When his cellmate overdosed and chaplain Gina arrived at their cell praying and weeping, Isaiah Blancas was floored.
“It really blew my mind because I never had seen love like that,” Isaiah says on a 700 Club video. “Gina showed up. She was hugging this guy, crying, praying. It was a genuine love.”
There are solid reasons why Isaiah never knew love. His father abandoned the El Paso family for another woman in 1991. Then Mom kicked out Isaiah when he was only nine.
He had nowhere to go. He had to fend for himself, sleeping in abandoned buildings and scavenging food from trash cans. He steered clear of gangs until one day they confronted him and beat him severely with a baseball bat. The gangsters dumped him bleeding and broken at a hospital.
That’s when Isaiah, then 14, resolved to become the most violent and feared gangster in El Paso.
Ironically, he joined the same gang that beat him. He worked his way up by fighting and spearheading robberies and drug sales. Read the rest: Isaiah Blancas Christian
Canada now leads the world in organ donation from assisted suicide.
This may appear to be a good thing since there are terminally-ill patients who are desperate for an organ, and other humans who believe that their life is not worth living and want to make the decision to end it all.
But a new investigative study in Canada raises a horrifying specter: Are patients being urged to resort to suicide so doctors can harvest their organs?
One hospitalized woman said she was “pestered, pressured and discouraged at a time when she needed all her strength to recover,” as reported by Live Action. They based their report on an investigation conducted by the Vancouver-based Catholic newspaper “The B.C. Catholic.”
Dr. Willard Johnson, head of the British Columbia branch of Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, accuses the Fraser Hospital system of “pushing euthanasia quite aggressively in every corner.”
Euthanasia, the name given to assisted suicide, was legalized in Canada in 2016. The euthanasia movement purports to offer a merciful exit from life to people who are miserable.
But the lines can be blurred between “helping” a chronically ill patient in pain during the final dying months of life and overzealously pressuring people at a moment when they are vulnerable.
By contrast, Christians generally hold life to be sacred – more sacred than “choice,” whether the choice be abortion or assisted suicide. Christians see a disturbing similarity to the dark history of governments deciding which people are better off dead for the supposed “good of society,” whether the Nazis, Soviets, or the killing fields of Cambodia.
When does a doctor essentially working for the Canadian government in socialized medicine represent his own good judgment or that of his government? Facing the staggering costs of medical attention with chronic patients, socialized medicine often allows patients to die instead of helping them recover.
When a Kentucky-born Amish leader dared to listen to a gospel preacher on the radio (in violation of Amish rules), he was astounded by the simple message of grace and forgiveness by faith that conflicted with his ideas that “God love you, but he loved you so much he would punish you.”
“I never knew that you could know that you are going to Heaven,” Vern Yoder says on a 700 Club video. “I couldn’t wrap my head around a warm, hug-type love.”
Vern was born to a well-respected deacon of the Amish, an American East Coast religious group that have strict rules for dress and behavior, which includes not using automobiles. The Amish are considered Christian, but their application of scriptures can be seen as legalistic.
Vern struggled through his teen years to maintain the standards of his church.
His constant thought: What can I do to be a better person? What can I do to have a better shot to make it into Heaven? “It would drive me down into this pit of despair.”
The overemphasis on rules and laws weighed on his soul.
“I was so miserable,” Vern says. “I didn’t know (if I would make it to Heaven), so I would work and work and work at trying to be the best Amish.”
He married and had children, but carried the pharisaical spirit into his roles as husband and father. He went overboard as a disciplinarian and his marriage was strained, he says.
Reflecting on the frustration of his brand of Christianity, Vern pleaded with God: “God, I can’t do this any longer. You’re going to have to help me with this.”
One day he got a job as a tractor driver. That day he listened to a radio preacher expound the doctrines of the simple gospel. It challenged everything he knew about God.
“He was going through a series about faith, about grace, about mercy,” Vern says. “He was telling me things I had never… Read the rest: Amish
All the Merritts wanted was to enjoy boating on the lake after several days of rain. What they didn’t take into account was that the floodgates on the dam were open and the undertow would suck their boat onto the dam where it would be smashed, their family thrown into peril.
“The water was very calm on the surface,” Kelly Merritt says on a 700 Club video. “Our boat was being pulled without us realizing.”
But all the extra water was the reason authorities, unbeknownst to the Merritts, had opened the gates to allow the overflow to run off down the spillway. It created an unseen undertow that sucked the Merritts toward danger.
Three days of rain had left the family stir crazy. So when the rains abated, the family of four thought to get out and relax on the lake, which was glorious and serene.
The closer the Merritts got to the dam, the stronger the undertow. When the family finally realized what was happening, it was too late. The current was stronger than the boat’s motor. Try as they might, they could not escape.
“We had lost control of the boat,” Kelly says. “The motor didn’t seem to matter anymore.”
With mounting fear overwhelming them, the boat struck the concrete barrier on the lakeside of the spillway, quickly fracturing and coming apart.
“All of a sudden, my (teenage) son jumped out of the boat and began swimming as hard as he could,” Kelly relates. “I watched him get sucked underneath the boat.”
Kelly grabbed her daughter and hugged her impulsively, but as they were pushed over the dam, her daughter was ripped from her arms by the force of the water.
“It was very much like I was dead,” Kelly says. “I dropped for what felt like an eternity. I reached up and felt the carpet on the bottom of the boat, and then behind me I could feel the concrete. I was pinned there. It was a horrifying feeling.”
When Amir Bazmjou found out he nearly died in a car accident as a baby, he wanted to know more about God, thank God, and live for God.
But growing up in Iran, he only heard about Allah.
“I was looking to find God, and come to him, find him, and have a personal relationship with him,” Amir says on a Voice of the Martyrs video. “But I couldn’t find God in Islam to be honest.”
Amir was born in Isfahan, Iran, and brought up in the Shiite branch of Islam prevalent there. But because he was dissatisfied with the empty rituals and obligatory prayer five times a day, he turned to a mystic offshoot of Islam that promises closeness to Allah… Read the rest: Amir Bazmjou
All the astral projection stopped when Mike – strangely – grabbed a seemingly kind old man by the lapels and demanded he confess Christ as the Son of God. Instead, the man hissed at him in a hideous manner.
“I realized the Bible was true,” Mike says on his YouTube channel, Shofar War Lamb. “First John says every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. That’s the day I really started to walk with Jesus.”
Today, Mike has completely quit New Age. But for many years he wavered between Jesus and astral projection, a phenomenon in which people leave their body during sleep and fly around in the spirit realm and interact with people.
When he was a kid, a relative gave him a book about Jesus, and he accepted the Lord.
But as the years passed, he forgot about Jesus and got into marijuana, mushrooms, and ecstasy with his neighborhood buddies in Illinois. Riding BMX bikes around, they searched for hallucinogenic mushrooms in the wild.
They found one, and Mike, then 16, decided to consume it even though he realized it wasn’t hallucinogenic and he didn’t worry that it might be poisonous. It was.
“All of a sudden from my stomach I feel these shocks. The shocks went down my legs and down my arms. I could feel the poison coursing through my veins with every beat of my heart,” Mike says. “Eventually it subsided. But it scared me.”
Despite the danger, Mike consumed it anyhow to impress his friends. “Being the young punk that I was, I wanted bragging rights,” he says. “How stupid is that?”
The next day, he felt much better. While smoking blunts the next day, one buddy, induced by the drug, was talking gibberish, mostly “rambling stupid nonsense,” Mike remembers. But one thing the friend uttered hit like a thunderbolt:
“What happens when you die?”
The question echoed over and over through his mind. “I could not stop thinking about it. I entered a thought loop.”
Like many of his generation, he looked it up on Google. The search engine led him to a Near Death Experience website. The hodgepodge of testimonials ranged from Christian to Islamic and Buddhist.
“They had people who had died and had seen the light,” Mike summarizes. “Some said they talked to God, some to Buddha. Some people saw Jesus, some people saw Allah. The message that was clear was that God was love.
“What I read was made-up garbage from witches trying to usher in the New Age,” he adds.
But at the time, the eclectic approach appealed to him. Forgetting that he had committed his life to Jesus as a child and that he had cried out to Jesus when he consumed the mushroom, Mike adopted the New Age idea that Jesus was merely one of many “ascended masters.”
On the NDE website, he met in a chatroom “Amused Maya,” who provided an explanation for his sleep paralysis: “You have an advanced soul. You have the ability to astral project.”
“The next time that happens, stay calm, don’t freak out, and you will float out of your body,” Maya told him, “You can float through walls, travel other dimensions, talk to spirits.”
Honestly, Mike thought she was nuts but decided to find out if it was true for himself.
Sure enough, the next time he experienced sleep paralysis, he floated out of his body and began to fly around at will.
That’s how it started. For the next months and years, Mike was astral projecting, which he now classifies as “evil veiled in a cloak.”
“I did float through walls,” he says. “I did talk to spirits. I had sex with demons. I didn’t know they were demons at the time. I tried to do it every night, but it didn’t happen every night.”
Distinctly, Wes Bentley heard God say to remain in a South Sudanese village after he contracted malaria and not fly out to seek help from a Western hospital.
As a result of his “foolhardy” obedience to the voice of God, two generals – one known as the Butcher of Sudan – came to know Christ.
“When I got sick, had I disobeyed the Lord and said I don’t want to be uncomfortable and gotten on that airplane and flown out, would these two men ever come to know Christ as their personal Savior?” Wes says on a Calvary Chapel Chino Hills video. “I doubt it.”
How did Wes Bentley go from being a high-flying salesman who dreamed of a Maserati to a high-risk missionary working in South Sudan for 26 years, supporting missionaries in 38 countries?
Originally, he was a U.S. Marines sharpshooter who gave up Olympics competition to kill people in Vietnam. Upon leaving the Marines, he wanted to become a soldier of fortune in Rhodesia, but God got ahold of his heart and redirected his steps.
Saved at Camp Pendleton, Wes was thrown in with the hippies of the Jesus Movement harnessed by Chuck Smith. For the clean-cut and disciplined Marine, it was strange to see hippies who bathed and he wondered at their sincere love for each other, a pure affection that manifested in ladies giving a guileless kiss on the cheek to the guys.
Instead of becoming a mercenary, Wes threw himself into business and was making a salary equivalent to $250,000 a year in today’s money, he says. All the other young guys had Porches, Rolls Royces and fancy cars, so Wes entertained the notion of getting himself a Maserati, which he could well afford.
Fortunately, he consulted a sister in the Lord who had a knack for prophetic revelations. Without him explaining what exactly he was contemplating, he requested she pray for him. After prayer, she said, “The answer is no and I again I say no.”
It probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to pull up in a Maserati at L.A.’s Skid row to hand out sandwiches to the homeless, a ministry he liked to participate in.
Through the years of ministry, Wes started to feel the missionary call for Russia, which after communism collapsed became open to the gospel for the first time in almost three-quarters of a century.
In Russia, Wes ministered mostly in the jails and packed theaters as people who were hungry for truth after being denied the Gospel by a series of repressive governments.
“Russia was my first love,” Wes says. “Russia was incredibly open to the gospel back then.”
It was in Russia that Wes fell in love with a Russian sister and nearly married her, had it not been for the unmistakable voice of God. At the time it seemed strange to tell the sister to not entertain romantic ideas toward him.
But years later when God called him to transfer his ministry to then war-torn South Sudan, it proved spot on. The sister confessed she wouldn’t have been willing to accompany him to the sweltering heat of the jungles of South Sudan. (There he married Vicky, who held 13 separate Bible weekly studies with South Sudanese women and served alongside Wes for 23 years,)
After five years in Russia, he moved to South Sudan, which gained its independence in 2011, making it the youngest internationally recognized nation in the world.
“Sudan is an extremely hot country. It’s not only hot, it’s very humid. You sleep out of exhaustion,” Wes says. “You don’t sleep because you’re comfortable. You literally sweat all night long.”
Heat is not the only thing to make you feel uncomfortable.
“When you’re out among the tribes, sometimes they bring you food that’s cooked and dead, and sometimes they bring you food that’s not dead,” Wes explains. One time, he and five visiting pastors from Calvary Chapels were brought live insects for dinner. The visiting pastors all felt called to “pray and fast” that night, Wes says.
If she married Dave Eubank, Karen could expect a life of tramping through the tropical jungle among whizzing mosquitoes and bullets. She would carry her babies in a sling as she forded rivers and trudged through mud. Malaria, dysentery and typhus would stalk them.
No white picket fence?
“I’m not GI Jane,” Karen told God Reports, reflecting on 20 years of helping people flee the Burmese army in northern Myanmar. “I didn’t necessarily love every minute of it. I don’t like cold baths. But this is what God has for us. God knows the things that are important to your heart.”
Karen Eubank is not your typical missionary wife. Married to the “godfather of high-risk missions,” Karen raised three kids on the front lines of some of the world’s fiercest combat zones. Ultimately, the decision to renounce little league and submerge herself in the sweltering jungle wasn’t that hard to make.
Raised in a strong Christian church in Walla Walla, Washington State, Karen was dissatisfied with her ideal job in the public school as a special ed teacher. When she met Dave, a former U.S. Army Ranger, he invited her on a first date to hike Mt. Shuksan. It included a strenuous ascent and scaling sheer-face ice with crampons, an ice pick, while on-belay.
When she summited, Dave realized she was the woman for him. For her part, Karen wasn’t sure about him.
Marriage was bound to be, to say the least, unconventional.
But she didn’t have time to ponder the double nature of Dave, who was equal parts Charles Spurgeon and Indiana Jones. A telephone call forced Karen to make a quick decision.
Dave’s parents, longtime missionaries in Thailand, got a call from the foreign minister of the Wa people in Northern Myanmar. He was a lone Christian among animists and had heard Dave had elite military training. Could he come and help the Wa?
The Wa people were one of 56 ethnic minorities in the mountains surrounding Myanmar that were being hunted down and massacred by the Burmese Army. The Burmese people, representing 68% of the population, had waged a scorched-earth war against the minority populations. It’s now the longest running civil war on the planet – more than 70 years.
In terms of reaching unreached populations with the gospel, the Wa and other ethnic minorities were a holy grail. Because of the dangers, because of the arduous lifestyle, the number of willing missionaries was close to zero.
By the time his family found him locked in an outdoor freezer on a Mississippi farm, Victor Marx was unconscious, clutched up in a ball, where his molester had left him to die because he realized the 5-year-old wouldn’t keep quiet about the rape.
Today, Victor ministers to kids in juvenile hall. He’s a 7th-degree black belt in martial arts and trains cops and military. He ministers in war zones in what he calls “high risk mission work.”
“The closer we are to danger, the more we’re helping people,” he says on his podcast. “I minister to these kids because I know where many of them have been. I know where God wants to take them. That which was meant for evil in my life has actually turned for good.”
How did Victor Marx heal the innumerable childhood traumas and become an effective minister of the gospel?
His biological father became involved in the Louisiana mafia, pimping women in honky-tonk bars and selling drugs. Dad didn’t cut or shoot up people like the Italian mafia in New York; he fed them to the alligators in the swamp, he says on the self-made documentary of his testimony.
Because Dad was splitting with Mom around the time of Victor’s conception, he never acknowledged him as his own child.
At five, Victor was taken advantage of by a neighbor who invited him into a room between two chicken houses where he threatened him with death if ever told. Since the neighbor got the idea that Victor would tell, he locked him in the commercial cooler to die.
“I remember being unbelievably terrified,” Victor says.
Victor kicked against the door and screamed until he succumbed to the pain, the horror and the intense cold. He curled up in a ball and passed out.
Meanwhile, his family began to miss him and began to search about. They looked around the pond and woods and checked the chicken houses, the building, and finally the freezer.
“Thank God they checked the freezer,” he says.
When Victor regained consciousness, he told them what happened. His family administered “country justice.”
“They kicked down his door and beat him in front of his family,” Victor relates. “They took him outside and hogtied him to the tractor and they drug him outside the house. They drug him all the way around. There was this one big pecan tree. They made a noose and threw it over this limb. They hooked it to the back of the tractor.
“They pulled the tractor, and he started going up, choking, trying to grab. They waited for him to go limp, and they cut him down and left him. They didn’t want to kill him and go to prison. They just wanted to put fear in him.”
His family’s crude justice did nothing to free Victor from the PTSD. Nor did it free him further trauma… Read the rest: Overcoming trauma Victor Marx
Victor Saikouski turned to atheism after his father left the family and his mother moved around taking different jobs to fund the family’s needs.
“I adopted a world view of atheism and I truly believe that there’s no such thing as God,” Victor says on a Hungry Generation video. “It actually became to me almost as a sport to argue Christians and to deceive Christians out of their belief in Jesus because I was so radical for atheism.”
Victor was born in Belarus. When he was 14, Victor’s mother remarried but drank and used drugs with the stepdad, and they divorced also.
Eventually, Mom moved the family to the U.S. in search of better opportunities. She worked two jobs to make ends meet.
Years later, the stepdad moved to America and got saved. He reached out to Victor’s mom wanting a reconciliation.
Victor didn’t believe the man had really dropped drugs.
“We found it very hard to believe,” Victor says. “Me being atheist, I rejected that idea of church right away and I thought that man is a liar.”
Still as time passed, Mom broke down and got back together with Stepdad. Little by little, the family started going to church.
The moment Chad Williams knew he wanted to be a SEAL was outside the college classroom, in the parking lot, where he was doing donuts in his jeep and smoking weed. He didn’t want to go into class because he hadn’t studied for the final exam.
Nevertheless, he was incensed that Mom and Dad questioned his tenacity. He had already given up on baseball, skateboarding and professional fishing. How could he make it as a SEAL? they wondered. Still, Chad’s father went to the effort to hook Chad up with a real SEAL to try some grueling trainings — hoping to dissuade him.
At the first training, Chad, a cocky kid, initially outran Scott Helvenston until Scott caught up, passed Chad, then stopped suddenly and met him with a right hook to Chad’s stomach. He had the wind knocked out of him.
“You want to be a SEAL?” Scott bellowed, standing over Chad as he gasped for air. “You better stay three paces behind me! Three paces behind me!”
After that, Chad didn’t attempt any more hotdogging. But he did keep up with the workout and was invited for another day. Dad’s plan to discourage Chad was backfiring. Instead, Scott finished pre-training and pronounced his surprising verdict: I know you’ll pass.
“I felt knighted,” Chad reports in Seal of God, his book tracking his progress from a trouble-making kid bored with school and church, one who lived for thrills, both legal and illegal.
Growing up in Southern California, Chad loved baseball and pranks. He would ride bikes on top of the school building roofs and run from the cops, hiding under trees when police helicopters searched for him.
Once he put a bunch of bones in his sister’s pockets so that their dog would chase her around and overpower her to eat the bones. She had to be taken to the hospital for that one.
Chad liked collecting gunpowder from model rocket engines and making mini bombs to blow up. Once a particularly big bomb blew up in his face and arms, resulting in second degree burns that required a trip to the hospital. Sometimes, his brother told his parents, and Chad got in trouble for his mischief.
At some point, Chad’s parents became Christians and started attending church. Chad never opposed the idea of being a Christian and believed in his heart that he was good, but services and Sunday school bored him.
When he dropped baseball because the coach didn’t accept him on the team in his freshman year, he took up skateboarding and would sneak out of Sunday school to go practice tricks in the parking lot.
Chad excelled at skateboarding and used all his free time to get better (he didn’t do homework). He got so good he competed in extreme sports competitions and got sponsored by Vans shoes, which gave him notoriety among the kids and free gear.
With boyish face and charm, he even was cast for several commercials to do tricks on his board.
Over summer vacation, he did stints as a fisherman on a professional boat, working 18-hour days alongside the professionals. With his money, he bought a jeep. Upon graduation, he enrolled in college simply because it was the thing to do.
By now, a friend had introduced him to drinking and smoking dope. As he partied more, he dropped skating and fishing.
His life was adrift and pointless, every passion abandoned, with nothing in the future to work for. Then his epiphany came in the college parking lot: He didn’t want to take a college test he hadn’t studied for. He would become a Navy SEAL.
He immediately told his parents. He didn’t need college. He was going to be a SEAL.
They lacked his enthusiasm. His capriciousness was only one problem. Another was that his mom worried he would die in Iraq.
Dad set out to dissuade him. He located online Scott Helvenston and cajoled him into showing Chad he didn’t have the right stuff. Instead, Chad proved to Scott that he did have the stuff.
With just weeks to go before Chad entered the Navy, Scott was contracted by Blackwater to join operations in Fallujah, Iraq, because it paid so well.
Chad’s trainer and friend, Scott Helvenston, was brutally killed in Fallujah, just days before Chad was to report for training.
The circus brought Tanzanian Solomon Kuria to America. Beer brought him to Jesus.
“I wanted to stop drinking but I didn’t know how,” says Solomon, now a resident of Anaheim, CA.
Solomon Kuria was raised a strict Muslim in Tanga, a small village in Tanzania. His grandmother sent him to a madrassa school to learn Arabic and read the Koran. His cousin became a leader of the mosque.
Solomon became an acrobat. How did this happen?
At the time, China forged close ties with Tanzania, which had turned politically to socialism. As a result of its involvement and influence, China recruited and trained willing Tanzanians in the Chinese art of acrobatic performance.
A Chinese official representing a program to promote culture and the arts trained Solomon and his buddies. At the same time, he being steeped in Islam at the madrassa, and was unaware of other religions.
“Everything you see is about Islam,” he remembers. “I didn’t know anything about Christianity.”
At the time, tourists were rare in Tanzania. But a Swiss tourist happened to see Solomon and his buddies perform and asked for a video of their stunts, which he took back to Switzerland and showed to some key people.
The next thing he knew, Solomon got offered the chance to work and perform in Europe, which he did from 1985 to 1994.
The next place to call was America, where he was offered work at Las Vegas’ Circus Circus, a distinctively family-friendly destination in the City of Sin. On other weeks, he worked at Disneyland’s California Adventure in Anaheim.
Solomon didn’t go to mosque but considered himself a good man, faithful to Islam.
The one nasty habit he picked up was drinking alcohol, which is strictly forbidden in Islam.
Caught for the third time by the cops at age 19, Rick Buchholz knew he was going to prison but pleaded desperately to God for reprieve even as he did pushups to prepare to defend himself against the inevitable prison violence.
“I’m thinking, ‘I can’t go to prison’,” Rick says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I remember saying, ‘God, you’ve got to help me.’ I felt the love of God. Something came down and gave me goosebumps.”
Rick got off course when his father abandoned the home when he was only 11. Rick was the youngest of six kids.
”My dad wound up getting into an affair. That really spun out our family. I was really hurt,” he recalled. “I remember looking out the window as my dad left, somehow I felt like it was my fault. I was devastated to see my dad walk away in the ark like that. I never really recovered from that.”
At a cousin’s house, Rick got snagged by pornography. The cousin had turned the garage into a pool room with pinups covering the walls and adult magazines piled everywhere.
“That wasn’t a very good place for an ll-year-old kid to spend all day,” Rick says. “That really messed with my head. My mind became messed up and perverted from a very young age.”
At the same time, Rick began stealing. He broke into a neighbor’s house, stole a jar of coins, which he buried in his yard and would use to buy from the ice cream truck that passed through the neighborhood.
His mother hooked up with an escaped convict who taught him to shoplift with brazen audacity. “He taught me everything I knew,” Ricky says. “It wasn’t so much for the money. It really was just for the thrill.”
Being encouraged to continue stealing, Rick started getting arrested for stealing. He fell in love with a high school girl, whose dad was a cop, a fact that prompted him to try to clean up his act. When she broke up with him, he despaired, filled with rage and hopelessness, and proceeded to driver his car recklessly through town. The police chased him, but he didn’t care.
Meanwhile, he heard here and there bits and pieces of Jesus. He saw “The Cross and the Switchblade” and became infatuated with the testimony of gang members getting saved. He even went to church once and accepted Jesus.
But he didn’t stop stealing and didn’t follow up with salvation. One time, he had stolen some guns, which he tried to sell. The prospective buyers turned out to be undercover cops. That was his third offense; he was 19 years old; there was no way he could avoid prison.
Miraculously, Rick walked free from the courthouse. “You would have thought I would have walked out of there and would’ve gone looking for a church,” he says. “But that didn’t happen.”… Read the rest: Rick Buchholz Pastor
Waving flags that said “Jesus is King,” 650 Christians marched up the beach bike path to the pier Saturday in an event that was meant to spark revival.
“This is not a protest,” said Vadim Semenchuk, a coordinator with United Revival of Sacramento which staged the event. “We’re here to proclaim the name of Jesus.”
Drawing smiles, smirks and wondering glances on a walk more famous for fun and flashing flesh, the gathering first worshipped, prayed and preached on the grass next to the beach at Barnard Way, before walking up to the pier shouting Jesus chants.
“The church of California has gotten its roar back,” said Ross Johnston, who leads the Orange County based group California Will be Saved. “The only hope for America, the only hope for California is Jesus. We’re not just here to get excited and feel good, we’re here to start a move. We pray for the Golden State to become golden again.”
Police initially estimated the event to have 325 people, but a more careful count by this reporter as they marched up the bike path revealed there were in fact 650. Latecomers may account for the discrepancy.
United Revival started doing outdoor revival events and marches during Covid when riots convulsed America over racial police brutality.
“When the world was protesting and riots were happening, we were like, why doesn’t the church go out and march and proclaim the goodness of Christ,” says co-founder Ivan Katrenyak. “The whole goal is to rally the church. As Joshua took cities (in the Old Testament), we’re here doing that today and exalting the name of Jesus.”
Coming Jesus marches this year will be held in Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Francisco and Sacramento, where United Revival is based and is raising up a local church in the North Islands neighborhood. Read the rest: Revival in Santa Monica.
After Shin-Wook Kim scored a 2014 World Cup goal against Costa Rica, a TV broadcaster asked who he wanted to thank in his moment of glory. Usually, players honor their parents or fans, but Shin-Wook surprised the reporter.
“God!” he boldly declared. “I am a soccer player who belongs to God.”
Today, Shin-Wook plays for the Hong Kong premier league team Kitchee. Whether on the field or off, he talks about Jesus so much his teammates call him “Church Brother.”
Shin-Wook Kim made his professional debut in 2009 and quickly rose to the top of the K League 1 and won the MVP Award, Best 11 Strikers, and Adidas All-In Fantastic Player Award in his first five years. Because he’s so tall (he’s 6’5”), Shin-Wook’s nickname is “The Advancing Giant,” a reference to the Japanese manga series “Attack on Titan” in which humans fight giants. Height is often an advantage in soccer to win balls in the air.
During the 2014 World Cup selection, Shin-Wook was not a starting player but was used to great effect as a substitute. He cemented a reputation as a “super sub” by often scoring within three minutes of being substituted on to the field.
Reporters have often been surprised by his answers to their questions. They expect a lengthy dialog about soccer, but he gives short discourses about Jesus.
“The average person doesn’t understand, but every soccer player has abandoned everything for the goal in front of him since he was young,” Shin-Wook told the CTS channel. “That is how soccer is played.”
The first time Shin-Wook attended church was during middle school. It began with a book that his friend gave him: Joy Dawson’s Forever Ruined for the Ordinary. At the time, he didn’t believe in God, but it caused some self-introspection.
Is there such a thing as a god? he wondered. Wouldn’t I really need someone to rely on in my life? He kept such thoughts to himself.
Since the third grade, Shin-Wook had played soccer. But suddenly he was presented with something to consider that is bigger than sports.
When dual-threat quarterback Patrick Mahomes sprained his ankle in the first half against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Jan. 21st, it was a huge concern. If he were to return to the gridiron, his attack would be limited to passing. No running.
But the chief of the Chiefs courageously emerged in the second half and helped clinch the division. The next week against the Bengals for the AFC conference, he scrambled five yards right, got a 15-yard penalty, giving his team range for the field goal.
“I wanna thank God, man. He healed my body this week,” Mahomes told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson. “To battle through that, He gave me the strength to be out here.”
Mahomes is the man of the NFL right now. Since taking command behind the O-line, Mahomes has lifted Kansas City to three Super Bowl appearances, ending a bitter 50-year Super Bowl drought.
When in his rookie season he won the MVP of 2019 Super Bowl LIV, he became only the second African American to do so and the youngest overall to win it. In 2020, he led his team to the Super Bowl again, only to endure a stinging defeat at the hands of Tom Brady’s Buccaneers.
Again, for the 2021 season Mahomes carried his team… Read the rest: Mahomes Christian
The last thing that Malta Christian charity worker Matthew Grech expected was jail time after speaking out about how this faith enabled him to abandon the homosexual lifestyle.
“Jesus consumed my life. His presence brought a freedom, a freedom that I never had, joy and continuous peace in my life,” Grech told PMnews Malta. “This is the basic gospel, that one needs to repent from sin, and homosexuality is not the only sin.”
His Christian testimony, recorded and broadcast by PMnews Malta, is what landed Grech in legal trouble on the island of Malta, which has one of the strictest anti-conversion therapy laws in the world.
The trial is the first time Christians are being put on trial under “conversion therapy” bans and could set a precedent unleashing a wave of prosecution against the free exercise of religion, Grech’s lawyer says. How the case winds up could start a “domino effect” throughout the Western World.
“They want to ban Christian counseling in churches simply because it does not conform to their religion,” the lawyer says. “They claim not to be religious, but I can tell you that they are just as religious as everybody else.”
Grech, 33, a contributor to the Christian nonprofit Core Issues Trust, faces trial at the Court of Magistrates in Valetta, being charged along with the presenters of a media outlet, PMnews Malta, for allegedly violating Chapter 567 of a Maltese law of their ban on “conversion practices” when he was asked by local media outlet last year to tell his story.
Grech did not advertise conversion therapy according to the transcript. He told his personal story and spoke up about advocating for therapists’ freedom to counsel their clients as they would want without any government intervention.
“I was invited by this new emerging platform in Malta called PMnews to share my story and to discuss sexuality in general,” Grech reported to Fox News, sharing that he was surprised when police served him with a summons to court on Feb. 3.
During his teenage years Grech was confused about his sexuality and started a same-sex relationship when he moved to London, keeping it secret from his family, he says.
Capitulating to the woke agenda for remaking America, The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook – long the guide for the use of language by journalists – has been updated to include such ideas as gender fluidity.
The Stylebook is the behind-the-scenes manual for most news organizations. Though virtually unknown outside the industry, the Stylebook exercises an outsized influence to standardize communications by the news media and public corporations.
The update purports to promote “unbiased language” and “avoid false balance [by] giving a platform to unqualified claims or sources in the guise of balancing a story by including all views.”
Conservative voices at the National Review disagreed, stating it “appears to explicitly embrace the language and claims of transgender activists, a move likely to steer newsrooms away from objectively framing the issue.”
It’s just another domino to fall in the wholesale adoption of wokeism that has swept America like an avalanche. In 2015, progressives said they just wanted equal rights for gays to marry. Five short years later, they began telling us a boy is no longer a boy and pedophilia is acceptable.
In the AP Stylebook, the “Transgender Coverage Topical Guide” explains: “A person’s sex and gender are usually assigned at birth by parents or attendants and can turn out to be inaccurate. Experts say gender is a spectrum, not a binary structure consisting of only men and women, that can vary among societies and can change over time.”
New guidelines also exhort reporters to:
Refer to persons by their preferred gender identity.
Avoid “deadnaming,” using the given name that was abandoned when someone changed gender.
Use the word “identify” as in “identifies as a woman.”
Don’t use “biological male or female.”
Call it “gender-confirmation procedures” and “gender-affirming care” instead of sex change because, as they explain, these “treatments can improve psychological well-being and reduce suicidal behavior.” If you want to read more, click on AP Stylebook standardizes extreme woke agenda
The first American Protestant missionary was NOT who is often credited. It may surprise some to learn that George Liele, a former black slave, was the first.
Liele sailed for Jamaica to reach the lost in 1782, 11 years ahead of heralded British missionary William Carey and long before American Adoniram Judson sailed to India in 1812 (and later Burma).
For some encyclopedias and missiology schools, that’s an update. The fact was brought to light by E. A. Holmes, a professor of church history at Stetson University, according to Baptist Press.
Liele was a slave in Georgia who received Jesus into his heart in 1773 under the coaxing of his master, Henry Sharp, at the local Baptist church. Genuinely touched by the Lord, Liele began to propagate the gospel among his fellow slaves.
He was ordained on May 20, 1775, becoming the first officially recognized black preacher in the Colonies. He preached for two years in the slave quarters of plantations around Savannah and even led a congregation at Silver Bluff, South Carolina, according to the Union Review.
Seeing the anointing on Liele’s life, his master freed him from slavery.
Hearing of family members in Jamaica who needed the gospel, Pastor Liele migrated to Jamaica with the help of British colonel Moses Kirkland. Landing at Kingston, Liele and his wife, Hannah, planted a church there by preaching among the slaves of Jamaica.
He served for 10 fruitful years but also faced severe opposition from the slave owners, who cynically viewed his preaching as agitating the slaves, and even was thrown in jail for a time.
Liele baptized hundreds of… Read the rest: First American missionary was black
In high school, Charlie Foreman was a chanting Buddhist. Then he took LSD, read Carlos Castaneda and hoped to meet a Yaqui Indian witchcraft guide. But because he was high or drunk every day, he joined the Air Force to clean up his act.
“Nothing really worked,” he says.
Stationed at a radar site in the Philippines, he fell back into partying. “A lot of the officers partied like we did. I got in trouble; there were some drugs in my car.”
When he returned Stateside to Nellis Air Force Base, he was supposed to report to the Social Action of the Air Force to continue his rehabilitation. But his records took forever to catch up to him, and he didn’t mind because he didn’t want to be known as a dopehead.
What he did do was work hard and steer clear of drugs and alcohol. He wanted to go straight “but life was so boring. There was no purpose,” he says.
Ever since his mom died of cancer when he was seven-years-old, Charlie was on a quest to find the meaning of life. One thing he knew for sure, “it wasn’t Christianity. It was something mystical, maybe Transcendental Meditation.”
That’s when a man came into his barracks and shared his testimony.
“I was listening to Pink Floyd, “Charlie recalls. “I wasn’t really interested. This guy started talking and was fighting with the noise, so he asked if could turn it down. He seemed like a nice guy, so I turned it off. And listened. I really related to him. He had gone through similar experiences like me.”
He accepted Jesus.
“It was incredible. I felt like I was high. I had joy and peace. Immediately I was delivered from the drugs. Whereas before I had tried to quit and fell back, I was completely delivered. I had no interest in drugs. I was sauced on Jesus.”
In the Air Force, he was given the job of keeping and clarifying bombing range scheduling for pilots, a job that required three telephone calls a day “if it was a busy day.” The rest of the time, he read his bible voraciously.
But when he married his Filipina girlfriend and brought her to the United States while he was still in the Air Force, things went sour. At first, she got “truly and wonderfully saved. God just whacked her,” Charlie says.
“But she held on to a lot of things from Catholicism. She would not let go of the idea that you shouldn’t be fanatical about God, and she was insanely jealous,” Charlie says.
When he got out of the Air Force, Syvia decided she wanted an airman so she could go back and forth to the Philippines. One day she came home with a hickey. Charlie encouraged her he could forgive her if she would stop.
After Covid, the number of homeschooling students has doubled, as parents react against government overreach, the teaching of transgender ideology and racially divisive economic theory.
“We find right now in our public schools more emphasis on teaching critical race theory than we have teaching critical math theory,” says Ben Carson, former White House secretary of housing and urban development on Vice News.
Before the pandemic, a mere three percent of American children were home-schooled. In the first year of Covid, that number doubled – and most never returned to public schools after Covid, Vice News reported. The Wall Street Journal reported that public schools have lost one million students nationwide.
Third grader Reagan Webster was part of the exodus. “I like it a lot more because we get to do a lot of adventures,” she says of her new homeschool group that teaches some days at a nearby lake. “At my other school, they made you wear masks all the time.”
Homeschooling is an alternative way of K-12. Instead of having a certified teacher, Mom or Dad teaches the children the three R’s (reading, writing and ‘rithmetic) as well as history, music, art and just about any other class offered by the public schools.
Homeschoolers team up in consortiums to cover weak spots (if one mom is strong on math and another on grammar, they might meet at a local church and swap subjects). Homeschoolers even band together to form sports teams that compete against regular schools.
They are usually tested according to state requirements and must fulfill the hours of study per year. And the statistics prove that the homeschooled children are crushing it.
According to the National Home Education Research Institute’s 2016 report, homeschooled kids scored 15-30% higher on standardized tests. Who is more likely to graduate college? According to an NHERI analysis, 67% of homeschooled students graduated college compared to 59% of public-school students.
Homeschoolers avoid bullying, drugs and other bad influences.
Still, critics cite the lack of academic credentials among parents as troubling.
Ryan Spitz founded the California Adventure Academy of Redding, CA, in the Fall of 2022, to foster cooperation among homeschooling parents. He supplements traditional classes with wilderness survival skills like fishing, camping, paddling, and camping – as well as self-defense, boxing and jiu jitsu.
“It takes all these skills to raise up and unleash your powerful child,” Ryan says. “I’ve created a support structure to homeschooling parents. This is parents taking back control over the raising of their kids. What they are teaching in public schools about sex, especially anal sex, my third-grade daughter doesn’t need to learn.”
The mass migration towards homeschooling was started with school shutdowns, forced vaccinations, mandatory masking, social distancing, and plexiglass barriers – all of which were mandated to varying degrees by school boards around the country.
Those restrictions – touted as health safety – devastatingly dumbed down the current slew of students, who found it much easier to not pay attention via zoom. Two-thirds of Texas third graders tested below their grade level in math in 2021, according to a Unicef study. As a whole, the deficiencies in literacy and math are now “nearly insurmountable,” the study concludes.
“People homeschool for faith-based reasons and because they don’t want their children to get indoctrinated with certain ideas,” says one mom from the group Florida Moms for Homeschooling. “We are just for parents’ rights.”
Eighty percent of homeschoolers fear the public-school environment for their kids, according to Admissionsly.
“We need to recognize that political correctness which has morphed into wokeness is antithetical to liberty and freedom of speech,” Ben Carson told homeschoolers at a convention in Orlando. “I’m very glad to see alternatives to the public schools.”
Homeschooling got a major boost in the 1980s with the formation of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association which fought to restore parents’ rights to educate their own children. Prior to that, most states treated homeschooling as no schooling and didn’t award or validate diplomas.
Today, 16 states have no curriculum requirements, and 32 states have no mandatory testing restricting homeschoolers – considered a win for the homeschoolers who view government regulation as part of the problem of the state education system.
But the recent surge of homeschooling has come from anti-vaxxers and people opposed to normalizing aberrant sex practices and force-feeding radical ideology like CRT, which sees racism everywhere. Some say CRT teaches kids of color to not try to succeed because “institutional racism” won’t let them.
Derek Rabelo wanted to surf one of the most exciting and dangerous waves on the planet: Pipeline, on Oahu’s legendary North Shore. The only problem was he was blind.
“When you’ve been surfing for 30 years and you know what you’re doing and you can see, you can die” at Pipeline, according to Laird Hamilton, a pioneer of big wave surfing.
But Derek, who was born with congenital glaucoma that rendered him blind, wanted to surf, despite not being able to see. He believed his faith in God would carry him where others failed.
“Humble yourself and ask God for help in the challenges,” Derek told a church audience on a Grove Baptist Church video, explaining his undaunted determination to surf Pipeline.
Three surgeries failed to give Derek sight from his congenital glaucoma. Born to a surfer in Guarapari, Brazil, Derek had trouble enough making his way through school, where he was bullied, and getting around the city by himself. Life by itself was already a formidable challenge. Why try the impossible?
But Derek felt a strange magnetism in the ocean next to which his town was built. The feeling of the sand and water, the warmth of the sun, the pounding sound of the waves exerted a sort of mystical gravity.
“I lived near the beach, and I was obsessed with the sound of the waves. I could hear the waves from my bedroom window,” he said on a Jeunesse VIP Leader video. “I had the dream to surf. I wanted to surf more than anything.”
A local surf school coach agreed to help him learn, but his parents felt some serious misgivings.
“On a beautiful day, Derek came to me and told me he was going to surf,” his mother, Lia Nascimiento, says. “I said, ‘No, Derek, no. Are you crazy? How?”
Derek had already signed himself up for the surfing class.
Ernesto Rabelo, his father who named him after famous Hawaiian surf champion Derek Ho, shared his mother’s concern but kept quiet.
“I didn’t like the idea” of him surfing,” Ernesto says. “But I didn’t interfere.”
The local surf instructor, Fabio “Maru” Castor, was the only one on board. He devised a system by which Derek could pay attention to the sound of the water and feel the movement of the water to calculate when to start, when to drop and when to cut.
“I listen to the ocean and feel it,” Derek said. “And every single part of a wave makes different noises. So, I can decide which side of the wave I should surf towards. If you have a dream, you have to believe in yourself. Otherwise, you cannot do it. I believe all of us have strong senses given by God. Use them with passion and perseverance.”
Initially, Derek struggled with the bigger waves and grew discouraged, even to the point of wanting to quit. But he persevered and eventually gained a footing with 8-foot waves.
But could he dare to dream of the massive hollow tubes that break like thunder at the North Shore? He trained intensely for three years. Naysayers abounded. The infamous North Shore broke surfboards and surfer bodies of the best seeing-eyed surfers.
“Pipeline is one the most challenging spots in the world,” says three-time world champion Tom Curren.
To combat depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, Eden Frenkel delved into personal development, self actualization, Buddhism, meditation, Hinduism and the mystical interpretation within Judaism known as Kabbalah.
“To be honest, I enjoyed the process of studying those cultures, but they were very temporary fulfillments,” the Jewish born singer says on her YouTube channel, Graves into Gardens. “I constantly needed to go back and search for more. They didn’t fill the emptiness. I was looking for peace and happiness.”
As a 12-year-old in the synagogue, she stayed before the ark and prayed longingly to God after everyone had left and gone to eat.
“God, I know there is something,” she uttered. “I don’t understand. I feel like there is something between us.”
Eden had a proclivity for music but joined the Canadian Army as a career. In addition to seeking peace from religion, she sought peace from psychedelics. She had suffered some abuse as a child, she says, and sought in vain to resolve the trauma.
When she got stationed in Toronto, she met some Christian women who were extremely friendly and they invited her to study the Bible. Why not? she thought, since she had studied so many other religions.
What she found out about Jesus startled her.
“All I knew growing up was he was a man who did miracles. In the beginning, I didn’t really take it seriously,” she says. “But after getting to know who Jesus was and what He did and what he claimed to be and what he wanted for his people, it was incredible.
George Rose’s grandma clashed with his mom while the 5-year-old was listening.
“Cookie, what are you bringing these men home for?” she said.
“Shut up, Mom, I’m a grown woman,” Mom snapped.
“You’re a MARRIED woman,” Grandma answered. “You have no business bringing these men home.
When Dad got home, he packed their belongings and drove George and his little sister to the shelter where he dumped them off.
Mom was too busy with other men to visit. Months later, George and his sister returned to Mom, but her current lover said: “Get these kids out of her. Either they go or I go.”
A co-worker of Mom took the kids in and raised them. “You want my kids, Rose?” Mom asked her. “I’ve got no use for them.”
Rose and her husband became the adopted parents. That was George’s upbringing in Rochester, New York, during the 50s. Rose was a Sunday School superintendent in the Presbyterian church who read her Bible regularly.
One day, she stumbled across the verse, “Except you repent, you shall also perish.” Tears streamed down her face. She became born-again and immediately started incorporating a vibrant understanding of the Word into her teaching. This rankled the religious elders of the liturgical church.
“We don’t need your slaughterhouse religion here,” they told her. She got fired from the superintendent position. They found a new church.
A sufferer of migraines, Rose consumed half a bottle of Aspirins until God healed her at a Pentecostal church. The preacher prophesied from the pulpit: “There’s a woman visiting for the first time. You suffer from migraines. In fact, you told God that if he didn’t heal you within the week, you’d take your life.”
Linda Seiler’s struggle with transgender desires and same-sex attraction had always made her feel like God was condemning her– but it wasn’t until she spoke to fellow Christians about her issue that her journey towards healing truly began.
“From my earliest memory I wanted to be a boy instead of a girl,” Linda says on her personal webpage. “As a child, I prayed repeatedly for God to make me into a boy and became obsessed with my pursuit.”
No one knew about Linda’s frustrations. To everyone around her, she was simply a tomboy, and nothing more.
“Around fourth grade, I heard about sex reassignment surgeries and vowed I would have the operation as soon as I was old enough and had the money,” Linda recounts.
Linda’s sexuality was further confused when her friends introduced her to pornography. Watching it, she envisioned herself as a male, reinforcing her dysphoria.
“In junior high, when all the other girls were interested in makeup and boys, to my horror, I found myself attracted to women, especially older teachers who were strong yet nurturing.”
Distressed by her fantasies and set back by the difficulties of getting a sex reassignment surgery, Linda decided to conform to societal expectations for women. This didn’t rid her of her mental troubles, however.
“I envied the boys around me whose voices were beginning to change, and I mourned the fact that mine would never change like that,” Linda says. “Instead, I had to submit to wearing training bras and being inconvenienced by monthly periods.”
During her junior year of high school, Linda gave her life to Christ. But things didn’t immediately get better.
“I began doubting my salvation experience because my struggles didn’t go away like I thought they would,” Linda recounts. “Yet, I knew Jesus had done something in my heart, and I wanted to follow Him.”
Linda began to experience a spiritual battle for her heart and mind. She attempted to do everything to fit in with other girls– including dating men in hopes of “curing” herself– but her inner thoughts told her that she was meant to be male. Suicide became a real consideration.
“In college, I got involved with a campus ministry and developed a deeper relationship with God, praying and reading my Bible regularly, even sharing Christ with the lost,” Linda says. “I eventually became a student leader despite the fact that I was deeply attracted to women who mentored me and was enslaved to sexual addictions behind closed doors.”
Linda begged for God to take away her transgender desires, praying earnestly for healing.
“My senior year in college, I attended a campus ministry talk on overcoming habitual sin,” Linda recounts. “The speaker quoted James 5:16, ‘Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’”
Linda was convicted by this message and confessed her secret struggle to her campus pastor.
“He responded to me in love, assuring me that he was committed to finding me the help I needed,” Linda states. “I couldn’t believe it. I walked away from that conversation with a fresh revelation of God’s grace.”
Up until that point, Linda had felt that God hated her for her sin. However, this experience shifted her view of God from a severe judge to a loving father.
“For the first time, I discovered that being completely transparent with another person was very healing,” Linda says. “I didn’t have to hide anymore.”
Linda’s campus pastor ended up connecting her with a professional counselor. The next ten years were full of turbulence as Linda sought healing.
“It was a slow process, as there were not a multitude of resources at that time to help women struggling with transgender issues,” Linda states. “In fact, well-meaning Christian counselors told me they had seen homosexuals and lesbians set free but never… Read the rest: Transformation for Transgenders
Faced with no finances, no family and no friends, Aicha Dramé fell into stripping in Ottawa, Canada, and Nicki Minaj’s lyrics helped push her into the disreputable but profitable lifestyle, she says.
“At that time, Nicki was popping,” the ex-Muslim recounts on her YouTube channel. “She came out with the song “Rich Sex” which is basically about, if you’re gonna have sex with a man, he’d better have mad money, songs glorifying strippers, glorifying sex in exchange for money.”
Aicha began as an immigrant from Guinea, Africa. Her mother prayed five times a day like a traditional Muslim, and her father put her in Islam’s version of Sunday school so she would learn the basics of the family’s native religion.
But when he had to move for work to a smaller town, they lost touch with their Muslim community, and Aicha grew up feeling the pull of the world. It started with dance parties and fashion posts on Instagram that got her attention. She got private messages from NBA players in her DM.
Obsessed with her boyfriend, Aicha planned on studying fashion and going with him to Toronto. “Life was amazing,” she says.
But when she got to Toronto, the boyfriend didn’t come with her. After losing her wallet on the train, she took up living with her aunt while going to fashion school.
That’s where she met a bubbly and beautiful girlfriend who invited her into a lifestyle that involved clubbing, liquor and marijuana.
“I was getting high every day,” Aicha admits. “I was so high, I couldn’t even go to class.”
When her Auntie worried openly about her friendship, Aicha moved out and moved in with her friend, who was supported by a sugar daddy who only came every weekend, sometimes every other weekend.
Until Aicha’s friend broke up with him.
“He ends up cutting her off, and he is the money maker,” Aicha remarks. “This girl had made me quit my other jobs at this point. My income was coming from her, which was coming from him. She was cut off, so I was cut off.
“We have to strip,” her friend told her.
It was a shocking suggestion. But Aicha had been traveling down the road of clubs, intoxication and fast money already. And Minaj’s music encouraged her as well.
At first, Aicha couldn’t dance because she didn’t have an ID. But her girlfriend hooked up with an underworld figure. “I don’t know if he was dealing drugs or scamming or what,” she says. But that guy’s associate made romantic moves on Aicha, and she complied.
“He was about that life. He was a poom, poom, poom gangsta, a straight up G. He was a straight up drug dealer. He carried a glock! He makes money! He moves his weight!
“That’s what I wanted. I was so ghetto,” she adds. “My idea of success, my idea of the kind of man I wanted – I wanted a hoodie. I was so stupid.”
Aicha hooked up with the gangsta and eventually danced herself. Since no one knew her in town and since no one would find out the depths into which she had fallen, the plan was to save up money and start her business in fashion.
But when it came time to put money down on a condo, the guy let Aicha know he was “married to the streets.”
Her heart was broken. She was obsessed with his bad boy image, but ultimately wanted security and lifelong love.
Simultaneously, she felt trapped by the dancing lifestyle. She was 19.
“A lot of women get in a place where they think that the only way they are going to make it in life is through this lifestyle. You can make thousands and thousands a night,” she recognized. “Dancing like this is not something girls grow up wanting to do.”
When she got pregnant, she didn’t even consider bringing the child to term, but went straight for an abortion. Of course, she was alone and abandoned.
God moves mountains and U.S. Navy ships, just ask Rocky Colona.
Growing up in St. Louis under remarried parents, Rocky, half Sicilian, had one half-brother and three half-sisters. Because his dad was excommunicated from the Catholic church for his divorce, Rocky attended church sporadically.
He was a straight-A student who got into a lot of trouble in the public school (he started drinking at 13), so his parents moved him to an expensive private Catholic school, a strategy that didn’t help much. He graduated early because of some shameful things he told a teacher with cancer.
“They passed me a year early because I was so bad,” Rocky says on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I said some things to her that I was just in a bad state in life.”
At the University of Missouri-St Louis, he drank his way to failing grades and decided to drop out and join the Navy, at the urging of a fellow sporty friend, with the aim of becoming a SEAL.
He never became a SEAL because he fell in love and married a woman named Ingrid in the Presidential Honor Guard. He viewed the Honor Guard as a stepping stone to his goal. Ultimately, he abandoned the SEAL dream at the warning of his friend.
“All these (SEALs) guys are divorced,” Joe told him. “I don’t know if this is going to be good for you.”
As a secondary plan, Rocky wanted to work his way into the CIA, FBI, or Secret Service. At the top of his class in A school, he got his pick of ships and opted for the Kearsarge, which wasn’t to deploy for 1 ½ years — after he planned to leave the Navy.
But when he reported for duty Jan. 6, 2002, he was hit with shocking news. They would leave on an unscheduled deployment in three days. At the time, President Bush was accusing Iraq of secretly building weapons of mass destruction, and the Navy was getting into position for possible action. His wife was stationed on the USS Eisenhower, so they were apart.
“We literally didn’t see land for the entire 6 ½ months except for two days,” Rocky remembers. “I got really depressed. Eating habits went away. I stopped working out.”
So, he did something he never had done. He prayed a non-ritualistic prayer, a sincere heartfelt plea: “God, if you can get me home for the 4th of July, I’ll quit drinking, I’ll quit smoking, I’ll live like a priest,” he implored. “That’s what I thought God wanted.”
The next day, the amphibious assault ship’s chief petty officer announced over the public address system: “Somebody else took our spot, and we’re going to head home. We’re going to be home on the 3rd of July.”
Rocky went up to the deck, threw his cigarettes and chewing tobacco overboard and marveled how God had moved an entire ship due to his tiny prayer. He didn’t know the scripture about the mustard seed of faith yet.
He promised to nix his vices, a pledge he wasn’t able to keep.
After years of learning the language, developing an alphabet, teaching literacy, missionary Brooks Buser and team gave the YembiYembi tribe in Papua New Guinea copies of the Bible five years ago.
“It has been a long time, almost 2,000 years, that we the YembiYembi church have waited for this translation of the Bible into our own language,” says a tribe leader on a Radius International video.
Waving palm-like branches (or feathers) and dancing, about 100 tribe members received the printed and bound Bibles – the labor of nine years delivered by small prop plane – with fanfare, preaching and jubilation.
The YembiYembi live in the Lower-Sepik Swamp of remote Papua New Guinea. With an estimated 5,000 members, the tribe with only three villages is so small that it’s not even in Wikipedia. You can reach it by plane or paddling 270 miles upriver. Their language is Bises.
Once the translation was finished, Radius International missionaries sleft trained local pastors to take charge of the church. From the video, it appears the majority of the tribe accepted Jesus, but a “vocal minority” remains in opposition to abandoning the customs of its elders.
“The Bible is important,” preached Brooks, 37, in Bises, which the video translates into English through subtitles. “But what’s more important is what you do with it as the church, the body of Christ. The Bible is here to help believers grow. I will visit you, but this Bible will guide you now.”
Brooks was a missionary child who grew up in Papua New Guinea evangelizing another remote tribe in the lush jungle. “The seeds of missions were planted in my mind,” says the man who counted San Diego as his American hometown.
As a child, Brooks spent half his time in the mud of the jungle with native friends and half his time at the missionary school, playing basketball and learning a traditional Western education.
“I remember getting on the plane here at 9 o’clock in the morning and flying to school and playing a basketball tournament that night in the gymnasium, looking down at my leg and I still have a little bit of mud on my leg from the tribe,” he remembers. “It wasn’t a normal upbringing. The blending of these two worlds was a unique way to grow up.”
Armed with an accounting degree from San Diego Christian College, he married Nina and pursued a career counting numbers. He became finance manager and even traveled to Paris, “on track for the American Dream,” he says.
But on a visit to his parents in Papua New Guinea, the newly married couple’s hearts were stirred. “She got to see where I grew up,” he explains. “God began to lay on our hearts the nation. We felt an incredible level of comfort leaving the American Dream behind and coming back here as missionaries.”
In 2001 with their newborn Bo, they began training with New Tribes Mission where they learned how to set up solar panels and build airfields. “There’s no power, there’s no stores” in these isolated areas where they reach tribes, Brooks says.
“During the class there was a lot of things that brought us out of our comfort zone,” Lynn says. “There was a class on animal butchering which was not my favorite.”
They learned phonetics and grammar to learn and codify the language. They launched into Third World life in Papua New Guinea in 2003. The Busers began surveying and exploring land to find an ideal unreached tribe to work with. Tribes actually write letters requesting missionaries be sent, probably because they have heard of the benefits of civilization and medicine that missionaries bring.
Because the airstrip was flooded at their first choice on the day of their launching into the mission field, the Busers went to their second choice, the YembiYembi. They flew to the nearest airfield, traveled by canoe and then hiked – a five-hour journey – to arrive.
The tribe was so excited and received the missionaries with a welcoming ceremony. “In 2004, we started building our houses,” he says. They had a team of fellow linguist missionaries. They had batteries for their laptops and a two-way radio to communicate with their base.
They began building an airstrip with the help of 1,000 Yembis, removing stumps with power tools. After days of intense labor, the mission group sent a barge with a tractor to finish clearing the field.
“That gave us our lifeline back to base,” Brooks says.
Simultaneously, they learned about their language and culture, hunting in the jungle late at night.
“The callouses on our feet got a lot thicker,” he says. “We learned how to throw a spear and hunt pigs, basically live like a Yembi in their environment.”
Missionaries are routinely criticized by secular intellectuals for altering native people’s customs and “Westernizing” them. The Yembi were animists.
His dad was The Lawrence Welk Show classical jazz pianist, his mom a concert pianist, but David Smale (rhymes with snail) wanted to play heavy metal.
“Wouldn’t you just love for your daughter to date the singer of ‘Cranial Abortion’?” Dave jokes on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. They played backyard parties, prompting cops to come and shut it down, until they debuted at a club along with Incubus.
With rock ‘n’ roll, came drugs and sex. He smoked cigarettes at 13, smoked weed at 14 and dropped acid by 15.
In the Los Angeles Unified School system, Dave attended middle and high school with Latinos and African Americans who were bused into the San Fernando Valley as part of integration policies.
“We got bullied a lot. We were just these little heavy metal-loving white kids,” he says. “One time this guy said he was going to do a drive-by shooting on us the next day. Because of that, I noticed in my house it was ok for me to express racist things. My dad and my brother would say the N-word and other racial slurs.”
Later he joined a punk rock band “Uneducated,” until his party girl got pregnant and he took up delivering fast food and telemarketing as a high school dropout to put food on the table for his baby and the girl whom he married at 18.
“I remember times stumbling around drunk and high, and all of a sudden, the baby starts crying,” says he, and thought: “I don’t know if I can change his diaper right now. I might put it on his head.”
“It was just awful,” he says. “I was partying and my baby was right there. It was not good.”
Five weeks after his first baby was born by C-section, his wife got pregnant, and the nurse at urged her to abort: “You’re going to die,” she said.
Leaving the women’s health care center, Dave and his wife felt an eerie sensation. “Did you feel like we just murdered somebody?” she asked. “Yeah, I do,” he responded.
Unable to make ends meet, he eventually decided to join the Navy with hopes of learning a trade. “That was my only way forward,” he says. “I was going nowhere. I was lost in dead-end stuff.”
At 20, Dave looked for a new beginning in the Navy, but the same old addictions and racism didn’t let him get that new start.
“I could wear a uniform, I could stand up taller, I could march in a straight line,” he says. “But I was still fighting addiction.”
Stationed a Point Mugu, California, Dave and his wife got invited to a Baptist church. She was gung-ho, he was blasé.
Dave went anyhow, and the sermon made sense. So, he accepted Jesus into his heart on April 1, 1999 and was born again.
“When I raised my head, everything was different,” he says. “My entire perspective changed in a moment. There was no going back. The cursing went away immediately, the addictions were all gone, the racism was gone. I didn’t hate all the guys in the Navy from different races and ethnicities. I loved these guys who didn’t look like me, but I saw them as God saw me. It blew my mind.”
His wife was pregnant with twins when he got deployed for six months. He kept pursuing Jesus the whole time, but when he came home, he realized his wife had given up on God and church.
“The laundry was piled to the ceiling. Checks had bounced,” he says. “There was no food in the house.”
He coaxed her to return to church with him, but she persisted in the party life.
For months, he tried to win her over, but she left him when he got orders to Virginia Beach.
Stung by the abandonment, Dave decided to backslide. He went straight to the oceanfront and ogled every girl in a bikini.
“At that point, I was so mad, so bitter, so upset, I completely decided to backslide,” he acknowledges. “I was on the warpath to find me a girl and do something that I would have totally regretted.”
As an immature Christian, Nathaniel Buzolic got a big bite of international fame as Kol Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries. But now that he’s committed more deeply to Christ, Nate preaches regularly to his 2.4M Instagram followers and many have gotten saved.
A lot of those saved are Muslims behind the “Islamic veil,” a set of borders where strict Muslim beliefs are enforced and evangelizing is punishable by death.
“I won’t name the countries that they’re in for their protection, but I’ve got Muslim people who have converted to Christianity because of my social media,” Nate says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “I interact pretty boldly with the Muslim community on my social media.
“I don’t think God goes, ‘Hey, I’m all for vampire shows,’ but he goes, ‘I’m going to use them for my glory.’ Look how God can use what the world tries to push, a demonic thing and witchcraft, for himself.”
The son of poor immigrants in Australia, Nate dreamed of acting and moved to Los Angeles when he was 24. He first heard the gospel and responded when he was 27 at a Passion Conference in Atlanta but wasn’t strongly impacted until six years later.
“It made me ask what’s my life really all about it in an Ecclesiastes sort of way,” he says. “It made all the things I was pursuing like acting and fame really sort of meaningless. I thought there has to be something more.”
At the time, he was working on The Vampire Diaries, the internationally famous CW teen series that launched him to fame as he played the sympathetic villain Kol Mikaelson.
Regarding Christ, he was convinced but not so committed. He had a French Muslim girlfriend and gloated that he didn’t judge anyone. But when she broke his heart by cheating on him, Nate was so shattered he wanted to die at 33.
“I was at rock bottom,” he admits. “I was in a very dark place. I’d be on an airplane, and I’d say, ‘God bring it down. I want it to all be over.’ I wanted to be numbed. I didn’t want to feel anymore.”
To get to some of the most remote Liberian villages, a native missionary walks seven hours through the jungle.
“Sometimes we encounter mosquitoes, snakes or lions, among other animals,” the unnamed missionary told Christian Aid Mission (CAM). “We get sick. Idol worshippers sometimes threaten us, saying that if we don’t leave their village, they will kill us.
“We have to contend with all of that relying on God, the author and finisher of our faith.”
His willingness to endure hardship to bring the gospel to the unreached shows the value of “native missionaries” – locals who carry out the Great Commission to their nation. As a general rule, they are willing to suffer more than foreign missionaries and have the capacity to reach more people.
“In some places we go, there is nowhere to sleep; we just lie on the dirt floor,” says the unnamed ministry leader. “There may be no good, safe drinking water or light. When the battery in the flashlight I carry is finished, there’s nowhere to get additional light at all. There are no shops or stores in the jungle.”
In Liberia, 43% of the population follows an ethnic religion. About 40% are Christian, 12% of which is evangelical. Islam holds 12%.
But the labors of native missionaries are improving those statistics. Within a recent six-month period, the missionary and team led 270 people to confess their belief in Christ, the report says.
One recent convert formerly had lived like a prodigal. As a young girl, she wasted most of her life abusing drugs, alcohol and smoking.
“When I shared the gospel with her, I told her the story of the two sons in Luke 15, then I told her, if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you, He will. Without hesitation, she immediately accepted the Lord Jesus, and she was baptized and is serving in the church as an usher, doing it with joy.”
How do the local missionaries make inroads into remote villages that are resistant to the Gospel? Sometimes, by farming… Read the rest: Missions in Liberia.
For Mia Dinoto, the crippling anxiety attacks started when she was 8.
“I was diagnosed with OCD and anxiety. I got really, really depressed,” Mia says on her YouTube channel. “I got panic attacks 24/7 every single day. I would not leave my house. I was terrified to leave my house. I felt stuck inside myself. I was trapped inside myself.”
Raised in Christian home, Mia didn’t know Jesus and, trying to pray, found it difficult and neglected it for years at a time.
“Is my life going to be like this?” she asked her parents, who signed her up with a therapist three times a week.
“I got put on medication,” she says.
She wavered between being able to function “like a normal person” and relapsing, she says.
In her teens, Mia was diagnosed with anorexia. “It consumed my life,” she says. “I no longer cared about anything other than what I ate, what I looked like, working out. All my goals, priorities and values got thrown away. I didn’t care about anything else. I would do anything to get skinny and have the perfect body.”
Mia argued with her family members and treated them rudely, she says. “I got in fights with them every day,” she says. “I pushed all my friends away.”
“I got to a really unhealthy point where I was starving myself. I was malnourished,” she says. “I still looked into the mirror and thought I was fat. It consumed my thoughts. My anxiety and depression came back worse this time.”
Under the crushing weight of depression, she was fatigued and slept 16 hours every night. Living in California at the time, she would be outside in 90-degree weather with a jacket and comforter because her malnourished body felt cold; it didn’t have the nutrients to produce heat to warm itself.
Her regular menstrual cycle stopped for a year. “My body was shutting down,” she admits. “I didn’t care about my health. I just wanted to be skinny.”
“Saying it seems so stupid. Anorexia isn’t just a health problem; it is a mental health problem,” she now realizes. “It consumed me.”
Her parents enrolled her in a strict, in-house treatment center, but it didn’t work. Hearing a podcast about overcoming anxiety through chakra meditation and manifesting, she fell into New Age practices trying to get more balanced and “control her destiny.”
Then she stumbled across a video that challenged chakra ideas from the Christian perspective. She considered herself a Christian and was startled to hear, for the first time, that chakra was anti-Christian. She found out she was drifting ever farther from God.
“I didn’t want to do anything against Christianity,” she says. “I watched a lot of videos, and I realized I was being pulled away from God because I was depending on myself to fix things and not the Lord.”
Her brother started reading the Bible and this prompted Mia to do the same.
After years of being vague about his past sins, Pastor Jason Glasscock finally spoke clearly from the pulpit about the time he cheated on his wife. His vulnerability saved a marriage.
“I would always say, ‘When I messed up.’ I would never give the details,” Jason says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “But a couple years ago, I preached at a Harvester’s (Bible conference) and said it. Right after, this couple comes up and they’re going through it. We talked about it. They’re still in the church today. It really helped them.”
Jason’s story shows how being real in church can help others who are struggling. Christian forgiveness, healing and restoration contrasts with the world’s options of having an “open marriage,” getting revenge, getting a divorce or going off the deep end with perversion.
The anatomy of adultery, for Jason, started not with physical attraction but with pride. A young female Navy sailor flattered Jason because he was good at his job. Meanwhile, he felt useless at home.
“Pride was the root,” he says. “This girl stroked my ego. My wife didn’t understand my job. When you come home and bills aren’t paid, you don’t feel significant. You feel irrelevant. The devil knows how to stroke your ego. It’s pride that led up to that.”
Forgiveness is the answer, but it doesn’t make it easy or wipe away the wounds to marital infidelity. The sequels to unfaithfulness are lingering suspicion and lack of trust. Once, his wife drove by a business with the same name as the girl, and it triggered painful memories. Jason and his wife have had to work through the issue for years.
Jason Glasscock grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, to teenage parents. Dad joined the Navy and they moved up to Norfolk, but he passed away when Jason was four years old. The other men Mom had were unfaithful to her, and none of them adopted Jason. They moved back to Florida to a small town called Lake City.
In high school, Jason liked football and sports but also “nerdy” games like Dungeons & Dragons. Due to laziness, he barely graduated high school. “Homework didn’t go in my vocabulary,” he quips. “The only reason I graduated is because the teachers gave me grace because I had signed up for the military.”
In the Navy, Jason’s first assignment was with the presidential honor guard as a colors bearer. Carrying the flag, he participated in more than 1,000 funerals and went to George Bush’s presidential inauguration.
“It was fun and interesting,” he says. “But it wasn’t the best place for a young man because it was treated like a college dorm. There was a lot of alcohol. You weren’t supposed to have it, but we did. There was a lot of underage drinking and fooling around with women.”
Despite being involved with the Brooklyn mafia, drug dealing, and losing his connection with his daughter, Robert Borelli made a 180 degree turn that changed the future course of his life.
“As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York, being a small guy, I had to be a little rough kid. You had to learn how to fight,” Robert told DadTalk.
Robert’s neighborhood was tough and, unbeknownst to him initially, it was run by the Gambino crime family.
“They protected the neighborhood and got all the respect from just about everybody in it, including police officers.” Robert continues. “There was mutual respect between the officers and the mafia guys.”
Robert was well-liked by the mafia affiliates, and he often attended their social clubs to run errands.
“At the age of 17 years old, I started hanging out with one of the mob guys’ sons,” Robert says. “His dad often had a big spread every Friday night where all the wise guys from the neighborhood would come meet him and give him respect.”
Robert was impressed by the influence of the men there and was drawn towards the criminal lifestyle.
“My family had a hard time making ends meet. There were financial arguments in the house over rent, and at that age, that was not something I was looking forward to having for the rest of my life.”
Robert’s gravitated towards the mafia life, drawn by the respect, money, and nice clothes offered by it.
“See the people?” a mafia man told him one day as they observed some people at a bus stop. “They are the suckers; they have to go to work, and they give half their money to the government. We’re gonna keep that money for ourselves.’”
But by age 20, he was deep into trouble with the law. He had a murder case and possession of a weapon case. Prison offered the proof that he was good for the mafia because he didn’t “rat anybody out.”
So when he was released, he was ready to operate and scale up in the lifestyle portrayed fairly accurately, he says, by the movie “Goodfellas.”
“I was getting recognition,” Robert says. “I got involved in selling drugs.”
Robert was living a fast-paced life of partying, drugs, recognition and excitement. Robert demanded respect, and he would even resort to violence to get it. He wasn’t only running drugs; drugs were running him. He became a “crackhead.”
But then something happened that would change everything.
“In 1993, a little girl was born, my daughter, Brianna, and seven weeks into having her home, I walked out of her life to get high just for that night,” Robert states. “It ended up not being just for that night, and I ended up staying out getting high.”
Mom didn’t like his newly adopted lifestyle and forced him to stay away from their daughter so she wouldn’t get corrupted.
Finally the law caught up with Robert and he was Incarcerated for a long stint. He missed his daughter, but his wife wouldn’t let him talk to her on the prison phone.
“No matter if you’re a mobster or a crackhead, to walk out of your daughter’s life… Read the rest: Robert Borelli mafioso
Jodi Benson, 1989 voice actor for the main character in “The Little Mermaid,” repeatedly begged her Christian husband for a divorce when the movie came out. Jodi’s career was successful, but her home life was failing.
“My personal life was plummeting,” Jodi says in an article published by the Billy Graham Association. “I had a real crisis of belief.”
Jodi wound up staying with her husband Ray. They got counseling and had two kids. Her home life is now successful, as is her career, and she credits Jesus for everything.
Raised in a single parent household in Rockford, Ill., Jodi dreamed of singing.
“This dream that I had in my mind was so far-fetched from where I was,” Jodi said. “I’m sure everybody just thought I was crazy.”
She attended Millikin University in Dacatur, Ill. In 1983, she earned her debut role in the Broadway musical Marilyn: An American Fable. The next year she met Ray Benson, became a Christian, and got married to him.
Moving to New York, Jodi landed an ensemble spot in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Two years later, she landed the starring role in Smile on Broadway.
Her biggest role, however, came when she auditioned for the part of Ariel. Out of a field of hundreds of applicants, Jodi was chosen. Ironically, she wasn’t excited with the part.
At the time, animation voice-overs were viewed as jobs for people whose careers were winding down. Voice-over actors didn’t even get mentioned in the credits. Benson, who was in her mid-20s, didn’t like the idea her career might be viewed as fading.
No one could have imagined how big “The Little Mermaid” would become. Instead of earmarking her for a dying career, it catapulted her to stardom.
But when she hit the apex of her career, her marriage was hitting its lows. She was focusing on her career, but her family was on shaky ground. She and her husband wavered between reaffirming their relationship or trashing it.
“I begged him for a divorce,” she says. “I had my foot on the pedal on a cliff in California. I was ready… Jodi Benson Christian.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the healing miracles or the massive crowds that impressed me most. It wasn’t the amazing hospitality or the open door for the gospel.
What impressed me most was the burly guys with guns. Local authorities spontaneously assigned us a security detail, 10 police commandos with AK-47s and shotguns. They controlled the perimeter, loomed ominously on the platform, and escorted us about town with sirens blaring everywhere we went.
Why did three Americans and one Aussie get such protection? Because Pakistan harbors an unknown quantity of Muslim extremists who think they are doing the will of Allah by killing Christians. In 2002, extremists threw hand grenades in the Protestant International Church in nearby Islamabad, killing five.
Authorities in Faisalabad weren’t messing around.
On a recent trip to Pakistan in October, I found relations between Muslims and Christians are mostly tolerant. Around Christmas and Easter, however, as one pastor said, “there are a lot of problems.” These historically are dates for Islamist extremists to attack churches. I personally did not sense any hostility in five days of ministering in Pakistan.
Pakistan is a complex nation. It has a secular Constitution and affords some serious protective measures not only for Christians (representing 2% of the population) but all religious minorities (Shiites also face persecution from the Sunni majority).
I’m no stranger to danger. I maintained a low profile in Guatemala as a missionary for 15-and-a-half years. We successfully remained under the radar until a bank teller tipped off his crime syndicate associates, and they cornered us at a stop light. Four guys on two bullet bikes cased us. One guy hopped off the bike, banged his handgun against the window and demanded the bags. He knew where the cash was.
They got more than they bargained for. Unluckily in that backpack were records of bank transfers that – I believed – would make them want to come back for more. I was certain they would stage a kidnapping of my children, and I was unwilling to risk further ministry in the nation I had come to love.
Ten years later, the opportunity to go to Pakistan was different. It turns out that I didn’t need to leave my wedding ring at home. Petty crime doesn’t seem to be the much of a problem (unlike Guatemala). The problem? Jihadists.
I was told NOT to publish on Facebook dates and details of our October trip beforehand. I was warned to be very circumspect when asked questions by strangers. I am a teacher visiting for purpose of tourism, I was instructed to say. Nothing more.
I blew my cover anyway. There were two guys outside the pastor’s hotel room, and I assumed they were disciples from his church and conversed breezily with them. Just hours earlier at that same spot, there were disciples, and I didn’t recognize all the faces. Pastor didn’t know the new guys.
Pastor Sarfraz had a stern talk with me: Don’t tell random people the true reason of our visit. “Not everyone is good in Pakistan,” he cautioned.
I was more embarrassed than nervous. I had prided myself on being a smart secret agent for Jesus, a sort of Jesus 007.
Once on a trip to Cuba, I picked out exactly who was a mole and how she was baiting me to criticize the Cuban government but first bad-mouthing it herself. I wasn’t caught off guard. If I were to openly criticize it, no harm would come to me – it would come to my hosts. So, I disagreed with her, praising Cuba’s health and education system. Crisis averted.
Not so in Pakistan. In my naivete, I confessed sincerely that I had come to preach the gospel. That admission, if heard by the wrong people, could be dangerous. I never saw those two guys again, and I don’t know who they were. But nothing bad came of it either.
We were surrounded by elite police at every step outdoors. They walked in front of us, behind us and to the side of us. When I needed to use the restroom, an AK-47-toting, menacing-faced. dressed-in-all-black cop preceded me. He even checked the bathroom before I could go in to see what terrorist might be lurking inside.
No extremist got me. Traveler’s diarrhea did.
The only attack I suffered was a battle waged by either amoebas or too much curry spice in my guts. ☹
The security measures were elaborate. In addition to the cops, there was a group of 20 ushers who formed a ring around us outside of the ring of police. Holding hands to form a barrier against the crowd, they ran ahead of us to clear the way.
A friend in the United States says I was being treated like a rock star. But my mind compared it more to a presidential motorcade. For a few days, I felt like a celebrity. A celebrity missionary.
It was reassuring to count on these bodyguards. Initially, I was a bit nervous about going to Pakistan, and my wife was more than a little nervous.
As the days passed, these cops with mean faces began to smile, relax and enjoy themselves more. We took pictures together and became friends. We played cricket on the last day.
They heard the gospel, maybe for the first time in their lives. Now that they are my friends, I wouldn’t want them to miss the love of Jesus.
When you go into dangerous countries, you either go low profile or high profile. Low profile means you don’t wear flashy clothes or jewelry. You don’t flaunt expensive cars. You try to blend in with the natives as much as possible… Read the rest: Police comandos protect missionaries in Pakistan.
To keep from panicking in tense games, Clara Czer says a keyword to herself when she goes to hit or serve. Usually, the word derives from her personal faith.
“I was really nervous,” the junior says. “The only thing on my mind was Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
Lighthouse Christian Academy fended off a public high school 73 times larger Wednesday to advance into semi-finals, but it drew down a cardiac Game 5 in which they were trailing 6-11.
Chaffey High School from Ontario, with 3,300 students, was within four points to win. Lighthouse, population 45, needed to surmount nine points.
“We had to really struggle in the last set,” says Roxy Photenhauer. “All of us agreed it was God. We came back from that time out, and we did not let a ball drop. We really, really, really fought hard because we owed it to ourselves and the rest of our teammates.”
At the end of the day, Game 5 went 18-16. (Game 5 goes to 15, but you have to win by two points.)
It was a scrappy win that saw the Saints lose some of the former fine form. LCA’s main hatchet-bearer Dahlia Gonzalez struggled with long hits. Squandering opportunities, serves went long. Players played through injury and sickness.
It was an agonizing game.
In Game 1, Lighthouse relapsed into a habitual poor form. Throughout the season, the Saints don’t seem to hit the ground running but take a full first game to find their form. Down for the whole game, they lost 17-25.
In Game 2, after both teams staying neck-and-neck, Lighthouse pulled away to seal off a 25-21 victory.
In Game 3, Lighthouse went down 5-11 receiving Chaffey’s strong serves like mortar shells.
But the girls kept their mental strength and rallied to level at 12-12. Elizabeth Foreman, LCA’s tall center, was slicing up the opposition with hits that cut like a warm knife through a cheesecake.
Having come from behind, Lighthouse finished off 25-18.
Momentum was on the Saints’ side.
But the Tigers pounced on their opportunities in Game 4 and pulled ahead in the middle of the game, while Lighthouse committed errors. The set ended 20-25.
Both teams were even with two wins, but Chaffey were riding high in confidence.
In Game 5, the Tigers continued to wreak havoc with its strong serves, pulling ahead 6-11 — a mere four points from victory. But in the time out, a flush Clara rallied the troops: “There were so many times that we were all so defeated. But I was like no, it’s not 15 yet.”
Suddenly, Dahlia, in the serving position, rediscovered her inner HIMARS. As 200 Saints fans shouted “Do it again, Dahlia!” the sophomore aimed and took fire. The Ukrainians take out Russian tanks, Dahlia hunted Tigers.
It became 13-11.
With hearts leaping out of chests on both sides, went 14-13 and then 16-16.
Either side needed two points.
With Chaffey serving, the girls played for 27 seconds back and forth, with both sides being cautious to not make a mistake, until Chaffey hit the ball into the night and Lighthouse got the point and the serve.
Roxie served a sinking ball that forced the Tigers into a dive on the floor. The return for the Saints was easy but instead of smashing the ball, sophomore Allie Scribner played it safe and lobbed the ball over.
Three voices screamed at Stacy’s Mom all the time. Sometimes, she screamed back.
“She heard these voices for over 40 years,” Stacy says on a Christian Reads and Classics YouTube video. “These voices were horrible they said the worst things to her; they would cuss at her; they would call her names.”
That made for two sufferers: Stacy’s mom and Stacy. Mom was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, so Stacy was left alone, fearful and resentful.
Stacy was born in Baltimore in 1977. Mom wasn’t diagnosed with schizophrenia until six months after Stacy’s birth, and Dad was a functional alcoholic who spent all evenings at the bar. “A lot of my childhood I spent completely alone,” she says.
“They were in no position to have a kid,” she says. “But they did, and here I am.”
Try as she might, Mom never got the upper hand over the voices and the breakdowns.
“She would make me breakfast, get me off to school, and then I would come home from school and she would be gone,” Stacy says. “I knew she was in the hospital. I blamed the loneliness and a lot of bad things on my mom because as I kid, I thought it was her choice to leave.”
They never went to church, but Mom played Christian music, wrote down scriptures and called herself born-again — things that Stacy didn’t understand.
“We had a very strained relationship,” Stacy admits.
“The voices would scream at her. They would cuss at her. They would call her names,” Stacy says. “My mom would hear this all the time. She was literally being tortured.”
Part of the reason Dad stayed at the bar was to not have to be around Mom, due to her unstable condition.
In high school, Stacy got drunk and high to escape her life. At age 18, she moved in with her boyfriend, not so much because she loved him as because he was the easiest excuse to move away from Mom. That didn’t last.
Eventually, she started dating the man who became her husband, a Marine with whom she moved for a time to England. It was he who suggested they start attending church. But the type of church they attended left much to be desired. When she shared about her fruitless search to help her mom, they glibly responded that she “didn’t have enough faith” in prayer.
Frustrated with longstanding unanswered prayer, Stacy “walked away” from God; they stopped attending church.
FAISALABAD, Pakistan — Kids as young as 2 years old are working in the brick-making fields of Pakistan. One man with a free school wants to change that.
Sarfraz Anwar’s father and brother started in the brick fields. To make bricks, they squat and grab a ball of moist clay-rich earth. They form it into a loaf, cover it with dry dust, and plop it into a mould. It is turned over and dropped onto the ground in long rows to bake under the blistering sun.
It’s a grueling job, and most who fall into this line of work never get out. Some get indebted to their employees when they borrow for their weddings (Pakistanis love 3-day ceremonies with much expenses). They spend the next decades of their life trying to pay off that debt, much like a student loan in America — only they become almost like slaves.
But Dad and Umar escaped the fields. They had a vision to work as Christian laborers. First Dad took at a double shift in security to raise money to launch a school for children that could be free. With whatever free time, he pedaled his bike to the brick fields and sprend the message of hope. Read the rest:
Vitalii Glopina may never know what the three Russian gangsters sent to kill him saw as one raised the knife to stab Vitalii.
“They turned white. They were shaking,” he says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “He threw the knife down. They ran out of there. In that moment, I knew there was a God.”
Well, of course. He had just prayed that if there were a God, to rescue him.
That was the end of atheism for Vitalii, who blamed God for the death of his sister and played out his anger against the injustice done to his family by getting into drugs, alcohol, and easy money.
With his sister growing up in Ukraine, Vitalii had a peculiar hobby, looking for mushrooms. On one occasion, he asked his sister to get out of work early so they could get a headstart on their mushroom enthusiasm. “I felt responsible for her death,” Vitalii says.
On that fateful night, his sister was kidnapped. They found her injured and took her to a hospital where she lingered between life and death for two days. Young Vitalii pleaded with God for her life, and when she died, he vowed to become an atheist.
From 18 years, he pour his life into substance abuse and crime. He joined a Russian mafia gang and made good money as the key man; he was the one who broke into cars and got them started.
He was a brainiac for technology. He got straight A’s in school, but he also had keyed all the rooms and could break in at will to classrooms and offices.
When he graduated high school, he got a scholarship to Romania, where he would learn cybernetics.
He vowed that in the new place, he would turn over a new leaf. His vow to be sober and make good lasted only three days, within which time he found a dealer and the mafia and fell back into his old habits.
Vitalii would show up and get into the BMW7 series vehicles. Sometimes they would steal the car outright, sometimes they would just steal the parts. When the insurance paid for new parts, his team could fill the order through a front company and rebuild the car they themselves had disassembled.
It was lucrative work, but every night Vitalii was hobbled by crippling guilt.
“I had to be stoned to death to be able to sleep,” he admits.
His penchant for heavy substance abuse caused him to wind up with overdoses: three times on drugs, twice on alcohol. A triple dosage brought him to the hospital on Christmas Eve, where he confessed to hospital staff where the drugs were.
The cops raided, and he lost $5,000 worth of merchandise.
From Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Christina Baker’s stepdad sent her with a one-way ticket to Maui, where reportedly her biological dad lived.
After waiting six hours to be picked up at the airport, Dad finally showed up.
“This is crazy that you’re here,” he told her as they drove from the airport. “I need to tell you something. I’m homeless and I’m living in a tent on the beach.”
That is how Christina’s life flowed into uncharted waters.
The bedlam began when her parents divorced. Mom flew straight to Bolivia. To the ache of not having her father, add the confusion of culture shock and language barriers.
“When my parents divorced, it really set me over the edge,” Christina said on a 100 Huntley Street video interview. “I was just drawn to the darkness because I felt that way inside.”
Christina took refuge in the Goth lifestyle with its emo depression.
“My life was totally spinning out of control,” she says. “He basically told me that I needed to leave his home.”
Underage drinking and clubbing caused her to run afoul of her stepdad, who sent her to Hawaii. Maybe he thought she would do better with her biological father, but he was in no place to help his daughter. He had been an oil executive, but drugs drove him to homelessness.
Christina lived with Dad homeless on the beach for some time.
Then she went from house to house sleeping on the couches of friends. She got in touch with her brother, who hooked her up with a local church.
That’s when she landed in the foster care system with Sharon Hess, who gave her a warm welcome and a warm bed at her home in 2001,
“We have two rules. Your curfew is 11:00 p.m. and you need to go to church with us,” Foster Mom told her.
“I just wanted a warm bed to sleep in at that point,” Christina remembers. “I looked around. I’m like, ‘I’m an atheist; I don’t believe in God.’ But I knew that if I wanted that warm bed and somewhere to stay that I needed to go to church with them.”
Sharon and the rest of the family didn’t judge her Goth clothes and makeup. They even let her wear all black to church. Little by little, the Word of God was planted in her heart, after three years in foster care.
“This woman loved me just the way I was,” Christina recalls. “She wasn’t trying to change the way I looked.”
After those three years, she moved to Houston, Texas, where she relapsed into drugs and soon found herself pregnant. She planned on an abortion when her drug dealer’s girlfriend showed her a report that the abortion doctor was being sued by the State of Texas because a 15-year-old patient died in his abortion chair.
“She pulled me and she said, ‘I know you don’t believe in God, but I’m begging you not to kill this child,” Christina remembers.
“His grace met me in my darkest moment. His grace met me in a moment where I didn’t believe.”
Christina became a functional drug addict. She worked and took care of Ethan, her newborn, and did drugs when nobody was watching. That worked for some time, until she got pulled over by police.
While she was awaiting trial on bail, a co-worker invited her to a Bible study. At the meeting, a man named Hillroy gave her a “word of knowledge,” a supernatural revelation about her present state of mind.
“What he didn’t know and what stunned me at that moment was that he didn’t know I was contemplating how to take my life that night,” Christina remembered. She still didn’t believe in God but couldn’t account for the supernatural knowledge of her inner thoughts.
So Christina went to the breakroom Bible study. When she entered, they were praying, which surprised her.
“If there is a God,” she thought, “These people have come face to face with him. It was so personal; it was so intimate; it was so passionate, something I had never in my life experienced or encountered.”
Hillroy read to her from Jeremiah: “This is a matter of life or death,” he told her.
Immediately, a mental picture of a car accident flashed through her mind, something that is a common reality for those who abuse alcohol.
When half his friends carted off to college on sports scholarships, Deon Howard was stuck with the other half, the “knuckleheads,” who hung out at his father’s house taking drugs, breaking crystal tables, punching holes in the wall, and otherwise “disrespecting” his divorced father’s house while he was at work.
“It was so easy for me to have no motivation, no drive because everything was given to me,” Deon says on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “If you’re not moving in life, things will stack up on you and you’ll be in a desperate place.”
As an only child of a military family in Augusta, Georgia, “I was spoiled,” Deon says. “I was always on the receiving end of giving, giving. Because of that, I really struggled with being a giver.”
When he was 12, he got 84 gifts for Christmas. That’s right. Eighty-four.
About half of them he opened with his cousins. When he got home, some burglars had broken into their home and stole the TVs. What was Deon worried about? His gifts. None of them were touched.
While half his friends were bound for the NBA and NFL, Deon was bound to get into trouble. He was ineligible to play sports because of grades and poor behavior. He got kicked out of the 11th grade and had to go to a private school, which he called “bootleg,” founded by a PhD guy from Trinidad that “sold” high school degrees.
When Deon was 21, his parents got divorced. He never knew why his mom, a very private person, simply wrote a letter saying she would never come back. Always self-absorbed, Deon assumed she would come back and by the time he figured out she was never coming back, he was too lost in drugs, drinking and partying to worry anymore.
“It was a mess. Things got really crazy,” Deon says. “My house, if you didn’t know any better, you would’ve thought my house was a club. My dad wanted me to have some respect for his house, which I didn’t. Hangout spot was an understatement. I was disrespecting my father’s house.”
On any given day, upwards of 40 different cars were parked outside to gather, use drugs and gamble inside. Horse play broke the expensive glass table. “My dad would come to see holes in the walls,” Deon says. They would try to clean before Dad got home from work.
From age 20 to 24, that was Deon’s routine. At the clubs, he loved to dance.
“I loved my mom and dad, but I was out there,” he admits. “We grew up good kids. I had a good, middle-class home. I had no reason. I just had no business about myself. We were bums, these spoiled kids living in their parents’ homes. It’s not that I was missing meals; that wasn’t the case. I was just spoiled. It made me not have an urgency about life.”
He neither sold nor bought drugs; his friends just offered them for free. His occasionally used ecstasy.
The lifestyle began to wear on him. When he turned 24, a friend called and offered him a job in the Navy’s Shipyard in Newport News. The friend said he would “rig” a resume for him, enroll him in a sheet metal class, and he would be making $24 per hour – good money at the time.
Despite failing the sheet metal class, Deon’s connections got him the certificate and the job – at which he lasted 15 minutes before getting fired. He didn’t know the first thing about being a sheet metal mechanic.
“He gives me this paper, and I don’t know what I’m doing. I barely passed high school,” Deon says. “I don’t remember 5/16ths of an inch. So I’m going to fake it until I make it. But I’m about to sink this ship.
“He comes back and looks at it. He takes the badge off me and says, ‘This job is not for you,’” Deon remembers. “Twenty-four dollars an hour! I lasted only five minutes on the job.”
Deon wanted nothing more than to smoke marijuana and return to Georgia, but his friend encouraged him to stay. So did his dad, who pointed out that Deon was 24 – plenty old enough to grow up and take responsibility.
Deon got a job at Danny’s Deli making $6/hour.
The roommates moved out with baby mommas, and Deon didn’t have enough money to pay the electricity bill.
One day when he came home exhausted from work, sitting in the dark, he saw a friend’s Bible sitting on the table. The friend read it randomly from time to time, usually while smoking marijuana. That day Deon was discouraged as he contemplated the Bible and remembered his grandmother who honored and cherished the Bible.
“Just shut up!” he said in his mind, frustrated that Jeff would argue with Louie, who had gotten saved, and that he had to listen to it in their one-bedroom apartment.
Tom, then 19, had come from New York to Prescott, Arizona, because it was famous as a college party town. “Getting saved wasn’t part of the plan. We were in a prolonged adolescence with the feigned attempt at getting an education,” Tom says on a Don’t Sell the Farm podcast.”
So when Louie got cornered by a Christian and acceded to go with him to church one day, Tom offered to provide the alibi when the Christian accompanied him to service.
“Just hide in the bathroom, and we’ll tell him you’re not in,” Tom told him.
But Louie was a nominal Catholic and used to showing up every so often to Mass, so he stayed true to his word.
That night, when Tom and Jeff stumbled out of the bar and walked home, Tom remarked sarcastically: “What if Louie got saved.”
They found him in his bed reading his Bible. Suddenly, their fears, however they were treated in jest, now became reality.
Louie told them he had gotten saved and invited them to church. Jeff started to argue with him. Tom rolled his eyes.
For the next days and weeks, the litany was unending. Louie invited them to church, Jeff argued, Tom fumed. “He was in our faces telling us about Jesus,” Tom told him. “Fine, we’ll go to Hell all by ourselves. But just shut up. I don’t want to hear it.”
Jeff was arguing with him nonstop. Louie was just devouring his Bible and was answering him. I couldn’t escape it.”
One evening as he lay on the bed trying to not hear the other two argue in the other room, Tom asked God if he was real. “I was laying on the bed with my hands behind my head, and I said, ‘God, I’m not going to do this just because Louie did this. But if you’re real, I’ll serve you.”
The “presence of the Holy God of the Universe came into that room,” he says. “I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t believe anybody had heard that prayer or would answer that prayer.”
Awestruck, he told God: “Ok, just don’t kill me.”
Tom attended a new convert’s class with Louie. He accepted Jesus. “I had already been confronted by the Holy Spirit,” he says. He was delivered from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. The next day, he started looking for a job.
Finding a job was no easy matter in Prescott, then a town of 20,000. There weren’t many jobs to be had. He wanted to stay with the Prescott Potter’s House, a booming church. His first job to support himself and continue learning about Jesus as a “disciple” was to water plants at the community college. His last job was working on a trash truck.
Tom and his buddies were used to staying up to 4:00 a.m. partying, so when church let out at 10:00 p.m., he didn’t know what to do with his time. Fortunately, some of the brethren went out for coffee and fellowshipped after service.
He came home buzzed on caffeine, and he and his buddies went home afterward and wrote letters to all their friends back in New York that they were going to Hell and needed to get saved. “We bombarded them with letters,” he recalls… Read the rest: Roommate annoyed the Hell out of him.
At 16, Chetra became a Buddhist monk in Cambodia. “It was my pride to become a monk,” he says.
But just five years later in 2011, he abandoned the monkhood because “I felt so empty inside. I wondered what my life was for,” he says on a Christ Church of Ewell video. “I felt so lost in my heart.”
In 2021, he got a job in a language school that taught Cambodian to foreigners, most of them missionaries. On his first day at the school, he had to sit through a Bible study.
“I didn’t really know what Christianity was,” he says. “I only thought I can’t believe in Jesus because Buddhism was precious to me. I thought Jesus wasn’t God.”
He stayed in the school for six years, attending Christian Bible studies but never believing. He had lots of Christian friends, all of whom were praying for him.
In 2017, a certain girl named Julia was more insistent. On Sunday, he said, he liked to sleep late, waking up at noon, well after the morning service was over.
She invited him to an evening fellowship. “I didn’t have an excuse,” he says. “I didn’t go to sleep so early.”
He sat as far away from the group as possible – in the kitchen. Then slowly he moved closer, to the kitchen door. Still, he was resistant. “Buddhism was my pride, so I couldn’t lose my pride,” he says.
But something happened in 2018 during the Pchum Ben, a 15-day festival in Cambodia that honors the previous seven generations of ancestors which are believed to be released to roam the Earth.
On these Holy Days, everybody has vacation. On Saturday during incense burning and chantings, Chetra started viewing his practices strangely. “Wow,” he observed. “What are these things?” Read the rest: Chetra the Buddhist monk from Cambodia
Ironically, his dad, a devout Buddhist, left the family so that everybody “could be happier.”
Ahn Le felt anything but happy. “I felt panicked,” Ahn says on a Fishers of Men Halifax video. “It didn’t make me happy. It broke everything I knew.” He even cried out to the supernatural he never knew: “If there’s a God, please stop this now.”
That’s the day Ahn became an atheist.
“In my mind I said, look at these religious folks. Not even the religious folks can get it together.” His mom was a nominal Catholic.
Meanwhile at school, Ahn learned about the survival of the fittest, a tenet of evolution. “I liked this idea,” he remembers. “I realized there’s no god because you call out to him and he doesn’t answer. You just got to get by. That message resonated with me: I’m going to be so tough, I’ll never be in this position again where I’m being left, where it’s going to break.”
He vowed to find his happiness, to make money and buy the things he wanted.
Soon he discovered pornography, first in magazines and then with the advent of the Internet online in the 1990s. “When I found these magazines, it was like a drug,” he says. “When I got ahold of my first Hustler magazine, I was like ‘Wow.’”
He dove in unabated. But while he desired a beautiful woman, he was too shy to approach beautiful women. “They were like goddesses to me,” he says. “I couldn’t talk around them. I was gazing from afar with just a lust for them. But deep inside I was l like, ‘Why would that girl ever like me?’ I had a low self-confidence.”
The pornography imbued shame in him and brought his self-confidence even lower, he says.
While he had a secret addiction, he projected an image of being a good guy.
In college, he overcame his shyness and began approaching girls, even to the point that he moved in with a girl. “That lust in me destroyed that girl,” he surmises. “She was a Christian. I convinced her not to listen to her mother. I convinced her to move away from her church. She was such a sweet girl, and I just took her and demoralized her.”
Then, because pornography makes you always look at the next and the next and the next, he dumped her after deflowering her. “I took everything pure from her, chewed it up and spit it out,” he admits. “I used her. I broke her heart heartlessly.”
He ignored the promise ring he had given her. “For me, she wasn’t enough,” he acknowledges. “My lust needed more.”
Ahn got into clubbing and one-night stands. “It was never enough,” he says. “It led to depression. I was feeling depression, but I didn’t link it to my addictions.”
Strangely, the girls who most attracted him were Christian girls, whom he would pretend to listen to about God but would be “little by little be grooming them away from the church,” he explains.
“How do you know if there’s a God?” he would say to them. “How do you know if God’s real? What if God was just a man-made idea? What if there was something better we could do for ourselves? What if God helps those who help themselves?”
Systematically, he turned them away from their faith and got them into extra-marital sex. Eventually, he realized that atheism meant there was no need to project an image of being a good person. “I make my own beliefs,” he says. “In college you’re taught, What is truth? There is no truth. It’s all perspective. It’s all relative. There is no true good, no true bad.” Read the rest: Ahn Le, podcaster, ex atheist, freed from porn.
The world may know the name of the late beloved evangelist, Billy Graham, and his son Rev. Franklin Graham, but many may not know about another evangelist in the family, William Franklin Graham IV.
“I was born Billy Graham’s grandson; I will die one day as Billy Graham’s grandson,” the evangelist said on a YouTube video.
William, the son of Franklin Graham, has known nothing other than being the son and grandson of two renowned evangelists. “Not everyone has a famous grandfather or father, but for me, it was normal.”
William, 47, spent his childhood on a farm in Western North Carolina surrounded by cows, horses, dogs, cats, and, at one point, a potbelly pig.
On Jan. 11, 1981, he gave his life to Jesus when he was five at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church his family attended in Boone, North Carolina, after a communion service. His father told him he could not participate until he let Jesus into his heart.
“I believed that Jesus existed, but I never applied him into my heart,” he said. “So that’s when I gave my life to Christ.”
William went to public school in North Carolina growing up, but it wasn’t until he attended college at Liberty University that he not only fell in love with God’s word but got to see how impactful his grandfather was.
“I’d been to his crusades. I knew he was one of the most famous people in America,” he said. “But something hit me at Liberty.”
It changed for Will one day when he was in his dorm room and a man he didn’t know knocked on his door looking for Billy Graham’s grandson.
Darren Munzone reacted to his wife’s newfound faith in Jesus and belief in the rapture by sneering: “Oh, you’re still here? The UFOs haven’t gotten you yet?”
He could tolerate the fact that she had gambled away their savings of $10,000. But he couldn’t stand the fact that afterwards she became a born-again Christian. “To me it was like she had become a nun or something. I was just not happy.”
He lashed out at her: “If I would have wanted to marry a Christian, I would have gone to church, But I met you in a pub. This is a rip off.”
Born to an Italian immigrant father, Darren always identified as an Aussie because of discrimination against immigrants, he says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. He had basically no background in Christianity.
Admittedly, he was the bully of the classroom and got into scrapes frequently. When his mother divorced and remarried, he took out his frustrations by fighting with the neighborhood boys. His penchant for violence went right along with his dream to be a rugby player.
“I got into lots of trouble because of fights as a teenager,” he says. “I rebelled against my mom and my stepdad.” He didn’t talk much to his stepdad except two to three times a year.
For rugby league, he practiced very hard but wasn’t big enough and wasn’t gifted in the sport. Ultimately, a series of injuries sidelined him when was semi-professional, so instead, he turned to coaching, where he excelled.
“I’ve broken all my fingers,” he recounts. “I literally had my ear ripped off the side of my head and had to have it sewn back on. My AC joint in my shoulder – serious shoulder problems. I’ve had two knee reconstructions.
“I was far more successful as a semi-professional coach.”
The woman who became his wife was a nurse, and together they made enough money to qualify for a home loan. But when the broker informed them the term would be 30 years, Darren and Joanne looked at each other and walked out.
Instead of tying themselves down for 30 years, they decided to travel to England and Europe for two years for a work-cation. “I was running away from the broken dreams of becoming a professional sportsman,” Darren says. He played cricket in England.
After one year of living in England, Joanne had a miscarriage, and the subsequent sadness deprived her of all desire to keep vacationing. “She was devastated by that,” Darren says.
They returned to Australia, where Joanne’s depression deepened and widened even though they finally married.
“She blamed herself that we’d come back from our overseas trip a year earlier than expected,” Darren says. “She thought I was angry that we’d cut our holiday. To escape the depression, she started gambling.”
She played poker machines at the local bars. “This went on for some time until she had gambled all our money away,” Darren says.
The depleted savings was not just bad – she sought Jesus because of it after a co-worker invited her to church.
She broke the news about her secret gambling addiction and subsequent losses to Darren, who despite being hooked on money didn’t get too upset. “I was annoyed but I thought we’ll recover from that.” Read the rest: Darren Munzone rugby coach Australia now pastor
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.
Adrien 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.