Paula McDade is the founder and creator of Captured and Crowned, a Christian lifestyle ministry birthed out of a desire to see women and girls break free from the stigma associated with abuse, trauma and life issues. As a survivor of abuse and trauma, Paula passionately uses her voice to speak to encourage women and girls across the country, sharing her experience to offer strength and hope.
A multi-talented creative, Paula is also a graphic designer and Owner of Stellar Creative. She is a gospel vocalist/songwriter and has hosted a local gospel radio show. Paula is sought out as an event host and emcee because of her wit and humor on stage along with her candid viewpoint on life issues. Most recently, Paula co-authored a book entitled “Igniting the Fire: A Woman’s Guide to Setting Ablaze in Ministry, Business and Life” and her young women’s devotional entitled Captured and Crowned: 7 Days of Promises for Young Women was released in early July 2015 on YouVersion. The 30-day hard copy is scheduled for August 2015 release. The daily readings are written specifically for young women who seek emotional healing from trauma, abuse and grief. She is based in Oklahoma City.
Aszia Walker is the Discipleship and Outreach Director for pureHOPE. Aszia focuses on pureHOPE’s social media presence and being a light amidst much darkness online. She also directs the organization’s Justice Internship Program designed to train college-aged leaders as effective advocates for the exploited through spiritual formation and professional development.
Aszia first came to pureHOPE through the internship program and works in their Dallas office.
She studied Marketing and English as an undergrad at Oklahoma State University before going on to complete a Biblical studies and ministry training post-grad program at the Kanakuk Institute. Her experience ranges from event planning/facilitation and promotions, to discipling youth and college students. She has a bold vision to reach her generation for Christ by uncovering the lies of our sexualized culture and creating the kind of awareness that incites an apathetic world to action.
Chris McArdle, 28, of Anoka, Minnesota, has been saved by the Lord’s grace! For many years Chris lived of the world…and it nearly killed him. He has had many successes but none of them have been close to the blessing of receiving God’s love.
Chris has been in radio for many years but alcoholism nearly took his life, as it did his father’s. He kept seeking Jesus through good times and bad times. As a result, he now speaks at churches around the country on the subject of addiction and how Jesus took away his obsession to drink. You’re invited to come and hear what he has to say! He is the founder of Absolutely No Condemnation Ministries.
Find him and his ministry on Facebook. His website is under construction but his ministry is up and running, helping people find a joyful life through Jesus! He is beyond excited to meet you!
Amos Johnson Jr, PhD, through his business incubator known as the God Idea Lab provides Christians called to business with guidance transforming their God given idea from concept to profitable business. Also since faith is a critical component of success in business, Amos founded Church for Entrepreneurs, a daily word training podcast, to teach entrepreneurs the Word of God to grow their faith. He strongly believes that financial prosperity comes through faith in God and starting your own business. A graduate of Morehouse College and Georgia Institute of Technology, Amos earned dual degrees in General Engineering and Electrical Engineering.
Barbara Boliere is a highly involved Fire Starter from Miami, Fla. Upon completing her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Barbara now educates youth in South Florida about the importance of abstaining from sexual activity outside of a committed marriage. She loves to equip youth with the knowledge and skills necessary for them to make wise decisions as it relates to relationships, marriage and sex. As she pursues her Master’s degree in Social Work, she hopes to create new and innovative strategies to tackle the epidemic of teenage pregnancy.
Michelle Shirley leads Fire Starter International, a Miami-based women’s ministry, a branch of One Body in Christ in Love Ministries. She is also the CEO of Abstinence Between Strong Teens International, a Miami-based ministry founded by Althea McMillan in 1992. Through a critical-thinking based curriculum and workshops, Michelle and her staff guide teens with character development as it concerns relationships, marriage and sex (in that order). Michelle and her staff are bold voices who encourage young people in God’s design for relationships, marriage and sex in a society that says “operate by how you feel.”
Michelle was born and raised in Miami, Fla. She is the daughter of Jamaican parents who migrated to the United States in the late 1970s. Her parents, not afforded the opportunity to immediately attend college and create their own careers, stressed to Michelle and her siblings the importance of earning a good education. Michelle honored her parents’ wishes and while attending her local church, she received scholarships that allowed her to attend the University of Miami. Although she worked earnestly to fulfill her education goals, she made poor social decisions that quickly created a downward spiral—of not only her GPA, but her reputation as well. She eventually graduated from college, earning her bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in health administration. After continuing humbling experiences that she encountered from the Lord, she ran to the altar and rededicated her life to Christ in 2006. She reveals God literally placed the opportunity to become CEO of ABSTI in her hands after seven years of being His faithful servant. To encourage others by what she has learned along her journey, Michelle says: “Your mind and your abilities can take you as far as you want to go. But it is your CHARACTER that will have to sustain you while you are there.”
Today, Michelle is happily married to her husband, Jason, and proudly the mother of their 2-year-old son, Jehu. She is also the minster of her church women’s ministry called FireStarters, whose goal is to set the world ablaze for Christ.
“Testamoni” is a gospel rap artist and member of Fire Starter International, a Miami-based women’s ministry, a branch of One Body in Christ in Love Ministries. She shares the following testimony as her bio:
Luke 7:47-I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”
A little girl growing up with these secret buried deep in her soul; the secret that would eventually take a toll on her life and the very thing that eventually brought her to her knees. She was now 35 years old; with two daughters and two baby daddies. The shame, humiliation, bitterness, resentment and anger had consumed her life. All she could see in her life was one failure after another and yet she did not understand why and even attempted to end her life. She cried out to God, “Why had this sexual perversion been so prevalent in my life—that I had no respect for my body and yielded to every sexual desire; from masturbation, pornography and even women?” The secret was now about to be exposed: the little girl in her hiding in the closet of her soul had been violated at the tender age of three and only the love of God had the keys to unlock. The memories began to surface and now she had to confront this demon that tried to steal her soul.
As she diligently sought God, He began to unravel the emotions tied to those hideous acts that had her so bound to shame. Little by little, she allowed God into her life and received her newness in Christ as His beloved child. At first, she could not grasp why anyone would desire to love her; she was so dirty and full of shame. God’s love permeated her soul with His Son, Jesus Christ. He replaced her filth with His righteousness. She could now let go of the shame of adulterous affairs and fornication in the church. She no longer looked for love in a man, but everything she needed was in Jesus Christ. In the midst of this transformation, she was endowed with her Boaz, a man that saw beyond her pain and loved her as Christ did. In the marriage, they had a daughter, Destini Faithangel. God blessed her with the gift of rap and she utilizes to share her experiences. She also ministers to broken women and shares the love she received with transparency, compassion and boldness; a message of hope and redemption.
Pastor Bryan A. Sands is a veteran of working with students and adults for over 15 years in the public school system, church and university worlds. Pastor Sands was ordained into Christian ministry at the age of 21. After 13 years in one church as Pastor of Student Ministries and the last three years as Associate Pastor of Outreach, he has moved to Hope International University where he has started his fourth year as Campus Pastor. His current project is a book tentatively titled Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait. You can read his blog at www.everyonelovessex.org.
In addition to his campus work, Pastor Sands also has a passion for missions. Under his leadership, nearly half of the university students he works with were involved with some form of missions last semester. While he served full-time in the church, he started the fourth worship celebration service aimed at young adults. He developed leaders and shared passionately every week about the love and grace of Jesus. Pastor Sands occasionally teaches youth ministry and leadership classes when needed at Hope International University.
Pastor Sands has a passion to people make wise choices with their lives. He also has a heart for apologetics and helping others understand why they believe what they believe. He holds two undergraduate degrees from Hope International University (Youth Ministry and Biblical Studies) and a graduate degree from BIOLA University (Christian Apologetics). He is married to his beautiful Australian wife, Caz, and they have a beautiful baby girl, Abigail.
Catherine Fendig is an author and inspirational speaker whose life work is to motivate others to become more spiritually fit. Her passion is in sharing her life transparently so that others may have hope in their journey to grow and heal. She has written several books, including her most recent work, Becoming a Well Woman. In her book, Catherine leads readers through her cycle of abusive relationships and five failed marriages; how she kept falling for the wrong man. She shares the process of recovery from abuse to the way to true love, hope, joy, freedom and peace—as God intended. Catherine admits that she spent 20 years living in spiritual “half-truths” until she developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to receive the whole truth. She says, “The simple most driving thing that gets me up each morning is having a living relationship with God and knowing He saved my life. I’m always trying to see how He will use that to make some purpose of it, helping me to help somebody else. I say ‘what can I do for God, for He has always been there for me.’”
In the early ages of her life, Catherine suffered sexual abuse, was a victim of domestic violence, lived with alcoholism and family rage. This oppressive lifestyle led to her addictions to alcohol, food, drugs and shopping, and dysfunctional living. She is now recovered and lives a healthy and happy life with her children and grandchildren. She continues to write to help those walk the path to health and recovery as she has experienced. Catherine is an honor graduate from Adelphi University in New York and lives with her husband Cap on St. Simons Island, Georgia.
Rapper. Singer. Producer. Prostitute. Lesbian. CHRISTian.
On the surface, those words together wouldn’t normally form a sentence. But don’t judge the cover, or you’ll miss how the story of Octavia Harris reads.
Octavia Harris. Entrepreneur. Visionary. Redeemed. Rebuilt. Restored.
The music birthed through this Portland, Oregon-bred musician comes from experience. Losing a brother to suicide, father died from kidney failure, she was previously engaged in a 10-year homosexual lifestyle and prostitution, Octavia knows she should have lost her mind and her life. In 2005, she gave her life to Christ and He delivered her from these experiences she never planned for. A heady and creative young woman involved in a number of traditionally male-dominated industries, Octavia, was a secular artist by the name of “151” and was a burgeoning pioneer of the Portland underground hip-hop scene. The tough-talking, braggadocios rapper learned to hold her own in a world were tough talk by itself was cheap. Now she is on fire for God and shares her story wherever the Holy Ghost leads. About how the Lord has transformed her life, Octavia says, “He is so worth serving now that I know who He really is. He’s had His hand on me the entire time, even when I was on the streets.”
Octavia successfully released, independently, Inspired By GOD (2005), 4 The Children (2006), and Radical Sabbatical (2007). She has collaborated and shared the stage with several well-known Christian artists like Melinda Watts, Beckah Shae, Erica Cumbo, K-Drama, and more. Not willing to rest on her laurels, Octavia continues to grow into one of the Internet’s most heralded Christian producers of all types of Gospel music, as the owner of www.beatsbyoctavia.com, an online beat store that draws thousands of visits on a regular basis.
Her latest album, Be Myself, a solo project she performed and produced, is available here for free download.
Octavia’s motive and passion are to share her life’s experiences, with songs that not only talk about victories, but also abuse, being single and satisfied, along with other relevant issues not often discussed within the church’s four walls. Octavia is also writing a new book titled, How God Turns Your Pain Into Passion! She has found forgiveness and restoration in a personal relationship with Yeshua. GOD, the Father turned everything around for her good!
Octavia currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, and is one of the most well-known and well-respected Gospel rap artists of today.
Frank S. Henderson, Jr. serves as Deputy Director of the Topeka Rescue Mission and NET Reach, two Christian social service ministries, formed to meet the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of men, women and children. Support is provided through meals, shelter, education and programming for the enhancement of life skills.
Frank accepted Christ at an early age and committed his life to him. He has served on various church boards, preached, taught and discipled new believers. Additionally, Frank has worked in State Social Services and the Criminal Justice System for over 25 years, providing services to those in poverty, the mentally ill, as well as victims and offenders. At age 30, Frank was appointed as Chairman of the Kansas Parole Board and was the youngest Parole Chair in the country.
Frank has been involved in many community and education activities including serving on the Education Commission of the States, President of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards and President of the Kansas Association of School Boards. Additionally, Frank is a consultant for the U.S. Department of Justice and provides training for many federal and state agencies. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Washburn University and a Master’s Degree from Kansas State University.
Dawn Bauer is a Family Advocate and certified Parent Coach through her company, The Family Hope Line, founded in 2009. Family Hope Line is a cost-free placement service which assists families seeking programs to address the specific needs of their struggling teen and provide family restoration. The goal is to locate an environment that limits the exposure to distractions which can prevent a teen from focusing on education, while at the same time providing the necessary experience to learn important life lessons as well as encourage them to examine failed expectations, low self-esteem and fear that is hindering their potential and personal growth.
In 2007, Dawn made a tough love decision for her youngest son and enrolled him in an early intervention, Christian boarding school. Through this personal experience as well as her passions for serving others, she was asked to take her advocacy on a volunteer basis to becoming the Director of Admissions and Marketing for Abundant Life Academy. During her tenure she assisted families through the enrollment process as well as built a family advocate program that allowed an out reach through many marketing avenues to educate individuals which desired to impact a teen’s negative choices in a positive way. When not meeting the needs of her clients she serves as a CASA for Glynn County, Georgia, providing a voice for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect and placed in the custody of the State. She also serves with Meals on Wheels and various area ministries. She resides in St. Simons Island, Ga., and is the mother of three adult sons. A busy work and travel life contributed to health scare in February 2014 that caused her temporary loss of movement and speech. Grateful to a dear friend who got her emergency help and thankful to God for her recovery, the experience directed her to “be fully present and aware in everything I am doing and to learn that ‘no’ is a powerful boundary word.”
Carrie B. Cook is the founder of empowHERment, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based organization whose mission is “empowering a continuous network of girls and women to be leaders in their community through mentorship, talent development and advocacy.” She founded empowHERment in 2011. Carrie has spent her entire professional career working to advance youth civic engagement, economic empowerment, women’s rights and high quality education for all. Carrie’s professional background includes her current appointment as a Congressional Staffer and previous experiences in K-12 Education Policy, Higher Education Administration, Communication Consulting, Corporate Consumer Affairs and Non-Profit Organization Development.
Carrie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Master of Public Administration degree with a focus on Education Policy and Economic Development from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Carrie has been recognized by local, national and international organizations for her commitment to public service. In 2011, Carrie received the Young Public Administrator of the Year Award from the National Forum of Black Public Administrators, and in 2012 she was selected as one of nine leaders under 30 in Charlotte for the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community. Carrie was recognized as the 2013 Emerging Leader Woman of Achievement by the YWCA Central Carolinas for her commitment to empowering women, eliminating racism and promoting social justice.
Carrie’s adventurous spirit has led her to over 15 countries across six continents. A hospitalization to treat a bacterial infection during a 2011 trip to China, gave her time alone with God where He birthed in her spirit to mentor girls and women in her community, which lead to her founding empowHERment. An admitted planner to the -nth degree, Carrie never imagined her path so joyous as this and says, “God’s plan is infinitely greater than we can map for ourselves.”
Kareen Riviere, PhD, is a scientist with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the founder, president and Executive Director of The Empower Foundation, Inc., a Maryland-based nonprofit founded in December 2010. Kareen, who has family in Haiti, was heartbroken by the devastating earthquake that occurred January 2010 that has killed over 200,000 Haitians and has left over 1 million Haitians living in tent camps. She was inspired to make a difference in Haiti and founded The Empower Foundation to help the people of Haiti to rebuild the country through empowering projects.
The Empower Foundation’s mission is to empower people and communities to have a voice, take action, and better their quality of life. Kareen strongly believes that the key to making an impact begins with empowering ourselves and each other.
The first project of The Empower Foundation focused on women and girls in Haiti. Because of the lack of security in the tent camps, women and girls are especially in danger of becoming sexually assaulted. Kareen and her team partnered with other organizations to prepare and distribute safety kits to women and girls in Haiti’s tent camp areas. to help protect them sexual violence. In addition, Kareen has served as a student mentor to girls considering careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field. Since childhood and being one of the few women of color in her field, she firmly believes in empowering women and says, “I want them to know they can do anything they put their minds to.” Through her faith in God, she is passionate about empowering and serving others through her God-given talents. Kareen obtained a B.S. from Brown University in 2003 and a Ph.D. from University of California, San Francisco in 2009.
In a world where nothing is certain, this woman stands firm in God’s Word. Pastor and Prophetess Ruth L. Miranda was born and raised by Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, New York. She resides in Hollywood, Florida with her husband of 39 years, Bishop Fernando Miranda, their three adult children and four precious grandchildren. Alongside her husband, they oversee Tabernacle of Christian Faith in Hollywood, Fla., which celebrates 20 years of ministry. In January 2014, Prophetess Miranda birthed the ministry “Women with Divine Purpose” under Ruth Miranda Ministries, Inc. Grateful to be used as God’s vessel, she created Women with Divine Purpose in an effort to encourage women to fulfill the plan that God has for their lives mentally, physically and spiritually. She strongly believes God has a divine purpose for your life and desires to bring changes to you and your family.
Kimberly Jones-Pothier is a sought after anointed conference speaker, life coach and mentor. A true worshiper, she radiates with the love and joy of the Lord.
Conquering Hell in High Heels was birthed while Kimberly was going through the healing process of her past. As a child, Kimberly heard the voice of God and was given the assignment to reach the masses. Now, she travels the world preaching, teaching and leading people to the love of God equipped with an assignment simply “to love people back to life.”
After surviving a divorce and relocating her sons to Fayetteville, Georgia, the restoration process began. During this time, God healed her mind, body and soul. She was able to forgive and move forward in her mandated assignment of loving people back to life as God had done for her.
Kimberly’s willingness to be transparent and raw in her testimony of conquering hell has garnered her respect among her peers and millions of people all around the world who read her daily Facebook posts and tweets. Kimberly believes every person possesses purpose, passion and power and uses the tools of preaching, outreach and worship to unveil this in the lives of people daily.
Her journey of reaching the masses began when she was anointed as a child to sing. She was placed before great men and served as Worship Pastor traveling with Pastors Rod Parsley, Clint Brown, Larry and Tiz Huch as well as Drs. Mark & Ruth Chirrona. She was also a part of the Christian television program, Power of Praise, with Angela Courte. Although she found great success and favor, Kimberly knew there was more to her assignment than just leading people into the presence with singing. God was calling her into something greater. Kimberly walked away from God for a season and quickly realized this was not where she was destined.
Ministry is more than a passion, it is genetic. Drs. Henry and Ann Jones, Kimberly’s parents, have been in ministry for more than 45 years and are Lead Pastors of the Church of the Harvest Fayette, www.cothfayette.org. Kimberly is the Music Pastor, as well as Executive Pastor alongside her husband, Mark. Currently, Mark and Kimberly reside in Fayetteville, Georgia with her two sons, Lyncoln and Morgan.
Noel Bouché is the President of pureHOPE. pureHOPE pursues a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness by providing Christian solutions in a sexualized culture. Noel’s passionate focus is to inspire and equip followers of Jesus to pursue a world free of sexual exploitation and brokenness through personal transformation and community collaboration.
He believes that pureHOPE’s unique ministry, which combines the topics of parenting, justice, and recovery and equips individuals to live out a pure life of prayer, understanding, resolve, and engagement, is at the heart of God’s will for His people and is the key to turning a culture of exploitation into one of love, purity, and justice.
Along with leading the day-to-day operations of pureHOPE, Noel works to form strategic and collaborative partnerships globally to advance the life-changing message that everyone who hopes in Jesus purifies him or herself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3). He is convinced this is a revolutionary message for people of all ages, and especially for the next generation. This belief led him to launch the pureJUSTICE college internship in 2009, which embodies pureHOPE’s desire to equip the next generation of leaders, through spiritual formation and professional development, to be advocates for the vulnerable and exploited while keeping themselves unstained by the world (James 1:27).
Prior to joining pureHOPE in 2008, he was a litigation attorney and worked in law firms in New York, Washington, DC, and Cincinnati. He received his law degree with honors from The University of Texas School of Law, and his undergraduate degree from South Dakota State University, where he quarterbacked the football team. Noel lives in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with his wife, Vanessa, and their two daughters.
Ana Martinez, is a chef, interior designer, Voices Against the Grain blogger and “daughter of the Most High.” Ana was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich. Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home. Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her. In her youth she was like the prodigal son. She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God. Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principals are worth upholding. She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord. Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”
Ana has served on the missionary field, served as praise and worship leader, children’s ministry and youth ministry. Ana’s most recent initiative is Georgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans. Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. As of January 2014, Ana shares her testimony of how God’s love healed her from years of sexual abuse, rape, promiscuity and self-hatred in order to help others who have experienced similar trauma. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.
Ana resides in Southern California with her three beautiful children and seeks daily to model this scripture from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Christian rap artist Matthew “Crucial” Slyman, is no stranger to the so-called “freedoms” offered by this world. He spent years addicted to drugs, alcohol, sexing, and couldn’t keep a job. He eventually became so sick of his sin-filled living that he arrogantly called out to God and said, “If you’re really there, I’m sick of this life. I want it to change. Let’s see what you got.” Boy did God answer! He was even more encouraged when his father said, “There are people praying for you who you don’t even know.” These words triggered his turn toward God. God saved, rescued and restored him, though he still faced challenges and the changes weren’t instant. Today, he has produced nine albums, rapped and spoken at more than 200 events and serves in the college ministry at his Charlotte, N.C. church.
“Crucial” shares his latest seven-track album “The End of the World” which speaks to ending the world in YOU. As new creations in Christ, we no longer conform to the patterns of this world and we are now spirit-led. The album is available for free download here.
A powerful 5-minute video was produced for “The End of the World” with this message:
“This world is falling away. Don’t fall in love with the things of this world, with things of society and what it produces; or society’s systems; things that won’t last. When you go after what is temporary you can spend your life and lose your soul trying to grip something that is passing away.” View the video here.
Charles Holmes accepted Christ in his youth and was called to ministry while working in a factory in his later years. Charles is a former Marine Reservist and National Guardsman with a bachelors in Business Administration. He is a nationally published writer of several Christian articles; also a contributor and partner in two nationally recognized think tanks: Relevant Now and Freedom Squared. He is a native of Topeka, Kansas.
Raised by his grandmother to “learn in the knowledge and admonition of the Lord,” Pastor Troy Russell is an instructor of religious studies at Livingstone College in Salisbury N.C., a Historically Black College and University founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. For more than three years, he has served as the Livingstone College campus pastor for students, faculty and staff. Pastor Russell obtained his Master of Divinity from Hood Theological Seminary and his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from North Carolina Central University. Pastor Russell has more than 16 years of pastoralship, pastoring 10 years at Grace Worship Center. Pastor Russell shares a loving yet bold message to encourage others to grow their relationship with Jesus Christ and warns against exchanging this relationship and Scripture for the doctrine of man. For churches, in essence he says, we “should not promote a facade to worship God” and not skew scriptures in hopes to bring about various aspects of prosperity. We should instead, trust that Jesus Christ will prosper us as He desires.
Monique Singh, of Kansas City, Kan., gives the glory, honor and praise daily to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for rescuing her from the deadly grip of a 34-year lifestyle that should have killed her. Monique tasted her first beer at 13 to “fit in.” By 14, she was using marijuana, pills, and stripping in bars. Quick money and fast cars earned from stripping and prostitution, she dropped out of school. Organized gang affiliations into her 20’s, then became homeless. As a daughter and mother from Topeka, Kan., she says, “I was raised better than this.” Enter our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ who is able to reach and save to the uttermost, to those who call on His name. A powerful testimony too real to fake, Monique shares her story of addiction, rebellion, selfishness and redemption to encourage others who are struggling. Very aware that drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, she says, “My addiction is out there doing push-ups waiting for me to return.” Today, Monique conducts street outreach to homeless persons, gang members in Kansas City, works in adult addiction counseling and helps parolees transition productively into society.
Myranda Dorsey is a Charlotte, N.C. native and a 2011 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University with a B.S. degree in Music Education. She is passionate about spreading the gospel through music and loves to see young people discover their God-given identity. She is currently a music teacher at Oak Hill Elementary School in High Point, N.C. Myranda shares how a thoughts of low self-esteem spurred her to desire and envy features on other women that eventually lead to same-sex attraction—something she did not expect. Through Jesus Christ, she rediscovered her true identity and her identity in Christ, as He views her. She continues to share this and other real messages with our young people. Myranda tells others: “Sin will take you further than you want to go.”
Herbert G. Bowen, Jr. Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C. At his current age of 24, Herbert serves on the PureHope advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.
Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye. He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses. Herbert is also a regular blogger for Voices Against the Grain, and you may read his posts here.
Shannon Howey, of Charlotte, N.C., lives her life by 1 Corinthians 15:58- “Therefore, my brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Actively living by this verse has allowed God to pour out His blessings in her life. Currently working in her dream job, Shannon is the Client Services Director with the Oprah Winfrey-endorsed Paul Carrick Brunson Agency…which really means she’s a professional matchmaker! She uses her God-given gifts and talents to dig deep into the nuances of love and relationships and the psyche of all those trying to figure it out. Shannon enjoys helping people to find happy and healthy relationships. She recognizes that without her unshakable faith in the Lord, she would not be where she is today.
When she’s not out searching for love for everybody else, she’s spends time with her boyfriend of two years, her family and friends or her two favorite godsons. You may also listen to her as a featured guest on Charlotte’s WGIV-FM “BJ Murphy Morning Show” as the “Relationship Doctor” or at One Way Baptist Church were she serves as the Co-Youth Director. With the help of her church and other partners, she successfully developed and coordinated a February 2013 youth conference entitled “Going Against the Grain.” The conference brought together bold voices from various ages and backgrounds whose lives model what it means to obediently advance God’s Kingdom in a society that deems such actions unpopular. In the future, Shannon desires to serve as a Christian Relationship Counselor.
Michele Dudley is the Executive Director of Fashion & Compassion, a nonprofit that connects caring consumers with vulnerable women artisans to bring dignity through economic opportunity. Michele co-founded Fashion & Compassion with Celeste Bundy in 2012 after working with indigenous artisans for many years. They and their volunteers are driven in their work by several core values based in Scriptures on love, dignity, hope, service, community, integrity, generosity and action. Michele is also the Founder and the Conference Director for the Ignite Justice Conference/The Justice Conference Charlotte, whose vision is to educate, empower and engage people in the fight against poverty and injustice in the US and around the world. Michele has volunteered extensively with ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries), Seeds of Hope, Neet’s Sweets/Market Your Mind, Forest Hill Church and the Pregnancy Resource Center. Michele began her career with KPMG and also worked with Bank of America as a Vice President in the Global Corporate Investment Bank. Michele graduated from the University of Southern California with a BS in Accounting and has lived in Charlotte since 1993. Michele is married to Eric who is the Founder and President of WebsiteBiz, a regional Digital Marketing Agency where she works part-time as Controller. She is the mother of four children ages 10-14 plus a 22-year-old college student from Burundi. When Michele isn’t following her passion to fight injustice, she can be found reading or running.
Celeste Bundy is the Co-Founder, Product Sales Coordinator & Assistant Director of Fashion & Compassion, which she started with Michele Dudley in 2012. Celeste has been blessed to work with marginalized and vulnerable artisans over the past few years. She has witnessed the difference made in others lives through customers’ purchases which help vulnerable women become economically independent. Celeste has had the privilege of serving alongside Michele since 2009 and is excited about all that God has ahead for Fashion & Compassion. She stands firm in Ephesians 3:20 “to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us,” operating on faith that trusts Him with this endeavor. Celeste has been heavily involved with missions through journeys to South America, the Caribbean and six trips to Africa in the past four years. She has also served considerably with organizations such as The Ignite Justice Conference, Seeds of Hope, ALARM (African Leadership And Reconciliation Ministries) and Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, N.C. Celeste’s highest calling is being a single-mom to her beautiful daughter, Miah. When not parenting or promoting sales for Fashion & Compassion, Celeste enjoys spending time with her immediate family and friends.
James Oyola, is an on-fire-for-God-Miami-based freelance journalist who uses his gift of communication to minister to others. God has blessed him to freelance for the NBA’s Miami Heat, 560 WQAM sports radio of Miami, The Miami Herald newspaper, and a host of other clients. James, saved now for six years, is preparing to publish his first book entitled, Get Out of Your Own Way, to help people reach their full potential by building or strengthening a relationship with God. James is the founder of writing company, Imago Dei Productions, LLC (Imago Dei is Greek for “In His Image”). The father to his 9-year-old son Adrian, James shares messages on the role of a single man in a relationship and the role of the church in that it should be non-compromising in the world. James attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., and is currently enrolled in the Biblical Institute through the Tabernacle of Christian Faith Church, where he is pursuing his call to perhaps pastor or teach. He is a public speaker, and sometimes communicates the Spoken Word through Christian Hip Hop under the pseudonym, J-Skillz. James, of Puerto Rican descent, is from Hoboken, N.J., and lives in Hollywood, Fla. Read his blog here.
Célestin Musekura, Ph.D., is the President and Founder of the African Leadership And Reconciliation Ministries (ALARM, Inc.). He is an ordained Baptist minister born and raised in Rwanda. He received a Bachelor of Theology at Kenya Highlands Bible College in Kenya, a Master of Divinity at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology, and a Master of Sacred Theology and a Ph.D. in theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. His doctoral research is on Contemporary Models of Forgiveness and he specializes in communal forgiveness. He is the author of An Assessment of Contemporary Models of Forgiveness, and co-author of Forgiving As We’ve Been Forgiven. Célestin founded ALARM to equip church leaders, government and civic leaders to address the issues of ethnic violence and tribalism in Africa, and help women and youth develop skills in peacebuilding, conflict resolution, mediation, forgiveness, reconciliation, to show God’s love for all people, human rights, trauma healing and social justice—critical to communities devastated by genocide and other acts of violence.
Célestin was challenged to put forgiveness in action when on December 28, 1997, men in uniform armed with guns, grenades, swords and clubs, went into his family’s Rwandan village and killed 70 people including six members of his family. Célestin, his wife and children were living in Dallas, Texas at the time of the slayings and received the horrific news by fax several days later. God implored Célestin, who was filled with anger, to forgive his family’s murderers as he had been teaching others to do. Noting this was the hardest challenge of his life, Célestin writes in his book, “Just as Christ has forgiven us, without the practice of forgiveness in a new life we receive from Jesus Christ, we have no hope for the future.” The healing power of forgiveness in his own life has inspired him to work for forgiveness and reconciliation across Africa.
Hakim Hazim is the author of several published books and articles, and a nationally recognized expert in the areas of criminality, decision analysis and security. Hakim is the founder of the Christian-based national security consultancy, Relevant Now, which provides clients with “timely, insightful and transformative information” to understand the impact and nuances of counterterrorism, radical religious sects, gangs and juvenile delinquency and trains law enforcement in tested approaches to mentally ill or challenged individuals. He is the co-founder of Freedom², which focuses on believers in America and other free societies. Hakim, who is based near Boise, Idaho, was raised Muslim and is a born-again Christian since 1993. Hakim has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the California State University San Bernardino.
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