As an Army Special Forces Green Beret, John was deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq once. In 2014, at Fort Hood, he endured severe injuries to his neck and right arm after being shot by a deranged fellow soldier, who killed four people, including himself, and wounded 16 others. Despite these traumatic experiences, John says something much earlier in his life wounded him even more.
John grew up in in Whittier, CA in the 80’s and 90’s. He says it was pretty normal to have only one of his biological parents “steering the ship.” “Sometimes that ship spun in circles, and other times veered off course mainly because the captain was absent,” he says, referring to his dad. John says his dad’s alcoholism brought about the end of many things: his career, marriage, dreams of raising his children, and tragically, his own life when he was age 34 and John was just five. Though he couldn’t grasp what that profound loss meant for years, in time it was clear. “I was lost without him,” he remembers.
SEARCHING FOR IDENTITY
Growing up, John tried a number of things to fill the void his father left, gain affirmation, and create what he lacked – identity. In school, he became the class clown, craving attention. It didn’t heal his heart, but felt good to make the other kids laugh. From age 12 to 18, John joined his older brother in a gang, still searching for identity and approval. “I wasn’t a good gang member, because I loved people,” he says. The gang life kept him on the run from rival gang members and was, of course, a bad influence. He engaged in a lot of fighting, felt hatred from others, and became a teen father in the ninth grade, none of which provided what he hoped.
At 18, John tried a new way to cope – meth amphetamine -- and became hooked. It, too, failed to remove the pain in his heart. At the encouragement of his praying grandmother and his sister, John decided to join the Army when he was 20, thinking that would help him put his life in order, and give him a sense of identity. “I was taught by great leaders to work hard, perform with excellence, be a self-starter, and to never quit.”
Still the longing in his heart persisted. “The orphan heart that craved affirmation remained; this time, it was masked in a camouflage uniform and esprit de corps,” John admits. Though he couldn’t do drugs in the military, he could drink, and did so to excess. In time, he earned his way into the elite fighting group, the Green Berets, with what he calls an unhealthy craving for the affirmation he never received from his father. “I never heard my dad say, 'You are my son in whom I am well pleased. You are my son; I love you,'” he painfully recalls.
COMING TO FAITH
In 2003, John married Angel, and their lives spiraled steadily downward with alcohol and anger until Angel came to the place where she didn’t want to live anymore. In 2009, they went to a church, heard the gospel presented clearly for the first time, and came to faith in Christ. John says he began to change as he poured himself into church activities, surrounded himself with other Christian men, and set boundaries to curb his drinking. While their new faith and church involvement certainly made life better, John says he was like Lazarus – alive, but still wearing the grave clothes of past hurts. “Inviting Jesus into my heart was only the beginning of restoring my spirit, soul, and body. I lived with unhealthy fears and beliefs that became part of my everyday life without ever considering I could be free of them.”
The well-known Bible story of David, his best friend, Jonathan, and his son, Mephibosheth, is one John says illustrated every believer’s true identity. When King Saul and his son, Jonathan, were both killed in battle, the news came to Mephibosheth’s nurse, who picked up the five-year-old and fled, fearing the new king would put everyone in Saul’s family to death. She dropped him along the way, causing him to be lame. He lived in exile in the wilderness for many years until King David asked Ziba, Saul’s former servant, if anyone from Saul’s family remains, so that he might show kindness to him and fulfill his promise to Jonathan.
Ziba brought Mephibosheth, now a young man, to the King, who assumes he will be killed, considering himself but “a dead dog.” David not only spares him, but assigns Ziba and all his family to serve him, and elevates him to eat at the King’s table every day. John applies that to believers today who don’t know (or believe) their true identity: “Do you see yourself as a dead dog? Do you live in your own emotional Lo-debar (the wilderness where Mephibosheth lived)? Did you grow up without a dad or a mom? You might not have …heard those endearing words, ‘I love you. I am proud of you.’ The truth is, you have always had a Father that loves and adores you. His name is God, and He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth for the greatest hostage rescue mission ever executed.”
THE JOURNEY TO HEALING
When John met his co-author, Peggy Corvin, he also met his future “freedom counselor.” Peggy has helped him work through the hurts remaining in his heart through a variety of therapy methods. The issues they’ve processed, and he says most of us need to as well are:
• Beliefs. “Beliefs are the content of our hearts and have dominion over our thoughts,” John says. “An ungodly belief will appear to be true based on the facts of a person’s experience, yet is absolutely false based on God’s Word.”
• Unforgiveness and bitterness. They act as a poison to us if not rooted out and healed, John believes.
• Anger. “Was Jesus angry? Absolutely. Did he react in rage? No. He acted to make sure His point was made, and He did it appropriately.”
• Spiritual warfare. John says we need to be aware of how our enemy, the devil, works and be prepared with tactics to fend of his attacks. Some of methods they’ve used are the breaking of strongholds, practicing forgiveness, finding freedom from fears, and overcoming family hurts and sins.
Adonis Lattimore is a distinguished wrestler! Virginia’s Class Six-A, 106 pound State Champ! A distinction, from not only the success he had on high school mats across Virginia, but achieving it with what he doesn’t have! Adonis was born without a right leg, a full left leg, and four digits on his right hand. Adonis and his parents, Jerrold and Demetra, have long known how to wrestle - from struggle – since embracing the unexpected at Adonis’ birth in 2004.
Demetra Lattimore: “We were not aware of his condition until he was actually delivered. The umbilical cord wrapped around a limb and the limb wasn’t able to develop. You could tell that something was wrong.”
Jerrold Lattimore: “It was multiple emotions, I mean, it was the excitement of life but then it was also the grief of lost limbs."
Demetra Lattimore: “I was sitting there, and a nurse said, ‘Things happen for a reason and I was chosen to be his parent!'"
Jerrold Lattimore: “The first question I think people always want to ask is: ‘what happened and then, why?’ I had to accept the fact that there wasn’t going to be a ‘why’ – and this is what God has given us. And so, we accept that. God makes no mistakes!”
Question: “Adonis, what is the greatest challenge?”
Adonis Lattimore: “There are some things I want to do myself but often times I can’t do them. I don’t want to rely on other people, become a burden to them. So, that’s always been my biggest weakness but it’s also strength, because I’m not totally defenseless! I can’t worry about what I don’t have. I just need to focus on what I do have. One of the seven deadly sins is envy, the desire to want something that someone else has. I want to figure out a way to do it myself and make it my own.”
Demetra Lattimore: “It’s been hard as far as raising someone with a uniqueness like him. We have three other kids, navigating through how to do things differently then what people take for granted. The little teeny things. You know, the door width, the entry on the sidewalk that’s safe. Let him know that even though its not the traditional way that things are done – that you can still do it!”
Question: “You have a lower sight line, what do you see that some of us may never see?
Adonis Lattimore: “Just like the foundation of everything. I see lower to the ground than most people so I notice how things are structured, how things are built up and what’s keeping them up, that people take for granted that I tend to notice a lot more.”
Question: “How does the likeness of God look different when you look at your son?”
Demetra Lattimore: “We’re made into the image of God. When I look at Adonis, everybody has something unique people are drawn to. Embrace it! Ask God to show you the way to deal with it. And give you those tools to carry on! No matter how different we are, we all are loved.”
Question: “You elected the name, Adonis. Why?”
Jerrold Lattimore: “The meaning of Adonis’ name is ‘God’s Blessing.’ Comes from an African proverb. We embraced the name! He’s embodied that I would say. I’ve always felt each person has their own identity, that we wanted him to be who he was and what God has in store for him.”
Question: “What was it about the sport of wrestling?”
Jerrold Lattimore: “I competed in sports all throughout my childhood and I just wanted him to know what it felt like to be able to compete. To allow his abilities to make the determination of how well he did or didn’t do. When he decided that was something he wanted, I just wanted to be there, just make sure that if he loves it, then it’s a love that I have.”
Question: “To become a wrestler, where did that come from?”
Adonis Lattimore: “That ability to win on my own instead of with other team sports where I’m sort of relying on teammates just as well!”
Question: “Because of your unique composition, what gives you an advantage?”
Adonis Lattimore: “The mental fortitude! Since I’ve been tested in life a lot more than the average person would be just in daily life, then, when I come to the mat there’s not much that can rattle me.”
Question: “Virginia State Wrestling Champion. That was a goal for a while?”
Adonis Lattimore: “Ah, just a childhood dream. One of the higher accomplishments you could do in wrestling. The name sort of sounded appealing to me and that’s want I wanted to do and as I grew older, to fulfill that dream sort of became stronger.”
Question: “Putting together faith and determination?”
Adonis Lattimore: “You need to have a strong faith even when you can’t see something coming. And to tie that to your determination is just as an important aspect as having that faith. There was a point in wrestling where I felt like giving up and the pressure to fulfill my goal had gotten too much for me to handle. I saw God working. I had faith that He was going to help me revive my dream!”
Question: “In the title match, what for you was the turning point?”
Adonis Lattimore: “There was about a minute left. A thought popped in my head that, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ Just turned off my brain and then I started wrestling freely. It was almost like I was being guided. But I eventually scored the final points to win the match.”
Question: “That Championship win, what was going through your mind in that moment?”
Jerrold Lattimore: “Just a rush of excitement and just joy! That’s something he said he wanted to do, the journey that come to fruition. (Emotional pause) Priceless! Him to have his moment. To be recognized! After the match, when they take the podium and they’re getting their medals and man, it’s the moment that goes back to when he was born, that grief, but also that happiness. ”
Question: “Lets go back to that picture, of you embracing Adonis. You’re carrying his full weight. How does love shoulder more than we realize we can carry?”
Jerrold Lattimore: “It symbolizes what God does for us on a day in and day out basis. The weight that God has carried. That He carries for us! He’s always there. He’s always got us. I don’t know what I would do or what I would be if it wasn’t for what God continuously does in my life.”
Question: “Out comes dad, carrying your full weight. How does love shoulder more?”
Adonis Lattimore: “I think love carries with it, doubt, sadness, fears, anxiety. It carries both the positive and the negative things with it. And that’s what makes unconditional love, loving you no matter what and always pulling you back up. Jesus’ love, even when it seems something random like happens, even my birth can sort of be like that. Sometimes the greatest blessing can be born when you’re at your lowest moment.”
Melany lives in Guatemala. Her mom Ana said got scared one day when she noticed a lump on her daughter that she hadn’t seen before, recounting, “I was giving her a bath and I saw and felt a lump the size of a grape on her groin. I was very scared.”
Melany’s dad Antonio also said his daughter seemed to cry when she was walking and playing. Antonio recalls, “Every time she played with her brother she seemed to be in pain, she would lie down and start crying.”
Melany’s parents took her to several doctors—who diagnosed a hernia. Unfortunately, they couldn’t confirm it because the lump had retracted behind the abdominal muscles. They recommended a test which cost over. Antonio told us he only earns about $10 a day, explaining, “If I paid for that test that would mean that my family would have to without food.”
One day, the pain got so bad they rushed her to the emergency room. Ana recalls, "At the hospital, they said they couldn’t find anything and sent us home.” Antonio painfully conveys, "Seeing my child suffer is the worst thing."
A few weeks later they heard about a hospital that partners with Operation Blessing. There, YOU made it possible for us to pay for the test her parents could not afford and for the surgery to repair the hernia. The operation was successful and now Melany is running and playing without pain. Her mom Ana happily and gratefully says, “I feel like you have given my baby a second chance at life. Thank you, Operation Blessing.”
FINDING THE RIGHT FIT
Kristi McLelland grew up in rural Mississippi. She accepted Christ when she was 9 years old and was instantly drawn to learning the Bible. At 16, her pastor asked Kristi if she could do anything in the world, what would it be? She responded, “I want to teach the word of God.” Yet, she grew up in an environment that discouraged females from teaching or preaching in the Church.
Becoming a physical therapist seemed like a good career fit for Kristi so she got her undergrad in biology from Delta State University. But God had different plans for her future. While in college, her thirst for studying scripture grew and she began leading Bible studies and receiving invitations to teach at various churches and groups. Eventually, the church she was attending put her on staff.
After earning a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, she became a professor at Williamson College in Franklin, TN where she has been teaching for over 20 years.
THE GOD OF ISRAEL
In 2007, God opened the door for Kristi to study the Bible in Israel and Egypt. She explains, “I went to Israel and learned that God is better than I ever knew.” The meaning of God’s word came to life and she was forever changed. Since 2008, Kristi’s been taking teams to Israel teaching the Bible through its historical, cultural, linguistic, and geographic context. Her study trips to the biblical lands, along with her Pearls podcast and in-person and online courses, help Westerners discover and appreciate the Bible within the framework in which it was written. This new lens offers a deeper look into what the biblical characters meant by what they did, said, and wrote, inviting us to better experience the God who is constantly pursuing us.
When asked what her purpose in life is, Kristi says, “I am a bridge between the Western Church and the lands of the Bible.”
In 2017, while still on staff at her local church and teaching college classes, God began making Kristi uncomfortable. Kristi felt like the Lord was telling her it was time to resign from her position at the church. She knew change was coming but had no idea what God had in store. Kristi was afraid but felt she had to obey God, so she resigned from the church but continued her professorship at Williamson College.
While waiting on God for her next assignment, she felt lost. Trying to cheer her up, Kristi’s friends invited her on a girl’s trip. While on the airplane, Kristi was still wrestling with God. She decided to do something she doesn’t usually do. Desperate to hear from the Lord, Kristi opened the Bible and said, “Okay God, I need you to speak to me.” She randomly laid her finger on a scripture, and it landed on Psalms 78:19 which reads, “Can God really spread a table in the wilderness?” Kristi knew she was hearing from the Lord. Reading how God provided manna from Heaven for His children during their “wilderness” experience comforted her. God was letting her know that He would take care of her if she would only trust Him.
The word of the Lord found Kristi right where she was. Today, she encourages others looking for hope and direction to trust God. Kristi says, “The word of the Lord is moving through the earth looking for you. Are you tuned in to hear it? I know some of you are in the wilderness right now. I want you to know that He’s not going to fail you. You will not be the first person in all of human history that God fails.”
Kristi wrote Rediscovering Israel to help readers experience God and His Word more deeply. She says that as a culture, Westerners often read the Bible through a lens that asks, “What does this teach me about me?” But in the Middle East, they read scripture asking, “What does this teach me about God?” By reading the scriptures in the context that they were meant to be read in, we see the bigger picture.
The story of Jonah provides a good example. When asking Christians about this book most focus on Jonah. They might say Jonah was a prophet called by God to go to Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to go. So, God allowed him to be swallowed by a whale. Eventually, Jonah did what God asked of him but was bitter that God saved the Ninevites when they repented.
Kristi explains that the point of the book of Jonah is much bigger. It showcases the heart of God and how far He was and is willing to go to rescue His children. There were 120,000 people in Nineveh. Jonah was perfectly fine having them perish in their wicked ways because they deserved it. But God was not. The Apostle Peter confirms God’s this, saying, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9 KJV).”
JESUS & WOMEN
Kristi also founded JW Global, a ministry focused on studying how Jesus interacted with women in the Bible and how He still uses women today. Offering seven sessions, Kristi examines the historical and cultural climate of first-century Middle Eastern society to not only understand Jesus more deeply but to fuel our worship of Him.
She explains, “Women had a very good beginning within Israel's history. Women like Eve, Miriam, Deborah, Jael, Abigail, Esther, and Ruth were held in honor and given respect. Through influential teachings and teachers during the Intertestamental Period, women lost much of their social standing. Instead of being held in honor, women were denigrated to a place of shame.”
CBN’s impact around the world
Daily prayers for people across the country
CBN’s prayer team prayed with over 1.2 million callers in 2022 alone, while also praying with people through email, social media channels, live chat on the website, and written correspondence.
Highlighting testimonies of God’s faithfulness
Vida Dura or “Hard Life” stories are sourced throughout Latin America and produced in Spanish to reach a region with testimonies of people who hit rock bottom and turn to God for change. CBN has a prayer center in Latin America to support people through prayer and faith resources.
Serving in the wake of natural disasters
CBN's Operation Blessing was on the ground quickly in the wake of the devastating earthquakes in Turkey, providing much-needed food, relief supplies, and medical aid. After large-scale natural disasters, Operation Blessing strives to be the first to arrive, and the last to leave, tending to the needs long after the news cameras leave.
Ukraine and Poland
For 30 years, CBN has been serving the people of Ukraine
Through CBN’s Orphan’s Promise and Operation Blessing, we were able to quickly provide valuable resources soon after the conflict began, and we continue to support Ukrainian refugees.
Projected 135 million* watched a CBN program in 2022
CBN partners are reaching children around the world with the Gospel of Jesus through Superbook, a Bible-based animation series. In 2022 alone, children in 139 countries watched at least one episode of Superbook.
Bible Reading for the Day
Read or listen to today's Old and New Testament Bible readings. Each day is portioned to give the entire Bible to you in a year. Start anytime. Scroll forward or backward if you miss any days or want to get ahead.