Category Archives: Christian models

Either the booze or the marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After his dad remarried, his step mom died.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘I was shaking like a leaf’ Hispanic gangster had never felt God’s power before

angel frias in yosemiteLeft with the baby sitter, 4-year-old Angel Frias, one of nine siblings, was approached by a blonde woman who led him in a sinner’s prayer. She looked bright, almost angelic.

“I felt so protected,” he remembers. “I felt like there was a shield around me when I was a little boy.”

But by junior high, “Angel” stopped being an angel. He followed his older brothers into a Hispanic gang in Culver City, California.

angel frias fishing“That’s when I got into more of mess. I became a problem to society and not a solution.”

He fell into drugs, alcohol, rage and revenge.

“I had so much anger in my life that if I dropped a pen, I started kicking in doors. I started turning over tables. I started to cuss. If you looked at me the wrong way, the fight was on.”

God saved him from the worst scrapes and kept sending messengers to evangelize.

“When I had a can of beer on me or I was loaded, there was always a servant of the Lord that God would send into the Culver City projects to preach the Gospel and I would hear it,” he says. “They kept coming and they kept coming. There was one time this guy said, ‘God has a better plan for your life.’ I listened to his words, but I kept on the same road of destruction.”

He was in and out of county jail. He had guns pointed at his head, but the guns jammed.

“When my brother was there, he said, ‘That was God,’” Angel remembers. “But we were still in our mess.”

He spent three years in prison, only to return to more drugs and alcohol. He returned to prison for four years and four months. He never turned to God.

“I was the worst of the worst. I was down to 90 lbs.,” he says. “My medium shirts felt like they were extra larges on me.”

Finally, he committed an offense that could lock him up for 25 years to life.

Again, he listened to the preachers in the projects.

“God loves you so much,” the preacher said. “He doesn’t want this for your life. He has more for you.”

His sisters were praying for him. Finally he broke down.

“I fell to my knees and said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Here’s my life,’” he recalls. “I’m totally out of it. I don’t know what to do. I’ve heard about you. I need you to take over because I am out of control.”

For years he mocked people who were healed and fell under the power of the Spirit on Christian television programming.

But when he finally broke before God, he decided to go to church.

“As this preacher’s preaching, my body starts to shake. It felt like something wanted to come out it,” he says. He went up to the altar.

“I was shaking like a leaf. My eyes were blinking like 90 mph,” he says. “I was out of control. I knew God was in control. I surrendered. I opened up my arms and said, ‘Here’s my life. Do what you want with it.’ The guy was about to pray for me, but before he can touch me, I fell back and could not get up. My waist down to my legs, I could not move.” Read the rest: Culver City Hispanic gangster had never felt slain the Spirit before.

Madea becomes ‘Atlanta Angel,’ as Tyler Perry shows true forgiving self

tyler-perry_t750x550First he became Madea, the gun-touting granny ready to even any score. Then he became the “Atlanta Angel,” paying for the groceries of seniors at 70 supermarkets during the Covid crisis.

Tyler Perry — the flamboyant actor, writer, producer who’s earned hundreds of millions in Hollywood –has footed the bill during senior shopping hour at 44 Kroger stores in Atlanta and 28 Winn-Dixie stores in Louisiana, as reported by Huffington Post.

tyler-perry-madea-halloween-2aThe elderly got receipts signed by the “Atlanta Angel.”

Because Covid panic-buying has left senior citizens trampled, jostled, sidelined and shortage-stuck, some national chains are offering special hours exclusively for the elderly. Perry, who was born and raised in Louisiana but now lives in Atlanta, took advantage to underwrite their grocery bills.

Senior citizens also are more vulnerable to the lung-impacting virus.

tyler-2Bperry-2Bchildhood-2Bpicture-300x200“We would like to join our customers in thanking Mr. Perry for his kindness and generosity during this unprecedented pandemic,” says Felix Turner, Kroger’s Atlanta manager of corporate affairs. “Our customers were filled with joy and gratitude.”

Perry became a Christian out of a childhood of abuse. He was physically and sexually abused inside and outside his home many times, according to BeliefNet.

“I remember (my dad) cornering me in a room and hitting me with this vacuum cleaner cord. He would just not stop,” Perry says. “There are all these welts on me, the flesh that’s coming from my bone, and I had to wait for him to go to sleep. When he fell asleep, I ran to my aunt’s house, and she was mortified when she saw it.”

Another time when he couldn’t get the bolts off the car tire because they were rusted, his father beat him severely.“All I remember is him tackling me, and I remember holding onto a chain-link fence so tight, my hands are bloody and he’s hitting me.”

While his Dad was vicious, his mother was a shining light.

“My mother was truly my saving grace, because she would take me to church with her,” he says. “I would see my mother smiling in the choir, and I wanted to know this God that made her so happy. If I had not had that faith in my life, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”

When he decided to put his faith in God, he also needed to learn to forgive.

“I am a Christian, I am a believer, and I know had I not been a person of faith, I couldn’t be here in this place, and I wouldn’t be walking the path I’m on now,” Perry says. “And I think the greater good of the path I’m on now is to teach people to learn to forgive and move on, in a way that’s done through the healing power of humor.”

He wanted to break into Hollywood and from 1992 to 1998 he tried to stage a show entitled “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” But the morality play about forgiveness in dysfunctional families flopped continuously until it was re-shaped in Atlanta and had a successful run that ignited his career.

His big breakthrough came with “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” which saw the creation of the salty Madea personality played by Perry himself. Madea is the gun-brandishing elderly lady who takes justice into her own mean hands. She’s not a Christian character but is a vehicle of humor to introduce Christian themes.

Madea, who has reappeared in movie after movie, is something of an alter-ego for Perry because she doesn’t forgive: “Well when you gettin’ got and somebody done got you and you go get them, when you get ’em, everybody’s gon’ get got,” she told Dr. Phil. Read the rest: Tyler Perry Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hyper Fenton’s eruption on CHH

_500W_500HWhen Seth Jacon Fenton searched for a stage name, he had only to think what afflicted him in grade school and what led to innumerable suspensions.

“Hyper” was the name he chose, which he uses with his last name.

Hyper Fenton’s unique mixture of hip hop and electronic music erupted on CHH in 2016. The Dallas native may be “Chilling in Dallas” (the name of what is perhaps his most popular song), but he hasn’t chilled about much. He’s been hyperactive since childhood.

Naturally, one gig is not enough for a man of boundless energy. He is the minister of preschool and children at his father’s church, Meadows Baptist Church, in Plano, Texas, immediately north of Dallas.

image-asset

No doubt, he’s a hyper snowboarder. Pictured with his wife. Is she hyper too?

He’s also an actor. In fact, he studied acting in college, acted in plays throughout school, and “acted up” in the classroom. “Whether on stage or in the principal’s office, Seth was full of passion, hyperactive, explosive, many times impulsive,” his website says. “Seth had a yearning, a longing to dream, perform and to express himself.”

It was also in college that he fell in love with hip hop. When Moflo Music Production’s owner heard a song randomly from Hyper Fenton, he approached him about working together. The results: numerous singles and three albums — Kindergarten Dreams, Terabithia and Remembering Me.

The 27-year-old grew up in his dad’s church and accepted Jesus into his heart at age six. He loved Jesus but was drawn intensely to performing arts.

“It seemed that with Seth there were two things at war within him, a desire to Love and serve Jesus Christ, the God who saved him, and a desire to express himself through art and creativity,” his website says. Read the rest: Hyper Fenton Christian rap.

Supermodel Kathy Ireland’s journey to Christ

Ireland_CAASpeakers_Photo1God was a yeller, or so Kathy Ireland thought.

At the church she grew up in, the pastor preached a screechy, judgmental message and she superimposed the image of her pastor on God. She thought that God must be like that.

“There was a part of me that was kind of scared of God,” Ireland says on an I am Second video. “The church that I attended as a child, the leader there would kind of yell.”

She jumped into modeling at age 16 and was featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Mademoiselle and the racy Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition multiple times.

Ireland flew off to Paris to start modeling at age18. “It sounds so much more glamorous than it was,” she admits.

Her mother, who had accepted Jesus when Ireland was a teen, slipped a Bible in her luggage. She didn’t feel comfortable staying at a home provided in Paris. She often locked herself in her room, and other models who stayed there ominously called it “the dungeon.”

kathy-ireland-business-mogulOne night, lonely, bored, jet-lagged, Ireland found the Bible and began to thumb through its pages, a novelty for her.

“I randomly opened up to the Gospel of Matthew,” Ireland says. “As I read, my life was forever changed.”

Ireland had been a rebellious teenager who questioned authority. She wondered about truth and what was right and wrong.

When she examined the Bible for the first time, she realized it contained the truth.

“I think one of the things that grabbed a hold of me was that Jesus wasn’t anything like I thought,” Ireland continues. “He wasn’t condemning. He wasn’t yelling. Instead, He was loving, and He was leading.”

Ireland discovered that modeling is a world flush with exploitation. “Particularly as a young woman out in the world for the first time, in a world that often times felt dominated by men of questionable character, it gave me such comfort to know that Jesus loves women and honors them,” she says. Read the rest: Kathy Ireland Christian.