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.”
“My hardest hardship was my grieving. My loss,” Dahlia Gonzalez says. “It makes me want to play better… for my mom.”
Mom inspired Dahlia, and the whole Lighthouse Christian Academy team, to victory Tuesday in three sets against Ojai Valley School.
“Dahlia did pretty well this game. She did have an injured finger, but it didn’t seem to hold her back this game,” says Coach Jessica Young. “They were all good. She’s a natural athlete. Some of her passes looked like collegiate level to me. They were beautiful like in a magazine. She made some last-minute saves on the sideline. She can hit ambidextrously.”
Ray Dalio may be the master of the market, but la reina Dahlia is the queen of the court.
She has overcome a lot. The loss of her mother was on top of all the difficulties of Covid and not being around friends and not practicing sports (her preferred is softball).
The Saints dispensed the Spuds (Yes, they call themselves the Spuds. No, potatoes are not a big crop from Ojai) empty-handed.
Playing on grass in the private school’s bucolic Ojai property, LCA team members had to adjust. Hits were affected by breezes. Jumps were harder without the hardwood base. Diving would not displace the fall with a slide of smooth wood surface. Read the rest: Santa Monica Christian school sports volleyball
Because of an absentee dad, young Jason Wilson sought male approval by being a THUG, which he now says stands for Traumatized Human Unable to Grieve.
“I got involved in seeking these quests for affirmation, and they led me into some dangerous situations,” Jason says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “The majority of boys who are in gangs are fatherless.”
Two of his brothers were murdered. Jason Wilson showed off his stepfather’s gun on the streets, but he didn’t really fit the role of gangbanger and eventually returned to the Christianity of his mom. After traversing half a century of trial and failure at “hyper masculinity,” Jason Wilson has learned some things about manhood. In his seminars and books, he tells men to cry.
“In my community, it was the hyper masculine black man,” he says on an Ed Mylett video. “If you weren’t hyper masculine, you didn’t get the girls, you didn’t get the money, you weren’t cool, you were ostracized.”
“So many of the young boys I mentor and even the men — they’re called OG’s, or original gangsters — they’re hurting. It’s amazing when I get with them and talk, they just start crying because of the years of the trauma that they’ve seen.”
Jason went viral in 2016 when in his karate gym, he encouraged a young boy taking his test to go ahead and cry when he was unable to punch through a board with his left fist. Men need to cry because tears contain stress hormones, thus releasing them from your body.
Breaking boards in karate becomes a metaphor of breaking through struggles for a man, whether it be to shed the pounds of obesity or invite out for a date the woman of your dreams, he says.
The video has been seen more than 100 million times. Subconsciously, it encapsulates a message about manhood beyond just “manning up,” being strong and “boys don’t cry.”
“The phones of our non-profit were just ringing. We were like, ‘What is going on?’ Viral videos were kind of new,” he says. “Men were crying to our women staff, saying, ‘I’m tired of not being able to be tired. I want to be a human.’”
As a youngster from a broken home in Detroit, Jason Wilson used to sneak out from church when his mother wasn’t watching and escape to the arcade. He became a famous hip hop deejay. The world of hip hop, in which everybody is always mugging, fostered “hyper masculinity” in him.
“Unfortunately, I did not have a desire to learn about God,” he says. “I didn’t feel Christ. I knew there was a God, but I didn’t see Him. I allowed the hypocrisy of men to stop me from getting a relationship with the Creator of men.”
He searched for meaning in Egyptology, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
While he was running from Christ, he almost died twice. He flipped a truck and rolled twice. But he shrugged it off. Three years later, he was working as a high load driver when the truck driver hadn’t chaulked the breaks, and he crashed off the platform. At the second brush with death, he answered the wake-up call.
“I’m on the ground with a heavy weight high loader next to me,” he recalls. “I’m crying, ‘Father, I will never go against You.’ If I didn’t follow God’s will, definitely I would be either dead, definitely I would still be drinking, divorced and probably not there for my kids.”
He opened a dojo, The Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy named after King David’s discipleship hideout. That’s where he found his true calling in life.
He was much older and wiser. He had cried — finally — at a funeral. His wife, Nicole, suffered five miscarriages between his daughter, 26, and son, 13, and he learned to be there for his wife.
He was starting to learn about true manhood — and he wanted to share the good news.
“The pain I experienced not having a father is worth being able to impact hundreds of thousands of people who don’t have their father,” he says. “The Cave of Adullam came from a desire to help boys and men, to be what I didn’t see. My son asked me one day, ‘How did you become a great father?’ I said, ‘I simply gave you what I longed for.’
“Even a man desires affirmation from another man.”
When his video went viral, Jason was launched to nationwide fame. He was featured on Dr. Oz and in President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” showcase at the White House. He has two books: Cry like a Man: Fighting for Freedom from Emotional Incarceration and Battle Cry: Waging and Winning the War Within.
“Women didn’t let themselves be defined by culture. When in the early 1900s it was said, ‘A woman’s place is in the kitchen,’ they defied that,” James says. “But we as men have allowed this one adjective ‘masculinity’ to define us and hinder us from the lives we long for.” Read the rest: THUG Traumatized Human Unable to Grieve.
Adam Gunton hung up on his buddy when he called at 4:47 a.m.
“Why are you calling me this late?” he snapped.
“I was just calling to say hi,” Chuck responded, timidly.
“Don’t call me this late again!” Adam, a freshman in college in 2008, barked and slammed the phone down.
That’s the point when Adam’s partying changed and he became a hopeless addict.
“Before that moment I was using drugs and alcohol to party and have fun,” he says on a Logan Mayberry video. “But after that I was consciously using drugs to mask the way I feel, mask my emotions, mask my thoughts and cope with life around me. I bottled it down deeper and deeper with drugs and alcohol.”
As a result of his addiction, his weight dwindled down to 147 pounds from 210.
Adam grew up in Littleton, Colorado. He played football and wrestled at Columbine High School, which gained notoriety through tragedy. Mostly, he was able to hide his drug habit. He started drinking at age 11, after someone shared cocaine and weed with him.
“Throughout my high school career, I just thought it was fun,” he says. “I had no idea that it was going to lead me to a homeless shelter and not being able to stop the worst drugs on the planet 10 years later.”
On Nov. 6, 2015, Adam took a heroin hit that initially he thought was bunk. He got in his car and drove off. Cops found him in his car on the side of the road OD’d. Three months later, the body cam video was shown in court and he was charged with felony drug possession.
“Even that moment and those experiences weren’t enough to get me clean and sober,” he remarks.
He worked for Direct TV and became a top salesperson regardless of his drug abuse. At his desk, he had his computer and a drawer full of drugs.
One day, alone in his bedroom, he cried out to a God he didn’t know.
A year after he lost his legs and arms to septic shock, Gary Miracle ran a 1.4-mile race on running blades.
“My doctor tells me all the time, ‘no feet, no excuses,’” Gary told The Epoch Times.
Although Gary had many reasons to sulk, he continues to live his life to the fullest.
Forty-year-old Gary Miracle did ministry for 12 years when he contracted a rare blood infection he thought was the flu but it progressed to septic shock. He spent 10 days in a coma at an Orlando hospital.
“I think they gave me a 1 to 7 percent chance to live through this,” Gary says.
On New Year’s Day his heart failed, and medical personnel took eight minutes to revive him. Gary was placed on an oxygenation machine, and the cardiovascular surgeon saved his life by diverting blood to his brain and torso at the expense of his limbs, which necrotized.
“My arms and legs were so cold,” Gary says. “They told me that I looked like a mummy; my hands and legs were pitch black. Then my muscles and my tendons started kind of falling out of my legs. I had no feeling down there.”
Gary is a husband and father of four kids. His wife, Kelly, posted scriptures all around his hospital room.
“My family just stepped up in a huge way, I was never left alone,” he says. “People were praying for me constantly.”
After 117 days in the hospital, Gary was discharged in April 2020. His lifeless limbs had been amputated. He is a quadruple amputee.
“When you go through something like that, there’s a line drawn in the sand: Am I gonna sit on the couch and throw a pity party?” he says. “Or am I going to choose to live and be alive and live for Christ and be a dad with my kids?” Read the rest: Gary Miracle lost his arms and legs but not hope.
When a driver found Mo Isom suspended by her seatbelt upside down in her rolled Jeep, with her face bloodied following an accident, she kept saying with a smile: “God is beautiful.”
Mo had asked God to “wreck” her life after her father committed suicide.
“I didn’t realize that God would answer my prayer so literally,” Mo says on a 100 Huntley video. “My vehicle lost control, flipped three times and landed upside-down in a ravine at 1:30 in the morning. He wrecked my life, but He revealed himself to me in that wreckage.”
Mary Isom (simply “Mo”) an All-American soccer star, fiercely loved her perfectionist father, who gave her the silent treatment when she fell short.
Of course, this developed into a performance-based understanding of God. “I do good things, I get blessings,” she explains. “I do bad things, God turns his back on me.”
Mo looked forward to college as a fresh beginning. As a soccer star on the team at Louisiana State University, Mo wanted to leave behind the bulimia she struggled with in high school.
At college, she stumbled across Matt 11:28: Come to me, all who are weary or burdened and I will give you rest.
The verse ministered to her greatly.
But then her dad put a bullet through his heart Jan 3., 2009 in Huntsville, Alabama, when his business soured.
“I was punctured as deep as you could imagine,” she remembers. “It left a gaping hole in my heart.”
The relationship she was trying to develop with God unraveled as guilt, shame, blame, grief, and rage cascaded unchecked through her heart.
She prayed with a sense of urgency: “God, if You are real, do something.”
In response to a stepdad throwing boiling beans on his kids, Billy hunted down the suspect and murdered him and his uncle.
“I was so out of my mind,” Billy says on a Tony Evans video, “My kids were my life. I wasn’t thinking rationally and reasonably. All I was thinking about was revenge.”
A year later, he was arrested and began a long sentence.
Billy’s parents split when he was only six years old. He was left to his dad’s care but wanted desperately to find his mom. He would walk down the highway looking for his mom. Eventually, he found her. She was a functional alcoholic.
As an adolescent, Billy met a girl and got her pregnant. He was happy to be having a boy, “even though I was just a boy myself,” he says. But the child was stillborn.
He had two daughters with the young lady, but he didn’t know how to be a father or a husband, and she left him for another man.
The new man abused his daughters and got arrested, along with his former partner (who was taken into custody for child endangerment).
Billy boiled with rage.
“I would begin to consume enormous amounts of alcohol,” Billy recalls. “I consumed whatever it was to take my mind off of its original state to keep from having to deal with these issues.”
When a couple of friends notified him that the perpetrator had been released on bond, “my next question was, where is he?” Billy says. “I made my way over to the condominium where this uncle and he were and I murdered them.”
Billy spent five years in county jail awaiting trial, ultimately taking a plea-bargain deal that gave him 30 years, reduced to seven if behaved well in jail.
Ultimately, he didn’t “behave well” in jail.
“I had so much hate, anger, and bitterness and resentment that would just roll into my life and other people around me,” he says. “I began to express my faithfulness to rebellion so much that in fact the other gang members started to recognize me.”
He liked the recognition and respect he earned by getting into trouble.
Transferred to a prison in Amarillo, Texas, BIlly got caught up in a gang riot that left one man in critical condition. The man was air-lifted to the hospital, where he lingered between life and death.
Three inmates who were supposedly “brothers” in Billy’s gang, fingered him as the responsible man behind the brutal beating. The warden called in Billy and produced the signed accounts accusing him. If spelled the death penalty for him. His only hope was that the beaten man would somehow survive in the hospital. Read the rest: revenge and redemption in Texas
Before Vitor Belfort KO’d Evander Holyfield, he got KO’d by life. Specifically, his sister’s kidnapping and reported rape and killing left him searching for answers and hopelessly embittered.
“There’s two ways to get to God, through pain or through love,” he says on an I am Second video. “Mine was through pain.”
Known as “the Phenom,” Vitor Belfort was the youngest fighter to win an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at 19. The Brazilian-born Florida resident, 44, has fought in all kinds of matches, with boxing being his latest.
He knew about God from childhood. In his first official fight, he promised to serve God faithfully, if God permitted him to win. Once he triumphed, he promptly forgot his promise.
“As soon as I won the championship, I didn’t follow God right away,” he acknowledges.
At age 20, he suffered a neck injury. Doctors were grim. He would have to give up his beloved sport of fighting and find another career.
“I was crying, I was desperate,” he admits.
One day as he drove around in his fancy car he saw a legless man who got around on a skate. He was so struck by this beggar, he engaged in conversation.
“Many people that drive by here think I’m worthless because I don’t have any legs,” the beggar told him. “But I can guarantee you, Vitor, I’m happier than many people who drive by here in their big cars. I got Jesus and Jesus can transform your life.”
That was the moment that Vitor felt God talking to his heart.
“But even with that, I didn’t follow God,” he concedes.
It would take the kidnapping of his sister in 2004 to humble Vitor and bring him to repentance.
Priscila was taken, and the family didn’t know anything about her for three years. A woman who supposedly was taken captive herself to pay off drug debts, Elaine Paiva, confessed to helping drug dealers kidnap and kill Priscilla.
Information that his sister had been repeatedly raped by grisly murderers enraged Vitor.
As a Christian, Judy serves God by being a foster parent to dogs. Some even come from China, allegedly having escaped the dog meat trade.
“God made all creatures,” Judy told God Reports. “I think He would not want a dog to suffer. If we didn’t have foster parents, the dog would be put in a shelter. Most of the shelters are kill shelters.” (“Kill shelters” euthanize if the stray is not adopted within a certain number of weeks.)
If you have never heard of a foster parent for dogs, you are not alone. The concept is similar: you care for the dog until it gets adopted. The foundation pays for the food and veterinary visits. Some foster parents care for four dogs at a time.
Judy, 69, has had Lollipop, Marshmallow, Bandit and Doreen. Two were Chihuahuas. Well-behaved Chihuahuas. She brings them to church, which conveniently meets outdoors in a park.
Sometimes, they come shaking and traumatized by abuse or neglect. They are dropped off from cars on the road. They are abandoned in fields. They are flea-infested from ill-kept hoarders. They even come from abroad, at great expense for transportation.
Rescue workers will drive hours to pick up a dog.
“I love dogs. They really relax me. They’re fun. They’re amazing,” Judy says. “The love of dogs has to do with being able to love. If you love God and know that God is real, then you know that God created animals.”
Judy didn’t grow up in a church-going home but found God in her early 30s through some Christian friends and through reading the Bible.
“I had some Christian friends and it just felt right. It was a calling to me. Christianity is something that is necessary,” Judy says. “The thing I admire about Christians is their family; they have really good family. The kids are well-mannered. They don’t swear. They’re so connected. It is such a beautiful thing.”
“Dating was my license to everything, ice cream with sprinkles on top, sushi on the side,” the New Jersey beats producer says on his YouTube channel. “I was using these types of things as void fillers. That didn’t last long. We began to get convicted.”
The discord arose when his girlfriend, Mags (Margaret), “flowed with” the conviction from a certain “Night of Prayer” they attended, while Joe stubbornly resisted to the point that they broke up.
“I tried to ignore it like everything is all good,” Joe says. “I put on this front. I’m playing 2K (basketball on Xbox) like none of this bothers me. But deep down when I was alone with God, it really did bother me.”
“We had to stop sex, but the mindset I had was such a stronghold. I was not obedient to God. I wanted to hold on to that one thing that I thought was my manhood. That cost us the relationship.”
Joe was “bawling” in the car when she broke off the relationship.
“You would think that I would snap out of it, like, yo, it’s not worth it,” he remembers. “But of course not. When you’re stubborn, you run into a brick wall 300 times thinking the next time it’ll be softer.”
As heartbreaking as the breakup was, it was also “transformational,” Joe says. Mags went to church three times a week, got a Christian mentor and devoured God’s word.
Meanwhile, Joe went through his own soul searching.
“Once we broke up, I was like, yo, how much a part of me was that person? When you have sex with each other, you guys are actually exchanging souls. It’s deeper than just pleasure, boom, boom, boom, we’re out of there and we’re done. Soul ties are real.”
God showed Joe that the holes in his heart needed to be filled by Him, not sex. He needed to make God first and change his group of friends to break free from a worldly mindset.
“I had to be a man,” he says. “Sex was never worth not submitting to God and following His word.” Read the rest: Saved from premarital sex.
About once a week, one homeless man or woman dies in Venice, CA.
That’s Michael Ashman’s tally. At least three times a week, Ashman hands out free food, clothes, and Bibles at Muscle Beach, which is often filled with tourists and eclectic street performers.
This area – until recently cleaned up by Sheriff’s deputies – has been thronged with homeless and criminals.
“When people say we have a ‘homeless problem’, that tells me they don’t have a clue; it’s a human problem, not a homelessness problem,” Ashman, 57, told God Reports. “There are all kinds of reasons people are homeless. Then you throw alcohol and drugs into the mix. But Jesus is the answer. He’s the One who’s going to heal their minds and set them free.”
For three years, Michael has ministered to the homeless. Arguably, homeless ministry is prone to burnout because positive results are few and far between, while death and destruction abound. The homeless, he says, have zero self-control and consequently get devastated by addiction, violence and disease.
“Every now and then, someone comes by and says, ‘Do you remember me? You fed me. You helped me,’” Michael says.
One such was Ivan, who once slept on the beach because of Southern California’s year-round temperate climate. One day he arrived cleaned-up and smiling. He had a small place and two jobs. The day he greeted Ashman, he was handing out clothes to his street friends, paying forward the favors.
Native to Southern California, Ashman got to know Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade at age 15. He got off drugs and was attending church but was “too young and not very involved,” he says.
In 1996, he got married and had kids but walked away from church and lost his marriage. He didn’t immediately come back to church because guilt coiled in his heart like a snake.
“I’d gone too far,” he explains. “I looked in the mirror every day and said, ‘God, what am I doing? I’m killing myself.’”
On Valentine’s Day in 2016, Ashman returned to church after “my life pretty much fell apart.”
He sat in the back and wept. He kept going to church “and wept every service for quite a while,” he says. “God was fixing me.”
Eventually, he launched his ministry, a 501c3 titled “You Matter.” He wears “You Matter” T-shirts on outreach, and it’s a good message to people that society has cast aside, fears and finds revolting.
“I just felt like this is what God wanted me to do,” Ashman says. “It was so powerful in me. It was beyond passionate, it was a driving force. I couldn’t not do it. I feel Jesus in me, and He loves people through me.”
For most of his life, Ashman worked as a contractor and a phone and computer communications installer, but as his non-profit has taken off, he’s neglected his business and given himself more and more to ministry.
While politicians promote social theories for dealing with the homeless, Ashman says only Jesus can truly change them.
Recently, the L.A. Sheriff ignited a spat with the mayor’s office by publicly accusing politicians of being incompetent and making an incursion into Venice to get the homeless off the streets. As a result, fewer homeless are coming to Ashman’s ministry. He fears that… Read the rest: homeless in Venice
It didn’t even occur to Yeonmi Park to ask why there would be no fee to smuggle her and her mother across the North Korean border into China at night over the frozen Yalu River. Constant hunger smothered that question.
Quickly, she found out why, as the human traffickers immediately demanded sex from the 13-year-old girl, once in China. But her mother stepped in to save her.
“No, you cannot!” Mother shouted. “Take me instead.”
Their desperate escape from North Korea and their entrapment in China’s sex trafficking, followed by their harrowing journey to South Korea and eventual coming to faith, is chronicled in Yeonmi Park’s 2015 book In Order to Live.
Yeonmi’s predicament was devastating. As horrifying as rape was, it was preferrable to starvation, so she remained in China. “There was more food in the garbage can than I might see in a week in Heysan,” Yeonmi says. “I was very happy with my decision.”
Yeonmi Park grew up in Hyesan, North Korea and was taught to revere Great Leader Kim Jong Un. She never questioned the propaganda: North Korea was the most prosperous nation in the world. Kim Jong Un was practically immortal and supremely benevolent. It was the long-nosed Yankees and the Japanese who were evil imperialists destroying the world.
She whole-heartedly believed North Korea’s lies. They were drilled constantly in school and in block meetings in which citizens criticized themselves and others for not obeying the dictator sufficiently.
Never mind that across the river, the Chinese clearly had electricity at night and fireworks during New Year’s while the North Koreans lived in darkness and couldn’t enjoy holiday festivities. Yeonmi, like most North Koreans, never questioned the sincerity of the government or the veracity of their affirmations.
Years later when free, she found in George Orwell’s Animal Farm the term describing her mental state: doublethink. That is how she could watch pirated videos from South Korea and America and, seeing the luxury displayed, still not question Kim Jong Un’s description of reality.
And you could never utter the slightest hint of criticism of the government. You would be overheard and turned in to the state police. “Even the birds and mice can hear you whisper,” mother told her daughters.
“They need to control you through your emotions, making you a slave to the state by destroying your individuality and your ability to react to situations based on your own experience of the world,” Yeonmi writes.
She calls this an “emotional dictatorship.”
All things considered, Yeonmi had it pretty good. Her dad was a smuggler and stole items of value, bribing officials all along the way, to re-sell in the black market.
Then dad got caught, and the family descended into shame and extreme poverty. Mom left Yeonmi and her sister, Eunmi, alone for months at a time while she did her own black-market business to scrounge money for her girls. Dad was condemned to intensive labor in a prison camp that starved inmates so that they died.
“My only adult ambition was to buy as much bread as I liked and eat all of it,” Yeonmi writes. “When you are always hungry, all you think about is food.”
Yeonmi’s older sister eventually found a “broker,” who could smuggle her into China. Yeonmi and her mother followed soon after.
“We never thought to ask why these women were helping us, and why we didn’t have to pay them anything,” Yeonmi says. “We didn’t think that something might be wrong.”
The reason why there were no fees to get spirited across the border is because the smugglers were also sex traffickers. Women were usually sold as slave brides for $2,000, supplying the vacuum of women caused by China’s one-child policy combined with the preference for boys.
Sometimes, they were sold into prostitution.
With resourcefulness, Yeonmi and her mother escaped worse treatment. She couldn’t turn herself in to Chinese authorities; they would only deport her back to the prison camps of North Korea where one might starve to death.
So Yeonmi learned Chinese and fought off her would-be rapists by biting, kicking and screaming. She negotiated with her pimp to be his mistress in return for favors: she bought her mom back from being a “slave bride.”
“I realized that there was a force inside me that would not give up,” she says.
In 1984, China was cracking down on foreigners on its soil in preparation for the Summer Olympics. So, the sex trafficking business dried up. Yeonmi’s pimp let her be taken by a mafia gangster with a harem. It seems that the sex traffickers were particularly pleased to keep her for themselves because of her young age.
Initially, Yeonmi fought the mafia man off when he tried to have his way with her.
When Mark DeYmaz took over a Kmart to open his thriving church of 500, he helped his budget by opening a for-profit coffee shop and renting space to a gym next door.
In an age of declining tithing, DeYmaz proposes churches get smart, abandon obsolete models and incorporate business savvy, not to get rich from the kingdom, but to multiply outreach.
“The more people joined our church — the homeless, the immigrant, the undocumented, the poor — it cost us money, DeYmaz says on a Vice News video. “We realized that if we were going to have effective ministry, we were going to have to have multiple streams of income.”
But don’t accuse him of upending the way church is done. Tithes and offerings were just one business model. DeYmaz is not condoning stingy Christians. He’s simply using his brain and God-given resources to maximize impact, he says.
His church, Mosaic, belongs to the new burst of millennial churches that project a certain image with their relaxed dress codes, untraditional interior decorating, and hipster pastors. They’re rethinking church to be relevant for the next generation.
Pew Research charts a declining number of Americans who call themselves Christians – 65% — 12% lower than a decade ago.
“Religion is less central to American life,” says Rebecca Glazier, professor of public affairs at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. “People are just not identifying with formal religious institutions and finding spiritual fulfillment through them the way that they used to in generations past.”
Working as a waiter at a steakhouse in LA, Josh wanted to become a star but the attractive ladies at his table offered him a different kind of acting: “adult” movies.
“I showed up (at the studio) and I was terrified and everyone’s like, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just take this pill, you’ll be able to perform.’ I didn’t have a conversation with the girl. I didn’t know her name. We never even made eye contact. I felt dirty.
“That changed the rest of my life.”
And so the small-town kid fell into the swamp of Hollywood. Josh Broome didn’t have a relationship with his father, so when he started modeling at age 15, he thrived on the praise, the positive reinforcement.
“If I am successful in any type of genre of a film or theater, I would be loved,” he thought at the time. So with $50, he moved to Golden State, California, home to the film industry, maker of stars. His plan, of course, was to do something legitimate.
But as the months dragged into years, when the “provocatively dressed” girls showed up and made him the proposal, he quickly agreed. It seemed cool, and he needed the cash.
The first film was disillusioning.
“It didn’t feel real. I didn’t feel like it truly happened,” he says. “Then some of my friends saw. I was embarrassed, even though they were like, ‘Dude, that’s so cool’”
But if his friends stumbled onto and watched his video, Josh realized that his mom would eventually find out. What would she think?
“I was thinking about embarrassing my mom,” he admits.
At the same time, he rehearsed his rationalization. “I already did one. So, what’s the difference, if I do another one.”
“Then all of a sudden you know I’ve done a few and I’ve made three or four thousand dollars in less than a month,” he adds. “All of a sudden I was doing 20 a month.”
Of course, Mom found out.
“I still didn’t stop. I became this person I didn’t even know,” Josh says. “The more I was willing to care less about myself, the more I was willing to do these movies.”
Josh became a “star,” performing in thousands of films in five years.
“I’m, crying myself to sleep every night,” he remembers. “Every time I worked, I would literally shower, and I couldn’t get clean enough because I couldn’t wash off the hurt.”
The breaking point came from a bank teller. “Josh, is there anything else I can do for you?” the teller asked.
It was the first time he had heard his own name in such a long time.
“I just lost it and I went home and I looked myself in the mirror and I was like, ‘What have I done? What have I done with my life? I haven’t been home in two Christmases. I wasn’t taking care of my mom. I wasn’t taking care of my brother.”
He called his director and quit.
“I ran, I ran for my life. I moved to North Carolina,” he says. “Every night, I would have dreams of the things I did. Even though I wasn’t doing anything anymore, my sin was just tucked away. It wasn’t dealt with.
“The last thing I wanted to do was face what I did, and I had ruined my relationship with my family.”
His mom offered him unconditional love.
“But I knew I embarrassed her,” he confesses.
Next, Josh met Hope. She was pretty and liked Josh.
Two words turned track star Quanesha Burks around after an injury dimmed her chances to make it to the Tokyo Olympics: BUT GOD.
“A few months ago, I was dealing with severe bone bruising in my femur and two strained tendons in my patella and popliteus,” Quanesha wrote on Instagram June 30th. I couldn’t physically bend my leg yet alone walk or run properly.
“BUT GOD,” she declared in faith.
Then the Olympic star explained how her attitude, prayer and positivity allowed her not only compete but make it on America’s Olympic team.
“I couldn’t control the injuries or what my future held. But I decided to embrace every day with prayer, positivity, and continuing to be a blessing to others,” Quanesha says. “I refused to let the setback determine my outcome and I knew God didn’t bring me this far to leave me.”
Born in Ozark, Alabama, Quanesha Burks had a small-town girl mentality. She even worked at McDonald’s after track practice to pay her grandmother’s car insurance. (But judging from the shape she’s in, perhaps she didn’t over-indulge on fries and shakes.)
“When I worked at McDonald’s, I thought it was the best job ever,” Burks told Sports Illustrated. “I was making $100 every two weeks. It’s terrible, but I came to work every day happy and I knew it was all part of my goal to go to college.”
Quanesha is a hard-working Christian girl who put her life into God’s hands.
At Hartselle High School, she placed third in the triple jump at the 2012 USATF Junior Olympics and won a 100-meter dash/long jump/triple jump triple at the 2013 state championships.
All the while, she drove grandma to work every morning at 4:30 a.m. and her sisters to school and after track practice, she logged hours flipping burgers and ringing up orders at McDonald’s from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Since she excelled in sports, she hoped she might get a scholarship to college. She would be the first in her family to attend higher education. She researched and found she needed to… Read the rest: Quanesha Burks Christian
When Graham Cottone was finally diagnosed with Asperger’s at age 10, it was a tremendous relief. Before that, his parents didn’t know what was wrong and they blamed themselves. He was constantly punished, made fun of, and friendless.
“He was hard. He was very, very hard to love,” Lore Cotton, his mother, says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “You love your children. They’re your children. We disciplined out of anger on several occasions. It was scary to think, ‘What are we doing? We’re spanking all the time.”
Graham’s behavior worsened beginning at age 12.
“It just was so overwhelming. I remember just going in my bedroom and being so exasperated,” Lore says. “I just fell down on my bed and just began sobbing.”
Out of her prayer that day, God impressed on her heart: Graham is going to get it.
Despite what Lore felt God impart, she didn’t see any encouraging signs. To the contrary, Graham went downhill fast.
At 13, he began using marijuana. He began cutting himself to relieve anxiety. He started fires in the house. He got into a physical fight with his dad, Lore recounts.
“He ran out and got a rock and he threw it and he hit me in the head,” says Michael Cottone, the father. They called 911, and the police intervened. Graham was arrested and jailed and placed under a restraining order to stay away from home.
“We know you’re going to let him come back,” the cops told the parents at the time. “But we’re not.”
Not long after, Graham experienced some sort of emotional breakdown and broken into a house in Texas.
He grew up in jail and mental hospitals.
“I wanted Graham to have peace and have joy,” Lore says.
Graham moved to Colorado, then hitchhiked to Oregon.
“We were actually on a vacation in Mexico,” Lore says. “Graham called us just half crazed, he was crying and screaming and mad because he had run out of all of his medications and he was at a hospital and they wouldn’t give him any more medications.”
Lore offered to wire him some money but said she couldn’t do much else.
“He got upset. He hung up on me,” Lore remembers. “Right before he hung up on me, he said, ‘I’m, going to hurt somebody.’”
Graham wouldn’t answer his phone and soon lost his phone. There was no way to get ahold of him.
“It felt really bad. It felt like the end,” she says. “All we could do was pray. I just told God, ‘He is yours. He’s always been yours. I want so badly to go rescue him, but I know you brought me here. You took me out of the way. I need to trust and let You do your thing.’”
After the vacation, Lore got a call from her son in Sacramento, California. He had hopped a freight train down from Portland with a group of vagabonds.
“I lost everything,” he said. “I knew I didn’t know anybody for thousands of miles, but I need God.”
“I had this vision of Hell,” Graham says. “It wasn’t a place where people were eternally tortured. It was this place where people just chose to do things their own way.” Read the rest: Asperger’s son went prodigal
Josh Torbich drank in an attempt to mask his insecurities.
“That inferiority complex seemed to slip away. I started to feel confident,” Josh says on a 700 Club video. “I set myself up to see the drink as the solution to fix the way that I felt, because it happened. Man, it was like the most immediate and effective solution that I ever had seen to fix that feeling that I had.”
As a young person growing up in Brunswick, Georgia, excess weight made him self-conscious. When friends introduced him to alcohol at age 13, the euphoria blanked out his feelings of inadequacy and a poor self-image.
“My life circled around, ‘where’s the party at?’” he says. “I started to become the go-to guy for alcohol and I felt like that was somebody that everyone was attracted to, that could quickly move in and out of popularity circles.”.
Because he was big, he could buy alcohol with a fake ID.
But he was living a double life. His parents were Christians who took him to church.
In his junior year of high school, the liquor wasn’t enough. He turned to painkillers, and their potency gave him an additional boost of self-confidence.
Of course, the gateway substance led to even more: during his senior year, he was a full-blown heroin addict.
“The first time that I shot up heroin and the rush came over me, it was like going back to when I was 13 years old,” Josh says. “It was new, it was exciting, and it was something that once again made me feel great.”
Hillsong worship leader Darlene Zschech had spent her life lifting spirits, but when breast cancer struck in 2013, she needed her own spirit lifted.
“What I found in my ‘valley of the shadow of death’ is the presence of God,” she says on a CBN video. “I realized you can only have shadow if there is light. It’s just a fact that God doesn’t leave us.”
Famous for her 1993 song “Shout to the Lord,” Darlene led worship at Hillsong Church from 1996 to 2007, after which she and her husband founded Hope Unlimited Church in 2011 in New South Wales Australia.
Amazingly, it is estimated that “Shout to the Lord” gets sung by 30 million church-goers every Sunday.
A television star from childhood, Darlene developed insecurities after her parents divorced when she was 13. As a result, she fell into bulimia for about four years.
“It took a long time for that (the wounds from the divorce) to heal,” Darlene says on SWCS Australia. “But now, I have got a real compassion for kids in that situation. It is now the rule, not the exception. Our next generation is definitely going to need answers. Divorce can definitely leave scars.”
When her dad returned to church, he took Darlene, who at 15 accepted Christ. She met and married Mark, and the couple worked as youth pastors in Brisbane. Mark felt called to Sydney, while Darlene didn’t want to go because she had just rekindled her relationship with her mom. Read the rest: Darlene Zschech cancer battle
Polycystic ovarian syndrome kept Renelle Roberts from her dream of becoming a mother and having babies.
“We tried fertility treatments. That didn’t work,” she says on a CBN video. “We tried adoption. That didn’t work. We tried foster care. That didn’t work.
“What’s going on?” she questioned. “There were days that I couldn’t even go to work because I was in bed just crying: Why can’t I have a child? What is wrong with me? Please help me. Please cure me.”
When Renelle hit the milestone of 30 years of age, she had plenty to ponder. On the one hand, her patience was growing thin with the wait. On the other, she recognized that possibly she was making having children into an idol.
“I told the Lord, ‘I want 30 to be my best year,’” she remembers. “I really had to submit though, whether I had children or not, because it had become an idol. Children are wonderful; they are a blessing. But for me it had become an obsession. That can get unbalanced.”
Renelle fasted and pledged to fast for as long as it took. Meanwhile, she got into some Bible studies that emphasized faith and believing.
Jackie Halgash lost 100 pounds when she got her comfort from prayer instead of eating.
“I used food for comfort all the time. I used food for when I was happy and when I was sad. I think pretty much any time I felt like eating,” she says on a CBN video. “I got to a point where I couldn’t stand it anymore. I would get up in the morning and before I opened my eyes, my first thought was: what did I do last night? What did I eat? Oh, no! didn’t mean to! I meant to not eat after dinner!”
As a nurse, she knew how obesity jeopardizes health, but the feelings driving compulsive eating overpowered her mental understanding of health. She made rules for herself but always broke them.
Then she found a Christian weight loss program that brought the Lord into her eating.
“It’s a spiritual growth program and that’s the key,” she says. “It gave me the tools that I needed in my faith to be able to stop eating and bring the Lord into my eating.”
As she depended on the Lord, she ate only to being satisfied, not full. When she felt tempted, she called out to the Lord and dedicated that moment as a fast unto the Lord.
“The weight dropped off,” she says.
She dedicated it to the Lord: “Thank You, take this. This is a fast. Take this and I honor You because this is what You’re asking me to do.” Read the rest: God diet to drop 100 pounds
To make kids laugh and to avoid making them nervous because of his disfigurement, Shilo Harris wears “elf ears” like Spock from Star Trek.
The prosthetic ears attach magnetically. He lost his ears — and the skin on 35% of his body — in Feb. 19, 2007 when, as a soldier, his Humvee was hit by an IED on patrol on a stretch of Southern Bagdad road so dangerous it was called “Metallica.”
The IED killed three other soldiers, wounded a fourth and sent Shilo into a 48-day coma. When he awoke from the coma, he endured years of surgery and rehab. The whole experience and the murky, painful time he spent in a coma, Shilo calls “hell.”
“It was the most scariest, most dark, creepiest thing,” Shilo says on a 100Huntley video. “Everything was sharp and painful. The helpless feeling. It had to have been Hell. That’s the way I interpreted it.”
Today, Shilo Harris is a Christian man who has drawn close to God because of his experiences. He’s written a book, Steel Will: My Journey through Hell to Become the Man I was Meant to be. He’s a motivational speaker in schools.
Shilo grew up in Coleman, Texas, working at a bait and tackle shop run by his dad, a Vietnam veteran who suffered from untreated PTSD.
When Shilo saw the Twin Towers fall in New York City, he felt the need to serve his country to fight the terrorists who had decimated civilians with no prior declaration of war. He found himself in the U.S. Calvary during the Iraq War.
The fateful explosion engulfed the Humvee with flames. He managed to escape the vehicle. His body armor, made of nylon and plastic, melted onto his body. His ammo pouch was on fire. He rolled on the ground to snuff the flames. How did his own ammo not erupt and perforate him with rounds?
“I guess you could say I was pretty fortunate on a couple of accounts that day,” he told NPR.
He woke up from a medically-induced 48-day coma. In addition to his ears, he lost three fingers and the tip of his nose. He had a fractured collarbone and vertebrae. Read the rest: Shilo Harris on beating suicide
Shahana’s discharge of Islamic obligations was faultless, even to the point to breaking off friendships with Christians who dared to talk to her about Christ.
But when tough times befell her family, she wondered why the “true god” didn’t truly answer. “I had followed Islam for so many years, but my prayers were not answered,” she says on a StrongTower27 video. “I found that my prayers were never accepted. I always used to think, ‘Why is this so?'”
“If you are only going to talk to me about Christ,” she snapped one day, “then it’s better not to speak to me.”
Islam prescribes five prayers scattered throughout the day for its faithful followers, and Shahana never missed.
“But over time as my family went through much suffering and pain, I used to pray,” she says, translated in the video.
But “I found that my prayers were never accepted.”
The lack of response to her prayers was only one unsettling question bothering her brain. She also wondered why Allah seemed unable or unwilling to use any language?
“Why are we told to read Arabic only?” she wondered privately. Muslims must pray in Arabic. Prayers are not accepted in English or Farsi. Muslims must read the Koran in Arabic; the translation is not as good. Allah, it was taught, demands Arabic, the language of the founder of Islam, Muhammad.
Her doubts were growing, but nobody encouraged her to ask. Searching is not permitted in Islam, only submission.
With troubling thoughts brewing in her mind, she relented from the ostracism of her Christian friend. Still, she wouldn’t admit any talk about Christ.
Then, Shahana got the experience that Muslims consider a sublime privilege, a high point in life. For those without many resources, to be able to make pilgrimage to Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, is a wild dream.
Shahana visited Mecca, in Saudi Arabia. Her uncle lived there, and she participated in rites of Islam.
She poured out her heart sincerely to Allah: “If you truly exist, show yourself to me,” she prayed.
When she returned to India, she felt a longing to meet her Christian friend to talk. After gabbing about nothing in particular for a while, the Christian friend asked another troubling question about Islam: “Why is it that in Islam a man is allowed to marry up to four wives?”
“This bothered me too,” Shahana dropped her guard. “But we can do nothing about it. It is Allah’s command. Thus, we have to obey.”
“I will say that in the Bible, in my holy book, God gave one Adam only one Eve,” she responded.
Yassir and four cohorts hid behind a tree on a dark night in the jungle. When a Christian they hated named Zachariah walked by, they jumped out and began to beat him — nearly to death. After “pleasing” Allah with this attack, Yassir returned home, washed himself and prayed.
“We broke his arm. We broke his leg. He started to bleed,” Yassir says matter-of-factly on a One for Israel Video. “Because he started to scream begging for help, I put my hand over his mouth, so that no noise would come out of his mouth.”
Yassir grew up in a strict Muslim Sudanese family and prepared to join jihad, the bloody fight against “infidel” nations and “infidel” peoples.
But every night in his bed, he wondered about eternity.
Such hatred for Jews and Christians began in school. There was only one Christian classmate who was intelligent and talented: Zachariah.
“Because I thought as a Muslim I must be better than him, we started to beat him every single day,” Yassir remembers.
Their malevolent hatred festered and grew until Yassir with four other young men agreed to kill him. They knew the path Zachariah took through the jungle on certain nights. They laid in wait for him.
“It was like slaughtering a sheep. He was shivering. He was crying. We left him for dead,” Yassir admits. “I felt very proud. You’re actually doing something for Allah. You want to please him.”
Alexis Hoffman found herself in a pool of blood. She had cut herself over 40 times.
“I was so ashamed,” she says on CBN. “What did I just do? That’s not me! Why did I do that?! That is not how I act! Why do I keep doing this? Who is this that is doing this?’”
Having shoved God aside in her freshman year in 2009, she ventured into a damaging relationship that introduced darkness into her mind and voices into her head. For her, high school meant she was high.
“My heart became calloused after the abusive relationship because I felt like I could just never get right with God. I felt like I was too far gone. Like I had messed up too much,” she remembers. “I would hear things like ‘You should kill yourself.’ And I would hear a lot of whispers.”
Meanwhile, Alexis’ parents battled through prayer for their daughter.
“When the only thing that your daughter ever gave you was joy, and then you find out that she’s on drugs, sex, you know, alcohol, it breaks your heart,” says her father, Ted.
Robin, the mother, was also anguish-stricken.
“Lord,” she prayed, “You said, and Your Word says that she is Yours and You will not let anything happen to her. And I know that Your Word is true and I believe You.”
The voices started in her senior year.
“They told me I was useless and ugly, that I was worthless and dirty. They told me to just die. And I believed them,” Alexis says. “I remember having this obsession with stabbing. I would sneak out into the kitchen and I would start taking one knife at a time and bringing it into my room.”
When Mom found the stash of knives hidden in her room, she called 911 and had her taken to ER, from where she was transferred to the psychiatric hospital. None of the treatments — including 20 different diagnoses including schizophrenia — seemed to work.
Alexis kept threatening to take her life.
“Robin and I were preparing ourselves for her to kill herself,” Ted says grimly. “And you talk about that’s tough when you have to prepare yourself.”
Alexis also manifested fits of rage and sometimes even blacked out.
“When Alexis got mad…whooo, it was not pretty. It was scary,” Robin remembers. “I had even said to my husband, ‘We should get locks on the bedroom door.”
Then Mom took Alexis to a revival service with Pastor Todd White.
Raised by a Gulf War veteran, Victor Bell became a hulking football star. Behind the wholesome manly image was a festering desire to be loved — like a woman is loved by a man.
“I felt that girls received more affection, they received more consideration,” Victor remembers thinking. “I didn’t get the hugs that my female cousins got, or the hugs that my sister got or the kisses on the forehead. With boys, I felt we were treated rough.”
Victor Bell was raised in a Christian home. But when he saw a soap opera on T.V. at five-years-old, he was fascinated by the love the girl on the program received.
“She’s loved. She’s getting affection, she’s getting care, she’s being treated with gentleness, with kindness,” he remembers thinking. “I want to feel what she feels. I want to be loved like she’s loved.”
This yearning planted in his heart led him to experiment with boys, craving their attention from a very young age.
“I jumped at the chance to be the girl playing house, or the woman playing doctor, or the girl nurse because it was an opportunity for me to reenact the soap opera scene,” he says frankly. “I have an imagination that creates these atmospheres of what it would be like to be loved like her. They were exciting adventures of discovery.”
Meanwhile at church, Victor didn’t feel loved.
“I knew about Hell. I knew about Heaven,” he says. “I didn’t care.”
Throughout middle school, high school and into college, Victor pursued sex with men and with women.
“That was my life,” he says. “I was having sex with a lot of girls. A muscular guy, football player, I’m having sex with men too. I drank, I smoked. I indulged in these activities to feel good all the time.
“I still felt empty,” he adds. “The space of emptiness was growing. So, I felt like I kept needing to fill it more with the activities I was indulging in.”
In 2008, Victor graduated from college and got a job as a long-term substitute teacher. He moved back in with his parents, trying to hide his gay party life from his parents.
Ed Mylett lost the game for his eighth-grade basketball team. But first he lost his shorts.
He lost his shorts when the whole team pulled down their sweats for warmups. He ran through the layup line and only after missing the hoop realized he was also missing his shorts. In fact, all he had on was a jock strap (he was going to a baseball camp in the evening).
The entire auditorium erupted. His coach and team formed a circle around him and escorted Ed out to find some shorts. The shy kid who only played basketball because his dad forced him was so shaken that when he was fouled in the last seconds of the championship game, he missed two free throws that would’ve given his team the victory.
It was the worst day of his life, but surprisingly, it became the best day of his life.
In the evening at baseball camp, Eddie was slugging balls into middle field when none other than Rod Carew spotted Ed and offered to mentor him. The encounter with Carew instilled confidence that allowed Ed to eventually play college baseball.
While a freak accident kept him from MLB, Ed, became successful as a life strategist consulted by athletes and celebrities. He’s also a social media influencer.
Ed’s journey to Christ and outsized success began in Diamond Bar, CA, where he grew up in a small home with an alcoholic father, who he worried might turn violent at any time. Ed’s childhood mishaps are now the subject matter of his motivation speeches.
In addition to the missing shorts story, Ed tells of “Ray Ray,” the “punk” neighbor kid who got the whole school to taunt him with “Eddie, spaghetti, your meatballs are ready.”
Ray Ray was a bully and his next-door neighbor, he recounted at a World Financial Group convention.
One day after getting licked like always by Ray Ray, seven-year-old Eddie went home to cry to Mom, who hugged him and consoled him.
But when gruff Dad heard the crying and clomped out, he ordered Eddie to go over and beat up Ray Ray immediately. Failure to do so would result in going to bed without dinner.
Scared, Eddie knocked on the door of the tattooed, shirtless dad of Ray Ray.
“Big Ray, my daddy says I have to come over here and kick Ray Ray’s butt or I can’t come home for dinner,” he said, terrified. Maybe he hoped Big Ray would exercise parental wisdom and pan the fight, but that’s not the kind of dad Big Ray was.
“I like that kind of party,” Ray Ray’s dad said. “Let’s get it.”
He immediately called his son: “Ray Ray, little Eddie here wants another piece.”
So with Eddie quaking, the boys squared up. He had never beaten Ray Ray.
Ray Ray lunged at him.
“By some force of sheer blessing of God, I got this little dude in a headlock and I’m, giving him noogies,” Ed remembers. “I didn’t really know how to hit him, but I was noogying the hell out of this kid’s head.”
Finally Big Ray pulled them apart. “He got you,” he told his son and ordered both to shake.
Eddie went home to eat. What else? Spaghetti.
It was a story of facing your fears and overcoming difficult challenges.
But there’s one more detail to the story. Eddie was 7 while Ray Ray was 4.
His mom, he related, had heard him tell the anecdote once omitting the age difference and insisted he should be more forthcoming.
He beat him repeatedly as if he was trying to tear out his insides.
“Dad was just an angry man,” Tim says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “I guess I was his pinata. When Dad lost his cool, there was just no filter. There was no off button. He was truly brutal.”
After being beaten and then locked in the furnace room in the dark for hours, 11-year-old Tim resolved to run away. He packed his little suitcase and the next day instead of going to school he went to a nearby township in Canada.
He was hoping to be adopted by a family or live in a commune, but instead he was preyed upon by a pedophile. The predator pretended to call some nurses who agreed to take him in. Instead, he took Tim to his apartment and raped him brutally.
Those two wounds — the physical and sexual abuse — became his deep, dark secret that was too painful to talk or even think about.
As he matured, Tim turned to drugs to silence the screams in his head. He fell into Rochdale College’s 1968 cooperative experiment in student housing and free college, but it degenerated into a haven for drugs, crime and suicide.
“I was doing everything I could to medicate the pain that I was feeling from my wounds: drugs, alcohol, sex, everything, and I became a drug dealer,” he says. “Rochdale is where I would go to get my drugs.”
One day, his supplier informed he could no longer provide the drugs he needed to sell and consume.
“Why?” Tim asked.
“Because I found the Lord and I’m not doing that anymore,” he responded.
His response was completely off radar for Tim, so he agreed to go to church and see what it was all about.
It was 1972, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church was experiencing revival among the students. The movement was called the Catacombs, named after the underground hideaway of First Century Christians, where they could worship without harassment from Roman persecutors. Thursday night service attracted upwards of 2,000, and Tim went home afterward and fell to his knees.
“I asked Jesus into my heart,” Tim remembers. “And there was a change in me.”
But the wounds were deep and rejuvenation not easy, so he quit Christianity.
Tim didn’t just walk away. First, he prayed.
“One thing I ask,” he said to the Lord, “is that day when I stand before You on Judgment Day, please remember that I gave it my best shot.”
He let go of God. God never let go of him.
Years later, he was married with a 3-year-old son and stepdaughter. He was visiting his brother-in-law at Lake Aquitaine, talking, sharing, eating. They lost track of time when his stepdaughter ran in frantically.
“I’ll never see my brother again!” she screamed.
“Where’s your brother?” Tim asked panicked.
“He is drowned in the lake…”
Barefoot, Tim ran out into the frigid March waters.
He arrived as a stranger was coming out of the water with Tim’s son in his arms.
Tim grabbed the child, carried him to shore and tried to administer CPR. The child had been underwater for five minutes. There was no response.
“I cry out to God, ‘Please don’t take my son. I’ll do anything,” he pleaded.
Continuing in his attempt to revive him, Tim managed to expel not only water but also seaweed from inside.
At age six, Bedros Keuilian was dumpster-diving to find expired but still edible food to feed his immigrant family as his parents and brother scrambled to earn money for their rent.
“I was the bread-winner of the family,” Bedros quips on an Ed Mylett video.
The “communist” from the former Soviet Union to “serial capitalist” in America, Bedros Keuilian is the founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp, one of America’s fastest growing franchises.
In the dumpster, Bedros found a Herman Munster sweater that he wore to grade school. For the next three schools he attended, he was known as “Herman.”
Still, things were better in American than under communism. He calls himself a former “communist” because if you don’t sign up for the communist party, you get shipped off to Siberia, he says.
His father did tailoring on the side to save money to bribe the Soviet Consulate in 1981 to grant the visa so they could travel to Italy, where they applied for a visa to come to America. The KGB suspected he was engaged in “unauthorized capitalism” and raided his house various times, lining up Mom, Dad and the kids, while they searched in vain for needle, thread, cloth, anything that might confirm rumors that he was moonlighting as a tailor. He was good at hiding things, Bedros says.
There’s another very dark story in his background. Bedros was sexually abused by older boys in Armenia. His parents were unaware of this but when they saved little Bedros from communism, they also saved him from further exploitation.
The shame and rage boiled in the back of his mind and made him a terrible student and later a criminal who stole cars and ran from the cops.
Ultimately, Bedros learned to tame the raging beast in his bosom through Christianity and counseling. He became a better husband and a CEO. The beast, he says, caused him to sabotage his own businesses. He was unwittingly playing out the scenarios of his childhood until he learned to overcome them.
Today, Bedros also has a ministry to help called Fathers and Sons, a group he formed as a result of his own bungling as a new father.
His motivational speaking business doesn’t downplay but rather showcases his Christian faith: “Adversity is the seed to wealth, success, and even greater opportunity,” his website proclaims. “Look at Jesus Christ, he suffered to forgive us of all our sins.”
Because his stubby arm impeded him from doing high school wrestling, Nick Santonastasso amputated it.
“Can I cut off my arm?” he asked his mom and dad.
Kids told him he wouldn’t be able to wrestle competitively. He fired back, “I’ll be on the VARSITY team.”
Born without legs and only one arm, Nick Santonastasson had Christian parents who taught him to not have the mentality of a victim. As a child, he learned not only how to eat and do chores but to ride a skateboard and play football and baseball.
Today, he’s a runner-up for the NPC Iron Bay Classic bodybuilder contest and a sought-after motivational speaker because he gets people to drop their excuses and give their all.
“I was put on this earth to be an example, to show people what they are truly capable of,” Nick says on a Forbes video.
Due to the extremely rare Hanhart syndrome, Nick should have been stillborn. But all his internal organs were fine. He just had his left arm (with one finger), an underdeveloped right arm and no legs.
His mom and dad decided to flout doctors’ endless list of “limitations.” Stacey and Michael Santonastasso of Bayville, New Jersey, didn’t baby him but encouraged him to fend for himself as much as he could.
“My parents told me, Nick, the world is not going to stop for this,” he says on an NPC video. “You’re going to have to figure out to do things Nick’s way. My mom would put a plate a food in front of me and say, Nick, figure it out. Here’s clothes, figure it out. That’s why I’m a beast in my head.”
The Christian faith provided the context of honoring the sanctity of life, of believing everyone has a special purpose in life and teaching a victor’s mentality rather than a victim’s mindset.
Stacey’s website, which promotes her book Born to Break Boundaries says, “Although her faith has been strongly tested, she remains grounded in her Christian beliefs.”
At age two, Nick was left alone in the living room. He pushed his wagon next to the table, clambered onto it, and began to dance to MTV.
He learned to skateboard, riding on his stomach and pushing it forward with his hand. Once it got going, he stood up on it. He even does a handstand. He took plenty of falls while he was learning and had more than his share of scrapes. But his mom didn’t scold him for being adventurous.
He catches the football between his arm and his neck and head. He can throw it and even “runs” plays. He can connect a bat with a ball to play baseball better than his peers.
Because his parents didn’t treat him gingerly, Nick says he didn’t really realize he was “different” until he got called a “cripple” in the third grade. That was his baptism by fire into the cruel world of stares and insensitive comments that left him depressed in junior high.
But by high school he had largely overcome the syndrome of an outcast. He wanted to be on a sports team, so he got on the bowling team his freshman year.
In his sophomore year, he yearned for a bigger challenge. His older brother had done wrestling, so he decided to try out.
Immediately, fellow students felt the need to give him a dose of reality. How are you going to wrestle? You don’t have any legs and only one arm.
The Roe v. Wade movie available now on livestream is an intense, chilling and frustrating documentary about how a small cabal of liberal leaders harnessed the women’s movement and complicit media to ramrod abortion through the Supreme Court using fraudulent statistics and a demonization of Catholicism.
The movie’s narrator is Dr. Bernard Nathanson, portrayed compellingly by Nick Loeb, who was an abortionist in New York City at the forefront of the push to legalize abortion on demand. Dr. Nathanson in real life recanted his support for abortion after ultrasound allowed doctors to see the fetus struggle against the abortionists’ pincers. His 1984 video “The Silent Scream” put science to use in explaining his change of position.
“I knew all along life exists at conception,” Dr. Bernard says in the movie. “I’d taken part in over 70,000 abortions. I knew in my heart that what I was doing was wrong, and I lied. I lied to the world, I lied to God, I lied to me. But I kept on killing until I had the courage to face the absolute horror of what I was doing.”
Dr. Bernard decided to bear the torch for abortion after he paid for his girlfriend to “terminate” her pregnancy. He teamed up with Larry Lader, the so-called Father of Abortion in America. A “disciple” of Margaret Sanger, Lader crusaded unscrupulously to push through his atheistic agenda. Both Nathanson and Lader made millions through abortions and referrals.
The nearly two-hour movie is unrelenting. There’s hardly a light moment. This is understandable given the gargantuan devastation abortion has perpetrated in America. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, an estimated 64 million babies have been aborted. Every 30 seconds a baby is aborted. African American babies account for 40% of abortions. Planned Parenthood made $1.6 billion last year, according to statistics provided in the movie.
In one grim moment, Dr. Nathanson and Lader share a joke jingle from med school:
The Gospel has grown by 10,000% in more than a century in France, evangelicalism’s holy grail in Europe.
In the year 1800, there were 2000 Protestant evangelicals, in 2019 there were more than 700,000, according to statistics in a FOCL Online video and news reports.
In 1970, there were 840 evangelical churches, today there are more than 2,440. Every 10 days, a new church opens, said David Brown, chairman of the Evangelism Commission of the French National Council of Evangelicals (CNEF).
“Their numbers are no doubt increasing with the evangelical churches’ emphasis of personal conversion and a direct relationship with God,” says anchor Stuart Norval of France 24 English news in a “Focus” report which characterized the growth as “surprising.”
The news is cheery since evangelical Christianity tails Islam and secular humanism in France. The humanist viewpoint that God is a “construct” used by the rich to suppress the poor was practically born in France. About 8% of the country is Muslim while evangelicals barely make up 1%.
Despite sobering demographics, evangelicals have been growing at about 2.4% a year, in line with most countries in the world, according to the Joshua Project.
Francois Loury is a recent convert in the Porte Ouverte Chrétienne church in Paris. He recently was baptized and brings his whole family.
“It feels like a church that belongs to the modern world,” François says. “That’s what’s so good about it. That’s what makes it stand out. The pastors wear jeans. They don’t wear suits. They like to have fun; they tell jokes. Sometimes we even find ourselves laughing about religion. I think that in today’s world, that’s important, to have an open mind.”
Porte Ouverte Chrétienne, which means Christian Open Door, stands out compared to the mass offered by the Catholic church. Porte Ouverte’s worship is dynamic and heartfelt, activities are family oriented, and they reach thousands with simultaneous streaming over social media.
“When I attended Catholic mass I felt like a spectator,” says Eric Richter. “Our faith is a bit like for a fan in a soccer stadium. They’re in it together; they have faith in their players. And we have faith in God.”
Daniel Lietchi presides over CNEF’s committee to foment church planting praises God for the growth but prays for much more.
“If we continue like this with a new church established every 10 days, we’ll never accomplish our goal of having one church for every 10,000 French citizens,” Lietchi says. “We want things to progress twice, even three times, as fast. But the outcome depends on God’s will. For example in Spain, a new church opens every three days. Here in France, that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Much of the current church growth stems from a surge of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, where people in their native countries have a higher level of openness to the gospel.
Monique Kapinga immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo when her husband died. She found a similar worship style and the same earnestness of her native land in the l’Arche de Paix Church, which after 25 years has over 500 members.
“I came to the Arch of Peace because it is a church of truth,” Monique says. “We pray like we pray back home.”
But the spiritual support is not the only help she found at the Parisian church. She also received money and assistance with renewing her immigration status. It’s no wonder immigrants, lonely in a foreign land, congregate together for camaraderie and social networking.
CNEF’s Brown tracks the history of current growth of Christianity in France in the follow epochs:
>From 1935 to 1960, Assemblies of God led the charge with successful church planting
>From 1980 to 1990, the Charismatic movement brought a surge
>From 1990 to 2010, immigration brought a boon.
>Since 1995, native church planters are taking the lead.
Personal evangelism fuels the growth, but white French resist the gospel with a “double insulation.” He says: “They rebuff evangelism by saying they are Catholic or believers in secular philosophy, which is strong in France.
“A person says, ‘Well, I’m not really a believer,’ so you start talking about philosophy and try to convince them,” Brown says. “And then they suddenly say, ‘I’m a Catholic and we can’t believe that.’” Read the rest: Gospel in France
His double life as a Christian father and drug user collapsed when Jeff Durbin overdosed on ecstasy.
“I realize I’m dying. I’m dying. This is where it ends, and I recognized that there’s no way to control this,” Jeff says on a CBN video. “At this point, I have probably limited moments left before I’m gonna pass out.”
How did Jeff get tangled in drugs out of a childhood of discipline and training as a martial arts competitor?
Jeff trained in martial arts from age four to 16.
“I was on a national karate team. I was competing in World Championships, International Championships, National Championships,” he says. “That was my whole life.”
With five black belts, Jeff played Michelangelo and Donatello for the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise as well as Johnny Cage in “Mortal Combat.”
Flipping through the TV channels one night, he listened to Billy Graham and accepted Jesus into his heart. He wasn’t raised in a Christian home.
“I remember that something had completely changed,” he says. “In my mind, in terms of how I thought about Jesus and the Bible, and I immediately became the person that was interested in reading the Bible and telling people about Jesus.”
But the life transformation was only partial. Along with competing in karate, he liked to flirt with girls and indulge his lusts.
“If you would have seen me on a Friday or Saturday night, many times you wouldn’t have known I was a Christian because I was living with one foot in the Christian world and one foot in the world,” he recalls.
Jeff married his high school sweetheart, but he continued partying and clubbing.
When he tried ecstasy, his liked it and tried it again and again.
He told his wife he was working, but he would take drugs and disappear for a day or two.
“I would do ecstasy, cocaine, alcohol pills, whatever was available,” he recounts.
He hid his drug use from his wife by profusive lying, as she tried to nurture their one-year-old.
Despite the partying life, Jeff was a successful financial planner.
One night while on an ecstasy trip, his heart started racing wildly and his body overheated. Death was coming and he could sense it.
“It was the one moment in that year where there was some clarity about who I was and what was happening, and I remember that I said to God, ‘Please, don’t kill me yet. Let me come out of this…bring me out of this.” Read the rest: ecstasy overdose.
He’s been called “America’s most self-loathing homosexual,” but Doug Mainwaring, who struggled with same-sex attraction, was just trying to do the best thing for his kids and for the nation.
“I was living as a gay man at the time and I began to write about the need to maintain the definition of marriage,” Mainwaring says on a Ruth Institute video. “President Obama had just come out that he had evolved on the issue. It was suddenly becoming front and center in the national debate.”
His 2012 piece, “The Myth of the Same-Sex Marriage Mandate,” caused a commotion.
While he was sounding the alarm, writing and speaking on major media platforms about his concerns for his family and America, he was dating men.
Recently divorced and resentful about the dissolution, Mainwaring was indulging a same-sex attraction he had felt but never acted upon. But as he wrote, he began to see that he needed to fix more than just the nation. He needed to fix himself!
He was married in 1985 and adopted two boys. He told his fiancé of his attractions to men, but had never acted on the attraction.
In the late 1990s, his marriage fell apart.
“It remains the saddest moment of my life,” he says. “I knew I was same-sex attracted going into our marriage. I had been aware of that since I was a boy. I can understand when people say they were born that way because I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t same-sex attracted.”
His marriage had been a dream: kids, home, picket fence, dogs. When the dream ended like a nightmare, he decided to indulge his homosexual tendencies.
“I thought, ‘Dang it, I’m going to go check this out,’” he says. “I was just being selfish. And in a sense it was retaliatory.”
He answered ads, which is what you did in the late ‘90s. “I went and started meeting guys. I didn’t do anything. We just met for coffee or lunch. Eventually I did have a few relationships.”
Mainwaring was apolitical. But then Obama publicly affirmed his support for letting abortion survivors die on the operating table.
“That was a riveting moment for me,” he says. “That was when I got radicalized to a degree, especially since our children are adopted, I was well aware they could have been aborted.”
When the Tea Party movement launched with conservatives on the East Coast, he got on board. As he saw the media only slander the Tea Party, he began writing to dispel the media’s attempt to demonize it. He captured attention and was offered a chance to write for the Washington Examiner.
“But I quickly realized that our problem wasn’t fiscal in nature, but it was society,” he says. “As I began to write about social issues, I began to start looking at my own life. I couldn’t write about the importance of family life without doing something about my own family.”
He had been separated for more than a decade.
“I realized I’d better try to do something to put my marriage back together,” he says. “The evidence was everywhere screaming at me, ‘Doug, you need to put your life together.’”
His youngest son was beginning to act up at school. He was biting other kids and falling into disproportionately huge rages. He sat with his ex-wife to discuss how to respond.
“One day I realized, he’s not to blame. We’re to blame,” he narrates. “We took away his happy home and placed on him our stress on his shoulders and this was the result of it.” Read the rest: Homosexual opposes gay marriage
Figure skating brought moments of peace to Katherine Thacker. She needed a healthy outlet because her mind was obsessed with hateful thoughts directed toward the suspect who killed her father, a cop, while he was on duty.
“I started writing very angry letters to the man who killed my dad and expressed my hurt,” Katherine says on a 700 Club video. “But not only did I express my hurt, I also expressed what I wished could happen to him. And they were really really hateful.”
Her ever-present hatred started in 1998. That’s when three Kentucky police officers arrived at the front door of their home to break the bad news to the family.
“It was like being hit by a Mack truck,” she says. “Watching the relationships that my friends had with their dads, I definitely envied them.”
Ice skating was a moment of beauty in her life. “It was always an outlet for me,” she remembers.
Broken in spirit, she turned away from God.
“Why did God let my dad die?” she asked. “If God’s good, why did He let the man who killed my dad do this?”
Her distancing from God continued until she became a junior in high school when she went to a week-long summer Christian camp. The motivational speaker displayed a genuine joy that Katherine realized she lacked. Read the rest: Forgiveness for her dad’s murderer.
The crisis of faith came for Hormoz Shariat when Iranian authorities arrested and executed his 18-year-old brother for a minor political crime. Hormoz, who was living in the United States after getting a PhD, wanted revenge.
“Then I realized, ‘Oh, God says, vengeance is mine.’ You’re not supposed to do that,” Hormoz says on a Huntley100 video. “Ok, I hate those people who killed my brother…I’m not supposed to hate. I’m supposed to even love my enemies. Ok, I’m angry…I’m not supposed to be angry in my heart. So I said, ‘God, can I at least cuss?’ No, no bad words because you worship with your mouth. Finally I asked God, ‘What can I do?’”
The loving Father impressed the following on his heart:
Those people who killed your brother are not your enemies. They are victims in the hands of your enemies. When you look at those Muslims killing others, don’t look at them as enemies. They are victims. We have to love them. We have to share the gospel.
Today, Hormoz presides over an evangelistic outreach that is part of the tsunami of salvation washing over Iran, likely the fastest growing church in the world. While Iran’s regional ambitions and nuclear program dominates the news, widespread underground revival is occurring and going mostly unseen.
It may seem ironic that Hormoz Shariat’s beginnings were very much in the anti-American, pro-Islam movement that swept the Shah of Iran from power, instituting an extremist Shiite government.
Hormoz was a naïve young man caught up in the fervor of multitudes in the streets shouting, “Death to America!” It wouldn’t take long for him to see the error of his ways. People were executed on the streets summarily for any association with the previous regime. Austere religious laws were imposed denying people freedom.
Hormoz now says he was being moved by the masses, who mostly wanted democratic change to oust a corrupt dictatorship.
When he came to America to pursue a PhD at the University of Southern California, he saw how blessed America was and changed his mind.
He was achieving the American dream. He had a well-paid career, a house and an American wife. But it seemed empty. He chafed at the grind and a lack of purpose.
So he embarked on a quest to find the truth. He would dedicate his life to serving the true religion, he decided.
Raised Muslim, he gave Islam his first attention. But after reading the Koran in a systematic and scientific way, he didn’t find God.
Next, he purposed to finish the Bible in three months. He started in Matthew.
Newlyweds Anthony and Jhanilka Hartzog didn’t worry too much about their $114,000 in combined debt since they both had good jobs. He worked for a New York-based IT firm and she was a licensed mental health counselor.
“I felt like we’ll pay it off whenever we pay it off,” Jhanilka says on a CBN video. “There’s no rush, just kind of like everybody else does, you have car payments, you have student loan payments, this is just part of life.
But as they attended church, they were challenged to think about giving more to help others in need and to think about creating generational wealth, what they hoped to pass along to their children one day.
“I’m going to church now. I want to be a part of it. I want to support,” Anthony says. “The same way we were budgeting for our food and for our clothes, we were budgeting for our tithing as well.”
By budgeting, they reigned in their expenses. The couple took another step; they supplemented their income with side hustles. Anthony signed up his new car for peer-to-peer rental. Jhanilka started a dog sitting business. Anthony worked at a gym on weekends. The industrious couple also started a cleaning business.
Within two years, they had paid off their student loans and credit card debt.
“As we were raising our income, we were tithing,” Anthony confides. “The money we were tithing was never ‘felt’ because we were always getting it back.” Read the rest: Get debt free in God.
The dead bodies hanging by a noose on public streets and markets disturbed Ramin Parsa, a child growing up in Iran during the strict Shiite Muslim regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
“They executed people in front of children,” Ramin says on a video posted to his channel. “I could not eat for two weeks, I was so shocked.”
When Khomeini and the anti-American Islamic radicals staged a coup and ousted the Shah of Iran, they implemented a stringent form of Islam that included public executions of alleged enemies and self-flagellation while walking barefoot through the streets.
“The newspaper is Islamic. The media is Islamic. Schools are Islamic. Society is Islamic. Everything you can see and hear is Islamic,” he says. They want to dish in doctrine. They want to brainwash you. We had no magazines, no books. They showed the caricature of the Israeli soldiers, killing Palestinian babies and they sowed the seed of hatred in our hearts.”
Deeply motivated to live for Allah, Ramin went to the mosque every morning at 5:00 am for the earliest of five callings to prayer a day. Every morning at school, they shouted, “Death to Israel! Death to America!”
But when his dad died, life dried up for him. He was no longer able to go to school.
“I started questioning my faith,” he admits. “Is this really the truth that we believe? I started going down and down and down into hopelessness, into depression. I left all my friends. I left all my family. I left everybody that I knew and I locked myself in a dark room, turned the lights off and was thinking about past and present and future.”
Death haunted him after his father’s death. It haunted him because Islam offers no real assurance that you will be admitted into Paradise. The true Muslim is constantly warned to do more, to pray and fast — and even join jihad — to curry Allah’s elusive favor and be granted entrance into the afterlife..
“Out of fear I said, ‘What is gonna happen to me when I die?” he says.
Aside from the public hangings, he also saw men’s backs slashed and bloodied for drinking alcohol. Mohammad prescribed public punishments to instill fear in the populace.
The Revolutionary Guard routinely prowled the streets. If you were wearing a T-shirt with the image of someone, they took it from you and punished you. Islam stringently prohibits artistic renditions of any person or animal as a means to avoid people falling into idolatry. This is why so many of the earliest architecture has ornate geometric patterns but no other artwork.
“I came to the conclusion that Islam is empty,” Ramin says. “I said, ‘If there is no god, then who made this creation, who made the stars, who made the heaven, who made the humans? If there is a God, then why isn’t He helping us?”
In spite of it being illegal, every house has a satellite dish, which is a great alternative to the non-stop religious propaganda pumped out over government-run channels.
So he flipped on Trinity Broadcast Network. He heard about Jesus. Everything he heard through Islam about Jesus was contradicted: The Son of God did indeed die for our sins; he was more than just a prophet.
Importantly, he rose from the dead.
Ramin didn’t immediately believe. He had been taught it was “baloney,” so he turned it off. Read the rest: Who is Ramin Parsa?
With the exception of her husband who was Christian, Deepa Srinivas disdained Christians in her native area of Andhra Pradesh, India.
“Back in my village, even today, Christianity is treated very low,” Deepa says on a 100Huntley video. “During those days, I never liked to get connected to Christians or Christianity.”
That’s why she performed endless rituals to the Hindu pantheon worshiped by her family.
“My family is from a strong Hindu religion background with traditions, a lot of traditions,” she says. “My parents would be into a lot of idol worship. I used to think if I perform rituals, something good would happen to me and my family. Wherever I used to see a tree, I used to bow down to it and pray, even if it is on a road.”
While she married a Christian man, she never intended to adopt his religion.
God surprised her, however, with several miraculous incidents. One was a girl who spread rumors about her.
Deepa had tried to help her. This girl was a beautician but needed clients, so Deepa connected her with some contacts.
Biting the hand that fed her, the beautician spread a rumor about Deepa, causing her to lose all her friends.
“I was left all alone” Deepa says. “I was really upset, and I was not really happy with that girl at that point of time.”
Because she interacted with churches due to her husband, a pastor called her randomly one day and prophetically asked her if she was experiencing anxiety
“I was surprised and asked God, ‘Can God speak to someone about me?’” she says.
Taken aback by the insight into her heart, she shared her disillusionment.
The pastor responded: “If you love someone who loves you, then there is no point. Anyone can do that. But if you love someone who does not love you, then that is commendable in the sight of God.”
“I was shocked,” she admits.
The truth of scripture conflicted with everything she had known from Hinduism and Indian culture.
“Then I thought, ‘OK, Lord, I don’t know much about you. Whoever has hurt me and caused this grief to me, that girl should come and apologize the next day at 6:00 a.m.”
Guess who showed up bright and early “knocking at my door at six a.m.?” Deepa asks.
A desperate mother’s voice pleaded on the other end of the phone, apologizing, crying and begging Pastor Lee at 3:00 a.m. to open his front door and save a baby she had just abandoned.
It was too late. The frigid temperatures had already claimed the small life inside a box.
Pastor Lee Jong-rak held the cold baby to his chest and cried until morning.
Then he came up with an idea. He installed a “baby box” to the front of his church where women could drop off their baby and it would be rescued.
“It was to save just one more life,” Pastor Lee told The Korea Times.
Faced with a life-long stigma for babies born out of wedlock (and with no legal abortion laws at the time), single Korean mothers for years hid their pregnancies, gave birth in secret and then left their babies to die in garbage dumpsters, public bathrooms and subway station lockers.
When the heart-rending trend came directly to Pastor Lee, it moved him to compassion and to action. He installed the first baby box in 2009 and ran it for 10 years. When a mother drops off a child, weight sensors alert Pastor Lee to the presence of a child.
When the alarm sounds, he immediately goes to rescue the abandoned infant. His miniscule staff cares for the baby and provides rudimentary medical attention. Eventually, the child is transferred to an orphanage. To date, Pastor Lee and the Jusarang Community Church have rescued 1,500 babies.
Many of the mothers, who are guaranteed anonymity, are single and young. Others are victims of rape. Usually, they profoundly regret abandoning their child and many times pledge to return to rescue it.
“Moms usually leave a letter that carries heart-breaking stories and resolute pledges to return someday,” Pastor Lee told Yonhap News. “They are mostly in desperate circumstances, having nowhere to go and nobody to turn to.”
Ironically, Pastor Lee’s good will ran afoul of bureaucratic laws, which require mothers to register their babies before adoption can be allowed. Some lawmakers accused Dr. Lee of encouraging child abandonment and tried to shut down his baby box. Read the rest: Pastor Lee’s baby box in South Korea.
He was sexually exploited, beaten and filmed for child pornography from age 5 to 9, and now Sean Wheeler goes to meetings to minister to pedophiles.
“How can a man like you forgive a man like me?” asked him a man who did prison for possession of child pornography.
“Because he forgives me,” Sean answered without missing a beat. “We complicate it. God forgives me and I’m required to forgive you. And I do so joyously, because in doing that, I discovered that it’s real.
“Look at somebody who was on the other side of that camera,” he continued. “I release you. Now you take it to the cross and you find that freedom and that forgiveness.
“You can see this weight fall off this man,” Sean recounts on a 100Huntley video.
As sexual exploitation metastasizes across our nation, Christianity’s response may be the only real answer — along with justice — for victim and exploiter.
“I just got tired of remembering my life as defined by something that was evil,” Sean says. “So the Holy Spirit came along and said: ‘I got something better. Come home.’”
For four years, Sean Wheeler got taken advantage of by men. The first time, an adult managed to get him out of the public view and took advantage of him in private. From then on, a group of seven college-aged men exploited him. Sometimes they beat him, sometimes they filmed him.
“I tell people, ‘Look, I went through that and I got beaten and I got used in child pornography and I got all kinds of things that happened to me,” Sean says. “But that is not the end of my story. If it happened to you or somebody you know, that’s not the end of yours or theirs.”
Sean alerted no one of his abusers. He was afraid. Also, as is typical with abuse victims, he blamed himself: “I believed it was my fault, which is a common thing,” he says.
At age 9, Sean somehow asked God to help, and his family moved out of town and out of the clutches of these evil men. The abuse ended, but the haunting memories did not.
He came to Christ, but it wasn’t until he started counseling in 2011 that he was able to work through a lot of the issues that were plaguing his head.
“I’m perfectly comfortable talking about this because God is with us everywhere we go,” Sean says.
For many, the idea that their pornographic images may still lurk somewhere on the Internet — perhaps on the Dark Web — torments them.
But Sean says God has transformed his image.
“He’s restored my picture and he’s restored my voice and he says you take that hope and you share it,” he says. “If it wasn’t the hand of God at work in the life of a nine-year-old, I don’t know what would have happened to me.
“The God we serve is a protector of the innocent and He rushes to our help when we cry out to Him,” Sean says.
Sean’s healing is so complete he has ministered to 400 victims of sexual exploitation and helped them through counseling.
“For years I had heard that God can make people new,” Sean says. “I said that’ll never happen to me. But I get it now. He makes us new.”
A popular UK Muslim apologist has validated and justified the execution of apostates — people who abandon Islam — in a YouTube video from August.
Ali Dawah, who purports to make Islam palatable to his 516K subscribers, did nothing to play down Islam’s call to execute “unbelievers.” To the contrary, he voiced full support in addressing an ex-Muslim who reached out to Muslim YouTubers..
“There’s a reason why there’s a capital punishment because people like you, little weaklings, who leave their religion and cause corruption in the land by spreading it, the capital punishment will be applied to you,” he says.
“We have no doubt, and we’re proud of that.”
At least Dawah discourages free-lance murderers, lone wolf Islamists who single-handedly carry out the wrath of Allah by themselves. Killing apostates of Islam should and must only be done in an orderly and properly organized way, beneath an Islamic state constituted under a proper Emir.
“Not individuals going and doing it themselves, like idiots,” he clarifies in the Aug. 14, 2020 video. “Not under an emir. It is done, yes. And we, you know what? we’ll be watching. We’ll be watching because if you’re going to cause corruption in the land that’s going to cause more damage to the society as a whole, because the sharia didn’t come to protect an individual’s right.
“No, Islam says the right of the community is greater than you individual. Wanting your right to freedom, which is bs, absolutely bs, yeah don’t get me started.”
Dawah is something of Islam’s Ray Comfort in the United Kingdom. His justifying of the ways of Allah via YouTube is an attempt to make converts and shore up the faith of Muslims. Dawah also goes into the streets and films his debates with random people.
Apologetics is the study of presenting a religion to non-believers in such a way as to win new followers. In Christianity, Josh McDowell did a great service compiling the proof of Christianity’s God in “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.” More recently, atheist-turned-believer Lee Strobel wrote “The Case of Christ.”
In most cases, apologists try to smooth over the rough edges of the Bible. Raymond Abraham says the violence of the Old Testament is “descriptive, not prescriptive,” meaning it was a historic fact of all migrating hordes of people, not an order from God in any circumstance.
What Dawah does then is extremely unusual because he highlights a fact that might turn many off from Islam.
True Christianity has never killed unbelievers. It was born in persecution. It makes no sense that it would then become the source of pain it suffered from the start. (To be sure, the Puritans allowed excesses, as is documented — and perhaps exaggerated in The Scarlet Letter by Nathanael Hawthorne.)
What Muslims do in their Islamic states, and what the secular media turns a blind eye to, would shock Westerners. So why does Dawah, in effect, expose the truth? Read the rest: Muslim YouTuber validates killing apostates.
No matter how rigorously Sariah Hastings scrubbed her body in the shower, she couldn’t rid herself of the vestige of filthy men.
“I could never get rid of the smell of whatever man,” she says on a 700 Club video. “I didn’t even know these men’s names.”
The pimps told her the only way out of “the game” was death or jail but eventually she discovered another exit door when a crisis pregnancy center counselor led her through a prayer of salvation.
Sariah was molested by a relative when she was only 4. She didn’t know where to turn or who to tell because pretty much everyone in her family was involved in abuse and perversion, she says.
“There was no purpose of me reaching out and saying there’s something wrong with this or help me or get me out of this because it was so normal,” she says.
When she was 12, she was gang-raped at a party. Sex became something she plied in a quixotic search for love. Instead of genuine affection, however, she felt rejection.
“I was then known in my whole city as the slut, the hoe, the girl that you could take to the bathroom and do whatever with and she’ll be fine with it,” Sariah says.
At age 18, she got recruited by a pimp. She walked the streets and the trucker parking lots negotiating prices. One night, she failed to meet her quota and her pimp threatened to kill her.
She ran away and found another pimp who got her addicted to cocaine and crystal meth. Her lifestyle bred self-repugnance which led to cutting herself and burning her skin. The attempt at cleanliness in the shower was in vain since it was her soul that felt stained.
“It got to the extreme, a point where i just started trying to commit suicide,” Sariah remembers.
She was sold from pimp to pimp to pimp. During 17 years of prostitution, she traversed 33 states
Then she got pregnant with a second child. Her pimp told her to give the baby away to family. Instead she ran away.
“This time it would be different,” she says. “I knew at that moment that something had to change and that I couldn’t continue doing the same thing.” Read the rest: Sariah Hastings escapes human trafficking
At 82, Paul Cadder, was still an avid snowmobile-rider and a gospel musician. But when he started to lose his vision to a cataract it threatened his vigorous lifestyle.
“Lord if I’m going to keep doing this kind of singing and so forth, I’m going to have to have a change in my eyesight,” he says on a 700 Club video. He was worried he would not be able to continue to lead worship at his local church.
Paul had always been an active man. “I had toys for years,” he says. In the 1960s, he put out three gospel albums with a quartet, with whom he traveled across America ministering. He was a natural worship leader at church.
But with the film covering his eye lens, he couldn’t see the music page from which he directed the choir. The encroaching symptoms of old age in 2018 left him dispirited.
“I accepted it as getting old,” he says. “But when I was leading worship in church, i couldn’t see the music real well. I was kind of frustrated and I thought I’d tell our church, ‘I might not be able to keep doing this.’”
On Jan. 4, 2019, while watching Christian TV with his wife, Yvonne, the speaker prophesied: “It’s almost like a thin film that you can’t see through very clearly. God is just removing that right now. Now your vision’s going to be restored to normal.”
Paul was startled. The person described his condition exactly. “That was for me,” he thought. Read the rest: does God still heal today?
A picture fell off the wall, cabinets opened and closed by themselves, and the doorbell rang with no one there. Because of these paranormal activities, Isela’s mom believed an enemy had cast a spell on them. She fought it by resorting to tarot cards and palm readers.
Naturally, Isela followed her mom’s example.
“I wanted to seek answers and I needed guidance of some sort,” she says on a CBN video. “I figured, ‘Hey, this is the way to go. This is the way to get answers.’”
But she never found the answer. Instead, she fell into a trap that occasioned despondency.
“I wanted to end my life. I thought what am I living for? What do I have to live for?” she says. “I was lost and I turned to drugs.”
She started drinking heavily and wandered the streets at night with nowhere to sleep.
She wanted to gain control of her life through witchcraft, but more and more fear and loathing took over.
“I knew that the devil was with me this whole time,” Isela says. “I felt him. I felt a negative presence. As weird as it sounds, I wanted the negative presence as weird as it sounds. I thrived on the negative. I thrived on the dark. I was so consumed, and I was in such a bad place. That was all I knew.”
Eventually, Isela kicked the drug habit and had a child. She moved in with her boyfriend whom she would later marry.
If she hoped to leave the darkness behind, she was mistaken. The spirits who had legitimate claim to her soul followed her — and began to afflict her daughter.
“She just randomly out of nowhere started pointing from where she was sitting and she was saying, ‘Monster. The monster close to me. The monster touched my feet.’ Read the rest: What causes paranormal activity?
In his hurry to finish chores before organ practice, 13-year-old Greg McKenzie reached down to fix the lawnmower’s chain without turning the machine off, and his right index finger got caught and fingertip cut off.
“My sister was screaming. My mom thought my whole hand got chopped off,” he says.
In the long term, the accident didn’t impede his musical aspirations. Today, Greg, 58, is a professional musician in Japan. In the short term, he learned to see the bright side of life and apply his Christian faith.
“That was the beginning of a new journey, meaning my spiritual faith. I was kind of depressed as a 13-year-old. Why did this happen to me?” he told God Reports. “To make a long story short, I started talking to other patients. Some of them had missing limbs. Here I’m thinking of how bad I have it, and these people have it twice as bad. I went out of that doctor’s office thinking ‘I’m very blessed. I’m very grateful.’”
Greg McKenzie grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, in a family that never missed a Sunday service.
“Most of our ancestral background comes from spirituality,” he says. “That’s how we keep moving forward in hard times.”
With sheer determination, he pressed through the year-long setback of his missing fingertip to pursue music. He opted to not have the fingertip sewn back on because, as a pianist, he needed full sensitivity. He compensated when it was sore, as musicians often do.
“I was determined to play,” he says. “For at least one year, I couldn’t even use that finger.”
But by the time he entered conservatory, he was at full capacity with the same technique as other students. He graduated and began taking jobs.
The interminable search for jobs led him in 2003 to Japan where the Hyatt International paid him to put together a New York-style jazz and Latin jazz band. Japan paid well, and he paid off his outstanding Sally Mae debt. Read the rest: Christian pianist who lost fingertip
On the very night Jerry Arterburn accepted Jesus at a church camp, the 5-year-old was also molested by the pastor’s son.
“When that molestation occurred, it ignited something in him that he didn’t think other guys had to struggle with,” his brother Stephen says on a Pure Passion Media video. “It produced an uneasiness with relationships with women.”
Jerry died of AIDS on June 13, 1988, at a time when the epidemic was raging largely unchecked and medical science was trying to figure out how to tame it.
“When my brother and I moved to Laguna (Beach, California) at the same time, there was another person who moved to Laguna. He was identified as Patient 0,” Stephen says. “This was a flight attendant who flew around the world and slept with about 2,000 different people. He infected so many people in that town that the AIDS virus was extremely virulent in there. I watched business after business close because there was such a high per capita gay population there. They were dying right and left.”
Before Jerry’s death, Stephen began to formulate the best way to encourage his brother to come back to Christ.
“I loved him. But I knew that what he was doing was wrong,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to convince him that he was wrong. I just tried to find a way to have a relationship with him that I could love him with.”
There were three Arterburn boys who grew up with a mom who bitterly hid her father’s suicide and a dad who was “redneck, disconnected,” Stephen says. All three sons went prodigal from their otherwise “strong Christian household” in Texas.
Stephen — who now is an author, a radio host and the founder of New Life Ministries — thought he was the worst rebel of the lot because he forced his girlfriend (attending Bible college) to get an abortion.
Jerry, who loved design and became an architect, didn’t immediately show how he was getting off course.
Stephen describes his brother as “the moral one” who owned up to his mistake, while Stephen was actually the immoral one who had slept with many young women.
“I hadn’t slept with a man. I killed my own baby,” Stephen confesses.
Jerry was about to get married, but it was called off. Both had frequent fights. Still, no one really knew why the wedding was called off.
When Jerry, at age 26, was appointed to a city planning post in Easley, South Carolina, he met a man who took him to a gay bar. He had never had sex before, but that night, “my brother felt like he was at home,” Stephen says.
“He felt total acceptance, freedom — all this stuff that he had never known: all of this love, affection, connection,” Stephen says.
From then on, it was relationship after relationship. When Jerry and Stephen both, by chance, moved to Laguna Beach, they started reconnecting. Sometimes in their talks they would debate. One topic that came up was whether homosexuality was right or wrong.
Stephen, who had come back to the Lord by now, stuck to his guns — until he realized the reason why his brother was arguing the aberrant position. His brother was gay.
As soon as Stephen found out, the arguments were over. A new phase in their relationship started, one of reaching out to Jerry with love and acceptance, though not approval of his sin.
“I was able to develop a close relationship with him, and then he got sick. I’m so glad I did because he needed me. I’m so glad he felt safe with me, that I could be there with him when he needed a lot of help — just getting up and going to the bathroom. He lost 100 pounds. It was horrible. He looked like something out of a concentration camp.”
Devastated by the news that not only their son was gay but also had AIDS, the “redneck ” father visited Jerry in the hospital and said, “You’re coming home with us. We’re going to help you through this.”
The Southern Baptist Church of his parents, instead of ostracizing Jerry, were loving and inclusive. (The Southern Baptists were conservative on social acceptance at a time when much of America was unmoved by the AIDS crisis.)
“We loved him when he was (younger). We’re going to love him through this,” a deacon said, according to Stephen. “Here’s what we’re going to do: We’re going to go over to his house and we’re going to lay hands on him and pray for him to be healed… Whatever his insurance doesn’t cover for his treatment of AIDS, this church is going to pay for. Whenever his brothers want to come in and see him, we’ll pay their air fare.” Read the rest: How to treat LBGTQ family members if you’re Christian
Frank Mesa put the gun in his mouth many times. Sometimes, he pointed it to his temple. But he could never pull the trigger.
“I hated life. I hated people. I was just bitter,” Frank says. “I used to argue a lot with my parents. I told my mom, ‘I hope you die.’ Two weeks later she became real ill and went to the hospital and within a week, she passed away.”
Frank, then 23, blamed himself. He had been taking care of both his parents, who were ill. He grew up in Apple Valley, California.
The family moved away from the gang violence in L.A. in 1978 at the time his dad retired. An only child, Frank was mischievous.
“As a kid, I remember being bullied a lot, getting picked on,” he recalls. “I was jumped by a number of older kids. They stole my brand new bike. This is where I started hating people.”
As he grew up, he fell in with the Heavy Metal crowd during middle school, groups like Ozzy Osbourne and Def Leopard.
“One of my favorite songs was from Pat Bennetar. It was ‘Hell is for Children,’” Frank says. “It was an addiction. It helped me to forget about issues, stress, peer pressure. I just wanted to be accepted.”
The first time he inhaled second-hand marijuana smoke, it gave him hallucinations for three days, so he stuck with alcohol.
“Almost every weekend, I would look for parties that I wasn’t invited to,” he says. “We would just get blasted. I would show up to work intoxicated.”
Naturally, his parents scolded him for this behavior. He argued over this. “This is my own life,” he responded. “My mother didn’t approve of anything I was doing. I brought home a girlfriend so she could meet her. My mom just called her a whore straight out.
“I got into an argument with her, and I said, ‘I hope you die,’” he remembers. “Before the month was over, she had passed away.”
After his mom fell into the coma and passed, Frank felt bad for what he had said. He could never apologize. He wondered what would become of himself.
“Is this life? Is that all there is?” he asked.
Frank had never been a church person. A few months later, somebody knocked on his door and explained the gospel to him.
“I had all kinds of questions about God at the time,” he says.
Thomas Locke, the Texas attorney who adopts retired military dogs, needs to be rescued himself.
The Christian Harley rider who can be seen with a cigar in his mouth and his wife on the back of the bike announced in August he’s battling cancer.
“I’m not scared at all, not even a little bit, not even nervous,” he says, shirt off showing a still-chiseled frame at 59 in a video uploaded to his Facebook account. “I have strong faith, so death has never scared me. It doesn’t even annoy me.”
The military veteran went viral on TikTok in May of this year when he had to put down his constant companion, Deny, a military dog that had been classified as “unadoptable” after eight years of hard service sniffing out bombs in Kuwait. Thomas found him for Christmas 2018 in the 21-acre ranch of Mission K9 which tries to finds homes for military assets.
The bond between man and dog challenged the notion of mere earthly affection. Often, Thomas would sleep with the German shepherd, who followed at his heals everywhere around the house. But when his back legs stopped working, Deny had to be put down, and Thomas carried out the painful task Texas style: after a last meal of brisket and sausage.
“I’m ready to turn in my man card,” Thomas said, holding back tears, as he fed Deny from a plate. “This wasn’t supposed to be a cry fest.”
This time, Thomas is NOT crying.
“Cancer affects babies, children and women. It’s a coward disease. I say ‘F you, cancer.’ I’m glad you came and picked on somebody your own size because I’m ready for you.” Read the rest: Animal rescue needs to be rescued.
The first time Kris-Lynn saw Justin Williams, he was wending his way through the crowd at After Hours in Tampa, FL, offering molly, X, weed and cocaine. She saw he was popular and handsome.
The next night, they were consuming drugs together, and from that moment on, they were inseparable.
But the fast life of money, drugs, pimps and stripping eventually slowed down. It had to. After all, she was a wayward pastor’s kid whom the Good Shepherd went seeking.
And Justin got let off a 15-year prison sentence with just one year of house arrest. When the miracle of the lighter sentence occurred, he told Kris-Lynn her days of dancing were over.
Kris-Lynn was a bright child, good with the books. Being raised as a pastor’s child in Florida didn’t mean she knew God. She went to all the retreats, heard about Moses and Daniel and constantly attended church, as was expected.
But when she saw church members doing ungodly things, she secretly wondered if there was any authenticity behind the religion.
“I didn’t like the things that I saw in the church that I knew weren’t God. Sometimes humans can pervert who He is,” she says. “I had a tainted view of what Christianity was.”
When she returned pregnant to her hometown from high school in Gainesville, she faced harsh rejection from the Christians who ought to have had compassion. She was kicked out of homes and wound up on the floor of a local Salvation Army in 2006.
“I was church hurt,” she remembers. “Wow, the people in the church are turning me away when I’m pregnant? If this is the Lord, then I want nothing to do with it.”
Actually, she wanted more than just to disassociate herself from the church. She wanted to disassociate herself from her emotional pain.
“I never wanted to feel like that again,” she says. “So I determined in my mind not to feel anything at all. And to get money.”
Dancing in the clubs was a quick way to make big bucks. And it provided her with access to drugs to numb the internal pain.