Tag Archives: testimony

Steve Harvey is becoming increasingly vocal about his Christian faith

steve harvey smileBy Jordan Sheppard

In school, Steve Harvey never got an A and never got a star. So when in high school the teacher called him to the front to share his life goal, he thought he would FINALLY get a congratulation of some sort.

Instead, he got ridiculed for saying he wanted to be on T.V.

“She called me up there to humiliate me. She knew I stuttered severely,” the famous comedian shared at an Alabama State University commencement ceremony. “She said, ‘Why would you write something like this? Who in this school ever been on TV? Who in your family ever been on TV? You can’t even talk right. You ain’t gonna be nothing.’”

steve-harvey-familyBut Harvey turned the humiliation into a life lesson.

“Every Christmas I send her a flat screen TV because I want her to see what God had done for me in spite of everything she had said about me,” he said. “God put your imagination in your mind to show you a preview of what He has for you. If you want to kill your big dreams, tell it to a small-minded person.”

As his comedic stardom continues to grow, Harvey is becoming increasingly vocal about his Christian faith.

“My momma and my daddy left me empty-handed, but boy the church they put in me! The God they put in me!” he said. “My life is full of grace. You better go get yourself some. You can’t buy grace. It ain’t for sale. If I take all the money you have – and thank You Jesus, I got some money – I would take all of it and buy grace with you, but you can’t. It’s free.”

Harvey was born in Welch, West Virginia in 1957 to a coal-mining father who taught Sunday school.  His father taught him to be a man of his word. The family moved to Cleveland, where he attended Glenville High School. He jokes that he graduated 690th out of 695 seniors.

steve-harvey-miss universeIn his early years, Harvey found employment as an auto-worker, insurance salesman, a carpet cleaner and a mailman. While getting his comedy career going, he was homeless for several years, slept in a 1976 Ford, and showered at gas stations and public swimming pools.

In 1990, he gained attention as a finalist in the Johnnie Walker National Comedy Search. Eventually, he landed the long-standing job as host of It’s Showtime at the Apollo. He later starred in ABC’s Me and the Boys in 1994 and ran The Steve Harvey Show on WB network from 1996-2002.

In 2010, he boosted Family Feud’s ratings as their host.

Meanwhile, the Atlanta-based T.V. show host struggled through two divorces and had four children. He’s on his third marriage to Marjorie Bridges, whose three children he treats as his own.

“I’ve lost everything I’ve ever owned twice,” Harvey summed up his life. “Struggled through two marriages to finally learn to get it right. I lived in a car 3 years, washed up behind bushes at the gas stations.”

His latest marriage is largely responsible for shaping him up, he said.

“You’re looking at two people who were messing up for real and making bad decisions without conferring with God,” he said on Tlcnapttown’s website. “But the fact that you can mess up that many times and still come out okay is a testament to just the grace and mercy of God, man.”

In 2015, Harvey was praying for God to increase his audience overseas. How God hearkened to that prayer became another life lesson about trials and blessings.

It happened through his famous Miss Universe blunder. Hosting the pageant in the Philippines, he was fed through the teleprompter the wrong name. Miss Colombia, Ariadna Gutierrez was overcome with emotion and adulation, but Harvey found out backstage it was a mistake. The winner was Miss Philippines, Pia Wurtzbach.

As organizers were scratching their heads wondering what to do, Harvey walked out on the stage and owned the error. His correction crushed Miss Colombia and prompted a gazillion memes making fun of Harvey. He apologized to both and laid low for a time, even though the organizers were responsible for the mistake.

People he considered close friends ridiculed him publicly.

While the faux pas caused no end of embarrassment to Harvey, it also raised his international profile and increased his business. To read the rest of the article, click Steve Harvey Christian.

Frank Sontag, LA rock legend, goes from New Age guru to born-again Christian

It wasn’t the car that slammed into his motorcycle at 100 mph. It was a round of golf that brought L.A. rock legend Frank Sontag to Christ.

After he was sent spinning across the highway, Sontag holed himself up in a Tahoe cabin and lived primitively off rudimentary supplies while he poured over Eastern mystic texts in search of the meaning of life. It took years to physically recover from the accident. But he emerged a New Age guru.

“I read the Koran, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita,” he said in an interview with Greg Laurie. “I never would open a Bible.”

For two decades, Sontag interviewed the “royalty of rock” on classic rock station KLOS. He broadcast music and announced sports events. He was part of #1-rated Mark & Brian show, which would mix Aerosmith with humorist rants and raucous call-ins.

On his own highly-rated, thought-provoking program called Impact, Sontag peddled a self-styled “spirituality” that encouraged people to get in touch with their inner selves, discover their purpose in the universe and feel good about themselves. No repentance needed.

“When somebody would call up and try to share the gospel, I couldn’t hang up on them fast enough,” he said. He would shout down and shut down Christians.
Once #1 in LA, Mark and Brian.

Then one of his closest New Age buds got saved. Three years later, the friend and his pastor brother invited Sontag to golf. Sontag was taking his fairway shot when the pastor fired at him: “Frank, is Jesus Christ the Son of God?”

“We’re not going there,” Frank retorted and knocked the ball towards the green.

A few holes later, Sontag was putting when the pastor asked another pointed question: “Frank, who’s God?”

Miffed, Sontag brushed the question off with, “I’m spiritual.”

After nine holes, the threesome decided to have lunch, and that pastor swung a final shot: “If you were to die today, would you be with God?”

Sontag snorted in disgust.

But something inside told him he should consider the question more. Challenged by the pastor, he sat in his car afterwards and asked God to prove Himself. Immediately, he felt strangely hot.

Then a voice said: “Are you ready to submit to Me?”

“It was unmistakable. Call it ‘because He created me I knew His voice.’ I knew Who He was. I felt no coercion,” he said. “And I freely said, ‘yes.’”

Later the voice said: “Take up your cross and follow Me.”

Sontag had never read the Bible. He didn’t have any way to recognize Scripture.

It wasn’t until nine months later that he stumbled across the same phrase – this time in the Bible. Right there, he prostrated himself before God and prayed: “Lord, I’m yours forever.” It was 2009.

His wife chased him with a knife. Korn’s bassist Reginald Arvizu came to Christ after much suffering

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Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu sought to shield himself from any and all pain after his parents divorced.

“I was like, this is not going to hurt me,” he said. “That’s what I told my dad, ‘I’m moving in with you. Let’s get a keg, and let’s throw a party and make music.’ And I put a wall up to not feel the emotions. That’s when it became full-on drinking and a way that nobody’s going to hurt me. From that moment on, I never had a sober day.”

He became an accomplished bassist and rose to stardom with the nu rock sensation group Korn that sold out arenas.

korn-concert-ukHe cycled through two marriages riddled by infidelities. He used speed to stay thin for the glam metal look which required a stick-thin physique for tight pants. More than once his wild partying landed him in jail.

“I had my nights of being in hotel rooms and destroying them by myself, crying because I’d wake up in the morning feeling so bad from partying. I’d be shaking,” said Arvizu, who’s known by the stage name “Fieldy.”

“I’d wake up and throw up in the morning. I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t handle this.’ So I would just take some Xanax or Adavan and let that kick in and I’d just be wasted again. It’d bring you so down, then smoke weed after that. Then night would come, and I could start drinking.”

reginald-arvizuThe nu metal bassist wasn’t very kind to women in his effort to build walls around his heart.

“I would bash on them, say women are just sluts, no good. I was really mean to women to where I could make almost any woman cry, any time,” he admitted. “I guess that’s what I did to keep from getting hurt.”

He fully accepted the responsibility for his first divorce due to his incessant cheating that drove his wife berserk, according to Contact Music.

“She ran into the kitchen, grabbed a butcher knife, and came toward me like a crazed animal, wildly swinging at me. She cut open my shirt and made four shallow gashes in my chest,” Arvizu confessed. Read the rest of the article.

Korn’s Brian Welch goes from metal star to Jesus freak

brian-head-welchBrian “Head” Welch shocked the rock world in 2005 when he left the band, Korn, and jettisoned his adoring fans, along with a lifestyle that included girls, drugs and an embarrassment of riches.

“All I know is that I was chasing all that stuff and it left me empty,” Welch told the Christian Post. “And I was a complete empty shell – just totally like nothing inside. I had everything. I had the money; there was girls everywhere, all the drugs – pills, doctors’ prescriptions, illegal drugs, everything. And it was just empty, so empty.”

welch-and-daughter

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God surprised Welch when he ventured into a church. “And as soon as I went to church, I felt the love from Jesus. That’s when I was fully satisfied. And I was totally done with everything in the world because I was satisfied inside, and I got filled up.”

Welch, a talented guitarist who enthralled fans with his “nu rock” licks, needed to break his drug addiction and wanted to nurture his newfound faith in Christ, as well as dedicate more time to his family.

He cleaned up his act and launched a solo career with his debut album Save Me from Myself.

brian-welch-india

In India.

Korn was formed when the group “L.A.P.D.” broke up after they lost their lead singer. The remaining musicians Reginald Arvizu, James Shaffer, and David Silveria recruited Welch and Sexart vocalist Jonathan Davis, who acceded to join only after he consulted with a psychic. With the new members, they re-branded themselves “Korn.”

“It sounded kinda creepy because it reminded us of that horror movie Children of the Corn,” the Stephen King horror story, Welch said.

Starting with Korn’s self-titled debut, and preceding albums such as Life Is Peachy and Follow The Leader, the band became one of the best-selling nu metal groups of all time, selling out arenas and earning $25 million in royalty payments.

But as they ascended charts and the finances flowed, each of the members suffered personal battles with addiction, according to Welch.

“We were only sober for just a couple of hours a day in Korn — every day,” Welch recounted. “And then when you come home and you’ve got to deal with real life and your wife isn’t having that, crap goes down.”

korn-bandBy 2003, Welch was addicted to meth, Xanax, sleeping pills and alcohol. He would prep for tours by stashing as much meth as he could in vitamin capsules, deodorant containers, and his clothes. His dreams of stardom had come true, but he no longer enjoyed touring.

“I got hooked on methamphetamines the last two years I was in Korn, and I did meth everyday,” he wrote later in his book Save Me from Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs, and Lived to Tell My Story. “I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t quit. I tried to quit. I went to rehab, and I just couldn’t quit.”

Both he and his wife, Rebekah Landis, were drug addicts. They had violent fights. The night after he rocked 200,000 fans at Woodstock in 1999, he punched his wife in the face. Blood sprayed out, and she passed out on the bathroom floor.

As he looked at blood running down his knuckles, Welch questioned why his vaunted stardom had failed to bring happiness. Read the rest of Brian’s testimony.

Flyleaf’s Lacey Sturm found Christ when suicidal

lacey-sturm

Prophetic word from pastor and parishioner brought suicidal rocker to Christ

Co-founder and former lead vocalist of the rock band Flyleaf, Lacey Sturm, was contemplating suicide when she had an encounter with God that saved her life.

“When I was ten-years-old, my cousin, who was about three at the time, was beaten to death by his stepfather,” Sturm said. “My mother always talked to me about God, but at the time I just remember thinking I couldn’t reconcile how God could allow something like that to happen. I decided that if God was big and good, why wouldn’t he protect my cousin who was so tiny and so awesome?”

flyleaf

The girl from Arlington, Texas, couldn’t countenance evil in the world. “I never wanted to have kids,” she said. “It would just be bringing another person into the world to suffer.”

She cried herself to sleep every night, became an atheist and turned to drugs and alcohol. She dabbled with pornography and even got a girlfriend.

“I couldn’t get away from my own depression. So I started to study a lot of other religions. There was a lot of nice ideas but there wasn’t any tangible healing.

lacey“I remember thinking, I’m tired of feeling the pain. I’m tired of going to bed that way. I’m tired of being a burden. I’m just tired of not knowing why I’m alive. I remember the night I was laying in bed, and I knew I was going to commit suicide the next day. I knew I was not going to live past tomorrow.”

But on the fateful day when she came home from school, Grandma was there — an unusual occurrence.

“She looked at me and said, ‘There’s something wrong with you. You’re going to go to church.'”

“There’s no way I’m going to go to church,” she said defiantly.

Her grandmother raised her voice and the two began to argue vehemently. Finally Sturm relented and went to church, but planned to follow through with her suicide afterwards.

She slumped down in a back-row pew, hating everyone and everything around her.  “The pastor started speaking, and I hated him more than anyone.”

The pastor spoke: “There’s a suicidal spirit in the room. So of course all the hair on the back of my neck stood up. And I thought, ‘Well, this is really weird.'”

She got up to go out, but was intercepted by white-haired man who gently and kindly addressed her: “The Lord wants me to speak to you. He wants you to know that even though you’ve never known an earthly father, God will be a better Father to you than any earthly father could ever be. God knows the pain in your heart. He’s seen you cry yourself to sleep at nights.”

Sturm was stunned and touched. How could he know about the deep things of her heart?

“The idea was so overwhelming to me,” she said. “He’s like, ‘Do you want me to pray for you so that Jesus can take the pain out of your heart?’ He put his hand on my shoulder and started to pray. It was as if the God of the universe showed up right in front of me. The first thing I noticed was that He was holy and good. The second thing I noticed is that I was not holy and not good. But at the same time, I felt Him inviting me to an embrace of grace and love unconditional. God was saying, ‘I love you. I know you’re tired of the way you’re living. I will make you new if you will let me.’

“My heart just said, ‘Yes. I need that. I want that,'” Sturm remembers. “I woke up the next day I felt such a peace and a joy that I’d never felt before. Jesus saved my life. The almost overwhelming thing to think is that Jesus became sin, and it was my sin. It was thing that I’ve done that held Him on the cross. He hung naked on a cross bleeding in a shameful way so that I would never have to be ashamed for the things that I’ve done.” Read the rest of the article written by my Lighthouse Christian Academy student here.

God’s gangster: former yakuza is now pastor

yakuzaAs a teenager, he was lured into a Japanese crime syndicate known as yakuza, and after surviving several violent episodes and prison experiences, God began to get his attention.

“I admired the yakuza for what was visible only on the surface,” Tatsuya Shindo told CNN. “They have lots of money, spend their money lavishly, and play glamorously. The bad guys looked so cool in my eyes. I was a child. I didn’t think too deeply.”

Many of the estimated 50,000 yakuza fall into a life of crime because they come from broken families. The yakuza cultivate a sense of family, of belonging and of loyalty.

But if there were issues that seduced him to the mob life, the harsh realities began to pummel him.

“People were killed in power struggles,” he recounted. “People’s legs were shot. A guy who was doing drugs with me died of intoxication. Suicides happened. Sudden deaths. I’ve seen many deaths,” said Shindo, 45. “I saw my henchmen get stabbed to death.”

He got addicted to crystal meth. He crashed his boss’s car while driving under the influence. As a result, his pinkie finger was cut off with a chisel, which is a form of penance in the syndicate. For a first offense, the wrongdoer must cut off the tip of his left little finger and give the severed portion to his boss.

160222022016-japan-life-after-yakuza-ripley-pkg-00001721-exlarge-169Shindo’s body is covered by tattoos, which make him an outcast in Japan. Many yakuza have full-body tattoos, which are still “hand-poked”, with homemade tools using needles made of bamboo or steel. The painful process can take years to finish.

Crime members cover their tattoos in public, but when they play cards with each other they often remove their shirts to show off their creative designs.

Beginning at age 22, Shindo was arrested seven times and imprisoned three times, according to CNN.

He saw his mob boss killed and friends die of overdoses. After his third prison sentence, he began to question the “lavish life of the yakuza” he once imagined. He finally decided it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

During his final 10-year prison sentence, Shindo began reading a Bible in solitary confinement.Read the rest of the article written by a Chinese student at our Santa Monica school.

Hip Hop artist Andy Mineo won’t be pigeon-holed

andymineoAt 12, Syracuse native Andy Mineo accepted Jesus at a Bible camp and experienced a love in his heart for people he previously hated. But without male role models and a Christian support network, he drifted away from God in high school and joined a secular rap group known as Fat Camp.

In his freshman year at City College of New York, Mineo met Grammy-award-winning music producer Alex Medina in a music class. Medina introduced him to hip hop artists who were Christians, and the idea that he could combine his talent for lyrics with love for God excited him.

andy-mineoMineo renewed his relationship with Jesus, got involved with Intervarsity campus ministries, and gave up secular recording.

“I remember walking in one Saturday to the rehearsals they would have and seeing a whole bunch of people my age, urban, inner city, loved hip-hop, loved the arts, and loved Jesus,” Mineo said. “And I thought, ‘This is unreal!’”

Mineo released his first mixtape, Sin is Wack, in 2009. He drew a lot of attention when he sang hook vocals on “Background” for Lecrae’s Rehab album. In 2011, he signed for Christian label Reach Records and joined the Christian hip hop collective 116 Clique (as in Rom. 1:16), famous for being “unashamed of the Gospel.”

He released Heroes for Sale in 2013 and in 2015 Uncomfortable, which cracked Billboard’s top 10.

andy-mineo-and-fianc-christina

“With a mix of thought-provoking lyrics combined with encouragement and a range of beats, Uncomfortable is an ambitious and bold entry into Christian rap and hip hop that convicts, inspires, and encourages,” noted Chris Major of The Christian Beat.

Aside from his musical creativity, the pull of Mineo’s music is his “reflective lyricism, that connects with his fans through shared struggles, self-discovery and raw emotion,” according to Narratively. His sincerity about his own struggles with temptation comes out clearly in his rap “Tug of War.”

“It’s essentially me just sharing my life, sharing my failures, my struggles, my successes, my joy that I have in God,” Mineo told BillyGraham.org. “I hope what I can do through the music I’m making now is point people to this hope that I found.”

Mineo doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a “Christian rapper” because he’ll lose appeal among the secular audiences he’s trying to win to Christ.

“Excellence is the best marketing tool, and I know my music is excellent,” Mineo said. “So if people listen to it and just objectively they can enjoy it and say, ‘Wow, I like this. This is good,’ then they’ll have the opportunity to soak in the content and say, ‘Oh, he has a different perspective.’” Finish the story, which was written by my student at the Lighthouse Christian Academy.

Homeless pill popper delivered by Jesus

marijuana-to-jesusFor six months, Yvette Castillo was homeless, popping pills and drinking alcohol. She was pregnant and found refuge in abandoned house with crack addicts where she was raped.

“I was trusting the drugs instead of trusted God to make me happy,” Yvette said in a YouTube testimony. “I thought it was an easier solution, but it wasn’t.”

Yvette now lives in Houston with her husband and kids and goes to church. She’s come a long way from the beginning of her downfall at three-years-old, when she was first molested.

yvette-castilloRaised by an alcoholic father and a mother who also disappointed her, Yvette became a troubled teen. With hate raging within from deep hurts, she actually invoked the powers of darkness one day while alone in her bedroom.

“I said, ‘Give me the power to hurt everyone, to stop people from messing with me.’” she said. “I didn’t know that I was making a pact with the devil. I knew who I was talking to, but I didn’t know how serious it was.”

She fought everyone at school who looked at her funny and disrespected her teachers. She was cutting and using drugs. Not youth camp, not juvenile hall, not counselors could help her change course.

She gave birth to a child at 14 years old.

“Not even my child stopped me from doing bad things,” she said. “It was a force that had taken over me, and nobody could stop me.”

Kicked out of school and her house, Yvette fell into the clutches of an abusive boyfriend.

“He hit me. He mistreated me. And I felt like I deserved every bit of it.”

In the midst of her ordeal, she had two abortions.

Leaving that boyfriend is how she became homeless. Pregnant and alone, she tried to mask the inner pain with pills and alcohol, which she paid for by stealing.

“I no longer had a heart,” she said. “I couldn’t love my kids. I couldn’t love myself. I was so drained.”

Her next boyfriend got saved and pulled her into church. She was on fire and serving God for a time, but then… Read the rest of the story.

Lonely at Christmas?

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On the night before Christmas, he was kicked out of his house.

After years of “loose living and immorality,” Elliott Osowitt was driven out by a wife who had run out of patience. Downcast and despondent, he decided to go to a nearby motel and kill himself with a gun.

elliott-osowitt-and-his-wife

Osowitt worked as a tour guide for “Heathen Tours,” a touring company that catered to tourists from England seeking sinful pleasures in America. It seems Osowitt indulged in too many of those allurements himself.

After Osowitt check into his room, he found a Gideon’s Bible next to his bed opened to John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

The power of God’s Word and the Spirit of the living God moved on his heart. Tearfully, he repented of his sins and asked Jesus to be his Lord and Savior.

elliot-osowitt

And that is how the Prince of Peace, whose birth the reformed Jew had never celebrated, came to Osowitt at Christmas in 1996.

He actually spent three days at the motel reading that Bible. He attended church with his wife, Polly, the following Sunday and quit working for the touring company. Osowitt began a new career with a Christian touring company instead.

On Christmas Eve, the Bible “caused me to stop. It caused me to cry. When I read it was Jesus, I had a hard time with it,” Osowitt told USA Today. “It literally began a process of healing that eventually led to the reconciliation… Read the rest of the story.

Alexander Rossi will roar into Heaven like he roared across the finish line to win the Indy 500

alexander-rossi-indy-indianapolis_3475754When the 100th Indy 500 concluded, Alexander Rossi had a greater reason to rejoice than his stunning rookie victory: as a Christian, he’ll roar into Heaven just like he roared across the finish line at the historic event on May 29.

“I believe there’s a greater plan,” Rossi told Bleacher Report. “I feel that driving race cars and being involved in Formula One and motorsports is my opportunity to share my beliefs.”

alexander-rossi-indy-indianapolis_3475756Ranked a 66-to-1 to win before the race, Rossi, 24, stayed mid-pack for most of the race to cut wind-drag and conserve fuel.

While the top two contenders made pit stops for a last douse of fuel in the final laps, Rossi continued driving at the underwhelming speed of 179 mph to stretch his tank and beat his opponents by staying on the track. He ran so low that he couldn’t finish his victory lap and had to be towed in front of the sellout 350,000 spectator crowd.

It was the strategy of the tortoise against the hare, and it worked. When he downed the traditional celebratory jug of milk, Colombian racer Carlos Munoz was clearly downcast over being outwitted by a driver in a slower car.

alexander rossi christianRossi grew up in Nevada City, California, where he started racing go-karts as a kid and graduated from nearby Auburn Forest’s Lake Christian High School. On his website, he cites God and his parents as his biggest influences. On his twitter account, he writes “In God we trust” frequently.

Rossi has been living in Europe where he races Formula 1 as a reserve driver for the Manor Racing. But he jumped at the chance to drive the Indianapolis 500 for the team Bryan Herta in conjunction with Andretti Autosport.

“Who would know that Rossi would win an oval race? Probably one of the toughest ones, too,” Mario Andretti told IndyCar Racing News. “Here again, it shows the moments of brilliance. It shows that he can be versatile, which is huge. I think it is a huge attribute to any driver to show versatility.”

Rossi is the 70th winner to enter the annals of the Indy fame. His name was already registered in the annals of Heaven.

This article first appeared here on God Reports.

Cam Newton, feared QB, temptation-beset Christian

cam-newton-runWhen Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton walked away unscathed from a horrible accident that rolled his truck in December 2014, he gave praise, honor and glory to God.

“Somebody had His good hands on me,” Newton told reporters. “One plus one always equals two. I’m looking at this truck. I’m looking at this accident, and I’m like dude, one plus one ain’t equaling two, because I’m looking at this truck, and I’m like, somebody is supposed to be dead. Me being a religious person, God is good. I’m lucky to be standing in front of you today.”

Newton, arguably the NFL’s greatest player of 2015-16 and a Super Bowl contender, is on top of the world. Passing for 400 yards in his debut game in 2012, he bested Peyton Manning’s passing record of 280 yards in Manning’s first regular season game. This year, the Panthers are 15-1. His dual threat capabilities crushed the Arizona Cardinals 49-15 in the NFC finals.

42f07f33873582048e0f6a706700f644_tx600But while his professional trajectory seemed to sail through the air on heaven’s wings, things in his personal life have not always gone so well. He was hounded by an NCAA investigation for receiving payment to enroll at college, and he was accused of stealing a laptop at Auburn University. As a pro, he met and began to live with ex-stripper Kia Proctor.

Newton had grown up with God. His father, Cecil Newton, is a bishop overseeing five Pentecostal churches in Georgia.

But perhaps the intoxicating power of riding on top of the world caused him to momentarily forget the humility and fear of God necessary for a true relationship with the Creator. Then the accident left him shaken, reminding him about his need for God.

6358658538411262881957152712_CamNewtonSmilesOn that fateful day, he was negotiating a confusing intersection in Charlotte when another car slammed into the rear side of his black pickup truck and sent it rolling. He clambered out the back cabin window, and paramedics took him to the hospital where doctors treated him for minor fractures in his lower back.

He only missed one game as a result of the accident.

“I am a prime example of how God can turn something that was bad into something that good,” Newton said after the crash.

At 6’5” and 245 pounds of muscle, Newton is currently the most feared quarterback in the National Football League. Most QBs either specialize in throwing or running, but Newton excels in both, which is why the Panthers made the NFC’s best defense, the Cardinals, look like their fine-feathered namesakes — birds.

When they face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, they will again be facing a team with a stalwart defense – not to mention legendary Quarterback Peyton Manning.

Newton will be up to his old antics. He performs a celebratory dance for every touchdown — ostentation that football purists frown upon. He also runs the touchdown football over to the fans and hands it to a little kid — a gesture that is hard for anyone to frown upon. His broad, ubiquitous smile shows he enjoys the game.

Newton hopes his gridiron prowess will do for the Panthers, who have never won a Super Bowl, what it did for the University of Auburn. At Auburn, he became the third player in major college football history to both rush and pass for 20 or more touchdowns in a single season. His outstanding performance earned him the Heisman Trophy, and he led Auburn to their second national championship in 2011.

Read the full article here. It was written by my son, Robert, with a little help from his dad.

‘Black Hawk Down’ hero found a better way to transform the world than ‘kicking in doors and slinging lead’ with enemies

MAJ-Ret-Jeff-StrueckerWhat impacted Jeff Struecker most was NOT the thousands of hostile Somalis swarming his Humvee, nor the hailstorm of bullets and RPGs as he attempted to rescue fellow Rangers in the ill-fated 1993 raid of Mogadishu made famous by the movie Black Hawk Down.

What impacted him most was the next October morning back at base when his buddies one by one asked him about death and afterlife.

“It changed my life forever,” Struecker said. “I would still be a sergeant in the ranger regiment today if it wasn’t for what I saw the morning after the firefight. It wasn’t really the blood and the bullet holes that had an impact on me. It was back at the base the grown men, some of the toughest warriors on the planet, with tears in their eyes. They said, ‘Jeff, what happened to my best friend who just died last night? Jeff, what happens to me if I get on a helicopter or a Humvee tomorrow and I don’t make it home?’

fast rope“Almost all of them were saying, ‘Jeff, there was something different about you last night, and I want to know what it was,’” he said. “For the next 24 hours, I had guys lined up to ask me about Jesus Christ because they could see the difference that He makes when you’re getting shot at and when the bullets flying.”

Tom-in-Black-Hawk-Down-tom-guiry-25144097-853-480So 24 hours of giving advice did more than the extended, intensive Ranger training to direct Struecker’s career. Seeing a chance to impact the lives of men, Struecker became a chaplain for his same Ranger buddies in the 82nd Airborn Division, a post he’s held for more than a decade.

black-hawkThe Ranger/Delta Force mission code-named Operation Gothic Serpent on Oct. 3 began to go awry when Ranger PFC Todd Blackburn failed his fast-rope drop-in and fell 70 feet to the ground headfirst While other Rangers secured the perimeter and Delta Force operators seized two of Mohammed Farrah Aidid’s top lieutenants, the subsequent efforts to rescue the fallen ranger led to two helicopters being shot down and 18 deaths. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Pirates’ manager came back to Christ

Pirates at Orioles June 14, 2012

Pirates at Orioles June 14, 2012

On the outside, Clint Hurdle was a huge success: 10 years as a Major League Baseball player, he had his image splashed on the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was only 20. As a pro baseball manager two decades later his team was in the playoffs. But on the inside he knew something was wrong: his two marriages had ended in divorce and he struggled with alcoholism.

Then he met Karla. After eight years of dating her, Clint Hurdle mustered the courage to ask her hand in marriage – and what she said brought him back to Christ.

“I found my way back like the prodigal son,” Hurdle told What Christians Want To Know. “It was the best decision I ever made in my life, and it also led to my recovery with alcohol. Christ has given me the strength, endurance, and courage to live a sober life for the last 16 years. It has been the way it is supposed to be, serving Him. Through my weaknesses, His (Christ) strength is glorified.”

Not only did accepting Christ help Hurdle overcome weaknesses, it also benefits him in his professional life. In 2013, he was named National League Manager of the Year.

Baseball was not the only sport in Hurdle’s blood as a kid. In fact, he played all three of America’s top sports. He was offered the quarterback position for the University of Miami when the Kansas City Royals drafted him in 1975 for the outfield, but he chose baseball over football and basketball.

Raised in a small family with humble roots, he played for the Royals, the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals.

After retiring, he became manager for the Colorado Rockies for eight years, leading them to their first National League pennant. He was then hired by the Pirates in 2010 and coached them to a playoff in 2013, the first such appearance for the club in over 20 years.

He was a huge success in the world’s eyes. But his private life had careened out of control. He had drifted away from the Jesus he accepted at age 17. Hurdle went after his own dreams, pursued his own pleasure and got himself into trouble with sin.

He married and divorced twice. Nightclubs figured prominently in his life.

“I went through 23 years of wandering, similar to the Israelites in the desert,” Hurdle said. “I used Jesus as an ATM card. I would not relinquish me. I would continue to find times where I would try to take over or take control.”

Floundering, he met Karla, whom he dated for eight years. When he finally summoned the guts to pop the question, Karla, who was always sweet, counter-offered. Read the rest of the article.

Editor’s Note: This article was original posted on GodReports.com. My journalism student, Anthony Gutierrez, wrote it.

Running from death squads, he fell in with ‘Satan himself’

Iglesia Cristiana La Puerta zona 1 ciudad de Guatemala

Ismael Rodas (right) with Tino, whom he won to Christ after Tino was a homeless drunk for 40 years. They pose in the Door Christian Church of Guatemala City.

With one wrong turn, Carlos Rodas found himself wrenched between university protesters and gun-wielding police forces of the most repressive regime in the Americas at the time, that of Guatemalan president Romeo Garcia.

Police riddled his car with bullets and arrested him. The next day, Carlos was dead, after having been accused of being a communist subversive. He had $3,000 in his pocket at the time of his arrest, but now the money was gone.

Carlos’ brother, Ismael, was infuriated. Both he and Carlos had run a thriving bakery business and steered clear of politics.

“In the cemetery, I expressed my rage and my pain to my other brother,” Ismael says. “I wanted to know who the killers were and kill them and myself. I wanted to buy a machine guy. In those days you could still buy a machine gun. I wanted to waylay the chief of police because I knew where he passed every afternoon. I knew they would kill me, but that’s what I wanted to do.”

But Ismael worried about his wife and children, so he never executed his desperate plan.

Then the phone calls started coming in. It was always a stranger’s voice threatening him roughly. He had to leave the country within one month or he would be taken by a death squad. Suddenly severe anxiety mixed in with his anger and grief.

Ismael had studied with the Rosacrucian esoteric society and had also availed himself of Alcoholics Anonymous. But in this new crisis, these networks offering various mental and psychological tools were absolutely useless.

Ismael consulted experts in the occultic arts. A palm reader told him, without knowing his circumstances, that he was condemned to death. A “doctor” of yoga inquired supernaturally on his behalf but could offer no solution.

“You’re problem is very serious. If I place you in the North, there’s no room for you. If I place you in the South, there’s no room for you. Neither is there a place for you in the East or West,” the yoga man said, referring to metaphysical concepts. “You should leave the country, but it’s going to be difficult.”

But Ismael, was wary about leaving the country, even though he had U.S. residency. He worried that the military might ambush him en route.

The days passed and a death squad actually showed up at his home, but he wasn’t there. They ransacked the house. Security forces broke into his bakery, but fortunately Ismael had left. They tied up all the bakers and stole his money, Ismael recounts.

Seeking solace, Ismael turned to a warlock named Saoquin in the Florida neighborhood of Mixco, a city contiguous to the capital.

“He was Satan himself,” Ismael says. Read more about the warlock and ultimately freedom from sin the the rest of the incredible testimony.

The cantina brought him back to Christ

Iglesias del Companerismo Cristiano | GuatemalaOnce drunk with co-workers in a cantina after hours, former Christian leader Otoniel Rodriguez began to defend the gospel against their trash talk.

“Don’t mess with the gospel,” growled Oto, who, despite being backslidden himself, respected the truth profoundly. “Men make mistakes. But the gospel is something that God has given and is perfect.”

The argument grew heated, and he and his boss fell to blows. The police came, and Oto punched a cop. They wrestled him to the ground and handcuffed him. If it weren’t for a friend who just happened to be a friend of the cop, he would have been carted off to jail.

Whew! What a way to come back to Jesus – by way of a beer brawl!

The next day he woke up hung-over and spied a dirty Bible in the corner of his ramshackle sheet metal and wooden post house in the poorest neighborhood of Guatemala, only four blocks away from the city’s dump. Over time, he managed to block out the repulsive stench wafting from the dump, he says.

All he got out of the Bible that day was more condemnation for his sin. He cried out to God. For two and a half years, he’d gone from being a respected church leader to a heavy drinker and womanizer.

“God, I don’t want to go to Hell,” he cried. “If You can give me a chance, do it.” Read the rest of the amazing testimony.

Testimonio de una alumna del Liceo Bilingue La Puerta en Guatemala

photo(147)Por Valery Jocón

Crecí tratando de tener mi mente abierta, sintiendo cada cosa mala como que era buena.

Sentía que todo estaba bien porque creía que el mal y el bien eran iguales, pues de las dos maneras diferentes personas llegaron a la felicidad. Yo estaba ciega de lo que de verdad estaba pasando a mi alrededor.

Tenía quince años y todo me daba igual. Creía que podía hacer lo que yo quería sin importar nada y cometí errores, quizás no tan grandes ni graves, pero tampoco me hacen sentir orgullosa.

Entonces conocí a una persona, el que es ahora mi novio, justamente cuando todo en mi cabeza se revolvía más de lo que ya estaba. En este momento yo sé que él me detuvo de hacer cosas peores.

Conocí a su familia y ver a su familia unida, feliz y sobre todo cristiana me ayudó a querer ser igual.

Siempre creía que Dios existía, aunque me decía a mí misma que no era así. Y dije varias veces que lo buscaría cuando lo necesitara. Todos me decían que estaba mal, pero simplemente creo que era la necesidad de llevarles la contraria a todos y así lograr la satisfacción de dejarlos en duda de sí mismas.

No sé cómo llegué al colegio el Liceo Bilingüe La Puerta. Me inscribieron y creo que desde allí Dios me estaba llamando y me llevó al lugar donde Él me quería, pues también me detuvo de hacer cosas malas y humillantes. Para seguir leyendo, haz clic aquí.

* I realize most of my readers only work with English, so forgive me for posting in Spanish. The truth is I’m bilingual, and this young lady got saved as a result of the Christian school in Guatemala that my wife and I founded almost 20 years ago. The school exists primarily to bring people to Christ, though it is a regular private academic school.

Out of poverty and alcohol surfaces an avid evangelizer of Guatemala’s drug neighborhood

barrio el Gallito zona 3 ciudad de Guatemala | cristiano
His dad was a philandering dentist, who plied a young woman with alcohol to take advantage of her.

From that unholy union, Douglas Barillas was born. He can’t remember a time when he wasn’t hungry as a child. He grew up with his grandparents in the poorest neighborhood in Guatemala City, El Gallito.

Neighbors paid him five cents to carry the trash to the public dumpster. It was enough for him to buy a hot, thick drink made of grains, a chuchito (similar to a tamale), and a couple bananas.

photo(143)

When there was nothing to eat, he would walk a few miles with his grandmother to his dad’s dentistry office to ask for five or 10 quetzals (Guatemalan currency). His dad, with a look of disgust and sometimes an insult, would give it to him.

Pain piled up in his heart.

When he was 12, his dad had a client come out and look at him. “Don Guillermo, this boy is not your son. Look at his eyes. They’re different,” she said. It was a greater humiliation than ever.

“I threw the five quetzals in his face,” Douglas remembers. “I needed the five quetzals to eat. But I had my pride. I told him, ‘I’m sorry, but never again will I come here to look for you.’” Find out how Douglas got saved and changed his life here.

‘I married the guerilla’

I married the guerilla

With an old student at the Door Christian School in Guatemala City.

When the funeral hearse pulled up at 5:00 a.m., Gladys Barrios knew what it meant. She was a Christian teacher in Guatemala, but her husband fought for the guerrillas. He espoused atheistic communism.

“I lived constantly with the possibility that someone would come and tell me, ‘I’m sorry, but they just killed your husband,’” she said. “When I saw the hearse, I thought, ‘Well, that’s it. He’s dead.’”

Guatemala’s civil war lasted from 1960 to 1996. Just like America’s Civil War, it divided families. It was a bloody conflict of betrayal and treachery as the CIA and the former Soviet Union resorted to dirty tricks and massacres in their attempt to wrest control.

While the communists fought to win the hearts of the people, evangelical Christians made huge gains as people, fearful of death on all sides, considered their eternal state. Today, the country is one-third evangelical, according to some estimates.

For Gladys, the clash of ideologies took place in her household – but with a peculiar pre-marital agreement. “I knew he was in the guerrilla before we married,” she said. “So we agreed that I wouldn’t interfere in his activities, and he would let me go to church and raise the children Christian.

It turned out that the night the hearse arrived did NOT coincide with her husband’s death. Her husband, Luis Ernesto Donado, had been drinking with other high-ranking revolutionaries, and they had crashed due to intoxication. A friend died, and they asked Gladys to visit the morgue, identify the cadaver, and advise the wife who had just become a widow. Read the rest of her incredible story.

He sold stakes in a gold mine with no gold. Now he preaches the gospel.

Iglesia Cristiana la Puerta | Guatemala

John Mira, preaching in Guatemala. He’s pictured with Pastor Ludving and his family.

Ever since he started working for the owner of a gold mine in Las Vegas, John Mira lived a lavish lifestyle with limousines, mansions, women, and illicit drugs.

His part was to sell foreign investors a stake in the mine. John would drive Japanese clients there, walk them past the armed guards at the gate, show them the chemists studying soil samples, let them inspect the smelters. He even slipped $30,000 to the reps of investment companies to curry their favor. In his sales role he brought in millions of dollars for his boss.

Incredibly, Mira never realized he was at the center of a scam. After investors viewed the mine supposedly valued at $2 billion, his boss sent all the “actors” home. Wanting to show off one day to his girlfriend, he drove her out to the mine – and nobody was there.

Suddenly, he realized he was an unwitting participant in fraud!

He was deluded into thinking he was a huge success. While he wallowed in riches, he was also addicted to drugs. He made fun of a Christian friend who sold him jackets from a beaten-up Volvo.

One day, John found himself pinned to his bed. He felt a claw in the back of his head. He was hallucinating and believed he was dying. Drug-induced paranoia kept him from calling his parents for help.

Desperate for help, he called the coat salesman who always invited him to church.

“Lock yourself in your room and cry out to God,” his friend told him.

John followed the man’s instructions. Then God impressed this on his heart: In your left hand is your death and your family’s death. In your right hand is your life and your family’s life. Choose. Read the rest of the article.

Saved from the mara salvatrucha

Liceo Bilingue La Puerta

Mario, second from left, with the youth he now ministers to.

His fellow gang member thrust a pistol into his hand. Go ahead and kill the kid, he was instructed.

Wedged between the dangerous Mara Salvatrucha and the Dieciocho gangs in a neighborhood where even police feared to go, Mario Ajcip’s gang had successfully fended off rivals to keep their turf in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Guatemala City.

When a rival dared to make incursion into Mario’s neighborhood, there was only one gang-inflicted punishment — death. This time it was Mario´s turn to execute the cornered kid on the dark dirt alley.

Never shy to physically beat up a rival, Mario balked at murder. A leader himself among the 100 gang members, he began talking about teaching the guy a lesson and letting him go. Read the rest of the story.

He denied God because of lack of evidence. Then he came across evidence.

atheist turns to ChristAs he left behind childhood Vacation Bible School and studied for a degree in electrical engineering, Clay Lein lost his faith in God.

“I had a very rational mind. It had to be logical. I needed proof. There had to be evidence. And if there wasn’t proof then it was just something people made up,” Lein told KHOU Channel 11 News in Houston. “Part of the training for engineers is to be skeptical, to demand data, to want to see evidence.”

He married, got an MBA and launched a successful career at Intel. All his achievements and the world that surrounded him seemed very concrete and observable. There was no need to believe in something intangible that required you to suspend your scientific mind, he reasoned.

Why would I need God? I mean, if he even existed why would I have any need for him, he thought.

But his wife pleaded with him to attend church, and he acquiesced because he thought “church was a place nice people go.” All the while he tactfully but firmly let people know he was an atheist.

Then he volunteered at a youth camp and that’s when his skepticism got shattered. Read the rest of the article.

Useless, then priceless

Tio TinoTino was one of those drunks who you stepped over, who slept in his urine on the streets in Guatemala. You expected him to wake up dead after a cuttingly cold night. You tried not to think about it.

Ismael talked to him about Jesus and offered him a place to sleep. Tino got saved.

As a missionary, I had a soft spot in my heart for Tino. We let him sleep at the church as a guard. We gave him food. I let him play worship on his guitar in service, a throwback type Christian music. He became Tio Tino — Uncle Tino — for everybody.

drunk GuatemalaOn this trip to Guatemala, I was astonished at just how far the transformation has gone. Now, Tino leads outreach everyday, which his only honkytonk guitar, just off the edge of the Central Plaza. Everybody joined him on Sunday to street-preach.

He’s back on the streets, no longer homeless in a stupor, like Joshua establishing dominion, reaching out to others who are in the condition he left behind.

Image

True love

true love

She’ll never hurt again

She'll Never Hurt AgainLCA grad Casey McNamara bounced around five foster homes when she was a kid. During a 3-month stint back with mom, a 7-year-old Casey cared for her little siblings while mom abused meth and cocaine. “It was hell,” she said.

Casey gave her heart to Christ when she met her now-husband, Max, and enrolled in the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, CA, as a junior. She now teaches at the Lighthouse Church’s preschool. Expecting a baby next month, Casey has traded her nightmare for a fairy tale.

Casey had been forced to return to Mom by a judge who wanted to give the lady a chance to go straight. Instead, while mom was doing drugs, Casey and her 3-year-old sister were taken advantage of by men that her mom had brought home.

226255_1947007828610_2702427_nCasey pulled syringes out of her brother’s foot. Baths were optional, and she attended school little. Sometimes Mom locked the kids in a room while she fed her addiction. Three times, Casey and her siblings slept in a neighbor’s backyard while Mom partied.

“Dinner and breakfast was Lucky Charms,” Casey said in a live interview. “Taking care of my two younger half-siblings was like playing with life-sized dolls — it got old really fast.”

Eventually, school officials reported her truancies and poor hygiene to authorities, and the judge eventually granted adoption of Casey and her brother, Will, to the Mendelsons.

Though life became a dreamworld at the Mendelsons’ with a white-picket fence and a golden retriever, Casey fell into depression at age 14 because of all the emotional baggage she was carrying. Mean kids harassed her and called her “skinny.” She worried about her half-siblings and felt guilty for enjoying the Mendelsons.

“Why do I deserve a good life when my siblings can’t?” she wondered frequently. “I felt very alone, very empty. I was confused and angry.”

At one low moment, Casey contemplated suicide. But then she heard a male voice say, “TEACH.” It halted her suicidal thoughts, gave her a hope and ultimately led her to her current career. God was on the move in her life.

He began to move more when one day on the Promenade Max saw her. While Casey was hanging out with friends, Max McNamara was joking around with fellow Lighthouse students. He saw Casey from a distance and immediately announced to his buddies that here was the girl he was going to marry. He introduced himself.

One day soon after, Max was driving to football practice by chance on Casey’s street and saw her in her front yard raking leaves. He now knew where she lived.

For a few weeks, he would try to strike up conversations with her on Myspace social media website. Then one night, Max and his LCA pals were standing outside her window and threw pebbles against the pane to get her attention.

When she opened the window, Max asked her to hang out. She very nearly freaked out. “He seemed like a stalker,” she said. But talking to Max with some other buddies didn’t seem like a dangerous situation.

Married with Max

Married with Max

“That’s when I first laid eyes on Max,” Casey explained in an email. “The second I saw him I couldn’t turn away. He was different, different from any other boy I had met. There was a gentle spirit about him. That night on we were inseparable. We started talking on the phone, and he eventually met my parents. One thing I will never forget him telling me is that I would always be safe with him and that I would hurt no more. How right he was!”

caseymcnamaraMax invited her to Lighthouse plays and to revival services. Coming from a Catholic background, Casey at first looked for an excuse to back-out on the church services. But as she was stalling, she happened to see in the distance her younger brother drugged up, beat up and looking like a homeless man.

Right then and there, she resolved to NOT be like her mother. “I was going to break the family curse,” Casey said. “I was going to be someone different, I was going to change my life — if not for myself, for my siblings.”

She went to church that night and passed up to the altar. She was flooded with an unspeakable peace.

Next, she enrolled in Lighthouse high school, where she loved the sense of family. While she had met rejection in the public schools, at Lighthouse she was loved by all.

At the Lighthouse preschool, where she has taught for three years

“The most important thing that Lighthouse taught me was forgiveness,” Casey said. She is looking forward to seeing her dad more next year when he gets out of prison. She is working on mending her relationship with her mom.

Her relationship deepened and progressed with Max. The couple was supported by staff and students as they maintained a formal and serious courtship. She graduated with honors in 2010 and came just short of her AA degree in child development at Santa Monica College.

She is currently working on her BA in Early Child Education and plans on getting my Master’s in Childhood and Adolescent Behavior and Development.

In 2012, Casey and Max were married. Ultrasound revealed their baby’s a girl. The happy ending is almost complete.

“I still have bad dreams,” Casey said. “But I have good support. I think I’m going to make it.” She can’t wait to see her biological dad and is working on the relationship with her biological mom, who has been clean for a year.

“I’m at a good place now in my life. I married the man of my dreams. I’m expecting my first child. I have the world’s GREATEST parents, I am working on my relationship with my birth mom and my birth dad, who has recently given his life to Christ and is being released next year from prison. God is good! ”

*** This article was originally published in the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s newsblog, which I edit. http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com/

It was written by a student, Alex Myles, a sophomore. She also blogs on wordpress under the name Wolfbane15.wordpress.com (or something like that!)