All the Merritts wanted was to enjoy boating on the lake after several days of rain. What they didn’t take into account was that the floodgates on the dam were open and the undertow would suck their boat onto the dam where it would be smashed, their family thrown into peril.
“The water was very calm on the surface,” Kelly Merritt says on a 700 Club video. “Our boat was being pulled without us realizing.”
But all the extra water was the reason authorities, unbeknownst to the Merritts, had opened the gates to allow the overflow to run off down the spillway. It created an unseen undertow that sucked the Merritts toward danger.
Three days of rain had left the family stir crazy. So when the rains abated, the family of four thought to get out and relax on the lake, which was glorious and serene.
The closer the Merritts got to the dam, the stronger the undertow. When the family finally realized what was happening, it was too late. The current was stronger than the boat’s motor. Try as they might, they could not escape.
“We had lost control of the boat,” Kelly says. “The motor didn’t seem to matter anymore.”
With mounting fear overwhelming them, the boat struck the concrete barrier on the lakeside of the spillway, quickly fracturing and coming apart.
“All of a sudden, my (teenage) son jumped out of the boat and began swimming as hard as he could,” Kelly relates. “I watched him get sucked underneath the boat.”
Kelly grabbed her daughter and hugged her impulsively, but as they were pushed over the dam, her daughter was ripped from her arms by the force of the water.
“It was very much like I was dead,” Kelly says. “I dropped for what felt like an eternity. I reached up and felt the carpet on the bottom of the boat, and then behind me I could feel the concrete. I was pinned there. It was a horrifying feeling.”
By the time his family found him locked in an outdoor freezer on a Mississippi farm, Victor Marx was unconscious, clutched up in a ball, where his molester had left him to die because he realized the 5-year-old wouldn’t keep quiet about the rape.
Today, Victor ministers to kids in juvenile hall. He’s a 7th-degree black belt in martial arts and trains cops and military. He ministers in war zones in what he calls “high risk mission work.”
“The closer we are to danger, the more we’re helping people,” he says on his podcast. “I minister to these kids because I know where many of them have been. I know where God wants to take them. That which was meant for evil in my life has actually turned for good.”
How did Victor Marx heal the innumerable childhood traumas and become an effective minister of the gospel?
His biological father became involved in the Louisiana mafia, pimping women in honky-tonk bars and selling drugs. Dad didn’t cut or shoot up people like the Italian mafia in New York; he fed them to the alligators in the swamp, he says on the self-made documentary of his testimony.
Because Dad was splitting with Mom around the time of Victor’s conception, he never acknowledged him as his own child.
At five, Victor was taken advantage of by a neighbor who invited him into a room between two chicken houses where he threatened him with death if ever told. Since the neighbor got the idea that Victor would tell, he locked him in the commercial cooler to die.
“I remember being unbelievably terrified,” Victor says.
Victor kicked against the door and screamed until he succumbed to the pain, the horror and the intense cold. He curled up in a ball and passed out.
Meanwhile, his family began to miss him and began to search about. They looked around the pond and woods and checked the chicken houses, the building, and finally the freezer.
“Thank God they checked the freezer,” he says.
When Victor regained consciousness, he told them what happened. His family administered “country justice.”
“They kicked down his door and beat him in front of his family,” Victor relates. “They took him outside and hogtied him to the tractor and they drug him outside the house. They drug him all the way around. There was this one big pecan tree. They made a noose and threw it over this limb. They hooked it to the back of the tractor.
“They pulled the tractor, and he started going up, choking, trying to grab. They waited for him to go limp, and they cut him down and left him. They didn’t want to kill him and go to prison. They just wanted to put fear in him.”
His family’s crude justice did nothing to free Victor from the PTSD. Nor did it free him further trauma… Read the rest: Overcoming trauma Victor Marx
The moment Chad Williams knew he wanted to be a SEAL was outside the college classroom, in the parking lot, where he was doing donuts in his jeep and smoking weed. He didn’t want to go into class because he hadn’t studied for the final exam.
Nevertheless, he was incensed that Mom and Dad questioned his tenacity. He had already given up on baseball, skateboarding and professional fishing. How could he make it as a SEAL? they wondered. Still, Chad’s father went to the effort to hook Chad up with a real SEAL to try some grueling trainings — hoping to dissuade him.
At the first training, Chad, a cocky kid, initially outran Scott Helvenston until Scott caught up, passed Chad, then stopped suddenly and met him with a right hook to Chad’s stomach. He had the wind knocked out of him.
“You want to be a SEAL?” Scott bellowed, standing over Chad as he gasped for air. “You better stay three paces behind me! Three paces behind me!”
After that, Chad didn’t attempt any more hotdogging. But he did keep up with the workout and was invited for another day. Dad’s plan to discourage Chad was backfiring. Instead, Scott finished pre-training and pronounced his surprising verdict: I know you’ll pass.
“I felt knighted,” Chad reports in Seal of God, his book tracking his progress from a trouble-making kid bored with school and church, one who lived for thrills, both legal and illegal.
Growing up in Southern California, Chad loved baseball and pranks. He would ride bikes on top of the school building roofs and run from the cops, hiding under trees when police helicopters searched for him.
Once he put a bunch of bones in his sister’s pockets so that their dog would chase her around and overpower her to eat the bones. She had to be taken to the hospital for that one.
Chad liked collecting gunpowder from model rocket engines and making mini bombs to blow up. Once a particularly big bomb blew up in his face and arms, resulting in second degree burns that required a trip to the hospital. Sometimes, his brother told his parents, and Chad got in trouble for his mischief.
At some point, Chad’s parents became Christians and started attending church. Chad never opposed the idea of being a Christian and believed in his heart that he was good, but services and Sunday school bored him.
When he dropped baseball because the coach didn’t accept him on the team in his freshman year, he took up skateboarding and would sneak out of Sunday school to go practice tricks in the parking lot.
Chad excelled at skateboarding and used all his free time to get better (he didn’t do homework). He got so good he competed in extreme sports competitions and got sponsored by Vans shoes, which gave him notoriety among the kids and free gear.
With boyish face and charm, he even was cast for several commercials to do tricks on his board.
Over summer vacation, he did stints as a fisherman on a professional boat, working 18-hour days alongside the professionals. With his money, he bought a jeep. Upon graduation, he enrolled in college simply because it was the thing to do.
By now, a friend had introduced him to drinking and smoking dope. As he partied more, he dropped skating and fishing.
His life was adrift and pointless, every passion abandoned, with nothing in the future to work for. Then his epiphany came in the college parking lot: He didn’t want to take a college test he hadn’t studied for. He would become a Navy SEAL.
He immediately told his parents. He didn’t need college. He was going to be a SEAL.
They lacked his enthusiasm. His capriciousness was only one problem. Another was that his mom worried he would die in Iraq.
Dad set out to dissuade him. He located online Scott Helvenston and cajoled him into showing Chad he didn’t have the right stuff. Instead, Chad proved to Scott that he did have the stuff.
With just weeks to go before Chad entered the Navy, Scott was contracted by Blackwater to join operations in Fallujah, Iraq, because it paid so well.
Chad’s trainer and friend, Scott Helvenston, was brutally killed in Fallujah, just days before Chad was to report for training.
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.
The Muslim uncle of a 17-year-old girl under demonic influence was upset when local missionaries arrived at the door of their home in a Syrian refugee camp.
It was the Islamic month of Ramadan, and she had reacted violently when a Muslim cleric attempted to help her, according to a report by Christian Aid Mission.
“The cleric had been met by the young woman’s screams and her aggressively pushing him away from the home,” a local ministry’s leader says. “As he began to leave, their daughter encouraged his quick movement from the property as she picked up stones and began throwing them his way. He left promptly and did not return nor seek out her parents.”
The girl’s parents mentioned she often would shout at no one and for no apparent reason, and she would throw objects at others. Being Muslims, the family requested a visit by a Muslim cleric for three days. But when he finally showed up, the girl repulsed him.
The Muslim parents then decided to seek help from Christian missionaries. When they showed up, the girl’s uncle was none too happy. Muslims often detest Christian missionaries.
Reluctantly, the uncle… Read the rest: demon-possessed Syrian refugee girl
Waving flags that said “Jesus is King,” 650 Christians marched up the beach bike path to the pier Saturday in an event that was meant to spark revival.
“This is not a protest,” said Vadim Semenchuk, a coordinator with United Revival of Sacramento which staged the event. “We’re here to proclaim the name of Jesus.”
Drawing smiles, smirks and wondering glances on a walk more famous for fun and flashing flesh, the gathering first worshipped, prayed and preached on the grass next to the beach at Barnard Way, before walking up to the pier shouting Jesus chants.
“The church of California has gotten its roar back,” said Ross Johnston, who leads the Orange County based group California Will be Saved. “The only hope for America, the only hope for California is Jesus. We’re not just here to get excited and feel good, we’re here to start a move. We pray for the Golden State to become golden again.”
Police initially estimated the event to have 325 people, but a more careful count by this reporter as they marched up the bike path revealed there were in fact 650. Latecomers may account for the discrepancy.
United Revival started doing outdoor revival events and marches during Covid when riots convulsed America over racial police brutality.
“When the world was protesting and riots were happening, we were like, why doesn’t the church go out and march and proclaim the goodness of Christ,” says co-founder Ivan Katrenyak. “The whole goal is to rally the church. As Joshua took cities (in the Old Testament), we’re here doing that today and exalting the name of Jesus.”
Coming Jesus marches this year will be held in Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa, Seattle, Portland, Denver, San Francisco and Sacramento, where United Revival is based and is raising up a local church in the North Islands neighborhood. Read the rest: Revival in Santa Monica.
After Shin-Wook Kim scored a 2014 World Cup goal against Costa Rica, a TV broadcaster asked who he wanted to thank in his moment of glory. Usually, players honor their parents or fans, but Shin-Wook surprised the reporter.
“God!” he boldly declared. “I am a soccer player who belongs to God.”
Today, Shin-Wook plays for the Hong Kong premier league team Kitchee. Whether on the field or off, he talks about Jesus so much his teammates call him “Church Brother.”
Shin-Wook Kim made his professional debut in 2009 and quickly rose to the top of the K League 1 and won the MVP Award, Best 11 Strikers, and Adidas All-In Fantastic Player Award in his first five years. Because he’s so tall (he’s 6’5”), Shin-Wook’s nickname is “The Advancing Giant,” a reference to the Japanese manga series “Attack on Titan” in which humans fight giants. Height is often an advantage in soccer to win balls in the air.
During the 2014 World Cup selection, Shin-Wook was not a starting player but was used to great effect as a substitute. He cemented a reputation as a “super sub” by often scoring within three minutes of being substituted on to the field.
Reporters have often been surprised by his answers to their questions. They expect a lengthy dialog about soccer, but he gives short discourses about Jesus.
“The average person doesn’t understand, but every soccer player has abandoned everything for the goal in front of him since he was young,” Shin-Wook told the CTS channel. “That is how soccer is played.”
The first time Shin-Wook attended church was during middle school. It began with a book that his friend gave him: Joy Dawson’s Forever Ruined for the Ordinary. At the time, he didn’t believe in God, but it caused some self-introspection.
Is there such a thing as a god? he wondered. Wouldn’t I really need someone to rely on in my life? He kept such thoughts to himself.
Since the third grade, Shin-Wook had played soccer. But suddenly he was presented with something to consider that is bigger than sports.
The first American Protestant missionary was NOT who is often credited. It may surprise some to learn that George Liele, a former black slave, was the first.
Liele sailed for Jamaica to reach the lost in 1782, 11 years ahead of heralded British missionary William Carey and long before American Adoniram Judson sailed to India in 1812 (and later Burma).
For some encyclopedias and missiology schools, that’s an update. The fact was brought to light by E. A. Holmes, a professor of church history at Stetson University, according to Baptist Press.
Liele was a slave in Georgia who received Jesus into his heart in 1773 under the coaxing of his master, Henry Sharp, at the local Baptist church. Genuinely touched by the Lord, Liele began to propagate the gospel among his fellow slaves.
He was ordained on May 20, 1775, becoming the first officially recognized black preacher in the Colonies. He preached for two years in the slave quarters of plantations around Savannah and even led a congregation at Silver Bluff, South Carolina, according to the Union Review.
Seeing the anointing on Liele’s life, his master freed him from slavery.
Hearing of family members in Jamaica who needed the gospel, Pastor Liele migrated to Jamaica with the help of British colonel Moses Kirkland. Landing at Kingston, Liele and his wife, Hannah, planted a church there by preaching among the slaves of Jamaica.
He served for 10 fruitful years but also faced severe opposition from the slave owners, who cynically viewed his preaching as agitating the slaves, and even was thrown in jail for a time.
Liele baptized hundreds of… Read the rest: First American missionary was black
Linda Seiler’s struggle with transgender desires and same-sex attraction had always made her feel like God was condemning her– but it wasn’t until she spoke to fellow Christians about her issue that her journey towards healing truly began.
“From my earliest memory I wanted to be a boy instead of a girl,” Linda says on her personal webpage. “As a child, I prayed repeatedly for God to make me into a boy and became obsessed with my pursuit.”
No one knew about Linda’s frustrations. To everyone around her, she was simply a tomboy, and nothing more.
“Around fourth grade, I heard about sex reassignment surgeries and vowed I would have the operation as soon as I was old enough and had the money,” Linda recounts.
Linda’s sexuality was further confused when her friends introduced her to pornography. Watching it, she envisioned herself as a male, reinforcing her dysphoria.
“In junior high, when all the other girls were interested in makeup and boys, to my horror, I found myself attracted to women, especially older teachers who were strong yet nurturing.”
Distressed by her fantasies and set back by the difficulties of getting a sex reassignment surgery, Linda decided to conform to societal expectations for women. This didn’t rid her of her mental troubles, however.
“I envied the boys around me whose voices were beginning to change, and I mourned the fact that mine would never change like that,” Linda says. “Instead, I had to submit to wearing training bras and being inconvenienced by monthly periods.”
During her junior year of high school, Linda gave her life to Christ. But things didn’t immediately get better.
“I began doubting my salvation experience because my struggles didn’t go away like I thought they would,” Linda recounts. “Yet, I knew Jesus had done something in my heart, and I wanted to follow Him.”
Linda began to experience a spiritual battle for her heart and mind. She attempted to do everything to fit in with other girls– including dating men in hopes of “curing” herself– but her inner thoughts told her that she was meant to be male. Suicide became a real consideration.
“In college, I got involved with a campus ministry and developed a deeper relationship with God, praying and reading my Bible regularly, even sharing Christ with the lost,” Linda says. “I eventually became a student leader despite the fact that I was deeply attracted to women who mentored me and was enslaved to sexual addictions behind closed doors.”
Linda begged for God to take away her transgender desires, praying earnestly for healing.
“My senior year in college, I attended a campus ministry talk on overcoming habitual sin,” Linda recounts. “The speaker quoted James 5:16, ‘Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.’”
Linda was convicted by this message and confessed her secret struggle to her campus pastor.
“He responded to me in love, assuring me that he was committed to finding me the help I needed,” Linda states. “I couldn’t believe it. I walked away from that conversation with a fresh revelation of God’s grace.”
Up until that point, Linda had felt that God hated her for her sin. However, this experience shifted her view of God from a severe judge to a loving father.
“For the first time, I discovered that being completely transparent with another person was very healing,” Linda says. “I didn’t have to hide anymore.”
Linda’s campus pastor ended up connecting her with a professional counselor. The next ten years were full of turbulence as Linda sought healing.
“It was a slow process, as there were not a multitude of resources at that time to help women struggling with transgender issues,” Linda states. “In fact, well-meaning Christian counselors told me they had seen homosexuals and lesbians set free but never… Read the rest: Transformation for Transgenders
Faced with no finances, no family and no friends, Aicha Dramé fell into stripping in Ottawa, Canada, and Nicki Minaj’s lyrics helped push her into the disreputable but profitable lifestyle, she says.
“At that time, Nicki was popping,” the ex-Muslim recounts on her YouTube channel. “She came out with the song “Rich Sex” which is basically about, if you’re gonna have sex with a man, he’d better have mad money, songs glorifying strippers, glorifying sex in exchange for money.”
Aicha began as an immigrant from Guinea, Africa. Her mother prayed five times a day like a traditional Muslim, and her father put her in Islam’s version of Sunday school so she would learn the basics of the family’s native religion.
But when he had to move for work to a smaller town, they lost touch with their Muslim community, and Aicha grew up feeling the pull of the world. It started with dance parties and fashion posts on Instagram that got her attention. She got private messages from NBA players in her DM.
Obsessed with her boyfriend, Aicha planned on studying fashion and going with him to Toronto. “Life was amazing,” she says.
But when she got to Toronto, the boyfriend didn’t come with her. After losing her wallet on the train, she took up living with her aunt while going to fashion school.
That’s where she met a bubbly and beautiful girlfriend who invited her into a lifestyle that involved clubbing, liquor and marijuana.
“I was getting high every day,” Aicha admits. “I was so high, I couldn’t even go to class.”
When her Auntie worried openly about her friendship, Aicha moved out and moved in with her friend, who was supported by a sugar daddy who only came every weekend, sometimes every other weekend.
Until Aicha’s friend broke up with him.
“He ends up cutting her off, and he is the money maker,” Aicha remarks. “This girl had made me quit my other jobs at this point. My income was coming from her, which was coming from him. She was cut off, so I was cut off.
“We have to strip,” her friend told her.
It was a shocking suggestion. But Aicha had been traveling down the road of clubs, intoxication and fast money already. And Minaj’s music encouraged her as well.
At first, Aicha couldn’t dance because she didn’t have an ID. But her girlfriend hooked up with an underworld figure. “I don’t know if he was dealing drugs or scamming or what,” she says. But that guy’s associate made romantic moves on Aicha, and she complied.
“He was about that life. He was a poom, poom, poom gangsta, a straight up G. He was a straight up drug dealer. He carried a glock! He makes money! He moves his weight!
“That’s what I wanted. I was so ghetto,” she adds. “My idea of success, my idea of the kind of man I wanted – I wanted a hoodie. I was so stupid.”
Aicha hooked up with the gangsta and eventually danced herself. Since no one knew her in town and since no one would find out the depths into which she had fallen, the plan was to save up money and start her business in fashion.
But when it came time to put money down on a condo, the guy let Aicha know he was “married to the streets.”
Her heart was broken. She was obsessed with his bad boy image, but ultimately wanted security and lifelong love.
Simultaneously, she felt trapped by the dancing lifestyle. She was 19.
“A lot of women get in a place where they think that the only way they are going to make it in life is through this lifestyle. You can make thousands and thousands a night,” she recognized. “Dancing like this is not something girls grow up wanting to do.”
When she got pregnant, she didn’t even consider bringing the child to term, but went straight for an abortion. Of course, she was alone and abandoned.
God moves mountains and U.S. Navy ships, just ask Rocky Colona.
Growing up in St. Louis under remarried parents, Rocky, half Sicilian, had one half-brother and three half-sisters. Because his dad was excommunicated from the Catholic church for his divorce, Rocky attended church sporadically.
He was a straight-A student who got into a lot of trouble in the public school (he started drinking at 13), so his parents moved him to an expensive private Catholic school, a strategy that didn’t help much. He graduated early because of some shameful things he told a teacher with cancer.
“They passed me a year early because I was so bad,” Rocky says on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. “I said some things to her that I was just in a bad state in life.”
At the University of Missouri-St Louis, he drank his way to failing grades and decided to drop out and join the Navy, at the urging of a fellow sporty friend, with the aim of becoming a SEAL.
He never became a SEAL because he fell in love and married a woman named Ingrid in the Presidential Honor Guard. He viewed the Honor Guard as a stepping stone to his goal. Ultimately, he abandoned the SEAL dream at the warning of his friend.
“All these (SEALs) guys are divorced,” Joe told him. “I don’t know if this is going to be good for you.”
As a secondary plan, Rocky wanted to work his way into the CIA, FBI, or Secret Service. At the top of his class in A school, he got his pick of ships and opted for the Kearsarge, which wasn’t to deploy for 1 ½ years — after he planned to leave the Navy.
But when he reported for duty Jan. 6, 2002, he was hit with shocking news. They would leave on an unscheduled deployment in three days. At the time, President Bush was accusing Iraq of secretly building weapons of mass destruction, and the Navy was getting into position for possible action. His wife was stationed on the USS Eisenhower, so they were apart.
“We literally didn’t see land for the entire 6 ½ months except for two days,” Rocky remembers. “I got really depressed. Eating habits went away. I stopped working out.”
So, he did something he never had done. He prayed a non-ritualistic prayer, a sincere heartfelt plea: “God, if you can get me home for the 4th of July, I’ll quit drinking, I’ll quit smoking, I’ll live like a priest,” he implored. “That’s what I thought God wanted.”
The next day, the amphibious assault ship’s chief petty officer announced over the public address system: “Somebody else took our spot, and we’re going to head home. We’re going to be home on the 3rd of July.”
Rocky went up to the deck, threw his cigarettes and chewing tobacco overboard and marveled how God had moved an entire ship due to his tiny prayer. He didn’t know the scripture about the mustard seed of faith yet.
He promised to nix his vices, a pledge he wasn’t able to keep.
After years of learning the language, developing an alphabet, teaching literacy, missionary Brooks Buser and team gave the YembiYembi tribe in Papua New Guinea copies of the Bible five years ago.
“It has been a long time, almost 2,000 years, that we the YembiYembi church have waited for this translation of the Bible into our own language,” says a tribe leader on a Radius International video.
Waving palm-like branches (or feathers) and dancing, about 100 tribe members received the printed and bound Bibles – the labor of nine years delivered by small prop plane – with fanfare, preaching and jubilation.
The YembiYembi live in the Lower-Sepik Swamp of remote Papua New Guinea. With an estimated 5,000 members, the tribe with only three villages is so small that it’s not even in Wikipedia. You can reach it by plane or paddling 270 miles upriver. Their language is Bises.
Once the translation was finished, Radius International missionaries sleft trained local pastors to take charge of the church. From the video, it appears the majority of the tribe accepted Jesus, but a “vocal minority” remains in opposition to abandoning the customs of its elders.
“The Bible is important,” preached Brooks, 37, in Bises, which the video translates into English through subtitles. “But what’s more important is what you do with it as the church, the body of Christ. The Bible is here to help believers grow. I will visit you, but this Bible will guide you now.”
Brooks was a missionary child who grew up in Papua New Guinea evangelizing another remote tribe in the lush jungle. “The seeds of missions were planted in my mind,” says the man who counted San Diego as his American hometown.
As a child, Brooks spent half his time in the mud of the jungle with native friends and half his time at the missionary school, playing basketball and learning a traditional Western education.
“I remember getting on the plane here at 9 o’clock in the morning and flying to school and playing a basketball tournament that night in the gymnasium, looking down at my leg and I still have a little bit of mud on my leg from the tribe,” he remembers. “It wasn’t a normal upbringing. The blending of these two worlds was a unique way to grow up.”
Armed with an accounting degree from San Diego Christian College, he married Nina and pursued a career counting numbers. He became finance manager and even traveled to Paris, “on track for the American Dream,” he says.
But on a visit to his parents in Papua New Guinea, the newly married couple’s hearts were stirred. “She got to see where I grew up,” he explains. “God began to lay on our hearts the nation. We felt an incredible level of comfort leaving the American Dream behind and coming back here as missionaries.”
In 2001 with their newborn Bo, they began training with New Tribes Mission where they learned how to set up solar panels and build airfields. “There’s no power, there’s no stores” in these isolated areas where they reach tribes, Brooks says.
“During the class there was a lot of things that brought us out of our comfort zone,” Lynn says. “There was a class on animal butchering which was not my favorite.”
They learned phonetics and grammar to learn and codify the language. They launched into Third World life in Papua New Guinea in 2003. The Busers began surveying and exploring land to find an ideal unreached tribe to work with. Tribes actually write letters requesting missionaries be sent, probably because they have heard of the benefits of civilization and medicine that missionaries bring.
Because the airstrip was flooded at their first choice on the day of their launching into the mission field, the Busers went to their second choice, the YembiYembi. They flew to the nearest airfield, traveled by canoe and then hiked – a five-hour journey – to arrive.
The tribe was so excited and received the missionaries with a welcoming ceremony. “In 2004, we started building our houses,” he says. They had a team of fellow linguist missionaries. They had batteries for their laptops and a two-way radio to communicate with their base.
They began building an airstrip with the help of 1,000 Yembis, removing stumps with power tools. After days of intense labor, the mission group sent a barge with a tractor to finish clearing the field.
“That gave us our lifeline back to base,” Brooks says.
Simultaneously, they learned about their language and culture, hunting in the jungle late at night.
“The callouses on our feet got a lot thicker,” he says. “We learned how to throw a spear and hunt pigs, basically live like a Yembi in their environment.”
Missionaries are routinely criticized by secular intellectuals for altering native people’s customs and “Westernizing” them. The Yembi were animists.
His dad was The Lawrence Welk Show classical jazz pianist, his mom a concert pianist, but David Smale (rhymes with snail) wanted to play heavy metal.
“Wouldn’t you just love for your daughter to date the singer of ‘Cranial Abortion’?” Dave jokes on the Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. They played backyard parties, prompting cops to come and shut it down, until they debuted at a club along with Incubus.
With rock ‘n’ roll, came drugs and sex. He smoked cigarettes at 13, smoked weed at 14 and dropped acid by 15.
In the Los Angeles Unified School system, Dave attended middle and high school with Latinos and African Americans who were bused into the San Fernando Valley as part of integration policies.
“We got bullied a lot. We were just these little heavy metal-loving white kids,” he says. “One time this guy said he was going to do a drive-by shooting on us the next day. Because of that, I noticed in my house it was ok for me to express racist things. My dad and my brother would say the N-word and other racial slurs.”
Later he joined a punk rock band “Uneducated,” until his party girl got pregnant and he took up delivering fast food and telemarketing as a high school dropout to put food on the table for his baby and the girl whom he married at 18.
“I remember times stumbling around drunk and high, and all of a sudden, the baby starts crying,” says he, and thought: “I don’t know if I can change his diaper right now. I might put it on his head.”
“It was just awful,” he says. “I was partying and my baby was right there. It was not good.”
Five weeks after his first baby was born by C-section, his wife got pregnant, and the nurse at urged her to abort: “You’re going to die,” she said.
Leaving the women’s health care center, Dave and his wife felt an eerie sensation. “Did you feel like we just murdered somebody?” she asked. “Yeah, I do,” he responded.
Unable to make ends meet, he eventually decided to join the Navy with hopes of learning a trade. “That was my only way forward,” he says. “I was going nowhere. I was lost in dead-end stuff.”
At 20, Dave looked for a new beginning in the Navy, but the same old addictions and racism didn’t let him get that new start.
“I could wear a uniform, I could stand up taller, I could march in a straight line,” he says. “But I was still fighting addiction.”
Stationed a Point Mugu, California, Dave and his wife got invited to a Baptist church. She was gung-ho, he was blasé.
Dave went anyhow, and the sermon made sense. So, he accepted Jesus into his heart on April 1, 1999 and was born again.
“When I raised my head, everything was different,” he says. “My entire perspective changed in a moment. There was no going back. The cursing went away immediately, the addictions were all gone, the racism was gone. I didn’t hate all the guys in the Navy from different races and ethnicities. I loved these guys who didn’t look like me, but I saw them as God saw me. It blew my mind.”
His wife was pregnant with twins when he got deployed for six months. He kept pursuing Jesus the whole time, but when he came home, he realized his wife had given up on God and church.
“The laundry was piled to the ceiling. Checks had bounced,” he says. “There was no food in the house.”
He coaxed her to return to church with him, but she persisted in the party life.
For months, he tried to win her over, but she left him when he got orders to Virginia Beach.
Stung by the abandonment, Dave decided to backslide. He went straight to the oceanfront and ogled every girl in a bikini.
“At that point, I was so mad, so bitter, so upset, I completely decided to backslide,” he acknowledges. “I was on the warpath to find me a girl and do something that I would have totally regretted.”
As an immature Christian, Nathaniel Buzolic got a big bite of international fame as Kol Mikaelson on The Vampire Diaries. But now that he’s committed more deeply to Christ, Nate preaches regularly to his 2.4M Instagram followers and many have gotten saved.
A lot of those saved are Muslims behind the “Islamic veil,” a set of borders where strict Muslim beliefs are enforced and evangelizing is punishable by death.
“I won’t name the countries that they’re in for their protection, but I’ve got Muslim people who have converted to Christianity because of my social media,” Nate says on a 700 Club Interactive video. “I interact pretty boldly with the Muslim community on my social media.
“I don’t think God goes, ‘Hey, I’m all for vampire shows,’ but he goes, ‘I’m going to use them for my glory.’ Look how God can use what the world tries to push, a demonic thing and witchcraft, for himself.”
The son of poor immigrants in Australia, Nate dreamed of acting and moved to Los Angeles when he was 24. He first heard the gospel and responded when he was 27 at a Passion Conference in Atlanta but wasn’t strongly impacted until six years later.
“It made me ask what’s my life really all about it in an Ecclesiastes sort of way,” he says. “It made all the things I was pursuing like acting and fame really sort of meaningless. I thought there has to be something more.”
At the time, he was working on The Vampire Diaries, the internationally famous CW teen series that launched him to fame as he played the sympathetic villain Kol Mikaelson.
Regarding Christ, he was convinced but not so committed. He had a French Muslim girlfriend and gloated that he didn’t judge anyone. But when she broke his heart by cheating on him, Nate was so shattered he wanted to die at 33.
“I was at rock bottom,” he admits. “I was in a very dark place. I’d be on an airplane, and I’d say, ‘God bring it down. I want it to all be over.’ I wanted to be numbed. I didn’t want to feel anymore.”
To get to some of the most remote Liberian villages, a native missionary walks seven hours through the jungle.
“Sometimes we encounter mosquitoes, snakes or lions, among other animals,” the unnamed missionary told Christian Aid Mission (CAM). “We get sick. Idol worshippers sometimes threaten us, saying that if we don’t leave their village, they will kill us.
“We have to contend with all of that relying on God, the author and finisher of our faith.”
His willingness to endure hardship to bring the gospel to the unreached shows the value of “native missionaries” – locals who carry out the Great Commission to their nation. As a general rule, they are willing to suffer more than foreign missionaries and have the capacity to reach more people.
“In some places we go, there is nowhere to sleep; we just lie on the dirt floor,” says the unnamed ministry leader. “There may be no good, safe drinking water or light. When the battery in the flashlight I carry is finished, there’s nowhere to get additional light at all. There are no shops or stores in the jungle.”
In Liberia, 43% of the population follows an ethnic religion. About 40% are Christian, 12% of which is evangelical. Islam holds 12%.
But the labors of native missionaries are improving those statistics. Within a recent six-month period, the missionary and team led 270 people to confess their belief in Christ, the report says.
One recent convert formerly had lived like a prodigal. As a young girl, she wasted most of her life abusing drugs, alcohol and smoking.
“When I shared the gospel with her, I told her the story of the two sons in Luke 15, then I told her, if you will only believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you, He will. Without hesitation, she immediately accepted the Lord Jesus, and she was baptized and is serving in the church as an usher, doing it with joy.”
How do the local missionaries make inroads into remote villages that are resistant to the Gospel? Sometimes, by farming… Read the rest: Missions in Liberia.
Despite being involved with the Brooklyn mafia, drug dealing, and losing his connection with his daughter, Robert Borelli made a 180 degree turn that changed the future course of his life.
“As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York, being a small guy, I had to be a little rough kid. You had to learn how to fight,” Robert told DadTalk.
Robert’s neighborhood was tough and, unbeknownst to him initially, it was run by the Gambino crime family.
“They protected the neighborhood and got all the respect from just about everybody in it, including police officers.” Robert continues. “There was mutual respect between the officers and the mafia guys.”
Robert was well-liked by the mafia affiliates, and he often attended their social clubs to run errands.
“At the age of 17 years old, I started hanging out with one of the mob guys’ sons,” Robert says. “His dad often had a big spread every Friday night where all the wise guys from the neighborhood would come meet him and give him respect.”
Robert was impressed by the influence of the men there and was drawn towards the criminal lifestyle.
“My family had a hard time making ends meet. There were financial arguments in the house over rent, and at that age, that was not something I was looking forward to having for the rest of my life.”
Robert’s gravitated towards the mafia life, drawn by the respect, money, and nice clothes offered by it.
“See the people?” a mafia man told him one day as they observed some people at a bus stop. “They are the suckers; they have to go to work, and they give half their money to the government. We’re gonna keep that money for ourselves.’”
But by age 20, he was deep into trouble with the law. He had a murder case and possession of a weapon case. Prison offered the proof that he was good for the mafia because he didn’t “rat anybody out.”
So when he was released, he was ready to operate and scale up in the lifestyle portrayed fairly accurately, he says, by the movie “Goodfellas.”
“I was getting recognition,” Robert says. “I got involved in selling drugs.”
Robert was living a fast-paced life of partying, drugs, recognition and excitement. Robert demanded respect, and he would even resort to violence to get it. He wasn’t only running drugs; drugs were running him. He became a “crackhead.”
But then something happened that would change everything.
“In 1993, a little girl was born, my daughter, Brianna, and seven weeks into having her home, I walked out of her life to get high just for that night,” Robert states. “It ended up not being just for that night, and I ended up staying out getting high.”
Mom didn’t like his newly adopted lifestyle and forced him to stay away from their daughter so she wouldn’t get corrupted.
Finally the law caught up with Robert and he was Incarcerated for a long stint. He missed his daughter, but his wife wouldn’t let him talk to her on the prison phone.
“No matter if you’re a mobster or a crackhead, to walk out of your daughter’s life… Read the rest: Robert Borelli mafioso
As the numbers of cases of psychosis and addiction explode, medical researchers are warning about the dangers of cannabis based on a new study.
“Overall, use of higher potency cannabis, relative to lower potency cannabis, was associated with an increased risk of psychosis and cannabis use disorder,” according to the article published by epidemiologists in The Lancet.
Epidemiologists Lindsey Hindes and Gemma Taylor, psychologist Tom Freeman and the paper’s three additional authors called it “the first systematic review of the association of cannabis potency with mental health and addiction.”
Marijuana has been on a legalization steamroll in recent years in the U.S., with 37 states allowing the restricted medical use of cannabis and 19 states allowing recreational use, as reported by Faithwire. President Joe Biden is using his sway to decriminalize it on the national level.
But a number of studies associate marijuana use with paranoia, schizophrenia and other psychotic episodes. However, they noted no conclusive evidence associated with depression and anxiety, which some users also experience.
The active ingredient in marijuana that alters mental states is THC, which is showing up in higher concentrations.
“In the USA and Europe, the concentration of THC has more than doubled over the past 10 years, and new legal markets have facilitated the rapid development of cannabis products with higher potencies than earlier products, such as concentrated extracts,” the researchers noted.
The authors also explained people who used cannabis with high THC levels were more likely to have a “psychotic episode.” One study even found that people who use the highly potent marijuana on a daily basis were five times more likely to be diagnosed with psychosis compared to those who never use the drug,” Faithwire reported.
For years, marijuana was portrayed as a “gateway drug,” a mild narcotic that was a starting point for drug abusers to get into psychedelics, stimulants or other more dangerous recreational drugs. But a pushback against that depiction arose in the last two decades, with some researchers saying it was alarmist.
Separately, the criminal justice system was asking if it was worthwhile to arrest, prosecute and jail people over marijuana use, with a consensus emerging that marijuana didn’t merit the waste of public resources.
Pushed by his left-leaning base, Biden jumped onboard. “I don’t think anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana,” he said July 16. “We’re working on the crime bill now.”
FAISALABAD, Pakistan — Kids as young as 2 years old are working in the brick-making fields of Pakistan. One man with a free school wants to change that.
Sarfraz Anwar’s father and brother started in the brick fields. To make bricks, they squat and grab a ball of moist clay-rich earth. They form it into a loaf, cover it with dry dust, and plop it into a mould. It is turned over and dropped onto the ground in long rows to bake under the blistering sun.
It’s a grueling job, and most who fall into this line of work never get out. Some get indebted to their employees when they borrow for their weddings (Pakistanis love 3-day ceremonies with much expenses). They spend the next decades of their life trying to pay off that debt, much like a student loan in America — only they become almost like slaves.
But Dad and Umar escaped the fields. They had a vision to work as Christian laborers. First Dad took at a double shift in security to raise money to launch a school for children that could be free. With whatever free time, he pedaled his bike to the brick fields and sprend the message of hope. Read the rest:
“Just shut up!” he said in his mind, frustrated that Jeff would argue with Louie, who had gotten saved, and that he had to listen to it in their one-bedroom apartment.
Tom, then 19, had come from New York to Prescott, Arizona, because it was famous as a college party town. “Getting saved wasn’t part of the plan. We were in a prolonged adolescence with the feigned attempt at getting an education,” Tom says on a Don’t Sell the Farm podcast.”
So when Louie got cornered by a Christian and acceded to go with him to church one day, Tom offered to provide the alibi when the Christian accompanied him to service.
“Just hide in the bathroom, and we’ll tell him you’re not in,” Tom told him.
But Louie was a nominal Catholic and used to showing up every so often to Mass, so he stayed true to his word.
That night, when Tom and Jeff stumbled out of the bar and walked home, Tom remarked sarcastically: “What if Louie got saved.”
They found him in his bed reading his Bible. Suddenly, their fears, however they were treated in jest, now became reality.
Louie told them he had gotten saved and invited them to church. Jeff started to argue with him. Tom rolled his eyes.
For the next days and weeks, the litany was unending. Louie invited them to church, Jeff argued, Tom fumed. “He was in our faces telling us about Jesus,” Tom told him. “Fine, we’ll go to Hell all by ourselves. But just shut up. I don’t want to hear it.”
Jeff was arguing with him nonstop. Louie was just devouring his Bible and was answering him. I couldn’t escape it.”
One evening as he lay on the bed trying to not hear the other two argue in the other room, Tom asked God if he was real. “I was laying on the bed with my hands behind my head, and I said, ‘God, I’m not going to do this just because Louie did this. But if you’re real, I’ll serve you.”
The “presence of the Holy God of the Universe came into that room,” he says. “I thought I was going to die. I couldn’t believe anybody had heard that prayer or would answer that prayer.”
Awestruck, he told God: “Ok, just don’t kill me.”
Tom attended a new convert’s class with Louie. He accepted Jesus. “I had already been confronted by the Holy Spirit,” he says. He was delivered from drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. The next day, he started looking for a job.
Finding a job was no easy matter in Prescott, then a town of 20,000. There weren’t many jobs to be had. He wanted to stay with the Prescott Potter’s House, a booming church. His first job to support himself and continue learning about Jesus as a “disciple” was to water plants at the community college. His last job was working on a trash truck.
Tom and his buddies were used to staying up to 4:00 a.m. partying, so when church let out at 10:00 p.m., he didn’t know what to do with his time. Fortunately, some of the brethren went out for coffee and fellowshipped after service.
He came home buzzed on caffeine, and he and his buddies went home afterward and wrote letters to all their friends back in New York that they were going to Hell and needed to get saved. “We bombarded them with letters,” he recalls… Read the rest: Roommate annoyed the Hell out of him.
Darren Munzone reacted to his wife’s newfound faith in Jesus and belief in the rapture by sneering: “Oh, you’re still here? The UFOs haven’t gotten you yet?”
He could tolerate the fact that she had gambled away their savings of $10,000. But he couldn’t stand the fact that afterwards she became a born-again Christian. “To me it was like she had become a nun or something. I was just not happy.”
He lashed out at her: “If I would have wanted to marry a Christian, I would have gone to church, But I met you in a pub. This is a rip off.”
Born to an Italian immigrant father, Darren always identified as an Aussie because of discrimination against immigrants, he says on a Virginia Beach Potter’s House podcast. He had basically no background in Christianity.
Admittedly, he was the bully of the classroom and got into scrapes frequently. When his mother divorced and remarried, he took out his frustrations by fighting with the neighborhood boys. His penchant for violence went right along with his dream to be a rugby player.
“I got into lots of trouble because of fights as a teenager,” he says. “I rebelled against my mom and my stepdad.” He didn’t talk much to his stepdad except two to three times a year.
For rugby league, he practiced very hard but wasn’t big enough and wasn’t gifted in the sport. Ultimately, a series of injuries sidelined him when was semi-professional, so instead, he turned to coaching, where he excelled.
“I’ve broken all my fingers,” he recounts. “I literally had my ear ripped off the side of my head and had to have it sewn back on. My AC joint in my shoulder – serious shoulder problems. I’ve had two knee reconstructions.
“I was far more successful as a semi-professional coach.”
The woman who became his wife was a nurse, and together they made enough money to qualify for a home loan. But when the broker informed them the term would be 30 years, Darren and Joanne looked at each other and walked out.
Instead of tying themselves down for 30 years, they decided to travel to England and Europe for two years for a work-cation. “I was running away from the broken dreams of becoming a professional sportsman,” Darren says. He played cricket in England.
After one year of living in England, Joanne had a miscarriage, and the subsequent sadness deprived her of all desire to keep vacationing. “She was devastated by that,” Darren says.
They returned to Australia, where Joanne’s depression deepened and widened even though they finally married.
“She blamed herself that we’d come back from our overseas trip a year earlier than expected,” Darren says. “She thought I was angry that we’d cut our holiday. To escape the depression, she started gambling.”
She played poker machines at the local bars. “This went on for some time until she had gambled all our money away,” Darren says.
The depleted savings was not just bad – she sought Jesus because of it after a co-worker invited her to church.
She broke the news about her secret gambling addiction and subsequent losses to Darren, who despite being hooked on money didn’t get too upset. “I was annoyed but I thought we’ll recover from that.” Read the rest: Darren Munzone rugby coach Australia now pastor
Never mind that driving him towards suicide were demonic voices, schizophrenic episodes, and the opposition of his family. What bothered Adrien Lamont in the Bible conference – where he had gone seeking deliverance – was that there was only one other black person.
Fortunately, she came straight over to Adrien with a prophetic word: “God sees what you’ve been doing and how you’ve been chasing after him, and he’s so proud of you and he loves you and all the people that have done you wrong and called you crazy are gonna see what God is doing in your life in the direction that he’s taking you and they’re all gonna apologize.”
Adrien stayed and received intensive prayer. The deliverance was decisive. Today Adrien is a rising star in Christian Hip Hop, though his music is oriented more to the street than the pew, a rough-edged message of salvation, not cleared for Sunday School.
Adrien Lamont’s father abused heroin and died when he was young, so Mom did her best to raise him. Grandma was the driving force behind church attendance, but Adrien never developed a personal relationship with Jesus.
He was drawn to music and wanted to make it big. As he searched for his identity, he began drinking, smoking weed and using other drugs. He also liked to wear a brand of clothing with occult symbols. Today he says those symbols opened him up to demonic interference.
“I was really involved in satanic imagery and satanic clothing,” he says on Testimony Stories, a YouTube channel that focuses on Christian rappers. “It got to a point where all these things I was surrounding myself, started to affect my spirit. I realize now in hindsight that a lot of those garments and things I was wearing actually had demonic forces on them.”
He had a ring that every time he took it off and put it back on, he felt like a different person.
Connected with the producer, he began his path to stardom in secular rap.
“I remember just getting very high and drunk one day and I remember him telling me about all these satanic rituals and blood sacrifice and sacrificing his daughter,” Adrien says. “Under the laptop we were recording on, there was a Ouija board. I felt like I was demon possessed and that demons were speaking out of me into the microphone.”
On that day, he says he felt Satan’s presence. Words were impressed into his mind.
“He asked me if I wanted to sell my soul to Satan,” Adrien relates.
“Yes, okay,” he spoke out.
The rest of the night, he felt a darkness he had never experienced.
Hours later, he was listening to his recording when his computer “glitched.” Up popped another musician who shared his testimony about how demons came out of him and how he ran to his mother, who had a shotgun in her hand. He was saved from evil.
Adriend couldn’t explain the sudden, mysterious site change on his screen. He knew he needed to leave Hollywood immediately and return to his mom, who was living in Long Beach. Early next morning, he wandered around Hollywood asking for a phone to call Mom. Eventually, he got an Uber home.
By the time Alyssa Gordon went to high school, her mom had been thrown in jail for too many DUIs.
“My family was pretty dysfunctional,” she says on her Wonderful Acts YouTube channel. She was a military brat born and raised in Italy. Her mom was an alcoholic. She ran away from home from time to time and grew up seeking in guys the love she felt was missing in her family.
She played the part of the social butterfly party girl with a smile facade but internally she was frustrated that guy after guy just took advantage of her and never wanted a true and lasting relationship.
“I began to get in this cycle of me really desiring love, to have someone genuinely care about me,” she says. “I would give myself to these men physically looking for that true love that I never got. I got really dark, it got really depressing and the cycle just kept continuing. The last guy who I thought genuinely cared about me cut me off…would act like I didn’t exist.”
The last guy broke her heart badly and she took it out on God.
“I’m cursing at God, I’m throwing things,” she relates. “I was yelling and screaming, ‘God if you’re real, I need you to show me…right now!’”
She had attended church, but, with her mom’s example speaking louder than her words, Alyssa didn’t respond to God’s offer of grace and love.
As a sophomore in college, she luckily had a friend who encouraged her.
“I don’t know if God is real anymore, because if he’s real where is he?” she asked him.
David Lou Bega, the Berlin mamba singer whose catchy tune “Mamba #5” set the world dancing, has turned himself over to Christ after reading the Bible in a bungalow in the Maldives when unending rain wouldn’t let him, his wife and daughter out for sun and snorkeling.
“In depression, I found a bible and started to read. After a few pages, I started to realize this was the truth that I was always looking for,” he says in The Last Reformation documentary. “I’ve looked into different sets of religions before, everything that was trendy and cool, like Buddhism and some New Age stuff.
“But I had passed over Jesus Christ for so many years, to my regret,” he adds. “There he was calling me, giving me the opportunity. I started reading and I felt so convicted. I broke down, started crying. That was the Holy Spirit.”
He had seen Torben Sondergaard’s miraculous street evangelism ministry on YouTube and called him to baptize him in 2018. Sondergaard filmed the meeting at which he baptized and prayed for David and his extended family.
“I felt like a baby,” David says. “I felt like a newborn. That’s why the term born-again is really fitting. You’re fresh. Your transgressions, your iniquities are gone. I was so joyful and clean.”
David Lubega Balemezi hit #1 in many European cities in his 1999 remake of Mamba #5 “A Little Bit of Monika in my life.” For it, he earned a Grammy nomination. The pinnacle of his career pales compared to his simple encounter with Christ.
“Even in the days I was rebellious and didn’t listen to you (Jesus), didn’t obey you, you never dropped me, you gave me a family, you gave me love, you gave me everything I have,” he says. “It’s weird; you want to sing; you want to dance. It was the… Read the rest: Lou Bega Christian
She grew up on a ranch and loved that lifestyle, but a freak accident propelled Kristi Noem into South Dakota politics and ultimately, national politics, where she’s become a leading voice against lockdowns, abortion, and transgenders in women sports. She’s been called America’s most pro-life governor and advocates for a return of prayer to schools.
“My relationship with the Lord is my foundation in all things,” Kristi stated in a South Dakota Public Broadcasting article. “As a result, the values I hold according to biblical principles impact my decisions: we are called to love, but we’re also instructed to stand for truth.”
Following the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, South Dakota enacted some of the nation’s strongest laws to prohibit abortions, saying doctors, not mothers, would be prosecuted.
“In South Dakota today, we’re just so grateful that every life is precious, and it’s being recognized in this country,” she told CBN. “This is the decision that so many people have prayed for, for so many years.”
Kristi loved ranching, chasing cattle on horseback, and sitting in tree stands hunting. The family loved God and attended church regularly.
“You read Scripture, you think, gosh, God loves farmers more than anybody else,” she waxes nostalgic. “He’s talking about sowing and reaping all the time and your barns are overflowing, the cattle on a thousand hills.”
When she went to college, her dad died in a freak farm accident, so Kristi came running home, eight months pregnant with her first daughter, to help run the family business.
At that time, the federal government offered no sympathy for her loss, instead slapping the heirs with a huge “death tax” bill that it took 10 years to pay.
“We were still reeling from the loss of the powerhouse in our family, and already, the government was reaching out its hand to take part of our American Dream,” she told Fox News in 2017. “We had a tough choice: sell off a portion of our family farm or face a decade in debt. We chose the latter. We spent a decade in debt and struggled to keep our heads above water.”
The inheritance tax law was one reason Kristi entered politics, first in the state legislature and then as a congresswoman in the House of Representatives, where she fought to overturn the devastating tax law.
In Congress, she also “got into some tough fights with the leadership of the House” to get the Farm Bill passed.
When she returned home to get elected governor of South Dakota, she riled atheists by celebrating her inauguration with an interfaith worship service. “You are Lord and King of South Dakota,” the pastor said at the festivities, according to Patheos. “We thank you Lord God that we have faith and that the Holy Spirit absolutely takes over every corner and every crevice of this Capitol and of this state.”
Shinichi Tanaka believed vaguely that an all-powerful god who created the universe was out there somewhere. But it was not until a near death experience that he found his way to God.
From a young age, Shinichi had a great respect for nature and the “gods” of the Shinto religion. However, when visiting the shrines to pray, he felt that something was missing.
“I went there to feel a sense of purification, also to pray and give thanks,” Shinichi says on a Japan Kingdom Church video. “But it was like praying to a vague God, like the air.”
It was at 40 years old that Shinchi began to take on a different perspective on God. In a moment of introspection, he began to see God not as a group, but as an omnipotent Creator.
“I realized the existence of God, which had immeasurable power,” he continues. “Since then, I would close my eyes and meditate that the universe would send energy like bright and dazzling lights. That was my God.”
Shinichi did not know God yet. This would change when, at 49 years old, he experienced a heart attack that left him hospitalized.
“My life hung in a fifty-fifty balance,” Shinichi says. “But I kept a strong will to survive.”
At one point during his hospitalization, Shinichi underwent a near-death experience that led him closer to finding God.
“One night, while sleeping on the bed in the hospital, a beautiful world spread out before me, and I was drawn outside my body,” Shinichi recounts. “It was actually the entrance to death.”
“Then, suddenly, a voice shouted ‘No! Don’t go!’” Shinichi continues. “When I regained consciousness, I suffered from strong pain, and tried to get out of it.”
Shinichi believed that an invisible being saved him from entering death’s… Read the rest: Shintoist finds God.
His vaunted career in aerospace engineering led him to being featured in National Geographic for his research with NASA.
But the PhD from a German university couldn’t save Dr. Dragos Bratasanu from personal heartbreak when his startup flopped, and he went back to his parents apartment depressed, in wretched pain and envying the dead in the local cemetery.
“The pain was so intense, I took my pillow and cried out to God from the bottom of my heart,” he recalls on a CBN video. “God, if you’re real, I need you.”
Growing up in Romania, Dragos was turned off by religion because it involved “bowing down to bones,” burning candles and the belief that you can only get to Heaven through your local priest.
Instead of seeking religious truth, he sought scientific truth. Excelling in his studies, he got the chance to study in Germany, where earned his PhD in space science. He worked with the Romanian Space Agency, got a chance to work with NASA and was commended in a National Geographic article.
At the top of his scientific career, he fell to the depths of inner despair. His business failing, he was humbled to the point of not being able to pay his bills and moved back with his parents. He cursed his fate.
When he considered embarking on a spiritual quest, Christianity was his last option. He studied Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and other major religions. He even traveled to the Himalayas to study under the most renowned Buddhist monks. All seemed to offer good tenets, but didn’t resonate with his soul.
M.I.A. – the UK rapper who was banned for a time from the United States because she was thought to have ties to terrorism – has become a born-again Christian after a supernatural encounter with the Messiah.
“I had a vision and I saw the vision of Jesus Christ,” she told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in an interview.
Born to a Sri Lankan Tamil family in the United Kingdom, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam reached overnight success with her multiple platinum song “Paper Planes,” which pokes fun at discrimination against immigrants from war-torn countries.
After being denied a visa into the U.S. in 2006, M.I.A. blamed “them thinking I might fly a plane into the World Trade Center.” Her hit was born.
M.I.A. is an outspoken critic of the Sri Lankan repression of Tamil peoples. She has also spoken up for Palestinians on Israel’s West Bank.
Turning to Christ, she says, has caused her worldview to shift – a makeover that jeopardizes her standing with her mostly progressive fanbase.
“Basically, all of my fans might turn against me because they are all progressives who hate people that believe in Jesus Christ in this country,” says the singer.
M.I.A. was born in London. When she was six months old, the family moved to Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka, where her father founded the Eelam Revolutionary Organization of Students, after a succession of pogroms against Tamils in the island nation off the coast of India.
For a time, M.I.A.’s family went into hiding, as the government hunted them down. Though born Hindu, M.I.A. studied at Catholic convent schools. The Sri Lankan army reputedly shot bullets randomly into the school on a regular basis to terrorize the locals. Along with all the other students, M.I.A. would dive under the desks and tables to avoid getting shot, a regular occurrence she described as “fun.”
At age 11, M.I.A. was brought as a refugee to England where she grew up in the “incredibly racist” Phipps Bridge Estate, a slum. There, she mastered English, and her mom worked as a seamstress for British royalty. Immersed in political activism, M.I.A.’s father was absent from the family, leaving a hole in her heart. Her mom became Christian.
M.I.A. loved art and pursued film but got sidetracked by hip hop and dancehall music, which she was introduced to by eavesdropping on the beats blaring from neighbor flats after her own radio was stolen. Her stage name came from the time she lived in Acton and was looking for her cousin who was “Missing in Acton.”
Once on vacation in the Bequia in the Caribbean, M.I.A. was dancing in the street at a “chicken shed with a sound system,” and some Christians… Read the rest: M.I.A. Christian
With $2.7 million on the line to win or lose the most legendary golf tournament in the world, the fabled Masters of Augusta, Georgia, 25-year-old Scottie Scheffler, who had won his first PGA Tour title only weeks earlier, broke into tears of nervousness on the morning of the final day.
“I cried like a baby this morning, I was so stressed out,” he admitted later.
His wife, Meredith, a strong Christian, told him: “Who are you to say that you’re not ready? Who are you to say that you know what’s best for your life?”
“If you win this golf tournament today, if you lose this golf tournament by 10 shots, if you never win another golf tournament again, I’m still going to love you,” she said. “You are still going to be the same person, Jesus loves you, and nothing changes.”
Scheffler was grateful for her wisdom, “What we talked about is that God is in control and the Lord is leading me and if today’s my time, then it’s my time…if I shot 82 today then somehow I was going to use it for His glory.”
His wife’s advice and the Lord’s presence helped calm his nerves, and Scottie coolly chipped his way to the championship. As he donned the storied green jacket given to Master’s tournament winners, Scottie spoke about his Christian faith.
“All I’m trying to do is glorify God,” he said. “That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m in this position and so for me it’s not about a golf score. I need a Savior and that’s probably one of the coolest things about our faith is recognizing your need for a Savior.”
Scheffler was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but moved with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was six. Throughout grade school Scheffler, filled with a fascination for professional golf, would wear golf attire to school, even though his peers made fun of him.
He attended Highland Park High School, where he played both golf and basketball, and then the University of Texas, where it was strictly golf. He helped the team win multiple championships.
It was in college that Scheffler “truly felt alone and didn’t know what to do.” He then started attending church and began to give his heart to God, piece by piece. “Gradually with time he just started taking over my heart,” he recalls.
Raised in England in a Muslim family, Laila Nassali was bewildered by the number of religions and different doctrines.
“It was so confusing for me,” Laila says on her YouTube video channel. “God is not a God of confusion, so why are there so many different religions out there? If he’s the one true God, why are there so many religions saying he’s this or he’s that? It looked like a confusing puzzle that I would never be able to solve.”
Like so many, she gave up on trying to compare, contrast and determine the truth. Instead, she started to live for personal pleasure and be happy-go-lucky like so many fellow university students appeared to be having fun.
“I was literally just living my best life, and that led me to a lot of sin,” she says. “I was trapped in the flesh. I didn’t believe in God, period.”
One day she randomly felt anxiety and depression, because of living in the ways of sin. “I had thoughts of death, and where am I going to go?” she says. “I had all of this torment in my heart. It led me to the point where my spirit was crying out. I couldn’t fathom that I didn’t have a purpose.
“It took me to go into the dark to realize there is a God somewhere.”
Out of her agony, she decided to pray: Who are you God? she asked.
She didn’t pray at a mosque, as her Muslim parents had taught her. She prayed in her bathroom.
In the following days God brought a Christian into her life. She just “happened” to catch a cab with a pastor, who talked the entire time about God, Christianity, and prayer. Next, she ran across two random girls on the street who talked to her about God.
Then it was Instagram. Scrolling through, all she saw was posts with crosses, which was weird because she knew the algorithms based on her previous interaction with Instagram would not lead her to crosses. Read the rest: why are Muslims getting saved in the West?
The day of reckoning wasn’t when Kurt Warner was unexpectedly thrust on the field as the Rams’ quarterback amid predictions of failure after the first-string QB was seriously injured.
The day of reckoning came years earlier when his wife’s parents were killed by a tornado. That’s when Kurt saw how genuine her faith was – and came to real faith himself.
“Before that my faith was always like: God was out there and whenever I needed him, he was like my spare tire. I get a flat, pop out the spare, God I need this,” Kurt says on an I am Second video. “When her parents were killed by a tornado, she didn’t have all the answers. She was angry. She was willing to call out to God and ask God why and yell and scream.
“But she never lost her faith. She didn’t walk away from God,” Kurt adds. “It was at that moment that I realized that everything she had been talking to me about, this is what it looks like. This is what it is supposed to be. It was at that time that I really committed my life to Jesus.”
By the time Kurt saw himself leading the Rams into the Super Bowl, he was already forged by the furnace. His improbable ascent to NFL Hall of Famer as an undrafted quarterback is the stuff of a consummate underdog. His story – and faith – is portrayed by American Underdog, a movie released in theaters Dec. 25.
Kurt dreamed of football from childhood. The game was a cherished memory he shared with his dad, who left in a divorce.
In college, Kurt was a hotshot with a pinpoint aim, but he had the nasty habit of rolling out of the pocket and making his own plays, not the plays ordered by his coach. For his lack of discipline, the University of Northern Iowa coach kept him on the bench for three seasons.
According to the movie (which sticks closely to his real-life story), he begged for a chance to play, and coach finally leveled with him. He needed to stay in the pocket, a protected bubble formed by collapsing linemen around the QB, to give him time to find a receiver.
As a drill to see if Kurt could handle the pressure, Coach sent wave after wave of defensive linemen crashing into him to hurt him and see if he would stand up under pressure. It worked.
Kurt was named Gateway Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year and first team all-conference.
At the same time, Kurt met the girl who became his wife and the catalyst to his faith.
The odds were against him striking up a relationship with Brenda. She loved country music; he hated it. Even worse, she detested football.
But as God would have it, Kurt went with his friend to a country-western bar where he was smitten by her good looks and decided he’d better learn to barn dance.
But he grew up with mostly female friends and got bullied by the guys his age, so he grew to hate his masculinity.
“I just took out my insecurities with lust towards men,” Frnak says on a Tucson Door Church video. “I medicated myself and pacified myself and drowned myself in homosexuality because I hated myself as a man. I didn’t feel like a man.”
But in 2015, somebody talked to him about God and gave him a little booklet to read.
“I read it because I wanted to see if God hated me,” Frnak says. “But I found out He didn’t. It said, all sins are bad; they’re all worthy of death, including homosexuality. But that same sin was covered by grace.”
So he gave his life to Christ.
At that a time, a pastor prompted him indirectly with a question: Did God ever say you were gay?
On the 17th day of solitary confinement in jail, cop John Cichy broke down and made a confession — not to the crime of which he was accused but to his need for Jesus Christ.
“I realized I needed help because there was no way I was getting out of this, there was no way I was getting through this,” he says on a Psalm Forty video. “January 31st, 2013, right after midnight, I wholeheartedly called out to God. I saw everything that I was doing wrong that was displeasing to God that was harming me, and I realized I got myself into that mess. I said, ‘God, I don’t want to live that life no more.’ I wholeheartedly repented of that life.”
The former undercover detective who lived a high-flying life — with spinning rims, free drinks at bars and 19 girlfriends — was accused with two other Schaumburg Village, Ill, detectives of re-selling part of the drugs they confiscated from busts.
But while the two other cops accepted plea bargains for lesser sentences, Cichy took his fledgling faith seriously. He had heard God say to not break down in fear of getting a longer sentence and to go to trial.
He faced 18 counts which, if convicted, could result in a minimum of 24 years in prison, yet he refused every plea bargain they offered because God told him to.
“I was asking God what should I do,” he says. “I woke up the next morning and turned on the radio, the very first song was Mandisa, ‘Stay in the fight to the final round, you’re not going under.’”
He didn’t think much of it. But then he turned on the radio at mid-day, and the very first words were the same from Mandisa. Then at night when he went home and turned on the radio, again it was Mandisa.
The coincidence seemed too much.
“It was impossible, you cannot recreate that,” he remarks. “That was God speaking to me through that song, which translates to, ‘Go to trial. You’re not going to prison. I got you.’”
That’s why Cichy flouted his lawyer’s advice, his friends’ advice, his family’s advice, from his Christian brothers; everyone told him he didn’t stand a chance in the trial and that the federal case was too strong.
“It made no sense. Everything on paper, judges, lawyers, family, newspapers, Google, said I was going to prison 100%,” he remembers.
During one agonizing day, God told him to check his daily Bible verse in the app on his phone. It was Prov 29:25:
The fear of man lays a snare, but those who trust in the Lord are safe.
On the plate where little Greg Colon had left cookies and milk for Santa on Christmas Eve were empty syringes on Christmas morning, evidence that his dad had abused drugs — again.
The embittering experience of substance abusing, absentee parents pushed Greg into copying the cool, law-breaking kids in his New York neighborhood. When he dropped out of high school, he opened a barber shop as a front for trafficking drugs.
“I loved the way I was living, I loved what it could do for me. I loved how it made me feel,” Greg says on a CBN video. “It was all about me. It was about money; it was about greed and it was about self-indulgence.”
Greg Colon’s dad, a stone-hearted drug addict, was rarely home. His mom died of alcoholism.
At age 9, Greg moved in with his grandparents, who offered him precious little in terms of material things but gave him and his brother love. But the lack of acceptance from his parents’ neglect left him with a hole in his heart that he tried to fill with worldly possessions.
“What attracted me were the more violent kids, kids who always had the nice sneakers, the nice clothes,” he confesses.
When his grandfather died, Greg, at age 12, lost his own compass in life.
“He was somebody who really got me as a kid and actually cared for me,” Greg remembers. “Then he was gone. I was just empty inside.”
With no positive role models in his life, Greg fell into running the streets and selling drugs. At age 15, he dropped out of high school.
The one bright spot was when he was 15 and his dad, who tried to reform, gave him a professional barber’s clippers. Cutting hair was something Greg enjoyed.
“In my heart it meant the world,” Greg says. “It was like a real good pair like a professional pair of clippers.”
After four failed marriages, Ruth Graham, the famous evangelist’s daughter, realized she had abandonment issues that could be traced to her childhood.
Billy Graham was always on the road for crusades or preparing for an event. Daughter Ruth had little quality time with her dad as she was growing up.
“If we find that we are repeating a sin or repeating a pattern, we have to look at the core issue and I had to look at the core issue,” Ruth says on a 100Huntley video. “My father is my hero and he would never have hurt my heart. But I knew it was true that piece of the puzzle fit and once I put it in the puzzle, everything sort of calmed down.”
One of five children born to America’s most famous evangelist, Ruth was taught to never show anger or be upset that her father was often absent. So, she put on a mask to hide feeling neglected.
“We grew up a normal family,” Ruth says. “I mean it was just as dysfunctional as everybody else. I didn’t have that kind of time with my father and I missed it and I wasn’t the kind that would assert myself and grab it.”
Her first marriage unraveled because her husband cheated on her.
“I grew up around honorable men. So it never occurred to me that my husband of 18 years had been unfaithful to me for a number of years,” she says. “It just pulled the rug out from under me.”
Ruth says she and her husband went through counseling and she forgave him, but after he kept cheating on her, she decided to call it quits.
“Forgiveness is unconditional. Reconciliation is conditioned on the changed behavior of the one who’s done the wounding,” she says. “My husband wasn’t changing.”
Finally, the anger she repressed boiled over.
She and her siblings were not allowed to be angry as youngsters, she says. “So I just stuffed it and I stuffed it and I stuffed it and I stuffed it and that’s not a healthy thing.”
Shortly after the divorce, her ex died, and she forgave him.
Her second marriage was a “rebound,” she admits. On the outside, she was saying Christ was her security, but deep inside in the secret place of her heart, she was filled with insecurities.
The marriage lasted only three months because the man was abusive.
“I think it’s important to remove ourselves from a toxic situation, out of an abusive situation,” she says.
Not long afterward, she remarried a man she adored, but he called it quits after a decade.
“I was just devastated, just totally devastated,” she says.
The voice was good, the look was good, but American Idol judges summarily dismissed Moriah Peters’ performance based on her Christian testimony. She wrote on her bio that she was reserving her first kiss for marriage.
“You need to go out into the world and make some mistakes and get some life experience and come back,” one of the judges said. “You need to go out and kiss somebody and that’ll make you feel sexier and then come back after for a hearing.”
Moriah had given up her high school prom and cut back on studies so she could participate in multiple auditions. Their response was crushing, but she maintained her faith in God.
“I was fighting the tears,” Moriah recounts on an I Am Second video. God had opened up the doors until that point, but now He seemed to close them, but she knew God had a greater plan and His strength would see her through.
Moriah got her start in Christian music at a church camp in the sixth grade. The worship music moved her and she felt drawn to God. Soon, she was singing in her church and leading worship. After a sensational Easter performance, people encouraged the Pomona, California, native to try out for American Idol.
But judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Avril Lavigne were harsh with her and sent her down the elevator.
As she walked out of the building, a random stranger congratulated her and asked to introduce her to Wendi Foy, who helped her put together a demo for record labels in Nashville.
She was struck by how quickly God opened the next door and saw it as a miracle. Since then, she signed with Reunion Records.
Then she got engaged to Christian music legend Joel Smallbone of For King and Country. How they met was the stuff of a Hallmark Channel movie.
The woman who invited her to a wedding that Joel also attended raved about him in the car, which made Moriah feel awkward. Then there was the line of women waiting to talk with him. She felt uncomfortable joining the line.
“This is not Disneyland, and you are not Pocahontas,” she was thinking. “I’m not standing in line. This is ridiculous.”
When she made it to the front of the line she still felt odd. The dude looked like a Ken doll.
George W. Bush will be remembered as the president who declared war on terror after the Twin Towers were blown up by Osama bin Laden’s airline-hijacking henchmen.
But a new PBS documentary reveals the early years in which the future 43rd president drank excessively and could only conquer alcoholism by turning to God, according to People magazine.
“He transitioned from a church-goer to a Christ-follower,” Bush’s childhood friend Charlie Younger says in American Experience. “He wanted to emulate the tenets and teachings of Jesus Christ, and he made a definite transformation there.”
It may seem difficult to believe that before ascending to the presidency, his life before age 40 was rocky.
After six years in the Texas Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Bush leveraged his family’s influence and finances to launch Arbusto Energy in 1977, an oil and gas exploration firm.
But he felt immense pressure to make “a big strike” and began to stagger under repeated failures, which stood in contrast to his father, who became vice-president of the United States under Ronald Reagan in 1981.
“I’m all name and no money,” Bush said at the time, according to the New York Times. Hit by a fall in oil prices, Bush sold his energy exploration company to Harken Energy in 1986.
“I think his friends and family, when he was nearly 40 years old, were worried about what he was going to do with his life,” Michael Gerson, Bush’s former chief speechwriter, said. “He drank too much and he had very little direction.”
On his 40th birthday, the crisis came to a head.
“He woke up hung-over. He had overdone it the night before and he didn’t feel good. I think Laura (his wife) told him that he could’ve behaved better,” Younger says. “He just said, ‘I don’t need this in my life. It’s robbing me of my energy. It’s taking too much of my time.’”
At the suggestions of friends, Bush began to attend a community Bible study, a weekly session similar to a “scriptural boot camp.” He’d reportedly met with preacher Billy Graham during the previous year, who encouraged him to deepen his relationship with God. Read the rest: George W. Bush saved from alcohol.
His love for drums started when he was two years old.
Charles Christian asked his parents for a drum set. Because they lived in an apartment complex, they thought the incessant banging beats would generate angry complaints from neighbors.
Confronted with his parents’ “no,” the tyke turned to prayer: “Jesus, Jesus!” were the only words his infantile mind could form to give voice to his frustration.
“Acknowledging my little prayer, they saw my faith in Jesus and bought my first drum set,” Charles says. “Miraculously so, we did not get a single noise complaint while living at the apartment.”
Not one complaint.
Today, Charles is known by “Chuck on the Drums” and plays and produces with the pros. The Scottsdale, Arizona, resident plays everything from alternative rock to funk/hip hop with both Christian and secular musicians, including rapper Murs. He uses his talents to shine the light into the lives of the stars who still don’t know the Light.
“I am called to lead people to Christ through music,” he says. “I view music to be my ministry. God will continue to use me as a light that displays to the lost in this broken world. He will create opportunities for me to share the Gospel with those who do not know Jesus.”
Chuck plays and produces for ARCiTEC, a hip hop/ R&B duo in Arizona. He is part of two other bands and plays worship at the Highlands Church in Scottsdale.
He grew up in Chicago, the only child of Bible-believing parents whose faith “never wavers,” he says.
“It was not until I went to my church’s middle school winter camp that I really got saved,” Chuck recalls. “In between the set during worship, the worship leader stated that we as believers should have our own personal relationship with Jesus that does not rely on our parents’ faith.
Left dazed and reeling with fury, Kendrick Lamar was in a Food 4 Less parking lot after his buddy had just been shot and killed. Rage for revenge burned inside, but so did a gripping sense of horror at the evil in this world.
Seeing him in turmoil, a friend’s grandmother approached and talked to Kendrick about God, and the teenager accepted Jesus into his heart.
“One of my homeboys got smoked,” Lamar told the New York Times. “She had seen that we weren’t right in the head. That was her being an angel for us.” He got baptized a decade later.
Today, the seven-time Grammy winner makes frequent reference to God’s salvation and grace, as well as temptation and fear of judgment in his songs. While the rank and file of the church eschews him for his profanity and descriptions of sexual sin in other songs, his secular audience has no doubt about his faith.
“I’m the closest thing to a preacher that they have,” says Lamar, 31. But he adds, “My word will never be as strong as God’s word. All I am is just a vessel, doing his work.”
Vassar College professor of music Kiese Laymon calls him a “prophetic witness.” Revolt online magazine says Lamar “wears his faith, spirituality, and religious beliefs on his sleeve.” He doesn’t drink, smoke, use drugs or womanize.
Lamar is part of the bridge forming between secular and Christian hip hop. While Lecrae moves toward the secular side, Lamar and a host of other artists are pulling away from unbridled hedonism and exploring salvation themes. (Chance the Rapper, Snoop Dogg, Kanye West and even Drake also include songs that talk unashamedly about God and Jesus in their repertoire.)
Lamar grew up in Compton, Calif. His father belonged to the Gangster Disciples gang. Little Kendrick witnessed his first murder at 5 and his second at 8. His parents didn’t teach him about God, but his grandmother instilled him with Bible knowledge.
Growing up on welfare, living in Section 8 housing, the youngster worried that he would succumb to the debasing poverty, drug-trafficking, violence and hopelessness of the hood, even though he was a straight-A student.
At just 16, he signed for Top Dawg Entertainment, based in Carson, Calif., under the stage name K-Dot. After opening for prominent artists and working with Snoop Dogg, Lamar broke through on his own with his second album Good Kid, MAAD City, which hit Billboard’s #2 in its first week in 2012. In it, he depicts vividly the urban fiendishness of the hood.
He opens the album with these words: Lord God, I come to you a sinner, and I humbly repent for my sins. I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that you raised Him from the dead. I will ask that Jesus will come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. I receive Jesus to take control of my life that I may live for Him from this day forth. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me with your precious blood. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
He followed up in 2015 with To Pimp a Butterfly, which went certified platinum and won a Grammy for best rap album of the year. Then in 2017 he came out with Damn, which fathoms the loss of faith in the light of a volatile world of malfunction.
While Lamar’s music is pioneering, it’s his vocal inflections and lyrical substance that earn him widespread respect. For Damn, he won the first-ever Pulitzer Prize not given to jazz or classical music. Former President Obama singled out Lamar as one of his favorite rappers. He’s called King Kendrick.
On Damn, an apparent endorsement of the Hebrew Israelite movement, an aberrant group with claims blacks in America are actually God’s chosen people from Israel, elicited a response from Christian rapper Flame, who in “Absolute Truth” exposes their flawed exegesis.
“A lot of people fall for it,” Flame said on the radio program of Vocab Malone. “It feels good. It puffs up your pride, the ethnocentrism.”
Damn is less uplifting than his earlier albums. By plumbing the depths of discouragement, Lamar is encouraging his listeners that platitudes should be discarded and that it’s okay to be real and raw before God. Read the rest of Kendrick Lamar Christian?
Chris Bassett’s first interaction with God started when he attended a Christian karate class at age 8 or 9 years old at the Harbor Church in Lomita, California.
The class started with 20 minutes of Bible study and a call for salvation before the free karate lessons. One day, Chris felt like the pastor was talking directly to him, so he raised his hand at the altar call to receive Jesus.
“I felt the Spirit of God come down and descend on me like electricity through my body,” he recalls. “I remember walking away from that experience feeling cleansed, brand new. It was so tangible to me.”
He wished this was the end of his testimony and that his path to Christ was that simple, but it was not.
In later years, Chris entered junior high school and began feeling “super cool.” He slowly forgot God.
He got involved in a gang lifestyle, which was easy since a lot of friends and family were in the gang.
“It looked glamorous. The glamour was a lure,” Chris says. “These men I looked up to had a way of carrying themselves that was attractive. They had the nicest cars, the prettiest women, money, power, respect. If you grew up in the hood, you knew who was running the block. It was something exclusive. You had to prove yourself through violence. Once you were in, you were accepted, loved in a way. I knew my boys had my back. If I had any trouble, with just one phone call, I knew I had a carload of goons kicking down the door for me.
But as he participated in the gangster life, he became aware of the downsides.
“The reality of (gangs) is a nightmare. At the heart of gang-banging, I truly believe, (there) is a murderous demonic force, full of death and destruction,” Chris says. “I’ve been to many funerals. I’ve lost a lot of friends and family to that lifestyle, shot dead in the streets. I shot my first man when I was 15. I can still hear my ears ringing from the gunshot. I can still hear him screaming and praying to God. I can still see the blood pouring out of his head like a waterfall, so much blood that I could taste it in the air.”
Incredibly, his victim survived, and Chris fought a reduced attempted murder charge.
“That was just the beginning of my crimes in my gang-banging career,” he says grimly.
Chris not only shot but got shot at on numerous occasions. He’s been stabbed. He’s spent time in jail. He lost friends. Worse, he realized he was losing yourself.
There wasn’t one single moment that brought him to God, but progressively, Chris feels, God was “opening his eyes.”
One of those “opening eyes” moments was when he chased down an enemy and threw his Corona beer bottle at his head. The enemy responded by aiming the barrel of a gun straight at him in a red light on Western Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway.
“I almost got my head blown off,” he says. “I could say now that by God’s grace I survived that because if you could’ve seen the car, everywhere where my head was, the car was blown out. It was a big gun, one with thunder. It was probably five or six seconds. But time slows down through those things. I remember ducking and telling my friend to go, and I remember seeing glass flying.
“I had just kissed my son goodbye because he was going to his mother’s house. I remember coming out of that situation.”
But that incident alone was not enough to wake him up.
He began reflecting soberly about the possibility of dying and leaving his kids fatherless. In the streets he was a monster, but with his kids Chris played the part of a good father. His family was sacred. He pondered the discrepancy between the way he wanted to raise his kids and the way he was living in the streets.
“I remember thinking about my daughters,” he says. “I remember thinking how can I tell them not to smoke weed and I come smelling like Christmas trees?”
What scared him most was not the scrapes with death, but the frightening numbness towards the horrors of his own evil heart. Now, he thinks he was becoming like Pharaoh, whose heart got progressively harder until he was crushed under the Red Sea
But he still didn’t return to the Savior of his childhood because he liked smoking weed and sleeping around with girls. It took him a year.
At a funeral, he had another powerful reflection. Everybody was saying nice things about his fellow gang member.
“I remember thinking, ‘None of these things were true. He was a monster,'” Chris says. “I remember thinking, ‘What about my funeral? What will they say about me?’ I didn’t want my life to be a lie. I wrestled with that. I started negotiating with God.” Getting saved out of gangs.
In 1997, Nita Hanson was a prosperous employee in Thousand Oaks. Then she went on a short-term mission trip to the Ukraine.
It broke her heart and changed the direction of her life. She saw crib after crib of babies and children crammed together in dim rooms.
“That’s when my heart broke open. I knew then that I couldn’t leave,” she told the Simi Valley Acorn.
Nita saw babies with special needs being dumped into ill-equipped and poorly staffed public orphanages. She witnessed handicapped people who had no real hope to ever receive mobility devices. If you were poor, there was little chance of finding help.
She decided to abandon the American Dream and pursue God’s dream. She was divorced and her two kids were grown. She was free from commitments, so she committed herself full time to the Lord’s work.
Today, Nita, 77, runs three orphanages in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine. Her ministry, God’s Hidden Treasures, has teamed up with Christian athlete superstar Tim Tebow to stage events to help some of the neediest people in Ukraine. She provides wheelchairs and walkers; people who otherwise would have been enclosed in four walls forever may now go out and breathe the fresh air and bask in the sunshine. Her group sponsors medical home visits and supplies food and basic needs.
Staffed by mostly Ukrainians, her people seek to create life-long relationships with orphans and other families.
Lori Hall of Ventura County recently joined Nita on a short-term mission group.
“I was thrilled to join the Impact Team as we set out to listen, learn and serve the ministry of God’s Hidden Treasure,” she says. “We sought to be humble servants as we went to other cultures, to share Jesus’ love by listening to the people, learning of their concerns and serving them in Jesus’ name.”
Lori spent 12 days assisting doctors and pastors with in-home health visits, delivering necessary wheelchair or mobility devices and helping with an annual citywide picnic evangelistic event for over 300 handicapped persons. Her group ran a Vacation Bible School for teenage boys with special needs living in an orphanage, a highly anticipated event. Not much is done for these special needs people, so it’s significant that this group makes a concentrated effort to focus on people sidelined by society.
“I was most impacted by the great love, tenderness and respect everyone showed to each and every individual,” Lori noted. “Jesus and His love was everywhere as people’s lives were blessed and changed forever, whether by receiving their first wheelchair or walker, by being touched with loving hands and hugs or finding new life in Jesus’ message of truth!”
In 15 years, God’s Hidden Treasures has delivered more than 6,000 mobility aids across Ukraine, her website says. When she provides a wheelchair as a gift, she tells the recipient it is “because God heard your prayers.”
They’ve come a long way from the original three wheelchairs brought on a Delta Flight to the Ukraine purchased from China in conjunction with Joni and Friends USA. Read more about God’s Hidden Treasures.
In the quest for victory in competitive cycling, Ben King submitted himself to grueling training sessions that very nearly made he drop off the edge of healthy choices and even sanity.
“Cycling is one of the most demanding sports in the world. You don’t get to determine the pace; the pace is set. It’s like getting pulled along on a choke collar,” Ben says on White Chair films.
“And then you have the climbs and you get dropped. It’s a very explosive, intense knock out punch. The training, over-reaching, over-compensating, ups and downs burn 6,000 calories. You come back and have to have self-control. The things that you are trying to control end up controlling you. That really starts to wear you down and break you.”
In his first competition in Europe at age 16, he was staggered by daunting competition.
“We just got hammered. We got thrashed,” he says. “I’ve never suffered like that just to finish races.”
Ben decided he needed to buckle down and get serious about training. He read about pro-training and diet. He looked at he pros.
“They just looked like skeletons,” he remembers. “I started to believe that the lighter I got, the faster I would get.”
Trying to kick it in high gear, Ben would ride in the morning, lift weights in the middle of the day, go to track practice, go home and cram in his homework — along with swim practice.
“I would just die in my bed every night.”
Then he started purging. One night on his way back from swim practice, he decided he had eaten too much, and thinking this would weigh him down on the road race, he pulled over on the side of the road, opened the door and induced vomiting.
“In this twisted way, it gave me this sense of control,” he says. “It became a habitual thing. I began to wear down emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.”
Then blood showed up in the toilet.
“I was totally beating my body into submission. The thing I was trying to control was beginning to control me.”
At 17, Ben was ravaging his body in an abusive self-competition — all in the search of getting faster and faster.
He was training three to four times a day and was purging every time he felt he had eaten too much.
He arrived home one night and just clumped up the stairs and said goodnight to his mother but she called him back down to wash some dishes.
He was tired and temperamental and went into the kitchen and started to wash the dishes roughly.
Ben broke one of his mom’s favorite bowls and her temper flared.
He began seeing red and ran out the door, into the woods and kept on running. In the dark woods, he remembers staring at the very weird and odd movements of the branches.
“I just felt like I was surrounded by this evil presence,” Ben says. “It may just have been the evil I had allowed into my life.” Read the rest of Ben King Christian cyclist.
Those same stipulations in Leviticus that make most Christians’ eyes glaze over are the very ones that convinced Dr. Lawrence Czer that God was real — specifically the dietary restrictions that must have seemed arbitrary and pointless in the unscientific ancient world.
“As I began to read the Bible, especially the books of Moses and specifically in Leviticus, I was noticing that God was telling the people of Israel to basically trim the fat off the meat that they were offering Him and to offer the fat to Him,” Dr. Czer said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, God’s a cardiologist.’ They’re eating really healthy meat because they trim off all the fat, and God really knows what He’s doing here.”
Dr. Czer is an internationally recognized cardiologist. He is the medical director of the Heart Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was a pioneering researcher in the use of stem cell treatment as an alternative to invasive surgery.
For him, another convincing dietary restriction was the prohibition of eating blood, a “very, very safe practice because a lot of bacteria and viruses can be in the blood and you certainly don’t want to eat uncooked meat or poorly cooked meat,” Czer continues. “He was saying to drain all the blood out of the animal and to cook it well.
“So I thought, ‘Well, He’s very health conscious too! He knows what He’s talking about. He’ll prevent transmission of infectious diseases. It’ll keep the priest healthy; he won’t eat too much fat. And you know, they’ll have a long life.”
So while atheists who revere science examine Leviticus for laws that appear nonsensical, Dr. Czer discovered that God knew about science before even science did and His dietary requiements made perfect sense.
“I thought, ‘This is really neat. It’s not just a whimsical or arbitrary set of rules. He’s asking the priest to do this in faith not knowing the reason.’ But obviously He knew the reasons. We kind of know the reasons now. Looking in retrospect, God was just looking out for his people. I thought, ‘These are rules for good reason, not just arbitrary rules, and He knows what He’s doing.’” Read the rest of Famed cardiologist convinced of God upon reading dietary law of Leviticus.
Rifqa Bary convulsed America when she appeared on national television in tears, saying her parents would kill her for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity.
“This is not just some threat, this is reality, this is truth,” she sobbed. Rifqa had run away from home at age 16 and was taken in temporarily by an Orlando, Florida, pastor, whom she contacted through Facebook. Eventually, she was turned over the Child Protective Services.
The Sri Lankan-born Fathima Rifqa Bary came to America with her family to seek treatment for her eye, blinded by her brother. The family took up residence in Columbus, Ohio, and Rifqa attended school and participated in sports.
While she prospered academically and socially, she suffered under the stringent, oppressive brand of Islam practiced by her parents, she said.
“It meant that I learned how to read the Quran before I could even speak,” she recalled. “It meant that I learned how to pray five times a day. It meant that I had to fast 30 days starting at age six or seven, no water.”
Her nature was happy-go-lucky. She earned straight A’s, participated in cheerleading and track in high school and thoroughly embraced American culture. Her dad did not.
“I remember being joyful and happy and if I were too happy I would remember my father just beating me to the point where I went flying across the room,” Rafqi said. Islam “was so empty and I felt like I was caged and suffocating in rules and I wanted out.”
Secretly, she attended church with a friend from middle school and even dared to get baptized.
“I went and I had a life changing encounter where I experienced the love of God that captured my spirit and left me changed,” she testified.
She surrendered to Jesus as her Lord and Savior and was born again!
Eventually, her parents discovered her closely guarded secret. They found her Bible and realized she had been reading it secretly in the bathroom. Apostasy is considered a disgrace to Muslims, and the Koran stipulates death as the penalty. Her father grew angrier and angrier demanding she renounce her newfound faith, she recounted.
“He gave me an ultimatum and it was — kind of in his sick way having mercy on me — to return to my old ways,” she said. Read the rest about Rifqa Bary converts to Christianity.
Albert Pujols, a pitcher’s enduring nightmare, just joined Major League Baseball’s elite 3,000 hits club, but his greatest motivator is his relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Believe it or not, baseball is not the chief ambition of my life,” the 38-year-old heavy hitter says on his website. “Becoming a great baseball player is important to me, but it is not my primary focus. Because I know the Hall of Fame is not my ultimate final destination. My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will.”
Pujols (pronounced Poo-hols) grew up in the Dominican Republic. A child of divorce and the son of an alcoholic father, he was raised mostly by his grandmother and uncles. He was so poor that as a kid he used unripe limes for balls and milk cartons mitts to play baseball.
The American sport was an outlet — and an American opportunity.
After his grandmother and father immigrated with him to the U.S., Pujols played for Maple Woods Community College for one year. That’s when the St. Louis Cardinals picked him up. After one year in the minor league, Pujols was promoted to the majors in 2001.
Within four days of the season’s start, he recorded 3 RBIs and one home run. By season’s end, he was named Rookie of the Year and averaged .300 with 30 home runs, leading the Cardinals into the playoffs.
The 9-time All Star became one of baseball’s most feared sluggers known for guessing what pitch comes next.
After 11 seasons of consistently slamming balls to the fence for the Cardinals, he signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2010 for a 10-year $210 million contract. Baseball buffs predicted the cash splash would bust. He was getting older and wouldn’t produce as he had in his younger years, they complained.
But they underestimated his “maniacal” dedication. He practiced obsessively and continued to whack the ball consistently.
“The one thing that is very understated about Albert is the sense of how hard he actually works at hitting, the studying of the pitchers, the actual time he spends in the cage,” former teammate David Eckstein tells the L.A. Times. “When the best player on your team is the hardest worker, it helps the club win.”
With his family.
Pujols just became the 32nd major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits in MLB. He will rank with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez with those hits and 600 home runs. He’s also snagged two Gold Gloves and a Sports Illustrated Player of the Decade award.
If the U.S. gave Pujols fame, it also gave him something greater. In America, Pujols found Jesus, thanks to the love of his life Diedre, whom he met in 1998 and married two years later.
“I believed something was missing in my heart,” he says on a YouTube video. “In 1998 I decided to walk with Christ. I don’t just represent (a baseball club), I represent Christ. That’s the most important thing in my life. If you don’t know Christ… read the rest about Albert Pujols Christian 3000 hits.
The next time an atheist accuses Christianity of being responsible for untold mass murder throughout history, point out to him that atheism in the 20th Century alone has killed 200 million people.
“Godlessness kills,” says Barak Lurie in his new book Atheism Kills. “Godlessness has resulted in far more mayhem and murders than all Judeo-Christian religion institutions combined. There is no comparison. Virtually every culture that has rejected God has collapsed or engaged in horrific mayhem. By contrast, virtually all cultures grounded on the Judeo-Christian tradition have flourished.”
Atheistic governments, seeking to impose their vision of utopia, feel compelled to eliminate any and all opposition, according to research from Atheism Kills:
The French Revolution: up to 40,000 deaths.
Stalin: 20 million deaths.
Mao Tse-tung: up to 70 million deaths.
Fidel Castro: up to 141,000 deaths.
Ho Chi Minh: up to 100,000 deaths.
Pol Pot: 2 million deaths.
Kim Il-sung: 1.5 million deaths.
Hitler: 11 million deaths.
Victims of the atheistic Mao Tse-tung regime
The list goes on. “Being an atheist dictator advancing atheist doctrine has always led to brutality and killings,” Lurie observes.
By comparison, what is the tally of the bloodbath supposedly orchestrated by Christianity?
The Spanish Inquisition: up to 5,000 killed.
The Crusades: 1 million killed.
The Salem Witch Trials: 19 killed.
The Ku Klux Klan: 3,446 killed.
Religious wars post Reformation: 11 million.
Skulls from Cambodia’s “killing fields,” victims of the atheistic Pol Pot regime
“Atheism killed hundreds of millions in the span of only 30 years,” Lurie writes. “The number of killings on (the alleged) behalf of Christianity (are) minor in comparison and ranged over approximately 800 years.”
Lurie decided to become an atheist at age 11 when he stumbled across the clever arguments atheists wield to crush. Then he went to college and rediscovered God through philosophy classes.
Fyodor Dostoevsky was instrumental to his floundering faith in atheism. The Russian novelist explored the consequences of atheism — the resulting absence of all morals — in Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.
“It was he who first made me see the dangerous world of my own atheism,” Lurie writes. “His books show the consequences of living according to dangerous believes.” Read the rest about Atheism Kills.