The circus brought Tanzanian Solomon Kuria to America. Beer brought him to Jesus.
“I wanted to stop drinking but I didn’t know how,” says Solomon, now a resident of Anaheim, CA.
Solomon Kuria was raised a strict Muslim in Tanga, a small village in Tanzania. His grandmother sent him to a madrassa school to learn Arabic and read the Koran. His cousin became a leader of the mosque.
Solomon became an acrobat. How did this happen?
At the time, China forged close ties with Tanzania, which had turned politically to socialism. As a result of its involvement and influence, China recruited and trained willing Tanzanians in the Chinese art of acrobatic performance.
A Chinese official representing a program to promote culture and the arts trained Solomon and his buddies. At the same time, he being steeped in Islam at the madrassa, and was unaware of other religions.
“Everything you see is about Islam,” he remembers. “I didn’t know anything about Christianity.”
At the time, tourists were rare in Tanzania. But a Swiss tourist happened to see Solomon and his buddies perform and asked for a video of their stunts, which he took back to Switzerland and showed to some key people.
The next thing he knew, Solomon got offered the chance to work and perform in Europe, which he did from 1985 to 1994.
The next place to call was America, where he was offered work at Las Vegas’ Circus Circus, a distinctively family-friendly destination in the City of Sin. On other weeks, he worked at Disneyland’s California Adventure in Anaheim.
Solomon didn’t go to mosque but considered himself a good man, faithful to Islam.
The one nasty habit he picked up was drinking alcohol, which is strictly forbidden in Islam.
Kat Von D, the black-lipstick-wearing Queen of Goth who seized fame as a tattoo artist, has thrown out her witchcraft books and covered her tattoos in a return to the “love and light” of her parents who were missionaries in Mexico.
“I got a lot of things wrong in my past,” Kat wrote on Instagram in July. “I’ve always found beauty in the macabre, but at this point, I just had to ask myself what is my relationship with this content? And the truth is, I just don’t want to invite any of these things into our family’s lives, even if it comes disguised in beautiful covers, collecting dust on my shelves.”
The diva of deviance came short of saying she accepted Jesus though. She has gotten married and had a child and now sees things through the lens of what is best for her child.
Katherine von Drachenberg was born in 1982 in Morelos, Mexico, to Argentinian parents who worked as missionaries in a rural community with running water and electricity. Her dad was a doctor with the Seventh Day Adventists. They lived in relative poverty with dirt floors, but Kat only has beautiful memories from that time.
“One of my favorite photos from our family album is one of me taking a bath in a plastic bucket,” she stated on the List. “In this town, you were more likely to see a horse than you would a car. They were some of the happiest times in my life.”
Her family moved to San Bernardino when she was six. In her early teens, she began to rebel against her Christian roots under the influence of punk rock culture and started getting and giving tattoos. She dropped out of high school.
When reality show Miami Ink looked to diversify its all-male tattoo artist show, producers tapped Kat, and she was launched into fame in 2005. Two years later, she returned to Los Angeles and starred in TLC’s spinoff LA Ink.
Kat became an icon, normalizing tattoos. In 2008, Sephora capitalized on her fame to launch a make-up line with her, and she became a millionaire offering eye-liner, lipstick and foundation.
Meanwhile, she got sober. “Looking back at my wild drinking days, I really never imagined that I would be excited about being sober,” she says on The Fix. “When you are on the other side of things, you have such a profoundly different perspective on life. On this side, you realize it’s something to be celebrated.”
Dropping the drink helped her work ethic. In 2008, she snatched the world record for tattoos given in a single 24-hour period when she inked 400 – a record held for six months.
After dating such flamboyant iconoclasts as Nikki Sixx, Deadmau5 and Jesse James, she finally settled down and married fellow Goth prophet Leafar Seyer (born Rafael Reyes), father of Cholo Goth music.
It may be that her marriage in 2018 has shifted her thinking from her rebellious days.
While she always said she would never have children, she gave birth to Leafar Von D Reyes later that year.
In July of 2022, Kat got rid of the books of witchcraft, magic spells and tarot cards from her library because they didn’t “align with who I am and who I want to be,” she says on IG… Read the rest: Kat von D Christian?
The first time Nick Thimmig glimpsed the undeniable reality of evil in the world was when “Crazy Robert” — screaming expletives and growling at a party — randomly punched a taller dude and left him bleeding on the ground before running off into the woods howling.
“That’s when I knew there was evil in the world. I just saw evil manifest right in front of my eyes for no apparent reason,” Nick says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “Why did he do this? Because he was from Humble (Texas). People from Huffman didn’t like people from Humble. Well, I was from Humble, so I got the heck out of there.”
Nick Thimmig was born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, but went to Texas for his senior year of high school because his mom didn’t pay attention to his comings and goings, and he could “live it up” with parties and drugs.
He missed applying for college and instead got a job to fund his trips to different colleges on weekends to party. That’s when he started the heavier drugs: ecstasy, acid, cocaine. Under the effects of acid, he would see demonic manifestations and thought to himself, “I am a child of Satan.”
At 19, he smoked so much marijuana in one week that he coughed up blood. That Friday he was drunk and high (on ecstasy and acid), and he got pulled over by cops on suspicion of trafficking. Nick shoved as much marijuana as he could in his underpants but missed one bag.
“They put me up the hood of the car. They found the bag of marijuana and said, ‘Look what we found. You’re going to jail. Is there anything else we should know about,’” Nick remembers.
Wanting to get out of the problem by cooperating with cops, Nick reached into his pants with the intention of removing the stashed weed. But the cops panicked because they thought he was reaching for a gun.
Fortunately for Nick, he was able to de-escalate the tense arrest and was not shot.
Nick pretended to turn informant to work his felony down to a misdemeanor. When he was released from jail, he asked the judge and was granted (miraculously) the opportunity to work off his fines and community service by joining the military.
In the Navy, he kept getting into trouble through Boot Camp and A School. During his first weekend on the ship, he joined buddies going to a club and got drunk. Upon his return, he was confronted for underage drinking.
“For the next few days, I lay in my rack and cried out to God,” he remembers. “I needed to change. I was in trouble here and trouble there. Now I just got to my duty station, and I was in trouble.”
The next day at the laundromat, he asked a random guy for the time. The guy invited him to church and asked him where he would go if he were to die. “I would hope I would go to Heaven,” Nick replied. Thinking of some way to justify himself, he said, “You can trust me to babysit your kids.”
“But do you have a relationship where you speak to God, and he speaks back to you?” the man responded.Nick says that stuck out to him because he had prayed many times before and never heard from God.
As Nick continued processing, he said, “Yeah, he (God) probably wouldn’t let me crash on his couch for eternity.”
“You can be saved,” the man responded.
“Saved? What do you mean saved?” Nick asked.
If a man wishes to save his life, he will lose it. If he loses his life for my sake and for the gospel’s, you will save it, the man quoted scripture.
“Let’s do this saved thing,” Nick responded, even though he didn’t know what that meant. He only knew he needed to change.
Nick prayed the sinner’s prayer and was became born-again at age 19.
“I had this weight of sin that was on my shoulders,” Nick recalls. “The moment I prayed that prayer, I felt the weight of sin lifted off. I felt changes. I felt delivered. God touched me in that prayer.”
The effects became immediately evident. That same night he was at Popeye’s Chicken and spotted an attractive girl when God impressed this on his heart: Don’t look at her. I’ve called you to reach out to her.
Then God convicted him about his unchristian music. This is trash, throw it out, he felt the Lord instruct.
He called his girlfriend and announced getting saved. She responded that she too was saved.
Karina Lahood never wanted welfare, but because she was afraid she would lose custody of her five boys when she suddenly became a single mom, she felt compelled to go on government support.
After two years of striving to overcome her circumstances, Karina worked and earned enough to pass the wage threshold and get off food stamps, Medicaid and all other government support.
Ironically, through her hard work, she was worse off than when she got free benefits. She had to continue to build her business to make it into the clear.
“They make it so easy to stay in that system,” Karina says. “Jesus said that the government would be on his shoulders. I didn’t want the government to support me. I said, ‘Jesus I need you to rescue me.’ It’s a generational system. God doesn’t want you to depend on the government. He wants you to depend on Him.”
Many Christians believe that Christ’s mandate to care for certain vulnerable segments of the population should be carried out by government. Others, including Karina, see government usurping God and the church in the role of charity. When it comes to social care, the government is notoriously inefficient, they say.
“The government gives you so many benefits. If you’re not motivated, you will be stuck in the system,” Karina says. “In any life crisis, we become paralyzed in the system, you go comatose, you become a frog in the kettle.”
Today, Karina Lahood is a proud business owner placing foreign students in caring homes where they can sleep, eat and practice English with an American family while they attend language school.
Her life has been a long lesson of learning to lean on Jesus. Anna Karina Elisabeth Wilson was born to a Swedish immigrant homemaker. Many years later she realized she had a Christian heritage in Sweden; he grandmother was a Pentecostal Christian with a heart-to-heart relationship with Jesus.
Karina and her two sisters grew up playing on the “Tarzan swing” dad hooked up on the one-acre property in Arcadia, California. Dad was always busy running a taxicab business. Only later did Karina find out he was a functional alcoholic.
Her family only went to church occasionally and Karina wished it was more often, but when a half-sister came to live with them, Karina learned to smoke pot from her while in middle school. She excelled at swimming but without parental support, she dropped that and fell into rebellion.
“I was an emotional mess in high school,” she admits.
When representatives of the California Conservation Corps came to her high school, she got hooked on their logo: “Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions and more,” she says. During the summer, she rode a Greyhound Bus to Angels Camp, California, where she worked environmental projects and responded to natural and man-made disasters.
The next year, she got her GED and joined a fire-fighting crew in the mountains. They cut fire lines, attended to fish and game hatcheries, tagged salmon, picked cones and dug fence holes in the Stanislaus National Forest.
“At night we partied and got drunk,” she says. “The state had night watchmen, but they didn’t really monitor anything.”
One friend drove drunk off a mountain road and died.
Sin demanded more and more of her attention. She had two abortions.
Going from job to job, neighborhood to neighborhood, relationship to relationship, Karina finally was invited to live in a Christian home with a the pastor and his wife and their six children.
“I couldn’t understand how someone with six kids wanted to have someone else live with them,” she remembers.
The pastor’s wife was very patient and loving and slowly brought her to Christ. In 1994, she married and started her own family. It was a picture perfect family with a house and a dog, but it was not to last.
Karina and her husband divorced.
“I felt betrayed, rejected and angry,” Karina remembers. “I had no vision. I only wanted our boys to feel loved and secure when my world was crashing.” Read the rest: She fought to get off welfare.
Incarcerated for a schoolyard murder, a psychologist told 12-year-old Ronnie Legg there was no forgiveness available to Him from God.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I’ll never be able to get into Heaven,” he says on a video published by a Texas outreach group. “I might as well be the devil’s #1. As soon as I was found guilty and sentenced to 21 years, I started pushing hard to try to do the devil’s work. I was pushing hard to be the ultimate gangster.”
Ronnie’s troubles began early: a single mom, abused as a tyke, living in poverty. For selling drugs on the wrong street in East Houston, his brother was killed. Nine-year-old Ronnie followed in his footsteps with drinking and smoking dope.
His mother, brokenhearted at the loss of one son, steeled her heart against what she thought was the inevitable demise of Ronnie.
“There’s no more love here for you because you’re going down the same path your brother went down,” his mom told him. “You ain’t going to do nothing different, so I’ll be danged if you break my heart.”
Ronnie responded to the rejection by throwing the first object he could find at her.
“I hate you,” he yelled.
At age 12, he was on the schoolyard when a group of young gangsters tried to jump him. But they didn’t count on Ronnie being armed and he shot three of them, killing one. He was arrested four days later. Even without a jailhouse confession, prosecutors secured a conviction.
By age 15, he was in the penitentiary because he was so dangerous. While there, he joined the Houstone Blast gang and fought every day to make a name for himself.
“As I started doing that, everybody was patting me on the back,” he recalls.
Released from prison, he trafficked dope, pimping and kidnapping in Houston.
In December 1999, the Feds tracked him down. It seems his best friend snitched on him. Sentenced to 72 months, he got into trouble in prison so much that his sentence was lengthened to 9 years and 4 months and then into 12 years.
“I ended up walking around some of the worst prisons in the whole United States,” he says. He was in Beaumont prison during the racial riots. He was transferred to Oklahoma and then to Pollack, Louisiana. Of 100 Texans in Pollack, only he and another survived.
Ronnie eventually was transferred to a Death Row penitentiary in Indiana. In Victorville penitentiary, he was thrown in with the Crips and Bloods. It didn’t matter to him that he was the only Houstone. Almost immediately, he stabbed someone on the yard.
Finally, he was transferred to the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” in Florence, Colorado, the “worst of the worst. Everybody there is a killer. Three people a day get stabbed,” Ronnie says.
When he was admitted, the warden gave him one warning:
“All I ask is that you don’t put no steel in my officers.”
When he was finally released, Ronnie went home and immediately resumed drug trafficking.