for groceries, since LeGrand’s job remodeling a commercial building didn’t pay very much.
“When I found out we were going to have twins, I was nervous and scared,” LeGrand says on a CBN video. “It’s challenging because I feel like as a dad, I want to make sure they can look up to me and I could be there for them.”
Thinking about the babies in her womb filled Shelby with joy, but when she thought of the harsh reality of bills, anxieties plagued her heart.
“Trying to afford groceries is very difficult for us. It’s hard to get the money that we need to feed the kids at the same time,” she says. “It’s hard to balance it out between all the other things we have to pay for. The difficulty of all of that made me feel very down. The not knowing of how we were going to be able to afford things is scary.”
To their rescue came their local church, Dayspring Church, which partners with Operation Blessing, a CBN-related nonprofit that for 40 years has aided churches with critical needs projects.
The food pantry has come through in a big way for Shelby, LeGrand and their two tykes. Read the rest: food pantry in church.
An African American man wrongly convicted of murder won to Christ a KKK member who lynched a black teenager.
“I truly believe God sent me to Death Row to meet Henry Francis Hays and to show him what real love felt like,” says Anthony Ray Hinton on a 700 Club video. “Real love had no color.”
It wasn’t always easy for Ray to forgive. The cop who arrested him told him he had no chance to escape the murder and attempted murder charges connected to a string of armed robberies in Alabama in 1985.
Never mind that the evidence was skimpy and Ray had an unshakeable alibi for at least one of the assaults. The prosecution’s case rested on forensic evidence which affirmed the bullets matched the gun found at Ray’s house. One officer told him:
“You’re black. A white man is going to say you shot him. You’re going to have a white prosecutor. You’re going to have a white judge. You’re going to have an all-white jury.”
Even Ray’s publicly appointed defense attorney didn’t believe he was innocent.
“What do you do when you tell a lawyer that you’re innocent, and he looks at you and says, ‘The problem with that statement is that all of y’all are always doing something and the moment you get caught you say you didn’t do it.’” Ray recounts.
True to the cop’s cold assessment, an all-white jury found Ray guilty of two counts of capital murder and sentenced him to death by the electric chair.
“It hurt so bad. Why me? What did I do?” Ray anguished. “I even asked God, ‘What did I do so bad?’
“The natural reaction was that it’s over. I was going to be executed.”
Ray’s cell was a mere 30 feet from the yellow-painted execution chair they called “Yellow Mama.”
Every legal appeal Ray made was blocked or dismissed.
“For the first three years, I was in a stage of hate. I hated those men who did this to me.”
As time passed, however, he realized the hatred in his heart was unsavory and wasn’t pleasing to God.
“I asked God to remove this hatred,” he says. “In order for me to be free, I had no choice but to pray for those men that did this to me.”
Ray decided that he would serve the Lord, despite the horrible injustice.
“If this is what God intended for me, to be and die, this is where I die,” Ray resolved. “But while I’m here, everything around me is going to live. I’m going to bring the best out of everybody that comes in touch with me.”
A short time later, he met Death Row inmate Henry Francis Hays, a Ku Klux Klan member who lynched a black teenager without any known provocation. Hays was the first Alabama man executed for white-on-black murder since 1913.
But before he sat in the electric chair, Hays accepted Jesus under Ray’s patient and loving witness.
In their last conversations before Hays’ execution in 1997, Ray told him: “Henry, I truly believe that you’re going to Heaven.”
“You know Ray, I’ve been reading the bible and I have changed my views on so many things,” Henry replied. “I’ve finally looked at you as a human being.”
After years of rejected appeals, Ray got the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to take up his case in 1998.
EJI probed the case against Ray and found it was deeply flawed: Witnesses had been manipulated. Ray’s defense counsel had been inept. The surviving victim’s initial description of the assailant bore little resemblance to Ray.
The linchpin in the case against Ray was the forensic report, that the bullets came from the gun retrieved at Ray’s house. EJI hired three of the top experts in forensic analysis to… Read the rest: Racism in Judicial system and what God can do.
He was a comedian on stage. At home, Jeff Allen was an irritable, angry husband.
He even fought with his wife over cheese. With a morbid fear of spoilage, he would throw out perfectly fine cheese. His wife would argue over the waste.
“I don’t want it!” he yelled at his wife. He stood on a stool to emphasize his point. “Can’t you hear me? I don’t want it! I don’t want it!”
Cocaine and alcohol were in the mix, sharpening the damage caused by his cutting remarks.
One day as he put his child to bed, the little one shook him.
“Daddy you win,” she told him. “Mommy cries. You yell. You win.”
Tears streamed down his face. Jeff suddenly realized he needed help. He first attacked the drug addiction and alcoholism through 12-step programs.
But he chafed at the step that calls for participants to believe in and pray to a higher power. A confirmed atheist, Jeff ridiculed people of faith. To pray to a “higher power,” he thought, was delusional.
But he went through the motions simply to fulfill all 12 steps.
He was on the road to recovery, so he sampled Buddhism and other faiths that overlapped with self-help.
“I was seeking for my life,” he says.
Then he learned his wife, Tammy, was having an affair. It was devastating.
He called her and told her to come home.
As he waited all night, he fumed.
“I was getting self-righteous,” he confesses.
Finally, the problems of their marriage weren’t to blame on him, and he seized on his wife’s mistakes to feel superior. But as he plotted his revenge, a little voice interrupted him.
“Really?” it said. What about the time you stood on the chair and yelled at her? What about the time you smashed all the dishes? What about the time…?
“I wrestled with God that night,” he admits. “I paced my room like a caged cat.”
By the time his wife called for Jeff to pick her up the next morning, the avalanche of furor had dissolved.
Exhausted from a sleepless night, he met her at the airport. At first sight, Jeff immediately hugged her and kissed her.
The day of reckoning wasn’t when Kurt Warner was unexpectedly thrust on the field as the Rams’ quarterback amid predictions of failure after the first-string QB was seriously injured.
The day of reckoning came years earlier when his wife’s parents were killed by a tornado. That’s when Kurt saw how genuine her faith was – and came to real faith himself.
“Before that my faith was always like: God was out there and whenever I needed him, he was like my spare tire. I get a flat, pop out the spare, God I need this,” Kurt says on an I am Second video. “When her parents were killed by a tornado, she didn’t have all the answers. She was angry. She was willing to call out to God and ask God why and yell and scream.
“But she never lost her faith. She didn’t walk away from God,” Kurt adds. “It was at that moment that I realized that everything she had been talking to me about, this is what it looks like. This is what it is supposed to be. It was at that time that I really committed my life to Jesus.”
By the time Kurt saw himself leading the Rams into the Super Bowl, he was already forged by the furnace. His improbable ascent to NFL Hall of Famer as an undrafted quarterback is the stuff of a consummate underdog. His story – and faith – is portrayed by American Underdog, a movie released in theaters Dec. 25.
Kurt dreamed of football from childhood. The game was a cherished memory he shared with his dad, who left in a divorce.
In college, Kurt was a hotshot with a pinpoint aim, but he had the nasty habit of rolling out of the pocket and making his own plays, not the plays ordered by his coach. For his lack of discipline, the University of Northern Iowa coach kept him on the bench for three seasons.
According to the movie (which sticks closely to his real-life story), he begged for a chance to play, and coach finally leveled with him. He needed to stay in the pocket, a protected bubble formed by collapsing linemen around the QB, to give him time to find a receiver.
As a drill to see if Kurt could handle the pressure, Coach sent wave after wave of defensive linemen crashing into him to hurt him and see if he would stand up under pressure. It worked.
Kurt was named Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and first team all-conference.
At the same time, Kurt met the girl who became his wife and the catalyst to his faith.
The odds were against him striking up a relationship with Brenda. She loved country music; he hated it. Even worse, she detested football.
But as God would have it, Kurt went with his friend to a country-western bar where he was smitten by her good looks and decided he’d better learn to barn dance.
The horror of seeing his uncle slash and kill his aunt and cousin metamorphosed into survivor’s guilt that tormented Joey Kelly throughout his life.
“Looking into his eyes, it was just pure evil,” Joey said, describing his uncle on the evening of the murders. At 12-years-old, he was at a sleepover with his 9-year-old cousin when it happened. “He was just completely determined to kill that night, and he was on a killing spree at this point.”
Uncle John was blind with rage. His wife, Joey’s aunt, was divorcing him and had obtained a court order to kick John out of the house. John showed up at 3:00 a.m. hell-bent on vengeance.
For his killing rampage, John is today in Huntsville Prison, and Joey suffers from survivor’s guilt, a post-traumatic stress disorder that stems from the fact that he survived and others did not.
Joey’s beginnings were idyllic enough. He accepted Jesus at age 7 when his older sister sat him on her lap and explained the Gospel.
“I remembered it clicking that God loved me so much and there’s nothing I can do to earn God’s love,” Joey recalls on an I am Second video. “It’s what he did for me.”
Mikey was not only his cousin; he was Joey’s best friend, and sleepovers were common for the Texas tykes.
The fateful night when he was 12 ended the innocence and delight of childhood. It also ended his faith in God.
Uncle John broke through the window and invaded the home. First he went upstairs where he hacked his ex-wife, Phyllis, mercilessly with a butcher’s knife. Mikey woke up Joey and begged him to help. Mikey, who was 9, watched helplessly as his father murdered his mother.
In his hellish altered state, the father turned on his own son. He tackled and stabbed him multiple times, slitting his throat – right in front of Joey.
Lastly, John came after Joey.
“He slams me against the wall,” remembers Joey, who raised his arms to protect his chest. “My uncle John tries to stab me in the chest. He actually ends up stabbing me through my arm. The tip of the blade just scratches my chest.”
Joey has scars to this day from the incident.
But then a miracle occurred. Joey blinked and suddenly he was 10 feet away from his uncle.
“It’s like God got him off of me just for a quick second and pushed me out of the way or something,” he says.
He looked at his arm and saw raw muscle hanging out of the slit. He pushed it back into his arm. There was no time to think. He ran from his uncle, who chased him.
“John, please stop,” he pleaded. “You don’t have to do this. Please stop.”
The little kid was able to elude the uncle. The next thing he knew, his uncle stopped stalking him and returned upstairs. Joey ran outside to the neighbor’s house and rang the doorbell 40 times.
It was 3:00 a.m. When the neighbor eventually opened the door, she screamed.
“Oh, my God! The house is on fire.”
Uncle John set the house ablaze, burning half of his own face in the process.
Uncle John survived and “looks the monster he is,” Joey says.
“I survived that night,” he says. “This feeling of survivor’s guilt is intense and has been with me for a long time now. It’s a real crappy feeling to know you’re the only one to live and others didn’t. I didn’t feel like I was a good kid or special kid. I didn’t do anything to deserve that. If anything, Mikey was a way better kid than me.
“It never made sense.”
Joey was furious at God. He would go into his backyard to curse God.
“F___ you, God!” he screamed. “What the F are you thinking? How could you let evil win in such a big way?”
He hoped to anger God. Maybe God would strike him down for his blasphemy. Then his inner anguish would cease.
Therapy did not draw out a favorable response from Joey, who growing up decided he deserved to act up.
“If anyone had the right to go crazy, it was me,” he remembers. “I got into partying, alcohol, and smoking. I was struggling from everything from depression, to post traumatic stress, to survivor’s guilt.”
Most of the time, he wore the facade of a happy-go-lucky guy. At least he could compartmentalize the torment.
For decades, scientists sneered at Near Death Experiences – or NDEs – because they didn’t fit the empirical-evidence, materialistic model of “hard” science.
The trouble with that shrug-off is that there are so many NDEs and they are so varied it is hard to blame an overactive imagination, religious fanaticism and grand-standing for all of them. There are too many cases for science to objectively ignore.
A $5.1 million grant to the University of California Riverside now is validating topics that Christians have harkened to keenly for decades: eyewitness accounts of existence beyond the stopped heartbeat.
“Given that NDEs have been reported throughout history and across cultures, and because they appear to be a portal to a beautiful immortality, they are of tremendous interest throughout history and currently,” says UCR’s Philosophy Professor John Martin Fischer, who administers the grant.
Professor Fischer’s work surveys and consolidates all credible accounts of NDE. He cites Dutch Cardiologist Pim van Lommel, who after listening to patients relate their experiences after being resuscitated from cardiac arrest, compiled accounts for 26 years and organized them in a systematic way.
“Van Lommel has observed that (the people who experience) NDEs have significant transformational effects,” Fischer says on a 2018 Univ. of California, Riverside video. “These individuals have less death anxiety and are more spiritual. They appreciate relationships more, spending more time with family, friends and relatives.
“They are also more compassionate and more attuned to morality and justice,” he adds. “The transformations are often profound.”
Fischer’s work is significant to the Christian community not because every account fits nicely into Biblical orthodoxy (some do, some don’t), but because his academic rigor brings scientific backing to the simple notion of an afterlife.
After all, if it can be established that humans enter eternity, then one can debate about which faith has the correct version.
Not everyone who comes back from death tells the same story. But most share these elements: an out-of-body experience, a guided journey, unconditional love and acceptance, a dark tunnel with a light at the end, a life review and a reformed life for the person revived from death, Fischer says.
Most NDEs describe a paradise environment, if not exactly the Bible’s Heaven. But roughly 10% are not positive experiences – something like Hell, Fischer states. The real number of negative NDEs may be larger because of the shame associated with telling others that you were judged unworthy to go to the Good Place, he adds.
Most NDEs tell of unverifiable events, but extraordinarily others relate conversations between doctors and nurses when medically the patient had flatlined and scientifically was unconscious and dead, Fischer says.
“The fact that these NDEs can be checked against the facts and have very similar content at least suggest that the NDEs that cannot be independently corroborated must be taken seriously,” Fischer says.
Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, wrote about his experiences being “in a beautiful and incredible dream world that wasn’t a dream” in his book, Proof of Heaven, which sold three million copies.
Dr. Alexander was in a coma at the time as he flew around with his sister on the wing of a butterfly in an intricately designed surface with indescribable colors and millions of butterflies “more real than the chair I sit in, more real than the log in the fireplace,” Alexander says.
Fischer in his presentation also referenced Colton Burpo, the four-year-old who died and met the Trinity in Heaven and even a miscarried sister, of whom he had no knowledge until he told his parents after he recovered from the surgery.
“There’s lots and lots of reports and it’s often difficult to explain them in a naturalistic way,” Fischer says. “The experiences are remarkable in their universality and at least appear to be a portal to an afterlife, another realm, usually a peaceful Heavenly realm.” Read the rest: the science of NDEs
When Robert Polaco got saved, crime statistics went down for the City of Las Vegas, NM. So says his former pastor. People knew him and feared him, and soon the word spread around the city that the Door Church is where the former criminal was saved.
Robert Polaco’s mom lived mostly in a mental hospital with schizophrenia. His dad lived primarily in jail. Robert was raised as a ward of the State.
“I was placed in a foster home,” Robert says on the 2021 video produced by the Door Church. “According to the case work, I was being abused.”
Along with his harsh living conditions, Robert also felt like a pariah — as if something was broken within him.
“I grew up with that chip on my shoulder,” Robert continues. “It was as if there was no answer, I felt there was no hope.”
Later on, Robert would dedicate his life and career to martial arts. His role as an instructor became the new identity he would give himself to.
“I decided to open up my own dojo,” Robert says. “That’s where I met my wife- I gave her free lessons because I thought she was pretty.”
Robert and Jacque Polaco would eventually enter a marriage which was immediately plagued by serious relationship problems. Robert’s life quickly fell apart.
Change would eventually come on May 15th, 1981. The young couple was introduced by Door Church’s pastor Harold Warner to a set of popular Biblical prophecy films. Convicted, Robert and his wife surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.
“When I prayed that prayer on that night, I just felt free.” Robert recounts.
Similarly, Jacque felt as if a massive weight was on her for her entire life. Her prayer for salvation lifted the heavy burdens she carried.
“There was no desire to smoke dope or drink alcohol,” Robert states. “The desire was gone. When I entered the martial arts class on Monday, I shut it all down.”
Robert felt like a brand-new man, a newborn star. It was as if someone had pressed a reset button on him; now Robert found something to live for: Jesus.
“Robert and Jacque proved to be a key couple in the forming of that early church here,” Pastor Ray Rubi of Door Church reminisces.
However, the incredibly small building that represented the Door Church in Las Vegas would eventually be the recipient of God’s miracles in the form of a skilled new pastor, Richard Rubi.
“The city of Las Vegas had about 14,000 people, but everybody knew Robert,” Richard says. “He had a reputation there.” Read the rest: Jesus helps crime rates
As soon as Justin Berry buckled up, the Uber driver turned to him and said: “Because you have obeyed God, He’s going to bless you.”
“I’m like WHAT?” Justin was flabbergasted. He had just broken up with his girlfriend — reluctantly — because they had fallen into sin. But he was broken-hearted, agitated and conflicted.
“What the heck is going on?” he marveled at the message from an Uber driver. “Whoa that’s crazy.”
The unexpected confrontation was part of a long process of God calling Justin back to salvation, into holy matrimony and unto a beautiful destiny in music ministry.
Justin Berry, now 20, grew up in Ladera Heights, in Los Angeles, going to to church with his mom and brother. Going to the Lighthouse Christian Academy cemented his childhood faith and also it’s where he met a certain girl named Trina.
He excelled in academics and sports during high school and was elated when he got accepted to his dream college: UCLA. It was a euphoria unlike any other. But as he tried to push the “accept” button on the electronic offer letter, Justin was being held back. God had told him to attend college elsewhere.
“Something was holding my hand back from pressing that button,” he remembers.” I started crying and bawling my eyes out. I wanted to go there. This was my ticket to my career. I was trying to press this button and God wouldn’t let me do it.”
Finally, his mom came in asked what was the matter. He explained and, being a loving mom, she persuaded him that it was the devil interfering. He finally pushed the button. What could go wrong? He had a beautiful girlfriend and an ideal institution of higher learning. God’s blessing was evident.
Only not everything was as it seemed. Secretly, he and Trina, allowing themselves to be alone, had fallen into temptation together, and both were feeling intense conviction.
“It was a rough year of heavy, hard conviction,” Justin tells. “I stopped praying and let my relationship with God die away. I replaced Trina as my idol, and she became my god. I would find my peace, my joy, my happiness through her. When I was with her, I didn’t feel any conviction. But when I was away from her, I felt this conviction.”
He still attended church and youth group. He would pray tears of guilt in the strangest of places: in the bathroom.
“The bathroom is where I prayed,” Justin admits. “I still loved God, but something else was stronger.”
One night, the pastor proclaimed prophetically: “There’s somebody here that God has been asking you to give up something for a long time, and you need to give it up right now.”
Justin felt startled, confronted, cornered.
After the service, he confessed to the pastor: the message was for him.
That night, he broke up with Trina. It was the hardest decision of his life up to that moment. His love for this girl was at war with his love for God.
Upset and confused, he got into his Uber. The driver turned on him. It was a wild confirmation.
In fact, the she said, she had been instructed to make a U-turn, a right-hand turn and then wait by the side of the road for her next rider. God told her to prophesy to whoever it was. Justin was next.
Still, Justin wondered, without saying anything, if it were only an improbable coincidence. Read the rest: JBThePreacher
When a man stood up suddenly during prayer service and waved a handgun at the congregation, Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana sprang into action and tackled him from behind before he could fire off a round.
“He wanted to kill,” Pastor Ezekiel said through an interpreter on WKRN news. “That was the first thing that came to mind.”
Motives remain unclear as yet as to why Dezire Baganda, 26, suddenly jumped up in the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal church and ordered the congregation to stand as he waved a handgun.
But quick-witted Pastor Ezekiel neutralized him before he could do anyone harm. The immigrant pastor acted as if he were exiting the back door behind the pulpit and behind the gunman and then rushed him and tackled him from his blindspot. Other congregants joined in to help disarm the threatening man at the Nov. 7th service, all recorded on church surveillance video.
In a Juvenile Hall Bible study, Kevin Knuckles asked snarkily if all the biblical authors were schizophrenics, and he was promptly kicked out.
“I was hate-filled violent man addicted to drugs,” Kevin admits on his YouTube channel. “I was really against Christ for a lot of my life.”
A derisive arrogance prevailed in Kevin’s heart starting from the moment he discerned his Irish parents’ oppressive Catholic hypocrisy all the way up to the time he told his wife to trash her Bible or say goodbye.
As a member of an international dark-themed rock band, Kevin lived the life of drugs and adultery for most of his adult life. He would lock himself in his room to shoot up heroin but then — looking for a cheap substitute — abused methadone, which is supposed to transition addicts from heroin.
He lived with his lover and neglected his wife and kids, who knew about the betrayal of trust.
“I pushed my family beyond the breaking point,” he says. “I was quite literally dying. I thought I was living my best life. But my condition was so broken.”
Trying to detox after two methadone overdoses, Kevin writhed in emotional turmoil and physical agony for days on end with no rest. He was vomiting and couldn’t sleep.
“I was in the pits of despair and couldn’t take it any further,” Kevin remembers. While he had mocked Christianity for most of his life, he now cried out to God. “I said God, please have mercy on me.”
Nothing happened that night, but the next night he cried out again, this time to Jesus. Then something remarkable transpired.
“I was in a fetal position shaking, sweating, unable to find any peace in my body or my mind,” he recalls. “As soon as I invoked his name (Jesus), I was given complete peace and rest. Even though I had spent most of my life blaspheming him and not believing in him and making fun of people who did, I was so broken and had nowhere else to turn that I just called out to him.”
For the first time in days, Kevin slept that night
“I immediately found peace, my body stopped trembling, my temperature and heart rate regulated,” he recalls.
He dreamed a profound dream that seemed so intensely real that it seemed more of a memory of a real event than a nebulous fabrication of the sandman.
“I couldn’t remember anything from the dream except two things,” he remarks. “One was the dream was about my wife, Kelly, whom I had committed much adultery against and put through much turmoil. And the other was the number 38.”
It was eerie.
Kevin fell asleep and had another dream that again gave him the overwhelming sensation that it was a real event. But again, he couldn’t remember anything about the circumstances — except for two random facts, like the first dream.
“All I could remember was that it was about my son, Patrick, and the number eight,” he says.Read the rest: Jesus dream saves addict.
But he grew up with mostly female friends and got bullied by the guys his age, so he grew to hate his masculinity.
“I just took out my insecurities with lust towards men,” Emmett says on a Tucson Door Church video. “I medicated myself and pacified myself and drowned myself in homosexuality because I hated myself as a man. I didn’t feel like a man.”
But in 2015, somebody talked to him about God and gave him a little booklet to read.
“I read it because I wanted to see if God hated me,” Emmett says. “But I found out He didn’t. It said, all sins are bad; they’re all worthy of death, including homosexuality. But that same sin was covered by grace.”
So he gave his life to Christ.
At that a time, a pastor prompted him indirectly with a question: Did God ever say you were gay?
Steve Weatherford — whose punting pinned the Patriots back deep in their zone to help the Giants win Superbowl XLVI — says all his heroics were a vain attempt to get the approval of his father.
“I was trying to get the attention of my dad,” Weatherford says on a 7 Figure Squad video. “During a lot of those amazing achievements, I didn’t really enjoy them because the reason I was achieving them was I needed some affirmation from the most important person: dad.”
Today, Weatherford has found peace, approval and acceptance from Jesus, leaving behind the inner turmoil that led him to drugs and porn despite his outward appearance of success and manliness.
Born in Indiana, Steve Weatherford was raised in Baton Rouge. From an early age, he showed inclination for sports, playing football, soccer, basketball and track in high school. He didn’t enjoy the greatest relationship with his stoical, old school-style father.
The foray into sports began as a means to win his father’s approval. He worked out in the gym incessantly. As a result of his impressive physique, rumors circulated around town that he had bulked up thanks to “the juice.” One day, his dad even called him at school and told him to come over to the office.
“Oh crap, what did I do?” he wondered as he drove over to Dad’s. “Oh my God, I’m really in trouble.”
“There’s rumors around town that you’ve been taking steroids,” Dad said. “I’m not mad at you, but I want to get you help.”
“Initially I was really offended. I wanted to lash back,” Steve remembers. “But then I sat back into my chair and I thought to myself, ‘My dad thinks that I’ve done something with myself that is impossible to do without cheating.’”
“Dad, you might not believe me but I’ve done this 100% the right way,” he responded. “I’ll take a test right now.”
It was the closest thing to a compliment that he ever got from his dad.
Weatherford proceeded to the University of Illinois as a kicker and punter. He also played track and was named Sports Illustrated’s most underrated athlete in the Big Ten in 2004. He walked on to the New Orleans Saints and played for four teams before landing with the New York Giants.
Punters are usually wimps, by NFL standards. All they have to do is kick well. But Weatherford had the build of a lineman as a punter. He maintained a maniacal workout and diet regimen that got him featured in bodybuilding magazines.
On the outside, he was achieving his wildest dreams. But on the inside, he was losing battles. He watched porn and started taking percocet.
“I worked so hard to get into the NFL. I worked so hard to become the fittest man in the NFL twice. I worked so hard to (win the) Walter Peyton man of the year community service award. I worked so hard to become a Superbowl champion,” Weatherford says. “Looking back on my life, those were all predicated on getting my dad’s attention.”
Superbowl XLVI was a dream. The Giants were playing against Tom Brady’s Patriots.
Weatherford punted four times with such distance and precision that the Patriots found themselves in their own 10 and five yards — a marathon distance to touchdown. When the Giants came out on top, some observers called Weatherford the MVP.
A punter MVP?
Weatherford basked in the glory of his achievements. He looked over to Dad. He wanted so desperately for his father to clap him on the back, give him a bear hug and lavish patriarchal praise. Read the rest: Steve Weatherford Christian
While she was praying at church, Chris Singleton’s mom was shot eight times by white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015.
Then only 18, Chris Singleton had to assume the role of parent for his younger siblings.
“It was being thrown into the fire for me,” Chris says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “Something like that, I call it the unthinkable because you never think in a million years that something like that will happen to you. It was tough then, it’s tough now. It made me grow up a lot quicker than a lot of people. I had to take care of two teenagers when I wasn’t even 21 yet.”
Incredibly, Chris chose to forgive the racist mass murderer who snuffed out nine lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Sharonda Coleman-Singleton died, Chris wasn’t exactly strong in his Christian faith.
“I think anybody that loses a loved one, there’s two ways you could go with your faith,” Chris says. “You could say number one, there’s no way God is real. Or you could say, two, God, I don’t know how this happened or why this happened, but I need you to get me through it.”
Chris, who became a minor league baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, drew on his athletics training to develop resilience.
“I didn’t have my mom anymore and I didn’t have my dad, so Jesus became the rock that I would lean on,” he says. “That was comforting for me, it was therapeutic for me.”
Of course, Christian Surfers International calls Jesus the “Original Water Walker.”
Originally, they were just a support group of like-minded surfers who felt a little marginalized by the church, but as they grew, they realized they had a greater responsibility to win the entire surfing world to Christ.
They want to be even more salty while paddling ocean waves and reflect the light of Jesus on sun-drenched beaches.
Today, Christian Surfers International has affiliates in 35 countries with about 175 local missions, each of those acting like a tiny church plant to the surf community, says Casey Cruciano, operations manager of CSI.
They also do community development projects around the world through their organization Groundswell Aid. Some of the best surf breaks also have some of the poorest communities in the world. Hardcore surfers have always traveled to out-of-reach spots for the perfect wave. But CSI surfers don’t just ride the wave; they help alleviate poverty, restore the environment and provide disaster relief.
“We believe in the power of the global surfing community to make powerful, long-term changes to beach communities around the world,” a narrator on a Groundswell video explains. “Using surfing as a platform to connect, Groundswell exists to meet the needs of under-resourced communities and offer tangible hope.”
They even teach Third World youngsters to surf or learn water polo, offering scholarships to those who do well in school and encourage school dropouts to return.
On the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, they help build housing and school facilities for the locals. Read the rest: Christian surfers Intl.
Two years ago, Heidy Hutchinson misbehaved in school and, looking for a fresh start, transferred to Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.
On Wednesday, Heidy led the 2nd-string team to a 1st-rate victory against beginner’s team Summit View School to notch-up LCA’s record to 6-1.
“Me and my brother went to public school, we got in trouble, we had to come here,” Heidy says. “We kind of became better people and grew in school. I learned more about God. I got closer to God, and that’s it.”
The sidelines erupted in wild cheers for Heidy as serve after serve — underhanded serves — went over the net and — excuse the pun — netted points for LCA.
They weren’t cheering for Lighthouse, which was unyieldingly driving Summit into the depths. They were cheering strictly for Heidy. She’s come a long way. (Link to an article on Heidy from 2019.)
“I’m not really a sports person. I’m not very athletic,” Heidy says. “I didn’t really want to play volleyball, but Sarah (Montez) and Lakin (Wilson) pushed me to play. They begged me to. I’m really thankful they did because I wouldn’t be playing if they didn’t.”
Lighthouse is NOT a reform school. But they say God can re-form anyone who has taken missteps down the wrong path.
When Heidy scored the last point, players on the bench mobbed her, high-fiving and hugging.
“She got the last winning serve!” Sarah said. “She’s the team captain.”
“My hardest hardship was my grieving. My loss,” Dahlia Gonzalez says. “It makes me want to play better… for my mom.”
Mom inspired Dahlia, and the whole Lighthouse Christian Academy team, to victory Tuesday in three sets against Ojai Valley School.
“Dahlia did pretty well this game. She did have an injured finger, but it didn’t seem to hold her back this game,” says Coach Jessica Young. “They were all good. She’s a natural athlete. Some of her passes looked like collegiate level to me. They were beautiful like in a magazine. She made some last-minute saves on the sideline. She can hit ambidextrously.”
Ray Dalio may be the master of the market, but la reina Dahlia is the queen of the court.
She has overcome a lot. The loss of her mother was on top of all the difficulties of Covid and not being around friends and not practicing sports (her preferred is softball).
The Saints dispensed the Spuds (Yes, they call themselves the Spuds. No, potatoes are not a big crop from Ojai) empty-handed.
Playing on grass in the private school’s bucolic Ojai property, LCA team members had to adjust. Hits were affected by breezes. Jumps were harder without the hardwood base. Diving would not displace the fall with a slide of smooth wood surface. Read the rest: Santa Monica Christian school sports volleyball
Arynn never thought she would end up in a mental institution, but after she became thrilled with cutting herself, that’s where she was taken.
“The minute I saw the blood it was like I was hooked,” Arynn explains to 700 Club Interactive. “It was like this dopamine hit and in a really twisted way I’d almost rewarded myself with self-harming.”
Arynn was turned off by Christians.
“I always thought of Christians as these really emphatic people who wanted you to turn away from anything that was fun,” she says.
So, the minute she turned 18 and was able to go to parties, she began drinking.
“I just had fun with it and then a long pattern of, you know, thinking that I could just keep doing it and it would never catch up to me,” she says.
As a 19-year-old sophomore in a Christian college, she began taking shots of tequila at 8 a.m.
She didn’t realize she had become an alcoholic.
Almost imperceptibly, the “fun” evolved into depression. This led to self-harm.
“As the alcoholism progressed, the urge to self-harm got so much stronger,” Arynn says. “I felt too like even if God loves me he’s not gonna want to associate too much with me because look at where I’ve ended up.”
Death became her daily meditation and cutting became an obsession.
“I remember one night I decided I just have to try at least one time and so I remember taking the razor, slitting my wrist and nothing happened so I just kept going,” she says. “Finally, I’m surrounded by blood, but I’m not bleeding out.”
Chloe fell in love with and married Jason Ivey. It’s a heart-warming and romantic story. There’s just one notable piece of information to add. Both spouses are developmentally disabled.
Chloe has Down Syndrome. Jason has autism, ADD and bipolar disorder.
“People with autism want to feel important; they want to feel needed. Honestly, it’s magical. That’s how I actually feel,” Jason said in an interview with Special Books for Special Kids, a YouTube channel that promotes understanding of people with disabilities. “Yeah, there’s ups and downs. But I’m telling you Chloe is such a perfect wife. And even when I’m down she lifts me right back up and makes me so happy.”
To see Chloe and Jason talk about marriage and how God brought them together is a moving reminder that God has not made anyone inferior. People with special needs have much to teach others about happiness and simplicity in a world that seems overly complicated to many.
“I feel like I’m hit with a love bug. Sometimes I would say, ‘Thank You, God, for everything, all the positive things,” Chloe says. “I feel like I want to cry. I feel like I’m on top of the world.”
The love oozes from the video. “She is like drop-dead gorgeous,” Jason says. “I was worried, like, ‘Lord, I am way marrying out of my league.’ My goodness! Look at this beauty!”
But their fairytale story also raises unsettling questions the video doesn’t address: Would they have children? Would their offspring be more prone to being born with a disability? Who would care for the children?
“Sometimes I think in my mind ‘I want a baby so bad,’” Chloe says. She has a realistic doll that she treats as her baby. “This is Giselle. She represents what we want for the future.”
Both Chloe and Jason recognize their limitations. They say they are 80% independent, which means that 20% of their adult responsibilities are handled by care-givers, often family members.
In a world where abortion is pressed on parents when an ultrasound reveals a potential disability, in a world where government imposes decisions on private citizens in the name of the common good, some questions linger:
A year after he lost his legs and arms to septic shock, Gary Miracle ran a 1.4-mile race on running blades.
“My doctor tells me all the time, ‘no feet, no excuses,’” Gary told The Epoch Times.
Although Gary had many reasons to sulk, he continues to live his life to the fullest.
Forty-year-old Gary Miracle did ministry for 12 years when he contracted a rare blood infection he thought was the flu but it progressed to septic shock. He spent 10 days in a coma at an Orlando hospital.
“I think they gave me a 1 to 7 percent chance to live through this,” Gary says.
On New Year’s Day his heart failed, and medical personnel took eight minutes to revive him. Gary was placed on an oxygenation machine, and the cardiovascular surgeon saved his life by diverting blood to his brain and torso at the expense of his limbs, which necrotized.
“My arms and legs were so cold,” Gary says. “They told me that I looked like a mummy; my hands and legs were pitch black. Then my muscles and my tendons started kind of falling out of my legs. I had no feeling down there.”
Gary is a husband and father of four kids. His wife, Kelly, posted scriptures all around his hospital room.
“My family just stepped up in a huge way, I was never left alone,” he says. “People were praying for me constantly.”
After 117 days in the hospital, Gary was discharged in April 2020. His lifeless limbs had been amputated. He is a quadruple amputee.
“When you go through something like that, there’s a line drawn in the sand: Am I gonna sit on the couch and throw a pity party?” he says. “Or am I going to choose to live and be alive and live for Christ and be a dad with my kids?” Read the rest: Gary Miracle lost his arms and legs but not hope.
After Gorman Learning Center punked Lighthouse girls volleyball 12-25, maybe thought they had the match in the bag. After all, the scored showed a solid domination in Valencia Thursday.
But Allie Scribner got mad.
And game 2 was a role reversal. The freshman got mad and served a string of unreturnable serves. She smashed 11 blistering bowling balls down the alley (get it? For Allie). After rotating through, another six aces and near-aces to rack up points for Lighthouse Christian Academy.
How did Lighthouse answer GLC’s lopsided 12-25, a message of mercilessness and intention to humiliate?
Lighthouse responded by winning the second set 25-11.
They one-upped them by one point.
Houston, we have a problem.
Where did the dramatic turnaround come from?
There are two answers. The Saints complained the pacing of Game 1 was slow. They made sloppy mistakes and looked lethargic. They came alive in Game 2.
The second answer was the sweet-faced freshman-turned-furious-face Allie Scribner.
In response to a stepdad throwing boiling beans on his kids, Billy hunted down the suspect and murdered him and his uncle.
“I was so out of my mind,” Billy says on a Tony Evans video, “My kids were my life. I wasn’t thinking rationally and reasonably. All I was thinking about was revenge.”
A year later, he was arrested and began a long sentence.
Billy’s parents split when he was only six years old. He was left to his dad’s care but wanted desperately to find his mom. He would walk down the highway looking for his mom. Eventually, he found her. She was a functional alcoholic.
As an adolescent, Billy met a girl and got her pregnant. He was happy to be having a boy, “even though I was just a boy myself,” he says. But the child was stillborn.
He had two daughters with the young lady, but he didn’t know how to be a father or a husband, and she left him for another man.
The new man abused his daughters and got arrested, along with his former partner (who was taken into custody for child endangerment).
Billy boiled with rage.
“I would begin to consume enormous amounts of alcohol,” Billy recalls. “I consumed whatever it was to take my mind off of its original state to keep from having to deal with these issues.”
When a couple of friends notified him that the perpetrator had been released on bond, “my next question was, where is he?” Billy says. “I made my way over to the condominium where this uncle and he were and I murdered them.”
Billy spent five years in county jail awaiting trial, ultimately taking a plea-bargain deal that gave him 30 years, reduced to seven if behaved well in jail.
Ultimately, he didn’t “behave well” in jail.
“I had so much hate, anger, and bitterness and resentment that would just roll into my life and other people around me,” he says. “I began to express my faithfulness to rebellion so much that in fact the other gang members started to recognize me.”
He liked the recognition and respect he earned by getting into trouble.
Transferred to a prison in Amarillo, Texas, BIlly got caught up in a gang riot that left one man in critical condition. The man was air-lifted to the hospital, where he lingered between life and death.
Three inmates who were supposedly “brothers” in Billy’s gang, fingered him as the responsible man behind the brutal beating. The warden called in Billy and produced the signed accounts accusing him. If spelled the death penalty for him. His only hope was that the beaten man would somehow survive in the hospital. Read the rest: revenge and redemption in Texas
Before Vitor Belfort KO’d Evander Holyfield, he got KO’d by life. Specifically, his sister’s kidnapping and reported rape and killing left him searching for answers and hopelessly embittered.
“There’s two ways to get to God, through pain or through love,” he says on an I am Second video. “Mine was through pain.”
Known as “the Phenom,” Vitor Belfort was the youngest fighter to win an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at 19. The Brazilian-born Florida resident, 44, has fought in all kinds of matches, with boxing being his latest.
He knew about God from childhood. In his first official fight, he promised to serve God faithfully, if God permitted him to win. Once he triumphed, he promptly forgot his promise.
“As soon as I won the championship, I didn’t follow God right away,” he acknowledges.
At age 20, he suffered a neck injury. Doctors were grim. He would have to give up his beloved sport of fighting and find another career.
“I was crying, I was desperate,” he admits.
One day as he drove around in his fancy car he saw a legless man who got around on a skate. He was so struck by this beggar, he engaged in conversation.
“Many people that drive by here think I’m worthless because I don’t have any legs,” the beggar told him. “But I can guarantee you, Vitor, I’m happier than many people who drive by here in their big cars. I got Jesus and Jesus can transform your life.”
That was the moment that Vitor felt God talking to his heart.
“But even with that, I didn’t follow God,” he concedes.
It would take the kidnapping of his sister in 2004 to humble Vitor and bring him to repentance.
Priscila was taken, and the family didn’t know anything about her for three years. A woman who supposedly was taken captive herself to pay off drug debts, Elaine Paiva, confessed to helping drug dealers kidnap and kill Priscilla.
Information that his sister had been repeatedly raped by grisly murderers enraged Vitor.
The Philippine military was supposed to rescue hostage Martin Burnham. Instead, they shot him.
“I was immediately shot in the leg,” says Gracia Burnham, his wife, on a Huntley 100 video. “Martin was shot as well and just lay there. I could tell that gunshot wounds to the chest don’t heal. He was just kind of breathing loudly. Then he got very still.”
For a year, the Philippine military was pursuing the missionary couple’s kidnappers, the Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels, through the sweltering jungles of the Philippines. They were aided by a tracking device sewn into a backpack that the CIA had managed to pass on to the squad’s leader.
Missionaries for 17 years, Gracia and Martin Burnham were on Palawan Island when M16-touting rebels, seeking a ransom to fund their guerilla war, broke down their door and pulled husband and wife out on May 11, 2001.
They were spirited away on a speed boat and taken to the jungles where they joined other hostages. For a year, the rebels dragged them over hills and through rivers, constantly on the move to avoid capture, in jungles filled with snakes, spiders and disease-bearing mosquitos.
Sometimes they ate; sometimes they went days at a time without eating. The Muslim militants forced Gracia to wear a hijab in observance of ancient Islamic customs. The jihadists prayed five times a day. On some days, they stayed hidden with no movement, leaving the missionaries bored. Other days they walked endlessly, always on the run. They collapsed exhausted at night.
As the ordeal dragged on, Gracia struggled with why God had permitted the trial.
“How long do you think this will last?” Gracia asked her husband.
Martin remembered certain European hostages that were rescued after six weeks.
Gracia fixated on “six weeks,” and unconsciously made it a timeline for God to rescue them.
When six weeks passed with no sign of rescue, she despaired and began to doubt God — not His existence or the terms of salvation but if He indeed cared for her and loved her.
After all, He hadn’t responded.
And that’s how an internal conflict erupted in the context of the greater conflict of the rebel war.
Inside her heart, there was a battle of faith.
Martin, the aviator missionary, encouraged his wife not to lose faith even in the most trying circumstances.
“You either believe all of it or you believe none of it,” he gently challenged her.
From then on, the couple encouraged each other with remembrances of verses from the Bible that stirred faith.
Added to the trial of faith about the goodness of God, Gracia observed that a weariness of the jungle grated her. During the day, they were either bored unendingly as the hid or were exhausted from trudging forward to evade being discovered by the Philippine military.
The night was filled with dangerous predators and sounds that filled the darkness. She wished for daylight to arrive.
But days were filled with heat, humidity, marching or hunkering down. Then she wished for nightfall.
“I felt like I was wishing my life away,” Gracia says.
One of the other hostages was beheaded, perhaps to speed up the hoped-for ransom money.
After a wearisome, worrisome year on the run during their captivity, Gracia eventually lost all hope and said her goodbyes to her husband on June 7, 2002.
He gently reminded her to keep faith alive. But it was a good thing she said her goodbyes.
Three times she’s fought off cancer and she’s still not free from its wicked clutches.
Jane Marczewski — who melted the nation’s heart singing “It’s Okay” after saying she had a 2% survival chance on America’s Got Talent — has withdrawn from the final rounds to battle cancer.
In her audition, Jane, who uses the stage name Nightbirde, had stunned judges when she matter-of-factly mentioned she wasn’t working because of cancer in her lungs, spine and liver.
“It’s important that everyone knows that I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me,” she said smiling. Her exuberant joy and pristine voice prompted Simon Cowell to hit the golden buzzer shortcutting her into advanced rounds. Her song (“If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost, and it’s alright”) shot up to #1 on iTunes
A Zanesville, Ohio native, Jane Marczewski, 30, decided to make a life of her God-given musical talent when she was a student at Liberty University. She married, launched her life, and then got struck by cancer. At first her husband stood with her, but when she relapsed, he divorced her.
Her smile and bursting optimism wowed the audience. “I have a 2% chance of survival, but 2% is not 0%,” she says. “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
But when she’s alone, she faces the daunting odds. Because she’s honest, she sometimes succumbs to depression. But while she struggles and cries out to God about the unfairness of her fate, she grows like an ordinary Christian never will.
“I am God’s downstairs neighbor banging on the ceiling with a broomstick,” she says on an MP4 circulating in churches. “I show up at his door everyday, sometimes with songs, sometimes with curses, apologies, gifts, questions, demands. Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in. Other times I sulk outside until He opens the door to me Himself.
“I’ve called God a cheat and a lie and I meant it,” she says. “I’ve told Him I wanted to die, and I meant it. Tears have become the only prayers I know… night and day, sunrise and sunset. Call me bitter if you want to; that’s fair. Count me among the angry, the cynical, the offended, the hardened. But count me also among the friends of God, for I have seen Him in rare form. I have felt His exhale, laid in his shadow, squinted to read the message He wrote for me in the grout.”
Her words, robed in poetry, address Job’s experience of being crushed unjustly.
“I want to lay in His hammock with Him and trace the veins in His arms. I remind myself I’m praying to God who let the Israelites stay lost for decades. They begged to arrive in the Promised Land, but He instead let them wander, answering prayers they didn’t pray.”
As she scrutinizes her life searching for strands of mercy, she resonates with the story of God feeding the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.
“I see mercy in the dusty sunlight that outlines the trees, in my mother’s crooked hands, in the blanket my friend left for me, in the harmony of the windchimes,” she says. “It’s not the mercy I asked for, but it is mercy nonetheless. And I learn a new prayer: ‘Thank You.’ It’s a prayer that I don’t mean yet but will repeat until I do.”
Already she has outlived the prognosis of three months’ life expectancy given at the beginning of 2020.
Athing Mu was just fooling around with her older brother, who was part of the Trenton Track Club. She was running — outrunning the bigger kids — when the coach saw her and confronted her later when she was seated on the bleachers.
“Who is this girl? I want her on my team,” the coach said.
That was the start of an incredibly “God-gifted” girl who just won the first gold medal for the U.S. in the women’s 800 meters in 53 years. The 19-year-old freshman records-breaker from Texas A&M charged to the front of the pack from the very beginning and stayed there almost unchallenged, graceful and calm, with a powerful pace throughout.
Athing Mu (pronounced Uh-THING Moe), now 19, is lucky to be in America. Her parents fled South Sudan and made their residence in Trenton, New Jersey. She’s the second youngest of seven siblings. She got involved in track and also discovered what it means to run with Jesus.
“As a follower of Christ, our main goal is to live in the image of Jesus in order to connect to God and ‘get to’ God,” the 5’10” runner says on The Battalion. “I believe when God is ready to give you blessings, He gives it to you with all intentions. In this case, ‘keeping one at the top, never at the bottom.’”
She’s referring to Deut. 28:13: The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Read the rest: Athing Mu Christian
About once a week, one homeless man or woman dies in Venice, CA.
That’s Michael Ashman’s tally. At least three times a week, Ashman hands out free food, clothes, and Bibles at Muscle Beach, which is often filled with tourists and eclectic street performers.
This area – until recently cleaned up by Sheriff’s deputies – has been thronged with homeless and criminals.
“When people say we have a ‘homeless problem’, that tells me they don’t have a clue; it’s a human problem, not a homelessness problem,” Ashman, 57, told God Reports. “There are all kinds of reasons people are homeless. Then you throw alcohol and drugs into the mix. But Jesus is the answer. He’s the One who’s going to heal their minds and set them free.”
For three years, Michael has ministered to the homeless. Arguably, homeless ministry is prone to burnout because positive results are few and far between, while death and destruction abound. The homeless, he says, have zero self-control and consequently get devastated by addiction, violence and disease.
“Every now and then, someone comes by and says, ‘Do you remember me? You fed me. You helped me,’” Michael says.
One such was Ivan, who once slept on the beach because of Southern California’s year-round temperate climate. One day he arrived cleaned-up and smiling. He had a small place and two jobs. The day he greeted Ashman, he was handing out clothes to his street friends, paying forward the favors.
Native to Southern California, Ashman got to know Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade at age 15. He got off drugs and was attending church but was “too young and not very involved,” he says.
In 1996, he got married and had kids but walked away from church and lost his marriage. He didn’t immediately come back to church because guilt coiled in his heart like a snake.
“I’d gone too far,” he explains. “I looked in the mirror every day and said, ‘God, what am I doing? I’m killing myself.’”
On Valentine’s Day in 2016, Ashman returned to church after “my life pretty much fell apart.”
He sat in the back and wept. He kept going to church “and wept every service for quite a while,” he says. “God was fixing me.”
Eventually, he launched his ministry, a 501c3 titled “You Matter.” He wears “You Matter” T-shirts on outreach, and it’s a good message to people that society has cast aside, fears and finds revolting.
“I just felt like this is what God wanted me to do,” Ashman says. “It was so powerful in me. It was beyond passionate, it was a driving force. I couldn’t not do it. I feel Jesus in me, and He loves people through me.”
For most of his life, Ashman worked as a contractor and a phone and computer communications installer, but as his non-profit has taken off, he’s neglected his business and given himself more and more to ministry.
While politicians promote social theories for dealing with the homeless, Ashman says only Jesus can truly change them.
Recently, the L.A. Sheriff ignited a spat with the mayor’s office by publicly accusing politicians of being incompetent and making an incursion into Venice to get the homeless off the streets. As a result, fewer homeless are coming to Ashman’s ministry. He fears that… Read the rest: homeless in Venice
Abu Ahmad, a Kuwaiti refugee in Jordan, felt compassion for the Christians who enrolled his son tuition-free in a private school when he was down on his luck.
“Honestly, it is not fair that these people go to Hell,” he told his wife. “They are kind, have good manners and like to help. I must go to them, tell them about Islam and make them Muslims who can go to Al Jannah.”
So Adel — as he is also called — began to share what he thought was the truth about Allah with a school official.
“I started vigorously discussing matters with them,” he remembers on a Strong Tower 27 video. He even thought things might deteriorate into a brawl. “I had my hands ready to box him.”
“Honestly, I saw you were properly dressed and thought you were well-educated, but it turns out you neither know nor understand anything,” he said to the school official.
“I thought he would become angry and hit me, so I had my fist ready to hit him before he did.”
Instead, the school official smiled. He treated Abu with respect and appreciation.
Abu was thrown off. “He was smiling and treated me well. Why? What’s the difference?” he marveled. “If someone talked to me like that, I would kill him.”
Abu Ahmad’s flight to Jordan began with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Saddam Hussain quickly overwhelmed the small, oil-rich nation, but an international military coalition purged him from his Persian Gulf neighbor.
Abu and his family were in danger and sought to flee. The road to Saudi Arabia was closed, they heard. So they fled to Iraq, where they hunkered down in Al Basra for four years, not able to return to Kuwait because they were accused of being traitors.
“If they knew I was Kuwaiti and staying there, they would kill us all for sure,” Abu recalls.
Eventually, he found a guide who would smuggle him and his family into neighboring Jordan. He found employment distributing first tea, then gas. Eventually family relations from Kuwait sent him money, and he opened a small shop.
Before in Kuwait, Abu had been a millionaire. But now his fortunes were reduced to scrambling for money.
In the first month of being open, he was able to make rent, 200 dinar.
But in the second month, he scrounged only 150 JOD by the time the landlord came.
“Here’s 150,” Abu told him. “I will give you the other 50 tomorrow.”
“No man,” the landlord retorted. “I want all the rent now.”
Despairing, Abu beckoned people out in front of his shop to come in and buy.
“When people came towards me, they looked like they were coming to buy from me,” he remembers. “But when they approached, they would either go in the shop on the right or the left. It was as if there was a curtain blocking my shop.”
He sat down, frustrated, in front of his shop and tried to think of a solution.
Suddenly he felt a strange urge to look under his chair. To his surprise, he saw and picked up a small wooden cross. He could not imagine how it got there.
Then he remembered the nice people at the Christian school who had selflessly opened the doors to his son. He remembered how he had been disrespectful, and they returned love for ill will. He remembered the one church service he had attended, sitting at the back with his wife.
Then he did something unexpected, he prayed to the God of the Christians.
“Jesus Christ, if You really are God, as they say, then help me now,” he uttered heavenward. “If You help me, I will surrender my life to You.”
Immediately after he prayed, his Egyptian friend from the next shop threw down his broom and said, “Let’s go to my friend.”
“This is Abu Ahmad,” he told the friend when he opened the door. “He needs 50 dinar to pay the rent.”
The Egyptian man went in and brought out a $100 bill.
Abu was aghast. “You are Egyptian,” he objected. “You need to send the money to your family in Egypt. How can you trust me and give me the money when you need it more?”
“If you want to return it, return it,” the man replied. “If you don’t, don’t.”
Abu was both shaken and amazed. Jesus had answered his prayer, and he wasn’t ready to believe it.
“I wanted to prove that what happened was by chance,” he remembers. “I wanted an excuse proving that Christ did not answer. But it became obvious that Christ had answered the prayer.”
In response, he surrendered his life to Jesus and was born again.
Not long after this remarkable answer to prayer, Abu told his wife he was now a Christian.
“Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?” Laila shrieked. “You went to try to change them, and they changed you.”
She divided their room with a blanket hung from the ceiling.
“You are no longer my husband. You are an infidel,” she said, outraged. “This is your space. “The other is for me and my children. Don’t come near us or interfere in our lives.”
And that is how they lived from then on.
Sometime later, a friend suggested he apply for refugee status through the United Nations. But in a twist of events, the U.N. official sent him to jail.
Abu cried out to God from his cell: “Lord, You said, ‘Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will comfort you.’ There is no heavier burden than the one I am carrying,
“You said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’” he said. “Where are You? Why did You leave me alone?”
Doubt plagued Sean McDowell, son of famous doubts-slayer Josh McDowell, when he stumbled across an atheist website that refuted his Dad’s book Evidence that Demands a Verdict point by point.
“Honestly growing up, I probably kind of thought someone wasn’t a Christian because they just hadn’t read Evidence Demands a Verdict or More Than a Carpenter,” says Sean on a 100 Huntley Street video.
The books have been decisive in establishing the faith of many people based on hard evidence to corroborate the Bible. But here was a well-reasoned attempt to erode confidence, Sean said.
“All of a sudden, I’m reading some really smart people — some doctors, some lawyers, philosophers, historians — going chapter by chapter, pushing back very thoughtfully on the arguments that my father had made,” Sean relates.
It shook him to his core.
So Sean, 19 and in college, sat down with his dad for coffee and came clean.
“I want to be honest with you,” he told Dad. “I’m not sure that I’m convinced Christianity is true.”
Sean wasn’t sure how did would react. Josh has famously written 150 books and given 27,000 lectures on college campuses to stir university kids to faith and show them what their atheist professors don’t want them to know.
Would his dad lose his temper, kick him out of the family and disown him?