Category Archives: Christianity in action

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

After dropping his family off at church, Chris Wright circled back to pick up a lady walking down the side of the road with a gas can that he had seen on his way to Sunday morning service.

“She was down on her luck,” Chris said on the Today Show. “She had only $ 5 in a purse and was worried about feeding her child. I filled her gas can and drove the woman back to her car. As I started to leave, I felt a nudge to give her what I had in my wallet $40.”

The act of kindness toward TunDe Hector came at her neediest moment, and tears welled up in her eyes.

Three years later, Chris’s mom suffered a life-threatening disease and was hospitalized. After days, she was released but needed a nurse’s aide to monitor her at home.

The nurse’s aide turned out to be the same woman he helped at the side of the road – TunDe. At first, Chris didn’t recognize her and TunDe didn’t recognize Chris because the day he popped by he was wearing sweatpants and a cap on backwards.

But they did get to talking, and TunDe found out that Chris attended Cornerstone Church in Athens, Georgia. That’s when she brightened and recounted the story of how “a young man” from that church had performed an act of kindness to her three years earlier.

“My jaw dropped,” Chris says.” I couldn’t believe it. I saw myself three years earlier being tugged to help a stranger.” Read the rest: What it means to be Christian?

She called it her ‘revenge body’

Vivian Herrera worked out intensely. She wanted her ex to feel sorry for cheating on her. She called the results her “revenge body.”

She uploaded 10,000 sexy shots to Instagram, attended raves and did drugs every other weekend when her ex had custody of their baby. She also fought with him every chance she could.

Vivian didn’t really know God through her church upbringing. By 18, she picked up on the “law of attraction,” the New Age idea that positive thoughts bring positive results, and she was making good money as a saleswoman at LA Fitness in La Habra, CA.

“I was attracting all this stuff, but I was still empty,” she says on her Faith with Vivian channel.

As she grew more self-centered in the quest for money and adulation from boys, she lost all her friends from high school. “All I cared about was money and working out,” she admits. “They wanted nothing to do with me because I was so selfish.”

She fell in love, moved in with her boyfriend and had a child by him, but when he cheated on her, she reacted with volcanic anger.

“I got so mad guys. I went to his job, and I keyed his car,” she admits. “I threw all his stuff. I cursed him. I told him he deserves to go to hell.”

The purpose of her life was to make him regret his infidelity. She trained hard to get a sexy body for a bikini competition that would make him eat his heart out.

“I was getting my revenge body,” she says.

In her headlong plunge into sin she slept around, did drugs, and traveled to Las Vegas as often as possible to party. Instead of worrying about her baby daughter, she danced the night away at raves whenever her ex had their daughter.

“I was literally doing anything to numb the pain,” she says. “Living for money, weed, alcohol partying, concerts, it was pretty empty. My life really had no meaning at this point. I was literally just trying to forget the pain that I was in. I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

She had started going to church, but instead of “leaning in” on God in her time of crisis, she walked away from Him.

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

Founder of Lexit found by Jesus

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

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

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

From a young age, Jesse was involved in shootings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pastor, the baby box and South Korea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From rank and file of nortenos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Dave Ramsey

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

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

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

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

Read the rest: Dave Ramsey pays off debt.

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

Christ and a Coke saved Brian Birdwell’s life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The beginnings of Sean Feucht in Christianity and worship

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

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

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

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

Sean Feucht with Mike Pence (Facebook)

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

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

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

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

Oh, the irony.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, was the reply.

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

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

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

Sean Wheeler: forgiving the types of abusers who abused him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Sean says God has transformed his image.

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

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

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

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

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

New Mexico cop adopts pregnant drug addict’s daughter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His admonishment brought Crystal Champ to heaving sobs.

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

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

That’s when the compassion of Jesus took over.

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

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

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

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

Ryan had to prep Rebecca.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan’s extraordinary measure flabbergasted his boss.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Human trafficking victim got out alive of ‘the game’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Narnia brought a Harvard atheist to faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naturally, Isela followed her mom’s example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loss of fingertip didn’t stop Christian pianist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next, Phil ran off his wife and kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phil was tired of the cesspool life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What were you boys doing with that net?”

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

Ratatouille, potstickers for the homeless for Thanksgiving in LA

But what are you doing to help in needy areas?

I had been complaining on social media about the lawlessness of the rioters, and God was intersecting my self-righteousness with a contrary thought.

Ok, God, I thought, where can I get involved in at-risk neighborhoods in my city, Los Angeles? The door opened quickly to share a Bible study once a week at a half-way house just west of Downtown. I could leave my smug, self-affirming San Fernando Valley and get into the grit.

What started as a weekly study turned into friendships.

Then it went deeper. It became family.

Richard cried.

Some church members and my business associates at World Financial Group, all pitching in with cooked items, threw the 16 guys at New Beginnings a full-on Thanksgiving Dinner.

Here are guys, many of whom have burned their bridges with their own family. So they aren’t invited to family gatherings. And the feel the absence acutely at family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I should know. I cried too when I was a missionary all alone with my wife in Guatemala the first year and we didn’t have anybody to celebrate with. God sent us a well-to-do Guatemalan family that went out of their way to invite us to Christmas dinner with their family. Gratitude welled up in my heart.

So when I saw my guys at New Beginnings, with Thanksgiving approaching, I knew what I had to do. God has blessed me, and so it was my turn to bless.

Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. When I suggested the project to my financial advisor business partners in the Woodland Hills office, everyone was eager to contribute. As my wife cooked the turkey, Sierra Rego mashed the potatoes, Herb Quick bought pies, Jamie got cider and Marie Carole — who’s from France — whipped up some ratatouille.

I didn’t even know that ratatouille was a traditional Thanksgiving dish. LOL.

Of course, Kianna Shin, who’s our leader, outdid us all. She made potstickers, another Thanksgiving classic. Read the rest: where do I get involved to help the homeless for the holidays?

Soles for souls: the story of Emmanuel Ntibonera

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

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

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

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

“I looked at myself and I felt guilty.”

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

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

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

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

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

Wannabe terrorist turned to Jesus

The reason why so many Saudis fill the ranks and leadership of terrorist organizations today is because teachers and preachers in Saudi Arabia praised the “holy war” of Muslims against non-Muslims in Afghanistan in the 1980s, says a convert to Christianity.

“A whole generation was brought up this way and taught to think this way,” says Nasser al’Qahtan. “Sadly the world is reaping the fruit for what we were taught when we were young.”

Nasser, who was born and raised on the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia, longed to die for Allah by waging jihad, and thus improving his chances of making it into Paradise. But along the way he converted to Christ and now exposes the diabolical beginnings of today’s world upheaval.

Nasser’s parents were opposed to the idea of their 12-year-old going to Pakistan for training and being smuggled into Afghanistan to fight the Russians, but many of his older friends did join jihad.

“God had other plans for me,” he says on a Your Living Manna video.

In the summer of 1990, Nasser plotted to run away and join jihad, but Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. At the time, he was actually in the United States with his mother visiting relatives and the ensuing world chaos prevented him from leaving “this evil nation” of America.

Nasser hunkered down for the long haul, playing the role of the religious police with his younger siblings to make sure they still prayed and read the Koran. He didn’t want them to come under Satanic influences in America. Eventually, he worried about himself and eyed with suspicion the Americans around him.

“What was I going to do? I was surrounded by infidels. You either make a war against them or you try to bring them into Islam another way,” he says. “I thought Allah brought me here to evangelize them.”

Nasser’s English was very good and he thought his Islamic apologetics weren’t bad either.

“I began to tell everybody about Islam, my fellow students, my teachers, my neighbors, everybody I came into contact with,” he says. “I started to see some fruit. I started to see regular American people abandoning their prior beliefs and becoming Muslims. Some of them grew up in the church and they renounced Jesus. I thought I was fantastic.”

As he learned about American culture, he eventually perceived that born-again Christians were different than the rest of Americans (who he wrongly assumed to all be Christians), and he began to target them because he figured it would be easy for them to switch since they already lived clean lives.

One of those loving and clean-living Christians was a woman with whom Nasser fell in love.

“That was my undoing,” he admits.

Only after marrying Daisy did he begin to correct her beliefs about Jesus. She should no longer idolize Jesus, who was nothing more than just another of Allah’s prophets, he said. Mohammad was the main guy.

The pressure he put on her grew in time and caused great strain on their marriage, and even some Christian friends counseled her to divorce for being “unequally yoked,” a mistake she had made while being a nominal Christian.

But Daisy, pressured to evaluate her childhood faith, wound up affirming her relationship with Christ. Encouraged by an aunt who had been a missionary for decades in Brazil, she not only prayed for her husband but mobilized thousands of Christians in mega churches in North Texas to pray.

Those prayers began to take effect. Outwardly, her husband appeared secure in his beliefs, but inwardly he was struggling. He knew his sins were too great and the mountain of good works and prayers needed to offset them too much. He began to ponder again the easiest and most and most assured path to Paradise — jihad.

Finally, his wife ventured to invite him to church, which, out of curiosity, he accepted. His consciousness of his sin was so great that he concluded, “If I’m going to go to Hell, I might as well find out what they do in church.”

“I thought it was the most Satanic thing I had ever seen,” he says. “But I was so drawn to keep coming back by the love I felt there. Eventually he broke down and asked God for the truth.

“Immediately I had a vision. Everything before me was wiped away and I was transported to this rocky hill, looking down at this man who was so brutally beaten to the point of being unrecognizable,” he says. “He was being nailed to a cross. I knew this was Jesus.

“I watched as the cross was lifted up and He’s hanging there bleeding and struggling for breath. I’m looking Him in the eyes. He’s looking at me and through me. He sees all of my junk, the hidden things in my life. I feel this wave of shame.

“But he’s not looking at me with disgust, which is what I expected. He’s looking at me with this fierce love. As He’s fighting for every breath on the cross, He’s fighting with every breath for me.”

The darkness from all humanity was put on Him on the cross.

“The darkness wasn’t overcoming Him. He was overcoming it.”

Then Jesus said, “It is finished.”

“The reason I did this is that you and all the people that were meant to be my children were snatched away from Me, and you sold yourselves to other powers. To buy you back, this was the cost. This was the price that I paid for you Nasser.”

The vision disappeared. Nasser hadn’t heard the sermon. Read the rest: Saudi terrorist turned to Jesus.

When ‘you can’t pray the gay away’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Career-ending injury brought Inky Johnson his dream life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only fear and condemnation is what she felt in Islam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then something happened that was totally unexpected.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I was living in hell in this world.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rasul responded that he became a Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freed from stress, inferiority complex

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

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

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

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

Still, she was shy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parameswari rushed out of the room, rejecting the notion.

Notwithstanding, she continued to contemplate the Bible.

Borrowing the mysterious book, she read further.

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

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

Only deaf church in West Africa led by deaf missionaries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Chand traded punching for preaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miss America Asya Branch leaned on Jesus when Dad was imprisoned

Not everything was beautiful in the new Miss America’s early life.

When Asya Branch was 10, her father was arrested at home for involvement with an armed robbery. Little Asya watched terrified from the car as her dad was hauled away.

“That day our lives changed forever,” Asya told the New York Daily News. “We had a beautiful home and a great life. When they found out that my father was in prison, people looked at us differently. That was a critical stage in my life and it ended up changing me. I felt this overwhelming shame.”

Three things ensued. Asya and her family lost their farm home as the bank foreclosed. She felt alone and abandoned. And she grew closer to Jesus.

“My father’s incarceration played an enormous role in my life and helped me develop characteristics I never imagined. It taught me responsibility at a young age and to count my blessings,” Asya said on Mississippi Pageant. “But most of all, it strengthened my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Asya was born the sixth of eight siblings to her parents, living in Booneville, Mississippi at the time. Before stepping into a wayward life, her dad was a retired military veteran. Her mom was a teacher’s assistant. She was a gregarious kid who spent her days entertaining family members. If no one was around, she would bury herself in a book.

Asked what one book she would take to a deserted island, she answered unequivocally: “My Bible, not only for the quality reading but for inspiration and guidance in the circumstances in which I would find myself.”

A self-described “daddy’s girl,” Aysa said there was no one to help her through the trying times of losing her dad to the prison system. Her father, she says, had tried to help a drifter by taking him in. But that young man had committed an armed robbery, and for trying to help a needy soul, her daddy paid a high price.

“There were no resources nor advocates available for me,” she says. “People don’t recognize the hardships I have faced in my life because I have learned to be strong through my circumstance, keep a smile on my face and lean upon the Lord.” (Asya is advocating for prison reform and even spoke to President Trump about it.)

“I struggled with my self-worth and closed myself off, praying for answers about why this happened,” she wrote in Guideposts. “Maybe God is teaching me to be independent and grateful, I thought.”

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

Limbless Nick Vujicic wonder if he would ever marry

Nick Vujicic assumed he might live life alone. He has no legs and no arms.

“I definitely had doubts that I would ever get married, that I would ever meet anyone who would ever love me and spend the rest of their life with me because I’m Prince Charming — with a couple bits and pieces missing,” Nick says.

Today, the Australian-born Christian motivational speaker is happily married to his Cinderella.

“We have gotten a lot of interesting reactions from people while we were dating, holding hands and walking side by side,” says Nick, now 34. “People would come up and cry and say, ‘Now I believe in love again.’”

Kanae Miyahara is a Mexican-Japanese who saw the Australian evangelist at a small speaking engagement in Texas. Nick’s appearance on the stage makes a sensation. Sometimes, he is carried in. Sometimes, he scuffles along the ground and hops up steps to a table, upon which he stands. He has a mere stub for a foot only.

With a mixture of self-deprecating humor, optimistic Bible preaching and non-stop enthusiasm the born-again evangelist leads sinners to Christ and Christians to a better attitude.

As he spoke in 2010 at the iconic Adriatica Bell Tower in McKinney, Nick spotted the exotic beauty in the audience and felt his heart throb. Would she — could she — feel the same?

Through friends, he arranged to talk with her and, playing it cool, managed to exchange emails.

Kanae was disillusioned with her prior dating experiences.

“Because I have dated other guys, I always went for the physical and I got tired of that,” she says on YouTube. “When I met Nick I was looking for other things, I found all those things in him. I was like wow, he’s not just boyfriend material, he could be my husband.”

So when she met Nick, she wasn’t necessarily looking for physical attributes — at least not arms and legs.

“The moment I saw his smile and his eyes, I thought to myself, oh my gosh, he’s so handsome. He’s my Prince charming. He may not be perfect on the exterior but he’s a perfect match for me.”

Nick was born to Serbian immigrants in Australia with tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the absence of arms and legs. When the nurse showed Dušanka and Borislav Vujičić their baby, the couple went outside the hospital to vomit.

Eventually, they accepted Nick as he was. They brought him home and raised him to love God and never make excuses but to learn to do everything by himself, as much as possible. Hence, he went to school, played ball and made friends like everyone else.

“My parents always taught me we have a choice to either be angry for what we don’t have or to be grateful for what we do have,” he says. “The power of choice. I had to decide for myself, especially in the early years in school when a lot of kids would come up to me and tease me.

“The world is a hurting place. The world needs hope. The world needs love,” he says. “Without hope, we feel like, why are we here?”

Nick graduated from Griffith University at the age of 21 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a double major in accounting and financial planning.

In 2005, Vujicic founded Life Without Limbs, an international non-profit organization and ministry. In 2007, he founded the motivational speaking company Attitude is Altitude. He has preached for mega church pastor Greg Laurie and around the world to more than 4 million people. In 2008, he moved to California.

Nick doesn’t let anything hold him back. He swims, cooks, skydives and surfs.

The night he met Kanae was “electric,” Nick says. “When she stood by me it just felt right.”

Nick proposed on a yacht in Santa Barbara. He even put the ring on her finger — with his mouth. She wasn’t expecting it, and he began by kissing her hand. With great dexterity, he managed to slip on the gold band. Read the rest: Nick Vujicic wife

Earthquake Kelley’s Schools of Deliverance

Curtis “Earthquake” Kelley was formerly a high-ranking witch, so he brings a wealth of counter-intelligence to Christianity — and what he finds is that most Christians are abysmally ignorant of their enemy’s strategy.

“Since I was in that dark stuff, God told me to bring that information to the table,” says the seventh-born heir to a dark legacy of priestly power in Haitian voodoo.

Today, Curtis, 64, uses his honorary doctoral degree to teach Christians the mechanics of deliverance from demonic oppression, from physical sickness to entanglements with sin. He travels internationally and gives classes over Zoom — “not just a whole lot of hollering and hooping. We need an understanding of God’s word for knowing how to fight these hobgoblins.“

Call it Deliverance 101.

Twenty years ago, Curtis taught Deliverance at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Today, he is pursuing a goal of launching Schools of Deliverance in every major U.S. city.

“The enemy doesn’t want the body of Christ to be educated about what he does and who he moves,” Curtis told God Reports. “Deliverance is not a 40-yard dash. It’s an 880 run. It may take a little while to get around the track and learn these things. A lot of people give up because of their lack of knowledge. The church is not taught how to fight.”

Born to a Haitian immigrant family in New York, Curtis was heir to the family’s legacy in witchcraft because he was seventh born. He learned casting spells, astral projection, séance pronouncements and client manipulation, but when he saw demons coming in and out of his floor — and especially after a drug-induced dip in Hell — Curtis decided he wanted out.

He grudgingly attended church, and on the third day of revival in December of 1971 the evangelist called him out: “Young man, God wants to save you. God says, ‘I love you. I want to save you,’” Curtis remembers. “I didn’t want nothing to do with the church because I thought they were weak. But when I heard God loved me, I went up to the altar.”

Among the things he’s done through the intervening years, Curtis got into boxing. He was a good bare-knuckle fight club brawler and caught the eye of promoter Don King, who fronted him as a super heavy weight boxer along with Mike Tyson, who was heavyweight category, Curtis says.

He met with some success — in the shadow of Tyson — but a head-on car collision in 1986 abruptly ended his foray in the sport.

Curtis got into ministry. He was holding a drug-rehab program at a Los Angeles church in the early 1990s when a well-dressed participant — husband and wife — caught his eyes.

“You don’t look like you have any problems with drugs,” Curtis approached him at an opportune moment.

“Oh no,” the man responded. “We’re here for our son. Our son is strung out real bad.”

With the knowledge he gained, that man helped his son break free from drugs. Today, that son is a successful engineer, Curtis says.

It turns out, the man was a professor at USC and spoke to the Dean to get Curtis in to teaching a class — Deliverance and Demonology — for one semester. There were always 5 or 6 kids out of the 50-student class who hung out after class wanting to know more. Read the rest: Earthquake Kelley’s Schools of Deliverance.

Banana cream pie, key to meeting wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gay stripper found God, doesn’t let same-sex attraction define him

Egged on by friends in middle school, Samuel Perez felt same-sex attraction but he had been raised in a strict Christian household.

“Oh my gosh! I don’t want to go to hell!” he thought, after he “came out” to his mom, and she warned him. “I didn’t know what I was feeling, I didn’t know how to control it. I didn’t want to like men, I just did.”

It all started because the Cuban youngster didn’t fit in with boys. His friends were girls. When he finally got a masculine friend, he got excited and confused and started to think it was a romantic thing. Lesbian friends reinforced the confusion, urging him to plant his flag of gay identity.

“Am I gay?” he asked. “Do I like this boy? Is this who I really am?”

When he told his friend, he got rejected. This prompted him to fall into a dark depression

A war waged for his sexual identification, with his parents fighting for God’s way, and his friends pushing for the world’s. When he finally told his mom he didn’t want to “suppress” his same-sex attraction, she sent him to an ex-gay camp.

“This is such BS,” he thought at the camp. “These people are trying to not come to terms with themselves.”

The camp had no effect.

“The world was telling me to love myself, so i accepted I was gay and was always going to like men,” he says.

In high school, he was homeschooled. That only made things worse because he was cut off from all his friends. Lonely, he became addicted to his computer and cried every night.

“I used to go on virtual realities and pretend to be someone I wasn’t because I was so insecure with myself,” he remembers.

College was going to be his escape. He found his passion in acting and the arts and rekindled his love for music.

“I remember having this app where you could find men in your area and meet up with them,” he says. “I was addicted to the app. I was desperate for someone to love me”

Samuel met up with a guy and made him promise him that he wouldn’t leave if he gave himself to him. The man promised but left him the next day.

At this time, Samuel got really sick and was hospitalized and heartbroken. His depression worsened till he dropped out of acting school.

“For the first time I felt completely lost,” he says. “I had no aspirations, no relationships. I didn’t even know if I liked singing and acting anymore.”

Samuel found a new love, working out at the gym, and became a personal trainer.

Then he decided to finally move out of his parents’ place. “Mom and Dad, I’m moving to New York! ,” he told them one day. “So I moved to New York with their help, like the gracious loving parents they are, even though they knew it wasn’t the best thing for me. They knew I had to make it on my own.”

Samuel had no money and no friends, but he worked as a personal trainer. He started to train a drag queen, who encouraged him to gogo dance and entertain people.

During the day, he trained at the gym. At night he booked appointments left and right. Read the rest: Freedom from gay life.

Only a dagger could stop volleyball sensation Jenny Johnson Jordan

“You would have had to put a dagger in her heart to stop,” her coach said of Jenny Johnson Jordan, team captain of the under-manned UCLA volleyball squad that triumphed in semi-finals against Penn State in 1994.

With only nine healthy players, the team had to fight for every single victory in their second place finish nationally.

Jenny never left her faith on the bench.

“The culture is trying to say, ‘Hey, you leave your faith over there and now you can come play your sport. Pick it up when you’re done. We don’t want to see it,’” Jenny says. “I was like, ‘How can you be super competitive and fiery (which I was) and also honor the Lord. I learned very quickly that me and my fire and desire to win and to honor the Lord came when I would do it the right way. “

That zeal led Jenny and her team to a national championship and two runner-ups in 1992 and 1994. She won All-Tournament Team honors in 1994.

Later, she won the silver medal at the 1999 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Marseille with her partner.

The daughter of 1960 decathlete gold-medal winner Rafer Johnson, Jenny grew up in the world of sports. Naturally, she wanted to join a highly competitive college program, so she went to UCLA.

“When I made it to the collegiate level I was just learning how to own my faith and what it means to have God in my sport, that they’re not separate things because that’s how I saw it,” she told Gospel Light Society.

Even in the locker room, she says, you’re pressured to listen to certain pump-up music. “These are places we can take stands as believers, which I know is not always comfortable or easy,” she says. “But it’s important.”

She had one coach at UCLA who was a Christian and encouraged her to keep up her Christian testimony. As she accepted the challenge, she got even better at volleyball and became the team captain.

Upon graduation, she transitioned to beach volleyball, where she made an even bigger name for herself. Read the rest: Christian volleyball star Jenny Johnson Jordan brings Jesus to the sport.

Facts girl as WH press secretary: Kayleigh McEnany sweetly savage

Kayleigh McEnany, who looks like she should be hanging on the arm of a PGA golfer sipping a Mimosa, is President Trump’s cudgel for the press.

Behind her beauty lies a fine mind, which the born-again Christian puts to use handling the hostile anti-Trump press. She’s been described as a bulldog with a smile.

As White House press secretary, she regularly chastises a press corps that was cozy with Obama but aggressively antagonistic toward President Trump.

Once a reporter asked if she would take back a statement from her time working at Fox News, that President Trump would prevent Covid-19 from arriving on America’s shores. It was designed to humiliate her, since there was no real answer, but the quick-witted McEnany unloaded with both barrels.

“Does Vox want to take back that they proclaim that the coronavirus would not be a deadly pandemic? Does the Washington Post want to take back that they told Americans to get a grip the flu is bigger than the coronavirus? Does the Washington Post likewise want to take back that our brains are causing us to exaggerate the threat of the coronavirus?”

She rattled off a complete list of media hypocrisy.

“Does the New York Times want to take back that fear of the virus may be spreading faster than the virus itself? Does NPR want to take back that the flu was a much bigger threat than the coronavirus? And finally, once again, the Washington Post? Would they like to take back that the government should not respond aggressively to the coronavirus? I’ll leave you with those questions and maybe you’ll have some answers in a few days.”

Ouch! What a zinger!

The elites who constantly tell Americans what to think were stung. She was the perfect press secretary for Trump, a president who lives up to his self-description as a counter-puncher.

She didn’t get mad. She sweetly smiled. The media giants were aghast with her barbs.

If they were looking forward to chewing up Trump’s fourth press secretary, they found out fast it was going to be Goliath against David.

McEnany thinks God gave her the position.

“I believe God put me in this place for a purpose and for a reason like he does with each and every life,” McEnany told CBN News. “We’re all here for a reason.”

Raised in Tampa Bay, Florida, McEnany found Jesus when she was young. Two days after her 11th birthday, she watched with horror as Rachel Joy Scott was gunned down at Columbine High School because of her faith in Jesus. Asked by the perpetrators of the 1999 massacre if Rachel believed in God, she responded yes and was shot.

“Thank you, Rachel, for making the faith my parents taught me real in my own life,” McEnany tweeted years later. “It has always been my hope that you would greet me one day at Heaven’s pearly gates.”

Her father was a prosperous roofer, and she was a precocious student. She graduated with an international politics degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C. before studying at Oxford.

After a 3-year stint producing the Mike Huckabee Show, McEnany started at Miami Law School. She was in the top 1% of the class, so she decided to transfer to Harvard Law School, where she graduated in 2016.

She prepares her presentations like a consummate researcher. After she worked briefly as a commentator for CNN, Van Jones noted, “There’s very few people in either party who can accomplish what Kayleigh has accomplished in such a short time. People keep taking her lightly, and they keep regretting it.”

Almost 32, McEnany was appointed Trump’s press secretary.

The national press is supposed to ask tough questions of politicians and try to filter through any lies or corruption. But since most reporters are progressive, they extend grace to liberal presidents and sharpen their knives whenever there’s a conservative president.

With Trump, the adversarial relationship has reached levels not seen since Richard Nixon was president. In 2018, the Media Research Center found that 92% of news reports about Trump were negative.

Welcome to the hurricane.

To be press secretary is to be a defender of the president. McEnany caught everyone off guard. “McEnany’s mission: Stand by, defend, punch back for Trump,” the Detroit News’ headlined. Read the rest: Kayleigh McEnany Christian.

Why, why, why do some Christians vote pro choice?

On the threshold of another presidential election, many believers have wondered: How can a Christian vote for a pro-abortion candidate?

You don’t have to be a Christian to realize that abortion is murder. You don’t have to be a biologist or an ethicist to see the hypocrisy in laws that punish criminals for killing a baby in the womb while assaulting a mom on the streets but at the same time allowing mothers to abort.

Christians have tended to support the pro-life movement in huge numbers. For many, it’s a decisive factor for marking their ballot.

After all, the Bible says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,” and “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” verses which establish the fact that a separate human life starts in the womb at conception, not at birth.

To be sure, there are many sins that politicians and political parties commit, sweep under the carpet, cover up, and even promote. But by any measure, the sin of abortion outclasses them all. Drunkenness is a personal decision, but if you drive drunk and kill someone, you should be punished. Drinking should not be outlawed, abortion should.

So how do God lovers vote with a clear conscious for a party platform that promises to amplify, protect and fund access to abortion? A review of websites and articles online reveals the following reasons:

Other issues supersede abortion. These are Christians who feel other issues outweigh the importance of abortion. Billy Graham’s granddaughter, Jerushah Duford, accuses Trump of misogyny and poor treatment of refugees. She has signed on to the “Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden” effort.

Others overlook their qualms about abortion access law because they worry about losing the Affordable Health Care Act, and so on.

The no effect reasoning. These Christians argue that voting for the pro-life candidate has NOT made a discernible impact in the number of abortions. So what’s the point? They think the fight against abortion should be carried out at the local level, trying to persuade individual mothers to choose adoption. Never mind that Democrats right now are voicing full-blown panic that the current Supreme Court nominee might be the tilting vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The Bible spin. A number of websites actually perform exegesis on scriptures to attempt to show that life starts at birth — or at least cast doubt on the traditional understanding. But it is impossible to determine if these articles are written by actual Christians or pro-choice advocates.

The compassion reasoning. There are Christians who feel sorry for unwed mothers and believe bringing the child to term will foreclose future options. Or they feel sorry for a baby born in poverty or abusive circumstances.

The separation of church and state. The Founding Fathers didn’t want Europe’s bloody religious wars, so they established a wall of separation between church and state. Liberals have extended the concept to get prayer out of school and politics out of the church. Christians sometimes excuse their vote for abortion by saying it’s not right for them to impose their morality on others.

The guilty conscience reason. It turns out that Christians get abortions, sometimes to hide their shame. Of course, there is forgiveness, but it’s hard to be militant in opposing abortion with a guilty conscience. But how can a follower of Jesus turn a blind eye to the slaughter of over 60 million babies since 1973 in the U.S.?

America is roughly divided 50-50 on abortion. Polls are notoriously unreliable because the language of questions can slant responses. According to NPR, 40% of voters see abortion as “very important.” Read the rest: Why do some Christians vote pro choice?

After murder and hurricane destruction, she found hope in a hug

Cassenda Nelson often spent the day crying in her truck because she didn’t want to be reminded of the brutal murder of her mom and aunt in her home.

In August 2017, Cassa’s mother, Frances Nelson, and her aunt, Mamie Childs, were murdered in an alleged domestic violence dispute.

“My mom and my aunt were murdered in front of my children at her home,” Cassa reports. “My mom was someone I could go and talk to about anything. It felt like something was ripped out of me. How do you bounce back from being in that place of so much despair?”

Life became unbearable.

“I lost all hope. I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I didn’t want to see sunlight,” Cassa recounts on a Billy Graham video. “My plan was to take a whole bunch of pills to commit suicide.”

Then barely over a year later on Oct. 9, 2018, Hurricane Michael swept through her town with blockbuster Category 5 ferocity and tore up houses, knocked over trees and left the town a shambles.

Cassa’s home was also damaged.

“I’m standing here at the door watching this storm, and I’m saying, ‘Oh my God. When am I going to get a break?’” Cassa remembers. “I lost the most important people that would have been right here with me.” Read the rest: Hope in a hug for Cassenda Nelson

I support black lives and oppose police brutality, but BLM is led by practitioners of witchcraft

As Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah called out the names of blacks killed by police, she summoned the spirits of the dead by pouring out a drink offering on the hot pavement at a June march in Los Angeles.

“Our power comes not only from the people who are here but from the spirits that we cannot see,” said Abdullah, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. “When we say their name, we invoke their presence.”

In the 1960s, the top leaders of the Civil Rights movement were Christians. Today, the leaders pushing progress in race relations are of a completely different stripe: They are Marxists, queer and practitioners of hoodoo.

As the evangelical church weighs its response to racism and police brutality, it must filter through how to support a movement whose values are diametrically opposed to the Bible’s. Normally, when you get into politics you have to overlook a certain amount of unsavory facts to support candidates who represent the majority of your opinions. But just how much can Christians, who are sympathetic to reforming institutional sin, avert their eyes from these glaring faults?

“We speak their names. You kind of invoke that spirit, and then their spirits actually become present with you,” said Abdullah, a professor at California State University LA, as quoted by Christian News. “We summon those spirits that are still with us. We summon those people whose bodies have been stolen, but whose souls are still here,” Abdullah said. “We call on Wakiesha Wilson. We call on George Jackson … Eric Garner …”

Abdullah and her close associate Patrisse Cullors preside over a nationally influential BLM chapter of 500 supporters.

“This is a movement led and envisioned and directed by Black women,” she said. “Many of us are queer, we’re moms, and we really started this work because we wanted to see our children survive. We’re laying the groundwork and foundation for a new world, not just for our descendants but for right now.”

“The movement for Black lives infuses a syncretic blend of African and indigenous cultures’ spiritual practices and beliefs, embracing ancestor worship; Ifa-based ritual such as chanting, dancing, and summoning deities; and healing practices such as acupuncture, reiki, therapeutic massage, and plant medicine in much of its work, including protest,” Cullors told the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs.

Cullors identified herself as queer and Marxist.

BLM holds up the notable goals of social equality and justice amid a disturbing string of incidents of police excessive force. It started seven years ago when black man Trayvon Martin was killed when he tussled with George Zimmerman. It grew to 40 chapters nationwide in major cities through successive incidents of police use of force they felt was excessive: Mike Brown, Eric Garner and now Breonna Taylor.

But it was the tragic death of George Floyd, upon whose neck an officer knelt for nine minutes on his neck as he pleaded “I can’t breathe,” that galvanized national and international protests that were massive. Politicians, companies, professional sports leagues joined wholesale. Even churches got involved since the mission to bring righteousness to our nation can also be seen to include eradicating the sin of racism.

But have many people taken a close look at the foundational tenets under-girding the movement? Is it acceptable to lend our name and prestige to support the backing philosophies of Marxism (essentially atheist and opposed to the Christian church), LBGTQ and demonic religious practices?

“I wasn’t raised with honoring ancestors. As I got older and started to feel like I was missing something, ancestral worship became really important,” Cullors said on Religion News. “At its core, BLM is a spiritual movement.”

Surely, the church will yearn for Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who invoked God’s help in peaceful protest and exhorted the nation to live up to its Christian foundational ideals.

“The different things that have become common, like ‘say her name,’ she says they are summoning the spirits of the dead to empower them to do this justice work,” said Abraham Hamilton III, general counsel to the American Family Association. “People are running around saying, ‘say her name,” but the founders of this organization say they’re summoning their spirits of the dead in the tradition of the Yoruba religion.

“I don’t want to misconstrue the Yoruba religion with the ethnicity or the language, but the religious component of it includes an over-arching pagan deity, then under that a mid level of pagan gods and goddesses called egun, and underneath them their are ancestors that they believe are gods,” says Hamilton, who himself is black. “The Lord warned the Israelites not to participate in these practices of these people. Among the things they were prohibited is summoning dead people.

“There are churches, large denominations that are demanding people support this organization and participate in these mantras and not really realizing what they are doing,” he adds. “As a Bible-believing Christian, I do not need a Marxist, anti-man, anti-Christ, ancestral worship purveyor to teach me how to love my neighbor.” Read the rest: Black Lives Matter and its demonic practices and beliefs.

Church after Covid: many will not return

By the time your church re-opens following the Covid crisis, as many as one in five members won’t return, according to one analyst.

Church dynamics expert Thom Rainer told Baptist Press that the recent global pandemic is revealing the true colors of church members.

That means a church of 200 will be a church of 160 after restrictions lift.

Many churches went online when health officials banned large gatherings as hot points for contagion. They resorted to Zoom Bible studies and live-streaming their worship services on YouTube, Instagram, FaceBook and the like.

While online has the advantage of convenience (no drive to church, and if you want you can wear your jammies), it lacks the human touch of a handshake, hug or affirmation that is also an important part of the service.

While introverts probably liked avoiding the social demands, there are others who may also find it easier to drop out.

Rainer describes several categories of believers who will probably not return to church:

The declining-attendance Christian: If their faithfulness to regular services was already waning, Covid only hastened their demise. Now completely overtaken by inertia, they won’t likely return Sunday mornings unless some drastic jumpstart revives them.

The loosely-connected member: The person who didn’t want to get involved in a small group and develop lasting bonds of friendship and was only a Sunday apparition is likely to continue their stay-at-home habits.

Conversely, the person who has strong friendships developed in community will want to be with his or her friends and will show up as soon as the doors open.

The just-another-activity Christian: The soccer mom whose calendar is chock full of commitments might find the relief from Sunday morning obligations a welcome change.

The critical attendee: The person who was constantly carping, finding fault, and complaining will probably not be returning to services. Read the rest: Church after Covid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valedictorian Christian rapper aims for academia, urban mission

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

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

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

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

Am. “God got the plan now.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were spraying water and urine on everybody.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump Surgeon General, a man of faith and science

jerome adams racismDr. Jerome Adams grew up poor in rural Maryland on a family farm. Government assistance sustained the family.

Recently, his mother had a major stroke. His brother struggles with substance abuse. His grandparents — all four — died prematurely of chronic disease.

Today, Dr. Adams is the U.S. Surgeon General.

“I’m a Christian and I believe God doesn’t put you where you’ll be comfortable,” he told the Richmond Free Press. “He puts you where he needs you to be.”

jerome adams jesusAn uncomfortable childhood prepared him for an “uncomfortable” tenure as surgeon general — and not just because of the pay cut from previously working as an anesthesiologist. Dr. Adams has been criticized for initially recommending against using masks. He’s been bashed for working with a president that some see as insensitive to people of color. He pushes back against the incessant carping.

“Our issues as people of color are too important to go four years without representation in the highest levels of government. I personally have faith that I am put where I am most needed. I spent my life fighting and will keep fighting for the poor, the disadvantaged, the people of color.”

jerome and lacey adamsJerome Adams was born in Orange, New Jersey, but his family moved to St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Though his family farmed, young Jerome was drawn to the sciences and attended the University of Maryland in Baltimore on a full scholarship where he earned dual bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and biopsychology.

He continued his studies at Indiana University’s School of Medicine where he focused on internal medicine and completed his residency in anesthesiology. In 2000, he earned a master’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley.

After that the former farm kid worked in private practice at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana while teaching as an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Indiana University.

Mike Pence, who was then governor of Indiana, tapped the talented doctor for Indiana state health commissioner in 2014.

“I grew up in a rural, mostly white Southern community. I benefited from WIC, reduced lunch and other government assistance,” he told the NAACP in March. “I know what it’s like growing up poor, black and with minimal access to health care, and I’m personally experiencing the lifelong impacts that stem from that.” Read the rest: Dr. Jerome Adams Christian

Fear of God clothing brand founder really does fear God

jerry lorenzo ChristianJerry Lorenzo was supposed to give his $100 sneakers to 100 influencers around the nation to promote the brand in October 2016, but instead he decided hand them out to the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

“I work in Downtown LA and we pass the homeless people sleeping in tents and sleeping bags as we come into work every day,” Jerry says on Fast Company. “We were in a position to give and were ignoring these people that are around us. I just told my staff, ‘We’re going to pack up all these shoes and clothing and give it to people who need it.’ If I’m in a position to give, how dare I give it to someone that doesn’t need it?”

Jerry’s charity that day totaled more than $10,000. But Jerry is a born-again Christian and understands that high-end fashion and fame are ephemeral; only what’s done for Jesus is eternal.

“I’m a Christian, and I love God with all my heart,” he says.

jerry lorenzo shoes skid row homelessHis brand — Fear of God, which he says is cool, not corny, because it counters a lot of dark, empty religious symbolism in fashion — produces street luxury garments that have caught the eye of Kanye West, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber and Travis Scott. His Desert Storm-inspired tennies sold for $1,100.

“The idea for my brand came one day when I was reading a devotion that talked about clouds and darkness around the Kingdom of God. It talked about the layers to Him. For the first time in my mind, God was really cool. He was a dark image in my mind, not in a demonic way, just dark in terms of the layers and depth to him — the kind of figure that is beyond our understanding.

“When you’re at peace with God, there’s a fear of God that’s a reverence. On the flip side, when you don’t know God, there’s a literal fear. I wanted my brand’s name to play on these two different meanings. If people dig deeper with this brand, they can find truth.”

Jerry_LorenzoJerry Lorenzo came to Los Angeles to finish grad school. Being out from under his parents’ covering, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery, ditched his Christian upbringing and sampled the party life in Hollywood. He made lots of friends and supplemented his own income by staging his own parties. At the time, there were either black/ hip hop scenes or white/techno. Jerry fused the two and created his own space.

“It was through the night life that I really began to understand the power of my own influence here in Los Angeles,” he says on a “Now with Natalie” video on the Hillsong YouTube channel. “I had the ability to get people out of their homes five nights a week. I had the ability to influence fashion trends. I saw that I would wear something and people would start to dress like me.”

After eight years in the party scene, he realized he could launch a successful fashion brand.

“I enjoyed the partying. It was fun,” Jerry admits. “Yes, I had my own battles with my convictions, but we are as much human as we are spirit. But as my faith started to grow, I realized that I was not only in the wrong circles but that I was the creator of this platform. I was bringing the alcohol sponsor and the women. It was a heavy realization.

“Being from a Christian home, you think you know what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “I thought I was doing a good job juggling the two. But it got to the point where God said, ‘That’s enough. I have something for you to do and you either do this or you live this other life.’”

His party scene was THE place to be seen in L.A. and have significance.

“But as I grew in Christ and grew spiritually, I realized how insignificant this platform was that we had made,” Jerry admits. “I was fearful that my personal significance would be tied up with something as empty to that.”

He was coming to the end of himself, squandering his resources in his own plan to the exclusion of God.

“I just fell on my face and realized that I can’t do anything without God and that He is the source of anything good and positive in my life,” he says. “If I needed anything, it was to seek Him and not promote myself. Once the blinders were off and I saw if for what it was, I knew that wasn’t the place for me.” Read the rest:Jerry Lorenzo Fear of God clothing Christian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Naturally, they deployed to Minneapolis.

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

Standing up to Superior Court, local pastor challenges church lockdown order

robmccoySticking to the First Amendment and an unwavering belief that church is “essential,” easy-going and gentle-spirited Rob McCoy is turning into a political firebrand by defying a Superior Court temporary restraining order to shut down his indoor services this Sunday.

“We’re going to worship the Lord,” McCoy says on a video on Godspeak, Calvary Chapel’s YouTube channel. “Our community desperately needs this. It’s critical to us. We are essential. This means the world to us.”

Pointing out that not one person from his church has gotten Covid, McCoy encouraged congregants and visitors to continue attending, even under the threat of receiving a misdemeanor citation under Judge Matthew Guasco’s Friday order.

Rob McCoy indoor services“I will be at the 9 a.m service,” says one congregant. “I will take a bullet for the team.”

Newbury Park’s Godspeak Calvary Church has been holding indoor services since May 31, a fact that Ventura County officials were aware of. But all of a sudden, the county board had an emergency meeting behind closed doors to halt those services, voting 3-2 to sue Godspeak in court.

In siding with the county, Judge Guasco stated that First Amendment rights are paramount but health concerns and the jeopardy of the entire county due to outbreak risk bore greater weight. He said on a scale of 1 -10, the danger was a 10, the Ventura County Star reported.

“There is no exercise of a right unless people are alive to exercise it,” the judge said.

Disputing such a bleak assessment of health risk, McCoy says just 80 residents of the county have died from Covid, 0.01% of the population — “tragic” but hardly deserving of such “Draconian” restrictions.

The cost of the cure has been a devastating and irreversible toll on the community, McCoy says. Of restaurants, 65% aren’t surviving. Family businesses are hobbled. Children are shuttered out of school and cut off from human interaction, causing psychological damage. People in recovery form substance abuse have been cut off from support networks and many have relapsed. Suicide rates have sky-rocketed.

The church is supposed to provide spiritual guidance, consolation, encouragement and strengthening to people who need help, but liberal politicians have largely discredited such public services, following alarmist sentiment fanned by the mainstream media.

While churches are shut down, marijuana dispensaries, liquor stores and abortion clinics remain open under many states’ and counties’ rules that leave many Christians scratching their heads and doubting their governing authorities’ priorities. Read the rest: pastors refuse to shut down, Rob McCoy at Godspeak Calvary Chapel

‘Ghost mode’ for street hood turned pastor/rapper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cops hauled him off to jail.

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

Raised in a crack house, rescued by God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She realized her life was careening out of control.

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

He didn’t bother with ‘unknowables’ like God… until he turned 50

Paul ErnstPaul Ernst was a natural tinkerer who based his outlook on life on the material world that could be seen, quantified and studied.

“I liked knowing how things worked,” Paul says in a CBN video. “I wanted to drill down to the basis of something where it was, you know, like taking apart an alarm clock or later a motorcycle or a car engine.”

Attracted to sciences, he graduated from college with a degree in chemistry. He didn’t bother much with the notion of God because if he existed, he couldn’t be documented by scientific means.

“Even though I might think about where the universe came from, ‘Where there’s a God,’ ‘Is there life after death?’ I pushed those into unknowables.

Paul and Mary Ersnt“The picture I had of Christians is that since they weren’t in science, they were in another realm that was unknowable, and some of it actually looked kind of silly to me and I just wasn’t interested in that.”

He stayed the course of scientific atheism through his 40s, but when he turned 50, a nagging sense of his mortality began to irritate him.

“I had a fear of dying,” Paul says. “I didn’t want to go into oblivion or even, or worse yet, into some kind of judgment.”

A friend, Tom Anderson, composed a paper called “A Lawyer Gives a Defense of the Divinity of Christ.” After reading it, Paul realized it made a lot of sense.

“I knew if this is true, this changes everything. This is huge. So I could immediately tell that this was something big that needed to be pursued,” he says. “But the bigger part of the picture is this individual had a roadmap for connecting the dots to where I, for the first time, saw the possibility of knowing whether it was true or not. And I thought ‘I’m not going to live forever; maybe I’d better look into these things and settle them.’” Read the rest: skeptical intellectual, at 50, decided to study more thoroughly the God he had dismissed as ‘unknowable’ when he was younger.

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

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

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

A pastor who’s a politician???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eventually, he became mayor.

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

Noted artist battled leukemia, saved marriage

vera kirkpatrick cancer“You have two weeks to live.”

Those were not the words that Hawaii-based artist Vera Kirkpatrick expected to hear after a routine blood test with her doctor. She worked out twice a day and kept herself in peak health.

All of sudden, she needed her husband, a man she had grown distant from in her self-sufficiency.

Looking back, Vera had grown up in an impoverished, fatherless home. “There were six kids. We had nothing,” Vera says in a CBN video. “So my whole idea was, ‘If I’m successful and I have finances then people won’t look at me as a poor orphan. They will see my success.’”

vera and john kirkpatrickCreating and selling in-vogue art pieces brought her fame and finances. She married, had three kids and moved to Hawaii where she and her husband, John, ran two art galleries. Vera had all the pieces of success.

But she felt John, who adored her, was too controlling, and she contemplated leaving him.

“I wanted to create my own rules, my own world,” she says. “John ended up putting me on a pedestal, and that was good for a while but then I got tired of that. I didn’t want to be molded and shaped. I’m the powerful person. Not ‘we’ but ‘me.’”

But the mulling of separation got cut short abruptly in 2009 when Vera, after skipping doctor’s checks for six years, finally went in for a physical and the doctor ran a standard blood test. He found leukemia.

“What’s Leukemia?” Vera asked when he broke the news. “Wait, is that a cancer?”

“Yes,” he responded. Then he delivered awful news: “What’s worse, I think you have about two weeks to live.”

Oncologist Anthony DeSalvo confirmed the grim prognosis.

vera kirkpatrick“Acute Leukemia, in the absence of urgent treatment, is rapidly fatal,” he says. “It is typically within weeks without treatment you will die.”

Vera turned to the God she knew only superficially.

“Okay God, I’m at a crossroads here. Are you real? Can I call on you?” she prayed frantically. “Are you able? All these stories and all these things were they for real my whole life? Are you mad at me? Will you even listen to me now?”

Her self-made world crumbled. She had achieved success all by herself, and she was proud of it. But with cancer circling, she realized her self-sufficiency was utterly meaningless.

“I’ve been doing everything on my own terms,” she mused.

“I reached out for a life saver and that was God,” Vera remembers. “I went back to my roots, because I wasn’t going to save myself. And you can put your trust in medicine, but the ultimate healing is going to have to be God.” Read the rest: Vera Kirkpatrick Christian artist.