Category Archives: Interviews

Is the Collapse of Global Society accelerating? Any Hope?

“No society can sustain itself without a belief in absolute values, because then the law of the jungle will prevail…”


Dr. Miguel Núñez

Dr. Miguel Núñez

Dr. Miguel Núñez

Dr. Miguel Núñez (MD, Th. M., D.Min.) is the senior pastor of the International Baptist Church (IBI) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He is also the founder and president of “Integridad y Sabiduría” (the Integrity and Wisdom Ministry) which has the vision of awakening Latin America to God’s truth.

He is the author of two books: “Jesús, el hombre que desafió al mundo y confronta tu vida” (Jesus, the Man that Challenged the World and Confronts Your Life) and “Una Iglesia Conforme al Corazón de Dios” (A Church After God’s Own Heart). He is also the co-author of the book “Seguirazgo” (Followship), which deals with leadership.

He is the TV co-host of “Respuestas: Verdades Absolutas para un Mundo Relativo” (Answers: Absolute Truths for a Relative World), a program transmitted throughout all of Latin America and some other countries as well.

Dr. Núñez practiced medicine as a physician in the area of internal medicine and infectious diseases in the United States for 15 years (1982-1997), and he was a clinical professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

In addition to pastoring the church, he serves as a teacher and an apologist, and he is also a frequent guest speaker in all of Latin America and the United States. He has been married to Dr. Catherine Scheraldi, a practicing physician, for more than 30 years.


First of all, Dr. Nuñez, I’d like you to talk about the current times our global society is experiencing in terms of spirituality, although we realize that it bears an influence on all the other areas of a given society.

I believe society is in the midst of a crisis –a crisis of values, integrity and leadership. That’s one way to see it. On the other hand, we also know that Europe and North America are facing a time that has been called the post-Christian era. I don’t think Latin America is actually there, but it is obviously being influenced by the winds of post-Christian societies.

A post-Christian society is where Christian values have no significance at all. They play a very small role and have slight influence. Latin America is experiencing a different moment now, because God is definitely moving here. Actually, God is moving in what is called the “Global South:” Latin America, Africa and Asia. Something new is happening. The Reformed Theology that changed the face of Europe during the time of Martin Luther’s Reformation never really reached Latin America. Even five hundred years after this event which will be in 2017, the Reformation hasn’t been seen in our continent. However, such values have started to blossom and be embraced by a younger generation of people in their 20s, 30s and 40s who are proclaiming the Gospel, and that gives me hope. It’s like Latin America is being bathed by two winds: the wind of secularism and post-Christian societies and a new wind of evangelization coming from more mature movements based on a more solid doctrine than what we have seen here so far.

A few weeks ago, you mentioned at a conference that the United States and Europe are experiencing a society that is post-Western, postmodern and post-Christian. But what is happening now with Africa and Asia, and yes, Latin America? Although, you have already mentioned briefly about it.

Well, when we think about this kind of post-Christian society, like I briefly mentioned in the previous question, we’re talking about societies that were greatly impacted by Christianity and were developed based on Judeo-Christian values. But today, those same values have been removed from society, and now people prefer identifying themselves with secularism which has no identity with God, much less with the God of the Bible. So we see what has happened in Europe where churches have been slowly dying off, and the United States is experiencing something similar. Statistics for the year 2050 for the United States and Canada are not at all encouraging for the Christian movement and its membership.

Africa, Asia and Latin America have been influenced by Christianity, but because of the immaturity of the Church, the Church has made huge mistakes and has diluted the Gospel to the point that during the last 20 years, the most popular gospel has been the prosperity gospel which is not in accord with the biblical gospel.

However, I believe that things are starting to take a right turn now. We’re not even half way there yet, but there are a group of people who experienced that approach and departed from it. They came away empty and now they’re looking for the true Gospel and are going to churches that preach a sound doctrine. And this same phenomenon is taking place in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia where churches that once embraced the prosperity gospel are now having a new experience.

I believe that that phenomena is an apostate movement. I think there are two large apostate movements at present. One is “completely Christian,” meaning that it identifies with the type of Christianity that is the prosperity gospel which has embraced five continents and almost every denomination. The other movement doesn’t have Christian roots. It’s anti-Christian and is based on a redefinition of marriage, because that’s the foundation of the family.

The only way for us to pass faith on from one generation to another is having Christian families that are based on Christian values and teaching those values to the next generation. But if that family model does not exist and we redefine it today believing that it can be two men or two women raising a child, then the next generation won’t acknowledge the faith. And if they don’t acknowledge the faith, they won’t experience salvation. And if they don’t experience salvation, then there’s no hope for them.

So I said that that’s an apostate movement simply because different denominations in all five continents have begun embracing this new definition of marriage, and I believe that those two things will become important and will deeply undermine what we have considered Western Christian society until now.

And speaking of Christian foundations, a few days ago, I received a comment through this blog. The person who wrote referred to one my interviewees and said something like this: “Who do you think you are to disqualify other religions and impose your Christian philosophy as the only truth?” Apparently he was a follower of the Eastern philosophies.

It’s incredible that those people who don’t want us to spread the Gospel continue proclaiming their own

Cecilia Yepez interviewing Dr. Miguel Nuñez at IBI

Cecilia Yepez interviewing Dr. Miguel Nuñez at IBI

philosophies and moral values. We don’t have a problem with other people talking about their beliefs. Our problem is that they don’t want us to talk about ours.

We believe in a pluralist society in which different philosophies are taught. It was always like this in the West. In Europe and in the United States, no one ever prevented other persons from expressing their philosophy of life or their religious beliefs. But today the problem is that the followers of all those other philosophies and religions want us to stop expressing ours, and that’s the fight we’re having against that movement.

And along that same line, why does the Christian Church insist on saying that Jesus Christ is the only true God and therefore the only way to transform lives?

Well, I think we could address this topic from different angles. Let me start with the wider angle, a wider lens. Christianity is a worldview. A worldview is the way we see life, the way we interpret life and react to it. It’s not just a religion. It is religion, but it goes beyond that. It’s a worldview!

Worldviews must be tested. Literally, there is a number of questions and questionings that every worldview must answer. And then, when those answers are given, they have to be consistent and coherent.

Therefore, when we define Christianity as the only true faith and Jesus Christ as its founder and the only true God, the first answer would be because this is the only worldview that responds to the most important questions people have, and in the end, it’s what is totally coherent in its answers. When I start by asking where I come from, well then, God is the Creator. What am I here for? Well, God reveals to me that we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. The first question has to do with destination: Where do I come from? The second question is about purpose: What am I here for? The third question is about destination: Where am I going? So your direction depends on what you do with God in your life. What is right and what is wrong? That’s a question of morality. Well, there’s a God who is absolute, holy, just and omniscient and who is the standard of good and evil.

So then we have Christianity and reality: God created the heavens and the earth. That’s reality. There is God who precedes all creation and everything that has been created as well.

But, if we put other worldviews to the test, you could ask, for example, a person who believes in Hinduism about the reality that has been created. Then one group will say that even what you and I are doing isn’t happening and that it’s just an illusion. It’s like the dream of Brahma and we think we’re doing it, but it’s really not happening.

This in inconsistent, because if that were true, then when I’m about to cross the street, I wouldn’t have to pay attention to the cars because they don’t exist. And if someday I have surgery, I won’t need anesthesia, because pain is an illusion and it doesn’t exist. So then you begin to notice the inconsistency of those other worldviews.

If you ask another follower of Hinduism about this same topic, he may say that yes, reality does exist, but we’re really only an extension of Brahma. In other words, Brahma exists and we’re an extension of him, so to the extent that we purify ourselves, then we unite with Brahma, and in the end, Brahma is the only reality.

Well, the truth is that when the Word of God defines this, we can clearly see the difference there is between God the Creator and His creation. So how do we come back to God, back to His presence? If we are saved, it’s by keeping our individualities, our personalities and our characteristics in a very, very different manner.

One Hindu may say that god is personal and another Hindu can say that god is impersonal. They live with those contradictions. Christian faith does not break the law of non-contradiction. If there is something we cannot negotiate, that’s the law of non-contradiction which says that “two contradictory statements cannot both be true when they are said at the same time and in the same sense.” God cannot be personal and impersonal at the same time.

So I could have turned to the Bible to repeat what Christ declared when He said, “I am the truth, the way and the life,” but I have just defined this a bit more philosophically by saying that Christianity is a worldview that responds to all the important questions of humankind with consistent and coherent answers. No other worldview can do that.

But if I turn to the Bible, then Christ made a statement about Himself that He later proved. He said, “I am the truth, the way and the life.” He died and was resurrected. He said, “I have the authority to give my life, and I have the authority to take my life back again.” And He proved that with His life, with His death and with His resurrection.

Just to close this very important idea, would you share with us a concrete example to prove that Jesus is the life?

Dr. Nuñez hosting "Answers: Absolute Truths for a Relative World."

Dr. Nuñez, TV co-host of “Answers: Absolute Truths     for a Relative World.”

Well, I think saying that we can prove it by using a scientific method is just not the way to address this matter because Christianity is not a science, so we have to do this in a different way. I believe we have to ask about the resurrection, for example. Are there historic and conclusive evidences about Christ’s resurrection? The truth is that even non-Christian people came to believe it after evaluating the veracity of the historical New Testament documents and found that there is no other document from ancient times that comes close to the veracity of these New Testament documents.

For instance, when we take a look at the Iliad and the Odyssey, famous written works from the past, we realize that there are four, six or at the most, eight copies that date back to a thousand years after the death of their author. But when we think about the documents of the New Testament, there are fragments that date back to 25 to 50 years after the death of their authors. There are other fragments and more complete documents from the years 250 A.D. to 300 A.D. And there are fifteen thousand copies! Not four and not eight! There are fifteen thousand copies in Greek that can be compared!

So I could give you many examples of this type of evidence, but there really is enough conclusive historic evidence to prove Christ’s life and Christ’s resurrection. It’s more of a historical proof than a scientific proof. People have tried to do away with Christianity for two thousand years, but they haven’t succeeded. Today, Christ is the most influential man in the entire history of humankind.

When Napoleon Bonaparte was in exile, something that caught his attention was precisely how this man who had died could still bring people together over the centuries. Napoleon said that when he was a general or the emperor, people responded to his voice, but when he didn’t have a title, no one followed him anymore although he was still alive. He didn’t understand how people kept on following that man hundreds of years after His death. Well, people follow Him because He is who He said He was: the way, the truth and the life. And the primitive church gets stronger, gets larger and continues to grow after His death. It should have been just the opposite, but a persecuted church is the church that became stronger after His death.

To conclude, in what times do you think we are living according to the biblical perspective of the so called “last days”? And is there any warning message to the world first of all, and to the Christian church as well?

First of all, I’m going to give a technical definition of “the last days.” In the Bible, the phrase “the last days” technically means the times from Christ until now. That’s the first part. When you open the Book of Hebrews it says, “But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.” So this text gives us a good definition of when these “last days” began.

Now, within these “last days” there’s a period that the Bible states as the time when we will be closer to the coming of Christ. I don’t know whether He will come in five years or fifteen years or fifty years. I can’t determine that. I’m not a prophet and I’m not a prophet’s son, like the Bible phrase says. But I do believe that the days in which we’re living are taking us quickly to that very end, regardless of when it will happen.

Society as a whole cannot be sustained by the values it’s embracing at present. It won’t last. Even in ancient times when society was extremely corrupt, people still believed in absolute values. Perhaps Plato, Socrates and, Aristotle didn’t believe in the God of the Bible, but they did understand that there was an Absolute or Supreme Being, something beyond. And they spoke about virtues –cardinal virtues. Nowadays, people just don’t believe in absolutism at all. No society can sustain itself without a belief in absolute values, because then the law of the jungle will prevail, and that means that each individual believes that good is what he or she feels is good. Such a society cannot sustain itself and it will collapse. And when it collapses, it won’t be just one nation or just one area that collapses. Entire continents will collapse. Since we are part of a global culture, then that global culture experiences similar changes as well as similar values. Some occur first and then others follow. For example, Europe is always first, then the United States and then we follow. But I believe we’re fast approaching what will be the collapse of society. There’s no way for society to survive without a correct definition of marriage. It just won’t happen.

When will it happen? Honestly, I don’t know. But I think there are signs pointing towards a relatively short time, even though that “short” time may be much beyond my lifetime. I believe we will see God’s intervention as a way of judging the sin that has become so widespread lately and also of completing His redemption plan. Christ didn’t mention the exact time or date for His coming, but He didn’t say that we wouldn’t have a clue as to when the “last days” would be, either. He said that in the same way when we look up in the sky and know it’s going to rain, the generation alive at that time will say, “It seems like the last days are getting closer!”

So, if our generation does not have a clue, and the next generation is the one meant to precede the coming of the Lord, some people will be clearer about this because the signs of His coming will also be clearer. Or perhaps it may happen during my lifetime but after some years when the signs may be clearer.

But yes, I do believe we are getting closer to a collapse, even from a sociological point of view. Malcolm Muggeridge talked about empires and how they decayed when certain signs began to appear. He mentioned the rise of eroticism that is obviously present these days. There’s also an increase of boredom. We can’t deny that people are bored. They’ve tried out everything and nothing seems to satisfy them. There’s more entertainment; people just want to enjoy life and do nothing but have fun. And finally, it’s interesting that he said another sign is when governments create increasingly more complex taxation systems. Governments get into so much debt, they start inventing new taxation systems to collect money to help pay those debts.

We’re seeing all of these signs of collapse. That’s a sociological analysis, not even a Christian perspective. So if you add moral collapse to all this, I believe the Lord must be just around the corner, even though I don’t know when that will be.

So what is your message of warning for the world and for the Christian Church?

Christ said to us, “I am coming soon.” So that could be today. Therefore, I believe that the best warning message is that you must be prepared for the day when He will return, even if that happens today. Consequently, your only hope is the Gospel of Christ and finding salvation and holding on to Him, clinging to Him through thick and thin, regardless of all the changes. You must believe in His Word, believe in His promises and develop hope in those promises that He left with us. It’s not about looking around to see what’s happening, but rather thinking about the eternal life in which our hope lies.

This world has no hope. This world will continue to be like it is now. Christ Himself said that. It will

Teacher, apologist, guest speaker in Latin America and the United States.

Pastor, teacher, apologist, guest speaker in Latin America and the United States.

remain like this until the last days. This world began sinful and will end sinful. Things will only change when He comes back to judge and redeem it. I can’t rest my hope on any new government or on any new educational system or on any new generation, because all of them will eventually produce the same results as in the past. Someone has said that history doesn’t change, only the actors are different. And we really do have the same violence as before, the same paganism from the past, the same promiscuity and homosexuality from ancient times. “What has been will be again,” said Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes. And sadly enough, that’s true, but history isn’t circular like some people say. They say it’s a never-ending circle that goes around forever. No. History is linear. The problem is that along that timeline we make the same mistakes and repeat the same sins, but history has a beginning and an end. I think it’s good to define it as linear because when we say that history repeats itself, we give the impression that we think history is circular and never ends and we’ll be living like this forever, but that’s not so. History is linear and it has an end that we will certainly see someday!


Bringing Back The Light!

This revival will turn the whole Israeli society around, and Israel will fulfill their calling, ´For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem´”


Ariel and Shayla Hyde

Ariel, Shayla and their daughters, Anayah and Amalyah.

Ariel, Shayla and their daughters, Anayah and Amalyah.

Ariel and Shayla come from backgrounds rich in ministry experience, having served the Lord with their families in the U.S., Germany, Thailand, and Israel. Today, they are serving in full-time ministry in Haifa, Israel as part of Tree of Life (, and are actively part of Carmel and Kerem El Messianic congregations.

Ariel, a graduate of Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL), served in the Israel Defense Forces, representing Israel to international organizations and embassies. The Lord has opened up doors for him to share the Gospel with Jewish people online through websites and videos, on the streets of Israel, and at special outreach events. He leads an evangelistic media team, and also teaches evangelism seminars to equip and inspire Israeli believers to share the Gospel more often and effectively.

Shayla completed a bachelor’s degree in Music Education at Southeastern University (Lakeland, FL), while being mentored for three years in Collegiate Master’s Corps, an intensive ministry training program. She has taught music, led worship and served in ministry to children in the U.S., Thailand, and Israel.

What times is Israel living right now concerning the Word of God and concerning the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ?

We believe we’re in more exciting times now that any other time in history. Why? We are witnessing the miraculous fulfillment of many prophecies concerning Israel and the Jewish people that are all preparing the way for the return of Jesus.

God promised over 60 times in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) that He would scatter the Jewish people all around the world, but ultimately bring them back to the land of Israel (see for example Ezekiel 11:17, Jeremiah 32:37-41), and we have seen and are seeing this fulfilled in our day. He said the nation of Israel would be reborn in a day (Isaiah 66:7-8), and it happened.

He said the land would be desolate and a desert until the Jewish people returned, and then it would blossom (Ezekiel 6:14; Ezekiel 36; Isaiah 35:1) – and that’s exactly what happened.

He said the nations around Israel would seek to destroy them once they returned, but that He would supernaturally deliver them (Micah 4:11-13). Again, this happened in the wars in 1948 and 1967 and others – where Israel was outnumbered, out-armed, and out-trained and yet somehow still won.

There are many other prophecies about Israel and the end times that have been fulfilled in our day. Ariel actually wrote a booklet together with his father about how God has miraculously fulfilled His promises to the Jewish people, called “Supernatural or just Remarkable?” It can be found here: It’s proven to be an effective outreach tool to many secular Jewish people who don’t believe in God, showing them God’s faithfulness and love and showing them that the Bible is indeed inspired. It’s also been a great encouragement to Christians, who can see how God has been faithful to His promises to Israel and therefore will be faithful to His promises to all of us!

Isn´t Israel the chosen land /people of God? In your experience, how receptive are currently Jews to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Is there any difference between younger and older generations?

Yes, Israel and the Jewish people are God’s chosen land and people. But the Scriptures tell us that God actually blinded the eyes of many Jewish people so that they wouldn’t recognize their own Messiah (Romans 11:7-8). But the result is that the Gospel ended up going to the rest of the world (Romans 11:11-12). Paul says that once the Jewish people turn to Jesus, it will bring “greater riches” to the rest of the world (Romans 11:12) and will even be as “life from the dead” (Romans 11:15).

In fact, this is another crucial prophecy concerning Israel and Jesus’ return. Jesus said that He would not return to Jerusalem until the Jewish people welcome Him in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:37-39).
And what’s exciting to see is that there is now an incredibly rapid increase in how receptive Jewish people in Israel are to the Gospel. There were only a handful of Messianic congregations (of Jews who believe in Jesus) in Israel 30 years ago, but today there are around 200.

Ariel, Shayla, and daughter Anayah playing Boaz, Ruth, and Obed in an outreach event with 120 non-believing Jewish people present.

Ariel, Shayla, and daughter Anayah playing Boaz, Ruth, and Obed in an outreach event with 120 non-believing Jewish people present.

At outreach events in the past, if we could get 5-10 non-believing Jewish people to attend, it was great. But over the last year or so, we’ve had several events where 120 and even 150 non-believing Jewish people attended and we had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with them and seeing many turn to Jesus. This was totally unprecedented a few years ago.

The younger generation is definitely more open as a whole to the Gospel than the older generation, but God is softening the hearts of many older people as well. God said that once the Jewish people would return to Israel, He would remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh and pour out His Spirit on them (Ezekiel 36:24-28), and that is exactly what we’re seeing happening today.

What does it exactly mean when the Scripture says “All Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:26)? Will all Jews eventually accept Jesus as their Messiah? What about previous generations?

This is one of many glorious promises of a national revival in Israel at the end of days – it is our goal and our vision! This can’t possibly include all previous generations, because many have died in rebellion against God and/or against Jesus (think of Judas Iscariot, for example). However, God has been merciful and opened the eyes of quite a few Jewish people throughout history to receive Jesus as their Messiah even on their deathbed.

But now He is opening their eyes to “look upon Me whom their pierced” (Zechariah 12:10), mourn in repentance, and live for Him the rest of their lives. This revival will turn the whole Israeli society around, and Israel will fulfill their calling, “For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). It will be as “life from the dead” for the rest of the world (Romans 11:15).

Tell us briefly about your evangelistic projects in Israel. Please, include your amazing experience as you filmed the “Isaiah 53 Video.”

We share the Gospel in lots of different ways in Israel – from outreach events at the holidays to sharing on the streets to media evangelism. We have a Hebrew evangelistic website that has testimonies of Israeli believers sharing how they met their Messiah. We’ve also been going out on the streets and interviewing Israelis about different topics, sharing the Gospel with them, and making videos out of the interviews.

Ariel interviews Israelis on the street, sharing the Gospel with them and making videos out of the interviews.

Ariel interviews Israelis on the street, sharing the Gospel with them and making videos out of the interviews.

Our most recent video about was Isaiah 53, “The Forbidden Chapter.” This chapter, which is a powerful prophecy about the Messiah fulfilled by Jesus, was removed from the weekly readings in the synagogues, and so most Jewish people have never read it before.

So we read this chapter with Israelis on the street, and had some incredible responses both on the street and from the people who have watched the video. We’ve now had over 1.4 million views and thousands of Israelis writing in about it!

Here are just a few out of thousands of responses:

  • Liat: “Amazing!… Could we have missed the Messiah???”
  • Moti: “Where are they reading from?? The New Testament???” (We answered him that we only read from Isaiah 53!)
  • Boris, an immigrant from Belarus, wrote us after going through a state of confusion about the claims of the rabbis and of Jesus. After watching our video and talking with us, he said, “I definitely believe that Jesus is the Messiah.” We’re helping him connect with other believers who can disciple him.

We’ve had in-depth conversations with quite a few interested Israelis. Many others have asked to meet with us in person or on the phone. A number of them have ordered the New Testament or other evangelistic materials. Praise God for this great harvest!

We’d greatly appreciate your prayers and support for us and for the work that God is doing in Israel today! You can find out more here:

The English version ofThe Forbidden Chapter” (Isaiah 53) video is below. There is also a Spanish version translated with the support of Towards Excellence. It is available in our Spanish site


Storytelling, a Powerful Connection between God, Parents and Children!

Celebrating the Second Year Anniversary of “Towards Excellence”…

Hello excellence seekers! I adore the “Towards Excellence” blog and know that, in its creator, Cecy Yepez, you are in great company on your journey toward a loving and generous life. I had the pleasure of meeting Cecy on a mission trip in San Lorenzo, Ecuador and she immediately became my Ecuadoran Pixie. At least in America, a Pixie is associated with being feisty, powerful, and beautiful. Cecy’s humor and wit are full of this feistiness and you can’t help but appreciate her for it. Her power comes from the One and only King of all kings and Lord of all. She never hesitates to remind others of this ultimate source of goodness and grace given to all who will accept Christ as their Savior. And beauty? Cecy is dripping with it. Her heart is full of such an incredible love for all people and, through it, she shares the journeys, stories, and truths of many. She prays on her words and how each story can help to affect His Kingdom for good. I am so honored to be a part of “Towards Excellence” and encourage you to support works of this spirit-filled nature. God bless you all!

Reji Laberje
Reji Laberje Author Programs, LLC.


“…our children are built to engage in stories and God left us the greatest true storybook in existence. Pair the two and I think a natural love will occur.”

Reji Laberje

Reji was born in the Chicago, Illinois area, but grew up just north of there, in a mid-sized town called Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the daughter of a postal worker and involved mom. She has two sisters, Kim and Stacy (who are still her closest friends, today) and the three of them were raised with Atheist beliefs, but at age 33, Reji was baptized and has never looked back. Reji was always an artist, working in

Reji Laberje

Reji Laberje

theater, forensics, public speaking, and writing, and she graduated early from high school to move away and pursue her dream of acting at age 18. She had a few small roles and a short stint on a local-based television show, but it was her day-job of working with Spanish speaking customers to take phone orders that paid her bills. Like many young dreamers, acting wasn’t meant to be for Reji, so she ended up joining the military where she proudly learned to be and served as an Arabic Linguist for the United States Air Force and National Security Agency. While in the military, she earned her degree in International and Intercultural Communications and she met and married her husband, Joe. The military had her family living and moving all over and she and her husband served in every community where they lived, in schools, kitchens, churches, scout groups, and local youth organizations. After seven years living in the greater Washington D.C. area, they were done with government and moved back to Wisconsin to continue raising their three beautiful children, Bradley, Kimberly, and Laura. It was then that Reji took a small writing, speaking, and teaching business that she had always done alongside her many interests and various jobs over the years and turned it into her full-time career to create Reji Laberje Author Programs, LLC. Now, through her company whose vision it is to make far-reaching, positive impacts, and through her ministry work with children, marriage mentoring, small bible group leadership, local, national, and international outreach, the Alpha course (a 10-week class teaching the basics about Jesus and the Bible), and of course writing for many ministries, Reji and Joe, with their children and many pets, live an always active, but equally fulfilled life with Christ at the center.

What do you think is the best way for parents to start teaching their little children to follow God´s path, the path towards excellence in life?

In my opinion, parents need to be involved in the religious education of their children. They shouldn’t just bring their children to a church service or bible camp and be satisfied that their sons and daughters are taken care of by others. Instead, ask to serve or help in some way. Ask your children questions. Learn with your children. Take on the same challenges as your children when it comes to following God’s plan. As parents, we are still our children’s number one influencers. It’s not enough to just want them to love God when they are young. Loving God is something that can be very intangible for children to grasp. Loving us, though—people who are physically present—is something they understand. So, by us loving God and being a part of that education, the children are able to have that example to which they can relate.

Do children naturally enjoy looking at storybooks? If so, how can parents take advantage of it and use creative resources to feed this natural interest, and help them to cultivate a lifetime reading habit of the Word of God?

I once was a math teacher in a middle school in an urban setting. The students were all tied to technology and a good number of my students were going through very real familial struggles outside of the school. On the best days, there was chaos, but we’d push forward, trying to teach the basic school requirements and grateful for the few students that we could also reach on an emotional level, because that would be the real mark of success. One day, we had a power outage in the school. As I was teaching in a classroom with no windows, I had to take my students to another room where we would be able to wait out the electricity’s returning. The usual unruliness ensued in a new space without any of our usual supplies around. I asked if any of the kids had a book. One girl gave me the title she had been reading; I don’t remember what the book was, but it was something to do with a teen baseball team, if I recall. I just started reading. Within less than a minute, these teenagers, all of them, had gathered around, forming a sort of semi-circle, to simply LISTEN. They were riveted. I think part of them was so

Reji brings reading, writing, and speaking education to thousands of elementary students across the U.S. every year to create a better world through better words. Here she is in April 2015 with students outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Reji brings reading, writing, and speaking education to thousands of elementary students across the U.S. every year to create a better world through better words. Here she is in April 2015 with students outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

grateful to slow down. Another part of me felt sadness in knowing that, for some of these students, they might not have ever had somebody simply read to them. I think, anthropologically speaking, we are built for storytelling. It is how we carry our history, including God’s history. We engage, naturally, not through interface, but face-to-face connections. I read the only storybook I could find in that classroom that day, but I think the children would have been just as engaged if I had picked up the daily newspaper. Our bible is filled with the most passionate and creative works ever. I tell my writing students that there’s nothing new they can write that God (and Shakespeare) haven’t already covered; they can simply bring their unique voices to the concept. I don’t think we need to get complicated about God’s Word, our children are built to engage in stories and God left us the greatest true storybook in existence. Pair the two and I think a natural love will occur.

In your opinion, as professional writer, how does one choose sound, truthful and engaging materials for children? (Either Bible based materials or positive teachings in general)

I think it’s incredibly important to bring a wide-range of literary choices to our children, particularly when they have access to so many subjects when they are outside of our presence. They WILL be exposed to a lot of the books (or movies, for that matter) that might not be our first choice for them. So, we should be the ones to discuss those books with them. Of course, the Bible is THE greatest book, but not everything my children (or I) read is biblically based, and that’s okay. I just remember to always bring it back to God.

When it comes to fantasy, one of the things I personally enjoy reading and writing, I remind children that it is God who is the original Creator and aren’t we glad that he gave us such vivid imaginations. I try to steer toward those creative writers who have genuine biblical messages, such as C.S. Lewis. In those cases, you can tap into your child’s natural entertainment interest (fantasy, in this case) and also tie to God’s message for us. A single Google search for “Secular Books Christian Authors” will lead to countless other great books that will do the same as C.S. Lewis with regard to respecting God.

However, there are also books that I and my children read which have zero biblical influence. That’s okay, too, as long as we are not reading something that is ANTI-God, as long as we have discussions about the books, and as long as the books are understood as fiction. My two daughters have read the Hunger Games trilogy and we discussed the parallels between it and our real world. We’ve also talked about the difference that would exist with God in that fictional Panem world of the series.

At the end of the day, as long as you are having discussions about the reading taking place in your home, you—as the parent—have the ability to bring God to your children’s literature.

Finally, please share with us a personal experience. How have well developed materials helped parents or even teachers to guide little children into God´s path, the path towards excellence in life?

While my primary written works consist of books for children and young adults, as well as collaborative biographies, I also have curricular material as that pair with my live writing programs and in the form of advisory courses for kindergarten through twelfth grade students. A model that is common to follow when creating these materials is the 5-E Model (Explore, Explain, Extend, Engage, Evaluate).

Exploring is usually about initially taking in the work or lesson at hand. Explaining is discussion and study

When Reji has book signings and events, she makes sure each child gets some one-on-one reading time with her. She and this young boy from Chicago enjoyed "Max Explores Chicago" together at Barbara's Bestsellers in December 2014.

When Reji has book signings and events, she makes sure each child gets some one-on-one reading time with her. She and this young boy from Chicago enjoyed “Max Explores Chicago” together at Barbara’s Bestsellers in December 2014.

relate to the work or lesson. Extending brings in other resources (and the internet is a great tool for extending). Engaging takes place through some sort of hands-on application. This can be a game, activity, art project, or even a traditional report. Evaluating is communication about how that engagement reflected the work or lesson.

To Christian work, when I write those lessons and that material, I add an opening and closing “E” that include Enjoying His story, where I bring in additional biblical references, and Exemplify through which we ask the question about how, as Christians, we can be an example of God with regard to the work or lesson at hand.

You will find that most published bible studies have all of these elements in them. They may not call them 5 (or 7) E lessons, but there are opportunities to take in the Bible, discuss it, bring in a practical life example, give an exercise to apply the biblical lesson, and look deeper into oneself to see if the outcome is biblical. The best studies also include additional verses (like the added Enjoying His story E) and suggestions for HOW to live God’s word in everyday life (Exemplify). Look for materials that go beyond singular opinions following a verse. There should be a means to CONNECT to God’s word in the materials that you choose to use for teaching it.

You don’t have to be a teacher or a writer to use this model. As a parent, you can take these same steps toward excellence in Bible teaching. The idea is that we shouldn’t make the reading of a verse or chapter the beginning and ending of a lesson. God’s word, in all of its perfection, isn’t always the easiest to understand. Break it down. Discuss, talk about real-life, apply, be accountable, always refer back to the Bible, and look to our greatest example in Christ. Share with your children how specific verses have come to serve you in your life’s work.

At the end of the day, it always comes back to being active in your children’s biblical upbringing. As I said, we are made for storytelling, but—far more important—we are a PART of His story.

“The Sky is not your Limit, God is!”

“It takes those who can see the invisible and touch the intangible to do the impossible!”

Tope Popoola

Tope Popoola is the Chief Empowerment Officer of HERITEK SUPPORT SERVICES, a consultancy outfit. He was for many years, the Executive Secretary of the NIGERIAN PUBLISHERS ASSOCIATION. He also briefly served as the National Executive Commissioner for the Boy Scouts of Nigeria.

A seasoned administrator and Manager of men and resources, writer, inspirational speaker, pastor and entrepreneur, he is a man of many parts but only ONE passion – cultivating men and women of influence and affluence for whom godly excellence is a culture.

Tope Popoola is a widely travelled and highly sought-after conference speaker. A Trainers’ Trainer, he is

Tope Popoola, Life Coach

Tope Popoola, Life Coach

a Life Coach to many company executives. A Management Development Accredited Trainer, he speaks regularly on Leadership, Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship. He has been instrumental to the training of leaders from over 40 countries. He serves on the International Faculty of Haggai Institute of Advanced Leadership where he teaches on the subject of Leadership. He writes a weekly column EMPOWERED FOR L.I.F.E (Leadership, Impact, Finances, Excellence) in The Tribune, a national newspaper in Nigeria. He has featured severally on national and local television. He is the Host of a daily inspirational program on radio that reaches an audience of over 3 million.

He is an author and has written and published several books. His publications, LIVING INTENTIONALLY (published 2009) and FIRST THINGS FIRST – How To Live A Life of Priorities as well his recent one THE LEADERPRENEUR, have been rated very highly as veritable Leadership and Personal Development tools.

As a Pastor, he is the founding Overseer of THE BUSINESS CHURCH (Luke 2:49).

A consummate family man, he is married with children.

Is it possible to “befriend yesterday,” as you wrote in one of your blog posts? What if “yesterday” means a “past failure?”

The story of your life is told in THREE DAYS. I once preached a message titled “YOU HAVE ONLY THREE DAYS TO LIVE. This can be watched on our website You also referred to the writeup on my blog. The three days are yesterday, today and tomorrow. The way to befriend your yesterday is to learn the lessons it teaches. The past is meant to be a school, not a prison. If you do not learn the lessons of past failures, mistakes or even successes, you become a victim of your history and will live in regret mode. This only widens the distance between you and the future you desire.

Tell us, how people can leave behind a “victim mentality” and become “their best under God?”

To become your best under God, you must first be under God. Secondly, you must believe that no matter what happens, he has you covered. As Job said, “He knows the way that (you) take…”! TRUST is the key! Trust God more than you trust your circumstances or your feelings. Believe resolutely that God who created you did so with a purpose and a plan which are woven into the fabrics of your experiences. The pain we have from negative experiences for instance comes from our inability to embrace that plan or see such experiences as part of His story of our lives. Embrace the future. Believe that in God, where you are headed is better than where you have been. Catch a vision in God and use it to motivate you. A vision is the compass that guides into the future. It takes those who can see the invisible and touch the intangible to do the impossible!

What is behind the phrase you frequently use “The sky is not your limit, God is!” By the way, is this phrase of your own?

Yes, I coined that statement. It is often said that the sky is the limit. Whatever you set as limit already sets the boundaries of your achievement. The sky is a creature just like you. So, why would you like to

Tope Popoola speaking to business leaders in an international conference

Tope Popoola speaking to business leaders in an international conference

subject your life to something you were created to dominate? As you know, man has conquered the skies and ventured into planets beyond the skies that we see. Aircraft now fly up to 40,000 feet above sea level, far beyond the clouds. ‘Sky’ is defined by how far a man can see in the firmament. God is limitless. Greater than anything created. He is the Spirit of creation and creativity. He is beyond what we can see with naked eyes. Thinking with His mind simply takes your capacity beyond the stratosphere and makes you see possibilities beyond human comprehension.
By the way, by God, I mean the One who created the heavens and the earth, not any of the idols fashioned by men and worshipped by those who have no understanding.

Finally, what would you say to those who might not be followers of Jesus Christ but want to experience what you just shared with us?
There is only ONE WAY by which men can be saved from the shackles of sin. It is by committing one’s life to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Sin is primarily responsible for man’s depraved state. Trying to experience the liberty of the benefits of God without the knowledge of His Son Jesus is like trying to cross a deep and wide river without a bridge, a boat, an aircraft or even the basic ability to swim! To enjoy God, you begin with a relationship with Him through His Son as He has said in the scriptures, “there is no other name under heaven by which men must be saved except the name of Jesus Christ” It is as simple as that! To truly be a partaker of the unlimited and unlimiting blessings of the unlimited God, there is always a trade-off. But the good thing is that what you have to give up is that thing you can least afford to keep, your sin-nature!

A Woman of Fire and Passion for the Needy

“When I was a child, my mother did not want me. She told me as much and was often verbally and physically rough. Many nights, I would lie in the dark, small & afraid, with only God to protect me.


                Michel (Shelly) DeLisle

Shelly DeLisle

Shelly DeLisle

Shelly, as she likes to be called is a Christian believer who was born in Waukegan , Illinois, USA. Shelly studied Interpersonal Communications/International Affairs at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI where she also played Division I volleyball & ran Division I track. After graduating with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communication, she joined the Peace Corps and served as an agroforestry volunteer in Niger, West Africa.

Upon returning, Shelly continued traveling as an international flight attendant until she married Jim, currently the Vice President of Manufacturing at Imperial Printing. Shelly also worked for the American Red Cross & the YMCA of Metro Milwaukee as corporate training specialists and had the first two of her three beautiful daughters before she became a volunteer firefighter. This led to being hired as the first female firefighter for the Wauwatosa Fire Department in 1998. She was promoted to paramedic and then lieutenant, was the HazMat team leader and a member of the special rescue team.

Furthermore, Shelly earned a Master’s of Science in Organizational Development & Leadership from Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia, PA.

For the past 20 years, Michel DeLisle has traveled and led mission teams, humanitarian aid teams, and disaster response teams through many agencies such as: Lutheran World Relief, Red Cross, Harvest International, Compassion, CMF, Missions of Hope, Pwoje Espwa, etc. In the church, she has been the Christian Ed Director, Mission Coordinator & Vacation Bible School Director over the years.

Shelly, her husband Jim and their three daughters, Madisson, Dylan and Colleen are all actively involved in service, both overseas and in the US.

Shelly, tell us a bit about your experience as firefighter in the US. How long did you serve as such and what are the most three relevant lessons for life that you learned?

I became a volunteer firefighter in 1995 after treating one of my daughters for a severe injury. We had called the fire department and they thought I had the correct training and temperament. From there, I went on to become a professional firefighter and the first female on the Wauwatosa Fire Department, a large urban/suburban department. I was trained as a paramedic as well and eventually promoted to lieutenant. I served on the special rescue teams & was the HazMat team leader. I learned many things, but here are three very relevant lessons:
1. Never sacrifice a person for a process: this means that no policy, action, procedure should come before the value of another person, their confidence, or their well-being.
2. Be accountable for all of your speech, your actions, & your promises. Being tired, hungry, angry, stressed, etc. is no excuse to treat or speech to someone else poorly.
3. Sometimes, things are out of our hands. Be humble enough to accept that.

Certainly, saving lives has its risks! Shelly, we know you began develop upper respiratory problems in 2010. Tell us about your health condition and how did it affect your involvement in firefighting?

In 2010, I began to suffer from bronchitis & respiratory issues each time I fought a fire. I would have chest tightness, a cough, & sometimes it would require medical treatment. I always recovered after a few days. In November of 2012, I fought two house fires in the same week. After the first one, on a Tuesday, I had chest tightness and a cough. I worked Thursday and Saturday of that week, all 24 hours

Shelly, the first female on the Wauwatosa Fire Department

Shelly, the first female on the Wauwatosa Fire Department

shifts, and by Saturday had begun to cough phlegm out of my lungs. On Sunday morning, as my shift ended, we received another call for smoke in a residence. I knew my lungs were not healthy enough to put on breathing apparatus, but my relief was not in yet and so I went. This was the last fire I ever fought. I had a short shift that night at the firehouse and my cough became worse and I could not breathe. I left the firehouse and went right to a doctor for a breathing treatment. She told me then I would never fight another fire. I refused to believe her. For about 5 weeks, I was able to move only from the bed to a chair and back. I could barely sit up to braid my daughter’s hair. It was exhausting and painful to just try to take a breath. It was hard not to despair. My youngest daughter told me later that this is where her relationship with God really deepened. She said she prayed everyday that her mom would live and when God answered her prayers and I began to get better, she realized that God was real!

After a couple of months, I could walk to the end of our driveway to get the mail and realized that my life had changed for good. I argued with every doctor and begged to go back to firefighting. Not one doctor would approve me. The fire department terminated my employment because I was not healthy enough to fight fires, something that is not legal in the US. They fought me in court and my family endured financial hardship at a time when we had two daughters in college. But every time we thought we would miss a house payment or risk losing our home, God would provide. He would send money from other firefighters to cover our costs. He sent scholarships to cover our daughters’ tuition. At first I worried, but after a few months realized that God provides. Our youngest received a music scholarship so she could continue taking violin lessons. Each time we thought we had run out of money, it would appear. As God says, does worry add even one day to our life? If He cares for the lilies and the sparrows, will He not care for us? We are at peace with our situation. We have faith that God has a plan.

The fire department initially told me I could not work anywhere else and that I should not even volunteer; something that had been a large part of my family’s life before the illness. I told them that they could control my employment, but could not control who I was. I was “service.”

Since developing lung disease and having to leave firefighting, I split time between many important organizations. I am the part time Special Events Coordinator for Interfaith Senior Programs in Waukesha; an organization that helps seniors and people of all ages with disabilities remain independent in their homes and places them as volunteer in the schools as student mentors. I also serve as the Communications & Development Director for Just One More, an inner city ministry that rescues food, repackages it and distributes it to the hungry, homeless, needy & home bound serving over 100,000 meals last year and growing. I have a non-profit, From Our Village, that matches people with service and consider these roles an extension of that organization. I also consult on disaster in Washington state & Louisiana with Response Systems International & coach a Nationals level volleyball team that incorporates service into their season. My family provides multiple community meals throughout the year and travels to Native American Reservations and other needy communities to partner with those in need. Being sick will not change this.

When and why did you decide to become involved in the service to the poor?

When I was a child, my mother did not want me. She told me as much and was often verbally and physically rough. Many nights, I would lie in the dark, small & afraid, with only God to protect me. I think this instilled a desire to care for others so they would never feel small and alone in the dark. I cannot remember a time when I would not stand up for the underdog.

Shelly assisting a baby in the mountains of Haiti, 2006

Shelly assisting a baby in the mountains of Haiti, 2006

I can share that even after developing lung disease and being forced to leave the fire service, I still recognized that I have a good family and friends, a roof over my head, food in my pantry, a secure community and it drove home that I can only be grateful in my life and continue to serve others that are not as fortunate.

My husband, Jim and I deliver 600-800 lbs. of food to the homeless each week. We also prepare and provide meals 6-8 times a year to children in the inner city on weekends. We conduct an annual winter coat drive and give 1000+ students a year warm coats, hats and mittens. At Christmas, we recruit friends to put together 100 gift bags for inner city kids and at Thanksgiving, we do the same to provide holiday meals to over 50 families. Jim is the Vice President of Manufacturing at Imperial Printing & has incorporated service into his companies philosophy, not only providing free & low cost printing to non-profits, but packing holiday meals, providing warehouse space to the coat/food drives, and loaning his company’s truck for deliveries.

How did God prepare you to serve the poor while you served as a firefighter?

As a firefighter, we were never invited to someone’s home when things were good. It was always the worst moment. This drove home the fact that regardless of income, race, class, etc., at the end of the

After the Haiti earthquake, 2010

After the Haiti earthquake, 2010

day we are all God´s creatures with basic needs for comfort, warmth, care, and security. Serving as a firefighter gave me the ability to recognize priorities (life, others, not money or possessions, etc.) and trained a calmness into me that comforts others and make them feel safe while also allowing me to function in times of great stress without panic. My medical and emergency skills are also useful in meeting the needs of those living in poverty.

Finally, what would you tell those who are considering to serve the poor but have not taken action yet?

Just do it! As my youngest daughter told a room of 400 people, you do not need any special skills to care for others, just a heart for people. There is no excuse to wait. You can listen, you can hold a hand, you can hand someone a sandwich or bottle of clean water. There is nothing standing between you and serving.