Category Archives: Christian testimony

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

On an unexceptional Tuesday in 2012, Katy Faust finally snapped and could no longer stay silent. Then-president Obama announced the “evolution” in his thinking to support gay marriage and the media immediately branded anyone with contrary concerns as “bigoted.”

She launched an anonymous blog facetiously called “Ask the Bigot.”

Katy’s parents split when she was 10. Her father dated and remarried and her mother partnered with another woman. Being raised with a foot in both of their resulting households gave her a love for the LGBT community but also an understanding of the fallout for children when family breaks down. While she remained connected to her father, some children with lesbian parents were not so fortunate, such as her friend Brandi Walton:

“I yearned for the affection that my friends received from their dads. As far as I was concerned, I already had one mother; I did not need another. My grandfathers and uncles did the best they could when it came to spending time with me and doing all the daddy-daughter stuff, but it was not the same as having a full-time father, and I knew it. It always felt secondhand.”

After being “outed” from her anonymous blog by a gay activist, Katy Faust decided to stand up to cancel culture and co-wrote a book under her own name, Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement. Kids are getting the short stick in the political football of catering to adults’ whims, it says. (Them meaning “children” before us “adults.”)

The activist who “outed” her from her anonymous blog actually emboldened her to find her voice and speak out unafraid.

In all the hype of “marriage equality” with its mantra that kids only need two supportive parents regardless of their gender, no one is asking kids what they think. Decades of data from sociological research tell us what kids need, but in the rush to embrace “forward thinking,” true social science is being ignored and kids will suffer, Katy says.

Many LBGTQ couples claim they have a right to children and a right to parenthood, even if forming their families violate the right of children to be known and loved by their own mother and father. We’re catering to adults’ desires and forgetting about children’s needs, Faust says.

As a child of divorced parents, neither of whom were particularly religious, Katy Faust did not grow up in a Christian world.

But then Katy got saved in high school and married a pastor. After working in youth ministry with kids who suffered from mother and father loss, and recording the stories of children of divorce, those with same-sex parents, and children created through reproductive technologies, she realized that:

Biology matters.
Gender is not a social construct.
Marriage is a safe space for children and should not be redefined.
Same-sex couples don’t and can’t attend to every need of their kids.

“Whenever you see a picture of a kid with same-sex parents, you’re looking at a picture of a child missing a parent,” Katy writes. “No matter how well-heeled, educated, or exceptional at mothering or fathering the moms or dads may be, they’re incapable of providing the gender-specific parenting and biological identity exclusive to the parent missing from the picture. Read the rest: same-sex parents don’t and can’t give best outcomes to children.

Hip replacement? Nah. God healed him.

As he lay on the floor from a sudden and unexplainable fall, John Hawkins shuddered, pondering the implications. There had been no obstacle to trip on. He had simply collapsed.

“it scared me to death because I didn’t trip on anything,’ the retired carpenter-turned-pastor says on a 700 Club video. “My hip just gave out. I didn’t understand why.”

John was 60. An orthopedic specialist said a tendon in his hip was gone and bone was grinding against bone, generating extreme pain. He would need surgery. But he didn’t like what he read about alloy hip replacement recalls. (Surgeons now use plastic.)

“I’m too young to be acting like I’m 89,” the retired carpenter-turned-pastor says on a 700 Club video. “I couldn’t move, and I didn’t like it.

John started using a cane and needed help from his wife, Rose, to put on his shoes and get in and out of the tub. The pain was so bad that most of the time he just wanted to stay home, feeling miserable.

“I’ve always been active, and I liked to work. I worked with my hands,” he says. “My mom was a good example of work and a lot of good work ethic in my family. Everybody worked all their life, always worked for what you want.”

Eventually, he realized he needed to pray for a healing.

“It felt so bad, I didn’t want to move. I was angry real quick,” John says. Read the rest: Instead of a hip replacement, God outright healed him.

Ministry in tech: James Kelly and Christian hackathons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff’s initiative is going to find out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For his first crime, Curtis Carroll was congratulated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon censors, pushes political agenda

Amazon, which once prided itself for offering a “diversity of ideas” in its books, dumped Christian books about homosexuality in July, including a carefully worded account of Anne Paulk about leaving lesbianism, according to Stream.

“These are perilous times for free speech and religious expression in America,” Paulk says. “But Restored Hope Network remains committed to speaking the truth in love to the culture about God’s design for sexuality. Among many in this current generation, there is no longer room for a diversity of belief systems.”

The move by Amazon to silence those who offer hope for people who want to leave homosexuality is part of a broader movement in technology in recent months to censor and “cancel” Bible-adhering Christianity. Silicon Valley, which by and large adopts values from nearby free-wheeling San Francisco, became the force, in the view of some tech observers, that threw the election to transgender-promoting Joseph Biden.

At the center of the Amazon censorship is Anne Paulk, no stranger to secular furor. Her husband, John Paulk, went from being ex-gay to ex-Christian and found himself heralded as a hero by the media. John walked out on Anne and their three children after tripping in temptation.

“My husband [began] stumbling instead of fighting well with his sin struggle,” Anne says on Ministry Watch. “He’d cover it up and hide. So at that point it became multiple situations like that. We had already moved back to Portland, Oregon, where we have family, and he eventually was no longer repentant. Our marriage broke up in 2013, which has been a point of grief. I never, of course, envisioned divorce as a possibility. So it’s a difficult process of grief to walk through.”

Gay exit psychologist Joseph Nicolosi Sr. and counselor Joe Dallas were also deplatformed by the monolithic online sales platform.

“Our mission is to restore hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, particularly those impacted by homosexuality,” Anne Paulk says. +We do that through the Christian faith — the life-changing power and incredible love of Jesus Christ. It’s not about shaming, coercion, or anything else. It’s about joy and peace and resolution of things that have troubled people.

“My book titled Restoring Sexual Identity is designed to help women who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction and want to leave homosexuality,” she says. “When I wrote it several years ago, I took exceptional care for the tone to be understanding and compassionate.”

Paulk founded Restored Hope Network on the heels of the shutdown of Exodus International, a ministry to help gay people that folded in 2012 when the president decided that gay people couldn’t or shouldn’t try to overcome their temptations. At that time, the media ballyhooed the closing of Exodus International and featured stories about a slew of leaders who fell back into sin.

But if the symphony of secularism schemed for the demise of the ex-gay movement, they must have been dismayed to see a phoenix rise from the ashes. It turns out that a lot of leaders from Exodus just moved over to Restored Hope.

Restored Hope now comprises about 60 affiliates all across the United States which vary widely from “small groups to quite large ones” and minister to thousands of people each year. More than 4,000 teens have gone through an on-line program, Paulk says.

“We have a very strong board of directors. They’re active. We have monthly meetings. They’re about an hour and a half long. It’s a very active board,” Paulk says. “We have two retreats in person. So the oversight is very strong. We are very connected to the local ministries. In fact, they’re the ones who put a name out for the board of directors. The board of directors has all authority to remove the executive—that’s me—from the position. We don’t want to do, minimally, what [Exodus] got wrong, which was little to no oversight of the board of directors.”

If her ministry was born under fire, her desire to help others found its impetus in her personal experience.

“I identified as a lesbian in my college days,” Paulk says. “I had struggled for years. I had been molested as a 4-year-old multiple times by a teen boy. What I did as a result of that was reject the danger of being a woman. That was just my story. It isn’t everybody’s story, but it is very common that people who end up dealing with homosexuality have been molested. So in my teen years, I struggled with homosexuality starting at about 12 on up through 19, where I embraced it.”

A headlong hurtling into homosexuality failed to heal the hurt. And, Paulk says, she knew inwardly that what she was doing was wrong. Ironically, it was a gay support group that the Holy Spirit spoke to her and encouraged her to find true healing in Jesus. Read the rest: Amazon censors Christians

Hormoz Shariat, as part of the world’s fastest growing church

The crisis of faith came for Hormoz Shariat when Iranian authorities arrested and executed his 18-year-old brother for a minor political crime. Hormoz, who was living in the United States after getting a PhD, wanted revenge.

“Then I realized, ‘Oh, God says, vengeance is mine.’ You’re not supposed to do that,” Hormoz says on a Huntley100 video. “Ok, I hate those people who killed my brother…I’m not supposed to hate. I’m supposed to even love my enemies. Ok, I’m angry…I’m not supposed to be angry in my heart. So I said, ‘God, can I at least cuss?’ No, no bad words because you worship with your mouth. Finally I asked God, ‘What can I do?’”

The loving Father impressed the following on his heart:

Those people who killed your brother are not your enemies. They are victims in the hands of your enemies. When you look at those Muslims killing others, don’t look at them as enemies. They are victims. We have to love them. We have to share the gospel.

Today, Hormoz presides over an evangelistic outreach that is part of the tsunami of salvation washing over Iran, likely the fastest growing church in the world. While Iran’s regional ambitions and nuclear program dominates the news, widespread underground revival is occurring and going mostly unseen.

It may seem ironic that Hormoz Shariat’s beginnings were very much in the anti-American, pro-Islam movement that swept the Shah of Iran from power, instituting an extremist Shiite government.

Hormoz was a naïve young man caught up in the fervor of multitudes in the streets shouting, “Death to America!” It wouldn’t take long for him to see the error of his ways. People were executed on the streets summarily for any association with the previous regime. Austere religious laws were imposed denying people freedom.

Hormoz now says he was being moved by the masses, who mostly wanted democratic change to oust a corrupt dictatorship.

When he came to America to pursue a PhD at the University of Southern California, he saw how blessed America was and changed his mind.

He was achieving the American dream. He had a well-paid career, a house and an American wife. But it seemed empty. He chafed at the grind and a lack of purpose.

So he embarked on a quest to find the truth. He would dedicate his life to serving the true religion, he decided.

Raised Muslim, he gave Islam his first attention. But after reading the Koran in a systematic and scientific way, he didn’t find God.

Next, he purposed to finish the Bible in three months. He started in Matthew.

He quickly got stuck on Matthew 5, the Beatitudes. The call to forgive and love your enemy was astonishing. Would it work? he wondered. Read the rest: Fastest growing church in the world, Iran.

Lisa Martin wakes up from Covid coma on the last possible day

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.

Docs wanted to pull the plug, but Lisa Martin came out of her covid coma.

“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.

Her daughter, Madison, said the road of recovery “has changed our lives for the better.” Read the rest: miracle patient comes out of Covid coma on the last day

Healed from fibromyalgia

To combat her painful fibromyalgia, Nancy Johnson tried meditation techniques from Eastern mysticism. It distracted her for a time from the skeletal-muscular pain but provided no lasting relief.

“I wаs оn this seаrсh,” Nancy told CBN. “What am I going tо dо?’ There’s sоmething emрty inside оf me. There’s а seаrсh fоr, Whо аm I? What am I? Аnd hоw соuld anybody love me? because I felt like such а failure аnd sо weak.”

At age 24 after delivering her first child, Nancy developed the mysterious disease, whose causes continue to elude medical science.

By age 40 after delivering their fourth child, Nancy essentially became a shut-in who, befuddled by exhaustion, couldn’t keep house or raise her kids.

“I felt so much shame about that,” she says. “I couldn’t be perfect for my kids or my husband.”

“Оne оf the dосtоrs sent me away with, ‘It’s all in your head,'” says Nancy. “And that was just devastating.” She felt hорeless, facing the grim reality she would have to live with her condition.

At the same time, she developed food allergies that depleted her body. At age 49, she had dwindled down to 82 pounds and was admitted to a trauma center with a temperature of 83 degrees, a hair’s distance from her organs shutting down.

“I very neаrly lоst her,” her husband Riсh told CBN. “Her bоdy hаd just deрleted. She was literally hours аwаy frоm her internal organs shutting down if we can’t get her stаbilized. I did some real soul searching that week.” Read the rest: healing from fibromyalgia.

After miscarriage, God helped Ainsley recover and give birth

Ainsley Earhardt, the perky blonde co-host of Fox & Friends with a conservative outlook, is also a Christian who has endured significant personal challenges.

Raised in Columbia, South Carolina, her heart longed for recognition from an early age.

“I remember sitting on the shag carpet in our den watching the Oscars and our big TV and crying because I wanted to be there so badly,” she says.

Any time film or TV crews rolled through town, she would somehow find a way to get cast as an extra. She frequented auditions and worked in theater. At college, she graduated with a BA in journalism, after which she worked for WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina.

It was during college that she felt drawn to study the Scriptures.

“I just really admired some people in my life that had such strong faith and they actually lived it…I wanted to be like them because they were such good people,” she told Todd Starnes.

Moved by the power of the Word and the Spirit, she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. “I asked God to come into my life and change me.”

From South Carolina, she moved to Texas, accepting a position as a TV anchor. In 2007, Robert Ailes hired her for Fox News at a time when she “did not know the first thing about politics,” she says. Today, she does the early morning shift on Fox & Friends.

Earhardt’s first marriage to Kevin McKinney in 2005 ended in divorce four years later. In 2012, Earhardt married former Clemson University quarterback Will Proctor and the two decided to start a family.

At the first doctor’s visit after they discovered Ainsley was expecting, everything seemed fine. The baby was small for her age, but there were no concerns.

At the second doctor’s visit they received the terrible news that the baby’s heart wasn’t working.

“There was no heartbeat” visible on the ultrasound, Ainsley remembers on an I am Second video. “The doctor looked at us and she just said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ She just tried and she tried, and there was nothing there. There was no heartbeat.” Read the rest: Ainsley Earhardt miscarriage and baby.

Ramin Parsa shuddered at seeing the dead hanging bodies in Iran

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Importantly, he rose from the dead.

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

‘Untouchable’ touched by God

How dare Kumar Swamy, born an “untouchable” in India, carelessly bump into a Brahmin playing cricket on the street one day in his village in India? It was only an accident, but the upper caste boy was incensed.

“You dirty Dalit (untouchable) dog!” he says on a 100Huntley video. “I became very mad. I had the cricket bat in my hand. It’s like your baseball bat, thick and hard. I took it and gave him a whack.”

According to Hinduism, the Dalit must be careful to never “contaminate” an upper caste. Immediately, people started to gather and formed an angry mob of about 100. Stirred and restive, the people ultimately forced Kumar’s family to leave the village forever.

“My mom was constantly telling us we were untouchables,” he says. “Oftentimes she would use the words, ‘we are sub-humans’ — not really human beings. You can imagine how I would feel like a child, constantly hearing it from my parents, my mom, telling me that we are not real human beings.”

The ‘untouchables’ or dalit are born in the bottom of society and can never leave. Frequently, the untouchables perform the most menial of jobs, such as cleaning sewers, for a pittance. But Kumar’s dad made good money as a witch doctor. He talked to spirits, cast and broke spells and was highly sought after because of the dark arts.

“You could imagine how totally my family was under the clutches of the evil spirits,” he says. “It was an oppressive, grim, gloomy reality of my childhood.”

Kumar was 11 years old when he struck the Brahmin boy with a cricket bat. Usually, he played only with other untouchables, but sometimes they played with others.

“He was hurt, he was bleeding and there was a big commotion in the village,” he says. “Nearly 100 of his relatives came from nowhere within no time and they just held me guilty.”

It was probably a good thing that they didn’t kill Kumar. Instead, they exiled him.

“We packed what little stuff we had and just left the village to another village, where the Dalits were predominantly gathering,” he says. “That left a very deep wound in my heart.”

With the move, his father lost work and they suffered scarcity. Kumar asked himself many searching questions.

“Why did God create me as a Dalit, as untouchable, as a sub-human?” he said. “We were praying to all these millions of Hindu gods — and no answer. So, as you can imagine, I was left a very depressed, disillusioned, young man seeking for hope in my life, seeking for reality.” Read the rest: Untouchable touched by Jesus.

Burned by gossip, a Hindu asked God for help

With the exception of her husband who was Christian, Deepa Srinivas disdained Christians in her native area of Andhra Pradesh, India.

“Back in my village, even today, Christianity is treated very low,” Deepa says on a 100Huntley video. “During those days, I never liked to get connected to Christians or Christianity.”

That’s why she performed endless rituals to the Hindu pantheon worshiped by her family.

“My family is from a strong Hindu religion background with traditions, a lot of traditions,” she says. “My parents would be into a lot of idol worship. I used to think if I perform rituals, something good would happen to me and my family. Wherever I used to see a tree, I used to bow down to it and pray, even if it is on a road.”

While she married a Christian man, she never intended to adopt his religion.

God surprised her, however, with several miraculous incidents. One was a girl who spread rumors about her.

Deepa had tried to help her. This girl was a beautician but needed clients, so Deepa connected her with some contacts.

Biting the hand that fed her, the beautician spread a rumor about Deepa, causing her to lose all her friends.

“I was left all alone” Deepa says. “I was really upset, and I was not really happy with that girl at that point of time.”

Because she interacted with churches due to her husband, a pastor called her randomly one day and prophetically asked her if she was experiencing anxiety

“I was surprised and asked God, ‘Can God speak to someone about me?’” she says.

Taken aback by the insight into her heart, she shared her disillusionment.

The pastor responded: “If you love someone who loves you, then there is no point. Anyone can do that. But if you love someone who does not love you, then that is commendable in the sight of God.”

“I was shocked,” she admits.

The truth of scripture conflicted with everything she had known from Hinduism and Indian culture.

“Then I thought, ‘OK, Lord, I don’t know much about you. Whoever has hurt me and caused this grief to me, that girl should come and apologize the next day at 6:00 a.m.”

Guess who showed up bright and early “knocking at my door at six a.m.?” Deepa asks.

“She apologized.” Read the rest: Deepa Srinivas found Jesus after serving Hinduism.

From medicating to missionary

At age 12, Rachael Havupalo was lured into a compromising situation by two boys and raped. It was devastating.

“I felt like so dirty,” Rachael recounts on a CBN video. “I felt so defiled. And I felt like all the innocence that I ever had was taken from me. It crushed my heart. It broke my trust in men and of people.”

Eventually, the culprits were captured and punished. But this provided no solace for Rachael, who suffered internal agony.

At 14, she began cutting herself and picking up Gothic dress and lifestyle. She dabbled in Wicca and fantasized about death.

“On the inside I felt so dead and so numb,” she says. “I just really wanted to die.”

All through her teens and 20s, Rachael used drugs and did time in prison for her addiction.

At age 21, she had a little girl and became a single parent. She had a brief marriage that ended in divorce, then lost custody of her child.

Sadly, her response to the trauma was to self-medicate with meth.

“My heart was really broken,” says Rachael. “There was an emptiness that came that’s indescribable.”

One day, she visited a “friend,” who locked her in, drugged her with heroin and raped her for three days.

“Any amount of peace I had in my heart and any hope that I had of anything that would ever get better was completely taken away,” she says. “I was so terrified and I asked God, ‘Please, please God, don’t let me die.’” Read the rest: From medicating to missionary.

She feared even hearing Arabic until she heard it sung in a chapel

Anastasia Ohkrimenko grew up knowing the terror of Palestinian attacks in a small Jewish settlement on the West Bank.

“The thing that scared me the most was the Arab language when I heard it,” she says on a One For Israel video. “It reminded me of shootings and rocks flying and people I knew who got killed.”

But then she was led by Isaiah 53 to enroll in the One For Israel Bible College. On her first day in Chapel, they played a worship song to Yeshua — in Arabic.

“Every note that they played took off layers and layers of fear, hate, pain, war, everything that was just choking me,” she says. “Every word that they said in that same language — that terrified me to death a few years before — sounded like the most beautiful thing in the world to me.

“And that is the power of the Gospel. It has the power to clean and heal and make us new again.”

Anastasia Ohkrimenko (also spelled Ohrimenco) was born into a Jewish immigrant family from Moscow in the milieu of conflict on the West Bank, the area of longstanding dispute between Palestinians and Jews, which contains many Israeli settlements.

As a kindergartner, Anastasia had no idea about the enduring conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, who still claim the Holy Land is theirs from before the foundation of modern Israel in 1948.

All she knew was that at any moment, an angry Arab might kill her, her family or her friends. The Jews would repeat often: “The Arabs are the enemy.”

Unlike some of her friends, she wasn’t attacked. As she became a teenager, she noted a dissonance between the loving God of the Bible and the description by the rabbis of a vengeful sovereign who would inflict punishment if you violated Sabbath. Read the rest: Anastasia Ohkrimenko One For Israel

Good Sam got blessed 3 years later by the very person he helped

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?

She called it her ‘revenge body’

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.

The rampage was unstoppable, until Covid struck. Read the rest: Covid saved reckless girl hellbent on revenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Founder of Lexit found by Jesus

Backslidden Jesse Holguin was going to avenge the shooting of his cousin, but as he was kicking down the murderer’s door, the man fired at him from a side window.

“I got shot; I didn’t know I was,” Jesse says on a Prager U. video. “I didn’t hear the gunshot and I didn’t feel it or nothing. I just I was on the floor, and he was trying to shoot me some more and I was trying to pull myself with my arms.”

He fell into gangs because “every single member in my family, every single male was a gang member,” he says.

From a young age, Jesse was involved in shootings.

“As other kids wanted to maybe grow up to be an athlete or wanted to be a movie star or something like that, my goal my whole life since I can remember I was wanting to be a gang member,” Jesse says.

Every weekend, he, his brothers and his homies were getting shot at.

“My family had a good reputation around the neighborhood I was in and all that,” Jesse relates. “I tried to earn my own respect.”

It wasn’t long before he wound up in Youth Authority jail, “our worst nightmare.”

“My first night, I go in the shower and some guy runs in the shower with me with a shank (a knife),” he says. “I’m in the shower a little kid naked. He’s gonna stab me in the shower, and I was scared. But I told him, ‘What? Go ahead, stab me. What’s up? I ain’t scared. What’s up?’”

The front of fearlessness worked. The threatening kid backed down.

“That was just my first day,” he says. “They called it gladiator school.”

Jesse was released from the Youth Authority to a hero’s homecoming. In thug life, serving time is like earning your stripes in the military. Upon release, he was named leader of the entire gang.

“I ended up achieving the greatest that you could hope for in that lifestyle,” Jesse says. “I ended up being the leader of my gang and my gang was a big, powerful respected gang. I had respect. I had women, I had everything. But I still wasn’t happy.”

In addition to being the leader of the gang, Jesse also worked a job. His boss happened to be a Christian and would talk constantly about Jesus.

“I never heard it the way he was sharing it with me,” Jesse says. “So he was sharing me telling him about Jesus and things like that, and I told him, ‘You know what? That sounds good. Maybe one day, if I ever get married and stuff like that, maybe maybe I’ll go to church.’”

But, he added, “I don’t even think I could be forgiven.” Read the rest: Jesse Holguin, founder of Lexit, Christian.

The pastor, the baby box and South Korea

A desperate mother’s voice pleaded on the other end of the phone, apologizing, crying and begging Pastor Lee at 3:00 a.m. to open his front door and save a baby she had just abandoned.

It was too late. The frigid temperatures had already claimed the small life inside a box.

Pastor Lee Jong-rak held the cold baby to his chest and cried until morning.

Then he came up with an idea. He installed a “baby box” to the front of his church where women could drop off their baby and it would be rescued.

“It was to save just one more life,” Pastor Lee told The Korea Times.

Faced with a life-long stigma for babies born out of wedlock (and with no legal abortion laws at the time), single Korean mothers for years hid their pregnancies, gave birth in secret and then left their babies to die in garbage dumpsters, public bathrooms and subway station lockers.

When the heart-rending trend came directly to Pastor Lee, it moved him to compassion and to action. He installed the first baby box in 2009 and ran it for 10 years. When a mother drops off a child, weight sensors alert Pastor Lee to the presence of a child.

When the alarm sounds, he immediately goes to rescue the abandoned infant. His miniscule staff cares for the baby and provides rudimentary medical attention. Eventually, the child is transferred to an orphanage. To date, Pastor Lee and the Jusarang Community Church have rescued 1,500 babies.

Many of the mothers, who are guaranteed anonymity, are single and young. Others are victims of rape. Usually, they profoundly regret abandoning their child and many times pledge to return to rescue it.

“Moms usually leave a letter that carries heart-breaking stories and resolute pledges to return someday,” Pastor Lee told Yonhap News. “They are mostly in desperate circumstances, having nowhere to go and nobody to turn to.”

Ironically, Pastor Lee’s good will ran afoul of bureaucratic laws, which require mothers to register their babies before adoption can be allowed. Some lawmakers accused Dr. Lee of encouraging child abandonment and tried to shut down his baby box. Read the rest: Pastor Lee’s baby box in South Korea.

Boonk Gang repents, comes to God

Boonk Gang — who garnered five million followers on Instagram filming himself steal stuff — has apparently come to Christ and repented of his antics.

“I know better than that, I know why I’m still standing here,” he narrates through tears in an emotional Dec. 14th video on Facebook. “Father, I just want to stand in front of You. I bow down in front of You. I wanna ask that You forgive me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

His real name is John Robert Hill Jr. and his new online moniker is John Gabbana. The 24-year-old was in foster care and got kicked out of his house at age 17, at which time he resorted to dumpster diving and shoplifting to eat, he says on a Facebook video.

At the same time, he launched a hip hop career. To get attention to his emerging music, he started filming himself stealing from people and uploaded the videos to Instagram. In one, he offers to sell a Rolex watch to a man, receives $1,000 cash and makes a dash.

In another, he gets a tattoo and moves towards the door “to see it better in the sunlight” and takes to flight without paying the $50. In all of his getaways, he hurls expletives at his pursuer.

His illegal antics got him into trouble with the law. For climbing over the counter, grabbing a whole tray of Dunkin Donuts and running off, he was arrested in May 2017. In 2018, he was arrested in his Calabasas, CA, home on charges of illegal possession of weapons.

It was in the Los Angeles County Jail that he came to know about God. His cellmate witnessed to him continually about the Bible, and Boonk Gang reports on the Facebook video that he felt mysteriously touched.

“It was a humbling experience because me learning about the power of Jesus and how humble he was with how much power he had really made me humble myself knowing how much fame I had and how I carried myself,” he narrates. “It was evil. I had wickedness in me.” Read the rest: Boonk Gang Christian now

Santa Dave Ramsey

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

Read the rest: Dave Ramsey pays off debt.

Brian Birdwell’s flesh melted off after the jet struck the Pentagon

Christ and a Coke saved Brian Birdwell’s life.

Just moments before a terrorist-hijacked American Airlines plane slammed into the Pentagon where he worked, he had stepped away from his office – the precise impact zone — to use the bathroom because of an early morning Coke that filled his bladder.

“When you are 15 to 20 yards from an 80-ton jet coming through the building at 530 miles an hour with 3,000 gallons of jet fuel and you live to tell about it, it’s not because the United States Army made me the toughest guy in that building but because the toughest guy who ever walked this Earth 2000 years ago sits at the right hand of the Father had something else in mind.”

He was seven steps into returning from the bathroom when Flight 77 impacted the Pentagon at a 45 degree angle, the third of four coordinated terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The first two leveled the World Trade Center twin towers in New York. A fourth attack planned for the White House or the Capitol building was thwarted due to delays at takeoff. As passengers became aware of what was happening, they attacked and overpowered their hijackers, saving the White House; the plane crashed in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

402136 05: Lt. Col Brian Birdwell who was injured at the Pentagon on September 11, attends a ceremony for the six month anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, March 11, 2002 at the White House, in Washington, DC. Ceremonies were held at the White House and the World Trade Center disaster site in remembrance of the victims of the attacks. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“I was thrown around, tossed around inside like a rag doll, set ablaze,” Brian remembers on an I am Second video. “The black putrid smoke that I’m breathing in, the aerosolized jet fuel that I’m breathing in, the temperature of which is somewhere between 300 and 350 degrees.

“You could see the flesh hanging off my arms. My eyes are already beginning to swell closed. The front of my shirt is still intact. My access badge is melted by still hanging covered the black soot of scorched blood. The flame was consuming me and I expected to pass.”

Brian had no escape. He didn’t know which route to take out of the hallways he was intimately familiar with.

“I did what I was trained in the military to never do, which is to surrender,” he says. “I crossed over that line of the desire to live and the acceptance of my death recognizing that this was how the Lord was going to call me home.

“Jesus, I’m coming to see ya’,” he screamed loudly.

But as he lay expecting his spirit to leave his body and be welcomed into Heaven, he didn’t die. Read the rest: how Brian Birdwell survived 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

The beginnings of Sean Feucht in Christianity and worship

After days of thanking the medical clinic doctors with canoes full of flowers or fish, the Manaos tribal leaders dressed in white sang praises to God in their native tongue to celebrate Sean Feucht’s baptism in the Amazon River.

“Dad put me under the water, and when I surfaced, I felt a profound sense of destiny and calling on my life,” Sean writes in the autobiographical Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo. “The presence of God fell heavily upon me in that moment. I had become new and everything changed.”

Worship has marked Sean’s life, ever since that moment at age 10 when he dedicated his life to Christ’s service deep in the Amazon jungle, in the hinterlands of Jim Elliot. He’s played his guitar to bring healing around the world and in the Oval Office.

Sean Feucht loved the outdoors in his birth state of Montana. His dad, a doctor, accepted a 75% reduction of salary to lead missions with Christian Broadcasting Network and the family moved to Virginia. Sean despised the balmy suburbia of his new town and felt disillusioned with the loss of the Rockies until he was taken to the rainforests.

Sean Feucht with Mike Pence (Facebook)

It was Sean’s job to fish for the medical team’s meals as the boat tooled up and down the Amazon River. They ate rainbow bass and large black piranhas. His dad and the medical professionals applied the science of medicine to heal natives, and when science came up short, they prayed and witnessed miraculous healings.

His father’s “brazen” faith became a legacy for Sean.

At first, Sean’s heart was to be a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Being a worship leader was not on his radar. But when a worship leader cancelled for his dad’s home Bible study, Sean was called upon to fill the gap after only owning a guitar for three weeks and knowing only three chords and three songs.

“The night was an absolute train wreck. I continually broke out in a nervous sweat, strained my voice and broke not just one but two guitar strings,” he complains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed in front of 15 of my peers. I remember running to my room afterward, vowing that I would never lead worship in public again.”

Oh, the irony.

He got called on again and again to direct praise in front of people as the Bible study grew to 70 people. Fairly rapidly, he moved into leading youth group worship and then took over church worship. He led youth group and challenged his peers to pray for people in the local hospital’s ICU.

Also in high school, he met Kate, who became his wife. He attended a worship rally in Washington D.C. and won a state football championship.

Despite sport successes, what really pulsed through his heart was the lost. He compiled a list of the least-reached peoples on the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The opportunity to visit Afghanistan came first. It was right after the terrorists had downed the Twin Towers in New York City, and Americans were fighting the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan, right where Sean, just out of high school, wanted to go with his father’s trusted missionary associate.

The U.S. State Department warned Americans not to go there. And the Afghan Embassy refused to grant him — or any American — a visa, “under any circumstances,” Sean writes.

But the team leader was used to obstacles and encouraged Sean to believe more in God than the gloom and doom of so many detractors. “God will make a way, brother!” he told Sean confidently.

Sean was learning to not be deterred. He visited the Afghan Embassy in person and got an interview.

What could go wrong with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year-old leading worships in the mountains owned by the America-kidnapping Taliban? he asked.

The Afghan official couldn’t disguise his astonishment at the visa request.

“Are you truly willing to give your life right now because there’s a high chance of that if you go?” the official said.

Astonishingly, Sean declared he would not leave the embassy until the visa was granted.

Flouting conventional wisdom and doing the contrary of what everyone expects has been Sean’s trademark ever since.

In the isolated mountain villages, the team ministered to peaceful people in the Farsi dialect. Sean discovered that music was a universal language to bridge divides. “My guitar broke down all our walls and misconceptions about one another,” he writes.

The team had been sternly warned: Don’t spend a night in the village. Stay on the move. The Taliban would love to abduct an American and demand a ransom from the American government.

“But after spending all day building relationship, sharing stories, laughing and eating together, it was so hard for us to leave,” he writes. “Many nights, we were invited to stay at the home of tribal leaders.”

Sleeping on the roof to beat the heat, Sean would look at the stars and think of Abraham, to whom God promised to multiply his descendants to be as countless as the stars overhead.

God had done amazing things, and Sean expected to continue with God’s blessing as he carted off to Oral Roberts University. He had seen God move through his guitar in Virginia and Afghanistan, so he offered his services to the worship team at college.

No, was the reply.

It was not the only discouragement. He tried to get involved in missions. No was the answer.

In the dorm, his roommate, despite being at a Christian college, mocked Christianity and blasted explicit hip hop to drown out any praises Sean tried to strum.

“Nothing seemed to work out,” Sean says, and he mothballed his guitar under his bed. Read the rest: Sean Feucht Burn 24/7

Sean Wheeler: forgiving the types of abusers who abused him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Sean says God has transformed his image.

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

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

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

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

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

Human trafficking victim got out alive of ‘the game’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does God still heal today?

At 82, Paul Cadder, was still an avid snowmobile-rider and a gospel musician. But when he started to lose his vision to a cataract it threatened his vigorous lifestyle.

“Lord if I’m going to keep doing this kind of singing and so forth, I’m going to have to have a change in my eyesight,” he says on a 700 Club video. He was worried he would not be able to continue to lead worship at his local church.

Paul had always been an active man. “I had toys for years,” he says. In the 1960s, he put out three gospel albums with a quartet, with whom he traveled across America ministering. He was a natural worship leader at church.

But with the film covering his eye lens, he couldn’t see the music page from which he directed the choir. The encroaching symptoms of old age in 2018 left him dispirited.

“I accepted it as getting old,” he says. “But when I was leading worship in church, i couldn’t see the music real well. I was kind of frustrated and I thought I’d tell our church, ‘I might not be able to keep doing this.’”

On Jan. 4, 2019, while watching Christian TV with his wife, Yvonne, the speaker prophesied: “It’s almost like a thin film that you can’t see through very clearly. God is just removing that right now. Now your vision’s going to be restored to normal.”

Paul was startled. The person described his condition exactly. “That was for me,” he thought. Read the rest: does God still heal today?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a child, Kalel Pratico yearned to know God but found little guidance at home.

“My parents, you know, wanted me to find my own path,” he says on a CBN video. “I always wanted a connection with God. I was asking about angels, and so I was always hungry for God. I didn’t think that he was a personal God at all. I would pray for him to get me out of trouble. I would pray for, you know, a girl to like me. I would ask him for selfish things.”

Without any guidance he found liquor before the Lord.

“The first time i tried alcohol, I was in about sixth grade,” he says. “I remember the feeling that alcohol gave me and it was this peace that i was looking for.”

In high school, he discovered marijuana.

“I tried other drugs as well,” he says. “It hurt my parents that I was abusing substances. I would drive drunk. I was trying to numb this void I had in my life, this lack of connection that I was looking for.”

One night when he mixed up drugs in a hotel room, he felt he was dying.

“Everything else zoned out and all I was aware of was the presence of God,” Kalel says. “Every breath that I was breathing was given to me from God. I was aware that at any moment he could just stop what he was doing and I would have died.”

After surviving his brush with death, he vowed to never abuse again. Of course, he couldn’t keep that vow.

“I lived a very inconsistent life after high school,” he says. “I went to art college and was dating a girl at the time and she got me a Bible. Eventually I decided to go to church. I would sit in the pew and the message would completely go over my head.” Read the rest: kalel pratico was freed from drugs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s when he got a vision.

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

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

Nurse practitioner Laura Youngman attests to the miracle.

In all, James spent 71 days in the hospital.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Narnia brought a Harvard atheist to faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paranormal activity, demon bites. Fed up mom found deliverance in Jesus.

A picture fell off the wall, cabinets opened and closed by themselves, and the doorbell rang with no one there. Because of these paranormal activities, Isela’s mom believed an enemy had cast a spell on them. She fought it by resorting to tarot cards and palm readers.

Naturally, Isela followed her mom’s example.

“I wanted to seek answers and I needed guidance of some sort,” she says on a CBN video. “I figured, ‘Hey, this is the way to go. This is the way to get answers.’”

But she never found the answer. Instead, she fell into a trap that occasioned despondency.

“I wanted to end my life. I thought what am I living for? What do I have to live for?” she says. “I was lost and I turned to drugs.”

She started drinking heavily and wandered the streets at night with nowhere to sleep.

She wanted to gain control of her life through witchcraft, but more and more fear and loathing took over.

“I knew that the devil was with me this whole time,” Isela says. “I felt him. I felt a negative presence. As weird as it sounds, I wanted the negative presence as weird as it sounds. I thrived on the negative. I thrived on the dark. I was so consumed, and I was in such a bad place. That was all I knew.”

Eventually, Isela kicked the drug habit and had a child. She moved in with her boyfriend whom she would later marry.

If she hoped to leave the darkness behind, she was mistaken. The spirits who had legitimate claim to her soul followed her — and began to afflict her daughter.

“She just randomly out of nowhere started pointing from where she was sitting and she was saying, ‘Monster. The monster close to me. The monster touched my feet.’ Read the rest: What causes paranormal activity?

Loss of fingertip didn’t stop Christian pianist

In his hurry to finish chores before organ practice, 13-year-old Greg McKenzie reached down to fix the lawnmower’s chain without turning the machine off, and his right index finger got caught and fingertip cut off.

“My sister was screaming. My mom thought my whole hand got chopped off,” he says.

In the long term, the accident didn’t impede his musical aspirations. Today, Greg, 58, is a professional musician in Japan. In the short term, he learned to see the bright side of life and apply his Christian faith.

“That was the beginning of a new journey, meaning my spiritual faith. I was kind of depressed as a 13-year-old. Why did this happen to me?” he told God Reports. “To make a long story short, I started talking to other patients. Some of them had missing limbs. Here I’m thinking of how bad I have it, and these people have it twice as bad. I went out of that doctor’s office thinking ‘I’m very blessed. I’m very grateful.’”

Greg McKenzie grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, in a family that never missed a Sunday service.

“Most of our ancestral background comes from spirituality,” he says. “That’s how we keep moving forward in hard times.”

With sheer determination, he pressed through the year-long setback of his missing fingertip to pursue music. He opted to not have the fingertip sewn back on because, as a pianist, he needed full sensitivity. He compensated when it was sore, as musicians often do.

“I was determined to play,” he says. “For at least one year, I couldn’t even use that finger.”

But by the time he entered conservatory, he was at full capacity with the same technique as other students. He graduated and began taking jobs.

The interminable search for jobs led him in 2003 to Japan where the Hyatt International paid him to put together a New York-style jazz and Latin jazz band. Japan paid well, and he paid off his outstanding Sally Mae debt. Read the rest: Christian pianist who lost fingertip

Phil Robertson, quirkiest Christian icon, gave up football fame for hunting ducks

Phil Robertson was good at football — good enough to start ahead of NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw — but the ace quarterback preferred hunting ducks over hunting receivers, so he ditched the NFL draft despite being the #1 overall pick.

Plus, he picked up the nasty habit of drinking at Louisiana Tech University and he ran a bar with his young bride whom he married when they were minors. With beer in the mix and anger and churlishness, the Robertsons were (excuse the pun) dead ducks.

“I was on my way to being a bone to be chewed,” Phil recounts in his Deep South drawl.

But a Bible preacher came in the bar. And that was the beginning of the million-dollar duck commander and the reality TV series Duck Dynasty which ran for 11 seasons on A&E. Today, Phil and fam are perhaps the quirkiest of Christian icons.

Phil was raised in Munroe, Louisiana, amidst poverty of the 1950s that he said looked more like the 1850s. They lived in log house, with no commode, no bathtub and no Coca-Cola.

“I never heard anyone say we were poor, not once,” Phil explains. “No one ever said man we are really up against it here. I wonder why somebody done bail us out.”

He met Marsha Carroway (whom he calls affectionately “Miss Kay”) when she was 14 and married her when she was 16 or 17.

“There’s an old saying in the South that if you marry them when they’re about 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks, if you wait then they get to be 20, they’ll pick your pocket.”

Phil has a brain surgeon’s precision for throwing pinpoint passes, so he got a full scholarship to Louisiana Tech University, where he outplayed Terry Bradshaw. Ultimately, hunting ducks was more of a draw than fame and he dropped out of football, not before learning to get drunk with the guys.

“Phil, who had never drank before, started drinking and what happened with me was it was scary to me,” says Miss Kay. To their first son Alan, Jason and Willie were added and the prospect of a wild living father was unsettling.

“I owned a beer joint when some guy came in with a Bible, and he wanted to introduce me to Jesus.” Phil says. “I ran him away. I said, ‘Get out of here.’”

The circle of his problems expanded. He got into a barroom brawl and went into the woods for three months to hide out from the law. He was becoming more and more mean-spirited.

“I would tell my boys all the time, ‘That’s not your daddy, that’s the devil in your daddy,’” Miss Kay says.

Next, Phil ran off his wife and kids.

“That was the low point,” he says. “You’re all alone and miserable. That’s when I began to seriously contemplate a way out of all this.”

Moping and gloomy, he looked up the wife he’d run off, and Miss Kay suggested he look up the Bible guy who dared to enter his bar.

“Why don’t you sit down with him and just see what he has to say?” she says.

Honestly, Phil didn’t know what the gospel was. He thought it was some kind of music.

As the preacher explained, “I was blown away when I heard that Jesus died for me and was buried and raised from the dead,” Phil says. “It was something so simple but profound.”

Miss Kay got home to see a note that her husband was at church.

“When we got into the auditorium, I just stopped because there he was up in the baptistry with a man,” she says. “The boys started hollering and singing, jumping all over the place, and they said, ‘My daddy‘s saved! My daddy’s saved!’ They were so happy. Tears were rolling down their eyes.”

Phil was tired of the cesspool life.

“I’m gonna make Jesus the Lord of my life,” he pledged to his family. “I want to follow Him from this day forward. I’m turning from my sinful past and I am fixing to make a valiant attempt to be good.”

After running the bar, Phil got into commercial fishing. He had problems with the “River Rats” who kept stealing his fish (in nets left at certain points on the river, as allowed by his commercial fishing license).

The old Phil would roar up in his boat at full speed with his shotgun drawn. But the new Phil read in his Bible to do good to your enemies and pray for those who persecute and not to return evil for evil.

This was a quandary. But Phil had made up his mind to love God and his neighbor as himself. How would he put that into practice?

“Fishing was my livelihood,” he remembers. “I was working my tail off.”

He felt the Lord tell him: “They’re hungry. Feed these River Rats.”

“So one day I heard a motor slowed down and these guys pull over to my float and I’m watching them through the bushes,” he recalls. “So I said, ‘I’m gonna be good to them.’ But I’m carrying my gun just in case they’re not good to me. ‘And I’m gonna do what the Lord said.’”

He started his engine and motored out from behind the bushes.

“What were you boys doing with that net?”

“Oh, is that what that was?” one responded. Read the rest: Phil Robertson Christian.

A Hindu’s vision of Jesus and Noah led her to Christ

Being a staunch Hindu led Mohini Christina to Christ.

When her marriage began to unravel, she searched for answers from the gods, as her parents had taught. Finding none in Hinduism, she was led by a dream to Christianity, where she found love, salvation and rescue for her marriage.

“My family is very, very god-fearing family, especially my parents’ family, so that really helped me get closer to Christ,” she says on a Songs on Fire video. “When I did not find the answer (in Hinduism) and all my questions just bounced back on me, I started searching for the true God,”

Both Mahalakshmi Srinivasan’s parents hailed from high-ranking Brahmin priestly families in Southern India, so religion was a centerpiece to everything. Mohini (which is the name she uses now) geared up from an early age to be a gynecologist but got sidetracked into Bollywood acting when she was discovered doing her hobby of Hindu classical Bharatnatyam dance.

Her marriage wasn’t completely arranged, as it is for many Indians. She and Bharath Krishna began to fall in love, so their parents agreed to arrange their wedding in 1999. That’s when the problems started.

From the engagement onward, Mohini fell into unexplainable bouts of depression and loneliness, suffered nightmares and developed cervical spondylitis.

It turns out that another woman had been interested in Bharath, and when he got engaged to Mohini, she resorted to black magic from the Hindu witches in Kerala, India, Mohini says. But they didn’t find that out until five years later after she aborted a baby because of the cervical spondylitis and their marriage teetered on the verge of divorce.

“She was greatly disappointed and got such a malaise in her heart. I don’t blame her at all,” Mohini says. “But she evolved into something which cannot be seen or heard, or it can only be felt. She resolved into doing something in the occult. She resolved in doing this black magic thing.”

Hindu astrologers counseled Mohini to counteract the spells with certain rituals, but she thought among the vast pantheon of Hindu gods one should be powerful enough to stop it without a lot of hoopla.

“If there is a god, let that god save me,” she says. “That was the next step I took towards Christ. He placed everything in my pathway.”

That’s when Jesus visited her a dream.

“I was standing on a small piece of land with water to my right or left. I was completely marooned,” she says. Read the rest: Hindu gets a vision of Jesus.

Soles for souls: the story of Emmanuel Ntibonera

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

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

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

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

“I looked at myself and I felt guilty.”

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

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

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

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

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

When ‘you can’t pray the gay away’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Career-ending injury brought Inky Johnson his dream life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only fear and condemnation is what she felt in Islam

“I knew that I was extremely hated by Allah,” Aisha from Jordan says.

Born of an American mother into a conservative Muslim family, Aisha had racked up a lot of sins: first she questioned Allah, Mohammad, the Koran and salvation.

Then she came to America with her mother looking for better opportunities and got an abortion.

“I was feeling so much fear and hopelessness,” she says on a StrongTower27 video.

Even though her family was entrenched in Islam, her dad was an alcoholic who kicked her and spat on her. “He called me names that no father should ever call his daughter,” she says.

Other than his besetting sin, he tried to keep the traditions of Islam religiously.

Aisha found no love in her family or in her religion.

“I felt like I could never keep up or measure up to what was expected,” she says. “And my family wasn’t too keen on my asking questions.”

Mom was mortified by the downward slide of the family. She even feared for her own life. So she asked her husband to move the family to America where her kids could learn English and have better job prospects.

He agreed, and they moved in 2000, while he stayed in Jordan. His alcoholism only worsened.

Longing for love, Aisha got a boyfriend in high school and got pregnant at age 17. Lying on the bathroom floor with the positive pregnancy test, she cried. She couldn’t tell her dad; he would kill her out of Islam’s call for “honor killing.”

“He would have murdered me, literally,” she says.

Aisha couldn’t tell her Mom; she would tell her Dad.

Feeling like she had no options, she made the terrible choice to kill her baby.

“That was very hard for me because I always valued life,” she says. “I always daydreamed about what it would be like to hold my baby one day. To have gone through that was very devastating for me. I struggled with shame, embarrassment, depression, anxiety and self-worth.”

Her attempt to fill the void with things of the world left her empty.

“I was going down a dangerous and dark and downward spiral,” she admits. “I knew that my sins were deep and unforgivable in Islam. I knew that I was so extremely hated by Allah.”

In her quest for forgiveness and hope, she actually opened the only “holy book” she knew and read Surah 4:168-169: Those who disbelieve and commit wrong Allah will never forgive them, nor will he guide them to a path. Except the path of Hell.

“I remember reading that and feeling so much fear and hopelessness,” she says.

“Allah, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you even exist,” she prayed. “I’ve been praying to you for 27 years, and I’ve never felt your presence.”

She wept bitterly. In the depths of despair, her mind began to consider suicide.

“If there’s no form of forgiveness for me in Islam, what’s the point of me living?” she reasoned.

Then something happened that was totally unexpected.

“As I was crying I heard an audible voice,” she remembers. “I heard the name, ‘Jesus.’”

With tears streaming down her face, she looked up to Heaven and raised her hands.

“Jesus, I don’t know who you are, but if you are who they say you are, please reveal yourself to me because I can’t go on living life like this anymore,” she prayed. Read the rest: Freed from the wrath of Allah

In Islam, Faridi bloodied himself to appease the deity. In Christianity, Christ bloodied himself to save Faridi.

To make their soldiers fearless, Mohamad Faridi’s Iranian superiors made them sleep in empty graves.

Since a boy, Mohamad was fervent Muslim, praying 10 times a day, way more than the regimented five times. But nothing could ease his fear of death and his apprehension that he might be judged unworthy of being admitted into Paradise beyond the grave.

“I was in a lot of despair, a lot of depression, and I was hopeless. The only hope I had was to die, so I contemplated suicide,” he says on a Your Living Manna video “But I was afraid because if as a Muslim you commit suicide you end up in hell.

“I was living in hell in this world.”

The Tehran-born boy was taught to never question Islam.

“I went to my mom and ask her, ‘Mom, does this god, the god of Islam, speak Farsi (the language of the Iranians)? Can I speak to him in Farsi?’ My mom said, ‘You do not want to be tormented by Allah. You do not want to be tortured by Allah. A good Muslim only surrenders, only submits.’

“From that moment on, I just put my blinders on.”

Mohamad memorized entire chapters of the Koran, washed himself religiously, prayed ritually and fasted during the 30 days of Ramadan.

But the question nagged him: Would he ever be good enough to merit Paradise?

Allah, according to the depiction, weighed your good actions against your bad actions on judgement day. Nobody ever knew for certain who would get into eternal glory and who would be cast into torment.

The Shia sect of Islam practiced in Iran also has the ritual of self-flagellation with chains containing barbs and knives. By drawing blood in penance, they hope to curry the favor of the imams in Paradise so that they may pray for their souls, Mohamad says.

“Someone recites a eulogy and provokes the crowd to beat themselves, weep and cry,” he explains. “That’s how we’re gaining points and how we punish ourselves that maybe one of these Imams would intercede for us at the day of judgement. We beat ourselves so much that we bruise and bleed with chains on our backs.”

At age 19, he joined the Revolutionary Army to fight in the decade-long war against Iraq. The nation’s imams said that it was jihad, or holy war, which meant that if anyone died in it, he would be taken straight to Paradise.

His uncle and brother were part of the mass deaths of Iranians, but Mohamad was spared.

Back from the war, he resumed his rituals of desperately trying to appease Allah. During one 10-day stretch of self-flagellation, he beat himself so badly through nine days that he could not rise from his bed on the tenth to carry on.

“I was so broken and I was so bruised that I could not get out and go beat myself more on the tenth day,” he recounts. “I was ashamed of myself. I said this is the least asked of me and I cannot fulfill that.”

Light finally broke into the darkness. Mohamad rekindled a childhood friendship with a friend named Rasul. He noticed Rasul was uncommonly light-hearted.

“What is going on with you? What is happening to you?” asked Mohamad.

Rasul responded that he became a Christian.

“That was the first time I was hearing about Christianity without bad-mouthing it or without saying that it is corrupted,” Mohamad remembers.

“God loved his creation,” Rasul said. For two hours, he elucidated the free gift of grace through faith in Christ and his death on the cross.

Mohamad raised every objection he had heard at home or in the mosque.

Rasul tired of two hours of arguing, so he said he needed to go.

“The last thing I’m gonna tell you is Jesus was beaten, he was bruised, he was crucified, his blood was shed for your sin so that you can have everlasting life,” Rasul said.

Then he quoted to him John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The concept of Jesus being beaten and bloodied instead of Mohamad beating and bloodying himself left him astounded. It was an utter contradiction of everything he knew from Islam.

It resonated deep within him, and Mohamad decided at the end to accept Jesus as his Savior and Lord.

“When I opened my eyes from that prayer, everything in the world got a new color, everything that was a shade of gray and black got colors,” the young man recounts with wonder. “For the first time in my life, I felt peace in my life.” Read the rest: He was bruised and beaten for our sins, Muslim discovers salvation without works in Christianity.

Freed from stress, inferiority complex

Coming from a poor family with a mother who was totally illiterate, Parameswari Arun struggled with an inferiority complex, comparing herself to other students in terms of talent, intellect or family background. Frequently, she cried herself to sleep.

She worried about her studies and whether she would ever attain an advanced degree. “Will I get a job? Will I be able to look after myself or my poor parents?” Parameswari says on a Your Living Manna video. “So many fears came and crowded my mind and put me down every night.”

Perplexed and distraught, the native of Pannaipuram village in Tamilnadu District of India spied two fellow college girls next door in the dorms who didn’t appear to be staggering under the crush of stress.

“They always used to look confident, joyful enjoying their life,” Parameswari says. “They were good girls in terms of their character and that caused me to have a type of curiosity, to go and find out how come.”

Still, she was shy.

“One day after attending my physics class, I was rebuked by my teacher,” she says. “I ran to my room to sit and cry alone, but my room was locked.”

So she went to her neighbors’ room. While there, she spied a Bible. She had never seen a Bible before.

“There was one word written underlined by red ink. God is love. That word came and pierced my heart saying that there is someone to love me and to take care of me,” she says. “But I couldn’t understand the full meaning when I was pondering over it.”

Parameswari asked her. “What do you mean by God is love?”

“God loves everyone in the world and He came in the form of his Son Jesus Christ to carry the punishment because of his love,” the friend responded. “He doesn’t want to see anyone going to hell because of the punishment of the sins that we do on earth. So he died on the cross and took away every punishment and curse and everything on him and freed every human being. Whoever believes in His name can enter into eternal life”

The friend explained that Christ’s blood covered everyone’s sins.

Parameswari, who was studying the biological and chemical sciences, couldn’t grasp this idea.

“The body contains a maximum six liters of blood,” she argued. “How can it wash the sins of the whole world?”

Parameswari rushed out of the room, rejecting the notion.

Notwithstanding, she continued to contemplate the Bible.

Borrowing the mysterious book, she read further.

“That book told me who I am, who is my Creator. The book told me that I am born to live. The book told me I will be on top, never at the bottom. The book told me that I’m chosen by God. The book told me that I am the beloved of the Lord. The book told me that I’m a child with talent given by God.

“The book told me that I am the aroma of my Creator. The book told me that I am the ambassador for God. The book called me as a holy child. The book called me as a holy citizen. Read the rest: Relief from stress, Indian student finds peace in God.

Only deaf church in West Africa led by deaf missionaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dying of AIDS, man comes back to Christ because of a family’s love

On the very night Jerry Arterburn accepted Jesus at a church camp, the 5-year-old was also molested by the pastor’s son.

“When that molestation occurred, it ignited something in him that he didn’t think other guys had to struggle with,” his brother Stephen says on a Pure Passion Media video. “It produced an uneasiness with relationships with women.”

Jerry died of AIDS on June 13, 1988, at a time when the epidemic was raging largely unchecked and medical science was trying to figure out how to tame it.

“When my brother and I moved to Laguna (Beach, California) at the same time, there was another person who moved to Laguna. He was identified as Patient 0,” Stephen says. “This was a flight attendant who flew around the world and slept with about 2,000 different people. He infected so many people in that town that the AIDS virus was extremely virulent in there. I watched business after business close because there was such a high per capita gay population there. They were dying right and left.”

Before Jerry’s death, Stephen began to formulate the best way to encourage his brother to come back to Christ.

“I loved him. But I knew that what he was doing was wrong,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to convince him that he was wrong. I just tried to find a way to have a relationship with him that I could love him with.”

There were three Arterburn boys who grew up with a mom who bitterly hid her father’s suicide and a dad who was “redneck, disconnected,” Stephen says. All three sons went prodigal from their otherwise “strong Christian household” in Texas.

Stephen — who now is an author, a radio host and the founder of New Life Ministries — thought he was the worst rebel of the lot because he forced his girlfriend (attending Bible college) to get an abortion.

Jerry, who loved design and became an architect, didn’t immediately show how he was getting off course.

Stephen describes his brother as “the moral one” who owned up to his mistake, while Stephen was actually the immoral one who had slept with many young women.

“I hadn’t slept with a man. I killed my own baby,” Stephen confesses.

Jerry was about to get married, but it was called off. Both had frequent fights. Still, no one really knew why the wedding was called off.

When Jerry, at age 26, was appointed to a city planning post in Easley, South Carolina, he met a man who took him to a gay bar. He had never had sex before, but that night, “my brother felt like he was at home,” Stephen says.

“He felt total acceptance, freedom — all this stuff that he had never known: all of this love, affection, connection,” Stephen says.

From then on, it was relationship after relationship. When Jerry and Stephen both, by chance, moved to Laguna Beach, they started reconnecting. Sometimes in their talks they would debate. One topic that came up was whether homosexuality was right or wrong.

Stephen, who had come back to the Lord by now, stuck to his guns — until he realized the reason why his brother was arguing the aberrant position. His brother was gay.

As soon as Stephen found out, the arguments were over. A new phase in their relationship started, one of reaching out to Jerry with love and acceptance, though not approval of his sin.

“I was able to develop a close relationship with him, and then he got sick. I’m so glad I did because he needed me. I’m so glad he felt safe with me, that I could be there with him when he needed a lot of help — just getting up and going to the bathroom. He lost 100 pounds. It was horrible. He looked like something out of a concentration camp.”

Devastated by the news that not only their son was gay but also had AIDS, the “redneck ” father visited Jerry in the hospital and said, “You’re coming home with us. We’re going to help you through this.”

The Southern Baptist Church of his parents, instead of ostracizing Jerry, were loving and inclusive. (The Southern Baptists were conservative on social acceptance at a time when much of America was unmoved by the AIDS crisis.)

“We loved him when he was (younger). We’re going to love him through this,” a deacon said, according to Stephen. “Here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to go over to his house and we’re going to lay hands on him and pray for him to be healed… Whatever his insurance doesn’t cover for his treatment of AIDS, this church is going to pay for. Whenever his brothers want to come in and see him, we’ll pay their air fare.” Read the rest: How to treat LBGTQ family members if you’re Christian

Daniel Chand traded punching for preaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miss America Asya Branch leaned on Jesus when Dad was imprisoned

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.”

In desperation and loneliness one night, she cried out to Jesus and renewed her relationship. Read the rest: Asya Branch Miss America Christian

Model romanced by sly prince

When accosted by a stranger in New York City, Keisha Omilana politely declined to give out her phone number, but as she was about to board a train to head for a modeling audition, her women’s intuition took over.

“You know what? You’re not dating anybody,” she told herself. “And he was cute!”

Because of the risky decision to give a total stranger her number, Keisha today is a Nigerian princess – royalty!

That’s because the guy requesting her number was Prince Adekunle “Kunle” Adebayo Omilana from the Arugbabuwo ruling house in Nigeria.

But she didn’t know that until AFTER she said yes when he took a knee.

They dated for two years, and then he sprung the question. When she accepted, he explained that he was African royalty, with lots and lots of money.

Today, the Omilanas are strong Christians, and they’re using their money to finance church planting in Africa. Prince Adekunle is managing partner and chief executive officer of Wonderful Media, a European Christian television network which on Facebook identifies itself: “He is Life, His name is Wonderful and life is Wonderful.”

Nigerian royalty — like European royalty — exercises a symbolic role with little real power, but the Omilanas leverage a good example and preaching to the conscience of the nation to cement Christianity in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy.

That’s significant because Nigeria stands to become a new center of gravity for worldwide Christianity. Nigeria has already begun sending missionaries into Europe in what many see as a paradigm shift for missions.

In the next 20 years, Nigeria is poised to become the fourth most populous country in the world — surpassing Russia. They’re on track to having the largest evangelical population in the world. Soon the majority of Christians worldwide are going to be non-white.

With 400,000 Nigerian immigrants in the U.S. with an average income level above white Americans, Nigeria can join hands with mission leaders on an equal footing to chart the future spread of the Gospel worldwide.

Don’t be surprised if the Omilanas sit on that board.

Keisha was born in Inglewood, a small city in the middle of the vast Los Angeles metropolis. Her birth town was awash with poverty and overrun with gang violence, but Keisha grew up safe and sound.

She moved to Chicago to study fashion but switched from designer to model. At first she timidly embarked on the career with Ford Models. But her striking beauty opened doors. She represented Pantene, L’Oreal, CoverGirl, Revlon, and Maybelline.

Keisha became the first African-American woman to be featured in three consecutive Pantene commercials, earning the moniker “The Pantene Girl”.

She appeared in the movie Zoolander and the television shows 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live.

Keisha was lost in New York City while looking for another audition when Prince Kunle discovered her.

He was in a meeting at the W Hotel when he saw her in a phone booth, trying to get the directions straight from her agent. Prince Kunle excused himself from the table and went out to see her. He waited 45 minutes for her to get off the phone, at which time he approached her.

“You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” he told her. “Would you do me the honor of having your number?” Read the rest: Christianity in Nigeria: Prince promotes Christianity with his wife Keisha

Earthquake Kelley’s Schools of Deliverance

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.

Banana cream pie, key to meeting wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘From hoe to housewife’: How God helped one women break out of the strip club and get into financial services

Theirs was a marriage made in Heav…

Well, maybe not.

Theirs was a marriage made in a strip club.

The first time Kris-Lynn saw Justin Williams, he was wending his way through the crowd at After Hours in Tampa, FL, offering molly, X, weed and cocaine. She saw he was popular and handsome.

The next night, they were consuming drugs together, and from that moment on, they were inseparable.

But the fast life of money, drugs, pimps and stripping eventually slowed down. It had to. After all, she was a wayward pastor’s kid whom the Good Shepherd went seeking.

And Justin got let off a 15-year prison sentence with just one year of house arrest. When the miracle of the lighter sentence occurred, he told Kris-Lynn her days of dancing were over.

Kris-Lynn was a bright child, good with the books. Being raised as a pastor’s child in Florida didn’t mean she knew God. She went to all the retreats, heard about Moses and Daniel and constantly attended church, as was expected.

But when she saw church members doing ungodly things, she secretly wondered if there was any authenticity behind the religion.

“I didn’t like the things that I saw in the church that I knew weren’t God. Sometimes humans can pervert who He is,” she says. “I had a tainted view of what Christianity was.”

When she returned pregnant to her hometown from high school in Gainesville, she faced harsh rejection from the Christians who ought to have had compassion. She was kicked out of homes and wound up on the floor of a local Salvation Army in 2006.

“I was church hurt,” she remembers. “Wow, the people in the church are turning me away when I’m pregnant? If this is the Lord, then I want nothing to do with it.”

Actually, she wanted more than just to disassociate herself from the church. She wanted to disassociate herself from her emotional pain.

“I never wanted to feel like that again,” she says. “So I determined in my mind not to feel anything at all. And to get money.”

Dancing in the clubs was a quick way to make big bucks. And it provided her with access to drugs to numb the internal pain.

Then she saw Justin and was smitten in 2013. She plied her trade, he, his. Together they lived the high life of hustlers. Read the rest: From hoe to a housewife: How Christ helped one woman break out of the strip club and get into financial advising.