Because his mother died when he was about to turn 12, the Christian rapper known as Mogli the Iceberg rejected the prosperity gospel, this idea that God only wants to bless you and have you live in blissful happiness at all times.
“I’m well aware of the extent of suffering that exists in the world,” Mogli says. “I’ve always been resistant to ideas like the prosperity gospel, when somebody promises that things are all going to be good. Look around the world. Does God not also love people in Afghanistan? Or Haiti?”
Mogli is among the most philosophical, if not depressive, of Christian Hip Hop’s rhymers. Together with nobigdyl, he is founding member of indie tribe collective, along with Jarry Manna, Jon Keith and D.J. Mykael V., putting out some of CHH’s most cutting-edge music.
Born Jacob Hornburgh, the Long Beach native moved with his music-performing parents to rural Tennessee, where he stood out for being Mexican American. He says at his high school, he was one of five Latino kids.
That’s where he got his rap name. Because he was tall, lanky with a scruff of dark hair, kids thought he looked like Mogli from the Jungle Book. To his nickname, he added “iceberg” which rhymes with his last name.
His parents made their living with Christian music, and they encouraged Mogli to develop his tastes and talents. When he was turning 12, his mom died of an unexpected heart attack. It was heartbreaking and sobering to be aware of human mortality at such a young age.
“I never really went super into like I’m mad at God because i just knew that was irrational, but it it does kind of temper other expectations,” Mogli says. “There’s no promise that Read the rest: Mogli the Iceburg
His marriage was in shambles because, despite loving his wife, he fooled around with other girls.
“Our mantra was we don’t fall in love, we stand in love, because in case something goes wrong you can always just walk out,” says Orlando Patterson, a Jamaican immigrant to New York. “It was very common in the culture, we live in this apartment complex to be living with your supposed wife and a couple of kids. And you have another woman a couple streets over and she has a couple of kids for you. And you have another woman in another apartment complex and she has a couple of kids for you. That is business as usual.”
So when an officer in the U.S. Navy turned and abruptly and asked him about his eternal destination, Orlando responded with genuine self-examination: “I’m pretty confident I’d probably go to hell.”
Orlando Patterson knew nothing about God and fidelity because he grew up with his non-Christian parents fighting over custody. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a high-society dad and a pretty mom whom the dad’s relatives detested.
At age five, his dad tricked his mom into letting Orlando go to Queens, New York. What was supposed to a be a summer visit, turned into a permanent stay. Dad simply called mom: “By the way, he’s never going back.”
Dad’s intentions were to give Orlando a good education and the opportunities that arise in America. But the young man grew up “a square peg in a round hole.” By the time his mom was able to come over to America, the damage was done.
“I had drawn certain conclusions about life,” Orlando says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I was a problem child and felt horribly unwanted. No one really wanted me around. I never got rid of this feeling.”
He fell in with “miscreants.” His first arrest was for grand theft auto. An older boy was showing him how to steal a car when the cops pulled up. The older boy ran, Orlando hid in the car hoping the police would pursue the older boy. When he crept out of the car, an old lady trained a gun on him and ordered him to sit still until the cops came back.
“This lady was shaking,” Orlando says. “I knew I was gonna die that night if I would have flinched. If I breathed too hard that lady was gonna shoot me, so I just held my hands up and just kind of froze.”
Throughout high school, he butted heads with his mom, but she eventually prevailed with the plan he would join the military. He and his 8th grade sweetheart, Vanessa, both joined the Navy.
He became a jet engine mechanic.
Though they tried to stay together, their union was beset by troubles from the beginning because infidelity was what Orlando had learned from his Jamaican upbringing. “My marriage was shot, you know, infidelity on my part, just foolishness that I had done,” he recognizes.
On his first tour on the Adriatic Sea on the U.S.S. Enterprise, he was pulling an overnight shift. There wasn’t much to do, so he wandered to the other shops. That’s where he overheard a sailor evangelizing another man. “He was chopping wood,” Orlando remembers about the serious discussion.
Though not directed at him, the conversation unsettled Orlando. He’d been raised Catholic, but faith had never factored into his life as being real or relevant. As an altar boy, he’d report hung over at 8:00 a.m. mass.
“I couldn’t shake what I just heard,” he recalls.
Troubled by what he’d overheard, he continued to wander the deck. When he reported for his “midrats” midnight meal, he wound up eating next to an officer because the mess was unusually crowded.
The officer turned to Orlando and asked him point blank: “Young man, let me ask you a question. If you were to die right now, would you go to Heaven?”
Searching for identity, Paige Eman fell for the ploys of the African-American history class which taught her the Jesus narrative was counterfeit, stolen from ancient Egyptian myths of Seth and Osiris. Christianity, she was taught, was the white man’s religion designed only to subjugate slaves.
“I started as a Christian and then I transitioned into African spirituality and to New Age,” Paige says on her YouTube channel. “I’m back to Christianity and Jesus. I wasn’t willing to call myself a witch, but I was open to it. That’s the scary part”
The enticing part of the African American history class was twofold: cast doubt on the story of Jesus and drum up anger over historical and systemic racism (to our shame, there were Christians who justified slavery by saying Africans were children of Ham, accursed by Noah).
Despite her own personal apostasy from God, Paige does not regret studying at an HBCU, a Historically Black College or University. She made lifelong, supportive friendships, and the education was excellent.
Her only complaint? The assumption that the Jesus story is a fraud based only on the grounds of a somewhat similar story in mythology.
In fact, many cultures have resurrection and virgin conceptions stories. But none have a real, historical person associated with them. Undeniable historical people attest to Jesus, to his virgin birth and to his resurrection. So, if you’re going to dismiss these parts of Jesus’s life, you must account for the hundreds of witnesses who were willing to die for their story.
Paige Eman’s problems began when she was raised in a primarily white suburb. Her black friends said she “talked white,” and her white friends didn’t “really accept” her, so she felt “conflicted.”
When she graduated from high school, she made the decision to go to Hampton University in Virginia to figure out her identity.
“I met some amazing amazing people who were really like raised the same way that I was,” she says.
But the African American History class exposed her to some radical ideas that undercut the legitimacy of the Bible and Christianity. The Egyptian goddess Isis had a son by divine conception, she was told. The fact that this originated more than 2000 years before Jesus suggests to some scholars, especially the anti-Christian ones, that the disciples simple plagiarized the story.
It was compelling stuff, and the teacher provided proof after proof. Paige stopped believing in Jesus.
“We’re not supposed to worship Jesus as a black people right, so I totally rejected Jesus altogether,” she admits. “But I still believed in God.”
Having dismissed Christ, Paige embarked on a quest for the correct worship. She found out about ancestral worship and witchcraft, neither of which she fully embraced or practiced because her background in Christianity left her wary about it.
What she did get involved with was the law of attraction, burning sage and palo santo, and following black women’s spirituality groups on Facebook.
After being molested at age 7, Jazmin Santos was haunted by a question about her eventual future husband: How could he love you when you’ve gone through this?
“I battled with those things for so long,” she admits on a Delafe video.
Jazmin’s story shows that Jesus can redeem everything the devil intended for evil.
Born in Honduras, Jazmin Santos immigrated with her family to the United States when she was five. She grew up in church.
Unfortunately, she was molested in church by someone with a close connection to the family.
For years, Jazmin locked the dark secret in the rusted tin box within her heart. She always felt weird around everyone. She felt abandoned and rejected.
“I didn’t really dwell on it,” she says. “I just kept moving forward. It was like, oh well, that happened.”
She was always the good girl and thought she was a Christian automatically because she went to church, but at age 13, Jazmin attended a retreat where in a workshop she poured over a list of sins and checked off ones that applied and realized she was a sinner needing a savior.
“God, I’m a sinner. I’m broken. I’m a mess,” she prayed. “I ran up to the altar and fell on my face and was crying. I felt this conviction come over me.”
She realized she needed healing from the traumatic sexual exploitation.
“I didn’t tell anyone because I was scared,” she says. “The only person I told was my cousin because she was like a sister to me.”
One day, that cousin outed her gently and lovingly with her mom.
When the angel encounters started, Andrew Aggrey cut the partying and insincere Christianity. The supernatural visions came regularly, but nothing prepared him for his visionary descent into hell.
“I feel this magnet power pull me down,” Andrew says on a Delafe video. “The only way I can really describe it is a dark vortex. Imagine skydiving at nighttime without the fun. And boom I land in hell. And I know exactly where I am.”
Because he had heard of others who visited Hell, he inexplicably asked God if he could experience it himself. He believes God gave him the experience to warn others about the danger beyond the grave.
Andrew grew up in a Christian household. But as with many other young people who grow up in a Christian family, he suffered from the “my parents’ faith” syndrome. He lacked a wholehearted relationship with God.
At college, he threw himself into drinking, drugs and clubs. He had no doubt God was real but felt no compulsion to serve Him.
“I had the awareness of God, but I still kind of wanted to live my own life.” Andrew says.
But when the pandemic hit, he found himself locked up at home with tons of time to read. He read the Bible. Then the dreams began.
The first was an angel that guided him through a house with opening doors. He realized it was an angel because when he tried to worship it (thinking it might be Jesus), the angel stopped him from doing so.
It was an emotional encounter, but when he tried to share about it with his family, he felt like they doubted its legitimacy.
Another encounter was with Jesus. In his dream, the Lord walked past him. He had previously struggled with childhood rejections. In this case, he felt rejected by Jesus. “Lord, do you not love me?” he pleaded.
Then Jesus looked at him, and there was no doubt.
“He didn’t say anything to me, but the look was enough,” Andrew says. “Just looking in his eyes, face to face, was enough. I knew… Read the rest: Vision of Hell.
Right there in the back of the patrol car, Robert Michiels slipped out of the handcuffs, unthreaded his shoelace, tied the two laces together, hung them from the coat hook, inserted his head and attempted to hang himself.
“I felt my life slip away.” Robert says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I watched my life flash before me rapid fire in little clips. Everything, from the time I went fishing with my dad and my brother, opening presents on Christmas, climbing up on the roof, riding our bikes, skating in the neighborhood.”
Then a loud voice from Heaven pronounced an imperious command.
So he did.
Instead of committing suicide and ending his drug-addicted misery, Robert Michiels, then 20, went to jail and got saved. Today he is a pastor.
The North Phoenix native was the kid your parents warned you to stay away from. He liked to get into trouble and quickly fell into drugs by age 15.
But after drugs reduced him to homelessness. Not even his mother would receive him that night when he called her in desperation, wanting to get off the streets. Robert doesn’t blame her; he had stolen from her the previous time to support his habit.
At the end of his rope, he formed the plan to commit suicide. But first he would get high one last time.
To scrape money together, he stole a pickup truck so he could resell the tires. They were worth a fortune, but Robert offloaded them for $50 each to a guy who paid cash and didn’t care about their provenance.
But when he was stealing the first one, people shouted and he had to drive off, cursing his luck that he’d only gotten one. As he roared off, a trucker pursued him, talking to the cops as he followed.
Eventually, Robert got cornered. He got out of the pickup and shouted at the trucker: “Don’t be a hero, expletive, expletive, expletive.”
Robert slammed his truck in gear and drove straight at the trailer cab. He slammed into it, leaving it damaged. He drove off.
Then the first police car showed up. Robert drove wildly through the industrial area which had scattered open fields. The first cop car became several and eventually “the whole Phoenix police department,” Robert says.
Robert careened through a muddy field that splattered mud on his windshield. He couldn’t wipe the windshield clean, so he rolled down his side window and leaned out to see where he was going.
He never doubted that he would get away. For the whole 22-minute pursuit, he was smoking his crack pipe.
Then he slammed into a pole. He woke up with the engine pushed into him; he smelled of radiator fluid. He credits his limp, drugged up body for his survival. He gathered himself, pulled himself out of the truck and ran down an embankment, into… Read the rest: The Door Christian Center in San Diego
Shinichi Tanaka believed vaguely that an all-powerful god who created the universe was out there somewhere. But it was not until a near death experience that he found his way to God.
From a young age, Shinichi had a great respect for nature and the “gods” of the Shinto religion. However, when visiting the shrines to pray, he felt that something was missing.
“I went there to feel a sense of purification, also to pray and give thanks,” Shinichi says on a Japan Kingdom Church video. “But it was like praying to a vague God, like the air.”
It was at 40 years old that Shinchi began to take on a different perspective on God. In a moment of introspection, he began to see God not as a group, but as an omnipotent Creator.
“I realized the existence of God, which had immeasurable power,” he continues. “Since then, I would close my eyes and meditate that the universe would send energy like bright and dazzling lights. That was my God.”
Shinichi did not know God yet. This would change when, at 49 years old, he experienced a heart attack that left him hospitalized.
“My life hung in a fifty-fifty balance,” Shinichi says. “But I kept a strong will to survive.”
At one point during his hospitalization, Shinichi underwent a near-death experience that led him closer to finding God.
“One night, while sleeping on the bed in the hospital, a beautiful world spread out before me, and I was drawn outside my body,” Shinichi recounts. “It was actually the entrance to death.”
“Then, suddenly, a voice shouted ‘No! Don’t go!’” Shinichi continues. “When I regained consciousness, I suffered from strong pain, and tried to get out of it.”
Shinichi believed that an invisible being saved him from entering death’s… Read the rest: Shintoist finds God.
Only 8 years old, Casey Diaz tried to kill his father by pushing his face into a portable gas heater and turning the gas on. He didn’t stop even when his mom rushed in, horrified.
“Just leave him,” Casey told her. “I’ll take the blame.”
It was Casey’s way of ending the brutal, bloody beatings his drunken father inflicted upon his mother. Though the fratricide was unsuccessful, the anger smoldered and turned Casey into a fearsome gangbanger in South Los Angeles. He stabbed his first victim at age 11. There were many more after.
“It was so easy for me,” he says on a 700 Club video on YouTube. “I put the face of my father on every single one of my victims.”
By age 16, he was locked up for 12 years for one count of second degree murder and 52 counts of armed robbery.
With his proclivity towards violence and aggression — and because of his reputation on the street — Casey ruled the gang in the jail.
He nearly strangled to death a rival and landed in solitary confinement with an “upgrade” to Folsom State Penitentiary from juvenile hall.
That’s where Francis met him. When the chaplain invited him to a monthly Bible study, he responded harshly.
“You’re crazy,” he snarled. “I’m not going to your Bible study. I’m not interested. Do you know who you’re talking to?”
Undaunted and undeterred, Francis responded that she was placing him on her prayer list. She called it her prayer “hit” list, using the underworld’s slang for people… Read the rest: 8-year-old would-be killer
As a result of her parent’s divorce, Savannah Hernandez felt shame, had insecurities, depression, and had given up on believing in God.
“I hated God at this point of my life,” says Savannah on YouTube, “I just felt like, man, there is no way that God is real. I’m going through so much stuff. How is God real? How did he make this earth?”
Many fall away from God and don’t come back, but Savannah is proof that restoration of faith is possible.
Savannah’s parents got divorced when she was 11 years old. From there, she swirled downward emotionally.
“It was really hard on me just to face as a child and trying to figure out what was going on and just how to really just grow up to be a woman,” she says.
Savannah had a strong dad who never left her or made her feel alone, but she still felt an emptiness inside. She looked for masculine approval, which caused her to feel worse about herself and develop more insecurities.
“I did feel like I was alone at some point in my house, and I did run to guys and just love to try to find some type of love and temporary fix in those areas that I was hurting,” Savannah says. “It just caused me to hurt, and it caused me just shame and feeling like I wasn’t worthy and that was really hard for any girl to face.”
After she graduated, Savannah tried smoking and became stubborn and prideful.
“I was just doing all these things behind my dad’s back,” she recounts. “I’m not doing anything to pursue any of my goals, I’m not doing anything, I don’t believe in a God.
His vaunted career in aerospace engineering led him to being featured in National Geographic for his research with NASA.
But the PhD from a German university couldn’t save Dr. Dragos Bratasanu from personal heartbreak when his startup flopped, and he went back to his parents apartment depressed, in wretched pain and envying the dead in the local cemetery.
“The pain was so intense, I took my pillow and cried out to God from the bottom of my heart,” he recalls on a CBN video. “God, if you’re real, I need you.”
Growing up in Romania, Dragos was turned off by religion because it involved “bowing down to bones,” burning candles and the belief that you can only get to Heaven through your local priest.
Instead of seeking religious truth, he sought scientific truth. Excelling in his studies, he got the chance to study in Germany, where earned his PhD in space science. He worked with the Romanian Space Agency, got a chance to work with NASA and was commended in a National Geographic article.
At the top of his scientific career, he fell to the depths of inner despair. His business failing, he was humbled to the point of not being able to pay his bills and moved back with his parents. He cursed his fate.
When he considered embarking on a spiritual quest, Christianity was his last option. He studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and other major religions. He even traveled to the Himalayas to study under the most renowned Buddhist monks. All seemed to offer good tenets, but didn’t resonate with his soul.
Isaac Perez descended into the inner regions of the earth, down a spiral staircase, through the forest, over a bridge to the place he had been told he would meet his animal spirit guide. Finally, a hawk with a penetrating gaze faced him.
“What are you doing here?” the hawk asked him. “You don’t belong here. They are coming after you.”
It was a strange message for Isaac, who sought to become a full-fledged shaman through practices he learned online, which resonated with his Mayan heritage.
It was strange for Isaac, the son of a pastor from a charismatic church, to be seeking supernatural experiences in the occult.
“The Holy Spirit worked somehow to tell me I didn’t belong and what I thought was my spirit animal was very much definitely the Holy Spirit telling me this isn’t it, you need to get out, this is not the place,” Isaac says on a Doreen Virtue video.
Isaac’s testimony shows you can’t blend New Age teachings and shamanism with Christianity and that Jesus Christ is the only way.
Isaac’s parents were both charismatic pastors. Isaac became a youth pastor, but when he began to have unanswered questions about the supernatural, he turned to shamans online.
“I thought that I really understood this,” he says. “God created nature, so why can’t I serve God but also you know just enjoy this, his natural beauty and all the work that he’s done and created.”
Isaac began to explore shamanism and thought that with his Mayan ancestry he could blend Christianity with shamanism.
At first, he got involved with drumming circles in nature, then he began using crystals and other New Age practices. He didn’t go to his parents for answers out of shame and guilt.
“It killed me,” he said. “I kept thinking am I failing God being in this charismatic church, or am I failing God being in shamanism? So, I could really never figure that out.”
While he was involved in shamanism, there were works, like a sun dance, which was a dance including fire and self-mutilation in order to be forgiven for his sins and for God to hear what he was saying.
“I sacrificed myself physically either by physical pain through burning, or through cutting,” he said. “There was supposed to be some sort of release. There was supposed to be some sort of… Read the rest: Shamanism vs Christianity
M.I.A. – the UK rapper who was banned for a time from the United States because she was thought to have ties to terrorism – has become a born-again Christian after a supernatural encounter with the Messiah.
“I had a vision and I saw the vision of Jesus Christ,” she told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in an interview.
Born to a Sri Lankan Tamil family in the United Kingdom, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam reached overnight success with her multiple platinum song “Paper Planes,” which pokes fun at discrimination against immigrants from war-torn countries.
After being denied a visa into the U.S. in 2006, M.I.A. blamed “them thinking I might fly a plane into the World Trade Center.” Her hit was born.
M.I.A. is an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan repression of Tamil peoples. She has also spoken up for Palestinians on Israel’s West Bank.
Turning to Christ, she says, has caused her worldview to shift – a makeover that jeopardizes her standing with her mostly progressive fanbase.
“Basically, all of my fans might turn against me because they are all progressives who hate people that believe in Jesus Christ in this country,” says the singer.
M.I.A. was born in London. When she was six months old, the family moved to Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, where her father founded the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students, after a succession of pogroms against Tamils in the island nation off the coast of India.
For a time, M.I.A.’s family went into hiding, as the government hunted them down. Though born Hindu, M.I.A. studied at Catholic convent schools. The Sri Lankan army reputedly shot bullets randomly into the school on a regular basis to terrorize the locals. Along with all the other students, M.I.A. would dive under the desks and tables to avoid getting shot, a regular occurrence she described as “fun.”
At age 11, M.I.A. was brought as a refugee to England where she grew up in the “incredibly racist” Phipps Bridge Estate, a slum. There, she mastered English, and her mom worked as a seamstress for British royalty. Immersed in political activism, M.I.A.’s father was absent from the family, leaving a hole in her heart. Her mom became Christian.
M.I.A. loved art and pursued film but got sidetracked by hip hop and dancehall music, which she was introduced to by eavesdropping on the beats blaring from neighbor flats after her own radio was stolen. Her stage name came from the time she lived in Acton and was looking for her cousin who was “Missing in Acton.”
Once on vacation in the Bequia in the Caribbean, M.I.A. was dancing in the street at a “chicken shed with a sound system,” and some Christians… Read the rest: M.I.A. Christian
Stan Lander stared blankly at his wife when she asked a question. It was the second time some sort of brain fog prevented him from articulating, even thinking.
The doctor’s scan revealed an inoperable, probably cancerous mass in the middle of his brain.
“It was a death sentence, the Edmonds, Washington, man remembered on a CBN video.
The second scan only confirmed their worst fears.
“Is this my life?” Stan asked in disbelief.
But Stan and Aleta were Christian believers. So, in time of trial, they gathered their courage and prayed. Their church joined them in prayer.
The doctor’s prognosis was grim: the rare CNS Lymphoma spelled three to six months to live.
“Even in the midst of that dire prognosis, we knew that God was still for us and had a plan for our life,” Stan says.
Their neurosurgeon, Dr. Lau, told them, “I say from a neurosurgical point of view, we cannot do anything much.”
An MRI was scheduled.
Meanwhile, Stan and Aleta were watching the 700 Club one week before the second MRI and the woman praying, Terry Meeuwsen, made a startling statement:
“You’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and there is no question whether you have it or not, it’s there and you question whether God can heal such a thing,” Meeuwsen said. “Today God is setting you free, he’s totally healing that tumor; it’ll just disappear.”
Stan and his wife were startled. It seemed the woman on TV was describing him.
“That’s for me!” Stan exclaimed.
When Dr. Lau saw the MRI results, he was taken aback. Where there had been a white image of the tumor, now there was only black, indicating there was a hole.
“There’s a hole in the brain!” he shouted. “There’s a hole in the brain!”
A miracle had occurred, and the Landers were overcome with astonishment and joy.
“When you see the picture, your jaw drops,” Dr. Lau says. “You saw the white stuff… Read the rest: Cure for a brain tumor.
The first time Bud Greenberg showed up at a Bible study, he introduced himself as a Jew, and the leader asked him to teach the next week’s study.
“You’re Jewish,” the leader told him. “Wow, you’re an expert on the scriptures. We’re just finishing up the study and we’re going to start the book of Esther. Since you know it a lot better than us, you being Jewish, will you teach us?”
There was only one problem: Bud had never read the Bible.
Notwithstanding, he assumed the invitation to teach was standard operating procedure. He went home and, starting from Genesis, thumbed through the Bible until he got to Esther.
“I didn’t want to disappoint,” he says on a Delafe Testimonies video. “It gave me a desire to read more, so I thought to myself, ‘Well, maybe I’ll read the New Testament.’ So I started in the book of Matthew.”
Today, Bud leads Bible studies in the Pentagon with Navy Seals and Special Operators, leading America’s elite fighters to Jesus. God has spoken through him in a way that unnerves the highest military professionals famed for having nerves of steel.
“I’m scared of you,” a Delta Force operator told him one day, arriving at the Bible study.
“You’re scared of me?” Bud responded. “I’m just a pencil-neck geek bureaucrat; you’re the killer.”
“No, no,” the operator said. “They tell me what goes on in these bible studies. I have no idea. I came early just to see for myself.”
Bud Greenberg was born Jewish but married a Christian girl. He loved baseball but wasn’t good enough in umpire school to make it in the Big Leagues. So, he joined the military and carted his wife with him to Germany.
She wasn’t too happy with the sudden move, and their marriage began to suffer. He asked a social worker what he could do to improve his marriage. Do something with your wife that she likes to do, was the answer.
Whenever Uhm Jung-Hwa’s friends told her about Jesus, she cringed.
“God loves me? What’s that? People are really weird. What God loves me? It is myself who loves me the most!” Jung-Hwa said at the time.
Today, the “Madonna of Korea” has converted from Buddhism.
One of the most influential singers, actors and dancers in South Korea, Jung-Hwa only regrets that it took her so long to come to Christ.
“I was jealous,” she says in a YouTube video in Korean. “I was curious why I knew God now, why didn’t he meet me quickly? Those who were born with a birth faith can meet God earlier than me. I was jealous and thought it was unfair.”
Jung-Hwa was born in 1969 in the city of Jecheon. She had one brother and two sisters. Her father died in a car accident when she was six.
Jung-Hwa had a gifted soprano voice with a wide range, so she launched a career. At her height in the 1990s, she was the queen of the music industry and one of the most popular celebrities. Her most recognizable singles were “Poison” and “Invitation.”
She became known as the “Madonna of Korea” and is a role model for many emerging singers today.
Some of her friends were Christians, but Jung-Hwa spurned faith in God.
Born a Buddhist, Jung-Hwa consulted with fortune-tellers and witch exorcists.
With $2.7 million on the line to win or lose the most legendary golf tournament in the world, the fabled Masters of Augusta, Georgia, 25-year-old Scottie Scheffler, who had won his first PGA Tour title only weeks earlier, broke into tears of nervousness on the morning of the final day.
“I cried like a baby this morning, I was so stressed out,” he admitted later.
His wife, Meredith, a strong Christian, told him: “Who are you to say that you’re not ready? Who are you to say that you know what’s best for your life?”
“If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, I’m still going to love you,” she said. “You are still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you, and nothing changes.”
Scheffler was grateful for her wisdom, “What we talked about is that God is in control and the Lord is leading me and if today’s my time, then it’s my time…if I shot 82 today then somehow I was going to use it for His glory.”
His wife’s advice and the Lord’s presence helped calm his nerves, and Scottie coolly chipped his way to the championship. As he donned the storied green jacket given to Master’s tournament winners, Scottie spoke about his Christian faith.
“All I’m trying to do is glorify God,” he said. “That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in this position and so for me it’s not about a golf score. I need a Savior and that’s probably one of the coolest things about our faith is recognizing your need for a Savior.”
Scheffler was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but moved with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was six. Throughout grade school Scheffler, filled with a fascination for professional golf, would wear golf attire to school, even though his peers made fun of him.
He attended Highland Park High School, where he played both golf and basketball, and then the University of Texas, where it was strictly golf. He helped the team win multiple championships.
It was in college that Scheffler “truly felt alone and didn’t know what to do.” He then started attending church and began to give his heart to God, piece by piece. “Gradually with time he just started taking over my heart,” he recalls.
Lee Byung-Yoon was an uncommon Korean child; he had no dreams for his future.
Then, to the chagrin of his parents, he wanted to be a hip hop artist.
“I had a dream in my first year of high school, and it was to make music,” he says on a YouTube video in Korean.
Eventually his parents supported his dream. Then BewhY (a simplification of his name that he uses as a stage name) won the prestigious Gaon Chart Awards in 2020. And every song he does is based on a Bible verse.
“I praise the Lord of my fathers today,” he raps in “On that Day.” “Even if many walls of oppression block me, I wait for the Lord only. Oh, the day of glory. Oh, God, please accept my heart.”
Of the South Korean population, 28% identify as Christian, so having Christian artists is not uncommon. What’s unique is that BewhY – noted for his sincerity and the fervor of his convictions – would win the secular “discovery” award when all his lyrics are Biblical and his testimony squeaky clean.
At the time he launched, other “Christian” rappers weren’t so Christian.
As she sat on the playground at the Waldorf Steiner school in England, 11-year-old Naela Rose became demon possessed.
“I remember sitting in the playground and I felt the spirit enter me, and I was instantly suicidal,” says Naela on a Doreen Virtue video. “I knew this was an outside entity. From that moment on, I suffered from obsessive thoughts of self-harm and depression. It just hit me.
“Satan just loves to go after children. Children are so young and open and sensitive. If you’re unprotected, it’s very dangerous.”
Naela’s parents were liberal, open-minded, Reiki-instructed and thought the occult-based school, a real-life version of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, would be perfect.
Beginning at Waldorf, she learned pagan rituals, worship of the creation, tantra yoga and empowering the feminine through worship of ancient goddesses.
“I was a proud pagan. I loved Mother Earth. I called myself a witch. I was into all these things,” Naela says. “I was completely seduced by the idea of divine feminine rising, and that I am in fact a goddess.”
At first she touted herself as a high priestess only. But as the adulation of followers progressed, she decided to become a full-on goddess. She felt it very flattering to hear followers in her training affirm her god-status.
Naela had become a New Age master raking in beaucoup bucks with constant seminars and training. “At the peak of my success in New Age, I felt the most hollow and empty,” she recognizes.
Katie Davis Majors was a Tennessee high school homecoming queen headed to nursing school. But instead, she became a mom to 13 girls – all in 18 months.
Katie adopted them all in Uganda, where she ditched her high-paying career path to work in poverty as a missionary at an orphanage in Africa.
““God just designed me that way because he already knew that this is what the plan was for my life — even though I didn’t,” she says on madehanaqvinews.com.
In 2008, she was class president of her high school Brentwood, Tennessee, when she went on a short-term mission trip to Uganda. Short-term missions make a lasting impact on many, but for Katie it was off the charts.
The poverty she observed moved her to compassion. Believing she could make a difference, she made a heartfelt decision: to put off college for one year and teach kindergarten in the Christian-run orphanage.
During her time there, a terrible rainstorm caused a mudhouse to collapse, burying several children. Leaders scurried to rescue the kids buried under the remains of the earthen house. Fortunately, none were seriously hurt and could recover in a local hospital.
After being rescued, Agnas, 9, whose parents both died of AIDS, plaintively asked if she could live with Katie forever.
Looking into the pleading brown eyes, Katie could not say no.
That was the beginning. Katie didn’t immediately embrace her destiny. To please her parents, she returned to the United States to get her nursing degree but found herself longing for the orphans in Uganda.
Ultimately, she returned as a full-time missionary. As she worked with the children, she felt a bond growing in her heart and wondered if she could adopt. Under Uganda law, she had to be 25 to adopt, but she could initially be granted custodial care.
She began her missionary work by teaching kindergarteners who were eager to learn.
Katie stayed in Uganda, serving. Everyday was filled with love and joyful sacrifice. She wound up marrying a fellow Tennessean missionary, Benji Davis, and they started a family, with God providing two biological sons.
High on Xanax, Scootie Wop, now a Christian rapper, swerved his vehicle into a divider after he fell asleep at the wheel, then crashed into a telephone pole.
“You need to go to church and do something,” his mom told him after he drove home. Somehow, he was able to drive the totaled car home after the horrific accident.
Emmanuel “Scootie” Lofton’s father was a pastor and former Marine. Scootie had an idyllic childhood until his father abandoned the family and left the ministry. That forced his mom, along with Scootie and his siblings, to live out of a 95 Mercedes Benz in South Carolina, according to Rapzilla.
“I felt like I lost a piece of myself. Everything switched. I got exposed to drugs and gang culture and fighting with different people,” he says on HolyCulture.net. “I got put into a gang in the fifth grade, so I hung around a lot of older kids. I started smoking in sixth grade and selling stuff in the seventh grade.”
That’s when 12-year-old Emmanuel started experimenting with drugs and gangbanging.
“My mom was praying for me every morning, every night,” he says. “She was always cooking something in the pot, making the house smell good. I got my love from God from her.”
Emmanuel tried to straighten up by playing football, basketball, track and even kickboxing. Eventually, he focused on football, but a broken leg – fractured in six places – right before college destroyed the dream. The months of recovery saw him drop sports and college.
After they both became Christians years later, Tomas Bueno became friends with the gang banger who smashed his skull and left a scar on the back of his head.
“I’ve been able to reconnect with him,” Tomas says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House premium podcast on Spotify.
Tomas Bueno grew up in the Los Angeles area. His dad was a bar owner and often wouldn’t come home from drinking, and his Mom took the kids driving around at 1:00 a.m. looking for him.
“It was around the age of 12 that I started getting enticed by what I saw around me,” Tomas says. “I started seeing these guys. It was the time when Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre had an influence on the white kids in suburbia. I thought this was really cool watching MTV for hours.”
When his dad was followed home and shot up in a case that originated from Mexico, the family moved to Huntington Beach in 1992 where few Hispanics lived.
“He came in, he was shot in the shoulders, he was wounded, he was asking for a gun,” Tomas says. “I was a little kid just trying to process this. Come to find out it came from Mexico, problems there that spilled over to the U.S. Needless to say, we had to move. We moved in the middle of the night.”
At 13, he started ditching school getting high, giving sway to the influence of a street kid. By 15, he was “running amok and being crazy, partying and going wild.” At 16, he smoked meth.
“All my friends were already doing it and they were like ‘You gotta try it. You can stay up all night and drink,’” he recalls. He worked at Subway and a co-worker showed him how to pack the balls and smoke speed.
By 1995 his friends were gang members when he lived in Fullerton. He met a girl, Karina (who now is his wife), and got her pregnant at 17.
“My dad’s not going to be down for this,” she told him. “I’m going to have to move in with you.”
“Ok, no worries, we’ll make it work,” he replied. They barely knew each other. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
But because he was partying, Tomas didn’t call her the next day. Nor the next. Nor the next.
For three months, he didn’t call.
“Basically, I left her hanging,” he admits. “It’s not that I was trying to avoid this. It’s just that I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I was in the streets doing drugs partying that kind of procrastinating. After three months I was embarrassed. What do you say? I just kept partying and doing whatever I was doing.” Read the rest: Hunted by rivals, Tomas Bueno rescued by God.
Taneisha Upperman’s idyllic childhood evaporated when she saw her stepdad hit her mom with a hatchet.
“It was in the middle of the night, blood was streaming down her face, and I was terrified, so I ran all the way down the street to my aunt’s house, probably about two in the morning crying,” she says on a Delafe video. “I remember being so scared and not knowing what to do and knocking on my aunt’s door for like 20 minutes because they were asleep.”
From the age of six, Taneisha’s life was a nightmare. Yes, her mother gave birth to Taneisha as a 16-year-old single mom, but they went to church with Grandma, and Taneisha had a happy life singing in church.
But her childhood innocence was tarnished when stepdad let the kids see porn.
Once when arguing with him, Mom locked Taneisha up in a room with her uncle, who sexually abused her.
“I was not understanding it, but being exposed to porn, I’m like, Well maybe this is
supposed to happen,” she says. “I just did not understand.”
She was seven-years-old, and told no one about the incident.
Mom moved the family to New York and then back to the country. Remembering the happy years when she attended church with Grandma, she begged her mom to be allowed to live with Grandma.
Little did she realize, Grandma had changed.
“That’s when I experienced verbal abuse and physical abuse,” Taneisha recalls. “My grandmother was angry. I don’t know why. She would just yell at me and call me names and say, ‘You’re nothing. You’re gonna be nothing. You’re lazy.’”
Grandma provided shabby clothes for Taneisha to wear to school, which was embarrassing and led to being bullied.
But the worst thing was that her uncle would come and go and take advantage of her sexually. At 10, she lost her virginity because of his abuse.
“In the fifth grade, I started having a warped view of guys,” she acknowledges. “I thought in order for them to like me or to be popular I had to let them touch me. I began to get promiscuous in school.”
All the while, Grandma took her to church, where she discovered she had a great singing voice. She was told she had a gift from God. When she sang solos, the church “went crazy.”
Taneisha elevated the family’s status in the church.
With one arm amputated, Christian dunker Hansel Enmanuel is winning high school games and has D-1 scholarship offers from Tennessee State and the University of Memphis.
“It’s not about what I want to achieve or do in life, it’s what God wants from me,” Hansel told the Orlando Sentinel. “God always has a purpose. I am living His mission, what He wants me to do in this life. Everything I do, I do it with God first and for my family; they are everything [to me].”
To see young hotshots slaloming through opponents and dunking on them is enough to generate a buzz in the basketball world. But he does it with one arm.
Hansel was born in the Dominican Republic. His father, Hansel Salvador, was a professional basketball player on the Caribbean Island. But he grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods. He developed a love and passion for basketball as a kid.
Tragedy struck when he was only six-years-old. When he clambered up on a wall of cinder blocks, they came crashing down and trapped his arm under a block for two hours before he could be rescued. When his father took him to the hospital, doctors determined that his tendons were shattered and they could do little to save his arm.
“My life fell apart when Hansel’s accident happened. I was the one with him and when they had to amputate his arm, I felt like it was all over. But God grabbed us and led us down this path,“ his father said. “You remember everything [from the accident] because a blow like this is not forgotten so quickly, regardless of all that he is achieving, thanks to God.“ Read the rest: One armed baller Hansel Enmanuel is Christian.
Despite experiencing terrors of demonic oppression as a child, Apisit “Ide” Viriya didn’t abandon the syncretic Buddhism of his childhood when he began experiencing clinical levels of obsessive-compulsive disorder with anxiety as a college student.
“Buddhism acknowledges suffering in the world,” says the Thai immigrant to America. “But for me it didn’t provide a solution. I fell into a survival mentality.”
Ide was raised in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. Raised in America, Ide was told by his parents to always double-down on the teachings of his family, as 95% of Thais are Buddhist.
So he hung on to Buddhism, even when the animism of his village opened him to demonic influences. His parents didn’t believe him or his brother when they were awakened by terrors or heard voices during the night, so they comforted each other.
“I felt like there were fingers touching my body,” he says on a Delafe video. “I could see two eyes looking down at me.”
At the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Ide first encountered an enthusiastic believer. He felt like she genuinely cared for him, but he was put off by her exclusive attitude, saying that Jesus was the only way to God.
He listened to her as she witnessed to him and even attended church, but he also shared Buddhism with her.
In his early 20s, he began to suffer from depression and OCD, believing that something bad would happen to his mom if he didn’t repeat a phrase a number of times.
“I would keep having to repeat things as a thought in my head until I felt peace,” he says.
He sought help from university student psychological services and got referred off campus because the case was higher level than they could handle.
Thus began years of therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. At the height, he was taking 12 pills a day to calm the irrational fears. He also dove deep into Buddhism, visiting the temple and praying with monks every evening.
Still, he sought solutions that Buddhism couldn’t provide.
While Buddhism teaches the way to peace is by not setting your hopes on the things in this world, it was completely at a loss for aiding with OCD.
Trying to manage his OCD, finish college, and hold down a job, was a daunting task.
Desperate at age 25, he saw a Christian psychologist, who asked if he could pray for him each time. “I was hurting, so lost, I said, that’s fine. I just didn’t care,” he says. Read the rest: Demons in Buddhism
In a moment of extreme accumulated frustration, Chiaki Gadsden told her alcoholic mother during a fight: “Shut up and die!”
Chiaki’s mother died that day.
“The next morning my father told me, ‘Chiaki, you mother died today,’” she narrates on a Japan Kingdom Church video on YouTube. “I didn’t feel anything. I just couldn’t believe it. I went home and saw her body and still couldn’t believe it.”
Chiaki’s childhood frustration and source of loneliness and abandonment was her mother’s alcoholism. Her father didn’t like to see his wife drunk, so he stayed away from home. Her older sister had become hardened and unfeeling, so she paid no heed to Chiaki’s pleas that they help Mother.
Eventually, Chiaki became uncaring also and took drugs and became promiscuous as a coping mechanism, she says. The coping mechanism never worked very well.
Meanwhile, she grew hard-hearted and distant from everyone.
That morning Chiaki and her mother fought, as they did many days. The sinister effects of alcoholism over many years reached a boiling point and Chiaki uttered the words she later regretted: “Shut up and die!”
She pronounced the awful words, but didn’t want the horrible result.
So when Mom died that day, Chiaki was staggered.
“I started to blame God: ‘Why didn’t you help me?’” she remembers. “I thought, What’s the point of this life? No one can help. My family didn’t help. God didn’t help. What is this life?”
At a family meeting, Chiaki’s father made a terrible announcement to everyone.
“He said my mother’s death was my fault,” Chiaki says.
“I was shocked that he said that,” she says. “I could not understand why he would say that.”
“Oh, it’s my fault that my mother’s dead?” Chiaki thought. “My father said so. Then it is bad for me to be here. If I’m not here, then everyone will be happy.”
From that moment, Chiaki no longer sought to have relationships with people. She cut herself off. She lost all hope, all purpose.
“Everything just became darkness,” she says.
Then Chiaki was invited to a gospel music festival.
“When I saw and listened to the gospel music, suddenly I felt something warm in my heart,” she recalls. “I thought, wow, gospel music is amazing. Then all of a sudden, tears started to pour out. I thought to myself, Why am I crying? I thought, What is this? What is this?” Read the rest: Christianity in Japan
The “goon-mobile” or “swagger wagon” – a 1978 Chevy Beauville van that belched out blue smoke from its tailpipe – accompanied Adam Dragoon everywhere he went, from delivering hotdog carts around town in Portland to the party bus in high school.
When he got saved in his later high school years, the Beauville became the church bus, carting people and equipment for outreach and service.
“I learned how to sell hotdogs at 10 years old, slinging the mustard, Hebrew National hotdogs,” Adam says. “I inherited the van, a 1978 Chevy Beauville. It was a tank, one of those half-ton vans. That became my ride, that hunk of junk. It was glorious.”
The hunk of junk is a metaphor for Adam’s life before Jesus: weighted heavily, inefficient, roaring around, wasting resources. The heaviness on his heart started early, when his parents got divorced in Oregon during kindergarten.
“I was upset that Dad was gone and he wasn’t coming back,” Adam remembers on a Testimony Tuesday podcast on Spotify. “That definitely had a profound impact on who I was.”
Then both his grandfathers died when he was 15.
“That hit me real hard,” he acknowledges. “It was the first time I had to deal with death. I got angry at God. My mother’s father knew Jesus, so I was confident he was in Heaven. But my other grandpa was blasphemous and told dirty jokes. One of them was in Heaven, and one of them was not.
“That had a profound effect on me.”
What was a young boy supposed to do but fall in love with a cute blond at a telemarketing firm that he now realizes was a scam?
“I had to take care of the car. I had to pay insurance. I had to put gas in the tank, so I had to have a job,” he remembers of his 16th year. School was less appealing than work: he had a ready mind to learn but an unready hand for homework and barely passed his classes.
Raised in Arizona – “the Promised Land where all the California people who can’t afford California go,” Adam spent summers with his father where Grandfather Dragoon put him to work peddling hotdogs from his deli. He learned a work ethic.
During the summer when he was 14, Adam tried reading the Bible with his other grandfather but didn’t understand because he wasn’t yet born-again; the Holy Spirit was not yet upon him to teach him the meaning of the Scriptures.
“I put some serious effort into it,” he says.
His mom took Adam and his brother to church, one of those megachurches with cushy chairs, AC flooding the room, and a youth group of 800 kids. If you asked him, Adam would have said he was a Christian.
At the same time, there were doubts. Taught in public school, he was filled with a lot of skepticism and atheistic ideas, the fodder of the public school system.
So, when one day he sat next to a glowingly pretty blond at the telemarketing business, Adam was ripe to listen to the Gospel from her. Taya radiated light, the light of Jesus – and she was stunning.
“One day I got brave enough to leave a note on her car: If you ever want to hang out with me, you can call me,’” he remembers. “Amazingly enough, she called me.”
The first conversation ended with him asking her to hang out on the weekend. She responded with: Today’s Wednesday, and I’m going to church. Do you want to go to church with me? Read the rest: Adam Dragoon pastor of Virginia Beach Church
Steve Prendergast went from diehard Christian in his youth to a hard-to-kill “avid atheist” who drank, took drugs, and ridiculed his praying mom.
“I pretty much ran out of veins to inject crack cocaine with,” says the former wrestler who crashed a vehicle while drunk and had a leg amputated as a result. “Thank God for a persistent mother. I credit a praying mother who prayed with my Aunt Linda for over 20 years.”
After three motorcycle accidents, a boating accident, five overdoses and two suicide attempts, the boy who started on fire with God finally relented and came back to God.
Steve’s start was in a Christian home with lots of love for the Word of God. But curiosity to see what the world had to offer seduced his heart.
“At age 16, I started to binge drink,” Steven says on 100 Huntley Street video on YouTube. “I wanted to see what life was like on the other side of the fence.”
When his young Christian girlfriend moved away, he blamed God and searched for “hypocrisies” in the church to justify his plunge into temptation.
“I became a very avid atheist,” Steve acknowledges. “I actively mocked people, including my mother, and friends of mine who had faith. It didn’t matter what your religion was, I would still mock you if you believed in any form of a deity. That’s how far I drifted away.”
The bar scenes, the drug and alcohol culture began to fill his boat with water, sinking him ever deeper. He worked full time, and as soon as he got home, his phone rang non-stop; he became a drug dealer as well.
She was Bahai, he was a militant agnostic, they fell in love, what could possibly go wrong?
After declining the offer to receive Jesus at a friend’s church, Emily and Aaron Armstrong found out what could go wrong: a dark presence began to torment them.
“We would wake up in the evening and really feel like somebody else was in the house when there really wasn’t,” Emily says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “He’d wake up with scratches on his back that I didn’t put there. He’d be fighting in his sleep all the time. He’d be swinging his arms as if he was trying to fend somebody off.”
The demons – the presence – left when the Canadian couple accepted Jesus into their hearts. To get to the place where they grappled with demons didn’t take a pact with Satan. Actually, very prosaic events in Emily’s life led her the wrong way.
Despite having lots of Christian friends whose company she enjoyed and with whom she went to youth group activities, Emily didn’t receive Jesus.
She received Bahai, the Iranian-based hodgepodge religion of idealism. It believes that one day, we’ll all have one religion, one economy, one language and universal harmony and equality.
“Because I was a perfectionist, I thought this was a beautiful and wonderful thing,” Emily says.
After graduating from college, she dated Aaron, who was sweet and charming but was an unmovable agnostic. Emily thought that inviting him to enough events would convince him about Bahai, but he always took a dim view.
Not long afterward, Aaron got invited to a 10-week seminar on the basic doctrines of Christianity, and they attended because they didn’t want to make their friend feel bad. It was interesting, but Emily and Aaron politely declined the invitation to receive Jesus.
That’s when the presence showed up.
“Strange things started to happen,” she says. “We would wake up in the evening and really feel like somebody else was in the house when there really wasn’t. I wasn’t seeing things that weren’t there.”
The scratches on Aaron’s back in the morning were really bizarre. Why was Aaron flailing his arms, as if fighting someone off during his sleep? Read the rest: Bahai opened couple to demons
Four out of 10 women who received an abortion, according to a 2015 Care Net study, got pregnant out of wedlock and had also been attending church. They said the church had no influence on their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
How could this be when the church is at the heart of the Pro-Life movement?
A new documentary attempts to resolve this dark paradox. “The Matter of Life,” in theaters May 16 and 17 only, suggests that the church needs to work on a secondary message. Without easing off the preaching against abortion, it needs to strengthen its message of extending grace to people who slip up.
“I thought all of them were going to judge me,” one young woman says in the film.
“My expectation was that everyone was going to look at me and not see a ring on my finger,” another says.
“These people are going to look at me and say, ‘Uh oh, somebody messed up,’” still another says.
“The Matter of Life” searches the soul of the church.
“Many American churches – including those considered to be Pro-Life – are not considered to be welcoming places for pregnant single women,” the narrator says.
Lisa Cannon Green, who reported the findings, also said:
Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.
A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
Melanie Washington hugged the young man who killed her son.
“It’s more important to love and forgive than to hold on to the pain and the hurt,” Melanie says on a Long Beach Post video. “I found myself putting my arm around him. I didn’t feel a murderer that killed my son. I felt my son.”
Today Melanie Washington, based in Long Beach, CA, is helping troubled youth make it out of a destructive culture. She herself came out of a childhood that was “pure hell,” she says.
At age 8, she was molested by her stepfather. When “Fred” got on top of her sister Mary, Melanie told her mother, who kicked out the abuser.
He left but showed up the next day with a gun.
“No, Daddy, no,” Mary pleaded.
He shot and killed Mom. He tried to kill Melanie, but the gun jammed.
Shocked and overcome by grief, Melanie, who didn’t know where to turn, blamed herself for her mother’s death.
“I was the one who told my mother that he was doing this,” Melanie explains. “She put him out, and then he came back and killed her the day after Thanksgiving. I went through a life of never forgiving myself for that. I kept telling my mother, I’m sorry.”
Melanie graduated from high school and, falling in love with a handsome young man, married him. After the second month of marriage, he began to beat her.
Actor Denzel Washington is once again unleashing a furious attack against social media.
“The No. 1 photograph today is a selfie, ‘Oh, me at the protest.’ ‘Me with the fire.’ ‘Follow me.’ ‘Listen to me,’” he told the New York Times. “The Bible says in the last days – I don’t know if it’s the last days, it’s not my place to know – but it says we’ll be lovers of ourselves. We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed.”
Not only that, people are committing suicide because of snide remarks on social media.
“This is spiritual warfare. So, I’m not looking at it from an earthly perspective,” the two-time Academy Award winner says. “If you don’t have a spiritual anchor you’ll be easily blown by the wind and you’ll be led to depression.”
The 67-year-old goes so far as to give youth advice regarding Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat: “Turn it off. It’s hard for young people now because they’re addicted. If you don’t think you’re addicted, see if you can turn it off for a week.”
Denzel just portrayed MacBeth in an Apple Movie released Dec. 25 and now available on streaming. The Shakespearean tragedy explores the demise and demonization of a once-loyal general who allows ambition to take over his heart. Read the rest: Denzel Washington social media
A Hispanic congregation’s attempt to launch a Christian private school has been blocked by a Boston-area school board, but the Vida Real Church is fighting for its constitutional rights through two lawyers’ groups, Fox News reported.
First Liberty Institute and the Massachusetts Family Institute say the Somerville Superintendent and the Somerville Public School Committee is violating the U.S. Constitution by denying religious freedom. At issue is the Vida Real’s biblical stance on creationism and homosexuality, which the board contends is “unscientific” and out of line with its values.
“It is illegal and unconstitutional for city officials to question the religious beliefs of Vida Real, let alone use those beliefs to stop the church from opening a school,” Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said in a statement first provided to Fox News Digital. “This is blatant religious discrimination. It’s time for Somerville officials to stop treating Vida Real unfairly and allow it to pursue the opening of a school.”
The skirmish between secular politicians and church leaders shows where the cultural war is being fought currently: on school boards. As secular humanists attempt to impose their version of utopia on America, Christians are trying to stick to the bible.
Vida Real turned in a lengthy application to open “Real Life Learning Center,” but the school board has not granted authorization. Instead, Somerville’s school board committee responded with 35 “hostile” questions about what is intended to be taught, the lawyer’s group says.
“The school’s position on homosexuality and creationism make it difficult to see how a thorough science and health curriculum is possible,” the school board says, according to documents. “The school’s approach to student services and counseling appears to devalue evidence-based psychology and its emphasis on approaches rooted in the belief that mental illness is caused by sin and demons is unscientific and harmful. … Overall, the school was entirely contrary to the values of SPS and the idea of educating the whole child as being inclusive.”
Creationism is the term for looking for scientific evidence to support the Bible’s account of the world’s beginnings, as opposed to evolution. The discussions of “being inclusive” refers to affirming students with gender dysphoria and same-sex attractions. Christians can affirm individuals while helping them with their harmful thoughts and confusions.
As a first attempt to resolve the conflict, the lawyers’ group has sent a letter to the school board alleging violation of the Constitution, which bans government from interfering with questions of faith. If they are unable to resolve the disagreement through the letter by April 8, a full-fledged lawsuit may be necessary, the lawyers’ group says.
“The hostility displayed by the Somerville Public School Committee is outrageous,” Justin Butterfield, deputy general counsel at First Liberty, said in the statement. “The government cannot ban a religious school because they disagree with its religious beliefs. Doing so violates federal constitutional and statutory law.”
A Daasanach warrior chief named John was outraged that the Roman centurions were killing Jesus on screen in his Ethiopian village, according to a Timothy Initiative Vimeo video.
“I couldn’t believe that while Jesus was being tortured, my people sat idle,” John recalled. “I threw a stone at the soldiers and even ran behind the screen with my knife drawn.”
Some remote people groups who still live out of touch with civilization and technology don’t immediately discern between the acting in the Jesus Film and reality. So John attempted to engage the Roman soldiers to defend “an innocent man.”
Of course, John didn’t find anything behind the screen. He had never seen a movie. When he understood that the film’s action scenes were only on the screen, he took his seat on the ground and watched with horror and anguish as the Romans crucified Jesus.
While John found no one behind the screen that day, he did find Jesus. A member of the team that projected the film led him in a sinner’s prayer and began to disciple him.
Like most intelligentsia, Jordan Peterson started as an avowed atheist.
He is no longer an atheist. He leans strongly towards Christianity, which his wife has largely embraced after a brush with cancer.
But Jordan Peterson shies away from outright and unreserved acceptance of Christianity, mainly because he feels the implications are overwhelming in terms of the code of conduct expected.
“Who would have the audacity to claim that they believed in God if they examined the way they lived?” he says on a Pursuit of Meaning YouTube video. “People have asked me if I believe in God. I’ve answered in various ways: ‘No, but I’m afraid he probably exists.’ While I try to act like I believe, I never claim that I manage it.”
A behavioral psychologist and university professor from Canada, Peterson has rocketed to herodom among Christian pundits because, as a cultural icon, he opposed gender confusion and the cancel culture sweeping politics, the media and academia. He doesn’t like the attempts to force people to not think for themselves.
His best-selling 12 Rules for Life affirms traditional masculinity, which current culture calls “toxic,” and offers itself as an antidote to the moral chaos heralded widely now in Western nations. He’s pronounced himself in favor of Biblical morality.
With this shift towards Christian values and Christian cultural ideas, the loudest liberals “cast him as a far-right boogeyman riding the wave of a misogynistic backlash,” according to the Los Angeles Times, but in reality, he’s not. He has all kinds of ideas, and he’s unafraid to share them.
Peterson has even presented a series of lectures on the bible. But don’t expect an inspirational devotion like your pastor’s; Peterson legitimizes the bible but examines it through a Jungian psychological optic.
He offers insight as to why God didn’t punish Cain more severely. He explains that skeptics can’t easily shrug off the resurrection with the claim that it’s simply a forged copy of various resurrection myths from different cultures for one simple fact: Jesus was a real historical person while other resurrection myths only portray mythological persons.
“What you have in the figure of Christ is an actual person who actually lived, plus a myth, and, in some sense, Christ is the union of those two things,” he says. “The problem is I probably believe that, but I’m amazed at my own belief and I don’t… Read the rest: Is Jordan Peterson Christian?
Shamso was a sickly Somali girl in a refugee camp with a growth on her arm that doctors thought was cancer. They wanted to amputate.
Fortunately, her mother refused and wanted to seek better health care in another nation. A church from Texas sponsored Shamso’s family to come to America with no strings attached.
In 2000 they came to America and got involved in their local Muslim community. Shamso was very religious and taught other children, observed Ramadan, and did everything possible to make it to Heaven.
But she was unsettled by the teaching in Islam that one can never be sure she’ll gain entry into paradise, one can never be sure their good works will be enough.
“I was deathly afraid, not knowing where I was going to be after I die, if I was going to make it into” Heaven, she says on her YouTube channel. “Was I good enough here on Earth? I would always recite the Koran and all sorts of stuff because I genuinely wanted to make it into Heaven.
“But when I realized that everything I was doing was probably not good enough for Allah, it felt like a mentally difficult thing for me to accept. I was super afraid of death. I couldn’t go to sleep at night. Darkness terrified me.”
Shamso was a naturally talkative girl and a naturally curious girl. When in Islamic “Sunday school” she heard that other religions describe Jesus as more than a prophet (which Islam limits him to by definition).
She wanted to explore other religions, but was told not to ask questions. Her teacher told her mom about the questions she had been asking, and she got in trouble.
Shamso wasn’t scared merely of death. She was also scared of the jinn, or spirits sometimes translated and conceptualized as “genies” in English but probably better understood as demons. Her mother told her the story of somebody who accidentally dropped the Koran and turned into a half human, half goat creature by the jinn.
At age 16, Shamso witnessed a new Somali girl at school manifest a full-blown case of demon possession during their English class.
“The jinn was on her. She was screaming, yelling. It was absolutely terrifying. I was already terrified of these things, so to see it in real life, a person being held captive by an evil spirit, instantly I ran out of the room,” Shamso recalls. “It was pure chaos. All the kids were outside. The teachers were outside. Tears were flowing. I trembled with fear.”
The Somali girl was allowed to return home with an adult friend and returned to school the next day, seemingly normal. She didn’t remember anything about what happened, what she said, or what she did.
They get persecuted by their government, spurned by their neighbors, thrown out of their houses. Still the Laotian Christians are growing and evangelizing successfully, fomenting one of Asia’s great underground revivals.
Pei, a 52-year-old widow, illustrates what you can expect to suffer in a nation whose communist government promotes atheism and whose animists and Buddhists think you offend local gods by accepting “the God of America.”
When Pei heard the gospel via a salesman, she embraced the message of salvation by faith and forsook the worship of her ancestors. Secretly, she received discipleship for four months.
When she felt strong enough and bold enough, Pei ventured to share her faith with her daughter and son-in-law.
“Both her daughter and son-in-law immediately began to violently criticize her,” a Christian leader told Christian Aid Mission (CAM). “They told her if she did not stop believing Jesus, they would report her to the police, put her in jail or kick her out of the house, because the son-in-law is a policeman.”
Pei remained steadfast in her faith, while her daughter and husband remained steadfast in their anger.
“In June, while they were yelling at her to leave the house, they grabbed all her clothes and threw them out of the house,” the leader said. “They told her to live with her people who shared about Jesus with her. They told her to never return to the house.”
In Laos, the constitution allows for freedom of faith, in theory. But the government, which espouses atheism, has restricted the practice of Christianity. Officials, hearkening back to the sufferings of the Vietnam War they blame on America, see Christianity as a propagandist arm of militaristic capitalism.
The hostility towards Christians is not only practiced by the government. Laotians are mostly Buddhist or animists and see conversion to Christianity as a grave offense against the local gods.
When her frustration hit the tipping point, Angie Cabler threw the checkbook across the room at husband Jason.
“I will no longer pay the bills,” she snapped, on a 700 Club video. “You will take care of it.”
From thoughtlessly spending to cutting up 17 credit cards, Angie chartered a course with Jason towards financial freedom, which brought them fewer worries about money, and greater peace and harmony in their marriage.
As a dentist concerned with running his practice, Jason abdicated household financial management to Angie. Debt stressed him out, so Angie balanced the checkbook.
For the first seven years of their marriage, the Christian couple never established a plan or goals for their finances.
As a result, their spending habits became unsustainable.
“I just liked to spend,” Angie admits.
As it always does, financial chaos spawned marital strife.
“When we fought, we fought about money,” she adds. “I think if we would have had open communication in the beginning, our first seven years of marriage would not have been so hard.”
But with the breaking point came a breakthrough. Angie threw the checkbook at Jason and renounced any further bookkeeping. Jason took over the expenditure tallying.
Most importantly, the Cablers enrolled in a financial education class at church where they learned the principles of everything from stewardship to generosity. They committed to tithing, eliminating frivolous spending, and setting aside a percentage of their income for a rainy day.
At the last class, Angie spontaneously offered to cut up their credit cards – all 17 of them.
“A lot of them were department stores, jewelry stores, or American Express, Visa, those kinds” of credit cards, Angie details.
Six years after Bashir Sengendo converted to Christianity from Islam, his Muslim family beat him and cut him so severely that he died 12 days later.
Sengendo, 35, of Namutumba, Western Uganda, left a family of four when he passed away in the hospital on Jan. 25th after succumbing to wounds inflicted by his own brother and uncle.
“The family needs a lot of financial, moral and psychological support,” a Kiboga area pastor told Morning Star news, which tracks persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa.
Bashir Sengendo was raised a Muslim and trained to become a mosque leader. But he converted to Christ after he spoke with a former Muslim. Sengendo left his native town and studied at a Uganda Bible college before serving as a pastor in Kiboga for six years.
His immediate family sent messages to him to return home and take care of the farmland that was his portion of the inheritance. Sengendo was reluctant to return because he wanted to continue fulfilling his call to Kiboga.
After six years, Sengendo acceded to his family’s pleas to return home. He had no idea what awaited him.
He arrived Jan. 12th. If he thought the family would receive him warmly, he was badly mistaken. The family was openly hostile.
He was shocked by their cold reception and slept without food.
Early the next morning, his brother and uncle fell on him with violence.
“They beat me badly. They cut me with an object in the head, back and hand,” Sengendo told Morning Star News following the attack, while he hovered between life and death in the hospital. Read the rest: Persecution of Christians around the world.
When Stuart Long crashed his motorcycle into a car, he was launched into oncoming traffic and hit the windshield of an oncoming car headfirst. Witnesses say he then rolled on the street and got run over by another car.
“And here I am” still alive, he remarked later.
Out of the death-defying experience, Stuart turned to God and became a priest, known as Father Stu. He’s the subject of a new biopic starring Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg, who were inspired by the story and decided to make the movie.
The movie “Father Stu” will be released on Good Friday by Sony. Wahlberg has pursued this project for six years. His own father died of cancer, so when Wahlberg heard two priests talk over dinner with him about Stuart Long, it resonated with him.
Born in Seattle on July 26, 1963, Stuart Long was adventurous and ambitious as a young rascal he explains, according to the Daily Mail. After graduating high school in 1981, he arrived at Carroll College, a private Catholic university. His focus was completely on sports, primarily football and soon, boxing, which became his sole passion.
“I wasn’t Catholic. I always felt like kind of an outsider,” Long revealed while thinking about attending mass with the football team.
Long admitted to constantly questioning his college professors. When he discovered boxing, he found his calling.
“The individual sport fit with my personality better than the team sport,” Long said in a 2011 interview with the Diocese of Helena. Read the rest: Father Stu
For 13 months, Isaiah Trujillo was vomiting every day, as he battled stage 4 cancer with chemotherapy. Sometimes all his wife could do was rub his back – and stay by his side.
“It was worth it. It’s what God had for us. I knew that God had more for us,” Amanda Trujillo says.
This is a different Valentine’s Day story. At a time when marriage is grounds for divorce, some Christian couples – like the Trujillos – still hold marriage as sacred. Their vows “to death do us part,” they take seriously.
Meanwhile worldly marriages are built on the proverbial sand that the flood waters buffet and break down.
“We definitely questioned why we were going through that,” says Amanda. The two-year ordeal is finally over. Isaiah just was declared cancer-free and the port in his chest is being removed. “You have this idea that if you serve God and do what’s right and do the will of God that you live in a bubble and nothing will touch you and you’re safe. That’s just not true.”
Theirs was the church kids who did everything right fairy tale love story. Their first kiss was on their wedding day.
Then one night, Isaiah, who is pastor in Fort Collins, Colorado, got acute stomach pain. Even though he thought it was due to bad tacos, he went to the emergency room.
After checking him over, the doctor off-handedly ordered a CAT scan, thinking it was probably not necessary, but might turn up something.
Isaiah, who naturally is doctor-averse, ordinarily would have declined. But for some strange reason, he got the scan. It turned out there was a small spot in his intestines that the doctor thought might be diverticulosis, not a serious condition.
After further studies, however, 36-year-old Isaiah was diagnosed with advanced cancer. He could die, leaving his young bride with four kids to fend for themselves. It was a trial of the size of Job’s. Read the rest: a love story of marriage
Shelby and LeGrand started a family with illusions of having a fairy tale life.
But when Shelby was expecting twins – during a high-risk pregnancy that precluded working – the young couple worried how they would pay for groceries, since LeGrand’s job remodeling a commercial building didn’t pay very much.
“When I found out we were going to have twins, I was nervous and scared,” LeGrand says on a CBN video. “It’s challenging because I feel like as a dad, I want to make sure they can look up to me and I could be there for them.”
Thinking about the babies in her womb filled Shelby with joy, but when she thought of the harsh reality of bills, anxieties plagued her heart.
“Trying to afford groceries is very difficult for us. It’s hard to get the money that we need to feed the kids at the same time,” she says. “It’s hard to balance it out between all the other things we have to pay for. The difficulty of all of that made me feel very down. The not knowing of how we were going to be able to afford things is scary.”
To their rescue came their local church, Dayspring Church, which partners with Operation Blessing, a CBN-related nonprofit that for 40 years has aided churches with critical needs projects.
The food pantry has come through in a big way for Shelby, LeGrand and their two tykes. Read the rest: food pantry in church.
Stephen almost forgot to give Emily his normal goodbye kiss that morning in a rush before the day’s labors in a dangerous area of northern Africa. But he came back and gave her an extra-long hug. Sadly, it was their last hug together.
“That morning he ended up giving his life for Christ,” Emily says on a 100 Huntley Street video. Stephen, a loved and respected servant of Christ, became a victim of jihadist terror.
Emily first visited the unnamed country on a short-term mission trip. It was five weeks of ministering amidst poverty and hopelessness.
She longed to return to America where she could enjoy a decent cup of joe. The hopelessness attached to Islam was omnipresent in the women’s prison, where ladies were jailed for seemingly minor offenses, such as getting pregnant out of wedlock, she says.
After five arduous weeks, Emily waited for the plane to arrive that would whisk her back to America. While she waited, God spoke to her heart: If I called you to this country to serve, would you go?
Emily was more than ready to leave. But God was challenging her to give up much more than she could imagine.
So, after years of praying, Emily and her husband, Stephen, returned to the forlorn desert nation as humanitarian aid workers. To state on the visa application their true calling as ministers of the Gospel would result in a flat denial of entry, so they came in officially as aid workers.
Specifically, they granted microloans to collectives of women to help them launch tiny businesses. Each month, when Stephen collected payment, the people would invite him into their homes with incredible hospitality.
Over tea and milk, they had long talks together. This was customary in their culture, and it afforded Stephen many opportunities to introduce Jesus.
As the years rolled on, Stephen and Emily grew bolder.
“We just did not feel comfortable with being undercover. That would be like putting our light under a bushel,” Emily says. We found creative ways to be who Christ wanted us to be and that is speaking about Christ, his life, his teaching.”
Stephen was growing increasingly bold with proclaiming Jesus. He even began to hand out Bibles and the JESUS Film liberally. Other missionaries grew concerned that he would go too far. Extremist Islam might retaliate.
“Other workers got very nervous,” Emily says. “They felt we had gone a little too far, that it would make us a little too conspicuous. They were fearful for us but also for themselves because they didn’t want to be labeled as proselytizers.”
Their fears proved grounded. One day, Islamic extremists attacked and killed Stephen – who ironically shares the name of the first Christian martyr.
It was the day he went back for an extra-long hug to his wife – his unwitting goodbye.
After Stephen’s death, Emily and the children were escorted by authorities to the other side of the city, where they hid until they could be flown to the States.
An African American man wrongly convicted of murder won to Christ a KKK member who lynched a black teenager.
“I truly believe God sent me to Death Row to meet Henry Francis Hays and to show him what real love felt like,” says Anthony Ray Hinton on a 700 Club video. “Real love had no color.”
It wasn’t always easy for Ray to forgive. The cop who arrested him told him he had no chance to escape the murder and attempted murder charges connected to a string of armed robberies in Alabama in 1985.
Never mind that the evidence was skimpy and Ray had an unshakeable alibi for at least one of the assaults. The prosecution’s case rested on forensic evidence which affirmed the bullets matched the gun found at Ray’s house. One officer told him:
“You’re black. A white man is going to say you shot him. You’re going to have a white prosecutor. You’re going to have a white judge. You’re going to have an all-white jury.”
Even Ray’s publicly appointed defense attorney didn’t believe he was innocent.
“What do you do when you tell a lawyer that you’re innocent, and he looks at you and says, ‘The problem with that statement is that all of y’all are always doing something and the moment you get caught you say you didn’t do it.’” Ray recounts.
True to the cop’s cold assessment, an all-white jury found Ray guilty of two counts of capital murder and sentenced him to death by the electric chair.
“It hurt so bad. Why me? What did I do?” Ray anguished. “I even asked God, ‘What did I do so bad?’
“The natural reaction was that it’s over. I was going to be executed.”
Ray’s cell was a mere 30 feet from the yellow-painted execution chair they called “Yellow Mama.”
Every legal appeal Ray made was blocked or dismissed.
“For the first three years, I was in a stage of hate. I hated those men who did this to me.”
As time passed, however, he realized the hatred in his heart was unsavory and wasn’t pleasing to God.
“I asked God to remove this hatred,” he says. “In order for me to be free, I had no choice but to pray for those men that did this to me.”
Ray decided that he would serve the Lord, despite the horrible injustice.
“If this is what God intended for me, to be and die, this is where I die,” Ray resolved. “But while I’m here, everything around me is going to live. I’m going to bring the best out of everybody that comes in touch with me.”
A short time later, he met Death Row inmate Henry Francis Hays, a Ku Klux Klan member who lynched a black teenager without any known provocation. Hays was the first Alabama man executed for white-on-black murder since 1913.
But before he sat in the electric chair, Hays accepted Jesus under Ray’s patient and loving witness.
In their last conversations before Hays’ execution in 1997, Ray told him: “Henry, I truly believe that you’re going to Heaven.”
“You know Ray, I’ve been reading the bible and I have changed my views on so many things,” Henry replied. “I’ve finally looked at you as a human being.”
After years of rejected appeals, Ray got the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) to take up his case in 1998.
EJI probed the case against Ray and found it was deeply flawed: Witnesses had been manipulated. Ray’s defense counsel had been inept. The surviving victim’s initial description of the assailant bore little resemblance to Ray.
The linchpin in the case against Ray was the forensic report, that the bullets came from the gun retrieved at Ray’s house. EJI hired three of the top experts in forensic analysis to… Read the rest: Racism in Judicial system and what God can do.
Raised in England in a Muslim family, Laila Nassali was bewildered by the number of religions and different doctrines.
“It was so confusing for me,” Laila says on her YouTube video channel. “God is not a God of confusion, so why are there so many different religions out there? If he’s the one true God, why are there so many religions saying he’s this or he’s that? It looked like a confusing puzzle that I would never be able to solve.”
Like so many, she gave up on trying to compare, contrast and determine the truth. Instead, she started to live for personal pleasure and be happy-go-lucky like so many fellow university students appeared to be having fun.
“I was literally just living my best life, and that led me to a lot of sin,” she says. “I was trapped in the flesh. I didn’t believe in God, period.”
One day she randomly felt anxiety and depression, because of living in the ways of sin. “I had thoughts of death, and where am I going to go?” she says. “I had all of this torment in my heart. It led me to the point where my spirit was crying out. I couldn’t fathom that I didn’t have a purpose.
“It took me to go into the dark to realize there is a God somewhere.”
Out of her agony, she decided to pray: Who are you God? she asked.
She didn’t pray at a mosque, as her Muslim parents had taught her. She prayed in her bathroom.
In the following days God brought a Christian into her life. She just “happened” to catch a cab with a pastor, who talked the entire time about God, Christianity, and prayer. Next, she ran across two random girls on the street who talked to her about God.
Then it was Instagram. Scrolling through, all she saw was posts with crosses, which was weird because she knew the algorithms based on her previous interaction with Instagram would not lead her to crosses. Read the rest: why are Muslims getting saved in the West?
He was a comedian on stage. At home, Jeff Allen was an irritable, angry husband.
He even fought with his wife over cheese. With a morbid fear of spoilage, he would throw out perfectly fine cheese. His wife would argue over the waste.
“I don’t want it!” he yelled at his wife. He stood on a stool to emphasize his point. “Can’t you hear me? I don’t want it! I don’t want it!”
Cocaine and alcohol were in the mix, sharpening the damage caused by his cutting remarks.
One day as he put his child to bed, the little one shook him.
“Daddy you win,” she told him. “Mommy cries. You yell. You win.”
Tears streamed down his face. Jeff suddenly realized he needed help. He first attacked the drug addiction and alcoholism through 12-step programs.
But he chafed at the step that calls for participants to believe in and pray to a higher power. A confirmed atheist, Jeff ridiculed people of faith. To pray to a “higher power,” he thought, was delusional.
But he went through the motions simply to fulfill all 12 steps.
He was on the road to recovery, so he sampled Buddhism and other faiths that overlapped with self-help.
“I was seeking for my life,” he says.
Then he learned his wife, Tammy, was having an affair. It was devastating.
He called her and told her to come home.
As he waited all night, he fumed.
“I was getting self-righteous,” he confesses.
Finally, the problems of their marriage weren’t to blame on him, and he seized on his wife’s mistakes to feel superior. But as he plotted his revenge, a little voice interrupted him.
“Really?” it said. What about the time you stood on the chair and yelled at her? What about the time you smashed all the dishes? What about the time…?
“I wrestled with God that night,” he admits. “I paced my room like a caged cat.”
By the time his wife called for Jeff to pick her up the next morning, the avalanche of furor had dissolved.
Exhausted from a sleepless night, he met her at the airport. At first sight, Jeff immediately hugged her and kissed her.
Three months after his eldest son died of a drug overdose at 21, TobyMac sang a heart-breaking tribute “21 Years” about the doomed destiny, lost promise, and hope of Heaven.
“‘21 Years’ is a song I never wanted to write,” the artist born Kevin Michael McKeehan told People. “I loved (Truett) with all my heart. Writing this song felt like an honest confession of the questions, pain, anger, doubt, mercy and promise that describes the journey I’m probably only beginning.”
“21 Years” is a dirge with Toby’s signature catchy pop, stylized lyrics and rousing uplift.
Is it just across the Jordan
Or a city in the stars?
Are ya singin’ with the angels?
Are you happy where you are?
Well, until this show is over
And you’ve run into my arms
God has you in Heaven
But I have you in my heart.
Truett died in Nashville of a fentanyl and amphetamine overdose in 2019. Truett had just launched his music career, having resisted emerging as a child star under the tutelage of his famous father.
“Until something in life hits you this hard, you never know how you will handle it,” Toby says. “I am thankful that I have been surrounded by love, starting with God’s and extending to a community near and far that have walked with us and carried us every day.”
Starting with DC Talk in the late 1980s and 90s, Toby has been a Christian music kingpin. He has 20 Billboard chart-topping singles. In addition to being a performer, Toby produces music for his label, Gotee Records.
Being celebrity Christians brings a unique pressure on their children, who get frustrated with the outsized expectations upon them. They might want to be just normal kids with normal experiences and normal failings but are expected to conform to the rigorous standards by outsiders. In 2013, Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide.
When personal tragedy becomes a public spectacle, the superstar Christian needs to shed his celebrity status and return to his personal relationship with God.
“Part of my process has always been to write about the things I’m going through, but this went to a whole new level,” Toby explains. “What started out as getting some of my thoughts and feelings about losing my firstborn son down on paper, ended up a song. ’21 Years’ is a song I never wanted to write.” Read the rest: how did TobyMac’s son die?
The day of reckoning wasn’t when Kurt Warner was unexpectedly thrust on the field as the Rams’ quarterback amid predictions of failure after the first-string QB was seriously injured.
The day of reckoning came years earlier when his wife’s parents were killed by a tornado. That’s when Kurt saw how genuine her faith was – and came to real faith himself.
“Before that my faith was always like: God was out there and whenever I needed him, he was like my spare tire. I get a flat, pop out the spare, God I need this,” Kurt says on an I am Second video. “When her parents were killed by a tornado, she didn’t have all the answers. She was angry. She was willing to call out to God and ask God why and yell and scream.
“But she never lost her faith. She didn’t walk away from God,” Kurt adds. “It was at that moment that I realized that everything she had been talking to me about, this is what it looks like. This is what it is supposed to be. It was at that time that I really committed my life to Jesus.”
By the time Kurt saw himself leading the Rams into the Super Bowl, he was already forged by the furnace. His improbable ascent to NFL Hall of Famer as an undrafted quarterback is the stuff of a consummate underdog. His story – and faith – is portrayed by American Underdog, a movie released in theaters Dec. 25.
Kurt dreamed of football from childhood. The game was a cherished memory he shared with his dad, who left in a divorce.
In college, Kurt was a hotshot with a pinpoint aim, but he had the nasty habit of rolling out of the pocket and making his own plays, not the plays ordered by his coach. For his lack of discipline, the University of Northern Iowa coach kept him on the bench for three seasons.
According to the movie (which sticks closely to his real-life story), he begged for a chance to play, and coach finally leveled with him. He needed to stay in the pocket, a protected bubble formed by collapsing linemen around the QB, to give him time to find a receiver.
As a drill to see if Kurt could handle the pressure, Coach sent wave after wave of defensive linemen crashing into him to hurt him and see if he would stand up under pressure. It worked.
Kurt was named Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and first team all-conference.
At the same time, Kurt met the girl who became his wife and the catalyst to his faith.
The odds were against him striking up a relationship with Brenda. She loved country music; he hated it. Even worse, she detested football.
But as God would have it, Kurt went with his friend to a country-western bar where he was smitten by her good looks and decided he’d better learn to barn dance.
The doctor screamed at Mom to follow through with the abortion she had already paid for, but the janitor who found Christina Bennet’s mom crying in her gown in the hallway said God would provide a way for her to have and support her baby.
Because her mom never wished to tell her the story of how her life hung in the balance between the forces of death (ironically, a doctor) and the forces of life (a humble janitor), Christina never knew until someone whispered prophetically in her ear.
“I was in college and I was attending a church. Someone approached me and said, ‘Christina, God wants you to know something remarkable happened around the time of your birth,’” she recalled on a CBN news video.
Startled, Christina confronted Mom, who was at first only vague saying some Angel had been involved but eventually broke down and spilled the beans.
“Do you want to have this baby?” the janitor had asked Mom.
“Yes,” she replied through the tears.
“God will give you the strength to have your child,” the cleaning man said.
The doctor tried to intervene and obligate Christina’s mom to follow through. “You’ve already paid. You’re just nervous,” he reassured her.