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Faith

The Incredible Testimony of a Former Gang Member Turned Street Gospel Preacher

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America’s urban communities are ravaged daily by violent street gangs, but stories like that of former gang leader and mixed martial arts fighter Rene “Level” Martinez remind us that nothing, and no one, is bigger than our heart-changing God.
The streets Martinez once terrorized as a gang member he now walks a peaceful man, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like too many of America’s young people, Martinez grew up without a father, and his mother was “in the streets,” he said in an interview with CBN News.

For Martinez, life started out hard not just socially, but spiritually. “My mom was into Santería,” he added, “which is like a form of witchcraft, sacrificing animals all over me as a kid, and I started seeing demons. They haunted me my whole life.”

Before even entering high school, Martinez had already embarked on a life of crime, and by 1990, he’d been initiated into Florida’s gang scene.

“We had almost like 300 members and feds were investigating us,” he said of the gang he started in 1990, known as the Latin Syndicate. “Half of my homies are in prison. Half of them are dead.”

Still, God wasn’t done allowing Level to experience the depths of depravity gang life can offer. His life would be threatened and miraculously spared several times over.

“I remember the time the gun jammed in my face,” he shared. “I remember the time the bullet grazed my head. The other time the bullet whistled by my ear. The times I was running through the backyard and they were shooting at me. All the times I got shot at. All the times I was half-dead, but I was still alive.”

Later on in life, and after starting a family, Level traded a life of criminal violence for a career in professional violence as a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.

“I was always good at fighting,” Martinez explained. “I started fighting bare-knuckle with Kimbo Slice. I was beating everybody bare-knuckle; we’re betting money in the backyards, bare-knuckle, I’m winning.”

“My name got so big that Telemundo came and they offered me a pro contract,” he added. “I went to Nicaragua beat the three-time world champion, Ricardo Mayorga.”

Even though Level had abandoned the criminal life, he was still a spiritually-dead man walking: “I had the money. I had the fame. I was doing the gangster music. But I was empty inside.”

But, like so many sons, he was reached by the power of his mother’s prayers after she herself became a Christian.
Finally, in 2016, Level had a radical encounter with God that literally brought him to his knees. “It’s like he showed me my whole life in a matter of like five seconds,” he said.

“I just got on my knees. I started crying out to God. And when He spoke to me, I knew that if I didn’t surrender, I felt like I was going to die.”

Now, just over two years later, Level is back on the streets, but not as a thug spreading violence and fear. Now, he’s “giving them life…”

“Now I’m giving them Jesus,” he said. “I tell them ‘repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’, Acts 2:38. That’s what I preach.”

Level’s incredible ministry, which has a heavy focus on reaching criminals and gang members with the saving power of the gospel of Jesus, has already begun to bear fruit: “A lot of people come to Christ cause of my testimony and I’m just honored to be used by God.”

“It’s a privilege and honor to be used by him. He could have chosen anybody else,” he said. “I could have been one of the people that died early. But I’m still here and I’m grateful.”

 

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Faith

Argentine Photographer Captures INCREDIBLE Image of Christ-Like Cloud

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christ cloud

It cannot be denied that our world is in the midst of turmoil unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. From Birmingham to Beijing, we are seeing unprecedented poverty, crime, hate, violence, war, famine….you name it.  Combine these issues with a mainstream media who is salivating at the chance to rile us up for ratings and money, and the world becomes a downright scary place. Where do we turn when the world seems to shun us?  For some, the answers lie in the bottom of a bottle.  For others, it’s self-harm or outward violence. For many, however, their faith is their rock.  They turn to the religious world for answers to the questions that plague us today, and, often, they discover signs of encouragement. Such is the case today in Argentina. Monica Aramayo was in San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina when she noticed the holy figure shining through the thick clouds Social media user Mariela Romano said: “The Lord will soon come for us all and we should be ready. While another said: “Thanks for the image that allows us to keep on our path and have a better hope for tomorrow.” The photo has to be seen to be believed. https://twitter.com/faithdefender/status/1128809009153097728 The pose and grand scale of the image has reminded many observers of the famous Christ The Redeemer statue in Brazil. https://twitter.com/OtravelAI/status/1082513665700507648 And while the cloud formation certainly isn’t going to change the minds of the unfaithful, it does provide us all with a reminder that we are loved, and we must remain harmonious with one another on this turbulent little space rock.

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Faith

Former Pope Blames ‘Swingin’ Sixties’ for Catholic Church’s Cesspool of Pedophilia

The Catholic Church is again attempting to blame their rampant pedophilia on the outside world.

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Pope Benedict

The high pontiffs of the Catholic Church would make fantastic dodgeball players. Given just how well they’ve avoided taking the blame for, or properly reacting to, the disturbing prevalence of pedophilia among their ranks, there is little doubt that these purposefully-ignorant would be able to dodge just about anything. The problem is obtuse, obvious, and ostensibly disgusting.  There are literally thousands upon thousands of young children who have been sexualized by Catholic priests over the course of several decades in all corners of the globe.  The problem is not isolated at all, and the only common factor between these horrific crimes is that they occurred at the hands of the Catholic Church. If the entire world got sick from eating a certain food, we would stop eating that food.  In the case of the Catholic Church, the children of the world are being undeniably harmed by their religious leaders in habitual and systemic acts of pedophilia, yet the leaders at The Vatican continue to ignore and obfuscate the truth. Now, one former Pope is even blaming the cultural revolution of the 1960’s for the issue. Emeritus Pope Benedict has emerged from his cone of silence to offer a personal analysis of the clerical sex abuse crisis, citing the sexual revolution, a corruption of moral theology, and the formation of “homosexual cliques” in seminaries as causes of the problem. Benedict says that he felt compelled to contribute to a response to the present situation “since I myself had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the Church at the time of the public outbreak of the crisis,” and so penned his reflections, obtaining the present pope’s blessing to make them public. In his new, 6,000-word bombshell essay, the former pope turns his gaze toward societal forces outside the Church as well as…

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