Category Archives: Financial Talk

How the Lord can Bless you!

Black musician attended KKK rallies to make friends, talk to klansmen civilly

maxresdefaultBy Kiera Sivrican —

When Daryl Davis held the American flag for his Cub Scouts troop in a march from Lexington to Concord to commemorate Paul Revere’s ride, he swelled with pride as an American.

What the 10-year-old never expected was the bottles, soda cans and rocks hurled at him. As one of only two black children in the area in 1968, he was being targeted by some of the whites in the crowd.

“This was the first time I ever experienced anything like this,” he recalled. “I did not understand.” Scout leaders huddled over him with their bodies and escorted him out of danger. “I kept asking, ‘Why? Why? What had I done wrong?’”

But the Scout leaders said nothing, and it wasn’t until his parents were cleaning and patching up his bruises and scratches that he began to learn about the ugly underbelly of America.

“For the first time in my life, my parents sat me down and explained to me what racism was. I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about,” he recalls. “It was inconceivable to me that somebody who had no idea who I was, who had never laid eyes on me, who had never spoken to me, would want to inflict pain on me for no other reason that the color of my skin. So I did not believe my parents.”

As he grew up, he was faced with more racism, but he never understood it: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?” The question haunted him, and, in his quest for the answer as he grew up, he read books about white supremacy, black supremacy and many others. None of these books offered an explanation.

So as an adult, he struck upon the idea of asking Ku Klux Klan members why they hated him. By now, he had become a professional R&B and blues musician and had played with the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, B. B. King and Bruce Hornsby. He was also a fervent Christian. He proposed to write a book about hate in his spare time.

In 1983, he scheduled his first interview with Roger Kelly, the Grand Dragon for Maryland. Daryl neglected to mention that he was black, so when Kelly and an armed guard showed up, they froze.

But Daryl welcomed him warmly and encouraged him to talk. The spoke calmly and compared ideas. Tempers didn’t flare. They disagreed but treated each other with cordiality and respect.

The first conversation led to a second and then to a third. Soon they were friends. The armed guard dropped out of the picture. They shared lunches and dinners. Kelly invited Daryl to a KKK rally, and he attended. He listened to speeches and watched them burn crosses. Kelly went to watch Daryl play boogie-woogie on the keyboard.

Eventually, Kelly renounced his racism and resigned from the KKK. Daryl’s quest to comprehend racism had converted a racist.

“Respect was the key,” says Daryl, now 60. “Because I was willing to listen and he was willing to listen to me, he ended up leaving the Klan.”

Eventually, Daryl learned where racism comes from: “Ignorance breeds fear, and if we do not keep that fear in check, it breeds hatred,” he says. “And it we do not keep the hatred in check, that hatred in turn will breed destruction.

“It’s a wonderful thing when you see a light bulb pop on in their heads or they call you and tell you they are quitting,” he adds. “I never set out to convert anyone in the Klan. I just set out to get an answer to my question: ‘How can you hate me when you don’t even know me.’ I simply gave them a chance to get to know me and treat them the way I want to be treated.”

Today, Daryl has rescued more than 200 Klansmen from their robes. His tactic of making friends with his haters with the love of Christ and calm conversation has helped them see the light.

“I am a musician, not a psychologist or a sociologist,” he says. “If I can do that, anybody can do that. Take the time to sit down and talk with your adversaries. You will learn something from them, and they will learn something from you. When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting. It’s when the talking ceases that the ground becomes fertile for violence, so keep the conversation going.”

Kiera Sivrican is my sophomore student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in the Los Angeles area. This article first appeared on GodReports.com here.

Advertisements

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.

Christian hip hop artist Datin raps about pending divorce, pain and self-medication

DatinRapper Datin always encouraged kids coming out of the death and jail traps of drugs and violence foisted upon unsuspecting kids by secular hip hop artists.

Now he has a new people group to encourage: those coming out of a divorce.

In his September 2018 video “Hell in the Hallway,” Datin says his own ongoing divorce has him living in a dark and lonely hallway. He can see the light at the end of the tunnel (hallway). But until he gets there, he’s out of the room of marriage and left in a gloomy limbo.

When his marriage foundered, Datin submitted to pastoral guidance and sought counseling but his wife didn’t want to participate, he noted on Facebook. (Her version could not be found online; she deleted her Instagram pictures with him).

Datin Divorce

It’s over with his beloved Johely

Because Florida law allows divorce on the basis of only one of the parties, Datin — whose real name is Edward Berrios — found himself hapless and resigned to the heart-wrenching conclusion of a happy chapter in his life.

In all cases of marriage, Christians should seek reconciliation. But if one party is unwilling to try, your life is not over, Datin says. God has a destiny for you beyond your present tragedy.

“When God closes one door, he opens another,” Datin says. “But right now I’m in the middle. It’s hell in a hallway.”

datin divorce

From the video “Hell in the Hallway.”

Datin is the raspy-voiced rapper who delivers hammer blows. His mad dog face, he says, is not an imitation of violence-peddling secular rappers. It’s because he’s upset by their lies and deception that have been misleading America’s youth.

Like his label boss Bizzle, he constantly calls out secular artists, whom he blames for inducing tens of thousands of young men into trafficking and violence. These artists profiteer from their recipe for death. They entice kids by flaunting a flamboyant lifestyle of riches and women.

“Their songs are like cyanide; the more we listen to ‘em, the more our souls die inside,” he raps on “Pull the Plug.” “This is for the deejay killing us with the poison he plays. Let’s pull the plug on ‘em.”

Datin Hell in the Hallway

From the video “Hell in the Hallway.”

Datin grew up in Newark, New Jersey, not on ritzy Jersey shore but on the backside ghetto. He has every right to aim at hip hop artists for their false narrative because he himself fell for their lies. He and his friends sold drugs, treated women poorly and acted like thugs.

As a result of adopting the gang lifestyle, one friend was killed and another jailed, he says in his songs.

But while he was sinning, the Holy Spirit was afoot in his life. He first turned on to Christ when he watched Mel Gibson’s 2004 “The Passion of Christ.”

But since hip hop was his priority, he kept his nascent faith low key and compromised his walk with sinful stumblings.

When he graduated high school, Datin gained renown in the battle rap world and was expected to sign for a big name label. To the surprise of many, he declined signing with Eminem’s Shady Records and Ja Rule and Swiss Beatz, according to Christian Post. His neighborhood pal signed and drove up in a Jaguar to invite him to also sign, he says.

datin high school battle rap

Datin won the rap battle in high school.

“It was such a struggle to say no,” Datin told Rapzilla. “It took every bit of my being. My whole life was based around my music, my hopes and my dreams. To say no was like chopping off my arm.”

In 2007, he got fully saved and extricated from the ensnaring world of hip hop. He laid down the microphone first, grew in God, and then years later picked the mic back up only to outreach, he says on a radio interview DJ Tony Tone.

He dropped projects in 2010 and 2012. In 2014, he finally signed — for the Christian label God Over Money. This was a natural move because the label is known for never soft-peddling the gospel — or from shirking controversy. For Datin — who preaches hellfire and brimstone for rappers who sell their fellow people of color down the river — it was an ideal fit.

His much-anticipated first studio album Roar charted 18th for rap on Billboard and hit the top 10 on iTunes.

With such a sterling testimony, Datin’s sudden announcement in April of his pending divorce was as startling as it was saddening.

“I have fought for my marriage to the very end,” Datin says. “I’m scandal free. There’s no issue of adultery or abandonment or abuse. I have seeked (sic) counseling. I have put effort in. But the effort was not reciprocate. So therefore, this is the unfortunate outcome.”

Christian rap offers a stark contrast with secular rap because marriage is idealized and honored. Datin in November 2017 rapped “Fight For Us,” his pledge to work for his marriage.

“I’m submitted. I’m committed. He’s my witness. Before the Lord I stand, Ima give it all I can,” he says. “Baby, Ima fight for us.” Read the rest of the Christian Divorce – a story of Datin.

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.

Hottest new Christian rapper is Latino WhatUpRG

WHATUPRG-Christian hip hop artist.pngWhen he was only 7 and already showed signs of liking hip hop, a woman at church talked to Raúl García’s mother to warn her that rap was of the devil.

It’s a good thing Mom and Son ignored her. Today Raúl — known now as WHATUPRG — has literally exploded on the Christian Hip Hop scene, signing with Reach Records at age 21 without ever having made an album previously. RG (his stage name reads “What up, RG?”) is the face of the next generation of Christian rappers who are ministering to a new generation of fans.

wesside whatuprg“My parents have always supported me in my music,” RG says to NewH2O. “I know in my heart where I’m heading and where I’ve positioned myself allows me to speak to people and let them know it’s not about a bunch of rules but about His grace and His mercy and His love. So when I rap I want people to know that they’re not alone and there is grace for them too.”

RG is born of Mexican parents who immigrated (illegally) to the United States. He grew up in Gwinnett County, Georgia, where he went to church, listened to Christian Spanish rap and loved to perform at church functions.

Despite doubters in the same congregation, RG’s parents supported his musical inclinations and even paid for his first album to be produced when he was 14, a recording he now calls “trash.”

WHATUPRG_REACH-RECORDSWhen he was 16, his dad was nabbed by immigration officers and deported to Mexico. This tore RG and led him to be outspoken on the divisive issue. “I’m still dealing with the emotional trauma to this day,” he tweeted.

It appears his dad is back home in Georgia, since RG tweeted about going vegetarian in 2017, only to be contradicted by his dad, who said they were eating carne asada. “I can’t be Mexican and healthy,” he quipped.

RG got noticed by CHH heavies when he filmed a video of himself and his friends at Walmart in 2017 with his song “Don’t Forget to Live.” The filmography was amateurish, but pros were impressed by the vocals and music. He started getting calls.

latino christian hip hop artistsSoon he was nobigdyl’s Indie Tribe and was featured on Mogli the Iceberg’s song “Ride My Own” and others. Just months later, Lecrae signed him. He was making waves but was still an unproven quantity since he hadn’t dropped a professional album.

“On my 18th birthday, I was getting a 116 tattoo on my knee,” RG tells Trackstarz. “When I was turning 21, I was talking to my lawyer about the contract.”

RG’s blitz to fame has surprised even him, and he says he’s focusing on staying rooted in God. “God honors humility,” he says.

he fact he wants to stay low is refreshing to hear, especially when one contrasts that attitude with the braggadocio rife in secular rap, with artists boasting about their knife wounds and talk in hyperbolic terms about being “gods.”

In May 2018, RG dropped his debut album Pleasant Hill, which created a sensation. He hit #7 on iTunes hip hop sales. A Trackstarz interviewer said there’s not a song he doesn’t like on it. David Livick lists him among the Top 10 artists of 2018.

There are detractors, many of the historic fans of the 116 clique who don’t like the new direction of the label and want the Old School material. RG’s not Christian enough, some say. “STOP Imitating and Start innovating… what’s the point of copying the World, sounding, Looking and acting like them?” comments Leveled Head on the “Wesside” video. Read the rest about WhatUpRG Christian.

Bizzle sizzles in controversy for Jesus

Bizzle (1)When he finally turned his back on the gold chains, the flashy rims and the swanky garb; when he finally turned his back on trafficking and pimping to make money to produce a rap album; when he chose Jesus, God came through for Bizzle in a big way.

With no resources other than the Bible in his hand and Jesus in his heart, Bizzle was given engineers, studio time and producers free of charge to whip out his first album — a Christian mixtape.

“You feel like you have to play by Satan’s rules in order to get where you want,” says Bizzle, whose real name is Mark Julian Felder. “All the stuff I felt that we had to go and cut corners and scheme to get money to pay for, the Lord brought these things without me having to spend a dime. He just sent them my way.”

bizzle same loveToday, Bizzle, 35, has 12 Christian albums and mixtapes and his own recording label, which is called — what else? — God Over Money. His current Light Work EP cracked iTunes top 10. His material is both a compliment and counterpoint to Christian hip-hop legend Lecrae.

Bizzle was raised in Cudahy, a small neighborhood of Los Angeles, by his mother and grandmother, who dragged him to church. He never felt poor because Mom managed their Section 8 with wisdom. His dad lived in nearby Compton, a famous exporter of rap artists.

Bizzle had verses in his veins from early childhood. His idol was Tupac, and he became enamored with the vaunted thug life of pistols, revenge and crime. When he graduated from high school, he hawked mixtapes with worldly themes, bragging about gangster living he never did.

51407e9dd2b66bff47fec4055390aa1923905c90Then under the rap moniker “Lavyss,” he started to catch the eye of rap power brokers and opened shows for Lil Wayne, Juelz Santana and Lil Boosie, but he was sleeping at friends’ places or in his car. He borrowed finery and gold chains to look the part on stage. He got friends to drive him up in their ritzy “whips” when he arrived at concerts. He produced some mixtapes that showed promise.

But he wasn’t making money. So he decided he needed to turn to practicing what he preached (crime) to speed up the money-making. He began selling marijuana and pills. A prostitute who liked his music offered to help and started passing him earnings. That’s how he became a pimp.

“It’s like you go to the beach and you get out in the water and you don’t notice how far you’re getting way out there in the deep,” Bizzle says on his testimony video. “It wasn’t until I looked at Christ and saw how righteous He was that I realized how filthy I was.

“I never in a million years” would pimp, Bizzle says now. “Especially since I was raised by my mother and my grandmother, I always had respect for women. But since that was funding my dream at the moment, I gave it a pass. That was the furthest I got from God and it caused me to get the closest to God.”

Bizzle and a friend went to Las Vegas to hustle money with the prostitute. Bizzle had the habit of stowing her profits in his Bible. But he also read the Bible, and it intrigued him. One day his buddy came out of the shower and caught him reading his Bible.

“So what you gonna be a gospel rapper now?” his buddy mocked.

bizzle wife

Now his wife

“You know what? I might,” Bizzle responded. “One day the Lord just had to put that conviction on my heart.”

After four years of rapping dirty lyrics and doing dirty deeds, Bizzle decided to switch to the Lord’s side in 2008. He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and was born-again!

He had no funds but he was determined to serve the Lord instead of Satan. He took two years off, got married to his love in Houston and worked at Wal-Mart. Then he staged his return to rap, now for CHH.

It would be fair to say that Bizzle exploded onto the Christian hip hop scene with his 2010 song “You Got Some Explaining To Do” in which he called out Jay-Z and Beyoncé for their anti-Christian themes and lifestyles. Jay-Z and similar rappers were his childhood idols that led him down the wrong path. Now he was calling them to account.

Being brutally honest and criticizing a rival is regular fare for the hip hop genre, so not even Bizzle — still pretty much an unknown in rap world — could have imagined the controversy he generated. He had demanded Jay-Z explain what he was doing, but Bizzle found himself compelled to explain his diss.

It wasn’t necessarily a publicity stunt, but it worked well. Suddenly industry engineers came out of the woodwork and offered their services for free. Boi 1da (Matthew Jehu Samuels) — who produced Drake, Rihanna, Eminem, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar — called him and, saying he was a Christian, offered to produce him for free.

“When I decided to do rap for the Lord, I had no resources. I didn’t have any money for studio time. I didn’t have anybody to mix the records,” he says. Then “people started coming out of the blue.” Read the rest about Bizzle controversial Christian hip hop artist.

3 pigs, 1 wolf and 10 students learn journalism at Lighthouse Christian Academy

high school writing program and student journalismTasked with converting The Three Little Pigs into a journalism article, LCA students show flair and fun.

Two pigs dead, another survived wolf attack

By Jose Hueso and Rachel Post —

Two pigs were eaten and a third successfully defended himself against a ravenous wolf who blew the houses down of the first two pigs yesterday in the woods.

Unable to blow down the third house which was made of bricks, the wolf entered with malicious intent by way of the chimney.

He was unaware that the chimney was booby-trapped. He fell into a pot of boiling water on the fire of the chimney and died. The third pig ate the boiled predator.

The wolf was able to knock down the first two pigs’ houses by blowing with all his might against them. One was made of hay and the other of sticks.

“I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house down,” the wolf threatened.

But huffing and puffing and blowing didn’t work against the house of bricks.

Two pigs dead, wolf gets into hot water

By Joey Catalano, Ryan Zepeda and Zhang Xiao-Tong —

Two pigs were found eaten alive inside a killer wolf’s stomach yesterday in the woods.

Local residents say the wolf was spotted blowing down the two pigs’ houses.

“He was just saying, ‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down!’ to all those poor piggies,” said Julie Rabbit.

The houses were made of sticks and hay. But a third pig escaped unscathed when the wolf attempted unsuccessfully to flatten his brick house.

Foiled in his huffing and puffing, the wolf attempted to get the third pig by shimmying down the chimney. The quick-witted third pig put a pot of boiling water on the fire in the chimney, and the wolf only fell to his death in the hot water.

‘Another brick in the wall’ not a bad thing, pigs learn

By Kiera Sivrican and Wang Jingtong —

A big bad wolf assaulted three little pigs in a rage of hunger yesterday in the woods, blowing two of their three houses down.

The famished wolf left his woods for a meal, when he stumbled on the three pigs, who had just finished building their separate houses as seemed best to each: one of hay, one of sticks, one of bricks. Read the rest of the Los Angeles specialized high school writing program

Hugh Jackman has played many roles. Even that of a Christian.

Christian_hugh_jackmanHe’s played Wolverine, Blackbeard, the Greatest Showman and Paul the Apostle. Among his many roles, versatile actor Hugh Jackman is also a person of faith.

“I’m a Christian,” he told Parade magazine. “I was brought up very religious. I used to go to different evangelists’ [revival] tents all the time. When I was about 13, I had a weird premonition that I was going to be onstage, like the preachers I saw.”

His parents accepted Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade. Natives of England, mom and dad lived in Sydney, Australia during his childhood. He got a pretty good start in his faith with church and Sunday School, but the horizon dimmed when his parents divorced and mom returned to England when Hugh was 8.

He waited, hoped and prayed for them to reconcile. When that didn’t happen in his early teens, his disappointment and sense of rejection turned to rage.

“My anger didn’t really surface until I was 12 or 13,” he remembers. “It was triggered because my parents were going to get reconciled and didn’t. All those years I’d been holding out hope that they would.

hugh-jackman-wolverine“From the moment Mum left, I was a fearful kid who felt powerless. I used to be the first one home and I was frightened to go inside. I couldn’t go into the house on my own. I’d wait outside, scared, frustrated. Growing up I was scared of the dark. I was scared of heights. It limited me. I hated it, and that contributed to my anger. Isn’t most anger fear-based, ultimately? It emanates from some kind of powerlessness.”

Venting his wrath, he smashed his head into the metal locker doors until they dented inward. It was a bravado thing that a lot of boys were doing. Hugh also found an outlet for his violent impulses in rugby.

“I’d be somewhere in a ruck in rugby, get punched in the face and I’d just go into a white rage,” he says.

Acting was something of afterthought for Hugh. He was looking to pick up some units in college in his fourth year and took a drama class. Seeing natural talent in him, his teacher assigned him the leading role in Václav Havel’s The Memorandum.

hugh jackman wife“In that week, I felt more at home with those people than I did in the entire three years” at university,” he recalls.

He studied journalism and once tinkered with the idea of being a chef on a plane, but once he figured out he could actually make a living as an actor, he gave himself to drama.

He met his wife, Deborra-Lee Furness, who is 12 years his senior, on the Australian TV show Correlli.

“I was terrified when I realized I had a crush on the star of the show. I was like, ‘My first job, the leading lady. Embarrassing. She’s going to look at me like this young little puppy.’ I didn’t talk to her for a week. Finally, she said, ‘Have I done something to annoy you?’ I said, “‘Look, I’ve got a crush on you. I’m sorry.” And she said, ‘Oh, I’ve got a crush on you too.’ And that was 20 years ago.”

They were married in 1996. For medical reasons, they were unable to have biological children, so the couple adopted two children, Oscar and Ava. When he played Blackbeard in the movie Pan, Hugh wanted to be sensitive in his role in a movie dealing with orphans.

Hugh has distanced himself from the straight-laced, dogmatic brand of Christianity of his father, he says.

“I was brought up with a very strict, Protestant view of what God is and our place next to God, consisting of a deity, a bearded man telling us what to do, mocking us on our behavior, and hopefully granting us passage into Heaven,” he says.

He’s adopted a more unorthodox approach, practices Transcendental Meditation and yoga and attends the School of Practical Philosophy, a swami-led group that combines the teachings of Jesus with a hodgepodge of Hinduism, Buddhism and even Shakespeare.

He says his dad doesn’t care for the eclectic approach to Christianity. Read the rest: Hugh Jackman Christian.

MS-13 turning to Jesus by the 1,000s

Revival in Mara Salvatrucha MS gangWhile National Geographic calls MS-13 “America’s deadliest gang” and Trump calls them “animals,” Christian revival has broken out among the youths who tattoo their faces, and hundreds are turning to Jesus.

“Every day in this country, dozens of men are leaving the rank and file of the gang and looking for the right path, the arms of the Lord,” says Pastor William Arias, who is a converted ex-MS. He’s pastored for six years in San Salvador, El Salvador, in a neighborhood so taken over by the gang that public service employees are afraid to enter.

only nine of 71 years in prisonIronically the MS — and fierce rivals 18th St gang — got their start in Los Angeles, according to The Guardian documentary video. During El Salvador’s guerilla war, thousands headed to the U.S. fleeing the carnage in the 1980s. Many settled in the poorest neighborhoods of L.A., where they found themselves caught between African American and Mexican gangs.

To stand up for themselves, they formed the MS — or Mara Salvatrucha — and became fierce rivals. Crackdowns on gangs in L.A. largely tamed warfare between Mexican Americans and African Americans, but the Salvadorans got deported.

wilfredo gomezWhen they returned to their native land, they brought the gang with them.

That’s the story of Wilfredo Gomez, of 18. After being deported to El Salvador, he was arrested for armed robbery in El Salvador.

It was in jail that he found God.

“We are not your typical Christians. We have done a lot of bad things,” Wilfredo says.

When he finished his sentence, he had no family, no friends and nowhere to go.

Pastor William Arias ex MS 13 memberSo he was surprised when the guards told him that “friends” had come to pick him up when he was released. Who could those “friends” be? he wondered.

As he peeked out of the prison, he spied them timidly. They were church members, and they took him in and fed him and gave him a place to live while he transitioned to freedom and could stand on his own two feet.

“We heard what God is doing in there and we’re here to help you. I was like, ‘Whoa, I never had a family. I never had nobody waiting for me when I got out of prison,’ he says. “The way they received me inspired me and gave me strength to continue on the right path.”

Today, Wilfredo is a pastor with the Eben-Ezer church and runs a halfway house for ex-gang members. The youth get a mat on the floor in a common room and three meals a day. They have strict rules against drugs and crime. Wilfredo runs a bread bakery to give them work and pay for the house.

When Wilfredo got saved, he estimated there were 90 or so ex-gang members that had become Christians in the nation. Today, he says there are 1,500. Read the rest about revival in the MS-13 gang and the 18 Street gang.

Success is everything? Hahaha.

her drug was successHer drug was success.

April grew up in the small beach town of St. Augustine, Florida, and it was a good life. She and her sister would always have fun together.

Her parents were stable and although they didn’t grow up in the church they still taught her to follow a good moral path.

Throughout high school, April was driven to succeed. She got straight A’s and wanted to please her parents. There was nothing wrong with that — except that it went overboard. Her expectations became unrealistic and she obsessed on over-achieving.

success obsession“I never tried drugs or anything like that, but success was my drug.” She was constantly focusing on what she needed to do or how she could improve. And she regretted any little thing that she believed she should have done better.

“It’s not bad to seek success in a sense but it can take over,” she says on a video of the Prescott Potter’s House. “It definitely took over my life.”

A high school friend invited her to a church concert and play where she was introduced to the idea that Jesus wanted to enter her heart, a completely foreign concept to her.

When she heard what they were talking about she was confused.

They play was about two soldiers. One of the soldiers was about to die. As he was passing the other soldier explained to him that he needed to accept Jesus in his heart before it was too late.

“I never knew God wanted a relationship or anything to do with our lives.”

While she was sitting through the play she thought to herself, Wow, these people have something that I don’t have.

She observed the people in the church and noted a big difference. They had peace; she had stress. She was timid about accepting Jesus but inwardly, “I knew I wanted that.”

By the end of the night they had an altar call, and as much as she resisted, arguing with herself that she was already a good person, she found herself making the decision.

“Now I know it was God tugging on my heart,” April says. She wound up at the altar receiving Jesus into her heart. Read more Keys to Success.

Marijuana-smoking Shiva devotee could only get free from weed through Jesus

IMG_6354From a very young age, Nepal-born Surya Bhandari had a fervent desire to please the Hindu god Shiva. Because Shiva smoked marijuana, Surya sought to please him by smoking weed himself — starting at age 8.

Then in the sixth grade he learned about the dangers of tuberculosis and cancer from smoking and began to question the wisdom of the god. Also, kids at school started pointing at him as a “bad kid” for his cannabis consumption.

“In my little mind, I started thinking, ‘Why do they call me bad?’” Surya remembers. “‘This great god Shiva smokes marijuana. Why would they call me bad? Is it really bad? If I am bad, then this god Shiva is bad. If he is bad, is he really a god?’”

Surya's as a boy

Surya as a young man

He belonged to the priestly Brahman class, but he turned his back on Hinduism, called himself an “atheist,” started using other drugs and alcohol.

“This Shiva destroyed my life,” he reasoned. “I’m not able to quit smoking marijuana. Someday I’m going to get TB or cancer and I’m going to die, and this god is responsible.

“I became so angry.”

One day he had a dream of being chased by a tall figure clad in a white gown. He thought it was a ghost. It scared him so badly that he didn’t want to go to his usual taekwondo that morning and instead decided to distract himself by reading one of his older brother’s books.

His older brother had either left home or been kicked out — he wasn’t really sure — because he had secretly become a Christian and was attending underground meetings somewhere downtown.

As Surya thumbed through the volumes on the bookcase, he happened to pull out a slim volume, opened it and saw — to his utter surprise — a picture of the same white-clad figure. Suddenly his fear abated, and he continued to read eagerly. “It was God, not a ghost,” he concluded.

Nepalese refugees

Surya with his family today in Los Angeles

From that moment on, he wanted to become a Christian. But attending a church was no easy matter in those days in Nepal. Carrying a Bible was a crime worse than drug trafficking.

But Surya was determined. He begged an old friend of his brother to tell him where he could find the underground church that his brother attended. The young man was backslidden at the time and didn’t want to say anything. But after days of begging, Surya got him to relent and give him some rough directions.

The first chance he got he went eight miles away from his village to Pokhara. He liked the songs and listened intently without understanding much of the sermon. To his surprise after the service, nobody approached him or talked to him to explain things, and he was too shy to ask.

christianity nepal

Revival in Nepal

Maybe people were afraid of the strict anti-proselytizing laws. They could get into a lot of trouble if they were perceived as trying to convert someone. Also, some may have been cautious, because a newcomer might be a spy from the police.

But Surya didn’t understand all of this at the time. It seemed to him that God’s people were indifferent. The next time Surya went to church it was the same. Nobody talked to him. So he quit going.

Then he did something that brought great shame on his family. He flunked out of school. His parents scolded him constantly and his brothers beat him.

So he took to the streets. He would leave before anybody woke up. He would come home, entering through the window, after everybody was in bed. HIs grandmother always saved him some food.

He tried but found that he couldn’t quit drugs. Everybody in town called him a bad kid. Even the principal of the school saw fit to take him aside and rebuke him for bringing shame on his family.

All this was too much for Suryam and he began to contemplate suicide.

“I loved my father so much. I did not want to bring shame on my father,” he says, reasoning to himself at the time: “If I can’t bring a good name for him, I have no right to live.”

He decided to throw himself off a cliff and into a river near his town. Read the rest of Chrisitanity in Nepal

He just wanted girls, but God had other plans

royce lovettRoyce Lovett went to the Christian youth conference only to “score a girl’s number.”

But the sudden appearance of a stye on his eyelid put a damper on impressing girls. So he prayed.

“I remember saying God, I know I’ve heard stories of you doing things for tons of people, but I need you to do something for me. If you can remove this thing from my face, I’ll know you’re real,” the Tallahassee native said.

“So I prayed but I kinda forgot about it after I did. A couple minutes later a friend and I went to the bathroom, and the stye was gone. I was like, yo, God did something for me. It meant so much.

Royce, now 29, rededicated his life to God at that Acquire the Fire conference. He had grown up going to church. His mother and father were ministers. But he didn’t really get to know God until that conference.

what label royce lovettSuddenly God was real — and immediately Royce understood that he had a purpose: music.

For 11 years, he recorded five indie projects and performed concerts all over the globe while his family made ends meet with government aid. Finally, in 2014, Royce signed with the legendary label Motown Gospel.

It’s no mistake. Much of his music has the feel that it belongs to a different era, that of the heyday of Detroit with the start of so many African American music stars. But some of his music has rock influences (“Runnin”). His sweet ballad “Fly” is totally out of the loop.

royce lovett family

With his wife and kids today

 

Royce started in hip hop, but Christian rap pioneer Soup the Chemist encouraged him to give up predictability and blaze his own trail with his prodigious talent on the acoustic guitar. Royce also plays the bass, the drums and the keyboard.

While he was playing music at a park, a random guy came up and starting jamming with him. The guy told him his music was like “cerebral soul,” because it had the feeling of soul but made you think. The genre tag stuck.

If his genre places him logically with Motown, his message places him directly in the human heart. He’s never one to downplay his faith or love for Christ. And he’s willing to be brutally honest about the struggles of temptation. Read the rest about Royce Lovett.

How could 5 years of extreme fatigue be good?

laurel-galucci-sweet laurel bakeryWhen she suffered extreme fatigue for five years, it was a curse that elicited a forlorn “Why, God?” But when God turned her hormone deficiency into a profitable bakery of gluten-free cakes, it was a case for Romans 8:28: All things work together for good to them that love God.

Laurel Galucci had just married her dream man and was working her dream job of teaching. Then a mysterious fatigue crept upon her, progressively sapping her strength until she had to quit her job. Her dream life became a nightmare and at first there were no answers.

laurel-gallucci-gluten freeAt long last in 2012, her doctor found the problem: She had Hashimoto’s disease, which attacked her thyroid, resulting in reduced hormone production and subsequent exhaustion. She couldn’t even climb a flight of stairs.

If that weren’t bad enough, she suffered from acute constipation. Already very slender, she lost another 40 pounds. She couldn’t get pregnant and went without a period for four years.

miracle baby

Husband and miracle baby

The standard treatment in the medical field of synthetic hormones didn’t restore her energy. “I had severe energy depletion” and was living in misery, she says.

Two years later, a friend suggested a change of diet. She cut grains, legumes, refined sugar and diary.

“After years of feeling exhausted and sick,” Laurel told Women’s Health, “I was willing to try just about anything to get my energy back and feel better about myself.”

More vegetables and protein was fine but giving up baking was out of the question. Laurel was the second of seven children and grew up baking constantly for her brothers and sisters. The ban on grains was a sticking point.

She had to find a substitute. Gluten-free baked goods on the market at the time tasted like cardboard. So she experimented and whipped up a surprisingly good chocolate cake using almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, Himalayan pink salt and organic eggs.

Upon sampling the delicacy, her close friend (and now business partner) Claire Thomas remarked: “Gluten-free cakes aren’t supposed to taste this good. We have to do something with this. We need to share this with other people.”

Claire was already an entity in the foodie world. She had hosted a show on ABC called “Food for Thought” and in 2011 she was tapped by McDonald’s to direct the filming of a commercial. Claire suggested a partnership with Laurel.

In 2015, they founded the first grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free baked goods called Sweet Laurel and it shipped cakes nationally. Their products were offered in select grocery stores (mostly in L.A. and New York City), and she listed recipes on her blog and in cookbooks. They called that first cake “the chocolate cake that changed everything.”

In September of this year, they are opening their first storefront bakery in Pacific Palisades, a well-heeled neighborhood in Los Angeles. Laurel is not talking specific dollar amounts but says, “We’ve been very successful this year. We are hoping to grow out of Southern California. We’re getting up there. We’re expecting it to be worth lots of money.” Read the rest of Sweet Laurel Gluten-Free Baked Goods.

Half way around the world, her prayers brought him to the Lord

Fish familyAt exactly the moment David Fish was passing through a spiritual crisis in the Air Force in England, his neighbor’s mother — the Christian lady he looked up to — passed by his house walking the dog and remembered to pray for him.

As result, halfway around the world Jesus showed up and reassured David he could be forgiven of sin.

Never brush off the sudden urge to pray.

The incident was one of three supernatural apparitions that came to David, helping to deliver him from alcohol and the kingdom of darkness, moving him into the light of Jesus.

As a 15-year-old, David started drinking and driving the tractor on his farm in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His father was an abusive alcoholic and wound up divorced, which left David reeling.

“I wondered if this was what life was all about,” he says.

David wanted to be like dad but hay fever kept him from farm work such as baling hay, so he decided he would prove his manhood by joining the Air Force, just like dad.

David Fish“I wanted to show that I could do what he could do,” David says. “I always wanted to prove to him that I could do a lot of things. I guess a lot of kids want to show their parents they can stand on their own two feet.”

In the Air Force, he did well training as a mechanic for the tank-toting C-130 Hercules aircraft. But because of a mounting problem with alcohol, he was “causing myself my own troubles,” he says.

One day, he got drunk before his shift and was faced with the quandary of missing it (going AWOL) or showing up inebriated. He risked going to the job and his superiors confronted him.

“That was the day from hell,” David says. “You’re head is pounding. You’re in trouble. They know it. You know it. Everybody else knows it. All the people milling around the office all know that you royally screwed up. You’re just sitting there out in the open. Life was not good that day.”

Instead of a court-martial, the Air Force sent David to rehab in Riverside, California, to salvage his life and career. He thought if he behaved himself and went through the program, maybe they’d give him another chance.

The program was Alcoholics Anonymous. “That was supposed to be the way to keep dry and sane and all that other stuff,” he says.

The program taught that chemical dependency disappeared at six weeks. But “that’s baloney,” he says. “The spiritual dependency does not stop at six weeks.”

He fell back into beer after three months, though he tried to maintain better control and drink less.

“It was through the Riverside program that I realized how messed up my life was because when I began to discuss things about family, I left my sister out,” he says. “I hated my sister for the things that she did and the things that we did growing up — the different fights we had.”

That’s when a fellow airman started witnessing to him.

“It was the most fascinating thing I ever heard,” he remembers. “I was glued to listening to what he had to say. A few days later, I was still thinking about the impact that he made.”

David didn’t accept Jesus that day.

He was then stationed in England in preparation for the bombing of Muammar Gaddafi in 1986. He kept drinking the “thick rich frothy beer there. I was getting wasted all the time, and drinking was picking up speed,” he says.

After binging for three weeks, David surmised his grim predicament: “My life is worth nothing. My parents got this divorce. No one loves me; no one cares. So why should I? In that moment, I felt like I put my life on the auction block. I didn’t care if God had me or if the devil had me. I was willing to give myself over to whoever would have me.”

David began asking questions of a Christian fellow airman, who handed over a book, “The Scientific Approach to Christianity,” about an unbeliever healed of terminal cancer when his believing wife prayed for him. Read the rest of power of prayer.

He didn’t believe in love, until he saw his pastor’s marriage

Christianity ArgentinaAt all times, his home was filled with fighting.

“I was an angry person that destroyed everything in my life,” says Juan Pablo Cardo of Buenos Aires. “I never saw a pattern of people loving each other. My dad and my mom stayed together fighting a lot with each other. So I didn’t want to be at home.”

Juan Pablo found an outlet for his rage when he enrolled in a military academy at age 13.

Then he visited a church. For the first time in his life, he saw in the pastor, missionary Kim Pensinger, a model for Christian love. Kim and his wife, Josie, visibly demonstrated their love for one another. It seemed so foreign to him, so other-worldly, that he doubted what he was seeing.

Fellowship churches in Argentina“Their love is not real. This is a fake kind of thing. Maybe they kill each other at home,” he thought at the time.

But then he started to see that they really loved each other. And the people in church take care of each other. “I never saw that before. That started to break my thinking process. I wanted that.”

Juan Pablo quit his well-paid job to work at McDonald’s, just because he would have more opportunity to share the Gospel.

“I started witnessing to everybody. I met Silvina,” he says.. “She was my boss — and still today.” (Because they are now married.)

Silvina was smitten — not with Cupid’s arrows, but with the pulsating love of Christ she saw in young Juan Pablo. Read the rest of love and marriage in Argentina

Product of rape, Vernon Turner overcame seeing his mom shoot up heroin to join the NFL

vernon turner parentsWhen 11-year-old Vernon Turner caught Mom in the bathroom about to shoot up heroin one day after coming home from school, she calmly told him sit down and watch.

“I want you to see me do this because I don’t ever want you to do this,” she said, “because this is going to kill me.”

The stupefied boy responded: “If you know it’s gonna kill you, why do you keep doing it?”

As she tied the thin rubber band around her arm and inserted the syringe into her vein, she explained how she had been gang-raped at 18. She took heroin, she said, “to not remember, to take away the pain.”

vernon turner nfl playerAs a teen, mom lit up a room with her smile. She was a track star, a flag girl and a baton twirler.

But her youthful innocence died one afternoon in Brooklyn on her way home when two men grabbed her, violently hauled her to a rooftop, where they covered her mouth and took turns on her with another man. They only spared her life because they heard someone coming and scattered quickly, Vernon explains in a 2016 online “letter to his younger self.”

Overcome by fear, shame and confusion, Mom never reported the rape. When a few weeks later she found out she was pregnant, she decided against abortion.

vernon turner early yearsThe baby boy — product of that murderous aggression — was Vernon.

“Mom loves you, Vernon. But you remind her,” she told him. “No matter what she does to forget about what those men did to her. There you are, in her own home, every day … reminding her.”

Mom slurred on about how she had turned to prostitution to feed her dope habit. Eventually, she had met an Italian New Yorker who took her in to his home on Staten Island and gave her four more children but mistreated her.

Vernon was stunned by these revelations. He had known about the drug use, but he hadn’t known about the other harsh realities.

Option_B_VernorFour years later, his mother was dying, and Vernon actually prayed that she would die — so he could get on with his life and salvage some semblance of a childhood.

Because mom was always “sick,” he had to cook dinner, braid hair and change the diapers. mom and dad always argued. All the time, she was either on drugs, out searching for her next fix or stuck in an unconscious lull between highs. When she looked at Vernon, it was as if she looked right through him, as if he were invisible.

So he bent down at his bedside and prayed that the nightmare could be over.

Then she died.

After a life of drugged-out and drugged-starved “sickness,” she caught a real sickness, pneumonia, which swiped away what was left of her life within three days. Read the rest of Vernon Turner Christian.

Great burgers and Bible verses. But behind the In-N-Out aura was pain, loss and struggle

in n out heiressIn-N-Out is known for arguably the best fast-food hamburgers on planet Earth. And the Bible verses printed on the bottom of its fry trays and cups point their devoted customers toward heaven.

But behind the “Christian” company is a born-again president, Lynsi Snyder, who struggled through three divorces, marijuana and alcohol addiction.

In-N-Out-BurgerShe had a happy childhood and loved her dad, but when she turned 12 she realized dad’s “sickness” was drug addiction, a byproduct of painkillers prescribed after surgeries. When her parents divorced because of his infidelity, Lynsi’s world fell apart.

“It was really hard for me to see him fail and be weak because I knew how bad he wanted to be a good husband and a good father,” Lynsi recounts on an I Am Second video.

Then her dad, president of the burger chain, died.

She tried to fill the void with a quick marriage straight out of high school. When that ended in divorce, she hooked up with another guy. She was desperate to ward off loneliness.

john 3 16 in n out“It wasn’t right. I knew that, that small still voice was telling me don’t do this and I did it and I paid the price with a divorce and jumped right into the arms of someone else.”

Cast as the outcast in her family, she decided to embrace the bad girl role and started smoking marijuana and drinking. It was a move, she was aware, that paralleled her dad’s demise, and it worried her enough to eventually change.

“I realized that I’m going to follow the footsteps of my father and I’m going to meet an early death if I do not get right with God and follow him because the enemy just wanted to wipe me out.”

When her live-in boyfriend also quit the drugs and booze, she figured they should get married. Two beautiful children resulted from that marriage, but it too did not survive after six years.

lynsi_snyder_sean_ellingson

Finally happy with her fourth husband

“I couldn’t feel like a bigger failure at that point,” Lynsi says. “I just couldn’t recover who I was.”

Still lonely, she married a guy who only wanted her family fortune. He cheated on her and verbally and emotionally abused her.

“The first time I found out he cheated I thought I deserved it. I’m paying for it,” she says. “Never had I been talked to the way he talked to me. Treated me like trash. It was the worst time of my life.”

You could see all she wanted was love and appreciation but it just seemed like she was getting farther away every time.

“I started to believe the lies that I deserved that, that God is punishing me,” she says. “The things that could be said can cut you very very deeply and change who you believe you think you are.” Read the rest of Lynsi Snyder Christian.

This changes everything in missionology

reaching parachute students for ChristWhen Howon Chun showed up at Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, he was a confirmed atheist.

“I thought religion is for those who are weak psychologically,” said the Korean foreign exchange student. “Christianity was just one of many religions, and I was not really interested at all. I thought Christians were unstable and just wasting their time going to church. I thought the church was corrupt and only wanted to get their money.”

His perspective changed after a year of hearing Bible class and then voluntarily attending a Bible conference in Tucson with his host dad (who happened to also be his principal and teacher).

evangelizing parachute studentsHe was surprised by the thousands of people whose joy was evident. He decided he should at least re-evaluate his atheism.

If this many people believe they are saved by Jesus, how can I ignore what they believe? he thought.

“I liked their energy. I wanted to have a purpose in life like them. I learned that Christians weren’t weird. They have a loving community. They weren’t corrupt.”

Howon wound up hanging around for three more years at Lighthouse. He just graduated, acing the SAT math with a perfect score, and enrolled in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study business. Part of his college choice based on accompanying his host dad, who is planting a church nearby Pismo Beach.

Howon’s story upends the traditional missionary model of sending workers into the foreign field. Here’s a vein of gold. The Christian Examiner reported that 300,000 Chinese students alone enrolled in American schools in 2016, and they prefer Christian schools, regardless of their government’s atheistic values.

There’s much discussion about how the surge in foreign students, who pay higher tuition than natives, has been a blessing to struggling private schools (public schools have strict limits on the amount of foreign students they can receive).

But there is precious little discussion about making a concerted effort to evangelize them. Read the rest about evangelizing parachute students.

Nagma, Bollywood star, comes to Christ

Nagma-christianHer mom was Muslim and her dad was Hindu, but Nagma Arvind Morarji was born on Christmas Day so she identified with Jesus from an early age.

“Because I was born on Christmas, I always felt I was the chosen one and the world celebrated my birthday,” she said lightheartedly in an interview with Daystar’s Joni Lamb. “I was very intrigued with Jesus’ personality. I went to a convent school, so mass was compulsory. Somehow I felt He was my knight in shining armor.”

She catapulted to enormous success in Bollywood, India’s version of Hollywood, starring in such classics as Gharana Mogudu, Kadhalan and Baashha. She speaks nine languages and tried to make films in all her languages.

NagmaIn the last few years, Nagma has become more politically active, fighting against sectarianism – violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims as well as persecution against Christians and other minorities. She has worked for 10 years on behalf of the Congress Party because of her admiration for Rajiv Gandhi.

“We were brought up to respect all religions. Communal riots pained me,” she told rediff.com. “I wanted to do something.”

Nagma is also using her influence to fight female foeticide (abortion of female babies) that stems from a societal preference for sons.

“Demographically, we are going into a very critical situation because people are killing the girl child,” she says.

Born to a father who hailed from royalty and a mother from a family of freedom fighters, Nagma was encouraged to get into movie making by her step-dad, who worked in the film industry. In 1990, she debuted in Baghi: A Rebel for Love, which became Hindi cinema’s seventh highest-grossing film.

Even from childhood, she felt Jesus’ presence in her life. “I always felt He was my friend, philosopher and guide — everything,” she says. “It was a really close bond, but not until I got saved did I realize what my relationship with Him really was.” Read the rest of the article: Nagma Christian in Bollywood.

Padina found God in Islamic Iran when her mom had MS

converts from islam iranGrowing up in Iran, Padina memorized the Quran before she started school. She faithfully recited her prayers every day.

“I hated Christians and I became very happy when I found out that they were being persecuted. They always told us that if they killed a Christian, we had a one way ticket to heaven,” she told Hormoz Shariat, president of Iran Alive Ministries.

She was fastidious about applying the Quran to her life. If she forgot the ceremonial washing before prayer, she would stop mid-prayer, go back and wash correctly and start all over again.

Christianity in Iran

“I was a very strong Islamic believer,” she affirmed.

But all her religious piety was in vain. She grew depressed to the point of wanting to commit suicide.

“I felt so distant from Allah,” she confided to Hormoz.

Meanwhile, her mother, afflicted by multiple sclerosis, grew deathly ill.

Padina confided to her mother about her suicidal tendencies. Instead of discouraging her, she shocked Padina by asking her to kill her also — a double suicide!

“I will do this for you, and we will both die,” she told her.

But then one day, mom in her deathbed tuned in to the satellite broadcast of Hormoz Shariat, who has been called the “Billy Graham of Iran.”

Hormoz Shariat“If you are hopeless, if you are oppressed, if you are planning to commit suicide, the Lord says, ‘Stop.’ He has a hope and a future for you,” Hormoz said on the broadcast. “If you’re planning to kill yourself, stop and call me right now.”

Padina’s mother was so desperate that she didn’t care that Islam punishes with death those who convert to Christianity. She didn’t care that the Koran dooms all “apostates” to hell. She didn’t care, so she dialed.

After conversing for half an hour with Hormoz, she repented of her sins and received Jesus into her heart with the prayer of faith.

Meanwhile, her daughter was watching from the kitchen with alarm. Read the rest of how Christianity revival in Iran.

Sex robots will only further degrade our society

lovedollsIf you worry about the broad esplanade of pornography on the Internet, you’d better don your battle gear for the next chapter of the sexual revolution about to hit America.

Sex robots — which are becoming surprisingly more realistic than the inflatable dolls of yesteryear — will unravel the fabric of society more than ever before, according to observers both Christian and non-Christian.

Jewish ethicist Barak Lurie believes sex robots will be a greater threat to young people than iPhones or video games.factory sex robots

“You and I will have friends — mostly male — who are living with sex robots. And they will appear to be as lifelike as you can imagine, and they will have ‘relationships’ with these sex robots because they will be as beautiful as they want them to be, they will be as sexy as they want them to be, and as submissive as they want them to be,” Lurie says.

Robots were supposed to do our household chores. Not this.

sex-robotArguably, smartphones and pervasive pornography have significantly unhinged male social skills and upended traditional courtship. Why “work” at impressing women when you have an endless, easy supply of them over the Internet, Lurie says.

He says sex robots will degrade the social fabric even further. “One of the greatest impetuses for men to produce and to grow and to be productive members of society is, yeah, sex,” Lurie says. “When you take that impetus away — that main impetus that we have to achieve, to try new things, to explore and conquer — then he’s just going to stay in momma’s basement.”

sex robots a christian response

James Young explored the theme on BBC.

Sex robots “will be worse (than porn) because they will create the illusion of a relationship, the illusion of actually tactile, skin to skin contact — which is very important for men,” Lurie warns. “It will give them the illusion that they are not just playing with themselves… that they’re losers.”

Sex robots — alternatively called sex dolls — will appeal because they don’t say no to a man, because they can’t accuse a man of rape or harassment and because they require no winsomeness to woo female emotions, Lurie says.

James Young is a BBC presenter who loves technology because robotics replaced two limbs he lost in a train accident. But in his recent documentary, “The Future of Sex | Sex Robots and Us,” he asks a disturbing question: “Could there be a darker side to AI (Artificial Intelligence)?”

sex robots christian response“What effects might having sex with a robot have on men who use them?” he asks. “Could they create negative behaviors in men towards real women?”

Those questions haunt Noel Sharkey, a computer scientist and professor at the University of Sheffield, co-founder and co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics. The burgeoning sex robot industry unsettles him.

“It creates an attitude of too easy sex because it’s always available,” Sharkey notes. “Although I love AI, I struggle that we must try to maintain a human culture, what is meaningful to us. We’re doing all these things with machines because we can and not really thinking about the societal impact and that this could completely change humanity and take meaning out of our lives and turn us into zombies. Read the rest of Christian perspective on sex robots.

Did Aaron Hernandez get saved before he died?

aaron hernandez thomas hodgsonBefore ex-Patriots star Aaron Hernandez hung himself in his jail cell, the sheriff was reaching out to him with the gospel.

“I did read the Bible,” the New England All-Pro tight end told Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, according James Patterson’s All American Murder excerpted in the New York Post. “The weirdest thing happened: I opened it, randomly, and it was all about me,” he said.

But before long, Hernandez’s defense team got wind of the growing closeness between their client and the sheriff — and they demanded a transfer to another jail. They didn’t want any ‘fraternizing with the enemy’ during the ongoing trial.

hodgson reach out to aaron hernandezSheriff Hodgson, a grandstanding God-fearing American, who styles himself after Joe Arpaio, wasn’t fishing for evidence but for souls. A zealous Christian, Hodgson believed that a high profile story of redemption would teach the nation’s youth the dangers of sin and the power of God’s forgiveness. But, after 18 months of chatting him up about the Bible, his progress got cut short.

When Hernandez, at age 27, was found suspended by a bed sheet noosed around his neck and tied to the window at 3:00 a.m. on April 19, 2017, he had written John 3:16 on his forehead. His Bible was open to the same passage. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

aaron-hernandez-patriots-christianHernandez’ meteoric rise to the top NFL team and his tragic demise following the murder of his fiancée’s sister’s boyfriend is a story of the hollowness of the American Dream without God.

Hernandez was an anomaly in football. While street toughs abound in the bruising sport, most of them leave the streets behind when they enter the glory of the gridiron. They have traded up for the trappings of wealth and fame.

But Hernandez didn’t transition. He had a 7,100-square-foot house and a $40 million contract, but he stayed loyal to his “hood” and thug life.

Hernandez relished violence and feared nothing. Together with Rob Gronkowski, they formed the most feared pair of tight ends in the NFL. While Gronk offered some of the stickiest hands and trickiest feet, Hernandez was the rampaging ball runner who was turned on by pain. To have either one on your team was a huge advantage; the Patriots had both.

Then in 2013, Hernandez was arrested. In April 2015, Hernandez was found guilty of the murder of Odin Lloyd, who dated his fiancée’s sister. Two years later, he was acquitted of a double slaying — just days before his suicide. Speculation abounded, but no one could ever ascertain why he killed or why he committed suicide.

aaron-hernandez-arrest-350x320Thomas Hodgson is better known as the tough-talking sheriff of Bristol County than as a Christian. He deprived inmates of TVs, reduced meal portions and sent out shackled prisoners to work in crews. He offered to build Trump’s wall along the Mexican border and charged his prisoners $5/day/room to help offset prison costs.

In Massachusetts where Democrats run deep, his law and order ethics resonated with many blue-collar workers and ran contrary to the elitists that ran the state. Was he politicking like Joe Arpaio, the anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff?

Maybe. But he was also genuinely concerned for the spiritual well-being of his inmates. To gasps of civil rights hounds, he ripped out equipment from the prison gym and made it into a spiritual retreat center.

Growing up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Hodgson was one of 13 children. He went to Catholic mass every morning at 6:00 a.m. and studied at a Catholic military high school before taking college classes in criminal justice.

The Bristol County House of Corrections in Massachusetts was under Hodgson’s administration; 41% of its population were defendants, according to the Boston Globe.

John-3-16-hernandez-bible-suicide-350x229

Hernandez’s Bible, open to John 3:16 when he hung himself in his cell

When Hernandez was brought there, Hodgson took a special interest in his high profile inmate. He spoke frequently about him publicly.

“He had the world in his hands. His destiny was set for greatness, until he made a bad decision. And suddenly, his life changed,” he sternly warned eighth graders on a field trip to the Fall River Justice Center on Law Day.

But Hodgson wasn’t just capitalizing on the footballer’s fame for self-aggrandizement. Behind the scenes, he was genuinely interested in the condition of his soul. Taking advantage of his role as maximum authority in the jail, Hodgson began to meet Hernandez privately and talk to him about his faith and his father, who died when he was 16.

“There’s a saying my father used to always use with my 12 brothers and sisters,” Hodgson told him. “He used to say, ‘Always remember, God writes straight with crooked lines.’” Read the rest of Aaron Hernandez Christian?

Bullied as a child, singer Jamie Grace now invites everyone to her wedding

jamie-grace-bullyingJamie Grace knows about being bullied.

Her eyes and neck twitched, her hand involuntarily hit her chest – all a product of Tourette syndrome. Kids in middle and high school made fun of her.

Once at a youth rally, Jamie Grace, a mere 13 years old, approached a cluster of guys. Her first crush was taking hold.

jamie-grace-atlanta-georgia“They were having a lot of fun,” she said in a YouTube video. “But when I got closer, I realized they weren’t just making any kind of noise and weren’t just saying anything. They were actually mocking me and mimicking me. They were taking their hands and hitting their chests and slobbering at the mouth and calling me a retard.

“All I wanted to do in that moment was disappear,” she added. “I just stopped in my tracks. This was the worst. It was overwhelming.”

When she was a new adult walking around a mall, she saw teenie boppers pointing fingers at her and taking out cell phones to film her tics.

“Here I am like 19 or 20 years old running from girls in the mall because I was so overwhelmed and frustrated,” she said. “I was trying to get away. I was so embarrassed.”

jamiegrace-and-adele_

Adele was wowed by her voice

Today, Jamie Grace Harper is a Christian pop singer, whose “Hold Me” featuring Toby Mac earned her a 2012 Grammy nomination and a Dove Award for New Artist of the Year. The Los Angeles-based singer is using her fame to fight bullying.

“Throughout “my middle and high school years, I would deal with a lot of people bullying me because of my Tourette’s Syndrome and because of having been homeschooled. It was a difficult thing to face,” she said. “There was never any hardcore bullying like kids hitting me or putting me in a dumpster, but anything where someone treats you badly, it hurts.”

Jamie-grace-and-toby-mac

Jamie Grace and Toby Mac have parted ways

The solution for the victim? There are truths in being a “bigger person” to not take the cruelties to heart. There is emotional release in understanding that “hurt people hurt people,” she said.

But ultimately, she realized one needs to find acceptance in God.

“How do we recover? I believe I was created by the same God who created the mountains and the seas. I know that when I chose to focus on the rude teenager who called me retarded, I can get easily defeated and roll my eyes and watch a Law and Order marathon and not leave my room. But I instead choose to focus on what He thinks of me.

Jamie-grace-engaged-aaron-collin

Once she thought she never could be loved. Now she’s engaged to Aaron Collins and invites everybody to her wedding.

“There is Someone greater and more powerful whose words mean so much more. No matter what they say or do, realize that you are not their words. No human has the power to define your worth. Find your worth in the words of Someone greater, and know that your value has been established by Someone so much greater.

“It doesn’t matter who you are but whose you are. Find your identity in Christ, not about what other people say about you, not what billboards say you should look like. You were made in His image. Psalms says, ‘You are beautifully and wonderfully made.’”

Jamie Grace was born into a Christian family in the Stone Mountain suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Her dad was the jazz-playing pastor of the smallish Kingdom City Church, where the family showed a lot of love to people. She was precocious and breezed through school. But since she was sometimes isolated, she turned to the guitar.

Her talent was evident. Starting in 2006, she posted videos of herself on YouTube – and bullying reared its ugly head there too. In the comments, 50 of 70 were insults about her Tourette syndrome, being female and being African American.

“It does get to you. It does hurt us,” she remembered. “It’s irritating and agitating and it’s evil and it’s cruel.

Comments assured her she would never succeed in the music industry.

Then in 2010, Toby Mac saw her videos and signed her for his label, Gotee Records. Her career catapulted.

“Hold Me” was the first of slew of hits that got played widely on Christian radio stations. With happy-go-lucky lyrics and a candy-apple voice, Jamie Grace fused hip-hop, folk and pop to wow audiences.

In 2016, Adele called her out of the audience up onto the stage. Jamie Grace sang “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” earning Adele’s admiration. Read the rest of Jamie Grace on bullying.

Skater Christian Hosoi blew fame and fortune on drugs, then he found Jesus

ChristianHosoi-350x186Christian Hosoi had one dream in life: he wanted to be the best vertical skateboarder in the world — and he got it. But he still felt empty.

Born of a Hawaiian Japanese father and Caucasian mother, Hosoi grew up in Southern California, where his dad worked at a skate park in Marina Del Rey. Skating became his daily bread; he even dropped out of school at age 13 for it.

He became a professional skateboarder in 1982 when he was only 14-years-old.

christ-air

The “Christ air” trick he invented before he knew Christ.

He became famous for his flair and graceful style. He was winning competitions, and eventually he would have to take on the big name of skating, Tony Hawk, a technical and daring trickster. Hosoi surprised many spectators by winning their first faceoff. The next time, Hawk won.

It was a rivalry that fed the growing following in this spectator sport. Hosoi was making money and had a huge following. Hosoi invented the “Christ Air” and the “Rocket Air,” and he was renowned for pulling huge aerials — even holding the world record at one point.

In 1984 he formed his own company, Hosoi Skates, first distributed through Skull Skates, then through NHS-INC, and his took off in popularity. When street skating began to emerge in the mid-to-late 80s, Hosoi proved a threat there as well, winning both the vert and street contests at the Lotte Cup contest in Japan in 1989. At one point he earned $350,000 a year, according to the Orange County Register.

christian-hosoi-and-son-350x200But fame and finances weren’t enough, so he turned to drugs and partying.

The recession of the 1990s hit his business bad, and his drug addiction grew. He skipped a court date in 1995 and, to avoid arrest , declined an invitation to the first X-games, which had been billed as the long-awaited rematch of Hosoi and Hawk.

He was running from the law.

christian-hosoi-drugsThe authorities caught up with him in January 2000 at the Honolulu airport. He carried 1.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Charged with drug trafficking, Hosoi was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

That’s when his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lee, stopped doing drugs and got into Jesus. She encouraged Hosoi to trust God with his court appearances.

“God? I don’t need God; I need a lawyer!” he retorted. Read how Christian Hosoi became Christian

She taught my dad, now me, in Independent Study Program at Los Angeles Christian school

UCLA-fans-santa-monicaBy Tailoni Jenkins, LCA sophomore –

Mrs. Payton has been a teacher at the Lighthouse for 27 years. In fact the first class she ever taught was my dad’s 4th grade class.

I’m a second generation Payton pupil, and she still looks as young as she did in my dad’s day.

Mrs. Payton has been the teacher for the “Pace” Program at our Santa Monica Christian high school for 4 years. Through booklets, this Independent Studies Program allows students to finish their school work “at their own pace.”

They progressively work their way through the course material on an individual basis. They are not expected to keep up with the teacher (or be held back by the teacher). It’s not only good for at risk students; it helps geniuses to get through faster than a plodding class.

The booklets give explanatory material and then asks questions to check for reading comprehension. At the end, the student takes a test. It’s been good for a lot of kids who don’t flourish in a traditional setting.

“Mrs.Payton lets us have fun while she makes sure that we get our work done,” freshman Josie Bowen said.

Mrs.Payton not only teaches Pace but she also mentors many of us students.

“Mrs.Payton speaks words of wisdom and the truth,” Josie said. Read the rest about Independent Study Program Los Angeles Christian school.

Is that you, Messi?

santa-monica-christian-school-soccerThe singular sensation of watching Erhan Meric, who led Lighthouse Christian Academy to a 6-3 victory over Pilgrim Lutheran yesterday, is that one is witnessing the sublime soccer of a type of Messi.

He has Messi’s slight frame, his shyness and unselfishness. Erhan’s never boisterous, not given to braggadocio.

But when the ball falls to his feet, expect to hear an exquisite symphony.

Erhan, a senior at Lighthouse, is unobtrusive on the field. He lurks in open spaces and projects the image of the most unthreatening player.

But when he carried the ball up the right and single-handedly threaded his way through three defenders to slot on goal in the early minutes of the game, he put on notification the other team — indeed, the whole league — that he is not a man to be underestimated.

Erhan scored three and set up one. His header off a Beckham-perfect free kick brought the fourth goal in the second half in the Glendale Sports Complex.

And the good thing about this years Saints varsity team is that Erhan is not the only star. Actually a lot of technically skilled players combined yesterday to overwhelm Pilgrim Lutheran.

“We had good passing and good pressure,” said Coach Jack Mefford. “It was an exciting start to a promising season. We have a lot of new additions who know how to play soccer from the Bowens who grew up in Africa playing soccer to Shun (Fukushige) and Aki (Akihiro Oku) who played in Japan.”

Marcus Scribner, a sophomore, proved a bunker buster on offense, putting his football physique to good use against defenders. He scored two goals.

“Marcus’s two goals show how much he has matured because he struggled to finish last year,” Mefford said.

Aki, a junior, scored one, and Shun launched the goal-scoring free kick – a work of art – that connected with Meric’s head and past the hapless goalie. Read the rest: Saints soccer Santa Monica.

Leader of first Iranian church in America got saved after bargaining with God over grades

Iran ChristiansFlunking out of engineering at Pepperdine College, Shah Afshar contemplated suicide as he faced the fact that he was failing his family in Iran.

“The pressure of trying to make it, being the oldest son in the family, and trying to make an honorable name for myself and thus bring honor to my family, I very nearly committed suicide, because I was bringing shame to my family,” he said.

But Shah, whose full name is Shahrokh, fell in with a group of ex-hippies.

“They had two things that were very lacking in my life. They had peace and joy,” he said. “When I asked them, ‘what makes you different?’ They told me, ‘We’ve become born-again.’ They were followers of Jesus Christ.

new-tv-show-shazam-factor“Of course, that really offended me, coming from a Muslim background. I began to argue with them because I believed I had Mohammad, the greatest and the last prophet in the world. Who were they to tell me that a second-class prophet named Jesus was better?

“But I couldn’t deny the fact that they had something I didn’t have,” he added. “And as long as I was around them, I could experience the peace.”

Because Islam was deeply ingrained in his life, he retrenched and became a devout Muslim. But the suicidal broodings haunted him everywhere – except when he hung out with the Christians.

“They continued to love me and accept me,” he said. “And they would take me to their Bible studies – where I would never understand what is going on. I kept going because I couldn’t deny the fact that they had something I didn’t have.”

He was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner. The father prayed for the food. “That really touched me,” he said.

On the way home, Shah cried out to God.

“Look at me, I’ve tried Mohammad, I’ve tried Ali, but I want to kill myself today,” he said. “Then I said, ‘Jesus, if you’re really who these people tell me you are, I’ll accept you if you give me good grades in school.

“I had no idea who Jesus was. I didn’t believe he was the Son of God. I didn’t believe he was divine. I certainly didn’t believe he died on the cross. I just knew that if anyone could get me out of the mess, it would be him. I had nothing to lose. So I called on him.”

Part of accepting Jesus was a condition. “I said, ‘Jesus, I’ll follow you if you give me good grades in school.” It was a “feeble and theologically wrong” prayer, but God met Shah at the encounter.

A month later, he was expelled from college, but he still Read the rest about Iranian Christians.

Jesus freaks? Oh ok. But you can feel the love…

Facing-'Jesus-freaks'-at-Christian-school-in-Santa-MonicaBy Hailey Johnson, LCA sophomore –

Before I came to LCA, I was a student at John Adams Middle School.

If you’ve never visited JAMS , a 1-word summary of the school would be: disorganized. The school was filled with around 1,000 kids, each equipped with a sailor mouth.

It was my last year at JAMS, and I didn’t feel very motivated. I started doing less of my work and hardly showing up for my classes. Towards the middle of the school year, I begged my parents to transfer me to somewhere else.

To my surprise, my mother found a a Christian school in Santa Monica. Within a week, I was enrolled at Lighthouse Church School, which is the elementary/middle school counterpart for LCA.

non-religious-at-Christian-schoolMy family wasn’t really all that religious, so it was a new experience for me. On my very first day, I thought that everyone was incredibly eccentric and I thought of them as “Jesus freaks.”

I was so prideful that I distanced myself from everyone for the rest of the school year. A couple of months later I moved on to the high school, Lighthouse Christian Academy, where I also distanced myself from others but not as much.

However, at the beginning of my sophomore year I somewhat came out of my shell and started socializing with all sorts of unique and distinct people, who encouraged me to get more involved with the school.

I ended up going to events I’d never even think of going to such as the Walk to Africa, Senior Dinner, and Harvester’s Homecoming.

Out of all the schoolwide events, I highly encourage incoming students and parents to go to Senior Dinner. Read the rest about the Jesus freaks school.

Editor’s note: Usually I edit my student’s articles heavily to bring them up to journalistic standard. But with this piece, I barely touched it. I just love how Hailey lets her sincerity shine through. And, yes, I laughed to see she called me and others a “Jesus freak.” We love you, Hailey!

 

After seeing the sex slave market, ISIS recruit flees terror group

ISIS-sex-slaves

By Jamie Roman

After seeing ISIS capture and sell Muslim women as sex slaves, recruit Abu Abdullah defected and told his story on a YouTube video uploaded by the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism.

Wearing a black head covering the effectively masks his identity, Abdullah tells how he was drawn to ISIS because of the chance to live the golden age of authentic Islam, as written in the Koran.

former-isis-fighter-recounts-horrorsBut after seeing jihadis bid for women on the auction block, he now utterly disavows the extremist group that is progressively losing the territory they seized between Iraq and Syria in 2014.

“As a brother in the faith, I swear to Allah: they don’t know anything about Islam,” he says in Arabic, according to translated subtitles. “They are not Islamic. They are not really Muslims.”

sex-slaves-on-auction-block-isisAs a new recruit, Abu was made a prison guard. Almost immediately, the hoped-for utopia was a madhouse of hellish Vikings where pillaging and raping is condoned as hallah, permissible.

“They turn women into slaves,” he says. “They take the girls as slaves and behead the parents. Then they sell the girls.”

What disturbed Abu most was the auctioning off of Muslim women. A literal interpretation of the Koran allows for captured women to be war spoils as long as she is not Muslim. But ISIS, who are sunnis, expanded that permission to include Muslims of a different type, perhaps shia.

“Is it OK for a Muslim woman to become a sex slave?” he asks. “In what religion can a woman be a slave?”

As he narrates, clips are shown of clandestinely-filmed videos of women slaves and ISIS fighters joking about getting girls. The video is part of a series by ICSVE, a Washington-based collective of researchers dedicated to countering extremism in any religion. Their website clarifies that they have no government sponsorship, and they don’t collaborate with spy agencies. It is not a Christian group.

He personally saw the auction block. Iraqi women were up for sale that day.

“Some of the brothers tried to get me to take a woman,” Abdullah says. “I told them, ‘This isn’t right.’ He said, ‘She is a slave, so it is halal.’ I told him, ‘Don’t you know those are Muslim women?”

Abu made the extremely risky decision to escape from ISIS. If he were caught, he would be executed. But Abu made it to freedom, by means he doesn’t tell in the video, and he’s unmasking the rapists masquerading a faithful followers of Islam.

“In the anme of Allah, the most merciful, the most gracious, I address my brothers and all young people, Europeans and Arabs, don’t join ISIS,” he says grimly. “They know nothing about Islam.”

Launched in July of 2015, ICSVE is taking to the same social media that ISIS uses to entice new recruits.

“Given the prolific use of media by terrorist organizations such as ISIS to spur their global reach and propaganda, fighting ISIS and similar groups in the digital and information realm has become a major pillar of our research activities,” the website declares. “We take pride in our field-based research and evidence-based educational video materials that are carefully crafted t counter the efforts of extremist and terrorist organizations to publicize their propaganda and garner support for violence.”

This article was written by Jamie Roman. It was intended to be published on God Reports, but my editor simply didn’t publish it or explain what his intentions were with it, despite the fact that he assigned the article. After waiting weeks for a response, I decided simply to publish it here. Jamie Roman completed this assignment for extra credit at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

A woman’s war against babies

rebecca_gomberts dutch doctorWith a missionary’s zeal, Rebecca Gomperts promotes abortion in countries where it’s illegal. She believes she’s saving the planet from overpopulation, women from unsafe procedures and democracy itself.

In 2001, the Dutch doctor founded Women on Waves and sailed to Ireland with a plan to take pregnant women aboard, sail 12 miles offshore into international waters, administer abortion pills, then sail back to harbor as a means of protesting anti-abortion laws.

She hit a snag when conservatives in Holland, under pressure from the European Union, said she wasn’t licensed. She returned home amid reports that her mission was a publicity “sham.”

women on waves restricted abortionBut Gomperts didn’t give up. She fund-raised and sailed again – to Poland, Portugal, Spain, and Morocco.

In February, her abortion boat was chased away from Guatemala. “The boat of death has arrived in Guatemala,” Congressman Raul Romero groaned, and President Jimmy Morales ordered the Navy to block abortion advocates from disembarking and prevented Guatemalans from boarding.

Undeterred, Gomperts redirected her crew to Mexico, which also largely restricts abortion.

“What she is doing is essentially a protest worldwide. They go around to countries that limit access to abortion as a publicity stunt,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president of Operation Rescue. “I think it’s extremely dangerous. They bring people out to the boat and give them an abortion pill and send them home and the abortion boat leaves. There’s no follow-up care. 6-7% of women who take this pill need surgical intervention after. It’s really irresponsible.

rebecca gomperts abortion doctor“They kill innocent children and leave women vulnerable. They just want to make a point, and they don’t have the best interests of the women in mind.”

If you read about Gomperts online, media accounts lionize her. She was made into a hero by the 2014 film “Vessel.” She is portrayed as persecuted, brave, and altruistic. Stories read eerily similar to accounts of missionaries preaching the gospel in danger of their lives and hounded by hostile people groups.

And she’s been successful. When she was blocked by two Portuguese warships from entering harbor in 2004, she countered by appearing on television. She portrayed herself as the victim and women as victims. Abortion was the answer to patriarchal oppression, she said.

When a participant on TV questioned the legality of her work, she retorted, “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about. Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.”

Within two and half years, Portugal legalized abortion, the New York Times reported. Read the rest of the article about the abortion boat.

Passion for teaching. Compassion for students.

jordan-payton-kathy-payton

Kathy Patyon’s son, Jordan, plays for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. He, too, is a strong Christian.

Today Mrs. Kathy Payton is the fountain of love and advice for many of the girls at Lighthouse Christian Academy. Maybe the reason why she’s so understanding was she went through some struggles as a young lady.

Born in the “Windy City” of Chicago, Mrs. Payton was forced to go to Catholic mass, and it became a boring chore. As a teenager, she drifted away from God and starting drinking and going to parties. She didn’t care or think about if it was wrong.

She moved to Los Angeles and found true love in her quiet husband, Jerry. Still something didn’t feel right. A voice kept telling her to grab a Bible and read it. But she didn’t understand the sentences she read.

Her husband used to turn on the TV, and there would be a preacher relating to exactly what they were going through in her family, but she would say, “I don’t need to watch that.”

Her life was starting to get stressful and all she wanted was some peace. “I did pray once or twice, but I felt like God wasn’t working fast enough, like there was some type of wall blocking my prayer.”

Her life was falling apart and her relationship with her husband wasn’t the same and she wanted to leave.

Then one day, she walked into a store, and this lady invited her to church and prayer meetings. She went to church and felt like God was speaking to her in a way she couldn’t explain. The words filled her spirit. She became a “different person.” Read the rest about LCA’s Independent Study Program teacher.

Steve Harvey is becoming increasingly vocal about his Christian faith

steve harvey smileBy Jordan Sheppard

In school, Steve Harvey never got an A and never got a star. So when in high school the teacher called him to the front to share his life goal, he thought he would FINALLY get a congratulation of some sort.

Instead, he got ridiculed for saying he wanted to be on T.V.

“She called me up there to humiliate me. She knew I stuttered severely,” the famous comedian shared at an Alabama State University commencement ceremony. “She said, ‘Why would you write something like this? Who in this school ever been on TV? Who in your family ever been on TV? You can’t even talk right. You ain’t gonna be nothing.’”

steve-harvey-familyBut Harvey turned the humiliation into a life lesson.

“Every Christmas I send her a flat screen TV because I want her to see what God had done for me in spite of everything she had said about me,” he said. “God put your imagination in your mind to show you a preview of what He has for you. If you want to kill your big dreams, tell it to a small-minded person.”

As his comedic stardom continues to grow, Harvey is becoming increasingly vocal about his Christian faith.

“My momma and my daddy left me empty-handed, but boy the church they put in me! The God they put in me!” he said. “My life is full of grace. You better go get yourself some. You can’t buy grace. It ain’t for sale. If I take all the money you have – and thank You Jesus, I got some money – I would take all of it and buy grace with you, but you can’t. It’s free.”

Harvey was born in Welch, West Virginia in 1957 to a coal-mining father who taught Sunday school.  His father taught him to be a man of his word. The family moved to Cleveland, where he attended Glenville High School. He jokes that he graduated 690th out of 695 seniors.

steve-harvey-miss universeIn his early years, Harvey found employment as an auto-worker, insurance salesman, a carpet cleaner and a mailman. While getting his comedy career going, he was homeless for several years, slept in a 1976 Ford, and showered at gas stations and public swimming pools.

In 1990, he gained attention as a finalist in the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search. Eventually, he landed the long-standing job as host of It’s Showtime at the Apollo. He later starred in ABC’s Me and the Boys in 1994 and ran The Steve Harvey Show on WB network from 1996-2002.

In 2010, he boosted Family Feud’s ratings as their host.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based T.V. show host struggled through two divorces and had four children. He’s on his third marriage to Marjorie Bridges, whose three children he treats as his own.

“I’ve lost everything I’ve ever owned twice,” Harvey summed up his life. “Struggled through two marriages to finally learn to get it right. I lived in a car 3 years, washed up behind bushes at the gas stations.”

His latest marriage is largely responsible for shaping him up, he said.

“You’re looking at two people who were messing up for real and making bad decisions without conferring with God,” he said on Tlcnapttown’s website. “But the fact that you can mess up that many times and still come out okay is a testament to just the grace and mercy of God, man.”

In 2015, Harvey was praying for God to increase his audience overseas. How God hearkened to that prayer became another life lesson about trials and blessings.

It happened through his famous Miss Universe blunder. Hosting the pageant in the Philippines, he was fed through the teleprompter the wrong name. Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez was overcome with emotion and adulation, but Harvey found out backstage it was a mistake. The winner was Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach.

As organizers were scratching their heads wondering what to do, Harvey walked out on the stage and owned the error. His correction crushed Miss Colombia and prompted a gazillion memes making fun of Harvey. He apologized to both and laid low for a time, even though the organizers were responsible for the mistake.

People he considered close friends ridiculed him publicly.

While the faux pas caused no end of embarrassment to Harvey, it also raised his international profile and increased his business. To read the rest of the article, click Steve Harvey Christian.

KGB agent who busted up Christian meetings joins them

Kourdakov,_The_PersecutorAccording to his autobiography, thug-turned-KGB Sergei Nikolayevich Kourdakov broke up over 150 secret meetings of Christians in the former Soviet Union. The leaders were arrested, members were beaten and terrorized and all Christian literature was burned or sent to headquarters for analysis.

How did this zealous communist find Jesus just a few years later and then die under mysterious circumstances near Los Angeles?

Kourdakov was born in 1951 under communist tyranny. After his mentally ill brother tried to kill him, he ran away, became a street urchin and was scooped up and taken to state-run orphan homes, according to his book The Persecutor, a dramatic and somewhat controversial account.

For a few years he toyed with becoming a hoodlum, even selling hashish, but ultimately he withdrew from the underworld and instead threw his efforts into the communist party. With intelligence and ambition, he quickly rose to become leader of the Communist Youth League in his area.

Sergei-Kourdakov-3After graduating with honors he enrolled in the Navy and studied to become a radio engineer. Meanwhile, his aptitudes caught the attention of his superiors and he was recruited to a “special-action squad” for 25 rubles a month.

At first the squad was tasked with roughing up drunks and wife-beaters the police didn’t have time for. Such rogues gave a bad name to communism, which was supposedly creating a “utopia.”

As time progressed, Kourdakov and his recruits were assigned to break up underground Christian meetings. In one operation, he hid in the bushes where informants said there would be a baptism.

Shortly after church members arrived, Kourdakov sprang from hiding and beat them down with clubs. The pastor floated dead in the water, and young girls were stripped naked to be humiliated and driven to the police station for interrogation.

Sergei & Mr. LogieBut his decision to make a public spectacle of the Christians was a miscalculation that drew the criticism of his superiors, who wanted these raids to be conducted in secrecy.

From May through December 1970, Kourdakov conducted raids. The “believers” – as they were called – were beaten and intimidated, and the pastors were arrested and sentenced to Siberian labor camps.

It was the height of the Cold War, and religious faith was seen by atheistic communism as subversive, a means by “capitalist oppressors: to keep the masses peaceful and stupid.” Part of Kourdakov’s duties was to document Christians for databases that authorities could use to round them up at any time.

the persecutorIn one raid, Kourdakov noticed a particularly beautiful believer named Natasha Zhdanova and decided she should be smashed against a wall. Kourdakov thought this would intimidate and discourage believers from attending any further meetings.

But just three days later, he spotted Natasha at another raid. He decided she needed more persuasion and so he beat her severely. He even brought her to the police station to threaten her.

One week later in another raid, Kourdakov saw her again. Her persistence was particularly unnerving. Records showed she had once belonged to the Communist Youth League.

This time, Kourdakov defended Natasha. When his buddy Alex Gulyaev moved to club her down, Kourdakov jumped between them and shouted: “Alex, I’m telling you, don’t touch her! Nobody touches her! She has something we don’t have! Nobody touches her!”

The subtitle of Kourdakov’s autobiography is “Forgive Me, Natasha.”

His exploits on behalf of the communist regime made him stand out in the Kamchatka Province. He was awarded a 15-minute speech broadcast on television. Afterwards he met Comrade Orlov, he invited him to a private dining room full of high-ranking communist officials, who were dining on expensive delicacies and drinking vodka like water.

Kourdakov was disillusioned. Supposedly communism fought for the laborer and the farmer. Purportedly, it fought the ruling class. But while the poor of the Soviet Union scraped together a meager living, here were the guardians of communism living like the capitalist oppressors they claimed to eradicate.

Meanwhile, Kourdakov began to notice that his Christian-busting raids weren’t having the desired effect. Instead of decreasing, attendance was surging.

In July, he was asked by his superiors to burn some religious texts for heating. But his doubts about communism were festering and his curiosity about Christianity was mounting. Instead of burning the books, he pocketed a hand-written copy of the Gospel of Luke and took it home to read at the Naval Academy barracks on his bunk.

“Jesus was talking and teaching someone how to pray. This certainly was no anti-state material,” he wrote in The Persecutor. “It was how to be a better person and how to forgive those who do you wrong. Suddenly, the words leaped out of those pages and into my heart… Through the days and weeks ahead, Jesus stayed with me.”

In January of 1971, Kourdakov graduated from the Naval Academy as a radio officer and was assigned to a destroyer. He asked to be transferred to a ship near the United States coast. In June, he found himself on the trawler Ivan Sereda looking for an opportunity to defect to the United States.

But just when he was going to jump ship on a makeshift raft off the coast of Los Angeles, another Soviet elsewhere was returned off the coast of New England in what became known as the Kudirka Incident. He would-be defector was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Kourdakov decided to initiate his escape when they were close to Canada.

Transferred to another trawler, the Shturman Elagin, he found his opportunity in August. During a severe storm, the trawler requested and got approval to enter Canadian waters for shelter. On Sept. 3, Kourdakov plunged into the frigid waters and swam – most of the night – for the shore.

He was found half-naked and bleeding on Queen Charlotte Island by a woman who called a hospital. Nobody spoke Russian, so he spoke German through a translator. In an extended diplomatic fracas, he was very nearly returned to the Soviets.

But a radio talk show host, Pat Burns, heard about him and pressured Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau to grant asylum. Read the rest of Sergei Kourdakov Christian

My journalism student from the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Westside Los Angeles wrote this article. I edited it.

Be proud of…

Source: Be proud of…

screen-shot-2017-04-23-at-9-40-02-pm.png

Son of Atheist Apostle Madalyn Murray O’Hair became Christian after suffering under her parental treatment

MMURRAYOHAIR

The way the secular media reported it, Madalyn Murray O’Hair – the famous atheist who got Bible reading kicked out of public schools – was a national hero after the Supreme Court ruled in her favor in 1963.

A year earlier, the Supreme Court prohibited government-sponsored prayer in schools. After O’Hair won her case, a 1964 Life magazine profile referred to her as “the most hated woman in America.”

But secularists went so far as to say the historic ruling placed the U.S. on the vanguard of a new morality with the “triumph of rationalism over superstition.”

madalyn-murray-ohair

Because she spouted a liberal agenda, reporters were willing to overlook murmurings about psychological abuse towards her children and her employees at the American Atheists organization.

When rumors surfaced of her skimming tens of thousands of dollars from her non-profit, investigative journalists turned their attention elsewhere. The latest gloss on the Madalyn mystique was applied last month in a Netflix movie which portrayed her as a doting mother and dedicated civil rights activist, her eldest son said.

William Murray III knew the real Madalyn, the churl who bullied her children and bragged to them when they were very young about watching X-rated movies. She was an ardent feminist who resented men, Bill says.

images“One of her favorite stories — I’ve heard her repeat it many times — is that when I was born and the doctor told her, ‘It’s a boy,’ she asked him if there wasn’t some way he could put it back,” Bill told People magazine.

She bit him, smashed his model airplane to pieces in a fit of rage, and ridiculed his attempts to play baseball. She kept a liquor closet full and the refrigerator stocked with fattening, unhealthy foods. She extolled the virtues of sexual liberty and wrote for Hustler magazine. She even tried to defect to the Soviet Union with her entire family and supported communist causes, Bill says.

As a middle school child in Baltimore, Bill became an unwitting pawn in her 1963 Supreme Court battle against school prayer. Madalyn sued the school district and rode a movement to strike down prayer and Bible reading.

indexWith a petulant eloquence, she tirelessly voiced the acrimonious atheism, and the media lapped up pretty much everything she served. “We find the Bible to be nauseating, historically inaccurate and replete with the ravings of madmen,” she said. “We find God to be sadistic, brutal and a representation of hatred.”

Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and Phil Donahue all hosted her on their evening TV programs. Madalyn reveled in the attention. Every misfit in the country wrote her letters of praise that included generous checks of her non-profit, American Atheists, Bill says.

“My mother was an evil person, not for removing prayer from America’s schools, no, she was just evil,” Bill wrote online in 2011. “She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents’ inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations.”

While Madalyn busied herself with “rhetoric, newsletters, fund-raising and publicity,” Bill grew increasingly disaffected. He eloped and divorced, was drafted in the military and worked for an airline. He left his daughter Robin under the care of his mother. His second marriage was unraveling and he had run-ins with the police.

william-j-murray1_0While he drifted through struggles and failures, he began to harbor doubts about the atheist manifesto. Why was his mother spending the non-profit’s money on a new Cadillac and mobile home? Why would she sue to keep NASA from airing Astronaut Buzz Aldrin taking communion on the moon? Why not instead spend on new X-ray machine for a hospital? If atheism was the savior of modernity, why did it focus mostly on the antagonistic roll of shutting down others? Why not do something in favor of humanity?

“I started to think it was because my mother was basically negative and destructive,” he said.

Bill turned increasingly to alcohol to quash his anxieties and misgivings.

Once when police arrived after he had a dispute with his wife, he accidentally fired a rifle through the door. Bill was charged with aggravated assault and sentenced to five years probation.

It was, perhaps, the nadir of his life.

The incident served as wake up call. Read the rest about Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s Christian son.

Girls rule, boys drool

a-beginner-makes-a-goal-in-varsity-co-ed-soccerIn her first year of soccer, Jamie Roman didn’t play in a single game. She sat on the bench and smiled.

In her second year of soccer, coach threw on the easygoing junior against the league’s toughest team, Einstein Academy, on Feb. 3.

And she almost scored a goal.

Jamie is no Tomboy, but she joined varsity soccer at the Lighthouse Christian Academy just to get involved. LCA coaxes kids to participate in activities they would never do in regular school. With only 45 students, the Saints scour their enrollment list to fill rosters.

“At first I just joined for my friends,” Jamie said of her experience last year. “Then I saw how fun the conditioning was — that pain in the moment. I wanted to see if I could run.”

She looked perfectly content with exercising and playing at practice — and being side-lined during games.

“I wanted to play last year, but I was shy and lazy, so I missed the opportunity to play,” she said. “I had a lot of good laughs on the sidelines. But it was kind of embarrassing that I would go to all the games and wear a uniform and not play.”

The 2016-17 season was different. A few players were disqualified because of grades, whittling down eligible players for the starting squad.

Sometimes high school coaches put their least experienced players as forwards because it’s the position where they can do the least damage.

(The defensive line is critical because once the opponent gets past, it’s just the goalie that can save the day. You want to fight and maintain position in the middle of the field. So where does the newbie go? Up front.)

In her breakout game, Jamie got offsides a kajillion times. She had to learn how pass the last defender without the ball and how to sprint into the danger zone as soon as her teammate struck for a pass to her.

Nerves killed her.

“I was nervous,” she said. “I was so paranoid that I’d mess up. I was afraid they would yell at me if I messed up.” Read the rest at co-ed soccer.

A bag of cheetos defeated our soccer team

soccer-los-angeles-high-schoolLighthouse’s potentially playoff-deciding loss to Newbury can be blamed on a bag of flaming hot cheetos.

That’s all one player ate all day before the game.

The Saints matchup on Feb. 7 promised to be high stakes challenge. Newbury Park was last year’s league champs that LCA managed to upset this season 2-1 with energy and sheer force of will in the first matchup. The Gators would be seeking revenge for the “humiliation.”

So how did the Saints prepare?

Some players didn’t eat enough, and so they ran out of gas in the second half, allowing a 3-3 tie turn into a 3-5 loss. One player showed up with football cleats, a disqualifying violation.

The mind-boggling frustration behind Santa Monica’s Christian school soccer loss is actually a teaching moment. Lighthouse Christian Academy drills not just cognitive skills (how to ace college entrance exams or learn calculus). With a view to successful life, LCA teaches non-cognitive skills: how to show up on time every day, how to be responsible.

In other words, LCA gets the knuckleheadedness out.

“In the first half I did good,” the cheeto-eater said. “But in the second half, my stomach started to hurt.”

The pros on a wide pitch run 5 miles in a 90 minute game. Of course, high schoolers in 80 minutes of play on smaller fields don’t manage quite as much. But still, you burn a lot of calories. Even if you haven’t taken the requisite health class, intuitively you know to eat carb rich food (not fatty, greasy or sugary) before the game.

One bag of cheetos simply is not filling up the fuel tank.

In some ways, LCA’s rematch against Newbury was everything it promised to be, a back-and-forth thriller between similarly skilled teams battling for second place and the coveted playoff berth.

The Saints were first to score at 15 minutes. Erhan Meric sent a through ball to the left corner that junior Abraham Morales sprinted to. He juked a defender to get in the box, and as the keeper came out for the onoe-on-one, Abraham chipped wide of him to the far post.

Newbury fought back to net two goals.

In the second half, Abraham threw in a ball looking for a Saints player, but a Newbury defender, instead of clearing it, headered it in to the goal. The game was tied 2-2.

Newbury again scored making it 3-2.

Then Hosea was blind-sided by a double body check from opposing sides causing him to spin in the air just inside the box. Taking the penalty kick, Erhan sent the goalie left and shot right.

The game was tied 3-3.

That’s when LCA started running out of gas. Read the rest of the story.

We shook them up

img_4605Since they steamrolled us in our first game, Einstein Academy expected to win handily on the rematch Friday. One player even heckled a Saint: “I guarantee that there is no way we will lose this game.”

Well, Lighthouse Christian Academy made them sweat to earn their win. LCA rattled their nerves and hacked their hubris. And even though the Saints went down 1-6, the Christian kids from Santa Monica could hold high chins by the final whistle.  With only one club player and a former club player, the Saints had stood tall against a high school team of 10 club players of varsity soccer.

“You guys don’t give up,” said Einstein coach Ken Erenberg. “I thought that was great about your team — the whole game they kept fighting through, no matter what the score was. They kept fighting. You got that goal at the end. It was the never die. It was nice to see that.”

Indeed, it took the Rockets 25 minutes to break down the Saints dogged defense.

In the first match, the Einstein players had notched two goals in the first 10 minutes. And then they stepped off the gas pedal and coasted to an easy 0-6 victory.

But on Friday, Coach Erenberg sounded frustrated as his team couldn’t manage to open the deadbolt. The Rockets keeper too scolded his team.

It was a different Saints team. On the first matchup, the Saints were presumptuous. They were on a 3-game winning streak that included the shock defeat of last year’s champs. As they oozed confidence, they lacked concentration. Since they took to the field thinking they’d win without even having to play, the Saints crashed and burned terribly. They committed enough errors to make the discriminating soccer observer turn his nose inward face palms.

The scoreline –0-6 — was a humiliating wake-up call and could have been far worse, except that the Rockets sent on their second string for some practice in the second half.

On Friday, the fierce determination of the underdog Saint was back with a vengeance, and a growing alarm in the voice of the shouts from the sidelines and on the field was evident.

Ultimately, the Saints committed an error, and the Rockets buried the ball in the net for their first at 25 minutes. By halftime, they had three goals, all products of a lapse of concentration and the lack of experience.

As the score crept upward, Coach Jack Mefford noted that Einstein did NOT take off their star player, #43, this time — a move that credits LCA’s improved performance.

“I’ll take that as a badge of pride,” he said.

As the minutes crept towards the final, the Saints refused to cower like a dog with its tail between its legs. They continued to press, and their resilience paid dividends. Read the rest of the article.

Exquisite soccer: selflessness

erhanThere are piano movers and piano players on the soccer field.

There are beefy guys who marshal girth at speed to jostle opponents off the ball and keep possession. And there are slight figures who ghost around and with exquisite touches on the ball to perform the magic that gets posted on YouTube.

Erhan Meric was performing a symphony of soccer delight in yesterday’s 7-1 victory over Westmark School in Encino. The Lighthouse Christian Academy Saints are now 5-1 in league play.

Erhan, who learned the music of soccer in Turkey before moving to America and enrolling in our Santa Monica Christian school, knows as much as an orchestra director. He’ll streak past defenders dribbling as if the ball were attached to his feet. He changes up pace suddenly. He doesn’t shy away from the one-on-one, in which he’ll thread the ball through the eye of the needle. He can strike from distance with power and precision.

He’s a bonafide virtuoso.

Against Westmark, Erhand notched two early goals to put LCA on towards a comfortable win.

And then after making two goals, Erhan did something extraordinary. He stopped scoring.

Other high school players would have capitalized on a weak opponent to set a personal record. Not Erhan. He desisted.

Instead, he dedicated his skill to setting up his lesser-skilled teammates for goals.

“I’ve scored a lot of goals,” the soft-spoken junior said. “I wanted my friends to score.”

An Erhan strike, not against Westmark.

And they flubbed. They tripped. They shot wide or high. It was a great opportunity for them to learn in a real life game.

There’s a word for a star who wants others to shine. It’s a word that can’t be used much in the world of sports.

Here it is: selfless.

Sports is thronged by bluster and brag, by trashtalk and mindgame. It is dominated by a deafening drivel of ME. And when the megalomania hits the field, the opponent becomes more than just the other team. It becomes the teammate who’s competing. Yup, when teammates compete among themselves to see who’s the best, usually the other team wins.

Soccer, like basketball, is only beautiful when there is passing. When one player jukes four players and single-handedly taps the ball into the net, that is gloating and unsportsmanlike. While a Messi or Neymar individual performance is sensational, high schoolers go selfish and try to be the all-star, almost never do they make the final goal. Their selfishness undoes whatever prior work they put in to building up to the finale. The last touch of a scintillating run must be a pass because you pull too many defenders to you.

Save

Save

Vanity, Prince girl friend, tried to escape pain through fame, drugs and sex

vanity“Kill Vanity.”

Vanity lay agonizing in a hospital bed in 1994 with only three days left to live. With her kidneys shutting down after a crack cocaine overdose, Prince’s ex was at the end of her musical career and wild living when Jesus showed up in a vision and told her that if she “killed” her lingerie-donning stage persona and become a Christian, she would live.

“My blood pressure was 250 over 190. I lost both kidneys,” Vanity told Jet. “I had internal bleeding with blood clots on the brain. I was completely blind and deaf. I had a heart attack and a stroke.”

prince-vanity-rolling-stone-coverSo Vanity died, and Denise Matthews lived. Denise performed a radical 180 degree turnaround in her life going from church to church relentlessly to share her testimony. She pushed Jesus even harder than she had pushed the free sex image cultivated by the “Purple Rain” megastar. “When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine — interview, every tape, every video,” she said. “Everything.”

A year ago on Feb. 15, Denise went to her eternal reward after two decades of kingdom service.

Denise was born on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Her mother abandoned the household, and her dad was abusive. Because of the hurts in her childhood, she hurtled into a hedonistic lifestyle that offered only temporary relief from the internal pain.

vanity-singer-death

She immigrated to America to pursue a career in modeling and music in New York, where she hooked up with “Superfreak” funk legend Rick James, according to the Daily Beast. In 1980, she met Prince at the American Music Awards, and joined his entourage. Prince re-christened her as “Vanity” and set her up as the start in the sultry girl group Vanity 6 which burst on the music scene with “Nasty Girl.” Prince pushed her flaunt sexuality, she said.

“Prince created the whole Vanity 6 image. It bothered me at the time. I lied and said it was the image I wanted. I did it because he told me I had to do it,” she told Jet. “If I didn’t do it, I wouldn’t get paid. I got into it. I wanted the old Diana Ross image.”

But behind the headlong rush into sin there was a little girl still hurting from the abuse of a father and neglect of a mother.

“I always put on a show. I’m a mighty fine actress when it comes to that. I would wear a smile on the outside and come back and cry inside,” Denise said. “I would truly hate what I was doing but I was all caught up in it. It’s like someone caught up in a lie who wants to tell the truth. You put this big façade up and you don’t want to give anyone the idea that you’re weak. I finally let it go and gave it to God. I said, ‘I am nobody. I need somebody. Please help me.’”

Along with the promiscuity came drugs. Denise became highly addicted to smoking crack cocaine. When she parted ways with Prince and Vanity 6, she signed for Motown Records as a solo artist and released two underperforming albums Wild Animal and Skin on Skin. She tried to jump-start and acting career with roles in the movies “The Last Dragon,” “Never Too Young to Die,” “Action Jackson” and “52 Pick-Up.”

Then Denise met and got engaged in 1987 to Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, who was also addicted to drugs. The couple abused entire nights and enabled each other’s habit. Sixx overdosed and nearly died the year he got engaged. “I can’t believe I did freebase with Vanity all night,” Sixx wrote in his drug memoir The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star. “I threw her out at about 8 a.m. She was getting crazy.”

Then in 1994, Denise had her own brush with death and met Jesus.

“It was drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, that whole sexual thing. Vanity was praying to die because she was lost and hurting inside. God said you have to go through darkness until you find His light,” she said. “Torture was going on in my life and led me to the Lord. For 33 years, I was walking dead. I masked myself in clothes, makeup, anything.”

The fame and the “fun” were all futile attempts to cope with the lack of love in her life. On the outside she exuded delight in the reckless abandon, but on the inside she suffered from the pangs of conscience for the evil she was committing.

“I was extremely wild. I found out that if you are not walking with God, the Devil will possess you. I prayed that God would take me because I was afraid of what would happen to my body,” Denise said. “Demons were coming into my bed and sleeping in my bed. Those things will happen if you’re carrying on like I did. I have a strong love for Jesus Christ. He delivered me from anguish, death and sin. I get excited by God. No man shall enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

So that is how Denise changed her deathbed to a birthing bed. Jesus appeared to her in a vision and offered her life if she would let “Vanity” die. Denise was so thorough with her transformation that she even refused the royalties coming from her entertainment career. She assumed her given name. Finish the article.

No more Mr. Nice Guy

no-more-mr-nice-guyJelove Mira had always been a gentleman. He played soccer like cartoon Chip ‘n’ Dale (“No, I insist, after you). Too afraid to crash into an opponent, the Lighthouse Christian Academy senior used to let any and every player win the ball.

Then, coach gave him some drills to improve his physicality, steel his nerve and amp up his testosterone.

No more Mr. Nice Guy.

On Thursday, some bearish defending helped the Saints defeat last year’s league champions, Newbury Park. LCA came from behind to upset 2-1.

At the stopper position, Jelove was hassling and harrying, tugging and shoving, stabbing legs around opponent’s feet searching for the ball, pushing the outer envelope of permissive aggression to clamp the Gators’ bite.

Oh, he was nasty and mean.

The formerly meek-and-mild student who appeared more apt for a placid round of summer croquet suddenly became the Abrams tank racing around the backfield smashing anything that dared to enter his turf. He beat players to balls and launched them back into attack. Read the rest of the story.

India: Grandmother beaten to death for son’s conversion to Christianity

india-christian-attack-746994

An Indian grandmother was stripped and killed in December in apparent retaliation for her son converting to Christianity.

Samari Kasabi, 55, was brutalized and burned in the village of Dokawaay in Chhattisgarh after an angry mob showed up looking for her adult son and his family.

Police detained the village chief but released him with no charge after two days, the UK’s Daily Express reported.

Attacks against Christians in the largely Hindu nation of India have been on the rise since 2013 as the nationalist Hindu party in power seems to turn a blind eye from such incidents, the Express said. A similar attack by religious extremists occurred against a Protestant church in Madhya Pradesh. Church-goers were pelted with stones after the service while police did nothing, eyewitnesses reported.

Fearing for their lives and safety, many Christians have turned their back on their faith to avoid persecution.

When rampaging villagers could not find Sukura, 35, and his family, they turned on the Christian grandmother. Sukura reported the murder of his mom to police, and apparently some arrests have been made, it was reported.

Workers from the Christian charity group Open Doors went on motorcycles over dirt roads to meet Sukura in the remote village, to pray with him and to encourage him.

“Since the day I came to faith no Christian leader from any place has visited us,” Sukura told them. “This is the first time someone has come and prayed for us. Thank you so

There are an estimated 63 million Christians in India, but 80 percent of the country’s 1.3 billion identify as Hindu. In the nationalistic furor stirring the nation, five states have outlawed converting to Christianity, and other states appear poised to follow suit. Read the rest of the disturbing article.

Bone regeneration in lab is breakthrough for Israeli scientist

shai-meretzkiIsraeli scientists successfully inject bone grafts created from fat tissue

A bone graft is usually invasive, costly and risky, but now an Israeli biotech firm has invented a lab-grown bone injection that could make the procedure cheaper and more successful.

Bonus Bio Group announced in December that bone tissue cultivated in their labs was successfully injected into the jaws of 11 patients in preliminary studies. Further studies are being launched as $14 million has been raised for the start-up, Jewish News Service reported.

“For the first time worldwide, reconstruction of deficient or damaged bone tissue is achievable by growing viable human bone graft in a laboratory, and transplanting it back to the patient in a minimally invasive surgery via injection,” said Bonus Biogroup CEO Shai Meretzki.

bonus-biogroupBonus BioGroup harvested tissue from patients’ fat cells, cultivated it in the laboratory and re-injected the semi-liquid bone graft back into the jaws of the patients. The substance successfully hardened and merged with existing bone to repair damage during the early stage of clinical trials, Bonus Biogroup reported.

If further studies are similarly successful, the procedure could replace existing methods to repair bone damage. One method harvests the patient’s pelvic crest and is painful and expensive. Another method uses synthetic substances or cells from bone banks, which risk a rejection from the patient’s body.

“I was looking for a way to do it cheaper and easier for the patient and the medical system,” Meretzki said. “We are growing bone through small samples of fat tissue and isolating the different kinds of cells that we need to create the bone.”

Finish reading the article, which was written by one of my students at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.

Somebody has to die

rogue-one-deaths

I was shocked and pleased when Disney killed Hans Solo. I would’ve thought they lacked the guts to kill off such a beloved hero. But it made the plot 100 times more credible and compelling.

Now in Rogue One, Disney (spoiler alert) decimated all the good guys. They all had to sacrifice their lives to get the plans out of the Death Star to expose its structural weakness that could be exploited to destroy it. This is the backstory to the first Star Wars film.

landscape-1470743574-rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-donnie-yen-600x400Such willingness to script stars out of the franchise reflects reality and distances Disney from its sanitized fable fodder (and everyone lived happily ever after). Without sacrifice, nothing of good is accomplished.

Jesus sacrificed Himself. I’m sure He really didn’t want to go to the cross, but He did — and thank God for it. I would never find salvation under the impossible Old Testament system of animal sacrifice for every sin. Yup, me, hell-bound.

rogue-one-crew-posterSo this sacrifice stuff is inspirational, if not tidy. It might your tyke cry. But it teaches a valuable lesson. When I went down to Guatemala, I endured innumerable dangers and hardships — all to get the gospel to a needy people. Today’s Christians are too self-focused, too self-serving, too self-pleasing. Oh, they’ll throw a prayer and an offering (out of their excess cash) at world missions. But most of the time, they’re looking to minimalize personal discomfort.

In Rogue One, a lot of the characters excused themselves from the battle. They wimped out. That’s why the heroes called themselves “rogues.” They went against the council’s command to retreat in fear.

The smiles are real now

alison-henry-smile

Behind the popularity, the beauty, and bubbly personality, Alison Henry harbored self-hatred and misery that led to broodings about suicide.

Today, the 23-year-old YouTube make-up artist with a following of 880,542 has found inner joy.

“I cannot even tell you how unhappy I was, and the bad thing was I couldn’t even tell you why,” Alison said in a recent video.

alison-henry-christianBorn in Atlanta, Alison was raised in a Christian family, lived in a beautiful house, and had the right pieces in place to become successful. But during high school, her torments began as insecurities rose in her heart. She locked herself in her bedroom for hours and spilled expletive-laden bitterness into a personal journal.

“In high school people would look at me and think I was normal, I was happy, there is nothing wrong with my life,” she said. “I put a smile on every single day. There was nothing wrong that people could look at me and tell that I was hurting. But I was hurting SO bad. I was messed up. I hated myself.”

She questioned her existence, felt like her life lacked direction and wondered if anybody cared.

emotional-pain

“I would really wish I was dead. I did really mean that. It was my little secret.”

Alarmed by their daughter’s downturn, her parents sent her to a professional counselor who prescribed anti-depressants. The medicine didn’t work, she said. “I’m unfixable,” she glowered.

Trying to anesthetize the hurt, Alison turned to boyfriends, weekend parties and alcohol and drugs.

youth-group

“It was a coping mechanism, but it never fixed things,” she said. “When you wake up, you’re as sad as ever.”

During her junior year, her best friend started attending a church youth group. That’s when the tug-of-war began: Alison would beg her friend to go to the parties, and her friend would beg her to go to youth group.

“For months I would say, ‘No, I don’t belong there. I’m not a church girl.’ I thought they were all like people who wore turtle necks and sang kumbaya around their guitar.”

alison-henryEventually, Alison caved in. Seeing hundreds of high schoolers lifting hands and singing to something invisible made her feel “weirded out.”

But “I didn’t understand it, and I couldn’t stand the thought of me not understanding something,” she said.

However, she decided to go back. During her third visit to church, God met her.

“I knew in my heart that the pastor was talking about me,” Alison said. Read the rest.

Professors from Harvard and MIT talk about their faith

picard

I

A group of high-powered MIT and Harvard professors were featured recently at a forum to debunk the notion that there is a conflict between science and faith.

Rosalind Picard and Ian Hutchinson are professors at Massachusetts Institute of Technology while Tyler VanderWeele and Nancy E. Hill are professors at Harvard University – and all four are firm believers in God and see no conflict between faith and science.

“People who think they can’t deal with faith are really just deceiving themselves,” said Picard, the founder of the branch of computing known as affective computing. “All people in science are accepting something on faith. The question is what are evidence for that, and do you accept the kinds of evidence that is not scientific?”

ian-hutchinson

Ian Hutchinson of MIT

Recently featured on the Veritas Forum, the academes are debunking the notion that all scientists are atheists and that science opposes faith.

“The famous scientists of history, many of them were in fact Christian believers,” said Hutchinson, who is developing magnetic “bottles” for nuclear fusion. “If you think about James Clerk Maxwell or Michael Faraday or (Arthur) Eddington or (Robert) Boyle or Newton and so on and so forth, these were people who were not atheists. They were deeply believing Christians. It’s a fallacy, it’s a myth that science and religious understanding of the world have always been at war.”

tyler-vanderweele

Tyler VanderWeele of Harvard

Picard began as “proud atheist” who, in middle school, boasted to her mom that she would debate evolution and “whop those stupid creationists. I thought religion was something for people who were non-thinking or it was a crutch.”

Her neighbors in Atlanta invited her to church, and she faked stomach aches to get off the hook for six weeks, until finally they suggested she just read the Bible.

“Then I remembered it was the best-selling book,” Picard said. “I started reading the Bible, and I didn’t want to tell anybody. But I started to change. It started to change me. I thought it would be full of fantastical crazy stuff. I started reading Proverbs and it immediately hit me that with all my intellectual arrogance, I had a lot to learn.”

But it wasn’t until her undergraduate studies in electrical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. She got her PhD from MIT in 1991 and joined the faculty seven years later, winning a full professorship in 2005. She is the founder and director of MIT’s Affective Computing Research Group.

Her research team is developing wearable technology that can detect stress in people who are poor at expressing their emotions, such as patients of autism.

Ian Hutchinson also grew up without God on his radar. When he studied as an undergraduate at Cambridge University, however, “I had some good friends whose lives seemed to be attractive and whose Christian faith seemed important to them and seemed coherent,” he said.

He agreed to attend some lectures by Michael Green and essentially heard the gospel for the first time in his life.

“After a period of consideration, I realized that I kind of did believe,” Hutchinson said. “Christianity made sense to me. It made intellectual sense to me. In order for me to be true to what I thought was reality, I needed to take a step of commitment to faith and become a follower of Jesus.”

As he learned about the natural world in universities, he learned about Christ in church, and there never appeared to be any conflict between the two, he said.

Today, Hutchinson is a professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT and researches nuclear fusion as a cheap and powerful alternative to produce electricity. He has written 160 journal articles and was the chairman of the Division of Plasma Physics group of the American Physical Society in 2008. He has written about the limits of science and the power of faith in a book titled “Monopolizing Knowledge: A Scientist Refutes Religion-Denying, Reason-Destroying Scientism.”

“Science has not disproved religion. That idea is wrong,” he said. “People believe or disbelieve in religion for much more complicated reasons than just their intellectual ideas.”

Tyler VanderWeele, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, rocked the secular world when he published in May of 2016 a study that showed churchgoers live longer than people who eschew the pew.

“For the most part, I see the relationship between science and the Christian faith as not one of antagonism but one of mutual contribution,” VanderWeele said. “Science has given us tremendous insight into our world and how it works. It’s made clear the incredible order that’s manifest in Creation. It’s given us a better understanding of God’s work in the world.” To read the rest of the article, click here.

Save

Evicted!

colegio-cristiano-guatemalaA criminal pornographer hacked and hijacked my Guatemala CHRISTIAN school website for the Guatemalan ministry. He posted pictures of “girls next door waiting for you” and links to other sites where you can indulge all kinds of sin with pay-per-view (they do this to not pay their own hosting). The nightmare came at the worst possible time, right when moms are looking at new schools in Guatemala.

And evicting him was not easy. We deleted files, changed passwords and regenerated the original content. He came back. Thinking we were battling and invisible Trojan, we nuked the site and regenerated it.


He came back.

It was maddening. Thank God my friend (let’s just call him Yoda) discovered the posting number settings, which no one ever looks at or changes, were altered allowing the public to post on the site. Ugh! That was a sinister trick.

liceo-bilingue-la-puerta

After two months, I can confirm we are back to promoting God after a painful period of promoting Satan. Yes, I missed the best window of opportunity. But I have my clean bill-of-health from Google, and we’re back in business!

Please pray for new students in my old school in Guatemala. What a relief to have evicted the evil.

A shield of protection like Numbers 14?

A video posted by Israel News Online shows a cloud of dust and rain serving as a barrier between Israeli troops and ISIS on the other side of the Syrian border.

The miniature storm on Dec. 1 in Israel was such an unusual sight that some commentators attribute the meteorological phenomenom to a divine intervention.

“That’s God!” one comment on the Facebook post proclaims. Non-believers are chalking it up to sheer coincidence.

The video was filmed by Israeli soldiers just days after they repelled an attack by ISIS militants with mortal fire. Israel News Online refrained from speculating about the cause of the curious cloud.

“A weather phenomenon occurred at 8 a.m. Thursday on the other side of the Syrian border, in the same place where ISIS attacked Israel,” Israel News Online wrote with the video. “This strange storm of what appears to be dust, cloud and rain did not cross the border fence into Israel. It sat like a barrier between ISIS and Israel.”

Charisma News compared it to the cloud of Numbers 14, a shield against the enemies of God’s people. No news agency has produced evidence that ISIS was scrambling soldiers in the area at the time. Read the rest of the story.

Is there Christian anime?

vash-kenshin-and-spiritual-transformationAfter losing his house, his church and nearby family, Joseph Wentz fell into a prolonged depression and started watching anime, the Japanese cartoons for adults.

The Christians who surrounded him at college helped him pull out of the funk, and he brought his passion for anime with him.

“Anime inevitably touches on Christian themes from time to time,” said Wentz, executive editor of Beneath the Tangles website which sifts through anime searching for hints of the gospel. “There are plenty of extremely popular anime with Christian themes.”

joseph-wentz-anime

Joseph Wentz

Across the genre, anime doesn’t purport to teach a Biblical message, and there is plenty of violent and sexual content. But many of the cartoons, like a Shakespearean play, treat gripping themes dealing with the human psyche that echo the Bible. For the Christians at the Beneath the Tangles, and the similar web-based Christian Anime Alliance, anime is not a stumbling block but an inspiration.

“Christians can receive much from anime, spiritually, emotionally and culturally,” said Michael Morejon, of GamingAndGod.com. “Since I see the world with a biblical lens and ask the Holy Spirit to guide my life, even anime can have significance for me and other believers. When we watch, there will be many scenes, characters or plots that reflect something God can use for our good.”

haibane-renmeiHaibane Renmei, for example, suggests messianic themes when characters must rely on an external savior and acknowledge their own weaknesses in order to escape from the clutches of some grave sin. And Puella Magi Madoka Magica explores spiritual, moral and familial themes, Wentz said.

Christian attempts to present the gospel through anime flopped in the 1980s and 90s, Wentz said, because they oriented their cartoons for kids and because flimsy story lines favored more lessons over riveting art. They lacked the poignancy of  anime pathos and got panned as amatuerish, Wentz said.

“The Flying House, Superbook, and In the Beginning: The Bible Stories are hardly considered by modern fans at all,” Wentz said. “Fans can easily see that they are pushing a message more than they are trying to provide entertaining content.”

michael-morejon

Michael Morejon

ichaelIn similar effort, Christians produced the Manga Bible that got largely got ignored by the Japanese. “I live in Japan, and I’ve only seen it in two places — both were churches. I’ve never seen a Japanese person reading one,” Wentz said. “As evangelistic tools, I’ve never heard of them having success.”

Why hasn’t Christianity made greater inroads into anime? Simply put, the best anime is produced in Japan, a nation where 1% of the population is Christian, and none of the great producers are Christians. (In America, anime voice-over artist Vic Mignogna does respectable anime work and is vocal about his faith.)

Nor do the frequent use of crosses by anime characters, or the occasional Catholic priest, signify anything more than just the incorporating of of esoterica – much like the West dons the yin-yang and Eastern mysticism just to be cool and different, according to “Radical Dreamer” on the Christian Anime Alliance.

While anime dominates the young adult segment in Japan, in America it tends to draws “the ostracized, the lonely, people who have found meaning and community less through the in-person interactions that dominate most of society and more through friends online,” Wentz said. Read the rest of the article: Is there Christian anime?

Savior’s Creed

saviors-creed

Christ came to overthrow the control of the devil. He came to die. Death was necessary to obtain the ever elusive forgiveness necessary to save mankind. The original script was written by God and can be found in the Bible. It is doubtful that Jesus’ birth was actually on Dec. 25, but since we don’t know and since tradition has held it for centuries, it is just as good as a day as any to remember His coming. Merry Christmas.