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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Amanda Casanova

Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world

A man who survived the 2016 shooting at an Orlando nightclub says he is no longer gay.

Luis Javier Ruiz said in an interview recently with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s “GPS: God. People. Stories” that he repented and was changed after the shooting.

Ruiz said he was raised in the church before churches knew how to minister to homosexuals. Instead, he kept his secret until finally coming out to his family at the end of high school.

He says his family was listening to the radio where someone was saying homosexuals were “an abomination” and were “going to hell.”

"It was bad," Ruiz said. "And we got into an argument about it ... and I just ended it with 'Mom, you know what? Your son is gay. How about that?"

Ruiz graduated from high school and joined the armed forces where he served for 15 years. He did not reveal his sexuality to the military. After his service, he moved to Florida and became involved with a church. However, he also became part of the Orlando LGBT community.

On June 11, 2016, his birthday, he went with friends to the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Early June 12, the shooting started.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people that night. Mateen was shot and killed by police.

"While this is all going on, I'm thinking 'I'm about to die, I'm about to go to Hell. Like, why did I even come [to Pulse],'" Ruiz said of that night.

Ruiz says he was depressed after the shooting and became even more depressed after he learned he was HIV-positive.

He says, however, God spoke to him and he prayed to God.

“I even said: 'I'm gay, God. This is how you're taking me. Take me as I am. I don't know if you're supposed to take this away from me or not. I've tried this many times,’” he said.

"I gave Him my gayness. I gave him my pornography addictions, everything," he said.

He said the Holy Spirit asked him, "How about you give me you?”

"It's not a gay to straight thing. Just give [Him] your heart," Ruiz said.

"God had something else for me. And I'm thankful because now I'm able to share my story of hope, my story to the world, to let them know that there is God who changes [people] and who transforms."

Publication Date: July 19, 2018

Photo Courtesy: Facebook

Netflix will be releasing a series about Jesus returning to Earth as a modern day 12-year-old in an adaption called American Jesus.

The show is based on Mark Millar’s comic book, also called American Jesus.

“[It] follows a 12-year-old boy who suddenly discovers he’s returned as Jesus Christ. He can turn water into wine, make the crippled walk, and, perhaps, even raise the dead,” says the show’s description. “How will he deal with the destiny to lead the world in a conflict thousands of years in the making?”

Millar, who is a Catholic, said his comic book, American Jesus, is “reverential.”

“It’s actually very reverential—like if I write a Spider-Man comic, I want Spider-man fans to like that comic … if I write a story starring Jesus, I want Christians to like that comic,” he said in a 2012 interview. “Sometimes you get stories about religion, mainly to attack religion. It’s something that if you’re a Christian, you won’t be happy about. So the American Jesus comic is something Catholics would like.”

Netflix acquired Millar’s company in 2017 and has since developed many projects with him, including publishing Netflix’s first comic book, “The Magic Order.”

Millar’s past work includes series like Kingsman and Kick A**, both of which have been turned into movies. He also created X-Men Wolverine’s “Old Man Logan” story, which was adapted into the 2017 movie Logan.

“My wife Lucy and I are 11 months into our jobs at Netflix and it’s everything we hoped for to the power of ten,” Millar said in an interview. “To see a movie based on your work every couple of years is incredibly exciting, but to see them all happening at once like this and with talent this high-end is just off the scale.”

Publication Date: July 19, 2018

Photo Courtesy: Facebook

When singer Andy Grammer paid the bill for a table of five elderly ladies, it’s because he was missing his mom. But then one of the ladies said something to reveal the pop star’s real-life act of kindness was actually a case of divine intervention!

God always has a way of showing up when we need Him the most. We can feel His love through the actions and words of others. And that’s just what happened when singer Andy Grammer felt the urge to do something nice for a table of strangers.

Andy is a record producer, songwriter, and singer. He garnered national attention with upbeat songs like “Honey, I’m Good” and “Keep Your Head Up.”

But regardless of fame, stars are just like us. They have good days and bad.

No matter how old you are, losing a parent is never easy. And even though Andy lost his mom nine years ago, he still finds himself missing her often.

“Today is 9 years since my sweet mother left this world,” Andy wrote on Facebook on the 9-year anniversary of his mother’s passing. “I remember standing at this spot shell-shocked as we lowered her body into the ground. All I knew was I had lost my center, that there was a huge hole in my world and that it could never be filled.”

And as he sat eating breakfast at a restaurant, a table across the way got him thinking about his late mom.

At the table sat five little, elderly ladies — Mary, Beth, Joan, Margaret, and Betty Ann. The sweet pals were carrying on, and something about it made Andy miss his mom terribly. Suddenly, he felt the overwhelming urge to pick up their tab.

Turns out that urge was more than just the memory of his mom. It was a God nudge!

Andy quietly settled the ladies’ bill with their waitress. He was planning to just leave and let it be an anonymous act of kindness. But something (ahem – perhaps the Holy Spirit?) compelled him to go talk with the ladies first. But Andy never expected what happened next!

When Andy shared what he’d done and why, one of the ladies (Mary) stood right up with her arms spread wide.

“Come here,” Mary said. “I lost my son and really needed this."

Mary wore a special button on her shirt. It had a picture of the son she’d just lost to cancer.

And after all that nudging, it’s clear to see that Andy’s real-life act of kindness was no coincidence. It was 100% divine intervention!

God put Andy in the right place at the right time to bless Mary. As Andy grieved his mother and Mary grieved her son, God used their pain to bring them together in a special way.

After taking some time to get out all of his tears, Andy spent some time chatting with Mary about the emotional moment, as well as her son. Isn’t our God awesome?!

Photo courtesy: Flickr.com

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