06Mar

“One decision, one single 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.

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02Mar

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 


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01Jan

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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08Dec

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!   

Country Music Divas and two Legends /Reba McEntire and Dolly Parton as caricatures singing their hit song Does He Love You. Shawn drew Reba & Brian drew Dolly.

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

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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.

Maribeth 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.***

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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 






 

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03Dec

Wendy Burpee grew up in a Christian home, but along the way...she strayed far away from God finding herself in abusive relationships, and choices made 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 chose life for their unborn babies.

Wendy Burpee

"...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 40’s 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 make a choice 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 afterwards. 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 really 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 start 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 really know what "IT" was yet. I’m intrigued by the thought but not really aware of what this job really 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 35 year. 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 there were no volunteers 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 had begun. 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 cutback 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 were settling down and getting into what really 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 of those who may want to support us. However, on occasion–we had a women 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 in order to change her mind, and see the reality of her decision. There was no question God wanted it brought to the surface in 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 advisor's bits and pieces of my life as 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 ever 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 a 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 this past May, we have saved the lives of 12 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)

  Wendy Burpee, Director

888 East High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464  

(610) 970-8088








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04Oct

Sue Thomas faced overwhelming odds when at the age of 18 months she became profoundly deaf. With dedicated parents who refused to institutionalize Sue, they set out to provide the tools that would enable Sue to live and survive in the world of sound. It was imperative to them that little Sue would learn to speak, even though she heard nothing. This began years of speech therapy to give her the voice that would be heard around the world. "It is only in the silence that we will truly hear the still small voice of God, the silence will teach us, if we listen." ~Sue Thomas



"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."  (Romans 8:28)

I have had an incredible life with an incredible story—God's greatest sinner saved and transformed by His grace and His grace alone!

Most who know me know two things, I am profoundly deaf and worked for the FBI as their secret weapon with my   lipreading expertise and later—had the award winning TV series called Sue Thomas: F.B.EYE inspired by my life. The second thing you might or might not know is that I carry the FBI name in a very public way. I am Sue Thomas, (F)irm (B)eliever (I)n CHRIST. 

I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, and faced overwhelming odds when at the age of 18 months I became profoundly deaf. With dedicated parents who refused to institutionalize me, they set out to provide the tools that would enable me to live and survive in the world of sound. It was imperative to them that I would learn to speak, even though I heard nothing. This began years of speech therapy to give me the voice that would be heard around the world.

Deemed “a dummy” and put into the slow learner class throughout my public school days, I was finally discovered by my typing teacher who saw the raw potential that was concealed by my deafness. Through the life of this teacher, I went on to college where I studied Political Science, International Relations, and received my BS degree before doing post-graduate work in counseling at Case Western Reserve and Columbia Bible College and Seminary.

Being profoundly deaf, was the one thing that drove me to the Lord. For 35 years in spite of being successful with the FBI using my lipreading abilities to capture the bad guys, I resented and despised my deafness and the silence. My deafness kept me from the very thing that I love—people. Helen Keller said it best, "blindness separates a person from things and objects; deafness separates a person from people." How well do I know these words.

I tried to run from the silence in every way possible, alcohol, drugs, alternative lifestyle, you name it, I did it to try to find acceptance and live with the silence.

My parents taught me as a child that God never makes a mistake, but the older and supposedly wiser I got—I believed my parents were wrong, and that God did indeed make a mistake when He allowed the silence to over take me.

I left a successful career at the FBI to find God to make Him confess He made a mistake. I found Him in seminary in what is now known as Columbia International University in Columbia South Carolina. It was there at the age of 35, that I fully surrendered to God at the foot of the Cross in all of my shame and sorrow. It was there on that day, that the transformation of my life was to become complete for the very thing that I hated, despised, and rejected—the silence—would be transformed into my best friend, the thing that I loved the most—the silence. It is only in the silence that we will truly hear the still small voice of God, the silence will teach us, if we listen.

It was with that transformation thirty five years ago, that God placed in my heart to build a sanctuary in the wilderness where the silence would never be broken, "that God's people shall return from exile far away and will rest beneath His shadow, and be as a watered garden." (Hosea 14:8)        

The Wonderful Sanctuary & Vision of WaterBrooks    

WaterBrooks is a wilderness sanctuary nestled on 113 acres in the green mountains of Vermont. It's indeed a different kind of place. It's a refuge, a strong tower, a place where the silence is never broken, and a special place where one can come and know that He is God. WaterBrooks is not a church, but a place that God’s people can be strengthened and then return to their church to strengthen it’s body.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We ask for your prayers in the days ahead that Almighty God will provide accordingly in the richness of His Son, Christ Jesus. Our needs are great as we build our first project for the lodge. Only God and God alone can bless our endeavors for His glory and the hope of His people. 

The silence will teach us if we listen. Perhaps, just perhaps, the church bells will ring once again to call His people to worship.


Sue is the co-founder of WaterBrooks a sanctuary being built in the green mountains of Vermont and Operation Silent Night, an outreach to the homeless.

Sue continues to travel and be a witness for the Lord. Churches and Christian functions can book Sue through the Ambassador Agency and ask for Gloria at (615) 370-4700.

Sue's Books & DVD's Below

Click here to learn more about the wonderful sanctuary of WaterBrooks

Watch Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye TV Show Series on Amazon Prime Video

****Click on book covers to check-out and purchase****

Sue's Story of Living With Multiple Sclerosis

 


Watch Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye TV Show Series on Amazon Prime Video



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24Jun

Ruth Almada, shares her incredible story--Strength in Scars--to give hope to ones's extraordinary circumstances--especially from the pain of generational abuse.

Ruth Almada

"Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding."
(Proverbs 4:7)

In this life, we do not choose who we are born to or in what conditions we are born under. God knows what He is doing, and He never makes a mistake. In my book and story, there is nothing that is politically correct, ear tickling, watered down or sugar coated. It is as raw and authentic as it gets because that’s what this world needs more of-- especially, when sharing about the very REAL power of God in our lives.

My story starts off knowing, that we live in a fallen world run by the devil, and evidence of this is literally--in every single facet of the conditions that I lived in. It was most definitely not an easy journey, and with being born to two lost folks (my parents)--I was bound by decades of generational curses at the time of birth. However, Jesus had another plan.

A plan so powerful that knowing about it now, still very much leaves me in moments of sheer amazement and utter gratitude. A plan so powerful that I am able to thank God for our trials today. I have learned along the way, that Jesus is pulling many people out of the very same hell we endured. There are no words that can properly describe this other than GLORY to God in the highest!

Here is a summary of my story:

As a child, we learn based on what is poured into our lives, experiences and environment. There is a large family dynamic, that God has lovingly and powerfully touched that governs five lines of my families generation. From grandparents to grand-babies. The easiest way to describe it is-- the enemy has placed assignments on my bloodline for who even knows how long. This spans from decades of abuse in most-- if not all--forms that seemed to keep repeating over and over with each new generation.

My story talks about this from my own experience as a girl up until roughly eight or so years ago. I have experienced physical, emotional, sexual, and mental trauma most of my life and--on many different occasions. In many instances, I thought most of it was perfectly normal yet, knowing deep down inside there must be a better way. I remember thinking, I wish I was normal because normal people could cope with life far better than I could. I often felt that something was deeply wrong with me. This was the 4th grade me, who didn’t realize that in my terms of “most” I was looking at people, that had not endured what was occurring and--had occurred most of my life. 

I gave my life to Jesus as a girl, but didn't realize until YEARS later the profound impact of the ultimate changes of my path would be based on this vital and literally life-saving decision. It was not until my painful past was attempting to replay with my own children, that a true consensus needed to be made no matter the cost and WHAT A COST it was! I am eternally grateful for Jesus, and owe him absolutely everything!!

I have seen first-hand unexplainable miracles in my life, and the very fact that I am even alive today is most definitely one of them! I have been raped, beaten, molested, mocked, and tormented all before the age of seven. Many of these instances happened other times even after this. I tried drugs for the first time at fourteen, and this was given to me by my momma. I also became a momma, right after my seventeenth birthday to a beautiful set of twins, that I couldn’t afford to care for.

With the deepest heart-felt intentions--I place them in their paternal grandparents home while, I served in the US Army--not knowing the real intents of these two people that I loved deeply. They did unspeakable things to my twins for the first few years of their lives. They wouldn't even let me have them back, and I had to fight for several years in court--with almost every spare dime, that I could muster to get my boys away from them. I never understood why until several years later.

There was a sick, dark, and sinister plan unfolding in my children’s lives that I didn’t even know was there. It was not until my precious daughter, Hope, had the courage at the very young age of three to tell me. The rest is in the book however, I can tell you this much, our story is NOT just our story, it's MANY people's stories. God has done such a work in my life and in the lives of my children, that the ripple effect has now spilled outside the doors of our home on to other family members such as, my siblings and parents and many others.

God has broken these curses all of them that included: pedophilia, rape, poverty, abandonment, abuse, word curses, and many others. He has HEALED my mind, body and spirit. He has HEALED my children. He has HEALED my relationship with my parents and YES--even with these grandparents that did this to my children. My heart and mind has been HEALED in Jesus name!! ALL THINGS are possible for those who love Him, believe in Him, and are called according to HIS will. Who the Son sets free TRULY is free indeed, don’t for a second just think that, KNOW IT!

Our story is a story of REAL hope that the LIVING God cares, and wants to set you free from past and present bondage. He truly wants to HEAL your deepest wounds and we are living breathing proof that it's in fact possible.

The other dynamic of this is that the God of this Universe is PERFECT in duplication. His seeds produce fruit after their own kind. He also gives us the unique ability to comfort others with the same measure He has given to us! If God can set me free from my horrible fallen past and use it to help someone else (which He has and still is HELPING MANY)--then my friend--He can, and will do the same with yours! Hang in there, because Jesus is coming for you and counting on YOUR breakthrough, so you can help many others too! What He has done in my life, He most definitely can in yours! Praise Jesus!!

Ruth Almada's Story on Deception Detection Radio with Kay Carswell


Ruth Almada's Story on David Heavener's Broadcast


Purchase Ruth's Books on the Sites Below

WESTBOW PRESS (A Division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan)

Christianbook.com

Amazon

Walmart












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25Nov

George Carneal, was raised in the Bible Belt, by a Southern Baptist minister. Throughout his school years, he was tormented with physical and verbal abuse. George was called a queer, faggot, and a homo. Eventually, he turned his back on God, the church, and fully immersed himself in the queer culture. Today, he shares what God's love has done for Him so others can also break free from the lies and grip of sin.

"As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us."  (Psalms 103:12)

George Carneal -- Author, Speaker, Singer/Songwriter

I’m a Baptist minister’s son who grew up in church and gave my life to Christ when I was seven years old. I also struggled with a same-sex attraction. Living in Tennessee, in the Bible Belt, in the 70’s, homosexuality wasn’t a topic I heard about unless some random person was making a derogatory comment about “fags.” 

All through school I was tormented with physical and verbal abuse with one guy threatening to slit my throat. Being called a queer, faggot, homo, I didn’t understand how my peers were able to identify something about me that I hadn’t been unable to understand and come to terms with myself. This was confusing.

At church, the pain was compounded by the inevitable sermons on Sodom & Gomorrah. I felt condemned by God for something I didn’t ask for. On the inside I was filled with rage and told God I hated Him. I suffered in silence.

While heterosexual peers dated, I spent 12 lonely years yearning to be loved by a man. A random encounter with a guy out of high school confirmed this is who I was…a homosexual. Shortly after this encounter, my father was relocated to a church in Florida.

Not long after the move, I ran into a guy who invited me to a local gay bar. Walking into a bar filled with attractive men was overwhelming and exciting. I finally found a “home” where I wasn’t being bullied, could be myself, and be around other guys like me. I craved affection from guys and became promiscuous. 

Since countless “loving Christians” insisted that God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah because of vile perverts like me, that God created AIDS to kill queers, and that I was destined to burn in Hell, I believed that maybe God does hate me. So, I turned my back on God, the church, and fully immersed myself in the queer culture.

Sadly, after three years in the gay life, I was masking the pain with drugs and alcohol. Pornography became a part of my life, I developed a sex addiction, became a hustler (a male prostitute), struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts, and eventually attempted suicide. I felt no hope. 

My journey would eventually lead me to Nashville where I met a guy, we became boyfriends, and moved to Los Angeles. I secured a job in the music industry.

After seven years, we broke up because I was still tormented and struggling with my faith and sexuality. I longed to be in church and eventually found a church home. I was filled with constant anxiety for fear that these Christians would discover my secret.

After church I cruised adult bookstores and bars because I was so hungry for affection and love. Random encounters meant quick sex, but I didn’t care…it was a brief moment of feeling desired by a guy. I couldn’t see it at the time, but I was searching for something to fill a void in my life. I had yet to comprehend that Jesus was the answer.

After a mild confrontation with a deacon over rumors regarding my sexuality, I left the church and found a gay-affirming church with a homosexual pastor. Surely, I would find the answers and come to accept that God made me this way. The turmoil was still there. Unable to find concrete answers, I left that church.

Working in the music business, I had the chance to meet and be around countless celebrities/rock stars/movie stars. In our celebrity-obsessed culture, many believe that fame and fortune will bring happiness. However, some celebrities weren’t that pleasant to be around and appeared to be just as unhappy as I was. I personally knew miserable people with immense wealth. It was clear.  Money and fame doesn’t bring happiness.  

I extended my search into the occult, new age and Hindu arenas hoping to find different paths to get to God. I still yearned for Him even though I wasn’t sure He wanted anything to do with me. I had no desire to serve Satan but wondered if God was holding out on information that Satan was willing to impart. Could I get to God through a supernatural means?  

Casting love spells seemed appealing...as I desperately wanted a man to love me, but something in my spirit...compelled me, not to open that door so I didn’t. I spent countless hours in new age/occult/psychic bookstores, browsing through various books on “world religions”, while waiting to have my tarot cards read by psychics. I was desperate for answers yet became cynical when all they could provide was vague information about relationships and financial issues that could be applied to anyone. 

The New Age emphasis on sacrificing ourselves for the good of mankind, fighting darkness that was consuming the world, appealed to me. The search for “ascended masters” to become more enlightened intensified….with no luck.

Attending a Hindu temple in Hollywood, the “teacher” read from sacred Hindu texts, even God’s Word. While Jesus was respected as a great teacher, He was also equal with other Hindu gurus. That was unsettling. No matter how confused I was, something was settled within me that Jesus was God’s Son and no one compared to Him. I also knew idols had no power and I certainly wasn’t going to bow down and worship them.

Additionally, the new age and Hindu (even Buddhist) teachings regarding reincarnation were distressing. My current life was one of misery. The thought of being reincarnated, coming back to live many lives over and over and over in order to become perfect, striving to reach moksha (Hinduism)/nirvana (Buddhism), without any knowledge of past mistakes in order to do better in the next life, brought about more despair. 

Deep within me, I knew Jesus was the one, all-sufficient Savior who paid for my sins on the Cross. Instead of me having to do the work, Jesus did the work and that comforted me. God confirms that we live once, and then...the judgement (Hebrews 9:27).  I eventually, rejected the Occult/New Age/Hindu teachings.

I wanted a relationship with God, but I didn’t want to be around Christians. I hated them. Church was a place of anxiety for me. The thought of attending church was like going into the lion’s den.

Disillusioned with life, one night I drove to a Christian bookstore in Long Beach. I searched for books on suicide, but from a biblical perspective. After one failed suicide attempt, I was ready to try again. However, I feared God would send me to Hell for taking my life. Suicidal thoughts were as common as what I thought about eating each day. The depression was brutal. I cried all the time. The voices in my head tormented me. I needed peace. Finding nothing on the subject, I sat on the floor and cried.

I went back to the bars and slept with men in order to mask the pain, the loneliness, only to struggle with constant heartache as I desperately searched for love.

Sitting at a dive bar in Hollywood one night...(among the prostitutes, hustlers, former jailbirds, drag queens, kids tossed out of homes because they were queer, women whose wrinkled faces revealed difficult lives, and old gay men getting drunk at the bar)...I faced the cold, harsh reality of life. This could be me. My heart hurt for those people. During this time, I was unable to share how much God loved them by what Jesus did on the Cross because, I couldn’t see it for myself thanks to mean-spirited “Christians”. I was a vile homosexual. I had no hope yet something had to change. I couldn’t do this any longer.

A television commercial from a local church advertised a Bible Study on the book of Genesis. I felt led to contact them and spent two years attending that Bible study. I hungered for God and enjoyed studying His Word. My view of God started to change. I eventually started to see that God didn’t hate me. He hated my sin. There was hope that I could have a relationship with God! I also met Christians who truly had the heart of Christ as I slowly immersed myself back into the church.

God eventually led me to a Baptist church through a retired pastor. The current pastor moved to have a class for LGBT individuals. I was excited because I would now have a safe place to meet others struggling with this issue. Unfortunately, the pastor and teachers were moving us in the direction of “Being gay is OK, we’re under Grace, God created you that way” and I was confused.  Scripture is clear we are not to abuse God’s Grace (Romans 6:1-2; 14-15).

I had heard numerous stories of LGBT individuals whom God was bringing out of that life so I was perplexed as to why the pastor/teachers were pushing us into that life. I was now more confused. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted dealing with this issue, especially when I didn’t ask for these feelings! 

I sat in my car so many times and cried, banging the steering wheel, yelling at God, begging Him for an answer, for peace! I often prayed this sincere prayer to God: “If homosexuality is OK in Your eyes, give me peace about it and I trust You will put a good Christian man in my life who will love me. If homosexuality is wrong under all circumstances, give me peace about it, help me to recognize it, and I will still serve You.”

As the months passed, wanting to believe that “gay is OK”, I was still tormented. I said enough and accepted that it was not in God’s will. I left that church, turned my back on the gay life, repented, and truly surrendered my life to Christ. The most amazing thing happened. God gave me what I had longed for my whole life...peace with myself, peace of mind, and finally...peace with God! The issue has been settled and I am no longer tormented in my mind or by my past! (Isaiah 43:25; Psalm 103:12; Romans 8:1)

Numerous LGBT individuals have accepted that homosexuality is not a part of God’s plan. Some LGBT individuals have transitioned successfully into a heterosexual life. Those who still have a same-sex attraction, like myself, have chosen celibacy. We desire to live a life that honors and pleases God. I’ve been on this path for about 13 years now. 

The Apostle Paul asked God to “remove the thorn in his side” and God responded with “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). If this is to be my thorn, so be it. What matters is that God provided the healing I needed in order to have the strength to walk away from that life. My desire for sex with men no longer controls me!

This journey has been difficult, but I praise God for bringing me though it because I now understand God’s grace and His mercy. There is hope for everyone no matter what your bondage is….drugs, alcohol, food, sex, pornography, even issues of shame, rejection, abuse, rape, guilt of abortion, criminal activities, etc. If one is truly sorry and repents, God’s free gift of salvation is available to anyone who wants it (Romans 6:23). Jesus paid it ALL on the Cross at Calvary when He shed His precious blood for our sin. God desires to have a relationship with you but you must come His Way and that’s through Jesus.  (John 3:16-17; 10:9; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). Give your life to Christ today and know real peace. You matter to Him!

Blessings,

George Carneal

Purchase George's book --- Amazon (From Queer to Christ) Available in both Kindle & paperback.  

**In the back of George's book, he put all the talking points the LGBTQ activists and Christian liberal theologians use and he debunks them with Scripture. He says..."So if you have individuals in your life who are not willing to listen to this give them the book or at least get it and familiarize yourself with those talking points so when they do come at you and say no; no it's okay you can give them scripture because they are not going to sit down and study God's word to get the truth for themselves."

~George Carneal

George Reveals the Truth About the LGBTQ Agenda on CBN News

George's Interview on the Homekeepers Show - (Christian Television Network)

Janet Mefferd Today Show

Christian Life Magazine 99.3 FM Interview with host, Chris Rose




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17Sep

Eight years ago, Ashley Nall, found comfort in the New Age movement. She began to dive deeper into the pit of darkness by contacting spirits (spirit guides) to find hope and meaning in life. When she lost all hope...she reached out to Jesus to save her from the choices she had made.


“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)


Ashley Nall


I vividly remember when I became an atheist eight years ago. My last prayer was me crying to God, “it’s just not logical”. Wouldn’t a life without religion be easier anyway?


Those eight years were nothing short of painful. My flesh took over, and the enemy reigned over me. I was put in bondage while believing the lies that I was truly free, and found my real identity. The first year, I was diagnosed with depression. Then at sixteen years old, I became suicidal. My life as a high school student consisted of hiding in activities that I would never complete, finding my worth in romantic relationships that left me broken and building walls in my life that no one could knock down.


My heart hardened, and I would laugh at my family for believing in “a god”. I would debate with friends about religion until they gave into my beliefs—some even, began to doubt their faith. My misery hid behind a mask of academic achievement and fake confidence on my opinion of God. My last year of high school, I received a full scholarship to a university. I placed all my hope in this college, so I could have a fresh start.


I became more relaxed about my beliefs, and I rarely shared my atheism with others. As a college student, I adopted the New Age movement into my daily life. Instantly, I found comfort in the spiritual realm, I devoted most of my time to meditation, lucid dreaming, and energy healing.


This was when I learned about “spirit guides”—which quite frankly, are demons in disguise. I found comfort in the spiritual realm, and began to have constant communication with one particular spirit. I would call on it, at times to enter my body and help me with decision making. It taught me about astral projection, which was so taxing to learn that, I began denying invitations to hang out with my friends and slacking in my college courses.


When I started to visit the spiritual realm through astral projection, I met my spirit guide face-to-face. After opening myself up to these practices, I started to get unwanted visions and intrusive thoughts. My depression caught up with me one night, and I wanted nothing more than to end my life. I called my dad, who lived two hours away from the university. He insisted to come visit me to make sure that I was okay. After a few hours of talking and calming me down, he left to go back home. Having a long day, I fell asleep, but then woke up at 11:00 PM—with a vision of a vehicle running off the road. It was horrifying!


The next day, my mom called me to say that my dad fell asleep while driving, and had a wreck at that same time and location. Gratefully, he was okay, but I knew I was losing control over whatever my life had become. Only a few days later, I called on help from the spirit guide. Within moments, I was at my computer dropping out of college. I will never understand my reasoning.


I came back home feeling beyond empty. So empty that I met a guy, and within three months of knowing each other, we moved in together. My life was officially not mine anymore.


My situation kept getting worse until September 2017. I was sitting on the porch of my new apartment, exhausted from the demons that were holding me in bondage. I was having constant panic attacks, living in a place surrounded by drugs, and having no goals other than staying with that guy at the time. I could go on and on about the lies—the pain—and my sins that controlled me until that day in September— however, I would rather tell you about how quickly my LORD put all the sorrow to death.


In the midst, of what I consider my darkest time—I had nowhere else to turn, so I looked up to the epitome of hope. I cannot begin to explain how this transition happened; it was truly a miracle! All I had to do was recognize Jesus’ name, because He already had His hand extended waiting to SAVE me. Peace immediately covered my situation, and calmed my hurricane of a mind. The panic attacks ceased. The suicidal thoughts disappeared. I wanted nothing more than to apologize to God—I wanted to explain myself, but He quieted me and told me to no longer worry.


He wanted so badly to help me get out of my current situation while, He gently washed the shame away. It was the greatest love I have ever felt! Within two days, I moved out of the apartment and began my new life. So much has changed within a year. My depression has been healed. My relations with my family have been restored. I reenrolled in college along with raising my GPA. I even started serving on the production team at my local church.


There is absolutely nothing better than having a relationship with Jesus Christ! I wish I could put into words how wonderful He is, and what all He has done for my heart and mind. I was completely and utterly lost, and by grace alone, the Good Shepherd did not stop until I was found.



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13Aug

Doris Homan, was born in Cairo, Egypt, in a very strict religious environment. She grew up attending church and loved Sunday school, but yet God seemed so far. Doris's Christian Journey set her on a path of knowing God as much as she can, so she can teach others to do the same. Since, the mid-1990's, Doris has been actively participating in women's ministries in the capacity of teaching Bible studies, leading small groups, speaking at women's faith-based events, one-on-one discipleship and Christian counseling.

Doris Homan

----“my beloved brethren…my joy and crown, so stand firm in the Lord.”  (Philippians 4:1)

I was born in Cairo, Egypt, in a very strict religious environment. I grew up attending church and loved Sunday school as a child. I desired to know God but somehow He seemed far. At the age of 9 my family and I moved to the US. It was a difficult time of transition for me. Finding myself in a foreign land with no extended family or friends, I struggled with loneliness and a sense of not belonging for many years.

A couple of important things happened in my teen years; I was invited to attend an evangelical church and around the same time, some friends from high school asked me to attend Campus Crusade meetings. I began to attend both regularly and for the first time in my life I heard that I could have a relationship with God and know Him personally. This was amazing and a defining moment for me. This is what I really had desired all along, not religion but a relationship!

I struggled for a while as I felt I was already a believer in Christ but one evening, after church, I remember sitting in my room and talking to God. I acknowledged my faith in Him and my desire to have a relationship with Him. I turned leadership of my life over to Him to transform me into the person He intended me to be.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Slowly, I began to study the Bible, pray and grow in my relationship with Christ. Over time, I began to see many changes in my life. Christ took a very shy and insecure girl and transformed her into someone He can use to initiate and reach out to others. I never thought I could stand before a group of people and speak, let alone prepare lessons and teach the Bible. He gave me a purpose and a mission. (Galatians 2:20)

During my college years, I met my husband and a year later, we got married. In my thirties, the Lord began to stir in me a real desire for teaching the Bible to women. I had the opportunity to attend several training seminars by Precept Ministries and through the inductive study method, I learned how to study, prepare and lead Bible studies.

God has given me a heart for women and a passion to see them established in His Word and using their spiritual gifts in service for Him in their local church.  

For the past 20 years I have led women’s Bible Studies, 6 years leading women’s Sunday school class as well as small group. It’s been a joy to work in women’s ministries side by side with other women of faith.

Soon after a Bible Study series on the Names of God, one of our ladies was diagnosed with cancer and went through a long period of treatment and recovery. I will never forget when she told me that if it wasn’t for the Names of God study we had just completed, her faith would not have been as strong during this storm in her life.

Another important part of women’s ministries is developing future leaders. I am passionate about seeing women grow into future teachers and leaders so they can train other women on their journey with Christ. (2 Timothy 2:2)

A few years ago, I saw a need for this curriculum; material that covers the basic aspects of the Christian life all in one study guide. This study is the culmination of the last 35 years of my walk with Christ. It is important as a follower of Christ to know what we believe and why we believe it. It is my heart’s desire and goal that this curriculum will have an impact in women’s lives and firmly establish them in the scriptures. It is one thing to read the Bible and another thing to study it; to dig deeper. I have often said to my ladies that the Word of God is like a mine; the more we dig the more treasure we will find.

This journey has taken over 6 years to compile with numerous revisions. I had the opportunity to take a group of about 20 women through this study after which many more revisions followed as I saw areas for improvement.

About 4 years after writing this material, God brought Davia Rinehart into my life through a mutual friend. Davia has been engaged in discipling women (Disciples of Christ) for many years. Living about 500 miles away, she graciously came to Cincinnati to meet with me several times. I am so grateful for how she has invested of herself in this project. I am indebted to her for the hours she has spent reviewing the curriculum and hours of meeting with me with her suggestions and recommendations; her godly perspective and insight enriched this material. God also sent others into my life to provide editing and input on content. It’s such a privilege to serve our faithful God. I love the opportunities He continues to give me to come alongside other women especially and pour into their lives. Discipleship is the heart of my calling.

(Galatians 2:20), describes my new life ---- “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life that I now live, I live by faith in the name of the son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.”

Doris' ministry site is My Joy and Crown & her YouTube Channel can be accessed on the site as well.

The Christian Journey Facebook page ---- A Bible study guide to help you on your faith journey.








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