Paul Crouch Sr. passed away last Saturday, about the time my plane was taking off from Paris. By the time I landed in the U.S., my cell phone was full of text messages from friends asking if I’d heard the news.
I knew Paul was pretty sick. I had tried to visit him a couple of years ago when I was in Los Angeles, but a member of his family said he didn’t feel good and didn’t want me to see him so sick. Then he rallied and was much better for a couple of years. Recently he was put back in the hospital. And when the Los Angeles Times called me a month ago to be interviewed for his obituary, I knew it wouldn’t be long until I heard the news he’d passed away.
Because I’d known Crouch for so many years, I was able to explain to the Times reporter (who didn’t seem to know much about him) how he had a humble upbringing, not a lot of education regarding broadcasting and not much money. Yet he had a vision to grow TBN, and he was one of the most tenacious men I’ve ever met.
I told her stories of traveling with Paul to visit Enlace—TBN’s Spanish network in Costa Rica—and then flying to meet with the Nicaraguan president to negotiate opening a station for TBN in that war-torn country. I told the reporter of the time I once had to negotiate with Paul. It was so intense that I ended up with a headache and remembered thinking I had just negotiated with the very best.
Anyone who knew him well knew he was a shrewd businessman and was able to juggle many things at the same time. Running a huge, multimillion-dollar broadcasting empire required him to handle an awful lot of details. For example, when TBN made an ad buy in one of our magazines, I knew it had to meet with his approval.
The Times didn’t tell any of my anecdotes. Instead they quoted me only on this: “He has created an enormous platform for many ministries to do what he says is very important to him—that is, to spread the gospel not only in this country but around the world.”
I truly believe that.
I said much the same thing to one of the local television news channels that asked to interview me since they couldn’t get anyone from TBN or the Holy Land Experience to give a comment. (The Holy Land Experience is in Orlando, where I live, and TBN owns a station here.) I told them the same thing—that Paul Crouch was a visionary and that he was determined to build TBN and to spread the gospel.
Over the years, I related to Paul in many ways. I interviewed him for an article in Charisma 25 years ago. He interviewed me on the Praise the Lord program several times.
For three years, we had a program on TBN called Charisma Now. While I mostly interacted with his wife, Jan, who headed up all programming, I had a lot of dealings with Paul. (Doing a TV program was an interesting experience, and ours was one of their top 10 programs, measured by response. But since we are not a nonprofit ministry that collects donations, and since TBN doesn’t let you sell anything on the air—they say the program becomes an infomercial, which they don’t allow—in the end we couldn’t find a financial model that worked for us. Plus, I had to realize that journalism was my calling, not broadcasting on TBN.)
Over the years, I’ve become a friend to his two sons, Paul Jr. and Matt. Each is brilliant in his own way. And their mother, Jan, as controversial as she may be, is brilliant in her own way. This is a unique family with a unique calling that has left an imprint on Christianity not only in this nation but around the world.
Like me, the Crouches grew up in the Assemblies of God. Like me, they started with very little and had to believe God to see the vision become a reality. But the comparison stops there. I can’t compare my vision to Paul’s. If I do, mine’s small and his was huge. Even though I have my detractors, I’m not nearly as controversial. Maybe that’s because I’ve spent most of my career reporting mostly to the church on what God is doing rather than sharing those things on camera to the entire world.
I believe you can measure a man by the size of his vision. If that is so, then Paul Crouch is one of the giants of our generation. Sure, he had detractors. He made mistakes. But knowing him all those years, I believe he was sincere—and had he not been such a stubborn German (as he used to like to call himself), then TBN would have died in the early days.
I thank God for Paul Crouch and his life and the legacy he leaves. I believe he was welcomed into heaven by the Lord saying to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Bratton, 66, served as Boston police commissioner before arriving in New York in 1994 to lead the NYPD, and was chief of the Los Angeles police department from 2002 to 2009. Since then, he’s been a security consultant and was chairman of Kroll, a corporate-investigations firm, for two years until 2012. De Blasio made the announcement today at a news briefing in Brooklyn.
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The new commissioner will take over a 34,000-officer department. He must continue to reduce crime while refining the stop-and-frisk street tactics that de Blasio campaigned against, saying they damaged police-community relations. He’ll also be responsible for a 1,000-officer division devoted to terrorism investigations and prevention that has been criticized for its surveillance of Muslims.
“This is a strong appointment of a proven police leader with a national reputation for reducing crime and earning community respect,” said Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and a member of de Blasio’s transition committee. “Bill Bratton wrestled with the same problems as ours in Los Angeles. He dealt with a court- ordered federal monitor. He created a counter-terrorism task force. His appointment will resonate very positively with the rank and file.”
His 27-month stint heading the NYPD began a 20-year period in which crime dropped 74 percent, an achievement Travis attributed in part to CompStat, a system Bratton pushed that uses a database to map, categorize and time-stamp crimes to begin managing dangerous neighborhoods.
Bratton’s relationship with Giuliani soured after the commissioner appeared on the Jan. 15, 1996, cover of Time magazine with the caption, “Finally, we’re winning the war against crime. Here’s why.” Giuliani, a former prosecutor, wasn’t mentioned.
He will take over the department at a time of contentious negotiations now in arbitration over a labor contract that expired years ago.
Bratton was an early advocate of community policing, involving street patrols and engagement with civic and religious leaders.
He also was a proponent of the “broken windows” concept of law enforcement, a theory introduced in 1982 by sociologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling that linked neighborhoods’ social cohesiveness — clean streets, no graffiti and lack of petty street crime — to reducing assaults, robberies and other felonies.
Last week the Assemblies of God executive leadership hosted the executive leadership of theChurch of God in Christ (COGIC) at the AG national office in Springfield, Mo. The historic meeting marks the first time the full leadership of these Pentecostal movements—two of the largest in the U.S.—have gathered specifically to dialogue together.
George O. Wood, general superintendent of theAssemblies of God, expressed his great pleasure in the COGIC’s acceptance of the invitation. He also warmly welcomed the executive leadership as well as local COGIC leaders and members to the Tuesday chapel service held at the national office each week.
During the chapel service, Wood explained that the Assemblies of God and COGIC were children of the Azusa Street revival—citing that it was COGIC’s presiding bishop, C.H. Mason, who personally attended the first General Council in 1914 and blessed the Assemblies of God as it was being formed.
Wood reflected sorrowfully on the separation that occurred because of the racial culture at that time in America, when culture—not the Bible—shaped the church into racial division. The coming together of COGIC and AG leadership now in a historic-time dialogue represents another step in the healing of a rift that occurred long ago.
Current COGIC Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., who also pastors the 24,000-member West Angeles COGIC in Los Angeles, then addressed the chapel attendees. He shared a brief but passionate message based on Acts, encouraging listeners to follow Paul’s example in thanking God during and after life’s storms. To view Bishop Blake’s full message, click here.
In addition to Bishop Blake, other top COGIC leaders who came from across the country for the meetings included: First Assistant Presiding Bishop Philip A. Brooks, Second Assistant Presiding Bishop Jerry W. Macklin, Bishop J. Drew Sheard (general board member), Financial Secretary Frank Anthone White, General Secretary Joel Harley Lyles Jr., Missions President Carlis L. Moody, Chairman of Auxiliaries in Ministry Lindwood Dillard Jr., and Chief Operation Officer James W. Smith.
“This is a wonderful day,” Wood said, prior to entering additional meetings with the COGIC leadership. ”Meeting with our like-minded brothers from the Church of God in Christ is something we and the leadership of COGIC have longed to do for years, and now it has finally happened!”
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Hebrews 9:27
From Paul Walker’s Facebook page: It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide. He was a passenger in a friend’s car, in which both lost their lives. We appreciate your patience as we too are stunned and saddened beyond belief by this news. Thank you for keeping his family and friends in your prayers during this very difficult time. We will do our best to keep you apprised on where to send condolences. -#TeamPW
“What is your dream?” It’s the one question they never expect.
You can see their eyes widen when we ask them. They suddenly look up as if to say, “Did I hear you right?” Most of the time, when a homeless family arrives on our Los Angeles campus, they’ve lost just about everything. They have their car, whatever they’ve been able to cram into it, and nothing much else except the clothes on their backs.
Someone on our staff takes them into a room and sits down with them. They’re expecting all the usual questions they’d get from most social workers. But we don’t do that kind of intake here. We have a different first question, and it almost always takes people by surprise.
“What is your dream?”
The question stuns them. Then often their eyes narrow a little with a flash of suspicion: Is this a joke? What is my dream? Are you kidding me? Coming here isn’t about dreaming! It’s about surviving. It’s about staying alive and keeping body and soul together.
I didn’t show up on the front porch of a place like this because I’m chasing my dream. I’ve ended up here because I don’t have anywhere else to go. I want to keep my family together. I don’t want to live with abuse or threats. And I don’t have the energy any longer to fight the alcoholism, the drug abuse and the prostitution that are all around me. And you ask me, “What is your dream?”
But “What is your dream?” is no idle question. It pertains to life and death. Think about Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no revelation [or vision], the people cast off restraint” (NKJV). In other words, without a dream, people don’t exercise self-control. When men and women have nothing to live for, they “cast off restraint.”
So right up front we ask the people who come to us, “What is your dream? What do you want to see happen in your life? What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to go?”
“Well,” they may say, “we’re just trying to survive.”
And we answer, “But what if we took survival off the table? While you’re here, you won’t have to worry about that. This is a safe, clean place, and we will give you the food and shelter you need. So let’s start thinking about your potential.”
The fact is, when you’ve been disappointed again and again, you become afraid to dream. How could you bear another disappointment? But in the power of Christ, you can begin to dream again.
Even in marriages, there comes a point at which people lose hope. A husband and wife may be committed to staying together for the rest of their lives, but as they imagine the years ahead, it looks to them more like running an endurance test or slogging along on an endless marathon.
Asking people “What is your dream?” is almost like lifting them to a whole different plane. We’ve found that most people really do have something in their hearts they would love to do or pursue, but they have suppressed that dream for so long that it doesn’t seem like a possibility at all.
Maybe the dream is getting free from addiction. Maybe it’s finishing high school or going to college. Maybe it’s being trained for a certain occupation or specific career. The desire is still there, but it’s buried so deep beneath their setbacks, pain and loss that they’ve forgotten they ever had any aspirations.
Once we hear their dream, we tell them, “We’re going to help you get to your dream”—and they can hardly believe their ears. Maybe they expected to have to prove themselves first or completely clean up their lives before we would start talking to them about their future.
Belonging and Believing
This “What is your dream?” interaction is based on a concept that the Lord has impressed on us through the years as we’ve worked with people in crisis. We call it “belong and believe.”
Think about it. In the Gospels, Jesus said to a number of men, “Come and follow Me.” At that point, they were in no way ready to be disciples of Christ. They were just regular guys. But Jesus called each one of them, inviting them to walk with Him and to serve Him. He allowed people to belong first, to see what He was doing, find themselves drawn to Him—and then believe.
For some of them, coming to faith in Jesus took a long time. Two disciples didn’t believe until after the resurrection, when Jesus directly confronted them and said, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25, NIV). He didn’t justify their lack of belief or make excuses for their behavior while they were learning, but He allowed them to belong to believe. They didn’t have to clean up their lives first.
Manuel Ramos was 17 when he came into our teen discipleship program (a major program at the Dream Center in which teens who have been kicked out of their homes and kicked out of school are raised in a Christian environment). Manny’s father was an alcoholic, and as a young boy, Manny became heavily involved in alcohol and drug abuse. He has been hospitalized more times than he can remember, he once accidentally burned down his home, and he drifted from trailer park to trailer park staying with friends until he ended up on the mean streets. He was probably as lost and broken and lonely as a young man can be.
When Manny finally came to us—thanks to the help of a concerned family friend—dreams were the last thing on his mind. All too real was the horrific nightmare from which he’d just emerged.
“I had no idea I even had a dream,” he says. “I shouldn’t even be alive! At one point in my life, I was so messed up I thought it was all over. I couldn’t remember what I had done that week because I had never been sober. I was homeless, no one cared about me, and I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t take care of my body or try to stay clean. I just didn’t care.”
And Manny had become an alcoholic by age 13. “Addiction doesn’t really say it,” he recalls. “It was more like affliction. Something awful. I was so lost—but nobody cared. If I had been dying, no one would have heard my screams.
“So dreams? I never had time to think about dreams. I’m only 17 years old, but I’ve gone through stuff in my life that no man should ever go through. I’ve felt pain that’s so painful you want to throw up, but I had to go on.
“So I quit sobbing and wiped my eyes. I hid the pain in the corner of my heart where no light shines. That’s where it stayed, and I forgot it was even there.”
Once in our program, though, Manny learned that he had to re-encounter all of that hidden pain before he could catch a vision for a new life. Jesus helped him do exactly that. Soon after Manny met Jesus, the Lord walked him over to that corner of his heart where he had buried all his sorrow—the still-raw, jumbled up, jagged-edged, poison-tipped blades of pain that had torn into his young soul again and again.
The Bully in the Room
That hiding place in Manny’s heart reminds me of an article I read about storing nuclear waste out in the deserts of eastern Washington state. In a process known as vitrification, radioactive liquids and sludge are turned into large glass logs that are stored in vast vaults somewhere deep under the soil—where they will presumably remain for the next 1,000 years or so. But Jesus doesn’t allow hidden vaults of crystalized pain and deep-rooted anguish. He wants to throw those vaults open. He wants to take that pain on Himself.
“Jesus showed me my despair,” Manny remembers. “I found out right then that I had a Father and that He was a Father who actually cared about me. Without Him, I would have no dreams at all. I guess I had been just too proud to let God take care of me.”
Sometime in the midst of Manny’s discipleship program, somebody taught him Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33-34: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
As Manny began to seek God first and release all his stored-up pain, he found something he hadn’t even been looking for. Manny found his dreams.
Pain is like the bully in the room that chases a person’s hopes out the door and sends dreams into hiding. That’s why people in crisis who come through our doors are so surprised to have us ask them, “What is your dream?” Their dreams have been overshadowed by their disappointments and sorrows for so long that they may have forgotten they ever had any.
But the Lord doesn’t forget anything. As we ask God to reveal His dream for our lives, He may first have to roll up His sleeves and help us work through some interwoven layers of heartbreak that have hidden His desire and purpose for us.
Jesus did exactly that for Manny, even after all that young man had been through. I encourage you to believe that Jesus can do the same for you and the people God has placed in your care—both in your church and in your community. See what happens when you ask the people in your path, “What is your dream?”.
Written by Matthew Barnett
Matthew Barnett is the senior pastor of one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States, Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. He is also the founder of the Dream Center, a ministry that demonstrates the love of Christ by rescuing people out of poverty, homelessness, addictions and human trafficking. Excerpted from God’s Dream for You with permission from Thomas Nelson for use in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Ministry Today.
“We heard about eight shots just in a row — bang, bang, bang! And then we all kind of hit the deck,” Henry told “The Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV.
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“The shots were coming from the lower floor and we weren’t sure if the suspect was going to come up the escalator . . . It was a nightmare, exactly like something you see in a movie.”
The violence erupted at 9:20 a.m., Pacific Standard Time, when a 23-year-old man carrying anti-government material and toting an assault rifle began shooting, blasting his way through a security point.
A gunman opened fire with an assault rifle in a Los Angeles International airport terminal on Friday, killing a Transportation Security Administration agent and wounding at least six other people before he was shot and captured, authorities said.The attack set off chaos, with passengers running, diving and hiding in the crowded terminal of the airport, one of the world’s busiest, where Terminal 3 was quickly evacuated. Departing flights were halted, arriving planes were diverted, and streets surrounding the airport were shut down.
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“An individual came into Terminal 3 of this airport, pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and began to open fire in the terminal,” Patrick Gannon, chief of the Los Angeles Airport Police said at a press conference.
Gannon said the gunman, who appeared to be acting alone, made his way past the screening gates and well into the secured area before law enforcement officers shot him and took him into custody. His condition was not immediately clear.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said that multiple agents had been shot, one fatally. The agency did not identify the slain agent.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles County Coroner said it was handling one person who was killed in the shooting, a man approximately 40 years old who was not identified by name. It was not immediately clear if that person was the TSA agent.
A Los Angeles fire department spokesman said seven people were wounded in the shooting and that six of them had been taken to area hospitals.
“We heard about eight shots just in a row, bang, bang, bang,” said Mark Henry, who was traveling to Chicago with his wife Audrey.
“Then we all kind of hit the deck and the shots were coming from the lower floor, which seemed to be at the base of the escalators, and we weren’t sure if the suspect was going to come up the escalator or not so we fled the scene and we rushed through the TSA checkpoint into the gate area.
“We ran all the way down Terminal 3 and then we went through one of the terminal gate doors, actually like where you would board an aircraft, and went down onto the tarmac. We ran all the way over to Terminal 2 and my wife only has one shoe, I mean her ID, everything was left back there, my briefcase, all that stuff was left on the TSA belt. We literally ran for our lives.”
Three male victims hurt in the incident were taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where one was listed in critical condition and two others in fair condition, said Mark Wheeler, a spokesman for the hospital.
The condition of the other victims or the gunman was not immediately clear.
Jose Mares, who was catching a flight back to his home in Norman, Oklahoma, with his wife, told Reuters he was about 20 to 30 yards away from the suspect on the second level of Terminal 3 when the man opened fire.
Mares, 31, said he used his own body to shield his wife from the bullets.
“As I’m getting on top of her I’m reaching for more luggage and that’s when I stacked luggage like two-high and then made a row of luggage,” he said. “I was in the corner and I’m looking at the guy just shooting randomly, like I saw a TSA (agent) go down.”
Mares said when the shooter looked and pointed in his direction and appeared headed toward them, he told his wife: “… once I say three you better run. Once I had the opportunity as he is looking down the escalator, that’s when I told her ‘OK, let’s go. Let’s run.’”
Witness Alex Neumann, meanwhile, told cable network CNN that he was in an area inside the airport past a security checkpoint when he heard loud noises and screaming and saw people running in a scene that amounted to mayhem.
“We were at the food court and all of a sudden I hear a big commotion and people started running. People were running and people getting knocked down,” Neumann said, adding that he heard screams. “Mayhem is the best way of describing it.”
Television images showed at least one person being loaded into one of several ambulances at the scene, and passengers were seen being evacuated from the area.
Footage showed emergency responders setting up what appeared to be a triage area outside an airport terminal.
“The general public is being held back… Other than arriving flights, flight operations have been temporary held,” airport spokeswoman Katherine Alvarado said in an emailed statement.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the incident and White House officials are in touch with law enforcement officials on the ground, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
“We’re concerned about it, but I’ll let law enforcement folks talk about it directly,” Obama told reporters in the Oval Office after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
The Washington Times reports an article in the Global Times features a map showing damage projections for nuclear attacks on Seattle and Los Angeles, with radiation reaching as far east as Chicago, The Washington Times noted.
“Because the Midwest states of the U.S. are sparsely populated, in order to increase the lethality, nuclear attacks should mainly target the key cities on the West Coast, such as Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego,” the Global Times observed.
China’s submarine fleet reportedly includes about 70 vessels, with at least four capable of launching nuclear missiles.
The Global Times article also asserts that China can launch land-based ballistic missiles over the North Pole that can “easily destroy” U.S. cities in the East, including New York, the Washington newspaper reports.