Tag Archives: Arizona

Fake $10 bill led drug addict to Proverbs and to Christ

matthew mcpheronMatthew McPheron just wanted a cheap high, but heroin drove him to the streets. He slept on a playground, using a smelly trashbag as a blanket.

“I had finally reached the place that I belonged: homeless, strung out on dope,” he says in 2013 CBN video. He spent years living in a drainage ditch under a freeway. “I crawled out from underneath a bridge, and I didn’t spontaneously combust into a different person. It took a lot of hard work, a lot of pain, a lot of tears.”

Today, Matthew runs recovery programs and hires his own patients into TrueCore Cleaning, a janitorial company he bought on his 10-year sober anniversary in 2016.

Miracle Healing RecoveryWhen it comes to finding the reason he fell into drugs, Matthew can’t blame his dad, who was first a fireman and then a minister. Mom left him alone during his early years — and then left him for good in Youngstown, Ohio.

“She would just put me behind a door with some Legos and leave me and not even talk to me,” Matt says. “It really put me in a place where I thought I was meant to be abandoned and rejected.”

After his dad remarried, his step mom died.

matthew and jennifer mcpheron“I took a really selfish perspective, where it was like, ‘I’m being abandoned again,’ Matt recalls. “So it made those walls go right back up.”

In the wake of losing a mother for the second time, Matthew, who was then in secondary school, self-medicated to ease the torment.

“I felt hurt; I felt lost, and I didn’t know what to do, but I knew for me, at that age, going to church didn’t work for me. What worked was putting a haze in front of me so that I didn’t have to deal with reality.”

As a young man, Matthew sold drugs and stole vehicles to fund his craving for drugs.

“One night I was at a party and I was getting drunk,” he says. “There was a gentleman there who said, ‘I have a buddy who runs a chop shop and they need a Nissan, and they’re going to give $1,500 for the person that gets it. I thought, ‘Fifteen hundred dollars! That’s like three weeks worth of selling dope.’”

The deal wasn’t lucrative enough to keep the law from catching up to him. In jail, he began to deal with his conscience.

“When I was in prison, I had a little bit of time to reflect and think about the things I had done, and the people that I had hurt,” he says. “It consumed me.”

Once released from jail, he decided he would not commit any more felonies. He needed a cheap drug.

“Three months into shooting heroin, I found myself with nothing, broke, and homeless. I had finally reached the place that I belonged: homeless, strung out on dope, sleeping in a trash can liner. The plastic kept me warm, but it smelled like trash.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is where you belong. This is what you deserve.’”

One night, Matthew was out searching for his next fix.

“I was walking northbound on Sixth Avenue, and I started praying, and I was saying, ‘Lord please, just give me ten dollars so I can buy a shot of dope. And I look off into the distance, and I see something that looks to be currency. About ten yards, I could see a ‘10’ on it, so I thought, ‘It’s a ten dollar bill.’ And I said, ‘Oh, there is a God! Here, My whole life I’m waiting for You to show yourself to me, and here You are giving me a ten dollar bill for dope,’” Matt says. Read the rest: Bible tract and Proverbs led addict to Christ.

Joey Vantes, suicide rapper

62335bc62cfb6ff575a23f9280507c1b.1000x1000x1“Sending love and prayers for all those facing loss, depression, or heartache this season. DM me if you need someone to talk to and to pray with you.”

That’s what Christian Hip Hop sensation Joey Vantes wrote on Facebook Dec. 14th. He knows that Christmas, for many, heightens their isolation, depression and thoughts of suicide. He has a heart for more than just music or stardom. He has a heart for the hurting.

joey vantes suicideThat’s because Joey Vantes (formerly Joey Jewish) tried to commit suicide himself. He was trying to quit the partying and drugs from his days at the University of Arizona. But he kept lapsing back into drinking, and the cycle of failure detonated depression.

“It was just a mess. I couldn’t break free,” Joey told Rapzilla. “I was so depressed. I was so bound to this thing that I just wanted to die to escape what I was feeling on a daily basis.”

One day when his wife sent him for groceries, he decided to end his life. He would drive off the road down a steep embankment.

“I jerked my wheel to the left to pull off at this ramp and right when I [did] it, my wheel locks, my car shuts off and I slowly just kind of fade over to the left side of the road,” Joey said. “Immediately, the Spirit of God just hits me right where I am in my car.I feel this intense love come over me and say, ‘I love you and I forgive you. Just call out to me.’” Read the rest: Suicide rapper Joey Vantes

Rough biker went to church to confront people, was confronted by Holy Spirit

IMG_0553By Lortourme Hang’andu —

As a biker in the 1960s, Joe Campbell always carried a gun with him. He had gotten into many fights and stolen from people. He needed to be ready for anything.

“I carried a gun around,” he said, “because of the amount of people I had wronged.”

His life was a chaotic mix of violence, drugs, alcohol, gambling and other biker gang activity in Illinois, and he knew it “would destroy my marriage,” Campbell says.

When his wife Connie got saved, Joe didn’t immediately join her. In fact, he mocked her and constantly hounded her to return to their former sinful lifestyle.

After six months, Connie invited a church couple over for lunch and when they skipped out on the date, Joe got mad — mad enough to go to the church of 25 members and find out why they were a no-show. (At the time, Joe and Connie didn’t have a landline phone to call and find out.)

IMG_0554But instead of confronting the couple for standing them up, Joe got confronted by the Holy Spirit in the sermon. At the altar call, the lanky, longhaired, rough and tumble character responded to the invitation for salvation.

At 29 years old, he didn’t immediately feel any different. But Jesus had come into his heart at that moment in 1971.

The next day, two of his friends came to visit and asked him if it were true, according to word on the street, that he “got religious.”

Yes, he said.

They invited him to their normal routine of parties, but instead of using and abusing drugs, Joe witnessed to all his old friends. He was a changed man.

This was the 1960s, a time when it wasn’t uncommon for churches to hold revival services every night for a month. Joe’s church was in the midst of one of those extended revivals, and he attended faithfully.

After a month, he poured his Jack Daniel’s down the drain and disposed of his drugs. Nobody knew about his stash, so nobody told him he should do this. It was simply the Holy Spirit who convicted him, and he spontaneously responded.

“I didn’t have a real problem turning away from the drugs and alcohol,” he said. “It was just such a powerful experience that my wife and I just walked away from.” Read the rest of biker to Jesus.

Pastor prayed and fasted for neighborhood, one ‘hooligan’ responded

Nigeria missionariesBy Lortoume Hang’andu —

Bitwell grew up in Lusaka, the red-soiled capital of Zambia. Along with his friends, the fatherless teenager assaulted people to fund his drinking habit. They also engaged in hooliganism at the local soccer stadium and fought rival fans.

His mother, a Christian, tried in vain to control her son.

Then a pastor moved in across the street and fasted for seven days for the neighborhood. The Spirit moved on Bitwell’s heart. At 24, he was tired of endless crime and alcohol, so he began attending church.

“I wasn’t really converted,” he says. “I just went to church.”

Then Bitwell got struck with Cupid’s arrows. He saw Mary walking to the store and struck up a conversation with her. Mary was a more serious Christian and refused his advances. He persisted, and Mary laid down an ultimatum: Either he go to church seriously or give up hopes for her.

Bitwell still drank, but he worked hard to hide it from Mary. The first time he went to Mary’s church, he was hung-over. Three years later, they were married.

Back to AfricaSeeking a better life, Bitwell and his wife applied for and were granted a tourist visa to visit a friend in Chandler, Arizona. Bitwell flew to the U.S. three months before his wife.

He was on a layover in New York on 9/11 when the Twin Tower terrorists struck and he was grounded at the airport. Eventually, Bitwell took a Greyhound bus to Chandler to join his friend, a zealous believer at the Door Church.

Bitwell accepted an invitation to attend church. He never heard preaching like that before. After hearing moving sermon after fiery sermon, he decided he needed to get serious about God. With his wife at his side, he gave his life to God and was born again.

Pastor Joe Campbell became a father figure to Bitwell and Mary. He gave them a car and was constantly checking up on them. They matured in the Lord and participated in ministry for four years.

One day, Pastor Campbell called them into his office. Would they go back to Africa to pioneer a church? They belonged to a group of churches that focuses on church planting.

It was no light matter. They had overstayed their visa and were “illegal.” If they left the country, under current rules they would not be granted a visa to America for at least 12 years.

“God called me to go,” Bitwell says. “When I was in America, God provided for me. So I thought that if I went to Africa, God would still provide for me.”

Jesus says to count the cost. For every Bitwell, there are hundreds of illegal immigrants who get saved, called, and decide not to return to their home countries. The American Dream often holds greater sway than the dream of ministry. Don’t miss the surprise ending of pastor returns to Africa.

Tammy (Lortoumi) is Pastor Mike Ashcraft’s student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Los Angeles.

Only a year? Whistle blowers wonder why ‘lone wolf’ jihadist let off easy

derrick-thompson-isis-inspired-phoenix-350x175

Derrick Thompson, aka Abu Talib Al-Amriki

A Phoenix man inspired by ISIS to convert to Islam and carry out a lone wolf attack was sentenced to one year in prison and four months probation — a sentence so light that anti-terrorist groups were left scratching their heads.

“Only a year? What do they think this man will do in a year? Become a loyal, stable, productive citizen?” wrote Jihad Watch. “It is much more likely that, once his jihadist sentiments are reinforced in prison, as they will be, he will come out more determined to kill in the name of Allah than he ever was.”

Part of the problem is the nature of the accusations, which lacked traction under U.S. law and could only be prosecuted under Arizona’s tougher anti-terrorism law.

150504-simpson-soofi-mugs-712p_c5b7223332af13ff5941483ad1826807.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000-350x231

The fellow Phoenix residents who attempted to shoot up a cartoon exhibit in Garland, Texas.

Derrick Raymond Thompson, 31, who calls himself Abu Talib Al-Amriki, posted pro-ISIS comments online and tried to buy a semi-automatic gun. Investigators found no concrete plans to carry out the “lone wolf” attack, though it was speculated based on his Google searches that he wanted to carry out a shooting at a Catholic midnight mass on Christmas.

““We need to get down with this ISIS sh*t,” Thompson wrote on his Google+ account, which he titled “Talib Thompson.” Among the hundreds of jihadist-related Google searches police uncovered via warrant, Thompson looked up “midnight mass,” “martyrdom vs. suicide” and “Fatwa on killing civilians.”

In response to a YouTube video discussing a terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, Thompson uploaded a comment: “Islamic State is officially in America. The war has begun.”

00phoenix-web01-master768-350x212

The assault on Garland didn’t go well for the attackers.

In the Garland attack, fellow Phoenix residents Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi drove to Texas to attack participants in an exhibition of cartoons about the Prophet Mohammad, but they were killed by a Garland police officer as soon as they arrived and opened fire. Muslims believe artistic renditions of Mohammad are acutely offensive due to his prohibition about making images.

The Muslim population in Arizona has grown to 120,000 in recent years and is projected to represent 35 percent of the state’s population by 2030, the Phoenix New Times reported.

Prosecutors called Thompson an “avowed jihadist” in court documents prior to his arrest in December of 2016. Despite being prohibited to buy or own a gun because of a previous felony conviction, Thompson approached a seller on BackPage.com in January 2015 in an attempt to acquire a firearm, a deal that fell through because Thompson was out of town on the day of the sale and the seller transacted with another buyer. Read the rest of Muslim terrorists from Phoenix.

Gates of hell

The first white explorer to observe the stunning beauty of the Grand Canyon scowled. “It looks like the gates of Hell,” said Lt. John Christmas Ives. “Ours has been the first, and will doubtless be the last, party of whites to visit this profitless locality.”
Boy was he wrong! Today millions each year marvel at the jaw-dropping cathedral gorges that grace the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. Five miles wide, one mile deep, and over 250 miles long, this spectacular geological showcase is now catalogued as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
There is spectacular beauty  in your ministry that others fail to observe. There is pricelessness that others don’t appreciate. Don’t fear it others get it wrong. Enjoy what God has given you and continue to exploit the natural resources that you have for His benefit.
If others frown just because you don’t run after the god of money, don’t listen to them! Continue laboring happily and enjoy the pristine grandeur of His service! Pay no attention to what others fail to see.