Worth the Hardship

Topics: HARDSHIP, PERSEVERANCE

Bible Verses: Revelation 2:3, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17


C. Everett Koop, was sworn in as surgeon general of the United States January 21, 1982 and served in that post for eight years. The Christian pediatric surgeon was a vocal opponent of abortion on demand. He once told of a family whose severely handicapped child he delivered and helped to keep alive after birth. He wrote, "I asked the child's mother, 'What's the worst thing that ever happened to you?'"

"She said, 'Having our son Paul born with defects that required thirty-seven operations to correct.'

"Then I asked, 'What's the best thing that ever happened to you?'

"She said, 'Having our son Paul born with defects that required thirty-seven operations to correct.'"

Koop goes on to explain: "I know what she means. It's been terribly hard on them, but, through the experience, they've grown enormously as a family. They've had a remarkable spiritual reawakening. One of their sons is now in law school planning to defend the rights of the handicapped. Paul has now had fifty-five operations, with one more scheduled. Despite the hardships, it's been an overwhelmingly positive experience for them."

Persecution Today

Topics: FAITHFUL, PERSECUTION

Bible Verses: Revelation 2:10, Matthew 10:22


In 1995, Damare was captured by Islamic soldiers when his Sudanese village was attacked. Only 7 years old at the time, he was sold as a slave to a Muslim family. He became a camel boy even though he knew nothing about caring for them. His master enforced his learning with beatings. One day a camel got away. The master threatened to kill Damare for this mistake, but something restrained him. The next day when he found out that Damare had sneaked away to attend a Christian church in the village he became determined to punish this boy.

The master found a large board, several rusty spikes and a hammer and dragged Damare out to the edge of his compound. He forced Damare's legs over the board and drove the long nails through his knees and feet. Then he turned and walked away, leaving the boy laying in the field screaming from pain.

A man passing that way heard Damare's screams and sneaked into the compound and carried this boy to the local hospital where the nails and board were removed. A year-and-a-half later, Damare and the man who saved him were in a village that came under attack, and they were separated. After the defense forces managed to drive away the Islamic soldiers, Damare was left standing alone. When the commander heard him speak, he realized that he was from the Dinka Tribe and took him back to their camp. After hearing his tragic story he tried to locate some of Damare's relatives. When none could be found, the commander adopted the former camel boy and took him to his home.

At age 16 years old, Damare began life again in Mario Kong, Sudan. He cannot run fast like the other boys, but he said he has forgiven the man who nailed his legs to the board. He knows that Jesus was nailed to a cross so all our sins could be forgiven. He has asked the Christian children in America to remember to pray for the children of Sudan.

A Man Named "They"

Topics: NAME

Bible Verses: Revelation 2:17, 2 Corinthians 5:17


As an inventor, Andrew Wilson holds the patent on 14 different products. Now he's licensed something else that is uniquely his. In September 2004, a county judge granted Wilson's request to change his name to "They." It's just "They", no surname. He also has changed his driver's license to reflect his new name.

Immediately, the 43-year-old self-employed inventor, was on a first name basis with the entire world.

One reason the single man from Branson, Missouri, made the switch was to have a little fun. "I was just having a good time," They said. "Life is short, and you should try to find a way to make yourself smile."

Cindy Gosa, They's insurance agent, offered another reason. "They likes to stand out from the crowd," she said. They has achieved both, for now. The name is still a novelty, and They's friends are having fun with it, phoning him to ask, "Is They there?"

They admits that the name change could drive grammarians crazy. But other than the violence his new name does to the English language, They sees only positive effects from turning a ubiquitous pronoun into his moniker. "There are thousands of Andrew Wilsons," They said. "They won't likely have a problem with mistaken identity."

He also sees the change as an opportunity to take credit for countless actions, both good and bad, people refer to every day. "'They do this,' or 'They're to blame for that.' Who is this 'they' everyone talks about? 'They' accomplish such great things. Somebody had to take responsibility," They said.

The Dead Man Next Door

Topics: ALIVE, DEAD

Bible Verses: John 5:25, Revelation 3:1


One November day in 2002, Jim Sulkers, a 53-year-old retired municipal worker from Winnipeg, Canada climbed into bed, pulled the covers up, and died. Twenty-one months later, on August 25, 2004, police who had been called by concerned relatives entered Sulkers' apartment and found his body in a mummified state. Everything else in his tidy one-bedroom apartment was intact, although the food in his fridge was spoiled and his wall calendar was two years out of date.

Mr. Sulkers' death went undiscovered for several reasons: he was reclusive, estranged from family members, and had a medical condition that prevented his body from decomposing and emitting odors. In addition, automatic banking deposited his disability pension and withdrew utilities and other expenses as they came due.

Terence Moran, who along with Neil Postman co-founded the Media Ecology program at New York University, said, "For many practical purposes, this man was virtually alive throughout that time. This man's life was extended for two years by the technology he used. Postman would have said that what you have here is a lack of community."

Hear His Voice

Topics: CALLING, SALVATION

Bible Verses: Deuteronomy 30:20, Revelation 3:20


On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon. Police officer Isaac Hoopii was nearby but outside the building during the crash. Disregarding his own life, he entered the building and started finding survivors. One woman's skin was peeling so he hoisted her on his broad shoulders. Another woman was missing her shoes, so he carried her. Her mouth and nose were black, and she was in shock. "You are alive," he reassured her. He wanted to go deeper into the blackness. Someone yelled at him to stop. "We gotta get people," he shouted back. He was going on pure adrenaline. The smoke was suffocating, and he heard the building cracking. But he pressed on to the "D" ring corridor. That's when he heard the desperate voices. Wayne Sinclair and five coworkers crawled over the rubble and out of their office, 50 to 75 feet from where the plane hit. The hallway was so black, they lost all sense of direction. Only Hoopii's deep mellow voice guided them. "Head toward my voice. Head toward my voice," he called. Huddled closely together, they followed it. Hoopii's voice led them out of the building, but Sinclair and the others never saw whom it belonged to. Hoopii was already back helping others.

Hungry For Christ

Topics: EVANGELISM, MISSIONS

Bible Verses: Revelation 5:9, Revelation 7:9


In 1946, Albania became a republic with a communist government after a guerrilla struggle led by Enver Hoxha. Hoxha imposed a Stalinist system with rural collectivization, industrial nationalization, central planning, and one-party control. Mosques and churches were closed in an effort to create the 'first atheist state'. Practicing religion was prohibited by the Albanian government from 1967 to 1990.

After Hoxha's death in 1985, Albania slowly began opening its doors.

In 1991 students from the University of Tirana, Albania gathered on the campus and marched to the center square of Tirana. It was there that they led the rally that would bring democracy to Albania.

When the wall came down, it was discovered that Albania had no "underground" church during the communist years. Missiologists met to seek a cooperative effort to introduce Christ to Albania. This group, representing many missions groups and various church denominations and very familiar with Eastern Europe, could only number 13 known believers in a population of 3 million in Albania.

One of the first groups to enter Albania was Campus Crusade for Christ. In 1992, Campus Crusade for Christ was given permission to show the Jesus Film. Over 2,000 people attended, including top government officials. From that crowd, 700 people personally invited Jesus Christ into their hearts to Christ. Since that time, Campus Crusade for Christ has shown the film in some 2000 villages with more than 22,000 people giving their lives to the Lord through that ministry.

Making Things Right

Topics: REPENTANCE

Bible Verses: 2 Corinthians 7:10, Revelation 9:20-21


In September 1998, Daniel Crocker was a middle class family man living in Virginia. He had a wife and two kids and a good job as a warehouse manager. But Crocker had a dark secret: In 1979, he had taken LSD and marijuana and had killed a nineteen year old Kansas woman named Tracy Fresquez.

The guilt of murdering Tracy increased through the years. Daniel turned to the Lord for forgiveness and became a Christian. He became active in his church and started working in the church's prison ministry.

One day after Daniel returned home from a prison visit, he prayed with his wife, Nicolette.

Daniel then began planning how to go about surrendering to the authorities. For assistance, he turned to the Reverend Al Lawrence, a Prison Fellowship staff member and assistant pastor of a local church.

Lawrence explained why Crocker confessed to the crime: "[Crocker's] faith told him he had to deal with that part of his life that he's been skirting over the years."

For Crocker, the hardest part was telling his children, nine year-old Isaac and eight-year old Analiese, why he had to leave them. As the children tearfully begged him not to go, Crocker, himself in tears, told them: "I have to do this. I'd be a hypocrite if I raised you by the Word of God and I didn't [turn myself in]."

The Comical Accuser

Topics: ACCUSER

Bible Verses: Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:10


In April 2003, as the coalition forces began their final push into Baghdad, Mohammed al-Sahhaf, Iraq's Minister of Information, daily refuted clear evidence that Iraq was losing the war. On April 6, after coalition forces seized Baghdad's Saddam Airport, renamed it Baghdad International Airport, started flying planes in, and ventured into Baghdad itself, the Miami Herald quoted al-Sahhaf saying, "We butchered the force present at the airport."

On April 7, after U.S. troops penetrated central Baghdad and stormed Saddam's Republican Palace, the Washington Post quoted al-Sahhaf saying, "There is no presence of the American columns in the city of Baghdad at all... We besieged them, and we killed most of them."

Al-Sahhaf delivered press conferences so wildly hysterical and unglued from reality that even Egyptian sympathizers of Iraq referred to him as "comic relief". American forces called him "Comical Ali" for his efforts to explain away coalition force victories.

On April 9, al-Sahhaf tried to reach his office, but it had been taken over by the Americans. He was reported to have hidden in a radio studio in Baghdad until April 10, a day after the former dictator's statue was toppled in the heart of the capital. He then went into hiding.

In June, American forces captured al-Sahhaf. A senior coalition source said: "He has some serious talking to do this time."

Knowing Who's Lying

Topics: LYING

Bible Verses: Psalm 15:1-2, Revelation 14:5


The vast majority of people don't notice those flickers of falsehood, but University of San Francisco psychology professor Maureen O'Sullivan has found a few that can find the fibbers nearly every time.

Of 13,000 people tested for the ability to detect deception, "we found 31, who we call "geniuses", who are usually able to tell whether the person is lying, whether the lie is about an opinion, how someone is feeling or about a theft," she said.

O'Sullivan discussed her findings in October 2004 at the American Medical Association's 23rd Annual Science Reporters Conference.

"It's taken us about 15 years to find these people because there are only about one in a thousand who have these skills," O'Sullivan said. O'Sullivan and her research partner, Paul Ekman, of the University of California, San Francisco, first began studying facial expressions related to lying in the 1980s. Today their work focuses on the skills of especially acute observers and how they got that way. To qualify as a "genius," observers have to show at least 80 percent accuracy on O'Sullivan's lie detecting tests.

Certain groups, such as Secret Service agents or arbitrators used to observing peoples' reactions to their tactics, score better than average at discerning liars. She cautioned that even the best of them is not 100 percent accurate.