To combat depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, Eden Frenkel delved into personal development, self actualization, Buddhism, meditation, Hinduism and the mystical interpretation within Judaism known as Kabbalah.
“To be honest, I enjoyed the process of studying those cultures, but they were very temporary fulfillments,” the Jewish born singer says on her YouTube channel, Graves into Gardens. “I constantly needed to go back and search for more. They didn’t fill the emptiness. I was looking for peace and happiness.”
As a 12-year-old in the synagogue, she stayed before the ark and prayed longingly to God after everyone had left and gone to eat.
“God, I know there is something,” she uttered. “I don’t understand. I feel like there is something between us.”
Eden had a proclivity for music but joined the Canadian Army as a career. In addition to seeking peace from religion, she sought peace from psychedelics. She had suffered some abuse as a child, she says, and sought in vain to resolve the trauma.
When she got stationed in Toronto, she met some Christian women who were extremely friendly and they invited her to study the Bible. Why not? she thought, since she had studied so many other religions.
What she found out about Jesus startled her.
“All I knew growing up was he was a man who did miracles. In the beginning, I didn’t really take it seriously,” she says. “But after getting to know who Jesus was and what He did and what he claimed to be and what he wanted for his people, it was incredible.
Linda Seiler’s struggle with transgender desires and same-sex attraction had always made her feel like God was condemning her– but it wasn’t until she spoke to fellow Christians about her issue that her journey towards healing truly began.
“From my earliest memory I wanted to be a boy instead of a girl,” Linda says on her personal webpage. “As a child, I prayed repeatedly for God to make me into a boy and became obsessed with my pursuit.”
No one knew about Linda’s frustrations. To everyone around her, she was simply a tomboy, and nothing more.
“Around fourth grade, I heard about sex reassignment surgeries and vowed I would have the operation as soon as I was old enough and had the money,” Linda recounts.
Linda’s sexuality was further confused when her friends introduced her to pornography. Watching it, she envisioned herself as a male, reinforcing her dysphoria.
“In junior high, when all the other girls were interested in makeup and boys, to my horror, I found myself attracted to women, especially older teachers who were strong yet nurturing.”
Distressed by her fantasies and set back by the difficulties of getting a sex reassignment surgery, Linda decided to conform to societal expectations for women. This didn’t rid her of her mental troubles, however.
“I envied the boys around me whose voices were beginning to change, and I mourned the fact that mine would never change like that,” Linda says. “Instead, I had to submit to wearing training bras and being inconvenienced by monthly periods.”
During her junior year of high school, Linda gave her life to Christ. But things didn’t immediately get better.
“I began doubting my salvation experience because my struggles didn’t go away like I thought they would,” Linda recounts. “Yet, I knew Jesus had done something in my heart, and I wanted to follow Him.”
Linda began to experience a spiritual battle for her heart and mind. She attempted to do everything to fit in with other girls– including dating men in hopes of “curing” herself– but her inner thoughts told her that she was meant to be male. Suicide became a real consideration.
“In college, I got involved with a campus ministry and developed a deeper relationship with God, praying and reading my Bible regularly, even sharing Christ with the lost,” Linda says. “I eventually became a student leader despite the fact that I was deeply attracted to women who mentored me and was enslaved to sexual addictions behind closed doors.”
Linda begged for God to take away her transgender desires, praying earnestly for healing.
“My senior year in college, I attended a campus ministry talk on overcoming habitual sin,” Linda recounts. “The speaker quoted James 5:16, ‘Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’”
Linda was convicted by this message and confessed her secret struggle to her campus pastor.
“He responded to me in love, assuring me that he was committed to finding me the help I needed,” Linda states. “I couldn’t believe it. I walked away from that conversation with a fresh revelation of God’s grace.”
Up until that point, Linda had felt that God hated her for her sin. However, this experience shifted her view of God from a severe judge to a loving father.
“For the first time, I discovered that being completely transparent with another person was very healing,” Linda says. “I didn’t have to hide anymore.”
Linda’s campus pastor ended up connecting her with a professional counselor. The next ten years were full of turbulence as Linda sought healing.
“It was a slow process, as there were not a multitude of resources at that time to help women struggling with transgender issues,” Linda states. “In fact, well-meaning Christian counselors told me they had seen homosexuals and lesbians set free but never… Read the rest: Transformation for Transgenders
As an immature Christian, Nathaniel Buzolic got a big bite of international fame as Kol Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries. But now that he’s committed more deeply to Christ, Nate preaches regularly to his 2.4M Instagram followers and many have gotten saved.
A lot of those saved are Muslims behind the “Islamic veil,” a set of borders where strict Muslim beliefs are enforced and evangelizing is punishable by death.
“I won’t name the countries that they’re in for their protection, but I’ve got Muslim people who have converted to Christianity because of my social media,” Nate says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “I interact pretty boldly with the Muslim community on my social media.
“I don’t think God goes, ‘Hey, I’m all for vampire shows,’ but he goes, ‘I’m going to use them for my glory.’ Look how God can use what the world tries to push, a demonic thing and witchcraft, for himself.”
The son of poor immigrants in Australia, Nate dreamed of acting and moved to Los Angeles when he was 24. He first heard the gospel and responded when he was 27 at a Passion Conference in Atlanta but wasn’t strongly impacted until six years later.
“It made me ask what’s my life really all about it in an Ecclesiastes sort of way,” he says. “It made all the things I was pursuing like acting and fame really sort of meaningless. I thought there has to be something more.”
At the time, he was working on The Vampire Diaries, the internationally famous CW teen series that launched him to fame as he played the sympathetic villain Kol Mikaelson.
Regarding Christ, he was convinced but not so committed. He had a French Muslim girlfriend and gloated that he didn’t judge anyone. But when she broke his heart by cheating on him, Nate was so shattered he wanted to die at 33.
“I was at rock bottom,” he admits. “I was in a very dark place. I’d be on an airplane, and I’d say, ‘God bring it down. I want it to all be over.’ I wanted to be numbed. I didn’t want to feel anymore.”
To get to some of the most remote Liberian villages, a native missionary walks seven hours through the jungle.
“Sometimes we encounter mosquitoes, snakes or lions, among other animals,” the unnamed missionary told Christian Aid Mission (CAM). “We get sick. Idol worshippers sometimes threaten us, saying that if we don’t leave their village, they will kill us.
“We have to contend with all of that relying on God, the author and finisher of our faith.”
His willingness to endure hardship to bring the gospel to the unreached shows the value of “native missionaries” – locals who carry out the Great Commission to their nation. As a general rule, they are willing to suffer more than foreign missionaries and have the capacity to reach more people.
“In some places we go, there is nowhere to sleep; we just lie on the dirt floor,” says the unnamed ministry leader. “There may be no good, safe drinking water or light. When the battery in the flashlight I carry is finished, there’s nowhere to get additional light at all. There are no shops or stores in the jungle.”
In Liberia, 43% of the population follows an ethnic religion. About 40% are Christian, 12% of which is evangelical. Islam holds 12%.
But the labors of native missionaries are improving those statistics. Within a recent six-month period, the missionary and team led 270 people to confess their belief in Christ, the report says.
One recent convert formerly had lived like a prodigal. As a young girl, she wasted most of her life abusing drugs, alcohol and smoking.
“When I shared the gospel with her, I told her the story of the two sons in Luke 15, then I told her, if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you, He will. Without hesitation, she immediately accepted the Lord Jesus, and she was baptized and is serving in the church as an usher, doing it with joy.”
How do the local missionaries make inroads into remote villages that are resistant to the Gospel? Sometimes, by farming… Read the rest: Missions in Liberia.
Despite being involved with the Brooklyn mafia, drug dealing, and losing his connection with his daughter, Robert Borelli made a 180 degree turn that changed the future course of his life.
“As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York, being a small guy, I had to be a little rough kid. You had to learn how to fight,” Robert told DadTalk.
Robert’s neighborhood was tough and, unbeknownst to him initially, it was run by the Gambino crime family.
“They protected the neighborhood and got all the respect from just about everybody in it, including police officers.” Robert continues. “There was mutual respect between the officers and the mafia guys.”
Robert was well-liked by the mafia affiliates, and he often attended their social clubs to run errands.
“At the age of 17 years old, I started hanging out with one of the mob guys’ sons,” Robert says. “His dad often had a big spread every Friday night where all the wise guys from the neighborhood would come meet him and give him respect.”
Robert was impressed by the influence of the men there and was drawn towards the criminal lifestyle.
“My family had a hard time making ends meet. There were financial arguments in the house over rent, and at that age, that was not something I was looking forward to having for the rest of my life.”
Robert’s gravitated towards the mafia life, drawn by the respect, money, and nice clothes offered by it.
“See the people?” a mafia man told him one day as they observed some people at a bus stop. “They are the suckers; they have to go to work, and they give half their money to the government. We’re gonna keep that money for ourselves.’”
But by age 20, he was deep into trouble with the law. He had a murder case and possession of a weapon case. Prison offered the proof that he was good for the mafia because he didn’t “rat anybody out.”
So when he was released, he was ready to operate and scale up in the lifestyle portrayed fairly accurately, he says, by the movie “Goodfellas.”
“I was getting recognition,” Robert says. “I got involved in selling drugs.”
Robert was living a fast-paced life of partying, drugs, recognition and excitement. Robert demanded respect, and he would even resort to violence to get it. He wasn’t only running drugs; drugs were running him. He became a “crackhead.”
But then something happened that would change everything.
“In 1993, a little girl was born, my daughter, Brianna, and seven weeks into having her home, I walked out of her life to get high just for that night,” Robert states. “It ended up not being just for that night, and I ended up staying out getting high.”
Mom didn’t like his newly adopted lifestyle and forced him to stay away from their daughter so she wouldn’t get corrupted.
Finally the law caught up with Robert and he was Incarcerated for a long stint. He missed his daughter, but his wife wouldn’t let him talk to her on the prison phone.
“No matter if you’re a mobster or a crackhead, to walk out of your daughter’s life… Read the rest: Robert Borelli mafioso
Jodi Benson, 1989 voice actor for the main character in “The Little Mermaid,” repeatedly begged her Christian husband for a divorce when the movie came out. Jodi’s career was successful, but her home life was failing.
“My personal life was plummeting,” Jodi says in an article published by the Billy Graham Association. “I had a real crisis of belief.”
Jodi wound up staying with her husband Ray. They got counseling and had two kids. Her home life is now successful, as is her career, and she credits Jesus for everything.
Raised in a single parent household in Rockford, Ill., Jodi dreamed of singing.
“This dream that I had in my mind was so far-fetched from where I was,” Jodi said. “I’m sure everybody just thought I was crazy.”
She attended Millikin University in Dacatur, Ill. In 1983, she earned her debut role in the Broadway musical Marilyn: An American Fable. The next year she met Ray Benson, became a Christian, and got married to him.
Moving to New York, Jodi landed an ensemble spot in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Two years later, she landed the starring role in Smile on Broadway.
Her biggest role, however, came when she auditioned for the part of Ariel. Out of a field of hundreds of applicants, Jodi was chosen. Ironically, she wasn’t excited with the part.
At the time, animation voice-overs were viewed as jobs for people whose careers were winding down. Voice-over actors didn’t even get mentioned in the credits. Benson, who was in her mid-20s, didn’t like the idea her career might be viewed as fading.
No one could have imagined how big “The Little Mermaid” would become. Instead of earmarking her for a dying career, it catapulted her to stardom.
But when she hit the apex of her career, her marriage was hitting its lows. She was focusing on her career, but her family was on shaky ground. She and her husband wavered between reaffirming their relationship or trashing it.
“I begged him for a divorce,” she says. “I had my foot on the pedal on a cliff in California. I was ready… Jodi Benson Christian.
To keep from panicking in tense games, Clara Czer says a keyword to herself when she goes to hit or serve. Usually, the word derives from her personal faith.
“I was really nervous,” the junior says. “The only thing on my mind was Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
Lighthouse Christian Academy fended off a public high school 73 times larger Wednesday to advance into semi-finals, but it drew down a cardiac Game 5 in which they were trailing 6-11.
Chaffey High School from Ontario, with 3,300 students, was within four points to win. Lighthouse, population 45, needed to surmount nine points.
“We had to really struggle in the last set,” says Roxy Photenhauer. “All of us agreed it was God. We came back from that time out, and we did not let a ball drop. We really, really, really fought hard because we owed it to ourselves and the rest of our teammates.”
At the end of the day, Game 5 went 18-16. (Game 5 goes to 15, but you have to win by two points.)
It was a scrappy win that saw the Saints lose some of the former fine form. LCA’s main hatchet-bearer Dahlia Gonzalez struggled with long hits. Squandering opportunities, serves went long. Players played through injury and sickness.
It was an agonizing game.
In Game 1, Lighthouse relapsed into a habitual poor form. Throughout the season, the Saints don’t seem to hit the ground running but take a full first game to find their form. Down for the whole game, they lost 17-25.
In Game 2, after both teams staying neck-and-neck, Lighthouse pulled away to seal off a 25-21 victory.
In Game 3, Lighthouse went down 5-11 receiving Chaffey’s strong serves like mortar shells.
But the girls kept their mental strength and rallied to level at 12-12. Elizabeth Foreman, LCA’s tall center, was slicing up the opposition with hits that cut like a warm knife through a cheesecake.
Having come from behind, Lighthouse finished off 25-18.
Momentum was on the Saints’ side.
But the Tigers pounced on their opportunities in Game 4 and pulled ahead in the middle of the game, while Lighthouse committed errors. The set ended 20-25.
Both teams were even with two wins, but Chaffey were riding high in confidence.
In Game 5, the Tigers continued to wreak havoc with its strong serves, pulling ahead 6-11 — a mere four points from victory. But in the time out, a flush Clara rallied the troops: “There were so many times that we were all so defeated. But I was like no, it’s not 15 yet.”
Suddenly, Dahlia, in the serving position, rediscovered her inner HIMARS. As 200 Saints fans shouted “Do it again, Dahlia!” the sophomore aimed and took fire. The Ukrainians take out Russian tanks, Dahlia hunted Tigers.
It became 13-11.
With hearts leaping out of chests on both sides, went 14-13 and then 16-16.
Either side needed two points.
With Chaffey serving, the girls played for 27 seconds back and forth, with both sides being cautious to not make a mistake, until Chaffey hit the ball into the night and Lighthouse got the point and the serve.
Roxie served a sinking ball that forced the Tigers into a dive on the floor. The return for the Saints was easy but instead of smashing the ball, sophomore Allie Scribner played it safe and lobbed the ball over.
Three voices screamed at Stacy’s Mom all the time. Sometimes, she screamed back.
“She heard these voices for over 40 years,” Stacy says on a Christian Reads and Classics YouTube video. “These voices were horrible they said the worst things to her; they would cuss at her; they would call her names.”
That made for two sufferers: Stacy’s mom and Stacy. Mom was in and out of psychiatric hospitals, so Stacy was left alone, fearful and resentful.
Stacy was born in Baltimore in 1977. Mom wasn’t diagnosed with schizophrenia until six months after Stacy’s birth, and Dad was a functional alcoholic who spent all evenings at the bar. “A lot of my childhood I spent completely alone,” she says.
“They were in no position to have a kid,” she says. “But they did, and here I am.”
Try as she might, Mom never got the upper hand over the voices and the breakdowns.
“She would make me breakfast, get me off to school, and then I would come home from school and she would be gone,” Stacy says. “I knew she was in the hospital. I blamed the loneliness and a lot of bad things on my mom because as I kid, I thought it was her choice to leave.”
They never went to church, but Mom played Christian music, wrote down scriptures and called herself born-again — things that Stacy didn’t understand.
“We had a very strained relationship,” Stacy admits.
“The voices would scream at her. They would cuss at her. They would call her names,” Stacy says. “My mom would hear this all the time. She was literally being tortured.”
Part of the reason Dad stayed at the bar was to not have to be around Mom, due to her unstable condition.
In high school, Stacy got drunk and high to escape her life. At age 18, she moved in with her boyfriend, not so much because she loved him as because he was the easiest excuse to move away from Mom. That didn’t last.
Eventually, she started dating the man who became her husband, a Marine with whom she moved for a time to England. It was he who suggested they start attending church. But the type of church they attended left much to be desired. When she shared about her fruitless search to help her mom, they glibly responded that she “didn’t have enough faith” in prayer.
Frustrated with longstanding unanswered prayer, Stacy “walked away” from God; they stopped attending church.
FAISALABAD, Pakistan — Kids as young as 2 years old are working in the brick-making fields of Pakistan. One man with a free school wants to change that.
Sarfraz Anwar’s father and brother started in the brick fields. To make bricks, they squat and grab a ball of moist clay-rich earth. They form it into a loaf, cover it with dry dust, and plop it into a mould. It is turned over and dropped onto the ground in long rows to bake under the blistering sun.
It’s a grueling job, and most who fall into this line of work never get out. Some get indebted to their employees when they borrow for their weddings (Pakistanis love 3-day ceremonies with much expenses). They spend the next decades of their life trying to pay off that debt, much like a student loan in America — only they become almost like slaves.
But Dad and Umar escaped the fields. They had a vision to work as Christian laborers. First Dad took at a double shift in security to raise money to launch a school for children that could be free. With whatever free time, he pedaled his bike to the brick fields and sprend the message of hope. Read the rest:
Vitalii Glopina may never know what the three Russian gangsters sent to kill him saw as one raised the knife to stab Vitalii.
“They turned white. They were shaking,” he says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “He threw the knife down. They ran out of there. In that moment, I knew there was a God.”
Well, of course. He had just prayed that if there were a God, to rescue him.
That was the end of atheism for Vitalii, who blamed God for the death of his sister and played out his anger against the injustice done to his family by getting into drugs, alcohol, and easy money.
With his sister growing up in Ukraine, Vitalii had a peculiar hobby, looking for mushrooms. On one occasion, he asked his sister to get out of work early so they could get a headstart on their mushroom enthusiasm. “I felt responsible for her death,” Vitalii says.
On that fateful night, his sister was kidnapped. They found her injured and took her to a hospital where she lingered between life and death for two days. Young Vitalii pleaded with God for her life, and when she died, he vowed to become an atheist.
From 18 years, he pour his life into substance abuse and crime. He joined a Russian mafia gang and made good money as the key man; he was the one who broke into cars and got them started.
He was a brainiac for technology. He got straight A’s in school, but he also had keyed all the rooms and could break in at will to classrooms and offices.
When he graduated high school, he got a scholarship to Romania, where he would learn cybernetics.
He vowed that in the new place, he would turn over a new leaf. His vow to be sober and make good lasted only three days, within which time he found a dealer and the mafia and fell back into his old habits.
Vitalii would show up and get into the BMW7 series vehicles. Sometimes they would steal the car outright, sometimes they would just steal the parts. When the insurance paid for new parts, his team could fill the order through a front company and rebuild the car they themselves had disassembled.
It was lucrative work, but every night Vitalii was hobbled by crippling guilt.
“I had to be stoned to death to be able to sleep,” he admits.
His penchant for heavy substance abuse caused him to wind up with overdoses: three times on drugs, twice on alcohol. A triple dosage brought him to the hospital on Christmas Eve, where he confessed to hospital staff where the drugs were.
The cops raided, and he lost $5,000 worth of merchandise.
From Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Christina Baker’s stepdad sent her with a one-way ticket to Maui, where reportedly her biological dad lived.
After waiting six hours to be picked up at the airport, Dad finally showed up.
“This is crazy that you’re here,” he told her as they drove from the airport. “I need to tell you something. I’m homeless and I’m living in a tent on the beach.”
That is how Christina’s life flowed into uncharted waters.
The bedlam began when her parents divorced. Mom flew straight to Bolivia. To the ache of not having her father, add the confusion of culture shock and language barriers.
“When my parents divorced, it really set me over the edge,” Christina said on a 100 Huntley Street video interview. “I was just drawn to the darkness because I felt that way inside.”
Christina took refuge in the Goth lifestyle with its emo depression.
“My life was totally spinning out of control,” she says. “He basically told me that I needed to leave his home.”
Underage drinking and clubbing caused her to run afoul of her stepdad, who sent her to Hawaii. Maybe he thought she would do better with her biological father, but he was in no place to help his daughter. He had been an oil executive, but drugs drove him to homelessness.
Christina lived with Dad homeless on the beach for some time.
Then she went from house to house sleeping on the couches of friends. She got in touch with her brother, who hooked her up with a local church.
That’s when she landed in the foster care system with Sharon Hess, who gave her a warm welcome and a warm bed at her home in 2001,
“We have two rules. Your curfew is 11:00 p.m. and you need to go to church with us,” Foster Mom told her.
“I just wanted a warm bed to sleep in at that point,” Christina remembers. “I looked around. I’m like, ‘I’m an atheist; I don’t believe in God.’ But I knew that if I wanted that warm bed and somewhere to stay that I needed to go to church with them.”
Sharon and the rest of the family didn’t judge her Goth clothes and makeup. They even let her wear all black to church. Little by little, the Word of God was planted in her heart, after three years in foster care.
“This woman loved me just the way I was,” Christina recalls. “She wasn’t trying to change the way I looked.”
After those three years, she moved to Houston, Texas, where she relapsed into drugs and soon found herself pregnant. She planned on an abortion when her drug dealer’s girlfriend showed her a report that the abortion doctor was being sued by the State of Texas because a 15-year-old patient died in his abortion chair.
“She pulled me and she said, ‘I know you don’t believe in God, but I’m begging you not to kill this child,” Christina remembers.
“His grace met me in my darkest moment. His grace met me in a moment where I didn’t believe.”
Christina became a functional drug addict. She worked and took care of Ethan, her newborn, and did drugs when nobody was watching. That worked for some time, until she got pulled over by police.
While she was awaiting trial on bail, a co-worker invited her to a Bible study. At the meeting, a man named Hillroy gave her a “word of knowledge,” a supernatural revelation about her present state of mind.
“What he didn’t know and what stunned me at that moment was that he didn’t know I was contemplating how to take my life that night,” Christina remembered. She still didn’t believe in God but couldn’t account for the supernatural knowledge of her inner thoughts.
So Christina went to the breakroom Bible study. When she entered, they were praying, which surprised her.
“If there is a God,” she thought, “These people have come face to face with him. It was so personal; it was so intimate; it was so passionate, something I had never in my life experienced or encountered.”
Hillroy read to her from Jeremiah: “This is a matter of life or death,” he told her.
Immediately, a mental picture of a car accident flashed through her mind, something that is a common reality for those who abuse alcohol.
At 16, Chetra became a Buddhist monk in Cambodia. “It was my pride to become a monk,” he says.
But just five years later in 2011, he abandoned the monkhood because “I felt so empty inside. I wondered what my life was for,” he says on a Christ Church of Ewell video. “I felt so lost in my heart.”
In 2021, he got a job in a language school that taught Cambodian to foreigners, most of them missionaries. On his first day at the school, he had to sit through a Bible study.
“I didn’t really know what Christianity was,” he says. “I only thought I can’t believe in Jesus because Buddhism was precious to me. I thought Jesus wasn’t God.”
He stayed in the school for six years, attending Christian Bible studies but never believing. He had lots of Christian friends, all of whom were praying for him.
In 2017, a certain girl named Julia was more insistent. On Sunday, he said, he liked to sleep late, waking up at noon, well after the morning service was over.
She invited him to an evening fellowship. “I didn’t have an excuse,” he says. “I didn’t go to sleep so early.”
He sat as far away from the group as possible – in the kitchen. Then slowly he moved closer, to the kitchen door. Still, he was resistant. “Buddhism was my pride, so I couldn’t lose my pride,” he says.
But something happened in 2018 during the Pchum Ben, a 15-day festival in Cambodia that honors the previous seven generations of ancestors which are believed to be released to roam the Earth.
On these Holy Days, everybody has vacation. On Saturday during incense burning and chantings, Chetra started viewing his practices strangely. “Wow,” he observed. “What are these things?” Read the rest: Chetra the Buddhist monk from Cambodia
The world may know the name of the late beloved evangelist, Billy Graham, and his son Rev. Franklin Graham, but many may not know about another evangelist in the family, William Franklin Graham IV.
“I was born Billy Graham’s grandson; I will die one day as Billy Graham’s grandson,” the evangelist said on a YouTube video.
William, the son of Franklin Graham, has known nothing other than being the son and grandson of two renowned evangelists. “Not everyone has a famous grandfather or father, but for me, it was normal.”
William, 47, spent his childhood on a farm in Western North Carolina surrounded by cows, horses, dogs, cats, and, at one point, a potbelly pig.
On Jan. 11, 1981, he gave his life to Jesus when he was five at the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church his family attended in Boone, North Carolina, after a communion service. His father told him he could not participate until he let Jesus into his heart.
“I believed that Jesus existed, but I never applied him into my heart,” he said. “So that’s when I gave my life to Christ.”
William went to public school in North Carolina growing up, but it wasn’t until he attended college at Liberty University that he not only fell in love with God’s word but got to see how impactful his grandfather was.
“I’d been to his crusades. I knew he was one of the most famous people in America,” he said. “But something hit me at Liberty.”
It changed for Will one day when he was in his dorm room and a man he didn’t know knocked on his door looking for Billy Graham’s grandson.
Slipped intoxicating beverages by an uncle when he was only five years old, Rick Warren “developed a taste for alcohol” and wanted to stay up all night partying as a young man. So he kept a packet of NoDoz with him at all times.
“I would go to the club, then I would go to the after-hours club, then I would go straight to work from there,” says Rick “the barber” (not “the purpose driven”) Warren. “I was the type of guy who wanted to just keep going and going and going.”
Somebody introduced him to crank, and the snortable meth kept him up for two days straight. “This is it!” he exclaimed at the time, as re-told on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast Testimony Tuesday.
Rick lived in the fast lane because he admired the uncle who delighted in getting him drunk as a kid growing up in Indiana.
”My uncle enjoyed seeing me drunk at a young age,” Rick says. “My uncle was the guy. He partied. He had the girls. He traveled. He lived life on the fast edge. He became the one who I wanted to model my life after.”
When he was 17, he got busted for breaking into cars in a hospital parking lot. When his dad got him a job at the place he had worked for over two decades, Rick stole from there and got his first felony.
“There’s nothing worse than your dad working at the same place for 20-something years, and everybody knows you since you’re a kid, and they watch you getting hauled off in a police car,” Rick says. “Any time I ever got arrested, it was for stealing. I had a problem. I couldn’t keep things that didn’t belong to me out of my pocket.”
When his brother moved to California with the military in 1992, Rick went with him and got on the basketball team at Barstow College. But he quit about three-fourths of the way through the season – during half time! – because “I wanted to party more than play basketball,” he says.
“It was actually half time of a game,” he remembers. “I told the coach, ‘You know, I think I’m done.’ I turned in my uniform and walked away.”
At one point when he was 19, three young women were pregnant with his kids. “I was out there,” he says. He had a daughter and two sons.
He moved back to Indiana and then he moved out of town with a friend. He was the party deejay until they got evicted. Then he moved in with his latest girlfriend.
One night as he watched the NBA all star game in 1993, a boy came to avenge a grudge he had with his girlfriend’s brother.
“He pulls out a gun and points it at me and says, ’Hey come over here and lay on the ground,’” Rick recounts. “He made everybody lay on the ground. I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. He shot her in the head. He shot me in the face. He started shooting everybody. He shot me two more times in the back.”
Rick lay motionless, pretending to be dead. When Rick heard the man leave, he got up to run. The perpetrator saw him and shot at him again. One bullet hit him in the butt and he fell to the ground.
Rick eventually made it to a restaurant, where they called an ambulance. Remarkably, his life was saved. His girlfriend, the sister, and one of the four-year-olds died. The other two kids survived multiple bullet wounds.
“You would think that would be enough to cause me to slow down,” he says. “But it didn’t. I continued to live a reckless life.”
After surgeries to reconstruct his face and six months of recovery, Rick simply returned to the fast life.
He got a barber’s license and opened a shop in Indianapolis. It was a good career for him because barbers never had to submit to drug testing, and he could continue smoking marijuana continuously. He cut people’s hair while he was high.
“I had a good thing going making a boatload of money, but still I was under demonic influence and that money was just not enough, so I needed more money and started doing stuff I shouldn’t have been doing,” he acknowledges.
The police were investigating, so he quickly sold his shop and moved to Philadelphia. He sought a place where nobody knew him. He left behind yet another daughter. “I never was a good dad,” he admits.” At that time in my life, it was all about me. The only thing that mattered to me was me – satisfying the flesh with no regard for anything.”
He vowed to never open a barber shop, never get married, and not have any more kids.
From there, Rick moved to Las Vegas and the opportunity to buy another barber shop “fell into my lap,” he says. “It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
He met the woman who became his wife and had more children, breaking every one of his vows.
It was at this time that a regular customer, Larry Shomo, invited him to church. Being the type of barber “invested” in his customers’ lives, he attended funerals, weddings, and school programs with his customers.
Why not church?
He had never been taught anything spiritual in his life. His family only did sports. From everything he knew about church, he concluded it was a “clown show.” He thought of hypocrites hitting on young women and high-flying pastors with lavish lifestyles.
“The only repentance I’d ever had was when I was too drunk at night and I would lay down and say, ‘Oh God, please don’t let me die,’” he says. “I had no… Read the rest: Pastor Rick “the barber” Warren
His last hope to make something of his life – as a skateboarder – shattered when his knee shattered.
“I was a guy who had never heard the gospel and who lived a reckless, dangerous life,” Daniel Sherwood says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast.“
Sherwood grew up in Mesa, AZ, doing normal childhood things like camping, hunting, fishing, and riding his bike. What was less normal was that he started driving when he was 10.
“My father was an alcoholic and he played music, so I spent a lot of time around bars,” Daniel remembers. “He would play his sets, and I started to have to drive him home when I was 10, 12 years old.”
By the time, he was 12, his parents got divorced. “I saw physical and mental divorce of my family,” he says. “I got punted back and forth between Mom and Dad. One would get tired of me and send to the other. I took advantage of that. I wanted to be like my dad, play music and be in bands. What was OK for him seemed OK for me. I kind of just spiraled from there.”
Daniel excelled at baseball and wrestling, even earning a state championship. But when he transferred to Chandler High School and didn’t even make the A-squad, he quit completely in disgust.
I’m just gonna go skateboarding, he thought at the time. “I got really good at skateboarding, started filming, got a few sponsors.”
For Daniel, drugs, liquor and partying came with the skateboarder life. By 16, he had attempted suicide a few times.
“One time I took 80 sleeping pills after a breakup with a girlfriend,” he recalls. “I was pretty much a goner. That will pretty much kill anybody. But somebody found me actually, hauled me down to the hospital, (and they) pumped my stomach.”
Fighting was favorite thing to do when he was drunk at parties.
“I would wake up the next day just covered in blood. No idea what happened,” he says. “I’d have to call around the next day to find out why I was covered in blood. People would tell me, ‘You fought this guy. They hit you over the head with a bottle. You chased this guy down the street with a knife.’
“It was a wild life.”
Daniel got kicked out of high school for leaving a kid so badly beaten he was sent to the intensive care unit.
Daniel scaled up from cigarettes and drinking Dad’s liquor to marijuana, then LSD.
“It was the party life,” he says. “They say skateboarding picked up where rock-n-roll left off.”
With consumption came trafficking also. He sold marijuana by the pound, guns, whatever he could get his hands on. “It just got worse and worse and worse,” he says.
Daniel sold marijuana to an undercover cop at a party. Next thing he knew, the cops raided his house, kicked his door in and put a Glock to his head. Police were disappointed that the sale – only 2 pounds – wasn’t significant under the law, so they pressured him to turn State’s witness and turn in his dealer. At their direction, he bought five pounds of pot, but instead of collaborating with the cops, he turned around and sold it to make money.
“They found out about it and brought me in a small office,” he remembers. “I was so high. I was surrounded by these undercovers: a Mexican cowboy, a biker, a workout bro. They were screaming at me. I’ll never forget what the biker guy said to me: ‘You’re high right now, aren’t you? You are a menace to society.’”
He was 17-and-a-half, which meant he would be tried as a minor and given a lighter sentence.
“They pushed for adult court, and if they would have gotten that, I probably would have done 10, 12, 15 years. I got six months. Like all juveniles, I got a slap on the wrist. I didn’t learn my lesson. When I got out, I went right back to it.”
When he was 18 and moved out on his own, he got a two-bedroom apartment whose second room was exclusively used for growing hallucinogenic mushrooms, which he consumed.
He stopped selling drugs because, as an adult, the sentences in court, if caught, were higher. But he didn’t abandon crime entirely.
“I was very adept at stealing,” he admits. “Me and a buddy of mine would steal carts full of liquor and throw these massive parties. We had a little crew and called ourselves the ‘40 Crew.’ We would get drunk, and the goal was always to find somebody and beat him up. We just loved it.”
But God, in his infinite grace and mercy, was pursuing Sherwood’s heart, and brought the Gospel into his life.
Drunk at 3:00 a.m., he rear-ended two guys on Harleys, pulled a gun on them, drove off and, trying to escape pursuing police, scraped up two cars when he tried to drive his ‘88 Cutlass Sierra between them.
Under the police chopper spotlight, he surrendered to police. He spent a month in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent city jail, shivering at night, wrapped in a plastic bag during winter trying to stay warm.
“My time in tent city was so awful that I swore I would never go back again,” he says. “As critical as people like to be of Joe Arpaio, it worked.”
Decidedly “100% atheist,” Mariah Jones pitied Christians, believing they reject reason and the advancements of scientific knowledge.
“I did not believe in God,” Mariah says on a 2019 video on her YouTube channel. “I didn’t believe in spirituality at all. I thought believing in such things was silly. Basically I was just a strong believer in science.”
Right after high school, Mariah joined the Navy in 2013. It was in the Navy that she developed anorexia and bulimia.
“It grew more and more aggressive as the years went by,” she says.
Once out of the Navy, she enrolled in college, and she positively relished the science classes which at first affirmed her belief in nothing.
“I used to enjoy when people would bring up God so that I could try and destroy their argument with science.” she admits. “I would ask them impossible questions that would put them in this awkward position and make it pretty much impossible for them to answer.
“I hated when people would talk about Jesus.”
Her distaste for Christianity was extreme, fueled by the grip of the evil one in her life.
“My mentality towards Christians and anyone who was religious was like, You’re wasting your entire life trying to live by these impossible standards and these rules that supposedly God created just to go to a place after you die,” she says. “I thought religion was a man-made construct that was harmful to people.”
Then a boomerang struck in 2017 in her second year in college. The same science that in the first year of college affirmed her atheist became the science of the second year of college that undermined her atheism.
Specifically, how could biological molecules with astronomical number of atoms all sequenced with confunding minute precision have just come together by chance? she wondered.
So at first science contributed to her atheistic arrogance. Then, as the classes advanced, they deconstructed it.
“Having to accept that everything just formed on its own by itself on accident, it didn’t make sense to me,” Mariah admits. “It really started to bother me because deep down I didn’t want to believe something. I didn’t want to take that responsibility.”
When Danish street-preacher Torben Sondergaard was arrested by the FBI 19 days ago on suspicion of smuggling arms into America, it was a real head-scratcher.
The zealous founder of The Last Reformation decided to leave Denmark after insistent pressure by authorities and the media. His abuses? Treating mental illness as if it were demon possession, encouraging people to stop taking their meds when healed by God, and home-schooling his daughters.
It was a case study of atheistic entities confronting a faith-filled firebrand, and the non-believers marshaling their forces so unrelentingly that Torben determined his name had been tarnished so badly in Denmark that he needed a clean start and applied for asylum in America.
Has he been smuggling arms from Mexico into America? Christians who have known him and his ministry are shaking their heads in disbelief.
“He doesn’t even know how to shoot a gun,” said Rene Celinder, a staunch ally.
Torben has been in jail since his arrest when authorities shackled him hand and foot like a terrorist. Initially, he was shocked. He had a bout with fear as the guards told him he would spend a long time in prison and then be deported, the fate of virtually all the inmates at ICE’s Baker County Facility in Florida.
Then Torben got a Bible and renewed his spirit with constant reading. Eventually, he got out of solitary confinement.
And he did what Paul did when in jail.
He began evangelizing.
In the latest update from The Last Reformation on YouTube which Jón Bjarnastein read, Torben… Read the rest: Torben Sondergaard in jail.
Rene Celinder is an evangelist in the classical sense of the word. In other words, he doesn’t focus on mega churches with an expectation of receiving a love offering. He evangelizes out on the street.
Rene is leading an outreach in Denmark, which is in the throes of post-Christian woes like much of Western Europe.
June 25 was his latest strike. One hundred evangelists hit the streets of Copenhagen dressed in impossible-to-miss yellow vests with letters that say, “Jesus is your hope.” They shared testimonies, sang songs, passed out tracts and became a visible sign that, as hard as the devil tried, Christianity is not dead in Denmark.
“The Holy Spirit was with us,” Rene told God Reports. “Ten or 15 people got saved. We got their number, so we can call them again. We are going to have the same event in October in another place in Denmark.”
Rene is organizing Christians nationwide, using mostly house churches.
“We’re like Gideon,” Rene says. “Gideon was a small fighter. Gideon is the same like we are doing here in Copenhagen.”
Because his mother died when he was about to turn 12, the Christian rapper known as Mogli the Iceberg rejected the prosperity gospel, this idea that God only wants to bless you and have you live in blissful happiness at all times.
“I’m well aware of the extent of suffering that exists in the world,” Mogli says. “I’ve always been resistant to ideas like the prosperity gospel, when somebody promises that things are all going to be good. Look around the world. Does God not also love people in Afghanistan? Or Haiti?”
Mogli is among the most philosophical, if not depressive, of Christian Hip Hop’s rhymers. Together with nobigdyl, he is founding member of indie tribe collective, along with Jarry Manna, Jon Keith and D.J. Mykael V., putting out some of CHH’s most cutting-edge music.
Born Jacob Hornburgh, the Long Beach native moved with his music-performing parents to rural Tennessee, where he stood out for being Mexican American. He says at his high school, he was one of five Latino kids.
That’s where he got his rap name. Because he was tall, lanky with a scruff of dark hair, kids thought he looked like Mogli from the Jungle Book. To his nickname, he added “iceberg” which rhymes with his last name.
His parents made their living with Christian music, and they encouraged Mogli to develop his tastes and talents. When he was turning 12, his mom died of an unexpected heart attack. It was heartbreaking and sobering to be aware of human mortality at such a young age.
“I never really went super into like I’m mad at God because i just knew that was irrational, but it it does kind of temper other expectations,” Mogli says. “There’s no promise that Read the rest: Mogli the Iceburg
His marriage was in shambles because, despite loving his wife, he fooled around with other girls.
“Our mantra was we don’t fall in love, we stand in love, because in case something goes wrong you can always just walk out,” says Orlando Patterson, a Jamaican immigrant to New York. “It was very common in the culture, we live in this apartment complex to be living with your supposed wife and a couple of kids. And you have another woman a couple streets over and she has a couple of kids for you. And you have another woman in another apartment complex and she has a couple of kids for you. That is business as usual.”
So when an officer in the U.S. Navy turned and abruptly and asked him about his eternal destination, Orlando responded with genuine self-examination: “I’m pretty confident I’d probably go to hell.”
Orlando Patterson knew nothing about God and fidelity because he grew up with his non-Christian parents fighting over custody. He was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a high-society dad and a pretty mom whom the dad’s relatives detested.
At age five, his dad tricked his mom into letting Orlando go to Queens, New York. What was supposed to a be a summer visit, turned into a permanent stay. Dad simply called mom: “By the way, he’s never going back.”
Dad’s intentions were to give Orlando a good education and the opportunities that arise in America. But the young man grew up “a square peg in a round hole.” By the time his mom was able to come over to America, the damage was done.
“I had drawn certain conclusions about life,” Orlando says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I was a problem child and felt horribly unwanted. No one really wanted me around. I never got rid of this feeling.”
He fell in with “miscreants.” His first arrest was for grand theft auto. An older boy was showing him how to steal a car when the cops pulled up. The older boy ran, Orlando hid in the car hoping the police would pursue the older boy. When he crept out of the car, an old lady trained a gun on him and ordered him to sit still until the cops came back.
“This lady was shaking,” Orlando says. “I knew I was gonna die that night if I would have flinched. If I breathed too hard that lady was gonna shoot me, so I just held my hands up and just kind of froze.”
Throughout high school, he butted heads with his mom, but she eventually prevailed with the plan he would join the military. He and his 8th grade sweetheart, Vanessa, both joined the Navy.
He became a jet engine mechanic.
Though they tried to stay together, their union was beset by troubles from the beginning because infidelity was what Orlando had learned from his Jamaican upbringing. “My marriage was shot, you know, infidelity on my part, just foolishness that I had done,” he recognizes.
On his first tour on the Adriatic Sea on the U.S.S. Enterprise, he was pulling an overnight shift. There wasn’t much to do, so he wandered to the other shops. That’s where he overheard a sailor evangelizing another man. “He was chopping wood,” Orlando remembers about the serious discussion.
Though not directed at him, the conversation unsettled Orlando. He’d been raised Catholic, but faith had never factored into his life as being real or relevant. As an altar boy, he’d report hung over at 8:00 a.m. mass.
“I couldn’t shake what I just heard,” he recalls.
Troubled by what he’d overheard, he continued to wander the deck. When he reported for his “midrats” midnight meal, he wound up eating next to an officer because the mess was unusually crowded.
The officer turned to Orlando and asked him point blank: “Young man, let me ask you a question. If you were to die right now, would you go to Heaven?”
Searching for identity, Paige Eman fell for the ploys of the African-American history class which taught her the Jesus narrative was counterfeit, stolen from ancient Egyptian myths of Seth and Osiris. Christianity, she was taught, was the white man’s religion designed only to subjugate slaves.
“I started as a Christian and then I transitioned into African spirituality and to New Age,” Paige says on her YouTube channel. “I’m back to Christianity and Jesus. I wasn’t willing to call myself a witch, but I was open to it. That’s the scary part”
The enticing part of the African American history class was twofold: cast doubt on the story of Jesus and drum up anger over historical and systemic racism (to our shame, there were Christians who justified slavery by saying Africans were children of Ham, accursed by Noah).
Despite her own personal apostasy from God, Paige does not regret studying at an HBCU, a Historically Black College or University. She made lifelong, supportive friendships, and the education was excellent.
Her only complaint? The assumption that the Jesus story is a fraud based only on the grounds of a somewhat similar story in mythology.
In fact, many cultures have resurrection and virgin conceptions stories. But none have a real, historical person associated with them. Undeniable historical people attest to Jesus, to his virgin birth and to his resurrection. So, if you’re going to dismiss these parts of Jesus’s life, you must account for the hundreds of witnesses who were willing to die for their story.
Paige Eman’s problems began when she was raised in a primarily white suburb. Her black friends said she “talked white,” and her white friends didn’t “really accept” her, so she felt “conflicted.”
When she graduated from high school, she made the decision to go to Hampton University in Virginia to figure out her identity.
“I met some amazing amazing people who were really like raised the same way that I was,” she says.
But the African American History class exposed her to some radical ideas that undercut the legitimacy of the Bible and Christianity. The Egyptian goddess Isis had a son by divine conception, she was told. The fact that this originated more than 2000 years before Jesus suggests to some scholars, especially the anti-Christian ones, that the disciples simple plagiarized the story.
It was compelling stuff, and the teacher provided proof after proof. Paige stopped believing in Jesus.
“We’re not supposed to worship Jesus as a black people right, so I totally rejected Jesus altogether,” she admits. “But I still believed in God.”
Having dismissed Christ, Paige embarked on a quest for the correct worship. She found out about ancestral worship and witchcraft, neither of which she fully embraced or practiced because her background in Christianity left her wary about it.
What she did get involved with was the law of attraction, burning sage and palo santo, and following black women’s spirituality groups on Facebook.
After being molested at age 7, Jazmin Santos was haunted by a question about her eventual future husband: How could he love you when you’ve gone through this?
“I battled with those things for so long,” she admits on a Delafe video.
Jazmin’s story shows that Jesus can redeem everything the devil intended for evil.
Born in Honduras, Jazmin Santos immigrated with her family to the United States when she was five. She grew up in church.
Unfortunately, she was molested in church by someone with a close connection to the family.
For years, Jazmin locked the dark secret in the rusted tin box within her heart. She always felt weird around everyone. She felt abandoned and rejected.
“I didn’t really dwell on it,” she says. “I just kept moving forward. It was like, oh well, that happened.”
She was always the good girl and thought she was a Christian automatically because she went to church, but at age 13, Jazmin attended a retreat where in a workshop she poured over a list of sins and checked off ones that applied and realized she was a sinner needing a savior.
“God, I’m a sinner. I’m broken. I’m a mess,” she prayed. “I ran up to the altar and fell on my face and was crying. I felt this conviction come over me.”
She realized she needed healing from the traumatic sexual exploitation.
“I didn’t tell anyone because I was scared,” she says. “The only person I told was my cousin because she was like a sister to me.”
One day, that cousin outed her gently and lovingly with her mom.
As a result of her parent’s divorce, Savannah Hernandez felt shame, had insecurities, depression, and had given up on believing in God.
“I hated God at this point of my life,” says Savannah on YouTube, “I just felt like, man, there is no way that God is real. I’m going through so much stuff. How is God real? How did he make this earth?”
Many fall away from God and don’t come back, but Savannah is proof that restoration of faith is possible.
Savannah’s parents got divorced when she was 11 years old. From there, she swirled downward emotionally.
“It was really hard on me just to face as a child and trying to figure out what was going on and just how to really just grow up to be a woman,” she says.
Savannah had a strong dad who never left her or made her feel alone, but she still felt an emptiness inside. She looked for masculine approval, which caused her to feel worse about herself and develop more insecurities.
“I did feel like I was alone at some point in my house, and I did run to guys and just love to try to find some type of love and temporary fix in those areas that I was hurting,” Savannah says. “It just caused me to hurt, and it caused me just shame and feeling like I wasn’t worthy and that was really hard for any girl to face.”
After she graduated, Savannah tried smoking and became stubborn and prideful.
“I was just doing all these things behind my dad’s back,” she recounts. “I’m not doing anything to pursue any of my goals, I’m not doing anything, I don’t believe in a God.
The first time Bud Greenberg showed up at a Bible study, he introduced himself as a Jew, and the leader asked him to teach the next week’s study.
“You’re Jewish,” the leader told him. “Wow, you’re an expert on the scriptures. We’re just finishing up the study and we’re going to start the book of Esther. Since you know it a lot better than us, you being Jewish, will you teach us?”
There was only one problem: Bud had never read the Bible.
Notwithstanding, he assumed the invitation to teach was standard operating procedure. He went home and, starting from Genesis, thumbed through the Bible until he got to Esther.
“I didn’t want to disappoint,” he says on a Delafe Testimonies video. “It gave me a desire to read more, so I thought to myself, ‘Well, maybe I’ll read the New Testament.’ So I started in the book of Matthew.”
Today, Bud leads Bible studies in the Pentagon with Navy Seals and Special Operators, leading America’s elite fighters to Jesus. God has spoken through him in a way that unnerves the highest military professionals famed for having nerves of steel.
“I’m scared of you,” a Delta Force operator told him one day, arriving at the Bible study.
“You’re scared of me?” Bud responded. “I’m just a pencil-neck geek bureaucrat; you’re the killer.”
“No, no,” the operator said. “They tell me what goes on in these bible studies. I have no idea. I came early just to see for myself.”
Bud Greenberg was born Jewish but married a Christian girl. He loved baseball but wasn’t good enough in umpire school to make it in the Big Leagues. So, he joined the military and carted his wife with him to Germany.
She wasn’t too happy with the sudden move, and their marriage began to suffer. He asked a social worker what he could do to improve his marriage. Do something with your wife that she likes to do, was the answer.
With $2.7 million on the line to win or lose the most legendary golf tournament in the world, the fabled Masters of Augusta, Georgia, 25-year-old Scottie Scheffler, who had won his first PGA Tour title only weeks earlier, broke into tears of nervousness on the morning of the final day.
“I cried like a baby this morning, I was so stressed out,” he admitted later.
His wife, Meredith, a strong Christian, told him: “Who are you to say that you’re not ready? Who are you to say that you know what’s best for your life?”
“If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, I’m still going to love you,” she said. “You are still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you, and nothing changes.”
Scheffler was grateful for her wisdom, “What we talked about is that God is in control and the Lord is leading me and if today’s my time, then it’s my time…if I shot 82 today then somehow I was going to use it for His glory.”
His wife’s advice and the Lord’s presence helped calm his nerves, and Scottie coolly chipped his way to the championship. As he donned the storied green jacket given to Master’s tournament winners, Scottie spoke about his Christian faith.
“All I’m trying to do is glorify God,” he said. “That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in this position and so for me it’s not about a golf score. I need a Savior and that’s probably one of the coolest things about our faith is recognizing your need for a Savior.”
Scheffler was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but moved with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was six. Throughout grade school Scheffler, filled with a fascination for professional golf, would wear golf attire to school, even though his peers made fun of him.
He attended Highland Park High School, where he played both golf and basketball, and then the University of Texas, where it was strictly golf. He helped the team win multiple championships.
It was in college that Scheffler “truly felt alone and didn’t know what to do.” He then started attending church and began to give his heart to God, piece by piece. “Gradually with time he just started taking over my heart,” he recalls.
Lee Byung-Yoon was an uncommon Korean child; he had no dreams for his future.
Then, to the chagrin of his parents, he wanted to be a hip hop artist.
“I had a dream in my first year of high school, and it was to make music,” he says on a YouTube video in Korean.
Eventually his parents supported his dream. Then BewhY (a simplification of his name that he uses as a stage name) won the prestigious Gaon Chart Awards in 2020. And every song he does is based on a Bible verse.
“I praise the Lord of my fathers today,” he raps in “On that Day.” “Even if many walls of oppression block me, I wait for the Lord only. Oh, the day of glory. Oh, God, please accept my heart.”
Of the South Korean population, 28% identify as Christian, so having Christian artists is not uncommon. What’s unique is that BewhY – noted for his sincerity and the fervor of his convictions – would win the secular “discovery” award when all his lyrics are Biblical and his testimony squeaky clean.
At the time he launched, other “Christian” rappers weren’t so Christian.
Katie Davis Majors was a Tennessee high school homecoming queen headed to nursing school. But instead, she became a mom to 13 girls – all in 18 months.
Katie adopted them all in Uganda, where she ditched her high-paying career path to work in poverty as a missionary at an orphanage in Africa.
““God just designed me that way because he already knew that this is what the plan was for my life — even though I didn’t,” she says on madehanaqvinews.com.
In 2008, she was class president of her high school Brentwood, Tennessee, when she went on a short-term mission trip to Uganda. Short-term missions make a lasting impact on many, but for Katie it was off the charts.
The poverty she observed moved her to compassion. Believing she could make a difference, she made a heartfelt decision: to put off college for one year and teach kindergarten in the Christian-run orphanage.
During her time there, a terrible rainstorm caused a mudhouse to collapse, burying several children. Leaders scurried to rescue the kids buried under the remains of the earthen house. Fortunately, none were seriously hurt and could recover in a local hospital.
After being rescued, Agnas, 9, whose parents both died of AIDS, plaintively asked if she could live with Katie forever.
Looking into the pleading brown eyes, Katie could not say no.
That was the beginning. Katie didn’t immediately embrace her destiny. To please her parents, she returned to the United States to get her nursing degree but found herself longing for the orphans in Uganda.
Ultimately, she returned as a full-time missionary. As she worked with the children, she felt a bond growing in her heart and wondered if she could adopt. Under Uganda law, she had to be 25 to adopt, but she could initially be granted custodial care.
She began her missionary work by teaching kindergarteners who were eager to learn.
Katie stayed in Uganda, serving. Everyday was filled with love and joyful sacrifice. She wound up marrying a fellow Tennessean missionary, Benji Davis, and they started a family, with God providing two biological sons.
High on Xanax, Scootie Wop, now a Christian rapper, swerved his vehicle into a divider after he fell asleep at the wheel, then crashed into a telephone pole.
“You need to go to church and do something,” his mom told him after he drove home. Somehow, he was able to drive the totaled car home after the horrific accident.
Emmanuel “Scootie” Lofton’s father was a pastor and former Marine. Scootie had an idyllic childhood until his father abandoned the family and left the ministry. That forced his mom, along with Scootie and his siblings, to live out of a 95 Mercedes Benz in South Carolina, according to Rapzilla.
“I felt like I lost a piece of myself. Everything switched. I got exposed to drugs and gang culture and fighting with different people,” he says on HolyCulture.net. “I got put into a gang in the fifth grade, so I hung around a lot of older kids. I started smoking in sixth grade and selling stuff in the seventh grade.”
That’s when 12-year-old Emmanuel started experimenting with drugs and gangbanging.
“My mom was praying for me every morning, every night,” he says. “She was always cooking something in the pot, making the house smell good. I got my love from God from her.”
Emmanuel tried to straighten up by playing football, basketball, track and even kickboxing. Eventually, he focused on football, but a broken leg – fractured in six places – right before college destroyed the dream. The months of recovery saw him drop sports and college.
After they both became Christians years later, Tomas Bueno became friends with the gang banger who smashed his skull and left a scar on the back of his head.
“I’ve been able to reconnect with him,” Tomas says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House premium podcast on Spotify.
Tomas Bueno grew up in the Los Angeles area. His dad was a bar owner and often wouldn’t come home from drinking, and his Mom took the kids driving around at 1:00 a.m. looking for him.
“It was around the age of 12 that I started getting enticed by what I saw around me,” Tomas says. “I started seeing these guys. It was the time when Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre had an influence on the white kids in suburbia. I thought this was really cool watching MTV for hours.”
When his dad was followed home and shot up in a case that originated from Mexico, the family moved to Huntington Beach in 1992 where few Hispanics lived.
“He came in, he was shot in the shoulders, he was wounded, he was asking for a gun,” Tomas says. “I was a little kid just trying to process this. Come to find out it came from Mexico, problems there that spilled over to the U.S. Needless to say, we had to move. We moved in the middle of the night.”
At 13, he started ditching school getting high, giving sway to the influence of a street kid. By 15, he was “running amok and being crazy, partying and going wild.” At 16, he smoked meth.
“All my friends were already doing it and they were like ‘You gotta try it. You can stay up all night and drink,’” he recalls. He worked at Subway and a co-worker showed him how to pack the balls and smoke speed.
By 1995 his friends were gang members when he lived in Fullerton. He met a girl, Karina (who now is his wife), and got her pregnant at 17.
“My dad’s not going to be down for this,” she told him. “I’m going to have to move in with you.”
“Ok, no worries, we’ll make it work,” he replied. They barely knew each other. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
But because he was partying, Tomas didn’t call her the next day. Nor the next. Nor the next.
For three months, he didn’t call.
“Basically, I left her hanging,” he admits. “It’s not that I was trying to avoid this. It’s just that I was so wrapped up in what I was doing that I was in the streets doing drugs partying that kind of procrastinating. After three months I was embarrassed. What do you say? I just kept partying and doing whatever I was doing.” Read the rest: Hunted by rivals, Tomas Bueno rescued by God.
Taneisha Upperman’s idyllic childhood evaporated when she saw her stepdad hit her mom with a hatchet.
“It was in the middle of the night, blood was streaming down her face, and I was terrified, so I ran all the way down the street to my aunt’s house, probably about two in the morning crying,” she says on a Delafe video. “I remember being so scared and not knowing what to do and knocking on my aunt’s door for like 20 minutes because they were asleep.”
From the age of six, Taneisha’s life was a nightmare. Yes, her mother gave birth to Taneisha as a 16-year-old single mom, but they went to church with Grandma, and Taneisha had a happy life singing in church.
But her childhood innocence was tarnished when stepdad let the kids see porn.
Once when arguing with him, Mom locked Taneisha up in a room with her uncle, who sexually abused her.
“I was not understanding it, but being exposed to porn, I’m like, Well maybe this is
supposed to happen,” she says. “I just did not understand.”
She was seven-years-old, and told no one about the incident.
Mom moved the family to New York and then back to the country. Remembering the happy years when she attended church with Grandma, she begged her mom to be allowed to live with Grandma.
Little did she realize, Grandma had changed.
“That’s when I experienced verbal abuse and physical abuse,” Taneisha recalls. “My grandmother was angry. I don’t know why. She would just yell at me and call me names and say, ‘You’re nothing. You’re gonna be nothing. You’re lazy.’”
Grandma provided shabby clothes for Taneisha to wear to school, which was embarrassing and led to being bullied.
But the worst thing was that her uncle would come and go and take advantage of her sexually. At 10, she lost her virginity because of his abuse.
“In the fifth grade, I started having a warped view of guys,” she acknowledges. “I thought in order for them to like me or to be popular I had to let them touch me. I began to get promiscuous in school.”
All the while, Grandma took her to church, where she discovered she had a great singing voice. She was told she had a gift from God. When she sang solos, the church “went crazy.”
Taneisha elevated the family’s status in the church.
Blacks aren’t generally accepted in Japan. Even Japan’s 2015 Miss Universe candidate Ariana Miyamoto, being half black, was widely rejected on social media as not being truly Japanese.
So how does Marcel Jonte Gadsden – and a handful of other black pastors – lead churches and evangelize in Japan?
“No matter what you do, no matter how you treat me, I respond with a deeper love, an unconditional love, agape love,” Marcel says on The Black Experience Japan YouTube channel. “The Bible tells us to love our enemies. How can you love your enemy? You can’t do it. That’s why the L of love is written from the top down. You must receive love vertically from the Father, down to you and then you can give it out.”
Marcel arrived in Japan as a military brat in 1999.
“I thought coming here there’d be samurais everywhere with swords,” he says. “I was scared to come to Japan. I thought we’d be the only black people in Japan. All I knew was Ramen noodles and samurais.”
When he got out among the people, he was smitten with compassion – so many hordes without hope, without Jesus.
“If what I believe is true about God, what is the hope for these people?” Marcel remembers. “The passion began to rise.”
Motivated to reach the people, Marcel threw himself into learning Japanese and when he had memorized some verses, went out as an adolescent to street-preach in Japanese in the Shinjuku neighborhood.
Japan has virtually no context for understanding street preachers. While there are street performers, they make a poor reference point. Some stared at him as if he were crazy, others ignored him.
While the initial response wasn’t exactly warm, Marcel was warmed by the fires of the love of God.
“Some people were listening and others were like who is this guy?” he remembers. “I began to learn about Japanese people and how they’re not expressive like we are.”
He took a job at 7Eleven to immerse himself in the culture and get to know the people. When he started a church in his living room, many of his first visitors had met him at 7Eleven.
“It was a training ground. I learned so much. It turned a lot of heads when they saw me at the counter. To see the reactions in people’s faces, they look and look again like, he works here?”
When Marcel met and married a Japanese girl from church, he had to overcome the resistance of his father-in-law, who shared the typical entrenched racism of Japan. Every day his future father-in-law would drop his girlfriend off at church, he would pop up to the car, open the door for Chiaki and warmly greet her dad.
“I think he had this image of me being a gangster and trying to steal his daughter,” Marcel relates. “He totally ignored me. And this continued until finally one day, he slightly looked like he slightly acknowledged me. He gave an inch of a nod. I was really convinced that love could destroy his prejudice.”
After Marcel and Chiaki were married, the formation of a relationship with his father-in-law began… Read the rest: black pastors in Japan
Steve Prendergast went from diehard Christian in his youth to a hard-to-kill “avid atheist” who drank, took drugs, and ridiculed his praying mom.
“I pretty much ran out of veins to inject crack cocaine with,” says the former wrestler who crashed a vehicle while drunk and had a leg amputated as a result. “Thank God for a persistent mother. I credit a praying mother who prayed with my Aunt Linda for over 20 years.”
After three motorcycle accidents, a boating accident, five overdoses and two suicide attempts, the boy who started on fire with God finally relented and came back to God.
Steve’s start was in a Christian home with lots of love for the Word of God. But curiosity to see what the world had to offer seduced his heart.
“At age 16, I started to binge drink,” Steven says on 100 Huntley Street video on YouTube. “I wanted to see what life was like on the other side of the fence.”
When his young Christian girlfriend moved away, he blamed God and searched for “hypocrisies” in the church to justify his plunge into temptation.
“I became a very avid atheist,” Steve acknowledges. “I actively mocked people, including my mother, and friends of mine who had faith. It didn’t matter what your religion was, I would still mock you if you believed in any form of a deity. That’s how far I drifted away.”
The bar scenes, the drug and alcohol culture began to fill his boat with water, sinking him ever deeper. He worked full time, and as soon as he got home, his phone rang non-stop; he became a drug dealer as well.
Four out of 10 women who received an abortion, according to a 2015 Care Net study, got pregnant out of wedlock and had also been attending church. They said the church had no influence on their decision to terminate a pregnancy.
How could this be when the church is at the heart of the Pro-Life movement?
A new documentary attempts to resolve this dark paradox. “The Matter of Life,” in theaters May 16 and 17 only, suggests that the church needs to work on a secondary message. Without easing off the preaching against abortion, it needs to strengthen its message of extending grace to people who slip up.
“I thought all of them were going to judge me,” one young woman says in the film.
“My expectation was that everyone was going to look at me and not see a ring on my finger,” another says.
“These people are going to look at me and say, ‘Uh oh, somebody messed up,’” still another says.
“The Matter of Life” searches the soul of the church.
“Many American churches – including those considered to be Pro-Life – are not considered to be welcoming places for pregnant single women,” the narrator says.
Lisa Cannon Green, who reported the findings, also said:
Two-thirds (65 percent) say church members judge single women who are pregnant.
A majority (54 percent) thinks churches oversimplify decisions about pregnancy options.
Fewer than half (41 percent) believe churches are prepared to help with decisions about unwanted pregnancies.
Wanting to “unleash” himself from society’s norms, David Wood decided to flout rules in the biggest and worst way, by murdering someone. Not just anyone. He developed a plan to murder his own father.
“Some people don’t want to live like cattle,” David explains on his Acts 17 Apologetics YouTube channel. “Some people don’t want to follow this pattern that we are all expected to mindlessly follow. Some would rather bash a man’s head in, or shoot up a theater, or walk down their school hallway stabbing people. Why shouldn’t they? Because it’s wrong? Because of your grandma? Or do people have intrinsic value? Human beings were (to me) nothing but machines for propagating DNA.”
From childhood, David had psychopathic tendencies. He was further influenced by an atheistic moral vacuum and the destructive philosophy of nihilism, a poisonous mixture that influenced the monster he became.
As a boy, when his dog died, his mother cried, but he felt nothing.
Crying isn’t going to change the fact that it’s dead so why are you crying? he thought.
Years later, when his friend died, David again felt nothing. When his mother got beaten up by a boyfriend, he felt nothing.
“I don’t remember ever not living with violence in the family,” David says on Premier Christianity. “My mum was habitually with very abusive boyfriends. One of my earliest memories was hearing a lot of screaming and walking into the kitchen and seeing blood everywhere, and my mum saying: ‘It’s ketchup, go back to bed.’”
David became a habitual rules breaker. He broke into homes, ran from police, and trampled people’s gardens. For David, morality was, at best, a “useful fiction.”
“My atheist worldview was throughout the universe or through time, we’re collections of cells,” he says. “You could kill 1,000 people, or you could spend your entire life helping people. It doesn’t make any real difference. You might as well just do whatever you feel like doing with the time you’ve got.
With a nihilist worldview, he adopted the Nietzschean self-concept of an ubermensch. He was mad at society for trying to “brainwash” him with its rules. The right thing to do, he believed, was to throw off all restraint and prove his superiority. He was “Humanity 2.0.”
There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s everyone else who has a problem. I’m the only smart, sane one, he thought.
David started studying how to build bombs but ultimately rejected mass murder because it was so prosaic.
“Anyone can blow up a bunch of random people, you don’t know them,” he says, “If you’re sick of life dangling at the end of society’s puppy strings, the killing has to start much closer to home. My dad was the only relative I had within a few hundred miles and so he obviously needed to die, and I had a ball-peen hammer that would do the trick.”
Later diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, David felt no remorse, no guilt, no sense of right and wrong. His determination to live “unleashed” knew no bounds.
On the night he planned to murder his father, 18-year-old David sat trying to think of one thing wrong his dad had done to him. He couldn’t think of a thing. He attacked him anyway with the hammer. His goal was to kill him, but he failed.
“I underestimated the amount of damage a human head could endure, crushed skulls could apparently be pieced back together by doctors,” he says. “My dad had brain damage, but he survived the attack.”
David was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison for malicious wounding under New York’s law.
In jail, he met a Christian named Randy whom he mocked. Randy wouldn’t back down easily. In fact, Randy engaged in a spirited debate with David. Surprisingly, they became friends. To compose arguments to refute Christianity, David began to read… Read the rest David Wood.
Melanie Washington hugged the young man who killed her son.
“It’s more important to love and forgive than to hold on to the pain and the hurt,” Melanie says on a Long Beach Post video. “I found myself putting my arm around him. I didn’t feel a murderer that killed my son. I felt my son.”
Today Melanie Washington, based in Long Beach, CA, is helping troubled youth make it out of a destructive culture. She herself came out of a childhood that was “pure hell,” she says.
At age 8, she was molested by her stepfather. When “Fred” got on top of her sister Mary, Melanie told her mother, who kicked out the abuser.
He left but showed up the next day with a gun.
“No, Daddy, no,” Mary pleaded.
He shot and killed Mom. He tried to kill Melanie, but the gun jammed.
Shocked and overcome by grief, Melanie, who didn’t know where to turn, blamed herself for her mother’s death.
“I was the one who told my mother that he was doing this,” Melanie explains. “She put him out, and then he came back and killed her the day after Thanksgiving. I went through a life of never forgiving myself for that. I kept telling my mother, I’m sorry.”
Melanie graduated from high school and, falling in love with a handsome young man, married him. After the second month of marriage, he began to beat her.
A Daasanach warrior chief named John was outraged that the Roman centurions were killing Jesus on screen in his Ethiopian village, according to a Timothy Initiative Vimeo video.
“I couldn’t believe that while Jesus was being tortured, my people sat idle,” John recalled. “I threw a stone at the soldiers and even ran behind the screen with my knife drawn.”
Some remote people groups who still live out of touch with civilization and technology don’t immediately discern between the acting in the Jesus Film and reality. So John attempted to engage the Roman soldiers to defend “an innocent man.”
Of course, John didn’t find anything behind the screen. He had never seen a movie. When he understood that the film’s action scenes were only on the screen, he took his seat on the ground and watched with horror and anguish as the Romans crucified Jesus.
While John found no one behind the screen that day, he did find Jesus. A member of the team that projected the film led him in a sinner’s prayer and began to disciple him.
Like most intelligentsia, Jordan Peterson started as an avowed atheist.
He is no longer an atheist. He leans strongly towards Christianity, which his wife has largely embraced after a brush with cancer.
But Jordan Peterson shies away from outright and unreserved acceptance of Christianity, mainly because he feels the implications are overwhelming in terms of the code of conduct expected.
“Who would have the audacity to claim that they believed in God if they examined the way they lived?” he says on a Pursuit of Meaning YouTube video. “People have asked me if I believe in God. I’ve answered in various ways: ‘No, but I’m afraid he probably exists.’ While I try to act like I believe, I never claim that I manage it.”
A behavioral psychologist and university professor from Canada, Peterson has rocketed to herodom among Christian pundits because, as a cultural icon, he opposed gender confusion and the cancel culture sweeping politics, the media and academia. He doesn’t like the attempts to force people to not think for themselves.
His best-selling 12 Rules for Life affirms traditional masculinity, which current culture calls “toxic,” and offers itself as an antidote to the moral chaos heralded widely now in Western nations. He’s pronounced himself in favor of Biblical morality.
With this shift towards Christian values and Christian cultural ideas, the loudest liberals “cast him as a far-right boogeyman riding the wave of a misogynistic backlash,” according to the Los Angeles Times, but in reality, he’s not. He has all kinds of ideas, and he’s unafraid to share them.
Peterson has even presented a series of lectures on the bible. But don’t expect an inspirational devotion like your pastor’s; Peterson legitimizes the bible but examines it through a Jungian psychological optic.
He offers insight as to why God didn’t punish Cain more severely. He explains that skeptics can’t easily shrug off the resurrection with the claim that it’s simply a forged copy of various resurrection myths from different cultures for one simple fact: Jesus was a real historical person while other resurrection myths only portray mythological persons.
“What you have in the figure of Christ is an actual person who actually lived, plus a myth, and, in some sense, Christ is the union of those two things,” he says. “The problem is I probably believe that, but I’m amazed at my own belief and I don’t… Read the rest: Is Jordan Peterson Christian?
Her husband beat her every time he drank, and Anh become so desperate she was ready to end the hell that was her life, according to a report by Christian Aid Mission (CAM).
When Anh first met her future husband, Ngoc, she saw his charm and swagger and was smitten by love. She didn’t realize that he hung out with buddies who drank, gambled, and smoked opium.
After they married, he often came home inebriated and was physically abusive.
“Every time Ngoc got drunk, he beat his wife.” a local ministry leader told CAM.
One night, she took refuge at a friend’s house. When she returned the next morning, her husband had burned her clothing and her university degree.
In the depths of despair, Ahn fetched a bottle of insecticide was was going to drink it, but her children began tugging at her and crying. For the sake of her children, she didn’t kill herself that day.
Instead, she worked on a plan for someone to care for her kids after she ended her life.
Before she could finish the plan, a Christian missionary knocked on her front door, came in, and presented the Gospel.
Moved by the power of the Word and the Spirit, she surrendered her life to Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.
“Everything was changed and renewed,” the ministry leader reported.
Anh invited her husband to receive Christ, but he rebuffed her. “No, never,” he declared.
However, he began to witness changes in his wife because of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
After pleadings from Anh and the children, Ngoc finally acquiesced and attended church. He was received warmly by the congregation and ended up accepting Jesus.
“The Holy Bible is very good,” Ngoc told his wife later that night. “But I can’t understand it. Can you teach me the Holy Bible?”
For four months he learned the Bible, aided by the patient instruction of the missionary. He even got baptized.
Since a brain tumor had claimed her grandfather’s life, Kaitlin Richardson had a morbid fear of them.
“My worst fear was that they would find a brain tumor,” Kaitlin says on a 700 Club video.
Doctors didn’t find a brain tumor. They found three.
The devastating news was dealt to Kaitlin, then 28, and her husband after she went to the eye doctor for some unexpected blurriness in her vision in November 2019. The eye doctor saw an inflamed optic nerve and referred her for an MRI.
Weeks later she was admitted to the University of Iowa for the complicated operation to extract the tumors. The surgeon hoped the masses were soft and not intertwining with ventricles of the brain, a possibility that could risk permanent brain damage.
“I was scared,” Kaitlin admits. “I didn’t think I’d survive my surgery.”
Kaitlin and husband, Noah, had one son, Jonah. She despaired at the thought of her son growing up without a mom.
As a college basketball player who evidently wouldn’t make it to the NBA, Daniel Nwosu Jr. took a minimum-wage job as a janitor at his college.
It’s a good thing because that’s where he learned to rap.
Today Daniel is known as Dax, a famous rapper who presents the gospel to sinners with a non-traditional voice. His searching – and sometimes profane — “Dear God” has 42.5 million views on YouTube.
“I believe in God,” says Dax on Genius channel on YouTube. “I’m not a Christian rapper, I’m not a mainstream rapper, I’m not a YouTube rapper, I’m not an underground rapper, I’m not a green or a blue rapper. I’m an artist. One day I’m going to rap about how I’m the best. The next day I might rap about my belief in God. The next day I might rap about how I love this girl.”
Born to Nigerian immigrants in Canada, Daniel Nwosu attended a Christian high school. By a miracle, the coach from Sunrise Christian Academy in Wichita, Kansas, saw a video of his play and offered him a scholarship for his senior year.
But he had to attend chapel every day and church on Sunday. Also, he had to observe Sunrise’s strict behavior code, which meant no flirting. Dax literally didn’t even talk to a girl that entire year.
“He poured everything he had into basketball,” says Michael McCrudden on his YouTube channel “Before They Were Famous.” “He had 6:00 a.m. workouts. He would lift weights. And on top of this, he had his own crazy workout routine. From all this, the dude would literally fall asleep in class because he was exhausted.”
Aiming for the NBA, Daniel played at three different colleges to complete his four-year degree. In his senior year, he led his Division 2 conference in scoring.
Academics were not his major focus, but he had an active brain and was drawn by philosophy. He started majoring in psychology, switched to economics and finally got a degree in communications from Newman University in Wichita, Kansas.
It was math class that gave rise to his stage name Dax. He shortened Daniel and added x.
“In math, x is always a variable,” Dax explains. “So I made x a variable for n.”Read the rest: Dax Christian rapper
Three months after his eldest son died of a drug overdose at 21, TobyMac sang a heart-breaking tribute “21 Years” about the doomed destiny, lost promise, and hope of Heaven.
“‘21 Years’ is a song I never wanted to write,” the artist born Kevin Michael McKeehan told People. “I loved (Truett) with all my heart. Writing this song felt like an honest confession of the questions, pain, anger, doubt, mercy and promise that describes the journey I’m probably only beginning.”
“21 Years” is a dirge with Toby’s signature catchy pop, stylized lyrics and rousing uplift.
Is it just across the Jordan
Or a city in the stars?
Are ya singin’ with the angels?
Are you happy where you are?
Well, until this show is over
And you’ve run into my arms
God has you in Heaven
But I have you in my heart.
Truett died in Nashville of a fentanyl and amphetamine overdose in 2019. Truett had just launched his music career, having resisted emerging as a child star under the tutelage of his famous father.
“Until something in life hits you this hard, you never know how you will handle it,” Toby says. “I am thankful that I have been surrounded by love, starting with God’s and extending to a community near and far that have walked with us and carried us every day.”
Starting with DC Talk in the late 1980s and 90s, Toby has been a Christian music kingpin. He has 20 Billboard chart-topping singles. In addition to being a performer, Toby produces music for his label, Gotee Records.
Being celebrity Christians brings a unique pressure on their children, who get frustrated with the outsized expectations upon them. They might want to be just normal kids with normal experiences and normal failings but are expected to conform to the rigorous standards by outsiders. In 2013, Pastor Rick Warren’s son committed suicide.
When personal tragedy becomes a public spectacle, the superstar Christian needs to shed his celebrity status and return to his personal relationship with God.
“Part of my process has always been to write about the things I’m going through, but this went to a whole new level,” Toby explains. “What started out as getting some of my thoughts and feelings about losing my firstborn son down on paper, ended up a song. ’21 Years’ is a song I never wanted to write.” Read the rest: how did TobyMac’s son die?
Decades of research have only confirmed that kids suffer when they lose a biological parent, whether it be through divorce, death, adoption, abandonment or third-party reproduction.
“Losing a parent is physically, mentally, and emotionally detrimental for kids,” says Katy Faust in her book Them Before Us. “Sociologists overwhelmingly agree outcomes for children are best when the children are raised by their married mother and father, a consensus backed by decades of research on marriage and family.”
This was well-established science until the Dawn of the Enlightened Era of Marriage Equality. People’s hearts melted with compassion as they listened to the stories of same-sex parents wishing for a child.
All of a sudden, a barrage of studies emerged reputedly demonstrating that kids raised by same-sex parents came out just as well as parents raised by their biological parents, a mother and a father. The only thing that matters, we were told, was the stability of two loving parents.
And just like that, decades of research was suddenly upended overnight.
Because the media hype went into full swing and social scientists pushed the story it was a slogan that caught on quickly and was adopted widely. Even the Supreme Court was swayed by the “science.”
There was only one problem: While we heeded the tearful stories of same-sex parents who wanted to have children, we ignored the tearful stories of children who wanted a dad and mom.
“The pain in my life did not stem from the state not recognizing the relationship between my two moms,” wrote Heather Barwick in a Supreme Court amicus brief. “It stemmed from the turmoil of desperately wanting a father. I love my mom deeply, fiercely, and unconditionally. She is an incredible woman, but I also love my absent father. I ached for a father I knew I would never have.”
Actually, there was another problem. The “science” supporting same-sex parenting was baked. Methodology was flawed: participants were NOT selected randomly, sample sizes were small and NOT representative, reporting methods (such as same-sex parents answering on behalf of their children) were NOT reliable, according to an evaluation by the Heritage Foundation in 2015.
When Mark Regenerus conducted a legit study in 2012 – not perfect, but better than anything conducted previously – he demonstrated what family research has basically pointed out all along: parental loss hurts kids over the long run, even under the new rubric of same-sex parenting.
The equal sign was a cute logo. But the math was not equal.
“On 25 out of 40 outcomes evaluated, there were statistically significant differences between children from intact biological families and those of mothers in lesbian relationships in many areas that are unambiguously suboptimal, such as receiving welfare, need for therapy, infidelity, STIs, sexual victimization, educational attainment, safety of the family of origin, depression, attachments and dependencies, marijuana use, frequency of smoking, and criminal behavior,” the study says.
His conclusions detonated an atomic bomb of politcal fury.
An army of 200 social scientists arose and trumpeted in a signed complaint that Regnerus had doctored his conclusions based on his religious ideology. Leading the charge was UCLA’s demographer Gary Cates. If he accused Regnerus of being a religious ideologue, there were three fingers pointing back at him. Cates is gay.
Regnerus almost got fired from his job as Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
The message was ominous: anyone who dared to break ranks with the current political ideology would be canceled.
As social scientists dug through his study to unearth defects, Regnerus responded in a twofold manner: 1) no study supporting same-sex parenting had been subjected to similar scrutiny, and 2) keep doing studies (but legit ones).
Regnerus weathered the maelstrom.
Two things happened since his 2012 watershed study. More social scientists worked unafraid of the woke mob. And kids started posting the cries of their heart online. They still had a longing for the biological parent that was not present.
Culling from 12,000 participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Paul Sullins found and studied 20 randomly selected children growing up in same-sex parent household. They were twice as likely to suffer depression later as adults, along with suicidal thoughts and obesity when compared to peers raised by biological parents.
“These results align with what social science has already established about child development, namely the three essential staples of a child’s socio-emotional diet: mother’s love, father’s love, and stability,” Faust writes. Read the rest: Do same-sex parents do as well as biological parents?
A pregnancy is supposed to fill parents with joy, but Laura Johnson’s pregnancy seemed to detonate a cascade of life-threatening conditions for both her and her baby.
“There were times where the doctors would bring me the worst information you could think of and I would forget about my faith,” husband Sean Johnson told CBN. “I have to sit here and days go by, and pray that my wife don’t die any day now.”
The gospel singing duo saw their hopes fade to panic. First, Laura was taken to emergency with intense abdominal pain that was diagnosed as a 4-centimeter hernia that twisted her stomach and pushed much of her intestines into her chest cavity. It required surgery.
Then, what was predicted to be a 5-hour surgery turned into 5-days of straight surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston as doctors opened her up and found things were worse than expected: one lung was compressed, her heart was pushed to the side, and a three-foot section of her intestine was dead.
All the while, Laura was pregnant at 22 weeks.
“I’m losing my mind, honestly,” Sean remembers thinking. “Let’s just be truthful. I’m losing my mind.
“I took it back to God,” he adds. “I said, ‘Listen, this is what they told me. So now you gotta figure this out cause I don’t work in this kinda stuff, you work in these kinda ways.’”
Then on day two of surgery, Laura went into labor. She was unconscious when she delivered baby Alora by C-section on Nov. 21, 2018.
You may be hoping for a Disney movie ending, but baby Alora weighed a mere 1 pound and 8 ounces. The tiniest of babies, all of Alora fit into the palm of Sean’s hand.
Alora suffered two brain bleeds, hydrocephalus, and chronic lung disease. She required two brain surgeries, and at one point, doctors called the parents in to say their goodbyes. Alora wouldn’t survive, they said grimly.
Still, Sean and Laura clung to their faith and sang to the Lord.
“You put her in the palm of my hand, that’s how small she was,” says Sean. “I was excited! It’s… Read the rest: Sean and Laura Johnson.
When Robert Polaco got saved, crime statistics went down for the City of Las Vegas, NM. So says his former pastor. People knew him and feared him, and soon the word spread around the city that the Door Church is where the former criminal was saved.
Robert Polaco’s mom lived mostly in a mental hospital with schizophrenia. His dad lived primarily in jail. Robert was raised as a ward of the State.
“I was placed in a foster home,” Robert says on the 2021 video produced by the Door Church. “According to the case work, I was being abused.”
Along with his harsh living conditions, Robert also felt like a pariah — as if something was broken within him.
“I grew up with that chip on my shoulder,” Robert continues. “It was as if there was no answer, I felt there was no hope.”
Later on, Robert would dedicate his life and career to martial arts. His role as an instructor became the new identity he would give himself to.
“I decided to open up my own dojo,” Robert says. “That’s where I met my wife- I gave her free lessons because I thought she was pretty.”
Robert and Jacque Polaco would eventually enter a marriage which was immediately plagued by serious relationship problems. Robert’s life quickly fell apart.
Change would eventually come on May 15th, 1981. The young couple was introduced by Door Church’s pastor Harold Warner to a set of popular Biblical prophecy films. Convicted, Robert and his wife surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ.
“When I prayed that prayer on that night, I just felt free.” Robert recounts.
Similarly, Jacque felt as if a massive weight was on her for her entire life. Her prayer for salvation lifted the heavy burdens she carried.
“There was no desire to smoke dope or drink alcohol,” Robert states. “The desire was gone. When I entered the martial arts class on Monday, I shut it all down.”
Robert felt like a brand-new man, a newborn star. It was as if someone had pressed a reset button on him; now Robert found something to live for: Jesus.
“Robert and Jacque proved to be a key couple in the forming of that early church here,” Pastor Ray Rubi of Door Church reminisces.
However, the incredibly small building that represented the Door Church in Las Vegas would eventually be the recipient of God’s miracles in the form of a skilled new pastor, Richard Rubi.
“The city of Las Vegas had about 14,000 people, but everybody knew Robert,” Richard says. “He had a reputation there.” Read the rest: Jesus helps crime rates
In a Juvenile Hall Bible study, Kevin Knuckles asked snarkily if all the biblical authors were schizophrenics, and he was promptly kicked out.
“I was hate-filled violent man addicted to drugs,” Kevin admits on his YouTube channel. “I was really against Christ for a lot of my life.”
A derisive arrogance prevailed in Kevin’s heart starting from the moment he discerned his Irish parents’ oppressive Catholic hypocrisy all the way up to the time he told his wife to trash her Bible or say goodbye.
As a member of an international dark-themed rock band, Kevin lived the life of drugs and adultery for most of his adult life. He would lock himself in his room to shoot up heroin but then — looking for a cheap substitute — abused methadone, which is supposed to transition addicts from heroin.
He lived with his lover and neglected his wife and kids, who knew about the betrayal of trust.
“I pushed my family beyond the breaking point,” he says. “I was quite literally dying. I thought I was living my best life. But my condition was so broken.”
Trying to detox after two methadone overdoses, Kevin writhed in emotional turmoil and physical agony for days on end with no rest. He was vomiting and couldn’t sleep.
“I was in the pits of despair and couldn’t take it any further,” Kevin remembers. While he had mocked Christianity for most of his life, he now cried out to God. “I said God, please have mercy on me.”
Nothing happened that night, but the next night he cried out again, this time to Jesus. Then something remarkable transpired.
“I was in a fetal position shaking, sweating, unable to find any peace in my body or my mind,” he recalls. “As soon as I invoked his name (Jesus), I was given complete peace and rest. Even though I had spent most of my life blaspheming him and not believing in him and making fun of people who did, I was so broken and had nowhere else to turn that I just called out to him.”
For the first time in days, Kevin slept that night
“I immediately found peace, my body stopped trembling, my temperature and heart rate regulated,” he recalls.
He dreamed a profound dream that seemed so intensely real that it seemed more of a memory of a real event than a nebulous fabrication of the sandman.
“I couldn’t remember anything from the dream except two things,” he remarks. “One was the dream was about my wife, Kelly, whom I had committed much adultery against and put through much turmoil. And the other was the number 38.”
It was eerie.
Kevin fell asleep and had another dream that again gave him the overwhelming sensation that it was a real event. But again, he couldn’t remember anything about the circumstances — except for two random facts, like the first dream.
“All I could remember was that it was about my son, Patrick, and the number eight,” he says.Read the rest: Jesus dream saves addict.
While she was praying at church, Chris Singleton’s mom was shot eight times by white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015.
Then only 18, Chris Singleton had to assume the role of parent for his younger siblings.
“It was being thrown into the fire for me,” Chris says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “Something like that, I call it the unthinkable because you never think in a million years that something like that will happen to you. It was tough then, it’s tough now. It made me grow up a lot quicker than a lot of people. I had to take care of two teenagers when I wasn’t even 21 yet.”
Incredibly, Chris chose to forgive the racist mass murderer who snuffed out nine lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Sharonda Coleman-Singleton died, Chris wasn’t exactly strong in his Christian faith.
“I think anybody that loses a loved one, there’s two ways you could go with your faith,” Chris says. “You could say number one, there’s no way God is real. Or you could say, two, God, I don’t know how this happened or why this happened, but I need you to get me through it.”
Chris, who became a minor league baseball player for the Chicago Cubs, drew on his athletics training to develop resilience.
“I didn’t have my mom anymore and I didn’t have my dad, so Jesus became the rock that I would lean on,” he says. “That was comforting for me, it was therapeutic for me.”
Of course, Christian Surfers International calls Jesus the “Original Water Walker.”
Originally, they were just a support group of like-minded surfers who felt a little marginalized by the church, but as they grew, they realized they had a greater responsibility to win the entire surfing world to Christ.
They want to be even more salty while paddling ocean waves and reflect the light of Jesus on sun-drenched beaches.
Today, Christian Surfers International has affiliates in 35 countries with about 175 local missions, each of those acting like a tiny church plant to the surf community, says Casey Cruciano, operations manager of CSI.
They also do community development projects around the world through their organization Groundswell Aid. Some of the best surf breaks also have some of the poorest communities in the world. Hardcore surfers have always traveled to out-of-reach spots for the perfect wave. But CSI surfers don’t just ride the wave; they help alleviate poverty, restore the environment and provide disaster relief.
“We believe in the power of the global surfing community to make powerful, long-term changes to beach communities around the world,” a narrator on a Groundswell video explains. “Using surfing as a platform to connect, Groundswell exists to meet the needs of under-resourced communities and offer tangible hope.”
They even teach Third World youngsters to surf or learn water polo, offering scholarships to those who do well in school and encourage school dropouts to return.
On the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, they help build housing and school facilities for the locals. Read the rest: Christian surfers Intl.
Arynn never thought she would end up in a mental institution, but after she became thrilled with cutting herself, that’s where she was taken.
“The minute I saw the blood it was like I was hooked,” Arynn explains to 700 Club Interactive. “It was like this dopamine hit and in a really twisted way I’d almost rewarded myself with self-harming.”
Arynn was turned off by Christians.
“I always thought of Christians as these really emphatic people who wanted you to turn away from anything that was fun,” she says.
So, the minute she turned 18 and was able to go to parties, she began drinking.
“I just had fun with it and then a long pattern of, you know, thinking that I could just keep doing it and it would never catch up to me,” she says.
As a 19-year-old sophomore in a Christian college, she began taking shots of tequila at 8 a.m.
She didn’t realize she had become an alcoholic.
Almost imperceptibly, the “fun” evolved into depression. This led to self-harm.
“As the alcoholism progressed, the urge to self-harm got so much stronger,” Arynn says. “I felt too like even if God loves me he’s not gonna want to associate too much with me because look at where I’ve ended up.”
Death became her daily meditation and cutting became an obsession.
“I remember one night I decided I just have to try at least one time and so I remember taking the razor, slitting my wrist and nothing happened so I just kept going,” she says. “Finally, I’m surrounded by blood, but I’m not bleeding out.”