Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Group Studies - Chilling with my homies

The following are testimonies for the Bible Study entitled: Chilling with my homies

Homeless Guy: Member of a gang, attempted to murder a preacher

Nicky was only 3-1/2 years old when his heart turned to stone. As one of 18 children born to witchcraft-practicing parents from Puerto Rico, bloodshed and mayhem were common occurrences in his life. He suffered severe physical and mental abuse at their hands, at one time being declared the "Son of Satan" by his mother while she was in a spiritual trance.When he was 15, Nicky's father sent him to visit an older brother in New York. Nicky didn't stay with his brother long. Instead, full of anger and rage, he chose to make it on his own.

Tough, but lonely, by age 16 he became a member of the notorious Brooklyn street gang known as the Mau Maus (named after a bloodthirsty African tribe). Within six months he became their president. Cruz fearlessly ruled the streets as warlord of one of the gangs most dreaded by rivals and police. Lost in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and brutal violence, his life took a tragic turn for the worse after a friend and fellow gang member was horribly stabbed and beaten and died in Nicky's arms.As Cruz' reputation grew, so did his haunting nightmares. Arrested countless times, a court-ordered psychiatrist pronounced Nicky's fate as "headed to prison, the electric chair, and hell."No authority figure could reach Cruz - until he met a skinny street-preacher named David Wilkerson. He disarmed Nicky - showing him something he'd never known before: Relentless love. His interest in the young thug was persistent. Nicky beat him up, spit on him and, on one occasion, seriously threatened his life. Yet the love of God remained - stronger than any adversary Nicky had ever encountered.Finally, Wilkerson's presentation of the gospel message and the love of Jesus melted the thick walls of his heart. Nicky received the forgiveness, love and new life that can only come through Jesus. Since then, he has dedicated that life to helping others find the same freedom.
(For Nicky's complete, dramatic testimony, order your copy of Run Baby Run today.)


Muslim: Militant, trained to kill Christians

I live in the Middle East. I was born as a Muslim, and at the age of 18 I became a member of one of the Islamic groups, as I had a relative who was one of the leaders of this group. I thought I was doing everything I could for God as I knew him at this point.
After a short time I started to get some training in using guns and making explosives. I wasn't very comfortable with what I was doing - hurting people for God's sake. I thought that either I or the group had misunderstood the teachings of God. I started to study the Qur'an and the Hadith all over again, (with the help of one of the leaders of the group, without telling him my real reasons for studying) to see what I had missed. After a couple of years I was astonished at what I found. I found that Islam is not the peaceful path to God, as I used to believe; on the contrary, it's so violent.
I never considered myself leaving Islam for anything else, yet at this point I was sure that it wasn't leading me to God. I had a kind of breakdown for some time when I found that every thing I had believed in wasn't right; I started doing drugs, and not talking about God at all.
Then I met a Christian who didn't know much of the Christian theology but who was full of love to others, whatever and whoever they are. One of the [members of our group] said about him that he must be killed because he was Christian, yet this didn't stop [the Christian man from] loving this man. I asked this friend if I could have a copy of the Bible.
After starting to read the Bible I found a very big difference between what is actually written in the Bible and what I had heard people (Muslims and even nominal Christians) say about it.
I was really struck by one thing in the Bible, namely the teaching that no one is righteous but Jesus; even those who were called God's people like David, Jacob and Abraham, the twelve apostles - everyone has done something wrong. It took me some time till I finished the whole Bible. After about one year of hard struggle with myself, I decided that I wanted to follow God as He shows himself in Christ, not as anyone else says He is.
I prayed to Him and He was here; for the first time in my life I felt that God was here, and to say it was a very strange feeling for me would be an understatement. I was so happy, so sad. Happy to know he is here and sad for what I had missed. It felt very peaceful and I wanted this feeling to last for good. I still remember this very first time I prayed; I ran out of the room because for the first time in my life I felt the Presence of God. I have been following Him since then. He changed all my life. I went off drugs; I became a whole new person to every one that I know, but as I said before I live in the Middle East where every one thinks that he IS RIGHT and every one else is wrong, so I had some trouble with my family and they kicked me out of the house. As Jesus says "Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death" (Matthew 10:21) and that is what happed with me.
My father delivered me to the Security Forces and they arrested me and put me in prison for converting out of Islam. I had a very bad time there, as they tortured me to force me to return to Islam. They used electric shocks, beatings, and hanging me from my wrists all night. After few week of this I was put in solitary confinement for almost a year. But I couldn't deny the one that gave me life. Now I am out of jail and I have left my home country as I am still wanted there for apostasy from Islam. I am still walking with Jesus, and I love Him because He loved me first and put Himself on the cross for me. I knew from the very beginning that I was going to have some trouble; didn't He say about Paul "for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." (Acts 9:16)
Now I am free from everything. I have a lovely wife whom I met after getting out of prison, and who is supporting me in everything I do for God, but the most important thing for me is I have my eternal assurance that I am going to be with Him for ever, whatever might happen. And as a result I decided to spend my life telling people about his great love to us. As he ordered me "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9, 10)
Please feel free to write me if you want to know more.

Mother: Alcoholic

It was Feb. 21, 1988 10:00A.M.. I stood, outside my home, drinking orange juice mixed with white wine. Now days I was drinking a little over 1/2 gallon of wine per day. To say I was bewildered is an understatement. I felt numb or a better description is, I felt dead inside.
I had read every self help book around. I tried rejoining the church, [but] I was drinking more then ever and teaching Sunday school with a hangover. I was 40 years old and had now been drinking alcoholically for 20 years.

Why did I drink like this? I was a successful Real Estate Broker with all the material trappings that should make one happy and secure. Instead I was in a very unhappy 22 year old marriage. My two beautiful and gifted children age 16 & 19 were showing signs of alcohol and drug abuse. Everything seemed to be unraveling and I couldn t stop it. All of my positive thinking and affirmations seemed empty and lifeless. So as I stood looking at all my material possessions that February morning the void in my heart seemed unbearable and I wanted to die. I cried out to an unseen, unfelt, unknown God and said "if you are really there I need help. I can not do it by myself any more." The next day I attended the first of many AA meetings that were the beginning of my path to Christ.

I had to find Jesus Christ of the Bible. God had a plan. My family and I started family counseling trying to recover from the chaos my drinking had caused. I didn't know that the councilor was a Christian. She started praying for me and my family. At first it seemed like the more I recovered the sicker my kids and my marriage got. My family of origin, 2 brothers and a sister were also into drugs and alcohol. My nephew Steven came to live with us for a while. I didn t know that when he was 12 years old a neighbor family took him to church and he gave his heart to Jesus. Now at age 18 he realized that there was only one way for him to live an abundant life and that was to make Jesus lord of his life. He made that commitment when he was staying with us and began seeing our family counselor. I saw him change over the next months. He was excited and peaceful at the same time? There was a look of HOPE in his eyes that I knew I wanted. The end of that month Steve left for college but his prayers for me, along with our counselors prayers were being answered. All of a sudden I heard the Lord Jesus calling my name and I stopped to listen. I started asking my counselor and Steven questions and bought a Bible.

When I had been clean and sober for 3 years I was dismayed to see my marriage and my children were in worse shape than ever. My husband and I took a trip to Kailua-Kona Hawaii. We were going to try and rekindle our relationship. For no reason other then it was Gods plan, we decided to sell out in California and move to Hawaii. My daughter had already moved out and my son was going to leave for college. Neither of them was interested in moving to Hawaii. God placed me in a community of strong Christians and a group of mature Christian women began descipeling me and praying for my family. My children were not doing very well. My daughter was suffering from a dangerous eating disorder, drinking heavily, living in her car and dating an abusive man. She was very depressed over a second abortion. When she narrowly escaped serious injury in a drunk driving accident my counselor and my nephew Steven intervened and put her on a plane to Hawaii. The first six months she hooked up with a partying crowd and started cocktail waitressing in a bar. However our prayers prevailed and at the end of those 6 months she accepted Jesus as her savior and became a Christian. One of her boyfriends saw the difference immediately and asked to go to church with her. He also accepted Jesus and became a Christian and immediately quit a 7 year habit of smoking marijuana daily. My daughter Kim and this young man Josh went into missions in Washington state and Philadelphia for a year and when they returned they were married They now have 2 beautiful children .

When my husband and I moved to Hawaii we started a new retail furniture business. The day before our opening my husband fell off a ladder and crushed both of his heels His recovery has been very long and painful. During one of his 6 surgeries I was in need of help and asked my son to come and help me. My son had been living with a young woman but had recently broken that off and was now living in a camp ground. He was aimless and spent his time using drugs and going to rock concerts. He agreed to come and help me but wanted nothing to do with our religion and packed LSD in his suitcase. When he arrived in Hawaii he saw the difference in me and his sister. He was at a low point in his life and wanted to know how we knew our belief in Jesus was real? I told him our relationships with Christ were personal and he would have to seek the truth of Jesus himself. Well he did and within the month he became a Christian. Within a year he was married to a Christian girl. They spent 5 months on a honeymoon doing mission building for Youth With a Mission in Europe. Now my son works with us at our furniture store. He has a 2 year old daughter and another on the way.

Because of the difference Christ has made in our family, my mother, brother a nephew and a niece have become Christians. For a while my husband stayed on the sidelines watching his family change. My husband is a good man and didn t see a need for a savior for himself. Some of our sins are not as glaring as others and his were more hidden sins of deceit, manipulation and unforgiveness. However our prayers prevailed and my husband was baptized 3 years ago. As a family we survived what appeared to be insurmountable odds only by the Grace of God. My husband and I just celebrated our 32 wedding anniversary. I also celebrated 11 years clean and sober. My children are clean and sober and my sister just celebrated her 1 year wedding anniversary. Our lives are not trouble free. We daily face challenges just like everyone else. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
There is much more to tell you. How God turned our misery around and has used our life experiences to minister to other alcoholics, homosexuals, failing marriages and on and on. The Bible says "to whom much has been forgiven, they will love much" This is true of our family and I give you this testimony to encourage you to give Jesus Christ your life.

Aloha Ke Akua,Linda Fite


Prostitute: Has had three abortions

My mother and father migrated to New York from the Caribbean looking to get out of their small town. Uneducated, they found themselves mixing with the wrong crowds and soon their lifestyle was filled with drugs, alcohol and violence. As a child growing up in that environment, life was very unpredictable. Every day was a different drama, causing my siblings and me to live in fear. My mom eventually divorced my father and remarried, but my father never accepted the divorce. He was always causing conflict and strife within the family…He would show up drunk and threaten to hurt my mom. Many times we had to call the police to get him out. I remember everyone being afraid of him. Living with him felt like being in a prison.

I used dancing and music to fade out the noise in my environment. I loved to dance. That was my outlet. I would turn up the music and dance until I dropped. My mother managed to put me into ballet school and I dreamed of one day becoming a ballerina. I took lessons, but with all the moving and instability I just couldn't stay focused. Without real support, I never developed the discipline to become a professional ballet dancer. I was left with broken dreams and became resentful of my parents.

In my teen years my mom pretty much vanished. She made sure we had food, clothing and shelter, but she was doing her own thing. I was left alone to raise my sister and myself, so I started to experiment with sex and drugs to take away the loneliness.

By 14 years old I got pregnant and had my first abortion. A neighborhood friend raped me at 16, leaving me feeling betrayed and fearful. This experience really altered the direction of my life. I began looking for love in abusive relationships. By 18 I had gotten pregnant two more times and had abortions. It was very painful, but I couldn't see myself having children. Abortion was how I solved all of my problems. I was very promiscuous and didn't trust anybody out on the streets. I hopped around from one relationship to another, searching for someone who would protect me from the storm and take away the pain.

By the time I turned 25, I had had enough of my destructive lifestyle. I was at a crossroad in life. I was searching for a way out of the hell. I was living at the Hell's Angels Club House, a bikers club in New York City. I was dabbling in witchcraft, trying to find some peace. But I ended up in even more confusion. I couldn't escape my past. It was like living a bad nightmare. I became an abuser and everybody who crossed my path left wounded and victimized. I wanted everyone to pay for the rape, abuse, abortions and neglect. I was at rock bottom and headed right toward the path to prostitution.

One day a person came -- a girl stopped me in the street and invited me to a Bible study. That same girl, her name was Angel, later came to my house and began studying the Bible with me. She showed me the way out of hell through a relationship with Jesus. A year later I surrendered my life to Christ. That was ten years ago. Out of all the bad decisions I've made, giving my life to Christ has proven to be the best decision. Change is a process and it took many years to be set free from old habits, but with God I made it!

Now I have all the love, support and security I need. I can feel, cry and love myself. I couldn't do those things without Christ. I was self-destructive and now I’m productive. In, Christ I have divine protection, wisdom and boundaries. I love that I now have a guide to help me deal with life’s challenges. I’m not alone, even when everyone is gone -- he stays! I love Jesus because he is the Father I never had growing up. He has healed my broken heart, giving back my dreams and forgiving me from the past.

Today the most valuable thing I have is the peace I've found through my relationship with Christ. I have peace with my past, my enemies, my abusers, my family and most of all, myself. Nothing in the world can compare to God's peace. I’m now a godly wife, mother, and speaker. When I take my 5-year-old daughter to ballet class, I stop and say to God, "Thank you for giving me a second chance at life." • Learn more about Michelle's ministry - Soaring Higher Ministries.


Boy Raised in Church: Drank and did drugs in high school

Permalink Posted by: Jonno at 9:54PM EST on May 31, 2007
Christ changed my life in so many ways. I was born and raised in church. Like many others, I was a church baby; I grew up going to Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible Study. My dad was on the board of trustees, and my mom was a Bible Study teacher. As I grew older I began to play clarinet. I also sang in the children’s and youth choirs. I was one of those kids that knew all of the answers to those Bible trivia questions. You know, those questions like, “Who was fed by ravens?” or “Who built the temple?”

I knew church life, and knew so much about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. It really wasn’t until I was about 14 or 15 when I started to explore. I explored different types of secular music. Later I explored alcohol and tried weed. That was all short lived, because I would drink, but wouldn’t get drunk, and I would toke up, but wouldn’t get high.

I was sitting in the balcony of my church, listening to a slender white guy singing soulfully, with a raspy voice, and playing a silver trumpet. The guy could play. Being a musician myself, I tuned into the man’s testimony as he shared about his prior drug addictions. I felt the anointing in his music. The Lord used Phil Driscoll’s ministry to change direction, and set me on a path towards a musical career.

I gave my life to the Lord…for real this time.

I started recording with my brother, and started to minister in music at other churches. I began getting calls to come play here and minister there. I thought that I wanted to be a Christian artist/musician. I continued in this vein for some time. I began to meet and befriend prominent people in Gospel music.

Over the next dozen-plus years I have received more confirming words from pastors, bishops, and evangelists. Each word brought more clarity and encouragement. The word “worship” began to gain in significance.

Now, I have come to a fuller understanding of what it is to be a worshipper. I have come to better understand my purpose. I no longer have the desire to be an “artist” rather a worshipper or worship leader. I consider everything that I do, every word I sing, every note I play, every principle I teach to be acts of worship. I encourage you to find the worshipper in you, and max it for all it’s worth.


Hindu: Taught to worship idols and statues

I was born and brought up from an orthodox Brahmin, Hindu family. I used to worship idols and images as other Hindus do.

Nonetheless, I did not have any peace in my heart. In addition, I used to get severe headaches. Sometimes, it persisted for a long time and the pain was unbearable. Although my father who was a medical doctor treated me well, my headaches were agonizing.

Even specialists could not help me. One of my hobbies was in reading books, especially novels. One day, I was searching for some books to read from my father¡¯s shelf. In the midst of his books, I found a very old copy of the New Testament. I started to read from the Gospel of Matthew. While I was reading, I began to question, "Who is true God? If Christ is the true God, He must bring right personal to tell me more about Jesus".

Undoubtedly, I was expecting an answer. The next day, an old couple from Tamil Nadu who spoke Tamil (my mother tongue) came to our house. They were sharing the Gospel with my father. Gradually, I joined in and asked a few questions about Christ. That very day, I accepted Jesus and the couple asked me to confess my sins. While I was asked to kneel down for prayer I saw Jesus on the Cross-. He told directly "Daughter, Your sins are forgiven." Immediately, I was filled with the Holy Ghost. What¡¯s more, my incurable headache was gone that very moment. Furthermore, the peace I was longing for was overflowing from my heart. As time passed, I was able to share the Gospel with my sister, brothers and my parents. Since 1989, I dedicated to the Lord and Savior Jesus and His ministry.


Single Guy: Homosexual

Permalink Posted by: trendyjesusboy at 2:17AM EST on May 12, 2007

At first i didnt even know they were gay feelings. I grew up a Christian in a Christian family - we had all asked Jesus into our hearts & were dedicated to our church & to God, so what could POSSIBLY go wrong?! I wonder how many other Christians have ever asked that....
[Home life was almost perfect. But] within that perfect time, there were many things that didn't add up to perfection. Personally, I was molested by a so-called family friend, a guy we called 'uncle Bud'. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time, but it has had reverberations ever since. It doesn't have to be violent to be crushing.

My parents…divorced when I was 13, and suddenly to add to the weight, I was the 'man' of the family. It was too much. I turned inward, and kept a distant from everyone, especially men. I became like an indoor cat - safe, yet isolated. We lived with my mom and 'didn't trust men' so my normal need for male mentoring became a kind of general loathing & a secret desire of desperation. And of course, 'desperate people do desperate things'.It also was what set me up to crave male companionship - normal cravings that were denied by: my situation, my insecurities, my lack of self-worth, my self-hatred, my…deep needs. At college, I met the 'perfect' guy, felt guilty & yet compelled to him, and he…responded equally. Looking back, it was God who kept showing me all along that there was the way He wanted my life to be, and then the way I craved it to be. I chose *my* way then.
I resigned that despite the crushing label, I was 'gay'. I now say 'gay identified' - b/c first, 'you are you', and you are made in the image of God - above any label. Like anyone who REALLY meets God, I had to get REAL with God. I decided to follow Him, but on one condition: He'd have to deal with *ALL* my baggage - I wasn't going to let ANY of it hide ANYMORE. I got serious with Him. And with myself. Every bit of me was surrendered now. And next, I had to receive His Love - and receive it OVER & OVER &OVER. I also had to find people…to be vulnerable to. It was so refreshing!!!
I still would struggle, but the Lord told me once that my male attractions only exposed my unmet need for male companionship: they're not wrong, just desperate feelings mixed with fantasy. When I connected honestly with guys on a personal level - past the "news, sports & weather" (sometimes called a 'wall of words'), I'd find a satisfaction that rightly filled that desperate feeling. I saw them as people and not objects. A big, solid step.
And when I'd step out trusting God, He would flood me with exactly what I needed…I hope this makes sense & helps everyone who reads it. "Just spread the love He give to You."

In Him, ~Tom


Physician: Addicted to Pornography

by Anonymous*

I am a family physician in Edmonton, Alberta. I am also a sex addict. I do not recall ever choosing to be the way I am, but my earliest pre-sexual memories are of watching “Tarzan” on television. I felt a deep, inexplicable thrill at the scantily clad women on this show, whose helplessness necessitated weekly rescue. I was drawn to these images of power and suffering — they filled me with a longing and excitement for which I had no name.

My self-esteem, which was never good to begin with, took a beating [because I was never good in athletics or popular]…My fantasy world became a safer refuge. I discovered masturbation at the same time I discovered soft-core pornography. It had an almost drug-like effect on me. This powerful source of pleasure combined with my cauldron of insecurity, self-hatred and loneliness created a firestorm of emotions I could neither understand nor control.

The jaws of addiction's trap were about to snap shut. I have read of the experience a heroin user has the first time he takes a “hit” — that's what I felt the first time I read a pornographic book. I felt at peace. In reality, I had just taken an enormous leap toward losing my soul. I had come to believe that I was a bad person, that no one could possibly like me if they really knew me, and that I could not rely on anyone else to meet my needs — the most important of which was sex.

To help cope with these beliefs, I entered a helping profession — a common pursuit for people like me. Medicine is particularly appealing with its blend of status, power and healing nature, and to my great satisfaction, I was quite good at it. Yet my addictive behaviors were never far away, and I returned time and again to pornography in times of stress or to relax. My loneliness finally drove me to trust a woman — the one who became my wife. She was honest and had an infectious zest for life. She was a Christian, I was not. We had vigorous arguments about religion and finally agreed to not talk about it, though I was keenly aware that in her faith she had something I did not.

After our son was born, my wife attended church regularly with him. I stayed home and fed my addiction, without my wife's knowledge. With the advent of the Internet, I became adept at downloading the pornography I craved, often staying up all night doing this. The hours I wasted were taking their toll, and my life became increasingly unmanageable. I loathed the filth I created, promising each time would be the last, and I lived in terror of being found out by my wife. I hated the lies that were necessary to cover up my detested secret life. I contemplated suicide, thinking that killing myself was preferable to living with the monster that was overpowering me.

When my wife insisted that I attend church on Easter 1992, I grudgingly agreed. And while sitting in church that Sunday, I heard a message of Jesus' love I hadn't heard before. At that moment, my 33-year-old soul battered and empty, I accepted Christ. I believed that with my newfound faith my 20-year-old behaviors were conquered. But they remained. I was, at turns, both angry with my new Friend for not removing them as I had earnestly asked and remorseful at breaking His rules I had pledged to obey. The fall backward convinced me that I was too unlovable and bad for even God to help. Suicide seemed the only way out.

At a men's retreat, a pastor courageously recounted his struggles with sexual addiction and pornography, as well as his 12-step recovery program. It was the first time I saw my problem as addiction. I sought the pastor and told him about my twisted life. I sobbed with shame as I confessed all that I had done before God, recognizing I had nowhere else to turn. Once a week, my pastor friend-turned-sponsor helped me walk through my own 12-step program.

I have been in solid recovery for more than two years. Granted, it's been the hardest thing I have ever done, but my marriage is deeper, my faith in God a joy, and I am a far better doctor than I was before. In fact, I find myself reaching out with compassion to addicts, people I previously did not understand. Their shattered lives, healed with Christ's love, are an ongoing source of wonder for me.

*Due to the nature of this testimony, Physician has agreed to keep in confidence the identities of those involved.
Copyright © 2002 Focus on the Family. This article originally appeared in the September/October 1999 issue of Physician magazine.



Beal said...

Thanks Ned, I saw this idea in GROUP, I think I am gonna use it...

Unknown said...

Likewise. I was preaching on Matthew 9 tomorrow anyway and your plan gives me a chance to involve more people in a way that may, just may, move past the barriers to faith and true commitment to Jesus.

More, more, we want more. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ned, I too saw your idea on GROUP, I believe it will be awesome for my youth