After Gorman Learning Center punked Lighthouse girls volleyball 12-25, maybe thought they had the match in the bag. After all, the scored showed a solid domination in Valencia Thursday.
But Allie Scribner got mad.
And game 2 was a role reversal. The freshman got mad and served a string of unreturnable serves. She smashed 11 blistering bowling balls down the alley (get it? For Allie). After rotating through, another six aces and near-aces to rack up points for Lighthouse Christian Academy.
How did Lighthouse answer GLC’s lopsided 12-25, a message of mercilessness and intention to humiliate?
Lighthouse responded by winning the second set 25-11.
They one-upped them by one point.
Houston, we have a problem.
Where did the dramatic turnaround come from?
There are two answers. The Saints complained the pacing of Game 1 was slow. They made sloppy mistakes and looked lethargic. They came alive in Game 2.
The second answer was the sweet-faced freshman-turned-furious-face Allie Scribner.
Before Vitor Belfort KO’d Evander Holyfield, he got KO’d by life. Specifically, his sister’s kidnapping and reported rape and killing left him searching for answers and hopelessly embittered.
“There’s two ways to get to God, through pain or through love,” he says on an I am Second video. “Mine was through pain.”
Known as “the Phenom,” Vitor Belfort was the youngest fighter to win an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at 19. The Brazilian-born Florida resident, 44, has fought in all kinds of matches, with boxing being his latest.
He knew about God from childhood. In his first official fight, he promised to serve God faithfully, if God permitted him to win. Once he triumphed, he promptly forgot his promise.
“As soon as I won the championship, I didn’t follow God right away,” he acknowledges.
At age 20, he suffered a neck injury. Doctors were grim. He would have to give up his beloved sport of fighting and find another career.
“I was crying, I was desperate,” he admits.
One day as he drove around in his fancy car he saw a legless man who got around on a skate. He was so struck by this beggar, he engaged in conversation.
“Many people that drive by here think I’m worthless because I don’t have any legs,” the beggar told him. “But I can guarantee you, Vitor, I’m happier than many people who drive by here in their big cars. I got Jesus and Jesus can transform your life.”
That was the moment that Vitor felt God talking to his heart.
“But even with that, I didn’t follow God,” he concedes.
It would take the kidnapping of his sister in 2004 to humble Vitor and bring him to repentance.
Priscila was taken, and the family didn’t know anything about her for three years. A woman who supposedly was taken captive herself to pay off drug debts, Elaine Paiva, confessed to helping drug dealers kidnap and kill Priscilla.
Information that his sister had been repeatedly raped by grisly murderers enraged Vitor.
Three times she’s fought off cancer and she’s still not free from its wicked clutches.
Jane Marczewski — who melted the nation’s heart singing “It’s Okay” after saying she had a 2% survival chance on America’s Got Talent — has withdrawn from the final rounds to battle cancer.
In her audition, Jane, who uses the stage name Nightbirde, had stunned judges when she matter-of-factly mentioned she wasn’t working because of cancer in her lungs, spine and liver.
“It’s important that everyone knows that I’m so much more than the bad things that happen to me,” she said smiling. Her exuberant joy and pristine voice prompted Simon Cowell to hit the golden buzzer shortcutting her into advanced rounds. Her song (“If you’re lost, we’re all a little lost, and it’s alright”) shot up to #1 on iTunes
A Zanesville, Ohio native, Jane Marczewski, 30, decided to make a life of her God-given musical talent when she was a student at Liberty University. She married, launched her life, and then got struck by cancer. At first her husband stood with her, but when she relapsed, he divorced her.
Her smile and bursting optimism wowed the audience. “I have a 2% chance of survival, but 2% is not 0%,” she says. “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
But when she’s alone, she faces the daunting odds. Because she’s honest, she sometimes succumbs to depression. But while she struggles and cries out to God about the unfairness of her fate, she grows like an ordinary Christian never will.
“I am God’s downstairs neighbor banging on the ceiling with a broomstick,” she says on an MP4 circulating in churches. “I show up at his door everyday, sometimes with songs, sometimes with curses, apologies, gifts, questions, demands. Sometimes I use my key under the mat to let myself in. Other times I sulk outside until He opens the door to me Himself.
“I’ve called God a cheat and a lie and I meant it,” she says. “I’ve told Him I wanted to die, and I meant it. Tears have become the only prayers I know… night and day, sunrise and sunset. Call me bitter if you want to; that’s fair. Count me among the angry, the cynical, the offended, the hardened. But count me also among the friends of God, for I have seen Him in rare form. I have felt His exhale, laid in his shadow, squinted to read the message He wrote for me in the grout.”
Her words, robed in poetry, address Job’s experience of being crushed unjustly.
“I want to lay in His hammock with Him and trace the veins in His arms. I remind myself I’m praying to God who let the Israelites stay lost for decades. They begged to arrive in the Promised Land, but He instead let them wander, answering prayers they didn’t pray.”
As she scrutinizes her life searching for strands of mercy, she resonates with the story of God feeding the Israelites with manna in the wilderness.
“I see mercy in the dusty sunlight that outlines the trees, in my mother’s crooked hands, in the blanket my friend left for me, in the harmony of the windchimes,” she says. “It’s not the mercy I asked for, but it is mercy nonetheless. And I learn a new prayer: ‘Thank You.’ It’s a prayer that I don’t mean yet but will repeat until I do.”
Already she has outlived the prognosis of three months’ life expectancy given at the beginning of 2020.
The potato chip — that quintessential diet-doomer with its overkill of salt, fat and, yes, sugar — fed medal-winner Gabby Thomas’s running.
Gabby munched chips before getting on the track and burning everybody.
“My first love was soccer,” Gabby says on Humbl Nation. “A lot of my soccer skill was speed-related. My college recruit came to watch my soccer game. I was just doing it to do it. I kind of fell into track. In high school, I was just having fun with it. After my sophomore year, I started to take it more seriously. Then with college, it became an option.”
Gabrielle Thomas won bronze in the women’s 200-meter dash. In addition to track, she’s an academic — a graduate from Harvard University — and a born-again Christian.
Just weeks before the Olympic trials, Gabby got an MRI for a hamstring injury and doctors also spotted a tumor in her liver. It was a cancer scare, but the growth turned out to be benign.
“I remember telling God, ‘If I am healthy, I am going to go out and win trials. I’m going to do everything I can to live my life to the fullest,’” she says on the Today Show.
It was Gabby’s mom, an academic in Massachusetts, who re-directed her into track. “I signed up for softball, and she said, ‘No, you’re doing track.’”
Mom says that Gabby used to eat potato chips — a snack not typically associated… Read the rest: Gabby Thomas Christian
Athing Mu was just fooling around with her older brother, who was part of the Trenton Track Club. She was running — outrunning the bigger kids — when the coach saw her and confronted her later when she was seated on the bleachers.
“Who is this girl? I want her on my team,” the coach said.
That was the start of an incredibly “God-gifted” girl who just won the first gold medal for the U.S. in the women’s 800 meters in 53 years. The 19-year-old freshman records-breaker from Texas A&M charged to the front of the pack from the very beginning and stayed there almost unchallenged, graceful and calm, with a powerful pace throughout.
Athing Mu (pronounced Uh-THING Moe), now 19, is lucky to be in America. Her parents fled South Sudan and made their residence in Trenton, New Jersey. She’s the second youngest of seven siblings. She got involved in track and also discovered what it means to run with Jesus.
“As a follower of Christ, our main goal is to live in the image of Jesus in order to connect to God and ‘get to’ God,” the 5’10” runner says on The Battalion. “I believe when God is ready to give you blessings, He gives it to you with all intentions. In this case, ‘keeping one at the top, never at the bottom.’”
She’s referring to Deut. 28:13: The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. Read the rest: Athing Mu Christian
There were plenty of things to blow Sydney McLaughlin’s concentration. The 400-meter hurdler was under strain from the months of preparation. There were bad practices, three false starts, and a meet delay.
Glaringly, right in front of her was her chief rival, the woman who beat her last time, Delilah Muhammad. Sydney figured she’d have to catch Delilah, whose explosive start out of the blocks was unbeatable.
But in the midst of her doubts and distractions, Jesus spoke to her heart: Just focus on Me.
Not only did Sydney beat her rival in the Olympic qualifiers a month ago, she set a new world record, breaking the 52 second barrier that no woman has ever bested in the 400 meter hurdles.
“The Lord took the weight off my shoulders,” she wrote later on Instagram. “It was the best race plan I could have ever assembled.”
The 21-year-old from New Jersey took the gold in Tokyo, beating her own record with a time of 51.46 seconds. She’s been called the new “face of track.”
It all began with a chocolate bar.
For her first race as a little tyke, her parents promised her a chocolate bar if she won. Her mom was a high school track star, and her dad was a semi-finalist in 400 meters for the 1984 Olympic Trials. Running, she says, “runs” in the family.
She started at age six, following in the footsteps of her older brother and older sister, who ran track.
Her first track meet was two towns away, and that’s when she got promised the chocolate bar. She won and enjoyed her candy.
It didn’t even occur to Yeonmi Park to ask why there would be no fee to smuggle her and her mother across the North Korean border into China at night over the frozen Yalu River. Constant hunger smothered that question.
Quickly, she found out why, as the human traffickers immediately demanded sex from the 13-year-old girl, once in China. But her mother stepped in to save her.
“No, you cannot!” Mother shouted. “Take me instead.”
Their desperate escape from North Korea and their entrapment in China’s sex trafficking, followed by their harrowing journey to South Korea and eventual coming to faith, is chronicled in Yeonmi Park’s 2015 book In Order to Live.
Yeonmi’s predicament was devastating. As horrifying as rape was, it was preferrable to starvation, so she remained in China. “There was more food in the garbage can than I might see in a week in Heysan,” Yeonmi says. “I was very happy with my decision.”
Yeonmi Park grew up in Hyesan, North Korea and was taught to revere Great Leader Kim Jong Un. She never questioned the propaganda: North Korea was the most prosperous nation in the world. Kim Jong Un was practically immortal and supremely benevolent. It was the long-nosed Yankees and the Japanese who were evil imperialists destroying the world.
She whole-heartedly believed North Korea’s lies. They were drilled constantly in school and in block meetings in which citizens criticized themselves and others for not obeying the dictator sufficiently.
Never mind that across the river, the Chinese clearly had electricity at night and fireworks during New Year’s while the North Koreans lived in darkness and couldn’t enjoy holiday festivities. Yeonmi, like most North Koreans, never questioned the sincerity of the government or the veracity of their affirmations.
Years later when free, she found in George Orwell’s Animal Farm the term describing her mental state: doublethink. That is how she could watch pirated videos from South Korea and America and, seeing the luxury displayed, still not question Kim Jong Un’s description of reality.
And you could never utter the slightest hint of criticism of the government. You would be overheard and turned in to the state police. “Even the birds and mice can hear you whisper,” mother told her daughters.
“They need to control you through your emotions, making you a slave to the state by destroying your individuality and your ability to react to situations based on your own experience of the world,” Yeonmi writes.
She calls this an “emotional dictatorship.”
All things considered, Yeonmi had it pretty good. Her dad was a smuggler and stole items of value, bribing officials all along the way, to re-sell in the black market.
Then dad got caught, and the family descended into shame and extreme poverty. Mom left Yeonmi and her sister, Eunmi, alone for months at a time while she did her own black-market business to scrounge money for her girls. Dad was condemned to intensive labor in a prison camp that starved inmates so that they died.
“My only adult ambition was to buy as much bread as I liked and eat all of it,” Yeonmi writes. “When you are always hungry, all you think about is food.”
Yeonmi’s older sister eventually found a “broker,” who could smuggle her into China. Yeonmi and her mother followed soon after.
“We never thought to ask why these women were helping us, and why we didn’t have to pay them anything,” Yeonmi says. “We didn’t think that something might be wrong.”
The reason why there were no fees to get spirited across the border is because the smugglers were also sex traffickers. Women were usually sold as slave brides for $2,000, supplying the vacuum of women caused by China’s one-child policy combined with the preference for boys.
Sometimes, they were sold into prostitution.
With resourcefulness, Yeonmi and her mother escaped worse treatment. She couldn’t turn herself in to Chinese authorities; they would only deport her back to the prison camps of North Korea where one might starve to death.
So Yeonmi learned Chinese and fought off her would-be rapists by biting, kicking and screaming. She negotiated with her pimp to be his mistress in return for favors: she bought her mom back from being a “slave bride.”
“I realized that there was a force inside me that would not give up,” she says.
In 1984, China was cracking down on foreigners on its soil in preparation for the Summer Olympics. So, the sex trafficking business dried up. Yeonmi’s pimp let her be taken by a mafia gangster with a harem. It seems that the sex traffickers were particularly pleased to keep her for themselves because of her young age.
Initially, Yeonmi fought the mafia man off when he tried to have his way with her.
After he rounded the last bend on the river in a dugout canoe, Don Richardson saw 400 Sawi cannibals in remote New Guinea waiting, masked, and in full warpaint — with weapons in hand.
Honestly, he didn’t know if they had a welcoming feast for him or if he, his young wife and baby were the feast.
“Do we look good enough to eat?” he thought. “There was nothing to do but get out of the canoe and walk up on the shore. With Stephen in my arm, leading Carol, I walked and they closed in all around us so tightly, we could hardly move. Their eyes were gleaming with excitement, but they were totally silent as if waiting for a signal.”
Then the “signal” came, a shout: “Asa!”
“They all began leaping in the air, brandishing their weapons and shouting for joy, and they danced around us to the beat of their drums,” he remembers on a 100 Huntley Street video.
That was Don Richardson’s hair-raising introduction in 1962 into missions to unreached tribes. Don didn’t know the language, but apparently “Asa” didn’t mean “Let’s eat.”
Yes, the Sawi were savage headhunters with a taste for human flesh. But they had no intention of dining on the first white men to set foot in their region, the Southern swamplands of New Guinea. They had heard about such missionaries from neighboring tribes and how they brought medicine, steel tools and nylon fish lines to help.
Their jubilation that day was based on the recognition that help had finally come to their tribe. Little did they know that Richardson and his family brought not just tools and medicine; they brought Jesus.
Don had spent months in preparation for the day bringing his wife and child on the 10-hour canoe journey to the Sawi. He had built a home first. The tribesmen were accommodating and helpful.
But when he showed up with his wife and kid, he wondered: “Are these even the same friendly guys who helped me build my little house? Or are these hostile people that have replaced them and have something else in mind?”
The Sawi built “matchbox” structures 40 feet up in the trees, but Don built a small structure on supports in the ground.
“They’d been hearing for a couple of years very positive reports about unusually tall, unusually pale sickly-looking people called ‘Tuans.’ They’d been hoping that a Tuan would choose to come and live among them. They were eagerly welcoming us.”
The first order of business was to learn the language without any book, teacher or translator. He started by pointing at things hoping someone would tell him the word. But every time he pointed at different objects, they always said, “redig.” Eventually, he realized “redig” means “finger.” The Sawi don’t point with fingers; they point by puckering and aiming their lips.
The patient work led to establishing an alphabet and writing a New Testament.
“They didn’t know the language could be put in written form,” he says.
Not only were the Sawi cannibals and headhunters with no concept of law, judges and punishment, they also valued treachery.
“They thought Judas was a good guy,” Don remembers. “‘He’s a master of treachery,’ they said. ‘Don, that man named Judas has done us one better.’”
When he heard their admiration of Judas in the story of betraying Jesus, Don was taken aback.
“I sat among them praying, ‘Lord, help,’” he says. “‘I need a gift of wisdom here.’”
The chance to learn came when war broke out afresh among rival tribes. Arrows flew past his windows. People died outside his door as violence and revenge flared up continuously. To no avail, Don pleaded with the Sawi to make peace. But since they saw treachery as a virtue, no peace talks could be started; no one could trust anybody.
With unending carnage going on around, Don eventually threatened to leave the tribe. He would take his family and all the help he offered.
The tribe was upset. They had grown to love their Tuans and needed the medicines and tools. They thought of losing their prized missionary was too much to bear.
Following in the tradition of C.S. Lewis, Lee Strobel, and Josh McDowell, another great apologist has arrived, a 13-year-old.
Nahoa Life — his mom is Hawaiian — likes skateboarding, performing Christ hip hop and mastering big books of philosophy and science as it relates to God.
A product of Gen Z, Nahoa recently appeared on the Christian intellectual circuit’s radar when Biola Professor Sean McDowell received an email with questions about his doctoral dissertation.
Sean, the son of Josh McDowell, thought, Are you kidding me? This 12-year-old read my dissertation?
McDowell decided to host Nahoa on his podcast in February.
“I love apologetics,” the 8th-grader from Los Angeles told Sean. “I started doing apologetics about two years ago. I was just kind of bored and I read a book. It was super intriguing. For the first time I realized there’s actual evidence for Christianity.”
Apologetics, a lofty philosophy and usually a course in undergraduate Bible school, is the field of making Christianity palatable to skeptics.
In the world of flying, there aren’t too many female commercial pilots. Even fewer are black female pilots.
According to Nigerian-born Miracle Izuchukwu, only one percent of pilots are female and black, so when she became a commercial pilot candidate, she celebrated by thanking God.
“Whoever it is praying for me, don’t stop, it’s working,” she wrote on social media. “I joined the elite group of 7% of females and 1% of black female pilots in the world. It’s exhilarating yet surreal feeling to introduce myself to the world as a pilot.”
Miracle is now 23. When she grew up, she wasn’t encouraged by her dad to dream big. When she talked to him about soaring the skies, he responded coldly: “If I get on a plane and see a woman as the pilot, I would get off the plane.”
By contrast, Miracle tells girls to not limit their dreams.
“What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender?” she wrote. “If it’s truly something you want to do, you need to create it for yourself.
As so often happens, Jason Rangel became the father he hated.
As a child, he once even called the cops on his drug-addicted, violent father.
“I seen my dad not in his right mind. I was scared,” he remembers on a 700 Club video. “My dad was in jail when I was going through puberty. I remember not having him there when I needed him.”
Jason’s aunt took him to church. He found stability, hope and sanity there. He even talked to God. But the demons of his childhood traumas pulled him away from God. In his 20s, he found self-value and meaning by pursuing girls.
“I really became sexual with females. I really just couldn’t get enough. I was having sex with my first girlfriend, and it progressed from there to the next girlfriend and the next girlfriend.”
After he got married, he continued having affairs and fathered two children. But because he was unfaithful to the mother of his children, she took the kids and left him, heading for California. He also was in and out of jail.
“It was just a real tumultuous relationship. I was always unfaithful to her,” Jason says. “I just didn’t care about my children. I wasn’t a good father. I was caught up with the world, caught up with these guys that I was hanging out with.”
After he lost his kids, Jason got turned on to drugs by a coworker. “The loss of my kids affected me negatively,” he says. “I was struggling to cope. I was out of control.”
By now, he was married to another woman, which whom he had two addition children.
“I thought I was entitled to drinking and drugs and being unfaithful,” Jason says. “It was a chain reaction that got worse and worse through the years. When my kids were 9 or 10 years old, I remember them coming home, and I’d be high at the house.”
Some dragons you can slay once and for all, others, come back.
That’s what Christian UFC lightweight contender Michael Chandler says. He should know.
Plagued by a small-town mentality for most of his life, Chandler — who is widely regarded in the arena of glove-less grapple — went 688 days without a win. He suffered three straight losses.
“That small guy from that small town inside my brain still tugs at me from time to time,” he says on the Ed Mylett podcast. “It was definitely the hardest time of my life. Some dragons, you slay and you slay them they’re dead. You cut them off at the head. You never see them again.
“But then some dragons you just get good at pinning them,” he adds. “I’m probably never ever going to be able to slay him, but I have gotten really, really good at duct-taping him to the basement of my mind, with a big old roll of duct tape and taping over his mouth.”
Today, Chandler fights, owns a mixed martial arts gym, and speaks on the motivational circuit. He’s a devout Christian who says God called him into the arena to use it as a platform to talk about Jesus.
“God pulled me into this sport and pushed me in the direction of mixed martial arts to be put on a platform not just to be good, but to be great, not just to be great, but to be impactful,” he says.
A God-fearing man feared by many men, Michael Chandler was born in High Ridge, Missouri, population 4,300. His father was a union carpenter.
In high school, he played football and wrestled, the latter at which he excelled, being selected to the All-St. Louis Team his senior year. He walked on to the University of Missouri wrestling squad, where he collected 100 wins and was four-time NCAA Division I qualifier.
Training in mixed martial arts, he excelled at Strikeforce in 2009 and then Bellator MMA where he won his first 12 bouts.
“I came out shot out of a cannon, won my first 12 fights, finished most of most of them in the first period or in the first round,” he remembers.
The end of her running — the end of her very identity — came when Olympian Morolake Akinosun hit a wall at the end of a race in 2018 and ruptured her Achilles tendon.
“The Achilles is the strongest tendon in the human body, and you need it to do literally everything: walk, jump, crawl, climb stairs, stand up, sit down,” Morolake says on an I am Second video. “I had it surgically repaired but I was being told, ‘Hey, you might never be the same runner that you were ever again. This may be a career-ending injury for you.’”
What rescued Morolake was her spiritual community.
“For the first time I realized that I was surrounded by people who believed in me and not only did they believe in me, they believed that God had a plan for my life and that He was still going to be faithful through it all,” she says.
Morolake Akinosun was born in Lagos, Nigeria, to parents who were Christian pastors. The family immigrated to America when she was two years old, and she flourished at track and field at the University of Texas at Austin, where she won consistently.
“Every training cycle is about figuring out how can I break my body,” she says. “We push ourselves to the limit, breaking your body apart and coming back the next day and doing it over and over again.”
In prelims for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, her teammates dropped the baton in between the 2nd and 3rd leg of the relay race. Morolake, who stood waiting at the 4th spot, was stunned.
“In that moment I had that thought of like, ‘Wow, I’ve trained what feels like your whole life for a moment that now seemed to be gone and stripped from me within the blink of an eye,’” she remembers.
As it turns out, the American women’s team was allowed to re-run the qualifying race. In the final competition, they took gold.
But everything she trained for her entire life was stripped away when she crashed into the wall on that fateful day in 2018.
Angry thoughts ran through her mind toward God: I thought this is what I was supposed to be doing and if this is what I’m supposed to be doing then why did You take it away from me? she questioned. My identity was built in track and field. Read the rest: Morolake Akinosun Christian track starruptured her Achilles
Hillsong worship leader Darlene Zschech had spent her life lifting spirits, but when breast cancer struck in 2013, she needed her own spirit lifted.
“What I found in my ‘valley of the shadow of death’ is the presence of God,” she says on a CBN video. “I realized you can only have shadow if there is light. It’s just a fact that God doesn’t leave us.”
Famous for her 1993 song “Shout to the Lord,” Darlene led worship at Hillsong Church from 1996 to 2007, after which she and her husband founded Hope Unlimited Church in 2011 in New South Wales Australia.
Amazingly, it is estimated that “Shout to the Lord” gets sung by 30 million church-goers every Sunday.
A television star from childhood, Darlene developed insecurities after her parents divorced when she was 13. As a result, she fell into bulimia for about four years.
“It took a long time for that (the wounds from the divorce) to heal,” Darlene says on SWCS Australia. “But now, I have got a real compassion for kids in that situation. It is now the rule, not the exception. Our next generation is definitely going to need answers. Divorce can definitely leave scars.”
When her dad returned to church, he took Darlene, who at 15 accepted Christ. She met and married Mark, and the couple worked as youth pastors in Brisbane. Mark felt called to Sydney, while Darlene didn’t want to go because she had just rekindled her relationship with her mom. Read the rest: Darlene Zschech cancer battle
Jackie Halgash lost 100 pounds when she got her comfort from prayer instead of eating.
“I used food for comfort all the time. I used food for when I was happy and when I was sad. I think pretty much any time I felt like eating,” she says on a CBN video. “I got to a point where I couldn’t stand it anymore. I would get up in the morning and before I opened my eyes, my first thought was: what did I do last night? What did I eat? Oh, no! didn’t mean to! I meant to not eat after dinner!”
As a nurse, she knew how obesity jeopardizes health, but the feelings driving compulsive eating overpowered her mental understanding of health. She made rules for herself but always broke them.
Then she found a Christian weight loss program that brought the Lord into her eating.
“It’s a spiritual growth program and that’s the key,” she says. “It gave me the tools that I needed in my faith to be able to stop eating and bring the Lord into my eating.”
As she depended on the Lord, she ate only to being satisfied, not full. When she felt tempted, she called out to the Lord and dedicated that moment as a fast unto the Lord.
“The weight dropped off,” she says.
She dedicated it to the Lord: “Thank You, take this. This is a fast. Take this and I honor You because this is what You’re asking me to do.” Read the rest: God diet to drop 100 pounds
To make kids laugh and to avoid making them nervous because of his disfigurement, Shilo Harris wears “elf ears” like Spock from Star Trek.
The prosthetic ears attach magnetically. He lost his ears — and the skin on 35% of his body — in Feb. 19, 2007 when, as a soldier, his Humvee was hit by an IED on patrol on a stretch of Southern Bagdad road so dangerous it was called “Metallica.”
The IED killed three other soldiers, wounded a fourth and sent Shilo into a 48-day coma. When he awoke from the coma, he endured years of surgery and rehab. The whole experience and the murky, painful time he spent in a coma, Shilo calls “hell.”
“It was the most scariest, most dark, creepiest thing,” Shilo says on a 100Huntley video. “Everything was sharp and painful. The helpless feeling. It had to have been Hell. That’s the way I interpreted it.”
Today, Shilo Harris is a Christian man who has drawn close to God because of his experiences. He’s written a book, Steel Will: My Journey through Hell to Become the Man I was Meant to be. He’s a motivational speaker in schools.
Shilo grew up in Coleman, Texas, working at a bait and tackle shop run by his dad, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from untreated PTSD.
When Shilo saw the Twin Towers fall in New York City, he felt the need to serve his country to fight the terrorists who had decimated civilians with no prior declaration of war. He found himself in the U.S. Calvary during the Iraq War.
The fateful explosion engulfed the Humvee with flames. He managed to escape the vehicle. His body armor, made of nylon and plastic, melted onto his body. His ammo pouch was on fire. He rolled on the ground to snuff the flames. How did his own ammo not erupt and perforate him with rounds?
“I guess you could say I was pretty fortunate on a couple of accounts that day,” he told NPR.
He woke up from a medically-induced 48-day coma. In addition to his ears, he lost three fingers and the tip of his nose. He had a fractured collarbone and vertebrae. Read the rest: Shilo Harris on beating suicide
Alexis Hoffman found herself in a pool of blood. She had cut herself over 40 times.
“I was so ashamed,” she says on CBN. “What did I just do? That’s not me! Why did I do that?! That is not how I act! Why do I keep doing this? Who is this that is doing this?’”
Having shoved God aside in her freshman year in 2009, she ventured into a damaging relationship that introduced darkness into her mind and voices into her head. For her, high school meant she was high.
“My heart became calloused after the abusive relationship because I felt like I could just never get right with God. I felt like I was too far gone. Like I had messed up too much,” she remembers. “I would hear things like ‘You should kill yourself.’ And I would hear a lot of whispers.”
Meanwhile, Alexis’ parents battled through prayer for their daughter.
“When the only thing that your daughter ever gave you was joy, and then you find out that she’s on drugs, sex, you know, alcohol, it breaks your heart,” says her father, Ted.
Robin, the mother, was also anguish-stricken.
“Lord,” she prayed, “You said, and Your Word says that she is Yours and You will not let anything happen to her. And I know that Your Word is true and I believe You.”
The voices started in her senior year.
“They told me I was useless and ugly, that I was worthless and dirty. They told me to just die. And I believed them,” Alexis says. “I remember having this obsession with stabbing. I would sneak out into the kitchen and I would start taking one knife at a time and bringing it into my room.”
When Mom found the stash of knives hidden in her room, she called 911 and had her taken to ER, from where she was transferred to the psychiatric hospital. None of the treatments — including 20 different diagnoses including schizophrenia — seemed to work.
Alexis kept threatening to take her life.
“Robin and I were preparing ourselves for her to kill herself,” Ted says grimly. “And you talk about that’s tough when you have to prepare yourself.”
Alexis also manifested fits of rage and sometimes even blacked out.
“When Alexis got mad…whooo, it was not pretty. It was scary,” Robin remembers. “I had even said to my husband, ‘We should get locks on the bedroom door.”
Then Mom took Alexis to a revival service with Pastor Todd White.
Raised by a Gulf War veteran, Victor Bell became a hulking football star. Behind the wholesome manly image was a festering desire to be loved — like a woman is loved by a man.
“I felt that girls received more affection, they received more consideration,” Victor remembers thinking. “I didn’t get the hugs that my female cousins got, or the hugs that my sister got or the kisses on the forehead. With boys, I felt we were treated rough.”
Victor Bell was raised in a Christian home. But when he saw a soap opera on T.V. at five-years-old, he was fascinated by the love the girl on the program received.
“She’s loved. She’s getting affection, she’s getting care, she’s being treated with gentleness, with kindness,” he remembers thinking. “I want to feel what she feels. I want to be loved like she’s loved.”
This yearning planted in his heart led him to experiment with boys, craving their attention from a very young age.
“I jumped at the chance to be the girl playing house, or the woman playing doctor, or the girl nurse because it was an opportunity for me to reenact the soap opera scene,” he says frankly. “I have an imagination that creates these atmospheres of what it would be like to be loved like her. They were exciting adventures of discovery.”
Meanwhile at church, Victor didn’t feel loved.
“I knew about Hell. I knew about Heaven,” he says. “I didn’t care.”
Throughout middle school, high school and into college, Victor pursued sex with men and with women.
“That was my life,” he says. “I was having sex with a lot of girls. A muscular guy, football player, I’m having sex with men too. I drank, I smoked. I indulged in these activities to feel good all the time.
“I still felt empty,” he adds. “The space of emptiness was growing. So, I felt like I kept needing to fill it more with the activities I was indulging in.”
In 2008, Victor graduated from college and got a job as a long-term substitute teacher. He moved back in with his parents, trying to hide his gay party life from his parents.
Chris Hulvey’s family was poor in finances but rich in faith. So when they found themselves without soap and lacking the money for more soap, they prayed.
“I remember my mom back when we were living in a trailer in Brunswick (Georgia),” Hulvey recounts on a This is Me TV video. “She didn’t have no soap, and so she literally prayed to God for some soap, and then soap showed up in the mailbox.”
Excuse the pun, but God came CLEAN through with the answer.
Today Chris Hulvey is the latest signing on Reach Records, Lecrae’s label. Subsistence is no longer his problem. His life now involves many opportunities for performing on stage.
As a kid in Brunswick, Georgia, he actually liked going to church. When you’re poor, free Sunday school snacks are a draw.
“What I really liked about it was we had snacks,” he says. “They were just always busting every time, getting some goldfish (crackers). You can’t beat that.”
He accepted Jesus at age four.
Of course, he didn’t fully comprehend everything.
In the 9th grade, Hulvey went on a mission trip and saw undeniable healing miracles. One was a man whose six fused vertebrae got “unfused.” The tangible move of God challenged his experience of “church as usual.”
“When i got home, it was just like, man, what are we doing?” he says. He felt he should contend for more of God.
As a result, he turned into a pharisee, he says.
“I had a lot of judgmental tendencies. My friend felt judged by me,” he says. “I basically told my best friend that he was going to hell. I had conviction, but I wasn’t carrying discernment.”
As he matured through high school, he learned that his friends were lost because of confusion. They needed love, not condemnation. So he went back and asked them for forgiveness and patiently loved on them.
“In college people are doing the same things, but my whole approach was different,” he says. “I would just be there for them. God helped me to become a care-taker instead of judgement-giver.”
Drawn to hip hop, he participated in and won battle raps. He uploaded music to SoundCloud, and he started gaining traction with the listens. But since it was secular, God told him to delete it. “I was like dang,” he remembers.
What? Kill the momentum? Find out what Hulvey did. Read the rest: Chris Hulvey.
Ed Mylett was still smarting from a humiliating performance at the basketball championship game earlier in the day. That evening, he was hitting line drives — his true love – into center field.
He was holding and swinging the bat flat and choppy like his hero, baseball legend Rod Carew, when he heard a voice from behind the backstop. “Who’s the little lefty? I like this kid’s swing.”
Ed glanced back. It was #29 himself, Rod Carew, MLB’s hitting maestro for 19 seasons. Ed was flabbergasted.
“Hey, kid, how would you like me to work with you and train you? Can you make it to my batting cages every Tuesday night?”
Wilting before his hero, Ed struggled to find the words. Yes, yes, yes. He would be there.
In the following months, Rod altruistically gave of himself and mentored 8th-grader Ed Mylett, as he did selflessly with hundreds of other talented young people throughout Southern California. Not only did he provide technical expertise, but he also spoke words of confidence into the kids’ lives.
Rod is a born-again Christian. His generosity eventually proved the Bible’s admonition, “Give, and it will be given you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over will be put into your lap.” (Luke 6:38)
One of those hundreds of kids saved Rod’s life, Ed says on his Aug. 24, 2017 Elite Training Library video.
Because his stubby arm impeded him from doing high school wrestling, Nick Santonastasso amputated it.
“Can I cut off my arm?” he asked his mom and dad.
Kids told him he wouldn’t be able to wrestle competitively. He fired back, “I’ll be on the VARSITY team.”
Born without legs and only one arm, Nick Santonastasson had Christian parents who taught him to not have the mentality of a victim. As a child, he learned not only how to eat and do chores but to ride a skateboard and play football and baseball.
Today, he’s a runner-up for the NPC Iron Bay Classic bodybuilder contest and a sought-after motivational speaker because he gets people to drop their excuses and give their all.
“I was put on this earth to be an example, to show people what they are truly capable of,” Nick says on a Forbes video.
Due to the extremely rare Hanhart syndrome, Nick should have been stillborn. But all his internal organs were fine. He just had his left arm (with one finger), an underdeveloped right arm and no legs.
His mom and dad decided to flout doctors’ endless list of “limitations.” Stacey and Michael Santonastasso of Bayville, New Jersey, didn’t baby him but encouraged him to fend for himself as much as he could.
“My parents told me, Nick, the world is not going to stop for this,” he says on an NPC video. “You’re going to have to figure out to do things Nick’s way. My mom would put a plate a food in front of me and say, Nick, figure it out. Here’s clothes, figure it out. That’s why I’m a beast in my head.”
The Christian faith provided the context of honoring the sanctity of life, of believing everyone has a special purpose in life and teaching a victor’s mentality rather than a victim’s mindset.
Stacey’s website, which promotes her book Born to Break Boundaries says, “Although her faith has been strongly tested, she remains grounded in her Christian beliefs.”
At age two, Nick was left alone in the living room. He pushed his wagon next to the table, clambered onto it, and began to dance to MTV.
He learned to skateboard, riding on his stomach and pushing it forward with his hand. Once it got going, he stood up on it. He even does a handstand. He took plenty of falls while he was learning and had more than his share of scrapes. But his mom didn’t scold him for being adventurous.
He catches the football between his arm and his neck and head. He can throw it and even “runs” plays. He can connect a bat with a ball to play baseball better than his peers.
Because his parents didn’t treat him gingerly, Nick says he didn’t really realize he was “different” until he got called a “cripple” in the third grade. That was his baptism by fire into the cruel world of stares and insensitive comments that left him depressed in junior high.
But by high school he had largely overcome the syndrome of an outcast. He wanted to be on a sports team, so he got on the bowling team his freshman year.
In his sophomore year, he yearned for a bigger challenge. His older brother had done wrestling, so he decided to try out.
Immediately, fellow students felt the need to give him a dose of reality. How are you going to wrestle? You don’t have any legs and only one arm.
After Shiri Joshua was told she had a rare, virulent form of breast cancer (already at stage 3) she faced a stark choice one Friday afternoon. Would she start chemo or undergo a mastectomy on the following Monday?
“I honestly didn’t even comprehend those words,” Shiri says on a 100 Huntley Street video.
An Israel-born Jew, she moved to Toronto at 19, but her family continued to speak Hebrew at home. She always had an inquisitiveness about spiritually. Due to her upbringing, she thought she could only be either orthodox or a secular Jew.
But after she moved to Canada, she fell under the spell of the New Age movement.
“I really did not feel that my traditional Jewish upbringing would satisfy what I wanted,” she says. “I knew there was a God, I just did not know Him.”
Two years prior to her diagnosis, she had a vision. She had heard about Jesus but felt she needed to avoid Jesus because of her Jewish background. But in her search for spirituality one day, she asked God if Jesus was real.
“I was in my bedroom not sleeping and I saw Him. I had an open-eye vision of the Jewish Jesus. He looked very Jewish to me,” Shiri recalls. “God in his brilliant way of doing things appeared to me in a way that I would not find threatening. He appeared to me with a talit, a prayer shawl.
“And he said, ‘Come to me.’ His eyes were just love. It must have been a split second, but it felt like eternity.”
So, in the cancer clinic in British Columbia, after the doctor left the room, she fell to her knees and prayed to Jesus.
“Lord I’m tired of fighting You. If I die, I die, but I want to come to You,” she said. “But if you let me live, I will live for You.
She gave her life to Yeshua/Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and was born again. “A wave of peace came upon me. I wanted Him so much but I was so afraid because I was Jewish.”
Without delay, she underwent the mastectomy and started chemotherapy. She moved back to Toronto to be with her family. A friend brought a pastor to visit her and she received Jesus into her heart. Six rounds of chemotherapy took six months.
She moved in with her parents and was a secret believer for a while. Read the rest: a vision of Jesus helped heal cancer
When the communist Eastern Bloc dissolved, Mongolia saw a resurgence of Buddhism. But another religion has taken root and is steadily growing, Christianity.
Newfound religious freedom after decades of communist/atheistic repression led to thousands coming to Christ, with over 50,000 followers of Jesus in a country of 3.2 million, or roughly 1.8% of the population, according to Joshua Project.
The growth of the evangelical community at 7.9% a year is outpacing most countries.
Surprisingly, young people see Christianity as hip, according to a Jouneyman Pictures video, “From Genghis to God: Christianity takes Mongolia by Storm.”
“Christianity, never destroys a culture; it will remove things from a culture that are holding it back, essentially that are killing its people, that are making life miserable.” says Paul Swartzendruber, with Eagle TV.
Land-locked Mongolia in East Asia was the birthplace to Genghis Kahn, who conquered all the way to Europe during the Middle Ages. After his decline, the region fell into oblivion and remained a nation of nomads and herdsmen.
In the 1920s, the Soviet Union annexed Mongolia and promulgated a “worker’s paradise” led by government. The religion of Marx and Lenin admitted no competition, so they stamped out all other religions. Buddhists were systemically decimated; a bloody purge wiped out 17,000 monks.
Then, communism fell in 1990 and religious freedom suddenly became a reality. People were free to practice Buddhism. Christian missionaries, eager to preach on virgin soil, arrived in droves.
Eagle TV, with American funding, usually outperformed the national channels in terms of computer graphics and snazzy programming. One show featuring Christian rock videos became very popular with young people.
They saw Buddhism as the religion of the older generation. Christianity emerged as the faith of the younger generation.
Christianity’s growth is seen mostly clearly by the criticism directed by “His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama,” the Tibetan people’s foremost leader and revered Buddhist leader.
“Whenever I give some Buddhist explanation in the West, I always make clear that Westerners, European or American, better to keep their own tradition in religious faith like Christianity. It’s better to keep their own tradition rather than change to a new religion,” he says. “Similarly, the Tibetan and Mongolian are traditionally Buddhists, so it’s better they keep their own tradition.”
Bolarchimeg was 16 years old when she started attending Hope Church in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.
“My mother was against me going to church,” Bolarchimeg says. “She said, ‘You are wasting your time on these useless activities like reading the Bible every day. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that time on your study?’ God gave me the power to get through.”
His double life as a Christian father and drug user collapsed when Jeff Durbin overdosed on ecstasy.
“I realize I’m dying. I’m dying. This is where it ends, and I recognized that there’s no way to control this,” Jeff says on a CBN video. “At this point, I have probably limited moments left before I’m gonna pass out.”
How did Jeff get tangled in drugs out of a childhood of discipline and training as a martial arts competitor?
Jeff trained in martial arts from age four to 16.
“I was on a national karate team. I was competing in World Championships, International Championships, National Championships,” he says. “That was my whole life.”
With five black belts, Jeff played Michelangelo and Donatello for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise as well as Johnny Cage in “Mortal Combat.”
Flipping through the TV channels one night, he listened to Billy Graham and accepted Jesus into his heart. He wasn’t raised in a Christian home.
“I remember that something had completely changed,” he says. “In my mind, in terms of how I thought about Jesus and the Bible, and I immediately became the person that was interested in reading the Bible and telling people about Jesus.”
But the life transformation was only partial. Along with competing in karate, he liked to flirt with girls and indulge his lusts.
“If you would have seen me on a Friday or Saturday night, many times you wouldn’t have known I was a Christian because I was living with one foot in the Christian world and one foot in the world,” he recalls.
Jeff married his high school sweetheart, but he continued partying and clubbing.
When he tried ecstasy, his liked it and tried it again and again.
He told his wife he was working, but he would take drugs and disappear for a day or two.
“I would do ecstasy, cocaine, alcohol pills, whatever was available,” he recounts.
He hid his drug use from his wife by profusive lying, as she tried to nurture their one-year-old.
Despite the partying life, Jeff was a successful financial planner.
One night while on an ecstasy trip, his heart started racing wildly and his body overheated. Death was coming and he could sense it.
“It was the one moment in that year where there was some clarity about who I was and what was happening, and I remember that I said to God, ‘Please, don’t kill me yet. Let me come out of this…bring me out of this.” Read the rest: ecstasy overdose.
Bima, 9, received free tutoring after school in a poor Indonesian village.
Part of the Christian sponsored program, Orphan’s Promise, showed kids cartoons of Bible stories. That’s where Bima heard about David and Goliath.
“Goliath said to David that he would cut David to pieces,” Bima says on a 700 Club video. “But David said to Goliath, ‘You came to me with a sword and a spear, but I will fight you with the mighty name of God.’”
And Bima got saved.
“Lord Jesus,” he prayed. “I want you to be my Savior.”
Immediately, he prayed for the salvation of his family, composed of nominal Muslims.
Bima started behaving better at home and read his Bible at home. This piqued the curiosity of his mother. Read the rest: Gospel in Indonesia: Boy gets saved watching Superbook cartoon
Figure skating brought moments of peace to Katherine Thacker. She needed a healthy outlet because her mind was obsessed with hateful thoughts directed toward the suspect who killed her father, a cop, while he was on duty.
“I started writing very angry letters to the man who killed my dad and expressed my hurt,” Katherine says on a 700 Club video. “But not only did I express my hurt, I also expressed what I wished could happen to him. And they were really really hateful.”
Her ever-present hatred started in 1998. That’s when three Kentucky police officers arrived at the front door of their home to break the bad news to the family.
“It was like being hit by a Mack truck,” she says. “Watching the relationships that my friends had with their dads, I definitely envied them.”
Ice skating was a moment of beauty in her life. “It was always an outlet for me,” she remembers.
Broken in spirit, she turned away from God.
“Why did God let my dad die?” she asked. “If God’s good, why did He let the man who killed my dad do this?”
Her distancing from God continued until she became a junior in high school when she went to a week-long summer Christian camp. The motivational speaker displayed a genuine joy that Katherine realized she lacked. Read the rest: Forgiveness for her dad’s murderer.
When he broke his walkie-talkie as a child, he was able to fix it himself. But when his finances were broken, God fixed it.
“I broke the walkie-talkie on my birthday, and I was like, ‘Ah, man, I can’t tell Mom I broke it,’” Dennis Dixon says on a CBN video. “So I was like, ‘I’m gonna try to fix it.’ And I didn’t know how to fix it. But I opened it up and I saw the inside and it just caught me. And I’ve always been interested with electronics since then.”
Being adept with electronics came in handy. First, he repaired some friends’ devices, and they told others. At the encouragement of his father, he placed an ad as an adolescent, and the calls for help flooded in.
As money came in for his services, his father encouraged Dennis to honor God with the tithe.
“Tithing is you trusting God with what He’s given you and honoring Him, you know, 10% of the 100% that He gives us every day,” says Dennis. “Setting aside money for God, for His kingdom and for His purpose and learning how to trust God with everything you have including finances.”
He got a work at a large electronic store, but the company went bankrupt. Dennis lost his job at the same time his mother was laid off. Then they lost their car and their house.
How could he, under duress, stay faithful with his tithe? Read the rest: tithing
She didn’t want to bother God with something as insignificant as pain in her toes.
Or so thought librarian Janis Jordan, who often wore high heels to work.
“It was the suit jacket days, so you show up to work looking A-plus,” she explains on a 700 Club video.
After 15 years, she left the library behind and started a career caring for special needs students at a hospital. She was on her feet even more. She walked three miles every day inside the hospital.
After several years, she finally consulted a doctor who diagnosed hammer toe syndrome, probably induced by the high heels. A hammer toe or contracted toe is a deformity of the muscles and ligaments of the second, third, fourth, or fifth toe causing them to bend, resembling a hammer. The joints can become so rigid they can’t be moved.
The doctor started talking about surgery, and Janis wanted none of it. So she endured the pain for another 10 years.
“I’m a person who keeps on moving, and I just accommodated the pain,” Janis says. “I just didn’t really focus on it, to really pay attention to it.”
Even though she’s a big believer in prayer, her concern seemed so small in light of others’ sufferings, she didn’t ask God for healing.
To pay bills, Mom prostituted BJ Garrett until she turned 15.
“I had no healthy concept of love,” BJ says on a 700 Club video. “Love was very sexual to me. I just remember feeling very ugly, very alone, very unwanted.”
BJ’s journey through the moral sewers of America started with abuse from her own father.
“My dad did things that no dad is supposed to do to his little girl,” she says.
Her mother stopped pimping her when she got pregnant as an adolescent by her boyfriend. Having a baby represented the first ray of hope in her life. Finally, there was someone who would give her pure love, and to whom she could give pure love.
“I wanted to be wanted and having a baby fulfilled that — she was going to be perfect and lovely and love me unconditionally,” she says.
Her boyfriend abandoned her, however, and later she found herself pregnant with another teenage boyfriend, but that relationship also soured because the young man was not ready for the responsibility of fatherhood.
“All he said was, ‘I don’t want to be a dad,’” she remembers. “And I just thought there’s no way I will ever let my child feel even for a moment the way I felt my whole life.”
The answer was abortion.
“I really thought I was doing the very best thing for my baby by having an abortion,” BJ says.
Her ill-conceived decision brought guilt and self-loathing.
“It was like just a little section of my heart was to never beat again,” she recounts, grappling with her unexpected emotions. “I was the dirty, ugly, gross, vile human being that now just put this ugly cherry on top by ending my own baby’s life.”
At 19, BJ had a second child, and paying bills became her chief concern. Sadly, she turned to an income source that was available for someone with no education or training – she entered the adult entertainment business and became a sex worker on the side.
“I was mom by day and and stripper and prostitute by night,” she says. “My body had been used my whole life to pay for things, but it was always forced upon me. Now I was in control.”
Jeff Levitan had made millions by age 30, so he did what was expected: he retired to his beautiful home and a life of luxury funded by investments that would continue to churn out income for the rest of his life.
Two months later, he came out of retirement, finding himself bored.
Jeff realized that he needed something better than money and its trappings. He needed to find a higher purpose to animate his life.
Today, he’s back at financial advising and making money. The difference now is that he launched the All For One Foundation, which establishes orphanages around the world.
These are not your typical orphanages. He refers to them as “prosperity centers.”
If that name gave you pause, it does for a lot of people. They’re teaching the lessons of capitalism to poor little kids in countries with weak economies. Are the principles of wealth creation and wealth management the exclusive domain of developed countries? Or do they apply to the rest of the world also?
Jeff’s initiative is going to find out.
While the United Nations throws money at the world’s problems, the All For One Foundation is teaching some of the poorest orphans in the worlds how to break the cycle of poverty for future generations.
“All For One is doing more than just giving children of the world hope,” says a promotional video. “All For One is actively working towards building the systems needed not just to survive but to thrive. We’ve seen firsthand the lasting impact our projects have had around the world.”
For 20 years, these orphanages and schools in Sierra Leone, Nicaragua and 27 other nations, offer 25,000 kids (and sometimes their moms) shelter, food, health care, clothing and education — both regular academic classes and special financial courses.
Financial education – the stuff of Warren Buffett – in the developing world. Wrap your head around that.
Amazon, which once prided itself for offering a “diversity of ideas” in its books, dumped Christian books about homosexuality in July, including a carefully worded account of Anne Paulk about leaving lesbianism, according to Stream.
“These are perilous times for free speech and religious expression in America,” Paulk says. “But Restored Hope Network remains committed to speaking the truth in love to the culture about God’s design for sexuality. Among many in this current generation, there is no longer room for a diversity of belief systems.”
The move by Amazon to silence those who offer hope for people who want to leave homosexuality is part of a broader movement in technology in recent months to censor and “cancel” Bible-adhering Christianity. Silicon Valley, which by and large adopts values from nearby free-wheeling San Francisco, became the force, in the view of some tech observers, that threw the election to transgender-promoting Joseph Biden.
At the center of the Amazon censorship is Anne Paulk, no stranger to secular furor. Her husband, John Paulk, went from being ex-gay to ex-Christian and found himself heralded as a hero by the media. John walked out on Anne and their three children after tripping in temptation.
“My husband [began] stumbling instead of fighting well with his sin struggle,” Anne says on Ministry Watch. “He’d cover it up and hide. So at that point it became multiple situations like that. We had already moved back to Portland, Oregon, where we have family, and he eventually was no longer repentant. Our marriage broke up in 2013, which has been a point of grief. I never, of course, envisioned divorce as a possibility. So it’s a difficult process of grief to walk through.”
Gay exit psychologist Joseph Nicolosi Sr. and counselor Joe Dallas were also deplatformed by the monolithic online sales platform.
“Our mission is to restore hope to those broken by sexual and relational sin, particularly those impacted by homosexuality,” Anne Paulk says. +We do that through the Christian faith — the life-changing power and incredible love of Jesus Christ. It’s not about shaming, coercion, or anything else. It’s about joy and peace and resolution of things that have troubled people.
“My book titled Restoring Sexual Identity is designed to help women who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction and want to leave homosexuality,” she says. “When I wrote it several years ago, I took exceptional care for the tone to be understanding and compassionate.”
Paulk founded Restored Hope Network on the heels of the shutdown of Exodus International, a ministry to help gay people that folded in 2012 when the president decided that gay people couldn’t or shouldn’t try to overcome their temptations. At that time, the media ballyhooed the closing of Exodus International and featured stories about a slew of leaders who fell back into sin.
But if the symphony of secularism schemed for the demise of the ex-gay movement, they must have been dismayed to see a phoenix rise from the ashes. It turns out that a lot of leaders from Exodus just moved over to Restored Hope.
Restored Hope now comprises about 60 affiliates all across the United States which vary widely from “small groups to quite large ones” and minister to thousands of people each year. More than 4,000 teens have gone through an on-line program, Paulk says.
“We have a very strong board of directors. They’re active. We have monthly meetings. They’re about an hour and a half long. It’s a very active board,” Paulk says. “We have two retreats in person. So the oversight is very strong. We are very connected to the local ministries. In fact, they’re the ones who put a name out for the board of directors. The board of directors has all authority to remove the executive—that’s me—from the position. We don’t want to do, minimally, what [Exodus] got wrong, which was little to no oversight of the board of directors.”
If her ministry was born under fire, her desire to help others found its impetus in her personal experience.
“I identified as a lesbian in my college days,” Paulk says. “I had struggled for years. I had been molested as a 4-year-old multiple times by a teen boy. What I did as a result of that was reject the danger of being a woman. That was just my story. It isn’t everybody’s story, but it is very common that people who end up dealing with homosexuality have been molested. So in my teen years, I struggled with homosexuality starting at about 12 on up through 19, where I embraced it.”
A headlong hurtling into homosexuality failed to heal the hurt. And, Paulk says, she knew inwardly that what she was doing was wrong. Ironically, it was a gay support group that the Holy Spirit spoke to her and encouraged her to find true healing in Jesus. Read the rest: Amazon censors Christians
Just when doctors asked her family members if they could take her off life support and let the “lost cause” die, Lisa Martin woke up from a 40-day coma induced by Covid.
“God had other plans,” a Dec. 31 hospital statement says. “On the 11th day, Lisa broke out of the sedatives and began following Jeff with her eyes and she even moved her hand.”
Now Lisa, a 49-year-old mother of four, is being called a “miracle patient.” In all, she spent 59 days on a ventilator at Memorial Satillo Health in Georgia, including the induced coma. She suffered a frontal lobe stroke during the health ordeal.
When Lisa didn’t come out of the coma (her eyes were fixed), hospital staff approached the family October 20th and asked them to make the hardest decision of their lives: take Lisa off life support.
They held a family conference. Her youngest son was the last to speak and said, “We are not pulling that plug. I’m not ready to be without my mama.”
“They decided to give it 11 days before making a decision. That would have been the end of one month on the vent. Earlier in September, Lisa had created a living will with a ‘do not resuscitate.’”
But when the family was pressed for a decision, Lisa woke up. Today, she’s re-learning how to walk, talk, swallow and eat.
Over and over again, Michaela Lanning came to sleep on Grandma’s couch, amid the piles of hoarded rubbish, toxic mold and asbestos on the ripped carpet.
“Dad was very disconnected, very sociopathic, very narcissistic, very addictive personality,” she says in a video testimony on her YouTube channel.
Without support, Mom kept getting evicted, which led to all sorts of confusion for the children and instability.
In the fifth grade, Michaela got bullied because she wasn’t doing the girlish things of other girls. She was just trying to deal with her mom’s anxiety attacks and make meals of popcorn.
“I would have to put Mom to bed, and I was terrified that she was gonna die,” Michaela remembers. “Like I would tuck her in every night, because I thought that would save her from dying.”
Her mom recovered from the breakdown, but Michaela broke down and began cutting herself as a coping mechanism in the sixth grade.
In the seventh grade, she developed dissociative disorder.
“I thought I was either dead or I was watching a movie,” she says. “I thought I was sleeping and it was a dream I was in. I genuinely was not coherent. I was not aware of anything going on around me and it was terrifying.”
Every day she was in the school nurse’s office and invented reasons to be sent home, usually because of a stomachache or headache.
In the eighth grade, she took classes online because leaving the house gave her panic attacks.
“Things were getting really bad with my parents,” she says. “One time my dad was watching my sister and I, and he chased us down the hall with a knife. Yeah, we moved back in with my grandma.
“My sister and I were sleeping in the living room on two couches, which were probably from the 80s. They were covered in dog pee. They were filthy; they had holes in them. That’s what we slept on for four more years. No bed, no bedroom, no dad, nothing.”
Looking for validation in high school, she “came out” as bisexual and later as lesbian. It was an artsy high school, not a football high school, and that’s where she thought she could find support and sort out the chaos in her mind.
As the founder of the Gay-Straight Alliance, she hung out with transgenders and related to all their confusion and was being heavily influenced to change her thinking.
“I felt all of those things and I, in my brokenness and my self-harm and my eating disorder and my anxiety, all of it was coming together, and I said yeah that sounds right: I’m transgender,” she recalls. She came out as a transgender man, told everyone she wanted to be called a different name, and started seeing a gender therapist
“But in my core I knew I wasn’t transgender the whole time. What I needed was a savior. It’s just I did not know that at the time.”
When she had a nervous breakdown, Michaela dropped out of school and dropped the transgender ploy.
Michaela is currently studying at Moody Bible Institute. In her sophomore year, she attended an “alternative high school,” where the druggies and pregnant teens are sent.
“I did not meet a single kid there that did not do drugs, or at least vape,” she says. She started smoking marijuana and met a friend who persuaded her to get pregnant so they could be teen moms together.
“She was the kind of person that goes out every single weekend and hooks up with guys and does things for money,” Michaela remembers. “I was just chasing anything that would fill my heart and make me feel better. I was like, ‘That makes so much sense. I should do that. I would love to have a baby.’”
Ainsley Earhardt, the perky blonde co-host of Fox & Friends with a conservative outlook, is also a Christian who has endured significant personal challenges.
Raised in Columbia, South Carolina, her heart longed for recognition from an early age.
“I remember sitting on the shag carpet in our den watching the Oscars and our big TV and crying because I wanted to be there so badly,” she says.
Any time film or TV crews rolled through town, she would somehow find a way to get cast as an extra. She frequented auditions and worked in theater. At college, she graduated with a BA in journalism, after which she worked for WLTX in Columbia, South Carolina.
It was during college that she felt drawn to study the Scriptures.
“I just really admired some people in my life that had such strong faith and they actually lived it…I wanted to be like them because they were such good people,” she told Todd Starnes.
Moved by the power of the Word and the Spirit, she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ. “I asked God to come into my life and change me.”
From South Carolina, she moved to Texas, accepting a position as a TV anchor. In 2007, Robert Ailes hired her for Fox News at a time when she “did not know the first thing about politics,” she says. Today, she does the early morning shift on Fox & Friends.
Earhardt’s first marriage to Kevin McKinney in 2005 ended in divorce four years later. In 2012, Earhardt married former Clemson University quarterback Will Proctor and the two decided to start a family.
At the first doctor’s visit after they discovered Ainsley was expecting, everything seemed fine. The baby was small for her age, but there were no concerns.
At the second doctor’s visit they received the terrible news that the baby’s heart wasn’t working.
“There was no heartbeat” visible on the ultrasound, Ainsley remembers on an I am Second video. “The doctor looked at us and she just said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ She just tried and she tried, and there was nothing there. There was no heartbeat.” Read the rest: Ainsley Earhardt miscarriage and baby.
The dead bodies hanging by a noose on public streets and markets disturbed Ramin Parsa, a child growing up in Iran during the strict Shiite Muslim regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
“They executed people in front of children,” Ramin says on a video posted to his channel. “I could not eat for two weeks, I was so shocked.”
When Khomeini and the anti-American Islamic radicals staged a coup and ousted the Shah of Iran, they implemented a stringent form of Islam that included public executions of alleged enemies and self-flagellation while walking barefoot through the streets.
“The newspaper is Islamic. The media is Islamic. Schools are Islamic. Society is Islamic. Everything you can see and hear is Islamic,” he says. They want to dish in doctrine. They want to brainwash you. We had no magazines, no books. They showed the caricature of the Israeli soldiers, killing Palestinian babies and they sowed the seed of hatred in our hearts.”
Deeply motivated to live for Allah, Ramin went to the mosque every morning at 5:00 am for the earliest of five callings to prayer a day. Every morning at school, they shouted, “Death to Israel! Death to America!”
But when his dad died, life dried up for him. He was no longer able to go to school.
“I started questioning my faith,” he admits. “Is this really the truth that we believe? I started going down and down and down into hopelessness, into depression. I left all my friends. I left all my family. I left everybody that I knew and I locked myself in a dark room, turned the lights off and was thinking about past and present and future.”
Death haunted him after his father’s death. It haunted him because Islam offers no real assurance that you will be admitted into Paradise. The true Muslim is constantly warned to do more, to pray and fast — and even join jihad — to curry Allah’s elusive favor and be granted entrance into the afterlife..
“Out of fear I said, ‘What is gonna happen to me when I die?” he says.
Aside from the public hangings, he also saw men’s backs slashed and bloodied for drinking alcohol. Mohammad prescribed public punishments to instill fear in the populace.
The Revolutionary Guard routinely prowled the streets. If you were wearing a T-shirt with the image of someone, they took it from you and punished you. Islam stringently prohibits artistic renditions of any person or animal as a means to avoid people falling into idolatry. This is why so many of the earliest architecture has ornate geometric patterns but no other artwork.
“I came to the conclusion that Islam is empty,” Ramin says. “I said, ‘If there is no god, then who made this creation, who made the stars, who made the heaven, who made the humans? If there is a God, then why isn’t He helping us?”
In spite of it being illegal, every house has a satellite dish, which is a great alternative to the non-stop religious propaganda pumped out over government-run channels.
So he flipped on Trinity Broadcast Network. He heard about Jesus. Everything he heard through Islam about Jesus was contradicted: The Son of God did indeed die for our sins; he was more than just a prophet.
Importantly, he rose from the dead.
Ramin didn’t immediately believe. He had been taught it was “baloney,” so he turned it off. Read the rest: Who is Ramin Parsa?
How dare Kumar Swamy, born an “untouchable” in India, carelessly bump into a Brahmin playing cricket on the street one day in his village in India? It was only an accident, but the upper caste boy was incensed.
“You dirty Dalit (untouchable) dog!” he says on a 100Huntley video. “I became very mad. I had the cricket bat in my hand. It’s like your baseball bat, thick and hard. I took it and gave him a whack.”
According to Hinduism, the Dalit must be careful to never “contaminate” an upper caste. Immediately, people started to gather and formed an angry mob of about 100. Stirred and restive, the people ultimately forced Kumar’s family to leave the village forever.
“My mom was constantly telling us we were untouchables,” he says. “Oftentimes she would use the words, ‘we are sub-humans’ — not really human beings. You can imagine how I would feel like a child, constantly hearing it from my parents, my mom, telling me that we are not real human beings.”
The ‘untouchables’ or dalit are born in the bottom of society and can never leave. Frequently, the untouchables perform the most menial of jobs, such as cleaning sewers, for a pittance. But Kumar’s dad made good money as a witch doctor. He talked to spirits, cast and broke spells and was highly sought after because of the dark arts.
“You could imagine how totally my family was under the clutches of the evil spirits,” he says. “It was an oppressive, grim, gloomy reality of my childhood.”
Kumar was 11 years old when he struck the Brahmin boy with a cricket bat. Usually, he played only with other untouchables, but sometimes they played with others.
“He was hurt, he was bleeding and there was a big commotion in the village,” he says. “Nearly 100 of his relatives came from nowhere within no time and they just held me guilty.”
It was probably a good thing that they didn’t kill Kumar. Instead, they exiled him.
“We packed what little stuff we had and just left the village to another village, where the Dalits were predominantly gathering,” he says. “That left a very deep wound in my heart.”
With the move, his father lost work and they suffered scarcity. Kumar asked himself many searching questions.
“Why did God create me as a Dalit, as untouchable, as a sub-human?” he said. “We were praying to all these millions of Hindu gods — and no answer. So, as you can imagine, I was left a very depressed, disillusioned, young man seeking for hope in my life, seeking for reality.” Read the rest: Untouchable touched by Jesus.
At age 12, Rachael Havupalo was lured into a compromising situation by two boys and raped. It was devastating.
“I felt like so dirty,” Rachael recounts on a CBN video. “I felt so defiled. And I felt like all the innocence that I ever had was taken from me. It crushed my heart. It broke my trust in men and of people.”
Eventually, the culprits were captured and punished. But this provided no solace for Rachael, who suffered internal agony.
At 14, she began cutting herself and picking up Gothic dress and lifestyle. She dabbled in Wicca and fantasized about death.
“On the inside I felt so dead and so numb,” she says. “I just really wanted to die.”
All through her teens and 20s, Rachael used drugs and did time in prison for her addiction.
At age 21, she had a little girl and became a single parent. She had a brief marriage that ended in divorce, then lost custody of her child.
Sadly, her response to the trauma was to self-medicate with meth.
“My heart was really broken,” says Rachael. “There was an emptiness that came that’s indescribable.”
One day, she visited a “friend,” who locked her in, drugged her with heroin and raped her for three days.
“Any amount of peace I had in my heart and any hope that I had of anything that would ever get better was completely taken away,” she says. “I was so terrified and I asked God, ‘Please, please God, don’t let me die.’” Read the rest: From medicating to missionary.
After dropping his family off at church, Chris Wright circled back to pick up a lady walking down the side of the road with a gas can that he had seen on his way to Sunday morning service.
“She was down on her luck,” Chris said on the Today Show. “She had only $ 5 in a purse and was worried about feeding her child. I filled her gas can and drove the woman back to her car. As I started to leave, I felt a nudge to give her what I had in my wallet $40.”
The act of kindness toward TunDe Hector came at her neediest moment, and tears welled up in her eyes.
Three years later, Chris’s mom suffered a life-threatening disease and was hospitalized. After days, she was released but needed a nurse’s aide to monitor her at home.
The nurse’s aide turned out to be the same woman he helped at the side of the road – TunDe. At first, Chris didn’t recognize her and TunDe didn’t recognize Chris because the day he popped by he was wearing sweatpants and a cap on backwards.
But they did get to talking, and TunDe found out that Chris attended Cornerstone Church in Athens, Georgia. That’s when she brightened and recounted the story of how “a young man” from that church had performed an act of kindness to her three years earlier.
“My jaw dropped,” Chris says.” I couldn’t believe it. I saw myself three years earlier being tugged to help a stranger.” Read the rest: What it means to be Christian?
Vivian Herrera worked out intensely. She wanted her ex to feel sorry for cheating on her. She called the results her “revenge body.”
She uploaded 10,000 sexy shots to Instagram, attended raves and did drugs every other weekend when her ex had custody of their baby. She also fought with him every chance she could.
Vivian didn’t really know God through her church upbringing. By 18, she picked up on the “law of attraction,” the New Age idea that positive thoughts bring positive results, and she was making good money as a saleswoman at LA Fitness in La Habra, CA.
“I was attracting all this stuff, but I was still empty,” she says on her Faith with Vivian channel.
As she grew more self-centered in the quest for money and adulation from boys, she lost all her friends from high school. “All I cared about was money and working out,” she admits. “They wanted nothing to do with me because I was so selfish.”
She fell in love, moved in with her boyfriend and had a child by him, but when he cheated on her, she reacted with volcanic anger.
“I got so mad guys. I went to his job, and I keyed his car,” she admits. “I threw all his stuff. I cursed him. I told him he deserves to go to hell.”
The purpose of her life was to make him regret his infidelity. She trained hard to get a sexy body for a bikini competition that would make him eat his heart out.
“I was getting my revenge body,” she says.
In her headlong plunge into sin she slept around, did drugs, and traveled to Las Vegas as often as possible to party. Instead of worrying about her baby daughter, she danced the night away at raves whenever her ex had their daughter.
“I was literally doing anything to numb the pain,” she says. “Living for money, weed, alcohol partying, concerts, it was pretty empty. My life really had no meaning at this point. I was literally just trying to forget the pain that I was in. I knew what I was doing was wrong.”
She had started going to church, but instead of “leaning in” on God in her time of crisis, she walked away from Him.
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.’”
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.
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
Add to Dave Ramsey’s credentials of Christian financial guru, best-selling author, radio cohost and television show presenter, a new title: Santa Claus.
That’s right, because Christendom’s Apostle of Assets just paid off $10 million of debt of thousands of random strangers just in time for Christmas.
By melding secular financial planning principles with Biblical concepts of stewardship, the Tennessee resident amassed a huge following after nearly three decades of counseling church members to get out of debt and save for retirement. He is famous for 10 books and “The Dave Ramsey Show” on 500 local radio stations heard by more than 14 million across the nation.
That was not enough for Dave. Apparently, he aspired to become Saint Nick also.
In December, his Ramsey Solutions bought $10 million worth of debt from two private debt collectors representing medical and car bills and canceled it. His employees (they’re not elves though) have been working feverishly to call and notify the 8,000 individuals involved that they no longer owe any money.
“I always tell my team that we are blessed for one reason, and that is so we can be a blessing to others,” he told the Christian Post. “Why the heck would anyone scoop up $10 million worth of debt and pay it off just like that? Well, the answer is simple: to show the love of Jesus Christ. You see, this whole completely forgiving a debt thing has been done before — by Him. No other gift could compare to that one, but we felt this was one small way we could continue to pass on that love.”
Recently Ramsey ran his Santa sleigh into a bit of controversy when at one of his seminars he encouraged attendants to not wear masks during the time of Covid. The media howled and portrayed him as a holiday villain.
But his latest un-Scrooge-like debt cancellation will undoubtedly improve his public relations image.
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.