One by one, agents pulled out small, tightly wrapped packages of weed—in the dash, the bumpers, the wheel well, the rear seats. There were packages in all, weighing nearly pounds. Bishop saw the flash of a gun and was ordered to his knees. His arms were pulled behind him, cold cuffs snapping on his wrists. He could feel the stares of passing drivers bearing down on him, along with the eyes of God. What the fuck? Why did I do this? What was I thinking?
Bailey Rose Sturdevant, 6, is carried by her mother after another baptism during the Easter service. Growing up in Vancouver, an industrial town of paper mills and aluminum smelters, Bishop seemed more destined to be a drug runner than a man of the cloth.
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When he was four years old, his father, a truck driver named David Lee, died after he got drunk and drove his Corvair into a tree. To survive, he took up martial arts, winning trophies in local bodybuilding competitions. Then he met Michelle, a gymnast, at a rival high school. The pious daughter of an electrician, Michelle dreamed of marrying a pastor. Bishop, who had never been observant, hated the overbearing preacher and long sermons. His severe attention-deficit disorder made it even worse.
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But he stuck it out, and two years after they graduated high school, he and Michelle were married. It took a near-fatal accident, however, for Bishop to become truly devout. One day, after serving a stint in the Air Force, he was sparring with a friend when he took a roundhouse kick to the nose, severing an artery. Do I become worm food? What the hell? Before long, Bishop felt the calling to start his own congregation—one that would reach the seemingly unreachable.
And love them.
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And be there for them. And have grace for them. The vast majority of churches fail in their first five years. But Bishop, who was running his own janitorial cleaning business, fashioned himself as an entrepreneur.
At first, Bishop stuck to the established script for Baptist ministers. He dressed up in slacks and a button-down shirt and tie, quoting from scripture as he paced the pulpit. They have drug problems, addictions, marriage problems. Churches want people in their suits looking polished and happy, smiling ear to ear. Instead, Bishop embraced a more radical notion: He decided to risk being himself.
He also worked overtime to make sure that none of his flock would feel bored, the way he had when he first started going to church.
Working with Michelle and his three children—David, Katie, and Hannah—he staged increasingly theatrical productions for his sermons. As their congregation swelled, they had to merge with a local Baptist church to accommodate all the faithful. One day, Glen Johnson, the pastor of the church, drove up to see a giant sign out front featuring a single word in big letters: SEX. Inside, he found John and Michelle onstage, answering texts from parishioners on a range of explicit topics: What about sex toys? What about anal sex? By , barely a decade after it opened, Living Hope had over 2, members—the threshold for being considered a mega-church.
Outreach Magazine, a Christian publication that tracks American ministries, ranked it as the seventh-fasting-growing church in the country. Bishop moved his growing congregation into a former department store in a mega-mall, with even more room for theatrical productions. He brought in a broken Cessna and surrounded it with palm trees for a sermon based on the TV show Lost. During the show, as the beast lumbered past him onstage, Bishop reached out to pet it—something he had specifically been warned not to do.
Suddenly, the cat reared up on its hind legs, slashing its thick paws at Bishop. With a faint smile, he watched as the trainer pulled Sundar back on his chain. Then Bishop spoke to the congregation as calmly as ever. Unlike a restaurant chain, Bishop measured his success in the number of souls he saved. But running a mega-church also provided a decent living—enough to afford a 5,square-foot home with a three-car garage, as well as a three-bedroom vacation home in a gated community in Cabo San Lucas.
During one trip to Mexico, Bishop decided to set up shop in an old synagogue. Dubbed Laguna Cabo, the church held services for local merchants in a makeshift tent on the beach.
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For eight months, as he built the church, he traveled back and forth to Cabo. Then, one night, the danger came to him.
Answering a knock at his door, Bishop was confronted by a well-dressed Mexican man with a scruffy beard. Taking a seat, he took out a nine-millimeter Glock and placed it on the table. Why do you fly out every Thursday and come back every Monday? Did I do something wrong? Bishop later learned that his visitor was a feared hitman for New Generation, the powerful local drug cartel. Two weeks later, his inquiries completed, the man returned to let Bishop off the hook. Then he took out a small bag of cocaine. The man snorted his share, but let Bishop get away with rubbing some coke on his teeth.giomikadeaths.gq
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As soon as the man left, Bishop raced to the bathroom and washed out his mouth. His year-old son, David, had been experimenting with drugs and courting trouble with the law since age 13, when he was busted for breaking into a store to steal cigarettes. After high school, his parents convinced him to join the Navy to straighten out.
But David, who says he was sexually assaulted by a group of sailors, returned home with P. His father tried to help, in part, by turning Living Hope into a beacon for others struggling with addiction. His clientele were the very same homeless people and addicts his father was trying to save.
Faith-based recovery programs help people realize that they are not alone in addiction—and if they place their trust in Jesus Christ and depend on Him, they can beat whatever addiction it is that has them in bondage.
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You cannot argue with a changed life. And in faith-based addiction recovery, we are seeing lives changed every day.
Here in our ministry, you will not be shunned or disgraced because you have an addiction. You will be supported, cared about, and encouraged. But…if you can see the miracle in someone else, maybe it will bring hope and encouragement that you too can be made free…finally! Check out these links to stories of those who have come through our program and have been made free from addiction through the power of faith in Christ and Faith-Based Addiction Recovery Programs:. I love my country, the liberties of publicly serving the one true living God and many other reasons. I also love my state where I reside.
The great state of Ohio.