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,” Emmett 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,” Emmett 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
Just when doctors asked her family members if they could take her off life support and let the “lost cause” die, Lisa Martin woke up from a 40-day coma induced by Covid.
“God had other plans,” a Dec. 31 hospital statement says. “On the 11th day, Lisa broke out of the sedatives and began following Jeff with her eyes and she even moved her hand.”
Now Lisa, a 49-year-old mother of four, is being called a “miracle patient.” In all, she spent 59 days on a ventilator at Memorial Satillo Health in Georgia, including the induced coma. She suffered a frontal lobe stroke during the health ordeal.
When Lisa didn’t come out of the coma (her eyes were fixed), hospital staff approached the family October 20th and asked them to make the hardest decision of their lives: take Lisa off life support.
They held a family conference. Her youngest son was the last to speak and said, “We are not pulling that plug. I’m not ready to be without my mama.”
“They decided to give it 11 days before making a decision. That would have been the end of one month on the vent. Earlier in September, Lisa had created a living will with a ‘do not resuscitate.’”
But when the family was pressed for a decision, Lisa woke up. Today, she’s re-learning how to walk, talk, swallow and eat.
To combat her painful fibromyalgia, Nancy Johnson tried meditation techniques from Eastern mysticism. It distracted her for a time from the skeletal-muscular pain but provided no lasting relief.
“I wаs оn this seаrсh,” Nancy told CBN. “What am I going tо dо?’ There’s sоmething emрty inside оf me. There’s а seаrсh fоr, Whо аm I? What am I? Аnd hоw соuld anybody love me? because I felt like such а failure аnd sо weak.”
At age 24 after delivering her first child, Nancy developed the mysterious disease, whose causes continue to elude medical science.
By age 40 after delivering their fourth child, Nancy essentially became a shut-in who, befuddled by exhaustion, couldn’t keep house or raise her kids.
“I felt so much shame about that,” she says. “I couldn’t be perfect for my kids or my husband.”
“Оne оf the dосtоrs sent me away with, ‘It’s all in your head,'” says Nancy. “And that was just devastating.” She felt hорeless, facing the grim reality she would have to live with her condition.
At the same time, she developed food allergies that depleted her body. At age 49, she had dwindled down to 82 pounds and was admitted to a trauma center with a temperature of 83 degrees, a hair’s distance from her organs shutting down.
“I very neаrly lоst her,” her husband Riсh told CBN. “Her bоdy hаd just deрleted. She was literally hours аwаy frоm her internal organs shutting down if we can’t get her stаbilized. I did some real soul searching that week.” Read the rest: healing from fibromyalgia.
With the exception of her husband who was Christian, Deepa Srinivas disdained Christians in her native area of Andhra Pradesh, India.
“Back in my village, even today, Christianity is treated very low,” Deepa says on a 100Huntley video. “During those days, I never liked to get connected to Christians or Christianity.”
That’s why she performed endless rituals to the Hindu pantheon worshiped by her family.
“My family is from a strong Hindu religion background with traditions, a lot of traditions,” she says. “My parents would be into a lot of idol worship. I used to think if I perform rituals, something good would happen to me and my family. Wherever I used to see a tree, I used to bow down to it and pray, even if it is on a road.”
While she married a Christian man, she never intended to adopt his religion.
God surprised her, however, with several miraculous incidents. One was a girl who spread rumors about her.
Deepa had tried to help her. This girl was a beautician but needed clients, so Deepa connected her with some contacts.
Biting the hand that fed her, the beautician spread a rumor about Deepa, causing her to lose all her friends.
“I was left all alone” Deepa says. “I was really upset, and I was not really happy with that girl at that point of time.”
Because she interacted with churches due to her husband, a pastor called her randomly one day and prophetically asked her if she was experiencing anxiety
“I was surprised and asked God, ‘Can God speak to someone about me?’” she says.
Taken aback by the insight into her heart, she shared her disillusionment.
The pastor responded: “If you love someone who loves you, then there is no point. Anyone can do that. But if you love someone who does not love you, then that is commendable in the sight of God.”
“I was shocked,” she admits.
The truth of scripture conflicted with everything she had known from Hinduism and Indian culture.
“Then I thought, ‘OK, Lord, I don’t know much about you. Whoever has hurt me and caused this grief to me, that girl should come and apologize the next day at 6:00 a.m.”
Guess who showed up bright and early “knocking at my door at six a.m.?” Deepa asks.
After four failed marriages, Ruth Graham, the famous evangelist’s daughter, realized she had abandonment issues that could be traced to her childhood.
Billy Graham was always on the road for crusades or preparing for an event. Daughter Ruth had little quality time with her dad as she was growing up.
“If we find that we are repeating a sin or repeating a pattern, we have to look at the core issue and I had to look at the core issue,” Ruth says on a 100Huntley video. “My father is my hero and he would never have hurt my heart. But I knew it was true that piece of the puzzle fit and once I put it in the puzzle, everything sort of calmed down.”
One of five children born to America’s most famous evangelist, Ruth was taught to never show anger or be upset that her father was often absent. So, she put on a mask to hide feeling neglected.
“We grew up a normal family,” Ruth says. “I mean it was just as dysfunctional as everybody else. I didn’t have that kind of time with my father and I missed it and I wasn’t the kind that would assert myself and grab it.”
Her first marriage unraveled because her husband cheated on her.
“I grew up around honorable men. So it never occurred to me that my husband of 18 years had been unfaithful to me for a number of years,” she says. “It just pulled the rug out from under me.”
Ruth says she and her husband went through counseling and she forgave him, but after he kept cheating on her, she decided to call it quits.
“Forgiveness is unconditional. Reconciliation is conditioned on the changed behavior of the one who’s done the wounding,” she says. “My husband wasn’t changing.”
Finally, the anger she repressed boiled over.
She and her siblings were not allowed to be angry as youngsters, she says. “So I just stuffed it and I stuffed it and I stuffed it and I stuffed it and that’s not a healthy thing.”
Shortly after the divorce, her ex died, and she forgave him.
Her second marriage was a “rebound,” she admits. On the outside, she was saying Christ was her security, but deep inside in the secret place of her heart, she was filled with insecurities.
The marriage lasted only three months because the man was abusive.
“I think it’s important to remove ourselves from a toxic situation, out of an abusive situation,” she says.
Not long afterward, she remarried a man she adored, but he called it quits after a decade.
“I was just devastated, just totally devastated,” she says.
Annie Lobert was raised in Minneapolis. Her alcoholic father was relentlessly harsh toward her, so when the boys paid her compliments in high school, she swooned. Her high school sweetheart talked of forming a family, but then she found out he was cheating.
“I completely took my entire heart and gave it to this boy and when I found out that he was sleeping with several of my best girlfriends, it was such a shock to me.”
Annie moved out on graduation day. She was working three jobs to make ends meet, so when a friend told her she had a Corvette in Waikiki and a lavish lifestyle spending days on the beach, she agreed to visit.
“I knew something wasn’t right, but the lure of the possibility of having nice things and finally having money that I never had growing up” was too much to resist, she says.
Her friend was prostituting herself, and Annie joined her.
“I became a different person, became the harlot, became the Queen of Lies, that Jezebel,” she says. “I was embraced by the devil and his false love.”
At first the money was good, really good: between $1,000 and $10,000. But later she fell for a sweet-talking guy who took her to Las Vegas.
After she arrived she discovered her “boyfriend” was actually a pimp. She now had to work for him under threat of life.
After a day of working, she came home with a wad. “Break yourself,” he told her, meaning that she must hand over all the money to him. This was very different from his charming demeanor earlier, so she resisted.
“He proceeded to take me out by my hair,” she remembers on an I am Second video. “He choked me. He threw me on the porch on my knees and he started kicking me. My nose broke. My ribs broke.
“I was looking at the devil.”
He raped her, held a gun to her head and let her know she would never escape alive.
After five years, she managed to get free.
“You’ll leave the money, the cars, the houses all behind, because when you leave a pimp, you leave with nothing,” she says.
Annie wasn’t as young anymore, so the money wasn’t as good. She developed cancer and lost all her hair undergoing chemotherapy.
She started taking painkillers for bone pain and became addicted. From there, she went on to cocaine. She was wearing wigs and staying in seedy motels. Feeling debased and dirty, she decided one night to end it all with an overdose of freebase cocaine
“I went completely blind,” she recalls. “It’s like the whole room, the light that was on in that room turned dark, and I remember laying there. And I felt this demonic presence just come over me. I got really really scared and I just instinctively knew I knew that I was at death’s door.” Read the rest: Annie Lobert Hookers for Jesus.
As far as required qualifications, Brigitte Bedard possessed all that is needed for a militant feminist: she hated men, she hated Christianity and she was a lesbian.
As a young person growing up in Montreal, she got into drinking and drugs and experienced the thrill of libertine life.
“I discovered intensity of what I experienced for the first time in my life, something that was you know like so strong,” she says.” I was feeling alive.”
Hurtling into sin, she left behind any notion of faith and the ways of her parents. She was particular impressed with feminist teachings at college and fully adopted them.
“I was the good one. I was the victim, I was a woman,” she says. “Men, history, the church and God were wrong.”
She fell into the lesbian lifestyle and adopted it as her identity. She felt complete, whole and independent. She didn’t need a man.
While she projected affirmations of feminism, she secretly longed for a family and children.
“It was a big paradox. You hate men, but you want to be with them,” Brigitte says. “You cannot live with them and you can’t live without them. I wanted to marry, have children and a house — secretly, secretly, deep down.”
The internal contradictions bugged her and left her feeling ultimately dissatisfied
“The emptiness was like I didn’t feel anything,” she says. “I felt like when I was a little child. When you’re a feminist after eight years in that lifestyle, I was very confused.” Read the rest: militant feminist won over by priest.
Backslidden Jesse Holguin was going to avenge the shooting of his cousin, but as he was kicking down the murderer’s door, the man fired at him from a side window.
“I got shot; I didn’t know I was,” Jesse says on a Prager U. video. “I didn’t hear the gunshot and I didn’t feel it or nothing. I just I was on the floor, and he was trying to shoot me some more and I was trying to pull myself with my arms.”
He fell into gangs because “every single member in my family, every single male was a gang member,” he says.
From a young age, Jesse was involved in shootings.
“As other kids wanted to maybe grow up to be an athlete or wanted to be a movie star or something like that, my goal my whole life since I can remember I was wanting to be a gang member,” Jesse says.
Every weekend, he, his brothers and his homies were getting shot at.
“My family had a good reputation around the neighborhood I was in and all that,” Jesse relates. “I tried to earn my own respect.”
It wasn’t long before he wound up in Youth Authority jail, “our worst nightmare.”
“My first night, I go in the shower and some guy runs in the shower with me with a shank (a knife),” he says. “I’m in the shower a little kid naked. He’s gonna stab me in the shower, and I was scared. But I told him, ‘What? Go ahead, stab me. What’s up? I ain’t scared. What’s up?’”
The front of fearlessness worked. The threatening kid backed down.
“That was just my first day,” he says. “They called it gladiator school.”
Jesse was released from the Youth Authority to a hero’s homecoming. In thug life, serving time is like earning your stripes in the military. Upon release, he was named leader of the entire gang.
“I ended up achieving the greatest that you could hope for in that lifestyle,” Jesse says. “I ended up being the leader of my gang and my gang was a big, powerful respected gang. I had respect. I had women, I had everything. But I still wasn’t happy.”
In addition to being the leader of the gang, Jesse also worked a job. His boss happened to be a Christian and would talk constantly about Jesus.
“I never heard it the way he was sharing it with me,” Jesse says. “So he was sharing me telling him about Jesus and things like that, and I told him, ‘You know what? That sounds good. Maybe one day, if I ever get married and stuff like that, maybe maybe I’ll go to church.’”
The Undertaker — WWE’s longest-running and most-heralded villain — has had a major change of heart thanks to his wife Michelle McCool who married him only after “she realized I wasn’t Satan,” he says.
Mark Calaway resisted accompanying his blonde wrestler wife to church because, after 17 surgeries, he didn’t look forward to bowing down at the altar and because he feared “the pastor’s going to see me and he is just going to throw fire and brimstone right me,” he says on a YouTube video.
“I went reluctantly, but once I got there I found myself going from being tense and pensive to kind of leaning in and like, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’ That started my journey.”
Mark grew up in a Catholic school with nuns enforcing the rules with cracks on the head in Houston, Texas. The 6’10” 309-lb behemoth was drawn to sports, basketball and football, and even played for the Rams in 1985-86 before donning a red mask in the ring in his original guise as Texas Red.
In 1989, he was re-christened “The Master of Pain,” with an invented criminal backstory as a recently-released killer from Atlanta, but by the end of the year he had a new name with a new schtick that stuck: he became The Undertaker, a persona that endured three decades and won 21 straight matches.
All the way, he lived “a life of excess” and cycled through two marriages before he met and married Michelle McCool in 2010. He retired from wrestling in June of 2020 after concussions and injuries made it increasingly difficult to perform on par.
When he saw Michelle McCool, he noticed her terrific work ethic and golden locks.
She wanted nothing to do with him.
“She was truly terrified of me,” Mark says. “She did not want anything to do with me.”
But he wore he down. He also proved to her that the bad guy persona in front of the camera had nothing in common with his heart. Read the rest: The Undertaker is Christian
After years of crime with the Northern California gang, Jesus Gallegos finally made it to the infamous State Prison known simply as Pelican Bay. Upon his release, he would be the one calling the shots, respected and feared by the up-and-coming rank and file on the streets of Salinas, CA.
“I thought I was on top of the world. I would be looked up to. I had a lot of influence on whatever happened on the streets,” he told God Reports. “That way of thinking shows just how lost I really was in sin.”
Jesus (pronounced Heh-SOOS; a common name in Hispanic culture) Gallegos only knew the life of the norteño gang, which competed with the Southern Californian rivals the Mexican Mafia. As he grew up in poverty, he fixed his eyesight on making it big in the the with norteños.
He earned 4 strikes — enough felonies to get locked up for life. But for some reason, the judge gave him a lighter sentence. Unlike almost everyone else at Pelican Bay, he had a release date. He expected nothing more of his life than prison time or death in the streets.
Something happened when he got released from Pelican Bay in 2005. The plan was to lay low during the time of his “high risk” parole and avoid associating with fellow gang members. The anti-gang task force and FBI would be watching him closely, ready to snatch him up for any violation.
The plan was to get a job, get married, get a house and show every sign of turning over a new leaf. Then when the parole was over, he would report for duty and fall in with the troops.
During those months, he decided to drop out of the gang. He had married for all the wrong reasons, and so things weren’t going well with his wife. Any time they had an argument she would call the cops, he says.
He worked with his parole officer, who let him to ditch the last three months of parole and travel to Texas, where he took up residence with his sister.
In Fort Worth he started drinking again. When he moved to San Antonio, he started using heroin and methadone. He resigned himself to a life of failure.
“I’m just going to go back to prison,” he realized. “That was my M.O.” Read the rest: from gangs to God
The voice was good, the look was good, but American Idol judges summarily dismissed Moriah Peters’ performance based on her Christian testimony. She wrote on her bio that she was reserving her first kiss for marriage.
“You need to go out into the world and make some mistakes and get some life experience and come back,” one of the judges said. “You need to go out and kiss somebody and that’ll make you feel sexier and then come back after for a hearing.”
Moriah had given up her high school prom and cut back on studies so she could participate in multiple auditions. Their response was crushing, but she maintained her faith in God.
“I was fighting the tears,” Moriah recounts on an I Am Second video. God had opened up the doors until that point, but now He seemed to close them, but she knew God had a greater plan and His strength would see her through.
Moriah got her start in Christian music at a church camp in the sixth grade. The worship music moved her and she felt drawn to God. Soon, she was singing in her church and leading worship. After a sensational Easter performance, people encouraged the Pomona, California, native to try out for American Idol.
But judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Avril Lavigne were harsh with her and sent her down the elevator.
As she walked out of the building, a random stranger congratulated her and asked to introduce her to Wendi Foy, who helped her put together a demo for record labels in Nashville.
She was struck by how quickly God opened the next door and saw it as a miracle. Since then, she signed with Reunion Records.
Then she got engaged to Christian music legend Joel Smallbone of For King and Country. How they met was the stuff of a Hallmark Channel movie.
The woman who invited her to a wedding that Joel also attended raved about him in the car, which made Moriah feel awkward. Then there was the line of women waiting to talk with him. She felt uncomfortable joining the line.
“This is not Disneyland, and you are not Pocahontas,” she was thinking. “I’m not standing in line. This is ridiculous.”
When she made it to the front of the line she still felt odd. The dude looked like a Ken doll.
‘Overzealous’ Mormon missionary Micah Wilder attempted to convert a Baptist pastor during a two-year mission in Orlando, Florida, but something surprising happened instead.
The Baptist pastor told the young man to go home and to read the Bible as a child. “I promise you that if you’ll do that that God will change your life and He will open your eyes and show You for the first time in your life, what the gospel, the true gospel of Jesus Christ really is.”
Micah left the pastor’s office in a huff.
As far as upbringing and credentials in Mormonism, Micah lacked nothing. His zeal surpassed many of his peers.
His mom was a professor at Mormon-stronghold Brigham Young University and his dad was a temple priest.
“I did not believe that I was saved by grace as a free gift,” Micah says in a Kassie West video. “I believed that I had to earn my way into God’s love and prove myself to God and show Him that I was worthy enough to be saved.”
Accordingly, at age 19, he trained to be a Mormon missionary with the best and the brightest the Church of Latter-Day Saints had to offer. After preparing at the Missionary Training Center at Provo, he was sent to Orlando.
“I was being very zealous and trying to convert people into my faith and riding my bicycle and knocking on doors, and I’d been there for a few months, and I got a little, you might say, overzealous in my attempt to convert others because I actually attempted to convert a Baptist minister and his whole congregation to the Mormon Church.”
Micah sat down with the pastor in his office and the two compared notes. Micah wielded the gospel of works, and the pastor illuminated Scripture. Micah was none too pleased with his fruitlessness, but the patient pastor encouraged him to re-read the New Testament, taking off the dark lenses of religion, and begin again “like a child.”
Micah didn’t give him the pleasure to say he’d take up the challenge. But, eventually, he began reading the Bible on his own over a two-year period.
“That seed was planted in my heart as a young Mormon missionary,” he recounts. “I took that Baptist minister’s challenge and I started to read the Word of God as a child for the first time of my life. I started to pour over the pages of the New Testament and every day that I did, God washed me with the water of that Word, and he consumed me with this amazing love that I did not know that my religion could ever offer me and He unveiled to me his grace in a way that I had never before seen.”
Only three weeks before the completion of his two-year mission, Micah was born-again.
“So I now found myself in a very difficult predicament because I’m a born-again Christian and a Mormon missionary, and that doesn’t work,” he confides.
Then came the first of the two most terrifying moments in his entire life.
At three weeks to completion, Mormon missionaries are called to testify about what they’ve learned on their mission trip to area colleagues. Micah agonized: should he tell them he was now born-again?
“I remember standing at the pulpit in this Mormon chapel and just trembling in fear, but Paul says in Philippians, ‘I can do All things through Christ who strengthens me,’ and by the power of God and by His grace, I was able to share a very simple testimony.”
Jesus was his all-sufficient salvation, he shared. He had confidence to enter Heaven, not based on works, but on grace alone. It was an innocuous explanation but the language didn’t line up with the works- and ritual-based salvation prescribed by Mormonism.
“There was a very awkward hush over the audience, and two days after I publicly shared that testimony, I received a phone call from my Mormon leadership and they said that they wanted to have a chat with me.”
If giving his testimony in front of his fellow missionaries had been “very terrifying,” being called in to give account to his leaders was “probably the single most terrifying moment of my entire life,” he says.
Apart from the sheer dread of appearing before something of an Inquisition, Micah stood to lose, practically speaking, his future and family. He would lose his scholarship to BYU. His family were in good standing in the church. His older brothers had been missionaries. Even his girlfriend was Mormon.
“But Jesus says that what is a profit, a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his soul and even though Mormonism had the whole world to offer me,” he says.
As a child, Kalel Pratico yearned to know God but found little guidance at home.
“My parents, you know, wanted me to find my own path,” he says on a CBN video. “I always wanted a connection with God. I was asking about angels, and so I was always hungry for God. I didn’t think that he was a personal God at all. I would pray for him to get me out of trouble. I would pray for, you know, a girl to like me. I would ask him for selfish things.”
Without any guidance he found liquor before the Lord.
“The first time i tried alcohol, I was in about sixth grade,” he says. “I remember the feeling that alcohol gave me and it was this peace that i was looking for.”
In high school, he discovered marijuana.
“I tried other drugs as well,” he says. “It hurt my parents that I was abusing substances. I would drive drunk. I was trying to numb this void I had in my life, this lack of connection that I was looking for.”
One night when he mixed up drugs in a hotel room, he felt he was dying.
“Everything else zoned out and all I was aware of was the presence of God,” Kalel says. “Every breath that I was breathing was given to me from God. I was aware that at any moment he could just stop what he was doing and I would have died.”
After surviving his brush with death, he vowed to never abuse again. Of course, he couldn’t keep that vow.
“I lived a very inconsistent life after high school,” he says. “I went to art college and was dating a girl at the time and she got me a Bible. Eventually I decided to go to church. I would sit in the pew and the message would completely go over my head.” Read the rest: kalel pratico was freed from drugs.
George Palmer and his boys, armed with concealed zip guns, didn’t go to the Billy Graham crusade to hear him preach. They went to kill him.
Palmer had hated God ever since he lost his father to a heart attack at age seven.
“I was just so angry with God,” he testifies on a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association video on YouTube.
George Palmer’s father died in Western Australia after planting 100 cherry trees. He had a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital, but doctors couldn’t save him.
“I’ll never forget when I was told that my dad had died, I just couldn’t handle that,” George remembers. “I remember going up to the top paddock, and I screamed at God.
“I hate you. I hate you with all my heart. I will never love.”
The anger grew in his heart. He was a troublemaker in school and in the neighborhood. People knew him by his bad reputation and this reinforced his growing bitterness.
“I was always told I would amount to nothing. If you tell a person that continually, that’s what you believe, that you’re worthless, you’re useless.”
In his youth, he led a violent gang that harmed many others and clashed with rivals. “I had a vile temper,” he says.
One day, after beating their rivals in a street fight, George and his nine associates captured the rival gang leader and, subduing him, drove a car over his hand backwards and forwards, crushing every bone in his hand.
“It’s all I ever thought of, hurting people,” he says.
They planned to attend the crusade in Melbourne, determined to kill the internationally famous evangelist.
That’s when he and his boys heard that Billy Graham was coming in 1959 to preach across Australia. They hated Christianity and God.
“Billy Graham stood for something I detested,” George says. “It was something that drove me day by day.”
“I made up 10 zip guns, so each member had one of those,” he says. “I said to the guys, ‘Come on. We’re going on the green. We spaced ourselves so that we could see each other around where Billy Graham was preaching.
“We decided that…during the appeal, we would kill Billy Graham.”
He showed up in Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police in 2014 to fight for equal treatment for people of color — but also to help quell the rising violence of protests that were being hijacked by non-local agitators.
This year, he showed in Minneapolis after George Floyd died when a white police officer kneeled on his neck. He participated in prayer, counseling and services on the very street corner where Floyd lost his life.
“In church circles, there’s been this desire for awakening,” JT says on Slate. “Oh my goodness, it looks like awakening has come to America in the form of chaos.”
This is JT’s full-time job, and his organization, the pun-derived nonprofit “Civil Righteousness” — has been part of the healing balm applied to a nation convulsed by months of protests, vandalism, riots, looting and anarchy. Christian race-relations expert Dante Stewart calls them “the next generation of the racial reconciliation movement.”
He likes to talk to hot-headed young activists, to white conservative evangelicals and angry black liberal progressives in their 50s and 60s and get them thinking outside of their bubbles. “Jesus came for all,” he says. “There are serious issues in policing that need to be addressed, but also the police officers are human.”
With Methodist circuit-rider great grandparents and a grandmother who was sister of soul legend/ civil rights activist Nina Simone, JT says he’s had a confluence of influences to uniquely prepare him for his current ministry.
Raised in a predominately black Baptist church in North Carolina, he launched on the path to become a missionary in college but zeroed in on urban needs in America. He worked in Tennessee and Indiana but struggled to raise support, so he started a video production company and accepted a teaching pastorate in a nondenominational church in St. Louis.
Then Ferguson erupted in unrest that quickly spread across the nation. In a dream vision, JT saw himself type an email titled “Meet me in Ferguson” and took it to mean that he should travel there in the name of the Lord.
He joined prayer groups and observed mounting street protests. He confirmed that agitators from St. Louis were the ones stoking the flames of outrage and sparking violence. After two months of trying to inject God into the equation, he moved his family and set up permanent residence in Ferguson.
When white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black Christians at church in Charleston, South Carolina, JT unobtrusively introduced himself on the scene to conduct prayer services and distributed food to the homeless.
After James Alex Fields Jr. slammed his car into Heather Heyer, killing her, and injured 19 others at a white supremacist rally in Virginia in 2017, JT conducted trainings for local churches on “how to be peacemakers and mediators.”
By then, Civil Righteousness had grown into a network of like-minded Christians who are ready to mobilize like a SWAT team. “We live a lifestyle of readiness,” JT says.
Naturally, they deployed to Minneapolis.
The protests sparked by George Floyd have been different than any previous. They have become more widespread and more supported by politicians and media. They also have been more dominated by Marxists and Antifa. Leaders of BLM have openly declared the Marxist alignment. Antifas engaged in organized anti-police mobilizations, ambushing cops and using lasers to blind them. Read the rest: Civil Righteousness brings Jesus to race riots.
As a Muslim, Khaleed Matmati was skeptical that Jesus would take away the pain from his mouth infection. But after prayer he was so astonished that the pain was gone the next morning.
“I started punching myself in my face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and my face,” Khaleed says on a CBN video. “I realized Jesus was God. I just told Him, ‘Okay, Jesus, I give you my life.’”
Khaleed grew up as a Muslim immigrant who wasn’t particularly drawn to the rigorous disciplines of Islam. What drew him was music.
“I always believed that Allah was God,” he says. “But growing up in high school I wanted to have fun. I saw everybody else having fun. What’s fun about not smoking pot? What’s fun about not drinking? What’s fun about not partying? I thought, ‘Later on when I become a parent and have children, then I’ll be a good Muslim.’”
When worship leader Eddie James met Khaleed, the Lord spoke to him about taking Khaleed on the road with him. Even though Khaleed wasn’t Christian, Eddie James hired him because God had told him that Khaleed would convert.
“It was right after 9/11 had happened, and Eddie was not trying to take no Muslim into his ministry,” Khaleed says now laughing.
Khaleed didn’t care for the religion. What he liked was the chance to learn music. ”I thought this was my big break,” he says. “I wanted to learn what I could from Eddie and go and do my own thing.”
His initial sign from God was on his first stop in Nashville Tennessee.
It started off with his friend David, who got bitten by a bug, which later began to swell.
They were staying in a Christian’s house and the mother of the household announced she would pray for David.
“This lady has gotta be out of her mind,” Khaleed thought to himself at the time. “Jesus healing a hand? That’s the stuff they do on TV. Who believes that crap?”
She prayed, and then — to Khaleed’s astonishment — the swelling went down.
“Right in front of my face, the swelling goes away,” Khaleed remembers. “You couldn’t even tell anything was wrong with his hand.”
After he saw that, Khaleed wondered if he himself could be healed. He had been experiencing pain due to an infection in his mouth and gums.
“Can you do for my mouth what I saw you do for his hand?” he asked.
“When she started praying for me, the pain was gone,” he recalls. “I needed a minute to comes to grips with what just happened. I remember sitting in the chair after she prayed for me thinking, ‘Oh my God, my whole life is going to change.’”
Still, Khaleed was not ready to ditch Islam. So he thought that perhaps the painkillers he’d been taking had finally kicked in. They asked him if he was healed. He responded: “Let me tell you in the morning” after the painkillers will have worn off.
The next morning, he woke up and began munching sugar molasses cookies. As he savored them, he swished them around in his mouth trying to re-provoke the pain.
“There was absolutely no pain,” he says. “I began to really start freaking out. I began to start punching myself in the face, trying to make some kind of pain in my teeth and in my mouth. I realized that Jesus was God. Read the rest: what happens when Muslims get healed by Jesus?
In 1997, Nita Hanson was a prosperous employee in Thousand Oaks. Then she went on a short-term mission trip to the Ukraine.
It broke her heart and changed the direction of her life. She saw crib after crib of babies and children crammed together in dim rooms.
“That’s when my heart broke open. I knew then that I couldn’t leave,” she told the Simi Valley Acorn.
Nita saw babies with special needs being dumped into ill-equipped and poorly staffed public orphanages. She witnessed handicapped people who had no real hope to ever receive mobility devices. If you were poor, there was little chance of finding help.
She decided to abandon the American Dream and pursue God’s dream. She was divorced and her two kids were grown. She was free from commitments, so she committed herself full time to the Lord’s work.
Today, Nita, 77, runs three orphanages in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine. Her ministry, God’s Hidden Treasures, has teamed up with Christian athlete superstar Tim Tebow to stage events to help some of the neediest people in Ukraine. She provides wheelchairs and walkers; people who otherwise would have been enclosed in four walls forever may now go out and breathe the fresh air and bask in the sunshine. Her group sponsors medical home visits and supplies food and basic needs.
Staffed by mostly Ukrainians, her people seek to create life-long relationships with orphans and other families.
Lori Hall of Ventura County recently joined Nita on a short-term mission group.
“I was thrilled to join the Impact Team as we set out to listen, learn and serve the ministry of God’s Hidden Treasure,” she says. “We sought to be humble servants as we went to other cultures, to share Jesus’ love by listening to the people, learning of their concerns and serving them in Jesus’ name.”
Lori spent 12 days assisting doctors and pastors with in-home health visits, delivering necessary wheelchair or mobility devices and helping with an annual citywide picnic evangelistic event for over 300 handicapped persons. Her group ran a Vacation Bible School for teenage boys with special needs living in an orphanage, a highly anticipated event. Not much is done for these special needs people, so it’s significant that this group makes a concentrated effort to focus on people sidelined by society.
“I was most impacted by the great love, tenderness and respect everyone showed to each and every individual,” Lori noted. “Jesus and His love was everywhere as people’s lives were blessed and changed forever, whether by receiving their first wheelchair or walker, by being touched with loving hands and hugs or finding new life in Jesus’ message of truth!”
In 15 years, God’s Hidden Treasures has delivered more than 6,000 mobility aids across Ukraine, her website says. When she provides a wheelchair as a gift, she tells the recipient it is “because God heard your prayers.”
They’ve come a long way from the original three wheelchairs brought on a Delta Flight to the Ukraine purchased from China in conjunction with Joni and Friends USA. Read more about God’s Hidden Treasures.
In the quest for victory in competitive cycling, Ben King submitted himself to grueling training sessions that very nearly made he drop off the edge of healthy choices and even sanity.
“Cycling is one of the most demanding sports in the world. You don’t get to determine the pace; the pace is set. It’s like getting pulled along on a choke collar,” Ben says on White Chair films.
“And then you have the climbs and you get dropped. It’s a very explosive, intense knock out punch. The training, over-reaching, over-compensating, ups and downs burn 6,000 calories. You come back and have to have self-control. The things that you are trying to control end up controlling you. That really starts to wear you down and break you.”
In his first competition in Europe at age 16, he was staggered by daunting competition.
“We just got hammered. We got thrashed,” he says. “I’ve never suffered like that just to finish races.”
Ben decided he needed to buckle down and get serious about training. He read about pro-training and diet. He looked at he pros.
“They just looked like skeletons,” he remembers. “I started to believe that the lighter I got, the faster I would get.”
Trying to kick it in high gear, Ben would ride in the morning, lift weights in the middle of the day, go to track practice, go home and cram in his homework — along with swim practice.
“I would just die in my bed every night.”
Then he started purging. One night on his way back from swim practice, he decided he had eaten too much, and thinking this would weigh him down on the road race, he pulled over on the side of the road, opened the door and induced vomiting.
“In this twisted way, it gave me this sense of control,” he says. “It became a habitual thing. I began to wear down emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.”
Then blood showed up in the toilet.
“I was totally beating my body into submission. The thing I was trying to control was beginning to control me.”
At 17, Ben was ravaging his body in an abusive self-competition — all in the search of getting faster and faster.
He was training three to four times a day and was purging every time he felt he had eaten too much.
He arrived home one night and just clumped up the stairs and said goodnight to his mother but she called him back down to wash some dishes.
He was tired and temperamental and went into the kitchen and started to wash the dishes roughly.
Ben broke one of his mom’s favorite bowls and her temper flared.
He began seeing red and ran out the door, into the woods and kept on running. In the dark woods, he remembers staring at the very weird and odd movements of the branches.
“I just felt like I was surrounded by this evil presence,” Ben says. “It may just have been the evil I had allowed into my life.” Read the rest of Ben King Christian cyclist.
In-N-Out is known for arguably the best fast-food hamburgers on planet Earth. And the Bible verses printed on the bottom of its fry trays and cups point their devoted customers toward heaven.
But behind the “Christian” company is a born-again president, Lynsi Snyder, who struggled through three divorces, marijuana and alcohol addiction.
She had a happy childhood and loved her dad, but when she turned 12 she realized dad’s “sickness” was drug addiction, a byproduct of painkillers prescribed after surgeries. When her parents divorced because of his infidelity, Lynsi’s world fell apart.
“It was really hard for me to see him fail and be weak because I knew how bad he wanted to be a good husband and a good father,” Lynsi recounts on an I Am Second video.
Then her dad, president of the burger chain, died.
She tried to fill the void with a quick marriage straight out of high school. When that ended in divorce, she hooked up with another guy. She was desperate to ward off loneliness.
“It wasn’t right. I knew that, that small still voice was telling me don’t do this and I did it and I paid the price with a divorce and jumped right into the arms of someone else.”
Cast as the outcast in her family, she decided to embrace the bad girl role and started smoking marijuana and drinking. It was a move, she was aware, that paralleled her dad’s demise, and it worried her enough to eventually change.
“I realized that I’m going to follow the footsteps of my father and I’m going to meet an early death if I do not get right with God and follow him because the enemy just wanted to wipe me out.”
When her live-in boyfriend also quit the drugs and booze, she figured they should get married. Two beautiful children resulted from that marriage, but it too did not survive after six years.
Finally happy with her fourth husband
“I couldn’t feel like a bigger failure at that point,” Lynsi says. “I just couldn’t recover who I was.”
Still lonely, she married a guy who only wanted her family fortune. He cheated on her and verbally and emotionally abused her.
“The first time I found out he cheated I thought I deserved it. I’m paying for it,” she says. “Never had I been talked to the way he talked to me. Treated me like trash. It was the worst time of my life.”
You could see all she wanted was love and appreciation but it just seemed like she was getting farther away every time.
“I started to believe the lies that I deserved that, that God is punishing me,” she says. “The things that could be said can cut you very very deeply and change who you believe you think you are.” Read the rest of Lynsi Snyder Christian.
Those same stipulations in Leviticus that make most Christians’ eyes glaze over are the very ones that convinced Dr. Lawrence Czer that God was real — specifically the dietary restrictions that must have seemed arbitrary and pointless in the unscientific ancient world.
“As I began to read the Bible, especially the books of Moses and specifically in Leviticus, I was noticing that God was telling the people of Israel to basically trim the fat off the meat that they were offering Him and to offer the fat to Him,” Dr. Czer said. “And I thought, ‘Wow, God’s a cardiologist.’ They’re eating really healthy meat because they trim off all the fat, and God really knows what He’s doing here.”
Dr. Czer is an internationally recognized cardiologist. He is the medical director of the Heart Transplant Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was a pioneering researcher in the use of stem cell treatment as an alternative to invasive surgery.
For him, another convincing dietary restriction was the prohibition of eating blood, a “very, very safe practice because a lot of bacteria and viruses can be in the blood and you certainly don’t want to eat uncooked meat or poorly cooked meat,” Czer continues. “He was saying to drain all the blood out of the animal and to cook it well.
“So I thought, ‘Well, He’s very health conscious too! He knows what He’s talking about. He’ll prevent transmission of infectious diseases. It’ll keep the priest healthy; he won’t eat too much fat. And you know, they’ll have a long life.”
So while atheists who revere science examine Leviticus for laws that appear nonsensical, Dr. Czer discovered that God knew about science before even science did and His dietary requiements made perfect sense.
“I thought, ‘This is really neat. It’s not just a whimsical or arbitrary set of rules. He’s asking the priest to do this in faith not knowing the reason.’ But obviously He knew the reasons. We kind of know the reasons now. Looking in retrospect, God was just looking out for his people. I thought, ‘These are rules for good reason, not just arbitrary rules, and He knows what He’s doing.’” Read the rest of Famed cardiologist convinced of God upon reading dietary law of Leviticus.
Albert Pujols, a pitcher’s enduring nightmare, just joined Major League Baseball’s elite 3,000 hits club, but his greatest motivator is his relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Believe it or not, baseball is not the chief ambition of my life,” the 38-year-old heavy hitter says on his website. “Becoming a great baseball player is important to me, but it is not my primary focus. Because I know the Hall of Fame is not my ultimate final destination. My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will.”
Pujols (pronounced Poo-hols) grew up in the Dominican Republic. A child of divorce and the son of an alcoholic father, he was raised mostly by his grandmother and uncles. He was so poor that as a kid he used unripe limes for balls and milk cartons mitts to play baseball.
The American sport was an outlet — and an American opportunity.
After his grandmother and father immigrated with him to the U.S., Pujols played for Maple Woods Community College for one year. That’s when the St. Louis Cardinals picked him up. After one year in the minor league, Pujols was promoted to the majors in 2001.
Within four days of the season’s start, he recorded 3 RBIs and one home run. By season’s end, he was named Rookie of the Year and averaged .300 with 30 home runs, leading the Cardinals into the playoffs.
The 9-time All Star became one of baseball’s most feared sluggers known for guessing what pitch comes next.
After 11 seasons of consistently slamming balls to the fence for the Cardinals, he signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2010 for a 10-year $210 million contract. Baseball buffs predicted the cash splash would bust. He was getting older and wouldn’t produce as he had in his younger years, they complained.
But they underestimated his “maniacal” dedication. He practiced obsessively and continued to whack the ball consistently.
“The one thing that is very understated about Albert is the sense of how hard he actually works at hitting, the studying of the pitchers, the actual time he spends in the cage,” former teammate David Eckstein tells the L.A. Times. “When the best player on your team is the hardest worker, it helps the club win.”
With his family.
Pujols just became the 32nd major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits in MLB. He will rank with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez with those hits and 600 home runs. He’s also snagged two Gold Gloves and a Sports Illustrated Player of the Decade award.
If the U.S. gave Pujols fame, it also gave him something greater. In America, Pujols found Jesus, thanks to the love of his life Diedre, whom he met in 1998 and married two years later.
“I believed something was missing in my heart,” he says on a YouTube video. “In 1998 I decided to walk with Christ. I don’t just represent (a baseball club), I represent Christ. That’s the most important thing in my life. If you don’t know Christ… read the rest about Albert Pujols Christian 3000 hits.
Kevin Elijah Burgess dallied with drugs, gangs, fighting, trouble-making and women on St. Petersburg, Florida’s infamous south side.
“It felt very unsafe regularly. Ambulances were as normal as the birds chirping. Living with gunshots,” says Burgess, now 29. “Behind closed doors like many inner city kids, I was struggling. I was struggling with my identity as a man. I looked to dudes to affirm me that I shouldn’t have been looking to in the first place. What it meant to be successful, what it meant to be strong were defined to me by people around me, by T.V., and it left me in a very desperate, dark place.”
While inner city temptations beckoned him, Burgess was also academically adept. School was easy for him, and he was invited to participate in a pre-college program in high school. But the lack of a father undoubtedly contributed to conflicts in his soul, which led him to the verge of getting kicked out of the collegiate program.
That’s when he met a Christian who introduced him to Christian rap. At the time, KB didn’t know much about Christianity, but he thought he knew that God was opposed to rap. The singer on the CD had dreadlocks like Burgess.
“I’ve walked with the Lord ever since I got that CD,” Burgess says. He got his college degree, began rapping and caught the eye of the godfather of Christian hip hop, Lecrae, who quickly signed the talented artist for Reach Records in 2010.
Today, Burgess gets played on the secular stations and his videos are shown at the gym alongside the likes of Kendrick Lamar. He’s part of the movement bringing “Christian rap” out of the corner and into the mainstream with hard-hitting lyrics expressing raw pain and original musical arrangements.
“People are going to say, ‘These guys are killing it.’” he told Guideposts. “I’m not the Christian Kanye West. We’re our own artists and when we come into the industry, we have to deal with (being dismissed as copies of secular rappers). We have something to say, we have a style of music that isn’t just reproducing.”
His third album, Today We Rebel, released in October 2017 hit #1 on Christian album sales. It followed Tomorrow We Live from 2015 which hit #18 in overall sales in America. His track “100” snagged the Dove Award for Rap/Hip-Hop Song of the Year in 2014 and was a major crossover success.
His latest album features the song “Monster” which doesn’t mince words:
“Boy, I used to be a monster
I was tweakin’, had my mama goin’ bonkers
Yeah, you probably wouldn’t believe it
If it hadn’t been for Jesus
I’d be still runnin’ around like I’m a gangster”
Straight out of college, Josh Young worked for Veneklasen Associates, a transnational multimillion dollar sound engineering firm. He bought a house in Santa Monica for his beautiful bride and budding family.
Then all of sudden, he jumped from the corporate ladder and ditched his enviable success.
“I felt unfulfilled at the engineering firm. I wanted to make an impact in people. But that was not financially feasible until there was a miracle in my finances,” said young-looking LCA teacher. “My mortgage went down. Instead of saving more money, I decided to take a pay- and benefit cut to work for the church and school.”
Now, Josh Young is poised to take over the Lighthouse Christian Academy as principal, as long-time chief Jack Mefford steps aside to pursue his calling to start a church in Pismo Beach this June.
Some would say Josh sabotaged his own financial security, but he is completely happy with his decision for people over pay.
“I’m living the American dream,” he insisted. “Well, if it’s just money and moving up the corporate ladder, no, I don’t miss that. It was stressful. It was very demanding. I wasn’t happy. Coming over here to try to help people, I’m healthier, happier. I have more freedom with my time. I’m able to pursue more interests like being a chaplain.”
For two years now, Josh Young has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Lighthouse Church schools and church planting machine. He was ordained as a pastor in 0000. He teaches government, guitar, economics and history at LCA.
And, he’s a chaplain for the Santa Monica Fire Department, which means he gets called out of the office (or his bed) whenever there’s a first-responder’s emergency and has to be on hand for victims of fire or violence in the moment of shock when tragedy just struck.
“It’s a great opportunity to help people that are experiencing very difficult moments in life. Usually it’s a death or a near-death, some life-altering event,” Josh said. “They are alone or scared, and just to be a compassionate person ministering to them and helping them is a privilege.”
How did he get roped into the unpaid chaplaincy? As with most great things that great men do, his great wife signed him up.
“She worked in the Santa Monica UCLA emergency room, and firemen came by and said they were starting a chaplain program, and they asked her if her husband would be interested,” he related. “The next thing I know, I got a phone call and they wanted to meet and talk about being a chaplain.”
Getting yanked from bed for a 3:00 a.m. fire may not be fun, but he gets to wear a cool fireman hat.
Josh Young was a child of divorce. His mom moved him and his two older sisters to Santa Monica. This may be hard to believe, but he was a rebellious kid.
As a punishment for misbehavior, he was forced to go to youth group at the Lighthouse Church.
Yup, that was the start of everything. (So don’t despair, parents, when your kids are disciplined.)
Ironically, his “punishment” led to friendships. He was in middle school and started making friends among the Lighthouse youth. This led to him accepting Jesus into his heart and becoming a disciple.
When he was about to enroll in high school, his mom asked: SaMoHi or LCA?
The rest is history.
As a scrawny freshman, he took PE, which at the time was working out with the football team. Weighing less than 100 pounds, Josh had absolutely no intention of playing 8-man varsity football with all the kid crushers in CIF’s Southern Section.
But before he knew it, he was being handed football pads and a helmet and found himself, bewildered and asking what happened, on the gridiron with guys three times his weight running at him and looking to crush him like an aluminum can.
“Let’s just say, I wasn’t a starter,” Josh recalled. “The greatest thing I did was I stopped a two-point conversion.”
LCA was going through something of a purge at the time with a slew of well-behaved kids being expelled, so his graduating class in the year 2000 was a mere four students. (Josh likes to brag that he graduated among the top four.)
Among his God decisions during high school, Josh bailed on the estrogen environment of his mom and sisters and moved into Pastor Rob Scribner’s house in north Santa Monica. Read the rest of LCA’s new principal.
With a huge, swarthy bully chasing him, the tow-headed third grader ran home after school as fast as he could.
This was little Carlos Ray’s misery everyday in Miami, Arizona – until a gas station attendant stopped him and taught him to stand up to the bigger boy.
Little Carlitos trembled with fear as he faced his bully. The two grappling in the dirt for minutes that seemed like an eternity, and Carlos was receiving a walloping. Suddently, he grabbed his adversary’s finger bent it backwards. The bully cried out in pain and surrendered, according to the autobiography, Against All Odds: My Story.
When he was known as Carlos Ray
That’s how America’s toughest tough guy got his start. The shy and intimidated little kid later learned martial arts in Korea, while he was in the Air Force. It was in Korea that Carlos Ray Norris adopted his nickname “Chuck.”
The martial arts instructor and actor, now 78, was born into a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father. He was part Cherokee, but that didn’t help him when his mother moved to Arizona and enrolled him in a school of mostly Native Americans, where the blue-eyed blond kid seemed easy prey for schoolyard tormentors. He was introverted, non-athletic and not very academic.
After high school, he enlisted in the Air Force as an Air Policeman in 1958 and excelled at martial arts, earning more than one black belt. He eventually founded his own school with his own brand of martial arts called Chun Kuk Do.
He was discharged from the military in 1962, taught in karate schools, and excelled in competitions. He won the Professional World Full-Contact Middleweight Karate Champion title in 1968, which he retained until he retired in 1974.
His karate teaching brought him to the likes of Priscilla Presley, the Osmonds and the Hollywood tough guy Steve McQueen. McQueen encouraged Norris to try his hand at acting. He had already performed bit parts in The Wrecking Crew in 1969.
He met Bruce Lee and played the part of Lee’s nemesis in Way of the Dragon in 1972 and Return of the Dragon the following year. His acting career took off, with his biggest role being the thriller, Good Guys Wear Black. The film made $18 million in 1978. Read how Chuck Norris became Christian.
Christian Hosoi had one dream in life: he wanted to be the best vertical skateboarder in the world — and he got it. But he still felt empty.
Born of a Hawaiian Japanese father and Caucasian mother, Hosoi grew up in Southern California, where his dad worked at a skate park in Marina Del Rey. Skating became his daily bread; he even dropped out of school at age 13 for it.
He became a professional skateboarder in 1982 when he was only 14-years-old.
The “Christ air” trick he invented before he knew Christ.
He became famous for his flair and graceful style. He was winning competitions, and eventually he would have to take on the big name of skating, Tony Hawk, a technical and daring trickster. Hosoi surprised many spectators by winning their first faceoff. The next time, Hawk won.
It was a rivalry that fed the growing following in this spectator sport. Hosoi was making money and had a huge following. Hosoi invented the “Christ Air” and the “Rocket Air,” and he was renowned for pulling huge aerials — even holding the world record at one point.
In 1984 he formed his own company, Hosoi Skates, first distributed through Skull Skates, then through NHS-INC, and his took off in popularity. When street skating began to emerge in the mid-to-late 80s, Hosoi proved a threat there as well, winning both the vert and street contests at the Lotte Cup contest in Japan in 1989. At one point he earned $350,000 a year, according to the Orange County Register.
But fame and finances weren’t enough, so he turned to drugs and partying.
The recession of the 1990s hit his business bad, and his drug addiction grew. He skipped a court date in 1995 and, to avoid arrest , declined an invitation to the first X-games, which had been billed as the long-awaited rematch of Hosoi and Hawk.
He was running from the law.
The authorities caught up with him in January 2000 at the Honolulu airport. He carried 1.5 pounds of crystal methamphetamine from Los Angeles to Honolulu. Charged with drug trafficking, Hosoi was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
That’s when his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Lee, stopped doing drugs and got into Jesus. She encouraged Hosoi to trust God with his court appearances.
Moses Bowen, adopted by missionaries when he was a starving newborn, dined on four sumptuous goals in the first half of Lighthouse Christian Academy’s soccer victory over Highland Hall Waldorf School.
When the tsunami of blue jerseys was over, LCA closed its sixth-straight win — an undefeated season so far — with a resounding 5-0.
Coach Jack Mefford actually took Moses off the field at half to release pressure on Highland Hall.
In soccer, scoring three is an extraordinary feat known as a hat trick. Four is unheard of.
And there’s one more troubling fact — troubling for the competitors in the league.
Moses is a freshman.
Yes, that means he’ll be making defenders’ knees tremble for three more years.
In the Bible, Moses opened the Red Sea. Yesterday, he opened the path among defenders.
His friends call him Mosie, a name rhyme with his twin brother Josie (Joshua).
When they were born, their mother died, and their father couldn’t take care of them — or any other relative.
They were starving on a diet of rice with no milk. Such is poverty in The Gambia of West Africa.
Ralph and Brenda Bowen, now on staff at Lighthouse schools, were missionaries at the time battling big spiders and crippling malaria while bringing the Good News to the huddling masses.
They were already into their third church plant, this time in Senegal. The Gambia was the former stomping grounds.
So when the Bowens heard the case of some unwanted boys who were going to die, their hearts rent and their legs running. They drove across international borders and adopted the twins. Brenda Bowen painstakingly nursed them to health.
Despite leading a 500-student college group, Pastor Lynn Cory felt something was very wrong with his ministry at a San Fernando Valley mega church. It was too “churchy.”
So after 10 years of thriving ministry, he quit a paid ministerial position and worked for an advertising firm where he could rub elbows with the unsaved and share his faith.
Today, Lynn has an aversion for what other pastors crave: big crowds, fancy buildings and better programs. God has led him to a different approach, bringing individuals to Christ one at a time through “neighboring.”
He offers some drastic advice: Throw your megaphone in the trash. Ditch the building programs; rid yourself of growth strategies from corporate America; stuff the showmanship of Hollywood. And, above all, dispose of the mantra that bigger size equates with success.
Go and be a neighbor, he advises. Make friends with the people next door. Bake them a pie or invite them to dinner. Shred your packed agenda and share the love of Christ slow-cooker style, by gaining their confidence through months and years.
Lynn calls this approach to evangelism “Neighborhood Initiative,” and has expounded the virtues to turning church paradigms upside down in two books, Neighborhood Initiative and the Love God and The Incarnational Church. This latter book coins the term from what Jesus did: being the face-to-face reference point bringing God to those who don’t know Him.
Lynn sees a movement forming, from Chico, California to Illinois. Even mega church pastors are signing up. They are moving away from the big splash, substituting the unglamorous grind of returning to what the Book of Acts calls “house to house” ministry.
Lynn’s argument is compelling. He cites data from George Barna that found 80% of church growth was membership transfer. Churches are not converting people; they are stealing from churches with fewer resources.
Plus, not every church has the resources to mount a Greg Laurie-style outreach. Because they can’t, many churches have excused themselves entirely. Anyone can visit his neighbor with a pie and show concern for his well-being.
As pastor of “The Gathering” in Salem, Massachusetts, Wyman reaches out to disciples of the devil, both dabblers and druids.
All this month, thousands of tourists and a gaggle of witches – whether bona fide Satanists or snake oil salesmen – descend on Salem, the birthplace of sorcery in America, for something of an open-air conference and festival called Haunted Happenings that culminates in Halloween.
Wyman, 59, hosts bands playing music and booths where Christians soft-pedal the gospel. He hands out hot chocolate and offers spiritual conversations for the curious. His followers, sometimes dressed as medieval monks, walk the town and ask forgiveness for the sins of the church, the inquisitions led by the colonial Puritans.
When Wyman sees a witch, he doesn’t see Lex Luther. He sees a hurting soul who has fallen unwittingly in the wrong path. He recognizes that some resorted to Satan because they were rejected by church members.
“Christians have a National Enquirer view of pagans,” Wyman told Wicked Local of Salem. “They think they must be worshipping Satan or sacrificing babies. Or they view the pagan community as a well-organized machine that’s after the church. That’s a sad picture. In turn, because a few Christians have taken advantage of that to make money in the ’80s and ’90s, the pagans have a bad view of Christians. We want to break that.”
Unaccustomed to love from Christians, the witches appreciate Wyman.
A Wiccan and necromancer, Christian Day, 46, praised Wyman’s style (in a quote nine years ago): “If ever there was a person that could make me want to become a churchgoing Christian it would be Phil — not because he’s tried to convince me that witchcraft was evil, or hell is fire and brimstone, but because he leads a life of honesty. He’s one of the most honest people I know, and I’m a psychic. I look at people and I see their dishonesty.”
Not all Christians understand his approach, saying it’s dangerous to fraternize with the enemy.
Early on in this ministry, Wyman was photographed kissing the hand of a witch. It was an extravagant gesture, partly jest and thoroughly love. When it wound up on a Satanic website, Wyman’s church denomination defrocked him Read the rest of Should Christians celebrate Halloween?
While floodwaters threatened innumerable lives in Houston, Muslims half way around the world rejoiced openly on social media that calamity had befallen the “infidels” in America.
“Allah, destroy them more and more because they destroyed our countries,” Bushra Atwani commented on a Facebook post showing flood waters flowing.
“I had fire in my heart against America,” wrote Ali Albaghdadi. “But when I saw this video, all the fire is gone. I’ve become very happy. America is the head of the snake. We prayed for that. We asked Allah to destroy America like they destroyed our country.”
The outpouring of hate, the disturbing gush of glee among Muslims who see the devastation in Texas, makes one wonder what kind of religion they have.
“We ask Allah to protect the Iraqi people there and kill everyone else,” wrote Qasim AL Gohrabi. Houston has a sizeable Iraqi population.
“This is Allah’s punishment for everybody who is against us,” wrote Ahmed El Zrafy. “I ask Allah to not help them, to leave them to their fate.”
Sadly, the comments, which were interpreted by a translator and not software, are not a smattering of isolated fringe elements but represent wide swathes of Muslim opinion. In the view of the translator who reviewed the comments, about 80% wish evil upon America. Those expressing grief usually do so because they have a friend of relative living in Houston.
A Pew Research poll in 2014 found 85% of Egyptians hate America and 62% of Pakistan also express anti-American sentiment, as reported by Foreign Policy. By contrast, Israel holds the second highest regard in the world for the United States, with an 81% favorable outlook, according to Pew.
“We tend to see more negative sentiment among Muslims in the Middle East, such as those from Egypt and Jordan,” noted Bruce Stokes, director of global economic attitudes at Pew, as reported by the BBC. Read the rest of the article about what Muslims think about America.
Note: This article’s purpose is NOT to stir up hate and violence against Muslims. As Christians we must love those who persecute us. The purpose is to fight the leftist delusion that Muslims are an oppressed minority that need to be appeased. The policy of appeasement failed with Hitler, so why is it be retaken by the Left?
It’s not the tie-donning, Bible-toting crowd that heads to the Nevada Desert to evangelize at Burning Man, the art hipster festival that draws more than 50,000 for a blistering week on the dry alkaline lakebed.
No, it even draws Christian iconoclasts who flout church conformity. Styled on the born-again hippies of the Jesus Movement, these guys see beyond the largest pagan cult gathering in America. They see misguided souls thirsting for truth.
Burning Man, for the uninitiated, is religion for the religion-less. From Aug. 27 to Sept 4, “Burners” camp in Black Desert and revel in alcohol, drugs, biking, electronic dance music and unbridled hedonism. The bacchanal culminates when a gigantic wooden centerpiece – or temple – is burned in effigy on Saturday night.
The celebration has elements of religion: ritual, a code of conduct and a sense of community. But there is no clear focus on a deity.
Phil Wyman, aka Gandalf/Indiana Jones
This is where Phil Wyman comes in. A Christian pastor who reaches out with love and acceptance to the witches at the Halloween fest in his native Salem, Massachusetts, Wyman is long-haired preacher who’s been described as a cross between Gandalf and Indiana Jones.
Wyman, like other Burners, erects an interactive art display with a message that seeks to activate a quest for true spirituality. In 2011, his Pillars of the Saints honored Simeon Stylite, the ascetic pole-sitter who sought to connect with the Spirit through a radical disconnect with this world.
Wyman’s messages are suggestive, not authoritative, which is why they resonate with the lost souls at Burning Man but they also raise eyebrows among straight-laced Christians who want a more orthodox message. Wyman employs the Socratic method and gets people thinking by asking questions.
“I wondered why Christianity had not typically embedded itself into these festivals, why we weren’t among the leaders of new cultural developments and wildly creative thought,” Wyman wrote in Christianity Today. “Certainly God is wildly creative—enough to find his way into human hearts in other cultures around the world.”
One church from Ohio became famous for passing out waters, which is pretty handy in the scorching heat and dust of the desert. It was a way of showing the love of Christ in a practical way.
There have been Christians who dress like Jesus and carry the cross.
Floyd Mayweather is better known for dogged defense, precision punches, trash talking and unconscionable greed. He’s less known for his relationship with Jesus Christ.
But in fact, the provocative pugilist – who will face Conor McGregor in the boxing ring Aug. 26th – is born-again. It’s not something he hides – or pedals.
“God is first in my life,” he declared unequivocally.
Mayweather was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with seven siblings sardined into one room. Both his mother and father struggled with drugs. His dad was a dealer and spent time in jail. There were heroine needles in his front yard and an aunt died of AIDS, infected by a dirty needle.
Dad was also a boxer and took Junior to the gym all the time. He didn’t take him anywhere else – not ice cream, the park or movies. Mayweather felt pretty much on his own, though his dad disputes this claim.
“I basically raised myself,” he said, according to Wikipedia. “My grandmother did what she could. When she got mad at me, I’d go to my mom’s house. My life was ups and downs.”
Boxing became Mayweather’s safe haven, a place where he could forget the sadness of his life and release his frustrations with aggression. He developed uncommon speed and a sixth sense of ring awareness that accelerated his rise in the boxing ranks.
He dropped out of high school and won 84 out of 88 amateur matches. Since going pro following a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics, he hasn’t lost a fight and has surpassed the likes of Mohammad Ali and Mike Tyson as a five-division world champion.
His nickname as an amateur was “pretty boy.” He was so good defensively that opponents had trouble landing punches, leaving him scar less. But Mayweather dropped this moniker in favor of “money.” He posts videos of himself counting rolls of money and boasts unabashedly about his money.
“I got a 14-passenger jet. Got to give them another reason to hate, but I will motivate the people that are ambitious and want to be winners in life,” he wrote. “I’m materialistic, and I’m motivated by money. But God is first in my life.”
God was in his heart, but he reveled in the roll of the villain. He taunted opponents and glowered at them. He was convicted of beating his girlfriend. He strutted around with the pride of a peacock.
“Floyd Mayweather represents everything that’s wrong with sport and celebrity,” The Telegraph trumpeted in an article that lambasted him for 16 paragraphs, landing jab after jab. He “worshiped money and himself.” He’s misogynistic. He’s a boring fighter, spending more time avoiding than landing blows. His nickname “Money” sucks, and Australia wisely denied him a visa to visit the country, the article claimed.
His fight against Manny Pacquiao was “evil versus good.” Pacman (a much cooler nickname, the article asserted) was mom-loving and God-fearing, a rags-to-riches kid… Read the rest of the article Floyd Mayweather Christian.
Years after having three abortions, Maria Field suddenly found herself numb, her emotions in disarray at a time she should have been joyful – her recent engagement to be married.
“I didn’t think my past affected me emotionally,” she said. “It took God to show me that this was the wall in my life that I needed to deal with. I needed to work through the loss and find forgiveness and healing.”
Because of her experience, Maria started a licensed family counseling practice specializing in Post Abortion Syndrome, something unrecognized by the medical community that bears striking parallels to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Since opening her office in 1995 in West Los Angeles, she’s seen hundreds of patients. Some of them are coming to terms with their decision to abort 40 or even 50 years earlier. Others come to see her immediately after an abortion. Even men can suffer Post Abortion Syndrome because they are participants in initiating life and its deliberate termination.
“These people experience anxiety, depression, low self esteem, flashbacks and even suicidal thoughts,” Field said. “They have triggers. Sometimes it’s a sound that reminds them of the procedure. Sometimes it’s a song that reminds them of their partner.”
The syndrome has not been recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition), or DSM-5, but not because it’s a bogus condition concocted by pro-lifers, as the secular media suggest.
Rather, the disorder simply lacks clinical studies in the same way PTSD lacked clinical studies and was not officially recognized immediately following the Vietnam War, Field said. It is hard to find subjects willing to offer themselves as subjects of study, which may re-open painful wounds.
Typically, women who abort adopt some coping or defense mechanism to suppress the grieving over the loss of a child, Field said. In her own case, her successful busy life, studies and professional career provided her a sufficient cover.
She was in denial about what happened. But she stopped going to church with her mom because church made her cry, and she didn’t want her mom, who didn’t know about the abortions, to ask why she was crying, she said.
The coping mechanism worked for 15 years. Then she planned to get married and suddenly a host of long-suppressed emotions surfaced like a boiling cauldron in her heart. At first, she couldn’t figure out what was wrong. But she had studied for her master’s in psychology at Pepperdine University, so she was in tune enough to start connecting the dots.
Eventually, she realized she needed therapy and drove once a week to Newport, the only place she could find a therapist who would deal with the issue.
“I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is a big issue!’” she said.
Even among Christians, who supposedly oppose abortion because of the belief it is murder, abortion is prevalent. Young girls feel the shame of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and think it will be too much burden for them or their family – so they choose the easy way out. Read the rest of the article: post abortion syndrome.
A funny thing with the indie band Bread of Stone: When brothers Ben and Bill Kristijanto felt called to start a music ministry, neither of them could play a single lick of music.
Today, they have opened for the likes of the Newsboys, Petra, Crowder, Sanctus Real and Building 429, among others. After recording two albums, they released their third, The Real Life, with DREAM Records in 2013.
“We were stones before being called into music ministry (useless and incapable) and only because of Jesus are we made into bread to feed the hungry in this world and share his love with others,” Ben told Cross Rhythms.
Another fun fact about the Sioux City band is that they live double lives: one in America and another in Indonesia, where they were born and where they support ministry to the poorest of the poor, chiefly Muslims who scavenge through trash to subsist. They are constantly flying to Indonesia and supporting projects to raise money for society’s outcasts and standing up for the persecuted church.
“We are not out doing this to make a name for ourselves,” said Bill. “We have never set out to make a statement of ourselves as artist. We are able to do so only through God’s grace.”
‘Service before self-ambition,’ their website proclaims.
Ben is the lead vocalist while Bill plays guitar. The are joined by Tim Barnes on bass and Jason Ferris on drums. All four band members grew up in Christian homes.
The “calling” to start Bread of Stone in 2004 didn’t come to the brothers but their dad, Nehemia Kristijanto. Born in 1951, he is the eldest son of his family living in Jatibarang, a small town in West Java Province, Indonesia, according to New Covenant People on Blogspot.
In 1970 he studied engineering in West Germany and returned to Indonesia in 1979 with his degree. But he felt led to stay with his parents and not seek employment as an engineer. Instead, he started a powerful ministry. He moved back and forth between America and Indonesia until 1992, at which time he settled definitively in America. Today he supports his sons’ music ministry.
“We didn’t come from a musical family and had never played any instruments, but once we heard the call from the Lord, we started taking music lessons,” Bill said.
In 2015, Bread of Stones gained attention with their hit single “Porcelain.”
As the group began to gain significant recognition in 2011, they went through a crisis, teetering on the brink of dissolution. The once inseparable brothers began arguing about everything, Bill admitted on a YouTube video. Read the rest and find out how Bread of Stone saved their band.
When a truck plowed into my car that fateful night, it pushed my crushed car all the way into the gas station. It finally came to rest just shy of hitting the gas pump.
By the grace of God, I survived. But, according to the doctor, I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. The steering shaft had been driven into my abdomen and pierced my ovaries. The doctor explained that I should be grateful just to be alive. (This story is written by a mother at our Christian school in Santa Monica.)
For some reason, I had it stuck in my mind to have three children through two pregnancies. Of course that I meant twins.
As the doctor was explaining the cold hard facts with kind words, I didn’t pay too much attention. My faith was placed in Jesus, not on medical science.
“Don’t worry about that, doctor,” I told him. “I will have two pregnancies and three babies because I asked Jesus for them, and I know that he will give me my children.”
I was released from the hospital a week after the accident. At the time, I lived in Florida. An immigrant from Guatemala, I came to America already a Christian. I got involved in a church where they taught you to pray with faith. And I never stopped praying.
At age 30, I married a godly man named Mauro Ivan Arango in December 1993. In September the next year, Jafet, my firstborn, made his entrance into the world. He was truly a miracle baby. My doctor couldn’t believe it. Read the rest of the incredible infertility story.
Chaffing under repressive Islam, young Iranians are secretly turning to Christ in record numbers, and Iranian-born Shahrokh Afshar wanted to be part of the revival. So he filmed 13 programs for young people and offered them to SAT7, which broadcasts Christian programming into Iran via satellite.
“Iran is 25% 14 years or younger. Iran has the largest number of drug addicts per capita in the world. Alcoholism, prostitution. The economy sucks; it’s like 15% unemployment,” Afshar said. “Life is very very hard for the average young Iranian. There wasn’t much being done as far as programs are concerned to reach out to these kids.”
Iran has the fastest-growing evangelical population in the world (estimated at 19.6% by Operation World in 2015), despite an atrocious human rights record against people who abandon Islam, according to Christian Today. In fact, the explosive growth has overloaded the religious police.
A network of underground home churches thrives, and at least six satellite stations broadcast Christian programs continually into Iran. Afshar personally knows of 400 house churches with 5000 members. The number of Muslim converts to Christianity was “a handful” before 1971. Now, it is perhaps 1 million.
Afshar’s program, “Clear Like Glass,” cost him $3,000 per episode. Each program includes a funny skit and a frank interview and discussion of taboos in Islam. What people usually hide, Afshar brings to light. He conducted research about his target audience and found they didn’t want just preaching.
“Clear Like Glass” is being shown over and over again, at least twice a day, Shah said. He is preparing to film another 13 programs.
After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, Afshar joined three Egyptian pastors and one American to drive from Turkey to Baghdad and find pastors whom they could help. The fact-finding mission was fruitful. He connected with pastors from Iran and even gave them training in Turkey.
“My contacts tell me that they walk into a party and tell people they are Christian, and boom, they have an instant audience. People want to hear more about Christ. It’s very very easy for them to share,” Afshar said. “Of course, it’s dangerous. They can end up in prison very easily. But people are read the rest of Revival in Iran.
Dr. Andrew Snelling, a geologist with a PhD from Sydney University, wanted to extract and examine some 60 fist-sized rocks from the Grand Canyon to research the possibility they were formed through a world-wide flood, not through millions of years of sediment layering, as evolutionists say.
His 2013 formal request to conduct scientific research was summarily denied by the Park Service last year. Dr. Peter Huntoon of the University of Wyoming said Snelling’s proposal was “inappropriate,” describing it as “dead end creationist material,” the Christian News Network reported.
What are the Park Service administrators afraid he might discover? The arbitrary obstruction of a scientist because of his worldview seemed discriminatory.
Snelling sued in May and won a reversal this month, thanks in part to President Trump’s executive order expanding religious freedom.
“It’s one thing to debate the science, but to deny access to the data not based on the quality of a proposal or the nature of the inquiry, but on what you might do with it is an abuse of government power,” said Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative Christian legal defense group that represented Dr. Snelling, according to the New York Times.
Snelling is an Australian who received his geology doctorate in 1982 from Sydney University in his native city. Initially, he worked with Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia’s Northern Territory and contracted for mining industries that allowed him time to travel and study different geological strata.
In 1998, Snelling joined the Creation Science Foundation. Since 2007, he has worked for Kentucky-based Answers in Genesis, a group of scientists who adhere to the literal biblical account of creation instead of the evolutionary model, according to Science, the publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Snelling is the current director of research for Answers in Genesis.
Snelling has led people on more than 30 river trips in the Grand Canyon and was known to park personnel for undermining their narrative of the geological formation of the park. For years, geologists stated the Grand Canyon was 20 million years old, only to recently revise its age to 5 million. Snelling and other young earth scientists believe Earth’s age to be around 20,000 years, and the Grand Canyon, around 10,000 years.
Dr Gilles Brocard, a fellow Sydney University geologist argues that nuclear analysis dates some rocks from the Grand Canyon to 2 billion years old. He said the Earth is shown by studies to date at 4.5 billion, according to the Guardian.
Cindy Stone had an abortion, so she figures she’s the ideal candidate to dissuade anxious mothers from a decision that wreaked havoc in her own heart.
“I’ve gone through the pain of regret,” Stone said. “God put it in my heart that this is what I need to do to help other women and men with my story. I don’t want someone to suffer that kind of spiritual, mental and emotional pain.”
Every Wednesday, Stone, a Protestant, teams up with two Catholic women outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in Van Nuys, California. They hold up signs, pray and offer advice to any woman who is willing to hear about the grim realities of abortion – and the positive alternatives that exist.
Call them Sisters of Compassion. The War on Abortion is now 44 years old, and there doesn’t appear to be any softening of the rhetoric on either side of the debate.
Stone and her friends talk with sensitivity, even though they speak a stark truth about what abortion providers understate as “a clump of cells.”
On the one hand, the grisly nature of abortion needs to be explained clearly. But on the other hand, these women are not shaming pregnant mothers already immersed in despair.
“I understand where they’re coming from and what might be motivating them,” said Stone, 66, of Santa Monica. “It’s not that we are trying to condemn them in anyway but let them know that there are people who are willing to help them. We’re helping them see that a pregnancy is a life. People come and say, ‘Don’t shame us. Shame on you for shaming us.’ That’s tough when somebody talks to you like that. We don’t want to come across like that. But we must share the truth in love.”
Maria Barrientos, 50, a Filipino American who runs a Philippines-based engineering firm, shows what they’re talking about when they offer help. She personally cared for a baby for six weeks in 2010 just so that the mother wouldn’t abort. Read the rest of Where abortion in San Fernando Valley.
When Mary Schweitzer found soft tissue in dinosaur bone in 2005, her boss got mad.
“Dammit, Mary, the creationists are going to love you,” Jack Horner snapped, according to what she wrote for Biologos.
Indeed, Schweitzer discovery threatened to upset the evolutionary biologists’ timeline for the world because soft tissue decays relatively quickly. If she found soft tissue in bones from a Tyrannosaurus rex perhaps it wasn’t 58 million years old, as the geologists argued. Maybe it was just a few thousand years old – trapped by sediment in a catastrophic worldwide flood and fossilized.
Mary Schweitzer with Jack Horner at a dig site
Smithsonian called her discovery a “shocker;” LiveScience, “contorversial;” and Discovery magazine, “dangerous.” News show 60 Minutes said it “posed a radical challenge to the existing rules of science.”
Young earth creationists, who argue that earth’s history reaches about 10,000 years, cackled with satisfaction.
“I invite the reader to step back and contemplate the obvious,” wrote Carl Wieland on the Answers in Genesis website. “This discovery gives immensely powerful support to the proposition that dinosaur fossils are not millions of years old at all, but were mostly fossilized under catastrophic conditions a few thousand years ago at most.”
What are blood cells doing in dino bones?
For its part, Creation praised Schweitzer’s research as “powerful testimony against the whole idea of dinosaurs living millions of years ago. It speaks volumes for the Bible’s account of a recent creation.
Since her initial discovery, Schweitzer, a molecular paleontologist at North Carolina State University, has found red blood cells, blood vessels, bone cells and even hemoglobin and collagen. A supposedly 80-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur bone has also yielded soft tissue.
The Christian Science Monitor reported this January that scientists found collagen, a protein basic to animal tissue, in an allegedly 195-million-year-old fossil of a Lufengosaurus dinosaur in China.
Proteins are complex molecules which break down quickly and can’t survive for a millennia.
But Schweitzer, a conservative evangelical Christian who adheres to evolutionary theory, floated the theory in 2013 that iron may have preserved the soft tissue much like formaldehyde. If shown to be true, her theory would take wind out of the sails of the young earth Christians.
Schweitzer got her start in paleontology after studying molecular biology. She audited a course with famed paleontologist Jack Horner, the scientist who is trying to create dinosaurs in modern times from chicken DNA. Horner consulted for the movie Jurassic Park.
Schweitzer was thrilled with the course, worked her way through her doctoral degree and began lab work under Horner.
Through three summers of digging , Horner unearthed a T. Rex skeleton from an escarpment in northeastern Montana known as Hell’s Creek. Because of the remoteness and rugged terrain, the bones had to be helicoptered out but were too heavy, so the team reluctantly broke one of the leg bones into two pieces.
Horner handed some of the resulting fragments to Schweitzer to analyze. The first thing she realized was the dinosaur had been a pregnant mother because of the presence of medullary bone, which is a calcium overproduction to supply the eggs. (Originally, the fossil had been nicknamed “Bob.”)
But the real astonishment came when Schweitzer’s team dissolved some fragments in weak acid, a practice that was never done before because it dissolves bone matter. The lab assistant had only tried to eliminate the outer crust on the bone but wound up disintegrating all the hardened minerals.
When Schweitzer looked at the only remaining chunk under the microscope, she couldn’t believe its elasticity. It took her quite some time to realize that it was soft tissue, which had never before been seen by a scientist. Read the rest of the story about soft tissue dinosaur bones.
Note: I was a missionary in Guatemala for almost 16 years, during which time we launched a church and a K-11 school. This is a story about the continued goings-on there. Enjoy the Spanish!
Pudo perseguir su sueño de practicar la gimnasia en la federación nacional. Ahora solo gana.
Desde niña, Katherine Hub tenía el sueño de practicar la gimnasia artística, porque miraba muchas películas que se trataban de dicho deporte. Pero por la falta de tiempo, la mamá no podía llevarla a la federación.
Un día, una amiga de la mama de Katherine Hub se le acercó y le informó que en la federación estaban dando becas para varios deportes. Cuando ella escuchó esa noticia, vio la oportunidad para que su hija practicara el deporte, ya que desde niña lo había soñado. Apareció una luz de esperanza .
Vieron la oportunidad y la aprovecharon. No fue hasta el año 2015, donde la mamá de Katherine la inscribió en la federación para que su hija cumpliera su sueño de ser una gimnasta artística y algún día representar Guatemala. Al oír Katherine la noticia, se alegró mucho e inició a practicar ese deporte de lunes a viernes de 5:00 a 7:00 p.m. Los ejercicios a un inicio eran muy difíciles y cada etapa se venía poniendo más intensa. Entre mayor es la etapa, así son los ejercicios.
De los tres años que Katherine practica el deporte de gimnasia ha participado en cuatro competencias. En la primera competencia, ganó el primer lugar. En la segunda se llevó el segundo puesto, y en la tercera competencia ganó el primer lugar.