NEW YORK — In Seven Women, author Eric Metaxas offers up little-known details about the inspiring lives of seven women, including Susanna Wesley, mother of vastly influential Christian ministers John and Charles Wesley; Joan of Arc, the teen martyr who changed the course of a war with claims of being guided by "voices;" and Rosa Parks, whose decision to say "no" led to her becoming the "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement."
Wesley, known as the "Mother of Methodism," was a dedicated homeschooler who created her own textbooks. She "was manifestly methodical in raising her children," Metaxas writes. Wesley's methodical approach to child-rearing included setting strict schedules on everything from eating and dressing to sleeping. She also taught her 10 children (nine others died in infancy) early on to fear God, seek His blessings and to treat others with kindness.
The foundation Wesley laid for her children proved especially pivotal in the lives of her sons, John and Charles, the former of which founded the 80-million-strong Methodist denomination while the latter is credited with writing nearly 9,000 hymns (the Christmas favorite "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is one of them). John and his politically-minded Methodist movement were instrumental in pressuring the British government to abolish slavery and child labor and to enact penal reform. The religious movement also led to the "establishment of countless private societies and organizations dedicated to caring for the poor and suffering." more >>
NEW YORK — In a monumental effort to recreate and produce the 1950s blockbuster "Ben-Hur" for modern audiences, Hollywood power couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett took a page from Mel Gibson's playbook. The duo shot a remake of the classic film in Matera, Italy — one of the same locations that Gibson used in his 2004 megahit "The Passion of the Christ."
Downey, who screened clips of the film at a private event at the Sheen Center in New York City on Oct. 9, explained why they chose the location to bring their version of first century Jerusalem to life.
"Matera is absolutely gorgeous. It's where Mel Gibson filmed 'The Passion of the Christ.' It's a beautiful, interesting-looking town that's carved out of rock and had all these caves and was able to provide for us on the film a geography and landscape of rocky terrain, because, of course, we couldn't shoot in Jerusalem," said Downey. more >>
NEW YORK — In the book Street God, Dimas Salaberrios shares his harrowing journey from striving to be a drug kingpin to eventually becoming a servant of God. The experience that proved pivotal to his transition came, he says, when he fell under the power of an evil force that seemed determined to destroy him.
In Street God, Salaberrious, co-pastor of Infinity Bible Church in NYC's Bronx borough and president of Concerts of Prayer Greater New York, recounts how his girlfriend at the time, Renee, took him to her mother's home so that the older woman and her friends could pray for him.
"When I walked in, those three ladies called on Jesus, then came toward me. I think they recognized that, while demon possession is not regularly acknowledged in our country, as it is in other parts of the world, I had made myself a prime candidate for it because of my lifestyle," Salaberrios writes in the book. "The three women saw that and went right to work. 'I bind this demon up in the name of Jesus,' Renee's mother said. 'Loose him, Satan! Come out!'" more >>
A 19-year-old youth was allegedly beaten to death and his 17-year-old brother severely injured during a brutal attack by their parents, sister and three other members of their upstate New York church in a bid to force the teens to confess sins — which are still unclear, say police — and the incident has left neighbors in their New Hartford community stunned.
According to WRAL, Bruce Leonard, 65, and his wife, Deborah Leonard, 59, of Clayville, were charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of their son Lucas Leonard, 19, who died Monday after he was beaten at Word of Life Church in New Hartford, New York, some 80 miles northwest of Albany.
Police say what began as spiritual "counseling" at the church on Sunday night turned into an hours-long attack in which Lucas and his 17-year-old brother, Christopher, were battered with fists and kicked, causing injuries to their abdomen, genitals, back and thighs, according to The Associated Press. more >>
NEW YORK — He was selling dope by age 11, eventually got hooked on crack cocaine, and wound up in prison twice. He could have been killed countless times and once, as he tells it, was even attacked by a witch. But the man who yearned as a youth to become a god of the streets by building a drug empire, is now a man on mission for God.
Dimas Salaberrios, in his 40s, pastors a flock that meets in a community center at the Bronx River Housing Projects, known historically as ground zero for hip-hop and for being infested with crime. He is also president of Concerts of Prayer Greater NYC, a multiracial and cross-cultural organization of pastors and churches believed to be the largest of its kind in New York City. Salaberrios was also among those who successfully fought against officials' attempts to bar churches from renting city-owned community centers and public school spaces for worship services. His family's supporting presence in Charleston, South Carolina, at Emanuel A.M.E. Church earlier this year also gained notable attention.
That is what the married father of three has been up to in recent times. Thirty years ago, it was an entirely different story, one in which, for all intents and purposes, he was an enemy of God. more >>
While thousands of New Yorkers lined up for blocks to welcome the first stand-alone Chick-fil-A in the city, protesters sought to use the restaurant's Saturday grand opening to make cultural statements about sexual issues and animal rights.
Gothamist, a daily weblog covering the city, reported on demonstrators that included LGBT opponents of Chick-fil-A, Christian counter-protestors, and animal rights activists who descended on the packed restaurant. Street evangelists got into a shouting match with animal rights activists from Collectively Free and LGBT protestors, who continually shouted "We're here! We're queer! Get used to it!"
Christian enthusiasts shouted back at the group, telling them they were engaged in sinful behavior and called on them to "repent." more >>