Category Archives: Jesus

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.

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Ask for prayer? Go to jail. New wackiness for the U.S. Air Force

Teichert attacked for Christian faith

John Teichert

Attorney Michael Weinstein, who “trolls” open Christians on military bases, is now attacking Brigadier General John Teichert, newly installed wing commander at Edwards Air Force Base, because his personal website calls for Christians to pray at lunchtime for the United States.

Weinstein called for a military investigation of the “disgraceful, illegal and brazen promotion of (Treichert’s) personal flavor of his weaponized version of Christianity.”

Weinstein is the leader of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which contrary to what the name suggests suppresses — not defends — religious freedom. Weinstein’s complaint to Defense Secretary James Mattis supposedly represents 41 airmen from Edward’s Air Force Base in California.

michael weinstein military religious freedom foundation

Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation

“General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a general’s stars,” Weinstein said, as reported on Fox News. Treichert is a “fundamentalist Christian tyrant and religious extremist predator,” Weinstein says.

Todd Starnes, writing for Fox News, called the allegations “so outlandish they deserve no response.”

“The Air Force appears to be doing exactly what it should upon receiving a complaint from Mikey Weinstein: ignoring him,” First Liberty Institute attorney Mike Berry says. “Like so many complaints by the MRFF, this complaint is vindictive, intolerant and completely without merit. Bigoted demands that an officer be thrown in military prison because he prays for others should be rejected out of hand.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation attacks any public display of the Christian faith on military bases, Starnes says. “The group is typically triggered by Nativity scenes and Bibles placed on Missing Man tables.”

us air force christianityThe military has guidelines to prevent overt proselytizing in the name of the Air Force, but the controversy stems from the general’s private and personal website.

“Bible-believing Americans should take time to specifically pray for our nation at lunchtime every day,” the website says. It also features a prayer list – including among others President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Congress and the military.

Retired Army Col. Phil Wright, the executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, sees MRFF’s accusations as egregious.

“One of [Weinstein’s] attacks is that [Teichert] is proselytizing, forcing his religion onto someone,” Wright says. “But you have to go to the website. No one is forced to go, and you can turn it off at any moment.

“This general, on his own time, as an expression of his faith, with a non-military website from a non-military computer can state his beliefs.” Read the rest of John Teichert in trouble for asking for prayer.

Former Neo Nazi Ken Parker now attends black church

ken parker white supremacist now christianA year ago, Ken Parker marched with the Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, putting feet to his affinity with the white nationalist movement. Since then, he’s gotten saved, repented of racism, gotten baptized and attends an almost all black church in Jacksonville, Florida.

“When we make it to Heaven, Heaven’s not just gonna be one race. There’s gonna be all kinds of races up there,” says Pastor William McKinnon III of the All Saints Holiness Church where Ken and his fiancé attend.

Ken started riling up racial hatred when he got out of the Navy and couldn’t land a job. He found a scapegoat in minorities.

from hate to love, racist to redeemedFirst he joined the KKK and ascended up the ranks to become the Grand Dragon Master. But the white-hooded men who burned crosses weren’t racist enough for Ken. So somewhere in his six years out of the Navy, he joined the Neo-Nazis.

The Charlottesville, Virginia, protest was supposedly to save historical monuments but it quickly flared into violent clashes that left one person dead.

“It was thinly veiled to save our monuments, to save our heritage,” Ken told NBC news. “But we knew when we went in there that it was gonna turn into a racially heated situation, and it wasn’t going to work out good for either side.”

Neo nazi saved in black churchKen spilled his virulent hate with proclamations of “white power.” He hated Jews and gays too.

But he started having misgivings when interviewed by a filmmaker documenting the white nationalist movements. Those doubts culminated in a 180-degree reversal when his neighbor, a black pastor, invited him to a barbecue. After chatting with people at the end of the pool party, Pastor William invited Ken and his fiancé to church.

Ken thought it was worth a try.

white black loveWhen he showed up he found that he, his fiancé, and another church member were the only three white people in the 70-person congregation. As he listened to the worship music and the sermon, he found his heart softening.

That morning he accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord and was born again — completing the transition from racist to redeemed!

Ken gave his testimony one day before the congregation.

“I said I was a grand dragon of the KKK, and then the Klan wasn’t hateful enough for me, so I decided to become a Nazi — and a lot of them, their jaws about hit the floor and their eyes got real big,” Ken remembers. “But after the service, not a single one of them had anything negative to say. They’re all coming up and hugging me and shaking my hand, you know, building me up instead of tearing me down.” Finish the story Neo Nazi saved in black church.

MIT prof finds no conflict between faith and science

troy van voorhis MITUltimately, Troy Van Voorhis, a theoretical chemist and professor at MIT, decided his pursuit of science presented no conflict with his “undeniable” experience with God.

Often, college professors counter pose God and science as if the two were irreconcilable. Faith in God damages unrestricted science, they say, and the pure scientist ought to withhold opinions on such doubtful subjects as the existence of God.

But Van Voorhis, who developed the first practical implementation of a Meta-GGA in Density Functional Theory, doesn’t subscribe to the academia-sustained divorce of faith and science.

“I was raised in a Christian household, but like many raised in the Christian faith, there came a time when I had to wrestle with my faith and answer the question if it was really relevant, and I decided it was not,” Van Voorhis says in a Veritas Forum video. “But when I was in graduate school I had an encounter with God that made me rethink my suppositions about how God operated in the world.”

mit professors who believe GodVan Voorhis was raised a Presbyterian in Indianapolis. He earned a BA from Rice University, where he worked under Gus Scuseria to advance the science of Density Functional Theory, a computational quantum mechanical modeling method used in physics, chemistry and materials science to investigate the electronic structure. He continued his work at MIT and discovered applications that have been useful for solar panels.

After attaining notoriety for his work, he went on to UC Berkeley to get his PhD in 2001 in the field of theoretical chemistry.

While he stopped attending church in college, he restarted at Berkeley after he experienced God in an undeniable way.

God “called me to make a new decision about whether I wanted to follow what He had to say or to do other things, and I decided to follow Him,” Van Voorhis says. “I’m the unusual case that I didn’t have any Christian friends at the time and I was not going to church. I was just getting ready one morning, and I felt like God spoke to me.”

But it wasn’t just a “mystical” conversation with the Big Man upstairs, Van Voorhis says. God challenged him to give away “the vast majority of my possessions.”

And that’s how he learned that faith is not just thinking, it’s doing.

“Once you start doing things that reinforce the belief that you hold, that is actually quite important from an intellectual standpoint,” he says. “Things like the Christian faith are intellectual. There is intellectual content to it. But they are not meant to be confined solely to an intellectual discourse.” Read the rest of no conflict between science and faith.

He went from cooking dope to cooking up raps

ty-braselHis class clowning and trouble making were managed by parental discipline until his parents divorced when he was 10. Then Tyler Brasel went over the edge. He withdrew from his family, rebelled and started using drugs.

Enthralled with hip-hop music touting marijuana, Tyler took his first toke of cannabis after 9th grade, and it became his daily joy.

As the star quarterback on his football squad in Memphis, Tennessee, he did not ease off the drug use. When he got tired of weed, he turned to pills.

To pay for his growing habit, he sold tabs, Xanax bars, Ecstasy and hemp — just like his favorite rappers. He lived on top of the world, well-liked at school and on the team. Girls were crawling all over him, according to News Release Today.

But then he got arrested and his parents found out about his addictions. As he sat in a jail cell with felony charges leveled against him, he began to wonder about the Jesus he heard about as a child growing up in the Bible Belt.

Ty-Brasel-Young T“Is there really a God?” he asked. “Are angels and demons real? What is my purpose in life? What is the Jesus guy everyone always talks about? Why can’t we see God if he’s real? How did this beautiful creation originate?” One day, he genuinely cried out to God and experienced a supernatural encounter so profound it left him changed, even as he stumbled from time to time.

Ty went to Ole Miss (the University of Mississippi) where he gained notoriety forming the bi-racial rap duo “Comftable Kidz,” which ratcheted up some critical acclaim with its recordings. Meanwhile, Ty was slipping back into alcohol and partying, and he got arrested four times in his freshman year in college.

As he sat in a jail cell, he reflected on his life’s direction. If I keep going down this path, I’m going to ruin my life, he remembered thinking, according to his website. I wanna thrive, I wanna live life, he concluded.

Lil T from the CoveHe knew that as a Christian he wasn’t supposed to be glorifying the things of this world, as he was doing in Comftabale Kids. There was a nagging inside that he was supposed to be using his gifts for God, and it kept growing until he dropped out of school, broke up the duo, and went back his mother’s house to work solo projects.

Lil T (or Young T) — as he calls himself on “Praying Hands” — had no money, no plans, no car — just Jesus.

There were plenty of detractors nay-saying his decision to leave school. But God began to bless him: first a good paying job, then he started a clothing line (Pure Clothes). Doors opened for him to record and perform live in Memphis. He started dropping songs in 2016 at a rapid clip and producing videos.

His current album is “Destined for Greatness,” a frank introspection into the things that tripped him up as a young man. Read the rest of Christian hip hop artist Tyler Brasel.

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.

From hunting terrorists to being haunted by flashbacks: How Wesley Pinnick is making the transition from soldier to civilian

the terrorist killerOne of the hardest transitions for Wesley Pinnick from hunting terrorists in Iraq to civilian life in America was the loss of brotherhood he felt in the military.

“A lot of guys who go in the military have blood brothers, but they go in the military and they say, ‘You’re closer to me than a blood brother’ because you literally spend a year or years all of your time together,” Wesley says. “Those guys I went to combat with know everything about my life. You have nothing else to do but play dominoes and talk. It’s emotional bond that you have with these guys.”

Of course there was post traumatic stress disorder. Of course the shift from adrenaline jolts while dodging bullets to the drudgery of a day job was difficult. But it was the bond that was formed with those brothers — and then was broken when he returned to America — that hit him hard.

“When I got home, I realized, I’m never going to be as close with anybody ever again as I have with these guys — even to the point of when I get married, will I ever be this close to my wife?” he wondered.

the hunt for terrorists in mosulWesley is lucky. He found a church and fellowship with Christian brothers that, if not as close, was a decent approximation. He ran a discipleship house with new converts to help them break free from drugs, alcohol and other habitual sins as they learned to follow Jesus at the Door Church in Tucson.

As the U.S. war on terror extends itself with no end in sight, the U.S. is seeing increasing numbers of soldiers who struggle with traumas. Wesley’s story points the way to one great help for these soldiers — Jesus and the bond of brotherhood that can form in the church.

“The question is how do I live a life when I’ve already done potentially the greatest things I will ever do with my life, and I’m 21?” Wesley says. “What I really needed was people I could depend on and who could depend on me. I needed that camaraderie.”

Today, Wesley is a pastor in Long Beach, CA. But how he left his childhood church and enlisted to raise hell in Iraq is the story of a prodigal son.

Wesley knew nothing but church as a kid and teen. His dad was a minister in the Door Church, and he never had a friend outside the church. He felt burned out on the “unreasonable expectations” imposed on church kids.

“The reason I joined the military was to get away from church,” he says. “I backslid because I didn’t see any reason for me to stay saved. I didn’t want to mark out the next 30, 40 years in the church.”

So he bolted. Instead of fighting the devil, he fought terrorists. He and his buddies blasted open doors with C-4 plastic explosive and hauled off suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists in 2004 at the start of the war in Mosul.

“It was a very traumatic experience in a lot of ways,” says Wesley, who fast-tracked to sergeant in two years. “I still don’t know how to talk about that.”

He was in the middle of the desert without God. Between the deaths of two buddies, he suddenly decided to re-start his relationship with Jesus by praying at night in bed.

“One day I just said, ‘God, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to have a relationship with You, but I want to have a relationship with You,’” he remembers. “‘I don’t have a church, a pastor or a Bible. I don’t know how this is going to work, but I’m willing to do it.’ But looking back, those six months were some of the most intense moments I had with God in my entire relationship with God over the course of my entire life.”

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the constant brushes with death that drove him to Jesus, he says. In fact, the exact opposite happens: soldiers who have escaped unscathed from conflict wrongly believe they are invulnerable. Read the rest of overcoming PTSD through God.

His parents moved him from Christian to public school

prescott potters houseChris Perez fell out of his Christian upbringing in Los Angeles when his parents moved him into the public schools.

Prior to age 13, he attended Christian school, but in the new environment in high school he started to hang out with the “muscle car guys.”

“I liked to hang around the muscle car guys, and they liked to do dope,” Chris says on a Vimeo video produced by his church. “So eventually I got into dope.”

what happens when you go from private christian school to public schoolSoon he was having run-ins with the law.

“When I get in trouble, I get in trouble,” he emphasizes. “I got two DUIs in two weeks.”

He started making drugs, running to get stuff for his friends.

“I know I was their guinea pig but I liked the lifestyle,” Chris remembers. “It was fast, it was different, it was something new every night and every day. Running from the cops and things.”

hope for drunksDue to his run-ins with the law, Chris got acquainted with several institutions — from rehabilitation centers to psychiatric wards. He started taking medication for depression and bipolar disorders.

Chris decided to apply within his company for a transfer to Arizona. His geographic location changed, but his heart remained the same. He was in the mines of Arizona — and he was getting into jail again.

“I was in a horrible relationship with alcohol and drugs.”

His struggles persisted for two years until he got fed up. “I was in a bondage and was stuck in this place.” Please keep reading click here: what is the difference between a Christian school and the public school?

Dave Robbins’ double life almost doomed his marriage

Dave-Robbins brave confession“I thought my life is over. I thought my marriage was over. I would lose my family,” country star Dave Robbins was grappling with his own unfaithfulness in the living room with his wife.

His wife hit him with a surprise question: “Do you think you’re saved?”

He had grown up in church: “I thought I was saved. I grew up in a church, knew about the Bible, knew about Jesus, but I didn’t feel saved. I felt separated, ashamed, full of guilt, full of fear, tormented, just tormented.”

blackhawk membersDave Robbins is a founding member of the multi-platinum country band Blackhawk, but ever-burgeoning success only increased temptation for him.

“I have spent an entire lifetime struggling with temptation. I have struggled with alcohol. I have struggled with sex. I have struggled with pornography.”

For seven years in his marriage he struggled with porn and almost ended his marriage with infidelity.

Dave decided to become sober. “I thought that would fix everything and all the other stuff would stop as well.”

But it didn’t.

dave robbins wifeHe was living a double life.

There was another woman in his life. He tried to keep his wife in the dark. He was sexting random women.

For some reason, he thought the solution was to leave his wife and kids. That way, he would be free to pursue his wantonness. But as he pondered this “solution,” ultimately he felt miserable.

“It was sociopath stuff. It was crazy. I was just a dead person.”

Dave’s wife, Mary Lynn Robbins, finally figured out his secret schemes. Read the rest of how to save my marriage.

Tedashii lost child, fell into grief, experienced strain on marriage

tedashii grief strain marriageTedashii Lavoy Anderson was out to make his mark at Baylor University. He strove to be responsible and do the right thing, to be well-liked in school, in sports and on the social scene.

Then this random guy walked up to him three months into his freshman year.

“Hey, I heard you talk about yourself,” he told Tedashii. “I heard the jokes you made, the things you laughed about, the stories you told about the weekend.”

“I gotta be honest,” he continued. “I think the Bible would call that sin. Sin is when you disobey a holy God. There’s a real place called Heaven and a real place called Hell, and I don’t know if you’re gonna go to Heaven. You need a Savior.”

tdot-christian rapperTedashii’s competitive side suddenly flared, and he launched into a tirade insisting no one should judge him, especially someone who knew nothing about his struggles and background.

“I kind of shoved him down out of the way. I didn’t mean to put him on his back, but I did unintentionally,” Tedashii recounted in a YouTube video. “I kind of stepped over him and went to class angry because here’s this guy telling me I’m not good enough.”

Weeks later Tedashii was kicked off the football team due to injury, lost his scholarship, lost his girlfriend, and saw his parents separate. As a result, he couldn’t pay for college anymore.

Then the same random guy approached him and shared the gospel with him again. “God wants to have a relationship with you,” he told him.

tedashi family wifeThis time, there was a completely different response. “A light bulb came on. I felt like I got a hug from the Father. I just dropped to my knees on campus and prayed to God. ‘I get it. God, I need a Savior.’”

The random guy became Tedashii’s best friend, and later became the best man in his wedding.

He suggested Tedashii rap for the Lord, and the now-famous Christian rapper initially laughed if off. Only after the Spirit dealt with Tedashii did he whip up a terrible rap that evoked only laughter at a campus talent show.

It was a flop, but the infection had started, and Tedashii was intrigued by the possibility of spreading the gospel through the popular medium of hip hop. He’s now recorded five projects with Reach Records and hit #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Music. He’s on Lecrae’s Reach Record label. Tedashii also appears in videos with Trip Lee, KB and others from 116 Clique.

Also known as T Dot, Tedashii lives in Denton, Texas, with his wife.

In March of 2013, he lost his youngest son, a one-year-old, to a sickness the hospital couldn’t treat, and the untimely death triggered a crisis of faith that led to substance abuse and jeopardized his marriage.

He learned about the tragedy on a flight returning from a concert. “I literally broke… Read how Tedashii fell into substance abuse, experienced strain on his marriage and finally overcame the grief.

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

Born-again Palestinian pastor holds hope for Israel, Palestine

Sameer.DabitAs a Palestinian born-again pastor in Los Angeles, Sameer Dabit sees himself as a bridge-maker.

“My dad grew up with a lot of wounds, so I grew up with the mindset of hating Jews and hating Muslims,” Sameer says. “When I got saved at age 16 and started reading scriptures for myself and learning more about God and history, I started to realize, ‘Hey wait a minute. I shouldn’t hate anybody.’”

palestinian pastorSlowly, he began to form his own convictions about what he believes.

Sameer’s Arab father was born in Palestine in 1948 and was forced to move when the Jews took over the newly formed nation of Israel. So he resented the Jews.

But as an orthodox Christian, he also resented the Muslim Palestinians who subjected him to cruel jeering and constant antagonism in school, Sameer says.

When he came of age, dad decided to leave behind the nightmare of the Middle East, move to the United States, study and make his life in L.A. He worked hard at the front desk of a hotel, saved his money and bought properties.

Sameer got to know the simmering anger in his father for the injustices suffered, but he identified himself first and foremost as an American. He changed his name to Sam so that it was easier for classmates and elicited fewer questions about his origins. He loved football.

“I assimilated to America,” he says. “I identified myself more as American than Palestinian.”

kingdom reality LAThen he did something that went beyond his newfound cultural identification. He accepted Jesus into his heart.

At a basketball clinic run by a church, he liked the dynamic music, heard about the forgiveness of sins and wound up wondering why this environment was drastically different from the reverence and mysticism of his family’s religious practice.

Joining the born-again Christians in America created conflict with his dad, who wondered why his son left their church, got re-baptized and hung out with evangelicals who supported Zionism.

“It started to bring an interesting conflict between my dad and me,” says Sameer, now 31. “I was trying to help him understand that I understood where he was coming from. Whatever someone had done to him or his family, I don’t agree with. He was abused. But at the same time, I believe everyone has a right to a place to live, and at the time, the Jewish people were distributed around the world and suffered the Holocaust. That wasn’t right as well. They did need a place to live. Israel needed to be established again, and obviously that was Biblical.

“It was an interesting balance that I had to help him understand,” he says. “That’s why my perspective is interesting because I love the Palestinian people. I love the Jewish people. I love the Muslim people. I love the Christian people. I love that place.

“I desire to see Jesus restore it all. I know ultimately He will when He returns, but I believe He’s preparing His bride to receive Him in Israel as well as everywhere around the world.” Read the rest about Palestinian pastor thinks peace in Middle East possible through Jesus.

Overcoming overeating in Christ

michelle-aguilar-biggest-loserMichelle Aguilar was 18 when her mom told her she was leaving her dad. She was devastated. Wasn’t her life with Christian parents supposed to be perfect?

Michelle cut off communication with her mom and her insecurities grew. To internalize the rejection and depression, she turned to eating sweets to boost her spirits.

“I didn’t know what to do,” she says on an I am Second video. “I didn’t know how to deal with my pain or the confusion that I was going through. I think when you’re at a place where you’re kind of out of control with a lot of things, it’s an easy step to turn to food.”

michelle aguilar marriedShe gained weight steadily, always hiding behind a million dollar smile. She reached 242 pounds.

As a Christian, “I knew I couldn’t turn to drugs or alcohol,” Michelle says. “Food was acceptable and it gave me a sense of control. (But) it becomes a guilt thing. You realize that you’re eating, and you’re feeling bad while you’re eating, and it’s just making it worse.”

Mom remarried and took Michelle’s two siblings. Michelle was left alone with dad.

Then a co-worker told her about The Biggest Loser reality TV show, in which overweight contestants worked out to see who loses the most weight, and the “biggest loser” wins $250.000. Michelle auditioned and was rejected the first time, but producers called to include her in the new season.

michelle aguilar smileIt had been six years since she talked to her mom. Dad suggested she participate in the program with her mother, who had also gained substantial pounds. Perhaps their participation might break down the walls between them. In this edition of Biggest Loser it was teams, parent-child or husband-wife.

“I really felt like God was saying, I’m going to give you an opportunity to start over and change from the inside out, and this could be the option if you’re willing to do it.”

But there were mixed emotions. Re-connecting with mom appealed to her, but Michelle viewed her as “the source of my pain, the source of my weight gain.”

She charged into a rigorous physical regimen like a would-be winner. But then she chipped her tooth. Her smile had always been her shield. It projected an image of self-confidence even when she was crying on the inside. It was her only defense against shame, and now it was gone.

“I felt like somebody had stripped away that armor, and said, “No, look at you. You’re smile is gone now. What are you going to do?’” she says. Finish reading how to overcome overeating.

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.

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.

Special ops marine, MMA fighter fights for his marriage

Chad Kathy robichaux“You killed me.”

As a police officer, Chad Robichaux once had to grapple with and overpower a man barricaded in his home in a domestic dispute. When the man struggled for Robichaux’s gun, the officer fired at him six times as the man’s children and wife screamed hysterically.

It wasn’t the only time Robichaux was traumatized in his use of deadly force. The MMA champion also killed as a Special Operations Force Recon Marine during eight tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Mighty Oaks helps veteransThe killing left his mind and heart a wreck, his marriage a shambles, and his soul a wasteland. If it weren’t for the intervention of a Christian man who invested in him and nurtured him back to psychological health, Robichaux might have ended his life like so many of the PTSD victims he tries to help through his Mighty Oaks Wounded Warrior Foundation.

Robichaux recounts the horrors of waging war on evil both in America and abroad in an I am Second video.

When he arrived on the scene of the domestic dispute, there were 30 people standing around outside the house.

help vets with ptsdThe wife was screaming, and the man had barricaded himself in the back bedroom with his gun. Robichaux and his partner entered the house and began searching from room to room. They found the man and demanded he drop his gun. He refused to comply, so Chad moved to disarm him with force.

“I step towards him and I grab the barrel of his rifle and I pushed it away from me and I kicked him in the groin,” he remembers. “When I kicked him the second time he grabbed my hand. I realized at that point that I had to save myself and my partner. I shot six times.”

His partner hit him with another five bullets, and the suspect crumpled to his knees.

He looked at Chad: “You killed me.”

Of course, the violence was justified and necessary, but still Robichaux couldn’t just forget the images of blood all over him. He couldn’t shake the fact that he had ended a life at close range. He couldn’t forget the screams of the family.

chad-robichaux-1“I just wanted someone to tell me that it was okay because I had just killed this guy in front of his family and it was something I thought I would have a hard time with but I did.”

His wife was no help. She just thought it was all part of a day’s work. He really needed someone to affirm him, but instead he felt rejection.

Shortly after that incident, he returned to active duty as a marine following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

He was added to the Joint Special Operations Command. He deployed to Afghanistan with much excitement.

chad-robichaux“Wow I can’t believe all this training to do this, you know, be a force recon marine to do these things and I’m here it’s real like right outside somewhere in the dark is the bad guy.”

He knew the terrorists were evil, but still he wasn’t prepared to see the full horror of mayhem done to other human beings.

“You can’t make sense of it,” he says. “You can’t process it”

In the process of fighting evil, evil entered his own heart. He became a hateful killing machine.

“I was out of control and I didn’t feel bad about it”

He built a wall between himself and his family but he didn’t understand why. “Maybe to protect them from me” Read the rest of Chad Robichaux Christian.

Pastor overcomes tragic accident, paralysis, to lead vibrant ministry

harold and mona warner door tucsonHarold Warner was driving back from a failed pastoral assignment when he hit a new patch of asphalt sprinkled with fresh rain, and his orange Dodge Colt spun out of control, went off the side of road and rolled down an embankment.

The car roof caved in, paralyzing him. Within nine months, the 23-year-old ex-hippie shifted into a new, dynamic pastoral assignment, this time in a wheelchair.

beginnings of ministry of pastor harold warner“Everything in my life was disrupted permanently. My world was turned upside down,” says Warner. “But my relationship with God didn’t change one bit. His grace, His presence never wavered. I had confidence that God was in control in my life.”

Today, Pastor Warner’s church, which he charged into as an idealistic young man, has grown to over 1,000. The Door Church in Tucson moved from a humble stucco and adobe building to a massive facility.

Affiliated with Christian Fellowship Ministries as a church planter, Warner and his leadership team have planted 750 churches worldwide.

pastor harold warner bicycleHow did he avoid the trap of blaming God for the inexplicable tragedy?

“A lot of things happen in life that you don’t have control over,” Warner says, as he considers the destiny he might have missed. “I kept going forward with a combination of faith, naiveté and confidence.”

When he was a young man, Warner liked hockey so much he went to the University of Connecticut specifically to play for the team. But, like so many other young people of the 1960s, alcohol and drugs beckoned, and he dropped out of school, grew his hair long, wore torn jeans and hitchhiked to Woodstock.

Being a hippie didn’t live up to “the propaganda of love,” he says. “The one thing that prevailed was the aimlessness.” Read the rest of Harold Warner The Door Church Tucson.

You can still prosper under pastoral abuse

surviving pastoral abuseFor seven years, Juan Pablo Cardo was stymied in his ministerial call by another pastor in Buenos Aires who envied his charisma.

“He felt like I was a threat and didn’t let me do anything,” the Argentinian says in a Bible conference video. During those years of imposed inactivity, “God taught me patience and humility, just being there, sit down and deal with my pride and many things in my life.”

He didn’t bolt, and his perseverance paid off. Unexpectedly one day, his pastor asked if he want to launch a startup church on his own in Munro, a suburb of Buenos Aires. He offered no financial support. He would get Juan Pablo out of his hair.

juan pablo cardo buenos airesTo weigh and consider this monumental life-altering decision, it took Juan Pablo a full fraction of a nano-second to say yes.

Juan Pablo started a house church with 17 people. They began to tithe and he rented a small store front 9’ by 51’ — all at the time of Argentina’s worse economic crunch.

The work grew, and they rented a bigger building for 120 people on the main avenue in the Munro neighborhood.

revival in argentinaJuan Pablo’s story is one of flourishing under shortsighted leadership. You have to keep your heart from becoming bitter, he says.

“It was a difficult time because it was seven years practically not having a pastor, not having someone to go to who could guide you,” says his wife, Silvina. “I asked God, ‘How long? Where are You?’ I wasn’t complaining but asking God for help. I saw that everyone else had a pastor they could share with. And I didn’t have that for seven years.” Read more about surviving pastoral abuse.

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.

Her parents’ divorce led her to depression and cosplay. It got worse until God intervened.

dangers of cosplayFirst, Melissa T got into anime to escape from the depression over her parents’ divorce. Then, she began role-playing and assumed the attributes of a gay person with a person she met at a cosplay convention. Dipping into a bisexual lifestyle came next with her role-playing partner.

“I slapped God across the face that night and told Him I didn’t need Him anymore,” Melissa said on a 2012 YouTube video. “I went out with this girl. I turned bisexual for her. It lasted a month. A month down the road, I was really depressed. I was dealing with everything else, and I ran away from home.”

When the police apprehended her, what followed was a painful interrogation. Returned to her dad, she lost her phone privileges, was prohibited from using the Internet and was banned from talking to her lesbian friend.

cosplay la convention“I made a stupid decision to go against my morals,” she says. “In that time I was isolated, I slowly but surely returned back to my normal self. I was no longer this character. I just threw away his personality and stopped being him. I started going back to church.”

At first, she begrudged the church attendance her dad forced on her. But one day while she waited for her family to come out of Target, she was alone in the car and had a strange urge to pray.

“I was ashamed of what I did. I felt guilty for what I did. I turned away from God. So I felt that, ‘Why would God accept me after what I did?’”

The devil and the Spirit were battling for her soul, with the devil telling her she really had nothing to say. She relented and started talking about school and slowly made her way to the deeper issues.

“I was pouring out my heart to Him and telling Him how much I was hurting and what I was hurting about, and for the first time in my life — FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE — I admitted through my mouth that I wanted to be happy.

“For so long I was so comfortable in my sin. I was so comfortable in my depression. It was my comfort zone,” she says. “Because I experienced so much change in my life, I felt change was bad, that change was something that was gonna hurt me. So I didn’t want change.”

In her prayer, she realized she really wanted the change God would bring.

“I was pouring out to Him, and I told Him, ‘I don’t want to be like this anymore. I don’t want to be depressed. I don’t want to be crying every single night. I don’t want to feel like my family’s ashamed of me anymore. I want to feel accepted. I want to feel loved,’” she says. “I bawled and cried to God for two hours in the car.” Read the rest of From cosplay to bisexuality to God.

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.

Liz Vice nearly died of kidney failure

liz viceBy Hailey Johnson —

Since the 60’s, Portland has become home to a menagerie of zany indie (secular) rock bands, such as Blind Pilot, Sleater-Kinney (led by Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein), and more.

But one artist has emerged from this conformity cloud to mesmerize audiences with another sound — Christian music.

Meet Liz Vice, the black Christian R&B singer converting Oregonians into provisional Christians with her luscious vocals.

A native of the Beaver State, Vice — along with her five siblings — was raised in Portland by a single mother.

During her formative years, she never envisioned herself as a singer but instead spent her days fantasizing about becoming a filmmaker.

gospel music liz viceAt 15, however, her inspirations came to a clamorous halt, as she was diagnosed with a severe autoimmune kidney disease that soon led to kidney failure.

For the next seven years, Vice faced dialysis appointments, hospital infections, heart failure and her own mortality.

“Instead of praying that I’d be healed,” Vice admits, “I was just so tired that I would pray for death every day. But every day I woke up, I decided to live that day to the fullest.”

After enduring all this, in 2005, Vice was favored with a kidney transplant, allowing her dreams to finally pick up where they left off. Read the rest about Liz Vice gospel singer.

Muslim teen found Jesus in America, ran away from oppressive home

fathima-rifqa-baryRifqa Bary convulsed America when she appeared on national television in tears, saying her parents would kill her for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity.

“This is not just some threat, this is reality, this is truth,” she sobbed. Rifqa had run away from home at age 16 and was taken in temporarily by an Orlando, Florida, pastor, whom she contacted through Facebook. Eventually, she was turned over the Child Protective Services.

The Sri Lankan-born Fathima Rifqa Bary came to America with her family to seek treatment for her eye, blinded by her brother. The family took up residence in Columbus, Ohio, and Rifqa attended school and participated in sports.

While she prospered academically and socially, she suffered under the stringent, oppressive brand of Islam practiced by her parents, she said.

“It meant that I learned how to read the Quran before I could even speak,” she recalled. “It meant that I learned how to pray five times a day. It meant that I had to fast 30 days starting at age six or seven, no water.”

Her nature was happy-go-lucky. She earned straight A’s, participated in cheerleading and track in high school and thoroughly embraced American culture. Her dad did not.

rifqa-bary sri lanka“I remember being joyful and happy and if I were too happy I would remember my father just beating me to the point where I went flying across the room,” Rafqi said. Islam “was so empty and I felt like I was caged and suffocating in rules and I wanted out.”

Secretly, she attended church with a friend from middle school and even dared to get baptized.

“I went and I had a life changing encounter where I experienced the love of God that captured my spirit and left me changed,” she testified.

She surrendered to Jesus as her Lord and Savior and was born again!

Eventually, her parents discovered her closely guarded secret. They found her Bible and realized she had been reading it secretly in the bathroom. Apostasy is considered a disgrace to Muslims, and the Koran stipulates death as the penalty. Her father grew angrier and angrier demanding she renounce her newfound faith, she recounted.

“He gave me an ultimatum and it was — kind of in his sick way having mercy on me — to return to my old ways,” she said. Read the rest about Rifqa Bary converts to Christianity.

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.

Remi Adeleke, movie star, Navy SEAL and trafficker

remi-adeleke transformersBefore Remi Adeleke was a famous actor, he was a Navy SEAL. And before he was a Navy SEAL, he was a drug dealer in the Bronx.

God brought about an incredible transformation in the life of the “Transformers” star.

Remi’s life spiraled downward after his father died in 1987. He had immigrated to New York from Nigeria with his family when he was five. Without a father’s love and guidance, he was left to himself. He liked movies, but the message to black men was mostly negative.

“It said you’re a young African American young male you need to be a hustler, or you need to be a thug or a player,” he says on an “I am Second” video.

rem adeleke show whats underneathAccordingly, he fell into stealing, running scams and dealing drugs as a young person in the Bronx.

But if movies hastened his journey into the “valley of the shadow of death,” movies also brought him through. When he watched “Bad Boys,” he saw black men who were heroes, not thugs. He began to re-imagine his self-image.

Then he watched “The Rock” by Michael Bay about Navy SEALs that lived heroic lives, running, gunning and saving the day.

“I was just blown away at this portrayal of men who were coming out of the water and going into this place to go sacrifice themselves and save others,” he says. “It really resonated and I thought if I was to ever turn my life around, that’s what I would do.”

remi adelekeA drug deal that went bad provided the spark to turn his life around. At age 19, he joined the military with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. There was one snag to his freshly forged ambition: he didn’t know how to swim.

He worked his bum off through boot camp, learned to swim, and qualified for SEAL training.

“When I wanted something, I would literally run through walls to get it,” he says.

He had reinvented himself, and he loved Remi 2.0.

“There’s not many jobs where you can get paid to jump out of planes and go after bad guys and protect those who couldn’t protect themselves — essentially be that guy who stood in the face of bullies and said not on my watch.”

During cold weather survival training in Alaska in 2008, he found a measure of solitude that caused him to think about his journey. Read the rest of Remi Adeleke Christian.

While in the NFL, he took cocaine. Today, Miles McPherson is a pastor

miles-mcpherson-the rock churchMiles McPherson wanted to see how they made crack cocaine, so he went to a crack house with a buddy.

There the NFL Chargers football player saw a skeleton of a man, dallying with death because of his addiction. McPherson despised him. “Man, look at that pitiful guy. Drugs is killing him.”

Then the God he didn’t even know spoke to McPherson: What about you? He was in your seat not that long ago.

mcpherson milesThat was McPherson’s first wake-up call. “I asked myself, ‘What am I doing? I’m in the NFL. I’m living my dream. And I’m destroying it.’”

Today, McPherson is the senior pastor of the Rock Church, a megachurch in San Diego with 15,000 attending weekly. The church focuses on reaching the lost through 150 specialized ministries.

McPherson was born to a nurse and a cop in Long Island. He was confident in his playing ability, even though he attended a Division 3 university he predicted he would make the NFL.

A coach mocked his aspirations. “He told other players behind my back that I was too small, too slow, too short. But that just motivated me to keep working.”

mcpherson marriagesOn his first year at the University of New Haven, the team had its first winning season, going 6-3. During his second year, the team was undefeated. In his third year, he was named “All American.” In his fourth year, the Rams recruited him.

“I didn’t know God, but I just knew in my heart that I was going to play in the NFL and that my life was going to mean something,” he says.

Almost as soon as he got picked by the Rams in 1982, fellow players introduced him to cocaine.

“It was one of the peer pressure things, fitting in,” McPherson says. “I was a rookie, and there’s about six guys in the room. I didn’t know what we were going in for, and they just pulled out cocaine. I said, ‘Oh man.’ But I saw everybody else doing it, so I thought, ‘This can’t be that bad.’ I knew it was wrong. I knew it was dangerous, but I lived on the edge.”

The first try led to addiction. Soon, he couldn’t stop taking cocaine. It became a futile, inexorable search for fulfillment through partying.

After one season, he was traded to the then-San Diego Chargers.

Then a fellow player shared the gospel with him. After a night of partying in 1984, he made the decision to call it quits to drugs. He retired from football in 1985.

“I said, ‘I’m done. I’m gonna give God the commitment I’ve given football, the commitment I’ve given drugs, the commitment I’ve given fun. I’m going to give God that commitment.” Read the rest Miles McPherson pastor of Rock Church

When his dad died, it wasn’t funny

Tim Allen the BuilderFunny man Tim Allen had a very unfunny start to his life that made him doubt God’s existence. When he was 11, his father was killed by a drunk driver.

“I wanted answers that minute from God,” he said in 2012. “‘Do you think this is funny? Do you think this is necessary?’ And I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with my Creator ever since.”

He used drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism and then was arrested and convicted of felony possession of 650 grams of cocaine in 1978.

“Don’t ever sell drugs to policemen. They don’t like it, they tend to tell judges, people get you, and then you eat very bad food for a long time,” he wisecracked in an interview with ABC.

allen drug chargeAfter completing his two-year prison sentence, Allen was released and decided to get into comedy, which he says, “saved his life.” Shortly after that, he got a call from Jeffrey Katzenberg of the Walt Disney Studios saying they wanted him to become a part of the Disney family, which he found very ironic considering his felony.

He went on to star in various T.V. shows and films such as The Last Man Standing, The Santa Clause trilogy, Wild Dogs and the Toy Story trilogy (he was the voice of Buzz Lightyear). He was succeeding in the world, but he hadn’t dealt with his demons.

“For years, I just did not like this idea of God, church,” he said. “(I was) still a churchgoer, but constantly a cynic.”

As much as he wrestled with doubts, he couldn’t deny the incredible creation in which he lived. It begged for a logical conclusion.

tim allen lost his father and his faith“Whoever built me, this is too much, too weird that it happened by accident,” Allen said. “It didn’t happen by accident.”

Slowly, Allen began to open his heart to God as he saw His guiding hand throughout his struggles. He reached a point when he dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.

Sometimes Allen refers to God as “the Builder.”

“I always ask… ‘God what did you want me to do?’ But you got to be prepared for the answer,” he said.

Allen has received criticism due to his unflinching stand for faith.

In an episode from Allen’s sitcom Last Man Standing (in which he stars as Mike Baxter), Allen found an opportunity to incorporate Jesus Christ. Read the rest of the story about Tim Allen Christianity.

Snoop Dogg returns to Jesus?

snoop dogg gospel albumSnoop Dogg — the marijuana-smoking pimping gangsta rapper who’s cycled through Nation of Islam and Rastafari — says he’s now returning to his roots in Christianity. He just dropped a 32-track double gospel album titled “Bible of Love.”

“I’ve always referred to my Savior Jesus Christ on my records,” Snoop says in an interview on YouTube. “I would let people know I was a born-again Christian. Church is supposed to welcome sinners. If you find somebody trying to find their way back home, the naturally thing to do is to be warm welcoming, open your arms and say, ‘Brother, we accept you for who you are. We know you’ve been doing wrong but you wanna get right, so we’re gonna help you get right. We’re not going to throw stones on you.’”

e16cb1f8ccf7d2bda963eb2aee03dc72-snoop-dogg-taylorsSnoop, whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., took the hip hop world by storm in 1992 when he was discovered and promoted by Dr. Dre. His freshman album Doggystyle shot to Billboard’s #1 spot and earned quadruple platinum.

His music belonged to the controversial genre that brought calls for censorship for promoting violence and misogyny, and Snoop’s life backed up his words. He denied belonging to a Rollin’ 20s Crips as a youth in Long Beach, CA, but was once tried for the murder of a rival gang member (his bodyguard got off for self defense). He was in and out of jail for cocaine possession and other charges after high school.

snoop-dogg-bad-boyBut before plummeting into spiritual chaos, before rocketing in the rap world, before he became reviled and revered, the kid Snoop went to church with his family, singing and playing piano at the Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church. He’s come full circle.

Since launching his hip-hop career, Snoop Dogg has proven to be one the most enduring and successful rappers, selling 35 million albums worldwide.

Through the years and different albums, Snoop backed away the unsavory G-funk after his friend Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting and after his producer on the label Death Row, Suge Knight, was indicted for racketeering.

Marijuana smoking became his favorite motif and the signature of his music. He once bragged he smoked 80 blunts a day.

Always looking to cash in on shock value, Snoop claimed to Rolling Stone that, unlike other rappers who adopt a pimp persona, he actually worked as a pimp between 2003 and ‘04 and gave it up on the advice of fellow pimps to spend more time with his family.

He ventured into television and movies, including Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood and Dogg After Dark. He turned his acquittal of murder charges in February 1996 into a short movie Murder Was the Case. In 2009, Snoop converted to the Nation of Islam and publicly praised minister Louis Farrakhan. But in 2012, he converted to the Rastafari movement and, changing his name to “Snoop Lion,” produced a clumsy reggae album.

All the while, his grandmother and mother were praying for their prodigal son. They are elated by the announcement of his return to Christ, along with a gospel recording.

“Momma said, ‘God told me you’s gonna do this years ago.’ She been waiting on me,” he says. Read the rest of the article on Snoop Dogg Christian.

The meaning of meaninglessness

imagesActually, snorting condoms makes perfect sense. As does chewing Tide pods. Along with cutting.

After all, if there is no meaning to life, then why not engage in something meaningless? If an attempt to find value shows your stupidity, then all we have left is getting attention through stupid means.

Atheists will bristle at my mockery, but their insistence that morality is an evolved feature — along humanity’s unusual drive for significance — is absurd. There is no evolutionary sense of morality or man’s quest for importance. Deprive man of God, and you get teens snorting condoms.

images-1And please, my dear atheist friends, don’t tell the gunman plowing down schoolchildren that he is inherently or obviously wrong. What is obvious is that there are no morals, no values, nothing. That is all atheism has to offer: nothing. There is no noble sense to humanity, no purpose, no beauty, no humanity. We are just an evolved species, and the evolutionary economy makes no judgements on killing another animal: it is the way of the alpha male.

You have kicked God out of schools, so kids are turning to insanity to imbue their lives with some semblance of the significance you robbed out of life. Enjoy the fruits of your labors. You have been working for decades through the media you dominate, through Hollywood and through government to cast doubt on God, the Bible, absolute moral codes, eternity and significance. It is working.

downloadBut the end of atheism is not humanism — the betterment of humanity through human effort. The product of atheism is selfishness.

Are there any hospitals around the world founded by atheists? No. But there are countless ones founded by Christians.

This is not to say that atheists are good at nothing. In addition to specializing in selfishness, they are good at sniping at people of faith. It is their delight to wield logical arguments that ridicule the obvious, that all of creation has a Creator. I have seen friends fall from faith under their onslaught. I am not a perfect Christian, nor do I arrogantly pretend to have all the answers. But I know there is a God. And I know He forgives me of my sins and offers me eternal life. I’m not letting go of that. To do so would be surrender to meaninglessness.

Panhypopituitarism led to low self esteem and homosexuality, then Jesus got involved

panhypopituitarismWhen Ricardo Hernandez was in high school, he had the body, face and brain of an eight-year-old, but he never got bullied because his older brothers were in gangs, and they watched out for him.

Born with panhypopituitarism, which causes reduced secretions of most or all of the pituitary hormones, doctors didn’t think he would survive past infancy. Miraculously, he lived. But because his brain was behind his classmates, he failed all his classes. Lacking a special education program to help him, the teachers passed him along to the next grade. Also, Ricardo was tired all the time, a result of the syndrome.

Once at the end-of-lunch bell, a kid hurrying off to class bumped into him and knocked him down with all his books. Almost instantly, a bunch of gang bangers jumped him and started beating him up. Ricardo, knowing it was an accident, tried to call off his brothers’ fellow gang members to no avail. “They told me to get to class,” he said.

disability and homosexuality

Ricardo is 14 in this photo

In the 11th grade, his high school counselor finally put an end to the free ride and halted his graduation, suggesting he seek an independent study program. (Ricardo enrolled in continuing education later, when his body and brain caught up, and received his high school diploma as an adult.)

He had two major challenges: a slowly developing brain and chronic fatigue, which kept him from working. With not much to do but lay around most of the day, Ricardo became the object of unwanted advances by a cousin who was gay. Slowly but surely, he seduced Ricardo.

“I was very susceptible. I was very depressed. I had no self esteem,” Ricardo said. “I was also sexually abused by my oldest brother. He was homophobe but yet he did this act. Once I started, I went from being non-sexual to like going on a rampage. I was 21-years-old, but my mental age was 13 or 14-years-old.”

Ricardo started a relationship with a neighborhood boy that lasted for two years. Kicked out by his mother for adopting the homosexual lifestyle, he rented government-sponsored housing in Pacoima with his brothers-in-law.

freed from homosexualityRicardo entered the gay lifestyle for about 13 years. Then his mother died in 2012.

“When my mother passed away, it totally destroyed what little foundation I had, and I fell into deep, deep, deep depression. I was already depressed. It got me more into wanting to end my life. I was already contemplating suicide, but after my mother’s death, it was like, ‘What’s taking so long. Get it over with already. Take courage and do it.'”

Fear always held him back — even though once he took a whole bottle of pills to no effect. The cousin who had induced him into homosexuality was abusing drugs and attempting suicide.

“I saw how the family got around him. I thought to myself, if I attempt a suicide and fail and my entire family knows that I tried to end my life, one they’ll probably make fun of me, two they’ll hover over me. I didn’t want to feel that scenario. Waking up after an attempted suicide in my mind was the worst. It would be embarrassing.”

Then near Mother’s Day in 2015, a friend came to visit that had been heavily involved in lesbianism and Heavy Metal.

She knocked on his door with a Bible in her hand, proclaiming Jesus Christ!

“Wait a minute…who are you?” Ricardo asked, incredulously.

She said she had visited a church and during the song service, God spoke to her and she started weeping. From that day, she changed. She surrendered to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior and found real joy.

Ricardo, however, got furious because he felt like she turned her back on him.

“I told her off and she took it like a champ.”

His friend stopped wearing black, changed her Mohawk hairstyle, and got married. She and her husband prayed for Ricardo and continued to visit him.

“She became a professing Christian, one who did what she said she did,” Ricardo said. “That shook the very core of my being,” he said. “But I told her that I could go to her church and read her Bible but nobody could ever change me.”

As Mother’s Day approached, his depression deepened. He planned to end his life when he visited his mother’s grave. He called his aunt — the closest thing he had to a mother — to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day, but she retorted, “Are you on drugs?” He hung up and cried.

He left a message on his sister’s phone saying goodbye. She was in Mexico. “I told her how much I loved her. I told her I was sorry for everything.”

That night he went into his bathroom.

“God if you’re real, because I see you transformed my best friend and she’s a whole different person, I ask you to end my life, because I’m a coward,” he cried out. “I’ll be an embarrassment to my family. If you’re willing, I ask you to end my life. I don’t ask you for your joy, peace or love — or anything you have to offer. All I ask is just end my life.” Read the rest of panhypopituitarism.

After dropping out of partying, Mat Kearney took off in music industry

matannie1-350x233Skate-boarding teenager Mat Kearney spray-painted graffiti on trains and sold pot. He got into Cal Sate University Chico on a soccer scholarship but was a lackluster English major. Whenever his roommate wasn’t watching, he swiped his guitar and played for hours and hours — that’s how his musical career was born.

After shedding the vacuous party life and finding Jesus, Matthew William Kearney now has five top 20 hits on the Adult Top 40 Chart. He sings “Hey Mama,” “All I Need,” “Nothing Left to Lose” and more recently the haunting ballad about overcoming conflict in marriage, “Ships in the Night.”

d45f4838-11eb-41aa-8394-fe872d21df2c_575011_TABLET_LANDSCAPE_16_9-350x197“I guess I lived it up and did what everyone said you should do in college,” he said on CBN. “I discovered the depth of depravity, the bleakness of that lifestyle. It just wasn’t working. I finally started understanding there must be more to life.”

Kearney’s journey to success has been just as accidental as the misspelling of his name on his birth certificate that he discovered only in the eighth grade. He says the nurse got it wrong, so he spells it: “Mat.”

His grandfather ran a fake cigar shop in Rochester, New York, that was a front for a gambling ring. The mob shut down the business because it was encroaching on their territory, he said. This was during the depression, so Kearney’s father suffered hardship.

imagesHis dad served in Vietnam, followed the rock group Pink Floyd through Europe, and later became a lawyer in America. He moved to Hawaii where he worked as a deckhand on a boat and met Kearney’s mom, who was working as a mermaid for glass-bottom boat tours. They married and moved to Eugene, Oregon.

Kearney could roam freely as a kid in Oregon. He got into all kinds of trouble and loved soccer. By his own account, he “barely” was accepted into Chico State, which doesn’t have the highest academic entrance standards and is famous for being a party school. He received a soccer scholarship and was appreciated by his coach for intensity on the field.

But as he experimented for hours with a piano and practiced his singing pitch, he fell out of love with soccer.

A friend who would later become a music producer spontaneously asked him to go with him to Nashville, Tennessee.

Kearney could roam freely as a kid in Oregon. He got into all kinds of trouble and loved soccer. By his own account, he “barely” was accepted into Chico State, which doesn’t have the highest academic entrance standards and is famous for being a party school. He received a soccer scholarship and was appreciated by his coach for intensity on the field.

But as he experimented for hours with a piano and practiced his singing pitch, he fell out of love with soccer.

A friend who would later become a music producer spontaneously asked him to go with him to Nashville, Tennessee.

I helped him pack up his trailer and we put a mattress on the back of his truck. We basically drove cross-country and slept in the back.” Kearney said. “When we pulled into Nashville we slept in a school parking lot for three days until we finally rented this apartment where the roof was caving in and mice were crawling all over.”

Robert Marvin recorded with him all summer, and Kearney fell in love with the farmland surrounding the blue-collar city, so that’s where he stayed and made his fame. For his second album, he signed with Columbia Records.

It was in Nashville that he met and married his wife, Annie Sims, who was an actress but worked at Anthropologie. He was smitten by the Southern belle and wrote “Hey Mama!” after seeing her. Today they have a one-year-old, Olive. Read the rest of Mat Kearney Christian.

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.

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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?

St. John was losing basketball games, so coach Chris Mullin told his players about the time he was losing to alcoholism

NCAA Basketball: St. John at DePaulTo help his team snap an 11-game losing streak and stun #1-ranked Villanova, Coach Chris Mullin pulled a skeleton out his closet of personal failures and revealed his battle with alcoholism.

“Where do you think I was on this date 30 years ago,” he told his players, who were languishing in last place in the Big East Conference, lost in basketball oblivion.

The players, depressed in doldrums of dearth, responded mostly by looking blankly at him, the New York Times reported.

The answer? Thirty years prior, the millionaire NBA player was kicked off the Warriors squad and thrown into a bedraggled rehab with homeless winos, heroin addicts and crack heads in the middle of L.A.’s gangland. On his first night at the AA 12-step, after the speaker droned on about an alcoholic’s powerlessness to kick the habit, gangsters in a van drove past and strafed the church building with automatics. “Damn, I’m trying to get sober here, not get killed,” Mullin thought.

12-chris-mullin.w710.h473.2xFour years later, Mullin was on the Dream Team that swept the Barcelona Olympics. Fellow teammate Magic Johnson said of him: “When God made basketball. He just carved Chris Mullin out and said, ‘This is a player.’”

But to pull himself out of the mire, he needed to endure the month-long program of 6-hour group therapy sessions with uninspiring cast of rehab mates. Then he had to drive back to the Golden State training court and fight, humbly but forcefully, for his place on the team — a feat that five other previous addiction-afflicted players had failed to do.

St. John is where Mullin started his trajectory; he took the New York university to the Final Four in 1985 as a star player. His signing as coach in 2015 was supposed to restore glory. Instead, in his third year, the Red Storm lost 14 games, his program in a malaise of ongoing roster turnover as developing prospects transferred and significant signings fizzled.

Dream_Team_2_641x405But then in February, sophomore point guard Shamorie Ponds and crew pulled off the improbable: they beat #4-ranked Duke. Then, the impossible: they defeated Villanova 79-75 on Feb. 7. Suddenly, the nation was asking about St. John.

The story of Mullin’s life — and the story of his team — is a story of redemption.

The Irish Catholic credits God: “Faith is everything,” he told Organic Catholics. “My Catholic upbringing I rely on daily. If you live a good life, good things will happen.”

Mullin was born in Brooklyn. With a passion for basketball, he took the subway all over New York City to find the most ferocious competition. Frequently, the palest player found it in the African American neighborhoods.

“For me, going up to a neighborhood if I had a bad game, I might not be allowed to come back,” Mullin said in the New York Daily News. “That was real pressure.”

legends-chris-mullinWith his hustle, ace shooting and unwillingness to be intimidated, the young Mullin gave them reason to learn his name.

During summers, Mullin attended local basketball camps at nearby St. John’s University. Hall of Fame Coach Lou Carnesecca spotted his talent and saw his raw hunger. A relationship began to form, and signing for the school was a natural choice for the Brooklyn native. He won the Big East Player of the Year three times.

A first round pick of the 1985 draft, Mullin carted across the country to the Warriors. He was lonely and called home excessively. By his third season, his alcoholism was taking a toll. He was overweight and missed practices. Coach Don Nelson gave him an ultimatum: shape up or his suspension would become expulsion.

Black Panther cast is largely Christian

chadwick-boseman-michael-jordan-christianThe box office-smashing Black Panther is not a Christian movie, but many of its actors are men and women of faith.

“During breaks (from filming) we shared our testimony of how we got to where did and most of the people were testifying to God’s miracles,” said Sope Aluko, who plays Shaman in the movie. “It was almost like church.”

The Nigeria-born actress raised mostly in the U.K. was not the only Christian on the set of the superhero movie that is being heralded as a watershed for black actors to shed minor roles and stereotypes. Just recently, the film became Marvel’s third-highest grossing, sending a rebuke to the mainstream media which constantly stokes the rifts that supposedly fracture our society along racial lines.

sope-aluko-christian-black-panther

Sope Aluko

In the movie, King T’Challa is the Black Panther and learns to save the world and break with an isolationist past of Wakanda, a fictional nation blessed by a vibranium meteorite that gave it supernatural powers.

It can be seen as a parable encouraging Christians to break out of their four walls. But the movie contains elements of witchcraft; in two scenes rival kings visit to the world of the dead and speak to their fathers. One must distinguish movie fantasy from demonic reality and not be tempted to dabble with evil.

The movie’s title role actor, Chadwick Boseman, credited prayer with him landing the role as the Black Panther.

christian-actors-black-panther-letitia-wright“You pray for something and then it actually occurs, you almost can’t believe it,” Boseman told Hunger magazine. “When they called me it was surreal. I had already written about Black Panther in my journals as something that I wanted to do.”

Boseman is maybe less vocal about his Christian faith, but his childhood pastor from Welfare Baptist Church in Anderson, South Carolina said what Boseman is doing now is a continuation of what he was doing in the church.

“I just seen him mature, and blossom into a man,” Pastor Samuel Neely told the Christian Post. “He did a lot of positive things within the church and within the community,” Neely said. “With him singing in the choir, with him working the youth group, he always was doing something, always helping out, always serving. That was his personality.”

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.

Christian actor Denzel Washington portrays evil characters as a lesson

 

denzel-washington-handsomestEven as a child of the Light, Denzel Washington hasn’t shied away from playing children of darkness, and his latest collaboration with Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy is no exception – even as it carries a warning to avoid the enticements of evil.

“God put us together,” Washington told the Gospel Herald. “We prayed every day, we read the daily Word every day. Dan and I have been prayer partners in this whole collaboration. We were on the same page from day one. We know Who we work for, and we’re just trying to do our best work.”

Washington is a vocal Christian, whereas Gilroy maintains a low profile regarding his faith.

In the film Roman J. Israel, Esq., Washington plays a bumbling, autistic lawyer, who is a law genius but socially awkward. The crux of the plot centers on the moment when Israel loses his idealism and sells out to become rich. As cynicism takes over, his life spirals downward.

Just before he’s killed by a rival’s henchmen, he sees how his life, before giving up self-sacrificing heroics, impacted others positively. The movie is a parable to anyone who has quit pursuing noble goals, whether a disgraced pastor or 1960s activist.

denzel-washington-christian-roman-j-israelThe son of a Pentecostal preacher in New York, Washington once considered becoming a pastor, but he decided he could reach more people through his acting. That might seem an odd choice since his father didn’t let him watch movies as a kid, but Washington found that his gift for acting was given by God.

“I speak now and I’m doing what God told me to do from the beginning,” Washington said. “It was prophesied that I would travel the world and preach to millions of people. It was prophesied when I was 20. I thought it was through my work and it has been. I’m all about the message, to the degree that I know it, and I’m unashamed and unafraid to share it.”

Pastor A.R. Bernard, senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York, helped him understand his calling, Washington said. Pastor Bernard spoke to him from Daniel chapter 10: “God puts leaders in place for a reason and a season… There’s a reason, you may not like what’s going on but the Boss has a reason.”

The 62-year-old actor has won two Academy Awards and has a long list of credits dating back to the 1970s that include Cry Freedom and Malcom X. While filming a T.V. movie, Washington met Pauletta Pearson, whom he married in 1983. The couple reside in Los Angeles and have four children.

About his latest role, Washington said he was drawn to the moral and psychological complexities of Israel.

“He is Old Testament, he knows the law, but, not to say he doesn’t have faith, but he has faith in the law,” he said. “His conviction was through the law.”

If he doesn’t balk at depicting evil on the screen, Washington also doesn’t falter from being a spokesperson for clean-living and loving God. Read the rest of Denzel Washington Christian.

At long last revival comes to Spain

559662fb0e300_557effad207e6_marcha9There was a time, during the reign of Franco, when Spain was arguably more Catholic than Italy. Evangelicals were forbidden to evangelize, meet outside their homes or print religious materials. Nevertheless a small band of fervent faith grew mostly in the independent region of Barcelona.

But now, the country – technically and symbolically part of the so-called 10-40 window most resistant to the Gospel – is experiencing unprecedented revival. Two new churches open every three weeks, and there are now 4,045 houses of worship, according to a new survey.

franco persecution of christians

Franco

More than 80 new places of worship opened in the last six months of 2017, according to the bi-annual report of the Observatory of Religious Pluralism of Spain’s Justice Ministry.

The growth is being consistently sustained, according to Maximo Alvarez, head of In Depth Evangelism in Spain.

“The figures keep growing thanks to initiatives of church planting that are being carried out by churches and denominations,” Alvarez told Christian Today.

Spain had been slow to catch on to the trend in Latin America, its former colonies, where the Gospel has spread like wildfire. From 1900 to 1960, 90 percent of Latin Americans identified as Catholics, but according to Pew Research the number has fallen to 69 percent. One in five Latin Americans consider himself Protestant.

marcos vidal

Marcos Vidal, Spanish Christian singer

Meanwhile, Muslim houses of worship also grew to nearly 1700 in Spain.

Historically, Spain was hostile to the Gospel. While England, Germany, France and Switzerland experienced the Protestant Reformation, Spain sponsored the Inquisition to stamp out similar movements with appalling tortures and lynchings.

Then, Francisco Franco took over in 1939. While officially neutral in World War 2, the dictator was fascist friendly. Political opposition was squelched mercilessly.

Franco was also deeply Catholic and actively repressed evangelical movements. It was said, “Franco was more Catholic than the Pope himself.” Religious “freedom” under Franco meant Christian evangelicals were only allowed to conduct church services in their homes, even with their own families. No visitors were allowed. Read the rest of revival in Spain.

Joy Villa loves controversy and babies

Joy_Villa_pro-life_dressJoy Villa always turns heads at the Grammy’s, but in January observers wondered if she went too far, too political, when she sported a white gala dress hand-painted with an 8-month-old fetus surrounded by a rainbow womb with the words on her matching purse: “Choose Life.”

make-america-great-againVilla — who among entertainers was a rare supporter of Trump with a “Make America Great Again” evening gown in the 2017 Grammys — shared that her motive to brazenly flout normative Hollywood politics was that she herself, pregnant at 20, alone and frightened, made the “most difficult and important decision of my life,” she wrote for Fox News. “I decided to carry my baby to term and then give her up for adoption to a loving family. I put her life over mine. It wasn’t easy. Every day was a struggle.”

Today Villa has an estimated net worth of $3 million. Her song (non-Christian) “I make the static” spiked charts at #1 after her MAGA/Trump publicity stunt. She lives comfortably in New York with her husband, Danish photographer Thorsten Overgaard.

But her life wasn’t always gold and glitter.

joy-villa-and-ivanka-trump“I was penniless, far from home and trapped in an abusive, toxic relationship with a man who had become a shadow of what he once was,” Villa wrote. “At 19 I fell in love with an older man who was very kind hearted with a good heart, but once he began using drugs our relationship quickly became a nightmare. The same arms that once held and protected me were weaponized; night after night, I’d hide in a corner, terrified of being beaten.”

She worked in entertainment but hadn’t achieved success, so she found herself at the mercy of a merciless man. When the contraception failed, she found herself in a clinic with a nurse pressuring her to avail herself of the easy escape.

“She told me, ‘We can do it now, it’ll make it all go away. I’ve had several abortions, in fact all three of my daughters have had several. You are too young to have kids. This is the best choice for you,'” Villa shared. “I had never considered abortion, I wanted to stay and make things right with the father, to have a real family. (The nurse) had already made my choice for me.”

The pressure from a “medical professional” warped her mind.

“I couldn’t stop crying: I had a beautiful baby growing inside of me,” Villa recalled. “For many women, becoming pregnant is a dream come true, but I was overcome with guilt, agony and shame.”

But Villa gathered courage to defy the urgings of so many people. Read the rest of Joy Villa abortion.

Even greater glory after Super Bowl for Nick Foles

Nick-Foles-JesusImprobably, second string quarterback Nick Foles carried the Philadelphia Eagles to lofty heights with their first ever Super Bowl championship. But he may soar to even greater heights after he retires.

Foles, a born-again Christian, wants to be a first string pastor.

“I wanted to be a pastor in a high school. It’s on my heart,” Foles told the AP. “I took a leap of faith last year and signed up to take classes at seminary. I want to continue to learn and challenge my faith. It’s a challenge because you are writing papers that are biblically correct. You want to impact people’s hearts.”

nick-foles-mvpFoles — and the Eagles — were somewhat of the underdogs of this year’s permutation of football glory. Not many thought they could out-pass Tom Brady or out-fox the Coach Bill Bellichick. After all, it’s no fluke that Brady and the Patriots have won five Super Bowls.

And when first-string QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL in the playoffs, there were those who saw the Eagles falling to earth with no more wind in their feathers.

In stepped Foles. He humiliated the Vikings to clinch the NFC conference championship.

nick-Foles-wife-Tori-Moore-FolesThen he squared off with Brady, the QB famous for making NFL players look like a gaggle of high schoolers. He faced him calmly.

“I felt calm,” he said in CBN. “We have such a great group of guys, such a great coaching staff. We’re very blessed.”

Then Foles executed an audacious pass reception for a TD. It was a trick play. But what silenced his detractors was the fact that Brady had just attempted basically the same play — and failed. The king of the gridiron bumbled the ball.

Did Foles intentionally mock Brady, succeeding where the Master had fallen?

Whatever the motive, Foles was named MVP of the game. He also earned bragging rights: He became the first QB to pass and receive touchdown passes in a Super Bowl.

He bested Brady 41-33 and bagged the bragging rights.

But he isn’t bragging: “All glory to God,” he said. Read the rest about Nick Foles Christian.

Bitty & Beau’s: a coffee house that employs special needs people

cnn-hero-amy-wright-super-They starred on Broadway, but their most celebrated roles came later as parents of two Down Syndrome kids, for whom they opened a coffee house.

Amy and Ben Wright — deacons at the Wilmington, NC, First Baptist Church — launched Bitty & Beau’s Coffee specifically to employ people like their children, workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The Wrights have become a national sensation, winning CNN’s Heroes of the Year, after being featured on national news. But their trajectory towards canonization was marked by emotional turmoil and disgrace.

cnn-hero-amy-wright“There was just an enormous amount of grief — it was like I was grieving the son I thought I was going to have,” Amy told Baptist News about the turmoil of disappointment before Beau’s birth. “When we learned about Beau’s diagnosis I felt so sad and overwhelmed.

“We are so embarrassed about that now,” she added to the Wilmington Star News. “But if we had had more exposure to people with Down Syndrome back then maybe we would have felt differently.”

She came to love her Down Syndrome boy.

no-one-will-hire-kids-with-down-syndrome-so-parents-open-shop-that-employs-only-those-like-them“I feel that was the moment I was drawn closer to God,” Amy said.

It wasn’t long before Amy saw that her special needs son was not a burden but a blessing. She saw his effervescent joy, and she discovered his giftings. People with Down’s Syndrome are in no way inferior or less worthy of life than others — and God has given them special qualities that others don’t have.

Six years later, Jane Adeline — called “Bitty” — was born also with Down Syndrome. Having two children with Down Syndrome is extremely rare.

“When you become a parent of a child with special needs, you are instantly thrust into becoming an advocate,” Amy said in CNN. “Trying to make people see the beauty in their lives that we see. My children are not broken.”

Eventually, Amy and Ben decided they would do something to help other people with IDD, 70 percent of which are unemployed. In February of 2016, they opened a coffee shop, which they named after their kids, and hired a crew of 40 with IDD ranging from autism to cerebral palsy.

To see Bitty & Beau’s employees making java or ringing up customers, to see them singing and laughing with clients in their new 5,000-square-foot facility, brings a sensation of faith restored in humanity. It packs a joy-filled jolt that’s better than caffeine. Read more about Bitty & Beau’s Christian coffee house for special needs employees.

She bombed a South Korean passenger jet. Then she found Jesus.

kim-hyon-hui-arrestedAs a North Korean agent, Kim Hyon-hui killed 115 passengers on a Seoul-bound flight to disrupt the 1988 Olympic games in South Korea. She was apprehended by authorities and after her trial she accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and found new life in Him.

As the Winter Olympics are underway, Kim’s story of redemption and a fresh start — and her plea to be forgiven by the South Koreans — has come to the forefront after years in which she maintained a low profile.

wreakage-of-1990-KAL-plane“In North Korea, I lived as Kim Il Sung’s robot,” Kim, now 56, told the Washington Post. “In South Korea, I got to live a new life. Can my sins be pardoned? They probably won’t be.””

While the general public may never forgive a mass murderer, God’s grace pursued this unlikely recipient of His unmerited favor.

Born in Kaesong in 1962 to a diplomat, Kim excelled in school and was recruited early in her college career to work as a spy for the world’s most repressive communist dictatorship. Schooled in propaganda from childhood, Kim thoroughly believed in the absolute benevolence of her dictator — and the malevolence of South Korea, of Japan and of the United States. She believed she was defending her nation.

Kim hyon huiAfter seven years of training in Japanese, Chinese, martial arts, code-cracking, infiltration and covert operations, Kim was ready to carry out orders to blow up Korea Airlines 858 in a desperate attempt to disrupt and discredit South Korea during their hosting of the 1988 summer Olympic games.

Traveling with a senior partner under a fake passport and Japanese identity, Kim boarded and left a time bomb, disguised as a small Panasonic radio in carry-on luggage. She and her partner, Kim Seung Il, got off the plane in Abu Dhabi.

Tragically, the bomb exploded and killed all the passengers over the Indian Ocean.

Kim and Seung crisscrossed the globe to throw off tails, and eventually make their way back to North Korea. But in Bahrain, security grew suspicious and detained them.

Realizing they were about to taken into custody, the couple bit off cyanide pills hidden in cigarettes to commit suicide.

“We were taught that if an agent fails on a mission, he or she needs to commit suicide,” Kim told the Daily Mail. “We need to swallow the pill to protect the secret. We know very well that our families in the North would be harmed, so naturally we decided to swallow the pills. At the time I thought my 25-year-old life ends like this.’

The poison worked for Seung, but Kim woke up in the hospital. Read the rest about Kim Hyon-hui Christian.

Girl forced to marry speaks out against child marriage

When she was 10 years old, her parents were pressuring her to marry a 26-year-old. That marriage was never consummated, but a year later they were pressuring her again to marry an older man, so she ran away from home.

“I can’t live with them anymore. What have the children done wrong?” Nada Al-Ahdal asked in a video posted shortly after she fled in 2013. “I would have no life, no education. I’m better off dead. I’d rather die (than get married). They threatened to kill me if I went to my uncle. What kind of people threaten their own children? I won’t go back to live with them. They’ve killed my dreams. This is no upbringing. This is criminal, simply criminal.”

Nada fled to the house of her uncle, who took her in and agreed to raise her and make sure she received a good education. Nada filed a police report against her mother in her native Yemen. Her video hit 7 million views in three days, according to Wikipedia.

“I managed to solve my problem, but some children can’t solve their,” she said, according to MEMRI. “They might die, commit suicide or do whatever comes to their mind. Some children decide to throw themselves into the sea. They’re dead now. This is not normal for innocent children.

“My maternal aunt was 14 years old. She lasted one year with her husband, and then she poured gasoline over herself and set herself on fire,” she added. “She died. He would beat her with metal (chains). He would get drunk.”

Finish reading about Nada Ahdal.

Fast and Furious star, no doubt, driving fast in Heaven

Paul-Walker-Fast-and-the-FuriousJust before The Fast and Furious star Paul Walker crashed and killed himself, his father admonished him: “No more daredevil stuff.”

While the steel-eyed Walker loved adrenaline driving in movies and in real life, he was less reckless with his soul.

“I’m a Christian now,” Paul Walker Jr. told USA Today. “The people I don’t understand are atheists. I go surfing and snowboarding and I’m always around nature. I look at everything and think, ‘Who couldn’t believe there’s a God? Is all this a mistake?’ It just blows me away.”

Walker-left-with-Vin-DiesOn Nov. 30, 2013, Walker was executing a high-speed “drifting” turn in Valencia in his Porsche Carrera GT when he slammed into a light post and tree. The car burst into flames and the celebrity died “within a nanosecond,” according to one account.

He exited this world, leaving the hearts of hundreds of thousands of adoring fans. He roared into Heaven, no doubt, at speeds he could never imagine.

Walker — who played the levelheaded Brian O’Connor in the The Fast Furious franchise — was born into a Mormon family in Glendale, CA, but was sent to a born-again Christian school, Sun Valley’s Village Christian School, from which he graduated in 1991. At some point in time, his convictions changed from those of his parents and he sided with the teachings of his school.

usa-paulwalkerHis first acting gig was for Pampers diapers when he was a toddler. He studied marine biology and developed a passion for sea life. His grandfather raced factory cars for Ford in the 1960s, and Walker apparently inherited the speed demon from him.

Until his breakout role as the level-headed Bryan O’Connor in the $5 billion grossing series The Fast and Furious, Walker featured in small parts in Highway to Heaven, Who’s the Boss?, The Young and the Restless, and Touched by an Angel.

A “fun, funny and carefree” guy, Walker was liked by his fellow actors, his former schoolmates and his millions of fans.

He loved surfing, tagging sharks for study and jiu-jitsu.

He also cared about suffering around the world. He founded the charity Reach Out Worldwide and led teams of doctors and aid workers to places struck by natural disasters. In January 2010, he flew to Haiti after a massive earthquake left people homeless, without power, hungry and in need of medical attention. Ironically, he had surfed there a year earlier.

“The idea that people I’d gotten to know might have been hurt or killed brought the disaster a lot closer to home,” Walker told Merrill Lynch. His group built shelters and attended to the injured. Read the rest: Paul Walker Christian.

Behind the dark lyrics lurks hope in NF’s hip hop

NF-lonelinessAdmittedly, NF’s hip-hop is “dark and moody.” Don’t look for a Sunday schoolish happy-ever-after in his music, though he is a Christian.

Nathan Feuerstein’s rage emanates from the festering wounds of a broken home. His parents divorced when he was young, and his mom struggled with opioid addiction.

As a kid, NF didn’t understand why Mom missed events — even his graduation. One of her boyfriends physically abused him and delighted in striking terror in his two sisters. In high school, NF cut all communication with her because he felt strange and uncomfortable when the court ordered a social worker to monitor his conversations with her.

NF-Christians-in-painWhen he was 18, he received a heart-rending call. His grandmother said Mom had overdosed.

His soul-wrenching dirge “Why would you leave us?” was born of that personal apocalypse. It is a bone-chilling confessional that leaves no skeleton in the closet. Its unfiltered pathos is making people cry across the nation.

If Mandisa tells listeners “you’re an overcomer,” NF reassures them if they haven’t found victory in Christ. He splatters ghouls into his lyrics, and the fiendish formula is resonating with millennials nationwide who want to know if there’s a viable alternative to suicide.

NF-Christian“I grew up feeling like pills were more important than I was,” NF says in a YouTube video. “I’m not past that. Some people pretend to be out of that place. Or they assume that’s what ‘Christian’ means. It means that we’re all great and everything’s perfect. That’s not what it is.”

NF was born in Gladwin, Michigan, in 1991. Rap was his escape, first listening to it, then writing it. His high school teachers mocked his musical inspirations.

His early flounderings seemed to confirm the admonitions to get a real job. He drove an old Volvo that overheated so much he changed his schedule to drive at night. Between concerts, he worked as an electrician to pay bills.

But in October of 2017, NF silenced his detractors and left behind hardships when his third album, Perception, unexpectedly ranked #1 on Billboard 200. At the time, Forbes Magazine expressed shock that a virtual unknown had nudged Tom Petty’s greatest hits album off the top perch.

NF is a street poet who lashes out stinging rhymes with 220-volt intensity. He’s drawn comparisons to Dr. Dre and fellow Michigan native Eminem, but his lyrics are devoid of curse words, misogyny, crime and utter despair.

While he sounds the depths of pain, he points to God. Read the rest of NF Christian hip hop artist.

Freedom from meth

Jesus-breaks-every-chainNot even jail was as hard as rehab at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Pasadena, according to Dominique Perry.

To be sure, during his lock-up he faced simmering racial tension and even violence. But he had a lot of free time and made hairbrushes out of soap bars and toothbrushes that he could sell to buy Cokes and chips.

In the rehab, he thought they overloaded him with rules and endless meetings. They raided his room based on “stupid suspicions.” Once, Dominique got raided for an electric toothbrush with attachments that someone thought could be used as a weapon.

meth-addict-saved-by-Jesus“In jail it’s all about survival of the fittest, the bigger guy getting on the little guy. But all you have to do is listen to the guard. You can sleep all day,” Dominique said. “But in rehab you have to wake up early. Two cursings is a kick out. You have to go to three meetings a day. It gets you out of your comfort zone.”

Despite seething under the regimen, Dominique, now 26, graduated after eight months at the rehab center in July 2017, He had kicked meth, is serving the Lord and got a job as a dispatcher for a security company.

street-evangelismHe’s come a long way since his early days in Pacoima, a poor, mostly African American neighborhood of Los Angeles. His father left the household when he was a tyke. In high school, he started smoking weed, skipping class and trying to be cool.

“I always said we never needed dad. My mom always gave us everything. She was full of love,” Dominique said. “But maybe I needed him.”

He was good at football and was offered several scholarships for community colleges. But with his mind clouded by drugs, he never accepted one.

“I was picking and cocky. I was ignorant. I wasn’t really thinking,” he said. “I didn’t go to any of them. I just stayed home and started smoking more weed. I started deviating and falling into gangs.”

In Catholic middle school, he was taunted by the Boys from the Projects, a Latino gang. Dominique is half Mexican and half African American, but he looks more African American. So the Boys from the Projects started throwing rocks at him during PE.

The nuns were afraid themselves, he said, so he took matters into his own hands. He was already getting big, bigger than his taunters, so he beat them and chased them off.

“I felt powerful,” he said. “That day I went to the barber shop and told my story. Some bloods were there. There was a guy there with new shoes, and he said, ‘You wanna go get them?’ That was the worst mistake of my life. I wanted to feel protected and I wanted to claim something that people would recognize that I could strike fear.”

He was jumped the next day by six gang members. Seeing the bruises afterward, his mom cried and took him to the ER. He lied and said he fell down.

“Joining the gang opened the door of sin. I was constantly trying to prove myself. It led to worse and worse things – shootings and drugs and violence. I started losing control of my own personal life. I lost track of going to school. I lost track of my family. I thought what I was doing was more important.”

He got arrested for showing off some brass knuckles in high school. Later he was nabbed for wearing red gang gear and throwing signs. When the cops grabbed him, he also had Ecstasy pills and marijuana, when it was illegal in California.

His third arrest was for meth.

“I used to look down on crackheads,” Dominique said. “But some females introduced me to it. I started to think it was cool because I wanted to be a player. I was young and reckless. I wanted to stay up all night and party, and meth was a booster. They persuaded me to smoke it, and I accepted. There was a rush in my body, and then I started smoking it more and more.” Read the rest of freedom from meth.

She brought and got happiness at Santa Monica Christian school

Christian-school-santa-monicaSenior Petrina Gratton is a honor-roll tri-athlete at the Lighthouse Christian Academy. She participates in soccer, volleyball and swimming. She says her favorite sport is volleyball, and that makes sense because she was the captain!

She is graduating this year as a 16-year-old senior.

“I will miss all of my friends and all the goof goobers I have to interact with everyday,” she says.

Trina’s favorite thing about the our Santa Monica Christian school is “how the teachers actually put in effort to try and talk to you and get to know you a little because most bigger schools tend to not really build relationships with the students. I appreciate all the sacrifices they have made for me, as well as the whole school, because they really work together to try to make this place the best it can be.”

Trina says that Lighthouse has helped her reconnect with her faith and helped her figure out some of her passions.

“They have helped me discover more about my faith as well as my interest in film because if I didn’t go to LCA I don’t think I’d realize how much of a passion I have for filmmaking,” she said. “So there’s a shoutout to Mr. (Jack) Mefford for being the best film teacher ever!!” Read the rest of Santa Monica Christian school senior reminisces on wonderful experiences.

A hero lost in heroin got saved by Jesus

Pasadena-Community-Christian-ChurchCarlton Edwards ran and shot so well in Vietnam that he earned the Army’s Bronze Star Medal. But recognition for his heroics could not assuage the stress of war, so when buddies introduced him to heroin outside of Saigon in 1972, he readily indulged.

Carlton grew up in Mt. Vernon, New York, with six other family members in a three-room apartment governed by an alcoholic father. He was drafted out of high school in 1969 and served four years in Vietnam but never got busted for drug use.

“I was a very functional addict,” he said. “I used two or three times a day. It was to help me deal with the pressures of the war. It gave you comfort, totally relaxation, almost sleep, but you were aware of the things around you. It took you out of the reality of the pain you’re going through. It was sedative.”

Stationed in Germany years later, Carlton hung with the Army’s bad boys, the guys who had killed and strutted around flaunting their toughness. But a little guy named Morphus kept harassing him, popping up behind him to remind him, “God loves you.”

Carlton thought he was way beyond God’s ability to forgive, with all the terrible things he had done. Plus, “this God thing didn’t go with being in military and hanging with the tough crowd,” he said. So Carlton asked the annoying Morphus what he wanted – hoping he would leave him alone.

Morphus told Carlton that if he attended his Bible study the next day at noon, he wouldn’t pester him again. Read the rest of Vietnam vet freed from heroin.

Army Ranger Tim Moynihan found God

Tim-Moynihan-Ranger-1993-Preacher-2016Growing up in East Hartford, Connecticut, Tim Moynihan loved war, espionage and sci-fi. He chaffed at school with a longing for adventure, so at 18 he enlisted and started boot camp following his graduation.

He first jumped out of an airplane with the Army Airborne during the summer between his junior and senior college years as an ROTC cadet at Providence College in Rhode Island.

“I wanted to be the guy, Captain Willard, portrayed by Martin Sheen” in Apocalypse Now, said Moynihan, now 52.

Through the Army, he became a commissioned intelligence officer and entered Ranger school in 1990.

Tim-Moynihan-Ranger-Christian-family“It was brutal,” he said bluntly.

One day, he was climbing up a cliff when he fell. He had read Hal Lindsey’s Countdown to Armageddon. Biblical prophecy fit in with his other interests in UFOs, Nostradamus and metaphysics.

He was no Christian, even though he had grown up in a staunchly Catholic family. Mostly he pursued punk rock, beer and girls.

But as he was falling through the air, a prayer flashed through his head, a prayer to an unfamiliar God. Suddenly and inexplicably to him, the rope tightened and broke his fall, a mere matter of feet from a bloody crash on the ground.

Tim-and-Sue-Moynihan-Army-1992“That was a close call,” he said. “Somehow I knew God had saved me. Then out of the blue, a man at my unit invited me to his evangelical Bible study.”

At first, Moynihan declined, but the guy persisted and he eventually relented.

“I went, hated it, didn’t want to return,” he said.

The Word confronted areas of sin he wasn’t ready to surrender.

His buddy challenged him to attend the Bible study again, but, honestly, the tough Ranger was…. afraid… to go.

“I felt fear about going back,” he admitted. “Yet I had just graduated from one of the toughest, most dangerous military schools in existence, so I forced myself to go again. Then again.

“Suddenly it all made sense,” he added. “One day I was reading in my room and it dawned on me that I was going to hell. That I had been just plain wrong for 26 years. I got off my bed and knelt on the floor and asked God to forgive me for being an idiot for 26 years.”

He became a new creation in Christ on that day in 1991. He married his live-in girlfriend, Sue, within the week – even though she wasn’t convinced of the truths of Christianity until about a year later. Read the rest of the article about Tim Moynihan.