Category Archives: Christian ministry

Arianna Armour, from drug-addicted parents to transgender to Jesus

Inside her closet — the same closet she tried to hang herself in — Arianna Armour scrawled all the hateful words people said to her in life: “They never wanted you,” “You need to be locked up,” “She doesn’t want you.”

It was an appalling list, and Arianna rehearsed it as she proceeded from drug-addicted parents who dropped her off at foster care to lesbian and transgender. Injecting testosterone in her thigh, she became James Harley, a gym enthusiast and substance abuser who was in and out of mental health facilities.

It was at the gym that a joy-filled Christian employee felt led to invite her to church. “James” didn’t want to go, but when “he” did, God had a prophecy for him and started a years-long process leading him to Jesus and back to her biological identity as a woman.

“This thing has stolen my identity” she testifies to her church on a YouTube video. “I’m tired of looking at my body and thinking it was a mistake. I’m tired to walking with my head down because God loves me no matter what. God took all the pain away from, the identity the devil stole from me.”

Today, Arianna is involved in ministry. She reaches out to people like herself who want to alter their God-given sexual identity, and escape the confusion and depression. She recently helped a 13-year-old boy who was toying with becoming a girl but got a touch of God.

Arianna Armour’s journey through Dante’s Inferno began with a violent, drug-abusing dad and an actress/singer mom who gave birth to a baby girl with five different drugs in her system, Arianna says on YouTube.

Of course, the Department of Child Protective Services intervened. Foster care turned into adoption, but the love her Christian family tried to show her came up short, she felt.

When she was four years old, Arianna was smitten by a pretty girl in Sunday School.

“Immediately, I hated the fact that I was in a dress and I hated the fact that I was a girl,” she recalls. “I asked God, ‘Why did you make me a girl? Why couldn’t I be born a boy? This was the first sign of the Jezebel spirit in my life. The enemy couldn’t stop me from being born, so he had to try something else. He sent demons into my life from a young age.”

She started dressing like a boy and playing sports like a boy. She hated dress up and Barbies, “so I got made fun of a lot,” she says. “I was the girl who wore boys’ clothes. I dressed like a boy, I talked like a boy, I acted like a boy. I was openly gay and nobody wanted to be around that.”

While nobody wanted to sit with her at lunch in school, she lost herself in music, a talent she received from her birth parents, she says. Her adopted parents bought her a guitar.

In middle school, she fell into the wrong crowd, trying to fit in. “I started to lose myself, so I started to fall into deep depression. The enemy took advantage of my brokenness. I made friends with my demons and accepted that this is who I was.”

Trying to help, her adoptive parents got her a psychiatrist who prescribed meds for Arianna’s suicidal thoughts and mood swings.

“I let all the darkness on the inside reflect on the outside,” she says. “I was in such desperate need for love and affection, I got over-attached and obsessed” with a person.

She manifested violence and anger. Through the Baker Act, she was put in mental hospitals 13 times.

“Everybody told me I was crazy, friends, family,” she says. “If the devil tells you a lie long enough… Read the rest: Arianna Armour troubled transgender.

Voices in her head told her to take her life

Lorena Saylor would get in her car and wind up at some random place, having no idea how she got there.

Depression had taken over her life.

“I didn’t want to talk. I didn’t want to go outside. I didn’t want to get dressed. I just basically wanted to be alone,” Lorena says on a CBN video. “There was times I wanted to commit suicide.”

Lorena’s problems started with sexual abuse in her childhood home in Kentucky. Although she was the victim, she was punished. “I was the one that got spanked for it,” she says.

Migraines set in at the same time. She couldn’t concentrate in school and was diagnosed with dyslexia. She also suffered from anxiety and low self-esteem.

Lorena married at age 25, but her problems persisted. Her husband was enlisted in the Air Force and would frequently be sent for lengthy deployments, leaving her and the two children alone for long periods of time.

“This voice would say, ‘Ram your car into this tree. Your family would be so much better off if you’re just gone.’”

She was raised in church, but “the back-stabbing of people talking about people, just the things I had heard and seen within the church, I didn’t want anything to do with it,” she says.

At age 33, Lorena suffered a back and hip injury at work. Unfortunately, her prescription pain medication turned into an addiction. “My body just craved more and more,” she says. “I become a functioning addict.”

She felt unloved. She wanted to be alone but despaired of the loneliness. Whenever she drove, she got lost in her thoughts and direction. The voices would tell her to commit suicide.

“I wanted to die,” she says. “Many times I put pills in my hands ready to take them. This voice would say, ‘Just take it. Your family would be so much better off.’”

But another voice… Read the rest: voices in her head.

Belinda Lee, stardom didn’t lead her to the Star of Bethlehem

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.”

From the moment she found Christ, Mom emanated joy Read the rest: Belinda Lee Singapore.

He hated Christians. Then God broke in for the taco-loving Muslim.

On Laylat al-Raghaib — the Night of Wishes — during Ramadan, nine-year-old Hussain asked Allah for — what else? — 100 tacos.

“On the Night of Wishes if you asked for anything, Allah was supposed to give it to you,” he says on a StrongTower27 video. “Because I had lived in America and then moved to Holy Land, one thing I really wanted was tacos. I used to eat tacos a lot, but there were no tacos over there. You’re supposed to stay up until 2:00 o’clock and then everything turns upside down and you ask for anything you want, you’re supposed to get it.

“It never happened,” he adds.

Today Hussain is a Christian, but he once was a very confused child. Born of a Brazilian mother and Palestinian father and raised in San Francisco, Hussain says he loved Jesus intensely as a nominal Muslim. Jesus, according to Islam, was only a prophet.

When his parents divorced, his dad took him to the West Bank of Israel and enrolled him in Muslim schools in the Palestinian territory. He learned to hate Christians so much that he would avoid looking at telephone poles. The lateral bars formed the image of the cross, a hated symbol for Muslims.

“They taught me, ‘You need to be very careful: Jesus is NOT the son of God.’ I was 100% convinced about it,” he remembers. “I was so spiritually hungry, I ate it up. I became the most religious Muslim in my family. I became very committed.”

As an American citizen, Hussain planned to return to America and convert untold multitudes to the truth of Islam.

He planned what he would say to his friends: “The Jews only accept Moses. The Christians accept Moses and Jesus. But Muslims accept Mohammed, Moses and Jesus, so everybody should become Muslim.”

At age 12, he had the opportunity to win America for Allah. He continued reading and memorizing the Koran.

“I was very committed,” he says. “One thing I used to do because I hated Christianity… Read the rest: muslim hated Christians.

Headhunting Konyaks are now 90% Christian

To chop off an enemy’s head and carry it back to the village to be put on display was a great honor for the Konyaks, a tribal people on the Northeastern edge of India.

“I marked my enemy like a sniper,” says Wangloi Wangshu on a National Geographic video. “And when I got him, I chopped their heads off with a knife. If I happened upon an enemy, it didn’t matter if it was man, woman or child, I chopped the head off.”

“We used to compete with each other. We said, ‘This one is mine!’” Hongo Konyak says. “The person who took the head gained power in the community.”

Once a Konyak scored a kill, he got a tattoo on his face. It was a rite of passage, says Aloh Wang, chieftain of the Shengha Chingnyu tribe. “In those days, killing each other was part of the education.”

Today, the Konyak are no longer headhunters. They’ve left behind their ancient warfare and converted to Christianity, the last of the tribes to do so in the region. About 90% adhere to the teachings of Christ.

At a time when secular thinkers find it offensive to describe native people as “savages,” the Konyak are a reminder that the term was less offensive than the customs that gave rise to the term.

“When the Christian missionary came to the Konyak tribes, some people said they weren’t going to accept the religion,” says Wanton Kano, a Konyak pastor in the village of Lungwa. Read the rest: Headhunters come to Christ

Egg-sized brain tumors didn’t kill him

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.

Christianity in Mongolia: conquering Kahn’s kingdom

When the communist Eastern Bloc dissolved, Mongolia saw a resurgence of Buddhism. But another religion has taken root and is steadily growing, Christianity.

Newfound religious freedom after decades of communist/atheistic repression led to thousands coming to Christ, with over 50,000 followers of Jesus in a country of 3.2 million, or roughly 1.8% of the population, according to Joshua Project.

The growth of the evangelical community at 7.9% a year is outpacing most countries.

Surprisingly, young people see Christianity as hip, according to a Jouneyman Pictures video, “From Genghis to God: Christianity takes Mongolia by Storm.”

“Christianity, never destroys a culture; it will remove things from a culture that are holding it back, essentially that are killing its people, that are making life miserable.” says Paul Swartzendruber, with Eagle TV.

Land-locked Mongolia in East Asia was the birthplace to Genghis Kahn, who conquered all the way to Europe during the Middle Ages. After his decline, the region fell into oblivion and remained a nation of nomads and herdsmen.

In the 1920s, the Soviet Union annexed Mongolia and promulgated a “worker’s paradise” led by government. The religion of Marx and Lenin admitted no competition, so they stamped out all other religions. Buddhists were systemically decimated; a bloody purge wiped out 17,000 monks.

Then, communism fell in 1990 and religious freedom suddenly became a reality. People were free to practice Buddhism. Christian missionaries, eager to preach on virgin soil, arrived in droves.

Eagle TV, with American funding, usually outperformed the national channels in terms of computer graphics and snazzy programming. One show featuring Christian rock videos became very popular with young people.

They saw Buddhism as the religion of the older generation. Christianity emerged as the faith of the younger generation.

Christianity’s growth is seen mostly clearly by the criticism directed by “His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama,” the Tibetan people’s foremost leader and revered Buddhist leader.

“Whenever I give some Buddhist explanation in the West, I always make clear that Westerners, European or American, better to keep their own tradition in religious faith like Christianity. It’s better to keep their own tradition rather than change to a new religion,” he says. “Similarly, the Tibetan and Mongolian are traditionally Buddhists, so it’s better they keep their own tradition.”

Bolarchimeg was 16 years old when she started attending Hope Church in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

“My mother was against me going to church,” Bolarchimeg says. “She said, ‘You are wasting your time on these useless activities like reading the Bible every day. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that time on your study?’ God gave me the power to get through.”

A decade after the missionaries arrived, they have largely… Read the rest: Christianity in Mongolia

The Christian Church in Turkey: how one man started the first church in Antalya

A Muslim extremist tried to kill Ramazan Arkan in Antalya Evangelical Church, the only Christian church in Turkey’s fifth largest city.

“One nationalist guy, he came to our church service to assassinate me and he was planning to kill me, but we had police protection during that time,” Ramazan says in a Stefanus video. “Police realized that guy was there and they arrested him and they put him in jail.

“After that, police thought that behind this guy there is some group that wants me to be dead. When I was single, I didn’t care very much. But now I am married; I have two kids. When you face persecution and when you know that there are people that want to kill you, that is scary. Sometimes I feel scared and sometimes I feel worried.”

There’s a price to pay for converting to Christianity from a Muslim background in Turkey. Sometimes your family disowns you. Sometimes you can’t find a job because of religious discrimination. When the church first opened, Muslims threw stones at it, Ramazan says.

But the 200 Christians who attend Antalya Evangelical Church remain undaunted.

The only thing Ramazan knew about Christianity was what the Muslim propagandists had told him, for example, the Bible was corrupted and unreliable.

So, when a co-worker came out as Christian, Ramazan was curious to ask for himself.

“I was a member of one of the conservative Islamic groups,” he says. “I practiced my faith five times in a day, and I was a very serious, devout Muslim. I never met any Christians until that time, and then we start to talk about Christianity, he told me a lot of things about Christianity. I was shocked by what he told me because what I had learned all those years from my society about Christianity, everything was wrong.”

At the time, there wasn’t a single church in Antalya, a city of 2 million and a resort destination on the Turkish Riviera. So Ramazan started one in the year 2000.

“Jesus changed my mind and he changed my life,” Ramazan says “Now my goal is to serve Him. I’m pastoring this church, I’m teaching and preaching. But most of my time is more like spending time with people, and there are a lot of visitors that they are coming and visiting our church during the weekdays and I usually sit with them and talk to them hours and hours, because Turkish people are very much interested in spiritual stuff.”

Order up a Turkish coffee and while away the time with Christian apologetics.

Alper Gursu was one of the Turks who engaged in long conversations with Pastor Ramazan about spirituality. Today, he is one of the leaders of the church.

“I had dozens of questions, like is the Bible real? Because I heard that’s changed,” Alper says. “So he started explaining that starting from the third century and the Nicene council he explained to me all the history. He gave me this circle of evidence. All my questions were being answered.”

Pastor Ramazan gave Alper a Bible, and he started reading and ended up getting saved.

Melis Samur is now one of the worship leaders. She got into God because she liked architecture and studied churches. When she found one in her city, she begged her parents to let her go.

“It was a really peaceful, really really beautiful place,” Melissa says. “They got really upset at me. They were like, ‘Why do you need another religion?’”

Eventually, her insistence ,,, Read the rest: Christian church in Turkey.

The Gospel in France rushes forward

The Gospel has grown by 10,000% in more than a century in France, evangelicalism’s holy grail in Europe.

In the year 1800, there were 2000 Protestant evangelicals, in 2019 there were more than 700,000, according to statistics in a FOCL Online video and news reports.

In 1970, there were 840 evangelical churches, today there are more than 2,440. Every 10 days, a new church opens, said David Brown, chairman of the Evangelism Commission of the French National Council of Evangelicals (CNEF).

“Their numbers are no doubt increasing with the evangelical churches’ emphasis of personal conversion and a direct relationship with God,” says anchor Stuart Norval of France 24 English news in a “Focus” report which characterized the growth as “surprising.”

The news is cheery since evangelical Christianity tails Islam and secular humanism in France. The humanist viewpoint that God is a “construct” used by the rich to suppress the poor was practically born in France. About 8% of the country is Muslim while evangelicals barely make up 1%.

Despite sobering demographics, evangelicals have been growing at about 2.4% a year, in line with most countries in the world, according to the Joshua Project.

Francois Loury is a recent convert in the Porte Ouverte Chrétienne church in Paris. He recently was baptized and brings his whole family.

“It feels like a church that belongs to the modern world,” François says. “That’s what’s so good about it. That’s what makes it stand out. The pastors wear jeans. They don’t wear suits. They like to have fun; they tell jokes. Sometimes we even find ourselves laughing about religion. I think that in today’s world, that’s important, to have an open mind.”

Porte Ouverte Chrétienne, which means Christian Open Door, stands out compared to the mass offered by the Catholic church. Porte Ouverte’s worship is dynamic and heartfelt, activities are family oriented, and they reach thousands with simultaneous streaming over social media.

“When I attended Catholic mass I felt like a spectator,” says Eric Richter. “Our faith is a bit like for a fan in a soccer stadium. They’re in it together; they have faith in their players. And we have faith in God.”

Daniel Lietchi presides over CNEF’s committee to foment church planting praises God for the growth but prays for much more.

“If we continue like this with a new church established every 10 days, we’ll never accomplish our goal of having one church for every 10,000 French citizens,” Lietchi says. “We want things to progress twice, even three times, as fast. But the outcome depends on God’s will. For example in Spain, a new church opens every three days. Here in France, that’s what we’re aiming for.”

Much of the current church growth stems from a surge of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, where people in their native countries have a higher level of openness to the gospel.

Monique Kapinga immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo when her husband died. She found a similar worship style and the same earnestness of her native land in the l’Arche de Paix Church, which after 25 years has over 500 members.

“I came to the Arch of Peace because it is a church of truth,” Monique says. “We pray like we pray back home.”

But the spiritual support is not the only help she found at the Parisian church. She also received money and assistance with renewing her immigration status. It’s no wonder immigrants, lonely in a foreign land, congregate together for camaraderie and social networking.

CNEF’s Brown tracks the history of current growth of Christianity in France in the follow epochs:

>From 1935 to 1960, Assemblies of God led the charge with successful church planting

>From 1980 to 1990, the Charismatic movement brought a surge

>From 1990 to 2010, immigration brought a boon.

>Since 1995, native church planters are taking the lead.

Personal evangelism fuels the growth, but white French resist the gospel with a “double insulation.” He says: “They rebuff evangelism by saying they are Catholic or believers in secular philosophy, which is strong in France.

“A person says, ‘Well, I’m not really a believer,’ so you start talking about philosophy and try to convince them,” Brown says. “And then they suddenly say, ‘I’m a Catholic and we can’t believe that.’” Read the rest: Gospel in France

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle actor nearly OD’ed on ecstasy

His double life as a Christian father and drug user collapsed when Jeff Durbin overdosed on ecstasy.

“I realize I’m dying. I’m dying. This is where it ends, and I recognized that there’s no way to control this,” Jeff says on a CBN video. “At this point, I have probably limited moments left before I’m gonna pass out.”

How did Jeff get tangled in drugs out of a childhood of discipline and training as a martial arts competitor?

Jeff trained in martial arts from age four to 16.

“I was on a national karate team. I was competing in World Championships, International Championships, National Championships,” he says. “That was my whole life.”


With five black belts, Jeff played Michelangelo and Donatello for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise as well as Johnny Cage in “Mortal Combat.”

Flipping through the TV channels one night, he listened to Billy Graham and accepted Jesus into his heart. He wasn’t raised in a Christian home.

“I remember that something had completely changed,” he says. “In my mind, in terms of how I thought about Jesus and the Bible, and I immediately became the person that was interested in reading the Bible and telling people about Jesus.”

But the life transformation was only partial. Along with competing in karate, he liked to flirt with girls and indulge his lusts.

“If you would have seen me on a Friday or Saturday night, many times you wouldn’t have known I was a Christian because I was living with one foot in the Christian world and one foot in the world,” he recalls.

Jeff married his high school sweetheart, but he continued partying and clubbing.

When he tried ecstasy, his liked it and tried it again and again.

He told his wife he was working, but he would take drugs and disappear for a day or two.

“I would do ecstasy, cocaine, alcohol pills, whatever was available,” he recounts.

He hid his drug use from his wife by profusive lying, as she tried to nurture their one-year-old.

Despite the partying life, Jeff was a successful financial planner.

One night while on an ecstasy trip, his heart started racing wildly and his body overheated. Death was coming and he could sense it.

“It was the one moment in that year where there was some clarity about who I was and what was happening, and I remember that I said to God, ‘Please, don’t kill me yet. Let me come out of this…bring me out of this.” Read the rest: ecstasy overdose.

Gospel in Indonesia: a boy gets saved through Superbook cartoon

Bima, 9, received free tutoring after school in a poor Indonesian village.

Part of the Christian sponsored program, Orphan’s Promise, showed kids cartoons of Bible stories. That’s where Bima heard about David and Goliath.

“Goliath said to David that he would cut David to pieces,” Bima says on a 700 Club video. “But David said to Goliath, ‘You came to me with a sword and a spear, but I will fight you with the mighty name of God.’”

And Bima got saved.

“Lord Jesus,” he prayed. “I want you to be my Savior.”

Immediately, he prayed for the salvation of his family, composed of nominal Muslims.

Bima started behaving better at home and read his Bible at home. This piqued the curiosity of his mother. Read the rest: Gospel in Indonesia: Boy gets saved watching Superbook cartoon

Smuggle Bibles into the Soviet Union? These Finns did.

For decades, Antti and Esko would smuggle Bibles into the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc nations starting from his hinterland farm in Finland. It was a private, top-secret volunteer operation they’ve kept mum until now.

“We never spoke to anyone about this,” Antti recounts on a 2018 Stefanus video. To do so could jeopardize their safety and cut off the supply of Bibles to people hungry for Scriptures under repressive governments that banned Christianity and punished anyone found with Bibles.

“The people there in the country that were working with us, when they were caught, some of them got three years, some got five years,” Esko says. “Mr. Horev who was one of the leaders of this operation (the Mission Behind the Iron Curtain), he got five years in prison, and after he had served that, they added two more years on to his sentence.”

Antti and Esko never got caught. Theirs was a game of cat-and-mouse, a Christian version of spy wars as was similarly carried on by Brother Andrew and is being carried out now in restrictive Islamic countries.

Antti had a great love for Scripture and felt he could help brothers just across the border in the neighboring Soviet Union. Through the Finnish forest, there were no check points, no fence, so getting in and out was relatively easy.

He rode his bike in, carrying 20 New Testaments, two under his jacket, on his shoulders, and the rest hidden in pockets inside loose trousers. Later he devised a gas tank with a hidden compartment to hide 40 Bibles.

But the cry for more Scripture was endless, so Antti secured a nine-seater Bedford minivan that could conceal 250 Bibles.

“When we realized the need was so big, and we had to constantly create news of doing it. Eventually they started to build pre-fabricated housing to transport through Greece and Cyprus, Esko explains.

In between the pre-fab wooden house structures loaded on tractor trailers, they stowed up to 40,000 Bibles to be unloaded under the cover of night by local collaborators in the Soviet Union, Romania and Czechoslovakia. They also took children’s Bibles and tracts. Read the rest: Smuggle Bibles in the Communist Russia.

Why Jason Castro disappeared from the secular music scene

Jason Castro, with his dreadlocks and effervescent smile, won America’s hearts even though he didn’t win the American Idol contest in 2008. He launched billboard hits and then disappeared from the secular music scene, leaving fans confused.

“I just felt so detached from a church community,” Jason told CBN. “I just struggled to stay connected to God on the road through the exhaustion, and I wanted more God in my life.”

After dropping a Christian album, Only a Mountain, in 2103, Castro today is married with four kids and selling real estate in Texas, where he lives. His main desire is to be with his kids and God. Of course, he’s still dropping music.

After initial success, Jason Castro went dark on the secular music scene. But more than fame and money, Jason wanted a family.

“Music has that power to calm or to move, the power to give emotions of any kind,” he says on an I am Second video. “What’s the heart behind it? I’ve given my heart to Christ, and that comes through. People are drawn to that even though they don’t always know what it is.”

Jason Rene Castro was raised in Rowlett, Texas, where he was a wing-back on the high school soccer team. The son of Columbian immigrants studied construction science at Texas A&M University and tried out for American Idol. He was the first contestant to play a ukulele as he sang “Over the Rainbow.” Read the rest: Jason Castro disappeared from the music scene.

Same-sex parents don’t and can’t give best outcomes to children, says author

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.

Ministry in tech: James Kelly and Christian hackathons

Eight thousand people a month searched Google in Canada to ask about suicide and the first article at the top of the search page is: “Seven Painless Ways to Commit Suicide.”

This fact disturbed James Kelly and he resolved to do something by marrying Christianity to technology.

But the young minister in Waterloo, Ontario, didn’t know what he could do. Fortunately, he knew guys who could, techies who were Christians but didn’t know what role they could fill in the church. They didn’t want to do public speaking, and they couldn’t strum a guitar. They were nerds. What could they do for Jesus?

James gathered a bunch of them together in a coffee shop 2016 and asked how to solve the suicide search conundrum on Google. They went to work on the assignment and managed to place a website on top that offers hope and persuades despairing people to NOT take their lives.

A year later, a team member was talking about the site to a friend who suddenly seized her arm with eyes widening. What was the URL? she asked. The team member answered. The friend started misting in her eyes. Just the night before, she contemplated suicide and searched Google.

“I landed on that website and that site saved my life,” she confided.

The URL is howtokillyourself.org, which is a strategy to respond to the search terms. But inside the website there is encouragement for people struggling. There’s a video about Kevin Hines, who attempted and regretted suicide. The three tenets are: you are not alone, here’s information, here’s a phone number.

“Did anyone know where he could build a website that could literally save people’s lives?” James asks on a This Is Me TV video. “The Lord’s like, yep.”

Today, James leads FaithTech, a place where Christian technology is a thing. Since starting in Waterloo, it has grown to major cities in Canada with “hackathons,” events where techies brainstorm solutions for ministries and kingdom business. It has inspired knockoffs in the United States.

James was drawn toward trouble like many 13-year-olds. He had begun to dabble in the party scene. But his dad slapped a Bible down in front of him and asked him to meditate for a couple hours on Matthew 7:13: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

Kelly got it. Instead of living wobbly faith, he made the convictions his own, got baptized and put on a Jesus bracelet, which he would deliberately leave on the table to witness.

His dad and siblings were all business majors in college, so he followed suit. But when he consulted a mentor, he got clarity as to what he most wanted to do in life: usher people into the Kingdom.

With his wife, he lived in South Sudan for three months to see what the rest of the world looked like. From that experience, he determined not to do “parachute ministry” — live in a rich neighborhood and land in a poor neighborhood for short-term ministry.

Along with more than a dozen other young, earnest Christians, he moved into the poorest neighborhood in town and launched raw ministry with the locals. Read the rest: Ministry in tech: James Kelly and Christian hackathons

Jeff Levitan on teaching orphans in the developing world the principles of wealth

Jeff Levitan had made millions by age 30, so he did what was expected: he retired to his beautiful home and a life of luxury funded by investments that would continue to churn out income for the rest of his life.

Two months later, he came out of retirement, finding himself bored.

Jeff realized that he needed something better than money and its trappings. He needed to find a higher purpose to animate his life.

Today, he’s back at financial advising and making money. The difference now is that he launched the All For One Foundation, which establishes orphanages around the world.

These are not your typical orphanages. He refers to them as “prosperity centers.”

If that name gave you pause, it does for a lot of people. They’re teaching the lessons of capitalism to poor little kids in countries with weak economies. Are the principles of wealth creation and wealth management the exclusive domain of developed countries? Or do they apply to the rest of the world also?

Jeff’s initiative is going to find out.

While the United Nations throws money at the world’s problems, the All For One Foundation is teaching some of the poorest orphans in the worlds how to break the cycle of poverty for future generations.

“All For One is doing more than just giving children of the world hope,” says a promotional video. “All For One is actively working towards building the systems needed not just to survive but to thrive. We’ve seen firsthand the lasting impact our projects have had around the world.”

For 20 years, these orphanages and schools in Sierra Leone, Nicaragua and 27 other nations, offer 25,000 kids (and sometimes their moms) shelter, food, health care, clothing and education — both regular academic classes and special financial courses.

Financial education – the stuff of Warren Buffett – in the developing world. Wrap your head around that.

Jeff Levitan is undaunted by the quixotic nature of his dream. Read the rest: Jeff Levitan’s ‘prosperity centers’ orphanages with All For One Foundation.

The ‘Oracle of San Quentin’ found Jesus, became a finance guru (yes, in prison)

For his first crime, Curtis Carroll was congratulated.

“It was the first time that I was told that I had potential and felt like somebody believed in me,” Curtis says on a TED Talk. “Nobody ever told me that I could be a lawyer, doctor or engineer. I mean, how was I supposed to do that? I couldn’t read, write or spell. I was illiterate. So I always thought crime was my way to go.”

Learning on the mean streets of East Oakland that crime was the way to get money led him to a 54-year-to-life sentence in San Quentin for a robbery that backfired and ended in murder.

Today, Curtis has served 24 years on that sentence, gotten saved, taught himself to read and learned about financial investment.

His success at picking stocks earned him the nickname “The Oracle of San Quentin,” but inmates call him “Wall Street” because he teaches a financial literacy class based on the idea that teaching convicts how to make and save money through legitimate modes will keep them from resorting to illegitimate means once they’re out.

Curtis Carroll was surrounded by the vicious hood devastated by the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 90s. His mother donated blood to get money to feed her kids. His uncle taught Curtis to steal quarters from arcade machines.

On one occasion a security guard spotted him stealing the quarters and Curtis ran, climbed a fence, but the weight of the quarters in his backpack caused him to fall back to the ground.

When he was released to his mother from juvenile hall, his uncle told him to be smarter next time: “You weren’t supposed to take ALL the quarters.”

Ten minutes later, they burglarized another arcade game because they needed to buy gas to get home.

At age 17, a botched robbery turned fatal, with Curtis pulling the trigger on 22-year-old Gilberto Medina Gil. Curtis turned himself in to police and was sentenced to prison for the murder of Gil.

Because he was illiterate, he would let his cellmate read the sports page to him. But one time, he accidentally grabbed the business section.

An older inmate casually asked if he traded stocks. Curtis couldn’t read, much less know about stocks, so he asked.

“That’s where white folk put their money,” the older inmate replied.

“It was the first time that I saw a glimpse of hope, a future,” Curtis says. “He gave me this brief description of what stocks were.”

Curious to learn more, Curtis, at age 20, taught himself to read.

“It was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. It was the most agonizing time of my life, trying to learn how to read, (facing) the ostracism from my family, from the homies,” he says. “Little did I know I was receiving the greatest gifts I had ever dreamed of: self-worth, knowledge, discipline.”

Next, he studied finance in general and the stock market in particular. He scoured the business sections of the prison newspapers and checked out books from the prison library. His role models changed from drug pushers to William Bennett and Bill Gates.

He started investing, with the help of family members on the outside of prison, in penny stocks. He used the money he got from selling unused postage stamps and selling tobacco to his fellow inmates, according to MoneyWise. As he earned small returns, he made bigger picks.

Outside prison, his money was growing. He will be well-positioned to become a tax-paying member of society contributing to the economy once he gets out — unlike so many other inmates who are expected to “make it” outside without support or money.

“A typical incarcerated person would enter the California prison system with no financial education, earn 30 cents an hour, over $800 a year, with no real expenses and save no money,” Curtis says. “Upon his parole, he will be given $200 gate money and be told, ‘Hey, good luck, stay out of trouble. Don’t come back to prison.’

“With no meaningful preparation or long-term financial plan, what does he do? Get a good job? Or go back to the very criminal behavior that led him to prison in the first place? You taxpayers, you choose.”

In response, Curtis led the charge to add financial education to prison reform. And prison staff responded, making arrangements for him to teach about finances in San Quentin’s chapel.

Curtis not only picked up financial knowledge in prison. He also picked up Jesus.

“I want to give all glory to God, because without Him I wouldn’t look or feel like this,” he says on Inside the Rift. “Real freedom is a mental state, not a physical one. I remain cheerful due to God’s grace and the gift He’s chosen to give me. I stay focused because with this gift I have been given, there is a job that needs to be done.

“I stay motivated because my life’s calling is to be of service to others. There is no better feeling or honor than to be of service to others. Like any Christian, I fall short every day, but I try my best to spread the gift that He’s given me to empower others. All glory to God.” Read the rest: the ‘Oracle of San Quentin’ found Jesus, became a financial guru (yes, in prison)

Transgender transformed

Over and over again, Michaela Lanning came to sleep on Grandma’s couch, amid the piles of hoarded rubbish, toxic mold and asbestos on the ripped carpet.

“Dad was very disconnected, very sociopathic, very narcissistic, very addictive personality,” she says in a video testimony on her YouTube channel.

Without support, Mom kept getting evicted, which led to all sorts of confusion for the children and instability.

In the fifth grade, Michaela got bullied because she wasn’t doing the girlish things of other girls. She was just trying to deal with her mom’s anxiety attacks and make meals of popcorn.

“I would have to put Mom to bed, and I was terrified that she was gonna die,” Michaela remembers. “Like I would tuck her in every night, because I thought that would save her from dying.”

Her mom recovered from the breakdown, but Michaela broke down and began cutting herself as a coping mechanism in the sixth grade.

In the seventh grade, she developed dissociative disorder.

“I thought I was either dead or I was watching a movie,” she says. “I thought I was sleeping and it was a dream I was in. I genuinely was not coherent. I was not aware of anything going on around me and it was terrifying.”

Every day she was in the school nurse’s office and invented reasons to be sent home, usually because of a stomachache or headache.

In the eighth grade, she took classes online because leaving the house gave her panic attacks.

“Things were getting really bad with my parents,” she says. “One time my dad was watching my sister and I, and he chased us down the hall with a knife. Yeah, we moved back in with my grandma.

“My sister and I were sleeping in the living room on two couches, which were probably from the 80s. They were covered in dog pee. They were filthy; they had holes in them. That’s what we slept on for four more years. No bed, no bedroom, no dad, nothing.”

Looking for validation in high school, she “came out” as bisexual and later as lesbian. It was an artsy high school, not a football high school, and that’s where she thought she could find support and sort out the chaos in her mind.

As the founder of the Gay-Straight Alliance, she hung out with transgenders and related to all their confusion and was being heavily influenced to change her thinking.

“I felt all of those things and I, in my brokenness and my self-harm and my eating disorder and my anxiety, all of it was coming together, and I said yeah that sounds right: I’m transgender,” she recalls. She came out as a transgender man, told everyone she wanted to be called a different name, and started seeing a gender therapist

“But in my core I knew I wasn’t transgender the whole time. What I needed was a savior. It’s just I did not know that at the time.”

When she had a nervous breakdown, Michaela dropped out of school and dropped the transgender ploy.

Michaela is currently studying at Moody Bible Institute.
In her sophomore year, she attended an “alternative high school,” where the druggies and pregnant teens are sent.

“I did not meet a single kid there that did not do drugs, or at least vape,” she says. She started smoking marijuana and met a friend who persuaded her to get pregnant so they could be teen moms together.

“She was the kind of person that goes out every single weekend and hooks up with guys and does things for money,” Michaela remembers. “I was just chasing anything that would fill my heart and make me feel better. I was like, ‘That makes so much sense. I should do that. I would love to have a baby.’”

The “sperm donor” was found and the site they chose for her impregnation was a tent on the high school football field… Read the rest: Michaela Lanning and the question of influences.

Ramin Parsa shuddered at seeing the dead hanging bodies in Iran

The dead bodies hanging by a noose on public streets and markets disturbed Ramin Parsa, a child growing up in Iran during the strict Shiite Muslim regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini.

“They executed people in front of children,” Ramin says on a video posted to his channel. “I could not eat for two weeks, I was so shocked.”

When Khomeini and the anti-American Islamic radicals staged a coup and ousted the Shah of Iran, they implemented a stringent form of Islam that included public executions of alleged enemies and self-flagellation while walking barefoot through the streets.

“The newspaper is Islamic. The media is Islamic. Schools are Islamic. Society is Islamic. Everything you can see and hear is Islamic,” he says. They want to dish in doctrine. They want to brainwash you. We had no magazines, no books. They showed the caricature of the Israeli soldiers, killing Palestinian babies and they sowed the seed of hatred in our hearts.”

Deeply motivated to live for Allah, Ramin went to the mosque every morning at 5:00 am for the earliest of five callings to prayer a day. Every morning at school, they shouted, “Death to Israel! Death to America!”

But when his dad died, life dried up for him. He was no longer able to go to school.

“I started questioning my faith,” he admits. “Is this really the truth that we believe? I started going down and down and down into hopelessness, into depression. I left all my friends. I left all my family. I left everybody that I knew and I locked myself in a dark room, turned the lights off and was thinking about past and present and future.”

Death haunted him after his father’s death. It haunted him because Islam offers no real assurance that you will be admitted into Paradise. The true Muslim is constantly warned to do more, to pray and fast — and even join jihad — to curry Allah’s elusive favor and be granted entrance into the afterlife..

“Out of fear I said, ‘What is gonna happen to me when I die?” he says.

Aside from the public hangings, he also saw men’s backs slashed and bloodied for drinking alcohol. Mohammad prescribed public punishments to instill fear in the populace.

The Revolutionary Guard routinely prowled the streets. If you were wearing a T-shirt with the image of someone, they took it from you and punished you. Islam stringently prohibits artistic renditions of any person or animal as a means to avoid people falling into idolatry. This is why so many of the earliest architecture has ornate geometric patterns but no other artwork.

“I came to the conclusion that Islam is empty,” Ramin says. “I said, ‘If there is no god, then who made this creation, who made the stars, who made the heaven, who made the humans? If there is a God, then why isn’t He helping us?”

In spite of it being illegal, every house has a satellite dish, which is a great alternative to the non-stop religious propaganda pumped out over government-run channels.

So he flipped on Trinity Broadcast Network. He heard about Jesus. Everything he heard through Islam about Jesus was contradicted: The Son of God did indeed die for our sins; he was more than just a prophet.

Importantly, he rose from the dead.

Ramin didn’t immediately believe. He had been taught it was “baloney,” so he turned it off. Read the rest: Who is Ramin Parsa?

From medicating to missionary

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.

No family, begging on a street corner, a pickpocket found Jesus in India

Sayeed Badshah doesn’t know his birthday, his mother’s name, his father’s name or where he was born.

The last thing he remembers, when he was 3, his mother tried to run away, and the alcoholic father caught them in their flight and beat his mother to death. His two older sisters took him to Mumbai, where he was separated from them.

An Indian constable brought him to an orphanage, where he was abused both physically and sexually until age 7.

“At the age when children are supposed to play with their toys, I went through things that I can’t even describe,” Sayeed says on a Your Living Manna video. “That brought a lot of hatred in my life.”

He ran away and asked for a job everywhere. Nobody took him seriously, until he got a washer job. When he got fired from that, he resorted to begging at stop lights and in the trains. With his only T-shirt, he would sweep the inside of the passenger train and then pass through the crowd asking for a handout.

“That became my life,” he says. “Many a time I would not get even one single meal all day long. I used to wait outside the restaurant for people to throw away their food. I used to fight with dogs and grab food from their mouths.”

Baths were twice a year. He didn’t have a change of clothes.

“My body used to smell,” he says. “Nobody would come close to me.”

Born a Muslim, he went to the mosque and prayed “with all my heart thinking that Allah would give me love, that Allah would save me,” he says. “But I was wrong. Allah did not save me.”

He tried the Hindu temple and prayed. Likewise, no one answered.

A friend said that anything you believe in is god. So he erected a small temple to a stone next to the traffic light where he begged.

“I began to worship that stone every day and put flowers and everything on that stone,” he says. “I was thinking something would happen, but nothing happened. So I kicked the stone and said, ‘There is no god.’” Read Sayeed Badshah, pickpocket from India comes to Christ

From rank and file of nortenos

After years of crime with the Northern California gang, Jesus Gallegos finally made it to the infamous State Prison known simply as Pelican Bay. Upon his release, he would be the one calling the shots, respected and feared by the up-and-coming rank and file on the streets of Salinas, CA.

“I thought I was on top of the world. I would be looked up to. I had a lot of influence on whatever happened on the streets,” he told God Reports. “That way of thinking shows just how lost I really was in sin.”

Jesus (pronounced Heh-SOOS; a common name in Hispanic culture) Gallegos only knew the life of the norteño gang, which competed with the Southern Californian rivals the Mexican Mafia. As he grew up in poverty, he fixed his eyesight on making it big in the the with norteños.

He earned 4 strikes — enough felonies to get locked up for life. But for some reason, the judge gave him a lighter sentence. Unlike almost everyone else at Pelican Bay, he had a release date. He expected nothing more of his life than prison time or death in the streets.

Something happened when he got released from Pelican Bay in 2005. The plan was to lay low during the time of his “high risk” parole and avoid associating with fellow gang members. The anti-gang task force and FBI would be watching him closely, ready to snatch him up for any violation.

The plan was to get a job, get married, get a house and show every sign of turning over a new leaf. Then when the parole was over, he would report for duty and fall in with the troops.

During those months, he decided to drop out of the gang. He had married for all the wrong reasons, and so things weren’t going well with his wife. Any time they had an argument she would call the cops, he says.

He worked with his parole officer, who let him to ditch the last three months of parole and travel to Texas, where he took up residence with his sister.

In Fort Worth he started drinking again. When he moved to San Antonio, he started using heroin and methadone. He resigned himself to a life of failure.

“I’m just going to go back to prison,” he realized. “That was my M.O.” Read the rest: from gangs to God

Santa Dave Ramsey

Add to Dave Ramsey’s credentials of Christian financial guru, best-selling author, radio cohost and television show presenter, a new title: Santa Claus.

That’s right, because Christendom’s Apostle of Assets just paid off $10 million of debt of thousands of random strangers just in time for Christmas.

By melding secular financial planning principles with Biblical concepts of stewardship, the Tennessee resident amassed a huge following after nearly three decades of counseling church members to get out of debt and save for retirement. He is famous for 10 books and “The Dave Ramsey Show” on 500 local radio stations heard by more than 14 million across the nation.

That was not enough for Dave. Apparently, he aspired to become Saint Nick also.

In December, his Ramsey Solutions bought $10 million worth of debt from two private debt collectors representing medical and car bills and canceled it. His employees (they’re not elves though) have been working feverishly to call and notify the 8,000 individuals involved that they no longer owe any money.

Merry Christmas!

“I always tell my team that we are blessed for one reason, and that is so we can be a blessing to others,” he told the Christian Post. “Why the heck would anyone scoop up $10 million worth of debt and pay it off just like that? Well, the answer is simple: to show the love of Jesus Christ. You see, this whole completely forgiving a debt thing has been done before — by Him. No other gift could compare to that one, but we felt this was one small way we could continue to pass on that love.”

Recently Ramsey ran his Santa sleigh into a bit of controversy when at one of his seminars he encouraged attendants to not wear masks during the time of Covid. The media howled and portrayed him as a holiday villain.

But his latest un-Scrooge-like debt cancellation will undoubtedly improve his public relations image.

Read the rest: Dave Ramsey pays off debt.

The beginnings of Sean Feucht in Christianity and worship

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.

Sean Feucht with Mike Pence (Facebook)

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

LBGTQ group presses Biden to harm Christian schools

The Human Rights Campaign is lobbying President-elect Biden to adopt its “Blueprint for Positive Change,” a collection of 85 policy and legislative recommendations. The group says it’s calling on Biden – if he assumes office — to fulfill his campaign pledge to support “LGBT equality” in the U.S. and around the world, according to the Christian Post.

Under the recommendations, religious groups who deny employment to openly homosexual people would lose their accreditation. For Christian schools and colleges, such a move would decimate them, because students would not be able to transfer credits if they wanted to move to a different school.

“In terms of accreditation, that is an atomic bomb,” says Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The Human Rights Campaign is targeting issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, cloaking them in the language of ‘science.’”

Schools must make available “scientific” studies that justify such things as multiple genders and transgenderism.

Human Rights Campaign sees its fight for LBGTQ rights as the logical extension of the civil rights won for people of color in the 1960s. They want to eliminate “discrimination” in hiring of LBGTQ.

While their goals are ambitious, they could undermine the church, which adheres to Biblical definitions of sin. Teaching morals could be construed as “hate speech” and subject Christian schools to penalties.

Human Rights Campaign accused the Trump administration of reversing advances for LBGTQ and called on Biden to reset the course. In the presidential debates, Biden supported a 9-year-old child’s right to change their gender.

Human Rights Campaign also would ban Christian schools from referring people confused about their sexuality to counseling.

Depending how far Biden and Democratic congressmen are prepared to go, Christian colleges and schools could be threatened. Read the rest: Biden threatens Christian schools.

Sean Wheeler: forgiving the types of abusers who abused him

He was sexually exploited, beaten and filmed for child pornography from age 5 to 9, and now Sean Wheeler goes to meetings to minister to pedophiles.

“How can a man like you forgive a man like me?” asked him a man who did prison for possession of child pornography.

“Because he forgives me,” Sean answered without missing a beat. “We complicate it. God forgives me and I’m required to forgive you. And I do so joyously, because in doing that, I discovered that it’s real.

“Look at somebody who was on the other side of that camera,” he continued. “I release you. Now you take it to the cross and you find that freedom and that forgiveness.

“You can see this weight fall off this man,” Sean recounts on a 100Huntley video.

As sexual exploitation metastasizes across our nation, Christianity’s response may be the only real answer — along with justice — for victim and exploiter.

“I just got tired of remembering my life as defined by something that was evil,” Sean says. “So the Holy Spirit came along and said: ‘I got something better. Come home.’”

For four years, Sean Wheeler got taken advantage of by men. The first time, an adult managed to get him out of the public view and took advantage of him in private. From then on, a group of seven college-aged men exploited him. Sometimes they beat him, sometimes they filmed him.

“I tell people, ‘Look, I went through that and I got beaten and I got used in child pornography and I got all kinds of things that happened to me,” Sean says. “But that is not the end of my story. If it happened to you or somebody you know, that’s not the end of yours or theirs.”

Sean alerted no one of his abusers. He was afraid. Also, as is typical with abuse victims, he blamed himself: “I believed it was my fault, which is a common thing,” he says.

At age 9, Sean somehow asked God to help, and his family moved out of town and out of the clutches of these evil men. The abuse ended, but the haunting memories did not.

He came to Christ, but it wasn’t until he started counseling in 2011 that he was able to work through a lot of the issues that were plaguing his head.

“I’m perfectly comfortable talking about this because God is with us everywhere we go,” Sean says.

For many, the idea that their pornographic images may still lurk somewhere on the Internet — perhaps on the Dark Web — torments them.

But Sean says God has transformed his image.

“He’s restored my picture and he’s restored my voice and he says you take that hope and you share it,” he says. “If it wasn’t the hand of God at work in the life of a nine-year-old, I don’t know what would have happened to me.

“The God we serve is a protector of the innocent and He rushes to our help when we cry out to Him,” Sean says.

Sean’s healing is so complete he has ministered to 400 victims of sexual exploitation and helped them through counseling.

“For years I had heard that God can make people new,” Sean says. “I said that’ll never happen to me. But I get it now. He makes us new.”

Not only that, he ministers to victimizers, the criminals who have exploited boys like him. Read the rest: Sexual abused as a child, he ministers to abusers as an adult

New Mexico cop adopts pregnant drug addict’s daughter

Never mind that Ryan Holets put aside his dream of being a missionary pilot to help save souls.

He got side-tracked by the Albuquerque police department, which he joined in 2011 as a step towards his goal. He got stuck being a cop.

“People like to think that the people who need help are the people over there,” he says on a True Crime Daily video. “They never stop and look around and say, ‘The people here need help.’”

When he approached a mother and dad shooting up heroin in September 2017 outside a convenience store, he noticed she was eight months pregnant.

His heart was torn. Babies born from drug-abusing mothers suffer birth defects and may be addicted outside the womb.

But one question bothered him most of all: How would the mother take care of the child?

“Are you pregnant?” he asked her, as recorded on his body camera video. “Why are going to be doing that stuff? It’s going to ruin your baby. You’re going to kill your baby.”

His admonishment brought Crystal Champ to heaving sobs.

“What do you think is going to happen to your baby after it’s born?” he asked.

“It’s going up for adoption,” she responded through tears.

That’s when the compassion of Jesus took over.

Instantly, Ryan realized what he would do. He would offer to adopt the child. She didn’t have anyone else lined up.

So instead of arresting her and hauling her off to jail, he pulled a picture of his wife and four other kids out and began talking to her tenderly. He began to win her confidence.

“I know my wife,” he told her right then and there. “I know she’ll say yes. We are willing to adopt your baby if that’s what you need.”

For Crystal, it seemed too good to be true. She agreed to meet Officer Ryan and his wife the next day.

Ryan had to prep Rebecca.

“Hey honey. I just have to let you know. I found this woman today. She was shooting up heroin, she’s pregnant and I offered to adopt the baby. I just want to let you know.”

They had already discussed adopting or becoming foster parents one day. But their youngest, Abigail, was 10 months old, and the rest of the kids were under five.

Notwithstanding, Rebecca wasn’t taken aback by the suddenness.

“Ok, let’s do this,” she responded promptly.

For her part, Crystal had searched Officer Ryan’s eyes on the day of the confrontation and lodged trust in him.

After dinner with Crystal and her partner, Tom, Ryan and Rebecca put the couple up in a hotel and provided for their needs. The baby came five weeks early. She had meth and heroin in her system and remained in the hospital for two weeks while going through withdrawals. Ryan and Rebecca took turns being with the baby.

As Ryan prayed for her and sang to her, the name of the baby came to him: Hope.

Rebecca readily assented. They both had so much hope for the child.

Ryan’s extraordinary measure flabbergasted his boss.

“This is an act that’s beyond anything I’d ever seen, and I’ll, probably never see it again,” says Sgt. Jim Edison. “I couldn’t believe it. I never met anyone so unselfish. I thought my job was to teach him, to make sure he goes home safe and makes mom proud. But here he was teaching me.”

The baby hasn’t had any complications since leaving the hospital, and the fifth child fits right in with her siblings.

Meanwhile, the Christian couple helped the birth parents also. Crystal enrolled in a rehab to straighten out her life. At the time of the video, they were sober and preparing to be productive members of society.

“We believe that everyone is redeemable,” Rebecca says. “Everyone is lost to some extent.”

The sergeant recommended him for a police department prize for excellent service to the community. When his letter was read to the all the cops in a staff meeting, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

President Trump caught wind of the extraordinary service Read the rest: Cop adopts pregnant drug addicts daughter

Human trafficking victim got out alive of ‘the game’

No matter how rigorously Sariah Hastings scrubbed her body in the shower, she couldn’t rid herself of the vestige of filthy men.

“I could never get rid of the smell of whatever man,” she says on a 700 Club video. “I didn’t even know these men’s names.”

The pimps told her the only way out of “the game” was death or jail but eventually she discovered another exit door when a crisis pregnancy center counselor led her through a prayer of salvation.

Sariah was molested by a relative when she was only 4. She didn’t know where to turn or who to tell because pretty much everyone in her family was involved in abuse and perversion, she says.

“There was no purpose of me reaching out and saying there’s something wrong with this or help me or get me out of this because it was so normal,” she says.

When she was 12, she was gang-raped at a party. Sex became something she plied in a quixotic search for love. Instead of genuine affection, however, she felt rejection.

“I was then known in my whole city as the slut, the hoe, the girl that you could take to the bathroom and do whatever with and she’ll be fine with it,” Sariah says.

At age 18, she got recruited by a pimp. She walked the streets and the trucker parking lots negotiating prices. One night, she failed to meet her quota and her pimp threatened to kill her.

She ran away and found another pimp who got her addicted to cocaine and crystal meth. Her lifestyle bred self-repugnance which led to cutting herself and burning her skin. The attempt at cleanliness in the shower was in vain since it was her soul that felt stained.

“It got to the extreme, a point where i just started trying to commit suicide,” Sariah remembers.

She was sold from pimp to pimp to pimp. During 17 years of prostitution, she traversed 33 states

Then she got pregnant with a second child. Her pimp told her to give the baby away to family. Instead she ran away.

“This time it would be different,” she says. “I knew at that moment that something had to change and that I couldn’t continue doing the same thing.” Read the rest: Sariah Hastings escapes human trafficking

Palestinian son of imam comes to Christ via One For Israel outreach

A Palestinian son of an imam did not sleep for three days after receiving salvation in Jesus.

“He was crying all the time, calling and crying, and said that he was betrayed, that he had been living in a lie,” due to his upbringing in Islam. “And then he just knew what is the truth. His life was so changed that he wanted to tell everyone about Jesus.”

Despite the risk to his life, this joy-filled young convert began sharing Jesus on the streets of Gaza, a Palestinian city off the southwestern border of Israel, according to a One For Israel video that documents his conversion.

To question Islam is a great sin for Muslims. Jews are often derided as “dogs” who deserve death, and Christians are said to follow “corrupt” teachings of the Bible. Since Palestinians frequently engage in terrorism, to abandon Islam, embrace his enemies and then preach Jesus on the streets of Gaza is tempting death. The fact that his father is an imam, a preacher of Islam, made things worse.

The young man came to Christ after watching an Arabic video about Jesus produced by the One For Israel Bible College in Netanya, Israel. It is a Messianic Jewish institution of higher learning and all the course work is taught in Hebrew.

One For Israel also spearheads an online effort to win Israelis to Jesus. What not many people realize is that there are Palestinians who from the foundation of Israel in 1948 decided to become Israelis and not move to Gaza and the West Bank along with their countrymen.

One For Israel has a department that reaches out to Arab/Palestinian Israelis. And their evangelism and discipleship, via the internet, ranges throughout the Middle East and northern Africa. They employ a simple Arabic that everyone can understand (there are variations through all the Arab world of the original Arabic spoken by Mohammad).

When Muslims call in with questions, they answer them at length and engage any objections. Many of these Muslims wind up becoming born-again. A lot of their short videos are oriented towards young Muslims.

Where missionaries cannot cross borders, the internet is providing an open door for evangelism and discipleship.

When anyone gets saved, they continue to disciple them online, since born-again churches may not be easily accessible.

In some cases, when a convert is threatened, they counsel his next moves to spirit him away from danger and relocate to a safe haven.

The Palestinian young man started as a seeker, asking questions. When doubts filled his mind, he sought answers from the imams in Palestine, who either counseled him to not talk to Christians or promised answers at a later time but never followed up. Carlos Damianos, an Arab Israeli convert to Christianity, leads the online evangelism and discipleship.

“Carlos was giving them all the answers he needed from the scriptures,” said Hadil (no last name was provided), who also works on Arab outreach.

The video outreach started in January of 2020 with a series of eight videos which focused on the Muslim’s main rejection of the Bible: that it supposedly was corrupted and altered through the years.

Entitled “The invention of the myth of Biblical corruption,” the series of twice-weekly videos showed the integrity and reliability of the scriptures. They cite the Dead Sea scrolls, which were hand-copied from before Jesus’s day and validate the accurate preservation of holy words from ancient times. Read the rest: One For Israel outreach to Arabs.

How a New York City pastor came out of drugs with a vision in space of the cross

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.

Through 71 days hospitalized, praise sustained him as he fought Covid

James Story wrote a song for his sister after her death. How could he possibly have known that the same song would save his life?

James contracted Covid-19 in March, in the early stages of the outbreak in America when doctors still did not know much about the pandemic. He very nearly died.

“I had become septic. I started dialysis because the kidneys were failing,” James recounts on a CBN video. “From there it was pretty much downhill.”

James felt chills and fever in March of this year, when Covid first broke out in the U.S. He went to the ER, but doctors, not diagnosing Covid, sent him home. Over the weekend, he grew worse and had to be taken to the hospital.

For several weeks, he went in and out of consciousness and remained on a ventilator for 15 days. His vitals got progressively worse. His kidneys were breaking down, so he required hemodialysis. Among the many afflicted by Covid, his was one of the most severe.

Meanwhile, his friends from church set up a prayer page on Facebook, and the Gallatin, Tennessee Methodist church entreated God on behalf of the retired college music professor.

As he lingered near death, James didn’t just waste his downtime in the hospital. “I took advantage of the time that I had away to meditate and read scriptures and become closer to God,” he says.

That’s when he got a vision.

“I felt like I was in a grave, and I was trying to pull myself up (out of the grave) to the sunlight,” he remembers. “I felt as though I saw the face of God and He was reaching out his hand to me. All I could do was bow down and worship.”

Meanwhile, doctors were concerned the damage would be permanent, which required the installation of a tracheostomy feeding tube.

Nurse practitioner Laura Youngman attests to the miracle.

In all, James spent 71 days in the hospital.

Eventually, doctors wanted to get him off the ventilator. But James was attached to the easy breathing like a security blanket. He became agitated over the potential loss of the ventilator. Read the rest: James Story’s recovery from Covid was helped by prayer and praise.

Preaching in the ‘devil’s den,’ Mohammad Yamout pastors at risk of life in Tyre

Mohammad Yamout barely escaped Beirut with his life, so why would he go back into the chaos of Lebanon embroiled in strife four years later and begin witnessing for Christ?

“There was a girl I was in love with. I could have gotten married to her and stayed. I could have taken these job offers,” Mahammad says on a Your Living Manna video. “But somehow I went back and when I went back in 1989 it was war in Lebanon.”

Mohammad’s dad was Palestinian involved in fighting Israel who took refuge in Lebanon and married Mohammad’s mother. When he disappeared, mom had to work two jobs to support the three kids, and Mohammad, lacking parental supervision, frequented the streets.

There was a nearby church that took in the local kids for Sunday school, and Mohammad, who was Muslim, attended for the entertainment and free food. At age 14, he was challenged to receive Jesus, but he waited until he got home in his bed to do it.

There on the plastic sheet he slept on, he asked Jesus into his heart at 3:00 a.m.

“Lord Jesus, please help me,” he prayed. “I am desperate. I’m helpless. I’m hopeless. I cannot take it anymore. I need you and with tears at that time and then within half an hour I slept, and I woke up in the morning excited. I took one of the many New Testaments from Sunday school and put it in my school bag and went to school and started telling people about my experience.”

He was thrilled that he had found the answers to his troubling questions, not where he expected in Islam, but in Christianity, and he boldly told everyone about Jesus. This turned more than a few heads.

“Everybody was wondering why this was happening?” he says. “I was on fire at that time and I couldn’t be quiet. I had to talk. I had to tell people what happened with me. I felt at rest, I felt at peace. All the answers came to the questions that made my life a dilemma and were traumatizing me because being raised without a father is traumatizing to you. God wanted to save me because God had a plan.”

His overly zealous evangelism earned the ire of his neighbors, who pressured his mother to do the Muslim thing: to kick him out. That was no problem for Mohammad. He began sleeping in the warehouse where he worked.

After extremists tried to kill him his pastor hid him for six months in his hometown. When he returned, he continued his bold witness for Christ. He joined an evangelical teacher in street evangelism in Beirut until the teacher got killed.

“You’re next,” his pastor warned him and made arrangements for him to travel to the United States with a student visa to get his undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina in 1986.

Mohammad graduated with an accounting degree in 1989 and was offered a job by Arthur Andersen to work in New York and another by Price Waterhouse in Cairo due to his fluency in Arabic. He was in love with a pretty girl too.

“But somehow the Lord did not let me take these jobs and did not let me stay in the U.S. I felt that I needed to go back.”

Lebanon was in the throes of armed conflict, and Mohammad’s old church was almost non-existent. The pastor had fled, as had most of the members. Only four older women still met together.

Undaunted, Mohammad began ministering in the streets and visiting the brethren of the church, encouraging them to regroup and the Lord brought the increase to 100 members in 1991 when the pastor returned and took charge. Out of the church, Mohammad married a Christian convert, one to whom he witnessed incessantly at Beirut’s American University.

But now that pastor had returned and took charge of the church, Mohammad felt the desire to prove himself in business. Today, he recognizes that this is the part of his history where he veered slightly off course because God was calling him to full time ministry.

“There was ambition and I wanted to pursue that dream, and I was trying to convince God of that dream,” he acknowledges. “Since the day he saved me, he called me into the ministry. I knew that he gave me the talent, he gave me the burden. He gave me the vision to reaching out to people, but I refused to answer God’s call. I wanted to do it my way.”

At age 25, he quickly accumulated half a million dollars in assets, including a factory and several stores. He bankrolled the church and helped needy people, but he felt he wasn’t at the center of God’s will for his life.

Then in 1995, “God got out the big stick,” Mohammad says.

From $500,000 he plummeted down to nothing. Faced with debts and lawsuits, he went bankrupt and to prison for six months. Read the rest: Christian missionary in Lebanon (Mohammad Yamout).

Narnia brought a Harvard atheist to faith

Jordan Manji regarded The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as fun fantasy. But when she tried to answer tough questions — like where does morality come from? — the proud atheist found herself confronted by Aslan.

“I came to John 19, and as I was reading the crucifixion scene, I said, ‘No Aslan, no,’” she said as a student at Harvard University.

In C.S. Lewis’ Narnia classic about another world where animals talk and ally with four children against an evil army of giants and ogres, Aslan is a lion who saves the day by letting himself be sacrificed on the stone table by the evil witch who fails to grasp that her right to kill the supernatural animal is not the end of the story.

Aslan comes back to life and rescues the Narnians when they are on the verge of certain defeat.

Jordan grew up in an atheist home in which members of the family assigned themselves value based on what they do.

“My family is very competitive, she says. “There’s always been a high priority on being the best. So much of my identity was founded on I’m the smartest one in the room right. I’m not the prettiest. I’m not the most athletic, right?”

That worked well throughout high school, where she dominated. She was so brainy that she made it into Harvard University. That’s where her world started to crumble. She was no longer the smartest in the room.

“One of the hardest things as an atheist is all of these values. Why am I important?” she wondered. “Why should people care about me? A lot of those things come from your own performance.”

Jordan decided to be an atheist at 11 years old, at which time she began calling out Christians in the classroom and embarrassing them with “scientific” and “rational” questions that they didn’t know how to answer.

“I would bring the Bible to school with post-it notes through where all the contradictions were,” she remembers. “When I would say tell me why this is a contradiction, people didn’t really know.”

She delighted in making Christians stumble. But she slowly grew aware of her own contradictions, the points of the atheism worldview that don’t have easy explanations. This realization was irritating. What were the answers?

“Where does morality come from if not from God? Why is something right or wrong? Why do I believe in human rights?” she says. “I don’t believe in a God. So where are these things coming from? I had gone and asked all of these other people and nobody had a good answer.”

So she decided to wait for college. Surely in the environment of so much brain power and collective scholarship, she would find answers that satisfied her internal restlessness.

“I got into Harvard and I’m no longer the smartest person in the room, 95 % of the time,” she remembers.

Since her identity was so wrapped up in her being the best student in class, now her self-worth collapsed.

“It destroyed that sense of my identity and worth, and it made me wonder who I am really am and what makes me valuable,” she says.

As she wrestled with these difficult questions, she became friends with a Christian fellow student. He prompted her to think about still more troubling questions.

“I started seeing: Maybe there are these cracks in my own intellectual framework,” Jordan realized.

To quell all doubts, she enrolled into a metaethics, the study of moral thought and language. She really hoped to strengthen her arguments.

Instead, upon reading an essay by C.S. Lewis, she stumbled even more in her line of reasoning. Simple yet profound truth helped her understand the definition and origin of right and wrong.

“Essentially what he said was God is goodness, and our lives are good when we strive to imitate God,” she remembers. “It was mind-blowing.”

The bulwarks of atheism were crumbling. As a last resort, Jordan turned to the Bible.

But instead of finding ammunition to unleash against Christians, she got shot through the heart herself. The Sermon on the Mount exposed your own hypocrisy. She wasn’t sleeping around, but she realized she had sinned in thought.

“I was a good student. It was very easy for me to think of myself as a good person,” she says. “It was only when I went back to the words of Jesus and I saw ‘no, you’re an angry person. You may not be sleeping around, but you experience lust. You are very arrogant. You think too highly of yourself.’

“Seeing those things made me realize that I wasn’t really a good person.”

As she plowed through the Gospels, she got to the section in John about Jesus’ death. She was stunned by the parallels between The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and the Gospel of John.

Just like Edmund was arrogant and resistant to kind Aslan, so too had she been. As Edmund had been redeemed by Aslan, so too she needed redemption. Read the rest: Narnia brought a Harvard atheist to faith.

Soles for souls: the story of Emmanuel Ntibonera

Eight-year-old Emmanuel Ntibonera was just sitting down to dinner when the rebel takeover of his town in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) broke out. The next day, the whole family (nine children) fled — walking miles barefoot.

Eventually, he made it to a refugee camp in Kenya, from where he immigrated to America nine years later in 2009 with his family, who are Christians (the dad is a pastor).

“Remember where you came from,” God impressed on the heart of the young man who studied hard and eventually graduated from Liberty University. In 2015, he visited his native country and was appalled to see conditions had not improved. He never owned shoes during his childhood in the DRC, and he observed the same thing on his return trip.

“I’m seeing kids with no shoes (getting) infections and parasites,” he says on a Liberty convocation video. “God had blessed me. I have more than 10 pairs of shoes in my home. I can literally bring these here and saves lives. The parasites can only be prevented by appropriate footwear.

“I looked at myself and I felt guilty.”

And so began a shoe drive that became the Ntibonera foundation, in Greensboro, NC. He started doing concerts, at which the entry ticket was at least one pair of shoes. His home became a shoe storage. It soon became so full they had to look for a warehouse.

“In my room, the only place I had was to lay my head. Everywhere else was full of shoes,” he remembers. “I had 10,000 pairs of shoes in my house.”

Eventually, Emmanuel recruited the support of university staff to stage a campus-wide shoe drive to ship containers full of shoes to the DRC. Eventually, basketball legend Steph Curry lent his name to support the cause.

“God has been unfolding things. God was doing all these amazing things,” he says. On the scheduled day, Liberty University students all brought shoes to convocation, filling the stage with piles and piles of shoes. Liberty University paid for Emmanuel’s flight with 20,000 shoes.

After his dad preached, they began distributing shoes with 100 volunteers in 2017. Read the rest: Where to give to charity for Christmas.

When ‘you can’t pray the gay away’

A convinced atheist, Rachel Gilson thought Yale University would be the perfect opportunity to “dive in” to same-sex attraction as a freshman, but after reading “Mere Christianity” her thoughts changed.

“I had sort of heard of Jesus before in my life, of course, but I always thought of him kind of as a lame cartoon character,” Rachel says on a 700 Club interview. “But instead I started to realize: ‘No, Jesus is alive and powerful and interesting and loving and he’s offering me something that I can’t get anywhere else.’”

Her 2004 conversion to Christianity led to a re-orientation, not of her sexual “orientation,” but of her entire life. Today, she still struggles with same-sex attraction, but she submits her feelings to God no differently than anyone who feels attraction outside of marriage.

“It’s been a big part of my journey to figure out, who owns me?” says Rachel, who has written a book Born Again This Way about her testimony. “Or is it my desires, or is it Jesus Christ?”

There’s a growing tendency among homosexuals to revise Biblical doctrine to assume God accepts homosexuality as a valid expression of sexuality, Rachel says. This movement represents a pushback against the unaccepting Christian church.

“They’ve seen a church be unfriendly or unwelcoming to LGBT people. Sometimes they’ve, seen Christians respond to gay and lesbian people in ways that don’t look like Jesus would have acted towards outsiders,” Rachel says. “They basically do an overcorrection. They say, ‘Well that type of exclusion doesn’t look like love, so maybe we got the words wrong.’”

Rachel grew up in a small conservative town. Because her parents never went to church, she couldn’t figure out God.

“I didn’t grow up in a household that went to church or read the Bible,” she remembers. “As I started thinking about you know, where did all this come from? What are the big ideas of the world? I just didn’t see Christianity as a valid source of the answers.”

She had just broken up with a girlfriend when she carted off to Yale College. “I thought being at college is gonna be a great place for me to actually live out” same sex attraction, she says. “But before I had a chance to really dive in there, that was when I met the Lord. I think He saved me from going too far down that path.”

Coming to Christ for Rachel, really, was no different than anyone lost in their sin.

“No matter what our orientation is, we all need the grace and the truth of Jesus Christ,” she says. “If we have just the grace without the truth, it’s, all fuzzy, but it doesn’t produce any change. But if we only have the truth without the grace, we end up crushed.” Read the rest: You can’t pray the gay away.

Career-ending injury brought Inky Johnson his dream life

The dream from age 7 was coming true. Inky Johnson was in his junior year in college with all the paperwork signed for the NFL draft. He was among the top 30 and was guaranteed to make millions doing what he loved.

All he had to do was play 10 more games and his future would be set, but when he went to make a regular tackle against an Air Force player in 2006 — a tackle “I could make with my eyes closed” — the cornerback ruptured his subclavian artery and could not get up.

“I never thought about a career-ending injury,” Inky says in an Above Inspiration video. “I woke up from that surgery and the thing I placed my identity in was now gone.”

His right arm was paralyzed. Every day he lives with pain. But he rose above the crushed spirit and now delivers motivational speeches, encouraging people to serve Jesus and trust Him with their destiny.

Inquoris Johnson was raised in a 14-member household crammed in a two-bedroom home on Atlanta’s poor and violent side. His mom pulled double shifts to put food on the table, and Inky says he wanted to pull the whole family out of poverty.

Every day was dedicated to training to fulfill the dream. He drilled, worked out and practiced. His family attended church, and he asked God to bless his dream.

When he joined the Volunteers at the University of Tennessee, he became their starting cornerback and was on the trajectory to success; the commitment and effort was paying off.

Then he woke up on the fateful day and followed his usual routine: run two miles to the fire station and two miles back to warm up. Throw the football at the ceiling to practice catches at all angles by surprise. Visualize himself performing to perfection.

“Two minutes left in the game, and I go to make a tackle – that I can make with my eyes closed And I hit this guy and as soon as I hit him, I knew it was a problem, but I didn’t think it would be this type of problem. When I hit him every breath from my body left, my body goes completely limp. I fall to the ground.”

Inky blacked out. His teammates came over to him and told him to get up. “Let’s rock man,” they said. Read the rest: When bad things happen to good people: Inky Johnson’s career-ending injury.

Only deaf church in West Africa led by deaf missionaries

As a deaf missionary in Africa, Elizabeth Smith blows people’s minds — especially the Muslims who interact with her in the nation of The Gambia.

“When we speak to many hearing Muslims, they become curious when we praise God for making us deaf. They normally are very sympathetic because they believe we are full of sin and that’s why God made us deaf,” she wrote in an email interview with God Reports.

“It’s fun sometimes to see what God does in people’s lives when they see things from a different perspective,” based on a conception of Islam that’s very different from Christianity, Elizabeth notes. Prolific hymnist Fanny Crosby thanked God she was blind; apparently, she felt the loss of one sense sharpened her hearing and musicality.

Both deaf, Elizabeth, 34, and her husband, Josiah, 36, are establishing a church for the deaf. It’s only one of its kind not only in The Gambia but for many of the neighboring West African nations. Their missionary adventure started in February of 2017.

Their church, on the outskirts of the capital city of Banjul is a place of refuge for Gambians who need love and acceptance. “We get a lot of curious visitors in the church. Some have questions of who God is,” she says. “Some just feel welcomed, regardless if they are Muslim or not.”

For Elizabeth and Josiah, not hearing is not an insurmountable barrier to be missionaries. It presents challenges that simply belong to a long list facing anyone adjusting to a new country and culture.

“Living abroad is not for everyone. It stretches you, and takes you apart in ways you never imagined,” she says. “Being deaf definitely presents a lot of challenges. There are times when we need to communicate and many cannot read or write English.”

She tries not to voice words in English and mostly uses writing on paper or hand gestures. By and large, people are open to this sort of communication, though many are illiterate. The couple uses the illustrated Action Bible to show biblical stories and truths.

“But our main focus is the deaf community,” she says.

Elizabeth and Josiah were both raised in Arizona, but they didn’t meet in Arizona. They met Washington DC, where both worked for Youth With a Mission, and married in 2015. (From 2011-13, Elizabeth was an independent missionary with the Baptist Ministry at Gallaudet University, an institution of higher learning specially geared for deaf students.)

Soon, they felt God call them to Africa. They didn’t know where and sought in the Lord in prayer. Elizabeth got a vision of a machete shape and felt moved to look at a map of Africa. Lo and behold, the sliver-nation of The Gambia, which hugs the same named river, came into focus.

Josiah volunteered teaching gym classes at a local deaf school, while Elizabeth volunteered teaching English. A former British colony, The Gambia adopted English as its official language, but many speak only tribal languages such as Wolof or Mandinka.

Just as English differs from another language, so does sign language differ from country to country. There is no universal sign language. The American version is called American Sign Language. So Elizabeth and Josiah are gaining fluency in the Gambian sign language. Read the rest: only deaf church in West Africa led by deaf missionaries.

Daniel Chand traded punching for preaching

Daniel Chand loved to fight. As a boxer in Greenwich, England, he was a champion in the ring. On weekends at the pub he liked to raise hell and often found himself in drunken beer brawls.

But then he got arrested for really hurting someone and faced eight years in jail.

“I remember being outside the court room and I prayed to God to give me one more chance,” Daniel told the UK News Shopper. “The next thing I knew, the trial collapsed.”

Chand still loves to fight. But he has traded punching for preaching.

An earnest international evangelist, he has joined the ranks of a new generation of street preachers in London who have traded hellfire and brimstone for more tempered reasoning relying on apologetics.

And he loves praying for the sick — right there on the street or in the store.

“I remember walking up to a Muslim man who was limping and thinking that he might respond negatively to me because he was a different religion. I told him Jesus wanted to heal his leg. And he just looked at me.

“Then I prayed for him, and it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. He was running up and down the DVD section.” Read the rest: Daniel Chand London street preacher.

Banana cream pie, key to meeting wife

Frank Mesa put the gun in his mouth many times. Sometimes, he pointed it to his temple. But he could never pull the trigger.

“I hated life. I hated people. I was just bitter,” Frank says. “I used to argue a lot with my parents. I told my mom, ‘I hope you die.’ Two weeks later she became real ill and went to the hospital and within a week, she passed away.”

Frank, then 23, blamed himself. He had been taking care of both his parents, who were ill. He grew up in Apple Valley, California.

The family moved away from the gang violence in L.A. in 1978 at the time his dad retired. An only child, Frank was mischievous.

“As a kid, I remember being bullied a lot, getting picked on,” he recalls. “I was jumped by a number of older kids. They stole my brand new bike. This is where I started hating people.”

As he grew up, he fell in with the Heavy Metal crowd during middle school, groups like Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leopard.

“One of my favorite songs was from Pat Bennetar. It was ‘Hell is for Children,’” Frank says. “It was an addiction. It helped me to forget about issues, stress, peer pressure. I just wanted to be accepted.”

The first time he inhaled second-hand marijuana smoke, it gave him hallucinations for three days, so he stuck with alcohol.

“Almost every weekend, I would look for parties that I wasn’t invited to,” he says. “We would just get blasted. I would show up to work intoxicated.”

Naturally, his parents scolded him for this behavior. He argued over this. “This is my own life,” he responded. “My mother didn’t approve of anything I was doing. I brought home a girlfriend so she could meet her. My mom just called her a whore straight out.

“I got into an argument with her, and I said, ‘I hope you die,’” he remembers. “Before the month was over, she had passed away.”

After his mom fell into the coma and passed, Frank felt bad for what he had said. He could never apologize. He wondered what would become of himself.

“Is this life? Is that all there is?” he asked.

Frank had never been a church person. A few months later, somebody knocked on his door and explained the gospel to him.

“I had all kinds of questions about God at the time,” he says.

The church was full, and Frank picked a spot in the back row. When worship started lively praise, he freaked out. Read about how Frank Mesa met and married his wife because of banana cream pie.

Obama helped Muslim Nigerian president get elected. Now Muslims are free to slaughter Christians.

As Nigeria’s president continues to turn a blind eye on the horrors of his fellow Fulani Muslims, Fulani herdsmen are waging a war on Christians to take possession of their lands.

A smattering of attacks in August, as reported by Morning Star News, demonstrate the unrelenting slaughter.

A 48-year-old father of nine was gunned down as he confronted the killers, attempting to buy time for his wife and three little ones to escape on Aug. 17 in Kajuru County.

“Bulus Joseph was murdered gruesomely on his farm at Sabon Gida Idon, along the Kaduna-Kachia road, by armed Fulani militia,” says Luka Binniyat of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU). “He stood up to the killers so that his wife and three children could escape, which they did. But he paid the price with his life, as he was sub-humanly butchered by the cold-blooded murderers.”

The next day, a 16-year-old girl, Takama Paul, was killed in the southern Kaduna state, along with 30-yeaer-old Kefas Malachy Bobai, a father of three.

Barnabus Fund documented 171 deaths in the space of a little over three weeks, a staggering death toll that Nigerian Christian leaders qualified as a “pernicious genocide” before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

A recent attack on a Christian wedding left 21 believers dead, prompting one Christian Nigerian to say “it is as if the lives of Christians no longer matter.”

Not all of the Fulani herdsman have stylized themselves after the infamous Boko Haram and other Islamic terrorists who believe killing “infidels” fulfills Allah’s will in the world, but those who have traded a life of peaceful herding for wielding weapons are creating such havoc that more than 50,000 Christians have fled their 109 villages as refugees in southern Kaduna state, Morning Star reports.

“Indigenous rural, Christian communities of southern Kaduna have been sacked by rampaging armed Fulani militia and displaced to various communities and Internally Displaced Persons camps,” SOKAPU’s Binnayat said. “These villages are now under the full occupation of Fulani, some for over a year.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, who is Fulani just like the killers, has “done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.” says a report prepared by United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG). He has characterized the pogrom as a matter of dispute over resources between farmers and shepherds and rules out any religious factor.

“Since the government and its apologists are claiming the killings have no religious undertones, why are the terrorists and herdsmen targeting the predominantly Christian communities and Christian leaders?” wrote The Christian Association of Nigeria, International Centre for Investigative Reporting, in January of this year, as reported on Coptic Christian.

Buhari’s 2015 presidential campaign was assisted by then-U.S. President Obama.

“What Obama, John Kerry and Hilary Clinton did to Nigeria by funding and supporting Buhari in the 2015 presidential election and helping Boko Haram in 2014/2015 was sheer wickedness and the blood of all those killed by the Buhari administration, his Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram over the last 5 years are on their hands,” wrote Femi Fani-Kayode, Nigeria’s former Minister of Culture and Tourism, on Facebook of Feb. 12, 2020. Read the rest: Slaughter of Christians in Nigeria while president turns blind eye on fellow Muslim tribesmen.

He went to a Billy Graham crusade to kill the man of God

George Palmer and his boys, armed with concealed zip guns, didn’t go to the Billy Graham crusade to hear him preach. They went to kill him.

Palmer had hated God ever since he lost his father to a heart attack at age seven.

“I was just so angry with God,” he testifies on a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association video on YouTube.

George Palmer’s father died in Western Australia after planting 100 cherry trees. He had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital, but doctors couldn’t save him.

“I’ll never forget when I was told that my dad had died, I just couldn’t handle that,” George remembers. “I remember going up to the top paddock, and I screamed at God.

“I hate you. I hate you with all my heart. I will never love.”

The anger grew in his heart. He was a troublemaker in school and in the neighborhood. People knew him by his bad reputation and this reinforced his growing bitterness.

“I was always told I would amount to nothing. If you tell a person that continually, that’s what you believe, that you’re worthless, you’re useless.”

In his youth, he led a violent gang that harmed many others and clashed with rivals. “I had a vile temper,” he says.

One day, after beating their rivals in a street fight, George and his nine associates captured the rival gang leader and, subduing him, drove a car over his hand backwards and forwards, crushing every bone in his hand.

“It’s all I ever thought of, hurting people,” he says.

They planned to attend the crusade in Melbourne, determined to kill the internationally famous evangelist.

That’s when he and his boys heard that Billy Graham was coming in 1959 to preach across Australia. They hated Christianity and God.

“Billy Graham stood for something I detested,” George says. “It was something that drove me day by day.”

“I made up 10 zip guns, so each member had one of those,” he says. “I said to the guys, ‘Come on. We’re going on the green. We spaced ourselves so that we could see each other around where Billy Graham was preaching.

“We decided that…during the appeal, we would kill Billy Graham.”

They clutched their zip guns — homemade guns — and eyed each other as the message prolonged. The appeal would inevitably come, a chance for people to leave their seats in the stadium and come to the front and accept Jesus. Read the rest: http://godreports.com/2020/09/gang-members-attended-graham-crusade-with-guns-planned-to-kill-famed-evangelist/He tried to kill Billy Graham but he wound up getting saved.

Valedictorian Christian rapper aims for academia, urban mission

Ki’Shon Furlow was always conflicted. n the one hand, he graduated a 4.0 GPA valedictorian from high school. At the same time, however, he tried to traffic drugs to support his mom and five siblings in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Ironically and fortunately, it was the drug supplier who dissuaded him.

“You’re graduating high school. You’re an idiot. You have all these things going for you. You have a good family,” the dealer told him, according to Genius Lyrics. “Go to school, and be a good kid.”

Ki’Shon — whose latest releases are under the name YourWelcome Shon with Curb Records — is glad he, like so many in marginalized neighborhoods in America, ultimately chose Christ instead of falling into the dangerous life of risking death or jail.

Am. “God got the plan now.”

Simmering in the background of Christian Hip Hop for a few years, Ki’Shon came to a boil at the forefront with a cosign from Derek Minor in 2018. “One of my favorite artists right now,” Minor tweeted, according to Rapzilla.

He’s committed to getting out of the ‘hood with “clean money.” His play-on-words “Summa Hood Laude” celebrates the words that rescued him from selling drugs — ironically words from a drug supplier!

His “Lord+Taylor” still reaches back into the past as it portrays a romantic story of a bad boy changing for a good girl. It’s a hypnotizing ballad with clever lyrics. Behind the fairy tale lies an implicit call to kids from the ghetto to believe in God, believe in themselves, believe in doing good actions and believe in the chance to make it out through legitimate work.

“Ima about to make her fall for a gangster. She’s got my heart on lockup. You make me want to change up. I don’t wanna be a player no more. You don’t need nobody else, Ima get it right. Girl, you got me praying on my knees to the Father.” Read the rest: YourWelcome Shon Christian rapper

Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world

caleb katlenbachThe ugliest thing Caleb Kaltenbach saw through a childhood of being taken to gay pride marches and wild parties was…. Christians holding up signs saying “God hates you.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he said at the time. But Caleb came to Christ in high school, became a pastor afterwards and started a church that doesn’t compromise on truth while still extending love to those with “messy” lives.

His incredible journey from Christian-hater to loving Christian is more than just one man’s testimony. It is a shining light on the path for the church re-calibrating its message, as the world grows more worldly, to wooing sinners instead of saying “Woe!” to sinners.

When Caleb was only two years old, both his mom and dad divorced and “came out of the closet at the same time,” he says on an Outreach video. “My whole life I was raised by two lesbians and a gay man.”

caleb katlenbach and wifeHis dad was professor of philosophy, law and rhetoric at the University of Missouri, Columbia, while his mom was a professor of English at the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

“My whole life I was raised in the gay and lesbian community,” he says. “My parents didn’t want to get baby sitters, so they basically took me to parties when I was 4, 6, 7 years old. I went to camp outs, clubs and gay pride parades.

“I hated Christians,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with Christians.”

At the end of a gay pride parade, he was met by Christians with placards that said “God hates you” and “Turn or burn.”

They were spraying water and urine on everybody.

Caleb, who was a young and impressionable 9 years old, turned to Mom and asked why they were doing this.

CTz9RlFUsAACsqX“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she replied. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” he replied.

His next memory was when he was a teen, accompanying Mom to her parties. His custom was to find a room to play video games, Duck Hunt or Kung Fu (in the days of primitive video games — Atari, etc).

Louis, a well-built 30-year-old, befriended him at these parties.

Years later at the doctor, Caleb saw Louis, who had was emaciated and had strange markings on his forehead. Caleb asked what was wrong.

“Caleb, I have AIDS, and I’m getting read to die,” Louis responded.

Visiting him “a shell of the man he used to be” in the hospital just days before Louis died, Caleb witnessed a “horrifying sight.” As Louis shivered uncontrollably cold under nine blankets, his family watched unfeelingly from across the room.

“Plastered against the wall with their big ol’ KJV bibles out and looking like they expected a firing squad to come at them” was the compassionless immediate family. When he asked for water, they made sure to give him some without touching him.

“Why are they acting like that?” he asked his mom.

“Well, Caleb, they’re Christians,” she responded. “And Christians hate gay people. Christians don’t like people who are different from them.”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with that,” Caleb said again. Read the rest: Pastor with LBGT parents re-calibrates church’s message to increasingly worldly world.

With so much division in America, this urban missionary bridges the divide

Civil RighteousnessJonathan Tremain “JT” Thomas is a chaos chaser.

He showed up in Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police in 2014 to fight for equal treatment for people of color — but also to help quell the rising violence of protests that were being hijacked by non-local agitators.

This year, he showed in Minneapolis after George Floyd died when a white police officer kneeled on his neck. He participated in prayer, counseling and services on the very street corner where Floyd lost his life.

“In church circles, there’s been this desire for awakening,” JT says on Slate. “Oh my goodness, it looks like awakening has come to America in the form of chaos.”

Jt Thomas in MinneapolisThis is JT’s full-time job, and his organization, the pun-derived nonprofit “Civil Righteousness” — has been part of the healing balm applied to a nation convulsed by months of protests, vandalism, riots, looting and anarchy. Christian race-relations expert Dante Stewart calls them “the next generation of the racial reconciliation movement.”

He likes to talk to hot-headed young activists, to white conservative evangelicals and angry black liberal progressives in their 50s and 60s and get them thinking outside of their bubbles. “Jesus came for all,” he says. “There are serious issues in policing that need to be addressed, but also the police officers are human.”

With Methodist circuit-rider great grandparents and a grandmother who was sister of soul legend/ civil rights activist Nina Simone, JT says he’s had a confluence of influences to uniquely prepare him for his current ministry.

Raised in a predominately black Baptist church in North Carolina, he launched on the path to become a missionary in college but zeroed in on urban needs in America. He worked in Tennessee and Indiana but struggled to raise support, so he started a video production company and accepted a teaching pastorate in a nondenominational church in St. Louis.

JonathanTremaineThomasThen Ferguson erupted in unrest that quickly spread across the nation. In a dream vision, JT saw himself type an email titled “Meet me in Ferguson” and took it to mean that he should travel there in the name of the Lord.

He joined prayer groups and observed mounting street protests. He confirmed that agitators from St. Louis were the ones stoking the flames of outrage and sparking violence. After two months of trying to inject God into the equation, he moved his family and set up permanent residence in Ferguson.

When white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black Christians at church in Charleston, South Carolina, JT unobtrusively introduced himself on the scene to conduct prayer services and distributed food to the homeless.

After James Alex Fields Jr. slammed his car into Heather Heyer, killing her, and injured 19 others at a white supremacist rally in Virginia in 2017, JT conducted trainings for local churches on “how to be peacemakers and mediators.”

By then, Civil Righteousness had grown into a network of like-minded Christians who are ready to mobilize like a SWAT team. “We live a lifestyle of readiness,” JT says.

Naturally, they deployed to Minneapolis.

The protests sparked by George Floyd have been different than any previous. They have become more widespread and more supported by politicians and media. They also have been more dominated by Marxists and Antifa. Leaders of BLM have openly declared the Marxist alignment. Antifas engaged in organized anti-police mobilizations, ambushing cops and using lasers to blind them. Read the rest: Civil Righteousness brings Jesus to race riots.

‘Ghost mode’ for street hood turned pastor/rapper

Thirteen-year-old Markell Taylor wanted to be just like his stepdad, who was a pimp, a rapper, a womanizer and a drunk.

“I idolized him,” Markell says. “People thought he was cool. My own father was not in the picture and my mom was in and out of prison. He was the one male figure in my life. He had money, so he would buy expensive cars and expensive clothes. He would buy them for me. You’re a little kid and you’re getting hooked up. I thought he had something going on.”

In response to this role modeling, Markell became a runner for a drug dealer. He dropped out of school. He used methamphetamines and he took advantage of girls. “I had all these insecurities because I was hurting and lonely and I didn’t know why I wasn’t worth it for my real dad to stick around,” he said. “But I put on a mask of confidence to get in girls’ pants.”

From middle school onward, Markell was the life of the party. He had the drugs, so he got it started.

But while he was admired for his swagger and brazenness, his future began to dim. He variously lived with his stepdad in Wendover, Nevada, his grandmother in Las Vegas — and homeless shelters. He was arrested for domestic violence against his mother and police were investigating crimes he had participated in.

“I was out of control,” he recalls. “One time I told my mom I was going to kill the guy who sold me some bad drugs. I wasn’t really going to do it, but I acted like it. She tried to take me to the police, but I jumped out of the car while she was driving.”

At age 14, his mom and stepdad wanted to escape their reputation at Wendover and move to Salt Lake City to get a fresh start in life. Markell didn’t last one day there without his arrest.

Again it was a case of domestic violence. He hit his mom with a pillow, he says, and she freaked out and called the cops. When the police handcuffed him, they asked if there was a gun. Markell stood up to show them his arm, but the police thought he was going to attempt a fight, so they tackled him again.

The cops hauled him off to jail.

“As soon as I got into the back of the patrol car, I started crying like a little baby,” Markell says. “Up until then, I had pretty much gotten away with everything I did.” Read the rest of Markell Taylor, street hood pastor rap artist.

Raised in a crack house, rescued by God

sana cotton healed from abuseSana Cotten was only four years old when police raided her home.

“We literally lived in a crack house. My mother was addicted to drugs, and she was in and out of incarceration. There was a lot of people that were around, trying to help her raise me coming up, so I really didn’t have much of a relationship with her. To this day, I still do not even know who my birth father is.”

After the police raid, a malnourished and abused Sana, along with her twin, was placed in foster care and eventually adopted by Christians.

“I was always taught about God. I was always told that we needed to go to church. I was always told that there was a Higher Power, someone that we were striving to be like. But I never really had a relationship with Christ for myself.”

Sana Cotton inner healing in ChristStill, the wounds from her early childhood took a toll as she grew up. At 18, she got involved with an older man for affection and got pregnant.

“I was still trying to find out who I was, and I was still trying to find someone that was going to love me. I was trying to still kind of heal and trying to find a way to get the love from a man, really, that I was lacking from my birth mother and my birth father.”

After two years, the couple separated. At one point Sana got into a fight with her ex and lost control.

“He brought a young woman with him,” Sana says. “Although we were not together anymore, something in me just kind of snapped. And I remember when the altercation was over, I found myself in the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror, tears running down my face, and I remember thinking, ‘There has to be more than this.’”

She realized her life was careening out of control.

“Before I went to sleep that night, I literally got down on my knees for the first time in years, and I just cried out to God and I asked God to really show me someone who was going to love me the way I deserved to be loved.” Read the rest of Sana Cotten, raised in a crack house, rescued by God.

A pastor who’s a politician? Rob McCoy flouted Calvary Chapel. Then he defied the governor of California

Rob McCoy and familyFor 20 years, Rob McCoy preached in his pulpit and never faced persecution, but when he ventured into politics, he got death threats, received hate mail and was stalked by menacing figures.

“I got beat up,” says McCoy, former mayor of Thousand Oaks in California. “It was the hardest thing I ever did.”

A pastor who’s a politician???

“I want to dispel the myth that Christians don’t belong in politics,” says McCoy, 55, who is at the center of a national maelstrom by holding services in violation of California’s rules closing churches.

Rob McCoy, political firebrand, man of compassion“You don’t have the right to shut down churches and let Marxists run amok in our cities,” McCoy said in the Citizens Journal.

McCoy was referring to recent massive protests and riots of Black Lives Matter and Antifa where vandalism and looting were widespread and hundreds of thousands of bodies huddled together on the street with basically no social distancing nor face masks mandated to stop the spread of Covid. The same liberal politicians who encourage the protests and made no mention of the dangers of Covid are the ones closing churches in California, New York, Chicago and Minnesota.

If protesters aren’t required to stay home due to Covid, why are church members? The current slew of governing leaders have deemed church “non-essential,” while marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and the like are doing a thriving business.

Rob McCoy pastor of Calvary Chapel Thousand OaksThe U.S. Supreme Court just handed down July 24th a discouraging 5-4 ruling for Nevada churches that have been facing suffocating restrictions while casinos are relatively free to return to business.

“The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the dissenting opinion. “It says nothing about the freedom to play craps or blackjack, to feed tokens into a slot machine or to engage in any other game of chance. A public health emergency does not give governors and other public officials carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists.”

The son of a Navy captain, Rob McCoy grew up in Coronado, California, doing all things associated with water: swimming, surfing, scuba and water polo.

An English teacher in public high school invited him to a home Bible study, where he heard about Jesus for the first time, but it was a swim coach who led him to the Lord.

On a swim scholarship, McCoy attended California State University at Fresno where he got a bachelor’s degree in history in 1987. It was during college that he and his roommate co-committed to following Christ more diligently.

Rob McCoy pastor politicianHe was engaged to someone else when he met his wife. Because his girlfriend got pregnant, his college group pastor suggested they expedite marriage. This brought a crisis with his parents because the girl was Hispanic.

“You give birth to that child, and I’ll kick you out of this house,” his father told him.

Kicked out and trying to pick up the pieces of his life, McCoy went to a Christian concert with his fiancé at Hume Lake.

On the way back from the concert, something shocking happened. His fiancé took off the engagement ring and confessed she’d slept with the campus pastor, a married man. McCoy waited until birth to do a paternity test, which confirmed it was the pastor’s child.

All throughout McCoy’s ups and downs “in the midst my sin and God’s grace,” Mederies (she goes by Michelle) Fowler remained a friend to him and encouraged him to do the right thing, McCoy says. After the engagement was officially called off, he grew closer to Michelle and the two eventually married.

Rob-McCoyIn an unusual coincidence, Michelle’s grandmother — also married to a Navy man, Admiral Richard Fowler — had hosted the baby shower and donated the crib towards little Rob McCoy years earlier. His parents were pleased with Michelle.

Today, McCoy calls these high and lows his higher education in the “school of hard knocks.” The couple has four natural born children — Molly, Kelly, Daniel and Michael — and one adopted daughter, Natasha.

Nowadays, McCoy is a a conservative Republican opposed to abortion, but when he was in high school and his then-girlfriend warned him she’d missed her period, he urged abortion as the quick and easy means to elude responsibility.

As the days passed, however, it turned out his girlfriend wasn’t pregnant after all. When McCoy was married in 1990 to Michelle, his wife miscarried and he wept over the dead baby. (The miscarriage almost killed his wife due to hemorrhaging, he adds.)

The loss of his first child provided a time for for reflection.

What’s the difference between the child that you wanted to get rid of and the one now that you are weeping over? God impressed on his heart.

“The difference was convenience,” McCoy surmises grimly. “I didn’t want to get beat up by her dad. The child was just a commodity. It was all about me.”

By contrast, the miscarried child filled his heart with love. “It was at that moment that I loved somebody more than myself. I came face to face with ‘What is responsibility? What is life?’” he says. “I was just empty and cold until I came to Christ.”

If once he treasured only himself, McCoy now values people. He’s always hosted people in his house, missionaries, refugees and even the wayward sons of well-known U.S. congressmen. All receive the love of Christ and the chance for discipleship. Right now, he’s hosting Colombians.

During college he got to know and admired the Calvary Chapel movement, so he joined the Redlands church where Don McClure was pastor. Eventually he followed McClure to San Jose to help with the work there and was ordained. In 2001, he was offered the pastorate the Thousand Oaks Calvary Chapel, one the oldest but was declining in numbers, he says. Today they have 1,400 in attendance.

He was riding on a wave or revival. Calvary Chapel was founded by Chuck Smith in 1968 on a simple principle: teach the whole Word to young people disaffected by the turbulence of the 1960s – and be led by the Spirit.

“Chuck decided to be apolitical because all these kids were disillusioned with politics, and began teaching the Bible. The nation was in turmoil with all these kids checked out of the church and had gone after Eastern religions and gone after every kind of drug imaginable,” McCoy said at Liberty.

“It was an amazing move of God upon the state of California. But we were apolitical.”

In fact, staying out of politics was practically a major tenet of their doctrine.

So how, then, did McCoy break with his church’s doctrine and “sully” himself in “dirty politics.”

Two things happened. One was a couple of key people encouraged him to impact society through politics because of his grip on history. They were on a trip to Israel.

The second was the deterioration of conditions in California. “With 10,000% growth in Calvary Chapels and being apolitical, what was the result?” he asked.

The gospel is supposed to transform culture. How have we impacted the State of California being apolitical? he wondered.

California had slipped from 5th largest GDP to 6th or 7th. It aborted more babies than there are people in Canada. It led the drive for no-fault divorce that decimated homes in America. It was a leader in anti-family values and in poverty levels, in taxes and in debt, he says.

McCoy launched his foray into politics with an unsuccessful bid for the California assembly. The state’s Republican party poured $1 million into his opponent’s campaign in the primary because they didn’t want an old white man, McCoy says. He still won.

The Republicans endorsed him but only on the condition he let an outsider wunderkind run his campaign. The guy was a brilliant kid from UC Berkeley but wasn’t saved. No matter. Within days, McCoy’s supporters had evangelized him and turned him into a believer.

He almost won the seat, but the Democrats flooded the obscure assembly seat with $6 million in funding, and he lost by 4,000 votes.

It was a bruising defeat. He discovered politics is dirty and his opponents were vicious. He had worked tirelessly and had suffered threats, hate mail and intimidation tactics. “I never suffered the kind of persecution the Bible talks about until I went into politics,” he says.

He was exhausted. But then somebody suggested he run for the seat on the Thousand Oaks City council that his opponent vacated to run against him for Assembly. He reluctantly relented. After 150 coffees and 650 volunteers canvassing neighborhoods, he won by a mere 52 votes, he says.

Eventually, he became mayor.

It was McCoy who helped stop the Assembly bill that would have outlawed “conversion therapy” for minors that many feared would slash the throat of the church’s use of the Bible. McCoy simply invited the bill’s sponsor, California Assemblyman Evan Low, to visit his church and meet his diverse staff and listen to their concerns that the bill violated the First Amendment. Read the rest: Christians in politics, Rob McCoy defied Governor’s closure of churches.

Covid’s silver lining: sex workers freed in India

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

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

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

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

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

grants

David and Beth Grant

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She prayed husband out of drugs and into pastoring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But her friend urged her to persevere in pray.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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