All posts filed under: Testimony

Istanbul, Turkey Credit: Filip Knezic/Flickr/Creative Commons

New York Times tells remarkable story of how a Muslim Jihadist became a Christian

At the end of March, New York Time’s journalist Patrick Kingsley wrote an unusual article  on the stunning conversion of a Muslim Jihadist to Christ. He stumbled upon the man while visiting a basement room filled with 22 Christian refugees in Istanbul, Turkey. Kingsley noted many had Muslim sounding names. Though Kingsley noted that it is not unusual for Muslims to convert to Christ as a ruse to claim asylum in other countries, there was one man, Bashir Mohammad, 25 who did not fit that narrative. He was a Christian, who wasn’t interested in asylum. It was also obvious he had a leading role with this group. As Kingsley talked with Bashir, he found out more about his story. At age 15, Bashir began listening to extremist preachers calling for violence. This led him to eventually join the Nusra Front, an off shoot of Al Qaeda, that was seeking to set up a Muslim Caliphate in Syria. Fighting with this group, Bashir witnessed prisoners being run over with bulldozers and another prisoner forced to drink …

Young Turkish women in traditional head scarves. Credit: Ozgur Mulazimoglu/Flickr/Creative Commons

Muslim woman hated Christians, but Jesus spoke to her in a dream

A story on Christian Aid about the conversion of a young Muslim women living along the coast of the Black Sea in Turkey tells us not to underestimate the work we are doing for God. Matte, name not fully disclosed for security reasons, pastors a church in Turkey. He faithfully puts his sermons online, but often wondered if they were having any affect as he was seeing no results. “I sometimes wonder how many people watch the videos, and what is the result? Many are watching the videos, but why do they not believe?, ” he told Christian Aid. But his opinion changed after a young Muslim women wearing a traditional Muslim scarf showed up at church because of a dream. She had started watching the pastor’s videos online because she “hated the Christians” and wanted to make fun of his messages. But the sermons slowly started having an impact as they addressed deep needs in her life. She eventually decided to become a Christian, but did not go to church because of her strict …

Near Apache, Arizona Credit: Scott Sanford/Flickr/Creative Commons

An act worthy of repentance?

It was early in the morning on January 12, 2017 when Arizona state trooper Ed Andersson responded to calls a man was shooting a gun at cars on a highway near Tonopah, Arizona. After arriving and exiting his vehicle, Andersson was immediately hit with a freak shot in his right shoulder — a little to the left the bullet would have struck his bullet proof vest and an inch and a half to the right, it would have missed him completely. But it didn’t. Instead the bullet partially paralyzed Andersson’s right shoulder making him unable to draw his gun. Fortunately, Leonard Penuelas-Escobar, 37, the man who allegedly fired at Andersson had run out of bullets. Penuelas-Escobar attacked the officer trying to grab his gun, but Andersson fought off the attempt with his good left hand. Penuelas-Escobar pushed Andersson to the ground, got on top of him and repeatedly smashed his fists into the officer’s head. When Andersson tried to resist, Penuelas-Escobar started slamming the trooper’s head into the ground. Minutes after the shooting took place, …

Crystal Bassette and her husband Credit: YouTube capture -- This Morning show

From porn star to Christian to pastor

It’s a story that is sure to turn some heads. When she was 21 years old, Crystal Bassette performed in her first porn video. According to the British Newspaper, The Sun, after the shoot she sat in her shower and cried for two hours. She was supporting a son after becoming pregnant at age 16 and was working in a California bar with dreams of becoming an actress. And though initially uncertain about continuing, the draw of a monthly salary of $25,000 proved too much and a month later she did her second porn shoot. Over the next several years, she would make over 100 porn movies. With the money the lifestyle provided, she lived in a mansion complete with a maid, a gardener and seven cars, but to cope Bassette turned to alcohol and drugs. But that all changed in 2014 when she had a serious car accident where police charged her with impaired driving. After the crash, Bassette attended her sister’s church on Easter Sunday and became a Christian after the pastor preached …

Rural village in Sierra Leone Credit: martagiqs/Flickr/Creative Commons

Christian pastor finds one of world’s largest diamonds

Emmanuel Momoh pastors an evangelical church in the village of Yakadu in the Kono region of Sierra Leone, a small country located along the Western coast of Africa. Found in the eastern part of the country, the province of Kono is famous for its diamonds. When he isn’t serving as a pastor, Momoh also works a small artisan mine where he recently found the 706-carat diamond, slightly smaller than a hockey puck. According to experts, it is very unusual for diamonds of any significant quality to be found in these smaller mines, much less one of this size. Yet to be fully evaluated, it is expected the diamond is worth upwards of $50 million — a 813-carat diamond recently sold for $63 million. There is hint of a possible flaw in the diamond that could affect its value. If its size holds true, it could potentially be the tenth largest diamond ever found in the world. Perhaps the most stunning part of the story is Pastor Momoh’s decision to turn it over  to the government …

Brazilian Amazon Credit: Guto de Lima/Flickr/Creative Commons

From Debutante balls to the Brazilian jungle

The National Post ran a fascinating article on Canadian Ruth Thomson who 50 years ago left her high-class life as a Toronto debutante to serve in the jungles of Brazil as a Wycliffe missionary. Her father was a highly successful Toronto lawyer, and Ruth grew up in a mansion and attended private school. She became so proficient at horse riding that another wealthy family — Pittsburgh’s Mellon family — asked Ruth to ride their horses competitively. As she came of age, her parents expected Ruth to attend Downton Abbey debutante balls where parents signaled to Toronto society their young daughters were ready for dating and marriage. It featured flowing gowns and elbow-length gloves. She recalls having disagreements with her parents in 1959 who wanted her to attend a number of  balls held at private clubs and the major event on that year’s social calendar  — the Governor General’s Ball. She said “I had no patience for any of it. It all seemed so artificial. It wasn’t the life for me.” But despite their wealth, she …

Vickie Williams-Tillman (right) Credit: Baton Rouge Police Department

Vickie Williams-Tillman — a 21st century Good Samaritan in more than one way

Vickie Williams-Tillman, 56, a black Christian woman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana was on her way to the store when she saw a white police officer, Billy Aime, being assaulted by another man. She was also doing what she normally does when driving, Vickie was listening to Gospel music. The police officer had come upon the man sleeping in his vehicle. When Aime saw drug paraphernalia in the car he woke Thomas Bennett, 28. However, after getting out of his car, Bennett quickly gained the advantage. He grabbed Aime’s baton and began beating the police officer on the head. Bennett was also after the police officer’s gun. When Vickie saw the confrontation, she immediately called the police for help. But she did more than that. She got out of her car and jumped on Bennett’s back. This caught Bennett totally off guard, confusing him and hindering him from grabbing the gun. When another police officer showed up a few minutes later, he subdued Bennett with a stun gun. The police charged Bennett with assaulting a police …

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega sharing on their devotional Vlog WOW (Words of Wisdom): Credit YouTube Capture

Hollywood celebrities Carlos and Alexa PenaVega talk about the power of prayer

Actress Alexa PenaVega (nee Vega) recently shared an Instagram post on how prayer raised her 93 year-old-grandmother from the deathbed. This past week has been a struggle for my family as our beautiful abuelita (grandma) was on life support. It has been a bitter sweet experience. Here is this woman who has had such a full and beautiful life… 93 years old…12 kids… more than 50 grand kids…10 great grand children… just the most incredible little Colombian woman inside and out. This week her lungs collapsed. Her heart started failing. Her stomach stopped working and she fell into a coma. As we all prepared ourselves to say goodbye my family’s local church members came to her side and prayed over her for over five hours. When I say the power of prayer can bring forth the most amazing miracles THIS WILL FLOOR YOU. Our abuelita Yeya woke up completely healed. The Dr.’s cannot find anything wrong with her. They can’t explain it. They keep running tests to try to make sense of it all. But …

Award Credit: Youtube capture/The Recording Academy

A grandmother’s prayer leads to Chance the Rapper’s worship service at the Grammys

At the 59th Grammy Awards held Sunday, February 12, 2017, Chance the Rapper won three Grammys. The Grammy Awards are put on by The Recording Academy to honor outstanding achievement in music recording primarily in the English-speaking world. Chance the Rapper who recently became a Christian received “Best New Artist,” Best Rap Album” and “Best Rap Performance” at this year’s awards. He was nominated for seven in total for his recent 14-song album The Coloring Book. Five of the album’s songs have a significant Christian theme that marked the remarkable spiritual transformation that has taken place in the life of Chance the Rapper. In a radio interview he shared what happened. His grandmother saw him while he was performing on his Acid Rap tour — the name reveals where he was at spiritually — and she began to pray for her grandson. Chance the Rapper said: “One day during my Acid Rap tour, my grandmther saw me and began to pray. She said ‘I break off anything in your life that is not God.’ After …

Denzel Washington Credit: GabboT/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

An old woman’s prophecy over actor Denzel Washington said he would speak to millions

Denzel Washington, 62, is a popular American Actor, playing major roles in such movies as Remembering the Titans, Training Day and one of my favorites — The Book of Eli. He has won two Academy awards and three Golden Globes. In an interview with Parade Magazine, Denzel spoke of his strong spiritual roots, including his father who was Pentecostal preacher for nearly five decades. Denzel added that he reads the Bible daily and has read it through completely three times. God had a call and a purpose for Denzel and he tells of a prophetic word given him by an older woman at their church who many considered a prophet. She told Denzel that one day he would speak to millions of people. Denzel was 21 years old and had just flunked out of college. He was sitting in his mother’s beauty shop, when the old woman approached him. In an interview with Access Hollywood, Denzel recounts what happened next: It was March 27, 1975. I started acting four months later. She said, “You know …

Village in Indonesia Credit: Jose Javier Martin Esparto/Flickr/Creative Commons

A Muslim man’s journey to Christ through the Quran

Evangelical Focus recently shared the testimony of a young Muslim man who became a Christian because of what he read in the Quran — Islam’s version of the Bible. Markus was raised in a strict Sudanese Muslim family in Western Java, Indonesia. His father, a high ranking Muslim leader, led the Muslim University that Markus eventually attended. As part of an Islamic youth group, Markus actively shared Islam with non believers. It was the result of one encounter with a Chinese Christian man who led Markus to leave Islam and become a Christian. As he shared his Islamic views with the man, he responded stating he was confident that he was going to His Father in heaven. For Muslims, heaven is a such a sacred place, they rarely talk about it. Markus was also puzzled over how this man referred to God as his father as Muslims consider themselves slaves of Allah. When Markus challenged the Christian on who his God was, the man answered simply Jesus. This answer began to haunt Markus. According to …

Morgan Freeman Credit: Nathan Congleton/Flickr/Creative Commons

Morgan Freeman on the Gift of Tongues

The Christian Broadcasting Network published an article on comments actor Morgan Freeman recently made on his encounter with the Gift of Tongues at Newlife Pentecostal Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was part of a documentary series Freeman is doing called “The Story of God.” In a recent episode he describes this charismatic gift as “powerful.” Freeman said: “All around me people have been swept up by an invisible force. And now they speak what they believe is the language of Heaven. I can see on their faces that they are genuinely somewhere else. “Now, whatever it is, they felt that power; they are not the same. Experience changes them, how they see themselves, how they relate to others, how they change their lives. “That was a powerful experience. I could feel the energy in that space. Normal people suddenly transformed by some power and then just suddenly return to normal. But Pentecostals believe they are bringing heaven down to earth.” These are interesting statements as the experience seems to have genuinely impacted Freeman. The …

A Divine coincidence?

As a quarterback for the University of Florida Gators, Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 as the best player in college football.  In 2010, the Denver Broncos chose Tim in the first round of the NFL draft. After the Denver Broncos started off the 2011 season with a record of one loss and four wins,  Tebow took over quarterbacking the team leading them to an 8-6 season, the AFC West title and first playoff victory since 2005. But winning isn’t everything in the NFL, because that was the last season Tim started an NFL game. Questions about his throwing ability led to Denver trading him to the New York Jets in 2012 and by 2013 he was basically out of football. But his strong Christian faith was prominent every time he stepped on the field. The son of Baptist missionaries to the Philippines, one of Tebow’s trademarks in college was citing the Bible verse John 3:16 on the eye-black many football players put under their eye to reduce sun glare. During one Gator …

Huli Wigmen tribesmen, Papau, New Guinea Credit: Didrik Johnck/Flickr/Creative Commons

The ten-foot angel said “I am not going to let you kill her”

It was February 24, 2009, when Canadian missionary Sue Ambrose heard the sound of someone running up behind her. She turned and saw a madman coming at her with an upraised machete. She remembers screaming “No” and the crazed man yelling “Yeah, you” then the blade deflected off her skull, chipping bone, and slicing off skin and hair. Stunned Sue fell to the ground, but continued to fight back. When the man thrust the large knife into her hip, she grabbed the blade to stop him from striking her again severing several tendons in her hand. From Salmon Arm, BC, Sue and her husband Mark serve as Wycliffe missionaries in Papua, New Guinea. She was returning to the missionary compound after buying food at the local market for the students at the Bible and literacy school where she and her husband minister. She used these walks as a time of meditative prayer and that morning she was contemplating a verse she had spoken to people about that morning: “Whoever desires to save his life will …

Credit: shutter-fotos.com/Flickr/Creative Commons

But Satan hindered us

It was a cold winter night in Northern Saskatchewan, Canada as my wife, then fiancé, and I drove a lonely highway to visit my parents. We had started late afternoon for the six-hour drive. Other than a car following behind us, there wasn’t much traffic. But two flickering lights off in the dark distance warned of an approaching vehicle. As the car got closer, it suddenly veered into our lane. Panicked my wife who was driving wrenched the steering wheel to the right and our car plunged into the ditch. We hit the ditch at full speed and the deep snow gripped our front wheels and our car rolled. Not sideways, but end over end — back over front. Suddenly my wife and I were hanging upside down in our car. I remember fumbling with the keys and turning off the vehicle. We released our seat belts and collapsed on the ceiling of the car. Other than being in total shock about what had just happened, we were unhurt. But the deep snow, that had …

Credit: Michael Mazzamuto/Flickr/Creative Commons

But the Lord directs our steps

Twenty years ago, my husband Dean and I were pastoring a satellite church plant in Hong Kong on an island called Discovery Bay. We had gathered a diverse group of people in one of our house churches — a good mix of new and established believers. People were coming to the Lord and being filled with the Holy Spirit. But within this group, there were also some very established missionaries. They had ministered in Hong Kong for several years, and were without a house church so they joined our small group. They were faithful servants of the Lord, but did not believe in the moving of the Holy Spirit. They saw the Holy Spirit as only “the Comforter,” and they often disagreed with the way Dean and I ministered. There is a verse in Ecclesiastes that warns evil times can suddenly fall upon us: 12 Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil …

Learning a lesson on grace at Tim Hortons Credit: buck82/Flickr/Creative Commons

The day God schooled me

I was at a Tim Horton’s drive thru, a popular coffee and doughnut shop in Canada. Our coffee maker died (may it RIP) and I needed my caffeine fix. That’s when I saw a person in a white car in the drive-thru lane beside me. He had his window rolled down and was smoking a cigarette. As a Cystic Fibrosis mama, that is a trigger for me. My daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at 23 days old. The disease affects the body’s ability to produce sodium chloride, as a result a person’s mucous is very thick. This causes many problems, most seriously lung failure and the struggle to keep a healthy weight as it affects a person’s ability to absorb nutrients. This means hours spent each day ensuring my daughter takes her many medications including the ones given by mask and her nightly tube feedings. I also need to perform physiotherapy on her multiple times in a day to loosen the mucous in her lungs to delay the progression of this terminal disease. In …

Islamic State flag and graffiti in Rhone Alpes, France. Credit: thierry ehrmann/Wikipedia

Despite threats against the church, God moves on ISIS leader through a dream

According to USA Today, the Islamic terrorist group, ISIS, is urging radical followers to attack Christians attending New Year’s eve church services. This was based on a report issued by the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that regularly tracks Jihadist websites, forums and social media. SITE states that Jihadist social media messages are encouraging lone-wolf attacks against churches. The report specifically noted four countries were listed as targets — Canada, US, Holland and France. Confirming this report, the FBI issued a warning to churches in the US to be vigilant about possible ISIS attacks during New Year services. The FBI said it has picked up increased chatter of possible strikes against churches and though there were no specifics it issued a general warning. According to Vocatv, Islāmic groups are increasingly using a social media app called Telegram to communicate with followers. It reported on a similar message in Arabic issued by a user who went by the name Abu Marya al-Iraqi: “for bloody celebrations in the Christian New Year … turn the Christian New Year …

Justin Bieber in concert at the Chateau Neuf in Oslo, Norway Credit: NRK P3/Flickr/Creative Commons

Is pop star Justin Bieber preaching the gospel back stage at his concerts?

According to a report in the English newspaper, The Sun, Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber is preaching the gospel as part of his “Purpose” concert tour. Sources told the paper, that Justin is holding Bible studies back stage and encouraging those in his entourage, including opening acts, to become Christians. The unnamed source said: “Backstage on his Purpose tour, Justin has been sitting down with his opening acts and encouraging them to put Christ before anything. His aim is to convert the people he loves and warn others against the evils of the industry.” The source added that since Justin became a born-again believer, his life has changed for the better and he is making “better decisions.” I previously reported on how Justin sang a popular worship song — “I could sing of your love forever” — at a concert in Paris on September 20, 2016 as part of this tour. Overall the Purpose tour has received favorable reviews. The tour started in Seattle on March 9, 2016 and Seattle Times reviewer Owen Smith wrote, …

Anger, bitterness and unforgiveness are linked

Now in their 80s and 90s, many survivors of the Nazi Holocaust were upset when a photo of Holocaust survivor Eva Kor, 81, surfaced earlier this year. It was a photo of Eva embracing Oskar Groening, 94, in a German courtroom in the city of Lunenburg. Groening had been a SS sergeant and chief accountant at Auschwitz concentration camp, the same camp the Nazis sent Eva and her Hungarian Jewish family to die. The courts found Groening guilty and complicit in the slaughter of 300,000 Jews in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Eva and her identical twin sister Miriam were ten when their family arrived at the concentration camp. As the cattle cars emptied, Eva recalls the Nazis scouring the hundred of Jews standing on the train platform. The guards were looking for identical twins. When a guard saw Eva and Miriam, he yanked them out of their mothers arms and took them away. They were of keen interest to Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi surgeon at the camp who used Jews for his brutal experiments. He …

A wintry day in Sheffield, England. Credit: Wojtek Gurak/Flickr/Creative Commons

Forgiving a Christmas Eve murder

It was December 24, 2012, and organist Alan Greaves, 68, was walking to Christmas Eve midnight mass at St. Saviour’s Anglican church in Sheffield, England where he was scheduled to play. On his 10-minute journey, he ran in to two men — Jonathan Bowling, 22, and Ashley Foster, 22.  Both had left a Christmas gathering earlier that evening in a foul mood. According to court records, the two men were looking for trouble and saw Greaves as easy pickings. They attacked Greaves with a pick ax handle and hammer and he would later die in hospital from his injuries. But in a powerful testimony, Alan’s wife Maureen Greaves, 63, shared in an interview with the English newspaper, The Guardian, of her journey to forgiving the two men who murdered her husband in the unprovoked attack. Maureen, 63, currently serves as a lay minister with the Anglican church working with a group called the Church Army. Married for forty years, she and her husband have four children, two sons and two daughters. She recounted the night …

Medellin, Columbia site of the Brazilian plane crash that killed 71. Credit: Wikipedia

After being warned in a dream was a Brazilian soccer player praying Psalm 63 before plane crashed?

Helio Neto is a surviving member of Chapecoense, a Brazilian soccer team, whose chartered plane crashed into a mountain near Medellin, Columbia on Monday, November 28, 2016 killing 71, including 19 members of the elite soccer club. His wife said the night before he left on the flight, Neto had dreamt their plane would crash. The team was traveling from its home town in Chapecó, Brazil to play in the South American Cup (Copa Sudamericana). Similar to the European Cup where top club teams vie to see who is the best team in Europe, top league teams across South America play in a similar tournament. There were 77 on board the plane, including members of the team, club officials, journalists and guests. Only three football players, two crew members and one journalist survived. According to reports, three of the survivors — two soccer players and a stewardess — were Evangelical Christians. It is suspected the plane crashed when it ran out of gas as it was approaching the Medellin airport. Helio Neto, who plays center back …

Carl Lentz during his interview with Oprah. Credit: Youtube capture/Own Channel

Carl Lentz tells Oprah faith is a journey

Recently Oprah Winfrey interviewed Carl Lentz, the popular and well-known pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City. Lentz is often referred to as the ‘rock star pastor’ with a ‘come as you are’ approach. He sometimes preaches in night clubs and theaters. New York’s Hillsong Church is known for its passionate worship that draws people from all genres, particularly the younger generation. Speaking of his church Lentz states, “we’re a cool church preaching an ancient message” and his mission is to transform the way people experience God. His message is about God being interested in us as a work in progress. He firmly believes our faith involves a journey. Justin Bieber’s baptism s a great example of what Lentz is talking about. Lentz along with Judah Smith, Justin’s pastor, baptized the pop star late one night in a friend’s seven-foot bathtub. Lentz is proud of Justin Bieber wanting to be baptized in the middle of everything he was going through at the time. Baptism showed his desire to start fresh and begin pulling himself …

How ‘Back to the Future’ actress Claudia Wells became a Christian

I was recently reading an article on Claudia Wells, 50, at News.com.au. For those not familiar with Claudia, she played the role of Jennifer Parker, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, in one of my favorite movies — Back to the Future. Starring Michael J. Fox, it was a blockbuster release in 1985. Fox played the role of Marty McFly who traveled back to his family’s past in a time machine cleverly disguised as a DeLorean sports car. Towards the end of the article, Claudia answered the question on what she would do if she could really travel back in time in a DeLorean. Claudia said: “I would go back in time to hangout with Jesus. I’d just hold his hand, look  in His eyes and just take Him in and have a good chat.” Claudia Wells is a Christian and if you go to her Facebook page you will see her feed filled with inspirational Biblical quotes. It took a bit of digging but I discovered an interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine on how Claudia became a Christian. She …

Baltimore protests Credit: Arish Azizzada/Flickr/Creative Commons

Does the Holy Spirit want to heal the racial divide?

When a young Black man, Mark Ross, found out his sister, 15, had just been killed in a car crash, he immediately wanted to go home and be with his family. Without a car, he talked a friend into making the drive from Indiana to Detroit, Michigan. It was 3 am when they left and the troubles started when they arrived in Ohio. Police pulled over their vehicle for speeding. Unfortunately, Mark’s friend who was driving had a suspended license and police arrested him and impounded the car. Ross was distraught. He was still a hundred miles from home and now had no way to get there. But then a white police officer, Ohio State patrolman Sgt David Robison showed up. In a Facebook post, Ross explained what happened next: “I broke down crying and he saw the sincerity of my cry. He reaches over and began praying over me and my family.” But there was still one unresolved issue. Ross had an outstanding warrant with Michigan Wayne County. When Robison contacted the sheriff’s office, …

An approaching sandstorm in Al Assad, Iraq in 2005. Credit: US Marine Corp/Wikipedia

Massive sandstorm protects new Christians from militants

Bibles for Mideast (BFM), an organization that shares the Gospel and uses teams to smuggle Bibles into Middle Eastern countries, recently shared a story of how God used a sandstorm to protect recent converts from probably certain death. According to their report, several converts from an unnamed Middle Eastern country had requested water baptism from the organization. Early one morning, BFM team members transported the 24 candidates and friends, 50 in total, on a bus for a baptism service in the Arabian Sea. The organization noted that before baptism, candidates typically spend three days fasting and praying. They made it to the ocean, had their baptism, and were heading back to a house church for worship and communion, when gunmen came up behind them in cars and started shooting at the bus. Because of this very danger they had tried to keep the baptism secret, but somehow the extremists had found out. They had either been told or perhaps saw the baptism taking place. The report stated: “Suddenly some militants reached behind us by three …

Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Credit: Youtube capture

Birthed in suffering: The enchanting music of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus

A friend recently attended a performance by the Christian group Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus that is currently touring Canada. She described it was one of the most incredible events she has ever attended, Christian or secular. Oddly this group from the Ukraine, now working under Music Mission Kyiv, was not always Christian. A year after the fall of Soviet Union in December 1991, an Episcopalian church in Kiev, Ukraine invited American Christian choral director Roger McMurrin to present Handel’s Messiah. The atheistic communist government had forbid sacred music and Handel’s Messiah had not been played in the Ukraine for an estimated 70 years. After his arrival in 1992, McMurrin who had served as choral director for several churches in the US, hired a local symphony and 37 singers to put on the Christian classic. The performance had a profound impact on the people, the media and the choral group. McMurrin described the presentation as an “explosion of light.” On his flight home to America, God asked McMurrin to move back to the Ukraine, to …

Noah's ark in Biblical Theme park in Kentucky. Credit: Adam Lederer/Flickr/Creative Commons

Former Buddhist to build full-sized Noah’s ark in Moose Jaw, Canada

A Chinese business man who converted to Christianity from Buddhism in 2009 has announced plans to build a Biblical-theme park in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada. It is a small city of around 36,000 residents. I have actually been surprised by the amount of attention this announcement received from Christian and secular media around the world. Sun Wenqing will be working with the owner of a Moose Jaw cemetery, Marc L’Hoir, to build the park that will include a full-sized replica of Noah’s ark. Sill in the planning stages, the ark will be three stories high and 133 meters long and 23 meters wide. Though some may question if this park will ever come to fruition, according to China Christian Daily, Wenqing has already built a similar park in Shenyang, China. With 6.3 million citizens, it is the capital of Liaoning Province in Northeast China. According to Wikipedia, Liaoning Province has one of the lowest rates of Christian persecution in China and features a number of Christian organizations including a seminary. Moose Jaw city council has …

Crosses near Budapest, Hungary Credit: Gyorgy Soponyai/Flickr/Creative Commons

Acts of faith in a foreign land — Naaman, Bieber and Pratt

There is a story in 2 Kings about Naaman (2 Kings 5:1-19), a general in the Aramean army. The Bible describes him as “a great man” (v 1) suggesting he was a national hero in Aram. But though a celebrity, he also had leprosy — a dreaded, disfiguring disease in that culture. Since leprosy was incurable, people were considered the living dead. But one day his servant girl, an Israelite captured during one of Naaman’s many raids, told her master about an Israeli prophet capable of curing a person of leprosy. When he tracked down the prophet, Elisha told Naaman he would be healed if he dunked himself seven times in the Jordan River. After kicking up a bit of a fuss, Naaman did as he was told and was instantly healed. Naaman offered Elisha gold and wealth for the healing, but the the prophet refused the generous gift. So instead Naaman asked Elisha for a gift. He wanted two mule loads of Israeli dirt so he could build an altar to the Lord back …

People lining up down the street and around the corner to attend a service at Hillsong NY. Photo: Carl Lentz/Instagram

And the darkness could not overcome the light

Carl Lentz is the pastor of a Hillsong church in New York City. This past week he shared a powerful photo on Instagram of people waiting to enter their church. On Sunday evening, people lined up to attend the first service, but when it filled to capacity, they stayed in a line that stretched around the street corner for two and a half hours waiting for the next service to start. Writing on Instagram to his 336,000 followers, Lentz states: “Last night, hundreds of people couldn’t get into our first service. So they waited two hours to be part of the “second” one… who know, perhaps someday soon we will have our own building. But I will never forget these days. Every meeting we have ever had, we have to rent a venue. Pay for it. And it’s never big enough! So waiting in a line, to get into an overcrowded room where you just might have to stand the whole time, becomes a normal thing. It’s literally a choice to be inconvenienced. The photo …

Do you have Desmond T. Doss’ spiritual gift?

Mel Gibson’s most recent movie Hacksaw Ridge received a 10-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival. Standing ovations are not common occurrences at this festival, much less for movies with a Christian faith theme. Gibson’s movie, which will be released in theaters in November, is based on the life of a heroic soldier from World War II — Desmond T. Doss. As a Seventh Day Adventist, Doss was a conscientious objector and was unwilling to become involved in the actual fighting. The Seventh Day Adventists denomination officially holds to the position of pacifism. Like most people, it is easy to consider conscientious objectors as little more than cowards. But that could not be said about Doss, who died in March 2006 at the age of 87. According to an article in the New York Times, while growing up his dad put a poster over Desmond’s bed. It had the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s prayer emblazoned on an image of Cain standing with a club over the dead body of his brother Able – …

65% of British people believe they had an encounter with God. Photo: London England -- Ville Miettinen/Flickr/Creative Commons

British survey reveals God is still encountering people today

It is very clear when you read the Bible that God desires personal encounters with people. In the Old Testament, Moses ran into God in the wilderness through a burning bush (Exodus 3:1 – 4:17). The incident changed his life and transformed him from a shepherd to the man who led Israel out of Egypt. In the New Testament, God encountered people through the filling of the Holy Spirit. It was a dramatic event. When the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles in Cornelius’s house, the disciples in attendance had no doubt it had happened because of what they saw (Acts 10:44-46). A meeting with God can also take on other forms. After an angel told Philip to go down a specific road he ran into the Ethiopian Eunuch who was just leaving Jerusalem (Acts 8:25-40). Puzzled by what he was reading in Isaiah, Philip’s timely arrival led to the man becoming a Christian. The eunuch worked in the treasury department for the Ethiopian Royal family (Acts 8:27). His conversion brought Christianity to that nation. According to a recent British survey, these God encounters …

Otranto harbour as seen from the castle. Photo: Marco Frattola/Flickr/Creative commons

Ancient beheadings — the Otranto martyrs

Most were shocked by the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians along the shores of the Mediterranean by Islamic extremists in early 2015. But this was not the first time, Muslims beheaded Christians for their faith. Six centuries ago, Muslims beheaded 813 Christian men in Otranto, Italy because they refused to convert to Islam. The Muslim Ottoman Empire had for decades being trying to take Europe and at one point controlled most of Spain. After conquering Constantinople (today called Istanbul, Turkey) in 1453, the Muslims set their sights on Southern Europe and ultimately Rome. Though many want us to focus on how horrid the Christian crusades were, they pale in comparison to he hundreds of battles initiated by the Muslims in their effort to conquer Europe. On July 28, 1480, over 130 Ottoman galleons and ships with 18,000 troops on board sailed into the Otranto harbour, today a quaint village on the southern coast of Italy, population 5,670. The castle that guarded the city in the 1400s still stands today. According to historians Arnaldi and Scirocco, the Muslims, led by Commander …

Lee University choral group wows Delta flight with an impromptu hymn

A choral group from Lee University were recently on a Delta flight and entertained the people with an amazing rendition of “I Love you Lord.” As the jet waited on the tarmac, hearing they were a choir, a flight attendant asked them to sing a song. The group that was heading on a mission trip to the British Virgin Islands gladly agreed. A person captured the song on video and posted to a Facebook page for the university’s choirs. Lee University started in 1918 as a Bible school with 12 students and one teacher. Today, it is a liberal arts college with nearly 5,000 students and a 120 acre campus. Based in Cleveland, TN, it is operated by the Church of God and is famous for its music program that includes a number of singing groups. The video that is now going viral has sparked many comments. One of my favorites speaks of the storied history of the school. It was written by a man who now pastors a Church of God  in Chesapeake, Virginia: Rodney Vickers: That’s my old choir. To think, I’m old enough to …

Kenai River in Alaska. Photo: Teresa/Flickr/Creative Commons

Holy Spirit gives pastor a word of wisdom on how to save a woman’s life with his fishing rod

Located in Alaska, the Kenai River is cold and fast and each year it seems to claim one person’s life. Because of the many camping sites along the river, the state’s various departments warn of the dangers of the river and its extremely cold water. Andy Foor is a pastor from Everett, Pennsylvania and according to an article in the Peninsula Clarion, he was visiting Alaska this summer. One Saturday, July 16, 2016, he decided to go fishing along the banks of the Kenai River. He arrived around 5:30 AM, and a short time later noticed two women walking along the banks of the river. He didn’t think much about it until he heard one of the women hollering. Her friend had fallen into the river. When Foor turned he noticed the woman, who wasn’t wearing a life jacket, had gone completely under water. She disappeared for about 15 seconds, then bobbed up screaming for help because she couldn’t swim. The current was carrying her out into the middle of the river. Foor didn’t know …