Depression had taken over Joseph Cantu’s life. The youth pastor, husband, and father of four says he contemplated suicide every day, believing that was the only way to escape the memories haunting him. “For me, the answer was literally death,” Joseph explained. “I could not get it to stop no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t pray it off. I couldn’t take enough sleeping pills to make it go away. And it scared the life out of me.”
Joseph had struggled since he was 10 years old. After his parents divorced, his mom would disappear for years at a time. His dad, who was in the military, worked long hours. “Dark thoughts of feeling worthless, unneeded, were permeating in the back of my mind often,” said Joseph.
As a teenager, Joseph would find acceptance in a gang, embracing the lifestyle of drugs, violence, and crime. “I believe that at the time, being in a gang made me feel part of a family.” That is until one day when a man named Ralph approached 16-year-old Joseph and started telling him about Jesus. “He took me under his wing,” Joseph recalled. “And really, that is where my life really started to transform with a new hope.”
Shortly after, Joseph got out of the gang and started living his life for Christ. “So, finding Jesus was the answer that I needed to all the emptiness that I had felt as a young teenager…wanting to feel part of a family, wanted to be loved was everything that Jesus was and what I needed,” Joseph said.
Having put his old life behind him, Joseph went on to marry his wife Stephanie, open a dance studio, and start a family. Still, his battle with depression continued. In 2017, he started counseling. One session would reveal memories, difficult memories Joseph had long since blocked out. “Some very dark childhood, um molestation came out,” Joseph stated. “Young friends, always, who just for some reason, always felt comfortable wanting to do something to me or access my body in some way.”
Feeling a darkness so heavy, sometimes he’d go out in the middle of the night and walk the streets for hours. Stephanie watched helplessly as her husband continued to spiral downward. "I didn’t know what thoughts were going through his head,” Stephanie explained. “I was thinking the worst that he may have wanted to harm himself. I was terrified to walk in the door after work. I was terrified to open the door. I thought that I would see him lifeless. I thought I would see him, not breathing.”
Suicide seemed to be his only escape. “I knew I loved my wife. She is the closet thing to me,” Joseph said. “And all I could think about was ending the pain and the sorrow and this torture in my mind that would not stop.”
Every day, Stephanie and their children prayed, sang worship songs, and read scripture to Joseph, believing God would heal him. “God told me to just keep praying and just keep seeking Him, and that He was gonna help him,” Stephanie said. “So I did that. I just kept trying to pray and getting the kids to pray and believing that hope and healing was gonna come.”
The family wasn’t alone in their prayers. The community and their church also rallied around Joseph. “I had a strong team of praying intercessors that were helping us fight through this very tough battle together,” Stephanie added.
Fighting the urge to end his life, Joseph prayed for the Holy Spirit to help him. One night, God answered their prayers. “I heard the Holy Spirit tell me, 'If you’re willing to fight, I will take this from you right now,'” Joseph recalled. “I felt a hand, is the best way to describe it, touch my forehead. And without words, I know that I felt that hand say, ‘Keep living, you are healed.’ As soon as that hand touched my forehead, right here, this darkness and this heaviness just, boom, just came off. It lifted off of me. It was gone,” he said.
For the first time, Joseph was completely at peace and able to find joy in his life and work. “Victory from this was like the best feeling every…to see him standing, to see him walking, to see him coming back to life,” said Stephanie. “It was literally like he was dead, and he was coming back to life.”
“I wake up every day now and I tell God I’m so happy to be alive. It’s just a complete opposite from where I used to be. Thank you, God, for another day,” he concluded.
Rick is an Army Special Forces soldier following in his father’s footsteps. When he deployed to Iraq, he experienced the impact of war firsthand. Rick explained, “Sometimes we’d get shot at as soon as we left the gate. There wasn't a day that we would ever go out on a convoy mission that we wouldn't have to stop because somebody spotted an I.E.D.”
After Rick returned, he met and married Casey. It’s hard for Casey to comprehend what he endured.
Casey said, “I couldn't even imagine. Still, to this day when he talks about it, I’m like, I don’t know I could? I could never do that.”
When Rick retired, the couple could easily maintain the family budget. However, their plan quickly fell apart when they learned Rick’s retirement pay would be delayed. The couple managed with Casey’s salary until they discovered she needed surgery and would be out of work without pay for several months.
Rick recalled, “It's tough. I'm worried, overwhelmed. Definitely frustrated.”
The couple struggled to afford basic necessities like food and were unable to make their mortgage payments. Foreclosure was looming. Adding to their crisis, their family vehicle broke down. Rick and Casey learned it needed a new engine and transmission.
Casey shared, “I'm afraid for our family. I'm afraid that we're gonna lose everything.”
As believers, Rick and Casey turned to their faith and prayed for a solution.
Rick said, “My faith is a big comfort. I pray that God points us in the right direction, helps us make the right decisions with what we have.”
Casey continued, “This situation has definitely helped improve my prayer life. I've had to rely on nothing else but God.”
Financial relief was around the corner when a ministry called Reboot contacted CBN about the couple’s crisis. Dory Nissen with Helping the Home Front came by with big news.
Dory shared, “CBN and Helping the Home Front is going to get you caught up on your mortgage."
Casey exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! Wow! We aren’t going to lose our house!”
Dory continued, "We have one more surprise. We are making arrangements to fix your transmission and your engine.”
Casey exclaimed, “Thank you so much!”
Rick continued, “Thank you. God never gives us more than we can handle. God always provides.”
The couple headed to Paylor Powertrain to get the vehicle repaired and their mortgage was covered until Rick’s retirement pay kicked in. Shortly afterward, Casey returned to work. Thanks to Helping the Home Front, this family is now back on financial track.
Casey said, “I'd like to say to the CBN partners, thank you so much! You have no clue what you've done for us today."
Rick shared, “I can't thank CBN's Helping the Home Front and the CBN partners enough. It's absolutely amazing."
Casey concluded, “A true blessing!”
“I remember praying and just saying, 'Lord, did we do something wrong?'" asked Melanie Fox.
September 11, 2021 was supposed to be a celebration – the day Melanie Fox was to get married. Instead, her 56-year-old fiancé, Michael, was in a hospital bed fighting for his life. Their meeting and engagement had been an answer to prayer, one she now doubted.
“Do you not want us to get married? I was starting to question everything, and I said, 'Lord, do you not love us anymore?'"
Two weeks before the wedding, Michael had contracted Covid. Within days he was in the hospital with double pneumonia and his oxygen levels had plummeted. According to the doctor’s report his was “…an extremely unfortunate situation with evidence of continued worsening.”
Melanie said, “The pulmonologist did come in one day and he just kind of stood at the end of the bed and shook his head. And I just looked at him and I said, 'It's not good, is it?' And he said, 'No.' And he said, 'I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but you may want to let his family know that this looks pretty hopeless at this point.'"
Michael’s oldest son, Robbie, saw it differently. He was one of the many who filled the hospital waiting room, praying for his dad.
“I knew he would walk out of there. I knew at the beginning he would,” recalled Robbie.
However, things would only get worse. Over the coming week, Michael would have a stroke and develop sepsis – the leading cause of death in hospitals. Then, his kidneys began to shut down. Even after several rounds of antibiotics, nothing was working.
Melanie said, “And I know that you said, Lord, that we would be together. So, I don't understand. I’m just empty.”
Then, another setback. As medical staff were prepping Michael for dialysis, one of his lungs collapsed. Trying to avoid putting him on a ventilator, they decided first to increase his oxygen and wait to see if that would work. Melanie and Michael’s youngest son, 28-year-old, John, were waiting in the hallway.
Melanie said, “He looked at me and he said, 'My dad needs a miracle.' And I said, 'Yes, he does.' And I said, 'John, why don't you ask God to give him that miracle?' And so, he just looked up and he said, 'God, my dad, he really needs a miracle right now.'"
Outside, the hospital parking lot was filled with people also believing for a miracle.
Robbie said, “Cause God has the final say. Doctors are great. They've really helped a lot. And their hands are guided, but they don't always have the final say in things.”
Within the hour, Michael’s oxygen levels had risen and his lung re-inflated, so he didn’t need a vent. Not only that, his kidneys began to recover.
Melanie said, “They said he doesn't need the dialysis. His markers are up, he's good, everything's great. And even the sepsis is gone.”
Soon after, they were able to bring Michael out of sedation. But he wasn’t waking up and doctors cautioned the family about getting their hopes up. The stroke could have long term, serious consequences.
“And I remember just looking up and saying, 'Lord, I don't know what's going on and I don't understand, but I trust you,'" said Melanie.
Finally, Michael woke up. His first words? The same ones he’d said to Melanie right after he was admitted to the hospital.
“I said, 'You're going to look beautiful in your wedding dress.' Cause I knew number one, that I was going to see that because the Lord showed it to me. But I also knew that that would bring comfort to her,” said Michael.
Melanie said, “I thought, okay, Lord, he said I was going to be beautiful in my dress, so I know that he's going to make it through.”
Michael began to improve and eventually went into rehab. He had been in the hospital 43 days when he was discharged. Although it would take months of rehab to overcome the effects of his stroke - there was one thing he wasn’t waiting for.
Michael said, “I had a lot of challenges because I came home in a wheelchair, and I could barely get from the car to the wheelchair. And so, that was on October the 12th, I believe. And on October the 17th, I determined I was going to walk down the aisle to marry my wife.”
And he did. With prayer and rehab, Michael has fully recovered. The happy couple and their families are enjoying every minute they have together, thankful for the miracle God has given them.
Michael said, “I had a lot of people praying for me. And, I'm going to tell you that prayer was, was heard by the Lord. I know, I know it was, cause it not only gave me strength, it gave Melanie strength.”
“He's always there,” Robbie said. “God's got us, even in the hardest times.”
"He says, 'He'll never leave us, He'll never forsake us,'" said Melanie. “So even if it looks like it's just hopeless, and it's the end, and it's going to be over and done, you know that He's not going to leave you. He's not going to forsake you.”
When Mrs. Zhou found out she was going to have a baby, she went to see a shaman.
“He put rice, an egg, and money in a bowl and began chanting that my child would have plenty of food, health, and wealth,” Mrs. Zhou recalls.
Yet soon after Jingchen was born, he got sick.
“He started vomiting, and his diaper was covered in blood. I was terrified,” Mrs. Zhou confesses. “The local doctors just gave him treatment for his bowel. But a week later, Jingchen wasn’t better.”
Mrs. Zhou returned to the shaman.
“He had us kill some chickens and said they would take the devil's curse meant for Jingchen,” she remembers.
After this, things got worse. There was no bowel movement, and as Jingchen lost weight, his stomach got more bloated.
Mrs. Zhou shares, “Jingchen’s breathing got weak, and I started wondering if the gods really existed and heard me.”
Mrs. Zhou contacted her husband who works out of town, and he told her to bring Jingchen to a city hospital for help.
“The doctor there said he had an obstruction at the beginning of the large intestine, and he had an infection,” reports Mrs. Zhou.
Without surgery, Jingchen could die. So, the Zhous tried to borrow money for an operation, but they came up short.
Mrs. Zhou shares, “I cried and said, ‘Baby, there's nothing we can do to save you.’”
Then a doctor told the Zhous about Operation Blessing.
“He said Operation Blessing is a charity that specializes in helping needy families,” exclaims Mrs. Zhou. I saw on the application, and it said, ‘Give help, bring hope’, and right then, I had hope.”
You helped make it possible for Jingchen to get surgery.
“Now he can eat and digest food normally. He’s gained weight and has lots of strength,” Mrs. Zhou expresses. She concludes, “An Operation Blessing volunteer prayed for Jingchen. She said there’s a God who loves my baby and our family. He doesn't seem to be like the gods we know. He died for us. I don't understand it all yet, but I know his name is Jesus. I really appreciate the Operation Blessing donors for helping my baby. Now Jingchen can grow up healthy, and our lives are full of sunshine.”
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.