Tag: Conversion

Advent: The Season that requires a Journey of Conversion – Pope Francis

Advent: The Season that requires a Journey of Conversion – Pope Francis

Advent is a time of waiting and expectation, Pope Francis said Sunday, but this season also requires a “journey of conversion.”

The pope focused on the invitation of St. John the Baptist, who proclaimed a baptism of repentance as a voice of one crying out in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path.

To prepare the way for the Lord who comes, it is necessary to take into account the demands of conversion,” Pope Francis said. Conversion requires changing your attitude, Francis explained. “It leads to humbly recognizing our mistakes, our infidelities, and defaults.”

“The Baptist invited the people of his time to conversion with force, vigor, and severity,” Francis said. “Yet he knew how to listen, he knew how to perform gestures of tenderness, gestures of forgiveness towards the multitude of men and women who came to him to confess their sins and be baptized.”

“Even today, the disciples of Jesus are called to be his humble, but courageous witnesses to rekindle hope,” the pope said. The pope suggested that each person asks, “How can I change something in my attitude to prepare the way for the Lord?” 

One necessary step is making concrete gestures of reconciliation with our brothers, asking for forgiveness of our faults,” he explained. The Lord helps us in this if we have good will.

Christians are called to help people understand that “despite everything, the kingdom of God continues to be built day by day with the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “May the Virgin Mary help us to prepare the way of the Lord day by day, beginning with ourselves,” Pope Francis prayed.

Prominent Ugandan Lesbian And LGBT Activist Renounces Homosexuality.

Prominent Ugandan Lesbian And LGBT Activist Renounces Homosexuality.

A prominent lesbian and LGBT activist in Uganda has reportedly renounced her same-sex attraction and now says homosexuality is a ‘sin.’

Val Kalende shocked members of the international LGBT community when she made the public declaration during a church service in Uganda that was broadcast live on Christian channel Salt TV last month, according The Edge. 

She came out as a lesbian in 2002 and spent over a decade advocating for LGBT rights, with her writing featuring in The Huffington Post, among other publications.

When Uganda passed laws criminalising homosexual behaviour in 2014, she sought refuge in Canada.

According to The Edge, she said in last month’s broadcast that she ‘joined’ lesbianism after university, at which point her Christian parents ‘cut their times with me for being gay.’

‘I became rebellious,’ she said, according to The Edge’s translation. ‘We always wondered why the world forced us to become girls who do not love men’

The newspaper also reported that the former lesbian has now returned to Uganda and is getting married soon.

According to Ugandan newspaper the Monitor, Kalende elaborated further on Facebook about the change in her sexual identity. 

The website quoted her as saying: ‘I’d be glad to respond to questions concerning what I have learned about the sin of same-sex attraction and the mystery that surrounds the homosexual lifestyle, especially for Christians, parents and people with family members or friends who struggle with same-sex attractions.’

According to PinkNews, the declaration has taken the LGBT community by surprise, with Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, telling the website that he was ‘very much worried about her.’

Ugandan human rights activist Stella Nyanzi, who identifies as queer, reportedly responded to the news by saying on Facebook that religion is ‘powerful and dangerous.’

She is not the first homosexual to make public declarations about converting back to heterosexuality. Religion does all sorts of things to people,” she was quoted as saying by Nairobi News.

‘Please…Forgive Us’: An Atheist True Story Of His Return To The Church

‘Please…Forgive Us’: An Atheist True Story Of His Return To The Church

Don Lambert is a freelance writer living in Kansas City, Missouri, specializing in the arts and history of the region. He shares this true life story with NCR, so we decided to share this, hoping that people with similar experience could be inspired by it. 

The age of 8 is too young to become an atheist. I had no choice.

It was the summer of 1958 in Clyde, Kansas. Having finished third grade, I had been preparing for what I was sure would be the highlight of my life: serving Mass for the priest at our church. Like other boys my age in the parish, I wanted to become a priest. Serving Mass would be my first step.

Already I’d become proficient in Latin: “Et cum spiritu tuo.” I had renounced Satan at every opportunity. I’d built my own altar in my bedroom: a cardboard box draped with a towel, plastic statues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph rewarded for saying my prayers, my mother’s crucifix draped with my grandmother’s crystalline rosary, and stars of many colors, each for being able to name one saint. I’d memorized all the movements that would be made by the priest, and the eighth-grade altar boy, and the novice who this time would be me.

My big day finally arrived. I put on the cassock that dusted the floor and the white overblouse starched by the nuns. I looked down at my shoes, freshly polished by Mom. I took a deep breath, confident I at least looked the part.

To my horror, the eighth-grade altar boy did not show up. I would be serving alone. I went blank for the first time in my life. Sister Gertrude, my teacher from the school next door, was summoned. She hid behind the flag prompting me with instructions.

“Get the cruets, the cruets, the cruets!” she directed in a loud whisper, trying to walk me through the steps of the Mass.

I made it to the first highlight, picking up the big heavy missal and carrying it high to the other side of the altar. I lifted it, stepping backward down three steps, careful always to face the candle representing Jesus. Next would come the tricky part. As I approached the midway point in my journey, still balancing the book, with the priests back in front of me, I was to genuflect while, on one knee, making the sign of the cross.

I wanted nothing more than to please Father, Sister Gertrude and Jesus. Balancing a 10-pound book wasn’t easy for a 70-pound boy. Genuflecting in the long cassock didn’t make it any easier. As I began to rise, my foot caught in the hem of the cassock. The book and I went sprawling to the floor.

The priest stopped the Mass and turned. His face was red, his forehead clenched like a fist.

“What’s going on? I want you to leave and never serve Mass for me again!”

I fled and ran all the way home. I couldn’t take off the cassock fast enough. I dismantled my altar. The crucifix went back to mom, the rosary to grandma. The statues, the stars and the scapular around my neck went to the trash.

What was I to do? I’d been kicked out of the church and, so it seemed, from Catholicism. I pondered the alternative: Protestantism. But I’d learned during three years in Catholic school, that all those other religions were inferior. Protestants can go to heaven, I was taught, but they have to be twice as good. We pitied those Protestant children, deprived of the one true religion.

Being neither Catholic nor Protestant left only one thing: nothing.

That is where I stayed for 30 years.

Thirty years after my fall from grace I found myself in Salina, Kansas, with nothing to do. I drove by the Sacred Heart Cathedral. Growing up in a farm family, my parents, siblings and I had driven by it many times on our way to the John Deere dealership. We’d laugh at the cathedral because it looked like a grain silo. Whoever heard of that, Dad would joke, a church looking like a silo.

Since I’d never been inside, I went in. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. It was pure and simple, without any of the gothic elements I had grown up with. As I looked around, I saw a priest. I told him how much I admired the interior and exterior of the cathedral, thanks in part to my courses in art and architecture. I found myself appreciating the very qualities we had ridiculed when I was a child.

“Your family’s was a good observation,” the priest said. “When the architect made his first trip to Salina to check out the site, he was impressed by the grain silos he drove by. He paid homage to them, making symbolic connections between the abundance of wheat contained in the silos and the abundance of the Holy Spirit in the church. The golden wheat became hosts which, once blessed, were the body of Christ.”

I found myself telling this priest the story of my fall from grace — all about the Mass, the cruets, and the frightened child. It was a story I had never told before.

“Priests don’t always do everything right. Please … forgive us.”

My gush of tears, along with the priest’s embrace, began a long and bumpy road toward my own spiritual redemption.

Watch Video! John Ramirez – The Wizard & Servant Of The Devil Who Gave His Life To Christ

Watch Video! John Ramirez – The Wizard & Servant Of The Devil Who Gave His Life To Christ

John Ramirez grew up in the Bronx, where his relatives practiced Santeria. “My father’s side came from a family of witches and warlocks,” says John. “My father was very heavy into Santeria, very heavy into Spiritualism.”

John longed for a relationship with his dad, but his father was abusive. “There was no love; there was no compassion. We watched him beat my mother in the house. He came in drunk most of the time–demanding stuff, asking for stuff. If things weren’t done a certain way it was always put down, hurtful words: ‘Dummy!  Stupid!  You’re going to amount to nothing.’ That kind of stuff,” John recalls. “I would just stand by the door and look and see what he was up to because I was looking to see if there was time for me just to have interaction. Hey, my dad and I did something. But he was connected to the demons; he was connected to Spiritualism.”

John’s mother was also influenced by Santeria. At his aunt’s suggestion, she took John to a tarot card reading. “The lady said in her cards I had thirty days to do a ceremony or I would be blind. So my mother, as a good mother, didn’t want anything to happen to her son, so we did it. They blindfolded me; they did a bath for me with herbs and they started chanting and calling their five main god/demons from Santeria.”

From that moment, John’s life changed. “My whole personality, everything who I stood for as a young boy was no longer there. I felt like someone took a black blanket and just put it right over me – spiritually. I was answering not only to my mom and my dad, but I was answering to the demons,” John recalls.

John’s involvement with Santeria deepened quickly. “I was being taught and trained with high rank devil worshippers into Spiritualism,” says John. “I went to sneaking into funerals, acting like I knew the person that died because I wanted to buy the soul of that person that died, because I can get that soul and put it on somebody and (they’d) die the same way. When drug dealers got killed in the street, I wanted to run out and get the blood, because I can use that human blood to do witchcraft.”

For the first time in his life, John felt powerful and respected. “People knew that I was a force to be reckoned with,” says John. “I liked that power. I was talked down to as a young boy. Now, I had the authority and the power that I can do whatever I want.”

When John was thirteen, his father was murdered in a bar fight. John gave credit to the devil for relieving his mother’s suffering. “I’d be up at five in the morning calling out to God saying, ‘Help my mother!’ and no one showed up,” John recalls. “But the devil showed up because he killed my dad. I believed the devil said, ‘Well, no one loves you, but I love you. Your father can’t provide for you, but I’m your provider.’ The devil said to me, ‘Do the religion. I’ll give you anything you want–just ask.’”
John says Satan became the father he never had; John was devoted to him. “I’d light up my candles; I spit the rum; I spit the cigar smoke–the cigar smoke means power. If I didn’t have money for a rooster, I’d cut myself and use my own blood and pour it in,” says John. “The whole atmosphere of the room changes and you know there’s something there. And when it’s there you have to address him like a family member, ‘My father, I’m here. What would you like to speak to me about? What is it that you want me to do?’”

As time went on, John also practiced the dark arts outside his apartment. He preyed on Christians in particular. “At the clubs, I would go around looking for Christians,” John recalls. “And I knew that in the club you were in the devil’s playground. So I knew that if I could get into you and you had a beer or two already in your system, I knew all I had to do was just say, ‘Listen, I have something to tell you today.’ And right now you will open the door up and say, ‘What is it you need to tell me?’ You gave me the gateway.”

Eventually, John became a high priest in Palo Mayombe, a form of African Spiritualism. As he became more powerful, John took warfare seriously. “The devil told me that I had to go into the neighborhood in the spirit realm in order to weaken it in the natural,” says John. “Whatever you kill in the spirit realm you can kill in the natural. So I would leave my body home and astral project myself into different boroughs, different regions, different states, different countries. And as I fly into the neighborhood I would speak curses into the neighborhood, speak things that I wanted to happen into the neighborhood. Sometime I would go into a neighborhoods and I’d see this group of people in the spirit realm, on the corner praying–holding hands, heads bowed, praying up a storm. And there was no accomplishment in that neighborhood. That neighborhood was sanctified, blessed through prayer. You couldn’t touch it. But in the other neighborhoods, it was party time.”

Around that time, John met a girl who intrigued him. “I said, ‘Well, you know, I could hang out with her,” John remembers. ‘She’s good looking and she invited me to church.’”

She also invited John to meet her parents, who talked to him about Jesus. “They had the Bible out, ‘Hey, listen, we want to talk to you about this.’ I’m like, ‘Well, I can’t come to your house anymore. Your parents are crazy,’” says John. “And I said, ‘At least let me digest the food, and then you can talk about this Jesus guy.’ And then after I leave her I would go to worship at the devil church and kill animals all night long, and then I would come back and see her but she didn’t know.”

John found the Christians amusing and harmless. “We had a different system than they had. They’re stuff was just kisses; ‘Hallelujah, we love you,’ John remembers. “So I kept coming to church to please her, but I wasn’t going to leave the people I was committed to.”

One Sunday morning, the pastor gave an altar call. John went forward, but he wasn’t prepared for what happened next. “I said, ‘Well, the devil can’t touch me here. I’m in front of the pastor now. I’m protected,’” John recalls.  All of a sudden… “I got demon possessed. I grabbed him by the throat, picked him up in the air and said, ‘I came for you.’ And all these big men came out of their seats, tried to grab me. I was just throwing people around like ragdolls,” John says. “And then two hundred-and-some people got up and raised their hands–spiritual warfare for a person that would have killed them in a heartbeat. I saw the power of God in the church. One of the guys was whispering back in my ear, ‘”Say, Jesus is Lord.’ Say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ Say it. Say it.’ I couldn’t open my mouth. And then suddenly I was able to say, ‘Jesus is Lord.’ And the devil left.”

John was embarrassed about the outburst but not sure what to do next. One of the church elders approached him a few days later. “He said, ‘Jesus wants you to have this,’” John recalls. “He gave me a sweatshirt that said, ‘You’re a warrior for Christ.’ For someone to come and say, ’Here is a gift from Christ because He loves you.’ To me, that was amazing. I couldn’t believe that Jesus loved me. But I was committed to the dark side. I was committed to the demons. I was committed to the devil. And I was between two worlds.”

One night, John decided to end the struggle between the two worlds the only way he knew how. “I said, ‘Lord Jesus can’t have me. The devil can’t have me. The best way out is suicide.’ In my ignorance; in my shame; in my mind I was so far gone, spiritually drained, very spiritually drained.”

John didn’t know how to pray, but he began to talk to God. “’I don’t know what they call You, Jesus, whatever they call You in church, I don’t like You. I never liked You. I never had nothing to do with You. I want no dealings with You. I hate You. I don’t want to be part of You. I never want to be a Christian. I disown You, if that’s going to get You away from me. I will worship the devil till the day I die.’ And I whispered, ‘If You are bigger than the god that I serve, then You show me tonight or leave me alone.’”

John went to sleep and dreamed he was on a subway. “The train was filled with people,” John recalls. “And their faces were drained. And we were going somewhere I knew that was not good. And as the train was going faster than light, there was a lady dressed very elegant and she started talking to me in demonic tongues. I understood the tongue: ‘Traitor! You’re leaving us.’ So I tried to get into the middle of the train, in the middle of the people so she won’t reach me and a pop hit and the doors opened. I ended up in hell.”

John stepped out of the subway and into the darkness. “As I went to the tunnels of hell, the heat — it wasn’t a heat that you feel on earth, it grips you and the fear ropes around you. There’s no hope. The hope is removed,” John says. “As I got to a part of the tunnel, the devil came out bigger and more strong—I’d never seen him like that. And he said to me,  ‘I’ve been with you when you were 9 years old. I’ve been a father to you. I’ve given you everything.’ And he said, ‘I’m going to keep you here, because if I can keep you here, you won’t wake up upstairs,’ which is on earth. And he said, ‘You belong to me. You’re not going to leave. You know too many secrets of my religion.’ And when he went to grab me, to snuff me, this three-foot cross appeared in my hands. I couldn’t understand how a cross would appear in my hand. I never called for the cross. I put it on the devil. And he felt like nothing. He felt like he was a baby, no powers, at the foot of the cross.”

When John woke up, he was a changed man. “And I knew that Jesus is Lord. I bend my knee to the cross and Jesus came into my life,” says John. “I took a white piece of paper and I wrote down, ‘I’m a servant, a slave of Jesus Christ. I’ll serve You all the days of my life.’”

John threw out all of his witchcraft paraphernalia, but the battle wasn’t over. He was under spiritual attack every night for the next month. “At night, I felt a presence come into the room,” John recalls. “And then when I would turn around, I would actually sometimes see what was there. Or sometimes I would somehow fall asleep up this way and I’d feel someone’s hands just grab me by my throat and try to pick me off the bed and try to rip my soul out of my body. Sometimes they’d grab me by my feet and the bed would shake, and they would bring it up and levitate the bed and levitate me to the point that sometimes I even reached the ceiling. And I couldn’t breathe; I couldn’t cry out. I couldn’t talk. I felt like I was choking; I felt like they were choking the life out of me. And I would try to call out for Jesus, and the words wouldn’t come out and then in the end the words would come out, ‘Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me. Save me.’ And it would go away.”

John didn’t understand why God permitted the nightly struggles. “I asked the Lord, ‘Why did you allow this to happen to me? Why this torment? Why did you allow these people to abuse me this way?  I gave my life to You. I told You I would serve you.’  And He said to me, ‘I wanted to know how much you loved me, how much you trust Me.’ And no devil ever showed up to my house ever again.”

John says that he wouldn’t trade anything for what he’s found in Christ. “For twenty-five years of my life, I was able to do anything to anybody, anywhere. I count that all to be foolish to gain Christ. He’s my Uno. He’s the breath that I breathe. He walks with me. I can hear the sound of His voice in my ear.”

Today, John shares the gospel with everyone he can. He has written a book about his experiences called Out of the Devil’s Cauldron.

“I’ve been victorious in Christ,” says John. “I’ve got peace. I’m not empty anymore. I’ve got fulfillment. I’ve got a purpose and I have a destiny today, and all because I said ‘yes’ to the cross. Now I’m an evangelist for the Kingdom of Light. No more an evangelist for the dark side. I expose the dark side every time the Lord gives me a chance, because you don’t have to die in your sins. You don’t have to shed blood, like in Palo Mayombe. Jesus shed the blood for you. That’s the blood that counts, the one at the cross.”



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