Tag Archives: St Louis

With so much division in America, this urban missionary bridges the divide

Civil RighteousnessJonathan Tremain “JT” Thomas is a chaos chaser.

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.”

Jt Thomas in MinneapolisThis 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.

JonathanTremaineThomasThen 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.

Gambling addiction broken after man sees in Bible what God told him

john simmonsJohn Simmons first entered a dingy poker room where guys were smoking on his 21st birthday in Vegas.

“There’s no better feeling than putting in a wad of money in your pocket knowing you didn’t really do anything to earn it,” says Simmons on a CBN video. “There’s a lot of adrenaline that builds up in your heart. The feeling of chasing that moment is intense.”

It was the start of a decade-long gambling addiction that saw John, from St. Louise, Missouri, fall into more than $200,000 of debt, depression and hopelessness.

IMG_5510His demise began with a celebration for his birthday, when it was finally legal for him to go into a casino.

“The guys at the tables got their sunglasses on and they’re bluffing each other,” John says. “It’s just filling me up with all this joy and i’m like I love this.”

John decided to pursue poker as a career. He got a job as a casino card dealer and he made good money.

‘Gambling gave me a sense of purpose. It gave me a sense of identity,” John says. “I would be a person that could be seen by others as a multimillionaire. If I wasn’t working, I was playing. If I wasn’t playing, I was sleeping.”

IMG_5509But when gambled on his free time, he lost.

After three years at the poker table, John was more than $200,000 in debt and had to declare bankruptcy. As part of the court settlement, he still had to pay off some debt. So John worked overtime to scramble the money.

“In my mind, it wasn’t that I was failing. I just needed to keep going and figure out how to fix it,” he says. “If only I could win the next thing, none of these losses matter. I would spend my entire paycheck over the course of a weekend trying to chase my debts. A lot of times, I had zero dollars in my pocket.

“It was such a terrible way to live,” he adds. “I couldn’t stop though. I kept thinking, ‘If all I do is win this one tournament, if I win a million dollars, no one will be mad at me anymore.’”

At age 30, he was again hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

He decided to survey the debris of his life. Read the rest of gambling addiction.

Dad binged drugs. Mom was schizophrenic. Flame came out burning for Jesus

flame-picMarcus Tyrone Gray took care of his schizophrenic mom while his dad was in the streets, binging on drugs in the projects of St. Louis.

“I had the responsibility of really overseeing my mom,” Marcus told CBN. “There would be times where she wouldn’t even recognize me. She could curse me out or call me names or just start treating me as if I’m her enemy or something like that. My dad would be gone days on end, blowing time, you know, getting high. Everything was just unstable.”

flame hip hopUntil her death, his grandmother was the only solid foundation in his life. But with her untimely passing, 16-year-old Marcus began acting out, picking fights at school. It was a way of asserting control over a reality that was out of control.

It got him arrested and expelled.

“When (Grandma) passed away, I felt like I lost a part of my own soul, a part of my being had been cut off. Because she was my everything. I just remember trying to be strong, but not having the ability to. My natural bent was to check out and to retreat, you know, stay in the clubs, do whatever would distract me, block me, numb me from reality.”

His life was spiraling quickly toward becoming a hardened criminal, a pariah of no use to society.

flame offered $1 million to rap but no jesusThen he developed a crush on a girl, and she invited him to church.

“I decided to go because of the hopelessness. I felt like I’m trying all of these different things to bring about what I actually want,” he says. “I was overwhelmed with the Gospel message of Jesus’ love. Jesus loves you. And I was so overwhelmed with this love, you know, Jesus’ love, and I remember thinking like, he does love a bad person. And it sounded exactly like the things that my grandmother would tell me.”

As the Word and Spirit touched his heart, he was born again.


The next thing you know, Marcus was on fire for God. He would take his Bible to school and stand up on the desk in middle of class and preach to his fellow students (for this he wound up in the principal’s office). He would invite people to church incessantly and fill up a whole pew of 15 needy kids headed towards a life of crime if Jesus didn’t intervene.

From death and destruction, his life became an intense flame. So that’s his stage name today, Flame.

A Billboard topper and Grammy nominee who launched Clear Sight Music, Flame has nine albums. He was offered a million dollar contract from a secular label, with only one condition: no mentioning Christ. He turned it down.

Flame does outreach in the streets of St. Louis constantly. After a shooting on the dangerous west side, Flame was praying with sinners and handing out Bibles when he met gang member Travis Tremayne Tyler. The hardened criminal wound up accepting Jesus and became a fellow Christian rapper star, Thi’sl. Continue reading and find out about Flame’s fight against racism.

Albert Pujols thanks God for 3,000 hits

pujols-cardinalsAlbert 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.

pujols-plays-for-glory-of-godThe 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.”

The-Pujols-family

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.

Mike Matheny, Christian coach of the Cardinals

matheny055 (1)

Mike Matheny’s only prior coaching experience was a Little League team when the St. Louis Cardinals called on him to manage their Major League Baseball team.

It was quite a promotion, but Matheny, now 45, a believer who follows the leading of Christ daily, took it with stride and led the Cardinals to playoffs four consecutive seasons, a record for new time managers.

“I can either take credit like I had done something great to deserve this or I can be humbly bowing down on the floor to the Creator of all things and realizing that there is an opportunity,” Matheny told the Christian Post. “I do want to make sure that it is noted that I truly believe that we get opportunities and I believe that we have to do something with those… I just believe that God is at work around me all the time and I want to be in tune to that.”

MikeMatheny41Matheny was an outstanding MLB catcher. He won four Rawlings Golden Glove Awards. He established the catcher’s record for 252 consecutive games without committing an error. After 13 years of MLB playing, he retired in 2007 with post concussion syndrome.

In 2010 Matheny coached Little League baseball, and the following year, the Cardinals sought him to replace World Series winning coach Tony La Russa. The moved surprised baseball observers not only because of his lack of professional coaching experience but also because he was at the time the youngest MLB coach. The Cardinals picked him because of his ties to the organization (he played five seasons for the Cards) and because of his demonstrated leadership as a player.

Matheny didn’t disappoint. In 2012, he led the Cardinals to the National League playoffs and only got eliminated by the eventual World Series winners, the Giants. The next year, despite having to use 20 rookies at one point or another because of injuries, Matheny led the team to the World Series, which they lost to the Boston Red Sox.

Matheny is known for his attention to details, his work ethic and good relations with his players. He is vocal about his Christian faith but doesn’t try to shove it down his players throats or hold them to his own moral code. With an easy-going Christian testimony, he has 20 players coming to the pre-game prayer sessions. The Cards etch a cross on the mound at home games.

“My faith has been clear and open. Every year at spring training I explain to my guys I stand for certain things as a follower of Christ. But you’re never going to hear me preach this at you or hold you to any sort of moral obligations that I try to hold for myself,” he told the Christian Coalition. “That opens a door so when they ask me a question, they know the foundation of the majority of my answers. It opens some great opportunities.” Continue reading the article.