If there were anyone who might not want to help make sandwiches for migrants entering the United States illegally, Pastor Matthew Mayberry thought of a certain Air Force member whose hardline politics would give him pause.
But no, the airman was right there slapping together ham and cheese between bread to minister the gospel of love to foreigners in August 2021. The Border Patrol who hadn’t yet processed the massive caravan who found shelter beneath a bridge outside Del Rio, Texas.
“The things these people are going through, when I really thought about it, if I were them, I would probably do the same thing,” he told Pastor Matthew. “They have a chance for a better life for their family.”
Pastor Matthew’s City Church got a call from the agent in charge of the Border Patrol on a Saturday. Could his church help provide food for migrants, many of whom hadn’t eaten in several days?
Pastor Matthew couldn’t help but see irony. His sermon for the next morning – as part of series already scheduled – was based on Matthew 5, the passage in which Christians are instructed to be salt and light.
“Within a couple of hours, our church had mobilized, and we made 500 sandwiches that first Sunday,” Pastor Matt told God Reports. “The next day we made 400 sandwiches.”
Over the course of the week and in coordination with two other churches, they made and handed out 3,000 sandwiches to migrants. They shared the gospel with migrants who were fleeing the pulverizing poverty or crushing crime of their Latin American countries.
They helped a second wave of migrants in September, Pastor Matthew says.
Everyday, before class gets underway with academics, Allie Scribner asks for prayer to grow four more inches — to be an even more competitive volleyballer.
Those four inches would have come in handy on Tuesday. Hillcrest Christian School, with taller girls, deployed effective blocking to stymie Lighthouse Christian Academy’s spiking game.
Lighthouse lost in five sets: 25-18, 20-25, 25-18, 16-25, 9-15.
The girls huddled in prayer after their first loss in four games so far this season.
“Lighthouse was so good at digging the ball that it got in our heads ,” admits Hillcrest Coach Michael Westphal, commenting on a battled, drawn-out victory that required the full five games to liquidate.
Lighthouse employs a dynamic style of play that culminates in spiking even when it starts with some of the most mind-boggling digs. It’s a team effort that has steamrolled so far this season.
To knockdown the LCA powerhouse, Hillcrest put to good use its mostly taller players. About one-third of the spikes fell back to Lighthouse, which mostly couldn’t pop back up to keep in play.
What freaked tykester Emmanuel Zepeda the most was not be removed by Children Protective Services from Mom and Dad. It was not being separated from his two older sisters in transitional housing. It was the kid who screamed all night long.
“It was the kid I think who was going through some crazy stuff,” he remembers on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “He would be screaming all night. As a kid, I didn’t know what was going on. I was freaking out. I was crying that night.”
Today Emmanuel is a testament of how God can help foster care kids, who suffered under drug-abusing and drug selling parents.
Emmanuel Zepeda’s parents were rebels cast out by their respective families. They were so shunned by their families that when Dad was in jail for trafficking and Mom interned at a rehab trying to clean up her act, none of the family members would take in Emmanuel and his sisters.
“I was in and out of that foster home,” he says. “Growing up we never knew when the police were going to show up and take my dad away. I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. Both my parents were heavily involved in drugs and in-and-out of prison. It was always in the back of my mind: Were my parents going to be taken away?”
Emmanuel was born in Brawley, California. When he was taken out of the transitional facility and placed in a foster care home, “you could tell the people did it just for the money, not having a heart for the kids,” he says. “There were a lot of times where they would pull me by the ear where my ear would start ripping and start bleeding. They couldn’t hit us.”
Emmanuel didn’t have a taste for the Foster Mom’s cooking. His punishment for not eating was to have to sleep at the table. “My sister would come at 2:00 a.m. and pick up and take me to bed,” he remembers.
Emmanuel was in kindergarten. His father was in prison for armed robbery. His mother entered a Victory Outreach woman’s home to get clean from drugs. She wanted to clean up for her kids, but he battled with rejection because, ultimately, she sent him away.
“We had a disconnection with the rest of the family because my parents were the rebels of the family,” he explains. “Who wants to take in four kids? So, we definitely went straight into the (foster care) system.”
While he lived in poverty, Emmanuel and his older brother and sisters went to the local church for sandwiches. “To this day, I remember how good they were,” he says.
After so many years, his Uncle Ben and Aunt Rosy got saved in the Potter’s House Church and received the kids into foster care when Emmanuel was seven years old. He started learning the Bible stories, with Veggie Tales.
“My life changed from there,” he says. “The exampleship they set with going to church helped me. I definitely did see a difference coming from a dysfunctional home and seeing how my parents would fight throwing stuff around. I would never see my aunt or my uncle fight at all. I looked at that and said, ‘Wow this is different.’ We felt safe there.”
But Emmanuel didn’t serve God like a straight shot arrow. He dabbled with the ways of the world: girls and marijuana. He learned to be a chameleon: in church he played the part but at school he showed nothing of Christian character.
“I can’t even count on my fingers the times I backslid,” he says. “The last time I backslide, I believed the lie of the world. I looked at my friends from school, and it looked like everyone was happy and having fun. I decided, ‘You know what? I’m just going to do what I want. I’m going to go experience what the world has to offer.’”
By now, his parents were serving Jesus and were adamantly opposed to Emmanuel falling into the gateway drug. One day when he skipped class to smoke weed, school administrators called to alert the parents of his absence in school.
Dad was waiting when Emmanuel, still a little high, got home.
To escape war-torn Iraq, eight-year-old Halla Mahler and her family fled to Jordan, then Lebanon and finally to the United States, where an uncle had prepared their green cards.
“It was a very traumatic time,” she told God Reports. “I don’t remember much.”
After Covid, Halla, 48, her husband and two children are “closer to Jesus than ever.” They attend a church in Newbury Park that insisted it was an essential service and flouted bans on church services imposed by government authorities.
The masks and distancing rules killed the spirit at her former church, she says.
Halla was born into a small minority of Iraqi Christians who trace their beginnings back to Saint Thomas and have dwindled to about 500,000 in recent years. As a minority among hostile Muslims, her family feared for their lives constantly.
Halla was never allowed to play over at a friend’s house or in the streets because the threat was constant.
“My parents were afraid we would be abducted,” she says. “The Muslims would abduct the Christians. Historically in the Middle East there’s always been that battle.”
Raised at the time of the Iran-Iraq War, Halla never passed a day without sirens. She lived in Baghdad and day and night, awake or asleep, ran for cover whenever the sirens blared to the dugout beneath the house her father had dug. It was a tunnel of sorts that served as a bomb shelter.
One day, an Iranian jet flew over undetected by radar, so no sirens warned the people of its coming. Suddenly, Halla remembers, there was an explosion in the sky and debris fell on their roof. She doesn’t know if the Iranian jet was hit or if it was something else.
“They didn’t care if they bombed homes,” Halla says. “If they saw lights, they would bomb it.”
The dangers of the war and the dangers of Muslims terrorists weren’t the only hazards. The family feared Saddam Hussein himself, who had the custom of personally visiting schools and asking students what their parents thought of him. If the kids unwittingly responded unfavorably, a death squad was dispatched immediately.
“My parents would sit us down every day and coach us on what to say or not say if Saddam Hussein visited our school that day,” Halla remembers. “If we didn’t say exactly the right thing, we would be assassinated.” Read the rest: Halla Mahler Thousand Oaks
Slipped intoxicating beverages by an uncle when he was only five years old, Rick Warren “developed a taste for alcohol” and wanted to stay up all night partying as a young man. So he kept a packet of NoDoz with him at all times.
“I would go to the club, then I would go to the after-hours club, then I would go straight to work from there,” says Rick “the barber” (not “the purpose driven”) Warren. “I was the type of guy who wanted to just keep going and going and going.”
Somebody introduced him to crank, and the snortable meth kept him up for two days straight. “This is it!” he exclaimed at the time, as re-told on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast Testimony Tuesday.
Rick lived in the fast lane because he admired the uncle who delighted in getting him drunk as a kid growing up in Indiana.
”My uncle enjoyed seeing me drunk at a young age,” Rick says. “My uncle was the guy. He partied. He had the girls. He traveled. He lived life on the fast edge. He became the one who I wanted to model my life after.”
When he was 17, he got busted for breaking into cars in a hospital parking lot. When his dad got him a job at the place he had worked for over two decades, Rick stole from there and got his first felony.
“There’s nothing worse than your dad working at the same place for 20-something years, and everybody knows you since you’re a kid, and they watch you getting hauled off in a police car,” Rick says. “Any time I ever got arrested, it was for stealing. I had a problem. I couldn’t keep things that didn’t belong to me out of my pocket.”
When his brother moved to California with the military in 1992, Rick went with him and got on the basketball team at Barstow College. But he quit about three-fourths of the way through the season – during half time! – because “I wanted to party more than play basketball,” he says.
“It was actually half time of a game,” he remembers. “I told the coach, ‘You know, I think I’m done.’ I turned in my uniform and walked away.”
At one point when he was 19, three young women were pregnant with his kids. “I was out there,” he says. He had a daughter and two sons.
He moved back to Indiana and then he moved out of town with a friend. He was the party deejay until they got evicted. Then he moved in with his latest girlfriend.
One night as he watched the NBA all star game in 1993, a boy came to avenge a grudge he had with his girlfriend’s brother.
“He pulls out a gun and points it at me and says, ’Hey come over here and lay on the ground,’” Rick recounts. “He made everybody lay on the ground. I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He shot her in the head. He shot me in the face. He started shooting everybody. He shot me two more times in the back.”
Rick lay motionless, pretending to be dead. When Rick heard the man leave, he got up to run. The perpetrator saw him and shot at him again. One bullet hit him in the butt and he fell to the ground.
Rick eventually made it to a restaurant, where they called an ambulance. Remarkably, his life was saved. His girlfriend, the sister, and one of the four-year-olds died. The other two kids survived multiple bullet wounds.
“You would think that would be enough to cause me to slow down,” he says. “But it didn’t. I continued to live a reckless life.”
After surgeries to reconstruct his face and six months of recovery, Rick simply returned to the fast life.
He got a barber’s license and opened a shop in Indianapolis. It was a good career for him because barbers never had to submit to drug testing, and he could continue smoking marijuana continuously. He cut people’s hair while he was high.
“I had a good thing going making a boatload of money, but still I was under demonic influence and that money was just not enough, so I needed more money and started doing stuff I shouldn’t have been doing,” he acknowledges.
The police were investigating, so he quickly sold his shop and moved to Philadelphia. He sought a place where nobody knew him. He left behind yet another daughter. “I never was a good dad,” he admits.” At that time in my life, it was all about me. The only thing that mattered to me was me – satisfying the flesh with no regard for anything.”
He vowed to never open a barber shop, never get married, and not have any more kids.
From there, Rick moved to Las Vegas and the opportunity to buy another barber shop “fell into my lap,” he says. “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
He met the woman who became his wife and had more children, breaking every one of his vows.
It was at this time that a regular customer, Larry Shomo, invited him to church. Being the type of barber “invested” in his customers’ lives, he attended funerals, weddings, and school programs with his customers.
Why not church?
He had never been taught anything spiritual in his life. His family only did sports. From everything he knew about church, he concluded it was a “clown show.” He thought of hypocrites hitting on young women and high-flying pastors with lavish lifestyles.
“The only repentance I’d ever had was when I was too drunk at night and I would lay down and say, ‘Oh God, please don’t let me die,’” he says. “I had no… Read the rest: Pastor Rick “the barber” Warren
Never mind that driving him towards suicide were demonic voices, schizophrenic episodes, and the opposition of his family. What bothered Adrien Lamont in the Bible conference – where he had gone seeking deliverance – was that there was only one other black person.
Fortunately, she came straight over to Adrien with a prophetic word: “God sees what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been chasing after him, and he’s so proud of you and he loves you and all the people that have done you wrong and called you crazy are gonna see what God is doing in your life in the direction that he’s taking you and they’re all gonna apologize.”
Adrien stayed and received intensive prayer. The deliverance was decisive. Today Adrien is a rising star in Christian Hip Hop, though his music is oriented more to the street than the pew, a rough-edged message of salvation, not cleared for Sunday School.
Adrien Lamont’s father abused heroin and died when he was young, so Mom did her best to raise him. Grandma was the driving force behind church attendance, but Adrien never developed a personal relationship with Jesus.
He was drawn to music and wanted to make it big. As he searched for his identity, he began drinking, smoking weed and using other drugs. He also liked to wear a brand of clothing with occult symbols. Today he says those symbols opened him up to demonic interference.
“I was really involved in satanic imagery and satanic clothing,” he says on Testimony Stories, a YouTube channel that focuses on Christian rappers. “It got to a point where all these things I was surrounding myself, started to affect my spirit. I realize now in hindsight that a lot of those garments and things I was wearing actually had demonic forces on them.”
He had a ring that every time he took it off and put it back on, he felt like a different person.
Connected with the producer, he began his path to stardom in secular rap.
“I remember just getting very high and drunk one day and I remember him telling me about all these satanic rituals and blood sacrifice and sacrificing his daughter,” Adrien says. “Under the laptop we were recording on, there was a Ouija board. I felt like I was demon possessed and that demons were speaking out of me into the microphone.”
On that day, he says he felt Satan’s presence. Words were impressed into his mind.
“He asked me if I wanted to sell my soul to Satan,” Adrien relates.
“Yes, okay,” he spoke out.
The rest of the night, he felt a darkness he had never experienced.
Hours later, he was listening to his recording when his computer “glitched.” Up popped another musician who shared his testimony about how demons came out of him and how he ran to his mother, who had a shotgun in her hand. He was saved from evil.
Adriend couldn’t explain the sudden, mysterious site change on his screen. He knew he needed to leave Hollywood immediately and return to his mom, who was living in Long Beach. Early next morning, he wandered around Hollywood asking for a phone to call Mom. Eventually, he got an Uber home.
Full of excitement to serve God as a missionary, Diego Galvan woke up on his first morning in Tijuana to a freshly decapitated head of a woman left in the street.
The grisly murder was a sign of what was to come for the fearless missionary who tried to avoid angering the wrong people but found himself entangled in a nation and city overrun with rampant corruption and cartels.
“If I die, I’d rather die doing the will of God than live as a coward seeking money and pleasure,” determined Diego, who was born in Uruguay but raised in America just across the border in San Diego and had never known the dark and dangerous world of drug cartels.
Diego Galvan’s father got his family out of Uruguay through some first-class shenanigans. Being a bodyguard for U.S. diplomats, he divorced Diego’s mother, married a lady diplomat, moved to the United States, got U.S. citizenship, divorced the diplomat, returned to Uruguay and brought his family to America.
Diego grew up in the world of guns. His father got into gunfights with terrorists of the likes of Che Guevara.
Diego was saved at a young age and stayed faithful in the church. As he grew up, he got married, got a great job at the Acura-Jaguar dealership and bought a house in San Diego. He had pioneered a church and was currently serving as assistant pastor in the border city when God interrupted his fairytale life with a call to leave luxury and throw himself into the godless land of Tijuana. He would do his best to stay out of harm’s way.
“What you do with the cartel is you ignore it,” Diego says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “They were there before you and they’ll be there after you. You don’t be nosy. You’re just there for souls.”
Diego took over a church in Tijuana established by his brother, who moved on to another ministry. In the yard of his first house, a man was killed by revenge-seekers from the cartels. So he decided to move.
At his second house, a man who had been committing adultery with a drug trafficker was killed on Diego’s doorstep. He moved again.
Unwittingly, he fell out of the frying pan and into the fire. His next-door neighbor was a drug lord. What happens when the drug lord faces off with the Lord God?
The drug lord’s henchmen were annoying, parking in front of Diego’s driveway. When he got home from church, he couldn’t park in his driveway. He asked them to move their cars; they ignored him. They were drinking and partying.
Realizing he was never going to get away from the cartel, Diego decided to send his wife with food to evangelize the dealer’s wife. “My wife can cook some good food,” Diego explains.
“You try to avoid the cartel,” he adds. “But the problem is that as you preach, you begin to mingle in their world.”
It wasn’t the first time he directly evangelized them. Out on the streets passing out handbills for the church, he would run up to their SUVs with darkened windows and pass out flyers to occupants of the cars that only the drug traffickers drove. As a general rule, the cartel members received flyers and were respectful.
One even opened his heart: “God could never forgive me.”
“That’s a lie,” Diego countered.
“I’m in so deep,” the man mused.
But it was his interaction with the drug lord next door that pulled him into a full-blown war with the cartel. The wife got saved, and the drug lord didn’t like it. She showed up to church with black eyes and had clearly been beaten.
For some days, Diego remained quiet about the physical abuse he was witnessing. But eventually, his outrage got the better of him, and he went over to talk to the drug lord. He knocked. Mr. trafficker opened the door.
“Hi, I’m your neighbor. I’m the pastor,” he started. “I see what you’re doing to your wife. Men who beat their wives are cowards. One day you’re going to stand before the living God, and you’re going to give an account for all the mess you’re doing.”
The drug lord didn’t respond a word.
“This man is dead,” he thought (he admitted later).
The drug lord’s four-year-old daughter scampered out. Diego saw her. “This is your daughter, right? Do you want men to treat your daughter the way you are treating your wife?
“Listen, I have the real deal,” he continued. “It’s Christ. If you call upon him, he will save your soul. But you must get right.”
Still the drug lord said nothing. So Diego went home.
A few days later, the drug lord’s wife came over panicked. Diego had been out of town preaching for another church. The wife implored Diego to come over; her husband had been locked up in his room and hadn’t spoken to anyone. He was out of his normal mind.
Diego decided to go and visit. Diego’s wife tried to dissuade him. “It’s a trap,” she cautioned. “He’s going to kill you.”
Diego remained firm in his resolve. He knocked on the neighbor’s door.
“You wanted to see me?” he asked. “Here I am.”
The drug lord’s eyes said it all.
“When I saw his eyes, I knew something had happened for the positive,” Diego tells.
“You know what you told me a few days ago?” the drug lord told him. “That’s real, dude.”
He no longer consumed or wanted to consume drugs. He was going through withdrawals. Diego led him in a sinner’s prayer. It was Friday night. On Saturday morning the former drug lord who had met the Earth’s Lord participated in outreach. He was handing out handbills and testifying to people about the wonders of Christ.
He was filled with wonder and joy and thrilled with the reality of Jesus.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Diego preached about repentance. Unbeknownst to Diego, the ex-drug lord just happened to be carrying 2 kilos of pure cocaine left over from his just-ended trafficking career. In a flourish of enthusiasm, the ex-drug lord flushed them down the toilet after the sermon.
Had Diego known, he probably would have counseled his new convert to give the drugs back to the cartel – and to negotiate an exit from the cartel.
You don’t run off with the cartel’s drugs. You either give them the money or the drugs.
Sure enough, the higher ups showed up. Where’s the money?
I don’t have it. I threw it down the toilet.
Curse words. Threats.
The new convert’s days were numbered.
Sure enough, the hitmen showed up.
It was Sunday after church. Pastor Diego was napping and woke up to the blood-curdling screams of the new convert’s wife. From his second story room, he looked over the wall and saw the screaming wife.
“Help us,” she pleaded. “They’re going to kill us all.” They had four kids.
Diego sprang into action. Once again, his wife warned him not to get involved. “You’ll die,” she said.
“Then I’ll die,” he responded and went out the door.
When he entered his new convert’s house, he distracted the gang of hitmen, so that the new convert grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed one through the heart.
It was the capo’s brother. The capo was a woman.
The hitmen didn’t think. They panicked and packed up the brother and rushed him to the hospital.
Pastor Diego called the Mexican police. Eighteen SWAT-like cops showed up with masks and “AK-47s and AR-15s. Diego explained to them the situation.
Andrae Brooks, 16, didn’t recognize the man at his door.
“I’m your father,” said the man, who had been in jail for trafficking drugs for most of Andrae’s childhood.
“What do you want?” Andrae retorted.
Awkwardly, Andrae’s father attempted to talk to his estranged son for about 10 minutes before he gave up, saying, “All right, I’m going to come back later.”
“You don’t need to,” Andrae replied, coldly.
Cagey and closed off, Andrae was incredibly gifted at cutting people off and shutting off his feelings toward them.
Born in New Jersey, Andrae never went to church. Because Dad wasn’t in his life, his mom had two jobs to carry the household and leaned heavily on Andrae to take care of his little sister, younger by nine years.
“I didn’t get to play on the basketball team because I always had to pick her up and watch over her. I was the free baby sister,” Andrae says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I loved basketball.”
When Andrae was 14, Dad tried calling him from prison. At 16, Andrae rebuffed Dad at the door. At 18, he didn’t come to the door when his father knocked.
He was guarded, suspicious of others’ motives and ready to fight at the slightest misunderstanding. By choice, he limited his friendships to three all throughout high school.
There were brushes with the supernatural when he was young. On one occasion when walking alone on ice in 14-degree weather, he broke through and should have drowned. But he “popped up” and managed to pull himself out. On another occasion, he hit his head and went unconscious in the pool but miraculously regained consciousness when dragged from the pool, spitting up water and blood and asking what happened.
Andrae avoided drugs because an uncle died from abusing them, and he swore he would never use.
Once he graduated, Andrae was wondering what to do with his life. He was sleeping on his mother’s couch being a “bum.” When his close friend got married and moved to Virginia, he moved in with them. He would do chores to show his appreciation for the free living arrangement.
But when the wife got saved, she invited Andrae to church. He had no intention of going. “If you don’t go, you’ll be on the street,” she replied. Sometimes the harshest of evangelisms work. Thus under the threat of ultimatum, Andrae went to a New Year’s concert and drama activity.
Those Southern folks were strange. He was used to not talking to strangers, not even looking at strangers – the custom of New Jersey. But the church folk from Virginia came up and introduced themselves in a friendly manner. They wouldn’t even let Andrae alone when he got his food. It was awkward.
Her Christmas Eve hope was to die in the hospital and put an end to the endless pain from Crohn’s disease.
Then a Jamaican dietitian showed up and prayed for Cassidy Kellagher, and on Christmas she woke up without pain for the first time in many months.
“I realized that was an angel,” Cassidy says on her YouTube channel. A Christmas angel.
Before coming to the Lord, Cassidy was virulently anti-Christian to the point she wouldn’t even say “Bless you” when somebody sneezed.
By her own account, she was “an extreme atheist, an extreme vegan, pansexual and an egotistical, terrible person,” She marched in gay pride parades and, dressed in a lettuce bikini, handed out veggie dogs to Senators with PETA.
“I wouldn’t eat with anybody who ate meat,” she says. “I just went out of my way to shame people who didn’t believe what I believed in.”
In June 2019 Cassidy began to have severe stomach aches. She soon went to the ER and got a CAT scan and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In three months time, she lost 60 pounds. Doctors pumped her with pain meds to alleviate the excruciating pain.
“Nothing was working,” she says.
She dwindled down to 80 pounds and after six months wished to die.
“I wanted to kill myself,” she says. “I woke up and hated my existence. I hated every second of it. I had no hope. I lost my personal life.”
Then Christmas Eve came, and the pain was so intense that Cassidy asked her mom to take her back to the hospital.
“I felt like it was going to be my last day on Earth,” she says. “I was excited, like no more pain, no more tears. Let’s do it.”
But she didn’t die. On Christmas she woke up and met the Jamaican dietitian. She had never seen her before, which was strange because she had been in and out of the hospital so often, she thought she knew everybody. She didn’t pay too much attention initially.
For the first time in a long time, Cassidy broke down in tears, which was strange because “I didn’t really have any emotions at that time. I was pretty much a vegetable just waiting to die,” she remembers.
The dietitian broke hospital protocol and told Cassidy she was going to pray for her – a decision Cassidy resisted with all the strength she could muster in her weakened condition. But since the Jamaican lady insisted, Cassidy relented. She didn’t expect anything to happen as a result of the words spoken over her.
“She had so much passion for me,” Cassidy recalls.
“You will be healed and you will be a healer,” the woman prophesied.
The day after Christmas, Cassidy woke up and no longer felt any pain. As a matter of fact, she felt so good she wanted to be released from the hospital, which staff wouldn’t allow because of the seriousness of her condition previously.
James Tughan doesn’t blame the cops for shooting his son after he pointed a (toy) gun at them. James himself had called the police after his adult adopted son, his brain altered by drugs and concussions, had called to threaten James’ life. He recognizes the police were there to protect the innocent.
“I can’t really hold anybody responsible for that except Alex,” James says on a 100 Huntley St. video. “He provoked it”
He could not defuse the family tumult that resulted from the incident, so he now pours his pain into his drawings on paper. An accomplished artist in the realism genre, James explores the fragility of relationships in a world fraught with sin, but at the same time offered hope through the redemption of a loving Savior.
“This is how I deal with this phenomenon,” he says.
James Tughan grew up in a Christian home in Toronto and found faith in Christ, but not all was as it seemed. There were fissures. Unlike many who reject the faith of their parents because of some level of inconsistency between action and diction, James incorporated the jarring dissonance into his art.
With eye for detail, James excelled in realism and became a sought-after artist for commercial pieces for 25 years.
But recently, he’s turned more to fine art, wanting to give voice to a vibrant faith struggling with a shattered reality.
He married and had a beautiful family. He and his wife adopted Alex, who excelled in sports.
It was accidents on the snowboard (he preferred not to use a helmet) and a drug habit that started in the 7th grade that doomed Alex. His parents didn’t catch on to his drug use until it had devolved into ecstasy and heroin. Alex warped into an aggressive and hateful young man.
“In the end we ended up with a perfect storm,” James recounts. “Alex stopped being Alex, he became someone else. Our house was a war zone. He had become a con artist and… Read the rest: James Tughan Christian artist, troubled son.
Pierced by a 7.62 mm sniper’s round in his chest cavity, Brandon Blair lay on the sands of Fallujah unable to be evacuated because of a sandstorm and remembered the New Testament in his coat pocket that a Gideon-man gave him when he shipped out.
It was the perfect size, and the U.S. Marine had at the time thought it was a “pretty cool” good luck token. But now he pleaded with the God of that New Testament to let him live.
“All I could do was look up, and I begged God right there that he would spare my life because I knew I wasn’t ready to stand before God and I knew I needed to get some things in order,” Brandon says on a LifeChange video on YouTube. “As any military personnel knows, I am a walking miracle. I had no internal bleeding.”
Today he is pastor of the Langston Baptist Church in South Carolina.
When Brandon saw the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Sept. 11th while at college, he called his mom. “I’m going to enlist,” he told her.
“No, you’re not,” Mom tried to dissuade him.
Enlisting in the “first to fight” Marines, he became a machine gunner at Parris Island and was assigned to a Mobile Assault Platoon, which means they would be their own base.
Before he shipped out, an old man with a cane was handing out Gideons’ New Testaments when he boarded the bus with the guys.
“I thought, well that’s pretty cool. I loved the size and loved the color and it matched our uniforms. It fit perfectly right inside of my left breast pocket of my uniform,” Brandon says. “I placed it there in my left breast pocket as a good luck token and thought, maybe it would bring me great success and bring me back home.”
He didn’t read it, however.
The streets of Fallujah, Iraq were a heavily fought zone. It was so bad, their food was dropped by helicopter, and the one time a chaplain showed up to minister to the men, his vehicle hit an improvised explosive and they never came again.
“My chances of coming home were very slim,” Brandon says. “But honestly, I never thought it would get hurt or injured.”
In August of 2006, a sniper’s bullet penetrated his chest.
Mom’s rare form of cancer offered a bleak 0% survival rate, but she declared to her husband – mystically – “I’ll be better by our anniversary.”
Daughter Mikhaila Peterson dismissed the proclamation as “spooky weird.” But when Mom recovered a month later on the day of her anniversary, Mikhaila “couldn’t logic my way out of that.”
“How did you get better?” she asked Mom.
“God,” was her cryptic reply.
Mikhaila is a Canadian podcaster who is almost more famous for being the daughter of heralded culture critic Jordan Peterson, who himself recently passed from admirer of Christian teaching to follower of Christ.
Mikhaila’s journey to Christianity shadows her dad’s, but the critical factor was her mom’s brush with death.
Mikhaila grew up learning the Biblical stories, but they were taught for their psychological significance by her psychologist father who viewed them through the lens of Carl Jung. They weren’t taught as literal events and truth.
“In the 4th grade, somebody asked me if I believed in God,” Mikhaila remembers on a Big Conversation video. “I said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Inwardly, she envied Christians. “I hoped that one day I could find some sort of support, like God,” she says. “I heard Christians talking about it and it was like that sounds fantastic, but I don’t have that.”
Ironically, consuming psychedelic drugs in her youth made her open to the possibility of there being a deity.
“I took a lot of psychedelics, and I do think the psychedelics opened my mind to the possibility that there was something there I couldn’t see,” she says. “I think that had a fairly large role to play.”
Dad, who was a cultural phenomenon, came to Christ and stopped viewing the Biblical narrative only as an expression of humanity’s deep-seated needs and realized they are also true stories. Mikhaela, who always admired her dad, took note.
But it was her mother’s rare cancer that led her towards faith.
“She was unbelievably sick. She was movie sick. She got this rare cancer that nobody gets and there were no studies on it and the death rate was 100%,” Mikhaila relates. “It was a cancer that nothing helps and it kills you right away.
“It tore my family apart because it was so sudden.”
Three consecutive surgeries failed.
Only a Catholic woman who visited her in the hospital to pray with her offered hope.
“A lady started visiting her in the hospital and they were praying together,” Mikhaila says. “My mom’s demeanor changed. She just… Read the rest: Mikhaila Peterson Christian.
By the time Alyssa Gordon went to high school, her mom had been thrown in jail for too many DUIs.
“My family was pretty dysfunctional,” she says on her Wonderful Acts YouTube channel. She was a military brat born and raised in Italy. Her mom was an alcoholic. She ran away from home from time to time and grew up seeking in guys the love she felt was missing in her family.
She played the part of the social butterfly party girl with a smile facade but internally she was frustrated that guy after guy just took advantage of her and never wanted a true and lasting relationship.
“I began to get in this cycle of me really desiring love, to have someone genuinely care about me,” she says. “I would give myself to these men physically looking for that true love that I never got. I got really dark, it got really depressing and the cycle just kept continuing. The last guy who I thought genuinely cared about me cut me off…would act like I didn’t exist.”
The last guy broke her heart badly and she took it out on God.
“I’m cursing at God, I’m throwing things,” she relates. “I was yelling and screaming, ‘God if you’re real, I need you to show me…right now!’”
She had attended church, but, with her mom’s example speaking louder than her words, Alyssa didn’t respond to God’s offer of grace and love.
As a sophomore in college, she luckily had a friend who encouraged her.
“I don’t know if God is real anymore, because if he’s real where is he?” she asked him.
For 15 years, Victor Martel was running from God. His mother got saved, his father, his two brothers and five sisters. He was too busy consuming drugs and hanging with the homies. Everywhere he went, Christians witnessed to him, and he tried to avoid them.
Then he received a life sentence in prison.
During the first week in his cell, God spoke to his heart: Can you hear me now?
Victor’s journey into darkness, coming to Christ at age 19, his subsequent falling away and jail sentence is a lesson of what happens to those who run from God.
Victor grew up in rough neighborhood in Banning, California, where he joined a gang, drank alcohol, and consumed drugs. In his hood, he couldn’t conceive of any other kind of life because it was all he saw.
“I had no choice. I was born in that neighborhood,” Victor explains to God Reports. “There was a principality that covered the area. There was no way out. It was the only lifestyle I knew.”
At 15, he got shot in the back and cried out to God for the first time to spare his life.
Despite God answering his prayer, Victor stubbornly persisted in sin. His house got shot up as result of his involvement in the gang. At 17, he started heroin.
Two years later, Victor lost his best homie, and he cried out to God again.
Then God did something remarkable. He placed a burden on the heart of a pastor from the Potter’s House Church, so the pastor began looking for the most desperate person to evangelize and was drawn to Victor’s house.
“He came to my house,” Victor says. “I wasn’t trying to be famous that way.”
In response to the gospel message, Victor accepted Jesus and began attending church in Beaumont, a few miles away. Victor attended for three months and then “didn’t follow through. I got caught back in doing what I wanted to do.”
After being handed a bloody bag of personal items of their dead son, Myron Leavitt was informed that his other son had a 5% chance of surviving surgery and that – if he lived – he would probably be charged with vehicular manslaughter.
“The other kids were 18 years old and were drunk out of their minds, but the state trooper said, We have a witness that thinks that your sons ran the red light,” Myron says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast.
Talk about Job being informed of calamity after calamity.
“Over 75% of marriages that have a tragedy like this in their lives, their marriage does not survive because people grieve differently, people process things differently,” Myron says. “But the grace of God, when he is the only answer you have, he is able to navigate you through these things.”
Not only did Myron’s marriage survive, they’re pastoring a church showing mercy, love, compassion and strength to others in Sanford, Florida – as incredible as Job’s recovery.
“I made a decision very early on that I’m going to choose forgiveness. I wasn’t out to hurt these kids,” Myron says. “I wanted, after everything is said and done, to be able to witness to these kids and to share the love of Christ with them.”
Myron’s journey with God began in the U.S. Navy. His girlfriend of the time took him to the recruiter’s office. They were both supposed to sign up so they could be together. But Myron found himself shipped out to Scotland, and his girlfriend never signed up.
His father had been a “Jack Mormon,” an insincere adherent. His violence and alcoholism turned Myron off to Mormonism. In Scotland, he met some on-fire Navy men who served Jesus on and off the ship and showed him an authentic relationship with the living Lord.
Back Stateside, Myron started attending a startup church in Jacksonville, Florida, where the pastor, after one month, asked him to be in a rap group for outreach. “Here I was a corn-fed country boy, what did I know about rap?” he quips. He grew up in Notus, Idaho.
But Myron already sensed a passion for Christ, so he was given a tambourine and went off to the local park to perform in the crowd-getting concert that members preached to. At that outreach, a woman got saved who ultimately became his wife (moral of the story: say yes to pastor).
Thirteen times, the Navy gave him orders to ship out. Thirteen times, Myron ignored them. He loved his pastor and wanted to continue growing in the Lord at the Victory Chapel.
“I don’t recommend to anyone they risk a court martial,” Myron cautions. “All I know is that I believed that God wanted me to stay in my church.”
Myron did indeed grow in the Lord, to the point that he was ordained and sent to launch a church, since his church believed launching new works is the most likely way to quickly fulfill the Great Commission. He has pastored a few churches.
Once when he was back in Jacksonville church, his wife, Jenny, got diagnosed with cancer. It was stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with less than 25% chance of survival, and the doctor didn’t give her much hope. “You may want to call your family in,” he told Myron at one point. “I don’t think we’ll be able to bring her back.”
With a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old, Myron felt that God would have to save her, so he told the doctor to do his duty while he prayed. Jenny survived, though she has suffered secondary diseases that resulted from the cancer treatment.
Years later, his sons crashed. They were closing the church after a drama and concert outreach close to midnight in the Jacksonville church. Caleb was 20, and Jacob was 17. Myron and Jenny left first.
Myron got the call as soon as he arrived at home. The pastor’s wife spotted a wrecked car, just like Caleb’s, on fire on the side of the road. Myron called and texted them, neither answered. So Myron drove to the… Read the rest: modern day Job Pastor Myron Leavitt.
Decidedly “100% atheist,” Mariah Jones pitied Christians, believing they reject reason and the advancements of scientific knowledge.
“I did not believe in God,” Mariah says on a 2019 video on her YouTube channel. “I didn’t believe in spirituality at all. I thought believing in such things was silly. Basically I was just a strong believer in science.”
Right after high school, Mariah joined the Navy in 2013. It was in the Navy that she developed anorexia and bulimia.
“It grew more and more aggressive as the years went by,” she says.
Once out of the Navy, she enrolled in college, and she positively relished the science classes which at first affirmed her belief in nothing.
“I used to enjoy when people would bring up God so that I could try and destroy their argument with science.” she admits. “I would ask them impossible questions that would put them in this awkward position and make it pretty much impossible for them to answer.
“I hated when people would talk about Jesus.”
Her distaste for Christianity was extreme, fueled by the grip of the evil one in her life.
“My mentality towards Christians and anyone who was religious was like, You’re wasting your entire life trying to live by these impossible standards and these rules that supposedly God created just to go to a place after you die,” she says. “I thought religion was a man-made construct that was harmful to people.”
Then a boomerang struck in 2017 in her second year in college. The same science that in the first year of college affirmed her atheist became the science of the second year of college that undermined her atheism.
Specifically, how could biological molecules with astronomical number of atoms all sequenced with confunding minute precision have just come together by chance? she wondered.
So at first science contributed to her atheistic arrogance. Then, as the classes advanced, they deconstructed it.
“Having to accept that everything just formed on its own by itself on accident, it didn’t make sense to me,” Mariah admits. “It really started to bother me because deep down I didn’t want to believe something. I didn’t want to take that responsibility.”
The thirst for alcohol, the perverted thoughts all left him the instant Mitchell Collins prayed: I don’t want to be the man I am anymore. I’m sorry for the things I’ve done. Jesus if you’ll come into my life and change me, I’ll live out the rest of my days for you.
“When I gave my life to Jesus, there was a dramatic change,” Mitchell told God Reports. “The thoughts that I had towards women changed overnight. Before Jesus I had thoughts all the time about women when they walked by. Afterwards, there was self-control. I no longer wanted to think of women in that manner. I had respect for them.”
As a lead petty officer in the Navy over a group of men, Mitchell had mocked the Christian in his group mercilessly. Now that he had accepted Jesus into his heart, what was he to do? “I didn’t tell anyone that I got saved for two weeks.”
The leadup to salvation was a long history of sin and soullessness. Born in Merkel, Texas, population 2,500, into a family of alcohol and crime, Mitchell didn’t see much future for himself as a cattleman. So he shipped out with the Navy straight out of high school.
He got his porn addiction and promiscuity from his stepdads and his drinking from his grandmother, a back-slidden bartender. He was consumed by dirty thoughts, knew how to get into relationships with women but not how to sustain them.
“I got started into that when I was little,” Mitchells says of being exposed to porn at 10. “I didn’t have an understanding or respect for the value of what it costs to have a woman.”
In the Navy, Mitchell completed one tour in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf and spent the rest of his time in Norfolk Naval Shipyard, assisting with maintenance on the nuclear-powered U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier.
That’s where he met Freddie Valero, who had stopped drinking after accepting Jesus and talked to everybody about salvation. Mitchell, who was in charge of the group, mocked him and incited the others to tell dirty jokes and drink. He also would deny Freddie’s request for Sundays off to attend church.
“I was giving Freddie a very hard time as his supervisor,” Mitchell admits. “I was always telling him he was using his religion as a excuse to get out of his work.”
But then Grandma died. Mitchell had spent the last weeks with her in the hospital and watched how cancer consumed her.
A short time later, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers happened.
Rene Celinder was leading an all-night prayer vigil in support of the Jews at the Israel Plads in Copenhagen 2002, when a Palestinian immigrant struck him over the head with a cleaver at 3:00 a.m.
“Luckily, I have a hard head,” Rene quips. The doctor explained that had the attack not been a glancing blow, he could have died or wound up in a wheelchair.
From the hospital, he called his wife: “Don’t worry I’m alive,” he told her. “I just took a cleaver blow to my head. No problem. I’m ok.”
Such is the life of a Christian evangelist is Denmark. Today, he travels internationally to preach the gospel to people lost in darkness. He, too, was once lost in darkness.
Raised by an abusive father, Rene became a painter and a handyman. When he contracted stomach cancer at age 30, he made a promise to God: “If you heal me, I will serve you for the rest of my life.”
He didn’t know God but remembered his childhood prayers from the ritualistic church he visited in his youth. The surgery removing the egg-sized mass was a success. Rene didn’t immediately fulfill his promise to serve God.
Three years later, he received a $50,000 insurance payout for the damage done by chemicals he worked with as a painter and fiberglass worker. He traveled and drank extensively until he spent all the money in under two years. Later he would resonate with the Prodigal Son when he read the Bible.
After the “living it up” was over, he had no money and nothing to do. An aunt told him to go to church and get saved. So that’s what he did.
Almost immediately, he enrolled in Bible school and was fascinated with the truth of Scripture. As he grew in the Lord he stopped swearing.
Unfortunately, he didn’t stop all sin. He fell into fornication with another student at the school. Caught by administrators, he got kicked out.
He returned home and avoided Christians and church because of his guilty conscience for some time. The brethren sought him out. Why aren’t you coming to church? they asked. “ I was afraid because I had been sinning so bad,” he said sincerely.
They encouraged him to return. When he did, he was embraced. He vowed to sin no more.
Eventually, he met and married his second wife, Dora, to whom he has been married for 25 years. He is now 66.
At a Christian camp years later, he spotted the old fling from Bible School. He asked his wife what he should do.
“You need to go ask for forgiveness?” Dora responded.
He did so. Then he asked her “spiritual parents” for forgiveness and then her kids. On the final day of the camp, both went up to the altar and asked the Lord for forgiveness.
“I learned forgiveness,” he comments. “Then I was free.”
Rene and Dora had a child, Emma, who was born with three holes in her heart. Doctors operated for 12 hours but were unable to save her. Baby Emma died six days after birth.
“I was really really angry at God,” he remembers. “I’ve never been angry like this before.”
Rene wanted to run away. But the doctor encouraged him to cradle his baby and to say goodbye. The grieving process was very healing. On the day of Emma’s funeral and burial, snow was falling, and the wind was blowing inhospitably. But after the sermon inside the church when they all came out, the storm had passed, and the sun was shining. It was beautiful moment to bury Emma. The birds were singing. He felt God’s presence.
Rene prayed a very unusual request: “Lord, show us our little girl one more time. I know that we cannot ask anything like this. But if you can, can you do something about it?”
Typically, a request to communicate with the dead is strictly a no-no because it derives from witchcraft. King Saul, in an attempt to contact the dead prophet Samuel, went to a medium. It was his last act of life; the next day he was killed on the field of battle.
But God took Dora to Heaven, Rene says.
One night she had a dream and in the dream she went to heaven. The first person to greet her was God.
“Father, have you seen our daughter?” Dora asked.
Yes, yes, she’s over there crawling around having a joyful time, He responded.
Then she talked to her baby, who, not limited to earthly constrains, could talk, Rene says.
“It’s really beautiful up here,” she told Mom. “I’m going be more blessing here in Heaven.”
Dora woke up happy. “We knew that we are going to see her again,” Rene explains. “She now would be 25 in human years.”
Moved on by the Lord, Rene opened his first cafe in a cellar. He invited people, gave them coffee and food, prayed for them for healing. It was a continual outreach center.
How he got the cafe is a miracle. When he first saw it available, it cost $5,000 a month. He felt God’s urging towards this place but couldn’t afford the rent. So he waited a year. The next time he saw it, the rent was now $2,000. He made his move.
Saying he had no money, he offered to paint for the owner to be able to use the cellar. After thinking it over for three days, the owner told him that he had no need of painting but if he would clean up and repair three flights of stairs, he could use the cellar for free. The job took four days.
David Lou Bega, the Berlin mamba singer whose catchy tune “Mamba #5” set the world dancing, has turned himself over to Christ after reading the Bible in a bungalow in the Maldives when unending rain wouldn’t let him, his wife and daughter out for sun and snorkeling.
“In depression, I found a bible and started to read. After a few pages, I started to realize this was the truth that I was always looking for,” he says in The Last Reformation documentary. “I’ve looked into different sets of religions before, everything that was trendy and cool, like Buddhism and some New Age stuff.
“But I had passed over Jesus Christ for so many years, to my regret,” he adds. “There he was calling me, giving me the opportunity. I started reading and I felt so convicted. I broke down, started crying. That was the Holy Spirit.”
He had seen Torben Sondergaard’s miraculous street evangelism ministry on YouTube and called him to baptize him in 2018. Sondergaard filmed the meeting at which he baptized and prayed for David and his extended family.
“I felt like a baby,” David says. “I felt like a newborn. That’s why the term born-again is really fitting. You’re fresh. Your transgressions, your iniquities are gone. I was so joyful and clean.”
David Lubega Balemezi hit #1 in many European cities in his 1999 remake of Mamba #5 “A Little Bit of Monika in my life.” For it, he earned a Grammy nomination. The pinnacle of his career pales compared to his simple encounter with Christ.
“Even in the days I was rebellious and didn’t listen to you (Jesus), didn’t obey you, you never dropped me, you gave me a family, you gave me love, you gave me everything I have,” he says. “It’s weird; you want to sing; you want to dance. It was the… Read the rest: Lou Bega Christian
When his family left Texas, little 9-year-old Mack Calvin saw poverty and physical and verbal abuse under the drunken terrors of his father. His family was evicted many times, so Mack moved from school to school and his learning suffered. In college, he read at a 7th grade level.
So when the 100 colleges offering him basketball scholarships saw his 1.9 GPA on his transcript, they shut the doors to him. “This boy’s dumb,” Mack imagined they said of him.
“My father was always drunk. It was kind of embarrassing when he came to my baseball or basketball games drunk,” Mack told God Reports. “God said to me, ‘You’re not going to ever drink. I didn’t want to be like my dad. I detested the anger he displayed towards my mother when he was intoxicated.
Ultimately, Jesus had big things for Mack, who eventually became a Hall of Famer in basketball. In August, he’s running free youth basketball camps in Long Beach, aiming to help impart values to underprivileged kids and teach them about Jesus.
Born on a farm in Ft Worth, Texas, Mack’s family was middle class and never lacked food. But his dad was an irascible, foul-mouthed drunk who decided to move the family to Los Angeles. His continuous gambling impoverished the family, and they went from eviction to eviction until they arrived at the Imperial Courts Housing Project in Watts.
Right next door, there was a gym where Mack played and practiced continuously until age 15, before the family moved to Long Beach.
“I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to be like my father,” he says. “I wanted to be great. I wanted to be special. I worked hard.”
Parks & Recreation coaches took the raw material in Mack and formed a high-caliber player. At Long Beach Polytechnic High, Mack led his team to back-to-back CIF championships both years he was on the varsity team. He was all-CIF, the state sports organization for high schools.
Colleges wanted him. But his schools had put him into wood shop class, metal shop and special education; he fell victim to the instability of his home. So off to Long Beach City College he went. Mack led his team to championships.
Coaches Chuck Kane and Bill Barnes turned his academics around. Starting him in easier academic classes and connecting him with tutoring, the coaches transformed the academic underachiever into a Dean’s List student.
After two years in the community college, Mack accepted a scholarship offer at USC, where he broke UCLA’s 41-game winning streak with his tenacious play. What the 6’0” point guard lacked in stature, he made up with sheer grit and determination.
Out of college, Mack played seven stellar seasons for the American Basketball Associating until it merged with the NBA in 1976. He was an ABA all-star five times and was named to the ABA all-time team
“You’re talking to a miracle,” Mack admits. “It was by the grace of God. God has always been at the center of everything in my life, no matter what I accomplished, no matter what accolades, no matter what money I made.”
Joining the NBA, he played for the Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Jazz and Cavaliers before retiring after the 1981 season. He did some stints as a coach, including for the Lakers and for the Virginia Squires.
For 44 years, he’s sponsored a basketball camp to give back to the communities where he’s lived. “I want to always aspire to make a difference,” he says. He’s mindful of the hardships of his own upbringing.
He’s always attended church. In college he participated in college sports faith groups. On the road, he’s attended whenever it was Sunday, as long as there wasn’t a game. Today, he attends Bishop Charles Blake’s West Angeles Church of God in Christ.
“I loved the spirit that came from the church,” Mack says. “I’ve always had the… Read the rest: Mack Calvin Christian
She grew up on a ranch and loved that lifestyle, but a freak accident propelled Kristi Noem into South Dakota politics and ultimately, national politics, where she’s become a leading voice against lockdowns, abortion, and transgenders in women sports. She’s been called America’s most pro-life governor and advocates for a return of prayer to schools.
“My relationship with the Lord is my foundation in all things,” Kristi stated in a South Dakota Public Broadcasting article. “As a result, the values I hold according to biblical principles impact my decisions: we are called to love, but we’re also instructed to stand for truth.”
Following the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, South Dakota enacted some of the nation’s strongest laws to prohibit abortions, saying doctors, not mothers, would be prosecuted.
“In South Dakota today, we’re just so grateful that every life is precious, and it’s being recognized in this country,” she told CBN. “This is the decision that so many people have prayed for, for so many years.”
Kristi loved ranching, chasing cattle on horseback, and sitting in tree stands hunting. The family loved God and attended church regularly.
“You read Scripture, you think, gosh, God loves farmers more than anybody else,” she waxes nostalgic. “He’s talking about sowing and reaping all the time and your barns are overflowing, the cattle on a thousand hills.”
When she went to college, her dad died in a freak farm accident, so Kristi came running home, eight months pregnant with her first daughter, to help run the family business.
At that time, the federal government offered no sympathy for her loss, instead slapping the heirs with a huge “death tax” bill that it took 10 years to pay.
“We were still reeling from the loss of the powerhouse in our family, and already, the government was reaching out its hand to take part of our American Dream,” she told Fox News in 2017. “We had a tough choice: sell off a portion of our family farm or face a decade in debt. We chose the latter. We spent a decade in debt and struggled to keep our heads above water.”
The inheritance tax law was one reason Kristi entered politics, first in the state legislature and then as a congresswoman in the House of Representatives, where she fought to overturn the devastating tax law.
In Congress, she also “got into some tough fights with the leadership of the House” to get the Farm Bill passed.
When she returned home to get elected governor of South Dakota, she riled atheists by celebrating her inauguration with an interfaith worship service. “You are Lord and King of South Dakota,” the pastor said at the festivities, according to Patheos. “We thank you Lord God that we have faith and that the Holy Spirit absolutely takes over every corner and every crevice of this Capitol and of this state.”
Friends are expressing dismay that a Danish man who works tirelessly spreading the gospel around the world has been arrested in America over charges of smuggling arms from Mexico into America.
“Today Torben (Søndergaard) is sitting in jail because somebody made a false accusation against him, something that is not true,” says Jón Bjarnastein on a Facebook post on The Last Reformation page. “It’s because he’s preaching the gospel. This is nothing new under the sun. The Bible says that everyone who wants to live a godly life will experience persecution.”
Torben Søndergaard fled Denmark in 2019 after repeated attacks by the government to discredit his street ministry, which riled secularists by casting out demons in public places. If you don’t believe in the supernatural, much less demons, then one might think Torben is a manipulative charlatan. He applied for asylum in America and now is being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I was invited to a meeting with Homeland Security who wanted to talk about my asylum case – a case where I, in Denmark three years ago, was accused of doing many things I had not done, and where I ended up fleeing to America seeking asylum,” he wrote on Facebook. “But then, they suddenly said that the real reason I was there was because they had been notified that I was smuggling weapons from Mexico to America.
“I was in shock.”
The accusation of arms running is strange because the illegal flow of weapons is generally southward, from America to Mexico. America is a manufacturer of arms, not an importer. What America imports illegally from Mexico is drugs, not weapons. CBN says the Department of Homeland Security had no comment on the case.
Doing ministry in Denmark for 18 years, Søndergaard, 45, founded the Last Reformation street evangelism movement with the purpose of restoring Book of Acts-style ministry. His Jesus Center trained disciples from 30 nations to spread the gospel worldwide, CBN reports.
But authorities in secularist Denmark didn’t like him and, starting in 2016, launched investigations from six separate Danish ministries into everything from food safety to unpaid taxes. They found nothing wrong, CBN reports.
The persecution continued when Søndergaard decided to homeschool his daughter. Seeking an abatement from the persecution, Sondergaard re-enrolled her in public school. But the attacks continued… Read the rest: Torben Sondergaard Danish evangelist.
His marriage was in shambles because, despite loving his wife, he fooled around with other girls.
“Our mantra was we don’t fall in love, we stand in love, because in case something goes wrong you can always just walk out,” says Orlando Patterson, a Jamaican immigrant to New York. “It was very common in the culture, we live in this apartment complex to be living with your supposed wife and a couple of kids. And you have another woman a couple streets over and she has a couple of kids for you. And you have another woman in another apartment complex and she has a couple of kids for you. That is business as usual.”
So when an officer in the U.S. Navy turned and abruptly and asked him about his eternal destination, Orlando responded with genuine self-examination: “I’m pretty confident I’d probably go to hell.”
Orlando Patterson knew nothing about God and fidelity because he grew up with his non-Christian parents fighting over custody. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a high-society dad and a pretty mom whom the dad’s relatives detested.
At age five, his dad tricked his mom into letting Orlando go to Queens, New York. What was supposed to a be a summer visit, turned into a permanent stay. Dad simply called mom: “By the way, he’s never going back.”
Dad’s intentions were to give Orlando a good education and the opportunities that arise in America. But the young man grew up “a square peg in a round hole.” By the time his mom was able to come over to America, the damage was done.
“I had drawn certain conclusions about life,” Orlando says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I was a problem child and felt horribly unwanted. No one really wanted me around. I never got rid of this feeling.”
He fell in with “miscreants.” His first arrest was for grand theft auto. An older boy was showing him how to steal a car when the cops pulled up. The older boy ran, Orlando hid in the car hoping the police would pursue the older boy. When he crept out of the car, an old lady trained a gun on him and ordered him to sit still until the cops came back.
“This lady was shaking,” Orlando says. “I knew I was gonna die that night if I would have flinched. If I breathed too hard that lady was gonna shoot me, so I just held my hands up and just kind of froze.”
Throughout high school, he butted heads with his mom, but she eventually prevailed with the plan he would join the military. He and his 8th grade sweetheart, Vanessa, both joined the Navy.
He became a jet engine mechanic.
Though they tried to stay together, their union was beset by troubles from the beginning because infidelity was what Orlando had learned from his Jamaican upbringing. “My marriage was shot, you know, infidelity on my part, just foolishness that I had done,” he recognizes.
On his first tour on the Adriatic Sea on the U.S.S. Enterprise, he was pulling an overnight shift. There wasn’t much to do, so he wandered to the other shops. That’s where he overheard a sailor evangelizing another man. “He was chopping wood,” Orlando remembers about the serious discussion.
Though not directed at him, the conversation unsettled Orlando. He’d been raised Catholic, but faith had never factored into his life as being real or relevant. As an altar boy, he’d report hung over at 8:00 a.m. mass.
“I couldn’t shake what I just heard,” he recalls.
Troubled by what he’d overheard, he continued to wander the deck. When he reported for his “midrats” midnight meal, he wound up eating next to an officer because the mess was unusually crowded.
The officer turned to Orlando and asked him point blank: “Young man, let me ask you a question. If you were to die right now, would you go to Heaven?”
Searching for identity, Paige Eman fell for the ploys of the African-American history class which taught her the Jesus narrative was counterfeit, stolen from ancient Egyptian myths of Seth and Osiris. Christianity, she was taught, was the white man’s religion designed only to subjugate slaves.
“I started as a Christian and then I transitioned into African spirituality and to New Age,” Paige says on her YouTube channel. “I’m back to Christianity and Jesus. I wasn’t willing to call myself a witch, but I was open to it. That’s the scary part”
The enticing part of the African American history class was twofold: cast doubt on the story of Jesus and drum up anger over historical and systemic racism (to our shame, there were Christians who justified slavery by saying Africans were children of Ham, accursed by Noah).
Despite her own personal apostasy from God, Paige does not regret studying at an HBCU, a Historically Black College or University. She made lifelong, supportive friendships, and the education was excellent.
Her only complaint? The assumption that the Jesus story is a fraud based only on the grounds of a somewhat similar story in mythology.
In fact, many cultures have resurrection and virgin conceptions stories. But none have a real, historical person associated with them. Undeniable historical people attest to Jesus, to his virgin birth and to his resurrection. So, if you’re going to dismiss these parts of Jesus’s life, you must account for the hundreds of witnesses who were willing to die for their story.
Paige Eman’s problems began when she was raised in a primarily white suburb. Her black friends said she “talked white,” and her white friends didn’t “really accept” her, so she felt “conflicted.”
When she graduated from high school, she made the decision to go to Hampton University in Virginia to figure out her identity.
“I met some amazing amazing people who were really like raised the same way that I was,” she says.
But the African American History class exposed her to some radical ideas that undercut the legitimacy of the Bible and Christianity. The Egyptian goddess Isis had a son by divine conception, she was told. The fact that this originated more than 2000 years before Jesus suggests to some scholars, especially the anti-Christian ones, that the disciples simple plagiarized the story.
It was compelling stuff, and the teacher provided proof after proof. Paige stopped believing in Jesus.
“We’re not supposed to worship Jesus as a black people right, so I totally rejected Jesus altogether,” she admits. “But I still believed in God.”
Having dismissed Christ, Paige embarked on a quest for the correct worship. She found out about ancestral worship and witchcraft, neither of which she fully embraced or practiced because her background in Christianity left her wary about it.
What she did get involved with was the law of attraction, burning sage and palo santo, and following black women’s spirituality groups on Facebook.
After being molested at age 7, Jazmin Santos was haunted by a question about her eventual future husband: How could he love you when you’ve gone through this?
“I battled with those things for so long,” she admits on a Delafe video.
Jazmin’s story shows that Jesus can redeem everything the devil intended for evil.
Born in Honduras, Jazmin Santos immigrated with her family to the United States when she was five. She grew up in church.
Unfortunately, she was molested in church by someone with a close connection to the family.
For years, Jazmin locked the dark secret in the rusted tin box within her heart. She always felt weird around everyone. She felt abandoned and rejected.
“I didn’t really dwell on it,” she says. “I just kept moving forward. It was like, oh well, that happened.”
She was always the good girl and thought she was a Christian automatically because she went to church, but at age 13, Jazmin attended a retreat where in a workshop she poured over a list of sins and checked off ones that applied and realized she was a sinner needing a savior.
“God, I’m a sinner. I’m broken. I’m a mess,” she prayed. “I ran up to the altar and fell on my face and was crying. I felt this conviction come over me.”
She realized she needed healing from the traumatic sexual exploitation.
“I didn’t tell anyone because I was scared,” she says. “The only person I told was my cousin because she was like a sister to me.”
One day, that cousin outed her gently and lovingly with her mom.
When the angel encounters started, Andrew Aggrey cut the partying and insincere Christianity. The supernatural visions came regularly, but nothing prepared him for his visionary descent into hell.
“I feel this magnet power pull me down,” Andrew says on a Delafe video. “The only way I can really describe it is a dark vortex. Imagine skydiving at nighttime without the fun. And boom I land in hell. And I know exactly where I am.”
Because he had heard of others who visited Hell, he inexplicably asked God if he could experience it himself. He believes God gave him the experience to warn others about the danger beyond the grave.
Andrew grew up in a Christian household. But as with many other young people who grow up in a Christian family, he suffered from the “my parents’ faith” syndrome. He lacked a wholehearted relationship with God.
At college, he threw himself into drinking, drugs and clubs. He had no doubt God was real but felt no compulsion to serve Him.
“I had the awareness of God, but I still kind of wanted to live my own life.” Andrew says.
But when the pandemic hit, he found himself locked up at home with tons of time to read. He read the Bible. Then the dreams began.
The first was an angel that guided him through a house with opening doors. He realized it was an angel because when he tried to worship it (thinking it might be Jesus), the angel stopped him from doing so.
It was an emotional encounter, but when he tried to share about it with his family, he felt like they doubted its legitimacy.
Another encounter was with Jesus. In his dream, the Lord walked past him. He had previously struggled with childhood rejections. In this case, he felt rejected by Jesus. “Lord, do you not love me?” he pleaded.
Then Jesus looked at him, and there was no doubt.
“He didn’t say anything to me, but the look was enough,” Andrew says. “Just looking in his eyes, face to face, was enough. I knew… Read the rest: Vision of Hell.
Right there in the back of the patrol car, Robert Michiels slipped out of the handcuffs, unthreaded his shoelace, tied the two laces together, hung them from the coat hook, inserted his head and attempted to hang himself.
“I felt my life slip away.” Robert says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I watched my life flash before me rapid fire in little clips. Everything, from the time I went fishing with my dad and my brother, opening presents on Christmas, climbing up on the roof, riding our bikes, skating in the neighborhood.”
Then a loud voice from Heaven pronounced an imperious command.
So he did.
Instead of committing suicide and ending his drug-addicted misery, Robert Michiels, then 20, went to jail and got saved. Today he is a pastor.
The North Phoenix native was the kid your parents warned you to stay away from. He liked to get into trouble and quickly fell into drugs by age 15.
But after drugs reduced him to homelessness. Not even his mother would receive him that night when he called her in desperation, wanting to get off the streets. Robert doesn’t blame her; he had stolen from her the previous time to support his habit.
At the end of his rope, he formed the plan to commit suicide. But first he would get high one last time.
To scrape money together, he stole a pickup truck so he could resell the tires. They were worth a fortune, but Robert offloaded them for $50 each to a guy who paid cash and didn’t care about their provenance.
But when he was stealing the first one, people shouted and he had to drive off, cursing his luck that he’d only gotten one. As he roared off, a trucker pursued him, talking to the cops as he followed.
Eventually, Robert got cornered. He got out of the pickup and shouted at the trucker: “Don’t be a hero, expletive, expletive, expletive.”
Robert slammed his truck in gear and drove straight at the trailer cab. He slammed into it, leaving it damaged. He drove off.
Then the first police car showed up. Robert drove wildly through the industrial area which had scattered open fields. The first cop car became several and eventually “the whole Phoenix police department,” Robert says.
Robert careened through a muddy field that splattered mud on his windshield. He couldn’t wipe the windshield clean, so he rolled down his side window and leaned out to see where he was going.
He never doubted that he would get away. For the whole 22-minute pursuit, he was smoking his crack pipe.
Then he slammed into a pole. He woke up with the engine pushed into him; he smelled of radiator fluid. He credits his limp, drugged up body for his survival. He gathered himself, pulled himself out of the truck and ran down an embankment, into… Read the rest: The Door Christian Center in San Diego
Shinichi Tanaka believed vaguely that an all-powerful god who created the universe was out there somewhere. But it was not until a near death experience that he found his way to God.
From a young age, Shinichi had a great respect for nature and the “gods” of the Shinto religion. However, when visiting the shrines to pray, he felt that something was missing.
“I went there to feel a sense of purification, also to pray and give thanks,” Shinichi says on a Japan Kingdom Church video. “But it was like praying to a vague God, like the air.”
It was at 40 years old that Shinchi began to take on a different perspective on God. In a moment of introspection, he began to see God not as a group, but as an omnipotent Creator.
“I realized the existence of God, which had immeasurable power,” he continues. “Since then, I would close my eyes and meditate that the universe would send energy like bright and dazzling lights. That was my God.”
Shinichi did not know God yet. This would change when, at 49 years old, he experienced a heart attack that left him hospitalized.
“My life hung in a fifty-fifty balance,” Shinichi says. “But I kept a strong will to survive.”
At one point during his hospitalization, Shinichi underwent a near-death experience that led him closer to finding God.
“One night, while sleeping on the bed in the hospital, a beautiful world spread out before me, and I was drawn outside my body,” Shinichi recounts. “It was actually the entrance to death.”
“Then, suddenly, a voice shouted ‘No! Don’t go!’” Shinichi continues. “When I regained consciousness, I suffered from strong pain, and tried to get out of it.”
Shinichi believed that an invisible being saved him from entering death’s… Read the rest: Shintoist finds God.
As a result of her parent’s divorce, Savannah Hernandez felt shame, had insecurities, depression, and had given up on believing in God.
“I hated God at this point of my life,” says Savannah on YouTube, “I just felt like, man, there is no way that God is real. I’m going through so much stuff. How is God real? How did he make this earth?”
Many fall away from God and don’t come back, but Savannah is proof that restoration of faith is possible.
Savannah’s parents got divorced when she was 11 years old. From there, she swirled downward emotionally.
“It was really hard on me just to face as a child and trying to figure out what was going on and just how to really just grow up to be a woman,” she says.
Savannah had a strong dad who never left her or made her feel alone, but she still felt an emptiness inside. She looked for masculine approval, which caused her to feel worse about herself and develop more insecurities.
“I did feel like I was alone at some point in my house, and I did run to guys and just love to try to find some type of love and temporary fix in those areas that I was hurting,” Savannah says. “It just caused me to hurt, and it caused me just shame and feeling like I wasn’t worthy and that was really hard for any girl to face.”
After she graduated, Savannah tried smoking and became stubborn and prideful.
“I was just doing all these things behind my dad’s back,” she recounts. “I’m not doing anything to pursue any of my goals, I’m not doing anything, I don’t believe in a God.
His vaunted career in aerospace engineering led him to being featured in National Geographic for his research with NASA.
But the PhD from a German university couldn’t save Dr. Dragos Bratasanu from personal heartbreak when his startup flopped, and he went back to his parents apartment depressed, in wretched pain and envying the dead in the local cemetery.
“The pain was so intense, I took my pillow and cried out to God from the bottom of my heart,” he recalls on a CBN video. “God, if you’re real, I need you.”
Growing up in Romania, Dragos was turned off by religion because it involved “bowing down to bones,” burning candles and the belief that you can only get to Heaven through your local priest.
Instead of seeking religious truth, he sought scientific truth. Excelling in his studies, he got the chance to study in Germany, where earned his PhD in space science. He worked with the Romanian Space Agency, got a chance to work with NASA and was commended in a National Geographic article.
At the top of his scientific career, he fell to the depths of inner despair. His business failing, he was humbled to the point of not being able to pay his bills and moved back with his parents. He cursed his fate.
When he considered embarking on a spiritual quest, Christianity was his last option. He studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and other major religions. He even traveled to the Himalayas to study under the most renowned Buddhist monks. All seemed to offer good tenets, but didn’t resonate with his soul.
Isaac Perez descended into the inner regions of the earth, down a spiral staircase, through the forest, over a bridge to the place he had been told he would meet his animal spirit guide. Finally, a hawk with a penetrating gaze faced him.
“What are you doing here?” the hawk asked him. “You don’t belong here. They are coming after you.”
It was a strange message for Isaac, who sought to become a full-fledged shaman through practices he learned online, which resonated with his Mayan heritage.
It was strange for Isaac, the son of a pastor from a charismatic church, to be seeking supernatural experiences in the occult.
“The Holy Spirit worked somehow to tell me I didn’t belong and what I thought was my spirit animal was very much definitely the Holy Spirit telling me this isn’t it, you need to get out, this is not the place,” Isaac says on a Doreen Virtue video.
Isaac’s testimony shows you can’t blend New Age teachings and shamanism with Christianity and that Jesus Christ is the only way.
Isaac’s parents were both charismatic pastors. Isaac became a youth pastor, but when he began to have unanswered questions about the supernatural, he turned to shamans online.
“I thought that I really understood this,” he says. “God created nature, so why can’t I serve God but also you know just enjoy this, his natural beauty and all the work that he’s done and created.”
Isaac began to explore shamanism and thought that with his Mayan ancestry he could blend Christianity with shamanism.
At first, he got involved with drumming circles in nature, then he began using crystals and other New Age practices. He didn’t go to his parents for answers out of shame and guilt.
“It killed me,” he said. “I kept thinking am I failing God being in this charismatic church, or am I failing God being in shamanism? So, I could really never figure that out.”
While he was involved in shamanism, there were works, like a sun dance, which was a dance including fire and self-mutilation in order to be forgiven for his sins and for God to hear what he was saying.
“I sacrificed myself physically either by physical pain through burning, or through cutting,” he said. “There was supposed to be some sort of release. There was supposed to be some sort of… Read the rest: Shamanism vs Christianity
M.I.A. – the UK rapper who was banned for a time from the United States because she was thought to have ties to terrorism – has become a born-again Christian after a supernatural encounter with the Messiah.
“I had a vision and I saw the vision of Jesus Christ,” she told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in an interview.
Born to a Sri Lankan Tamil family in the United Kingdom, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam reached overnight success with her multiple platinum song “Paper Planes,” which pokes fun at discrimination against immigrants from war-torn countries.
After being denied a visa into the U.S. in 2006, M.I.A. blamed “them thinking I might fly a plane into the World Trade Center.” Her hit was born.
M.I.A. is an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan repression of Tamil peoples. She has also spoken up for Palestinians on Israel’s West Bank.
Turning to Christ, she says, has caused her worldview to shift – a makeover that jeopardizes her standing with her mostly progressive fanbase.
“Basically, all of my fans might turn against me because they are all progressives who hate people that believe in Jesus Christ in this country,” says the singer.
M.I.A. was born in London. When she was six months old, the family moved to Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, where her father founded the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students, after a succession of pogroms against Tamils in the island nation off the coast of India.
For a time, M.I.A.’s family went into hiding, as the government hunted them down. Though born Hindu, M.I.A. studied at Catholic convent schools. The Sri Lankan army reputedly shot bullets randomly into the school on a regular basis to terrorize the locals. Along with all the other students, M.I.A. would dive under the desks and tables to avoid getting shot, a regular occurrence she described as “fun.”
At age 11, M.I.A. was brought as a refugee to England where she grew up in the “incredibly racist” Phipps Bridge Estate, a slum. There, she mastered English, and her mom worked as a seamstress for British royalty. Immersed in political activism, M.I.A.’s father was absent from the family, leaving a hole in her heart. Her mom became Christian.
M.I.A. loved art and pursued film but got sidetracked by hip hop and dancehall music, which she was introduced to by eavesdropping on the beats blaring from neighbor flats after her own radio was stolen. Her stage name came from the time she lived in Acton and was looking for her cousin who was “Missing in Acton.”
Once on vacation in the Bequia in the Caribbean, M.I.A. was dancing in the street at a “chicken shed with a sound system,” and some Christians… Read the rest: M.I.A. Christian
Stan Lander stared blankly at his wife when she asked a question. It was the second time some sort of brain fog prevented him from articulating, even thinking.
The doctor’s scan revealed an inoperable, probably cancerous mass in the middle of his brain.
“It was a death sentence, the Edmonds, Washington, man remembered on a CBN video.
The second scan only confirmed their worst fears.
“Is this my life?” Stan asked in disbelief.
But Stan and Aleta were Christian believers. So, in time of trial, they gathered their courage and prayed. Their church joined them in prayer.
The doctor’s prognosis was grim: the rare CNS Lymphoma spelled three to six months to live.
“Even in the midst of that dire prognosis, we knew that God was still for us and had a plan for our life,” Stan says.
Their neurosurgeon, Dr. Lau, told them, “I say from a neurosurgical point of view, we cannot do anything much.”
An MRI was scheduled.
Meanwhile, Stan and Aleta were watching the 700 Club one week before the second MRI and the woman praying, Terry Meeuwsen, made a startling statement:
“You’ve been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and there is no question whether you have it or not, it’s there and you question whether God can heal such a thing,” Meeuwsen said. “Today God is setting you free, he’s totally healing that tumor; it’ll just disappear.”
Stan and his wife were startled. It seemed the woman on TV was describing him.
“That’s for me!” Stan exclaimed.
When Dr. Lau saw the MRI results, he was taken aback. Where there had been a white image of the tumor, now there was only black, indicating there was a hole.
“There’s a hole in the brain!” he shouted. “There’s a hole in the brain!”
A miracle had occurred, and the Landers were overcome with astonishment and joy.
“When you see the picture, your jaw drops,” Dr. Lau says. “You saw the white stuff… Read the rest: Cure for a brain tumor.
The first time Bud Greenberg showed up at a Bible study, he introduced himself as a Jew, and the leader asked him to teach the next week’s study.
“You’re Jewish,” the leader told him. “Wow, you’re an expert on the scriptures. We’re just finishing up the study and we’re going to start the book of Esther. Since you know it a lot better than us, you being Jewish, will you teach us?”
There was only one problem: Bud had never read the Bible.
Notwithstanding, he assumed the invitation to teach was standard operating procedure. He went home and, starting from Genesis, thumbed through the Bible until he got to Esther.
“I didn’t want to disappoint,” he says on a Delafe Testimonies video. “It gave me a desire to read more, so I thought to myself, ‘Well, maybe I’ll read the New Testament.’ So I started in the book of Matthew.”
Today, Bud leads Bible studies in the Pentagon with Navy Seals and Special Operators, leading America’s elite fighters to Jesus. God has spoken through him in a way that unnerves the highest military professionals famed for having nerves of steel.
“I’m scared of you,” a Delta Force operator told him one day, arriving at the Bible study.
“You’re scared of me?” Bud responded. “I’m just a pencil-neck geek bureaucrat; you’re the killer.”
“No, no,” the operator said. “They tell me what goes on in these bible studies. I have no idea. I came early just to see for myself.”
Bud Greenberg was born Jewish but married a Christian girl. He loved baseball but wasn’t good enough in umpire school to make it in the Big Leagues. So, he joined the military and carted his wife with him to Germany.
She wasn’t too happy with the sudden move, and their marriage began to suffer. He asked a social worker what he could do to improve his marriage. Do something with your wife that she likes to do, was the answer.
Whenever Uhm Jung-Hwa’s friends told her about Jesus, she cringed.
“God loves me? What’s that? People are really weird. What God loves me? It is myself who loves me the most!” Jung-Hwa said at the time.
Today, the “Madonna of Korea” has converted from Buddhism.
One of the most influential singers, actors and dancers in South Korea, Jung-Hwa only regrets that it took her so long to come to Christ.
“I was jealous,” she says in a YouTube video in Korean. “I was curious why I knew God now, why didn’t he meet me quickly? Those who were born with a birth faith can meet God earlier than me. I was jealous and thought it was unfair.”
Jung-Hwa was born in 1969 in the city of Jecheon. She had one brother and two sisters. Her father died in a car accident when she was six.
Jung-Hwa had a gifted soprano voice with a wide range, so she launched a career. At her height in the 1990s, she was the queen of the music industry and one of the most popular celebrities. Her most recognizable singles were “Poison” and “Invitation.”
She became known as the “Madonna of Korea” and is a role model for many emerging singers today.
Some of her friends were Christians, but Jung-Hwa spurned faith in God.
Born a Buddhist, Jung-Hwa consulted with fortune-tellers and witch exorcists.
With $2.7 million on the line to win or lose the most legendary golf tournament in the world, the fabled Masters of Augusta, Georgia, 25-year-old Scottie Scheffler, who had won his first PGA Tour title only weeks earlier, broke into tears of nervousness on the morning of the final day.
“I cried like a baby this morning, I was so stressed out,” he admitted later.
His wife, Meredith, a strong Christian, told him: “Who are you to say that you’re not ready? Who are you to say that you know what’s best for your life?”
“If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, I’m still going to love you,” she said. “You are still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you, and nothing changes.”
Scheffler was grateful for her wisdom, “What we talked about is that God is in control and the Lord is leading me and if today’s my time, then it’s my time…if I shot 82 today then somehow I was going to use it for His glory.”
His wife’s advice and the Lord’s presence helped calm his nerves, and Scottie coolly chipped his way to the championship. As he donned the storied green jacket given to Master’s tournament winners, Scottie spoke about his Christian faith.
“All I’m trying to do is glorify God,” he said. “That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in this position and so for me it’s not about a golf score. I need a Savior and that’s probably one of the coolest things about our faith is recognizing your need for a Savior.”
Scheffler was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but moved with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was six. Throughout grade school Scheffler, filled with a fascination for professional golf, would wear golf attire to school, even though his peers made fun of him.
He attended Highland Park High School, where he played both golf and basketball, and then the University of Texas, where it was strictly golf. He helped the team win multiple championships.
It was in college that Scheffler “truly felt alone and didn’t know what to do.” He then started attending church and began to give his heart to God, piece by piece. “Gradually with time he just started taking over my heart,” he recalls.
Lee Byung-Yoon was an uncommon Korean child; he had no dreams for his future.
Then, to the chagrin of his parents, he wanted to be a hip hop artist.
“I had a dream in my first year of high school, and it was to make music,” he says on a YouTube video in Korean.
Eventually his parents supported his dream. Then BewhY (a simplification of his name that he uses as a stage name) won the prestigious Gaon Chart Awards in 2020. And every song he does is based on a Bible verse.
“I praise the Lord of my fathers today,” he raps in “On that Day.” “Even if many walls of oppression block me, I wait for the Lord only. Oh, the day of glory. Oh, God, please accept my heart.”
Of the South Korean population, 28% identify as Christian, so having Christian artists is not uncommon. What’s unique is that BewhY – noted for his sincerity and the fervor of his convictions – would win the secular “discovery” award when all his lyrics are Biblical and his testimony squeaky clean.
At the time he launched, other “Christian” rappers weren’t so Christian.
Katie Davis Majors was a Tennessee high school homecoming queen headed to nursing school. But instead, she became a mom to 13 girls – all in 18 months.
Katie adopted them all in Uganda, where she ditched her high-paying career path to work in poverty as a missionary at an orphanage in Africa.
““God just designed me that way because he already knew that this is what the plan was for my life — even though I didn’t,” she says on madehanaqvinews.com.
In 2008, she was class president of her high school Brentwood, Tennessee, when she went on a short-term mission trip to Uganda. Short-term missions make a lasting impact on many, but for Katie it was off the charts.
The poverty she observed moved her to compassion. Believing she could make a difference, she made a heartfelt decision: to put off college for one year and teach kindergarten in the Christian-run orphanage.
During her time there, a terrible rainstorm caused a mudhouse to collapse, burying several children. Leaders scurried to rescue the kids buried under the remains of the earthen house. Fortunately, none were seriously hurt and could recover in a local hospital.
After being rescued, Agnas, 9, whose parents both died of AIDS, plaintively asked if she could live with Katie forever.
Looking into the pleading brown eyes, Katie could not say no.
That was the beginning. Katie didn’t immediately embrace her destiny. To please her parents, she returned to the United States to get her nursing degree but found herself longing for the orphans in Uganda.
Ultimately, she returned as a full-time missionary. As she worked with the children, she felt a bond growing in her heart and wondered if she could adopt. Under Uganda law, she had to be 25 to adopt, but she could initially be granted custodial care.
She began her missionary work by teaching kindergarteners who were eager to learn.
Katie stayed in Uganda, serving. Everyday was filled with love and joyful sacrifice. She wound up marrying a fellow Tennessean missionary, Benji Davis, and they started a family, with God providing two biological sons.
After they both became Christians years later, Tomas Bueno became friends with the gang banger who smashed his skull and left a scar on the back of his head.
“I’ve been able to reconnect with him,” Tomas says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House premium podcast on Spotify.
Tomas Bueno grew up in the Los Angeles area. His dad was a bar owner and often wouldn’t come home from drinking, and his Mom took the kids driving around at 1:00 a.m. looking for him.
“It was around the age of 12 that I started getting enticed by what I saw around me,” Tomas says. “I started seeing these guys. It was the time when Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre had an influence on the white kids in suburbia. I thought this was really cool watching MTV for hours.”
When his dad was followed home and shot up in a case that originated from Mexico, the family moved to Huntington Beach in 1992 where few Hispanics lived.
“He came in, he was shot in the shoulders, he was wounded, he was asking for a gun,” Tomas says. “I was a little kid just trying to process this. Come to find out it came from Mexico, problems there that spilled over to the U.S. Needless to say, we had to move. We moved in the middle of the night.”
At 13, he started ditching school getting high, giving sway to the influence of a street kid. By 15, he was “running amok and being crazy, partying and going wild.” At 16, he smoked meth.
“All my friends were already doing it and they were like ‘You gotta try it. You can stay up all night and drink,’” he recalls. He worked at Subway and a co-worker showed him how to pack the balls and smoke speed.
By 1995 his friends were gang members when he lived in Fullerton. He met a girl, Karina (who now is his wife), and got her pregnant at 17.
“My dad’s not going to be down for this,” she told him. “I’m going to have to move in with you.”
“Ok, no worries, we’ll make it work,” he replied. They barely knew each other. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
But because he was partying, Tomas didn’t call her the next day. Nor the next. Nor the next.
For three months, he didn’t call.
“Basically, I left her hanging,” he admits. “It’s not that I was trying to avoid this. It’s just that I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I was in the streets doing drugs partying that kind of procrastinating. After three months I was embarrassed. What do you say? I just kept partying and doing whatever I was doing.” Read the rest: Hunted by rivals, Tomas Bueno rescued by God.
Taneisha Upperman’s idyllic childhood evaporated when she saw her stepdad hit her mom with a hatchet.
“It was in the middle of the night, blood was streaming down her face, and I was terrified, so I ran all the way down the street to my aunt’s house, probably about two in the morning crying,” she says on a Delafe video. “I remember being so scared and not knowing what to do and knocking on my aunt’s door for like 20 minutes because they were asleep.”
From the age of six, Taneisha’s life was a nightmare. Yes, her mother gave birth to Taneisha as a 16-year-old single mom, but they went to church with Grandma, and Taneisha had a happy life singing in church.
But her childhood innocence was tarnished when stepdad let the kids see porn.
Once when arguing with him, Mom locked Taneisha up in a room with her uncle, who sexually abused her.
“I was not understanding it, but being exposed to porn, I’m like, Well maybe this is
supposed to happen,” she says. “I just did not understand.”
She was seven-years-old, and told no one about the incident.
Mom moved the family to New York and then back to the country. Remembering the happy years when she attended church with Grandma, she begged her mom to be allowed to live with Grandma.
Little did she realize, Grandma had changed.
“That’s when I experienced verbal abuse and physical abuse,” Taneisha recalls. “My grandmother was angry. I don’t know why. She would just yell at me and call me names and say, ‘You’re nothing. You’re gonna be nothing. You’re lazy.’”
Grandma provided shabby clothes for Taneisha to wear to school, which was embarrassing and led to being bullied.
But the worst thing was that her uncle would come and go and take advantage of her sexually. At 10, she lost her virginity because of his abuse.
“In the fifth grade, I started having a warped view of guys,” she acknowledges. “I thought in order for them to like me or to be popular I had to let them touch me. I began to get promiscuous in school.”
All the while, Grandma took her to church, where she discovered she had a great singing voice. She was told she had a gift from God. When she sang solos, the church “went crazy.”
Taneisha elevated the family’s status in the church.
With one arm amputated, Christian dunker Hansel Enmanuel is winning high school games and has D-1 scholarship offers from Tennessee State and the University of Memphis.
“It’s not about what I want to achieve or do in life, it’s what God wants from me,” Hansel told the Orlando Sentinel. “God always has a purpose. I am living His mission, what He wants me to do in this life. Everything I do, I do it with God first and for my family; they are everything [to me].”
To see young hotshots slaloming through opponents and dunking on them is enough to generate a buzz in the basketball world. But he does it with one arm.
Hansel was born in the Dominican Republic. His father, Hansel Salvador, was a professional basketball player on the Caribbean Island. But he grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods. He developed a love and passion for basketball as a kid.
Tragedy struck when he was only six-years-old. When he clambered up on a wall of cinder blocks, they came crashing down and trapped his arm under a block for two hours before he could be rescued. When his father took him to the hospital, doctors determined that his tendons were shattered and they could do little to save his arm.
“My life fell apart when Hansel’s accident happened. I was the one with him and when they had to amputate his arm, I felt like it was all over. But God grabbed us and led us down this path,“ his father said. “You remember everything [from the accident] because a blow like this is not forgotten so quickly, regardless of all that he is achieving, thanks to God.“ Read the rest: One armed baller Hansel Enmanuel is Christian.
Despite experiencing terrors of demonic oppression as a child, Apisit “Ide” Viriya didn’t abandon the syncretic Buddhism of his childhood when he began experiencing clinical levels of obsessive-compulsive disorder with anxiety as a college student.
“Buddhism acknowledges suffering in the world,” says the Thai immigrant to America. “But for me it didn’t provide a solution. I fell into a survival mentality.”
Ide was raised in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. Raised in America, Ide was told by his parents to always double-down on the teachings of his family, as 95% of Thais are Buddhist.
So he hung on to Buddhism, even when the animism of his village opened him to demonic influences. His parents didn’t believe him or his brother when they were awakened by terrors or heard voices during the night, so they comforted each other.
“I felt like there were fingers touching my body,” he says on a Delafe video. “I could see two eyes looking down at me.”
At the University of Maryland in Baltimore, Ide first encountered an enthusiastic believer. He felt like she genuinely cared for him, but he was put off by her exclusive attitude, saying that Jesus was the only way to God.
He listened to her as she witnessed to him and even attended church, but he also shared Buddhism with her.
In his early 20s, he began to suffer from depression and OCD, believing that something bad would happen to his mom if he didn’t repeat a phrase a number of times.
“I would keep having to repeat things as a thought in my head until I felt peace,” he says.
He sought help from university student psychological services and got referred off campus because the case was higher level than they could handle.
Thus began years of therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. At the height, he was taking 12 pills a day to calm the irrational fears. He also dove deep into Buddhism, visiting the temple and praying with monks every evening.
Still, he sought solutions that Buddhism couldn’t provide.
While Buddhism teaches the way to peace is by not setting your hopes on the things in this world, it was completely at a loss for aiding with OCD.
Trying to manage his OCD, finish college, and hold down a job, was a daunting task.
Desperate at age 25, he saw a Christian psychologist, who asked if he could pray for him each time. “I was hurting, so lost, I said, that’s fine. I just didn’t care,” he says. Read the rest: Demons in Buddhism
In a moment of extreme accumulated frustration, Chiaki Gadsden told her alcoholic mother during a fight: “Shut up and die!”
Chiaki’s mother died that day.
“The next morning my father told me, ‘Chiaki, you mother died today,’” she narrates on a Japan Kingdom Church video on YouTube. “I didn’t feel anything. I just couldn’t believe it. I went home and saw her body and still couldn’t believe it.”
Chiaki’s childhood frustration and source of loneliness and abandonment was her mother’s alcoholism. Her father didn’t like to see his wife drunk, so he stayed away from home. Her older sister had become hardened and unfeeling, so she paid no heed to Chiaki’s pleas that they help Mother.
Eventually, Chiaki became uncaring also and took drugs and became promiscuous as a coping mechanism, she says. The coping mechanism never worked very well.
Meanwhile, she grew hard-hearted and distant from everyone.
That morning Chiaki and her mother fought, as they did many days. The sinister effects of alcoholism over many years reached a boiling point and Chiaki uttered the words she later regretted: “Shut up and die!”
She pronounced the awful words, but didn’t want the horrible result.
So when Mom died that day, Chiaki was staggered.
“I started to blame God: ‘Why didn’t you help me?’” she remembers. “I thought, What’s the point of this life? No one can help. My family didn’t help. God didn’t help. What is this life?”
At a family meeting, Chiaki’s father made a terrible announcement to everyone.
“He said my mother’s death was my fault,” Chiaki says.
“I was shocked that he said that,” she says. “I could not understand why he would say that.”
“Oh, it’s my fault that my mother’s dead?” Chiaki thought. “My father said so. Then it is bad for me to be here. If I’m not here, then everyone will be happy.”
From that moment, Chiaki no longer sought to have relationships with people. She cut herself off. She lost all hope, all purpose.
“Everything just became darkness,” she says.
Then Chiaki was invited to a gospel music festival.
“When I saw and listened to the gospel music, suddenly I felt something warm in my heart,” she recalls. “I thought, wow, gospel music is amazing. Then all of a sudden, tears started to pour out. I thought to myself, Why am I crying? I thought, What is this? What is this?” Read the rest: Christianity in Japan