Author Archives: grelanmuse

Heart attack victim raised from the dead!

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By Charles Gardner
Special to ASSIST News Service

DONCASTER, UK — A man from the Yorkshire town of Doncaster in the north of England, was restored to life after being clinically dead for nearly an hour during hospital treatmentRaised_from_the_Dead has been speaking about his experience at Christian meetings around the country.

But in an exclusive interview with this journalist, Joe Stevenson has now shared his amazing story for the purposes of newspaper coverage.

The “miracle” happened six years ago, and has been verified by the surgeon involved.

Joe was admitted to Doncaster Royal Infirmary for a total knee replacement but, at the initiation of physiotherapy the day after surgery, he suffered a massive heart attack.

For the next 55 minutes he had “no cardiac output and no respiratory effort other than what was maintained by the resuscitation team,” according to Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon, Mr. A. S. W. Bruce.

When informed by the patient’s son-in-law that Joe had died, his church friends began to pray – not for the Lord to raise him up, but for his family to be comforted.

Then, amazingly, his heart started beating again – “spontaneous cardiac output and respiratory effort were returned,” said Mr. Bruce – and he was in a coma for the next 72 hours. But there was no brain damage and, although initially suffering acute renal failure, this completely settled in time.

“Having seen him in clinic, he has made an uneventful recovery,” Mr. Bruce added in a letter dated Jan. 25, 2011.

Now 75 and in continuing good health, Joe lives in Coniston Road, Askern, with his wife, Wilsie.

Dr. David Garrard, a senior lecturer at the Assemblies of God Bible College at Mattersey, Doncaster, and a fellow member at the time of the Reachout Christian Fellowship at Christ Church in central Doncaster, said: “The miracle of the resurrection power of Christ is evidenced in what happened to Joe.”

Joe was admitted for his operation [surgery] on Dec. 9, 2009. The op itself went smoothly, but it was the following morning, as he lay recovering, that he suffered a cardiac arrest.

Wilsie called their five children, who immediately dropped everything and raced down from all over the country. Then the doctor announced: “We have a pulse, but don’t build your hopes.”

“The medical team had fully expected Joe to be a vegetable due to no oxygen supply to his brain for all that time,” Wilsie recalled. “And though his kidneys were not initially functioning, with regular dialysis on the cards, they eventually returned to normal, to the delight of the medics.”

Joe has since revealed that he had a series of extraordinary visions during his hour of “death.”

This included a scene of “total chaos on the earth” with everyone struggling for power and some arguing over clothing and possessions which had become worthless as money no longer had any value.

“The Lord showed me armies fighting one another, even beginning to kill their own people; young men and women taking people into alleyways, killing them at random and running away, laughing. I saw pillaging and rapes.

“Then I saw millions of dead bodies inside a massive lean-to, all in different uniforms. And giant earth-moving machines pushing the bodies into a quarry – something like a picture of Armageddon described in the Bible.” (Revelation 14.20)

Dr. Garrard explained: “I have no difficulty at all accepting what Joe communicates [of his visions] because… they can be backed up by many portions of Scripture.”

Joe and Wilsie are currently members of the Millennium Christian Fellowship in Hemsworth [a former mining town in West Yorkshire], meeting at the YMCA.

Joe said that in the weeks leading up to his surgery, he had sought a much closer relationship with God as a result of which he experienced “a deep cleansing and a strengthening of spirit.”

He now realizes that we all need to get back to basic Bible principles of loving one another as one body, with Jesus as head.

Belles: Super Bowl sex trafficking is not a myth

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Now that Super Bowl 50 is history, one organization continues its call for more awareness on sex trafficking that occurs during the annual game and other large events.Nita Belles

Nita Belles, founder of In Our Backyard, recently took her fight for victims to San Francisco, taking issue with journalists and supporters of the sex industry who called increased sex trafficking during gatherings of this sort as an urban myth.

“An urban myth? Are they serious?” questions the human trafficking expert. “There is no myth about it.

“Traffickers smell the money present at the Super Bowl celebrations and bring their victims here to exploit them and take the money. We are not talking about voluntary prostitution,” said Belles, author of a book that bears the same title of her organization. “The fact is that adults and children are being forced into sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world—and that includes the United States. It is happening 365 days a year in every ZIP code. Trafficking, and even the recruitment of new victims, absolutely escalates around large events that draw big crowds like this week’s Super Bowl.”

Belles lead a team of professionals who worked non-stop to ensure that those who are being trafficked have a fighting chance at freedom and that the sex buyers and traffickers will be brought to justice.

“There’s a saying that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world,” Belles said. “But it’s the oldest abuse in the world. Here is my request to the media: Don’t be quiet. Don’t fall prey to the lie that human trafficking is not increasing.  All the traffickers ask is that we keep quiet and perpetuate the myth that it doesn’t happen here. I ask for the media’s help in making it hard to be a trafficker.”

A 2014 study by the University of Arizona about increased sex trafficking during large events stated that “The Super Bowl, or any large event which provides a significant concentration of people in a relatively confined urban area, becomes a desirable location for a trafficker to bring their victims for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.”

After last year’s Super Bowl in Arizona, the FBI announced that Arizona police departments and law enforcement officers conducted recovery operations for six months leading up to the Super Bowl, where agencies recovered numerous juvenile victims, ranging in age from 13 to 17, as well as adult victims who had been subjected to physical abuse by their traffickers.

Overall through their efforts arrests included 360 customers of commercial sex, 68 traffickers and the recovery of 30 juvenile victims.  Belles said that in 2014, 45 arrests were made around the New Jersey Super Bowl, with 16 juveniles recovered.  In New Orleans the year before, 85 arrests made and five victims recovered.

“Any time you have a large number of people gathering in one place with a party atmosphere—especially males, it’s prime ground for sex trafficking,” Belles said. “I know of animals who are treated with more respect than those who are trafficked. They are forced into horrendous acts that we don’t even want to imagine. Prostitutes are usually victims,” she says, “and ‘john’ is too nice a word for someone who should be called a ‘sex buyer.’ She adds, “Those who are being trafficked are precious children of God and deserve to live free of modern slavery. That is why I do what I do.”

Belles explains that escape is difficult because victims are closely watched and often traumatically bonded to their captors. Those that are rescued are hoping that they can get the help needed to find a new, safe, happy life.  Sex trafficking victims, particularly minors, have a tough road in front of them, even under the best circumstances. They need trauma-based treatment, kindness, understanding, a stable and non-threatening environment, and lots of time.

“Many will need professional counseling and medical or mental health services to recover from the atrocities that have happened to them,” Belles said. “Those recovered in the anti-trafficking efforts in the Bay Area will be offered that help.”

Copyright © 2016 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

The long wait is over: Saeed Abedini back on U.S. soil

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of the ASSIST News Service

NORTH CAROLINA – The long wait is finally over for Saeed Abedini, the 35-year-old American pastor imprisoned in Iran, when the plane he was traveling in, touched down onSaeed_Abedini off plane U.S. soil Jan. 22 at a North Carolina airport, and he was able to wrap his arms around his parents and sister.

A huge smile spread across Abedini’s when he deplaned and was warmly greeted by his family, and also Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, after spending more than three traumatic years in jail in Iran for his Christian faith.

Iran-born Abedini, who converted from Islam to Christianity, had traveled to Iran in 2012 on a mission to build an orphanage. But he was detained in July 2012 on charges of evangelizing and sentenced to eight years in prison.

The judge said Abedini’s activities were “threatening the national security of Iran.”trailer movie J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only 2017

Abedini was freed from the Iranian prison along with three other Americans last week. The release was part of a prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran.

Besides Abedini, the Iranians also released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian; Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Mich.; Nosratallah Khosravi-Roodsari, a businessman; and Matthew Trevitthick, a student.

“Pastor Saeed Abedini is safely back and will be a guest at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove [the 1,200-acre retreat center in the N.C. mountains] in Asheville, N.C., as he re-acclimates and spends time with his family,” Graham shared on Facebook on Jan. 22.

In a statement, Franklin Graham, who is also CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which operates the Asheville center, said that “we want to provide him aFranklin_Graham_with_Saeed_Abedini quiet place to rest and visit with family.”

Franklin, who played a leading role in the campaign by evangelical Christians to press for Abedini’s release, added: “None of us in America can begin to understand or appreciate what Saeed has endured after being imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.”

CBN News reported that Saeed’s attorneys said the charge also stemmed from his prior involvement with Christian house churches in Iran.

Until his flight back to the United States, Saeed Abedini had been in Germany undergoing medical evaluation at a U.S. military hospital.

“During his imprisonment… he was beaten, threatened, suffered internal injuries, denied medical treatment and was separated from his wife and two children,” added CBN News.

His wife, Naghmeh, 38, who fought tireless for him, has announced that she and their two children, Jacob and Rebekka, will joining him at the The Cove on Jan. 25.

Naghmeh added that she will continue working to promote religious freedom and bring attention to Christian persecution.

One media report stated that Luke Caldwell, a family friend and son of the founder of Calvary Chapel Boise, where the Abedinis attend church, described their reunion as a “complex situation” that requires “a lot of prayer and support.”

“You wish it was as easy as, everyone’s fine, but 3-1/2 years of separation and disconnection,” he said. “Ultimately, they need to reunite that love and that connection.”

Meanwhile, Saeed has been speaking out about what it’s been like for him to finally be free.

The ACLJ (http://aclj.org), has worked on Saeed’s behalf to advocate for his freedom since he was thrown in prison by the Iranian regime, who many believe had doubled-crossed him by initially telling him that he could return to the land of his birth to help set up an orphanage. But then, after crossing the border from Turkey, they promptly arrested him, and he was later sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on charges of evangelizing.

Photo credits: Top, Saeed Abedini is greeted in North Carolina by his mother as his father and sister look on. Bottom, Franklin Graham, left, with Saeed Abedini.

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Round: Make the most of your new year

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“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well”—3 John 2(NIV).

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

A New Year has arrived and with it the usual resolutions to lose weight, get in shape and quit smoking. Some look for quick fixes through crash diets, new exercise crazes or so-called “magical” pills while others seek a solution through surgery, bringing with it a host of possible complications and side effects.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I don’t recall seeing as many overweight people as is prevalent today. I also don’t remember seeing a fast-food restaurant on almost every corner. MyCarol Round mother was a stay-at-home mom who cooked healthy meals. When we did eat out, it was a treat. Today, eating out seems to be the norm as the choice of restaurants and fast-food places have grown as fast as our waistlines and hips.

Instead of setting ourselves up for failure by making resolutions each January, what if we turned to scripture for a permanent solution to our health problems?  What if we chose to do the following?

Make wise choices concerning our health. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what the wisest choices are when we get conflicting information via the media. We must educate ourselves through reliable sources, including those from reputable organizations. (see Proverbs 2:6)

Practice self-control.  With an abundance of food choices in our country comes stress. How is that possible? Just walk down a supermarket aisle and check out the options available. It can be overwhelming. Too many choices can lead us to make hasty decisions. We don’t take time to study labels nor educate ourselves about the best food for our bodies. (see Proverbs 25:28)

Honor God with our bodies. How do we do this? By choosing wisely what we eat and drink and letting go of bad habits that lead to disease and early death. (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Ask for accountability. If you’re trying to make healthier choices, seek an accountability partner who will help you stay on track until your new lifestyle becomes a daily habit. (see 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Rely on God’s power rather than our own strength. A new year brings resolve to do better for most of us, hence the word ‘resolution.’ However, we usually set out to accomplish them in our own power. That’s why most people fail. (see Philippians 4:13)

Choose to exercise our bodies. Say the word “exercise” and most people run in the opposite direction. Why is that? Do we equate it with hard work? Is it because we don’t want to make the time, instead preferring to vegetate in front of the TV? Exercise should be fun. Fun? Choose something that interests you and will keep you motivated. (see Romans 12:1)

Quit making excuses. Just do it! (Luke 14:17-18)

Start your New Year right. Commit all of your goals and plans to the Lord. Ask for His direction and guidance for the coming year. Make the most of 2016.

Carol Round is an author, a columnist, and a speaker. To learn more about Carol and her ministry, visit  her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Refugees from world’s hot spots share their culture, learn about Christmas in U.S.

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Dallas police officer with refugee

By Dan Wooding
Founder of the ASSIST News Service

DALLAS – With tensions about refugees running at a high point in the United States, a Dallas-based refugee outreach, has arranged for a uniqueRefugee children enjoying their gifts Christmas event for refugees that have settled in its region.

Gateway of Grace, founded by a refugee, has turned the tables on the traditional “helping hand” this Christmas. Instead of serving meals to the displaced in North Texas — the displaced will serve their homemade dishes to North Texans.

“The goodwill we celebrate at Christmas extends to everyone,” said Samira Izadi Page, founder and executive director of Gateway of Grace. “This Christmas, refugees in our communities can give us the gift of meals from their homelands, even as we reach out to them with gifts and an explanation of what Christmas is about.”

According to a news release from Lovell-Fairchild Communications, the event —a Christmas Party for Refugees called “Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Mankind” will be held Dec. 18, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Wilshire Baptist Church, 4316 Abrams Road in Dallas.

More than 200 refugees, their families and volunteers will be on hand for a potluck lunch of native food from around the world from countries likeDallas police officer with refugee Burma, Bhutan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Senegal, Sudan, Congo and Syria, to name just a sampling of nations represented. And dishes will range from African rice to Uzbek stew to whatever the families bring.

“Each refugee family receives a gift card, and as live Christmas songs are sung, Santa Claus will share the story of St. Nicholas with children and explain what Christmas is about,” said the news release.

In 2014, of the 70,000 refugees arriving in the U.S., Texas received 11 percent – more than any other state, Page said. She knows their plight well. Her family fled Iran and sought political asylum in the U.S., where she eventually converted to Christianity, attended seminary and founded Gateway of Grace.

“The negative portrayal of refugees these days causes them to feel unwanted, to feel shame, insecurity, anxiety and fear,” she said. “With all that is going on in the world, this year, more than any other time, the message of Christmas is relevant in imparting dignity and worth to refugees. To shareSamira Izadi Page the joy of Christmas with refugees who have never experienced Christmas is a great way of removing some of the fear and anxiety and bringing healing into their lives.”

The event still needs volunteers for transportation and to provide gift cards plus necessary items for the refugee families including winter coats, baby formula and diapers.

To learn more or to volunteer, call Gateway of Grace at 469-324-8825 or go to http://www.gatewayofgrace.org.

Note: Samira Izadi Page is the founder and Executive Director of Gateway of Grace Ministries. She was born and raised in Iran as a Muslim. Samira and her family fled Iran due to persecution and obtained political asylum status in the U.S. Samira converted to Christianity and earned her Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Ministry in Missional Church Studies at Perkins at SMU.

Samira has committed her life to bringing the hope and love of Christ to those whose hope, dignity, and humanity have been taken away by oppressive governments and circumstances. She frequently speaks nationally and locally at conferences, churches and other venues on issues of interfaith relations, Islam and Christianity, and refugee outreach. Samira works cross-denominationally with pastors and mission leaders and moves local congregations into new ways of mission and outreach.watch full L’ora legale 2017 film

VISION of Gateway of Grace:

To see the practical and spiritual needs of refugees in our communities met through compassionate, meaningful, Christ-centered relationships with the local Church

MISSION

To educate, equip, and mobilize the Church to bridge socio-cultural gaps between Christians and refugees so that refugees can know the hope of Christ through words and deeds of compassion.

SERVICES

Gateway helps refugees start over, many of them survivors of severe trauma, with donated furniture, pocket money, groceries, baby showers, job assistance, language lessons, and more. Most important, perhaps, Gateway trains volunteers and churches to adopt refugee families, the point where friendships form and assimilation begins.

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Book review: Authors trace history of Middle East, ISIS’ formation

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By Cynthia Northrop
Special to Inside The Pew

In light of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., it is more critical than ever to be informed aboutISIS Crisis the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Proverbs 19:2 says it this way, “Desire without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way.” As news reports drift farther from reporting and closer to slanted commentary from myriad perspectives, it is helpful to include other sources to help understand and guide us as we pray.

If you want a brief, easy-to-understand primer on the Middle East then go pick up the book, The ISIS Crisis: What You Really Need to Know by Charles H. Dyer and Mark Tobey (Moody Publishers, $10.39). In a short and smart 136 page read you will gain perspective on the history, religion and politics of the Middle East players; the difference between the Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims, trace the history of the Ottoman and Assyrian empires and discover the genesis of Al-Qaeda and its metamorphosis to ISIS.

From that vantage point the authors seamlessly connect the dots through the economic and political motivations and clearly present the struggle for oil and water and the overall implications for end-time prophesy from a biblical perspective minus the fear-mongering hyperbole.

As American’s we tend to get caught up and consumed in the everyday rat-race of life; raising families, playing the chauffeur and fighting congested roads to get to work and school. Our technological society has gained us precious little time and the information age we live in has reduced our news to a limited perspective and controversial sound-bits.

It’s no wonder the complexities of the endless conflicts in the Middle East are beyond us save for the blip on the radar screen known at 9-11 when it came to American shores. As the authors link history and the underlying religious and political motivations they quote Saddam Hussein’s observation of the same, “Americans are foolish. They don’t understand anything in the world. They never travel. They don’t know anything outside the area.”

Thankfully, the authors have made it easy and convenient for us to get up to speed, examining how the outcome inCynthia Northrop dividing the spoils (of land) after World War I set the stage for the rise of the Mujahedeen from Afghanistan, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda in Iraq and ISIS, or as President Obama refers to ISIL which stands for the Islamic State and Iraq and Levant, which the authors explain, “The Levant is an early geographical term referring to the land between Egypt and Turkey, which today includes Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.”

Erwin Lutzer, senior pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, concludes his remarks in the forward of the ISIS Crisis by sharing a most compelling need to read the book, “The third and most compelling reason to read this book is that all of these events are discussed against the background of the Scriptures.” Although the authors do not believe that the antichrist will arise out of the Islamic religion, we are treated to a general framework of Middle East prophecy. No surprise to us, it is clear that in the end, Jesus win! ISIS represents a crisis for us, but not for the One who will be declared King of kings and Lord of lords.”

Cynthia Northrop, of Dallas, is owner of Northrop Communication, and author of Make a Difference: Navigating the Maze of Local Government.

Copyright © 2015 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

Bradshaw: Bragging rights

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Editor’s note: No. 1 Clemson defeated South Carolina, 37-32, on Nov. 28.

By Sherry Bradshaw
Special to Inside The Pew

As I write this blog…I am sitting in my bed…fire going…listening to the hustle and bustle in our home as everyone gets ready for the Clemson-South Carolina game. Biggest game ofSherry Bradshaw the year in most South Carolinians hearts…if they are honest… 🙂

Yes, I am a Clemson graduate and a Clemson fan…of course I am. Since I married a former USC football player some ask if I am still a Clemson fan. In my mind I say, “Really?” and wonder why they would think I am not a Clemson fan. After years of being asked this question I have come to the conclusion that because I live in Columbia, and don’t go to every Clemson game, and I don’t heckle people about “whose team is better,” many others have concluded that I must have “crossed over!”

To set the record straight–always have been and always will be a Clemson fan. But I can honestly say that my identity does not rest there. In fact, having our identity wrapped up in what team you pull for or what school you go to or graduated from is absurd to me. I am not at all saying “don’t be a fan or be proud of your school choice!” By all means be a huge fan, supporter and cheerleader for your school…nothing at all harmful about that.

But when it defines you…
your happiness meter is based on wins and losses and
it separates you from being friends with people who don’t see things the way you do…
then there is a REAL PROBLEM in my opinion…
that is when…we need to check the “idol status” in our lives.

Yes, I do love my team and my school. I have observed something over the last 5 or 6 years. I have found it interesting to watch how people, on both sides of the fence, act when their school is on top or on bottom. I have watched, in particular, some of the biggest fans for Clemson and South Carolina as the successes of both schools have varied drastically in the last couple of years.

I especially love to see who wears their colors after the game in the weeks to follow and who still flies their flags. Is it based on wins? Or true love no matter the outcome? I can honestly say that in the last few years of living in Columbia I wore my orange to the gym for four years straight after losing to South Carolina. Yes, on the Monday after the game I continued to sport my colors. My love meter didn’t rest in the win/loss tally.

Where am I going with this…..??????

Don’t let wins/losses determine your joy, your friends, your loyalty. Watch your words…your posts. Check your “idol meter!”

Of course idolatry can be many things…but “sports and the success of OUR team” is a big one. Funny…how hot and cold I have heard the same people be on Coach Spurrier and Coach Swinney.

Love one year and hate the next.

Wow…just Wow…the mentality: “I will love you now if you are winning.”

I am so glad I am not hated or loved by family and friends based on my performance. I encourage you first, to remain a “loyal and true fan to your school, win or loss”. Second, what really comes from boasting? Can’t we just let the record speak in any year without “showboating” like we were the ones who suited up and did the work?

Everyone is going to know the outcome and the score. Do we really have to “roar” or “cock-a-doodle-doo” when our team wins?

If you disagree…oh well…. just saying…… true peace, joy, and contentment in life isn’t at all derived from wins from your team. It is fleeting, not lasting at all. If you are a Clemson or a Carolina fan, just look at the last few years. Both have won and both have lost. What is your joy meter based on? Where does your joy come from?

I encourage you to look for joy and contentment in things that last….that aren’t fleeting. I encourage you to “re-purpose your fan-ship” into a growing and thriving relationship with Christ. One that could bring you to “raising your hands in worship on Sunday” instead of just in the “stands on Saturday”.

Six years ago it was apparent to me that I could not say I was a bigger fan of the Lord than Clemson if I treated one differently in my praise. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks….” (see Luke 6:45). I needed to examine my actions and I realized that when others looked at my life they would probably have said…”your actions are so LOUD…I can’t hear what you are saying!”

What is your heart? It will always overflow into your words and actions! Psalm 33:1, “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.”

Columbia, S.C. native Sherry Bradshaw is author of The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life (Life Bridge Books), and founder of Back 9 Ministries.

Vallot-Baskin: Woman. Warrior. Witness.   

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By Lori Vallot-Baskin
Special to Inside The Pew

We women prepare for the day by applying our makeup, fragrance, and clothing. We contour our faces to perfection, enhancing our God-Lori Vallot-Baskingiven beauty. We spray a fine mist of fragrance over our bodies and we adorn our frames with the right attire to complement our bold, beautiful, and bountiful curves. We take care to choose a shoe that speaks so that we do not have to. Our accessories are exquisite, leaving admirers and onlookers stunned. We spend hours on end achieving a flawless look, right? Imagine if we put this much effort into preparation for every aspect of lives.

Now that I have your attention, hello beautiful! Yes, you! Woman, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Woman, you are more than a conqueror. Being fearfully and wonderfully made and being more than a conqueror, comes with some responsibility as you might imagine. For instance, you must overcome forgetfulness. Unlike your lip-gloss or your mobile phone, your clutch, sweater or planner, there are some things that you just simply must not leave home without. We all do it, in a hurry, rush, or dash for the door; we realize we have left something important at home.

If you knew you were going into battle, wouldn’t you want the necessary tools and resources for the event? Well, there is a war going on and we, as warriors, must be equipped for battle at all times. You see, the media outlets will not show coverage of this war. You must simply be prepared for your time to battle should you be called. After all, we are revered for our strength, courage, and endurance. If you are up to the task

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17)

My prayer for you, my sisters, is that you face each day boldly, that you are equipped and clothed for battle. May God bless the women warriors who stand as living witnesses attesting to the might, power, and strength of our God. I pray that God clothes you with beauty, strength and dignity and that you are always ready to conquer the day no matter the war or how formidable the opponent in your way.

I am a woman. I am a warrior. I am a witness.

Lori Vallot-Baskin, founder of On Fire to Inspire is a speaker, mentor, vocation trainer and personal brand strategist with 10 years of experience. She is dedicated to impacting and inspiring women to identify their unique and God-given gifts and talents for use in the workplace, their communities, their churches, with their families and in their personal lives by a three-point strategy: Motivate. Educate. Empower. Visit Lori’s blog and connect with her on Facebook (On Fire to Inspire), Instagram (@onfire2inspire), and Twitter (@onfiretoinspire).

Woodlawn movie: racial strife, football, faith

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By Rusty Wright
Special to ASSIST News Service (ANS Movie Review)

MOUNT HERMON, Calif. – A nation too-often tarnished by racial conflict could use an inspiring film like this.

When I learned this movie involved Tony Nathan, I perked up.  As a longtime Miami Dolphins follower, I knew of his NFL exploits.  But I Woodlawn 1was unaware of his Woodlawn High School days in Birmingham, Ala., and the poignant story of how football and faith helped bring harmony among racial enemies.

Woodlawn skillfully portrays that 1973-74 tale.  Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are executive producers.

Picture Alabama on the heels of the Civil Rights era.  In his 1963 inaugural address, Alabama governor George Wallace had infamously proclaimed, “segregation now…segregation tomorrow…segregation forever.”

Three months later, in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King, Jr., had written, “…racial injustice engulfs this community.  Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States.”

Racial derision and harassment

Now, in 1973, Tony and other African American students find themselves bused to predominantly-white public schools, becoming theBear recruits Tony - ANS size

objects of derision and harassment.  Woodlawn football players who didn’t want to be teammates were thrown together.

Enter Hank a sports ministry worker who had experienced a spiritual transformation at Explo ’72, a Christian convention in Dallas that drew 80,000 people.  He was especially impressed by an evening session in the Cotton Bowl, where all attendees had small candles.

Billy Graham lit a candle, then passed the flame to another.  The flame spread until the stadium was ablaze with candlelight.  The event helped reinforce to Hank his own significance in God’s eyes.

Faith awakening

In the film, Hank (Sean Astin, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Rudy) persuades Woodlawn’s football coach Tandy Gerelds to let him speak to theHank - ANS size team.  He tells the team God can make a difference in their lives and invites them to place their faith in Jesus.  Over forty players take him up, and division gradually morphs into unity.  The team plays with fresh purpose and camaraderie.

Gerelds, a skeptic, observes this transformation and trusts Christ himself.  The real Tandy Gerelds later wrote of that decision, “The Lord came into my life…and gave me what He gave the players: love.”

Spiritual spark spreads

The spiritual spark spreads as students gather on campus for spontaneous interracial prayer for their school and city.  Players adopt the symbol and slogan of the era’s Jesus Movement – a raised forefinger signifying “One Way!”  The slogan derives from Jesus’ statement, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

The spark even reaches the coach and many players at Banks – a rival school – with powerful effect.  Players conditioned to hate each other become friends.  The film’s climax involves a showdown between Banks and Woodlawn, both undefeated.  The 1974 high school game drew 42,000 fans to Birmingham’s iconic Legion Field.

Football action

Football fans get plenty of gridiron action in this film.  Oscar winner Jon Voight plays legendary University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Team prayer - Web sizeBryant.  Actual game footage of Tony at Woodlawn and Alabama adds spice.  This Dolfan would have enjoyed at least one of his NFL clips.

I nominate January 2, 1982, the Orange Bowl.  Miami trails San Diego 24-10 in a playoff game.  Six seconds remain in the first half.  Dolphins’ ball on the Charger’s 40; no time outs left.  In a flash of brilliance … but, I digress.  Google “NFL films hook and lateral” (without quotation marks) to see it.

On another personal note, it’s encouraging to see Explo ’72’s ongoing impact.  I worked for the convention organizers.  My colleagues and I spent countless hours recruiting university students to attend.  Maybe Woodlawn can fan that same spiritual flame in a nation still deeply in need of racial healing.  It only takes a spark…Rusty Wright

Copyright © 2015 Rusty Wright

Photo captions: 1) Caleb Castille as prep superstar Tony Nathan. 2) John Voight as Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant recruiting Tony to ‘Bama. 3) Sean Astin as Hank, team chaplain. 4) Team pre-game prayer.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

‘I got tainted’: Justin Bieber’s monumental return to Jesus

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Justin Bieber

By Mark Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – In the last few years, singer-songwriter Justin Bieber’s bad-boy antics and run-ins with the law have alienated some of his Christian fan base and even led thousands to petition the White House to have the Canadian-born star deported. But recently, the 21-year-old pop sensation has reconsidered the error of his ways and made a stunning turnaround in his relationship with Christ.

In an interview with Joe La Puma for the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of COMPLEX conducted at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel, Bieber bares his soul about the dramatic restoration of his walk with Jesus.

“I forgot what I was about, what my mom raised me to be,” Bieber confessed to COMPLEX. “I veered off, and I got tainted. I came into the music industry at 13. I was trying to trust people and they’d break my heart at 15,” he says.

Bieber became disillusioned with people who took advantage of him. In response, he started to “do his own thing.”

“I got into a little bit of trouble,” he admits, “—nothing that other 20-year-olds don’t get into—just rebelling a little bit. Now, being 21, I’m coming into my own and around some pretty cool people who are not afraid to tell me what’s real.”

He says his behavior pushed the limits. “I was doing anything. I was doing so many things that I shouldn’t even be on the planet still. I think that it (my survival) was by the grace of God.”

During his time of rebellion, he says his manager, Scooter Braun always made sure he was safe and that situations didn’t escalate out of control. Sometimes Braun’s oversight as a “fixer” worked, and other times it backfired, he told COMPLEX.

The night he spent in jail was an unforgettable experience. “It’s freezing; it’s uncomfortable; there are people in there you just don’t want to be around. I had people who were yelling at me. They were saying, “Bieber! We f___ with you, bro! We love you! Aye! Keep your head up, bro!” It was kind of funny to hear that, especially from cats in jail.”

Bieber admits some people around him wanted him to rebel.

Following his epic break-up with Selena Gomez, his heart began to soften toward God. “Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. People have made it seem in movies that it’s this fairy tale. That’s not what love is.

“You’re not gonna want to love your girl sometimes but you’re gonna choose to love her,” he continued. “That’s something in life that I had to figure out. I can’t lean on people. I got to lean on God. I gotta trust in Him through all my situations. Then, hopefully, my other relationships will flourish around me.”

After his turbulent adolescence, he also began to reflect on the limits of science and his place in the universe. “For a ‘big bang; to create all this is more wild [cq] to think about than thinking about there being a God,” he told COMPLEX.

“Imagine putting a bunch of gold into a box, shaking up the box, and out comes a Rolex. It’s so preposterous once people start saying it. At this point, my faith has gotten me to where I am. My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith.”

Photo captions: 1) Bieber with Selena Gomez. 2) Justin praying with friends.

Mark Ellis is senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service and also the founder of Godreports, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions.