When a Kentucky-born Amish leader dared to listen to a gospel preacher on the radio (in violation of Amish rules), he was astounded by the simple message of grace and forgiveness by faith that conflicted with his ideas that “God love you, but he loved you so much he would punish you.”
“I never knew that you could know that you are going to Heaven,” Vern Yoder says on a 700 Club video. “I couldn’t wrap my head around a warm, hug-type love.”
Vern was born to a well-respected deacon of the Amish, an American East Coast religious group that have strict rules for dress and behavior, which includes not using automobiles. The Amish are considered Christian, but their application of scriptures can be seen as legalistic.
Vern struggled through his teen years to maintain the standards of his church.
His constant thought: What can I do to be a better person? What can I do to have a better shot to make it into Heaven? “It would drive me down into this pit of despair.”
The overemphasis on rules and laws weighed on his soul.
“I was so miserable,” Vern says. “I didn’t know (if I would make it to Heaven), so I would work and work and work at trying to be the best Amish.”
He married and had children, but carried the pharisaical spirit into his roles as husband and father. He went overboard as a disciplinarian and his marriage was strained, he says.
Reflecting on the frustration of his brand of Christianity, Vern pleaded with God: “God, I can’t do this any longer. You’re going to have to help me with this.”
One day he got a job as a tractor driver. That day he listened to a radio preacher expound the doctrines of the simple gospel. It challenged everything he knew about God.
“He was going through a series about faith, about grace, about mercy,” Vern says. “He was telling me things I had never… Read the rest: Amish
In 2010, Chris “Crush” Davis was getting crushed by bad stats. He was batting .192 with one measly homer in 45 at-bats, far removed from his reputation as a great hitter. He even got left off the playoff roster.
“I was really, really struggling,” Chris says on an Idols Aside Ministries video. “I had a lot of hatred and animosity. I wanted to blame everybody except myself.”
The slump led him to soul-searching, which in turn led him back to the Savior he had known as a five-year-old in Mom and Dad’s Baptist church in Longview, Texas.
Chris Davis was nicknamed “Crush” because he was a power hitter. At 22, he was already in the Big Leagues, playing for the Texas Rangers.
“I had all the money I could have ever wanted, had my own place in downtown Dallas. I had as much fame as I ever wanted,” he remembers. “But I woke up everyone morning feeling this huge void. I tried to fill it with alcohol, girls, going out every night, whatever I could to distract myself.”
When he was in a slump, he reached out to some fellow baseball players who were Christians. One was David Murphy, a strong Christian who had never wavered in his faith, and Josh Hamilton, who had overcome drugs to make it back into the Big Leagues. Those men counseled him and had a major impact on his life, still advising him to this day, he says.
He started reading his Bible and really praying. But the real turning point came one night when he woke up in his hotel following a World Series game against San Francisco. He felt an evil presence that freaked him out.
“The lights were completely off; it was pitch black,” he remembers. “I didn’t feel like I was alone. Whatever was in there with me was not on my side. I started praying and really crying out to God. That was the night I really surrendered to Christ.”
Derek Rabelo wanted to surf one of the most exciting and dangerous waves on the planet: Pipeline, on Oahu’s legendary North Shore. The only problem was he was blind.
“When you’ve been surfing for 30 years and you know what you’re doing and you can see, you can die” at Pipeline, according to Laird Hamilton, a pioneer of big wave surfing.
But Derek, who was born with congenital glaucoma that rendered him blind, wanted to surf, despite not being able to see. He believed his faith in God would carry him where others failed.
“Humble yourself and ask God for help in the challenges,” Derek told a church audience on a Grove Baptist Church video, explaining his undaunted determination to surf Pipeline.
Three surgeries failed to give Derek sight from his congenital glaucoma. Born to a surfer in Guarapari, Brazil, Derek had trouble enough making his way through school, where he was bullied, and getting around the city by himself. Life by itself was already a formidable challenge. Why try the impossible?
But Derek felt a strange magnetism in the ocean next to which his town was built. The feeling of the sand and water, the warmth of the sun, the pounding sound of the waves exerted a sort of mystical gravity.
“I lived near the beach, and I was obsessed with the sound of the waves. I could hear the waves from my bedroom window,” he said on a Jeunesse VIP Leader video. “I had the dream to surf. I wanted to surf more than anything.”
A local surf school coach agreed to help him learn, but his parents felt some serious misgivings.
“On a beautiful day, Derek came to me and told me he was going to surf,” his mother, Lia Nascimiento, says. “I said, ‘No, Derek, no. Are you crazy? How?”
Derek had already signed himself up for the surfing class.
Ernesto Rabelo, his father who named him after famous Hawaiian surf champion Derek Ho, shared his mother’s concern but kept quiet.
“I didn’t like the idea” of him surfing,” Ernesto says. “But I didn’t interfere.”
The local surf instructor, Fabio “Maru” Castor, was the only one on board. He devised a system by which Derek could pay attention to the sound of the water and feel the movement of the water to calculate when to start, when to drop and when to cut.
“I listen to the ocean and feel it,” Derek said. “And every single part of a wave makes different noises. So, I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards. If you have a dream, you have to believe in yourself. Otherwise, you cannot do it. I believe all of us have strong senses given by God. Use them with passion and perseverance.”
Initially, Derek struggled with the bigger waves and grew discouraged, even to the point of wanting to quit. But he persevered and eventually gained a footing with 8-foot waves.
But could he dare to dream of the massive hollow tubes that break like thunder at the North Shore? He trained intensely for three years. Naysayers abounded. The infamous North Shore broke surfboards and surfer bodies of the best seeing-eyed surfers.
“Pipeline is one the most challenging spots in the world,” says three-time world champion Tom Curren.
George Rose’s grandma clashed with his mom while the 5-year-old was listening.
“Cookie, what are you bringing these men home for?” she said.
“Shut up, Mom, I’m a grown woman,” Mom snapped.
“You’re a MARRIED woman,” Grandma answered. “You have no business bringing these men home.
When Dad got home, he packed their belongings and drove George and his little sister to the shelter where he dumped them off.
Mom was too busy with other men to visit. Months later, George and his sister returned to Mom, but her current lover said: “Get these kids out of her. Either they go or I go.”
A co-worker of Mom took the kids in and raised them. “You want my kids, Rose?” Mom asked her. “I’ve got no use for them.”
Rose and her husband became the adopted parents. That was George’s upbringing in Rochester, New York, during the 50s. Rose was a Sunday School superintendent in the Presbyterian church who read her Bible regularly.
One day, she stumbled across the verse, “Except you repent, you shall also perish.” Tears streamed down her face. She became born-again and immediately started incorporating a vibrant understanding of the Word into her teaching. This rankled the religious elders of the liturgical church.
“We don’t need your slaughterhouse religion here,” they told her. She got fired from the superintendent position. They found a new church.
A sufferer of migraines, Rose consumed half a bottle of Aspirins until God healed her at a Pentecostal church. The preacher prophesied from the pulpit: “There’s a woman visiting for the first time. You suffer from migraines. In fact, you told God that if he didn’t heal you within the week, you’d take your life.”
His dad was The Lawrence Welk Show classical jazz pianist, his mom a concert pianist, but David Smale (rhymes with snail) wanted to play heavy metal.
“Wouldn’t you just love for your daughter to date the singer of ‘Cranial Abortion’?” Dave jokes on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. They played backyard parties, prompting cops to come and shut it down, until they debuted at a club along with Incubus.
With rock ‘n’ roll, came drugs and sex. He smoked cigarettes at 13, smoked weed at 14 and dropped acid by 15.
In the Los Angeles Unified School system, Dave attended middle and high school with Latinos and African Americans who were bused into the San Fernando Valley as part of integration policies.
“We got bullied a lot. We were just these little heavy metal-loving white kids,” he says. “One time this guy said he was going to do a drive-by shooting on us the next day. Because of that, I noticed in my house it was ok for me to express racist things. My dad and my brother would say the N-word and other racial slurs.”
Later he joined a punk rock band “Uneducated,” until his party girl got pregnant and he took up delivering fast food and telemarketing as a high school dropout to put food on the table for his baby and the girl whom he married at 18.
“I remember times stumbling around drunk and high, and all of a sudden, the baby starts crying,” says he, and thought: “I don’t know if I can change his diaper right now. I might put it on his head.”
“It was just awful,” he says. “I was partying and my baby was right there. It was not good.”
Five weeks after his first baby was born by C-section, his wife got pregnant, and the nurse at urged her to abort: “You’re going to die,” she said.
Leaving the women’s health care center, Dave and his wife felt an eerie sensation. “Did you feel like we just murdered somebody?” she asked. “Yeah, I do,” he responded.
Unable to make ends meet, he eventually decided to join the Navy with hopes of learning a trade. “That was my only way forward,” he says. “I was going nowhere. I was lost in dead-end stuff.”
At 20, Dave looked for a new beginning in the Navy, but the same old addictions and racism didn’t let him get that new start.
“I could wear a uniform, I could stand up taller, I could march in a straight line,” he says. “But I was still fighting addiction.”
Stationed a Point Mugu, California, Dave and his wife got invited to a Baptist church. She was gung-ho, he was blasé.
Dave went anyhow, and the sermon made sense. So, he accepted Jesus into his heart on April 1, 1999 and was born again.
“When I raised my head, everything was different,” he says. “My entire perspective changed in a moment. There was no going back. The cursing went away immediately, the addictions were all gone, the racism was gone. I didn’t hate all the guys in the Navy from different races and ethnicities. I loved these guys who didn’t look like me, but I saw them as God saw me. It blew my mind.”
His wife was pregnant with twins when he got deployed for six months. He kept pursuing Jesus the whole time, but when he came home, he realized his wife had given up on God and church.
“The laundry was piled to the ceiling. Checks had bounced,” he says. “There was no food in the house.”
He coaxed her to return to church with him, but she persisted in the party life.
For months, he tried to win her over, but she left him when he got orders to Virginia Beach.
Stung by the abandonment, Dave decided to backslide. He went straight to the oceanfront and ogled every girl in a bikini.
“At that point, I was so mad, so bitter, so upset, I completely decided to backslide,” he acknowledges. “I was on the warpath to find me a girl and do something that I would have totally regretted.”
Jodi Benson, 1989 voice actor for the main character in “The Little Mermaid,” repeatedly begged her Christian husband for a divorce when the movie came out. Jodi’s career was successful, but her home life was failing.
“My personal life was plummeting,” Jodi says in an article published by the Billy Graham Association. “I had a real crisis of belief.”
Jodi wound up staying with her husband Ray. They got counseling and had two kids. Her home life is now successful, as is her career, and she credits Jesus for everything.
Raised in a single parent household in Rockford, Ill., Jodi dreamed of singing.
“This dream that I had in my mind was so far-fetched from where I was,” Jodi said. “I’m sure everybody just thought I was crazy.”
She attended Millikin University in Dacatur, Ill. In 1983, she earned her debut role in the Broadway musical Marilyn: An American Fable. The next year she met Ray Benson, became a Christian, and got married to him.
Moving to New York, Jodi landed an ensemble spot in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Two years later, she landed the starring role in Smile on Broadway.
Her biggest role, however, came when she auditioned for the part of Ariel. Out of a field of hundreds of applicants, Jodi was chosen. Ironically, she wasn’t excited with the part.
At the time, animation voice-overs were viewed as jobs for people whose careers were winding down. Voice-over actors didn’t even get mentioned in the credits. Benson, who was in her mid-20s, didn’t like the idea her career might be viewed as fading.
No one could have imagined how big “The Little Mermaid” would become. Instead of earmarking her for a dying career, it catapulted her to stardom.
But when she hit the apex of her career, her marriage was hitting its lows. She was focusing on her career, but her family was on shaky ground. She and her husband wavered between reaffirming their relationship or trashing it.
“I begged him for a divorce,” she says. “I had my foot on the pedal on a cliff in California. I was ready… Jodi Benson Christian.
When Adelso Lemus was expanding his business and felt pressured to cover ballooning expenses with sales, he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
“The doctor was gently telling us that they were going to see what they could do,” Adelso told God Reports. “I didn’t want to do chemo because the last time I had cancer it jacked me up.”
From his hospital bed, he watched his family huddle.
They weren’t weeping; they were strategizing. Who would do what to cover Dad’s extensive responsibilities in the business? Adelso and his family sought what they always wanted in times of trial: a turnaround, for good to come out of the bad.
“I wasn’t thinking I was going to die,” he says. “I just needed to work this through and get back to the business.”
Adelso miraculously survived the cancer. His 10-year-old business of specialty tres leches cakes now grosses $1 million in revenue.
He shares his life philosophy on a radio podcast “The Flipside” which encourages listeners to not despair but to find how “all things work together for the good,” as the Bible says.
Adelso, 54, lives in San Antonio, Texas. He got saved as a youth in Albuquerque when he saw a formerly “fried” pothead” all cleaned up and alive.” It was an unexpected surprise, and the young man invited Adelso to church. He didn’t want to go, but his friend hounded him and he broke down. Of course, Adelso ended up receiving Jesus and transformation.
He grew zealous for the things of God and even prepared himself to enter ministry. He was part of the church-planting mission that emphasized evangelism and discipleship and not Bible school degrees.
He and new-convert Veronica got married “Jesus people style,” the way the hippies did in the Jesus Movement of the 70s, without expensive ballroom-like details and during the Sunday morning service. They were in love with each other and considered the fact that Jesus didn’t have any money.
Adelso and Veronica marched off to Panama, where they were missionaries for nine years. It was a wild time of scrambling to make ends meet. Adelso became very resourceful as he adeptly negotiated equipment and building rentals without having enough money to do so. Navigating financial hardship with resourcefulness became a skill he carried forward in life and it became the hallmark of his business.
“It hardened my hide to be able to go through what I’ve gone through in the business,” he says.
When his 25th wedding anniversary approached, he was on staff at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. He decided to save as much money he could every week to honor his wife with a big bash to renew their wedding vows. He wanted to make up for the skimpy beginnings of married life.
How would he cobble together the money for the event? His sister gave him a secret recipe, a tres leches cake with a non-traditional flourish, pineapple. It was off the radar, but when he took samples to some local restaurants they were curious.
“Tres leches with pineapple?” one proprietor said. “That’s weird.”
He tasted it.
“The way they responded in the restaurant was really positive,” Adelso explains. “I wanted them to taste it to see if it had any potential. They really liked it. I just chased the dream because of the reaction that I got. It was a genuine surprised reaction. I thought, Wow, they really liked it. It made me realize that this was something I could possibly do on the side.”
He started at home, but you can’t cook at home for commercial ventures for long.
The preparation for a wedding renewal turned into a full-time business. He needed to rent space at a bakery. At a cooking conference where he impressed with free samples, an acquaintance tipped him off to a 2,000-square-foot San Antonio bakery that could rent him space in the evenings.
To escape war-torn Iraq, eight-year-old Halla Mahler and her family fled to Jordan, then Lebanon and finally to the United States, where an uncle had prepared their green cards.
“It was a very traumatic time,” she told God Reports. “I don’t remember much.”
After Covid, Halla, 48, her husband and two children are “closer to Jesus than ever.” They attend a church in Newbury Park that insisted it was an essential service and flouted bans on church services imposed by government authorities.
The masks and distancing rules killed the spirit at her former church, she says.
Halla was born into a small minority of Iraqi Christians who trace their beginnings back to Saint Thomas and have dwindled to about 500,000 in recent years. As a minority among hostile Muslims, her family feared for their lives constantly.
Halla was never allowed to play over at a friend’s house or in the streets because the threat was constant.
“My parents were afraid we would be abducted,” she says. “The Muslims would abduct the Christians. Historically in the Middle East there’s always been that battle.”
Raised at the time of the Iran-Iraq War, Halla never passed a day without sirens. She lived in Baghdad and day and night, awake or asleep, ran for cover whenever the sirens blared to the dugout beneath the house her father had dug. It was a tunnel of sorts that served as a bomb shelter.
One day, an Iranian jet flew over undetected by radar, so no sirens warned the people of its coming. Suddenly, Halla remembers, there was an explosion in the sky and debris fell on their roof. She doesn’t know if the Iranian jet was hit or if it was something else.
“They didn’t care if they bombed homes,” Halla says. “If they saw lights, they would bomb it.”
The dangers of the war and the dangers of Muslims terrorists weren’t the only hazards. The family feared Saddam Hussein himself, who had the custom of personally visiting schools and asking students what their parents thought of him. If the kids unwittingly responded unfavorably, a death squad was dispatched immediately.
“My parents would sit us down every day and coach us on what to say or not say if Saddam Hussein visited our school that day,” Halla remembers. “If we didn’t say exactly the right thing, we would be assassinated.” Read the rest: Halla Mahler Thousand Oaks
The Holy Spirit prompted Rick Palma, a sophomore in high school in Guam, to witness to one of his buddies at school. But the friend was talking and the bell rang, so Rick went to class.
At the end of the day, there was no sign of the friend. The next day, no sign. Nor the next. Three days later, the teacher broke the terrible news to the class. That student the Holy Spirit wanted Rick to witness to had taken his own life.
“It shook me,” Rick says on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I felt the Spirit of God just leave me.”
The unsettling tragedy was not the only brush with suicide for Rick Palma, who felt profoundly enmeshed by failure for much of his life due to his own shortcomings and the stalking of the Grim Reaper.
Rick Palma is a Polynesian born in Guam. His family got saved in a church, and he loved witnessing for God. It seemed he had a direct connection of communication with God; whoever God told him to witness to, he carried out with great success.
Until he missed his friend at school.
“There was nothing I could do at that point. I couldn’t pray because I felt such a failure in my life,” Rick admits. “It shocked to my core so bad that I started backing away from the things of God. His blood was on my hands. I couldn’t face myself to go back to God and say, ‘God, I failed you.’ It was that one moment that I let slip that weighed me down. I carried that as such a burden. I ended up backing away from church.”
Not only did Rick miss opportunities for street-preaching, he found ways to schedule work and miss church. The young men invited him, and he would “simply run in the other direction,” Rick says.
“A lot of the girls would invite the guys to the Bible study at school. I would go hide in the bathroom until it was over,” he says. “Failure can really bog you down when you attach that to your life.”
After high school, he moved to the States to stay with relatives. The initial plan to study got lost as he made friends who got him into hip hop, drugs and fornication.
One day at work, God prompted him to witness to a co-worker: I want you to tell him about me.
Rick wavered. He was in sin, and according to his theology, God doesn’t talk to sinners. So he balked at talking to the co-worker.
“I was doing heavy drugs, so I thought there’s no way God could be talking to a sinner like me,” he recalls. “So I ignored it. The next day they had a meeting at work. This same young man had taken his own life.”
Was God trying to call me back? Rick wondered. But still he was in bondage to sensual gratifications.
It wasn’t until his girlfriend took his daughter and left him that Rick hit rock bottom.
“For one whole week, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink,” he says. “I was so stressed out. I lost 24 pounds in one week. I was spiraling out of control.”
His last hope to make something of his life – as a skateboarder – shattered when his knee shattered.
“I was a guy who had never heard the gospel and who lived a reckless, dangerous life,” Daniel Sherwood says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast.“
Sherwood grew up in Mesa, AZ, doing normal childhood things like camping, hunting, fishing, and riding his bike. What was less normal was that he started driving when he was 10.
“My father was an alcoholic and he played music, so I spent a lot of time around bars,” Daniel remembers. “He would play his sets, and I started to have to drive him home when I was 10, 12 years old.”
By the time, he was 12, his parents got divorced. “I saw physical and mental divorce of my family,” he says. “I got punted back and forth between Mom and Dad. One would get tired of me and send to the other. I took advantage of that. I wanted to be like my dad, play music and be in bands. What was OK for him seemed OK for me. I kind of just spiraled from there.”
Daniel excelled at baseball and wrestling, even earning a state championship. But when he transferred to Chandler High School and didn’t even make the A-squad, he quit completely in disgust.
I’m just gonna go skateboarding, he thought at the time. “I got really good at skateboarding, started filming, got a few sponsors.”
For Daniel, drugs, liquor and partying came with the skateboarder life. By 16, he had attempted suicide a few times.
“One time I took 80 sleeping pills after a breakup with a girlfriend,” he recalls. “I was pretty much a goner. That will pretty much kill anybody. But somebody found me actually, hauled me down to the hospital, (and they) pumped my stomach.”
Fighting was favorite thing to do when he was drunk at parties.
“I would wake up the next day just covered in blood. No idea what happened,” he says. “I’d have to call around the next day to find out why I was covered in blood. People would tell me, ‘You fought this guy. They hit you over the head with a bottle. You chased this guy down the street with a knife.’
“It was a wild life.”
Daniel got kicked out of high school for leaving a kid so badly beaten he was sent to the intensive care unit.
Daniel scaled up from cigarettes and drinking Dad’s liquor to marijuana, then LSD.
“It was the party life,” he says. “They say skateboarding picked up where rock-n-roll left off.”
With consumption came trafficking also. He sold marijuana by the pound, guns, whatever he could get his hands on. “It just got worse and worse and worse,” he says.
Daniel sold marijuana to an undercover cop at a party. Next thing he knew, the cops raided his house, kicked his door in and put a Glock to his head. Police were disappointed that the sale – only 2 pounds – wasn’t significant under the law, so they pressured him to turn State’s witness and turn in his dealer. At their direction, he bought five pounds of pot, but instead of collaborating with the cops, he turned around and sold it to make money.
“They found out about it and brought me in a small office,” he remembers. “I was so high. I was surrounded by these undercovers: a Mexican cowboy, a biker, a workout bro. They were screaming at me. I’ll never forget what the biker guy said to me: ‘You’re high right now, aren’t you? You are a menace to society.’”
He was 17-and-a-half, which meant he would be tried as a minor and given a lighter sentence.
“They pushed for adult court, and if they would have gotten that, I probably would have done 10, 12, 15 years. I got six months. Like all juveniles, I got a slap on the wrist. I didn’t learn my lesson. When I got out, I went right back to it.”
When he was 18 and moved out on his own, he got a two-bedroom apartment whose second room was exclusively used for growing hallucinogenic mushrooms, which he consumed.
He stopped selling drugs because, as an adult, the sentences in court, if caught, were higher. But he didn’t abandon crime entirely.
“I was very adept at stealing,” he admits. “Me and a buddy of mine would steal carts full of liquor and throw these massive parties. We had a little crew and called ourselves the ‘40 Crew.’ We would get drunk, and the goal was always to find somebody and beat him up. We just loved it.”
But God, in his infinite grace and mercy, was pursuing Sherwood’s heart, and brought the Gospel into his life.
Drunk at 3:00 a.m., he rear-ended two guys on Harleys, pulled a gun on them, drove off and, trying to escape pursuing police, scraped up two cars when he tried to drive his ‘88 Cutlass Sierra between them.
Under the police chopper spotlight, he surrendered to police. He spent a month in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent city jail, shivering at night, wrapped in a plastic bag during winter trying to stay warm.
“My time in tent city was so awful that I swore I would never go back again,” he says. “As critical as people like to be of Joe Arpaio, it worked.”
By the time Alyssa Gordon went to high school, her mom had been thrown in jail for too many DUIs.
“My family was pretty dysfunctional,” she says on her Wonderful Acts YouTube channel. She was a military brat born and raised in Italy. Her mom was an alcoholic. She ran away from home from time to time and grew up seeking in guys the love she felt was missing in her family.
She played the part of the social butterfly party girl with a smile facade but internally she was frustrated that guy after guy just took advantage of her and never wanted a true and lasting relationship.
“I began to get in this cycle of me really desiring love, to have someone genuinely care about me,” she says. “I would give myself to these men physically looking for that true love that I never got. I got really dark, it got really depressing and the cycle just kept continuing. The last guy who I thought genuinely cared about me cut me off…would act like I didn’t exist.”
The last guy broke her heart badly and she took it out on God.
“I’m cursing at God, I’m throwing things,” she relates. “I was yelling and screaming, ‘God if you’re real, I need you to show me…right now!’”
She had attended church, but, with her mom’s example speaking louder than her words, Alyssa didn’t respond to God’s offer of grace and love.
As a sophomore in college, she luckily had a friend who encouraged her.
“I don’t know if God is real anymore, because if he’s real where is he?” she asked him.
For 15 years, Victor Martel was running from God. His mother got saved, his father, his two brothers and five sisters. He was too busy consuming drugs and hanging with the homies. Everywhere he went, Christians witnessed to him, and he tried to avoid them.
Then he received a life sentence in prison.
During the first week in his cell, God spoke to his heart: Can you hear me now?
Victor’s journey into darkness, coming to Christ at age 19, his subsequent falling away and jail sentence is a lesson of what happens to those who run from God.
Victor grew up in rough neighborhood in Banning, California, where he joined a gang, drank alcohol, and consumed drugs. In his hood, he couldn’t conceive of any other kind of life because it was all he saw.
“I had no choice. I was born in that neighborhood,” Victor explains to God Reports. “There was a principality that covered the area. There was no way out. It was the only lifestyle I knew.”
At 15, he got shot in the back and cried out to God for the first time to spare his life.
Despite God answering his prayer, Victor stubbornly persisted in sin. His house got shot up as result of his involvement in the gang. At 17, he started heroin.
Two years later, Victor lost his best homie, and he cried out to God again.
Then God did something remarkable. He placed a burden on the heart of a pastor from the Potter’s House Church, so the pastor began looking for the most desperate person to evangelize and was drawn to Victor’s house.
“He came to my house,” Victor says. “I wasn’t trying to be famous that way.”
In response to the gospel message, Victor accepted Jesus and began attending church in Beaumont, a few miles away. Victor attended for three months and then “didn’t follow through. I got caught back in doing what I wanted to do.”
Rene Celinder was leading an all-night prayer vigil in support of the Jews at the Israel Plads in Copenhagen 2002, when a Palestinian immigrant struck him over the head with a cleaver at 3:00 a.m.
“Luckily, I have a hard head,” Rene quips. The doctor explained that had the attack not been a glancing blow, he could have died or wound up in a wheelchair.
From the hospital, he called his wife: “Don’t worry I’m alive,” he told her. “I just took a cleaver blow to my head. No problem. I’m ok.”
Such is the life of a Christian evangelist is Denmark. Today, he travels internationally to preach the gospel to people lost in darkness. He, too, was once lost in darkness.
Raised by an abusive father, Rene became a painter and a handyman. When he contracted stomach cancer at age 30, he made a promise to God: “If you heal me, I will serve you for the rest of my life.”
He didn’t know God but remembered his childhood prayers from the ritualistic church he visited in his youth. The surgery removing the egg-sized mass was a success. Rene didn’t immediately fulfill his promise to serve God.
Three years later, he received a $50,000 insurance payout for the damage done by chemicals he worked with as a painter and fiberglass worker. He traveled and drank extensively until he spent all the money in under two years. Later he would resonate with the Prodigal Son when he read the Bible.
After the “living it up” was over, he had no money and nothing to do. An aunt told him to go to church and get saved. So that’s what he did.
Almost immediately, he enrolled in Bible school and was fascinated with the truth of Scripture. As he grew in the Lord he stopped swearing.
Unfortunately, he didn’t stop all sin. He fell into fornication with another student at the school. Caught by administrators, he got kicked out.
He returned home and avoided Christians and church because of his guilty conscience for some time. The brethren sought him out. Why aren’t you coming to church? they asked. “ I was afraid because I had been sinning so bad,” he said sincerely.
They encouraged him to return. When he did, he was embraced. He vowed to sin no more.
Eventually, he met and married his second wife, Dora, to whom he has been married for 25 years. He is now 66.
At a Christian camp years later, he spotted the old fling from Bible School. He asked his wife what he should do.
“You need to go ask for forgiveness?” Dora responded.
He did so. Then he asked her “spiritual parents” for forgiveness and then her kids. On the final day of the camp, both went up to the altar and asked the Lord for forgiveness.
“I learned forgiveness,” he comments. “Then I was free.”
Rene and Dora had a child, Emma, who was born with three holes in her heart. Doctors operated for 12 hours but were unable to save her. Baby Emma died six days after birth.
“I was really really angry at God,” he remembers. “I’ve never been angry like this before.”
Rene wanted to run away. But the doctor encouraged him to cradle his baby and to say goodbye. The grieving process was very healing. On the day of Emma’s funeral and burial, snow was falling, and the wind was blowing inhospitably. But after the sermon inside the church when they all came out, the storm had passed, and the sun was shining. It was beautiful moment to bury Emma. The birds were singing. He felt God’s presence.
Rene prayed a very unusual request: “Lord, show us our little girl one more time. I know that we cannot ask anything like this. But if you can, can you do something about it?”
Typically, a request to communicate with the dead is strictly a no-no because it derives from witchcraft. King Saul, in an attempt to contact the dead prophet Samuel, went to a medium. It was his last act of life; the next day he was killed on the field of battle.
But God took Dora to Heaven, Rene says.
One night she had a dream and in the dream she went to heaven. The first person to greet her was God.
“Father, have you seen our daughter?” Dora asked.
Yes, yes, she’s over there crawling around having a joyful time, He responded.
Then she talked to her baby, who, not limited to earthly constrains, could talk, Rene says.
“It’s really beautiful up here,” she told Mom. “I’m going be more blessing here in Heaven.”
Dora woke up happy. “We knew that we are going to see her again,” Rene explains. “She now would be 25 in human years.”
Moved on by the Lord, Rene opened his first cafe in a cellar. He invited people, gave them coffee and food, prayed for them for healing. It was a continual outreach center.
How he got the cafe is a miracle. When he first saw it available, it cost $5,000 a month. He felt God’s urging towards this place but couldn’t afford the rent. So he waited a year. The next time he saw it, the rent was now $2,000. He made his move.
Saying he had no money, he offered to paint for the owner to be able to use the cellar. After thinking it over for three days, the owner told him that he had no need of painting but if he would clean up and repair three flights of stairs, he could use the cellar for free. The job took four days.
David Lou Bega, the Berlin mamba singer whose catchy tune “Mamba #5” set the world dancing, has turned himself over to Christ after reading the Bible in a bungalow in the Maldives when unending rain wouldn’t let him, his wife and daughter out for sun and snorkeling.
“In depression, I found a bible and started to read. After a few pages, I started to realize this was the truth that I was always looking for,” he says in The Last Reformation documentary. “I’ve looked into different sets of religions before, everything that was trendy and cool, like Buddhism and some New Age stuff.
“But I had passed over Jesus Christ for so many years, to my regret,” he adds. “There he was calling me, giving me the opportunity. I started reading and I felt so convicted. I broke down, started crying. That was the Holy Spirit.”
He had seen Torben Sondergaard’s miraculous street evangelism ministry on YouTube and called him to baptize him in 2018. Sondergaard filmed the meeting at which he baptized and prayed for David and his extended family.
“I felt like a baby,” David says. “I felt like a newborn. That’s why the term born-again is really fitting. You’re fresh. Your transgressions, your iniquities are gone. I was so joyful and clean.”
David Lubega Balemezi hit #1 in many European cities in his 1999 remake of Mamba #5 “A Little Bit of Monika in my life.” For it, he earned a Grammy nomination. The pinnacle of his career pales compared to his simple encounter with Christ.
“Even in the days I was rebellious and didn’t listen to you (Jesus), didn’t obey you, you never dropped me, you gave me a family, you gave me love, you gave me everything I have,” he says. “It’s weird; you want to sing; you want to dance. It was the… Read the rest: Lou Bega Christian
His marriage was in shambles because, despite loving his wife, he fooled around with other girls.
“Our mantra was we don’t fall in love, we stand in love, because in case something goes wrong you can always just walk out,” says Orlando Patterson, a Jamaican immigrant to New York. “It was very common in the culture, we live in this apartment complex to be living with your supposed wife and a couple of kids. And you have another woman a couple streets over and she has a couple of kids for you. And you have another woman in another apartment complex and she has a couple of kids for you. That is business as usual.”
So when an officer in the U.S. Navy turned and abruptly and asked him about his eternal destination, Orlando responded with genuine self-examination: “I’m pretty confident I’d probably go to hell.”
Orlando Patterson knew nothing about God and fidelity because he grew up with his non-Christian parents fighting over custody. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a high-society dad and a pretty mom whom the dad’s relatives detested.
At age five, his dad tricked his mom into letting Orlando go to Queens, New York. What was supposed to a be a summer visit, turned into a permanent stay. Dad simply called mom: “By the way, he’s never going back.”
Dad’s intentions were to give Orlando a good education and the opportunities that arise in America. But the young man grew up “a square peg in a round hole.” By the time his mom was able to come over to America, the damage was done.
“I had drawn certain conclusions about life,” Orlando says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I was a problem child and felt horribly unwanted. No one really wanted me around. I never got rid of this feeling.”
He fell in with “miscreants.” His first arrest was for grand theft auto. An older boy was showing him how to steal a car when the cops pulled up. The older boy ran, Orlando hid in the car hoping the police would pursue the older boy. When he crept out of the car, an old lady trained a gun on him and ordered him to sit still until the cops came back.
“This lady was shaking,” Orlando says. “I knew I was gonna die that night if I would have flinched. If I breathed too hard that lady was gonna shoot me, so I just held my hands up and just kind of froze.”
Throughout high school, he butted heads with his mom, but she eventually prevailed with the plan he would join the military. He and his 8th grade sweetheart, Vanessa, both joined the Navy.
He became a jet engine mechanic.
Though they tried to stay together, their union was beset by troubles from the beginning because infidelity was what Orlando had learned from his Jamaican upbringing. “My marriage was shot, you know, infidelity on my part, just foolishness that I had done,” he recognizes.
On his first tour on the Adriatic Sea on the U.S.S. Enterprise, he was pulling an overnight shift. There wasn’t much to do, so he wandered to the other shops. That’s where he overheard a sailor evangelizing another man. “He was chopping wood,” Orlando remembers about the serious discussion.
Though not directed at him, the conversation unsettled Orlando. He’d been raised Catholic, but faith had never factored into his life as being real or relevant. As an altar boy, he’d report hung over at 8:00 a.m. mass.
“I couldn’t shake what I just heard,” he recalls.
Troubled by what he’d overheard, he continued to wander the deck. When he reported for his “midrats” midnight meal, he wound up eating next to an officer because the mess was unusually crowded.
The officer turned to Orlando and asked him point blank: “Young man, let me ask you a question. If you were to die right now, would you go to Heaven?”
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.
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.
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.
Lee Byung-Yoon was an uncommon Korean child; he had no dreams for his future.
Then, to the chagrin of his parents, he wanted to be a hip hop artist.
“I had a dream in my first year of high school, and it was to make music,” he says on a YouTube video in Korean.
Eventually his parents supported his dream. Then BewhY (a simplification of his name that he uses as a stage name) won the prestigious Gaon Chart Awards in 2020. And every song he does is based on a Bible verse.
“I praise the Lord of my fathers today,” he raps in “On that Day.” “Even if many walls of oppression block me, I wait for the Lord only. Oh, the day of glory. Oh, God, please accept my heart.”
Of the South Korean population, 28% identify as Christian, so having Christian artists is not uncommon. What’s unique is that BewhY – noted for his sincerity and the fervor of his convictions – would win the secular “discovery” award when all his lyrics are Biblical and his testimony squeaky clean.
At the time he launched, other “Christian” rappers weren’t so Christian.
Shamso was a sickly Somali girl in a refugee camp with a growth on her arm that doctors thought was cancer. They wanted to amputate.
Fortunately, her mother refused and wanted to seek better health care in another nation. A church from Texas sponsored Shamso’s family to come to America with no strings attached.
In 2000 they came to America and got involved in their local Muslim community. Shamso was very religious and taught other children, observed Ramadan, and did everything possible to make it to Heaven.
But she was unsettled by the teaching in Islam that one can never be sure she’ll gain entry into paradise, one can never be sure their good works will be enough.
“I was deathly afraid, not knowing where I was going to be after I die, if I was going to make it into” Heaven, she says on her YouTube channel. “Was I good enough here on Earth? I would always recite the Koran and all sorts of stuff because I genuinely wanted to make it into Heaven.
“But when I realized that everything I was doing was probably not good enough for Allah, it felt like a mentally difficult thing for me to accept. I was super afraid of death. I couldn’t go to sleep at night. Darkness terrified me.”
Shamso was a naturally talkative girl and a naturally curious girl. When in Islamic “Sunday school” she heard that other religions describe Jesus as more than a prophet (which Islam limits him to by definition).
She wanted to explore other religions, but was told not to ask questions. Her teacher told her mom about the questions she had been asking, and she got in trouble.
Shamso wasn’t scared merely of death. She was also scared of the jinn, or spirits sometimes translated and conceptualized as “genies” in English but probably better understood as demons. Her mother told her the story of somebody who accidentally dropped the Koran and turned into a half human, half goat creature by the jinn.
At age 16, Shamso witnessed a new Somali girl at school manifest a full-blown case of demon possession during their English class.
“The jinn was on her. She was screaming, yelling. It was absolutely terrifying. I was already terrified of these things, so to see it in real life, a person being held captive by an evil spirit, instantly I ran out of the room,” Shamso recalls. “It was pure chaos. All the kids were outside. The teachers were outside. Tears were flowing. I trembled with fear.”
The Somali girl was allowed to return home with an adult friend and returned to school the next day, seemingly normal. She didn’t remember anything about what happened, what she said, or what she did.
Texas State Representative Briscoe Cain has suffered from Asperger’s and autism throughout his life but hasn’t let that stop him from being an unashamed Christian who stands for his faith in his work to create the Texas Heartbeat Bill, which prohibits abortion after a baby’s heartbeat has been detected in the womb.
“Yes, I mix religion and politics,” he wrote in a tweet.
Cain was recipient of the 2021 Malachi Award, given by Operation Rescue to recognize the person who advanced the cause of protecting the pre-born, for his role in creating the Texas Heartbeat Act.
The 37-year-old is a loving husband and father of five. His first name is in honor of his ancestor, American pioneer, Andrew Briscoe, who fought in the Texas Revolution as a part of the Texan Army and was one of 60 who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.
Born with Asperger’s and autism, Cain grew up in Deer Park, Texas, raised by his father, a plant operator and his stepmother, an occupational nurse. His mother, a homemaker, taught him the value of hard work and commitment to his community.
“I, along with countless others who experience these challenges brought on by Asperger’s and autism, communicate and express myself in a way that’s different from others,” Cain told Capital Tonight.
He founded the Republican Club at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD), the first pro-life law student organization in Texas.
Her husband beat her every time he drank, and Anh become so desperate she was ready to end the hell that was her life, according to a report by Christian Aid Mission (CAM).
When Anh first met her future husband, Ngoc, she saw his charm and swagger and was smitten by love. She didn’t realize that he hung out with buddies who drank, gambled, and smoked opium.
After they married, he often came home inebriated and was physically abusive.
“Every time Ngoc got drunk, he beat his wife.” a local ministry leader told CAM.
One night, she took refuge at a friend’s house. When she returned the next morning, her husband had burned her clothing and her university degree.
In the depths of despair, Ahn fetched a bottle of insecticide was was going to drink it, but her children began tugging at her and crying. For the sake of her children, she didn’t kill herself that day.
Instead, she worked on a plan for someone to care for her kids after she ended her life.
Before she could finish the plan, a Christian missionary knocked on her front door, came in, and presented the Gospel.
Moved by the power of the Word and the Spirit, she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
“Everything was changed and renewed,” the ministry leader reported.
Anh invited her husband to receive Christ, but he rebuffed her. “No, never,” he declared.
However, he began to witness changes in his wife because of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
After pleadings from Anh and the children, Ngoc finally acquiesced and attended church. He was received warmly by the congregation and ended up accepting Jesus.
“The Holy Bible is very good,” Ngoc told his wife later that night. “But I can’t understand it. Can you teach me the Holy Bible?”
For four months he learned the Bible, aided by the patient instruction of the missionary. He even got baptized.
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.
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.
A gaggle of girls besieged him for his autograph at Great America because they thought he was Lil Bow Wow. Miles Minnick was 14, and that’s how he realized hip hop was his calling.
“If this is the kind of attention rappers get, let me go ahead and start rapping,” he says on a Testimony Stories video. “It was crazy.”
He immediately started free-styling inside the theme park. He rapped at school and won talent contests. He got chances to rap in the booth. Chockful of talent, he got noticed by big name San Francisco Bay area rappers and got invited to collaborate.
Miles’ trajectory moved assuredly toward success. But then he got saved and decided to dedicate his talent to God, and now he is one of the hottest new stars in Christian Hip Hop (CHH).
Miles Minnick grew up in Pittsburg, CA, with a polar opposite older brother, who “killed it” in athletics while Miles killed it in video games. In middle school he sported dyed-tip dreads and gold teeth.
His father prayed nightly with his sons but drove them to school in the morning with gangsta rap blaring: “F— the police!”
“When I was 8 or 9, we would go to church maybe once a month,” he remembers.
When Miles turned 12, his brother went to a church camp and came home on fire for God.
“My brother would chip away at me and chip away at me all the time. He would say, ‘Don’t do this? Why you do this?’ He would try to coach me in the correct way,” Miles recounts. “But I was still in the streets.”
He got a girl pregnant when he was 15, and he and his girlfriend brought the baby to class. The teacher often held the infant while teaching at the board.
“We were the school sweethearts. Everybody wanted to support us. Even though I was a knucklehead,” he admits. “I was trying to be a good dad, and I was a kid myself. The streets wouldn’t let me go.”
At age 16, Miles had his encounter with Christ. Ironically, it came when he was selling and smoking weed.
“I was a pothead,” he admits.
As he was getting high one day, a friend blurted out: “Hey bro, we should go to church!”
“Go to church? Right now?” he asked his buddy, who was also smoking marijuana. “We are high like nobody’s business. What are you talking about?”
The friend responded that there were pretty girls at the youth group. “I didn’t want to go, but they drug (sic) in there,” he says.
But youth group was closed, so they went into the main service at New Birth Church, Pittsburg.
“I was the one who didn’t want to go, but I wound up sitting on the edge of my seat, reading the songs off the projector, singing the songs,” he remembers. “It captivated me. I was feeling something I never felt before. I was fresh off the street, fresh off a smoking session. At the end of the service, the pastor pulled an altar call. I didn’t even know what that meant. I just knew I wanted it. I went up to the front, and the pastor laid his hands on me and prayed for me, and I fell out under the Spirit of God.
“I was on the ground weeping, crying my eyes out,” he adds. Read the rest: Miles Minnick
Because of an absentee dad, young Jason Wilson sought male approval by being a THUG, which he now says stands for Traumatized Human Unable to Grieve.
“I got involved in seeking these quests for affirmation, and they led me into some dangerous situations,” Jason says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “The majority of boys who are in gangs are fatherless.”
Two of his brothers were murdered. Jason Wilson showed off his stepfather’s gun on the streets, but he didn’t really fit the role of gangbanger and eventually returned to the Christianity of his mom. After traversing half a century of trial and failure at “hyper masculinity,” Jason Wilson has learned some things about manhood. In his seminars and books, he tells men to cry.
“In my community, it was the hyper masculine black man,” he says on an Ed Mylett video. “If you weren’t hyper masculine, you didn’t get the girls, you didn’t get the money, you weren’t cool, you were ostracized.”
“So many of the young boys I mentor and even the men — they’re called OG’s, or original gangsters — they’re hurting. It’s amazing when I get with them and talk, they just start crying because of the years of the trauma that they’ve seen.”
Jason went viral in 2016 when in his karate gym, he encouraged a young boy taking his test to go ahead and cry when he was unable to punch through a board with his left fist. Men need to cry because tears contain stress hormones, thus releasing them from your body.
Breaking boards in karate becomes a metaphor of breaking through struggles for a man, whether it be to shed the pounds of obesity or invite out for a date the woman of your dreams, he says.
The video has been seen more than 100 million times. Subconsciously, it encapsulates a message about manhood beyond just “manning up,” being strong and “boys don’t cry.”
“The phones of our non-profit were just ringing. We were like, ‘What is going on?’ Viral videos were kind of new,” he says. “Men were crying to our women staff, saying, ‘I’m tired of not being able to be tired. I want to be a human.’”
As a youngster from a broken home in Detroit, Jason Wilson used to sneak out from church when his mother wasn’t watching and escape to the arcade. He became a famous hip hop deejay. The world of hip hop, in which everybody is always mugging, fostered “hyper masculinity” in him.
“Unfortunately, I did not have a desire to learn about God,” he says. “I didn’t feel Christ. I knew there was a God, but I didn’t see Him. I allowed the hypocrisy of men to stop me from getting a relationship with the Creator of men.”
He searched for meaning in Egyptology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
While he was running from Christ, he almost died twice. He flipped a truck and rolled twice. But he shrugged it off. Three years later, he was working as a high load driver when the truck driver hadn’t chaulked the breaks, and he crashed off the platform. At the second brush with death, he answered the wake-up call.
“I’m on the ground with a heavy weight high loader next to me,” he recalls. “I’m crying, ‘Father, I will never go against You.’ If I didn’t follow God’s will, definitely I would be either dead, definitely I would still be drinking, divorced and probably not there for my kids.”
He opened a dojo, The Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy named after King David’s discipleship hideout. That’s where he found his true calling in life.
He was much older and wiser. He had cried — finally — at a funeral. His wife, Nicole, suffered five miscarriages between his daughter, 26, and son, 13, and he learned to be there for his wife.
He was starting to learn about true manhood — and he wanted to share the good news.
“The pain I experienced not having a father is worth being able to impact hundreds of thousands of people who don’t have their father,” he says. “The Cave of Adullam came from a desire to help boys and men, to be what I didn’t see. My son asked me one day, ‘How did you become a great father?’ I said, ‘I simply gave you what I longed for.’
“Even a man desires affirmation from another man.”
When his video went viral, Jason was launched to nationwide fame. He was featured on Dr. Oz and in President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” showcase at the White House. He has two books: Cry like a Man: Fighting for Freedom from Emotional Incarceration and Battle Cry: Waging and Winning the War Within.
“Women didn’t let themselves be defined by culture. When in the early 1900s it was said, ‘A woman’s place is in the kitchen,’ they defied that,” James says. “But we as men have allowed this one adjective ‘masculinity’ to define us and hinder us from the lives we long for.” Read the rest: THUG Traumatized Human Unable to Grieve.
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.
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.
When Graham Cottone was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 10, it was a tremendous relief. Before that, his parents didn’t know what was wrong and they blamed themselves. He was constantly punished, made fun of, and friendless.
“He was hard. He was very, very hard to love,” Lore Cotton, his mother, says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “You love your children. They’re your children. We disciplined out of anger on several occasions. It was scary to think, ‘What are we doing? We’re spanking all the time.”
Graham’s behavior worsened beginning at age 12.
“It just was so overwhelming. I remember just going in my bedroom and being so exasperated,” Lore says. “I just fell down on my bed and just began sobbing.”
Out of her prayer that day, God impressed on her heart: Graham is going to get it.
Despite what Lore felt God impart, she didn’t see any encouraging signs. To the contrary, Graham went downhill fast.
At 13, he began using marijuana. He began cutting himself to relieve anxiety. He started fires in the house. He got into a physical fight with his dad, Lore recounts.
“He ran out and got a rock and he threw it and he hit me in the head,” says Michael Cottone, the father. They called 911, and the police intervened. Graham was arrested and jailed and placed under a restraining order to stay away from home.
“We know you’re going to let him come back,” the cops told the parents at the time. “But we’re not.”
Not long after, Graham experienced some sort of emotional breakdown and broken into a house in Texas.
He grew up in jail and mental hospitals.
“I wanted Graham to have peace and have joy,” Lore says.
Graham moved to Colorado, then hitchhiked to Oregon.
“We were actually on a vacation in Mexico,” Lore says. “Graham called us just half crazed, he was crying and screaming and mad because he had run out of all of his medications and he was at a hospital and they wouldn’t give him any more medications.”
Lore offered to wire him some money but said she couldn’t do much else.
“He got upset. He hung up on me,” Lore remembers. “Right before he hung up on me, he said, ‘I’m, going to hurt somebody.’”
Graham wouldn’t answer his phone and soon lost his phone. There was no way to get ahold of him.
“It felt really bad. It felt like the end,” she says. “All we could do was pray. I just told God, ‘He is yours. He’s always been yours. I want so badly to go rescue him, but I know you brought me here. You took me out of the way. I need to trust and let You do your thing.’”
After the vacation, Lore got a call from her son in Sacramento, California. He had hopped a freight train down from Portland with a group of vagabonds.
“I lost everything,” he said. “I knew I didn’t know anybody for thousands of miles, but I need God.”
“I had this vision of Hell,” Graham says. “It wasn’t a place where people were eternally tortured. It was this place where people just chose to do things their own way.” Read the rest: Asperger’s son went prodigal
Butch Hartman, the Christian animator who delighted us through our childhood with The Fairly OddParents, has launched an all-Christian cartoon and game website called Noog Network.
“My faith means everything to me and it means everything to my family,” Butch told Jewish News in Phoenix, AZ. “By having faith, I feel that I’m accountable to something else. And in my case, it’s to God. I have to live my life by certain principles because I know I’m going to have to answer for my actions one day.”
Before launching his own production company, Hartman — who calls himself Donald Duck of Nickelodeon because he was second to SpongeBob SquarePants, the Mickey Mouse of the cartoon network — also entertained children with his zany antics in Danny Phantom, T.U.F.F. Puppy and Bunsen Is a Beast.
Butch Hartman’s career launched in the second grade, when his teacher asked students to draw her. Little Butch whipped out her very likeness, and the teacher raved about the talent. From then on, all he wanted to do was draw.
He enrolled in California Institute of the Arts founded by Walt Disney in Valencia, and began working hard in the industry, working for Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network. He worked for Nickelodeon for 20 years. But his end game was to establish his own network.
In the hailed progression to fame, Butch also got saved at Pastor Fred Price’s church in Los Angeles in 1999.
“I went from not wanting to go to church, to being an usher at Crenshaw Christian Center. I was the only white usher at Crenshaw Christian Center,” he told Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships. “It was very easy.” Read the rest: Butch Hartman Christian
Hillsong worship leader Darlene Zschech had spent her life lifting spirits, but when breast cancer struck in 2013, she needed her own spirit lifted.
“What I found in my ‘valley of the shadow of death’ is the presence of God,” she says on a CBN video. “I realized you can only have shadow if there is light. It’s just a fact that God doesn’t leave us.”
Famous for her 1993 song “Shout to the Lord,” Darlene led worship at Hillsong Church from 1996 to 2007, after which she and her husband founded Hope Unlimited Church in 2011 in New South Wales Australia.
Amazingly, it is estimated that “Shout to the Lord” gets sung by 30 million church-goers every Sunday.
A television star from childhood, Darlene developed insecurities after her parents divorced when she was 13. As a result, she fell into bulimia for about four years.
“It took a long time for that (the wounds from the divorce) to heal,” Darlene says on SWCS Australia. “But now, I have got a real compassion for kids in that situation. It is now the rule, not the exception. Our next generation is definitely going to need answers. Divorce can definitely leave scars.”
When her dad returned to church, he took Darlene, who at 15 accepted Christ. She met and married Mark, and the couple worked as youth pastors in Brisbane. Mark felt called to Sydney, while Darlene didn’t want to go because she had just rekindled her relationship with her mom. Read the rest: Darlene Zschech cancer battle
Polycystic ovarian syndrome kept Renelle Roberts from her dream of becoming a mother and having babies.
“We tried fertility treatments. That didn’t work,” she says on a CBN video. “We tried adoption. That didn’t work. We tried foster care. That didn’t work.
“What’s going on?” she questioned. “There were days that I couldn’t even go to work because I was in bed just crying: Why can’t I have a child? What is wrong with me? Please help me. Please cure me.”
When Renelle hit the milestone of 30 years of age, she had plenty to ponder. On the one hand, her patience was growing thin with the wait. On the other, she recognized that possibly she was making having children into an idol.
“I told the Lord, ‘I want 30 to be my best year,’” she remembers. “I really had to submit though, whether I had children or not, because it had become an idol. Children are wonderful; they are a blessing. But for me it had become an obsession. That can get unbalanced.”
Renelle fasted and pledged to fast for as long as it took. Meanwhile, she got into some Bible studies that emphasized faith and believing.
At age six, Bedros Keuilian was dumpster-diving to find expired but still edible food to feed his immigrant family as his parents and brother scrambled to earn money for their rent.
“I was the bread-winner of the family,” Bedros quips on an Ed Mylett video.
The “communist” from the former Soviet Union to “serial capitalist” in America, Bedros Keuilian is the founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp, one of America’s fastest growing franchises.
In the dumpster, Bedros found a Herman Munster sweater that he wore to grade school. For the next three schools he attended, he was known as “Herman.”
Still, things were better in American than under communism. He calls himself a former “communist” because if you don’t sign up for the communist party, you get shipped off to Siberia, he says.
His father did tailoring on the side to save money to bribe the Soviet Consulate in 1981 to grant the visa so they could travel to Italy, where they applied for a visa to come to America. The KGB suspected he was engaged in “unauthorized capitalism” and raided his house various times, lining up Mom, Dad and the kids, while they searched in vain for needle, thread, cloth, anything that might confirm rumors that he was moonlighting as a tailor. He was good at hiding things, Bedros says.
There’s another very dark story in his background. Bedros was sexually abused by older boys in Armenia. His parents were unaware of this but when they saved little Bedros from communism, they also saved him from further exploitation.
The shame and rage boiled in the back of his mind and made him a terrible student and later a criminal who stole cars and ran from the cops.
Ultimately, Bedros learned to tame the raging beast in his bosom through Christianity and counseling. He became a better husband and a CEO. The beast, he says, caused him to sabotage his own businesses. He was unwittingly playing out the scenarios of his childhood until he learned to overcome them.
Today, Bedros also has a ministry to help called Fathers and Sons, a group he formed as a result of his own bungling as a new father.
His motivational speaking business doesn’t downplay but rather showcases his Christian faith: “Adversity is the seed to wealth, success, and even greater opportunity,” his website proclaims. “Look at Jesus Christ, he suffered to forgive us of all our sins.”
By participating in a talent contest sponsored by MTV, Belinda Lee of Singapore thought she might win a shopping spree or a 3-day vacation in Bali. She never fathomed that by winning she would wind up with a full-time job hosting a show and interviewing celebrities.
“The entire media of Singapore came and started interviewing me: ‘How does it feel to be an MTV VJ?’” she says on a Salt and Light Singapore video. “I was thrown into the limelight and I had to mingle with big international stars and regional stars all the time, so I flew all over the world.
“I wasn’t a Christian, so I was living a godless life…a life of no purpose, a life of no meaning. It was just party after party, but deep down, I was always searching for something more.”
Belinda found “something more” when her mother contracted cancer and, in a crisis-induced search for meaning, found Christ.
“Many people were most deeply moved by Mom’s unwavering belief in God,” Belinda says. “It was Mom’s faith that strengthened my faith.”
In 2013, Belinda accepted Jesus and began attending New Life Community Church in Singapore with her mother.
“She wanted to sign up for Bible study the first day she visited the church. The next week she started Bible study and the following week, she started cooking for the members. She told me that since she can’t do much for the church since she didn’t study, but one thing she can do very well is to cook, so she cooks for the members.”
The parents of Jason Ong assumed he would wind up in jail or dead because he was such a poorly behaved boy, fighting and often getting into trouble. But God had other plans and purposes for his life.
Jason met the one true living God when his dad was dying. By his father’s bedside, Jason prayed to nearly all the gods he had ever heard of and nothing happened.
But when he invoked the powerful name of Jesus, Dad opened his eyes.
“Later on, there’ll be somebody in white.” he told his dad while his eyes were open. “He will stretch out his hand, so you can just take his hand and follow him, and you’ll be safe.”
Jason didn’t know what he was saying, but his dad closed his eyes and passed peacefully. Later Jason realized he had spoken prophetically, and the Good Shepherd, Jesus, had opened heaven’s door to his father.
“Jesus, You know that You saved my dad, so I owe You my life,” he said.
Jason went to church. That’s where he met Judith, a divorced mom with a special needs daughter, Joelle.
“We somehow knew that we are supposed to be together, so we prayed about it,” Jason says.
Two years into his marriage, he began experiencing dizziness and pain in his head, so he went to the doctor. The prognosis: an extremely rare brain tumor. It was so rare that there were no drugs and no protocols for treatment.
“Suddenly everything just went to darkness,” he says.
The surgeon removed 90% of it, leaving the optic nerves and main artery with a vestige of the tumor so he could still see, eat and not die from a broken artery. It was 2004.
The doctor told Jason he had six months to live.
The news was discouraging, but Jason and Judith decided to make the best of it. They decided to dedicate 100% of their efforts towards the Lord’s service. They launched a street food vendor business, working 12 hours a day, with profits destined for orphanages around Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Myanmar and the Philippines. The proceeds from the business allowed them to contribute to the care of 600 kids.
After six months, Jason showed up to see the doctor. He was surprised to see Jason alive.
The title of Jason’s testimony video is “If Tomorrow Never Comes” on the Hope Singapore channel.
Jason outlived the six-month prognosis. In 2007, the cancer flared up again. His new doctor said it was absolutely necessary to remove all the affected areas, including the nerves to his mouth and eyes. He would be blind. He would feed through a tube. And devastatingly for Jason, he would not be able to speak.
Jason declined the surgery. He needed to speak because his life’s purpose was to preach in the orphanages to the children about the good news of Jesus. He would rather die than lose his ability to preach.
“So there wasn’t an option for me because I still have to continue in the ministry and I said, If I cannot speak, that means I cannot share the gospel, I cannot teach, I cannot preach. So what is the point?” he says.
The doctor was grim, telling him: You don’t need to come back. You’re going to die. The cancer will eventually cause your brain to explode.
He took pain medications and kept hawking food on the street. He kept visiting orphanages with his wife and preaching.
“My encouragement to all the Christians was, ‘Even though I’m going to die, I still choose to stand and say God is good. I still choose to say: Jesus is my Lord,’” he relates.
By 2013, Jason sensed he was going to die. For his “last” birthday, he asked his wife to visit the orphanage once last time.
By 2014, he was bedridden and partially paralyzed. “Jesus, I’m coming home,” he declared.
But one night, Jesus spoke to him in a dream: I’m moved by the tears of your wife. I’m going to heal you.
Days later, he called the doctor to reorder morphine for the pain, and the doctor, a Christian and a medical professor, told him to come in. He got new scans and proposed another surgery. He would save the eye nerve, the voice nerve and the artery. He believed God would help him.
“It’s so amazing that you are still able to talk and sitting in front of me because looking at the scan, it has now grown to the size of two eggs,” the doctor told him. “One in the brain and one outside the cranium. Technically, it is supposed to have pushed your brain out of the brain cavity already. Or you should just get a coma or stroke and die. The fact that you are still alive and talking to me is a miracle.”
When Jason woke up from the surgery, he felt intense pain, couldn’t see or breathe.
“After 10 years of fighting cancer, that was my lowest point,” he says. “I just felt so tired.”
“I think I’m not gonna make it,” he told Judith. “Release me. I wanna go home.” Read the rest: Healed from brain tumors.
He’s been called “America’s most self-loathing homosexual,” but Doug Mainwaring, who struggled with same-sex attraction, was just trying to do the best thing for his kids and for the nation.
“I was living as a gay man at the time and I began to write about the need to maintain the definition of marriage,” Mainwaring says on a Ruth Institute video. “President Obama had just come out that he had evolved on the issue. It was suddenly becoming front and center in the national debate.”
His 2012 piece, “The Myth of the Same-Sex Marriage Mandate,” caused a commotion.
While he was sounding the alarm, writing and speaking on major media platforms about his concerns for his family and America, he was dating men.
Recently divorced and resentful about the dissolution, Mainwaring was indulging a same-sex attraction he had felt but never acted upon. But as he wrote, he began to see that he needed to fix more than just the nation. He needed to fix himself!
He was married in 1985 and adopted two boys. He told his fiancé of his attractions to men, but had never acted on the attraction.
In the late 1990s, his marriage fell apart.
“It remains the saddest moment of my life,” he says. “I knew I was same-sex attracted going into our marriage. I had been aware of that since I was a boy. I can understand when people say they were born that way because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t same-sex attracted.”
His marriage had been a dream: kids, home, picket fence, dogs. When the dream ended like a nightmare, he decided to indulge his homosexual tendencies.
“I thought, ‘Dang it, I’m going to go check this out,’” he says. “I was just being selfish. And in a sense it was retaliatory.”
He answered ads, which is what you did in the late ‘90s. “I went and started meeting guys. I didn’t do anything. We just met for coffee or lunch. Eventually I did have a few relationships.”
Mainwaring was apolitical. But then Obama publicly affirmed his support for letting abortion survivors die on the operating table.
“That was a riveting moment for me,” he says. “That was when I got radicalized to a degree, especially since our children are adopted, I was well aware they could have been aborted.”
When the Tea Party movement launched with conservatives on the East Coast, he got on board. As he saw the media only slander the Tea Party, he began writing to dispel the media’s attempt to demonize it. He captured attention and was offered a chance to write for the Washington Examiner.
“But I quickly realized that our problem wasn’t fiscal in nature, but it was society,” he says. “As I began to write about social issues, I began to start looking at my own life. I couldn’t write about the importance of family life without doing something about my own family.”
He had been separated for more than a decade.
“I realized I’d better try to do something to put my marriage back together,” he says. “The evidence was everywhere screaming at me, ‘Doug, you need to put your life together.’”
His youngest son was beginning to act up at school. He was biting other kids and falling into disproportionately huge rages. He sat with his ex-wife to discuss how to respond.
“One day I realized, he’s not to blame. We’re to blame,” he narrates. “We took away his happy home and placed on him our stress on his shoulders and this was the result of it.” Read the rest: Homosexual opposes gay marriage
Juan Luis Guerra, the king of Caribbean music, longed for a Grammy, but when he finally received the coveted award he was disappointed.
“God allowed me to win the Grammy so that I could realize that there was not happiness in reality,” Juan Luis says on a testimonial video posted by Jaime Fernandez Garrido. “There was a hole in my heart that riches and the glory of the world can’t give.”
So the master of merengue who made hearts swoon and feet move fast with his lively rhythms surprised the secular world by coming out with a fully Christian album in 2004 “Para Ti” (For You) with his devil-mocking “Las Avispas” (The Hornets).
Its chorus: “Jesus told to laugh/ if the enemy tempts me in the race/ and he also told me, don’t cower/ because I send my hornets to sting him.”
The lyrics derive from Exodus 23:29: “I will send hornets ahead of you so that they will drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you.”
Juan Luis Guerra was born in the Dominican Republic in 1957, After studying philosophy and literature at the Santo Domingo Autonomous University, he then took a diploma in jazz at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
After selling 5 million Bachata Rosa albums, Juan Luis established international notoriety, residing at the #1 spot on Billboard’s Tropical Albums category for 24 weeks, going platinum. The album — with maracas, bongos and guitar — brought bachata out of the Dominican backwater.
Bachata Rosa wasn’t his only Grammy. La Llave de Mi Corazón also snagged a Grammy in 2008.
His renown and wealth continued to grow. He played on the same stages as the Rolling Stones, Sting, Juanes, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock and Maná. His Afro-Latin fusion rhythms with his brass band made people happy, but he himself found happiness elusive.
From North America to South America, to Spain and even The Netherlands, he was a hot commodity. But he couldn’t sleep.
It’s a condition that has afflicted many performers who play into the late hours hyping up the crowd — and their own adrenaline — then have trouble coming back down. Like Michael Jackson, Prince, Elvis Presley and countless other stars, he took pills to induce slumber. Read the rest: Juan Luis Guerra Christian.
On an unexceptional Tuesday in 2012, Katy Faust finally snapped and could no longer stay silent. Then-president Obama announced the “evolution” in his thinking to support gay marriage and the media immediately branded anyone with contrary concerns as “bigoted.”
She launched an anonymous blog facetiously called “Ask the Bigot.”
Katy’s parents split when she was 10. Her father dated and remarried and her mother partnered with another woman. Being raised with a foot in both of their resulting households gave her a love for the LGBT community but also an understanding of the fallout for children when family breaks down. While she remained connected to her father, some children with lesbian parents were not so fortunate, such as her friend Brandi Walton:
“I yearned for the affection that my friends received from their dads. As far as I was concerned, I already had one mother; I did not need another. My grandfathers and uncles did the best they could when it came to spending time with me and doing all the daddy-daughter stuff, but it was not the same as having a full-time father, and I knew it. It always felt secondhand.”
After being “outed” from her anonymous blog by a gay activist, Katy Faust decided to stand up to cancel culture and co-wrote a book under her own name, Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement. Kids are getting the short stick in the political football of catering to adults’ whims, it says. (Them meaning “children” before us “adults.”)
The activist who “outed” her from her anonymous blog actually emboldened her to find her voice and speak out unafraid.
In all the hype of “marriage equality” with its mantra that kids only need two supportive parents regardless of their gender, no one is asking kids what they think. Decades of data from sociological research tell us what kids need, but in the rush to embrace “forward thinking,” true social science is being ignored and kids will suffer, Katy says.
Many LBGTQ couples claim they have a right to children and a right to parenthood, even if forming their families violate the right of children to be known and loved by their own mother and father. We’re catering to adults’ desires and forgetting about children’s needs, Faust says.
As a child of divorced parents, neither of whom were particularly religious, Katy Faust did not grow up in a Christian world.
But then Katy got saved in high school and married a pastor. After working in youth ministry with kids who suffered from mother and father loss, and recording the stories of children of divorce, those with same-sex parents, and children created through reproductive technologies, she realized that:
Biology matters. Gender is not a social construct. Marriage is a safe space for children and should not be redefined. Same-sex couples don’t and can’t attend to every need of their kids.
“Whenever you see a picture of a kid with same-sex parents, you’re looking at a picture of a child missing a parent,” Katy writes. “No matter how well-heeled, educated, or exceptional at mothering or fathering the moms or dads may be, they’re incapable of providing the gender-specific parenting and biological identity exclusive to the parent missing from the picture. Read the rest: same-sex parents don’t and can’t give best outcomes to children.
For seven years, Julie Mellor left the red New Testament on the top shelf untouched. When the Gideon’s dropped it off in her classroom, Julie was hostile.
“I was an atheist; I didn’t have any time or need for God,” she says on a Jesus Peeps video. “I thought the Gideons were taking up my class time and I thought spreading fairy tales amongst the kids”
Julie, a native of Melbourne, Australia, was a highly educated schoolteacher. She got her Master’s degree from Cambridge University in England.
While she didn’t believe in God, she did explore the New Age Movement.
But then trouble came into her life.
“I went through a traumatic period in my life, and I thought my life was ruined and beyond repair,” she says. “I was actually considering suicide. God I’m going to believe and pray to you for a month, and you got to show me the goods.” Read the rest: Atheist until she read the Gideons Bible.
Ainsley Earhardt, the perky blonde co-host of Fox & Friends with a conservative outlook, is also a Christian who has endured significant personal challenges.
Raised in Columbia, South Carolina, her heart longed for recognition from an early age.
“I remember sitting on the shag carpet in our den watching the Oscars and our big TV and crying because I wanted to be there so badly,” she says.
Any time film or TV crews rolled through town, she would somehow find a way to get cast as an extra. She frequented auditions and worked in theater. At college, she graduated with a BA in journalism, after which she worked for WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina.
It was during college that she felt drawn to study the Scriptures.
“I just really admired some people in my life that had such strong faith and they actually lived it…I wanted to be like them because they were such good people,” she told Todd Starnes.
Moved by the power of the Word and the Spirit, she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. “I asked God to come into my life and change me.”
From South Carolina, she moved to Texas, accepting a position as a TV anchor. In 2007, Robert Ailes hired her for Fox News at a time when she “did not know the first thing about politics,” she says. Today, she does the early morning shift on Fox & Friends.
Earhardt’s first marriage to Kevin McKinney in 2005 ended in divorce four years later. In 2012, Earhardt married former Clemson University quarterback Will Proctor and the two decided to start a family.
At the first doctor’s visit after they discovered Ainsley was expecting, everything seemed fine. The baby was small for her age, but there were no concerns.
At the second doctor’s visit they received the terrible news that the baby’s heart wasn’t working.
“There was no heartbeat” visible on the ultrasound, Ainsley remembers on an I am Second video. “The doctor looked at us and she just said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ She just tried and she tried, and there was nothing there. There was no heartbeat.” Read the rest: Ainsley Earhardt miscarriage and baby.
At age 12, Rachael Havupalo was lured into a compromising situation by two boys and raped. It was devastating.
“I felt like so dirty,” Rachael recounts on a CBN video. “I felt so defiled. And I felt like all the innocence that I ever had was taken from me. It crushed my heart. It broke my trust in men and of people.”
Eventually, the culprits were captured and punished. But this provided no solace for Rachael, who suffered internal agony.
At 14, she began cutting herself and picking up Gothic dress and lifestyle. She dabbled in Wicca and fantasized about death.
“On the inside I felt so dead and so numb,” she says. “I just really wanted to die.”
All through her teens and 20s, Rachael used drugs and did time in prison for her addiction.
At age 21, she had a little girl and became a single parent. She had a brief marriage that ended in divorce, then lost custody of her child.
Sadly, her response to the trauma was to self-medicate with meth.
“My heart was really broken,” says Rachael. “There was an emptiness that came that’s indescribable.”
One day, she visited a “friend,” who locked her in, drugged her with heroin and raped her for three days.
“Any amount of peace I had in my heart and any hope that I had of anything that would ever get better was completely taken away,” she says. “I was so terrified and I asked God, ‘Please, please God, don’t let me die.’” Read the rest: From medicating to missionary.
After days of thanking the medical clinic doctors with canoes full of flowers or fish, the Manaos tribal leaders dressed in white sang praises to God in their native tongue to celebrate Sean Feucht’s baptism in the Amazon River.
“Dad put me under the water, and when I surfaced, I felt a profound sense of destiny and calling on my life,” Sean writes in the autobiographical Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo. “The presence of God fell heavily upon me in that moment. I had become new and everything changed.”
Worship has marked Sean’s life, ever since that moment at age 10 when he dedicated his life to Christ’s service deep in the Amazon jungle, in the hinterlands of Jim Elliot. He’s played his guitar to bring healing around the world and in the Oval Office.
Sean Feucht loved the outdoors in his birth state of Montana. His dad, a doctor, accepted a 75% reduction of salary to lead missions with Christian Broadcasting Network and the family moved to Virginia. Sean despised the balmy suburbia of his new town and felt disillusioned with the loss of the Rockies until he was taken to the rainforests.
It was Sean’s job to fish for the medical team’s meals as the boat tooled up and down the Amazon River. They ate rainbow bass and large black piranhas. His dad and the medical professionals applied the science of medicine to heal natives, and when science came up short, they prayed and witnessed miraculous healings.
His father’s “brazen” faith became a legacy for Sean.
At first, Sean’s heart was to be a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Being a worship leader was not on his radar. But when a worship leader cancelled for his dad’s home Bible study, Sean was called upon to fill the gap after only owning a guitar for three weeks and knowing only three chords and three songs.
“The night was an absolute train wreck. I continually broke out in a nervous sweat, strained my voice and broke not just one but two guitar strings,” he complains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed in front of 15 of my peers. I remember running to my room afterward, vowing that I would never lead worship in public again.”
Oh, the irony.
He got called on again and again to direct praise in front of people as the Bible study grew to 70 people. Fairly rapidly, he moved into leading youth group worship and then took over church worship. He led youth group and challenged his peers to pray for people in the local hospital’s ICU.
Also in high school, he met Kate, who became his wife. He attended a worship rally in Washington D.C. and won a state football championship.
Despite sport successes, what really pulsed through his heart was the lost. He compiled a list of the least-reached peoples on the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The opportunity to visit Afghanistan came first. It was right after the terrorists had downed the Twin Towers in New York City, and Americans were fighting the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan, right where Sean, just out of high school, wanted to go with his father’s trusted missionary associate.
The U.S. State Department warned Americans not to go there. And the Afghan Embassy refused to grant him — or any American — a visa, “under any circumstances,” Sean writes.
But the team leader was used to obstacles and encouraged Sean to believe more in God than the gloom and doom of so many detractors. “God will make a way, brother!” he told Sean confidently.
Sean was learning to not be deterred. He visited the Afghan Embassy in person and got an interview.
What could go wrong with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year-old leading worships in the mountains owned by the America-kidnapping Taliban? he asked.
The Afghan official couldn’t disguise his astonishment at the visa request.
“Are you truly willing to give your life right now because there’s a high chance of that if you go?” the official said.
Astonishingly, Sean declared he would not leave the embassy until the visa was granted.
Flouting conventional wisdom and doing the contrary of what everyone expects has been Sean’s trademark ever since.
In the isolated mountain villages, the team ministered to peaceful people in the Farsi dialect. Sean discovered that music was a universal language to bridge divides. “My guitar broke down all our walls and misconceptions about one another,” he writes.
The team had been sternly warned: Don’t spend a night in the village. Stay on the move. The Taliban would love to abduct an American and demand a ransom from the American government.
“But after spending all day building relationship, sharing stories, laughing and eating together, it was so hard for us to leave,” he writes. “Many nights, we were invited to stay at the home of tribal leaders.”
Sleeping on the roof to beat the heat, Sean would look at the stars and think of Abraham, to whom God promised to multiply his descendants to be as countless as the stars overhead.
God had done amazing things, and Sean expected to continue with God’s blessing as he carted off to Oral Roberts University. He had seen God move through his guitar in Virginia and Afghanistan, so he offered his services to the worship team at college.
No, was the reply.
It was not the only discouragement. He tried to get involved in missions. No was the answer.
In the dorm, his roommate, despite being at a Christian college, mocked Christianity and blasted explicit hip hop to drown out any praises Sean tried to strum.
“Nothing seemed to work out,” Sean says, and he mothballed his guitar under his bed. Read the rest: Sean Feucht Burn 24/7
At 82, Paul Cadder, was still an avid snowmobile-rider and a gospel musician. But when he started to lose his vision to a cataract it threatened his vigorous lifestyle.
“Lord if I’m going to keep doing this kind of singing and so forth, I’m going to have to have a change in my eyesight,” he says on a 700 Club video. He was worried he would not be able to continue to lead worship at his local church.
Paul had always been an active man. “I had toys for years,” he says. In the 1960s, he put out three gospel albums with a quartet, with whom he traveled across America ministering. He was a natural worship leader at church.
But with the film covering his eye lens, he couldn’t see the music page from which he directed the choir. The encroaching symptoms of old age in 2018 left him dispirited.
“I accepted it as getting old,” he says. “But when I was leading worship in church, i couldn’t see the music real well. I was kind of frustrated and I thought I’d tell our church, ‘I might not be able to keep doing this.’”
On Jan. 4, 2019, while watching Christian TV with his wife, Yvonne, the speaker prophesied: “It’s almost like a thin film that you can’t see through very clearly. God is just removing that right now. Now your vision’s going to be restored to normal.”
Paul was startled. The person described his condition exactly. “That was for me,” he thought. Read the rest: does God still heal today?
As a child, Kalel Pratico yearned to know God but found little guidance at home.
“My parents, you know, wanted me to find my own path,” he says on a CBN video. “I always wanted a connection with God. I was asking about angels, and so I was always hungry for God. I didn’t think that he was a personal God at all. I would pray for him to get me out of trouble. I would pray for, you know, a girl to like me. I would ask him for selfish things.”
Without any guidance he found liquor before the Lord.
“The first time i tried alcohol, I was in about sixth grade,” he says. “I remember the feeling that alcohol gave me and it was this peace that i was looking for.”
In high school, he discovered marijuana.
“I tried other drugs as well,” he says. “It hurt my parents that I was abusing substances. I would drive drunk. I was trying to numb this void I had in my life, this lack of connection that I was looking for.”
One night when he mixed up drugs in a hotel room, he felt he was dying.
“Everything else zoned out and all I was aware of was the presence of God,” Kalel says. “Every breath that I was breathing was given to me from God. I was aware that at any moment he could just stop what he was doing and I would have died.”
After surviving his brush with death, he vowed to never abuse again. Of course, he couldn’t keep that vow.
“I lived a very inconsistent life after high school,” he says. “I went to art college and was dating a girl at the time and she got me a Bible. Eventually I decided to go to church. I would sit in the pew and the message would completely go over my head.” Read the rest: kalel pratico was freed from drugs.