Category Archives: church dropouts

Rehab didn’t help crack addict, but a statue drove her into Jesus’ arms

get off drugsAshley Johnson’s struggles with drugs began when her mother was four-years-old in a barn being raped. That was the beginning of the cycle of destruction, depression and despondency.

Years later, when mom was pregnant with Ashley, the devil tormented her with suicidal thoughts, Ashley says on a YouTube video. Eventually, Mom got saved and kicked the devil out of her life.

But before that, mom was an alcoholic and left little Ashley to stay with grandma, who took her to church.

Her first touch from God came when she was nine. After participating in an evangelistic play as one the main actors, she answered the call to the altar.

“I realized Jesus was real,” she says. “I remember being super excited and standing outside of the church and telling everybody how good God is.”

get off crack jesusNevertheless, she says, she didn’t accept Jesus yet. She only felt God.

“I didn’t pray that prayer (of salvation),” she says. “Everybody prayed it for me. But I did not make Jesus Lord over my life. He did not save me, but He did call me.”

As she grew up, she felt insecurities; especially that she was the only child who didn’t have a mom actively involved in her life. Unlike the other kids brought to church by their moms and dads, Ashley was brought by her grandmother.

“I grew to hate church,” she says. “I became very embarrassed. I was very insecure about a lot of things. I was a very shy and timid kid.”

Evil things started happening in her life, and in response, she rebelled. It came to the point that grandma couldn’t handle her, so Ashley was sent to her parents to live.

“I didn’t want to go live with my parents,” she says.

ashley johnson saved drug addictHer parents were alcoholics, and Ashley fell out of church attendance.

At a party at age 11, Ashley got drunk and high for the first time.

“When it kicked in, I was like whoa whoa whoa. I didn’t know what it was like to be drunk,” she says. “That night, I almost got eaten by a dog because I tried to leave. I almost got shot by a gun. I woke up the next morning, and I was wearing this guy’s boxers. He had to be in his 30s at the time. He had his arm wrapped around me.”

Depression overtook her by the time she entered junior high.

“I would look out the window and imagine dying. I was so depressed and suicidal,” she says. “I was just a very miserable kid.”

The world’s answers — partying, experimenting with drugs, skipping school — did nothing to help the fundamental reason for the agony in her heart.

“I was a pretty wild child by the time junior high rolls around,” she says.

In high school, she dated a drug dealer. Read the rest of kick crack

Sevin, former gang member, now a missionary rapper to the hood

christian gangsta rapSevin was a rising star in Christian hip hop, and he was homeless.

Marques Adams, his real name, was born in San Jose but grew up in Sacramento. His parents, Tracy and Debra Adams, raised him in a church that emphasized rules to the point of excluding God from the picture.

“I didn’t understand God as personal,” he says on a Next Step film. “I looked at Him how you look at a police officer in your community: somebody who enforces rules, but he’s not somebody you really wanna ‘kick it’ with.”

His parents moved a lot, cutting him off from friends and always putting him into the awkward situation of having to make new friends sometimes with a rough crowd that rejected him.

“All I ever wanted was love and people to accept me,” he says. “I was being treated like evil, and over time it wound up hardening my heart.”

At age 13, one of his few friends died, and he reacted with self-mutilation and suicidal thoughts.

sevin christian outreach hood“I was always angry and hurting, and it was growing worse and worse and worse,” Sevin says. “I just kind of let go of any care for life or my future or anything. I fell into an abyss. I started self-medicating really young, 12, 13 years old stealing bottles of Nyquil out of the store.”

He discovered marijuana and prescription pills, “just anything to try to numb myself,” he says.

Because he longed for acceptance, he started hanging with gang members. The Oak Park Bloods took him and “treated me like their version of family,” he says.

“Not understanding what true love or God’s love actually looks like, the world was able to lie to me,” he says. “The streets was able to suck me in with that false sense of brotherhood and fellowship.”

His parents were oblivious to the signs that their son was getting lost. He went to the wrong people for advice, who pulled him “deeper and deeper into my own destruction,” he says.

Because of his depression, he went so far as to deny God to his father.

sevin christian rapper“I felt like if God is so good, then why are we suffering?” he says. “At that point I was so beat up and at that point so demonically influenced that I walked into my room and I ended up putting my gun to my head.”

But while he was turning his back on God, God never turned his back on Sevin.

“The Holy Spirit ended up falling on me, and I felt this overwhelming sense of love and peace and acceptance that I couldn’t deny,” he remembers. “It literally reached through my body and touched my heart and changed me. The God of the Bible that I always thought was this impersonal, fake entity that either wasn’t real or didn’t care about us, that God came off of these pages and jumped into my real life.”

The previous week, he went to school, as was his custom, with a gun. The next week, he went with a Bible and told all the “homies” at the lunch table that they needed to study with him.

“In my past I felt like I was in this black hole, isolated and alone,” he says. “Now I don’t feel that way. God’s in me, with me, around me everywhere I go.”

Being born-again, he had a burning desire to use his musical talents for the Lord. Having made a name for himself as a rising rapper on the streets, he wanted to dedicate to the Lord the talent he had used for Satan.

He almost immediately got involved in music, but he hadn’t completely left the world and wound up with charges related to drugs. Now he thinks he was put on a platform too early in his baby Christian faith. He should have concentrated first on his growth in the Lord without launching straight into leadership ministry.

But hindsight is 20/20. When he wound up in jail with a felony, the same people who embraced his turn to Christianity now turned their back on him and reviled him for his “hypocrisy.” It stung Sevin deeply that apparently nobody would stand with him in his court case.

The sting ran deep and formed the foundations of his current ministry. Now, Sevin says he doesn’t allow anyone to advance in ministry until they have served for a year. And he reaches out to those who backslide and fall into jail. When fellow Christian rapper PyRexx got locked up, Sevin visited and offered to pay his bills and watch over his wife.

In the meantime, his heart was growing hard due to what he felt was betrayal. When he was young, he was molested at church. Church people, he believed, would hurt you but not stand with you when you were hurt.

While he continued with that thought, he was still drinking and using drugs, even while he put out Christian music, he said.

“I was betrayed by people who were claiming to be the people of God,” Sevin says. “I had one foot in because I knew the truth, but I had no fellowship and didn’t have a real deep understanding of the gospel.”

He was “stuck in limbo.” Read how Sevin Christian rapper got unstuck and out of limbo.

Youth group rejected him, so he turned his back on God

But God brought Dr. Paul Lim back

atheist became Christian Dr. Paul Lim

By the time he got to Yale University, it wasn’t the logical arguments that made him turn his back on Jesus. It was the way kids in the youth group had marginalized him.

More often than not people’s problems with Christianity don’t have to do with intellectual hang-ups but with the stories of hurt, stories of rejection, stories of people who are supposed to embody the gospel in a compelling and endearing way, they end up doing the opposite,” says Dr. Paul C. H. Lim.

As an immigrant at age 15 from South Korea, he went to a Korean church in Philadelphia with his parents who previously were non-religious but sought support in their transition to America. Even though young Paul gave church the benefit of the doubt, he quickly realized he was being ostracized.

The youth pastor ran a Friday night program he called Triple B — Bible study, Burger King and bowling, but Paul was ignored and sat alone, ate alone and bowled alone.

Paul-Lim“I wasn’t wearing the right clothes. I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t have the right haircut. I didn’t play the right sport. I wasn’t part of the cool crowd. I was part of the loser crowd,” he says. “The worst experience was to bowl alone. I would always pray that there would be an even number of kids so that somebody would join me, but when we had an odd number of kids, I would find myself alone on the lane.

“Why wouldn’t the youth pastor come over and bowl with me occasionally?” he adds. “Coming to America was a traumatic experience. But in church, I felt the alienation even more.”

So when his parents drove him to Yale, he was looking forward to ditching God and zeroing in on “hedonism and careerism to the core.”

“I was excited that I was getting the heck away from the church, and I was so excited that I was going to plunge headlong into this intellectual pursuit of the good life,” he says.

When his gray-haired New Testament professor said, “The Bible is a wonderful book but it’s not the kind of truth that you want to hang your life on,” Paul needed no more nails to shut the coffin on his Christianity.

He was an economics major set on making his mark in the banking industry, having a house in Long Island with two kids, two dogs and a cat.

But then his sister got engaged to a seminary student, this bewildered Paul.

“Why would you ever want to marry a guy going into ministry?” he wondered. “It was the oddest things I ever heard. To me, he was loser guy. Secretly, I hated him.”

But Paul’s mom was a vibrant believer, and she always asked him if he was going to church. Over winter break, she cajoled him to do the last thing he would’ve wanted to do with vacation. She asked him to go to a Christian retreat because his brother-in-law would be a speaker.

Paul rolled his eyes and dreaded it. But because he adored his mom, he acquiesced..

Read the rest of Dr. Paul Lim Christian.

Social Club Misfits unite losers, rejects and nerds

social club misfits recording labelThey were bullied in school hallways and cut from teams. They went unnoticed, until they tried to get attention, and then they stuck out like sore thumbs. Girls weren’t content to just say no to a date: “Get out of my face or I’ll scream very loudly.”

Now, Fernando Miranda and Martin Santiago have turned all those moments of embarrassment and loneliness into gold.

As a rap duo, they’ve capitalized on their woes to build a huge following of awkward, shy and unpopular people. Their group, Social Club Misfits, is a Revenge of the Nerds 2.0, and they signed with Capitol Records CMG in 2016.

While the rest of America — and notably the rap world — was busy putting down others, Social Club Misfits was gathering all the outcasts into a massive group of friends, followers and family.

“I think God is about people and as Christians we should be about people and known for our love,” Martin told Rapzilla. “We wanted to have a band that was honest and real with people. It’s a safe zone. We wanted to share from our life and give you a Christian perspective on everything we do.”

social club misfits losers, outcasts and rejects

Both Marty and Fern — as they prefer to call themselves — started as church dropouts.

Fern was born in Puerto Rico. When his parents immigrated to Hollywood, Florida, he was a pastor’s son banging on the drums and the congas.

He was doing music and had generated some buzz in the local radio stations. So when he turned 18, he moved out, stopped going to church and dedicated himself full time to worldly rap. He was sleeping on friends’ couches and fell into the party scene that always seems to accompany the world music scene.

“That was the start of what I call the lost decade — ten years of being out there and mom wondering and crying and praying,” Fern says on a testimony video. “I wouldn’t tell my parents where I was. My mom would call me and say, ‘Where are you? I just want to bring you $20.’ And I would say, ‘Mom I can’t tell you where I am. I’ll meet you at the drug store, and I’ll give you my laundry and could you wash it for me?’ She would cry and say, ‘Your dad wants to see you.’

“But I was being prideful. I never wanted him to see me like that, being broken down.”

He was messing around with drugs and started hustling to make ends meet. One night some enemies burst into his apartment and held a gun at his face while they ransacked the apartment. The problem wasn’t with Fern, so he was allowed to live.

social club misfits concert“The Lord spared me,” Fern says. “Ironically enough, that was just the beginnings of the lost decade. I would go on and pursue regardless of what that was. I had a gun in my face another time after that. It was a repetitive cycle. It’s called insanity. You just do the same things over and over trying to look for a different result.“

The lowest point came when he very nearly threw himself from a hotel balcony when he panicked during an overdose.

“Jump!” a voice told him as he leaned over the railing. “Just go ahead. You did too much. You gotta go now.”

He drank milk to neutralize the drugs. Read the rest of Social Club Misfits testimony.