Pierced by a 7.62 mm sniper’s round in his chest cavity, Brandon Blair lay on the sands of Fallujah unable to be evacuated because of a sandstorm and remembered the New Testament in his coat pocket that a Gideon-man gave him when he shipped out.
It was the perfect size, and the U.S. Marine had at the time thought it was a “pretty cool” good luck token. But now he pleaded with the God of that New Testament to let him live.
“All I could do was look up, and I begged God right there that he would spare my life because I knew I wasn’t ready to stand before God and I knew I needed to get some things in order,” Brandon says on a LifeChange video on YouTube. “As any military personnel knows, I am a walking miracle. I had no internal bleeding.”
Today he is pastor of the Langston Baptist Church in South Carolina.
When Brandon saw the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Sept. 11th while at college, he called his mom. “I’m going to enlist,” he told her.
“No, you’re not,” Mom tried to dissuade him.
Enlisting in the “first to fight” Marines, he became a machine gunner at Parris Island and was assigned to a Mobile Assault Platoon, which means they would be their own base.
Before he shipped out, an old man with a cane was handing out Gideons’ New Testaments when he boarded the bus with the guys.
“I thought, well that’s pretty cool. I loved the size and loved the color and it matched our uniforms. It fit perfectly right inside of my left breast pocket of my uniform,” Brandon says. “I placed it there in my left breast pocket as a good luck token and thought, maybe it would bring me great success and bring me back home.”
He didn’t read it, however.
The streets of Fallujah, Iraq were a heavily fought zone. It was so bad, their food was dropped by helicopter, and the one time a chaplain showed up to minister to the men, his vehicle hit an improvised explosive and they never came again.
“My chances of coming home were very slim,” Brandon says. “But honestly, I never thought it would get hurt or injured.”
In August of 2006, a sniper’s bullet penetrated his chest.
Abu Ahmad, a Kuwaiti refugee in Jordan, felt compassion for the Christians who enrolled his son tuition-free in a private school when he was down on his luck.
“Honestly, it is not fair that these people go to Hell,” he told his wife. “They are kind, have good manners and like to help. I must go to them, tell them about Islam and make them Muslims who can go to Al Jannah.”
So Adel — as he is also called — began to share what he thought was the truth about Allah with a school official.
“I started vigorously discussing matters with them,” he remembers on a Strong Tower 27 video. He even thought things might deteriorate into a brawl. “I had my hands ready to box him.”
“Honestly, I saw you were properly dressed and thought you were well-educated, but it turns out you neither know nor understand anything,” he said to the school official.
“I thought he would become angry and hit me, so I had my fist ready to hit him before he did.”
Instead, the school official smiled. He treated Abu with respect and appreciation.
Abu was thrown off. “He was smiling and treated me well. Why? What’s the difference?” he marveled. “If someone talked to me like that, I would kill him.”
Abu Ahmad’s flight to Jordan began with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Saddam Hussain quickly overwhelmed the small, oil-rich nation, but an international military coalition purged him from his Persian Gulf neighbor.
Abu and his family were in danger and sought to flee. The road to Saudi Arabia was closed, they heard. So they fled to Iraq, where they hunkered down in Al Basra for four years, not able to return to Kuwait because they were accused of being traitors.
“If they knew I was Kuwaiti and staying there, they would kill us all for sure,” Abu recalls.
Eventually, he found a guide who would smuggle him and his family into neighboring Jordan. He found employment distributing first tea, then gas. Eventually family relations from Kuwait sent him money, and he opened a small shop.
Before in Kuwait, Abu had been a millionaire. But now his fortunes were reduced to scrambling for money.
In the first month of being open, he was able to make rent, 200 dinar.
But in the second month, he scrounged only 150 JOD by the time the landlord came.
“Here’s 150,” Abu told him. “I will give you the other 50 tomorrow.”
“No man,” the landlord retorted. “I want all the rent now.”
Despairing, Abu beckoned people out in front of his shop to come in and buy.
“When people came towards me, they looked like they were coming to buy from me,” he remembers. “But when they approached, they would either go in the shop on the right or the left. It was as if there was a curtain blocking my shop.”
He sat down, frustrated, in front of his shop and tried to think of a solution.
Suddenly he felt a strange urge to look under his chair. To his surprise, he saw and picked up a small wooden cross. He could not imagine how it got there.
Then he remembered the nice people at the Christian school who had selflessly opened the doors to his son. He remembered how he had been disrespectful, and they returned love for ill will. He remembered the one church service he had attended, sitting at the back with his wife.
Then he did something unexpected, he prayed to the God of the Christians.
“Jesus Christ, if You really are God, as they say, then help me now,” he uttered heavenward. “If You help me, I will surrender my life to You.”
Immediately after he prayed, his Egyptian friend from the next shop threw down his broom and said, “Let’s go to my friend.”
“This is Abu Ahmad,” he told the friend when he opened the door. “He needs 50 dinar to pay the rent.”
The Egyptian man went in and brought out a $100 bill.
Abu was aghast. “You are Egyptian,” he objected. “You need to send the money to your family in Egypt. How can you trust me and give me the money when you need it more?”
“If you want to return it, return it,” the man replied. “If you don’t, don’t.”
Abu was both shaken and amazed. Jesus had answered his prayer, and he wasn’t ready to believe it.
“I wanted to prove that what happened was by chance,” he remembers. “I wanted an excuse proving that Christ did not answer. But it became obvious that Christ had answered the prayer.”
In response, he surrendered his life to Jesus and was born again.
Not long after this remarkable answer to prayer, Abu told his wife he was now a Christian.
“Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?” Laila shrieked. “You went to try to change them, and they changed you.”
She divided their room with a blanket hung from the ceiling.
“You are no longer my husband. You are an infidel,” she said, outraged. “This is your space. “The other is for me and my children. Don’t come near us or interfere in our lives.”
And that is how they lived from then on.
Sometime later, a friend suggested he apply for refugee status through the United Nations. But in a twist of events, the U.N. official sent him to jail.
Abu cried out to God from his cell: “Lord, You said, ‘Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will comfort you.’ There is no heavier burden than the one I am carrying,
“You said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’” he said. “Where are You? Why did You leave me alone?”
After days of thanking the medical clinic doctors with canoes full of flowers or fish, the Manaos tribal leaders dressed in white sang praises to God in their native tongue to celebrate Sean Feucht’s baptism in the Amazon River.
“Dad put me under the water, and when I surfaced, I felt a profound sense of destiny and calling on my life,” Sean writes in the autobiographical Brazen: Be a Voice, not an Echo. “The presence of God fell heavily upon me in that moment. I had become new and everything changed.”
Worship has marked Sean’s life, ever since that moment at age 10 when he dedicated his life to Christ’s service deep in the Amazon jungle, in the hinterlands of Jim Elliot. He’s played his guitar to bring healing around the world and in the Oval Office.
Sean Feucht loved the outdoors in his birth state of Montana. His dad, a doctor, accepted a 75% reduction of salary to lead missions with Christian Broadcasting Network and the family moved to Virginia. Sean despised the balmy suburbia of his new town and felt disillusioned with the loss of the Rockies until he was taken to the rainforests.
It was Sean’s job to fish for the medical team’s meals as the boat tooled up and down the Amazon River. They ate rainbow bass and large black piranhas. His dad and the medical professionals applied the science of medicine to heal natives, and when science came up short, they prayed and witnessed miraculous healings.
His father’s “brazen” faith became a legacy for Sean.
At first, Sean’s heart was to be a quarterback in football and a guard in basketball. Being a worship leader was not on his radar. But when a worship leader cancelled for his dad’s home Bible study, Sean was called upon to fill the gap after only owning a guitar for three weeks and knowing only three chords and three songs.
“The night was an absolute train wreck. I continually broke out in a nervous sweat, strained my voice and broke not just one but two guitar strings,” he complains. “I was embarrassed and ashamed in front of 15 of my peers. I remember running to my room afterward, vowing that I would never lead worship in public again.”
Oh, the irony.
He got called on again and again to direct praise in front of people as the Bible study grew to 70 people. Fairly rapidly, he moved into leading youth group worship and then took over church worship. He led youth group and challenged his peers to pray for people in the local hospital’s ICU.
Also in high school, he met Kate, who became his wife. He attended a worship rally in Washington D.C. and won a state football championship.
Despite sport successes, what really pulsed through his heart was the lost. He compiled a list of the least-reached peoples on the globe: Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
The opportunity to visit Afghanistan came first. It was right after the terrorists had downed the Twin Towers in New York City, and Americans were fighting the Taliban in the mountains of Afghanistan, right where Sean, just out of high school, wanted to go with his father’s trusted missionary associate.
The U.S. State Department warned Americans not to go there. And the Afghan Embassy refused to grant him — or any American — a visa, “under any circumstances,” Sean writes.
But the team leader was used to obstacles and encouraged Sean to believe more in God than the gloom and doom of so many detractors. “God will make a way, brother!” he told Sean confidently.
Sean was learning to not be deterred. He visited the Afghan Embassy in person and got an interview.
What could go wrong with a blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year-old leading worships in the mountains owned by the America-kidnapping Taliban? he asked.
The Afghan official couldn’t disguise his astonishment at the visa request.
“Are you truly willing to give your life right now because there’s a high chance of that if you go?” the official said.
Astonishingly, Sean declared he would not leave the embassy until the visa was granted.
Flouting conventional wisdom and doing the contrary of what everyone expects has been Sean’s trademark ever since.
In the isolated mountain villages, the team ministered to peaceful people in the Farsi dialect. Sean discovered that music was a universal language to bridge divides. “My guitar broke down all our walls and misconceptions about one another,” he writes.
The team had been sternly warned: Don’t spend a night in the village. Stay on the move. The Taliban would love to abduct an American and demand a ransom from the American government.
“But after spending all day building relationship, sharing stories, laughing and eating together, it was so hard for us to leave,” he writes. “Many nights, we were invited to stay at the home of tribal leaders.”
Sleeping on the roof to beat the heat, Sean would look at the stars and think of Abraham, to whom God promised to multiply his descendants to be as countless as the stars overhead.
God had done amazing things, and Sean expected to continue with God’s blessing as he carted off to Oral Roberts University. He had seen God move through his guitar in Virginia and Afghanistan, so he offered his services to the worship team at college.
No, was the reply.
It was not the only discouragement. He tried to get involved in missions. No was the answer.
In the dorm, his roommate, despite being at a Christian college, mocked Christianity and blasted explicit hip hop to drown out any praises Sean tried to strum.
“Nothing seemed to work out,” Sean says, and he mothballed his guitar under his bed. Read the rest: Sean Feucht Burn 24/7
Growing up in East Hartford, Connecticut, Tim Moynihan loved war, espionage and sci-fi. He chaffed at school with a longing for adventure, so at 18 he enlisted and started boot camp following his graduation.
He first jumped out of an airplane with the Army Airborne during the summer between his junior and senior college years as an ROTC cadet at Providence College in Rhode Island.
“I wanted to be the guy, Captain Willard, portrayed by Martin Sheen” in Apocalypse Now, said Moynihan, now 52.
Through the Army, he became a commissioned intelligence officer and entered Ranger school in 1990.
“It was brutal,” he said bluntly.
One day, he was climbing up a cliff when he fell. He had read Hal Lindsey’s Countdown to Armageddon. Biblical prophecy fit in with his other interests in UFOs, Nostradamus and metaphysics.
He was no Christian, even though he had grown up in a staunchly Catholic family. Mostly he pursued punk rock, beer and girls.
But as he was falling through the air, a prayer flashed through his head, a prayer to an unfamiliar God. Suddenly and inexplicably to him, the rope tightened and broke his fall, a mere matter of feet from a bloody crash on the ground.
“That was a close call,” he said. “Somehow I knew God had saved me. Then out of the blue, a man at my unit invited me to his evangelical Bible study.”
At first, Moynihan declined, but the guy persisted and he eventually relented.
“I went, hated it, didn’t want to return,” he said.
The Word confronted areas of sin he wasn’t ready to surrender.
His buddy challenged him to attend the Bible study again, but, honestly, the tough Ranger was…. afraid… to go.
“I felt fear about going back,” he admitted. “Yet I had just graduated from one of the toughest, most dangerous military schools in existence, so I forced myself to go again. Then again.
“Suddenly it all made sense,” he added. “One day I was reading in my room and it dawned on me that I was going to hell. That I had been just plain wrong for 26 years. I got off my bed and knelt on the floor and asked God to forgive me for being an idiot for 26 years.”
He became a new creation in Christ on that day in 1991. He married his live-in girlfriend, Sue, within the week – even though she wasn’t convinced of the truths of Christianity until about a year later. Read the rest of the article about Tim Moynihan.
Eleven-year-old Nouri refused to train to become a suicide bomber with the other boys at an ISIS-controlled camp in northern Iraq, and due to his insubordination, the terrorists broke his legs in three places.
Ironically, the inhumane treatment saved his life. Unable to walk or run normally, he was deemed “useless” by the team of brainwashers turning kidnapped Yazidi and Kurdish kids into suicide bombers.
Because of his pronounced limp he was freed, taken home by his grandmother, and now resides in a refugee camp. His 5-year-old brother, Saman, was released with him. Repeated beatings traumatized him so badly that he asked CNN reporters if they were there to beat him. He often wakes up screaming from nightmares.
The parents of both boys remain in captivity.
“They asked us to come with them for the training,” Nouri said. “At first we refused to go because we were afraid. They asked me to go to the mountain and I refused again, then they broke my leg. That saved me. The other children were taken by force.”
The use of captive children to perform suicide missions is not only the latest evidence of ISIS savagery. It is also the most terrifying.
That’s because when the boys are sent into the No Man’s Land between ISIS soldiers and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the Peshmerga never know if the children are truly escaping or if they will detonate a bomb.
“Many times when we are facing ISIS, we see the children at the front line and they’re wearing explosive vests. They are brainwashed,” said Aziz Abdullah Hadur, a Peshmerga commander. “When they make it through our lines they kill our fighters. It’s an unbelievably hard decision. You don’t know what to do because if you don’t kill them they’ll kill you.” Read the rest of the story: crimes of ISIS.
This article was written by Cindy Gutierrez. I was her editor and teacher at the Lighthouse Christian Academy journalism class. It is a Santa Monica Christian high school. Cindy is a senior. The fall semester, in which she took the class, just ended.
Too poor to buy the real thing, this Iraqi boy turned a plastic bag into the jersey of his favorite soccer player, Leo Messi from FC Barcelona. How do you show your love for God?
Thanks to the internet, Messi saw it and is going to send him a real jersey. This will probably thrill him for 110 years.
The Bible says that Jesus was so impressed by the Roman centurion’s faith that He granted the miracle. Lesson: You can impress God (though we should distinguish: you can’t “earn” his favor — ok, it’s confusing, but the two truths work together in tension much like a guitar string is tightened across two frets). How do you show your love for God?
He helped Christian Assyrians obtain legal status in the U.S., but now a Chicago lawyer is being charged by the Justice Department with falsifying information on asylum applications.
Robert DeKelaita, 52, says he’s eager to stand trial and dismiss the “absurd” charges, and the 1,000 or so immigrants he has helped are rallying behind him. Some go so far as to accuse the current administration of being hostile toward Christians while being friendly to Muslims.
“I am very much looking forward to getting my trial on, and I believe I will be vindicated and people will see that the DOJ is not acting properly,” said DeKelaita, who immigrated from Iraq with his family when he was 11 years old.
Because he escaped religious persecution himself, it was natural for DeKelaita to help fellow believers from the Middle East. But now his efforts have drawn the ire of the Justice Department, which charged him with doctoring asylum applications of 12 clients.
For Mimi Odicho of Chicago, such allegations against the lawyer who helped her are an outrage. “My sister and her three young children are among the Assyrian hostages in Syria. We don’t even know if they’re still alive,” she told WorldNetDaily (WND). “Instead of trying to help save them – save these innocent people – the U.S. government is trying to take down a man who has been our people’s only hope for years.
“Robert is our hero,” Odicho said. “He represented me in my asylum claim when I didn’t have any way to pay him except with a ‘thanks.’ I am forever indebted to him. He was a light at the end of a very long and horrid immigration tunnel for me and for many others.”
While DeKelaita has hit roadblocks helping Christian immigrants, Muslim refugees from the Syrian civil war represent the largest portion of a U.S. resettlement program that House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, has called a “jihadist pipeline” into America. Some estimate that 95% of new legalized immigrants to the U.S. are Muslim.
In September of 2014, DeKelaita and his translator were arrested when federal agents raided his office in Chicago. The pair were indicted for allegedly charging fees to submit false information and for coaching immigrants how to lie to the Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The indictment accuses DeKelaita of writing or creating “false asylum statements detailing non-existent accounts of purported religious persecution, including fictitious accounts of rape and murder, and attached these statements to the [CIS] Form I-589 he submitted on behalf of his clients,” CNS News reported.
After pleading not guilty in federal court to the charges, the pair were released on their own recognizance. For each count, he faces up to 10 years of imprisonment and $250,000 in fines.
Christians in the region between Iraq and Syrian have suffered increased persecution with the advent of the Islamic State. Men are executed while women and girls are forced into sex slavery. Hundreds of thousands have fled and are refugees.
A video about the indictment argues that federal authorities extracted false confessions out of previous DeKelaita clients by intimidating them during hours-long interrogations in which they didn’t inform them of their rights.
As the trial date approached, many of those testimonies were dropped as unreliable, and the trial was postponed from May to April of next year in an attempt to get better evidence, the video explains.
Bishop Mar Gewargis Younan of the Ancient Church of the East, now presiding in the Chicago area, said the Assyrian Christains will give unflagging support to DeKelaita.
“His entire career has been aimed at giving back – to the church, to his heritage, to his people,” Mar Gewargis said to WND. “I can say with confidence that every parishioner in our church has either themselves been represented by Mr. DeKelaita, or has a relative that was represented by him. When the charges were filed, the community was in outrage and disbelief – and rightfully so.
“There is not a single Assyrian family anywhere in Iraq or Syria that has not been directly impacted by religious persecution,” he added. “The manner in which Mr. DeKelaita’s case has been approached seemingly moves to challenge this true. We are proud of Mr. DeKelaita’s achievements and will continue to support him.”
Editor’s Note: Chad completed this article as an assignment (I’m the teacher) for an English class at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica. Originally, it was published on GodReports.com but then it was taken down. Here it is in its entirety.
As a scout for the U.S. Marines 4th Light Armored Battalion, Tyler Smith is no stranger to weapons. But now in Iraq on a dangerous mission near the Islamic State war, the Santa Monica resident is completely unarmed.
Tyler, who studied and worked in Santa Monica, is currently deployed in Iraq with Operation Soul Shepherd helping refugees. He and seven other men as part of an advance team are setting up a safehouse for women and girls who have been raped by ISIS jihadists.
“I couldn’t let myself sit at home doing nothing while people here were suffering so immensely,” said Tyler. “I CAN help, so there’s no reason not to. I’m just a man trying to do the right thing. I’m not a hero.”
Not everyone agrees with his self-effacing.
“Every one of these guys are heroes,” said Paul Neier, founder of Mississippi-based non-profit that fights human-trafficking. “They made made a choice to go into harm’s way. The craziest thing about this is they are in the belly of the beast. They have no weapons to defend themselves.”
[Editor’s note: Forgive me for posting such disturbing news. This blog has generally been a place for uplifting devotionals. I post this because it is my reporting on GodReports.com and because I believe exposing evil and raising awareness is part of the solution.]
Pic: Daily Mail
As a means to finance their murderous “caliphate,” the Islamic State is harvesting organs to sell on the black market in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, according to the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations.
Mohamed Alhakim said his country has found dozens of bodies with surgical incisions and missing body parts in shallow mass graves in recent weeks outside Mosul, where ISIS remains in power, the UK Daily Mail reports.
“We have bodies. Come and examine them,” says Alhakim, who made the allegations before the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday. “It is clear they are missing certain parts.”
Furthermore, dozens of doctors in Mosul have been executed in Mosul for refusing to perform organ harvesting, he says.
The latest foreign fighters to flock into the war zone in Iraq and Syria are Christians who want to do more than their western governments allow.
U.S. vet Jordan Matson engages in firefights regularly with ISIS soldiers alongside pro-Western Syrian Kurds, according to an interview with Fox News.
“I decided that if our government wasn’t going to do anything about it, I would,” says Matson, who’s fought ISIS since September 2014. “We’re getting shot at on pretty much a daily basis. It’s more of a World War II or Vietnam style fight. We don’t have the technology that the United States military has to push our enemies away.”
After visiting Islamic State-occupied territory at great risk, a German journalist called the extremist organization a “movement with the power of a nuclear bomb” after returning home last week.
Jurgen Todenhoefer, a 74-year-old German journalist, was given unprecedented access to the Islamic State and returned to Munich after spending 10 days with the terrorist group in the areas the group control in Iraq and Syria.
They are “the most brutal and most dangerous enemy I have ever seen in my life,” Todenhoefer said, as part of a series of interviews broadcast on the BBC and CNN.
Born out of the Syrian rebel movement, IS catapulted into international attention, seizing major cities in Iraq last June and beheading James Foley and other westerners whose governments refuse to negotiate a ransom. The group consists mostly of Sunni Muslims, many of whom aided Saddam Hussein’s cruel regime, and is growing daily by Muslims drawn to radicalism from all parts of the world.
IS fighters were surprisingly confident, Todenhoefer said.
“We will conquer Europe one day,” one fighter told him. “It is not a question of IF we will conquer Europe, just a matter of when that will happen. But it is certain. For us, there is no such thing as borders. There are only front lines. Our expansion will be perpetual. And the Europeans need to know that when we come, it will not be in a nice way. It will be with our weapons. And those who do not convert to Islam or pay the Islamic tax will be killed.” To read the rest of the article, click here: Christian world news.