The first time Bud Greenberg showed up at a Bible study, he introduced himself as a Jew, and the leader asked him to teach the next week’s study.
“You’re Jewish,” the leader told him. “Wow, you’re an expert on the scriptures. We’re just finishing up the study and we’re going to start the book of Esther. Since you know it a lot better than us, you being Jewish, will you teach us?”
There was only one problem: Bud had never read the Bible.
Notwithstanding, he assumed the invitation to teach was standard operating procedure. He went home and, starting from Genesis, thumbed through the Bible until he got to Esther.
“I didn’t want to disappoint,” he says on a Delafe Testimonies video. “It gave me a desire to read more, so I thought to myself, ‘Well, maybe I’ll read the New Testament.’ So I started in the book of Matthew.”
Today, Bud leads Bible studies in the Pentagon with Navy Seals and Special Operators, leading America’s elite fighters to Jesus. God has spoken through him in a way that unnerves the highest military professionals famed for having nerves of steel.
“I’m scared of you,” a Delta Force operator told him one day, arriving at the Bible study.
“You’re scared of me?” Bud responded. “I’m just a pencil-neck geek bureaucrat; you’re the killer.”
“No, no,” the operator said. “They tell me what goes on in these bible studies. I have no idea. I came early just to see for myself.”
Bud Greenberg was born Jewish but married a Christian girl. He loved baseball but wasn’t good enough in umpire school to make it in the Big Leagues. So, he joined the military and carted his wife with him to Germany.
She wasn’t too happy with the sudden move, and their marriage began to suffer. He asked a social worker what he could do to improve his marriage. Do something with your wife that she likes to do, was the answer.
Katie Davis Majors was a Tennessee high school homecoming queen headed to nursing school. But instead, she became a mom to 13 girls – all in 18 months.
Katie adopted them all in Uganda, where she ditched her high-paying career path to work in poverty as a missionary at an orphanage in Africa.
““God just designed me that way because he already knew that this is what the plan was for my life — even though I didn’t,” she says on madehanaqvinews.com.
In 2008, she was class president of her high school Brentwood, Tennessee, when she went on a short-term mission trip to Uganda. Short-term missions make a lasting impact on many, but for Katie it was off the charts.
The poverty she observed moved her to compassion. Believing she could make a difference, she made a heartfelt decision: to put off college for one year and teach kindergarten in the Christian-run orphanage.
During her time there, a terrible rainstorm caused a mudhouse to collapse, burying several children. Leaders scurried to rescue the kids buried under the remains of the earthen house. Fortunately, none were seriously hurt and could recover in a local hospital.
After being rescued, Agnas, 9, whose parents both died of AIDS, plaintively asked if she could live with Katie forever.
Looking into the pleading brown eyes, Katie could not say no.
That was the beginning. Katie didn’t immediately embrace her destiny. To please her parents, she returned to the United States to get her nursing degree but found herself longing for the orphans in Uganda.
Ultimately, she returned as a full-time missionary. As she worked with the children, she felt a bond growing in her heart and wondered if she could adopt. Under Uganda law, she had to be 25 to adopt, but she could initially be granted custodial care.
She began her missionary work by teaching kindergarteners who were eager to learn.
Katie stayed in Uganda, serving. Everyday was filled with love and joyful sacrifice. She wound up marrying a fellow Tennessean missionary, Benji Davis, and they started a family, with God providing two biological sons.
Shamso was a sickly Somali girl in a refugee camp with a growth on her arm that doctors thought was cancer. They wanted to amputate.
Fortunately, her mother refused and wanted to seek better health care in another nation. A church from Texas sponsored Shamso’s family to come to America with no strings attached.
In 2000 they came to America and got involved in their local Muslim community. Shamso was very religious and taught other children, observed Ramadan, and did everything possible to make it to Heaven.
But she was unsettled by the teaching in Islam that one can never be sure she’ll gain entry into paradise, one can never be sure their good works will be enough.
“I was deathly afraid, not knowing where I was going to be after I die, if I was going to make it into” Heaven, she says on her YouTube channel. “Was I good enough here on Earth? I would always recite the Koran and all sorts of stuff because I genuinely wanted to make it into Heaven.
“But when I realized that everything I was doing was probably not good enough for Allah, it felt like a mentally difficult thing for me to accept. I was super afraid of death. I couldn’t go to sleep at night. Darkness terrified me.”
Shamso was a naturally talkative girl and a naturally curious girl. When in Islamic “Sunday school” she heard that other religions describe Jesus as more than a prophet (which Islam limits him to by definition).
She wanted to explore other religions, but was told not to ask questions. Her teacher told her mom about the questions she had been asking, and she got in trouble.
Shamso wasn’t scared merely of death. She was also scared of the jinn, or spirits sometimes translated and conceptualized as “genies” in English but probably better understood as demons. Her mother told her the story of somebody who accidentally dropped the Koran and turned into a half human, half goat creature by the jinn.
At age 16, Shamso witnessed a new Somali girl at school manifest a full-blown case of demon possession during their English class.
“The jinn was on her. She was screaming, yelling. It was absolutely terrifying. I was already terrified of these things, so to see it in real life, a person being held captive by an evil spirit, instantly I ran out of the room,” Shamso recalls. “It was pure chaos. All the kids were outside. The teachers were outside. Tears were flowing. I trembled with fear.”
The Somali girl was allowed to return home with an adult friend and returned to school the next day, seemingly normal. She didn’t remember anything about what happened, what she said, or what she did.
When Stuart Long crashed his motorcycle into a car, he was launched into oncoming traffic and hit the windshield of an oncoming car headfirst. Witnesses say he then rolled on the street and got run over by another car.
“And here I am” still alive, he remarked later.
Out of the death-defying experience, Stuart turned to God and became a priest, known as Father Stu. He’s the subject of a new biopic starring Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg, who were inspired by the story and decided to make the movie.
The movie “Father Stu” will be released on Good Friday by Sony. Wahlberg has pursued this project for six years. His own father died of cancer, so when Wahlberg heard two priests talk over dinner with him about Stuart Long, it resonated with him.
Born in Seattle on July 26, 1963, Stuart Long was adventurous and ambitious as a young rascal he explains, according to the Daily Mail. After graduating high school in 1981, he arrived at Carroll College, a private Catholic university. His focus was completely on sports, primarily football and soon, boxing, which became his sole passion.
“I wasn’t Catholic. I always felt like kind of an outsider,” Long revealed while thinking about attending mass with the football team.
Long admitted to constantly questioning his college professors. When he discovered boxing, he found his calling.
“The individual sport fit with my personality better than the team sport,” Long said in a 2011 interview with the Diocese of Helena. Read the rest: Father Stu
When a man stood up suddenly during prayer service and waved a handgun at the congregation, Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana sprang into action and tackled him from behind before he could fire off a round.
“He wanted to kill,” Pastor Ezekiel said through an interpreter on WKRN news. “That was the first thing that came to mind.”
Motives remain unclear as yet as to why Dezire Baganda, 26, suddenly jumped up in the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal church and ordered the congregation to stand as he waved a handgun.
But quick-witted Pastor Ezekiel neutralized him before he could do anyone harm. The immigrant pastor acted as if he were exiting the back door behind the pulpit and behind the gunman and then rushed him and tackled him from his blindspot. Other congregants joined in to help disarm the threatening man at the Nov. 7th service, all recorded on church surveillance video.
Steve Weatherford — whose punting pinned the Patriots back deep in their zone to help the Giants win Superbowl XLVI — says all his heroics were a vain attempt to get the approval of his father.
“I was trying to get the attention of my dad,” Weatherford says on a 7 Figure Squad video. “During a lot of those amazing achievements, I didn’t really enjoy them because the reason I was achieving them was I needed some affirmation from the most important person: dad.”
Today, Weatherford has found peace, approval and acceptance from Jesus, leaving behind the inner turmoil that led him to drugs and porn despite his outward appearance of success and manliness.
Born in Indiana, Steve Weatherford was raised in Baton Rouge. From an early age, he showed inclination for sports, playing football, soccer, basketball and track in high school. He didn’t enjoy the greatest relationship with his stoical, old school-style father.
The foray into sports began as a means to win his father’s approval. He worked out in the gym incessantly. As a result of his impressive physique, rumors circulated around town that he had bulked up thanks to “the juice.” One day, his dad even called him at school and told him to come over to the office.
“Oh crap, what did I do?” he wondered as he drove over to Dad’s. “Oh my God, I’m really in trouble.”
“There’s rumors around town that you’ve been taking steroids,” Dad said. “I’m not mad at you, but I want to get you help.”
“Initially I was really offended. I wanted to lash back,” Steve remembers. “But then I sat back into my chair and I thought to myself, ‘My dad thinks that I’ve done something with myself that is impossible to do without cheating.’”
“Dad, you might not believe me but I’ve done this 100% the right way,” he responded. “I’ll take a test right now.”
It was the closest thing to a compliment that he ever got from his dad.
Weatherford proceeded to the University of Illinois as a kicker and punter. He also played track and was named Sports Illustrated’s most underrated athlete in the Big Ten in 2004. He walked on to the New Orleans Saints and played for four teams before landing with the New York Giants.
Punters are usually wimps, by NFL standards. All they have to do is kick well. But Weatherford had the build of a lineman as a punter. He maintained a maniacal workout and diet regimen that got him featured in bodybuilding magazines.
On the outside, he was achieving his wildest dreams. But on the inside, he was losing battles. He watched porn and started taking percocet.
“I worked so hard to get into the NFL. I worked so hard to become the fittest man in the NFL twice. I worked so hard to (win the) Walter Peyton man of the year community service award. I worked so hard to become a Superbowl champion,” Weatherford says. “Looking back on my life, those were all predicated on getting my dad’s attention.”
Superbowl XLVI was a dream. The Giants were playing against Tom Brady’s Patriots.
Weatherford punted four times with such distance and precision that the Patriots found themselves in their own 10 and five yards — a marathon distance to touchdown. When the Giants came out on top, some observers called Weatherford the MVP.
A punter MVP?
Weatherford basked in the glory of his achievements. He looked over to Dad. He wanted so desperately for his father to clap him on the back, give him a bear hug and lavish patriarchal praise. Read the rest: Steve Weatherford Christian
Of course, Christian Surfers International calls Jesus the “Original Water Walker.”
Originally, they were just a support group of like-minded surfers who felt a little marginalized by the church, but as they grew, they realized they had a greater responsibility to win the entire surfing world to Christ.
They want to be even more salty while paddling ocean waves and reflect the light of Jesus on sun-drenched beaches.
Today, Christian Surfers International has affiliates in 35 countries with about 175 local missions, each of those acting like a tiny church plant to the surf community, says Casey Cruciano, operations manager of CSI.
They also do community development projects around the world through their organization Groundswell Aid. Some of the best surf breaks also have some of the poorest communities in the world. Hardcore surfers have always traveled to out-of-reach spots for the perfect wave. But CSI surfers don’t just ride the wave; they help alleviate poverty, restore the environment and provide disaster relief.
“We believe in the power of the global surfing community to make powerful, long-term changes to beach communities around the world,” a narrator on a Groundswell video explains. “Using surfing as a platform to connect, Groundswell exists to meet the needs of under-resourced communities and offer tangible hope.”
They even teach Third World youngsters to surf or learn water polo, offering scholarships to those who do well in school and encourage school dropouts to return.
On the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, they help build housing and school facilities for the locals. Read the rest: Christian surfers Intl.
Adam Gunton hung up on his buddy when he called at 4:47 a.m.
“Why are you calling me this late?” he snapped.
“I was just calling to say hi,” Chuck responded, timidly.
“Don’t call me this late again!” Adam, a freshman in college in 2008, barked and slammed the phone down.
That’s the point when Adam’s partying changed and he became a hopeless addict.
“Before that moment I was using drugs and alcohol to party and have fun,” he says on a Logan Mayberry video. “But after that I was consciously using drugs to mask the way I feel, mask my emotions, mask my thoughts and cope with life around me. I bottled it down deeper and deeper with drugs and alcohol.”
As a result of his addiction, his weight dwindled down to 147 pounds from 210.
Adam grew up in Littleton, Colorado. He played football and wrestled at Columbine High School, which gained notoriety through tragedy. Mostly, he was able to hide his drug habit. He started drinking at age 11, after someone shared cocaine and weed with him.
“Throughout my high school career, I just thought it was fun,” he says. “I had no idea that it was going to lead me to a homeless shelter and not being able to stop the worst drugs on the planet 10 years later.”
On Nov. 6, 2015, Adam took a heroin hit that initially he thought was bunk. He got in his car and drove off. Cops found him in his car on the side of the road OD’d. Three months later, the body cam video was shown in court and he was charged with felony drug possession.
“Even that moment and those experiences weren’t enough to get me clean and sober,” he remarks.
He worked for Direct TV and became a top salesperson regardless of his drug abuse. At his desk, he had his computer and a drawer full of drugs.
One day, alone in his bedroom, he cried out to a God he didn’t know.
When a driver found Mo Isom suspended by her seatbelt upside down in her rolled Jeep, with her face bloodied following an accident, she kept saying with a smile: “God is beautiful.”
Mo had asked God to “wreck” her life after her father committed suicide.
“I didn’t realize that God would answer my prayer so literally,” Mo says on a 100 Huntley video. “My vehicle lost control, flipped three times and landed upside-down in a ravine at 1:30 in the morning. He wrecked my life, but He revealed himself to me in that wreckage.”
Mary Isom (simply “Mo”) an All-American soccer star, fiercely loved her perfectionist father, who gave her the silent treatment when she fell short.
Of course, this developed into a performance-based understanding of God. “I do good things, I get blessings,” she explains. “I do bad things, God turns his back on me.”
Mo looked forward to college as a fresh beginning. As a soccer star on the team at Louisiana State University, Mo wanted to leave behind the bulimia she struggled with in high school.
At college, she stumbled across Matt 11:28: Come to me, all who are weary or burdened and I will give you rest.
The verse ministered to her greatly.
But then her dad put a bullet through his heart Jan 3., 2009 in Huntsville, Alabama, when his business soured.
“I was punctured as deep as you could imagine,” she remembers. “It left a gaping hole in my heart.”
The relationship she was trying to develop with God unraveled as guilt, shame, blame, grief, and rage cascaded unchecked through her heart.
She prayed with a sense of urgency: “God, if You are real, do something.”
The Philippine military was supposed to rescue hostage Martin Burnham. Instead, they shot him.
“I was immediately shot in the leg,” says Gracia Burnham, his wife, on a Huntley 100 video. “Martin was shot as well and just lay there. I could tell that gunshot wounds to the chest don’t heal. He was just kind of breathing loudly. Then he got very still.”
For a year, the Philippine military was pursuing the missionary couple’s kidnappers, the Muslim Abu Sayyaf rebels, through the sweltering jungles of the Philippines. They were aided by a tracking device sewn into a backpack that the CIA had managed to pass on to the squad’s leader.
Missionaries for 17 years, Gracia and Martin Burnham were on Palawan Island when M16-touting rebels, seeking a ransom to fund their guerilla war, broke down their door and pulled husband and wife out on May 11, 2001.
They were spirited away on a speed boat and taken to the jungles where they joined other hostages. For a year, the rebels dragged them over hills and through rivers, constantly on the move to avoid capture, in jungles filled with snakes, spiders and disease-bearing mosquitos.
Sometimes they ate; sometimes they went days at a time without eating. The Muslim militants forced Gracia to wear a hijab in observance of ancient Islamic customs. The jihadists prayed five times a day. On some days, they stayed hidden with no movement, leaving the missionaries bored. Other days they walked endlessly, always on the run. They collapsed exhausted at night.
As the ordeal dragged on, Gracia struggled with why God had permitted the trial.
“How long do you think this will last?” Gracia asked her husband.
Martin remembered certain European hostages that were rescued after six weeks.
Gracia fixated on “six weeks,” and unconsciously made it a timeline for God to rescue them.
When six weeks passed with no sign of rescue, she despaired and began to doubt God — not His existence or the terms of salvation but if He indeed cared for her and loved her.
After all, He hadn’t responded.
And that’s how an internal conflict erupted in the context of the greater conflict of the rebel war.
Inside her heart, there was a battle of faith.
Martin, the aviator missionary, encouraged his wife not to lose faith even in the most trying circumstances.
“You either believe all of it or you believe none of it,” he gently challenged her.
From then on, the couple encouraged each other with remembrances of verses from the Bible that stirred faith.
Added to the trial of faith about the goodness of God, Gracia observed that a weariness of the jungle grated her. During the day, they were either bored unendingly as the hid or were exhausted from trudging forward to evade being discovered by the Philippine military.
The night was filled with dangerous predators and sounds that filled the darkness. She wished for daylight to arrive.
But days were filled with heat, humidity, marching or hunkering down. Then she wished for nightfall.
“I felt like I was wishing my life away,” Gracia says.
One of the other hostages was beheaded, perhaps to speed up the hoped-for ransom money.
After a wearisome, worrisome year on the run during their captivity, Gracia eventually lost all hope and said her goodbyes to her husband on June 7, 2002.
He gently reminded her to keep faith alive. But it was a good thing she said her goodbyes.
When Mark DeYmaz took over a Kmart to open his thriving church of 500, he helped his budget by opening a for-profit coffee shop and renting space to a gym next door.
In an age of declining tithing, DeYmaz proposes churches get smart, abandon obsolete models and incorporate business savvy, not to get rich from the kingdom, but to multiply outreach.
“The more people joined our church — the homeless, the immigrant, the undocumented, the poor — it cost us money, DeYmaz says on a Vice News video. “We realized that if we were going to have effective ministry, we were going to have to have multiple streams of income.”
But don’t accuse him of upending the way church is done. Tithes and offerings were just one business model. DeYmaz is not condoning stingy Christians. He’s simply using his brain and God-given resources to maximize impact, he says.
His church, Mosaic, belongs to the new burst of millennial churches that project a certain image with their relaxed dress codes, untraditional interior decorating, and hipster pastors. They’re rethinking church to be relevant for the next generation.
Pew Research charts a declining number of Americans who call themselves Christians – 65% — 12% lower than a decade ago.
“Religion is less central to American life,” says Rebecca Glazier, professor of public affairs at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. “People are just not identifying with formal religious institutions and finding spiritual fulfillment through them the way that they used to in generations past.”
After he rounded the last bend on the river in a dugout canoe, Don Richardson saw 400 Sawi cannibals in remote New Guinea waiting, masked, and in full warpaint — with weapons in hand.
Honestly, he didn’t know if they had a welcoming feast for him or if he, his young wife and baby were the feast.
“Do we look good enough to eat?” he thought. “There was nothing to do but get out of the canoe and walk up on the shore. With Stephen in my arm, leading Carol, I walked and they closed in all around us so tightly, we could hardly move. Their eyes were gleaming with excitement, but they were totally silent as if waiting for a signal.”
Then the “signal” came, a shout: “Asa!”
“They all began leaping in the air, brandishing their weapons and shouting for joy, and they danced around us to the beat of their drums,” he remembers on a 100 Huntley Street video.
That was Don Richardson’s hair-raising introduction in 1962 into missions to unreached tribes. Don didn’t know the language, but apparently “Asa” didn’t mean “Let’s eat.”
Yes, the Sawi were savage headhunters with a taste for human flesh. But they had no intention of dining on the first white men to set foot in their region, the Southern swamplands of New Guinea. They had heard about such missionaries from neighboring tribes and how they brought medicine, steel tools and nylon fish lines to help.
Their jubilation that day was based on the recognition that help had finally come to their tribe. Little did they know that Richardson and his family brought not just tools and medicine; they brought Jesus.
Don had spent months in preparation for the day bringing his wife and child on the 10-hour canoe journey to the Sawi. He had built a home first. The tribesmen were accommodating and helpful.
But when he showed up with his wife and kid, he wondered: “Are these even the same friendly guys who helped me build my little house? Or are these hostile people that have replaced them and have something else in mind?”
The Sawi built “matchbox” structures 40 feet up in the trees, but Don built a small structure on supports in the ground.
“They’d been hearing for a couple of years very positive reports about unusually tall, unusually pale sickly-looking people called ‘Tuans.’ They’d been hoping that a Tuan would choose to come and live among them. They were eagerly welcoming us.”
The first order of business was to learn the language without any book, teacher or translator. He started by pointing at things hoping someone would tell him the word. But every time he pointed at different objects, they always said, “redig.” Eventually, he realized “redig” means “finger.” The Sawi don’t point with fingers; they point by puckering and aiming their lips.
The patient work led to establishing an alphabet and writing a New Testament.
“They didn’t know the language could be put in written form,” he says.
Not only were the Sawi cannibals and headhunters with no concept of law, judges and punishment, they also valued treachery.
“They thought Judas was a good guy,” Don remembers. “‘He’s a master of treachery,’ they said. ‘Don, that man named Judas has done us one better.’”
When he heard their admiration of Judas in the story of betraying Jesus, Don was taken aback.
“I sat among them praying, ‘Lord, help,’” he says. “‘I need a gift of wisdom here.’”
The chance to learn came when war broke out afresh among rival tribes. Arrows flew past his windows. People died outside his door as violence and revenge flared up continuously. To no avail, Don pleaded with the Sawi to make peace. But since they saw treachery as a virtue, no peace talks could be started; no one could trust anybody.
With unending carnage going on around, Don eventually threatened to leave the tribe. He would take his family and all the help he offered.
The tribe was upset. They had grown to love their Tuans and needed the medicines and tools. They thought of losing their prized missionary was too much to bear.
In the world of flying, there aren’t too many female commercial pilots. Even fewer are black female pilots.
According to Nigerian-born Miracle Izuchukwu, only one percent of pilots are female and black, so when she became a commercial pilot candidate, she celebrated by thanking God.
“Whoever it is praying for me, don’t stop, it’s working,” she wrote on social media. “I joined the elite group of 7% of females and 1% of black female pilots in the world. It’s exhilarating yet surreal feeling to introduce myself to the world as a pilot.”
Miracle is now 23. When she grew up, she wasn’t encouraged by her dad to dream big. When she talked to him about soaring the skies, he responded coldly: “If I get on a plane and see a woman as the pilot, I would get off the plane.”
By contrast, Miracle tells girls to not limit their dreams.
“What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender?” she wrote. “If it’s truly something you want to do, you need to create it for yourself.
The end of her running — the end of her very identity — came when Olympian Morolake Akinosun hit a wall at the end of a race in 2018 and ruptured her Achilles tendon.
“The Achilles is the strongest tendon in the human body, and you need it to do literally everything: walk, jump, crawl, climb stairs, stand up, sit down,” Morolake says on an I am Second video. “I had it surgically repaired but I was being told, ‘Hey, you might never be the same runner that you were ever again. This may be a career-ending injury for you.’”
What rescued Morolake was her spiritual community.
“For the first time I realized that I was surrounded by people who believed in me and not only did they believe in me, they believed that God had a plan for my life and that He was still going to be faithful through it all,” she says.
Morolake Akinosun was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to parents who were Christian pastors. The family immigrated to America when she was two years old, and she flourished at track and field at the University of Texas at Austin, where she won consistently.
“Every training cycle is about figuring out how can I break my body,” she says. “We push ourselves to the limit, breaking your body apart and coming back the next day and doing it over and over again.”
In prelims for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, her teammates dropped the baton in between the 2nd and 3rd leg of the relay race. Morolake, who stood waiting at the 4th spot, was stunned.
“In that moment I had that thought of like, ‘Wow, I’ve trained what feels like your whole life for a moment that now seemed to be gone and stripped from me within the blink of an eye,’” she remembers.
As it turns out, the American women’s team was allowed to re-run the qualifying race. In the final competition, they took gold.
But everything she trained for her entire life was stripped away when she crashed into the wall on that fateful day in 2018.
Angry thoughts ran through her mind toward God: I thought this is what I was supposed to be doing and if this is what I’m supposed to be doing then why did You take it away from me? she questioned. My identity was built in track and field. Read the rest: Morolake Akinosun Christian track starruptured her Achilles
To make kids laugh and to avoid making them nervous because of his disfigurement, Shilo Harris wears “elf ears” like Spock from Star Trek.
The prosthetic ears attach magnetically. He lost his ears — and the skin on 35% of his body — in Feb. 19, 2007 when, as a soldier, his Humvee was hit by an IED on patrol on a stretch of Southern Bagdad road so dangerous it was called “Metallica.”
The IED killed three other soldiers, wounded a fourth and sent Shilo into a 48-day coma. When he awoke from the coma, he endured years of surgery and rehab. The whole experience and the murky, painful time he spent in a coma, Shilo calls “hell.”
“It was the most scariest, most dark, creepiest thing,” Shilo says on a 100Huntley video. “Everything was sharp and painful. The helpless feeling. It had to have been Hell. That’s the way I interpreted it.”
Today, Shilo Harris is a Christian man who has drawn close to God because of his experiences. He’s written a book, Steel Will: My Journey through Hell to Become the Man I was Meant to be. He’s a motivational speaker in schools.
Shilo grew up in Coleman, Texas, working at a bait and tackle shop run by his dad, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from untreated PTSD.
When Shilo saw the Twin Towers fall in New York City, he felt the need to serve his country to fight the terrorists who had decimated civilians with no prior declaration of war. He found himself in the U.S. Calvary during the Iraq War.
The fateful explosion engulfed the Humvee with flames. He managed to escape the vehicle. His body armor, made of nylon and plastic, melted onto his body. His ammo pouch was on fire. He rolled on the ground to snuff the flames. How did his own ammo not erupt and perforate him with rounds?
“I guess you could say I was pretty fortunate on a couple of accounts that day,” he told NPR.
He woke up from a medically-induced 48-day coma. In addition to his ears, he lost three fingers and the tip of his nose. He had a fractured collarbone and vertebrae. Read the rest: Shilo Harris on beating suicide
Ed Mylett was still smarting from a humiliating performance at the basketball championship game earlier in the day. That evening, he was hitting line drives — his true love – into center field.
He was holding and swinging the bat flat and choppy like his hero, baseball legend Rod Carew, when he heard a voice from behind the backstop. “Who’s the little lefty? I like this kid’s swing.”
Ed glanced back. It was #29 himself, Rod Carew, MLB’s hitting maestro for 19 seasons. Ed was flabbergasted.
“Hey, kid, how would you like me to work with you and train you? Can you make it to my batting cages every Tuesday night?”
Wilting before his hero, Ed struggled to find the words. Yes, yes, yes. He would be there.
In the following months, Rod altruistically gave of himself and mentored 8th-grader Ed Mylett, as he did selflessly with hundreds of other talented young people throughout Southern California. Not only did he provide technical expertise, but he also spoke words of confidence into the kids’ lives.
Rod is a born-again Christian. His generosity eventually proved the Bible’s admonition, “Give, and it will be given you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)
One of those hundreds of kids saved Rod’s life, Ed says on his Aug. 24, 2017 Elite Training Library video.
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.
The Roe v. Wade movie available now on livestream is an intense, chilling and frustrating documentary about how a small cabal of liberal leaders harnessed the women’s movement and complicit media to ramrod abortion through the Supreme Court using fraudulent statistics and a demonization of Catholicism.
The movie’s narrator is Dr. Bernard Nathanson, portrayed compellingly by Nick Loeb, who was an abortionist in New York City at the forefront of the push to legalize abortion on demand. Dr. Nathanson in real life recanted his support for abortion after ultrasound allowed doctors to see the fetus struggle against the abortionists’ pincers. His 1984 video “The Silent Scream” put science to use in explaining his change of position.
“I knew all along life exists at conception,” Dr. Bernard says in the movie. “I’d taken part in over 70,000 abortions. I knew in my heart that what I was doing was wrong, and I lied. I lied to the world, I lied to God, I lied to me. But I kept on killing until I had the courage to face the absolute horror of what I was doing.”
Dr. Bernard decided to bear the torch for abortion after he paid for his girlfriend to “terminate” her pregnancy. He teamed up with Larry Lader, the so-called Father of Abortion in America. A “disciple” of Margaret Sanger, Lader crusaded unscrupulously to push through his atheistic agenda. Both Nathanson and Lader made millions through abortions and referrals.
The nearly two-hour movie is unrelenting. There’s hardly a light moment. This is understandable given the gargantuan devastation abortion has perpetrated in America. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, an estimated 64 million babies have been aborted. Every 30 seconds a baby is aborted. African American babies account for 40% of abortions. Planned Parenthood made $1.6 billion last year, according to statistics provided in the movie.
In one grim moment, Dr. Nathanson and Lader share a joke jingle from med school:
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.
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?’”
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
Dr. Lou Ortenzio derived satisfaction from serving his patients in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Maybe, he got too much satisfaction because he was working 16-hour days.
“I felt like I had to perform at such a high level, be 10 feet tall, bulletproof and faster than a speeding locomotive and trying to make your patients happy,” he says on a CBN video. “I did take good care of people, I really cared about them and they knew that I cared.”
Ironically, caring for others made him neglect his family and himself.
“My wife certainly never saw me. The children hardly knew who I was,” he says.
What drove him to unreasonable exertions?
“At my core I didn’t love myself,” he says. “I needed everyone else to love me to make me feel adequate.”
Inevitably, the life he built in the idyllic mountain town from 1982 onward began to crumble under the strain.
His wife took the kids, separated from him and moved to Pittsburgh. It was supposed to provoke a change in him and bring about a reconciliation. Instead, they divorced.
Lou didn’t know what to do, so he did the only thing he had ever done. He kept working beyond overtime.
One night working late hours, he felt an excruciating headache. Over the counter meds did nothing to alleviate the pain, so he reached for something stronger: Vicodin. Read the rest: God set him free from opioid addiction.
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.
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.
Just when doctors asked her family members if they could take her off life support and let the “lost cause” die, Lisa Martin woke up from a 40-day coma induced by Covid.
“God had other plans,” a Dec. 31 hospital statement says. “On the 11th day, Lisa broke out of the sedatives and began following Jeff with her eyes and she even moved her hand.”
Now Lisa, a 49-year-old mother of four, is being called a “miracle patient.” In all, she spent 59 days on a ventilator at Memorial Satillo Health in Georgia, including the induced coma. She suffered a frontal lobe stroke during the health ordeal.
When Lisa didn’t come out of the coma (her eyes were fixed), hospital staff approached the family October 20th and asked them to make the hardest decision of their lives: take Lisa off life support.
They held a family conference. Her youngest son was the last to speak and said, “We are not pulling that plug. I’m not ready to be without my mama.”
“They decided to give it 11 days before making a decision. That would have been the end of one month on the vent. Earlier in September, Lisa had created a living will with a ‘do not resuscitate.’”
But when the family was pressed for a decision, Lisa woke up. Today, she’s re-learning how to walk, talk, swallow and eat.
At age 12, Rachael Havupalo was lured into a compromising situation by two boys and raped. It was devastating.
“I felt like so dirty,” Rachael recounts on a CBN video. “I felt so defiled. And I felt like all the innocence that I ever had was taken from me. It crushed my heart. It broke my trust in men and of people.”
Eventually, the culprits were captured and punished. But this provided no solace for Rachael, who suffered internal agony.
At 14, she began cutting herself and picking up Gothic dress and lifestyle. She dabbled in Wicca and fantasized about death.
“On the inside I felt so dead and so numb,” she says. “I just really wanted to die.”
All through her teens and 20s, Rachael used drugs and did time in prison for her addiction.
At age 21, she had a little girl and became a single parent. She had a brief marriage that ended in divorce, then lost custody of her child.
Sadly, her response to the trauma was to self-medicate with meth.
“My heart was really broken,” says Rachael. “There was an emptiness that came that’s indescribable.”
One day, she visited a “friend,” who locked her in, drugged her with heroin and raped her for three days.
“Any amount of peace I had in my heart and any hope that I had of anything that would ever get better was completely taken away,” she says. “I was so terrified and I asked God, ‘Please, please God, don’t let me die.’” Read the rest: From medicating to missionary.
After dropping his family off at church, Chris Wright circled back to pick up a lady walking down the side of the road with a gas can that he had seen on his way to Sunday morning service.
“She was down on her luck,” Chris said on the Today Show. “She had only $ 5 in a purse and was worried about feeding her child. I filled her gas can and drove the woman back to her car. As I started to leave, I felt a nudge to give her what I had in my wallet $40.”
The act of kindness toward TunDe Hector came at her neediest moment, and tears welled up in her eyes.
Three years later, Chris’s mom suffered a life-threatening disease and was hospitalized. After days, she was released but needed a nurse’s aide to monitor her at home.
The nurse’s aide turned out to be the same woman he helped at the side of the road – TunDe. At first, Chris didn’t recognize her and TunDe didn’t recognize Chris because the day he popped by he was wearing sweatpants and a cap on backwards.
But they did get to talking, and TunDe found out that Chris attended Cornerstone Church in Athens, Georgia. That’s when she brightened and recounted the story of how “a young man” from that church had performed an act of kindness to her three years earlier.
“My jaw dropped,” Chris says.” I couldn’t believe it. I saw myself three years earlier being tugged to help a stranger.” Read the rest: What it means to be Christian?
Vivian Herrera worked out intensely. She wanted her ex to feel sorry for cheating on her. She called the results her “revenge body.”
She uploaded 10,000 sexy shots to Instagram, attended raves and did drugs every other weekend when her ex had custody of their baby. She also fought with him every chance she could.
Vivian didn’t really know God through her church upbringing. By 18, she picked up on the “law of attraction,” the New Age idea that positive thoughts bring positive results, and she was making good money as a saleswoman at LA Fitness in La Habra, CA.
“I was attracting all this stuff, but I was still empty,” she says on her Faith with Vivian channel.
As she grew more self-centered in the quest for money and adulation from boys, she lost all her friends from high school. “All I cared about was money and working out,” she admits. “They wanted nothing to do with me because I was so selfish.”
She fell in love, moved in with her boyfriend and had a child by him, but when he cheated on her, she reacted with volcanic anger.
“I got so mad guys. I went to his job, and I keyed his car,” she admits. “I threw all his stuff. I cursed him. I told him he deserves to go to hell.”
The purpose of her life was to make him regret his infidelity. She trained hard to get a sexy body for a bikini competition that would make him eat his heart out.
“I was getting my revenge body,” she says.
In her headlong plunge into sin she slept around, did drugs, and traveled to Las Vegas as often as possible to party. Instead of worrying about her baby daughter, she danced the night away at raves whenever her ex had their daughter.
“I was literally doing anything to numb the pain,” she says. “Living for money, weed, alcohol partying, concerts, it was pretty empty. My life really had no meaning at this point. I was literally just trying to forget the pain that I was in. I knew what I was doing was wrong.”
She had started going to church, but instead of “leaning in” on God in her time of crisis, she walked away from Him.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
I had been complaining on social media about the lawlessness of the rioters, and God was intersecting my self-righteousness with a contrary thought.
Ok, God, I thought, where can I get involved in at-risk neighborhoods in my city, Los Angeles? The door opened quickly to share a Bible study once a week at a half-way house just west of Downtown. I could leave my smug, self-affirming San Fernando Valley and get into the grit.
What started as a weekly study turned into friendships.
Then it went deeper. It became family.
Some church members and my business associates at World Financial Group, all pitching in with cooked items, threw the 16 guys at New Beginnings a full-on Thanksgiving Dinner.
Here are guys, many of whom have burned their bridges with their own family. So they aren’t invited to family gatherings. And the feel the absence acutely at family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I should know. I cried too when I was a missionary all alone with my wife in Guatemala the first year and we didn’t have anybody to celebrate with. God sent us a well-to-do Guatemalan family that went out of their way to invite us to Christmas dinner with their family. Gratitude welled up in my heart.
So when I saw my guys at New Beginnings, with Thanksgiving approaching, I knew what I had to do. God has blessed me, and so it was my turn to bless.
Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. When I suggested the project to my financial advisor business partners in the Woodland Hills office, everyone was eager to contribute. As my wife cooked the turkey, Sierra Rego mashed the potatoes, Herb Quick bought pies, Jamie got cider and Marie Carole — who’s from France — whipped up some ratatouille.
I didn’t even know that ratatouille was a traditional Thanksgiving dish. LOL.
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.
The reason why so many Saudis fill the ranks and leadership of terrorist organizations today is because teachers and preachers in Saudi Arabia praised the “holy war” of Muslims against non-Muslims in Afghanistan in the 1980s, says a convert to Christianity.
“A whole generation was brought up this way and taught to think this way,” says Nasser al’Qahtan. “Sadly the world is reaping the fruit for what we were taught when we were young.”
Nasser, who was born and raised on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, longed to die for Allah by waging jihad, and thus improving his chances of making it into Paradise. But along the way he converted to Christ and now exposes the diabolical beginnings of today’s world upheaval.
Nasser’s parents were opposed to the idea of their 12-year-old going to Pakistan for training and being smuggled into Afghanistan to fight the Russians, but many of his older friends did join jihad.
“God had other plans for me,” he says on a Your Living Manna video.
In the summer of 1990, Nasser plotted to run away and join jihad, but Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At the time, he was actually in the United States with his mother visiting relatives and the ensuing world chaos prevented him from leaving “this evil nation” of America.
Nasser hunkered down for the long haul, playing the role of the religious police with his younger siblings to make sure they still prayed and read the Koran. He didn’t want them to come under Satanic influences in America. Eventually, he worried about himself and eyed with suspicion the Americans around him.
“What was I going to do? I was surrounded by infidels. You either make a war against them or you try to bring them into Islam another way,” he says. “I thought Allah brought me here to evangelize them.”
Nasser’s English was very good and he thought his Islamic apologetics weren’t bad either.
“I began to tell everybody about Islam, my fellow students, my teachers, my neighbors, everybody I came into contact with,” he says. “I started to see some fruit. I started to see regular American people abandoning their prior beliefs and becoming Muslims. Some of them grew up in the church and they renounced Jesus. I thought I was fantastic.”
As he learned about American culture, he eventually perceived that born-again Christians were different than the rest of Americans (who he wrongly assumed to all be Christians), and he began to target them because he figured it would be easy for them to switch since they already lived clean lives.
One of those loving and clean-living Christians was a woman with whom Nasser fell in love.
“That was my undoing,” he admits.
Only after marrying Daisy did he begin to correct her beliefs about Jesus. She should no longer idolize Jesus, who was nothing more than just another of Allah’s prophets, he said. Mohammad was the main guy.
The pressure he put on her grew in time and caused great strain on their marriage, and even some Christian friends counseled her to divorce for being “unequally yoked,” a mistake she had made while being a nominal Christian.
But Daisy, pressured to evaluate her childhood faith, wound up affirming her relationship with Christ. Encouraged by an aunt who had been a missionary for decades in Brazil, she not only prayed for her husband but mobilized thousands of Christians in mega churches in North Texas to pray.
Those prayers began to take effect. Outwardly, her husband appeared secure in his beliefs, but inwardly he was struggling. He knew his sins were too great and the mountain of good works and prayers needed to offset them too much. He began to ponder again the easiest and most and most assured path to Paradise — jihad.
Finally, his wife ventured to invite him to church, which, out of curiosity, he accepted. His consciousness of his sin was so great that he concluded, “If I’m going to go to Hell, I might as well find out what they do in church.”
“I thought it was the most Satanic thing I had ever seen,” he says. “But I was so drawn to keep coming back by the love I felt there. Eventually he broke down and asked God for the truth.
“Immediately I had a vision. Everything before me was wiped away and I was transported to this rocky hill, looking down at this man who was so brutally beaten to the point of being unrecognizable,” he says. “He was being nailed to a cross. I knew this was Jesus.
“I watched as the cross was lifted up and He’s hanging there bleeding and struggling for breath. I’m looking Him in the eyes. He’s looking at me and through me. He sees all of my junk, the hidden things in my life. I feel this wave of shame.
“But he’s not looking at me with disgust, which is what I expected. He’s looking at me with this fierce love. As He’s fighting for every breath on the cross, He’s fighting with every breath for me.”
The darkness from all humanity was put on Him on the cross.
“The darkness wasn’t overcoming Him. He was overcoming it.”
Then Jesus said, “It is finished.”
“The reason I did this is that you and all the people that were meant to be my children were snatched away from Me, and you sold yourselves to other powers. To buy you back, this was the cost. This was the price that I paid for you Nasser.”
Not everything was beautiful in the new Miss America’s early life.
When Asya Branch was 10, her father was arrested at home for involvement with an armed robbery. Little Asya watched terrified from the car as her dad was hauled away.
“That day our lives changed forever,” Asya told the New York Daily News. “We had a beautiful home and a great life. When they found out that my father was in prison, people looked at us differently. That was a critical stage in my life and it ended up changing me. I felt this overwhelming shame.”
Three things ensued. Asya and her family lost their farm home as the bank foreclosed. She felt alone and abandoned. And she grew closer to Jesus.
“My father’s incarceration played an enormous role in my life and helped me develop characteristics I never imagined. It taught me responsibility at a young age and to count my blessings,” Asya said on Mississippi Pageant. “But most of all, it strengthened my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
Asya was born the sixth of eight siblings to her parents, living in Booneville, Mississippi at the time. Before stepping into a wayward life, her dad was a retired military veteran. Her mom was a teacher’s assistant. She was a gregarious kid who spent her days entertaining family members. If no one was around, she would bury herself in a book.
Asked what one book she would take to a deserted island, she answered unequivocally: “My Bible, not only for the quality reading but for inspiration and guidance in the circumstances in which I would find myself.”
A self-described “daddy’s girl,” Aysa said there was no one to help her through the trying times of losing her dad to the prison system. Her father, she says, had tried to help a drifter by taking him in. But that young man had committed an armed robbery, and for trying to help a needy soul, her daddy paid a high price.
“There were no resources nor advocates available for me,” she says. “People don’t recognize the hardships I have faced in my life because I have learned to be strong through my circumstance, keep a smile on my face and lean upon the Lord.” (Asya is advocating for prison reform and even spoke to President Trump about it.)
“I struggled with my self-worth and closed myself off, praying for answers about why this happened,” she wrote in Guideposts. “Maybe God is teaching me to be independent and grateful, I thought.”
Nick Vujicic assumed he might live life alone. He has no legs and no arms.
“I definitely had doubts that I would ever get married, that I would ever meet anyone who would ever love me and spend the rest of their life with me because I’m Prince Charming — with a couple bits and pieces missing,” Nick says.
Today, the Australian-born Christian motivational speaker is happily married to his Cinderella.
“We have gotten a lot of interesting reactions from people while we were dating, holding hands and walking side by side,” says Nick, now 34. “People would come up and cry and say, ‘Now I believe in love again.’”
Kanae Miyahara is a Mexican-Japanese who saw the Australian evangelist at a small speaking engagement in Texas. Nick’s appearance on the stage makes a sensation. Sometimes, he is carried in. Sometimes, he scuffles along the ground and hops up steps to a table, upon which he stands. He has a mere stub for a foot only.
With a mixture of self-deprecating humor, optimistic Bible preaching and non-stop enthusiasm the born-again evangelist leads sinners to Christ and Christians to a better attitude.
As he spoke in 2010 at the iconic Adriatica Bell Tower in McKinney, Nick spotted the exotic beauty in the audience and felt his heart throb. Would she — could she — feel the same?
Through friends, he arranged to talk with her and, playing it cool, managed to exchange emails.
Kanae was disillusioned with her prior dating experiences.
“Because I have dated other guys, I always went for the physical and I got tired of that,” she says on YouTube. “When I met Nick I was looking for other things, I found all those things in him. I was like wow, he’s not just boyfriend material, he could be my husband.”
So when she met Nick, she wasn’t necessarily looking for physical attributes — at least not arms and legs.
“The moment I saw his smile and his eyes, I thought to myself, oh my gosh, he’s so handsome. He’s my Prince charming. He may not be perfect on the exterior but he’s a perfect match for me.”
Nick was born to Serbian immigrants in Australia with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs. When the nurse showed Dušanka and Borislav Vujičić their baby, the couple went outside the hospital to vomit.
Eventually, they accepted Nick as he was. They brought him home and raised him to love God and never make excuses but to learn to do everything by himself, as much as possible. Hence, he went to school, played ball and made friends like everyone else.
“My parents always taught me we have a choice to either be angry for what we don’t have or to be grateful for what we do have,” he says. “The power of choice. I had to decide for myself, especially in the early years in school when a lot of kids would come up to me and tease me.
“The world is a hurting place. The world needs hope. The world needs love,” he says. “Without hope, we feel like, why are we here?”
Nick graduated from Griffith University at the age of 21 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a double major in accounting and financial planning.
In 2005, Vujicic founded Life Without Limbs, an international non-profit organization and ministry. In 2007, he founded the motivational speaking company Attitude is Altitude. He has preached for mega church pastor Greg Laurie and around the world to more than 4 million people. In 2008, he moved to California.
Nick doesn’t let anything hold him back. He swims, cooks, skydives and surfs.
The night he met Kanae was “electric,” Nick says. “When she stood by me it just felt right.”
Nick proposed on a yacht in Santa Barbara. He even put the ring on her finger — with his mouth. She wasn’t expecting it, and he began by kissing her hand. With great dexterity, he managed to slip on the gold band. Read the rest: Nick Vujicic wife
Curtis “Earthquake” Kelley was formerly a high-ranking witch, so he brings a wealth of counter-intelligence to Christianity — and what he finds is that most Christians are abysmally ignorant of their enemy’s strategy.
“Since I was in that dark stuff, God told me to bring that information to the table,” says the seventh-born heir to a dark legacy of priestly power in Haitian voodoo.
Today, Curtis, 64, uses his honorary doctoral degree to teach Christians the mechanics of deliverance from demonic oppression, from physical sickness to entanglements with sin. He travels internationally and gives classes over Zoom — “not just a whole lot of hollering and hooping. We need an understanding of God’s word for knowing how to fight these hobgoblins.“
Call it Deliverance 101.
Twenty years ago, Curtis taught Deliverance at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Today, he is pursuing a goal of launching Schools of Deliverance in every major U.S. city.
“The enemy doesn’t want the body of Christ to be educated about what he does and who he moves,” Curtis told God Reports. “Deliverance is not a 40-yard dash. It’s an 880 run. It may take a little while to get around the track and learn these things. A lot of people give up because of their lack of knowledge. The church is not taught how to fight.”
Born to a Haitian immigrant family in New York, Curtis was heir to the family’s legacy in witchcraft because he was seventh born. He learned casting spells, astral projection, séance pronouncements and client manipulation, but when he saw demons coming in and out of his floor — and especially after a drug-induced dip in Hell — Curtis decided he wanted out.
He grudgingly attended church, and on the third day of revival in December of 1971 the evangelist called him out: “Young man, God wants to save you. God says, ‘I love you. I want to save you,’” Curtis remembers. “I didn’t want nothing to do with the church because I thought they were weak. But when I heard God loved me, I went up to the altar.”
Among the things he’s done through the intervening years, Curtis got into boxing. He was a good bare-knuckle fight club brawler and caught the eye of promoter Don King, who fronted him as a super heavy weight boxer along with Mike Tyson, who was heavyweight category, Curtis says.
He met with some success — in the shadow of Tyson — but a head-on car collision in 1986 abruptly ended his foray in the sport.
Curtis got into ministry. He was holding a drug-rehab program at a Los Angeles church in the early 1990s when a well-dressed participant — husband and wife — caught his eyes.
“You don’t look like you have any problems with drugs,” Curtis approached him at an opportune moment.
“Oh no,” the man responded. “We’re here for our son. Our son is strung out real bad.”
With the knowledge he gained, that man helped his son break free from drugs. Today, that son is a successful engineer, Curtis says.
It turns out, the man was a professor at USC and spoke to the Dean to get Curtis in to teaching a class — Deliverance and Demonology — for one semester. There were always 5 or 6 kids out of the 50-student class who hung out after class wanting to know more. Read the rest: Earthquake Kelley’s Schools of Deliverance.
Police-bashing with the rant of “systemic racism” is only hurting the black community, according to an African American police chief on the East Coast, who asked that his name not be used for fear of being fired.
“When you say policing is systemically racist, you are hurting the poorest communities because the police pull back and then violent crime rises,” he says.
“That’s what we’re seeing happening in New York, Chicago, Austin and across the county. Poor people die, the disadvantaged people who live in these communities,” he adds. “They did a recent survey and blacks in these neighborhoods want more police, not less. It’s whites from middle neighborhoods who make up about half of Black Lives Matter that want to defund police.”
Black cops are taking a lot of heat from Black Lives Matter, the organization with Marxist leadership that maintains they are fighting for racial equality. They’re portrayed by BLM as sellouts worthy of double reviling. He’s not sympathetic to BLM, which appears to support Marxism and promote African-style witchcraft.
“Am I on the side of Marxist anarchists? No,” he says. “I’m on the side of law and order and Christianity.”
Growing up in a middle class home in New England, he became a Christian after attending a Vacation Bible School as a pre-teen.
In 7th grade, he was first introduced to an environmental police officer at his school’s career day. He was impressed the game warden was armed.
“That got the wheels turning,” he says
About a year later, he joined a branch of the Boy Scouts called Law Enforcement Explorers and realized that he wanted a career in the police department.
He also liked being a school safety monitor. Among other things, he gathered up stray 5th graders after recess when they were skating on the frozen pond across the street from the school and forgot to go back to class.
“The first badge I carried was a school safety patrol in the fifth grade,” he says. “It was great opportunity to serving and protecting in the fifth graders”
Then in the seventh grade, his teacher sent a classroom “hoodlum” to the principal’s office and picked the future cop to escort him. It was his first taste of taking a suspect in.
Cassenda Nelson often spent the day crying in her truck because she didn’t want to be reminded of the brutal murder of her mom and aunt in her home.
In August 2017, Cassa’s mother, Frances Nelson, and her aunt, Mamie Childs, were murdered in an alleged domestic violence dispute.
“My mom and my aunt were murdered in front of my children at her home,” Cassa reports. “My mom was someone I could go and talk to about anything. It felt like something was ripped out of me. How do you bounce back from being in that place of so much despair?”
Life became unbearable.
“I lost all hope. I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I didn’t want to see sunlight,” Cassa recounts on a Billy Graham video. “My plan was to take a whole bunch of pills to commit suicide.”
Then barely over a year later on Oct. 9, 2018, Hurricane Michael swept through her town with blockbuster Category 5 ferocity and tore up houses, knocked over trees and left the town a shambles.
Cassa’s home was also damaged.
“I’m standing here at the door watching this storm, and I’m saying, ‘Oh my God. When am I going to get a break?’” Cassa remembers. “I lost the most important people that would have been right here with me.” Read the rest: Hope in a hug for Cassenda Nelson
By the time your church re-opens following the Covid crisis, as many as one in five members won’t return, according to one analyst.
Church dynamics expert Thom Rainer told Baptist Press that the recent global pandemic is revealing the true colors of church members.
That means a church of 200 will be a church of 160 after restrictions lift.
Many churches went online when health officials banned large gatherings as hot points for contagion. They resorted to Zoom Bible studies and live-streaming their worship services on YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook and the like.
While online has the advantage of convenience (no drive to church, and if you want you can wear your jammies), it lacks the human touch of a handshake, hug or affirmation that is also an important part of the service.
While introverts probably liked avoiding the social demands, there are others who may also find it easier to drop out.
Rainer describes several categories of believers who will probably not return to church:
The declining-attendance Christian: If their faithfulness to regular services was already waning, Covid only hastened their demise. Now completely overtaken by inertia, they won’t likely return Sunday mornings unless some drastic jumpstart revives them.
The loosely-connected member: The person who didn’t want to get involved in a small group and develop lasting bonds of friendship and was only a Sunday apparition is likely to continue their stay-at-home habits.
Conversely, the person who has strong friendships developed in community will want to be with his or her friends and will show up as soon as the doors open.
The just-another-activity Christian: The soccer mom whose calendar is chock full of commitments might find the relief from Sunday morning obligations a welcome change.
The critical attendee: The person who was constantly carping, finding fault, and complaining will probably not be returning to services. Read the rest: Church after Covid.
Posted onAugust 27, 2020|Comments Off on Fear of God clothing brand founder really does fear God
Jerry Lorenzo was supposed to give his $100 sneakers to 100 influencers around the nation to promote the brand in October 2016, but instead he decided hand them out to the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles.
“I work in Downtown LA and we pass the homeless people sleeping in tents and sleeping bags as we come into work every day,” Jerry says on Fast Company. “We were in a position to give and were ignoring these people that are around us. I just told my staff, ‘We’re going to pack up all these shoes and clothing and give it to people who need it.’ If I’m in a position to give, how dare I give it to someone that doesn’t need it?”
Jerry’s charity that day totaled more than $10,000. But Jerry is a born-again Christian and understands that high-end fashion and fame are ephemeral; only what’s done for Jesus is eternal.
“I’m a Christian, and I love God with all my heart,” he says.
His brand — Fear of God, which he says is cool, not corny, because it counters a lot of dark, empty religious symbolism in fashion — produces street luxury garments that have caught the eye of Kanye West, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber and Travis Scott. His Desert Storm-inspired tennies sold for $1,100.
“The idea for my brand came one day when I was reading a devotion that talked about clouds and darkness around the Kingdom of God. It talked about the layers to Him. For the first time in my mind, God was really cool. He was a dark image in my mind, not in a demonic way, just dark in terms of the layers and depth to him — the kind of figure that is beyond our understanding.
“When you’re at peace with God, there’s a fear of God that’s a reverence. On the flip side, when you don’t know God, there’s a literal fear. I wanted my brand’s name to play on these two different meanings. If people dig deeper with this brand, they can find truth.”
Jerry Lorenzo came to Los Angeles to finish grad school. Being out from under his parents’ covering, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery, ditched his Christian upbringing and sampled the party life in Hollywood. He made lots of friends and supplemented his own income by staging his own parties. At the time, there were either black/ hip hop scenes or white/techno. Jerry fused the two and created his own space.
“It was through the night life that I really began to understand the power of my own influence here in Los Angeles,” he says on a “Now with Natalie” video on the Hillsong YouTube channel. “I had the ability to get people out of their homes five nights a week. I had the ability to influence fashion trends. I saw that I would wear something and people would start to dress like me.”
After eight years in the party scene, he realized he could launch a successful fashion brand.
“I enjoyed the partying. It was fun,” Jerry admits. “Yes, I had my own battles with my convictions, but we are as much human as we are spirit. But as my faith started to grow, I realized that I was not only in the wrong circles but that I was the creator of this platform. I was bringing the alcohol sponsor and the women. It was a heavy realization.
“Being from a Christian home, you think you know what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “I thought I was doing a good job juggling the two. But it got to the point where God said, ‘That’s enough. I have something for you to do and you either do this or you live this other life.’”
His party scene was THE place to be seen in L.A. and have significance.
“But as I grew in Christ and grew spiritually, I realized how insignificant this platform was that we had made,” Jerry admits. “I was fearful that my personal significance would be tied up with something as empty to that.”
He was coming to the end of himself, squandering his resources in his own plan to the exclusion of God.
“I just fell on my face and realized that I can’t do anything without God and that He is the source of anything good and positive in my life,” he says. “If I needed anything, it was to seek Him and not promote myself. Once the blinders were off and I saw if for what it was, I knew that wasn’t the place for me.” Read the rest:Jerry Lorenzo Fear of God clothing Christian.
First 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.
The 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.
“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.
There’s an army of unseen, anonymous prayer warriors backing up President Trump during the COVID crisis, which possibly accounts for his popularity and success in spite of the apparent hostile mass media and entrenched intelligentsia.
“Dear Lord please heal our nation and protect our President so that he can serve a second term and lead our land,” Grandma CJ wrote on President Trump’s Facebook Prayer Team page.
CJ joined a hailstorm of enthusiastic comments in response to photos showing pastors praying for Trump. The post read simply, “I’m praying for my president. You too?”
After 13 hours, the Facebook post had gathered 1,200 thumbs-up or hearts, 203 shares and 294 comments. It wasn’t viral, but it was a strong signal of support.
The interaction suggests hordes of praying people undergirding President Trump with much more than just their votes. They’re standing up for Christian pro-life values and bending their knees in repentance, asking the Father to bring healing to a hurting nation and world.
It is hard to estimate how many people across America are actively and earnestly praying for the president – especially during the current crisis.
One survey indicates that posts often get four times the exposure you may think. In other words, Facebook users who thought a post was seen by 20 friends was actually seen by 80. If this rule applies, this innocuous call for prayer for the president may have reverberated through tens of thousands.
Another important metric is the criticism leveled by anti-Trumpers who allege Facebook “threw” the election to Trump, blaming nefarious Russian bot plots.
But the fact of the matter is that while poll after poll predicted a certain Clinton win, posts on Facebook were frequently in favor of Trump. It seemed that Christians, who are ignored by traditional media, were resorting to social media to voice their frustrations.
The upshot? What gets posted on Facebook reveals a behemoth. So it’s not far-fetched to conjecture that there are literally millions of American Christians praying for the president.
It’s no secret that the traditional media outlets hate Trump. Some outright vilify him daily, filling news columns with controversies, even to the point of making them up. Early in his presidency, it was claimed First Lady Melania didn’t want to hold his hand after a camera recorded her rebuffing his gesture of affection. Whole articles were confabulated speculating that their marriage was on the rocks. Four years later, Melania is still by his side. Read the rest: Pray for Trump.
Some of them walked 10 days to cross the border into Colombia in search of food or medical supplies they could take back to socialism-starved Venezuela.
Johnny Huerta and a team of six doctors, eight nurses and 24 other volunteers were in Cucuta, Colombia, on a temporary medical and feeding mission to show the love of Christ in a tangible way.
“We were swarmed by people,” said Johnny, who’s a painter and baseball player from Santa Monica. “They were grabbing us, grabbing us, like, ‘Pray for me. Pray for me.’”
The pleas for prayers grew to a fevered pitch after some miraculous healings and exorcisms, Johnny says.
The Lighthouse Medical Mission, which got its start 25 years ago in war-torn West Africa, landed on the border of Venezuela on March 7th — before most of the U.S. got locked down over Coronavirus fears. The humanitarian crisis of 40,000 daily border crossings there has been essentially eclipsed.
The Santa Monica-based team provided medical attention and drugs and handed out 3,000 meals a day in conjunction with World Central Kitchen in three areas: in Cucuta, in a Yukpa village on the outskirts of town and in nearby Pamplona. The 39 people divided up in teams to minister in each area.
Johnny Huerta shares fun with the kids.
Johnny was assigned logistics, took pictures, but mostly got roped into translation. The stories he heard of dead family members and left-behind family members appalled him as well as the squalor he witnessed. In the Yukpa village, there were no bathrooms and people lived in huts fashioned with tree limbs and plastic tarp.
“People can live with little and still be happy, but this was not healthy,” Johnny says. “They bathe in an unsanitary river, and that’s why they get lots of infections. They also drink out of that river.
“They have makeshift huts built out of garbage. Babies are walking around naked. They pretty much have nothing. It was one of those shocking situations where you say, ‘Wow people are waking up and living like this every day with unhealthy conditions.’”
The team brought two chefs, but they were prevented from serving until they scrambled to obtain Columbia food preparation licenses.
When they arrived at the border on the first day, “we weren’t sure how they were going to respond as we got out of the van to serve the food,” Johnny says. “They were desperate for food and outnumbered us. Immediately they ran over and we tried to get them in a line, which eventually became a crowd.
“As we tried to transport apples from the back of the van to the food serving area they began to crowd the back of the van as well. We ended up handing out the apples from the van as we were never gonna get through. The next couple of times we fed at the border we organized police protection in advance and were a bit more organized. Even then it was still a bit chaotic.”
Short-term missions are highly recommended because they can impact American church-goers forever: they broaden horizons, impart vision and erode entitlement.
“I was just thankful they gave me the privilege of being able to go with me,” Johnny says. “You feel like you get more out than you put into it. I’m more mature in my faith and in my life than I was before.”
As busy as he was being pulled this way and that, Johnny still found time to share his passion for painting with the kids. It was a personal connection he’ll treasure for life.
In Pamplona, the team attended 3,000 patients.
Many people are losing their eyesight because of rampant infections, Johnny says.
While the doctors saw patients, the pastors and lay leaders were praying for people, many of whom got healed even before they received medical attention, Johnny says.
That’s when they started getting swarmed.
Because witchcraft is widely practiced in the region, several people were delivered from demonic spirits, Johnny says.
“One lady was released from demon possession. She looked super oppressed beforehand and was all smiles afterward,” Johnny says. “They practice witchcraft and spiritism because of their circumstances. They’re reaching out for help. But when we came to them with the gospel, they were open.” Read the rest: Venezuelan refugees Christian response
As a Muslim, Khaleed Matmati was skeptical that Jesus would take away the pain from his mouth infection. But after prayer he was so astonished that the pain was gone the next morning.
“I started punching myself in my face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and my face,” Khaleed says on a CBN video. “I realized Jesus was God. I just told Him, ‘Okay, Jesus, I give you my life.’”
Khaleed grew up as a Muslim immigrant who wasn’t particularly drawn to the rigorous disciplines of Islam. What drew him was music.
“I always believed that Allah was God,” he says. “But growing up in high school I wanted to have fun. I saw everybody else having fun. What’s fun about not smoking pot? What’s fun about not drinking? What’s fun about not partying? I thought, ‘Later on when I become a parent and have children, then I’ll be a good Muslim.’”
When worship leader Eddie James met Khaleed, the Lord spoke to him about taking Khaleed on the road with him. Even though Khaleed wasn’t Christian, Eddie James hired him because God had told him that Khaleed would convert.
“It was right after 9/11 had happened, and Eddie was not trying to take no Muslim into his ministry,” Khaleed says now laughing.
Khaleed didn’t care for the religion. What he liked was the chance to learn music. ”I thought this was my big break,” he says. “I wanted to learn what I could from Eddie and go and do my own thing.”
His initial sign from God was on his first stop in Nashville Tennessee.
It started off with his friend David, who got bitten by a bug, which later began to swell.
They were staying in a Christian’s house and the mother of the household announced she would pray for David.
“This lady has gotta be out of her mind,” Khaleed thought to himself at the time. “Jesus healing a hand? That’s the stuff they do on TV. Who believes that crap?”
She prayed, and then — to Khaleed’s astonishment — the swelling went down.
“Right in front of my face, the swelling goes away,” Khaleed remembers. “You couldn’t even tell anything was wrong with his hand.”
After he saw that, Khaleed wondered if he himself could be healed. He had been experiencing pain due to an infection in his mouth and gums.
“Can you do for my mouth what I saw you do for his hand?” he asked.
“When she started praying for me, the pain was gone,” he recalls. “I needed a minute to comes to grips with what just happened. I remember sitting in the chair after she prayed for me thinking, ‘Oh my God, my whole life is going to change.’”
Still, Khaleed was not ready to ditch Islam. So he thought that perhaps the painkillers he’d been taking had finally kicked in. They asked him if he was healed. He responded: “Let me tell you in the morning” after the painkillers will have worn off.
The next morning, he woke up and began munching sugar molasses cookies. As he savored them, he swished them around in his mouth trying to re-provoke the pain.
“There was absolutely no pain,” he says. “I began to really start freaking out. I began to start punching myself in the face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and in my mouth. I realized that Jesus was God. Read the rest: what happens when Muslims get healed by Jesus?
Bryann 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 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.”
The 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
All the praying to Allah did little good for Jazal Khatri, whose parents fought contiually and finally divorced.
But when a co-worker’s prayers calmed her panic attack, Jazal experienced a peace never before felt.
“I can no longer think that I’m worthless because if my name is written on God’s hand, as Isaiah 49 mentions, that means He always cares about me,” says Jazal on a 700 Club video. “
Jazal (now with a new last name, Osorio, as a married woman) grew up in a strict Muslim family in America.
“I believed that staying true to Islam was something my parents and I would bond over,” she says. “As I did as they requested me to do — like going to the mosque with them, participating in Ramadan fasting — it would bring us closer.”
The hoped-for result never materialized. Instead, she and her mom would flee at midnight frequently.
“I could go to bed thinking everything’s fine and wake up the next morning and it would be disaster,” she says.
And Allah responded with no peace when she prayed.
“Allah seemed really distant for me. I didn’t really feel like I was being listened to. I felt more of like I was going through the motions. I was not really feeling anything in return from god, any love or support or hope. I wanted.
“I wanted that peace that people keep talking about that Islam represents and I didn’t ever feel that.”
When she was a senior in high school, her father called it quits to the tumultuous marriage. Subsequently, mom started a new family.
“After I went through all that with my family, I kind of felt like I wasn’t worthy of any affection or love,” she recounts. “I looked for it from my parents and didn’t get it. It was kind of a reminder: Hey Jazal, you’re not that great. If you were great, your family wouldn’t have left you behind.” Read the rest: no peace in the ‘religion of peace.’
Samuel’s mother prayed but couldn’t get pregnant. So when Samuel was conceived, he was her miracle child.
Growing up in a Christian household in Fort Myers, Florida,, little Samuel Jordan III dreamed of becoming a pastor.
But at eight years old, he was sexually abused by a friend’s family member.
“He starts saying things like ‘We’re just acting, I’m gonna be the man, you’re gonna be the woman,’” says Samuel. “The innocence that I carried as a little boy that loved Jesus, I really felt like that got snatched away from me,” he recounts on a 700 Club video.
Samuel didn’t tell his mom about the first traumatic abuse. It happened again, followed by more violations.
Perversely, Samuel began to enjoy the sin and seek it regularly.
By age 14, he was exploring homosexuality on his own with friends from school.
Meanwhile, feelings of guilt and shame troubled him at church.
“I asked God, ‘Whatever this feeling is, I need you to take this out of me,’” Samuel recalls. But “it seemed every time I prayed, nothing really changed.”
The routine of secret sin got upended when mom discovered an explicit note in his backpack. She was shocked and decided to take a radical stand of tough love: to cut off her relationship with her son.
“My relationship with her at that moment took a shift. She told me, ‘If this is how you’re gonna live, I can’t talk to you.’” Samuel remembers, crying. ”I was like her blessing, but I became her curse, and she could no longer look at me.”
In hopes to restore his relationship with his mom, he halted the promiscuity.
He never could patch things up with his mother. She died of cancer after two years of broken communication with her son.
“I felt like that last piece of me had left the earth,” he says. “There was a hollowness in my heart and Samuel was gone.”
Then his father moved in with another woman and Samuel was left on his own.
With no one around to support him, Samuel gravitated back towards the life of sin and found acceptance in the gay community.
“I really hated Samuel. He wasn’t accepted, Samuel was disowned, Samuel was alone,” he continues. “So when I finally saw (the gay) lifestyle and found a sense for belonging, I went for it.”
Samuel changed his name to Simone and lived as a transgender and got breast implants.
He even worked as an escort.
“Simone was that person that got the level of affirmation and love and acceptance that Samuel never got,” Samuel states.
At the same time, he wrestled with guilt and shame.
“Though I had become this person, I didn’t know who I was looking at,” Samuel recalls. “I just felt like my inside who I really was, was now being destroyed.”
After he dropped out of Tallahassee Community College, he moved back to Fort Myers into the home of a family friend who took him on the condition that he go to church with her.
He wasn’t altogether turned off by the idea of going to church. He felt very lost and hoped to find some direction.
As he listened to the worship, he felt a new sensation coming over him.
First he staged a prom for special needs people at his church. Now, he’s opened a coffee shop staffed by special needs employees.
Retired Pastor Brewster McLeod of Lexington, Kentucky, opened McLeod’s Coffee House in 2019. The coffee shop is a non profit with 50 employees who happen to have autism and developmental disabilities.
“They got joy, they got heart, they want to work,” McLeod said.
The purpose for the special coffee house is twofold: to give an income to people who might find it hard to get another job, AND to sensitize regular folk to their needs.
“If Down syndrome or special needs make you nervous,” McLeod says, “you probably need to come in here and relax and just treat them like anyone else.”
Megan Gaines, 29, works the cash register. She was born with spina bifida, which paralyzes her from the waist down.
“I’m exactly like anybody else. I can do the same things you can do. I just may do things differently,” Megan says. “We still want to have friends, we still want to do things, we still want to go out and hang out with our friends, and just do normal stuff.”
Working at McLeod’s Coffee has brought joy and safety to the 50 employees, whom McLeod calls “VIPs.” They wear super hero T-shirts to work as part of their uniform. McLeod says they’re “handi-capable.” Some are greeters, others baristas, others work the cash register.
McLeod was pastor of the Southland Christian Church in Lexington for 40 years. Since 2000, he’s ministered specifically to people with special needs. He held a “Jesus prom” for people with special needs because they felt excluded from regular Cinderella-like events. Read the rest: special needs employees coffee shop.