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.”
All the astral projection stopped when Mike – strangely – grabbed a seemingly kind old man by the lapels and demanded he confess Christ as the Son of God. Instead, the man hissed at him in a hideous manner.
“I realized the Bible was true,” Mike says on his YouTube channel, Shofar War Lamb. “First John says every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. That’s the day I really started to walk with Jesus.”
Today, Mike has completely quit New Age. But for many years he wavered between Jesus and astral projection, a phenomenon in which people leave their body during sleep and fly around in the spirit realm and interact with people.
When he was a kid, a relative gave him a book about Jesus, and he accepted the Lord.
But as the years passed, he forgot about Jesus and got into marijuana, mushrooms, and ecstasy with his neighborhood buddies in Illinois. Riding BMX bikes around, they searched for hallucinogenic mushrooms in the wild.
They found one, and Mike, then 16, decided to consume it even though he realized it wasn’t hallucinogenic and he didn’t worry that it might be poisonous. It was.
“All of a sudden from my stomach I feel these shocks. The shocks went down my legs and down my arms. I could feel the poison coursing through my veins with every beat of my heart,” Mike says. “Eventually it subsided. But it scared me.”
Despite the danger, Mike consumed it anyhow to impress his friends. “Being the young punk that I was, I wanted bragging rights,” he says. “How stupid is that?”
The next day, he felt much better. While smoking blunts the next day, one buddy, induced by the drug, was talking gibberish, mostly “rambling stupid nonsense,” Mike remembers. But one thing the friend uttered hit like a thunderbolt:
“What happens when you die?”
The question echoed over and over through his mind. “I could not stop thinking about it. I entered a thought loop.”
Like many of his generation, he looked it up on Google. The search engine led him to a Near Death Experience website. The hodgepodge of testimonials ranged from Christian to Islamic and Buddhist.
“They had people who had died and had seen the light,” Mike summarizes. “Some said they talked to God, some to Buddha. Some people saw Jesus, some people saw Allah. The message that was clear was that God was love.
“What I read was made-up garbage from witches trying to usher in the New Age,” he adds.
But at the time, the eclectic approach appealed to him. Forgetting that he had committed his life to Jesus as a child and that he had cried out to Jesus when he consumed the mushroom, Mike adopted the New Age idea that Jesus was merely one of many “ascended masters.”
On the NDE website, he met in a chatroom “Amused Maya,” who provided an explanation for his sleep paralysis: “You have an advanced soul. You have the ability to astral project.”
“The next time that happens, stay calm, don’t freak out, and you will float out of your body,” Maya told him, “You can float through walls, travel other dimensions, talk to spirits.”
Honestly, Mike thought she was nuts but decided to find out if it was true for himself.
Sure enough, the next time he experienced sleep paralysis, he floated out of his body and began to fly around at will.
That’s how it started. For the next months and years, Mike was astral projecting, which he now classifies as “evil veiled in a cloak.”
“I did float through walls,” he says. “I did talk to spirits. I had sex with demons. I didn’t know they were demons at the time. I tried to do it every night, but it didn’t happen every night.”
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 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.
Guvna B, the mild-mannered British Christian rapper, got smacked to the ground and his face bloodied by some white street thugs for no reason other than the fact that he was black, he contends. He reported the incident to police, but they could find no witnesses and no video footage.
In some cities, it could be enough to ignite civil unrest, but Guvna B sang a song “Bridgeland Road” in conjunction with Wakanda star Michaela Coel.
“What I experienced was tough to deal with and my mind was loaded with nuanced thoughts around race, identity and the structures which contribute to shaping society,” said Guvna B, whose real name is Isaac Borquaye, the son of Ghanian parents.
“Michaela reminded me that art isn’t just for others to consume, but it’s also a processing tool for ourselves. She encouraged me to write about what happened and the result is not only this song, but an album that provided me with the closure I desperately needed.”
The Guvna got saved in a poor neighborhood of London. His parents instilled Christianity in their home, but the neighborhood pulled him toward the unsavory world of gang violence, fights and stabbings. Like many kids who don’t fully comprehend the faith of their parents, Isaac tried to walk both worlds.
When reports of his trouble making in school and running with the wrong crowd out of school got to the church’s youth leader, the pastor knew what to say: “If you want to be a good gangster, you have to go all-in. But if you want to be a good Christian, you have to go all-in. If you decide to be a gangster, you might get stabbed.”
The Guvna, who admits to glaring self-doubt, discovered he was afraid and didn’t want to go all-in with the streets. So instead, he went all-in-for God.
“I made up my mind. I’m too scared to be a gangster,” he admits on Premier on Demand. “I’m just gonna be a Christian.”
Not long after, he was playing soccer (the Brits call it football) on the schoolyard in the rain when a friend got hit by lightning. School administrators could not resuscitate him, and he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, where he was put on life support.
“He couldn’t breathe by himself,” the Guvna remembers. “I had recently become a Christian and was full of faith and optimism. I said a prayer that God would help him pull through. My friends were really struggling because they didn’t have faith back then. It was a big shock when he pulled through. The doctors couldn’t explain.”
Since then, the Guvna has cemented his faith and launched some of Britain’s best Christian rap. “Cast Your Cares” is a swelling anthem that can help anyone going through… Read the rest: Guvna B attacked by racists
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
Kat Von D, the black-lipstick-wearing Queen of Goth who seized fame as a tattoo artist, has thrown out her witchcraft books and covered her tattoos in a return to the “love and light” of her parents who were missionaries in Mexico.
“I got a lot of things wrong in my past,” Kat wrote on Instagram in July. “I’ve always found beauty in the macabre, but at this point, I just had to ask myself what is my relationship with this content? And the truth is, I just don’t want to invite any of these things into our family’s lives, even if it comes disguised in beautiful covers, collecting dust on my shelves.”
The diva of deviance came short of saying she accepted Jesus though. She has gotten married and had a child and now sees things through the lens of what is best for her child.
Katherine von Drachenberg was born in 1982 in Morelos, Mexico, to Argentinian parents who worked as missionaries in a rural community with running water and electricity. Her dad was a doctor with the Seventh Day Adventists. They lived in relative poverty with dirt floors, but Kat only has beautiful memories from that time.
“One of my favorite photos from our family album is one of me taking a bath in a plastic bucket,” she stated on the List. “In this town, you were more likely to see a horse than you would a car. They were some of the happiest times in my life.”
Her family moved to San Bernardino when she was six. In her early teens, she began to rebel against her Christian roots under the influence of punk rock culture and started getting and giving tattoos. She dropped out of high school.
When reality show Miami Ink looked to diversify its all-male tattoo artist show, producers tapped Kat, and she was launched into fame in 2005. Two years later, she returned to Los Angeles and starred in TLC’s spinoff LA Ink.
Kat became an icon, normalizing tattoos. In 2008, Sephora capitalized on her fame to launch a make-up line with her, and she became a millionaire offering eye-liner, lipstick and foundation.
Meanwhile, she got sober. “Looking back at my wild drinking days, I really never imagined that I would be excited about being sober,” she says on The Fix. “When you are on the other side of things, you have such a profoundly different perspective on life. On this side, you realize it’s something to be celebrated.”
Dropping the drink helped her work ethic. In 2008, she snatched the world record for tattoos given in a single 24-hour period when she inked 400 – a record held for six months.
After dating such flamboyant iconoclasts as Nikki Sixx, Deadmau5 and Jesse James, she finally settled down and married fellow Goth prophet Leafar Seyer (born Rafael Reyes), father of Cholo Goth music.
It may be that her marriage in 2018 has shifted her thinking from her rebellious days.
While she always said she would never have children, she gave birth to Leafar Von D Reyes later that year.
In July of 2022, Kat got rid of the books of witchcraft, magic spells and tarot cards from her library because they didn’t “align with who I am and who I want to be,” she says on IG… Read the rest: Kat von D Christian?
In high school, Charlie Foreman was a chanting Buddhist. Then he took LSD, read Carlos Castaneda and hoped to meet a Yaqui Indian witchcraft guide. But because he was high or drunk every day, he joined the Air Force to clean up his act.
“Nothing really worked,” he says.
Stationed at a radar site in the Philippines, he fell back into partying. “A lot of the officers partied like we did. I got in trouble; there were some drugs in my car.”
When he returned Stateside to Nellis Air Force Base, he was supposed to report to the Social Action of the Air Force to continue his rehabilitation. But his records took forever to catch up to him, and he didn’t mind because he didn’t want to be known as a dopehead.
What he did do was work hard and steer clear of drugs and alcohol. He wanted to go straight “but life was so boring. There was no purpose,” he says.
Ever since his mom died of cancer when he was seven-years-old, Charlie was on a quest to find the meaning of life. One thing he knew for sure, “it wasn’t Christianity. It was something mystical, maybe Transcendental Meditation.”
That’s when a man came into his barracks and shared his testimony.
“I was listening to Pink Floyd, “Charlie recalls. “I wasn’t really interested. This guy started talking and was fighting with the noise, so he asked if could turn it down. He seemed like a nice guy, so I turned it off. And listened. I really related to him. He had gone through similar experiences like me.”
He accepted Jesus.
“It was incredible. I felt like I was high. I had joy and peace. Immediately I was delivered from the drugs. Whereas before I had tried to quit and fell back, I was completely delivered. I had no interest in drugs. I was sauced on Jesus.”
In the Air Force, he was given the job of keeping and clarifying bombing range scheduling for pilots, a job that required three telephone calls a day “if it was a busy day.” The rest of the time, he read his bible voraciously.
But when he married his Filipina girlfriend and brought her to the United States while he was still in the Air Force, things went sour. At first, she got “truly and wonderfully saved. God just whacked her,” Charlie says.
“But she held on to a lot of things from Catholicism. She would not let go of the idea that you shouldn’t be fanatical about God, and she was insanely jealous,” Charlie says.
When he got out of the Air Force, Syvia decided she wanted an airman so she could go back and forth to the Philippines. One day she came home with a hickey. Charlie encouraged her he could forgive her if she would stop.
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.”
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.”
“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
When Adelso Lemus was expanding his business and felt pressured to cover ballooning expenses with sales, he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.
“The doctor was gently telling us that they were going to see what they could do,” Adelso told God Reports. “I didn’t want to do chemo because the last time I had cancer it jacked me up.”
From his hospital bed, he watched his family huddle.
They weren’t weeping; they were strategizing. Who would do what to cover Dad’s extensive responsibilities in the business? Adelso and his family sought what they always wanted in times of trial: a turnaround, for good to come out of the bad.
“I wasn’t thinking I was going to die,” he says. “I just needed to work this through and get back to the business.”
Adelso miraculously survived the cancer. His 10-year-old business of specialty tres leches cakes now grosses $1 million in revenue.
He shares his life philosophy on a radio podcast “The Flipside” which encourages listeners to not despair but to find how “all things work together for the good,” as the Bible says.
Adelso, 54, lives in San Antonio, Texas. He got saved as a youth in Albuquerque when he saw a formerly “fried” pothead” all cleaned up and alive.” It was an unexpected surprise, and the young man invited Adelso to church. He didn’t want to go, but his friend hounded him and he broke down. Of course, Adelso ended up receiving Jesus and transformation.
He grew zealous for the things of God and even prepared himself to enter ministry. He was part of the church-planting mission that emphasized evangelism and discipleship and not Bible school degrees.
He and new-convert Veronica got married “Jesus people style,” the way the hippies did in the Jesus Movement of the 70s, without expensive ballroom-like details and during the Sunday morning service. They were in love with each other and considered the fact that Jesus didn’t have any money.
Adelso and Veronica marched off to Panama, where they were missionaries for nine years. It was a wild time of scrambling to make ends meet. Adelso became very resourceful as he adeptly negotiated equipment and building rentals without having enough money to do so. Navigating financial hardship with resourcefulness became a skill he carried forward in life and it became the hallmark of his business.
“It hardened my hide to be able to go through what I’ve gone through in the business,” he says.
When his 25th wedding anniversary approached, he was on staff at John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church. He decided to save as much money he could every week to honor his wife with a big bash to renew their wedding vows. He wanted to make up for the skimpy beginnings of married life.
How would he cobble together the money for the event? His sister gave him a secret recipe, a tres leches cake with a non-traditional flourish, pineapple. It was off the radar, but when he took samples to some local restaurants they were curious.
“Tres leches with pineapple?” one proprietor said. “That’s weird.”
He tasted it.
“The way they responded in the restaurant was really positive,” Adelso explains. “I wanted them to taste it to see if it had any potential. They really liked it. I just chased the dream because of the reaction that I got. It was a genuine surprised reaction. I thought, Wow, they really liked it. It made me realize that this was something I could possibly do on the side.”
He started at home, but you can’t cook at home for commercial ventures for long.
The preparation for a wedding renewal turned into a full-time business. He needed to rent space at a bakery. At a cooking conference where he impressed with free samples, an acquaintance tipped him off to a 2,000-square-foot San Antonio bakery that could rent him space in the evenings.
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.
Her Christmas Eve hope was to die in the hospital and put an end to the endless pain from Crohn’s disease.
Then a Jamaican dietitian showed up and prayed for Cassidy Kellagher, and on Christmas she woke up without pain for the first time in many months.
“I realized that was an angel,” Cassidy says on her YouTube channel. A Christmas angel.
Before coming to the Lord, Cassidy was virulently anti-Christian to the point she wouldn’t even say “Bless you” when somebody sneezed.
By her own account, she was “an extreme atheist, an extreme vegan, pansexual and an egotistical, terrible person,” She marched in gay pride parades and, dressed in a lettuce bikini, handed out veggie dogs to Senators with PETA.
“I wouldn’t eat with anybody who ate meat,” she says. “I just went out of my way to shame people who didn’t believe what I believed in.”
In June 2019 Cassidy began to have severe stomach aches. She soon went to the ER and got a CAT scan and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. In three months time, she lost 60 pounds. Doctors pumped her with pain meds to alleviate the excruciating pain.
“Nothing was working,” she says.
She dwindled down to 80 pounds and after six months wished to die.
“I wanted to kill myself,” she says. “I woke up and hated my existence. I hated every second of it. I had no hope. I lost my personal life.”
Then Christmas Eve came, and the pain was so intense that Cassidy asked her mom to take her back to the hospital.
“I felt like it was going to be my last day on Earth,” she says. “I was excited, like no more pain, no more tears. Let’s do it.”
But she didn’t die. On Christmas she woke up and met the Jamaican dietitian. She had never seen her before, which was strange because she had been in and out of the hospital so often, she thought she knew everybody. She didn’t pay too much attention initially.
For the first time in a long time, Cassidy broke down in tears, which was strange because “I didn’t really have any emotions at that time. I was pretty much a vegetable just waiting to die,” she remembers.
The dietitian broke hospital protocol and told Cassidy she was going to pray for her – a decision Cassidy resisted with all the strength she could muster in her weakened condition. But since the Jamaican lady insisted, Cassidy relented. She didn’t expect anything to happen as a result of the words spoken over her.
“She had so much passion for me,” Cassidy recalls.
“You will be healed and you will be a healer,” the woman prophesied.
The day after Christmas, Cassidy woke up and no longer felt any pain. As a matter of fact, she felt so good she wanted to be released from the hospital, which staff wouldn’t allow because of the seriousness of her condition previously.
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.
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
When his family left Texas, little 9-year-old Mack Calvin saw poverty and physical and verbal abuse under the drunken terrors of his father. His family was evicted many times, so Mack moved from school to school and his learning suffered. In college, he read at a 7th grade level.
So when the 100 colleges offering him basketball scholarships saw his 1.9 GPA on his transcript, they shut the doors to him. “This boy’s dumb,” Mack imagined they said of him.
“My father was always drunk. It was kind of embarrassing when he came to my baseball or basketball games drunk,” Mack told God Reports. “God said to me, ‘You’re not going to ever drink. I didn’t want to be like my dad. I detested the anger he displayed towards my mother when he was intoxicated.
Ultimately, Jesus had big things for Mack, who eventually became a Hall of Famer in basketball. In August, he’s running free youth basketball camps in Long Beach, aiming to help impart values to underprivileged kids and teach them about Jesus.
Born on a farm in Ft Worth, Texas, Mack’s family was middle class and never lacked food. But his dad was an irascible, foul-mouthed drunk who decided to move the family to Los Angeles. His continuous gambling impoverished the family, and they went from eviction to eviction until they arrived at the Imperial Courts Housing Project in Watts.
Right next door, there was a gym where Mack played and practiced continuously until age 15, before the family moved to Long Beach.
“I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to be like my father,” he says. “I wanted to be great. I wanted to be special. I worked hard.”
Parks & Recreation coaches took the raw material in Mack and formed a high-caliber player. At Long Beach Polytechnic High, Mack led his team to back-to-back CIF championships both years he was on the varsity team. He was all-CIF, the state sports organization for high schools.
Colleges wanted him. But his schools had put him into wood shop class, metal shop and special education; he fell victim to the instability of his home. So off to Long Beach City College he went. Mack led his team to championships.
Coaches Chuck Kane and Bill Barnes turned his academics around. Starting him in easier academic classes and connecting him with tutoring, the coaches transformed the academic underachiever into a Dean’s List student.
After two years in the community college, Mack accepted a scholarship offer at USC, where he broke UCLA’s 41-game winning streak with his tenacious play. What the 6’0” point guard lacked in stature, he made up with sheer grit and determination.
Out of college, Mack played seven stellar seasons for the American Basketball Associating until it merged with the NBA in 1976. He was an ABA all-star five times and was named to the ABA all-time team
“You’re talking to a miracle,” Mack admits. “It was by the grace of God. God has always been at the center of everything in my life, no matter what I accomplished, no matter what accolades, no matter what money I made.”
Joining the NBA, he played for the Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Jazz and Cavaliers before retiring after the 1981 season. He did some stints as a coach, including for the Lakers and for the Virginia Squires.
For 44 years, he’s sponsored a basketball camp to give back to the communities where he’s lived. “I want to always aspire to make a difference,” he says. He’s mindful of the hardships of his own upbringing.
He’s always attended church. In college he participated in college sports faith groups. On the road, he’s attended whenever it was Sunday, as long as there wasn’t a game. Today, he attends Bishop Charles Blake’s West Angeles Church of God in Christ.
“I loved the spirit that came from the church,” Mack says. “I’ve always had the… Read the rest: Mack Calvin Christian
Friends are expressing dismay that a Danish man who works tirelessly spreading the gospel around the world has been arrested in America over charges of smuggling arms from Mexico into America.
“Today Torben (Søndergaard) is sitting in jail because somebody made a false accusation against him, something that is not true,” says Jón Bjarnastein on a Facebook post on The Last Reformation page. “It’s because he’s preaching the gospel. This is nothing new under the sun. The Bible says that everyone who wants to live a godly life will experience persecution.”
Torben Søndergaard fled Denmark in 2019 after repeated attacks by the government to discredit his street ministry, which riled secularists by casting out demons in public places. If you don’t believe in the supernatural, much less demons, then one might think Torben is a manipulative charlatan. He applied for asylum in America and now is being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“I was invited to a meeting with Homeland Security who wanted to talk about my asylum case – a case where I, in Denmark three years ago, was accused of doing many things I had not done, and where I ended up fleeing to America seeking asylum,” he wrote on Facebook. “But then, they suddenly said that the real reason I was there was because they had been notified that I was smuggling weapons from Mexico to America.
“I was in shock.”
The accusation of arms running is strange because the illegal flow of weapons is generally southward, from America to Mexico. America is a manufacturer of arms, not an importer. What America imports illegally from Mexico is drugs, not weapons. CBN says the Department of Homeland Security had no comment on the case.
Doing ministry in Denmark for 18 years, Søndergaard, 45, founded the Last Reformation street evangelism movement with the purpose of restoring Book of Acts-style ministry. His Jesus Center trained disciples from 30 nations to spread the gospel worldwide, CBN reports.
But authorities in secularist Denmark didn’t like him and, starting in 2016, launched investigations from six separate Danish ministries into everything from food safety to unpaid taxes. They found nothing wrong, CBN reports.
The persecution continued when Søndergaard decided to homeschool his daughter. Seeking an abatement from the persecution, Sondergaard re-enrolled her in public school. But the attacks continued… Read the rest: Torben Sondergaard Danish evangelist.
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
When Stuart Long crashed his motorcycle into a car, he was launched into oncoming traffic and hit the windshield of an oncoming car headfirst. Witnesses say he then rolled on the street and got run over by another car.
“And here I am” still alive, he remarked later.
Out of the death-defying experience, Stuart turned to God and became a priest, known as Father Stu. He’s the subject of a new biopic starring Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg, who were inspired by the story and decided to make the movie.
The movie “Father Stu” will be released on Good Friday by Sony. Wahlberg has pursued this project for six years. His own father died of cancer, so when Wahlberg heard two priests talk over dinner with him about Stuart Long, it resonated with him.
Born in Seattle on July 26, 1963, Stuart Long was adventurous and ambitious as a young rascal he explains, according to the Daily Mail. After graduating high school in 1981, he arrived at Carroll College, a private Catholic university. His focus was completely on sports, primarily football and soon, boxing, which became his sole passion.
“I wasn’t Catholic. I always felt like kind of an outsider,” Long revealed while thinking about attending mass with the football team.
Long admitted to constantly questioning his college professors. When he discovered boxing, he found his calling.
“The individual sport fit with my personality better than the team sport,” Long said in a 2011 interview with the Diocese of Helena. Read the rest: Father Stu
When a man stood up suddenly during prayer service and waved a handgun at the congregation, Pastor Ezekiel Ndikumana sprang into action and tackled him from behind before he could fire off a round.
“He wanted to kill,” Pastor Ezekiel said through an interpreter on WKRN news. “That was the first thing that came to mind.”
Motives remain unclear as yet as to why Dezire Baganda, 26, suddenly jumped up in the Nashville Light Mission Pentecostal church and ordered the congregation to stand as he waved a handgun.
But quick-witted Pastor Ezekiel neutralized him before he could do anyone harm. The immigrant pastor acted as if he were exiting the back door behind the pulpit and behind the gunman and then rushed him and tackled him from his blindspot. Other congregants joined in to help disarm the threatening man at the Nov. 7th service, all recorded on church surveillance video.
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.”
At age six, Bedros Keuilian was dumpster-diving to find expired but still edible food to feed his immigrant family as his parents and brother scrambled to earn money for their rent.
“I was the bread-winner of the family,” Bedros quips on an Ed Mylett video.
The “communist” from the former Soviet Union to “serial capitalist” in America, Bedros Keuilian is the founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp, one of America’s fastest growing franchises.
In the dumpster, Bedros found a Herman Munster sweater that he wore to grade school. For the next three schools he attended, he was known as “Herman.”
Still, things were better in American than under communism. He calls himself a former “communist” because if you don’t sign up for the communist party, you get shipped off to Siberia, he says.
His father did tailoring on the side to save money to bribe the Soviet Consulate in 1981 to grant the visa so they could travel to Italy, where they applied for a visa to come to America. The KGB suspected he was engaged in “unauthorized capitalism” and raided his house various times, lining up Mom, Dad and the kids, while they searched in vain for needle, thread, cloth, anything that might confirm rumors that he was moonlighting as a tailor. He was good at hiding things, Bedros says.
There’s another very dark story in his background. Bedros was sexually abused by older boys in Armenia. His parents were unaware of this but when they saved little Bedros from communism, they also saved him from further exploitation.
The shame and rage boiled in the back of his mind and made him a terrible student and later a criminal who stole cars and ran from the cops.
Ultimately, Bedros learned to tame the raging beast in his bosom through Christianity and counseling. He became a better husband and a CEO. The beast, he says, caused him to sabotage his own businesses. He was unwittingly playing out the scenarios of his childhood until he learned to overcome them.
Today, Bedros also has a ministry to help called Fathers and Sons, a group he formed as a result of his own bungling as a new father.
His motivational speaking business doesn’t downplay but rather showcases his Christian faith: “Adversity is the seed to wealth, success, and even greater opportunity,” his website proclaims. “Look at Jesus Christ, he suffered to forgive us of all our sins.”
The Gospel has grown by 10,000% in more than a century in France, evangelicalism’s holy grail in Europe.
In the year 1800, there were 2000 Protestant evangelicals, in 2019 there were more than 700,000, according to statistics in a FOCL Online video and news reports.
In 1970, there were 840 evangelical churches, today there are more than 2,440. Every 10 days, a new church opens, said David Brown, chairman of the Evangelism Commission of the French National Council of Evangelicals (CNEF).
“Their numbers are no doubt increasing with the evangelical churches’ emphasis of personal conversion and a direct relationship with God,” says anchor Stuart Norval of France 24 English news in a “Focus” report which characterized the growth as “surprising.”
The news is cheery since evangelical Christianity tails Islam and secular humanism in France. The humanist viewpoint that God is a “construct” used by the rich to suppress the poor was practically born in France. About 8% of the country is Muslim while evangelicals barely make up 1%.
Despite sobering demographics, evangelicals have been growing at about 2.4% a year, in line with most countries in the world, according to the Joshua Project.
Francois Loury is a recent convert in the Porte Ouverte Chrétienne church in Paris. He recently was baptized and brings his whole family.
“It feels like a church that belongs to the modern world,” François says. “That’s what’s so good about it. That’s what makes it stand out. The pastors wear jeans. They don’t wear suits. They like to have fun; they tell jokes. Sometimes we even find ourselves laughing about religion. I think that in today’s world, that’s important, to have an open mind.”
Porte Ouverte Chrétienne, which means Christian Open Door, stands out compared to the mass offered by the Catholic church. Porte Ouverte’s worship is dynamic and heartfelt, activities are family oriented, and they reach thousands with simultaneous streaming over social media.
“When I attended Catholic mass I felt like a spectator,” says Eric Richter. “Our faith is a bit like for a fan in a soccer stadium. They’re in it together; they have faith in their players. And we have faith in God.”
Daniel Lietchi presides over CNEF’s committee to foment church planting praises God for the growth but prays for much more.
“If we continue like this with a new church established every 10 days, we’ll never accomplish our goal of having one church for every 10,000 French citizens,” Lietchi says. “We want things to progress twice, even three times, as fast. But the outcome depends on God’s will. For example in Spain, a new church opens every three days. Here in France, that’s what we’re aiming for.”
Much of the current church growth stems from a surge of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, where people in their native countries have a higher level of openness to the gospel.
Monique Kapinga immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo when her husband died. She found a similar worship style and the same earnestness of her native land in the l’Arche de Paix Church, which after 25 years has over 500 members.
“I came to the Arch of Peace because it is a church of truth,” Monique says. “We pray like we pray back home.”
But the spiritual support is not the only help she found at the Parisian church. She also received money and assistance with renewing her immigration status. It’s no wonder immigrants, lonely in a foreign land, congregate together for camaraderie and social networking.
CNEF’s Brown tracks the history of current growth of Christianity in France in the follow epochs:
>From 1935 to 1960, Assemblies of God led the charge with successful church planting
>From 1980 to 1990, the Charismatic movement brought a surge
>From 1990 to 2010, immigration brought a boon.
>Since 1995, native church planters are taking the lead.
Personal evangelism fuels the growth, but white French resist the gospel with a “double insulation.” He says: “They rebuff evangelism by saying they are Catholic or believers in secular philosophy, which is strong in France.
“A person says, ‘Well, I’m not really a believer,’ so you start talking about philosophy and try to convince them,” Brown says. “And then they suddenly say, ‘I’m a Catholic and we can’t believe that.’” Read the rest: Gospel in France
Ira Forkish spent half his life “strangled by demons of loneliness, anger peppered with resentment and fear, all augmented by the daily use of alcohol and drugs.”
As he surveyed a “lifetime of darkness” one day, Ira, then 32, ruled out religion.
“My main teacher in Hebrew School was a bully and me not being a traditional learner could not grasp God’s language,” he told God Reports. “I searched for God in places like hallucinogens for years & even dabbled in researching dark arts, (and there was) nothing. So God was out.”
Drugs were his touchstone and he imbibed as many as he could, experimenting with different mixtures in the hope he could escape the clutches of depression.
“Sometime during this time of desperation, some of my partying buddies found Jesus and so they invited me to a bible study,” he remembers. “Why not? I told myself. In one of these studies Jesus appeared to me in a very real manifestation. Finally (there was) hope.”
The vast expanse of empty meaning was suddenly filled with a real God. There was hope outside of drugs.
But just because he found Jesus doesn’t mean he immediately found a way out of drugs. He was not completely free yet, and the parties turned darker.
“Every time I used, the depression got worse, like having a one-ton grain of sand piled one by one on my heart and mind,” he remembers. “Desperation, desperation, desperation — with no road out.”
He wondered where Jesus was. Had the Son of God abandoned him like God the Father appeared to have done from his childhood?
“My life had crashed into a point where all its pieces resembled a jigsaw puzzle dumped onto a table and no matter how I looked at it there were no visible moves, not even an edge piece to make a frame,” he recalls.
Of course, God had not abandoned him. He showed up in the form of a partying buddy, who enrolled in a treatment program for drugs and alcohol. That buddy called and asked how Ira was doing.
“I guess it was apparent that for me things were 180 degrees from smooth because his reason for calling was to tell me that they were bringing the program to LA,” Ira says. Read the rest: Addiction and recovery
The day after being exposed to pornography and being molested, 3-year-old Anne Paulk started dressing like a Tomboy.
“I was no longer interested in dolls,” she says on a CBN video. “It was everything to do with throwing off the feminine because it was unsafe.”
Anne was raised in a Christian home, but the seeds for lesbianism had been planted right there.
“I felt responsible for what an older person did to me,” she says. “I felt uncomfortable in my own body. I felt unsafe.”
When she was six, a little girl “made a pass at” her and kissed her.
“What I realized right then is I felt like I had power as opposed to being powerless in the other circumstance,” she says. “And that ignited a lesbian desire later on in life. That was really the starting point of that turning of my feelings.”
Up until college, she pretty much suppressed the lesbian inclination. But when she entered the university, a libertine environment and substance abuse created the perfect cocktail to carry out her curiosities and cloud her confusion even more.
“I found myself quickly getting involved in alcohol and drugs on campus. They were everywhere. And that also gave me room to explore my sexual desires.”
She sought counseling, but her advisor told her “the Bible and homosexuality go just fine together.”
Nevertheless, “I just sensed that there was something off about that,” she admits.
Even though she had been raised in a Christian home, Anne had only heard about God; she had never known Him personally.
She began attending gay support groups and hoped to find a partner to marry and live happily ever after.
The Holy Spirit had other things in mind. One day right in the middle of the gay support meeting, he spoke to her heart: The love that you’re seeking, you’re not going to find here.
“It felt like a ray of light from heaven hit me right in the middle of this gay meeting,” says Anne. Read the rest: Anne Paulk former lesbian.
At one time, Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett didn’t know that there was an academic degree called a PhD. Now, the outspoken Christian is leading a National Institutes of Health team developing a Covid vaccine.
“I would have never thought that I would be in this moment right now,” the viral immunologist says on Black Enterprise. She wonders if she is living in an alternate universe, one in which God is shaking the table.
Kizzmekia grew up in North Carolina and somehow caught the eye of her high school chemistry teacher who hooked her up with summer internships in a lab at the University of North Carolina after the 10th and 11th grades.
“I was in the middle of a laboratory with this world-renowned organic chemist, his name is James Morkin. And he paired me with a black grad student, Albert Russell,” said Corbett. “Beyond the love for science and the scientific process, I learned that being him was possible.”
Mentors helped her climb the heights of science, along with her Christian faith, she says.
“I am Christian. I’m black. I am Southern, I’m an empath,” she says. “I’m feisty, sassy, and fashionable. That’s kind of how I describe myself. I would say that my role as a scientist is really about my passion and purpose for the world and for giving back to the world.”
Researching on the cutting edge of science to counter the world’s deadliest disease in 100 years allows Kizzmekia to combine her faith and intellect to serve others.
“My team is responding to the world’s most devastating global pandemic in the last hundred years,” she says. “There’s something to be said about knowing who you are.”
Outgoing president Trump visited her lab and became aware of her service to the country. Read the rest: women of color in science.
As he lay on the floor from a sudden and unexplainable fall, John Hawkins shuddered, pondering the implications. There had been no obstacle to trip on. He had simply collapsed.
“it scared me to death because I didn’t trip on anything,’ the retired carpenter-turned-pastor says on a 700 Club video. “My hip just gave out. I didn’t understand why.”
John was 60. An orthopedic specialist said a tendon in his hip was gone and bone was grinding against bone, generating extreme pain. He would need surgery. But he didn’t like what he read about alloy hip replacement recalls. (Surgeons now use plastic.)
“I’m too young to be acting like I’m 89,” the retired carpenter-turned-pastor says on a 700 Club video. “I couldn’t move, and I didn’t like it.
John started using a cane and needed help from his wife, Rose, to put on his shoes and get in and out of the tub. The pain was so bad that most of the time he just wanted to stay home, feeling miserable.
“I’ve always been active, and I liked to work. I worked with my hands,” he says. “My mom was a good example of work and a lot of good work ethic in my family. Everybody worked all their life, always worked for what you want.”
Eventually, he realized he needed to pray for a healing.
After venturing into the isolated Andes mountains of Colombia to reach the unreached Motilone tribe for Jesus, 19-year-old Bruce Olson was ambushed and shot in the leg with an arrow in 1961. His Yukpa guide fled as six warriors moved in and captured him, forcing him to stand and walk six miles to their tribal hut.
The Motilone indigenous peoples (they call themselves Bari) were feared by all outsiders because they killed anyone and everyone who made contact with them. Bruce says that such hostility stemmed from their fear that outsiders were cannibals, according his interview on the Strang Report podcast.
Bruce was allowed to recover, guarded in the hut. Three days after his capture, his first meal was a palm tree maggot, which he didn’t know how to eat. He was famished and when he cracked the exoskeleton with his teeth, the contents burst over his face and tasted like liquefied bacon and eggs.
When he spotted bananas hanging in the upper supports of the communal hut, his eyes pleaded with his captors to be able to eat one, which they granted. He quickly learned the word for banana and would ask often for the tasty treat. On the third occasion that he asked for a banana, they brought him an ax instead, and that’s how he discovered their language is tonal.
“I felt as a young Christian convert in Minneapolis that my place would be among the unevangelized tribal people of South America,” he says. “I felt uniquely drawn to Colombia because I liked the literature of Colombia. I bought a one-way ticket to Colombia. After one year of learning Spanish, I ventured into the jungle to make contact with the Bari people.”
Eventually, the Motilone realized that Bruce was not a hostile threat but a human being just like them. He learned their language and learned to fish and live among these primitives. He was accepted by everyone except a certain fearsome warrior who could not reconcile with the idea of a friendly outsider and threatened to kill Bruce.
On one night, the mighty warrior came to take his life. But Bruce had fallen gravely ill with jaundiced eyes, and so the warrior desisted. Tribal superstitions forbade killing sickly persons.
Bruce — or Bruchko, as they called him — was essentially “civilization’s” first contact with the tribe that killed all previous Colombian emissaries, prospectors and oil explorers. He would travel into cities to buy medicines and supplies. On one such trip, he discovered a newly-invented flea collar for pets. He bought one — for himself — and wore it around his neck.
Success for his efforts came with the winning of a convert, who was just about to be initiated into manhood. The ritual included a contest of chanting lengthy poems among the men. It sounded eerily demonic to Bruce, who was uninitiated as yet to the custom, but as he listened intently, he heard his young convert tell about Jesus as all the others perked up to his tale. Read the rest: Bruce Olson, Bruchko