Florida boy’s mission to help the homeless: ‘God sent a note to my heart’

Dylandin Martin is not your average kid. The 8-year-old saved up $250 from the tooth fairy, birthdays, Christmas and allowance to give to the homeless in Pensacola, Fla. –  and he has no plans to stop there. “One morning I woke up with a yearning for change in the world and a message in my heart clear as day,” Martin … Continue reading “Florida boy’s mission to help the homeless: ‘God sent a note to my heart’”

Dylandin Martin is not your average kid.

The 8-year-old saved up $250 from the tooth fairy, birthdays, Christmas and allowance to give to the homeless in Pensacola, Fla. –  and he has no plans to stop there.

“One morning I woke up with a yearning for change in the world and a message in my heart clear as day,” Martin wrote in a GoFundMe he started called “Living for God” to continue the effort. “God spoke to me through this feeling and led me to spread his word in everything that I do.”

After the Marcus Pointe Christian School student got the idea, he told his grandmother, Stacey Yates, that he needed help to purchase the supplies and find people in need.


Yates recently drove Dylandin around as he handed out Christmas bags filled with food, water, toiletries, a blanket, and a card that reads, "God Loves You" at the Waterfront Rescue Mission and other places in the area.

"This was all his idea, to take his money that he saved up to buy for people that are underprivileged and give back," Yates said to one of the men Martin was helping in a video posted to Facebook.

"Oh, bless his little heart," he said. "Wow, God bless you. You are an awesome little man. Merry Christmas! Thank you so much!"

Another recipient of Dylandin’s gift, Freddie Olds, who had been homeless for two months, told WEARTV the kind gesture inspired him to pay it forward.

“You wouldn’t think someone would do something like that,” he said. “You want to do the same for someone else.”


Opening Doors, a homeless organization in Pensacola, made Dylandin its ambassador.

“Everybody deserves a little light and happiness in their life, and I hope to make that a reality,” Dylandin said.

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

The best gift you can give yourself this holiday season

Christmastime is such a wonderful time of year – but it can also be challenging. It’s fun to spend time with our loved ones and to choose gifts that will make them feel special. But it can also be a time when we have to face people we don’t necessarily love so much. We might draw these people in a secret Santa exchange, bump into them at a holiday party, or sit next to them at a large family dinner; loving difficult people (even during the holidays) is never an easy task. But showing these people love and grace might be the best gift we can give OURSELVES this holiday season. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.

Easier said than done, right? I know – this task is particularly difficult for me.

My mom has always told me that I have a strong sense of justice – that’s her motherly and loving way of telling me that I don’t always give people as much grace as I could when I feel like I’ve been wronged; I focus much more on what is “fair.”

Many of my friends frequently come to me for “vent sessions” because I’ll be the first person to say “UGH – you did NOT deserve that!” or “Well, if they were so rude or inconsiderate, how can they expect you to be polite or nice in response? That makes NO sense!” I’m not proud to admit that I sometimes respond in these scenarios with knee-jerk reactions rather than swallowing my pride and practicing forgiveness. Although I write about my faith, I am definitely no saint. God still has a lot of work to do on me and I know He won’t be finished transforming my heart until my life here on Earth is over.

But I want to be better. I want to be more like Jesus – and I don’t just mean turning the other cheek. I want to be like Him in the sense that I will be able to go out of my way to show love and grace to people who might not “deserve” it from my point of view. If I were to attempt this goal on my own, I know I’d fail, so I have to keep a key piece of wisdom at the forefront of my memory to achieve it: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – ” (Romans 5:7-8).

Sometimes I think about all of the times I’ve ignored and disobeyed Jesus, and acted as though I couldn’t care less what He thought. And then it hits me that He continues to love me and bless me anyway – and I’m filled with a sense of disbelief.

How could that be true? How could someone really love me through all of that? But it IS true. And when I remember this and truly grasp how profound and full His love is, it makes me feel like I’m the Grinch in the closing scene when his heart grows three sizes bigger (cheesy, I know, but seriously!) – I still have a lot to learn, but I have learned this much: I’m able to love better when I fully embrace God’s overflowing love for me. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

One of my favorite Christian authors, Heather Lindsey, sums up this idea perfectly: “Some people say, ‘don’t cross oceans for people who wouldn’t cross a puddle for you,’ but I’d say to them, No, do it. Do cross oceans for people. Love people, all people. No conditions attached, no wondering whether they’re worthy. Cross oceans, climb mountains. Life and love isn’t about what you gain, it’s about what you give.”

It can be a tough pill to swallow, but it becomes easier to accept this concept if we remember the love, forgiveness, and grace Jesus offers each and every one of us. Embrace His love. When you do, you will love better. And when you love better, you live better. To me, that is the best Christmas gift we can give ourselves.

Christen Limbaugh Bloom is the creator of Haplous, a Christian blog for women seeking peace in a stressful world. Her writing focuses on practical “baby steps” individuals can take when pursuing a relationship with God. Christen is a Missouri girl turned Manhattanite who loves God, her husband, iced coffee year-round, and connecting with other women. You can follow Christen’s blog on Instagram at @haplous_official and her website at www.haplousofficial.com.

How to make peace in a world full of hate

We’re told in the story of Christ’s birth that he was sent to bring “peace on Earth” (Luke 2:14). All throughout the Old and New Testaments, God echoes his promise of peace, and he invites us to be a part of the process as well.

“Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” Jesus told his disciples in his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:9).

I don’t know how much of the nightly news you’ve been watching, but it looks to me like we could use a little peacemaking.

And I’m not just talking about in Israel, or Yemen, or Venezuela. I’m talking about amongst our very own family members, friends and neighbors.

Take a quick scroll through social media and you’ll see family members in a war of words over a political disagreement. Friendships are often ruined with one harsh word. Neighbors never speak again after one trivial dispute.

Perhaps you can recall a moment when you contributed to anger and division yourself.

It’s clear to me that we desperately need Christ to work in our lives, to teach us how to respond in an age of perpetual conflict. It’s so easy in our technologically advanced era to hide behind a screen and foster division with harsh rhetoric, thinking there’ll be no larger consequences. But there most certainly will be. Proverbs 18:21 cautions us with this: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit–you choose.”

As a follower of Christ, I know I am commanded – no matter how just the cause I am fighting for – to always refrain from stirring up division. In Hebrews 12:14 we're told, "Strive for peace with everyone." The Apostle Paul also implores us, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all" (Romans 12:18).

In Isaiah 1:18 the Lord tell us, “Come now, let us reason together.” Conflict can’t continue if you don’t participate.

This essentially all boils down to one simple rule: Be a peacemaker, not a troublemaker.

I realize there’s a lot of shallow and hollow calls for peace out there. Many are well-intentioned, but lacking in substance.

The version of peace I’m calling for is rooted in Christ and is unattainable without him.

The honest truth is that you and I are incapable of being effective peacemakers without the redeeming love of Christ stirring in our hearts. We may broker peace among friends who are bickering, or step in to stop a squabble among family members. But what about when an offense is dealt directly toward you? An angry remark, a nasty tweet, a passive-aggressive comment from a loved one. Sooner or later we give in to our flesh and we hold a grudge, or we respond in anger ourselves, driving the wedge deeper and deeper until one day a relationship is totally destroyed.

Just as we are unable to be sinless and perfect in our own strength, we are unable to make peace with someone using our own strength. Christ tells us in John 16:33, "…In me you may have peace." Further along in the same verse he reminds us, "In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

The only way we can find lasting peace is by submitting our lives to the Prince of Peace.

We need Christ to stand in the gap for us. When we’re spent and exhausted and it seems like all hope for peace is lost, Christ calls us to put our trust in him.

This Christmas, humble yourself before the Lord. Ask him to fill you with his spirit and give you the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Not simply a temporary transaction of peace –like a ceasefire agreement between nations, or a court settlement amongst bitter enemies – but real and lasting peace. The kind that is anchored deep within our hearts and our minds.

Jentezen Franklin is the Senior Pastor of Free Chapel, a multi-campus church. Each week his television program Kingdom Connection is broadcast on major networks all over the world. A New York Times best-selling author, Jentezen has written nine books, including his newly released, “Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt.”

The incredible lesson I learned after I failed the seventh grade

A seventh-grade student sat at his desk fearing the absolute worst. It was Friday, June 8, 1984. It was also the last day of school before summer vacation.

His knobby knees knocked. His heart raced. His palms were so sweaty, he needed a "wet floor” sign next to his desk.

The 13-year-old had slogged through a challenging year at home and, moments earlier, his homeroom teacher had revealed in dramatic fashion that when the report cards were distributed, one would show that someone had failed the seventh grade and would be retained.

Someone in the back of the room asked what the word meant. “In this case,” the teacher announced, “retained means he’s going to repeat the seventh grade.”

The young man sat at his desk and wondered how he would ever tell his parents that their son, a student with a history of good grades, had collapsed and would not advance to the eighth grade with his friends.

He’d placed third at the county science fair. He’d earned awards for his writing and excelled at band. He’d won speech competitions. But now he was poised to walk up the driveway carrying a report card that weighed more than he did.

Disclosure: I have not researched this story and it hasn’t been fact-checked. How do I know it so well? Because this is my story.

I failed the seventh grade.

I closed my eyes and with my fingertips traced the carved-in pencil slot on the bottom of the slanted desktop. In that moment, I remembered hearing the news that doctors had discovered a tumor the size of a grapefruit attached to one of my father’s kidneys. In the next moment I wondered whether my father would live to see me graduate – not from high school, but from middle.

The teacher began handing out the report cards and I felt my pulse skip and pop like an old vinyl record. I wiped my hands on my Levis and studied my desk until the report card slid into view. I unwound the red piece of string that held the flap closed and removed the tri-fold piece of canary cardstock. At the top of the paper my eyes immediately found the word written and circled in cherry red magic marker: “Retained."

I quickly folded and returned the paper to its envelope, like a body exhumed and returned to its casket. I fought tears, left for the restroom without permission and gazed at my reflection in the cracked mirror with graffiti scrawled in the corners.

I wondered – Will my parents still love me?

A few days later, I returned with my folks to meet with the principal and discuss my options. I could repeat the year, earn satisfactory grades and advance to the eighth grade. Or, I could attend two classes – math and English – at a local high school’s summer school program. If my grades were acceptable, I would begin the eighth grade as if nothing had ever happened.

The discussion was a short one.

In the car on the way home, in a word picture framed by enormous love and faith, my parents explained how the summer school commitment would be a sacrifice for our entire family. No doubt it would mean a different sort of summer than I’d hoped for.

While I participated in summer school, my friends went swimming at the local pool. While I studied for math tests, the gang from church went to scout camp. While I wrote essays, my best friend spent a week at Virginia Beach.

I learned a lot at summer school. I got better at math and learned to solve problems without the help of Texas Instruments. I got better at writing fiction. I got better at balancing home stress and school responsibilities.

I got A’s.

I learned a lot at home that summer, too. I learned that my parents loved me deeply. I learned that my three older siblings believed I was capable of anything. I learned to take more responsibility for my actions and to look inward at problems and upward to heaven for solutions.

I learned to pray.

I sailed through the next year and did well as my father lived cancer-free until my junior year of high school. When it returned and later claimed his life during the winter break between semesters, I easily remembered the lessons of 1984.

I often reflect on those lessons. I suppose I also count my failures since that heavy report card and I find there have been many. But, thankfully, I’ve also been blessed with just enough successes like summer school to remind me that I am not defined by the failure, but by the response.

I think I still hear the voice of that nervous 13-year-old boy reminding me that with faith, love, perseverance and by forgiving myself, I will always be capable of advancing from one trial to the next with straight A's.

He tells me that I am not destined to be retained.

And neither are you.

Jason F. Wright is a New York Times bestselling author, columnist, and speaker. His newest book, “Courage to Be You: Inspiring Lessons from an Unexpected Journey.” Join him on Facebook, Instagram, and follow him on Twitter.

Not in the holiday spirit? What to do if you’re suffering this time of year

“The more noble a thing is in its perfection,” observed the sage Yohanan ben Zakkai, “the more ghastly it is in its decay.” It’s true. The further something is from its ideal state, the worse we feel about it. Which means the holidays can be awful when you or someone you love is suffering.

Even putting aside the national funk that has descended upon us in 2018 with shootings, elections, bickering and scandals, a lot of people this year are dreading the holidays. When the idea of happy family and friends gathered around the holiday table runs smack into the reality of a recent divorce, a kid in rehab, Dad in the nursing home or Mom’s funeral last month it really hurts.

This holiday season your suffering is an invitation to say no; and an invitation to find the yes behind that no.

So what do we do during the holidays if we are in pain? First, be honest. Pop culture and consumerism might not give us permission to acknowledge grief or sadness during the holidays, but you can at least grant that permission to yourself. Tell people you want to keep it low-key this year. Let them know that being around groups of people celebrating only makes things worse. In other words, don’t go.

The year that I was struggling with opioids and depression following spinal surgery, instead of showing up at any number of holiday parties to which I was invited, my wife, two kids and I served Christmas dinner at a homeless shelter in Santa Monica. It felt wrong, impossible really, for me to celebrate. But it felt right to serve others. The ancient rabbis knew what they were doing when they forbade mourners to attend weddings and other celebrations for a year. It wasn’t because a mourner celebrating was disrespectful to the deceased, but because it was disrespectful to the mourner – an affront to his or her own pain.

Dostoyevsky said his greatest fear was that his life would not be worthy of his suffering. This holiday season your suffering is an invitation to say no; and an invitation to find the yes behind that no. Say no to the holiday table and yes to serving others. Say no to the hellish travel required to migrate upstream for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year’s and say yes to hunkering down with a pot of tea, a good book and a warm blanket. Say no to the noise and the booze and the calories, and say yes to a quiet, healing walk with a friend who has also had a terrible year. Say no to the shopping and say yes to a charity that needs the money more than Amazon. Say no, I cannot be happy, but, yes, I can still be good and gentle and kind – especially to myself. Say no to pretending everything is OK, and yes to reaching out to the few who really do understand and love you no matter how wounded.

To put it glibly but perfectly, the people who mind if you don’t show up for the holidays this year don’t matter, and the people who matter, don’t mind.

Steve Leder is the author of “More Beautiful Than Before; How Suffering Transforms Us,” recently published by Hay House, Inc.

My wedding dance was watched by millions – I wish my 12-year-old self knew how beautiful his future would be

I knew I was gay, or at least different, when I was about eight. I hated myself for it. Every night I prayed that God would change me, would make be “normal.” Of course, there was no changing me.

By the time I was 12, I was desperate and depressed. I went to the local drugstore and slowly stocked up on sleeping pills. For years, I stashed them in a tiny space at the back of a bottom drawer in my bedroom. I wondered if I should take my own life to end my misery.

Over the past few weeks, all I’ve been thinking is: I wish my 12-year-old self could see the future I am living in today.

The smiling faces. The flashing cameras. The grooms – me and my husband-to-be, Noah – exchanging vows. The video of our wedding dance going viral, viewed by over 25 million people around the world on social media, TV news programs and websites. Yes, over 25 million!

The 15 minutes of fame. The nationwide acceptance. The worldwide love.

When I was growing up, there were signs everywhere telling me that being gay was wrong. Kids making hurtful jokes. Or beating up other kids who they thought were gay. Teachers turning a blind eye. My parents echoing their parents’ teachings that being gay was sick and sinful.

One friend’s dad telling me that he thought gay people should be rounded up and shot.

I hung on. I hid. I hid really well. I hoped I might change. I dated girls. I was the runner-up for my high school’s homecoming king. I finished in the top of my class. I got accepted to Tufts University.

I knew people were watching. I wanted to appear perfect. And to the untrained eye, I did.

When I went off to college, I felt as if it could all come crashing down at any minute. So I kept hiding my “flaw.” During graduation week, I found the courage to tell a few friends. My hope was simply that they would still manage to like me despite my “flaw” of being gay.

To my great relief, they responded with love. For the first time, I stopped feeling so alone. And for the first time, I started to dream.

But even then, I couldn’t have dreamed up all the good things that would happen.

I couldn’t image that, in my lifetime, the Supreme Court would make marriage equality the law of the land. That only a few years later I would walk down the aisle with the man of my dreams.

I couldn’t imagine that after my husband and I finished our first dance, a tough, straight, former Marine would come up to us with tears streaming down his face, saying: “This is exactly what the world needs more of right now.”

(Andrew Holtz Photography, @Holtz_Photography)

And I couldn’t imagine that I would have the guts to take his advice and share a video of the first dance with my husband online.

My 12-year-old self couldn’t have believed any of this could happen. But I get it now.

I now understand that as divisive as things can seem, most of us speak the same language. It’s a language of love.

It’s a language that led my politically conservative father to co-officiate my wedding. It’s a language that led a conservative friend to share our wedding dance video proudly on Facebook.

It’s a language that leads people across the country – in red states and blue states, in small towns and big cities – not just to tolerate but to celebrate love that’s different from their own.

As the saying goes, it does get better. It has gotten better. Because people – gay and straight –are making it better.

(Andrew Holtz Photography, @Holtz_Photography)

I know, maybe that sounds Pollyannaish. After all, there’s some really bad stuff that’s happening.

The FBI recently announced that hate crimes are up by 17 percent in the U.S., with sexual orientation and gender identity the motivating factor in nearly 1,250 cases. And in 73 countries, people like me are still considered criminals who can be sent to jail or receive a death sentence.

Still, I believe the forces of love are at work. I believe it because I’ve seen it.

(Andrew Holtz Photography, @Holtz_Photography)

Noah and I let the world see our love for each other. We danced, and millions of people watched, and way more of them loved it than hated it.

In a world that is so chaotic and complicated, this much is clear: The answer to hate is love. And sometimes, dance.

P.J. Simmons is co-founder of the Corporate Eco Forum, a membership organization of 70 leading Fortune 500 companies. He previously held senior positions at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Clinton Global Initiative.

The one good thing that happened during my worst Christmas ever

“Honey, I’m not feeling well,” I said as my stomach began churning after Christmas Eve dinner at my sister’s house.

Three hours later, I was slumped over a toilet, feeling the full effect of a merciless virus.

My wife, Raquel, peeked in the door and grimaced.

“I hope you don’t get this from me,” I said.

“Me too.”

It was too late. In the middle of the night, Raquel sprang out of bed, clambered to the bathroom and went through the same thing.

Throughout the night, the virus was the gift that kept giving until finally, we both passed out in the early hours of Christmas morning. Around noon, we woke up in a daze and realized we had missed opening presents with the family. I was disappointed.

We had gone to so much trouble and expenses to fly down from D.C. to be with my family in Mississippi. Yet, on my favorite morning of the year, we were sprawled out in bed, fighting off nausea, quarantined from the rest of the family.

“Merry Christmas,” I mumbled, with the side of my head glued to the pillow.

Raquel just stared at the ceiling in silence.

The entire day, we laid there in bed, breathing slowly and occasionally sitting up to take a drink of water, grateful we could hold it down.

“You know,” I said, “a couple of Christmases ago, I could only dream of waking up next to the wife I had asked God for so many times. At least I’ve got that, right?”

I was absolutely right. Raquel had promised to be with me “in sickness and in health,” and that Christmas, she was fully delivering on her promise. She was as sympathetic as she could possibly be, fully identifying with my suffering – a woman who was as sick as I was and not going anywhere.

That Christmas with Raquel reminds me of the first Christmas in Bethlehem. Our world was sick – it couldn’t have gotten any sicker – and yet Jesus came into the sickness with us. He embodied His name, “Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23). He knew what we needed more than anything: We needed Him to be with us, to take on our sin and sickness and cure us forever. But it all started with Him simply being there, and He still is.

God is with you this Christmas, no matter how awful it may be. Emmanuel is there.

When there’s not enough money to give the kids decent gifts and your credit card is maxed out, He’s feeling your embarrassment.

When you have to make that heartbreaking visit to your beloved family member in the nursing facility, He’s holding that person’s hand with you.

When your spouse is growing more and more distant, He’s feeling the sting of rejection with you.

When you’re spending another Christmas without conceiving a child, He’s there in the feelings of emptiness.

When you’re feeling guilty because you’re depressed and don’t care that it’s Christmas, He’s giving you the courage to make a phone call to a friend and tell them you’re in a bad place.

This may very well be your worst Christmas ever and there’s nothing anyone can say or do to paper over that. The point is that Jesus knows. Angels may have announced His birth, but they didn’t rescue Him and his parents, who were far from home and trying to figure out what to do next.

No matter how bad things are this Christmas, never forget the promise you’ve been given: Jesus is Emmanuel, God with you. The simple fact that He’s there, fully identifying with your struggles, is the gift that makes Christmas worth celebrating.

Joshua Rogers is a writer and attorney who lives in Washington, D.C. You can follow Joshua on Twitter @MrJoshuaRogers and Facebook, and read more of his writing at JoshuaRogers.com. You can also subscribe to emails with updates about his writing.

Tim Tebow remembers final moments of ‘hero’ Chelsie Watts’ life: \”God’s got this\”

Tim Tebow had a special bond with Chelsie Watts, and although she died almost four years ago, her legacy continues to impact others.

After Texas-native Watts was diagnosed with cancer at 17-years-old, she fought with a smile and championed the slogan "God's got this" along with the Bible verse Psalm 27:1. A few years into her battle, after graduating from high school and as a student in college, cancer came back. That same year, she became a recipient of Tim Tebow Foundation’s W15H program, which gives children with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to meet the famous Christian athlete.

“What a special girl she was,” Tebow said. “The attitude that she had, the legacy that she left. The number of people she impacted…in the midst of facing death but knowing that there’s light at the end of it, she was able to see past her temporary pain into eternal significance and because of that more lives will possibly change than we could ever imagine.


“It meant the world to Chelsie,” Jana Watts said of the meeting in her home state of Texas for the weekend of the Texas A&M vs. Missouri game in November 2014. Tebow called Chelsie up on stage before he went on air prior to the start of the game.

“This is Chelsie Watts, my hero,” Tebow said as he embraced her, and the crowd started chanting her name.

“Of course tears are streaming down my face,” Jana said. “It gave her that extra strength just to keep fighting.”

“He was praying with her and they both had tears in their eyes, and she got ready to walk away and he said ‘One more hug’…just a special connection,” she said.


But it was the moments before Chelsie passed away that were really special to all of them.

Tebow called Chelsie and had a conversation with her that left her smiling – but her family didn’t know what they had talked about until Tebow’s book, Unshaken, came out sharing that precious moment.

Tebow hadn’t been able to sleep for three days, and when he found out about Chelsie’s condition he knew why.

“I could barely hear Chelsie’s labored breathing as I prayed for and shared Scriptures with her,” Tebow wrote. “I’m proud of you, Chels. You have had such an impact on this world and I know that God is proud of you too. You’ve been an amazing role model for me, for your family, for so many people.”

Tebow told her that if she wanted to keep fighting he would hop on a plane and be with her in a matter of hours, but he told her something he’d never shared with anyone who had a life-threatening illness.

“I never said this to a kid or anyone going through a sickness or an illness and I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again,” he said.

“Chels, if you want to stop fighting, stop fighting and go home. Remember, you are leaving a legacy. You are amazing! And I love you,” he said. “Not many minutes after that Chelsie went home to be with Jesus.”

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

‘Perfect love’ leads NY woman to open her apartment to homeless couple

New York City entrepreneur Sarah Lee says she has been called a "little crazy" for letting a homeless man stay in her small, one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, but after a series of signs it became apparent to her that it was meant to be.

“There is a Scripture in the Bible that says ‘Perfect love casts out all fear,’ 1 John 4:18, which I believe to be true and choose to live by and I felt like I needed to offer him my place to shower, get cleaned up and stay,” said Lee, 33, the daughter of missionary parents from South Korea who reside in Nairobi, Kenya, where she grew up. Lee started helping homeless people in February, but she told Fox News that Nick Long was "the first person to receive the help and love I poured out."

It all started on August 5, when Lee headed to church, like any other Sunday morning, and met Long, a 29-year-old homeless man, panhandling on the sidewalk.

Nick and Sarah met on August 5, 2018, on a sidewalk in the Financial District. (Sarah Lee)

“I asked him how he was doing, gave him some money, and he began to tell me that his grandfather had just passed away,” Lee explained, “and I felt it in my heart to invite him to church.”

To her surprise, Long accepted the invitation, quickly hopped up and joined Lee and her friend.

“He was so moved at church, we both just cried together," Lee said. "He just felt God’s presence. We both did.”

Afterward, she decided to take him to lunch, and while they were walking they noticed they have matching cross tattoos on their hands.

Sarah and Nick noticed they have matching tattoos on their way to lunch the day they met, and Sarah told Fox News she knew it was a "divine orchestration." (Sarah Lee)

"We just looked at each other and we knew we were meant to meet that day," she said.

Long and his wife, Alexandra Kourkine, had traveled to New York from West Virginia, fell on hard times and had been homeless since May. Alexandra, who goes by Lexi, was receiving inpatient care when Lee met Long, and the couple's two children were in the custody of ACS because a family member was unable to care for them. The couple were not New York residents long enough to qualify for residence in a family shelter.

Lee was moved by Long's story, and decided to buy him dress shoes from Century 21 so he could attend his grandfather’s wake. Then she reactivated his phone at AT&T and gave him some cash. Lee said she Googled Long and verified enough information about him to trust that he was telling the truth. The two exchanged information.

“After Nick got back from his grandfather’s funeral, I really felt it in my heart to extend longer-term help and let him crash on my couch for however long was needed for him to get back on his feet. And he, of course, accepted my invitation," she said.

Another sign came when Lee’s dog Toto — a Yorkie named for the Swahili word for "child" — who normally doesn't like men, was different around Long.

When Sarah’s dog, Toto, didn’t bark at Nick like most men, she said it gave her more assurance that he was a good guy. (Sarah Lee)

"My dog didn’t bark at all," she said. "That gave me so much peace that this is okay."

A week later Lexi joined them and the couple ended up staying with Lee for about a month. Nick Long described Sarah as an "Asian nun," a label that Sarah laughs about now.

And the next week, Long got baptized and Kourkine accepted Jesus.

“I never really trusted nobody, didn’t really feel like I had love for anybody, and then one day Sarah saw me sitting on the street, and she said, ‘Hey, you wanna go to church?’ and something said, ‘Get your butt up.’” Long said. “It kind of felt like God was hugging me.”

Lexi and Nick with Sarah’s dog, Toto. They both now have jobs and are trying to get permanent housing. (Sarah Lee)

Life Center Church NYC, a ministry of JHOP, adopted Long and Kourkine into their church family and helped the couple with temporary housing.

Now Long and his wife, who have been married since 2013, have been pursuing help each week through the church, as well as professional counseling and social services.

“God’s literally taken all the hurt, pain, suffering,” Long said. “It’s gone.”

Now Long and Kourkine both have jobs as servers in New York City and are trying to raise enough money — aided by a GoFundMe Lee started —  to get permanent housing for themselves and their two kids, who are currently in foster care.

"Just to see people come around them and show them what family looks like has been awesome to see," Lee said. "Because it really takes a village; because other people had to just come around them, and the GoFundMe is a reflection of that."

Earlier this year, Lee was inspired by a minister who came to her church and shared about how she would always open the door, regardless of who the person was.

"That gave me the courage to open my door for anyone because, like, perfect love really casts out all fear — which is God," Lee said. "I think that believing that Scripture was how I was able to open my doors to Nick and Lexi."

Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke

Korn’s Brian ‘Head’ Welch recalls overcoming addiction, finding God in new doc

Guitarist Brian “Head” Welch was at the prime of his career during the late ‘90s and early 2000s when Korn helped define a completely new genre of music known as nu-metal, becoming one of the most successful acts of its day.

But behind closed doors, the Grammy-winning rock star was losing himself to drugs and alcohol.

Welch walked away from Korn – and a $23 million dollar record deal – in 2005 after he found God. The bold move helped him become free of his addictions, but the single father still needed plenty of saving.

The now 48-year-old and his daughter, Jennea Welch, are the subjects of a new Showtime documentary titled “Loud Krazy Love,” a shocking tell-all about his complicated relationship with the now 20-year-old who was also privately battling her own demons. It features in-depth interviews with the pair, with Welch’s parents and also with his bandmates.

Welch told Fox News filming technically began in 2005, after MTV reached out about creating a spirituality show. But when the project fell through, Welch kept the footage until 2013 when the idea of a film exploring his life with Korn was presented to him. However, it was clear to Welch that the real story he was ready to share was the one that even his die-hard fans didn’t know about.

In the film, Welch revealed that despite having it all – fame, fortune and a child he adored – he was still suffering from unhappiness.

“I think the root was the self-hatred that was going on due to unresolved issues growing up,” Welch explained. “I didn’t have the best relationship with my dad. I was bullied in school, picked on. I remember the first time of just trying to connect with girls. It was just rejection after rejection. So I always felt ugly. … Every time I looked in the mirror, it was like, ‘You’re not good enough.’ ‘There’s always someone more popular.’ ‘There’s always someone more gifted in music.'

“… I feel like I was too sensitive to things. And they would get to me. And I would let them just tear me down. And no matter how successful I got later on, I just felt like, if people really got to know me, got close to me, they wouldn’t like me. That’s the lie I believed about myself. And so I would just mask it with drugs and alcohol for years and years… It wasn’t until I found my faith that I learned to love myself.”

Rock group Korn attends the 16th Annual MTV Video Music Awards on September 9, 1999 at the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center in New York City. (Getty)

The Hollywood Reporter revealed Welch’s addictions became so severe he would hide his crystal meth in vitamins, deodorant – whatever was handy – while touring with Korn. Welch also shared on Matt Weiss and Theo Von’s “Allegedly” podcast that he once sent 1/8 ounce of crystal meth via Fed Ex.

Jennea had an unconventional childhood, one that involved hitting the road as a toddler alongside her famous father on tour.

“When I think about being on the road, it’s a lot of bittersweet memories honestly,” Jennea told Fox News. “We had so much fun. I was able to do whatever I wanted, eat whatever I wanted and just hang out. … There were promiscuous girls, parties and stuff. And I knew that it was wrong. But honestly, it was just what it was.”

But Jennea also endured loss. In the documentary, she vividly described moments in her young life when Welch was absent as he traveled the country with Korn. Then her mother, also dealing with addiction, left the pair behind. Jennea admitted it wasn’t easy to relive those memories of being alone.

Brian Welch with his daughter Jennea. (Courtesy of Sean Berry)

“It was difficult,” she explained. “I think there were some sad things that as a kid I didn’t quite get. Because he wasn’t there and my mom wasn’t there. And I guess when I became older, it affected me a lot.”

When Welch converted to Christianity, he was determined to always be by Jennea’s side — but his struggles were far from over. He was no longer packing arenas and his finances were rapidly dwindling. Bad business deals also taunted Welch. Still, his faith endured.

“I was forewarned, I should say,” said Welch. “You go through trials, sometimes heavy ones. Sometimes it looks like God’s abandoned you, but not for any reason. [It’s] to make your faith grow and to see that no matter what happens, you come out OK. … It’s all for your good. It’s all for love and it’s all for making you a strong person.

“So when I lost my house, when I lost financing, when I lost cars and people betrayed me, it was just like the spiritual working out. I kept working hard to try to get things back on track and to see that I’m not going to need the band. The money is not who takes care of me anymore. God provides for me. … I come from a background where if someone is rough and tough, you handle things physically. People betrayed me and you just want to choke them. But you choose forgiveness.”

Brian Welch and his daughter Jennea in 2007. (Getty)

During her teens, Jennea found herself drowning in depression and anxiety. She resorted to cutting herself in hopes of eliminating a pain that refused to vanish. Jennea even considered taking her life.

“When I was 14, I was really open about my depression, anxiety on [social media],” she explained. “I was really open because I didn’t know how to talk to other people about it in a healthy way… I guess what made me want to share all these things [in the documentary] was the fact that so many other kids struggle. I talk to girls every day who are 14, 15, who battle with those things and battle with family dynamics. I just feel for them, and I feel like because I’m doing so well and I have so many healthy coping skills now, it would also be selfish not to share how far I’ve come.”

With the help of Welch, Jennea received intensive counseling. The Phoenix New Times reported Welch enrolled Jennea at a Christian boarding school in Lafayette, Ind., called Awakening Youth Academy. She credited the new environment for giving her a sense of normalcy.

“Boarding school helped me so much because I got to live just a normal life with some girls, some of my best friends,” said Jennea. “When I was younger, obviously it was difficult because there some things I was missing out on. [But] all that stuff has been restored.”

Brian and Jennea Welch in May 2018. (Getty)

Jennea added she has reconnected with her mother over the years.

“We talk every once in a while, like every few months,” said Jennea. “We’re not super close, but I love her. She’s amazing and she’s been through so much.”

After nearly a decade apart, Welch reunited with Korn in 2013. Rolling Stone previously reported Welch received Jennea’s blessing to rejoin the group and pursue his passion for music.

As for facing temptation with drugs and alcohol, Welch said it’s not an option.

“I am done,” he stressed.

Brian Welch during a filming of "Loud Krazy Love." (Sean Berry)

As for drinking, Welch admitted in his 2016 book “With My Eyes Wide Open” that there was a time where he couldn’t resist the bottle.

“I shared that I did start trying to drink again,’” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m not an alcoholic. After 10 years, I can have a couple of glasses of wine.’ And then that turned into binge drinking for a month or so. So yeah, I tried it and I was like, ‘I can’t do this. But before I quit, I’m gonna drink a couple more weeks.’ So I did not drink again.”

These days, Welch is perfectly content being sober and bonding with Jennea.

“I just don’t like it,” said Welch about his past vices. “I’d get these horrible hangovers where I’d feel massive, massive depression. So that helps me not drink. It’s just not for me.  … I’m still a very practicing spiritual man. And I’m a Christian in the fact that I have a personal relationship with Christ. But there’s a lot of Christians that don’t understand me… That’s not going to stop me though. To me, God is love and God loves everybody and takes you as you are.”

“Loud Krazy Love” premieres Friday, Dec. 14 at 10 p.m. on Showtime.