18Mar

Wendy Burpee grew up in a Christian home, but along the way she strayed far away from God, finding herself in abusive relationships and making choices to abort pregnancies. Wendy's story is one of hope and redemption, in which she now uses the mistakes she has made to help many women choose life for their unborn babies.

Wendy Burpee Wendy Burpee is the Executive Director for Genesis Women’s Clinic in Pottstown and Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. She is certified as a Biblical counselor specializing in pro-life counseling and domestic abuse, an Ambassador Speaker, and the author of Running Toward Abortion A Journey of Healing and Redemption. 

"but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy."  (1 Peter 4:13)

I was raised in a Christian home and attended Christian school all my life. My Dad was very strict and the world seemed very black and white in those early years. I viewed God as a judge waiting to throw the book at me for my sin. On the surface, our family looked like we were put together. I have a half-sister who spent weekends with her father and then, when my Mom was 38, she announced she was pregnant which I had a hard time absorbing. A year later, she sat me down to tell me she was pregnant again. My sister had married and moved out by the time my brothers were born. I finished high school and left for Pillsbury Baptist Bible College in Minnesota. When I came home on break there was a lot of stress about whether I would return to college. My parents were in their 40s with 2 toddlers and what felt like a whole different family. During this time, I started to hang out with a boy I knew from my part-time job. We were sneaking around to see each other. When my parents found out–they told me that I had to choose between him and living in their home. I didn’t want to give up what I thought was true love, so I packed my things and left. I stayed with his sister while we tried to figure out what to do. About 2 months later, I shared the news with my then-boyfriend that I was pregnant. He didn’t seem happy, and to be honest–neither was I. I was panic-stricken that my parents would find out and then, I would never have any chance of being part of my family again. I had no one to talk to so, as terrified as I was, I walked into the Allentown abortion clinic and ended my pregnancy. My fear of having anyone know, that I had sex outside of marriage and got pregnant was more powerful to me than my fear of having an abortion.

I remember feeling numb afterward. They told me as the medicine was putting me asleep, that when I woke up– it would be all over, and I could go back to my "normal" life. What an incredible lie!!! When I woke up the last of my innocence was gone, and I felt broken and damaged. I think my boyfriend felt guilty so out of the blue; he asked me if I wanted to marry him. I thought to myself..."Now, you want to get married–Strange response to what had just happened". Well, a few weeks later, we went to the courthouse and got married. After about a year together, our relationship fell apart. I realized that he was seeing someone else and within a few months he left. I was 21 divorced and alone. This is when God began to whisper..."I’m here, come back". But, while God whispers, Satan is hard at work. He sent a good looking guy into my life to distract me. He gave me attention that I craved after being divorced just a few months before. I felt wanted again. Everything seemed exciting and new until one night when I came home from work. My new guy was waiting by my back door. He walked up to my apartment with me. It didn’t take me long to realize, that he was very drunk. He began interrogating me about where I was all day, and thought that I was seeing someone else. My answers only seemed to fuel his response. You never forget the first time someone hits you. It went on for what seemed like an eternity. He choked me, suffocated me with a pillow, threw me across the room several times, called me filthy names and then assaulted me. Sometime before morning he passed out, and I managed to crawl across the floor and call the police. They hauled him away in handcuffs, and I thought..."Thank God it’s over". I didn’t call anyone or ask for help. Reaching out to my family or my church was in no way an option because surely, this was punishment for the horrible things I had done. I did the best I could to cover the bruises and went back to work. I shoved the experience into the box with the abortion and nailed the lid on tight. A few weeks later, one of my boyfriends friends came by and handed me an apology letter. It said how much he loved me and he didn’t mean to hurt me. He was just jealous and drunk. I felt guilty that he was headed to court and was charged with aggravated assault and rape. He might have to serve years in jail. He continued to send messages until–I caved in and dropped the charges. Not only that but, I agreed to see him again. My expectations for a relationship were now at an all time low. In fact, clearly there were no expectations. For a few weeks he was good to me and then, the drinking began again. He would push me and knock me down. The names were worse than the physical abuse. I can’t tell you why I stayed. I didn’t grow up in an abusive home. I knew my life had gone way off track, but somehow no matter how severe the abusive got–I would always give in to his manipulation and accept his ridiculous apologies. Two years went by, and then the unthinkable happened. I was pregnant again. The abuse instantly increased and his desire to see me miscarry was clear. I still remember the day he punched me in the stomach just aside a bar we stopped at so he could get a drink. When I got up off the ground, I told myself I can’t do this. Again, I drove to Allentown and let them convince me that the fetus was early and "just a bunch of cells". I knew in the deepest part of my soul, that was not true, but in that moment–I needed to justify what I was about to do. The next day when my boyfriend came home from work, I told him something was wrong and he needed to drive me to the hospital. It was Friday, so he was already drinking and using. As we pulled up to the emergency room he told me to go in and he would park the car. Well, he never came into the hospital because it was more important to him that he went back out to drink. No one was there as I was taken to surgery for a Dilatation & Curettage for a botched abortion. Now if you think the horror of my story can’t get any worse well then, you don’t fully understand how deeply the devil wanted to destroy my life. Just 10 weeks later, I was pregnant again. There was no saying no to this man anymore. I kept thinking this cannot be happening. I didn’t even think this time–I just went to Allentown, and became an official repeat offender. I was taking birth control, but because of the trauma and abuse–the pill was not very effective for me. I sat in that horrible place thinking..."How in the world did I go from an honor student in my Christian school to living in hell?" My life had spiraled out of control and nothing seemed to matter anymore. It very much seemed that the devil had won. After all, he had destroyed my heart, my emotions, and my will to want any better for myself. I began to accept the beatings like they were well deserved. Nothing mattered. And then, my friend, Joanna, from high school, looked me up and got in touch with me. Truly, God sent her just when all hope seemed lost. She told me to stop by so we could get together. So, I went to her townhouse and met her sweet funny husband who was a youth Pastor. They talked about wanting a baby and what the future would hold. I just sat there thinking..."I will never have a life like this". She kept in contact, and finally one day stopped by my apartment. She knew I was in trouble. She knew I would never admit how bad things really were. She saw the bruises on my arms and the pain in my eyes. She looked around and went back to her car bringing in an empty box. She started emptying drawers and asking me what was mine. So I asked her what are you doing? She looked at me and said there is no way I’m going to let you stay here with him another minute. I was terrified and sadly could not even imagine at that point a different healthy normal life, but somehow she convinced me to leave. I would return to my boyfriend one more time before making my final escape ending 5 years of pain and abuse. Over the months that followed I went to counseling briefly but struggled to connect with anyone. I never brought up the abortions in my counseling sessions. No one knew what I had done, and I was convinced if they did–they would be horrified. You see, I wasn’t like the clients that come to Genesis, which is the name of the pregnancy center, that I am blessed to be the director of in Pottstown, PA. I didn't grow up in a troubled home. I knew better. I knew what abortion was. There could never be forgiveness for someone like me right? I couldn't imagine why God would ever want to have anything to do with me. I already perceived Him to be a judge waiting to punish people for even the smallest sin. Clearly I was not deserving of anything good from Him after all I had done. This is where my redemptive story really begins. Over the months that followed, God sent people into my life that showed me love including, the man that would become my husband. Through this, I began to see a different side of God. Could it be true that He was a loving Father, and was it even possible, that God still loved me? I returned to church which was one of the hardest steps for me. My parents began to check in with me and my Mom and I reconnected. Although I never consciously decided to put away my past where no one would find it, it just kind of happened that way. A year later, I got married and 9 months later gave birth to my first son and 2 more children soon followed. I was living the life I never thought I would have. My husband had a great job and lived in a beautiful home. The past was gone. I had banished it. I had no plans to ever speak of those experiences again.

So now we move to 2017. My life is settled. I am married 18 years to a hard-working husband and have 3 great kids. I was working from home for my brother’s insurance company as a successful sales agent. Our family has been faithfully attending Valley Forge Baptist in Collegeville, PA for over 10 years. I begin to feel like there’s something more I should be doing for the Lord. So, I started to pray..."God, do something with my life". Take my story, and use it for your glory. Whatever you want–I will do. Now, let me warn you before you utter these words to God, be sure you will be willing to do what He will give you to do. A few months later, a friend from church who was volunteering at Genesis Pregnancy Center, told me about an opening for a director at Genesis. I was not very familiar with the center, and I told her that I didn't know anything about running a Christian non-profit. She strongly encouraged me to apply. After submitting my application–I began to pray, Lord if this is what you want me to do, I will do it. Now, I don’t know what "IT" was yet. I’m intrigued by the thought but not aware of what this job entails. Only for the briefest of moments do I think I might be faced with my dark hidden secrets. I had asked the Lord to forgive me, but I still had decided not to bring those events out into the light. I pushed those thoughts aside and convinced myself I could leave the past safely where it was. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get the call that Genesis wanted me as their director. Now, Genesis has been around for over 35 years. The previous director left the center before I came. The client advocates were on hold waiting for me to get my head around the job. The administrator had left and no volunteers were coming. So with a key to get in and a prayer for God’s guidance–I opened the door to Genesis and the journey to this day began. I hired an administrator, called the advocates, and did my best to get things going again. Financially, things were grim but since business was my strong point, I was able to go back to only necessities and work on getting out to the Pastors to spread the passion of our center to the churches to get support coming in again. There were challenges in those first 3 months. I was replacing a director who had been on the job for 23 years. Many of the churches were unsure of our future and were waiting to see what changes would be made. Our board of 3 expanded to 7, and the support began to come again. We finally settled down and got into what mattered. THE WOMEN! I filled in as an advocate when needed, but the pace was fairly slow, and I spent most of my time visiting churches and finding new connections with those who may want to support us. However, on occasion–we had a woman who came with a story of domestic abuse, and eventually, I would be faced with an abortion-minded woman unsure of what she would do about her unplanned pregnancy. My mindset of keeping the truth of my story hidden was no longer possible. When sitting across from a young woman who may go ½ mile up the street to Planned Parenthood, and abort her child–my past poured out to change her mind and see the reality of her decision. There was no question God wanted it brought to the surface at that moment. As the next year passed and Genesis began to grow again and thrive, God began to work on my heart. Healing is a personal journey and my dark secrets couldn’t remain hidden any longer. In time, I knew what God wanted me to do. You have to tell your story Wendy; I could almost hear His voice saying–Let me use you for my glory. My answer to Him–God, telling one woman in a room alone to stop her from destroying a life is not the same as standing in front of one's peers, and letting them see that part of you best left forgotten. After much prayer and consideration, I told my board and client advisors bits and pieces of my life to not overwhelm or shock them. I continued to pray if this is what you want Lord, please make it clear to me. I decided for several reasons to obtain the records from that first traumatic assault event in my life. As I sat in my office reading over the report–I quickly glanced to the top of the page and noticed the date, MAY 1, 1994. I lost my breath for a minute and sat there in awe. I had been invited to share my story for the first time at a National Seminar for Christian pro-life directors and their staff in Michigan. WHEN? May 1, 2019, 25 years to the day since those traumatic events had taken place. The president of that group connected me to Jeanne Pernia. Jeanne like Abby Johnson had been the director of an abortion clinic in Miami, Florida. She had received Christ and is now a champion for the Christian pro-life movement. I sent for her book and read it very quickly. Her story brought memories flooding into my head, that I thought were long gone. I reached out to her and we began to email. God brings the right people along to promote healing and encouragement when you need it. Is my journey of healing over? No, the process continues every day. I know the God of this universe has forgiven me and has allowed me to be part of His plan at Genesis Women’s Clinic. I don’t know what God has for me in the future, but I share my story with you today trusting that His purpose for my life is fulfilled in my willingness to tell the whole story. It would have been easier, so much easier to share just one abortion experience with you, but then God would not fully be glorified for ALL that He has done in my life. I don’t know why, but in those moments, I felt a rush of emotion about my past. You see it’s not about me and what people may think of me after I speak the truth–it’s about how God took a broken woman, a sinner; a Christian who came to know better and–redeemed her for His purpose. He does that in the Bible over and over so in reality, I feel honored to tell you today. I have suffered the trauma of abortion 3 times. I am saved by grace and a follower of Christ who will fiercely fight for the lives and souls of the women in my community. God has forgiven me and reached deep into my heart to bring healing to my life. He has placed me at Genesis, which truly has been His gift to me. Today, I bring meaning to the 3 unborn lives that walk the streets of heaven with my Savior. I give honor to them, and glory to my Lord for His redemptive, gracious, power. Since our medical launch, we have saved the lives of 375 babies and ministered to their mothers. All the glory goes to God for His direction in my life and for Genesis. It is a blessing as well, to speak for the Christian pro-life community.    

Genesis Women's Clinic

(Click on the link above or on the photo below to visit their site)

Genesis has two locations. One in Pottstown, PA, and the other in Phoenixville, PA


Wendy Burpee's Book

Available on Amazon









09Mar

Dawn Marie Woroniak's story has been shared on TV and radio programs to help others overcome their struggle with depression.

How I Overcame the Storm of Depression

  Dawn-Marie Woroniak

And they have overcome him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11)

For most of my life, I have struggled with depression . . . a dark and hopeless place that was numbed by binge drinking when it became too much for me to handle. At the time, I thought it would help ease the pain of the emotional and physical abuse that had occurred during childhood. At an early age, I became insecure, lonely, depressed, and a perfectionist . . . all in the hopes of overcoming, but never overcame.

Even after saying “yes” to Jesus, I struggled with binge drinking. Knowing, that I needed help, I began to receive counseling. Unfortunately, within a couple of appointments, I would convince myself that I was okay, only to discover the harsh reality that I was not—a cycle that lasted longer than it should have because of my stubbornness and unwillingness to work through the pain. Working through pain brings healing, but at the time I was not cooperating with God’s healing plan for me. Condemnation and shame consumed me. After all, how could I be a Christian and still struggle like I was? I doubted God’s forgiveness because of the prison I kept myself in. God gave me the keys to break free when I said “yes” to Him but in my absolute foolishness . . . I did not use them. In essence, I was oblivious to the free gift of salvation He had given me.

During my healing process, I have learned that God has a very good sense of humor. At times, when God calls us . . . it can be in the “midst” of our pain and darkness. For it is in the “midst” of things that God shows up in greatness!

When He called me to write VictoryEmbraced . . . I was not only cleaning dishes . . . I was still in the “midst” of struggling with depression. However, I now know I have God’s DNA . . . and because of this, I will always be victorious!

While collecting testimonies for the book, I began to experience symptoms of PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is a major mental depressive disorder and has a few extra edges than regular PMS, occurring only in 3 to 8 percent of women. I have been told many times that I am unique . . . not only in my sense of humor but also in how I process and see things in life. Now there is indisputable evidence that what has been said for years is true! Yep, this definitely proved it . . . not only to myself but also to those closest to me.

PMDD usually makes its ugly appearance in women who are in their late 30s or mid-40s. Mine showed up when I was 36. With all the hormone shifts, I also started having simple partial seizures, which are rarely noticed by others. They begin with a feeling of deja vu followed by staring that can last a few minutes.

In my potential for perfectionism, I happen to have all of the symptoms of PMDD . . . not just the four or five that classify the disorder and help to make a diagnosis. Symptoms of PMDD include anxiety and a feeling of being on edge, memory issues, severe mood swings, crying for no reason, extreme sensitivity to abandonment and rejection, anger and increased conflict with the ones you love, decreased interest in usual activities, feelings of being overwhelmed as well as feeling out of control, joint and muscle pain, weight gain, insomnia, and headaches. Yes, a long list of symptoms, but nothing God cannot handle. Sometimes one month can be worse than another. During the more intense months, I pray for it to be over quickly and at times have felt as if I am holding on to Him for dear life. I had a neurologist for the seizures, which were under control with medicine, and after two years of being seizure-free, my doctor began lowering the dosage successfully. My psychiatrist was to help take the edge off of the PMDD. Through it all, I have the most renowned doctor in the world by my side overseeing things . . . my sweet and precious Jesus. 

I learned that there are things one can do to help relieve the symptoms of PMDD such as hormone therapy, taking nutritional supplements, antidepressants, exercise, and drinking less caffeine. My hardest to follow through on is eating less chocolate, cheese, and carbohydrates. Yes, it is true. . . sometimes chocolate is a girl’s best friend.

I have learned that with any disorder—not only in my life but with others as well—there is hope because God has the power to take any disorder and create order out of a total mess, He can create beauty. And because I have learned the character of God and who He says He is, I have absolute faith that He will provide the avenues for my healing even if that means He balances all my hormones through early menopause. A miracle in itself! I do not put anything past God . . . He can do all things! Being in the process of healing does not mean failure because obtaining victory is a continuous motion of moving forward.

We are a work in progress . . . always under construction. With God, seven months of intense counseling has helped transform my life. I have learned to put God first in all I do . . . and to depend on Him for all I need. I am blessed to have a very loving husband who has been supportive, understanding, and patient with me along my journey of Embracing Victory Over the Storm of Depression.



VictoryEmbraced Ministries 

VictoryEmbraced: Truth, Talk & Testimonies   YouTube channel 

Buddy The Butterfly Children's Book  Teaches priceless Christ-centered lessons about the incredible life cycle of the butterfly. Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and ReaderHouse in hardcover, paperback & ebook.

VictoryInspired Gifts   Share the Good News in comfort and style. 

Dawn-Marie is the author and founder of the VictoryEmbraced Testimonial Blog and recently published her first children's book, Buddy The Butterfly, which teaches priceless Christ-centered lessons about the incredible life cycle of the butterfly. Through the years, Dawn-Marie has written original inspirational quotes that are being created into unique designs so you can share the Good News of Jesus wherever you go.  VictoryEmbraced spreads the message of hope, faith, encouragement, and the Gospel through powerful testimonies. If you would like your testimony to be considered for the VictoryEmbraced Blog and an interview on a broadcast, we would love to hear from you! 

Please use the contact form on the VictoryEmbraced ministry site.









18Feb

Learn the value of what remains as Brittany shares her incredible story of her and her two children surviving a devastating car accident in which she needed to relearn how to walk and God being present every step of the way. 

Brittany Gilchrist

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  

1 Peter 5:10

My name is Brittany, and I’m married to my high school sweetheart! We have two daughters, two dogs, three chickens, and a horse, and our lives are complete! Our journey has been one of ups and downs, but drastically changed twelve years ago, on June 22, 2011. Before that, we were finally settled into the life that we had worked so hard for and planned. My husband had a great job that was leading to bigger opportunities; he began working on his novel; we had just purchased our first home; and our second daughter had just been born. Our life was sweet and planned. We were settling into a routine as a little family of four, and we had a pretty good idea of what our life was going to look like.

The 22nd of June started like any other day with a newborn and a toddler—busy and hot! My oldest had been at a summer program at our local church, so the little one and I picked her up and left the church parking lot, and that’s my last memory of that day. Once we pulled onto Highway 41, we traveled a mile or two, and our Nissan Sentra collided head-on with a lifted F250 Super Duty truck that blew a tire and caused the driver to lose control. The truck went across the double yellow lines without being able to steer or brake, into oncoming traffic, and directly into us. The remainder of what was left of our car caught fire, and smoke filled the entire car.

We were trapped. I was unresponsive. My babies were alone, scared, and injured. Throughout this journey, not being able to remember has been excruciating. It’s bittersweet and absolutely surreal. I wish I could have been there to comfort them. I wanted to tell them that everything would be fine, but I couldn’t. Timing is everything. We weren’t alone for very long. With a busy highway and an accident as severe as ours, traffic began to back up as far as the eye could see. Traveling directly behind us were our angels in disguise. These men wasted no time and surrounded our car, deciding how they were going to rescue us. With nothing else to use, they broke our car windows with rocks and their own fists. They freed my babies, at the risk of being overtaken by the hot and pungent smoke. The damage to our car was so severe that it had shifted me from being a driver to nearly a passenger, with my lower half being barely visible. I couldn’t move to be freed. But they didn’t leave me. They didn’t run away or throw up their hands. They stayed, and they tried again—on three they pulled, all grasping a different part of me, and as I was freed, our entire car then went up in flames.

Those angels, our heroes, were all acknowledged, and the one who went over and beyond was awarded the American Red Cross Hero award for his actions, heroism, bravery, and love. There are a few things that I don’t remember from this day, such as my Life Flight helicopter ride, the two times that it was necessary to resuscitate me to save my life, and the next three days, which were a blur.

The few things I do remember when I awoke were that I knew my life would never be the same; when I was told that they rated our accident unsurvivable; and the many times I needed to be reminded that my babies had survived—we were all miracles.

It’s been a very long twelve years, filled with pain, surgeries, and too many appointments to count. In the midst of everything, there are also many amazing stories, situations, people, miracles, and acts of grace. We will never forget what we have been through—our journey hasn’t been easy, and there were times when it seemed overwhelming and too hard to bear.

My girls were both taken by ambulance to the closest children’s hospital, where my oldest spent over a month in recovery. My injuries were extensive. I fractured both femurs, a compound fracture of my right tibia and fibula, the left clavicle, the sternum, and the ribs, just to name a few. I needed to learn how to walk again, but I was very thankful for my legs—I created these attitudes and differing emotions and perspectives that I had to battle and navigate constantly. The reality and pain of what had happened were compared to the thankfulness and gratitude for life and miracles. That was our reality—it’s still our reality.

Today, we are changed. We see life from different perspectives; we see through different lenses. Not only has our perspective changed, but who we are as people has changed. We are definitely products of the things we experience, but we have a choice in how we respond to and react to those experiences. Bad things happen, unfortunately. It’s the sinful and fallen world we live in, but we can rise from the trauma and let it shape us into people of grace who exhibit empathy, love, joy, and hope. Life is short. Time is precious, as are the friends and family who surround you. God has a plan and purpose for each of us. He can make beauty out of ashes, and if we let Him, He will use everything we are and everything we encounter, both painful and joyful, for our good and His glory! We’ve experienced miracle after miracle. Not only were we spared from an unsurvivable car accident, but we were mostly unscathed from a second car accident in 2018. We have been healed miraculously time and time again. We have been provided for physically, spiritually, emotionally, and financially. Our every need has been met. Once again, the road hasn’t been easy, to say the least. It’s been full of pain and sadness. It’s been a fight. But we’ve not had to fight alone. We have never been alone. At times, we’ve had to trudge through mud to keep going, while other times we’ve floated on our backs down a clear stream. Either way, God has been our constant and our anchor. We strive each day to trust Him fully and step out, one foot in front of the other. He is in full control. We have been called to tell our story—to tell of the amazing and miracle-performing God whom we serve. He is alive today, friends. He is moving and working on our behalf, for our good and His glory. He is an awesome God, and nothing is impossible with Him. Today, what remains is the hope of eternity. What remains is the excitement of a life led by the Holy Spirit. What remains is the promise that our good Father will never leave us or forsake us. We take one day at a time around our home, thankful for the life that’s been given to us. Our days may be messy at times, and life is raw and real, but our time and our actions are intentional as we walk hand in hand with our Savior. My prayer for each of you would be that you would know your infinite worth and how much you are loved by your Creator. That you would crave more of what God has for you and know that He has a plan and purpose for your life, as you’ve been uniquely created! Finally, my prayer is that you walk this life in fullness and VICTORY! He is with you and for you.

Nissan Sentra June 22, 2011

Brittany's Family


31Jan

Marty Breeden had a near-death experience that brought him into the Lord's presence. While in heaven, he received an urgent message for the Church. Join Marty, as he shares his amazing testimony called CODE BLUE.

Marty Breeden

"...while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed."   (Titus 2:13) 

At one time, as a young man of 17, I had given my heart to the Lord with great passion. As in many cases thoughI got busy with life. In 2015, at 51 years of age, those years of experiencing the zeal of the Lord seemed far away. I had no idea how the Lord was about to sternly, yet lovingly, bring me back to Himself.

On July 17, 2015, as a result of my going into acute respiratory failure, I went “Code Blue”. I would go “Code Blue” yet again within 48 hours. When I “coded” the first time, I immediately left my body, and I found myself standing in what I sensed was the presence of the Lord. Thinking back now, there were a million things He could have said to me, and what He did say, I was certainly not expecting. With an imminence and urgency beyond description, He said, “MY CHURCH DOES NOT REALLY BELIEVE THAT I’M COMING BACK SOON!” He repeated this two more times, as I stood there in stunned silence. Each time, it was with more volume and more passion. I finally said, waving my hands like a school child to get His attention, “Lord, yes we do believe you’re coming back soon. We sing about it, pray about it, study about it; yes, Lord, we do believe that you’re coming back soon!” He then said, “MY Church does not really believe I’m coming back soon, for if they did, they would not be living as they are!” Then, I listened as the timbre of His voice changed. He said, “I AM coming back soon, and my Church is not readyNow, go back and tell the things that you have heard, and know that your message will not be received!”

I was in the CCU for three weeks, the majority of that on a respirator with a tracheotomy. I survived and would go to the University of Virginia Transitional Care Facility to learn how to walk, talk, and swallow again. It was there, that I had a second encounter with the Lord on August 14, 2015. In a night vision, He spoke to me these words: “My church should be living as though this is the TWO-MINUTE WARNING!” Being a huge football fan, I knew exactly what He was saying: That we should be working with absolute purpose and passion because, in that Two-Minute Warning, those last 120 seconds can determine victory or defeat. It’s an all-out rush to do all you can to win the game, to put up a strong offense, and—if you’re winning—to keep the opposition from gaining ground or scoring points. As the Apostle Paul said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Those encounters changed my life, and as I lovingly warn the Church, I see this message changing the hearts of others as well. I now go to the highways and byways and compel men to come in. I often pray that in the remaining time I have I will live a life that will make sense in the light of eternity. With all that is within me, I know He is coming, and I believe His blessed return to be nearer than most would believe. Get your houses in order; ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and leading as to what you are supposed to be doing at this late; late hour. Surely, our “redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28 KJV).

Photo of Marty in the Hospital

Marty's Telegram Channel


Almost Heaven with Marty & Georgia Lee 

(Worship Music, Devotionals, Short Messages, and Prayer) 

Contact Marty and Georgia Lee: almostheavenmgb@gmail.com


                                                         















15Jan

Brian and Shawn Chrisagis are identical twins that were born three months premature. They were in incubators for the first two years of their lives after tests revealed they had life-threatening allergies. For the next five years, they did not leave their home. When they were seven, their mother learned about the power of prayer in which she was not only healed from a debilitating heart condition, but they were instantly healed and set free.



Brian and Shawn Chrisagis

Founders of the Chrisagis Brothers Ministries & Productions

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

Brian and Shawn Chrisagis were born with life-threatening allergies to the sun, grass, most foods, and clothing. The doctors said they wouldn't live past the age of two, but now—they are walking, talking miracles. The twins needed to be in an incubator for the first two years of their lives. When their parents brought them home from the hospital, the windows of their house were covered with bricks to protect them from the sun. The Chrisagis Brothers' early years were marked by a series of "tests and errors" from doctors in the United States, Italy, France, and Germany. It was discovered that the only foods they could eat were soybeans, milk, sardines, rice cakes, and peanut butter. Their mother (Marguerite Chrisagis) and grandmother (Carmie 'Nana' DeFilippo) made all their clothing out of the few fabrics their skin didn't react to. If they had to go outside, they would have to cover up with hats and blankets–if the sun touched their skin, they could die and have to be rushed to the hospital.

 
When Brian and Shawn were seven years old, their mother, Marguerite, suffered from a severe heart condition and became confined to a wheelchair and needed oxygen. One day, Marguerite went to a healing service at a Full Gospel Businessmen's meeting. After the sermon, she went forward to ask the preacher, Father Michael Scanlan, to pray for her sons' healing, but he insisted on praying for her. Father Scanlan told her that as a parent, she had the authority in her home to stand in the gap and pray for her sons' healing and deliverance. That is when Marguerite learned how to break the bloodline of sickness, death, and disease over her home and loved ones.


After Father Scanlan prayed for Marguerite, she got out of her wheelchair, took off her oxygen, ran around, and wasn't winded. When she got home, she had the whole family pray over her sick children. Marguerite' felt an evil spirit push her onto the floor,' and the twins were instantly healed from all sickness! Marguerite asked the boys to name anything they would like to eat in the act of faith. "Hot fudge sundae!" was the unanimous response, and the family went out to a nearby restaurant for the boys' first ice cream.


The entire week, the family went to the doctors, who "redid the tests and x-rays about five times" before they finally confirmed the twins were entirely well and their mother had "a new heart." Their doctor became a born-again believer that day, marking the beginning of the twins' powerful ministry. Today, Brian and Shawn are ordained ministers who have devoted their lives to sharing their powerful testimony and God's love through their music and creativity.

 
The Chrisagis Brothers have become staples for their wholesome family entertainment and fun through the years. To check out Brian and Shawn's biography and career highlights, please visit their ministry site, The Chrisagis Brothers Ministries & Productions

Chrisagis Brothers Music CD's

Chrisagis Brothers Support Club

ArtBy Chrisagis

If you are interested in purchasing artwork from Brian & Shawn please message them on their ArtBy Chrisagis Facebook page. Artwork is $50 plus shipping @ $8---each picture is 8 and a half by 11--larger sizes are 11 by 17 for $70 plus shipping. Proceeds help support this wonderful ministry!   

Little House on the Prairie by Shawn

Russ Taff and David Phelps by Brian & Carmen and Michael W. Smith by Shawn

Kathy Troccoli by Brian

A beautiful book about the Chrisagis Brothers Mother, Marguerite "Margie" Chrisagis, and their family called A Legacy of Love--by Debbie Fuller (Author), The Chrisagis Brothers (Contributor) -- Click on the book cover to order on Amazon 

Special tribute song for Brian & Shawn's Mother Marguerite "Margie" Chrisagis called If Heaven Had a Phone

Jesus Everywhere I Go Music Video--Classic MTV video that made the Chrisagis Brothers known

In Loving Memory

Shawn Chrisagis, of the beloved singing duo The Chrisagis Brothers, passed suddenly in June 2023. Shawn was a minister of the gospel, singer, and performer who loved the Lord and people with all his heart. He was anointed, loving, creatively brilliant, and authentic. Shawn will be greatly missed by all those who loved and cared for him and by all the lives he touched while sharing the love of Jesus. Well done, good and faithful servant! —Matthew 25:23


14Oct

Forty-nine years ago, Patrick found Jesus Christ inside his Halloween bag. It's important to share about Jesus throughout each day. This includes being available to those who may be visiting your house on Halloween. Let us always be the light in the darkness!

 

Patrick Fitzpatrick

Plumstead Christian School Head of School in Buck's County, PA

Children's Book Author

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)

Those who come to our door tonight will find an extra treat nestled in among the candies of each bag of treats—a Happy Halloween tract. Sure, most of these tracts will be tossed into the trash, but maybe when you discover what happened to me forty-nine years ago on this night you will understand why my family tries to shine brightly on one of the darkest nights of the year. On Halloween night, 1974, I donned a homemade costume (I think I was a clown) and canvassed my neighborhood in Escondido, CA, in search of candy. I was ten and in fourth grade. I filled my pillowcase to overflowing with lots of treats, and I remember one elderly lady throwing a little booklet into my bag in addition to the candy she gave me. I really didn’t think more about the booklet, but when my mother went through my candy to make sure it was all safe, she discovered the booklet. It was a religious booklet, and she took the time to read it that evening. It piqued her curiosity about God and inspired her to join a Bible study, and my mother discovered through this Bible study that God loved her despite her sin and that He made a way for her to be reconciled to Him through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus. She gave her heart and life to God that day, and my father, my siblings, and I noticed immediately my mom’s transformation. One day, soon after her conversion, she sat down with me and explained not only her journey but also how I too could be saved. I wanted this. I believed. My journey of faith has now spanned forty-nine years, and my relationship with God is stronger and more alive today. I now draw my nourishment from the living water, and I am blessed to be called God’s adopted son. God used this one woman’s simple act of obedience to transform four generations of Fitzpatricks! Praise God. So, yes, when the neighborhood children are out collecting their treats, we are committed to presenting them with the best treat of all – the good news of Jesus Christ. Please join in praying for those who are being presented with the gospel on Halloween night.

A Resource to Purchase to Share the Love of Christ on Halloween 

Patrick is the author of two children's books. Please click on the book photos to be directed to where you can purchase them.


18Aug

“One decision, one moment, can have such a detrimental effect on so many people, living and dead, born and yet to be conceived.” ~Melissa Ohden

Melissa Ohden

Founder & Director of The Abortion Survivors Network, Author & Speaker

"But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)

Abortion is a decision that has a detrimental effect on many across generations. In August of 1977, my biological mother entered St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa, to undergo a saline infusion abortion. Little did she know that this one decision, and this one moment in time—would have a far-reaching effect on so many peoples’ lives.

A saline infusion abortion involves the injection of a toxic salt solution into the amniotic fluid surrounding the pre-born child in the womb. The salt solution intends to scald the child to die from the outside in. Suppose you ever look up ‘saline infusion for abortion’ or read about children like me who are aborted by saline infusion. In that case, you will find that we are called the “red-skinned” or “candy-apple” babies because it turns the child’s skin red as it burns it, peels it, and moves internally into the body to burn up the organs.

After the toxic salt solution was delivered into the amniotic fluid that surrounded me, I was bathed in the poisonous salt solution for approximately five days. Truly, this solution should have burned me to death while I was in my biological mother’s womb, and she should have given birth to a dead child. Instead, on the fifth day of the abortion procedure, labor was successfully induced, and she gave birth to a live child—me! 

Over the years, I have been told that it was initially known that I had been unsuccessfully aborted. It has been said that after I was delivered spontaneously at the hospital, I was believed to be dead. I was even left for dead and placed along the bedside table. Nevertheless, by the grace of God, a nurse was tending to my mother, noticed that I was making grunting noises and small movements. The doctors and nurses then started to provide the medical care I needed to sustain my fragile life.

Medical documents indicate that my mother thought that she was approximately 18 to 22 weeks pregnant with me when she attempted to abort me. The fact that I survived and that I weighed 2 pounds, 14 ounces, indicates that she was at least six to seven months pregnant. One of the first documentations in my medical records states that I looked like I was “approximately 31 weeks gestation.”  

Despite my miraculous survival, the doctors did not believe that I would live very long, and if I did live—I probably would be disabled. After I survived the failed abortion attempt, I suffered from numerous medical problems, including jaundice, severe respiratory problems, and seizures. I had to undergo multiple blood transfusions. I was too weak to suck from a bottle, so I was fed intravenously through my head for an extended period of time. My future was bleak, but I was alive! Most people would never guess by looking at me today that I suffered what I did as an infant. Today, I am the picture of health. Miraculously, I am healthier than most. I have no long-term physical consequences because of the abortion procedure and my premature birth; I am one of the blessed ones.

After I survived the failed abortion attempt, my biological parents made a courageous and loving decision. I am forever grateful to them for ultimately giving me life despite the initial attempt to end my life. I am even more thankful that they made an adoption plan after I survived. I often hear people say that it is wrong to ask a woman to carry a child to term and make an adoption plan if they feel like they don’t want to or can’t parent them. I understand the well-intentioned place in people’s hearts this comes from. However, I am a living testament to the selfless beauty and love of an adoption plan, and I have seen firsthand how adoption is a choice that EVERYONE can live with. To some—abortion appears to be a solution to the problem. Still, I have seen throughout my life that abortion is not the solution, and it is not a choice that women can live with the rest of their lives without physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual consequences. As hard as it must be to make an adoption plan for a child, it is ultimately a beautiful gift for many—the child, the biological parents, and the adoptive family.

My adoptive parents first met me when I was still in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit in Iowa City, Iowa, not long after I was born. Despite the poor prognosis that the doctors had for my life, my adoptive parents did not hesitate for a second to come to visit me. My adoptive parents share that the first time they laid eyes on me, lying there in the incubator, they thought I was the most beautiful baby they had ever seen and fell in love with me. That always makes me smile because looking at baby pictures of myself, I know that I wasn’t what most people think is a beautiful baby. I was tiny, my head was shaved, I had IV ports in my head, I was in an incubator most of the time, but my adoptive parents were able to look through all of that and see the inherent beauty of God in me. 

I was blessed to go home to my adoptive family within two short months of surviving the failed abortion attempt. I went home to them before I was probably even supposed to be born! I know that the love of my adoptive parents and the nurses and doctors who cared for me helped me not only survive but also thrive. Over the years, I have remained in contact with one particular nurse who cared for me in Iowa City. Mary shared how she helped name me when I didn’t yet have a name, how she and others knitted me clothing, and how they nurtured me and believed in me during those months that I was in their care.  Growing up, I always seemingly knew that I was adopted. I grew up in a home where adoption was just a normal part of our lives. My older sister is also adopted (from another family), and our parents had always let us know how special and loved we are. After almost fifteen years of trying, our adoptive parents finally had a biological child of their own. Just as I’ve been told that there is no medical reason I have survived the failed saline infusion abortion, our parents had been told throughout those fifteen years that there was no medical reason to be found for why they couldn’t conceive. We know that it was simply God’s plan for them to be available to be our parents.  

Just as I had always known that I was adopted, I also knew I was born prematurely. It never was an issue of concern to me, as I knew many other people who were born prematurely. However, it wasn’t until I was 14 years old that I found out the truth about my life. I wasn’t just born prematurely and adopted, but I had survived a failed abortion attempt that was meant to end my life.

Just as God had His hand on my life while I was in my biological mother’s womb, I believe He planned for me to find out the truth about my survival in the manner in which I did. The Lord may not have intended for my older sister to become pregnant while she was still in high school. Still, He indeed used that experience to help all of us in our family truly understand the preciousness of every human life. My sister’s pregnancy enabled the truth to come out, as our parents felt driven to share with her the story of my survival so that she could fully understand God’s plan for every life, and recognize the beautiful importance of her giving life to her child. I can’t imagine what it was like for her to find out the truth about my life before I did. Still, I am forever grateful that she encouraged me to ask our parents for the truth about it. She is even more thankful that she fully embraced motherhood and is the mother of four amazing children today.  

Sometimes, people ask me if I’m somehow angry with my adoptive parents because they didn’t share the truth about my life sooner or without my sister’s intervention. To answer it honestly, no, I am not angry with them. I can’t imagine what it was like for them all of those years to know the truth and how much it would hurt me if I found out. As a parent, I can understand how they felt the need to protect me. Honestly, there was probably no other way that my adoptive parents would have told me the truth, knowing how much it could devastate me, except through the working hand of God in our lives.

It devastated me the night that my sister encouraged me to seek answers from our parents. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face when I shared the discussion that my sister and I had. It was a look of such anguish. I will also never forget the words that she spoke that changed our lives forever: “We just always thought you knew—There is no easy way to tell you this—we never meant to keep it from you—we love you, and we’ll always love you, Missy.” (That is what my family and close friends call me.) “Your biological mother had an abortion during her fifth month of pregnancy, and you survived it.” 

Looking back on that night, I can’t even put into words how hurt I was. For years, I had felt so special and loved. My biological parents had given me life and made an adoption plan for me; then, suddenly, I found out I had survived a lethal attempt on my life. I was devastated! I had never before even fathomed that my biological parents would have considered aborting me. For the first time in my life, I was angry with them. At 14, I couldn’t comprehend how they could have done that to me, their child. However, as mad as I was that night, my anger quickly washed away into great sadness for them because they somehow felt or were put into the position that abortion was the only option for them. Despite their decision to end my life, I love my biological parents and their families unconditionally. Jesus Christ died for them just as He died for me, and we are all sinners. I am no better or worse than they are in the Lord’s eyes, and it is not my role to judge or condemn them.

People often ask how I felt when I found out that I am an abortion survivor. Truly, I felt every feeling that’s possible to feel. I was angry. I was sad. I was scared of who I was and what this meant for my life. I felt so different and alone. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be an aborted child. Yet, at the same time, I felt the intense love of God, the understanding that He saved me from certain death and had a plan for my life, and that I was special and wanted by Him and my adoptive family.  

Although, I was blessed with the love and support of God, my adoptive family, my  friends, my church, and school, I struggled on the inside with tumultuous feelings  about who I was and what the world said about children like me. I only had to turn on the TV or radio and open the newspaper (this was before the Internet came along) to see what the predominant culture says about abortion. The prevailing culture says, “It’s just a clump of tissue—it’s just a blob of cells—it’s not a child—it’s a choice—children who are aborted would otherwise be a drain on society—you can get rid of that one; another one will come along again when you’re ready to be a parent.” These statements weighed heavily upon my heart and by the time I went away to college, I had learned through experience to stop talking publicly about being an abortion survivor. The hurt and ridicule were just too much for me to bear at the time.

For many years, I was silenced by shame and guilt. I felt guilty for a long time that I survived when so many have not. Over 53 million children have lost their lives to abortion, and I am one of just a handful of survivors around the world and in the U.S. alone in the past 48 years. However, I knew that God intended for me to learn through my time of silent suffering and teach me how everyone is affected by abortion. Abortion silences many in our world particularly women who have had abortions and men who have played a role in the decision. I know God intended for others to learn by my experience(s) and that we must not be silenced by speaking up and speaking out for those who are rendered voiceless by abortion.

During the first couple of years of silence, I started a journey of faith that has truly transformed me. This journey has enabled me to become the person that the Lord created. I am a woman who God saved to share the gospel of life with the world and shine a light into the darkness of the pain and death caused by abortion. From the moment I learned the truth about my life as a survivor, I knew that the Lord had saved my life to testify to the truth about abortion and His redeeming grace. However, I spent many years living in fear of what He was asking me to do. I could hear Him saying, “Melissa, it’s time. It’s time to come forward and share your story with the world”. Although I knew that I needed to do it and someday would, I spent many years questioning God on how I would be able to fulfill His purpose.   

Through His grace I was able to grow in my understanding of Him and heal from the pain that I suffered emotionally and spiritually. By His grace, He has blessed me with the ability to understand others’ pain and help them find healing. After ten years of trying to find my biological parents and obtain my medical records (the two things I knew I needed to do before coming forward with my testimony), I finally succeeded. I have become stronger and bolder than ever, and I was able to find my voice after so many years of silence. 

It was certainly bittersweet to obtain my medical records. Although it was affirming to see it written in my records that a “saline infusion for an abortion was done but was unsuccessful,” it was very difficult to read about how my life was supposed to end and how I had to fight to live. Through my birth records, I quickly learned who my biological parents were. Within minutes, I discovered that not only was my biological father alive and well, but we were living in the same city as one another! How great is our God! Even though I knew that Sioux City, Iowa, is where the abortion took place, I could never have fathomed that my biological father would be living there decades later. I had not grown up in Sioux City; I had moved there during my search process to finish my Master’s degree.  

After months of praying, I decided to reach out to my biological father. Secretly in my heart, I always hoped that he didn’t play a role in the decision to end my life. In 2007, I sent him a letter to his workplace. In the letter, I told him that I knew the truth about the abortion, I had forgiven him a long time ago, I had led a beautifully blessed life, and we were living in the same city as one another. I also shared with him that if he ever wanted to communicate with me or have a relationship, I would be waiting to hear from him. And wait, I did!

Once again, in my life, I struggled with the pain of feeling rejected and alone when I didn’t hear back from him. God’s grace truly is enough, and His love runs more profound and broader than we could ever imagine, but sometimes things happen in this world that eats away at our self-esteem and self-worth. I am a living testament that nothing but the Lord can overcome that pain and transform it into something beautiful. I quickly turned over my hurt and pain to God, and about a month after I reached out to my biological father, I contacted my biological mother’s parents. Even though I knew who my birth mother was, I could not determine her maiden name or where she lived. However, I was desperate to reach out to her, so I contacted her parents in the hopes that they would share my message of forgiveness with her. Since I had never heard back from my birth father and had met my share of rejection in the world, I never expected to get a response from the letter that I sent to my maternal grandparents. But within just a few short days, I received a letter from my maternal grandfather! 

It was a great blessing to receive this letter. I am still thankful that my grandfather was kind enough to respond to it and that he was willing to share so much with me in it. Through the letter, I learned many things about my biological mother’s side of the family and the circumstances leading to my mother’s pregnancy with me. I learned that my mother dated my father throughout her teen years and that they were together for four years before becoming pregnant with me. After the abortion took place, my birth mother went on to marry someone else and had other children. Sadly, I learned that she never told anyone about me, or probably about the abortion. I certainly understand why she kept this a secret. By and large, we live in a society that doesn’t want to talk about abortion. I meet women and men every day who carry the secret of abortion and the pain, shame, and regret of it throughout their lives. It breaks my heart that my biological parents and so many like them suffer the silent pain of abortion for a lifetime and never find healing or forgiveness.

During that same period of time that I was reaching out to my birth family, I finally came forward publicly with my testimony as a survivor. The first time that I spoke was on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., with ‘Feminists for Life of America’. It was an empowering experience for me. All of those years that I had suffered silently, felt ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty were redeemed. I know that I have nothing to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. I am proud to be a survivor and chosen by God to do His work on this earth. Although that first speaking experience was exhilarating, it was also nerve-wracking for me. For some reason, I didn’t feel like myself and chalked it up to bad nerves. HOWEVER, what I was experiencing was a bad case of morning sickness! I was just a few days pregnant with our daughter, Olivia, the very first time that I spoke out about my survival and spoke out against abortion. 

It makes me smile every time I reflect on my first time speaking because I know that it was another excellent example of the Lord moving in our lives. For years, I desperately wanted to be a mother. The Lord blessed my husband and me with a child when I became fully obedient to Him in answering His call for my life—it was at this time that it became so clear that I was doing exactly what He intended for me to do. The Lord continues to bless Ryan and me abundantly in our lives, and I genuinely believe that our faith and obedience to the Lord continues to bring us favor.  

I delved into pro-life advocacy and speaking during my pregnancy with Olivia. I started to speak mainly on college campuses across the U.S. and Canada, sharing my testimony and encouraging campuses to take a closer look at their environment to see if they were friendly to men and women who are pregnant or parenting. And although my pregnancy with Olivia filled me with the greatest joy imaginable, some days were difficult for me because I was made infinitely aware that my own biological mother had experienced those same changes in her body during her pregnancy with me. She still made the decision to abort me.  

Throughout the past couple of years, I had learned that my birth mother really didn’t have a choice when it came to the decision to abort me. Research indicates that over 60% of women report being coerced into having an abortion. My biological mother fits these statistics. From what I’ve learned in recent years, it was likely one of her parents—my own grandparents who decided for her. It deeply saddens me that we live in a world where abortion is seen as the solution to the problems women face and that so many people call abortion a “choice,” even when both the statistics and experiences of many women reflect that most of them don’t have a choice when it comes to abortion.  

Unbeknownst to me, my biological father passed away suddenly early in 2008. I wasn’t even aware of his passing for a couple of months. I just happened to come across my father’s obituary online one night when I “Googled” his name on the Internet. I was devastated to discover that he had passed away. Despite my deep faith in the Lord, I questioned Him a lot that night. How could He let this happen? I had been looking for him all of those years, and then after I found him, he was quickly taken from me. I couldn’t understand, but I promptly was given peace about it as I heard the Lord reminding me that He is the creator of all things, and He had a plan—a plan greater than I ever could imagine.  

In the culmination of these events, I gave birth to Olivia. On April 26, 2008, she was born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Sioux City, Iowa—the very same hospital where my life was supposed to end 41 years ago. God is so good! Through His grace, the hospital that held such terrible memories for me now holds the most beautiful memories of our lives.  

A couple of weeks after Olivia was born, I first heard from my biological father’s family. Little did I know that when they cleaned out his office after he passed away, they found the letter that I had sent him tucked away in his top desk drawer. I had not heard from him all of those months; I wondered if he received the letter and if he did if he believed that I was his daughter. His family believes that because he had read and kept the letter, he knew he was my father and that someday he would do something about it.  

As devastating as it was to lose my father so suddenly and then to find out the secret he had kept all of those years, his family ultimately reached out to me around the time Olivia was born. I was blessed to meet my great aunt, grandfather, and cousin. I even had the opportunity to speak to my grandmother on the phone and to my father’s wife through email. Since then, I have continued building a solid relationship with my great aunt and grandfather. Both have met my adoptive family, and we get together as often as our schedules allow.

Sadly, these are the only two solid relationships that I have with my biological father’s family despite living in the same community as a number of them. I understand the depth of the other family members’ grief, the complexity of our lives considering the circumstances, and the shame and pain that the abortion should have ended my life caused them. It saddens me that so many families, like mine, are forever changed by abortion. Relationships become strained, secrets are hidden, and the pain and shame last for decades. I see these circumstances in families around the world through my work. I understand how our culture of death silences people who are hurting from abortion, but it’s time we break the silence and heal. I refuse to be silenced by abortion anymore, and I encourage others to step forward and break free from the chains that bind them.

I am often asked if I wish the circumstances of my life were different. Of course, I wish that my life and well-being wouldn’t have been threatened by abortion; however, I’m deeply grateful for the journey I have walked through. I am a survivor! I have experienced more than my fair share of pain and struggles, but I have become a wiser, more compassionate, and more obedient woman. I was fearful of what would happen if I stepped out of the shadows to be a light in this world for years. I desire to reveal the truth of the Lord, and the devastation of abortion can no longer silence me. I know that I don’t need to be ashamed of who I am. I am not a burden—I am a blessing. I am not simply a child who was aborted, but a woman who was fearfully and wonderfully made. 

No matter who my birth family is and how they may have felt about me early on in my life, I will always know who my Heavenly Father is and that He has great plans for me. 

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:11)


Melissa is the Founder & Director of The Abortion Survivors Network


To purchase Melissa's book please click on photo below

More About Melissa

Melissa is a frequent contributor to pro-life and conservative news outlets and a regular guest on radio and television programs around the world including Fox News, Focus on the Family, Hannity, The Eric Metaxas Show, Huckabee, and more. Although Melissa’s heart is for providing help and hope to all affected by abortion, she also strives to humanize the unborn through activism. She has testified before Congressional committees numerous times, as well as lobbied, and even met President Trump in the Oval Office in 2019. Fulfilling the purpose that she believes God set out for her when He saved her from the certain death of the abortion attempt, Melissa is truly a voice for the voiceless.

28Dec

Joel is a sinner saved by God's grace. He grew up in a broken home and turned to drugs to fill the hole in his heart for 28 years. In Teen Challenge, he came to know the love of Jesus, which transformed his life forever!

    Joel Jakubowski 

Men's Ministry Director at The Potter's House Addiction Recovery & Discipleship Ministry 

"The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”  (Isaiah 40:8)

Hello, my name is Joel. I am a sinner saved by grace, God’s grace, that is. I am a man who has experienced deliverance from the grasp of darkness. And today, I walk upright in the light of Christ.

My parents divorced when I was pretty young. My sister and I continued to live with my mother. After my father’s departure, my mother succumbed to mental illness. Unfortunately, this left my sister and me to “raise ourselves.” The torment of loneliness, abandonment, and uncertainty permeated my innocent heart and soul. At the age of eight, I had become disillusioned with this life and the love it was offering. It was only a matter of time before I reached for the hand of Satan in the form of a marijuana cigarette, and this marked the beginning of my near-fatal sin-induced demise. After the succession of poor decisions, misbelief, and compromises, I became a full-time crack addict that lasted twenty-eight years. Eventually, it was painstaking to acknowledge my skeletal reflection in the mirror, a mirror that so bitterly mocked my bondage. And then, finally came God’s miraculous light. My sister had been delivered in Christ for several years, bringing the Teen Challenge program into my seemingly hopeless world of degradation. And just in time, because thoughts of suicide were now becoming the center of my attention.

On June 16, 2003, I entered the Teen Challenge induction center in the heart of Newark, New Jersey’s urban jungle. I did not come to search out Christ’s heart but only to attempt to stay clean for a year. But much to my exceeding joy, I can say now that Jesus was there waiting to search my heart. I did not know it then, but I realize now that God had given me the so precious and necessary gift of brokenness! He had prepared in me a receptive heart to receive this life’s only truth: His Son finally. Little did I know that the hole in my heart was Christ-shaped all along.

I gave my life to the Lord in a public confession only ten days after arriving at the center. I graduated from the induction center and began a more exhaustive pursuit of God’s heart. Here at that training center in Rehrersburg, Pennsylvania, I fell in love with Jesus. I then began to study the scriptures and learn of God’s promises. I found that my faith in His Word and in His love had the power to “repay me for the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25) I found that He had a plan for my life, “to give me a hope and a future”. (Jeremiah 29:11) Praise God! He said I was a new creation in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:17) At last, I had finally found TRUTH!

Then it began--God restored the trust I had betrayed among my loved ones. He restored my wonderful mother’s mind and our once strained relationship. He renewed my heart and transformed my entire perspective of life and my fellow man. He gave me His love, the only love that cannot disappoint or fade away. He gave me a calling and taught me the meaning of life--To love and serve God. As a result of my devotion, He has continued to bless my socks off to this very day!

Again my name is Joel, a sinner turned saint saved by loving grace. May God bless you!


Joel is a Men's Ministry Director at The Potter's House which is a safe place for men & women to recover from addiction, to experience Christ-centered discipleship, and embrace their God-given destiny for their lives. For more information please visit their ministry site at https://thepottershouselancaster.com/

Purchase Joel's book by clicking on the book cover below.

Joel's testimony from the VictoryEmbraced book was featured on CBN's The 700 Club 


11Oct

During the 1980s and 1990s, David Heavener became a Hollywood legend, well-known for his action films. He was raised in a Christian home and His love for God has grown more each year. One day, David fell asleep in the attic of an old house in Atlanta, Georgia, and when he woke up, he had a burning desire to write. In just three and a half hours, he wrote the first six episodes of Last Evangelist, an end-time TV series revealing Revelation prophecies. An idea truly from the Lord and for the last days we are living.

David Heavener  

of David Heavener TV Ministries

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. ”  (Matthew 24:7)

David Heavener was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in a Bible-Belt Baptist church. When he was seventeen, he packed up and headed for Nashville, Tennessee, to pursue songwriting. He soon wrote two top-ten hits, “You Say You’re a Real Cowboy” and “Love to Love You,” as well as writing music for Hee Haw and The Tonight Show. David had written, directed, and produced several films and starred in all of them within five years, despite having no film production experience and barely a dime to his name. David has produced over forty films and has released hundreds worldwide on HBO, Showtime, USA Network, etc. During the 1980s and 1990s, David Heavener became a Hollywood legend, well-known for his action films. He starred alongside legendary actors and directed the inimitable Martin Landau, Tony Curtis, Sally Kirkland, and Karen Black. David also worked with Erik Estrada, Joe Estevez, Robert Reed, Marc Singer, Margot Kidder, Oliver Reed, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and Ernest Borgnine. He guest-starred on Hunter and Days of our Lives and was featured on Entertainment Tonight and Backstage West. Though David was raised by churchgoers, one might assume that with this success, he bought into the Hollywood lifestyle and mindset. As he grew older, however—he spent time in God’s Word and experienced a spiritual awakening that continues to spur him on to this day. He became a lay minister in 2011 at the Methodist church in Tehachapi, California. In 2016, he called on a friend, Martin Landau. David fondly remembers that breakfast at Cantors. It was just a few months before Martin left this earthy existence. They spoke about God and faith. Martin said something that blesses David to this very day; he said, “Faith is what it’s all about, isn’t it?” David published part of that meeting and began publishing interviews on how faith and current events intersect with the supernatural. One such interview was on the oily Bible in Dalton, Georgia. David also started interviewing celebrities about their opinions on Hollywood and God. One of these interviewees was the legendary Paul Petersen. Paul shares his experience as a child star on the Donna Reed Show and how he was lucky enough to work on a TV series promoting family morals and values. Paul explains the decline that started in the sixties and his views on the terrible misuse, abuse, and exploitation of children in today’s media. It seems that television executives have forgotten about the nuclear family. In January 2017, David fell asleep in the attic of an old house in Atlanta, Georgia, and when he woke up, he had a burning desire to write. In just three and a half hours, he wrote the first six episodes of Last Evangelist, an end-time TV series revealing Revelation prophecies. He would later realize that his burning desire was from God. The Last Evangelist is a Biblically-based series about a detective who starts out working for the government, arresting those who won’t have “the chip” embedded in their bodies. (The chip represents the mark of the beast, and without it, you cannot purchase food, pay rent, etc.) One day, this detective has an experience I call a “come to Jesus meeting” and realizes he has been working for the wrong god. He totally changes, and the hunter becomes the hunted. Because of censorship on YouTube and Facebook, David has created a platform where viewers can find uncensored moral programming, revealing issues the church is afraid to discuss. Watch all seven channels of this network on David Heavener TV or Roku, Apple, Amazon Fire Stick, or Android TV. The series is ready for pre-production, but there are challenges. Since David truly believes that God wants him to release this truth in full, not in part, to maintain total creative control, he cannot distribute it through significant networks. Once you sign a deal with the studios, you give up creative control and can no longer decide what you want in the script. Hence, when you’re independent of the major studios, funding becomes a challenge. But, as the Bible says in Matthew 19:26, “with men this is impossible; but with God, all things are possible.” Please find the fundraiser by texting CHOSEN to 91999, or by visiting The Last Evangelist fundraising link. David invites us to join him in his faith, believing that God will bless. Remember the movie Field of Dreams? “If you build it, they will come.”


*Matthew 24:7 BSB

19Jan

Ken Mansfield shares his story about his former career in the recording industry, how it was living in the "fast lane" of fame and fortune, losing everything, and coming to know Jesus.

Ken Mansfield

Author, Speaker, and Minister

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8)


1. Brief overview of career highlights.


My former career was in the recording industry. I started as an entertainer during the folk era. Typically, like many of us, I was in a fraternity in college, and we had a folk group. The whole Kingston Trio, The Limeliters--Peter, Paul, and Mary era was happening at that time, and we played for beer and pizza. Pretty soon, we played in some local clubs, and then clubs in the Los Angeles area started bringing us in. Eventually, we were discovered by some Beverly Hills managers. They signed us to Fred Astaire's record company. During this time, I knew that I didn't have the individual talent to go all the way, even though I was the leader of the group, but I was smart enough to use my Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and knew I would need to use that in the long run. During this time, I met a fellow from Capitol Records who used to come to the clubs to look for bands for Capitol, and he asked me if I ever thought of working in a record company. I was thrilled with the idea, so he sponsored me at Capitol Records, and I ended up getting a job there. And that was the springboard for me of how I started working with the Beatles and became friends with them. We just hit it off! I was in my 20's, they were in their 20's, and I was a young hotshot. I was in California with a suntan, Cadillac Convertible, and house up in the hills with a pool, and that was everything they had read about growing up with this "magic view" of Hollywood. In a way, they were as intrigued with me as I was with them. So it was a very natural thing for us, and we all thought we were a bunch of hotshots anyway. That was how those relationships started, which led me to expand my career in the entertainment business.


2. How was it living in the "fast lane" of fame and fortune? 

 
At the time, I thought it was great! We were young and invincible. This was the whole era of free spirits in which you could do what you wanted to do if it felt good--you had the money and all the fame and the perks that went with it. It was an exciting time in the industry and America as a whole because the Beatles in particular were the band that more or less, delivered people from the horrible things that were going on at that time with the Vietnam War and the assassinations of Kennedy and King. Something about the Beatles was so innocent and fresh that we could do anything we wanted, and because we were young, we didn't realize that there might be a downside to all of this. It was uncomplicated because we just thought about ourselves and had a good time. We made a lot of money and did a lot of fun things. 


3. During this time, did you seek different ways to obtain peace?

 
Those were the primary options that we went to. The main thing was the indulgence and decadence of it all. This was when the drugs came on the scene in the '60s and '70s. We all believed the big lie that marijuana wasn't habit-forming and cocaine didn't hurt you, and by taking the psychedelics, you got closer to God. It was one big lie, and we thought there was no downside to it. It was the free love era. It was the feel-good era, and as far as the world was concerned, there was nothing wrong with that, so it wasn't even like you were terrible. You were doing what was happening at the time--You were being very hip and having a good time, and of course, when you're young like that, you didn't think that anything could ever go wrong. Later on, we started to see that some of our buddies were getting hung up on this stuff, and their lives were falling apart. They were dying and getting messed up, and then there came a dark side in time. The devil is such a deceiver, but he's smart. One of his main tools is being gradual. He's patient. He doesn't need to take you down in two minutes--he'll take 20 years to take you down if that's the way to do it, and so--everything is happening so slowly that you don't quite realize what's happening until all of a sudden one day, it's too late. When I first got into the business and started to be successful, I began to see how crazy some successful people were and thought--"I'm never going to do that," and then ten years later, I realized I'm like they are or were. I didn't see it happening.


4. Who led you to Christ? 

 
First of all, the one thing is that the devil never knows when to stop, and he destroyed my life so much that I reached such a bottom that I had to find something else, and I started searching. What God did was He put a young lady into my life, who brought me the truth, and she eventually brought me to the Lord, and we got married. God sent her to me at my very bottom when I needed something so desperately, and I no longer had any answers. When I met her, I had a guru. I was a stoner. I was broke. I had a bad reputation, and I was still trying to overcome this in the world's ways. I thought it was all up to me to do it--never realizing that there was someone who could save me and cast all my burdens on, so I could be redeemed and start fresh and anew. Without my wife coming into my life, I probably would be under the ground with a bunch of my buddies.


5. How has your life changed since then?


It has changed entirely. It's almost like you wanted to remodel your house, but then you found out that the house was in such bad shape that you had to tear it down to the ground and start all over again with a new house. It will be better than the old one because it's brand new and fresh. I was so broken and broke that God just really let me start all over afresh. And I believed His promises right away--He gave me some great gifts in the beginning, and I still had my talents. I had just been misusing them all those years, so when He redeemed me and made me brand new, He then had a vessel that He could use for His purpose. The idea of me becoming an ordained minister and having this unique, powerful outreach ministry is something I could've never dreamed of. Talk about being undeserving and unworthy. It is just like getting Peter, a fisherman, to become a disciple. He pulled me out of the common ground and set me in some pretty nice places. 


6. What do you do for the Lord today?


We're in full-time ministry. We travel around to churches doing outreach events and what makes it so interesting is that God has taken all those years in the industry with the Beatles and has used that for His purpose. To this day, the Beatles are still such a phenomenon that people that normally wouldn't visit a church will come because they are fascinated with the guy that used to be with the Beatles and was on the roof with them the last time they played together and was in their homes, in their cars, in their offices, and hanging with them. They are fascinated with that, so they'll come to my outreach events, really in some cases, to hear or meet the guy that was with the Beatles. We do a question and answer period at the end, so they may have some questions they want to ask, and they'll hang through my whole testimony and presentation for the sake of asking about Yoko Ono or something. We are averaging about 40% of visitors to these outreach events at the churches. So this is pretty amazing--if you have a church that seats 1,000 people when 400 of those are visitors from the community, this is a great harvest possibility for the pastors and their local ministries to take off. People, that come in say, "Maybe these people are not so bad after all?" "This touched me." We do the question-answer period to meet the pastor on an informal basis and feel comfortable with him. Many of them come back and end up as members of the church. The event is unique, designed for the visitors to make them feel comfortable, and the Word is not watered-down. It's just surrounded with a bunch of other exciting things, so it's meant to be entertaining and enjoyable to the congregation, but also to reach out to the people who are coming in. What we typically do is we will have the worship team start the event with a few Beatles songs with changed lyrics because, you take a lot of these Beatles songs and change two words. You have a gospel song: Help, Got To Get You Into My Life, The Word, All You Need Is Love. These songs are so easy that the worship team will open up with these songs, and it just relaxes the visitors right away because they know the songs, but now they are hearing them with Christian lyrics. Then we showed a film about the Beatles and myself that was filmed in Europe. It's exclusive to where I appear, so it's been shown all over Europe, but you can only see it in America, where I speak. Then after the film, I give my pretty interesting testimony, and then at the end of my testimony, the host pastor comes up, and we do a question and answer period. When he feels we have gone long enough, he'll excuse me for getting ready to sign books, and he's able to close off the event and take it into his hands. This allows him to determine when the event has accomplished the purpose he is looking to do by bringing me in. It's a very well-crafted event, and when they give altar calls, we have an incredible response. And that's what I tell people during my testimony--that I think that was the whole idea from the start. I thought it was because I was a young hotshot, and that's why I was with the Beatles, but I think He has had this thing planned out a long time ago. 

The Books of Ken Mansfield

The Beatles, the Bible, & Beyond--Podcast on AccessMore

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30Sep

Maribeth Ditmars has gone through child-loss, addiction, and adversity. She has learned that we all want God to use our gifts, but we also have to let Him use our suffering too.

MaryBeth Ditmars


               
   


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  

(2 Corinthians 1:3)


We All Want God to Use Our Gifts, but We Have to Let Him Use Our Suffering Too.

One summer day I had to ask myself this question: How do you tell a ten-year-old that he has cancer? My husband, Rob and I sat our son, Chris, down on the sofa in the family room to share the news. I remember glancing out of the sliding door that led to our pool deck. It was a beautiful June day and I could see the water toys scattered about, a super-soaker, an inflatable alligator, a few throw toys. But what struck me the most were the fingerprints on the glass slider.

Those handprints had a been placed there in rushed innocence, by the hands of a carefree little boy who had darted in and out while we called out “Shut the door—the air is on!” I swallowed hard as I gazed at those prints and smudges. Moments before, they had been annoying, now suddenly, they had become precious. They had become the fingerprints of a lost childhood.

This began my family’s four-year roller coaster ride into the world of pediatric cancer. A year battling for remission, two glorious years of relative health, and one final year struggling unsuccessfully to keep our Chris alive.

How do you tell a fourteen-year old that he’s dying? Well, in our case, we didn’t have to. Chris already knew. He took me aside and spoke softly, so his little brother, Jarrod, who was seven at the time, wouldn’t over-hear. Not only did Chris know before the doctors did, he had accepted it.

How is this possible? That a teenager, usually the most selfish and easily annoyed species that has ever roamed the planet, could be so stoic, so loving. It was possible because our Chris, in his short, powerful life, had learned 2 things. Two things that took me over five decades to learn. Two things that many people never learn.

Chris had learned to trust God, and he had allowed God to use him. Chris had claimed the promise of Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Let’s face it, we all want the Lord to use us, don’t we? We want him to use the good stuff—our talents, our successes. (Anyone ever prayed something like this?) Oh Lord, make my business successful so I can tithe huge gobs of money to the church. Here’s one of my favorites: Please make my books best-sellers so I can further your kingdom. After I wrote my first book, and my friend, Lisa, sent a copy to Oprah—I was sure that phone was going to ring! Not only did Oprah not call, her staff sent the book back, saying that they don’t accept unsolicited material.

God wants to use all of it, the good, the bad, the ugly. He wants to use our suffering. That’s exactly what Chris allowed Him to do. Despite his many months of grueling chemo, Chris spread laughter on a cancer ward. He told jokes. He did impersonations, and he never passed up the chance to tell us that he loved us.

Of course, there were many times when Chris felt extremely ill, and he wondered aloud why God allowed kids to get cancer. At the time, I wasn’t in the word, and I had no comforting scriptures to refer to. I had to admit, “I don’t know.” I still don’t know.

You see, until my brave 14-year old son stared eternity in the face, I had only been a nominal Christian. I had been raised in a household where we went to church on Sunday, but I had never understood what it meant to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. But Chris’s suffering made me a seeker.

I started speaking with pastors, chaplains, and clergymen. I learned that sin was not only in the hearts of humans, it had infected the entire world. One priest explained that cancer is the result of living in a fallen world. Chris and I discussed this at length, and he was able to accept it and realize that he wasn’t being punished. It’s like the story from John 9 when Jesus healed the blind man. The disciples said, “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” And do you remember what Jesus said? “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” … “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” 

This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him—that is what the Lord did in my Chris’s life. Over those four years, we watched in awe as Chris’s body grew weaker—his spirit grew stronger. He went to be with the Lord about a month after he turned fourteen. On his deathbed he thanked Rob and me for being such good parents. He told us repeatedly how much he loved us. He smiled and reminded us of the nicknames that he had for us when he was little—Daddio-Spaghettio and Mommy Meatball. He pointed to his schoolbooks on a shelf and said, “I won’t be needing those where I am going.” As the hour drew near, Chris could only speak in a whisper. He said, “Jesus is going to call me really soon, Mom and Dad, and I have to go.”

Chris’s faith was life-changing for me. Up until then, I had been just going through the motions of being a Christian. Chris’s peace and his assurance of heaven had not come from anything that we had taught him. It was a divine gift from the Holy Spirit. The Lord used Chris’s suffering to wrench open my heart. I realized that God wasn’t healing Chris in the way that I had expected, but He was healing Chris for all of eternity. Or as Chris said, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to get my hair back and my six-pack.”

I’d like to be able to tell you that I went on to make uplifting speeches and to help other parents who had lost children, but I didn’t. During Chris’s treatment, I had come to rely more and more upon my false idol—alcohol. And before I knew it, I wasn’t drinking because I wanted to. I was drinking because I had to. 

That’s one of the important differences between an alcoholic and a nonalcoholic. Without help, we can’t stop. We obsess over alcohol. We plan our entire day around alcohol. And we aren’t always obvious. I still held down a job, and I didn’t wear a trench coat and carry a brown paper bag. 

Here’s another example. We have all had to take medicine that has a warning label about mixing it with alcohol. Well, the normal person, the normie as we call them, reads the label that says: “Do not drink while taking this medicine. Alcohol may intensify the effect.” So, then he says oh, I’ll skip that glass of wine with dinner. But the alcoholic—we read that same warning and we go YESSS (hand gesture).

So, the result of my addiction was that I was using alcohol to numb my grief. I had not tapped into the power of Jesus Christ. 

I’ll never forget the morning that I finally had a spiritual awakening. I was driving to work, and it was 8:30 in the morning. 8:30 AM and I was already bargaining with myself about how much I was going drink that day. At the time, I had this theory: Three drinks is the lady-like limit. You know—3 wishes, 3 wise men, 3 blind mice. 

But then I realized 2 things. First, I never really poured 3 drinks. It was just one long drink that I continually freshened up—you know, like the bottomless bucket of popcorn you get at the movies. Secondly, and even more important, it occurred to me that normal people do not think about this stuff at 8:30 in the morning!

It was in that beautiful moment that I surrendered. I looked up to the Lord, and I said, “It’s got me. Please help me.” You see, to allow God to use us fully, first, we must surrender. He can certainly use us without our cooperation, but if we are to become that person that God designed us to be, we must be fully surrendered. Chris had been fully surrendered. Chris had discovered how to have a true relationship with Jesus.

Not long after I surrendered, I became active in a twelve-step program. Out of respect for its highly successful tradition of anonymity, I don’t name the program, but it has worked for me for the past 16 years. 

Once I began doing the steps, I realized how Biblically based they are, and I threw myself into the process whole-heartedly. Now a number of years later, I have had the high honor and privilege of mentoring other women struggling with addiction. 

For several years, I ran a recovery meeting at a women’s department of correction facility. When I walked in there for the first time, it looked like a room full of inmates. It didn’t take long for the Lord to open my eyes. Soon I was seeing, moms, daughters, wives, grand-moms, sisters. 

In Mark 2:17 Jesus says, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

I began to see my alcoholism as a gift. It is a gift because it has allowed me to minister to these women. We share a common suffering, and I get to bring to them a common solution—the power of Jesus. Not long ago a woman approached me. I’ll call her Joan. She said, “Maribeth, do you remember me? I was at the jail where you used to do your meeting. I have a good job now, and I haven’t had a drink in three years.” 

When I was doing my meetings in that prison, I told the women the story of how I ran marathons to raise money for cancer research in memory of my Chris. When I was in my forties and early fifties, I ran 7 distance events all over the world and raised $40,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I shared my running motto with them, “The older I get, the faster I used to be.”

When the women heard my story, it inspired them to organize their own relay. They plotted a track on the facility grounds, made t-shirts, and walked and even danced in memory of their loved-ones—some lost to cancer, many lost to addiction. They had teams that decorated their water stations with different themes. I remember my favorite one was called “Twisted Sisters”. The energy and the atmosphere was more like a college campus than a DOC facility. I looked up to heaven and said, “Chris, look what you started!”

Who would have thought that my son’s short, powerful life would have a positive impact on these precious children of God? Lord had taken our currency of suffering and exchanged it for grace. You see, when we allow the Lord to use our suffering in this way, our suffering becomes sacred. Our Chris didn’t make a global impact with his suffering, but I believe whole-heartedly that he fulfilled the unique role that out Lord intended for him.

This thought gave me comfort as we adjusted to life without Chris. We didn’t get over it. You never get over the loss of a child. Now our hearts forever beat with a limp. We still had our other two children, Erin, who was 18 when Chris died, and Jarrod who was seven. 

Erin had been 14 when Chris was diagnosed so her entire high school experience had been overshadowed by Chris’s cancer. Erin was a good kid who was very involved in dancing, so we were grateful that she had that outlet.

We didn’t know it at the time, but it was during those years that Erin tried drugs for the first time. While we were distracted with Chris and learning to numb ourselves with alcohol, our beautiful daughter began dancing with the devil. She hid it for a long time, got married, had two kids, then got divorced. 

After her divorce she and our older granddaughter moved in with us. The younger one went to live with her Dad and his Mom. Not long after they moved in with us, Erin lost her job. She was depressed and sleeping all the time. I started taking over the parenting role of our little Saradi, who was 6 at the time.

One day, I was putting away laundry and I walked into their room to put it away. I opened a drawer and found drug paraphernalia. Suddenly, it all made sense. We had been suspicious, and we had questioned Erin, but she had an answer for everything. Perhaps you’ve heard this saying: Do you know how to tell if an addict is lying? Their lips are moving.

We gave Erin 10 days to find a new place to live, and we told her that Saradi was staying with us. She didn’t argue. I think she was relieved. She knew that no one else could take better care of her precious daughter. So, there I was, a sober woman of grace taking care of a beautiful little girl. I think I was a better mom to Saradi, than I had been to Erin. We had Saradi for several years while her mom slowly got better. What a blessing that time was.

Saradi thrived at school and in the youth group at church. When we rode to school in the morning we would pray together. Saradi and Jarrod became like brother and sister, and we had laughter in the house again. Erin went to rehab, and slowly got better. We made her earn our trust back, and over time, we gradually released Saradi back to her. First, it was supervised visits at our house, then it was an overnight, then a weekend and so on. My own personal struggle with addiction had positioned me perfectly for the role I was playing. I am happy to say that today our Erin is drug-free and successful.

Our second son, Jarrod, was also transformed by suffering. Jarrod was funny, intelligent, and charismatic. But he was also extremely ADHD and impulsive. Let me tell you, this boy did wonders for my prayer life!

One afternoon, when Jarrod was about seventeen, I got an urgent phone call. “Mom, Mom, I’m in pain.” “What’s wrong?” I said. “I was riding my bike on a ramp at the skate park and I fell. My collar bone is poking out! Ahh, it really hurts!” “Jarrod, hang up and dial 911!”

Now, I have to say, I was touched by the fact that Mom was the first person Jarrod thought to call, but given the fact that I have no medical training, and we lived an hour from that park, I probably wasn’t the most logical choice.

But that was our Jarrod, by the time he was 5 years old we had lost count of the ER visits. I remember rushing him to the hospital one time, and he was so small he was still in his child seat. He had a towel pressed to his head to try to staunch the flow of blood from his latest gash, and he just said very calmly, “Mommy, how long do you think we’ll have to wait in the ER this time?”

One time, Chris had only been home from a chemo treatment for about an hour, and Jarrod had managed to run full speed into a door jam, leaving behind a substantial piece of flesh clinging to the molding.

It was this nonstop, dare-devil nature that eventually did Jarrod in. On July 4th, 2015, Jarrod went spearfishing against our advice. The conditions were extremely poor, and he was free diving with no air tanks. He was accidently shot in the head by another diver and he never woke up again. He was 21 years old.

So, I lived every mother’s worst nightmare again. But I wasn’t the same person that I had been back in 2001 when Chris went to be with the Lord. By 2015, I had been reading the Bible for 12 years. I wasn’t just reading the word. I was studying the word. I had been transformed by the renewing of my mind.

And I had witnessed this same transformation in Jarrod when he was 19 years old. He went out with some friends who were up to no good. They got caught burglarizing some unlocked cars and Jarrod ended up in jail. That same Jarrod who made everyone laugh with his impersonations of Johnny Cash, that same Jarrod who used to interrupt me to show me funny YouTube videos of people falling, that same Jarrod who called me “Mama-wah—he did this. 

Do you know what the hardest part about visiting your child in jail is? You can’t touch him. Our visits consisted of a video image. But I’ll never forget the day I visited, and Jarrod told me about Ephesians 6:10.

“Mom, this is so cool,” he said, “Did you know that the armor of God has a belt of truth and a breastplate of righteousness. There’s a shield to protect you against flaming arrows of evil. Every single part of the armor has meaning.” He went to explain about the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit. When he spoke, he had a sparkle in his eye, not unlike his brother Chris had had 14 years earlier when he had told us that Jesus was coming.

So like Chris with his illness, and Erin and me with our addictions, the Lord had come to Jarrod in his brokenness, in his suffering.

After Jarrod was released, we had the best conversations. We discussed spiritual warfare, God’s plan for marriage, and what Chris must be doing in heaven. Out of our 3 children, Jarrod was our deepest thinker. Oh, how I miss our talks.

 And Jarrod had developed a servant’s heart. One of the last things he did before his accident was to have a cookout for the homeless. He and a friend had caught dozens of mangrove snapper, and Jarrod had come home all excited and had asked Rob the best way to cook them. “Dad, we’re gonna get a portable grill and take them down to the homeless camp.” The light in his eyes reflected the joy in his heart.

When I was a child in the late sixties there were a lot of civil rights marches and Vietnam War protests. (Not unlike what is happening today.) Because of the  rioting in New York,  the mayor enacted a curfew. You might remember this famous public service announcement: “It’s ten o’clock and do you know where your kids are?”

Well, I can answer definitively. I know where my boys are. I can’t hug them, I can’t email them, and sometimes I pretend that they are away getting their doctorates at The University of Heaven. But I do know where they are. 1Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  A lot of people in my position have lost that hope. Folks who have buried children, had their lives torn apart by addiction, bankruptcy, or they have faced adversity so overwhelming that they see no way out. I stand before you to tell you there is a way out, and it is Jesus Christ.

My family’s suffering has given me a platform to offer hope to others. It has also produced many amazing connections-or should I say, divine appointments.

I have a fireman friend named Bill Lavin. He was one of the first responders who entered the twin towers when they were under attack. Afterwards, the fireman received hundreds of letters from children all over the country thanking them for their bravery. When one of those schools was leveled by hurricane Katrina, Bill asked them what they needed the most. The answer: We have no place to play. So, Bill and a crew of volunteers traveled to their little town and built them a brand-new playground. This was the birth of The Where angels Play Foundation. 

Since then, the foundation has built over 50 playgrounds all over the United States and even one in Rwanda. Most of the playgrounds are built in memory of children who have died, including 26 playgrounds built in memory of the Sandy Hook victims.

If you ever get a chance to visit beautiful South Lido Park in Sarasota, Florida, you can find playground number 48, nestled under the trees along the white-sand beach. It is built in memory of Chris and Jarrod Ditmars. The panels are adorned with original family artwork and that references our favorite scriptures. If you look closely at the helmet-like shell of the sea turtle you’ll see the words, “Ephesians 6: 10-18

7 pm each evening in New York City the residents go to their windows and clap for the medical personnel, the first responders, the caregivers, and everyone else who risks their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are all united in our suffering.

Jesus’s suffering was necessary for our salvation. Without it, we’d be lost. I think that we become an authentic part of the body when we allow the Lord to use our suffering as well.

I have comforted other women who have lost children. I have lifted up suffering alcoholics. Rob and I gave our once shattered marriage to Jesus, and He healed it. I wake up every day and strive to walk the unique path that the Lord has set out just for me.

***Click on the photos below to be brought to Maribeth's ministry site & to purchase her books. She is available for speaking and school programs.***




12Aug

Yancy once lived a life of fornication, using drugs, aggressive driving, and satisfying the desires of the flesh with no shame. It never crossed his mind that there was a judgment coming for the choices he continued to make and that he could repent of his sins until one day—God revealed Himself to him taking his life from rebellion to freedom in Christ.

Yancy J. Arrechea 

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Before I gave my life to Christ in March of 2018, I was living a worldly lifestyle of fornicating, sleeping around, doing drugs, aggressive driving, and satisfying the desires of the flesh with no shame. I had no idea that there was a judgment coming to mankind or that I could repent of my sins. I was never told about the grace of God, the finished work of the cross, or witnessed to by a Christian. My journey began Thanksgiving 2017 when I was in my living room high as could be on drugs (marijuana, ecstasy), but as I looked up, I saw an opening in my ceiling that began as a white circle. When I looked again, I saw a man with a bright light coming from Him, and His arms were wide open as if to embrace me. Around Him were clouds and angels. It was the brightest thing that I have ever seen! I automatically knew who He was and I remember saying to myself “Jesus, What are you doing here?” Mind you, I probably never said His name before other than when I would use His name to blaspheme and curse. I'm talking about my dead days here when I didn't know Christ, but I knew who He was at that moment even though I was high because I had an instance of clarity that I will never forget! When this happened, I had no biblical knowledge, but this experience remained in my mind and heart until the Holy Spirit came to me a couple of months later and my whole life changed forever.

March of 2018, was a very tragic moment in my life as it was after the death of an uncle, the anniversary of my grandmother's passing, and the deaths of my pets. I was a mess as it very much felt that things were falling apart around me. So one day, I got high again after smoking about 5 joints back-to-back which was my coping mechanism—an addiction stronghold that had come down the generational line. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said that the way I was living my life was offensive to Him. Yes, somehow I recognized His voice. God continued to speak and said that if I continued down this path that I would perish. Well, right there and then, I accepted Him into my life. He began to show me the things that He wanted out of my life such as, my lying and having sex with men. Yes, I was a homosexual and engaged to two men before believing the lie that I was “born this way”. I now understand that it was due to generational sins, curses, and Santeria/witchcraft from past generations. There was an open door for a spirit to infect me when I was yet in my mother's womb then, there were molestation's as a child from relatives. At this present time, I was still living with my then fiancee but for the first time in my life, I could see that it was wrong to be with a man and I wanted nothing to do with it. I want everyone to understand that when I was in the world, I was completely blinded and saw nothing wrong with the way I was living my life. I also would like to encourage those who witness to homosexuals, to do it out of love because you won't win them any other way. They are just looking for love in all the wrong places being deceived by the prince of the power of the air which is Satan and all his demons.

I was drawn to the King James Version of the Bible and began to read John 1:1. My mind was blown away, and I knew without a doubt that Jesus was God and He was talking to me all this time. It was Adonai, Elohim, and the Great I AM that had shown Himself to me as a burning bush as He did with Moses. By Thanksgiving 2018, God put the hammer on me and told me no more and that my partner had to go! I was still struggling with letting him go and my demons saw that I got saved and didn't want to let me go. It was a struggle, but I wanted Jesus a lot more, so I broke up with my partner. I kept the house and he packed his bags and went peacefully. God's hand was working mighty in my life and continues to do so. I had a lot of fear and worry about how I would afford all the bills alone, but I'm telling you two years later, the power and water never went off and I never went hungry. He has blessed me every single step of the way and has been so faithful even in my unfaithfulness towards Him. When alone, the Lord began to pull me away from people. I just worked and went home and studied the bible and prayed and little by little the Lord had delivered me from fornicating, pornography, and masturbating. Now, don't think that I didn't mess up because I did. It was a sanctification process. But eventually, those “big” sins were out of the picture. The Lord led me to Pastor Robert Clancy on YouTube from (The Narrow Path Ministries: Catch the Fire of Repentance Revival), and through his teaching, I learned about spiritual warfare, generational curses, binding, and loosening, and deliverance. It was just me and the Lord for a while. I wouldn't look at men or women, but then eventually I got bored. With this sudden drastic change, I was missing my old life. Let's be honest, this life of denial that we must live of not fulfilling the desires is not for the weak, but the strong. I'm being transparent here okay. It was around August of 2019, and I was living as holy and righteously as possible. I even got water baptized with evidence of speaking in tongues. I began to work a lot of hours which left me very tired and I was not taking the time to get alone with God and read the bible as I was or attending church. I became spiritually weak and when my birthday came around I thought…“one time won't hurt” and I relapsed using drugs. This was the biggest mistake ever! I got STUCK for almost 6 months smoking weed and taking meth and I hated every single moment of it! Everything from my past came back as I was secretly sinning badly. I ended up like King Nebuchadnezzar—he was so proud God needed to humble him by having him live in the wild on all fours. I feel I had the same experience, and I lost my mind. Now, that I look back, Jesus was right there with me the entire time and drew closer to me even though, I was in willful sin against Him. I honestly don't remember much from August 2019 to January 2020, somehow I still went to work, got paid, and I didn't kill myself  or someone else out on the road. It was a miracle! You might be wondering if I had anyone to go to for help and the answer is no because nobody in my family was saved and when I would try to reach out to my pastor, the enemy would hit me with deep shame and condemnation. I had almost given up all hope. It wasn't until the Holy Spirit Himself put His right hand on me and broke all the chains of the heaviness off of me. When He restored me to Himself, I cried like I never did before. It was like I woke up from a 6-month nightmare. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone. The healing process began all over again, and I had to regain all the ground that I had lost and come out of sin little by little as before. The Lord revealed to me that I wasn't rooted and grounded in the Word of God and He allowed certain things to show me my true self. I began to be able to recognize His still soft voice even more, and He had shown Himself in different parts in my life so I can get strong in Him. The thing that hit me the most is when He told me that this was my first major storm and it blew me to the ground and how great my fall was, but He stood by me—He held me by His righteous right hand and carried me when I couldn't walk. I'm telling you Jesus is amazing! Please, don't take advantage of Him as I did. I hurt Him so badly and so thankful He forgave and restored me. I learned a really good harsh lesson that I couldn't have learned any other way.

Please pray for one another and reach out to that brother or sister you haven't heard from in a while because you don't know what might be going on in their lives. Another thing I want to mention is that as I was coming out of sin, I had to suffer the consequences. And let me tell you, I sure did because for a while I would hear demons running up and down my stairs, they would shake my bed, make noises in the walls, and even growl, but God put in my spirit what prayer I needed to speak out loud to renounce, denounce, and repent of my wicked ways. I called down fire from heaven, and all the fowl unclean spirits went running out of my house after breaking curses. It was a difficult and tedious thing to go through, so I urge you to draw near to God and stay there. Stay at the feet of Jesus and don't look back to your past and open those doors of sin again. I learned that all my sinning gave legal ground for a very high-level powerful demon to kill me and that thing showed up at my house less than an arm's length away, and if I had not been under the precious blood of Jesus Christ it would have killed me! But God had mercy on me and the Holy Spirit rose from within me so powerfully that I prayed in the spirit so loud and so fast and powerfully that the Holy Spirit used my vocal cords and tongue to help me repent and cast that thing away. Ever since then, I have drawn near to God and I'm never looking back! The love, mercy, and compassion that Almighty God had towards me have helped me come to have a newfound fear and reverence of Him. He’s worthy to be praised and of denying self and taking up your cross daily. I'm back to walking in the Spirit, sober, back in the Word, and living a life that will honor and please Him. May God bless every single person who reads my story. I love you all, but Jesus loves you more. Repent and turn to Him for He can deliver you for He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. His words are the truth! God does not lie and He will never forsake you! There is no weapon formed or fashioned against you that shall prosper.

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him." (Proverbs 30:5)

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,” Says the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17) 

Yancy was blessed by the teaching of Pastor Robert Clancy and it's my hope and prayer that his ministry can also help in your healing and freedom in Christ. Below are links to Pastor Robert Clancy's ministry site and YouTube channel.

Pastor Robert Clancy (The Narrow Path Ministries: Catch the Fire of Repentance Revival)

Pastor Robert Clancy on YouTube