Church News

Apologetics: Witnesses


>> = Important Articles; ** = Major Articles


>>Matthew 10:32-34 (, 051214)

**The Bounty and Goodness of Our God (, 071122)

**Taste—Houses of Worship: Fear Not (Christian Post, 050322)

**God and Man in the Oval Office (Weekly Standard, 030317)

**It Takes Guts to Say “Jesus” (990000)

All the Good Things (990000)

Deion does Dallas (970821)

Sanders says he’s found peace (970825)

Fonda gets religion after attending chauffer’s church (Washington Times, 000117)

Sex-toy purveyor now sells Bibles (Washington Times, 021128)

Bush Spirituality Featured Front and Center (Foxnews, 030218)

Faithful Bush calls on God’s blessings (Washington Times, 050121)

Prayer starts Bush’s second term (Washington Times, 050122)

Courthouse Shootings Hostage ‘Levelheaded’ (Foxnews, 050314)

Who gets Atlanta fugitive reward money? (WorldNetDaily, 050316)

Curt Schilling, pitcher and Christian (, 050317)

Christian Courage is the Best Easter Expression (Christian Post, 050321)

The purpose-driven left (, 050407)

Honoring those in authority (, 050524)

Billy Graham’s Message: The Same in 1957 and 2005 (Christian Post, 050629)

Dangerous Journey of Lottie Moon in China (Focus on the Family, 051102)

“The Right Place at the Right Time”: A Navy lieutenant on serving in Iraq. (National Review Online, 051103)

Relief workers enjoy ‘supernatural presence’: God ‘enabled us to help more people than any of us could have imagined’ (WorldNetDaily, 051124)

Billy Graham Releases 2005 Christmas Message (Christian Post, 051216)

Christian CEOs in China (, 060615)

On Chuck Norris ‘mania’ sweeping the Net (WorldNetDaily, 061023)

‘Rocky’ Back and Reborn Christian (Christian Post, 061221)

Remembering a Hero (, 070201)

Super Bowl Coaches Advertise Faith Ahead of Big Game (Christian Post, 070202)

Indianapolis Colts Coaches Backed with Faith (Christian Post, 070126)

Colts’ coach more proud of Christ than ‘blackness’: When asked about social significance of Dungy’s victory, Jesus is answer (WorldNetDaily, 070205)

Dungy Makes Super Bowl History ‘The Lord’s Way’ (Christian Post, 070205)

Dungy Affirms Opposition to Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ (Christian Post, 070322)

When Prayer Stopped Bullets (Christian Post, 070328)

Tony Snow returns to work after cancer: White House Press secretary eager to get back on job (MSNBC, 070430)

Tony Snow Says Cancer Has Brought Him Closer to God, Family (Christian Post, 070430)

John Stott Announces Retirement (Christian Post, 070430)

Rev. Jerry Falwell Dies Suddenly at 73 (NewsMax, 070515)

Jerry Falwell Told Followers He Was at Peace With Death (Foxnews, 070516)

The Moral Majority of the Story: Jerry Falwell remembered. (National Review Online, 070516)

Falwell leaves legacy for 21st century: Key figure in ‘religious right,’ trainer of new generation (WorldNetDaily, 070515)

Falwell honored as giant figure in ‘culture war’: ‘He was one of Christendom’s great leaders, who stood by his convictions’ (WorldNetDaily, 070516)

Jerry Falwell’s Mountains (, 070517)

The legacy of Jerry Falwell (, 070517)

Jerry Falwell — Say Hello To Ronald Reagan! (Ann Coulter, 070516)

Billy Graham: Ruth ‘Close to Going Home to Heaven’ (Christian Post, 070613)

Billy Graham’s Wife Ruth Dies at 87 (Christian Post, 070614)

Billy Graham Looks Forward to Joining Late Wife (Christian Post, 070618)

Papers Show Isaac Newton’s Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse (Christian Post, 070619)

Christian Leaders Weigh in on Mother Teresa’s ‘Crisis of Faith’: Trust God, Not Emotions (Christian Post, 070830)

Mother Teresa Did Not Feel Christ’s Presence for Last Half of Her Life, Letters Reveal (Foxnews, 070824)

Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith (Time, 070823)

Trust Christ, Not Feelings (Mohler, 070830)

Christian Leaders Weigh in on Mother Teresa’s ‘Crisis of Faith’ (Christian Post, 070830)

10 Questions For Franklin Graham (Times, 060522)

Graham Attracts 200,000 for Ukraine’s Largest Evangelical Event (Christian Post, 070710)

Evangelistic Graham Fest Breaks Record with 186,000 in Ecuador (Christian Post, 070827)

Mother Teresa’s Dark Night of the Soul (, 070904)

D. James Kenndy Dies At 76 (Christian Post, 070905)

Satan Takes A Little Nap After Dr. D. James Kenndy Passes Away (Townhall.Com, 070908)

Goodbye To American Christendom? (Christian Post, 070920)

Into the arms of God (World Magazine, 071124)

An Army of Angels: American perspective. (National Review Online, 071121)

America’s Daredevil Takes ‘Final Leap’ after Leap of Faith (Christian Post, 071204)

Men of the hard cloth (World Magazine, 061216)

Frontline dispatches (World Magazine, 071215)

Speaking frankly (World Magazine, 021207)





>>Matthew 10:32-34 (, 051214)


by Mike S. Adams


Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth stated, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”


As I was re-reading those three verses yesterday, I was reminded of a speech broadcast live (and rebroadcast several times) on television from my school, the University of North Carolina – Wilmington. In the speech, the self-proclaimed religious expert strongly urged the audience to abandon the notion of the deity of Christ. To do so, he claimed, would be to fully appreciate what a great man Jesus really was.


Such an assertion raises a number of issues. One issue is the weight of the ego of the speaker who urges us to believe that he is telling the truth about the deity of Christ – while suggesting that Jesus was simply lying. In the conflict between the religious speaker and Jesus Christ there is, of course, a gap in credibility. One has been the subject of more books than any other who has ever walked upon the planet and also has the distinction of having time based upon His birth. On the other hand, I cannot even recall the speaker’s name.


Of course, another issue is the mental dexterity of a speaker who claims that Jesus is only a great man if He (or he) is also a liar. Such assertions were once confined to those with IQs below room temperature – long before our universities declared war upon the notion of truth (or Truth) in the postmodern era of education. Now that we scoff at the notion of truth, the epithet “liar” has lost some of its punch.


Those who often read my columns are probably predicting that I will also raise an issue relating to freedom of speech. Those prophecies are just as correct – although not as impressive or complex - as the ones found in Chapter 53 of Isaiah.


Indeed, the speaker who urged the audience to reject Christ’s claim that He is God did so under the full protection of the First Amendment. And I am glad that he was able to do so. There is no better appreciation of the Truth than that which is gained from its juxtaposition with falsity.


But the problem at my university (and many others) is that the First Amendment is not deemed applicable to those who make the contrary assertion that Christ was, and is, our Lord and Savior precisely because He is the Almighty God. A conversation I had with a student just last week is illustrative.


The student was fired from his job at UNCW for being too “open” about his faith in Jesus Christ. Fortunately, he got another job on campus shortly after he lost one for disagreeing with the Gospel according to the Office of Campus Diversity and, instead, following the Gospel according to Matthew. (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).


I do not know whether the student was asking me for advice but here it is anyway:


Your goal in your new job at UNCW is to get fired again. The reward for doing so will be much greater than the minimum wage. (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).


If this one example does not suffice to demonstrate that UNCW (The University of No Christian Witnesses) is intolerant towards Christian speech, consider another. Last month, a new Christian student organization was told to be cautious in its efforts to spread the Word of God because of the university’s harassment policy, which, of course, limits “offensive” speech.


And you know the type of speech they are talking about. It’s the kind that creates a “hostile environment.” (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).


When I received an email from one of the Christians in the organization – an email that included the text of the administrator’s preposterous warning – he was looking for advice on how to deal with the situation. I offer it gladly in these following sentences:


Your goal in your new Christian organization is to spread the Word of God with such zeal that you will be thrown off campus for violating the harassment policy – the one that ignorant administrators think trumps the First Amendment right to religious expression. (This is also the policy that malicious administrators pretend to think trumps the First Amendment right to religious expression).


Of course, getting booted off campus will not be a big deal. But the reward will be very great. (See paragraph one of this editorial for details).


As I think about my advice to these students, I am reminded of the “Holiday Greeting” ( ) sent out earlier this week by UNCW Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo. The greeting mentions the word “diversity” but not the words “Christ” or “Christmas.”


There is something very wrong with the idea that the word “Christ” is offensive by itself but protected free speech if followed by the words “was not the Son of God.” I believe that this idea has consequences. See paragraph one of this editorial for details.


Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) and is a regular columnist for




**The Bounty and Goodness of Our God (, 071122)


By Chuck Colson


It has become the worst drought in the history of the Southeast. The ground is parched; crops are dying. And last week, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue decided to do something about it. He urged Georgians to pray for desperately needed rain.


Despite much ridicule and some protest, last week, Gov. Perdue led a prayer vigil on the steps of the State Capitol. Praying along with him were pastors from several denominations and hundreds of Georgians.


Gov. Perdue may not have realized it, but he was following in the steps of our Pilgrim fathers and mothers nearly 400 years ago: Joining together with neighbors for prayer was a familiar ritual for the Pilgrims. For example, in April of 1623—three years after the first Pilgrims landed—the transplanted Englishmen and women planted corn and other crops. A good harvest was essential to their survival. But in the weeks following the planting, it became clear that a dry spell was turning into a drought.


Pilgrim father Edward Winslow recorded their distress in his diary. “It pleased God, for our further chastisement,” he wrote, “to send a great drought; insomuch as in six weeks . . . there scarce fell any rain.” The crops began to shrivel up “as though they had been scorched before the fire . . . God,” Winslow wrote, “which hitherto had been our only shield and supporter, now seemed in His anger to arm Himself against us. And who can withstand the fierceness of His wrath?”


The Pilgrims decided the only solution was to humble themselves before God in fasting and in prayer. They appointed a day of prayer and set aside all other employments.


Winslow describes what happened next. “In the morning,” he wrote, “when we assembled together, the heavens were as clear, and the drought as like to continue as it ever was.” But by late afternoon—after eight or nine hours of prayer—”the weather was overcast, the clouds gathered on all sides,” Winslow wrote. The next morning brought “soft, sweet and moderate shows of rain, continuing some fourteen days.” The needed rain was “mixed with such seasonable weather,” he wrote, “as it was hard to say whether our withered corn or drooping affections were most quickened or revived, such was the bounty and goodness of our God.”


This dramatic answer to prayer was a witness to the local Indians. As Winslow notes, “The Indians . . . took notice . . . all of them admired the goodness of our God towards us, that wrought so great a change in so short of time, showing the difference between their conjuration and our invocation on the name of God for rain.”


The harvest that fall was abundant—and the Pilgrims survived yet another year.


Today is Thanksgiving—the day on which we recall the three-day celebration in 1621 in which the Pilgrims invited local Indians to join them in thanking God for His blessings on them—not, as some school children are taught today in class, giving thanks to Indians. And Americans ever since have been celebrating this, an occasion recognized and enshrined by Congress. We ought to take time to thank God for His manifold blessings on us today.


By the way, the day after Governor Perdue prayed on the Capitol steps, rains swept the state—nearly an inch in places. But the drought has continued. So, as we give thanks today, let’s remember those in the drought-stricken Southeast and ask the Giver of all good gifts to bless the land with rain.




**Taste—Houses of Worship: Fear Not (Christian Post, 050322)


Charles W. Colson


Americans are still spellbound by the saga of Ashley Smith, the young Atlanta widow held hostage by murder suspect Brian Nichols. Reporters covering the story seem mystified that anyone at the mercy of an escaped inmate—one who had that very day killed another woman and three men—could remain so calm.


The reason was that, as she herself implied in later interviews, Ms. Smith had learned to trust God. During her seven-hour ordeal, Ms. Smith—the widow of a murder victim who suffered much in her life—was able to enter into the suffering of the man who held her captive. She calmed him and told him that God just might have had a purpose in sending him to her apartment. She even served him, making him pancakes.


In nearly 30 years of prison ministry, I’ve met many people like Ashley Smith. What they have in common is a belief that faith is stronger than fear —something I learned myself when I was in prison in 1974. I was told another inmate planned to attack me. I had two choices: Ask to be put into “segregation” or trust God. I chose the latter. I was later confronted by my intended assailant; we became, if not friends, two inmates who ended up trusting each other.


Twenty-three years ago, a young Texas woman whose story has dramatic parallels to Ashley Smith’s, also learned the power of faith over fear when she entered into the suffering of a dangerous man. Margaret Mayfield was shopping at a San Antonio store when a gun-wielding man suddenly confronted her. “I’m the man who killed the woman at the restaurant last night,” he announced, “and I’m going to kill you if you make one move.”


Ms. Mayfield had just been abducted by mass murderer Stephan Peter Morin. Terrified, she began praying aloud. Instead of ordering her to drive away, Morin began to sob and talk about his unhappy childhood. Ms. Mayfield told him: “It’s not coincidence you’re here. God brought you to this car. You think the hell you’re going through is bad; it’s nothing compared to the hell you’re going to. Even though you have committed some horrible things, God still loves you.”


Morin forced Ms. Mayfield to start driving, and as she drove, she continued telling him about the love of Christ and began playing evangelistic tapes. Morin pulled off the road and began to pray. “Jesus, I am sorry for everything I have ever done. Please save me.” Morin then picked up his pistol, opened the chamber and dumped the bullets into Ms. Mayfield’s hands. “I knew I was witnessing a miracle,” Ms. Mayfield would later say.


Morin decided to go to Fort Worth to meet with evangelist Kenneth Copeland, whose tapes Ms. Mayfield had played. When police picked him up hours later, Morin surrendered quietly. “This morning I would have got up and shot the gun,” he told the officers. “But I met this lady today, and now I’m different.”


During Morin’s incarceration in Bexar County Jail, a Prison Fellowship volunteer picked up where Ms. Mayfield left off, witnessing to Morin until he was transferred elsewhere. Years later, as Morin was about to be executed for his crimes, his last words were: “Heavenly Father, I give thanks for...the time that we have been together. . . . Allow your holy spirit to flow as I know your love has been showered upon me. . . . Lord Jesus, I commit my soul to you, I praise you, and I thank you.”


The stories of Margaret Mayfield and Stephen Morin, and of Ashley Smith and Brian Nichols, illustrate the truth of the message Pope John Paul II has preached for nearly three decades: Fear not. By reaching out with God’s love to those who meant them harm, Ms. Smith and Ms. Mayfield overwhelmed evil with good.


There is a wonderful lesson in this—an encouragement to all of us. If we trust the promises of God, we need not be held hostage by fear, the most dangerous hostage-taker of all. We can discover what we Christians celebrate this coming holy week: the great joy and power of faith, no matter the circumstances.




**God and Man in the Oval Office (Weekly Standard, 030317)


From the March 17, 2003 issue: Contrary to what his critics say, Bush’s religion is in the American mainstream.


by Fred Barnes


MICHAEL GERSON, the chief White House speechwriter, was recently asked by a reporter if he understood how the windup to President Bush’s State of the Union address in January might have offended some people. Gerson was stunned. What Bush had said was: “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.” Clearly, the line was not a reference to any particular religion, but a humble admission that human rights are universal, as opposed to an invention of the United States. Gerson cited America’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence, to the reporter, especially the part about mankind being “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.”


The incident is noteworthy because it touches on the notion that Bush injects too much of his Christian faith into his public pronouncements. On top of that, there’s the related idea that the president, as an evangelical Christian, believes he was chosen by God to lead America into a war to depose Saddam Hussein and liberate Iraq. This is widely believed in Europe and even among some of Bush’s American critics. The first idea is arguable at best, the second absurd.


For sure, Bush is a serious believer. When Brit Hume of Fox News Channel asked him in a 2001 interview if he’d be willing to talk about faith, Bush eagerly agreed and said the subject was important. He told Hume he reads the Bible every morning and prays often during the day, sometimes at his desk in the Oval Office. In 1999, I had a similar experience when I interviewed Bush, then governor of Texas, about his faith. He started talking about it before I asked my first question.


Bush is hardly the first president to invoke God in his speeches. “In how he speaks of God,” wrote Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, “Bush is much more typically presidential than he is painted, especially by our friends abroad.” Dionne mentioned President Clinton’s frequent citations of Scripture. More striking is President Roosevelt’s State of the Union speech in 1942. Victory over Hitler’s Germany “means victory for religion,” he said. The Nazis “could not tolerate that. The world is too small to provide adequate ‘living room’ for both Hitler and God.” That goes well beyond anything Bush has said about God and Saddam Hussein. At most, he’s called Saddam “evil,” which is not necessarily a religious word but still upsets relativists and many Europeans.


The story of Bush’s born-again experience at age 40 is an oft-told tale. And it’s told again in the March 10 Newsweek in a vivid and fair-minded article by Howard Fineman. There’s a difference about Bush and his faith. In his case, it’s clear that his references to God are not just talking points. He’s an authentic believer.


But does the president think God is behind his foreign policy or any other policy? Yes, according to religion professor Martin E. Marty, writing in the same issue of Newsweek. “The problem isn’t with Bush’s sincerity, but with his evident conviction that he’s doing God’s will.” Evident? Marty offers no evidence—no Bush quote or comment and no disclosure by a Bush confidant. And he’s never met with Bush or talked to him, according to the president’s aides. I’ve searched for a Bush declaration, explicit or implicit, that his policies come from God. I haven’t found one.


Another complaint is that Bush devotes too much time to evangelical groups. Within days in February, he appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast and spoke to the National Religious Broadcasters. The annual prayer breakfast was begun at the behest of President Eisenhower and has been attended by every president, every year, for decades. Republican presidents, including Bush’s father and President Reagan, have frequently addressed the broadcasters. In his NRB speech this year, Bush praised religious diversity and urged wealthy suburban churches to aid poor inner-city congregations.


No one has done a definitive word count, but Bush has probably talked a bit more about religious faith than other presidents. While he readily invokes God, he carefully avoids mention of Jesus Christ, and he calls for tolerance of all faiths. His comments have been confined to four specific areas: comforting people in grief, citing faith’s ability to improve lives, commenting on the mysterious ways of providence, and mentioning God’s concern for humanity.


At the memorial service for the seven Columbia astronauts, Bush spoke directly to their grieving families. “The sorrow is lonely,” he said, “but you are not alone. In time, you will find comfort and the grace to see you through. And in God’s own time, we can pray that the day of your reunion will come.” Later, he told the broadcasters that the Columbia families “are finding strength and comfort because of your prayers and because of the Almighty God.” Did he go overboard in mentioning God? I don’t think so.


In his speech to the broadcasters, the president emphasized faith’s life-changing power. Bush believes strongly in this, an aide says, for the simple reason that “it happened to him.” Faith, he said, “defines some of the most effective social programs in America. It’s that spirit of love and compassion which makes healing lives work.”


Bush raised the theme of providence in his State of the Union address and returned to it in his nine-minute talk at the prayer breakfast. “We believe, as Franklin Roosevelt said, that men and women born to freedom in the image of God will not forever suffer the oppressor’s sword,” he said. “We can also be confident in the ways of Providence, even when they are far from our understanding.” Bush said he prays to God for guidance, wisdom, and forgiveness, and he said the same when asked at his East Room press conference last week how his faith guides him on the eve of war with Iraq. He said nothing about praying for God’s marching orders.


For anyone offended by Bush’s reference to God as the source of human rights, as the reporter questioning Gerson was, a little history might be instructive. “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?” That question was asked by Thomas Jefferson, a deist, not a religious zealot. “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the Hand of God,” John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address. No one was offended by Kennedy’s comment, which Bush echoed in his State of the Union address. And no one should be offended now.


Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.




**It Takes Guts to Say “Jesus” (990000)


This is a true story of something that happened just a few years ago at USC.


There was a professor of philosophy there who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn’t exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him (you’ll see what I mean later). Nobody would go against him because he had a reputation.


At the end of every semester, on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, “If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!” In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, “because anyone who does believe in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that he is God, and yet he can’t do it.” And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into pieces. All of the students could do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students were convinced that God couldn’t exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.


Well, a few years ago, there was a freshman who happened to get enrolled in the class. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about this professor. He had to take the class because it was one of the required classes for his major and he was afraid. But for 3 months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said or what the class thought. Nothing they said or did could ever shatter his faith, he hoped.


Finally the day came. The professor said, “If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!” The professor and the class of 300 people looked at the Christian, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, “You FOOL!! If God existed, he could keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!” He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleats of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away, unbroken. The professor’s jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man and then ran out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood up proceeded to walk to the front of the room and share his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of God’s love for them and of his power through Jesus. “Yet to all who received HIM, to those who believed in HIS name, HE gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12


“But HE knows the way that I take. When HE has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10


**Would you have stood up?**


Please continue to pass this on from one Christian to the next as a message of encouragement and hope.




All the Good Things (990000)


written by Sister Helen P. Mrosla (a Roman Catholic nun)


He was in the first third grade class I taught at Saint Mary’s School in Morris, Minn. All 34 of my students were dear to me, but Mark Eklund was one in a million. Very neat in appearance, but had that happy-to-be-alive attitude that made even his occasional mischievousness delightful.


Mark talked incessantly. I had to remind him again and again that talking without permission was not acceptable. What impressed me so much, though, was his sincere response every time I had to correct him for misbehaving -”Thank you for correcting me, Sister!” I didn’t know what to make of it at first, but before long I became accumstomed to hearing it many times a day.


One morning my patience was growing thin when Mark talked once too often, and then I made a novice-teacher’s mistake. I looked at Mark and said, “If you say one more word, I am going to tape your mouth shut!” It wasn’t ten seconds later when Chuck blurted out, “Mark is talking again.”


I hadn’t asked any of the students to help me watch Mark, but since I had stated the punishment in front of the class, I had to act on it.


I remember the scene as if it had occurred this morning. I walked to my desk, very deliberately opened my drawer and took out a roll of masking tape. Without saying a word, I proceeded to Mark’s desk, tore off two pieces of tape and made a big X with them over his mouth. I then returned to the front of the room.


As I glanced at Mark to see how he was doing, he winked at me. That did it!! I started laughing. The class cheered as I walked back to Mark’s desk, removed the tape, and shrugged my shoulders. His first words were, “Thank you for correcting me, Sister.”


As the end of the year I was asked to teach junior-high math.


The years flew by, and before I knew it Mark was in my classroom again.


He was more handsome than ever and just as polite. Since he had to listen carefully to my instructions in the “new math,” he did not talk as much in ninth grade as he had in third.


One Friday, things just didn’t feel right. We had worked hard on a new concept all week, and I sensed that the students were frowning, frustrated with themselves -and edgy with one another. I had to stop this crankiness before it got out of hand. So I asked them to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then I told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish the assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed me the papers.


Charlie smiled. Mark said, “Thank you for teaching me, Sister. Have a good weekend.”


That Saturday, I wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and I listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday I gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. “Really?” I heard whispered. “I never knew that meant anything to anyone!” “I didn’t know others liked me so much!”


No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. I never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn’t matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another again. That group of students moved on.


Several years later, after I returned from vacation, my parents met me at the airport. As we were driving home, Mother asked me the usual questions about the trip -the weather, my experiences in general. There was a light lull in the conversation. Mother gave Dad a side-ways glance and simply says, “Dad?” My father cleared his throat as he usually did before something important. “The Eklunds called last night,” he began. “Really?” I said. “I haven’t heard from them in years. I wonder how Mark is.”


Dad responded quietly. “Mark was killed in Vietnam,” he said. “The funeral is tomorrow, and his parents would like if it you could attend.” To this day I can still point to the exact spot on I-494 where Dad told me about Mark.


I had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. Mark looked so handsome, so mature. All I could think at that moment was, Mark, I would give all the masking tape in the world if only you would talk to me.


The church was packed with Mark’s friends. Chuck’s sister sang “The Battly Hymn of the Republic.” Why did it have to rain on the day of the funeral? It was difficult enough at the graveside. The pastor said the usual prayers, and the bugler played taps. One by one those who loved Mark took a last walk by the coffin and sprinkled it with holy water.


I was the last one to bless the coffin. As I stood there, one of the soldiers who had acted as pallbearer came up to me. “Were you Mark’s math teacher?” he asked. I nodded as I continue to stare at the coffin. “Mark talked about you a lot,” he said.


After the funeral, most of Mark’s former classmates headed to Chuck’s farmhouse for lunch. Mark’s mother and father were there,obviously waiting for me. “We want to show you something,” his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. “They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it.”


Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. I knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which I had listed all the good things each of Mark’s classmates had said about him.


“Thank you so much for doing that,” Mark’s mother said. “As you can see, Mark treasured it.”


Mark’s classmates started to gather around us. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, “I still have my list. It’s in the top drawer of my desk at home.” Chuck’s wife said, “Chuck asked me to put this in our wedding album.” “I have mine too,” Marilyn said. “It’s in my diary..”


Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. “I carry this with me at all times,” Vicki said without batting an eyelash. “I think we all saved our lists.”


That’s when I finally sat down and cried. I cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again.




Deion does Dallas (970821)


Sanders visits Cowboys’ practice, takes center stage


DALLAS (AP) — Deion Sanders, wearing a diamond-encrusted gold cross necklace and professing he has found peace in his life, showed up at the Dallas Cowboys’ practice field Thursday and announced, “Have no fear, Deion is here.”


It was a whirlwind visit by Sanders on his off-day from baseball duties with the Cincinnati Reds. It included meetings with defensive coaches, a physical examination, hugs and jokes with his teammates, and a remarkable news conference about religion, divorce, baseball and football.


There also were some hard news details:


Sanders said his back is still sore, but he plans on opening the season with the Cowboys August 31 at Pittsburgh and will include punt returning among his duties.


He will continue to play baseball for the Reds as much as the bulging disc in his back allows.


His looming divorce was “a blessing because I was able to look in a mirror and change things” and that someday he will become either an evangelist or a pastor.


Sanders changed from workout togs to a sharp blue suit, patent-leather shoes and a diamond-encrusted gold watch. The cross replaced a diamond-studded “21” that Sanders used to wear for news conferences and television interviews.


“I’ve been born again and I’m not only showing it, I’m living it,” he said. “Being alone without my wife and kids gave me a chance to look within myself. ... I’m opening the door for Jesus. Now, I have peace in my life. My divorce was a blessing in disguise.”




Sanders says he’s found peace (970825)


He’s used to spreading the field. Now he’s spreading the word.


Deion Sanders says he used to have a problem with his life — fornication. But women, money and fame brought him no peace, the two-sport star says.


That’s changed, thanks to his acceptance of God, says Sanders. “Prime Time” recently sat down with CNN/SI senior correspondent Nick Charles to talk about his past, his newfound peace and what the future holds.


Nick Charles: Deion, what was going on in your life that led to your transformation?


Deion Sanders: Just not having peace, searching for peace. Thinking that football, baseball, money, jewelry, clothes, women would fill that void ... could fill your cup. I never had peace, I was just searching. The Lord has called me twice and I did not answer. I did not know the times He called me. I did not answer, but He came in His platform and I am not here by mistake. I am not who I am by mistake. He has given me this platform to touch thousands, consequently millions of people.


NC: What do you tell your critics who are skeptical about this conversion?


DS: I know people are skeptical, but this is no short fight. I’m going to make mistakes, some mistakes may be verbally, but I am not going to do the things I used to do. I’m not going to make those types of mistakes. People are going to doubt you, but it makes you stronger. I am going to walk my walk and talk my talk about the Lord. Some of those people who doubt me, I welcome you because you will make me stronger.


NC: Can you give us illustrations as to what you left behind in your life before this?


DS: The only thing I was doing was fornicating, sex outside of my marriage, a woman here and there. I was always in the closet, never showed anybody, but I did it. To be on national television about the things you did, not to just say I had a problem. No, no ... I was fornicating. I refrained from using profanity, I never drank, never smoked, have always loved thy neighbor, but just fornicating. That was Satan’s only vice with me and now I say, ‘You can keep Delilah and Jezebel. I don’t want nothing to do with them’.


NC: Deion, some people were born to live in the shadows, others to bask in the spotlight. What about your flamboyance now. How does that change, your personality and your dynamics?


DS: People ask me now, you are not going to be ‘Prime Time.’ You are not going to be as aggressive. You are not going to have that killer instinct. The Lord did not tell me I could not high step. He did not tell me I could not dance when I get in the endzone. He did not tell me I’m not going to belittle anyone. I never have [showed up anyone] in my career. I did not hold the ball in anyone’s face or spike it in anyone’s face. He told me I could dance, but when I get finished dancing just give Him the glory and I said it’s a deal.


NC: What somebody is going to do is far interesting than what they have done. What challenges are ahead of you in baseball?


DS: Consistency. I’m thinking about I would like to play again. Next year, I won’t have the off the field problems, and I will be focused and living my life for God and focused on what I am doing. Maybe I can put together a whole new year of total peace and joy. Then I think, I don’t know if that is God’s will. I have to pray for God’s will. He might take me around the country when football is over on the bus I just purchased for evangelizing and spreading that word.


NC: Do you ever feel any resentment over some of your Cowboys teammates saying, ‘Here’s this guy walking in ... he had no camp ...?


DS: You sit up there and say why would they be upset with Deion when they are already great players. I’m not like that. I’m part of that family and they respect me and my wishes and they know when it is time to kick that ball off I’ll be there with that sign that says ‘no passing, no trespassing’. I thank the Lord that people out there are hearing my back is injured. Try me. Throw it over there so I can dance and high step, and get in the lockerroom and give God all the glory. So come on and try me ... try me.




Fonda gets religion after attending chauffer’s church (Washington Times, 000117)


Jane Fonda has become a born-again Christian, enthusiastic in her newly found faith, and her conversion is making waves from Atlanta to Hollywood. She’s regularly attending church services and Bible studies in Atlanta, and one friend calls her faith “very real, very deep.”


News of her conversion — one of her longtime critics calls it a conversion “right up there with Saul of Tarsus” — leaped from Internet gossip to mainstream newspapers following the disclosure two weeks ago that she and her husband, Ted Turner, have separated.


Miss Fonda has so far declined to talk to reporters about it, and her spokesman, Steven Bennett, on Jan. 13 told The Times: “We do not comment on her personal life.”


She had said in an interview two years ago, on the eve of her 60th birthday, that she had asked herself, “Where do I want to go with the last third of my life?”


Friends say Mr. Turner’s unhappiness with his wife’s enthusiasm for her new faith in Christ contributed to the split-up. The couple said they hope to work out a reconciliation.


Her friends in Atlanta and Hollywood are rallying around her.


“I am extremely impressed with the genuineness and sincerity in [her] search for spirituality and wholeness,” the Rev. Gerald Durley, pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta where Miss Fonda has attended services, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think she’s found a certain sense of peace among people who’ve found peace with Christianity.”


Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission in Los Angeles, who worries that news of Miss Fonda’s conversion will put the actress-activist under pressure as a “celebrity Christian,” urges Christians to pray for her.


“We should be kind and gracious and thoughtful and respectful,” says Mr. Baehr, who said he had been aware of Miss Fonda’s journey toward faith for more than a year.


Joseph Farah, whose Internet site first reported Miss Fonda’s conversion, said he had heard “rumblings” about her search for faith for two years.


“Then, last summer, I started hearing again from people who were close to Jane, that this was real, that she was really attending church and Bible study and had made a sincere commitment to Christianity. It resurfaced recently with the separation between Ted and Jane. I heard from one of my sources that the real reason was spiritual,” he said.


Mr. Turner, who turned a bankrupt Atlanta advertising company into a media empire that grew even larger last week with the merger of Time-Warner and America Online, has been an outspoken critic of Christianity, calling it a “religion for losers.”


At a meeting of population control groups last year, Mr. Turner ridiculed the Ten Commandments and told a Polish joke about Pope John Paul II, who was born in Poland.


But later he appeared chastened and told the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Ga., an Atlanta suburb: “From the bottom of my heart, I apologize for the things I said about Christians.”


Mr. Turner has told friends that he had accepted Christ as a young man at a Billy Graham crusade, but lost his faith after the death of his sister.


Among those involved in Miss Fonda’s path to Christ are several Christian friends in Atlanta. These are said to include Ginny Millner, wife of Georgia Republican leader Guy Millner, and Nancy McGuirk, whose husband is an executive in Turner Broadcasting Co.


The key figure in Miss Fonda’s search, however, may have been her chauffeur, who shared his faith with her, Mr. Baehr said. When her husband became upset when she began attending Atlanta’s fashionable Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Miss Fonda “asked her chauffeur where should she go.” The chauffeur invited her to attend his church, the predominantly black Providence Missionary Baptist Church.


She accepted the invitation, and became a regular parishioner there, though she apparently has not joined the church. Miss Fonda, who founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, helped Providence Church establish its Fathers Resource Center, which educates young men about the emotional and social responsibilities of fatherhood.


She has not publicly talked about her political views, or whether she has changed any of them, but she is said to have declined to participate in a meditation ceremony at an environmental conference not long ago with an admonition that “it would be better to pray to Jesus Christ.”


A member of Providence Church, who has worked closely with Miss Fonda, said telephone calls from reporters have flooded the church since the news broke of Miss Fonda’s attendance at Providence Missionary. “It’s been a zoo here. . . . It’s been absolutely incredible,” she said.


That kind of media frenzy worries Robert H. Knight, senior director of cultural studies at the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy organization.


“I would hope, if her conversion is genuine, that Miss Fonda will not come under undue pressure before she is able to handle it,” he says. “She probably needs time to grow in the faith and experience the joys of knowing Christ, before undergoing trials on His behalf.”


Spiritual growth may be difficult for Miss Fonda because of her Hollywood background. The Academy Award-winning actress, who was called “Hanoi Jane” after her 1971 trip to North Vietnam, where she was photographed posing on an anti-aircraft battery, “has been in a cultural universe that is utterly hostile to Christianity,” Mr. Knight says.


Speculation has grown in Atlanta that Mr. Turner might soon follow his wife in a search for his own discarded faith.


“Nobody is beyond the grace of God,” says Mr. Baehr. “That’s why Jesus died for the sinners, not for the righteous. . . . Nobody is beyond God’s grace whom God decides to call into His kingdom.”




Sex-toy purveyor now sells Bibles (Washington Times, 021128)


PUTNEY, Ky. (AP) — In this mountain community composed largely of conservative Christians, Michael Braithwaite was a novelty.


Mr. Braithwaite owned a sex shop that sold sex toys, leather goods and other porn paraphernalia, but he now sells Bibles after he underwent a religious conversion.


“Morally, I couldn’t sell it any longer,” he said.


Neighbors have embraced the change, helping Mr. Braithwaite restock his 5-year-old store with Christian merchandise and buying groceries for him, his wife and daughter until his new business begins to turn a profit.


He dropped the old name, Love World, and now calls his store Mike’s Place. He covered the formerly bright red outer walls with a fresh coat of white paint.


Mr. Braithwaite, with tears pooling in his eyes, said God persuaded him to close the shop, burn $10,000 worth of sex toys and open the bookstore.


A pile of ashes in his parking lot is all that remains of his former inventory.


“I stopped and got 10 gallons of diesel fuel, and we packed load after load of stuff out of there,” said Frank Howard, pastor of the Closplint Church of God. “We were hauling it out by the wheelbarrow.”


Some of his former customers have been shocked to walk into the building to find a shelf of Bibles where unmentionables used to be displayed.


“When the Lord gets ahold of you, you make some changes,” said Mr. Braithwaite, who now greets new customers by giving them Christian tracts, and quoting Scripture.


Mr. Braithwaite still faces misdemeanor obscenity charges, which were brought at the behest of Concerned Citizens of Putney. Now that the shop has closed, the group’s attorney said he hopes the case can be resolved, perhaps with a small fine.


Mr. Braithwaite underwent his conversion last month during a prayer meeting and was baptized a few days later.


“This shows that the Lord loves and wants to save everybody,” said Shaun Aslinger, a Harlan evangelist, “even the man who runs the adult novelty store.”




Bush Spirituality Featured Front and Center (Foxnews, 030218)


WASHINGTON — President Bush, often portrayed as using a strict good-and-evil compass to navigate national issues, has always peppered his speeches with exhortations to moral and civic duty. With war, tragedy and terrorism confronting him now, his allusions to spirituality and morality seem to be increasing.


“I welcome faith to help solve the nation’s deepest problems,” President Bush told a convention of religious broadcasters last week.


Earlier, in his State of the Union address, he said, “The liberty we prize is not America’s gift to the world, it is God’s gift to humanity.”


The president, often portrayed as using a strict good-and-evil compass to navigate national issues, has always peppered his speeches with exhortations to moral and civic duty. And with war, tragedy and terrorism confronting him all at once, Bush’s allusions to spirituality and morality seem to be increasing.


Speaking to the broadcasters in Nashville, Tenn., last week about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush said, “We carried our grief to the Lord Almighty in prayer.”


Hours after the shuttle Columbia disintegrated, Bush turned to religion and a quote from the book of Isaiah to help console the nation.


“The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home,” the president said.


Expressions of faith and values are familiar ground for American presidents, and this one, who became a born-again Christian in the 1980s after concluding he was drinking too much, is no exception. Yet lately, Bush has gone beyond his usual broad remarks on the power of faith in general to use language and ideas specific to Christianity.


It is a welcome message for some, particularly the evangelical Christian conservatives whom Bush is courting as he seeks a second term. Some others are uncomfortable.


“This president is using general references and, beyond that, terminology and vocabulary that come straight out of a very particular religious tradition, which is evangelical Christianity,” said the Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a Louisiana pastor and executive director of the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, an umbrella interfaith group.


“I think his rhetoric implies a lack of appreciation for the vast pluralism of religion in this nation,” Gaddy said.


Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said Bush speeches have started sounding “more and more like a sermon in a church” and risk alienating significant chunks of his constituency.


“When presidents start to become theologians on a regular basis, they begin to exclude people from their audience,” Lynn said.


White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Bush is comfortable speaking about religion because of its importance to him personally.


“The president when he speaks, speaks in a very inclusive way, very respectful ... of the fact that we are a nation whose great strengths come from the fact that we have people of so many faiths and people who have chosen not to have any particular religious affiliation,” Fleischer said.


In his State of the Union address, Bush reflected on the challenges facing the nation as it prepares for possible war:


“We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not claim to know all the ways of providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life and all of history. May he guide us now, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”


In Nashville, Bush praised Americans’ “deep and diverse religious beliefs.” But he also singled out a special place for Christianity, calling the gospel that the broadcasters share over the airwaves “words of truth.”


More generally, the president has delivered several passion-filled speeches recently on behalf of his proposal to spend billions more to combat AIDS abroad. In Grand Rapids, Mich., the day after his State of the Union address, Bush said the humanitarian crisis is a chance “a moral nation” cannot pass up to use its riches and know-how for good.




Faithful Bush calls on God’s blessings (Washington Times, 050121)


President Bush mixed images of the Almighty as a just ruler, as a judge, and as a freedom-loving deity in a speech that surpassed his 2001 inaugural address in references to God.


Barely one minute into the 21-minute discourse, he said, “every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of heaven and earth.”


A few minutes later, he addressed dictators with a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot long retain it.”


Four years ago, Mr. Bush, a born-again Methodist, had referred to God in vaguer terms as a “higher power” and “author”; used such words as “democratic faith”; and referred to a saying by Mother Teresa and the parable of the good Samaritan to bolster his doctrine of “compassionate conservatism.”


This time, he called Americans to the kind of character necessary in wartime and according to high standards of greatness and morality set by God.


Last week, in an Oval Office interview with editors and reporters of The Washington Times, he made it clear that his would continue to be a faith-based presidency. He said he couldn’t see “how you can be president, at least from my perspective ... without a relationship with the Lord.”


That quote has become popular among Mr. Bush’s evangelical base. For example, it was displayed on two large screens Wednesday night at a Christian Inaugural Eve Gala at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, according to Newhouse News Service.


Although he steered clear of sectarianism yesterday, the president gave the nod to monotheistic religions in a reference to American character, which, he said, is based “on integrity, and tolerance toward others.”


Not only is such character sustained by families and “communities with standards,” he added, but also “by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran, and the varied faiths of our people.”


Mr. Bush included a reference to Islam four years ago when he mentioned “church [and] synagogue and mosque” in his first inaugural speech. Yesterday’s ceremonies coincided with Eid al Adha, an important Islamic holiday commemorating Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, who Muslims believe was Ishmael.


In the speech, said to have been drafted chiefly by evangelical Episcopalian Michael Gerson, the president’s retiring speech writer, Mr. Bush used biblical themes to plead for common, everyday service on the part of Americans.


“Our nation relies on men and women who look after a neighbor and surround the lost with love,” he said. “Americans, at our best, value the life we see in one another, and must always remember that even the unwanted have worth.”


Americans have known “unity and fellowship” with each other during time of attack, he said, referring to September 11, 2001. “And we can feel that same unity and pride whenever America acts for good, and the victims of disaster are given hope, and the unjust encounter justice, and the captives are set free.”


The latter is a near-direct quote from Isaiah 61:1, in which the Old Testament prophet said the Spirit of God was upon him “to proclaim liberty to the captives.” Jesus later applied those words to himself in Luke 4:18.


However, the president rejected the idea of the United States as a “chosen nation,” a biblical concept that the young country applied to itself more than 200 years ago as it struggled against British tyranny. Like ancient Israel, those early Americans saw themselves as having escaped an oppressor, crossed a large body of water, and established their own Promised Land.


“It is human choices that move events,” the president said. “Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills.”


This was a switch from President Roosevelt’s 1941 inaugural speech on the eve of the United States’ involvement in World War II, in which he said the nation was guided “by the will of God.”


Mr. Bush finished his speech with “May God bless you, and may He watch over the United States of America.”


The Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Lafayette Square, gave the invocation, a change from 2001, when the Rev. Franklin Graham filled in for his famous father, the Rev. Billy Graham, in giving the opening prayer.


Mr. Bush’s spiritual adviser, the Rev. Kirbyjon H. Caldwell of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, gave the benediction.


“Respecting persons of all faiths,” the clergyman said, “I humbly submit this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.”


Mr. Caldwell prayed in the name of Jesus Christ four years ago during the benediction.


The U.S. Marine Band followed up with “God of Our Fathers,” a 19th-century hymn composed by Daniel Roberts.


Mr. Bush swore his oath of office on the family Bible, which his father used during his 1989 inauguration ceremony, ending with “So help me God,” a phrase added by former President George Washington.


Holding the Bible was Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who on Wednesday denied without comment California atheist Michael Newdow’s lawsuit to prevent clergy-led inaugural prayers.


Nearly every other president has included religious flourishes in his inauguration speech. Only Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 speech and Calvin Coolidge’s address in 1925 made no mention of God. All others, including Washington’s 1789 address, at least invoked God in reverent but general terms.


This morning, Mr. Bush and his family will attend an inaugural prayer service at Washington National Cathedral.




Prayer starts Bush’s second term (Washington Times, 050122)


President Bush began his second term in office yesterday by praying for guidance at a church service in which the Rev. Billy Graham credited God for the president’s re-election.


“We believe that in Your providence, You’ve granted a second term of office to our president, George W. Bush, and our vice president, Richard Cheney,” the evangelist, 86, said in an opening prayer at the National Cathedral in Washington.


“Their next four years are hidden from us, but they are not hidden from You,” said the preacher, who persuaded Mr. Bush to turn to God and away from the bottle at age 40.


“You know the challenges and opportunities they will face,” he added. “Give them a clear mind, a warm heart, calmness in the midst of turmoil, reassurance in times of discouragement and Your presence always.”


The president, joined by first lady Laura Bush, bowed his head in prayer as Mr. Graham and clergy members from various denominations asked God to bless the second Bush term.


The president seemed particularly pleased by the sermon of the Rev. Mark Craig of Dallas.


“We are a compassionate people and a loving people, and we are a moral people,” he said as Mr. and Mrs. Bush nodded in approval. “Our compassion is not liberal; our compassion is not conservative; our compassion is not libertarian.


“Our compassion is in the very heart and soul of every American citizen,” Mr. Craig said.


Mr. Bush, who is keenly aware that he has only a short time in which to enact an ambitious agenda, also seemed to appreciate Mr. Craig’s remarks about the preciousness of time, which he described as a gift from God.


“He gives us 86,400 seconds — one day — every day of our lives,” Mr. Craig said. “He says spend it any way you want, for good or for ill.”


He added: “The way we spend our 86,400 seconds — this treasure that God has given us, one day — greatly determines the quality of our lives.”


The prayer service came less than 24 hours after Mr. Bush repeatedly invoked God in an inaugural address that tackled the epic themes of good and evil, tyranny and righteousness. Although liberals often criticize the president’s religiosity, Mr. Bush is stoic about the controversy.


“I don’t see how you can be president, at least from my perspective, how you can be president without a relationship with the Lord,” he told The Washington Times in an interview last week.


“I think people attack me because they are fearful that I will then say that you’re not equally as patriotic if you’re not a religious person,” he added. “I’ve never said that. I’ve never acted like that. I think that’s just the way it is.”


Mr. Bush did not speak at yesterday’s prayer service, contenting himself to let others discuss the role of religion in America.


“We are a nation of faith,” Mr. Craig said. “We believe that in difficult times, we will persevere.


“We believe that in difficult times, God will lift us up and give us the hand we need to be victorious in our lives as individuals, and as a nation,” he added. “We always respond to challenge.”


Mr. Bush concluded the service by joining 3,200 other congregants, including former President George Bush, in singing the hymn “God of Our Fathers.”




Courthouse Shootings Hostage ‘Levelheaded’ (Foxnews, 050314)


ATLANTA — The only thing that helped Ashley Smith get through a 13-hour ordeal where quadruple murder suspect Brian Nichols held her hostage was her faith in God, Smith told FOX News on Monday.


“I believe that’s the only person that helped me through that,” she said in an interview with “FOX & Friends.”


[During an interview with Foxnews, she said that she read from the book Purpose Driven Life to the Nichols and briefly discussed what his purpose in life was.]


[From CNN transcript:


And I asked him if I could read.


He said, “What do you want to read?”


“Well, I have a book in my room.” So I went and got it. I got my Bible. And I got a book called “The Purpose-Driven Life.”


I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day. It was Chapter 33. And I started to read the first paragraph of it. After I read it, he said, “Stop, will you read it again?”


I said, “Yeah. I’ll read it again.”


So I read it again to him.


It mentioned something about what you thought your purpose in life was. What were you — what talents were you given? What gifts were you given to use?


And I asked him what he thought. And he said, “I think it was to talk to people and tell them about you.”]


[I asked him why he chose me and why he chose Bridgewater Apartments. And he said he didn’t know, just randomly.


But after we began to talk, he said he thought that I was an angel sent from God. And that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ. And that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people. And the families — the people — to let him know how they felt, because I had gone through it myself.]


[But after I started to read to him, he saw — I guess he saw my faith and what I really believed in. And I told him I was a child of God and that I wanted to do God’s will. I guess he began to want to. That’s what I think.]


[He got in the car, and I said, “Are you ready now?” And he said, “Give me a few days, please.” I said, “Come on, you’ve got to turn yourself in now.” I didn’t feel like he might — I felt like he might change his mind, that he might not want to turn himself in the next day, or a few days after that, and that if he did feel that way, then he would need money, and the only way he could get money was if he hurt somebody and took it from them.


So we went back to my house and got in the house. And he was hungry, so I cooked him breakfast. He was overwhelmed with — “Wow,” he said, “real butter, pancakes?”


And I just talked with him a little more, just about — about — we pretty much talked about God ... what his reason was, why he made it out of there.


I said, “Do you believe in miracles? Because if you don’t believe in miracles — you are here for a reason. You’re here in my apartment for some reason. You got out of that courthouse with police everywhere, and you don’t think that’s a miracle? You don’t think you’re supposed to be sitting here right in front of me listening to me tell you, you know, your reason here?”


I said, “You know, your miracle could be that you need to — you need to be caught for this. You need to go to prison and you need to share the word of God with them, with all the prisoners there.”]


Smith said her ordeal began around 2 a.m. Saturday morning when Nichols — the man who authorities said grabbed a sheriff’s deputy’s gun at the Fulton County Courthouse on Friday, starting a string of events that left four people dead — confronted her in the parking lot of her apartment when she returned from a store.


“He stuck a gun to my side and I started to scream and tried to kind of hit the ground and cover up but he kind of had me and pushed me in the door,” Smith told FOX News.


Although she knew about the courthouse shootings, Smith said, “it wasn’t until after he took his hat off that I knew it was him .. I just thought it was a random mugger or something.” Over the course of the night, Nichols untied Smith, and some of the fear lessened as they talked. Nichols told Smith he felt like “he was already dead,” but Smith urged him to consider the fact that he was still alive a “miracle.”


“You’re here in my apartment for some reason,” she told him, saying he might be destined to be caught and to spread the word of God to fellow prisoners. She told him his escape from authorities had been a “miracle.”


Smith said there did come a point where she didn’t really think Nichols would kill her, particularly after he untied her.


“From that point on, the guns were never really important anymore so I didn’t think he was going to kill me,” she told FOX News. “The thought was always in my mind until I left the house of course, but I didn’t think he was going to.”


Smith gently talked to Nichols, the armed suspect in Atlanta’s courthouse slayings, and the two discussed God, family, pancakes and the massive manhunt going on outside her apartment.


Smith, 33, later called 911 after she was freed, and police soon surrounded her suburban apartment complex. Nichols gave up peacefully, waving a white towel in surrender.


“I honestly think when I looked at him that he didn’t want to do it anymore,” Smith said at a news conference Sunday. If he did not give up, she told him, “Lots more people are probably going get hurt and you’re probably going to die.”


As for what she thinks of Nichols after spending time with him, Smith told FOX: “I have a lot of different emotions about him .. I know who the person in my apartment was but I also have to take into consideration what he did and how his personality kind of goes back and forth, so I really don’t know.”


Cops: Hostage Was ‘Cool and Levelheaded’


Police said they were impressed by the way Smith handled herself.


“She acted very cool and levelheaded. We don’t normally see that in our profession,” said Gwinnett County Police Officer Darren Moloney. “It was an absolutely best-case scenario that happened, a complete opposite of what you expected to happen. We were prepared for the worst and got the best.”


The crime spree began when Nichols allegedly overpowered a courthouse deputy escorting him to his rape trial Friday and took the deputy’s gun, then killed the presiding judge and court reporter. He also is accused of killing a deputy who tried to stop him outside the courthouse and a federal agent during his flight from authorities.


He tied her up and told her to sit in the bathroom while he took a shower. “He said, ‘I’m not going to hurt you if you just do what I say,”‘ she said. He told her: “I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to hurt anybody else.”


Choking back tears Sunday, she said she told Nichols that her husband died four years ago and if he hurt her, her little girl wouldn’t have a mother or father. Smith’s attorney, Josh Archer, said her husband died in her arms after being stabbed.


The two talked about the Bible and she handed him photos of her family. When morning came, Nichols was “overwhelmed” when Smith made him pancakes with real butter, she said. He told her he “just wanted some normalness to his life,” she said.


The two watched television news reports about the slayings and the manhunt. “I cannot believe that’s me on there,” Smith quoted Nichols as saying.


When Nichols finally let Smith go to see her 5-year-old daughter, he said he wanted to stay at the apartment for a few more days. She said she thought he knew she was going to call 911 after she left.


“I didn’t want him to hurt anybody else. He felt safe around me, he felt comfortable around me,” she told FOX News. She did call 911 later, however, and the police soon surrounded the apartment complex. “I knew that when I left, the police could bring him out, one way or the other.”


“This was a textbook arrest … this just went down the best way it could go,” Charles Walters, the police chief of Gwinnett City Police, who arrested Nichols, told FOX News. “we were able to produce enough force so there was no other way out for him.”


Walters said Nichols didn’t confess or say anything to his officers, however.


Newspaper Reports Surveillance Camera Recorded Attack


Nichols could appear in federal court as early as Monday to face a charge of possession of a firearm by a person under indictment, the charge authorities are using to keep Nichols in custody while they sort out charging in the slayings, said U.S. Attorney David Nahmias.


On Monday morning, the U.S. Attorney’s Office dismissed the federal firearms charge brought on Saturday against Nichols. This allows Nichols to be returned to the custody of Fulton County, Ga., authorities from the custody of the United States Marshals Service, where he had been held since Saturday afternoon. A statement from the attorney’s office said officials there will continue to talk with the Fulton County district attorney’s office to determine what federal and state charges should be brought against Nichols, and when those charges should be filed.


The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office hopes to formally charge Nichols with the new crimes within 30 days, spokesman Erik Friedly said Sunday. Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard still would like to resolve Nichols’ interrupted rape retrial.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday that a courthouse surveillance camera recorded Nichols’ initial surprise attack on Deputy Cynthia Hall but that no one in the control center noticed the assault.


“It’s not just horrible, it was preventable,” Senior Superior Court Judge Philip Etheridge told the newspaper.


A video camera, which is supposed to be monitored by two guards in a command post, shows Nichols and the deputy arriving in the holding area between two courtrooms, according to a law enforcement official who saw the tape. The video shows Hall guiding Nichols, whose hands are still handcuffed behind his back, into one of two open cells.


Hall releases one cuff and turns Nichols around to unhook the remaining cuff. But the muscular, 33-year-old Nichols then lunges at Hall, knocking the petite, 51-year-old grandmother backward into another cell. Both disappear from camera view. Two to three minutes later, Nichols emerges from the cell, holding Hall’s gun belt and police radio. He picks up her keys from the floor and locks her in the cell.


A few minutes later, he emerges in civilian clothes. He locks the door behind him and calmly walks out of the holding area, carrying the gun belt, according to the official who saw the tape.


Judge Etheridge said Hall should not have been alone with Nichols, a former college linebacker who had been found with two sharpened door hinges in his socks earlier in the week.


Hall remained in critical condition Sunday, Grady Memorial Hospital officials said. Killed were Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes, court reporter Julie Brandau, Sgt. Hoyt Teasley and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent David Wilhelm.




Who gets Atlanta fugitive reward money? (WorldNetDaily, 050316)


Single mom who turned him in so far only awarded $10,000


The single mother who calmed Atlanta fugitive Brian Nichols as she was held hostage by the man charged with four murders and a rape, persuaded him to turn her loose and called 911 leading to his arrest has so far only been awarded $10,000 of $60,000 set aside as reward money for information leading to his capture.


Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue yesterday announced Ashley Smith would get the state’s contribution to the bounty – $10,000 – but the FBI, sheriff’s association and U.S. Marshall’s office have still not announced who, if anyone, will get their contributions to the fund.


“In my opinion, she absolutely deserves it,” said Perdue.


Nichols, who was facing a rape trial, is charged with shooting dead a judge, a court reporter and a deputy leading to his escape from a downtown Atlanta courthouse Friday. He is also accused of killing a federal Customs agent that night as he eluded authorities in the largest manhunt in the history of the state.


Nichols was caught the next day after taking Smith hostage in her suburban apartment for seven hours. Smith, a widow, told police she spent all night talking to Nichols, cooked him breakfast and read to him from the Bible before he let her leave unharmed.

She called police and told them Nichols was at her apartment. He surrendered after police arrived.


Following the slayings, the state offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Nichols’ arrest, the FBI $20,000, the U.S. Marshals Service $25,000 and the Georgia Sheriff’s Association $5,000.


The FBI and the sheriffs association said they had not yet decided who would get the reward money. The marshals service did not return calls.


Perdue urged the other agencies to reward Smith.


“She did what we ask people to do,” he said. “Reward money is incentive for people to give us information to apprehend criminals. I can’t think of a more classic case where it occurred than in this situation.”


Smith’s cool demeanor is being credited with her survival after Nichols, armed with several weapons, appeared behind her as she opened her apartment door at 2 a.m. Saturday.


“My husband died four years ago, and I told him if he hurt me, my little girl wouldn’t have a mommy or daddy, and she was expecting me the next morning and if he didn’t let me go, she’d be really upset,” Smith said during a news conference held Sunday. “Most of my time was spent talking to this man about my life and my experiences.”


Smith calmed the alleged killer by reading an excerpt from “The Purpose-Driven Life” and talking with him about God. She escaped by persuading him to let her pick up her daughter from an AWANA children’s program at a Southern Baptist church.


“I asked him if I could read,” Smith, 26, said in recounting the ordeal to reporters outside her attorney’s office March 13. “He said, ‘What do you want to read?’


“‘Well, I have a book in my room,’” she said. “So I went and got it. I got my Bible, and I got a book called ‘The Purpose-Driven Life.’ I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day. It was chapter 33. And I started to read the first paragraph of it. After I read it, he said, ‘Stop. Will you read it again?’


“So I read it again to him,” Smith said.


On Day 33 of the book, author Rick Warren, a Southern Baptist pastor in California, writes, “We serve God by serving others. The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige, and position. If you can demand service from others, you’ve arrived. In our self-serving culture with its me-first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept.”


Nichols, 33, held Smith at gunpoint outside her apartment around 2:30 a.m. March 12, apparently having chosen her at random as she returned from a trip to a nearby store. Once he removed his hat, she recognized him as the man wanted for the killing spree and chose to cooperate with his demands. He tied her up and then began to converse with her.


Smith asked Nichols not to kill her because she was scheduled to pick up her 5-year-old daughter the next morning. Four years ago, Smith’s husband died in her arms after being stabbed in a knife fight, and Smith was concerned that her daughter would become an orphan.


As time passed during the early morning hours at the apartment, Nichols and Smith talked about God, family and life experiences while the fugitive apparently became more comfortable with the hostage. She began to help the gunman consider the families of the victims he had shot that day and asked him if he thought about how they might be feeling.


“After we began to talk, he said he thought that I was an angel sent from God and that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ and that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people,” Smith told reporters. “And the families – the people – to let him know how they felt because I had gone through it myself.”


Nichols held photographs of Smith’s family in his hands and said repeatedly that he did not want to hurt anyone else.


“He said, ‘Can I stay here for a few days? I just want to eat some real food and watch some TV and sleep and just do normal things that normal people do,’” Smith said.


As they continued to talk, Nichols mentioned that he considered his life to be over.


“He needed hope for his life. He told me that he was already dead,” Smith told reporters. “He said, ‘Look at me. Look at my eyes. I am already dead.’ And I said, ‘You are not dead. You are standing right in front of me. If you want to die, you can. It’s your choice.’


“But after I started to read to him, he saw – I guess he saw my faith and what I really believed in. And I told him I was a child of God and that I wanted to do God’s will. I guess he began to want to. That’s what I think,” she said.


When he was hungry, Smith made pancakes for Nichols and they talked more about God.


“I said, ‘Do you believe in miracles? Because if you don’t believe in miracles – you are here for a reason. You’re here in my apartment for some reason. You got out of that courthouse with police everywhere, and you don’t think that’s a miracle? You don’t think you’re supposed to be sitting right here in front of me listening to me tell you, you know, your reason here?’


“I said, ‘You know, your miracle could be that you need to – you need to be caught for this,’” Smith continued. “‘You need to go to prison and you need to share the Word of God with them, with all the prisoners there.’”


By 9:30 a.m., Nichols agreed to let Smith leave to pick up her daughter. When she reached the first stop sign on her route, Smith dialed 911 and within minutes a Gwinnett County police SWAT team had surrounded the apartment with Nichols inside, according to the Journal-Constitution. Nichols waved a white piece of cloth to signal his surrender and was taken into custody.


“I believe God brought him to my door so he couldn’t hurt anyone else,” Smith said.




Curt Schilling, pitcher and Christian (, 050317)


Marvin Olasky


FORT MYERS, Fla. — Before Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling agreed to testify before Congress about steroid use in baseball, he decided to testify to the world about Christ.


He wasn’t always so faithful or so forthcoming. Late last month, over a meatballs lunch at the Red Sox spring training facility here, the 6 foot, 5 inch, 235-pound Schilling first described how he became a Christian eight years ago: “I had gone to church, like a lot of fringe Christians, when I needed help with something or felt bad about something, but never just to go to listen to the Word.” His wife Shonda had faith, and they had recently had their first child — they now have four — but he thought of God as the cosmic bellhop.


In 1997, though, after five generally successful seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, he asked for one big thing. “I was driving home from the ballpark and thinking about how tired I was of waking up every morning with no real aim in my life. We had our first kid, and I also wanted a foundation for my family. ... While I was driving, I said the Lord’s Prayer. I waited for thunder and lightning” — he smiled — “and that never came, but my outlook on the world changed.”


He never talked publicly about the changes going on inside him, which he summarized over lunch in this way: “I no longer have the desire to hate anybody. ... I’m not sinning as much. ... I realize the lessons in everything, even losing, and can take away something about better preparation or the need for humility. ... It becomes a lot easier to live with yourself. ... I know now the difference between failure and non-success. ... You work as hard as you can with what God gives you. You fail only if you quit.”


He didn’t tell reporters what was behind one specific alteration in habit: “I had dipped (tobacco) for a long time and tried to quit, but never came close. I seriously prayed hard for assistance to stop. One night, I said a prayer before going to bed, and the next day, at four in the afternoon, I realized I hadn’t dipped all day. You need to understand that on all the other days, first thing in the morning, I’d have a dip. ... It was as common as putting on my pants. So at 4 p.m., when I realized I had prayed and hadn’t dipped all day, I had chills.”


At lunch, Schilling scraped up his mixed vegetables and noted that players, especially on the road, need to pay particular attention to the “Lead us not into temptation” verse of the Lord’s Prayer. He said, “We talk a lot about accountability at Baseball Chapel,” which has Sunday services and Bible studies during the week. He discussed the regular Bible lessons he engages in by email and emphasized the importance of regular Scripture reading.


All of that was private until the biggest Schilling lesson came last fall. Known only as an excellent pitcher and a charitable fellow who contributed big bucks to combat diseases (The Sporting News made him its “No. 1 Good Guy of the Year” for 2004), his public persona changed last October when he pitched two crucial playoff and World Series games with his own blood — from an experimental suture of a torn ankle tendon — leaving a stain on his sock.


Each time, it looked as if it would be physically impossible for him to pitch effectively. Each time, he shut down the opposition. Each time, he announced to the world that “Tonight was God’s work on the mound. ... God did something amazing. ... I went to the Lord for help, because I knew, again, I wasn’t going to be able to do this myself.” Each time, he explained that he had resolved not to pray to win (although he desired that), but for the strength to go out and compete.


Late last month, eating dessert and thinking about going so public with his belief, Schilling said: “I’ve learned that you should never hide your faith. I had wasted seven years. People didn’t know.” Now that he has testified about what is most important, testifying before Congress is relatively easy.




Christian Courage is the Best Easter Expression (Christian Post, 050321)


Shots rang out in a courtroom in Atlanta on March 11, 2005. In just a few minutes, the world would know that a dangerous man who allegedly murdered several people was on the loose. The entire city had set up a police net to catch this man at all costs. Surprisingly, he was not apprehended by the high-priced traps of the investigative community, but by the power of compassion and love.


To the world’s shock, a single mom had talked this man into giving up. Ashley Smith was not a preacher or church leader. She was not a model Christian in stereotypical terms. She was just a woman on her personal journey with Christ. Her response to the would-be rapist or murderer demonstrates every person’s ability to change their world. She chose to take courageous action instead of succumbing to fear and intimidation. Confronting her negative situation with faith, she overcame dangerous facts with her own understanding of truth. Let’s analyze how she did this.


Ashley happened to be reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. Interestingly, she read the 33rd Day of Warren’s book to her captor. The two scriptures for that day’s reading gave both Smith and Nichols a way out of a hopeless situation.


The first scripture declared that greatness is accessed by servanthood. It reads as follows, “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant” (Mark 10:43 Msg). Ashley Smith must have taken this scripture to heart. As a servant she spoke to the deep needs of the desperate man who had abducted her. She served to him the Word of God like a friend would bring a cold cup of water to a man in the desert.


The next scripture was also important. It said that someone is judged by what they do (Mark 7:16 CEV). Brian Nichols must have taken this scripture to heart as well. The chapter offered hope that this man could find purpose from an otherwise ruined life. Although both people had great choices before them, Ashley’s wise decision may have saved countless lives.


She became the voice of reason and in a strange way a prophetic voice from God. Perhaps she spoke with conviction because she had looked at her own life. In her personal inventory she no doubt found reasons for anger, reasons to be discouraged, and reasons to give up on herself and others. Drawing strength from both the scriptures and the power of Christ, she acted courageously, deciding not to escape but to influence a man that others called a monster.


At the end of the ordeal, she convinced Brian Nichols to go out in a blaze of glory—no not gunshots and anger. The glory with which her assailant left her house was because of the power of Christ. All Christians need to remember that recognition of the deity of Christ and repentance is all that it takes to turn a person’s life around. At the heart of the Easter message is the Christian belief that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of all humanity. The eternal penalty for each person’s sins was paid by the death of Christ. The scriptures say it this way, “Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV).


One of the thieves on the cross, repented after he recognized the deity of Christ. Jesus then offered eternal life to that man sentenced to death by the world. This Easter let us follow the example of Ashley Smith. Let’s not live our lives in a high and mighty fashion, isolated and independent. We must become humble, touchable and real. The personal struggles that you are facing today will lead to selfless service that gives you ministry moments that may transform two lives—yours and theirs.


Martin Luther once said of Christians that we are all just beggars helping one another find bread. Just as significantly, St. Francis of Assisi is reputed to have said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” This Easter, live as though He is risen to save the whole world—even the thief who may be just about to cross you. He is risen! Amen!




The purpose-driven left (, 050407)


Ann Coulter


It’s been a tough year for the secularist crowd. There was Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” the moral values election, the Christian hostage subduing her kidnapper by reading from “The Purpose-Driven Life,” and the Christian effort to save Terri Schiavo. Not only that, but earlier this year Dr. James Dobson insulted the Democrats’ mascot, SpongeBob SquarePants, with impunity.


And now, for all the hullabaloo in the media, you’d think the pope had died.


The liberal take on Catholicism is that it’s a controversial religion because of its positions on abortion, sodomy and various other crucial planks of the Democratic platform (curiously, positions that are shared by all three of the world’s major religions).


In defense of the Catholic Church’s most “controversial” position (meaning “contrary to the clearly stated opinion of CNN”), I wanted to return to a story from a few weeks ago that passed from the headlines far too quickly. The “controversial” Catholic position is the ban on girl priests.


I’ll leave it to the Catholics to explain the theological details, but we have a beautiful pair of bookmarks to the exact same incident illustrating women’s special skills and deficits. The escape and capture of Brian Nichols shows women playing roles they should not (escorting dangerous criminals) and women playing roles they do best (making men better people).


Nichols’ murderous rampage began when he took the gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother who was his sole guard at the Fulton County Courthouse. It ended when an otherwise unremarkable 26-year-old woman appealed to the Christian conscience of this same violent killer holding her hostage.


At 2 a.m. one Saturday night, Ashley Smith went out for cigarettes while unpacking her new apartment, yet another victory for tobacco pleasure. Returning from the store, Smith was grabbed by a man at her front door, who put a gun in her side and told her not to scream. He asked if she knew who he was. When he removed his baseball cap, she saw it was Nichols, the dangerous fugitive all over television who had escaped custody during his rape trial and had killed four people in the previous 48 hours. (Although he also looked a lot like of one the guys on “American Idol.”)


In Smith’s apartment, Nichols bound Smith’s feet and hands and put her in the bathtub. Later, at Smith’s request, Nichols allowed her to hop from the bathroom into the bedroom, where she began talking to him.


In short order, Smith was reading aloud to Nichols from the Christian book “The Purpose-Driven Life” – in direct violation of his constitutional right to never hear any reference to God, in public or private, for any purpose, ever, ever, ever! For more on this right, go to the “People for the American Way” website.


After reading the first paragraph of Chapter 33 aloud, about serving God by serving others, Nichols – the man pundits were calling an “animal” – asked her to read it again.


Nichols listened to the passage again and responded by telling Smith he was already dead, saying, “Look at my eyes.” But Smith looked and told him God had a purpose for him, perhaps to minister to other lost souls in prison. Smith read to Nichols some more, both from the “Purpose” book and from another popular book that’s been dropped from all news accounts of this incident: the New Testament. (In the Hollywood version, Smith will be reading from the Quran.)


Smith knew all about Nichols’ violent depredations from television. Yet she saw him not as a monster, but as one of God’s creatures. Most Christians – most people – have trouble seeing the humanity of people who take our parking spots. Smith could see God’s hand in a multiple murderer holding her hostage. By showing him genuine Christian love, Smith turned Nichols from a beast to a brother in Christ. This phenomenon, utterly unknown to liberals, is what’s known as a “miracle.” Top that, Paul Krugman!


Nichols told Smith she was “an angel sent from God,” calling her “his sister” and himself her “brother in Christ.” Nichols said he had come to Smith’s home for a reason, in Smith’s words, that “he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people.”


This trampling of our Constitution – I mean this conversation – lasted long into the night. They watched Nichols’ shooting people on television. Nichols said he couldn’t believe he was that man. In the morning, Smith made Nichols eggs and pancakes for breakfast. Then she walked out of the apartment to pick up her daughter and to call 911. The last thing Nichols said as Smith was leaving was to say hello to her daughter for him. When the police arrived, Nichols surrendered without incident, an utterly transformed human being.


Heaven help the average liberal if this ever happens to him! What would an urban secularist do? Come sit down and let me read to you from Michael Moore’s “Stupid White Men.” Or maybe he could put a SpongeBob video in the VCR. WE ARE FAM-I-LEEEEE! At least before he killed again, the dangerous fugitive would have warm feelings toward homosexuals.


It’s also another example of how our universities are failing students. Today’s college coeds would be dead: They know nothing about Jesus Christ and can’t cook a good meal.


Smith saved the soul of a man on a killing spree by talking to him about Christianity. But liberals think this won’t work with the Muslims? We ought to fly this Ashley Smith to Saudi Arabia. We could just make her a box lunch every day and send her on her way.


Liberals would approve of a nice Christian girl like Smith going to the Middle East only if she went as a Marine or – better! – if she were getting herself run over by a tank while defending a PLO tunnel into the Gaza Strip used by suicide bombers. Sadly for liberals, feminist lunacy doesn’t convert and transform, it browbeats and harangues. The only miracle it has ever performed is getting people to listen to Nancy Pelosi.




Honoring those in authority (, 050524)


Chuck Colson


I was in Grand Rapids last week for a celebration, as Calvin Seminary established a chair in my name. I agreed because of my respect for the man who will hold it, Dr. Neal Plantinga—one of the keenest thinkers in the Christian world and a wonderful, godly man.


But while there, I was confronted by the ad in the Grand Rapids Press challenging President Bush’s Christianity. Before the president spoke at the commencement at Calvin College (which is affiliated with the seminary, but a different institution), nearly eight hundred students, professors, and alumni signed the ad.


Now, I believe, of course, that Christians are free to protest. And though the majority of evangelicals support this president, some do not. And that’s okay. In my book Kingdoms in Conflict, I wrote that Christians should never get enmeshed in a partisan agenda.


But there’s a time and place to do it. And a college commencement that the president is gracious enough to attend is not the place. Calvin ought to make a course on civility and manners mandatory.


The ad said, “Your deeds, Mr. President—neglecting the needy to coddle the rich, desecrating the environment and misleading the country into war—do not exemplify the faith we live by.”


Ironically, right before the president appeared at Calvin, he announced that he would veto any stem-cell bill that destroyed life, despite huge pressures to sign it. No president in my lifetime has been more consistently pro-life.


What about the sanctity of marriage? The president strongly supports a constitutional amendment to protect marriage.


Human rights? When I told the president one day of the uncontrolled state of sexual trafficking, he was horrified. He spoke to the United Nations about it. And at home, he got a bill passed in Congress to stop women from being kidnapped into the sex trade.


When a number of us urged the White House to get involved in Sudan, this president ended the killing of southern Sudanese Christians.


And neglecting the needy? At a summit meeting on AIDS in Africa held in the Roosevelt room, the president told us, “We will spend 15 billion dollars, and we will teach abstinence-only as our priority.” This is the first president to back a bill to stop prison rape and to put funds for prison re-entry in a State of the Union message. He has delivered Angel Tree gifts with us; he’s encouraged mentoring. He has been the most vigorous advocate of faith-based solutions.


I have talked with the president about his faith, which, I can tell you, is rock solid. You may dislike the president’s policies, but challenging this man’s faith in this way—no, that’s out of order.


John Calvin, the great reformer for whom this once proud school was named, said, “The first duty of subjects towards their rulers is to entertain the most honorable views of their office, recognizing it as a delegated jurisdiction from God.” People in office should be held in “esteem and veneration,” and he added that we are to “bear patiently their failures.”


The best advice I can give these upstart students and faculty at Calvin College is to study the words of the one whose name they bear (particularly Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book IV). They will find no better example of a truly Christian attitude toward those in authority.




Billy Graham’s Message: The Same in 1957 and 2005 (Christian Post, 050629)


New York, NY (BWA) — Many changes have come to New York City and the world since nearly fifty years ago when Billy Graham held his first crusade in 1957 in New York City. My parents and our family were regular attendees for the unprecedented sixteen week sojourn in Madison Square Garden. It was the beginning of the evangelical renaissance in New York and, to a certain extent, in the USA and the world!


God has used Billy Graham because as an evangelist he has remained faithful to the simple message of Christ: “God loves you and you can become anew person in Christ!” Billy Graham has changed; of course at 86 is older and not the fiery preacher of 1957. But the Gospel Graham preaches never changes. Human methods of proclaiming the Gospel change. Music changes. Church structures change. But, the Gospel never changes. This message was the same as in 1957.


With love and compassion, the 86 year old evangelist pointed his finger several times across the vast audience of almost 100,000 on Sunday afternoon and said again and again, “God loves you! God loves you! God loves you!” As though yearning for that love the audience at once began to applaud. In a world of religious conflict, in a world of terrorism and war, in a world of hate and division, the people needed to hear the Word of God that indeed God does love all humanity. And with simplicity and force Dr. Graham told the crowd they could have new life. They could be born again. They could come forward and accept Christ as their personal savior. By coming forward and repenting of their sin and accepting Christ as their savior life could begin anew.


It was a very special moment to see the thousands stream forward to accept God’s love and respond to the Gospel message. Old and young, black and white, people of many nations came and responded by giving their hearts to Christ. What a joy to see New Yorkers respond to the Gospel. It is estimated that on the three occasions of the crusade nearly 250,000 attended and 10,000 prayed to receive Christ. Indeed men and women, boys and girls responded to the old, old story of Jesus and His love preached by an old man! That was a sign of the Holy Spirit in New York City.


Indeed the Gospel does not change but many other things have changed since 1957! In 1957 there were mass choirs and soloists renowned for singing old Gospel songs. Ethel Waters sang, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.” Stuart Hamlin sang, “It is no secret what God can do.” George Beverly Shea, who at age 96 sang in New York City last weekend, in 1957 was still a young man and introduced the Christian world to the now familiar hymn, “How Great Thou Art!” In 2005, there were new singers, new music and a new style. Singing groups with a flair for Christian rock such as “Jars of Clay,” “Mercy Me,” and singers such as Stephen Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith were the new music for 2005.


In 1957 the ecumenical aspect of the Billy Graham Crusade was shown by the support of the Protestant Council of Churches; well-known preachers and church leaders such as David H.C. Reid, Norman Vincent Peale, and Daniel Poling were on the platform making pronouncements. The year 2005 saw a different array of church leaders, not from mainline Protestantism, but from the evangelical/charismatic wing of Protestantism. These were the new mainline, so to speak. Mainline Protestantism no longer could count on reaching New Yorkers in this post modern period. Most of their churches were empty or in decay. On the other hand, the charismatic leadership of store front churches had become mega churches with 20,000 members. The Brooklyn Tabernacle choir sang. Perhaps this church, which started only several years ago with a handful of people but now represented thousands, was a symbol of the new strength of evangelicalism. Their message resonated with Dr. Graham’s message of a radical call to a transformed life.


This new Evangelicalism in 2005 did not need the mainline churches for credibility. Indeed the growth of their churches since 1957 was testimony to the fact that the church that does not evangelize will die and the church that evangelizes will grow. Racism, which had been a problem in 1957, was not even a whisper in 2005. Black Pentecostal and evangelical pastors were the leaders of the crusade. Indeed one could really sing with the children, “Red and yellow, black and white, Jesus loves the children of the world!”


The world might ask the unspiritual question of “What is the reason for Billy Graham’s success?” Sociologists could debate it and make various academic attempts to give an answer. But those who have been born again, who have experienced Christ, know that the reason for the success of the crusade in New York in 2005 was the same as in 1957: the call of Christ is a call to take up his cross and follow him. That is the eternal call of the Gospels from the first century until today. That’s why the hymn “Just as I Am” so powerfully summarizes the message: “Just as I am without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!” That’s why thousands of New Yorkers responded and came forward. It was a response to that Gospel of Christ’s love! It was the same in 1957 as it was in 2005. And as the church worldwide continues to grow it will be because of the response to that Gospel of Christ!




Denton Lotz is the General Secretary of the Baptist World Alliance - a fellowship of 211 Baptist unions and conventions comprising a membership of more than 32 million baptized believers.




Dangerous Journey of Lottie Moon in China (Focus on the Family, 051102)


Thump, thump. The sound of knocking at the door awoke missionary Lottie Moon from a deep sleep in her little Chinese house. Lottie got out of bed, opened the door and saw a young Christian man standing in the cold winter snow. Lottie recognized the new believer and welcomed him in.


“You must come,” he said, as he stepped into the warm house. “There is much trouble, and the Christians are asking for you!”


Soon Lottie was serving the young man lo mein noodles and asking him what he meant.


“It’s Wai-Sung, the magistrate at Laichow,” the young man said. “He has never liked Christians. Now there are rumors going around about the evil things Christians do, so he decided to punish us.”


“What did he do?” Lottie asked.


“Three days ago he arrested 13 Christians on robbery charges. Of course, it is all a lie, and he knows it.” The young man gulped down some noodles before going on. “The soldiers tied the men’s queues (pigtails) onto their horses’ saddles and dragged them all the way from Laichow to Laichowfu.”


“Did they survive?” Lottie asked.


“Yes,” her young visitor replied. “Pastor Li Show-ting heard what was going on and made the magistrate stop the horses. When I left to come here, the Christians were all in prison at P’ingtu. You must come and help us. Everyone is asking for you, even Pastor Li.”


Perfect Plan


Lottie took a deep breath and closed her eyes.


What should I do? she wondered.


The roads outside the town where she lived had become dangerous to travel in the past few months.


Mobs of Boxers, men who hated any foreigner, roamed Northern China. They reveled in destroying anything foreign. But worse, they enjoyed killing Christians — whether Chinese or foreign.


In going to aid the Christians in P’ingtu, Lottie would be putting her life in danger. Yet it was unthinkable for her not to go.


Eventually, Lottie came up with a plan. It was risky, but it had to work.


“I need to hire a shentze (a Chinese carriage), like the ones the city officials use,” she told the young man. “Do you think you could get me one?”


“I will try,” he replied.


At first light, the young man left in search of a shentze.


While he was gone, Lottie borrowed some clothing from a local official she knew. She put on the long robe with its dangling cuffs. She smoothed back her hair. She placed a skullcap with a large red button on the top of her head. Finally, she slipped into the short red jacket all officials wore.


Lottie looked at herself in the mirror, hoping she would be able to pass herself off as an official going on business to P’ingtu.


Soon the young man was back with a genuine official’s shentze.


Lottie gathered food for the journey and climbed in to the shentze.


“Let’s go with God’s help,” she said to the young man, and then ordered the mule drivers to begin the journey.


As they rode through the countryside, Lottie sat in her shentze holding an official pose. Many crowds greeted her. She also saw mobs of Boxers, who scattered away when they saw the shentze.


Worth the Risk


When Lottie’s caravan arrived in P’ingtu, good news awaited. The 13 Christians were all alive. Pastor Li Show-ting had managed to get them released from prison. However, all the men were injured; some from being dragged along behind horses, others from various forms of torture.


Lottie encouraged the men with words of comfort, but the fact that she had risked her life to come to their aid was the greatest comfort to them all.


Bethany M., 12

Artesia, California


Lottie Moon was born to a wealthy family in Virginia in 1840. This spunky, 4-foot-3-inch woman dedicated most of her life to taking the good news of Jesus Christ to people in China. By overcoming loneliness, severe hunger, numerous threats and other obstacles, Lottie led many people to a personal relationship with God and inspired Christians worldwide. The annual Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Missions has raised more than $1.5 billion for missions since 1888.




“The Right Place at the Right Time”: A Navy lieutenant on serving in Iraq. (National Review Online, 051103)


By Michael Fumento


In May I was embedded with a detachment of the 8th Engineer Support Battalion Explosive Ordnance Disposal [EOD] at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, headed by Navy Lt. Cameron Chen. In a war in which most U.S. casualties are caused by bombs, no unit is more import — or more hated by the enemy — than EOD. Upon finishing his deployment, Lt. Chen sent out this eloquent letter which (with his permission) I share precisely because it is unlike what you’re accustomed to reading in the newspapers.

[Kwing Hung: a patriotic Chinese, a pride of his compatriots]


Dear Family and Friends,


I am sitting on the flight line awaiting a helo [helicopter] to take me away from Fallujah. The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. Our time here in Iraq is quickly coming to an end.


We have had an outstanding deployment. The number of responses we have conducted has been absolutely astounding. As a detachment, we conducted 1,009 EOD response missions. We neutralized 327 actual IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and 3 VBIEDs [vehicle-borne explosive devices], investigated 69 post-blast scenes, cleared 209 UXO [unexploded ordnance] calls and eliminated 146 weapons caches. In all we destroyed 21,328 items totaling 95,918 lbs of captured enemy ordnance.


Fallujah looks completely different from when we first arrived. The progress in the city has been frustratingly slow but impressive nonetheless. A steady stream of people flow in to re-inhabit its neighborhoods. The new police force is on every street corner.


Every effort is being made to get the Iraqi people able to manage themselves. The Marines are still omnipresent on the streets but you see more and more Iraqi police replacing them. A lot of the trash has been removed, reconstruction is occurring everywhere, and the bustle of people on the streets engaged in commerce is refreshing.


I noticed a gaggle of young girls in uniform blue dresses, pig tails, and white shirts on their way to school. The number of families implies to me that people are fleeing to the security provided by the Iraqis and Marines inside the checkpoints that limit access to the city.


We are still wary of the environment and the surge of incidents correlating with the beginning of Ramadan confirms that the Wild West has yet to be tamed. Detachment 9’s [his unit’s successor] arrival corresponded with a renewal of activity. They hit the ground running with 30 calls in the first 3 days.


Chief [Warrant Officer] Kellogg was interrogating the witness on the scene of an IED incident when a sniper shot the witness in the back directly in front of him. Chief said he had never been so amped [“excited,” obviously in a bad sense] in his life — a rude awakening to another day in the city.


[As this piece went to press, one of Chen’s former response trucks was hit by a pressure-plate IED killing one man and seriously wounding another.]


What matters most is how this experience has changed us. Untested, you inevitably doubt yourself and how you will act when the shooting starts or you’re on top of an improvised device about to explode. Now we know. It’s a gut check when you jock up every day and go outside the [protective] wire not knowing if you will come back. It’s exhilarating.


Mac, like most of us, is intensely competitive and nothing excites him more than beating an insurgent at his devious game. Nothing is more clear-cut than going out there and beating the bad guys by disrupting their bomb. But despite all that, he misses his kids. It wrenches his heart to be absent.


Jehu is more introspective. He feels that life here changes your perspective on what is important. In comparison, most problems are trivial especially when compared to the plight of the Iraqi people stuck in the middle of this mess.


We have had a number of close calls that can only be explained by God’s grace. Just yesterday we recovered a video tape with footage of Bryan and Mac taken by an insurgent trying to detonate an IED on them. It really brings it all very close to home.


I firmly believe we have made some headway and added to the security of this country and ours. I am not hopelessly optimistic though. The IED incidents are symptomatic of a deeper problem. This is a culture that begets violent regime change. Until people are educated in non-violent protest, all we can do is disarm the masses which will make them inevitably vulnerable.


Regardless of the outcome though, at least people are learning to voice their opinion in a democratic manner.


The helo has come and moved us on to our next stop on the trip home. I can’t adequately describe the feeling of sitting in a bird and flying out of the familiar yet alien place that has been your “home” for so long.


It’s very odd to leave others behind and watch the lights fade away in the darkness. The rumble and noise of the chopper blades amplifies your senses. The sensation of being lifted away from danger is like being rescued by an angel.


We have been incredibly fortunate to have the privilege of serving here in Iraq. This has been one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. We have done all we could possibly do. We cleared innumerable roads of hazards and prevented countless loss of life. We were in the right place at the right time.


Everyone is grateful for the assignment and thankful for having survived to tell the stories. I want to thank everyone for your continuous support and encouragement regardless of political persuasion and opinion of the war. We couldn’t have done it without you.


God bless,

LT Cameron Chen, USN


— Michael Fumento is a former paratrooper, nationally syndicated columnist with Scripps Howard News Service, and a senior fellow at Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He was embedded in May with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Fallujah, Iraq to which the 8th EOD is attached.




Relief workers enjoy ‘supernatural presence’: God ‘enabled us to help more people than any of us could have imagined’ (WorldNetDaily, 051124)


MANDEVILLE, La. – Amazing, wonderful things are taking place in a church on the other side of the lake that flooded New Orleans.


Most of the people who have witnessed the events have concluded God himself is at work.


“None of us made this happen,” said Janet Hines, volunteer director of disaster relief for the Tammany Oaks Church of Christ. “From the first day we decided to help the victims of the hurricane, God just took over the operation and enabled us to help more people than any of us could have imagined.”


The church is located in Mandeville, population 60,000, close to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It took the 250 members of the congregation more than two years to put enough money together to construct a new building. They began conducting services there in late July and distributed fliers inviting the surrounding community to attend the church’s open house–scheduled for Aug. 29. That was the day Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast.


“Of course, the open house was dead,” said Ted Vogt, the church’s pastor. “But even before Katrina made landfall, some of the people in our church wanted to respond to the needs of those who would suffer losses from the approaching storm.”


He explained that a few days after the hurricane hit and the flooding began, a group made up of church staff, elders, parishioners and members of another church held a meeting to begin organizing a relief effort.


Hines, who has spent many years doing relief work in Honduras, was at that meeting. Several others with relief work experience also attended.


“My husband Doug and brother-in-law Tim began contacting organizations and suppliers and asking if they could help our efforts,” she said. “What started happening a day or so later was way beyond anything we could ask or think.”


Vogt said news spread by word of mouth that Tammany Oaks Church of Christ had a hurricane relief program and they started getting phone calls from other states.


“Leaders of corporations and organizations from all over called to ask if they could donate to our effort, and before we knew it, we had 18-wheelers packed with everything you could imagine pulling into our parking lot every day,” he said.


The trucks brought food, bottled water, clothing, bedding, medicine, medical supplies, tools, machinery, stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers and just about anything else needed by desperate, destitute hurricane victims. In a few days, as the 18-wheelers kept rolling in, the church had the use of a forklift, pallet jacks, and a small fleet of Penske rental trucks to deliver supplies to needy families and other organizations providing relief.


To make room for all the supplies, the chairs in the sanctuary were pushed to the side and stacked on top of each other, and the 16,000-square-foot building was converted into a warehouse and dormitory for the many volunteers who began arriving from all over the United States and parts of Canada.


“We are continually amazed that so many people are coming here to help the victims of the hurricanes,” said Tracey Pierce, who manages the receiving, packaging and distribution of all supplies coming to the church. “We know that every person who comes here was sent by God.”


With so many volunteers arriving every day, their needs had to be met too. Shortly after the relief effort was in full swing, showers and laundry facilities were set up for the workers as well as a large makeshift kitchen. Using donated stoves, grills, refrigerators and freezers, volunteer kitchen workers began to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for all who were working to help the victims of the storm.


As soon as the supplies began arriving, the church became a distribution center where needy individuals and families could come to receive food and other necessities, which were neatly packed in boxes by the volunteers. Other workers loaded supplies into cars, vans and trucks and delivered them to places near and far.


Meanwhile, Hines and the other organizers set up a system for sending work crews out. The men and women volunteers wake up at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast, followed by a chapel service that begins at about 7:00 a.m.. Then either Tim Hines or Bret White read from a list of things that need to get done that day and the volunteers decide which tasks they want to do.


The work crews carpool or caravan to anywhere in Louisiana that was ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including New Orleans and faraway Lake Charles. They might remain at a certain location for several hours or several days before returning to Mandeville. When the crews arrive at their assigned sites, they do anything from moving moldy furniture and appliances out of a house to removing muck from the floors, ripping out moldy carpet, flooring, drywall and insulation or removing fallen trees and debris from roofs and yards.


Skilled volunteers also rebuild roofs, repair damaged plumbing, and perform other tasks associated with construction or remodeling. Most volunteer work takes place at the homes of people who have contacted the church asking for help, but Tammany Oaks workers also help out at schools, churches and other larger facilities damaged by the storms.


At the end of the day, most of the work crews return to the church to join the other volunteers for dinner, which is followed by an evening chapel service.


“Most of the volunteers are members of the Church of Christ, but we welcome anyone who trusts Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and believes that the Bible is the word of God,” said White, who came from Valdosta, Ga., to join the effort. “We’ve had some non-Christians helping us too.”


He noted that he and other leaders admonish all volunteers to remember that they are representing Jesus Christ as well as the Tammany Oaks church while they are based there.


Most of the volunteers exemplify an eagerness to work hard and a joyful devotion to the cause.


“The magnitude of this disaster is beyond words,” said Mike Beneditti, from Delaware, Ohio. “Everywhere I look I see the victims and the volunteers lifting up their hands to the Lord, and for all of us who came, there is no greater reward than to look into someone’s eyes and know they really appreciate what we have done for them.”


“God was all over this thing,” said Melanie Turner from the Nashville area in Tennessee. “Our prayers for direction were met almost instantly, and the people we helped were so blessed and amazed we would give up our time and money for them.”


“I will never forget the time I spent here with other servants who selflessly desired God’s will and fulfilled the scripture that tells us to love your neighbor as yourself,” said Danielle Crawford, also from the Nashville area. “I will always remember the tears of joy we were blessed with for our service to those who so desperately needed us.”


“We were all moving in the power of God’s love,” said Starr Knapp, from New York. “I have never before experienced such an overpowering sense of his presence.”


Joyce Morvant, a widow whose house was severely damaged by flooding, expressed her appreciation for the work the volunteers did for her.


“I didn’t know if they were saints or angels,” she said. “I could not believe that they came into my house and worked so hard and asked for nothing in return.”


Louis Jones, an 85-year-old man who had a large tree removed from his roof, agreed.


“They will never know how much it means to all of us that they traveled so far to help,” he said.


At the end of every day, volunteers share their experiences with each other, describing how people of every color worked together in harmony, how grown men wept and hugged the volunteers, how women kissed the workers on the cheek, thanking them for their labors.


“The thing that has impressed me the most about all this is the unconditional love continually being expressed by the members of this church, the volunteers and the people we are helping,” said Tim Hines. “This could not happen without God.”


“God’s presence and provision have just been overwhelming,” added Becky Martin, the church secretary. “I could tell you story after story about how he has met and continues to meet our every need.”


She noted that when the church building was finally completed last summer, she didn’t like it because she thought it resembled a warehouse.


“Now I think it’s the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen,” she said. “It’s beautiful because it’s being used as [God’s] storehouse to demonstrate his love for the people of this region.”


Organizers of Tammany Oaks disaster relief effort. Left to right: Brett White, Tracey Pierce, Janet Hines, Becky Gilbert, Rhonda McMullen, Tim Hines, Patrick Tallant


Assistant secretary Rhonda McMullen agreed.


“God decided to do a work here,” she said, “and he has been doing things in greater ways than any of us could have dreamed.”


So far, Tammany Oaks Church of Christ has provided food boxes to about 3,000 families and has distributed millions of dollars’ worth of supplies to needy households and other relief organizations in Louisiana. In addition, the more than 500 volunteers have provided the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in free labor. On any given day, 20 to100 volunteers work for the church’s relief effort.


The church’s relief program will continue at least until next spring.


“We welcome donations and volunteers –individuals or church groups,” said Janet Hines. “It’s going to take a long time to repair the damage done by the hurricanes and floods.”




Billy Graham Releases 2005 Christmas Message (Christian Post, 051216)


The Rev. Billy Graham, often dubbed “America’s Pastor,” released his Christmas message for 2005 this week, and as he has done for the past six decades, proclaimed the gospel – that each person is separated from God because of sin, but is redeemed through Jesus Christ. He urged each person to be transformed through having genuine faith in God’s gift of Christ this Christmas.


“Millions of people miss the real meaning of Christmas,” began Graham. “In the midst of the Christmas rush, Christ is oftentimes left out as we forget that it is His birthday we are celebrating.”


Two thousand years ago, a Savior was born, he wrote as reminder.


Citing Matthew 1:21, Graham noted that the name “Jesus” was given “because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, NIV).


People Deny Sin


But because people were blind to their sins, they didn’t see any reason to want Christ, he continued, and so they crucified the One who yearned to save them from their sins.


Graham stated that it is people’s continual rejection of salvation from their sins through Jesus that makes failures of all the social movements to end wars.


“One of the failures of many church leaders is their refusal to believe that our deepest problem is sin,” he wrote. “We have joined hands with the idealists of the world in trying to bring about social reform without first dealing with the root of the problem, which is sin.”


All religions and ideologies outside God’s way in the Bible are merely forms of self-redemption and Christ rejection in disguise, but without God, the world cannot be made right because it is beyond our power to dissolve the sin in our hearts, he said.


“Thousands of human schemes for social and political improvement will ultimately fail because they do not deal with a person’s basic disease. They change the circumstances but leave the person untouched,” said Graham. “They alter the surroundings but have no power to transform the character. If humanity is to be saved, if the world is to be transformed, then salvation must come from a source outside ourselves.”


Jesus Christ is the Gift To Save People From Sin


Christ removes the guilt and reconciles us to God, he said.


“Christ is God’s great Christmas Gift to the world,” he added. To personally accept Christ by faith is the only way to know true joy, peace and power.


“Beautiful, ethical precepts cannot save us, but Christ can,” he says. “When Christ comes into a life, He revolutionizes it so that the person becomes a ‘new creation.’ This, and this alone, is our hope.”


However, faith in Jesus Christ must be real, rather than merely intellectual, and when this happens, it is transformational, he said.


“Millions of professing Christians are strangers to the genuine, saving faith that means coming to the end of ourselves, to the end of our self-reliance and self-righteousness, and then trusting absolutely in Christ for forgiveness and for moral and spiritual renewal.”


Billy Graham has preached the gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—over 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through the various ministries of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.


Visit for Graham’s complete Christmas message.




Christian CEOs in China (, 060615)


by Marvin Olasky


CHINA — I ran across an extraordinary development in a just-completed trip to this officially atheistic country, where some local officials still persecute religious dissenters: At least 30 CEOs of major Chinese companies have become Christians. They even conduct Bible studies within their companies.


Their stories are fascinating. One executive in his 40s, Mr. Han (using his real name would provoke the Public Security Bureau) explained in his conference room that he came from a poor, rural family: His father died when he was 12, and he often went hungry. The future CEO “studied very hard to change the situation of my family,” scored high on tests, entered Beijing University, and went on to garner a grand salary.


Han was an atheist who thought that “only rural grandmas believe in God.” By the end of 1999, he “had enough money for my whole life” but “had emptiness and suffering within me. I thought, maybe I’m not happy because I’m working for other people. I’ll become happy by starting my own business.”


Han did that and made even more money, but his depression became deeper. He tried burning incense at a Buddhist temple and felt a little better, but misery quickly returned. For six months, he paid a top Taoist sage to give him a schedule each month with favorable and unfavorable blocks of time and tried to arrange his meetings accordingly — only to find that some at the good times went poorly, and some he was forced to have at bad times went well.


In 2002, a classmate who had studied in the United States suggested that Han visit a church. He and his wife did, and she immediately became a believer in Christ, but he “tried to keep awake in the pew and could not.” By August, 2003, he was “very depressed. Only when I was cornered and understood that man’s end is dust did I become serious about reading the Bible. Then I realized that my preconceptions were wrong, that belief in God is not unscientific, that by myself, I don’t know where I’m from and where I’m going.”


Han became a Christian and found his new faith changing not only personal but business practice: “As a company we pay our taxes strictly and honestly; we treat our employees with love and pay them in a timely fashion.”  Those practices are unusual in a China, where the hot business books of the past three years have titles like “The Wolf Spirit of Enterprises” and “Think Like Wolves.”


Other Chinese CEOs have their own stories, but a typical pattern is:  they have business success; money without meaning only depresses them; their wives become Christians; the executives realize they’re not as smart as they thought they were; they ask God for mercy. As one CEO — call him Mr. Wang — related, “I begged God, what shall I do? For the first time, I prayed from the bottom of my heart.”


One manager, who once was a Communist party member attests to the ways Wang’s company is different from state-owned ones and others where “bribery is common.” He says CEOs who become Christians no longer have mistresses or win contracts by proffering prostitutes to customers.


These Chinese executives see Christianity bringing immediate as well as long-term benefits, but they do not preach a “prosperity gospel.” Wang’s company lost a large order it needed for profitability because he refused to pay a bribe. Some of Wang’s financial backers think his ethical behavior is foolish. The Communist Party right now hesitates to kill gooses that are laying golden economic eggs, but some local officials for their own reasons are holding up the sale of his current property, a sale he needs to fund new construction at a site where a foundation stone is already laid.


Wang took me to the stone and translated its inscription: “Glory to the Lord, and the people will benefit.”




On Chuck Norris ‘mania’ sweeping the Net (WorldNetDaily, 061023)


by Chuck Norris


Have you heard of the “Chuck Norris Facts”?


There are more than 50,000 jokes making their way around the Internet that purport to be “facts” all playing off my movie roles as a “tough guy” and my history as a martial arts champion. But they aren’t “jokes” to those who spread them – they’re “facts.”


Here are a few of my favorites:


* “When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.”


* “Chuck Norris doesn’t read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.”


* “Outer space exists because it’s afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.”


These “facts” have become a phenomenon – a fad spread mainly by young people of high school and college age. It’s hard to explain why these things happen – how they take on a life of their own.


Naturally, over the past couple years as this wildfire has been raging, people have asked me, “What do you think of all this?”


My answer is always the same: Some are funny. Some are pretty far out. And, thankfully, most are just promoting harmless fun. (But be careful if you go searching for “Chuck Norris Facts” on the Internet, because some are just not appropriate for kids.)


Being more a student of the Wild West than the wild world of the Internet, I’m not quite sure what to make of the craze of “Chuck Norris Facts.” It’s quite surprising. I do know that boys will be boys, and I neither take offense nor take these things too seriously. I’m so grateful for my fans. Who knows, maybe these one liners will prompt some one to seek out the real facts about me and the beliefs that have shaped my life and my career.


While I have as much fun as anyone else reading and quoting them, let’s face it, most “Chuck Norris Facts” describe someone with supernatural, superhuman powers. They’re describing a superman character. And in the history of this planet, there has only been one real Superman. It’s not me.


Let me illustrate using a few of the claims being made about me in the various lists of “Chuck Norris Facts”:


Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: “Faster than a speeding bullet ... more powerful than a locomotive ... able to leap tall buildings in a single bound... yes, these are some of Chuck Norris’ warm-up exercises.”


I’ve got a bulletin for you, folks. I am no superman. I realize that now, but I didn’t always. As six-time world karate champion and then a movie star, I put too much trust in who I was, what I could do and what I acquired. I forgot how much I needed others and especially God. Whether we are famous or not, we all need God. We also need other people.


If your whole life is spent trying to make money and you neglect the people important in your life, you will create an emptiness deep in your heart and soul. I know. I fell into that trap. I dedicated my whole life to fame and fortune. I had a huge hole in my heart and was miserable until I met my wife, Gena, who brought me back to the Lord.


Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: “There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.” It’s funny. It’s cute. But here’s what I really think about the theory of evolution: It’s not real. It is not the way we got here. In fact, the life you see on this planet is really just a list of creatures God has allowed to live. We are not creations of random chance. We are not accidents. There is a God, a Creator, who made you and me. We were made in His image, which separates us from all other creatures.


By the way, without him, I don’t have any power. But with Him, the Bible tells me, I really can do all things – and so can you.


Alleged Chuck Norris Fact: “Chuck Norris’ tears can cure cancer. Too bad he never cries. Ever.”


There was a man whose tears could cure cancer or any other disease, including the real cause of all diseases – sin. His blood did. His name was Jesus, not Chuck Norris.


If your soul needs healing, the prescription you need is not Chuck Norris’ tears, it’s Jesus’ blood.


Again, I’m flattered and amazed by the way I’ve become a fascinating public figure for a whole new generation of young people around the world. But I am not the characters I play. And even the toughest characters I have played could never measure up to the real power in this universe.




‘Rocky’ Back and Reborn Christian (Christian Post, 061221)


Sylvester Stallone opened his sixth and final underdog story, “Rocky Balboa,” in theaters Wednesday. Some hope for the series ending, others call it the surprise of the season, and evangelicals are pleasantly surprised.


An “unexpected pair: God and ‘Rocky’ Stallone,” the San Francisco Chronicle called it. But the new film, directed and acted by Stallone, intentionally talks about God.


“Who wouldda thunk?” Rocky would say.


“We need the God-fearing script, the script that really deals with compassion and deals with the word of Jesus and God, and believe me, people will rally behind it because we need it,” Stallone said in a late November conference call to Christian leaders, according to the Chronicle. “It’s like, you watch some of the films, they only save these kinds of films for Christmas.”


In the weeks leading up to the nationwide release, Stallone has been in conference calls with religious leaders to promote his new film.


Previous Rocky scripts focused on the punches, but this final installment provides more insight to his character, a character that was meant to reflect the nature of Jesus, according to Stallone.


“He’s very, very forgiving,” said Stallone in the conference call, according to the Baptist Press. “There’s no bitterness in him. He always turns the other cheek. And it’s like his whole life was about service.”


The synopsis: Former heavyweight champion Rocky is coping with grief over the death of his wife, Adrian. He’s retired but after a virtual boxing match declares Rocky Balboa the victor over the current champion Mason “The Line” Dixon, the fighter’s passion is reignited. Rocky steps out of retirement and back into the ring against a new rival in a different era.


USA Today said the film is “about the quintessential American trait and cinematic tradition of cheering for the underdog. Balboa has evolved into the ultimate underdog: a lonely guy who has known suffering and is facing his mortality.”


But the story doesn’t stop there. It’s about redemption – the redemption of not only Rocky but Stallone himself.


Stallone was raised in a Catholic home and went to Catholic schools. He made some wrong turns and bad choices when he got out into the “real world,” he said in the conference call, but he’s recently been going through a change in his life.


“The more I go to church,” he said, “and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to His Word and having Him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.”


In Rocky terms, Stallone said, “The church is the gym of the soul,” alluding to the need to be guided and trained by someone else.


Promoting the new film to the faith and values crowd, Stallone even has a website ( full of resources for teaching, preaching and outreach opportunities.


In regards to the box office, “Rocky Balboa” was the top-selling film on Fandango, which sells tickets online for AMC Loews, Regal Entertainment Group and other theaters, on Tuesday, a day before its nationwide release. And Hollywood Reporter online columnist Martin Grove expects it to be “one of the box-office champions this weekend.”




Remembering a Hero (, 070201)


By Marvin Olasky


You’ll probably hear something about William Wilberforce this month, because an important 200th anniversary is coming. On Feb. 23, 1807, two decades of determination by Member of Parliament Wilberforce finally brought results when the House of Commons voted to abolish the British slave trade. Year after year, voted down, he had not responded bitterly, and this time the other MPs stood and gave three hurrahs as Wilberforce bowed his head and wept at the culmination of his long battle.


Others are cheering in 2007. Washington, D.C. has a Wilberforce Forum, under Chuck Colson’s auspices, and that organization, plus the Trinity Forum, sponsored Wilberforce Weekends last month. A major film biography of Wilberforce, “Amazing Grace,” is scheduled to hit theaters across the United States on the bicentennial, Feb. 23. A documentary, “The Better Hour: William Wilberforce, A Man of Character Who Changed The World,” is scheduled for television broadcast this fall in the United States and the United Kingdom. Members of the state legislature in Alaska have a Clapham Fellowship, named after the British group Wilberforce headed.


Furthermore, John Templeton is funding a national essay contest on Wilberforce for U.S. school kids: It’s scheduled to begin in September 2007 with awards coming in spring 2008. I hope students will learn about Wilberforce’s theology, including his complaint about those who “either overlook or deny the corruption and weakness of human nature. They talk of frailty and infirmity, of petty transgressions, of occasional failings, and of accidental incidents. (They) speak of man as a being who is naturally pure.”


Wilberforce contrasted that view with “the humiliating language of true Christianity. From it we learn that man is an apostate creature. He has fallen from his high, original state. He is indisposed toward the good, and disposed towards evil. He is tainted with sin, not slightly and superficially, but radically, and to the very core of his being. Even though it may be humiliating to acknowledge these things, still this is the biblical account of man.”


His realistic view of man allowed him to deal with many kinds of disappointment. Example: As a young man Wilberforce was one of 40 MPs called the Independents who covenanted “not to accept a plum appointment to political office, a government pension, or the offer of hereditary peerage.” And yet as years went by, only Wilberforce and one other stuck to that resolution. (Sounds like the Republic Revolutionaries of 1994.)


His realism also helped when he faced sharp attacks. James Boswell, famed now for his biography of Samuel Johnson, wrote of Wilberforce, “I hate your little whittling sneer/ Your pert and self-sufficient leer begone, for shame/ Thou dwarf with big resounding name.” (Wilberforce stood only 5 feet tall.) But Wilberforce did not respond in kind. Instead of speaking of his own accomplishments, he often said that one line of prayer summarized his only hope: “God be merciful to me a sinner.”


Wilberforce emphasized teaching about Christianity but not imposing it, and wrote that Christians should “boldly assert the cause of Christ in an age when so many who bear the name of Christian are ashamed of Him. Let them be active, useful, and generous toward others. Let them show moderation and self-denial themselves. Let them be ashamed of idleness. When blessed with wealth, let them withdraw from the competition of vanity and be modest, retiring from ostentation, and not be the slaves of fashion.”


He proceeded boldly but not arrogantly, knowing that he could commend belief but not command it. He stated, “the national difficulties we face result from the decline of religion and morality among us. I must confess equally boldly that my own solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend, not so much on her navies and armies as on the persuasion that she still contains many who love and obey the Gospel of Christ. I believe that their prayers may yet prevail.”






Super Bowl Coaches Advertise Faith Ahead of Big Game (Christian Post, 070202)


This year’s Super Bowl head coaches will appear in a newspaper ad not for their making it to the marquee game, but for their faith in Jesus Christ.


Indianapolis Colts’ coach Tony Dungy, who has long articulated his faith, and Chicago Bears’ Lovie Smith, who just budded into the NFL scene as head coach, will be on a full-page ad in USA Today on Friday. In the ad, the two coaches will say that while they may attain the height of their profession with a Super Bowl victory, their faith in Jesus Christ is still more important, according to Baptist Press.


Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), one of the largest campus ministries in the world, is paying to run the advertisement days before the Colts and the Bears face off on Sunday.


With two men of faith squaring off at Super Bowl XLI, the campus ministry has had more opportunity than previous years to bring faith into play during America’s biggest game this year. The advertisement will feature a photo of the coaches taken at the Super Bowl venue – Dolphin stadium – and the website address and phone number for CCC.


Although Dungy and Smith have made headlines as the first black coaches to reach the NFL championship game, the two coaches have a close friendship that the Miami Herald reported “stems from ... their convictions” as devout Christians. And both, the Herald noted, do not drink or curse, even when at the sidelines of a big game.


“I’m so happy that Lovie got [to the Super Bowl] because he does things the right way,” said Dungy, according to the Miami Herald. “He’s going to get there with a lot of class, no profanity, no intimidation, but just helping his guys play the best that they can.


“That’s the way I try to do it, and I think it’s great that we’re able to show the world not only that African-American coaches can do it, but Christian coaches can do it in a way that, you know, we can still win.”


The Sunday before leaving for Miami, Dungy spent the day at his home church, Northside New Era Baptist Church, prepping for the big game.


“We could not let this get by without your Christian family saying, ‘God bless you. We’re proud of you,’” said the Rev. Clarence C. Moore, according to NBC5, a Chicago news channel.


“I believe he preached the greatest sermon without saying a word by walking in and giving God time before the biggest game of his,” added Moore. “That’s who he is and he expects that of the people around him.”


Dungy will also be headlining the annual Super Bowl Breakfast, hosted by CCC’s Athletes in Action, on Saturday. He was also keynote speaker for the event last year.




Indianapolis Colts Coaches Backed with Faith (Christian Post, 070126)


Coach Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts isn’t the only coach praying on his team as they head into the Super Bowl next weekend. He is joined by assistant coach Clyde Christensen.


And Christensen’s father, Dick, an ordained Evangelical Covenant Church minister, will be backing him and the team in Miami, Fla., from California.


“For as long as I can remember, Clyde has been sports-oriented,” said Christensen’s father, according to the Evangelical Covenant Church. “If we lined up a lot of toys for him to play with, he would always go for a ball.”


The younger Christensen had coached football at the college level for 16 years before Dungy offered him an assistant coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Christensen and Dungy knew each other through Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the largest Christian sport organization in the nation.


Christensen moved to the Colts as wide receivers coach with Dungy six years later.


“Working as a coach in the NFL has been incredibly exciting, challenging and demanding, but it doesn’t compare to the responsibility, effort, and fulfillment of trying to be a top-flight dad,” said Christensen.


Both he and Dungy have been leaders in All Pro Dad, a program of the nonprofit Family First.


Clyde was adopted into the Christensen family shortly after his birth in 1958. His father will be cheering for him from a distance next weekend.


Coach Dungy’s testimony


This is the first time Dungy and Christensen are coaching the Colts in NFL’s marquee game. Dungy and rival coach and close friend Lovie Smith of the Chicago Bears are the first black head coaches to make it to the Super Bowl.


Dungy grew up going to church with his Christian family, he said in a testimony, according to the FCA. But after becoming successful in athletics, Christ ranked low in his list of priorities.


“I wasn’t a bad guy,” Dungy said, “but sports was definitely No. 1, followed by school and family. Christ was way down the list.”


When he signed on with the Steelers in 1977, however, he saw a “different” group of players compared to those he had usually been around.


“They were very focused players who loved football and Jesus,” he said. “Their decisions were based on Christ, because they believed He has the answers for everything.


“They helped me straighten out my priorities and start including Jesus in my life.”


Standing one week away from Super Bowl XLI, Dungy calls the Bible life’s playbook.


“It provides answers to the biggest questions life has,” he stated.


“If we follow the guidance in the Bible, we will be winners in the eyes of God. Success in God’s eyes involves having peace of mind, spiritual victory and an inner happiness that circumstances cannot change.”




Colts’ coach more proud of Christ than ‘blackness’: When asked about social significance of Dungy’s victory, Jesus is answer (WorldNetDaily, 070205)


Super Bowl XLI had been hyped as a major social milestone in U.S. history, since for the time, the head coaches of both teams were black.


But when the game was over and the Indianapolis Colts had defeated the Chicago Bears 29-17, the winning coach said Jesus Christ was more important than any racial moment.


During the nationally televised post-game show on CBS, coach Tony Dungy was asked specifically about the “social significance.”


Jim Nantz of CBS Sports: This is one of those moments, Tony, where there is also social significance in this victory, and to have your hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Tell me what this means to you right now.


Tony Dungy: I’ll tell you what. I’m proud to be representing African-American coaches, to be the first African-American to win this. It means an awful lot to our country. But again, more than anything, I’ve said it before, Lovie Smith and I, not only the first two African-Americans, but Christian coaches showing that you can win doing it the Lord’s way. And we’re more proud of that.


The Associated Press reported Dungy’s comments about God in stories it moved on its wire service, but the Bloomberg News Service only published the portion regarding African-Americans, and edited out the mention of Christian coaches.


Colts’ owner Jim Irsay credited God with the victory as he held the sparkling Vince Lombardi trophy in his hands.


“Now there’s an awful lot of shining glory, even more than last time up here,” Irsay said. “But we’re giving it all to God again because that’s what got us here ... sticking together and believing that we could, and I know God has looked after us on this journey and bonded us into such a tight family.”


Dungy has had a close relationship with Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith since 1996, when Dungy hired Smith to coach linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


“My relationship, first, is with Jesus Christ, and he is the center of my life,” said Smith when asked about his faith earlier this week. “I try to live a Christian life. I would like for players to know my faith based on what they see on a day-to-day basis.”


CBS anchor James Brown, himself a strong believer in Jesus Christ, told the Baptist Press this year’s Super Bowl could be a welcome change in a sport that hasn’t had that many Christian players and announcers in the past.


“Personally, I’m gratified to see that change,” Brown said. “I think their faith is a wonderful example to see and I think both men are sterling examples of what character coaches should be. That’s what we should be promoting.”




Dungy Makes Super Bowl History ‘The Lord’s Way’ (Christian Post, 070205)


Indianapolis Colts’ Tony Dungy made history as the first black coach ever to win the Super Bowl. And taking advantage of the trophy stage, Dungy was more proud to have won the big game “the Lord’s way.”


“I’m proud to be the first African-American coach to win this,” said Dungy during the trophy ceremony Sunday night, according to the Associated Press. “But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord’s way. We’re more proud of that.”


The Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 on a soggy field in Miami, Fla., Sunday. They did it for their coach, whom the players say deserved the win. And Dungy did it without yelling or cursing from the sidelines - a trait that his players have trained with and that opposing coach and close friend Lovie Smith picked when he assisted Dungy on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff.


A day ahead of the game, Dungy headlined the annual faith-based Super Bowl Breakfast, hosted by Athletes in Action. A record crowd of 2,500 people witnessed Dungy speak as the first-ever Super Bowl Coach to appear in person at the breakfast a day before NFL’s marquee game.


Dungy pushed the team’s practices and meetings back to attend the breakfast, he said, according to Baptist Press. There, one of Dungy’s past players, Denver Broncos safety John Lynch, was honored with the Bart Starr award for outstanding character and leadership on and off the field.


The Denver Bronco formed the John Lynch Foundation in August 2000, offering education, athletic-based incentives and other alternatives for young people. Lynch, who had played under Dungy as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, was not surprised that he was the fifth player Dungy coached to win the award, giving credit to the coach’s “character and heart and will.”


“Winning this award is one of the great honors of my career,” said Lynch in a released statement. “We play this game to win championships, but we are also blessed with a platform to make a difference in our communities. To be chosen for this great award is extremely humbling and I’m honored to be in the great company of Bart Starr and the past recipients.”


Also in the running for a Bart Starr award was Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Colts. Although the honor went to Lynch, the quarterback went home MVP after winning the Super Bowl.


Dungy was up against his protégé and fellow believer Smith for the big win on Sunday. Both he and Smith had already made history going into the Super Bowl as the first African American head coaches.


Smith called the event a “perfect stage” for the coaches to confess their faith in Jesus Christ in a video shown at Saturday’s breakfast. Both coaches appeared in a USA Today ad on Friday with a message said, “We’re pro football coaches, but we are also men of faith. A faith that defines who we are. It comforts us in tough times and produces hope in the midst of adversity. It is through our common faith in Jesus Christ that we have individually experienced God’s love and forgiveness.”


When the game ended on Sunday, the two historic coaches hugged midfield. Dungy told his friend how proud he was of the whole moment, according to the Associated Press, and that he appreciates the type of person Smith is and what he has done in Chicago.


“They’re going to get their championship soon,” said Dungy.




Dungy Affirms Opposition to Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ (Christian Post, 070322)


Tony Dungy, the Christian coach of this year’s Super Bowl champions, clearly laid out his position against same-sex “marriage” Tuesday night.


In front of a crowd of 700 at the Indiana Family Institute (IFI)’s banquet, the Indianapolis Colts coach agreed with IFI’s position of defining a marriage as being between a man and a woman.


“I appreciate the stance they’re taking,” he said, according to the Indianapolis Star, “and I embrace that stance.”


Before the awards dinner, several pro-homosexual and gay rights groups had criticized Dungy for attending the event. IFI, which has affiliations with Focus on the Family, has been a major voice in supporting a marriage amendment that is currently in the Indiana House, legally defining marriage as one man and one woman. The gay rights groups felt the professional football coach should stay away from all politics.


“We’re not anti-anything else,” explained Dungy, according to USA Today. “We’re not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we’re trying to promote the family – family values the Lord’s way.”


The coach went on to say that his comments should not be looked at as “gay bashing,” but that everything he said should be looked at from his foundation on faith.


Dungy attended the banquet held in Carmel, Ind., about 20 miles north of Indianapolis, to receive the group’s “Friend of the Family” award. Past recipients include Shirley Dobson, co-founder of Focus on the Family, and former federal independent counsel Kenneth Starr.


During his speech, the night’s honoree said he was not ashamed to be at the event.


“IFI is saying what the Lord says,” explained Dungy, according to USA Today. “You can take that and make your decision on which way you want to be. I’m on the Lord’s side.”


Reactions to his position were mixed.


“It is unfortunate that coach Dungy has chosen to align himself with the Indiana Family Institute,” expressed Bil Browning, managing editor of a blog that focuses on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in Indiana, according to the Indianapolis Star. “The Colts were supported this season by all of their fans – gay and straight.”


Others were not surprised at all.


“I guess I just consider him more in this arena as a man and a father and a man of God, not just a coach,” said Debbie Huskins, who attended the speech, to the Indianapolis Star. “That’s his job, but who he is, is a man of God. And that’s how he was speaking tonight.”


The coach’s football franchise had expressed their neutrality on the issue before the awards ceremony.


“Coach Dungy’s feelings on the importance of marriage and family are well known,” a Colts’ statement said. “He, of course, is free to speak to any group he wishes. The club does not take positions in political issues in which it is not directly involved. The Colts do not endorse any political or religious position taken by any group that any Colts employee decides to speak or lend his or her name to.”


Dungy has received numerous accolades over the past years. Among them, he was notably the first black person to win a Super Bowl this past February. He testified the victory as having been achieved “the Lord’s way.”




When Prayer Stopped Bullets (Christian Post, 070328)


Lane Palmer


So … how is your prayer life?


I don’t know if you remember much that happened in October of 2002, but the people in Washington, D.C., will never forget. For three weeks two men with high powered rifles went on a terrorizing killing spree in and around our nation’s capital that left 10 people dead and three others critically injured. For millions of people, it was a time of paralyzing fear and feelings of terror when just walking out their front door. These two wicked men evaded police and capture seemingly without effort, and it looked as though the nightmare might never end.


And it might not have – until a group of 50 Christian truckers got together and begged God to bring an end to the crimes and death.


One of those truckers was Ron Lantz. He believed that when believers pray, God answers. In fact, his faith was so strong that he told others that God would use him to catch the killers.


A few days later he was driving through the region where the shootings occurred when he felt compelled to pull off the road at a random rest stop. Random to him I guess … but not random to Him – as in God. As Ron surveyed the parking area, right before his eyes was the car that was being described to his ears on the radio by police!


I’m sure Ron’s prayer life got even more active at that point – and so did his quick thinking mind. He called 911, pulled his truck across the exit to prevent possible escape, and waited out for 15 minutes that probably felt like 15 hours. The police arrived, the murderers were apprehended, and the rest is history.


Some might call this story a twist of fate, but I would call it an answer from the Father – wouldn’t you? The power of prayer is often unseen, but it is definitely undeniable.


So … how is your prayer life?


From my experience, a healthy and active prayer life is one of the most difficult areas of the spiritual life for most Christians – which really isn’t a surprise. After all, if you were Satan, what would be the one focus of your attack on believers? Exactly – prayer. As Samuel Chadwick once said: “The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.”


When we stop praying, Satan starts winning. That’s why we are commanded specifically to “pray continually” (I Thessalonians 5:17). The original word in the Greek language for “continually” gives us a word picture of a hacking cough. Ever had a hacking cough? The harder you try to stop it, ignore it, or suppress it, the stronger that little tickle in your throat becomes and you erupt into a coughing fit that sends people running for cover.


Get the picture? Our prayer life isn’t limited to a time, a place, or occasion. It is all the time, in every place, for every occasion – and the harder Satan tries to stop it, ignore it, or suppress it, the stronger it should become. We should be constantly breaking into prayer fits that send the enemy running for cover!


So why do we struggle with a consistent and healthy prayer life? Simple…we don’t really understand prayer. We link “prayer” with “boring” and “useless” – when in reality:


Prayer is coming into the presence of God Himself.

Prayer is taking our concerns to the One who cares for me

Prayer is standing on sacred ground…

Prayer is communicating with the Creator of the universe

Prayer is a child talking to His Father…

Prayer is bringing our hurts to the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…

Prayer is reaching out to our Redeemer…

Prayer is crying out to the rock that is higher than we are…

Prayer is calling out to the only One who can save us…

Prayer is touching the One who loves us with an unfailing & unquenchable love…

Prayer is bringing our questions to the One who has the answers

Prayer is reaching out to the God who is NEVER tired, confused, afraid or taken by surprise

Prayer is connecting our lives with the ALL knowing, ALL present – and ALL powerful KING of kings…

Prayer is coming near to God…*


And that’s just the beginning.


Your prayer life is the key to your relationship with God. Period. When you understand this, your prayer life will be just that… a life. A living existence that breathes through the Holy Spirit and moves to the heartbeat of God. It will be the start and end of your day and the last words on your lips before bed. You’ll take each step in the recognition of God’s presence and power, and you’ll feel the “tickle” in your soul from the Holy Spirit that your Daddy wants to hear from you.


How many lives did the prayers of the Christian truckers save? We’ll probably never know, but I know this, your prayers can change your life and the lives of others in ways you could never imagine.


So … how is your prayer life?




Tony Snow returns to work after cancer: White House Press secretary eager to get back on job (MSNBC, 070430)


WASHINGTON - White House press secretary Tony Snow was back on the job Monday, five weeks after doctors discovered a recurrence of his cancer. He said he would soon undergo chemotherapy “just to make sure we’ve got the thing knocked out.”


Snow, 51, has been on medical leave since undergoing exploratory surgery last month, when doctors discovered that a growth in his abdominal area was cancerous and had metastasized, or spread, to the liver.


Snow started typically early, appearing Monday on the North Lawn of the White House for a series of morning television network news shows, including an interview on “Fox and Friends,” with his former Fox network colleagues.


“I’ve recovered from the surgery, more or less,” Snow said in a CNN interview. “I’ll start doing chemo on Friday. We’ll do it every other week for four months.”


Once a month, Snow said, “We’ll do a maintenance chemo just to make sure we’ve got the thing knocked out and put in remission.”


Snow had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer.


Over the weekend, Snow spoke to students and alumni at Davidson College, from which he graduated in 1977. During an impromptu question-and-answer session there, Snow said he has become closer to God and his family because of the cancer, The Charlotte Observer reported.


“I am actually enjoying everything more than I ever have,” Snow said, according to the newspaper. “God hasn’t promised us tomorrow, but he has promised us eternity.”


Snow is married with three children, 10, 11 and 14.




Tony Snow Says Cancer Has Brought Him Closer to God, Family (Christian Post, 070430)


DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP) - White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, who’ll soon begin chemotherapy for a cancer recurrence, told fellow alumni at Davidson College Saturday that he felt great and plans to return to work on Monday.


“No, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be gray, shriveled and in the fetal position,” he told about 600 alumni and family members at a 30-year reunion. “To my classmates who think I’m going to lose my great hair, forget about it.”


Snow, 51, has been on medical leave following a March 27 announcement that doctors determined a growth in his abdominal area was cancerous and had metastasized, or spread, to the liver.


Snow had his colon removed in 2005 and underwent six months of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with colon cancer.


He graduated from Davidson in 1977. While Snow originally planned just to attend the reunion, Davidson officials said he agreed to speak to students on Friday and alumni on Saturday, The Charlotte Observer reported.


During an impromptu question and answer session Saturday, Snow said he has become closer to God and his family because of the cancer.


“I am actually enjoying everything more than I ever have,” he said. “God hasn’t promised us tomorrow, but He has promised us eternity.”




John Stott Announces Retirement (Christian Post, 070430)


LONDON - World renowned theologian and evangelist the Rev. Dr. John Stott has made the decision to retire from public ministry at the age of 86.


Stott, who has been called by the Rev. Billy Graham as “the most respected clergyman in the world today,” will speak at one last event in July before moving to a retirement community for Anglican clergy, according to an announcement made by Langham Partnership International, the ministry that Stott founded to grow and equip churches around the world.


The decision was made “with the strong belief that it is God’s provision for him at this stage.”


“John Stott would like his many friends around the world to know that, having reached the age of 86 in April, he has taken the decision finally to retire from public ministry after fulfilling one last speaking engagement at the upcoming Keswick Convention in July,” Langham announced in a released statement.


“He will also be moving from his flat in Bridford Mews, London, where he has lived for more than 30 years, to a retirement community for Anglican clergy in the south of England which will be able to provide more fully for his present and future needs.”


While Stott’s retirement means that he no longer intends to engage in public speaking ministry, Langham reassured supporters that Langham Partnership International – or John Stott Ministries, in the United States – is well prepared to continue its work, even after his retirement.


“John will greatly value your prayer for him in the challenges and opportunities involved in this transition,” the ministry stated.


About John Stott


Stott, who was confirmed into the Anglican Church in 1936, has enjoyed working in a wide range of activities and organizations over the past several decades.


He held the position as chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council from 1967 to 1984, and has also been the president of two hugely influential Christian organizations, the UK branches of Scripture Union from 1965 to 1974 and the Evangelical Alliance from 1973 to 1974.


Stott combined his commitment to evangelism and his fostering of future Christian leaders by involving himself in the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, where he was president four times between 1961 and 1982.


He also served as chaplain to the Queen from 1959 to 1991 and received the rare honour of being appointed an Extra Chaplain in 1991.


One of Stott’s major contributions to world evangelization was at the 1974 International Congress on World Evangelization held at Lausanne, Switzerland.


Stott acted as chair of the drafting committee for the Lausanne Covenant, a significant milestone in the evangelical movement. As chair of the Lausanne Theology and Education Group from 1974 to 1981, he contributed strongly to the growing evangelical understanding of the relation between evangelism and social action.


He was again chair of the drafting committee for the Manila Manifesto, a document produced by the second International Congress in 1989.


Stott’s commitment to the renewal of evangelicalism in the worldwide Anglican Church led to his involvement in the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion where he was honorary general secretary from 1960 to 1981, and served as president from 1986 to 1990.


His desire to strengthen ties between evangelical theologians in Europe was a key force in the founding of the Fellowship of European Evangelical Theologians in 1977.


His concern for the world’s poor led to involvement in Tearfund, where he served as president from 1983 to 1997, and also Armonia in Mexico as patron.


He set up the Evangelical Literature Trust in 1971, and in 1974 a bursary fund was established (as part of the then recently formed Langham Trust). The Evangelical Literature Trust and the Langham Trust have now been amalgamated into the Langham Partnership International.


Perhaps Stott’s greatest international contribution has been through his writing. Stott’s best-known work, Basic Christianity, has sold two million copies [KH: a lot more than that] and has been translated into more than 60 languages.


Other titles include The Cross of Christ, Understanding the Bible, The Contemporary Christian, Evangelical Truth, Issues Facing Christians Today, The Incomparable Christ, eight volumes in The Bible Speaks Today series of New Testament expositions, and most recently Why I Am a Christian.




Rev. Jerry Falwell Dies Suddenly at 73 (NewsMax, 070515)


LYNCHBURG, Va. — The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the television evangelist who founded the Moral Majority and used it to mold the religious right into a political force, died Tuesday shortly after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University. He was 73.


Ron Godwin, the university’s executive vice president, said Falwell was found unresponsive late Tuesday morning and taken to Lynchburg General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later.


“I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast,” Godwin said. “He went to his office, I went to mine, and they found him unresponsive.”


Dr. Carl Moore, Falwell’s physician, said the evangelist had a heart rhythm abnormality. He said Falwell was found without a pulse and never regained consciousness.


Falwell had made careful preparations for a transition of his leadership to his two sons, Jerry Falwell, Jr., now vice-chancellor of Liberty University, and Jonathan Falwell, executive the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church.


One daughter, Jeannie Falwell Savas, Surgeon, Richmond, Va. Godwin said. “He has left instructions for those of us who had to carry on, and we will be faithful to that charge,” Godwin said.


Falwell had survived two serious health scares in early 2005. He was hospitalized for two weeks with what was described as a viral infection, then was hospitalized again a few weeks later after going into respiratory arrest. Later that year, doctors found a 70 percent blockage in an artery, which they opened with stents.


“Jerry has been a tower of strength on many of the moral issues which have confronted our nation,” fellow evangelist Pat Robertson said Tuesday.


Falwell credited his Moral Majority with getting millions of conservative voters registered, electing Ronald Reagan and giving Republicans Senate control in 1980.


“I shudder to think where the country would be right now if the religious right had not evolved,” Falwell said when he stepped down as Moral Majority president in 1987.


The fundamentalist church that Falwell started in an abandoned bottling plant in 1956 grew into a religious empire that included the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, the “Old Time Gospel Hour” carried on television stations around the country and 7,700-student Liberty University, which began as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971. He built Christian elementary schools, homes for unwed mothers and a home for alcoholics.


Liberty University’s commencement is scheduled for Saturday, with former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as the featured speaker.


Sen. John McCain, the school commencement speaker last year, said Tuesday that his prayers were with Falwell’s family.


“Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country,” McCain said.


Last year, Falwell marked the 50th anniversary of his church and spoke out on stem cell research, saying he sympathized with people with medical problems, but that any medical research must pass a three-part test: “Is it ethically correct? Is it biblically correct? Is it morally correct?”


Falwell had once opposed mixing preaching with politics, but he changed his view and in 1979, founded the Moral Majority. The political lobbying organization grew to 6.5 million members and raised $69 million as it supported conservative politicians and campaigned against abortion, homosexuality, pornography and bans on school prayer.


Falwell became the face of the religious right, appearing on national magazine covers and on television talk shows. In 1983, U.S. News & World Report named him one of 25 most influential people in America.


In 1984, he sued Hustler magazine for $45 million, charging that he was libeled by an ad parody depicting him as an incestuous drunkard. A federal jury found the fake ad did not libel him, but awarded him $200,000 for emotional distress. That verdict was overturned, however, in a landmark 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision that held that even pornographic spoofs about a public figure enjoy First Amendment protection.


The case was depicted in the 1996 movie “The People v. Larry Flynt.”


With Falwell’s high profile came frequent criticism, even from fellow ministers. The Rev. Billy Graham once rebuked him for political sermonizing on “non-moral issues.”


Falwell quit the Moral Majority in 1987, saying he was tired of being “a lightning rod” and wanted to devote his time to his ministry and Liberty University. But he remained outspoken and continued to draw criticism for his remarks.


Days after Sept. 11, 2001, Falwell essentially blamed feminists, gays, lesbians and liberal groups for bringing on the terrorist attacks. He later apologized.


In 1999, he told an evangelical conference that the Antichrist was a male Jew who was probably already alive. Falwell later apologized for the remark but not for holding the belief. A month later, his National Liberty Journal warned parents that Tinky Winky, a purple, purse-toting character on television’s “Teletubbies” show, was a gay role model and morally damaging to children.


Falwell was re-energized after family values proved important in the 2004 presidential election. He formed the Faith and Values Coalition as the “21st Century resurrection of the Moral Majority,” to seek anti-abortion judges, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and more conservative elected officials.


The big, blue-eyed preacher with a booming voice started his independent Baptist church with 35 members. From his living room, he began broadcasting his message of salvation and raising the donations that helped his ministry grow.


“He was one of the first to come up with ways to use television to expand his ministry,” said Robert Alley, a retired University of Richmond religion professor who studied and criticized Falwell’s career.


In 1987, Falwell took over the PTL (Praise the Lord) ministry in South Carolina after Jim Bakker’s troubles. Falwell slid fully clothed down a theme park water slide after donors met his fund-raising goal to help rescue the rival ministry. He gave it up seven months later after learning the depth of PTL’s financial problems.


Largely because of the Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart scandals, donations to Falwell’s ministry dropped from $135 million in 1986 to less than $100 million the following year. Hundreds of workers were laid off and viewers of his television show dwindled.


Liberty University was $73 million in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy, and his “Old Time Gospel Hour” was $16 million in debt.


By the mid-1990s, two local businessmen with long ties to Falwell began overseeing the finances and helped get companies to forgive debts or write them off as losses.


Falwell devoted much of his time keeping his university afloat. He dreamed that Liberty would grow to 50,000 students and be to fundamentalist Christians what Notre Dame is to Roman Catholics and Brigham Young University is to Mormons. He was an avid sports fan who arrived at Liberty basketball games to the cheers of students.


Falwell’s father and his grandfather were militant atheists, he wrote in his autobiography. He said his father made a fortune off his businesses _ including bootlegging during Prohibition.


As a student, Falwell was a star athlete and a prankster who was barred from giving his high school valedictorian’s speech after he was caught using counterfeit lunch tickets his senior year.


He ran with a gang of juvenile delinquents before becoming a born-again Christian at age 19. He turned down an offer to play professional baseball and transferred from Lynchburg College to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo.


“My heart was burning to serve Christ,” he once said in an interview. “I knew nothing would ever be the same again.”


The day before he died, Falwell had been up on the Liberty campus hillside chatting with students, Godwin said. He was talking about plans for the future that day and over breakfast Tuesday morning, he said.


“Dr. Falwell was a giant of faith and a visionary leader,” Godwin said. He “has always been a man of great optimism and great faith.”


Falwell is survived by his wife, Macel, and three children, Jerry, Jonathan and Jeannie.




Jerry Falwell Told Followers He Was at Peace With Death (Foxnews, 070516)

[KH: What a blessed way to return home!]


LYNCHBURG, Va. —  Spiritually, the Rev. Jerry Falwell seemed prepared for his passing.


A little more than two weeks ago, the founder of the Moral Majority preached of man being indestructible until he has finished God’s work, then told churchgoers he was at peace with death.


On the day before he died, Falwell called his son and asked him to take a drive up the mountain that overlooks Liberty University, where he posed for pictures near a new, massive “LU” logo with students from the school he built.


“He said he was feeling better than he’d felt in awhile,” Jerry Falwell Jr. said. “He’d been feeling kind of tired in the past two weeks.”


On Tuesday morning, the 73-year-old Falwell was discovered without a pulse in his office at Liberty and pronounced dead at a hospital about an hour later. Dr. Carl Moore, Falwell’s physician, said he had a heart condition and presumably died of a heart rhythm abnormality. His funeral was set for Tuesday.


The big, blue-eyed preacher with a booming voice used the power of television to found the Moral Majority and turn the Christian right into a mighty force in American politics.


The rise of Christian conservatism made Falwell perhaps the most recognizable figure on the evangelical right. The Moral Majority’s condemnation of homosexuality, abortion and pornography was praised in some circles and reviled in others.


Over the years, Falwell waged a landmark libel case against Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt over a raunchy parody ad, and created a furor in 1999 when one of his publications suggested that the purse-carrying “Teletubbies” character Tinky Winky was gay.


Driven into politics by the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established the right to an abortion, Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979. He credited the conservative lobbying group with getting millions of like-minded people to vote, and one of its greatest triumphs came when Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980.


“I shudder to think where the country would be right now if the religious right had not evolved,” he said when he stepped down as Moral Majority president in 1987.


Falwell was both a businessman and a preacher, roles that each of his sons embody. He had made careful preparations for a transition of his leadership to Jerry Jr., vice chancellor of Liberty University, and Jonathan, executive pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church.


But neither is involved in politics, an area where Falwell’s influence had declined in recent years. He was quietly led in and out of the Republican Party’s 2004 national convention. Just four years earlier, he was invited to pray from the rostrum.


Nonetheless, his political impact was monumental.


“Jerry was the seminal figure in bringing evangelical and fundamentalist Christians out of the catacombs and energizing them into a political voting bloc that helped elect Ronald Reagan twice and was responsible for a lot of Republican success after that,” said Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist and vice president of the Moral Majority from 1980-85.


Fellow TV evangelist Pat Robertson, a one-time Republican candidate for president, declared Falwell “a tower of strength on many of the moral issues which have confronted our nation.”


Others remembered the fundamentalist preacher for being divisive.


Matt Foreman, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, extended condolences to those close to Falwell, but added: “Unfortunately, we will always remember him as a founder and leader of America’s anti-gay industry, someone who exacerbated the nation’s appalling response to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, someone who demonized and vilified us for political gain and someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation.”


In recent years, Falwell had become a problematic figure for the GOP. His remarks a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, essentially blaming feminists, gays and liberals for bringing on the terrorist attacks, drew a rebuke from the White House, and he apologized.


Falwell, who started a fundamentalist church in an abandoned bottling plant in Lynchburg in 1956 with just 35 members, built it into a religious empire that included the 24,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, the “Old Time Gospel Hour” carried on TV stations around the country, and 9,600-student Liberty University, which he founded in 1971 as Lynchburg Baptist College.


From his living room, he broadcast his message of salvation and raised the donations that helped his ministry grow.


The Moral Majority grew to 6.5 million members and raised $69 million as it supported conservative politicians and railed against liberal social issues.


In 1983, U.S. News & World Report named Falwell one of the 25 most influential people in America.


With his high profile came frequent criticism, even from fellow ministers. The Rev. Billy Graham once rebuked him for political sermonizing on “non-moral issues.”


Falwell quit the Moral Majority in 1987, saying he was tired of being “a lightning rod” and wanted to devote his time to his ministry and Liberty University. But he remained outspoken and continued to draw criticism for his remarks.


In 1999, he told an evangelical conference that the Antichrist was a male Jew who was probably already alive. Falwell later apologized for the remark but not for holding the belief. A month later, his National Liberty Journal warned parents that Tinky Winky, the children’s TV character, was a gay role model and morally damaging to children.


Falwell was re-energized after family values proved important in the 2004 presidential election. He formed the Faith and Values Coalition as the “21st Century resurrection of the Moral Majority,” to seek anti-abortion judges, a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, and more conservative elected officials.


Falwell dreamed that Liberty would grow to 50,000 students and be to fundamentalist Christians what the University of Notre Dame is to Roman Catholics and Brigham Young University is to Mormons.


As a student, Falwell was a star athlete and prankster who was barred from giving his high school valedictorian’s speech after he was caught using counterfeit lunch tickets.


He ran with a gang of juvenile delinquents before becoming a born-again Christian at 19. He turned down an offer to play professional baseball and transferred from Lynchburg College to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo.


“My heart was burning to serve Christ,” he once said in an interview. “I knew nothing would ever be the same again.”




The Moral Majority of the Story: Jerry Falwell remembered. (National Review Online, 070516)


An NRO Symposium


Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University and the Moral Majority, died on Tuesday at age 73. National Review Online asked a group of political observers to reflect on his political impact.


Richard Brookhiser

Garry Wills wrote that educated America periodically rediscovers the existence of millions of pious Americans. For the first 25 years of my life, most people like myself thought that the Scopes trial had settled the hash of evangelicals. Inherit the Wind was a staple of high-school drama departments, right up there with The Fantasticks and The Crucible. The hip might have taken a Camille Paglia view, the Orientalism of the American south — holy rolling as the fecund soil of Jerry Lee Lewis. Negroes could sing and pray, but that was all right, because they were Numinous. Not white folk. Jerry Falwell said: Wait a second.


How the nations raged. Bart Giamatti, president of Yale, a decent and (for his station) conservative man, treated Falwell far more harshly than Yale would later treat its Taliban student. Then along came Pat Robertson. More apoplexy.


They weren’t always on the side of the angels. The religious Right became a movement, then an establishment, with all the ills that form of success is heir to. There was also a viciousness to intra-religious Right politicking which was as bad as Tammany knee-groining: the charges that flew from and towards the Robertson campaign during the 1988 Iowa caucuses were particularly revolting; poor Mitt Romney ain’t seen nothing. Robertson also put his name to a lunatic book of anti-Masonic conspiracy theories, straight out of the Illuminatus trilogy. When I once asked Ralph Reed about it, he smiled and said Pat probably never read it.


By then, Jerry Falwell was an emeritus eminence. I first heard him preach late in the game, in the late 80s, and wrote about it in The Way of the WASP. He said the most important thing in his life was to be a planter of evangelical churches. He seemed to mean it. R.I.P.


— Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and author of What Would the Founders Do?: Our Questions, Their Answers.


Michael Cromartie

For the first 45 years of his life, the Rev. Jerry Falwell believed what the majority of fundamentalist Protestants believed about political activism and public involvement: He was adamantly against it. In the 1960s he preached against the active involvement of Christian ministers in the civil-rights movement, specifically speaking out against the Rev. Martin Luther King’s peaceful demonstrations. Years later, he recanted and repented of those views and said so from his pulpit.


When he founded the Moral Majority as an ecumenical and inter-religious effort to mobilize religious conservatives to become politically active, he received public criticism from people on the political Left and, surprising too many, from fellow fundamentalists who thought such political efforts were a form of the social gospel (one fundamentalist leader called Falwell a “tool of Satan” for setting up such a political organization).


Falwell mobilized millions of here-to-for apolitical fundamentalists to become more active in civic life and public policy disputes and his work deserves much credit for the political victories of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984. His movement was a “defensive offensive” (Nathan Glazer’s term) against Supreme Court decisions, especially Roe v. Wade, that caused Falwell, and other fundamentalists leaders, to reconsider their former negative view of politics.


American politics has never been the same and the ongoing influence of religious conservatives will remain a powerful (if often overstated) force in our public life.


Whether one agrees or disagrees with Falwell’s theology, politics, style, or tactics, the work he began in the late 70s has kept many moral and social issues of great consequence at the forefront of our public conversation. And that is not a small accomplishment.


— Michael Cromartie is vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.


Lee Edwards

Until Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, the Christian Right had ceded the political realm to the Christian Left, as represented by the National Council of Churches and similar groups. With the emergence of the Moral Majority and its successors such as the Christian Coalition, the Christian Right became a major player in American politics. It helped defeat a dozen liberal Democrats in Senate races in 1978 and 1980, helped Ronald Reagan win a landslide victory in 1980, and provided the essential ground troops for conservative candidates over the next quarter of a century. Reverend Falwell was certainly a man of God, but he was also an organizational genius whose political legacy will be with us for years to come.


— Lee Edwards, distinguished fellow in conservative thought at the Heritage Foundation, is the author of many books about American conservatism, including the first political biography of Ronald Reagan.


Ed Feulner

A man of deep faith, the Rev. Dr. Jerry Falwell was an unapologetic spokesman for the Judeo-Christian values on which America is based.


He was steadfast in his religious beliefs, and steadfast in his view that every American owes it to future generations to get involved in the public arena. Yet this steadfast man was always willing to listen and to learn — and, where appropriate, to humbly confess error.


In the political realm, he will be most remembered for his role in founding the Moral Majority — the organization that galvanized evangelicals into political action in the late 1970s and helped Ronald Reagan win a landslide victory in the 1980 election.


A founding father of the religious Right, his success in encouraging millions of Americans to engage in political action will be a major part of his legacy.


— Ed Feulner is the president of the Heritage Foundation.


Paul Kengor

Like or dislike him, love him or hate him, it will be hard to imagine not having Jerry Falwell around. Maybe we should borrow from Richard Nixon? The Left should be quite saddened by this, because it won’t have old Falwell to kick around anymore.


Not to say that he never deserved criticism, but the Left was very unfair to the man, turning him into a handy caricature. I learned early on to always double check any news story on the guy. I often found that what was reported was actually quite different from what he really said or meant. Of course, he was such a lightning rod, and was never afraid to leap into the most sensitive, controversial battles.


That said, here is something that will not be acknowledged in obituaries and hit pieces that try to frame him as a theocrat: Falwell and many of those in the Moral Majority got involved in politics not because they were sticking their nose where it didn’t belong but because they saw what happened to the culture and to their country when they were not involved in politics. Falwell was a reaction, a response to the nation’s moral drift in the 1960s and beyond. Many of those who followed him, like Pat Robertson, had been committed Democrats. They saw the Republican party, beginning primarily under Reagan in the 1980s, as the only home for them, especially on moral issues like abortion. They agreed with Reagan that the Democratic party left them, not that they had left the Democratic party. And it was once Falwell and his followers identified so strongly with the Republican party that they forever made themselves enemies of the secular Left that dominates our media and culture.


— Paul Kengor is author of The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism and associate professor of political science at Grove City College in Grove City, Pa. He is also director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.


John J. Miller

Many obituarists will call Jerry Falwell divisive. I don’t have a strong opinion on the subject. But I did interview him once, last fall, for a National Review article about evangelicals and Mitt Romney. In our conversation, Falwell emphasized inclusion: “We’re not electing a Sunday-school teacher, we’re electing a president.” Polls suggest that many Americans, on both the Right and the Left, aren’t so open-minded about the possibility of a Mormon in the White House. On this question, at least, Falwell was a voice of tolerance.


— John J. Miller is national political reporter for National Review and the author, most recently, of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


Fr. Richard John Neuhaus

He exulted in the role of the country cousin, and leader of other country cousins, who crashed the national family reunion. In the mid-Seventies Jimmy Carter announced that he was an “evangelical,” prompting reporters to query the experts about a species that was supposed to have been extinguished, or at least held in captivity somewhere down south, following the “monkey trial” of 1925. After Carter’s election, many, if not most, evangelicals quickly discovered that he was not an evangelical the way that they were evangelicals. They were still strangers in their own land and, like Howard Beale of Network, they were not going to take it anymore. Thus was launched the “religious Right,” and in its front ranks the unabashedly boisterous Rev. Falwell delightedly playing to stereotype. He had other notable achievements, of course. He was pastor of a megachurch, and then there is Liberty University, which is nothing to sniff at, although that has not stopped the sniffing. In American histories rightly told he will be more than a footnote. As much as anyone, he precipitated a reconfiguration of our public life whereby democracy has been reinvigorated by the inclusion of millions of citizens determined to have a say in how we order our life together. May he rest in peace where the sounds of battle are no more.


— Fr. Richard John Neuhaus is editor-in-chief of First Things .


Ralph Reed

Jerry Falwell was one of the most historic religious and political figures of the 20th century. He transformed the life of our nation, even as he never wavered from his first love and calling, which was to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. When he founded the Thomas Road Baptist Church in 1957, fundamentalism was in the mid-throes of a half-century of withdrawal from American civic life, a self-imposed exile that had begun with the Scopes Trial of 1925. As arguably the leading fundamentalist pastor in the nation, he organized a network of independent Baptists and fundamentalists into a formidable force, moving fundamentalism back into the mainstream of American religious culture. The “fundamentals” of the Christian faith that he preached from the pulpit — the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth, the substitutionary atonement, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the imminent return of Christ — came to heavily influence a movement back to orthodoxy within American Protestantism, most dramatically represented by the return of the Southern Baptist Convention to its conservative roots. This, along with a return to orthodoxy among pro-life, observant Catholics (especially under the papacy of John Paul II, which began in 1978), marked perhaps the two most important changes in religious life in the United States in the last half century.


Falwell’s liberal critics saw him only through the prism of secularism, and so they never grasped what a groundbreaking progressive he was within fundamentalism. He insisted that the Moral Majority work with Catholics, Jews, charismatic Protestants, and Mormons, who were anathema to some of his fundamentalist colleagues. But this break with the separatist, isolationist past of fundamentalism was critical to building cooperation across denominational and doctrinal lines in the pro-family movement. It is one of his most significant and lasting achievements. His support for Israel and his work with the Jewish community were legendary. Today, there is much talk about whether the pro-family community should work on a narrow band of issues such as abortion and protecting marriage, or whether it should broaden its concerns to include foreign policy and other domestic issues. Dr. Falwell grasped from the creation of the movement that the values of social conservatism spoke to every area of public policy, including foreign affairs and defense. He was a staunch anti-Communist, a strong supporter of Israel, and a believer in religious liberty around the world.


When he founded the Moral Majority in 1979, he awakened the slumbering giant of the evangelical vote. The marriage of that vote to an ascendant, confident Republican party is among the most important political demographic changes of the last century. One could see the shadow of his presence on the stage at the South Carolina Republican presidential debate last night in Columbia, as the ten aspirants for the GOP nomination sought to connect with the evangelical voters who will decide the outcome of that primary, and probably the Republican presidential contest. The Republican majority that exists in states like South Carolina and other states across the south and midwest would have been unthinkable without the voters that Falwell helped energize.


Though not without controversy, Jerry Falwell led an enormously consequential life. Few of us who are engaged in politics failed to be touched directly or indirectly by his leadership. Many of us were fortunate to count him as a friend. He will be greatly missed. He was also wise enough to leave no void of leadership, either at his beloved Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church, or at the helm of the pro-family movement he helped to birth. He is gone, but his vital work will go on, often in the hands of those he mentored and inspired, and the American people will continue to hear the clarion call of faith to which he devoted his life.


— Ralph E. Reed Jr. is president of Century Strategies and the former head of the Christian Coalition.


Gleaves Whitney

He turned Tinky Winky into an icon of the gay agenda; blamed 9/11 on the sins of abortionists, pagans, and feminists; compared Hillary Clinton’s electoral appeal to that of Lucifer; and claimed the antichrist was already among us — in the form of an adult male Jew.


Quite a lightning rod, the author of those utterances. Because Jerry Falwell was a founding father of the Christian Right, it was always easy to depict him on the margins of American politics and culture. But his impact was hardly marginal. An empire builder in the great American tradition, he rose from a hardscrabble youth to become one of the moguls of our cultural commons.


Falwell’s impact was based, first, on staggering organizational ambition, whether in religion, education, or politics. His church counts 24,000 members; his university more than 20,000 students; and the Moral Majority, in its heyday, some 100,000 clergy and seven million laypeople unified in “a pro-life, pro-family, pro-Israel, and pro-strong national defense lobbying organization.” That effort was to insure Ronald Reagan’s victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. (Falwell could also plausibly claim that his followers made the difference in 2004 with the reelection of George W. Bush.)


Falwell’s impact was also due to a consuming passion for mass media, which enabled him to magnify the message and multiply the messengers. Within weeks of founding his new church in 1956, he launched a daily

radio and weekly television ministry that eventually reached every habitable continent. One of the pioneers of televangelism, Falwell claimed his ministries “saved” more than three million souls. He also frequently appeared as a commentator on news shows because of a talent for outraging liberal critics. Beyond the polarizing sound bites, his achievement was to flex the religious muscle in the public arena.


Falwell’s achievement is the more remarkable when set in the broader context of fundamentalism’s tension with American culture. Fundamentalists had been in the wilderness for a half century, ever since the Scopes Trial (1925). Roe v. Wade was the transforming event. A handful of televangelists, including Falwell, successfully lured white fundamentalists back into the public arena and specifically into the Republican fold in the 1970s and ‘80s (a political shift as significant as FDR’s success in luring blacks into the Democratic Party in the 1930s and ‘40s). The 2008 election — the first open election for president since 1952 — will suggest whether the marriage between fundamentalists and Republicans will last or end in estrangement.


— Gleaves Whitney is director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University.




Falwell leaves legacy for 21st century: Key figure in ‘religious right,’ trainer of new generation (WorldNetDaily, 070515)


Rev. Jerry Falwell’s legacy will continue long into the 21st century, not only as the launcher of a movement bringing evangelical and fundamentalist Christians into the political sphere but as the founder of a university he hoped one day would become a “Protestant Notre Dame.”


Falwell, a WND columnist, died yesterday at age 73 after being found unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where he served as chancellor.


Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979 to support lawmakers who opposed abortion, homosexuality, pornography and bans on school prayer. The organization grew to 6.5 million members before he stepped down as president in 1987. He credited it with registering millions of conservative voters that helped elect Ronald Reagan and give Republicans control of the Senate in 1980.


“I shudder to think where the country would be right now if the religious right had not evolved,” Falwell said he resigned from the group.


Falwell launched an independent Baptist church in 1956 with 35 people that grew into the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church. His “Old Time Gospel Hour” television show was carried on stations nationwide. He founded Lynchburg Baptist College in Lynchburg in 1971, which became Liberty University. The school now has 7,700 students.


Never known to be shy about voicing his opinion, Falwell’s public remarks often stirred controversy.


As WND reported in 2002, a leading Islamic group in Canada prepared legal action under the country’s hate-crimes laws against the broadcast of Falwell’s assertion “Muhammad is a terrorist.”


On a “60 Minutes” broadcast, Falwell told CBS interviewer Bob Simon: “I think Muhammad was a terrorist. I read enough, by both Muslims and non-Muslims, [to decide] that he was a violent man, a man of war.”


Falwell told WND just before the interview was aired that his intent was not to attack Muhammad.


“I have avoided that. But [Simon] was pressing me on the issue of Muhammad’s behavior, his involvement in war, and I simply said what I do believe, that Muhammad is not a good example for most Muslim people.”


Born Aug. 11, 1933 in Lynchburg, Va., Falwell excelled in school, graduating at the top of his high school class and enjoying recognition as a stellar athlete.


He became a Christian during his sophomore year at Lynchburg College, where he intended to earn a degree in mechanical engineering.


He turned down an offer to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, and, about the same time, transferred to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo.


In 1956, after graduation, he established the Thomas Road church and began broadcasting a daily radio program.


The “Old Time Gospel Hour” television program began just six months later. In 1971, the program began airing nationwide, the same year Falwell established the college.


Falwell, like most fundamentalist leaders, believed it was wrong to mix politics and religion, but in the late 1970s he began speaking out on moral issues related to public policy, such as abortion and homosexuality. He also opposed the Equal Rights Amendment and pressed for prayer in school.


After forming the Moral Majority in 1979 he soon saw the values of millions of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians adopted as policy positions by the Republican Party.


Along with its political activity, the Moral Majority drew notice for a boycott of 7-Eleven convenience stores that convinced the chain to stop selling the pornographic magazines Playboy, Penthouse and Forum.


In a high profile case, Falwell won a lawsuit against Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt in 1984, charging he had been libeled by a cartoon depicting him as an incestuous drunk. The libel charge was rejected by the jury, but Falwell was awarded $200,000 for “emotional distress.” The decision was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1988, however, which ruled public figures are not protected against “outrageous” statements of opinion.


Falwell stepped down from the Moral Majority in 1987 and disbanded it in 1989. He remained, however, an outspoken figure until his death.


In the 1997, critics slammed Falwell for urging advertisers to pull commercials from the television show “Ellen” after it was reported the lead character would announce she was a lesbian.


Two years later, the spotlight was on him when his National Liberty Journal warned parents the purse-toting “Teletubbies” character Tinky Winky was a homosexual role model that posed a moral threat to children.


Falwell drew scorn after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks when he said abortionists, feminists, gays and others “have tried to secularize America ... helped this happen.” He later apologized for having “singled out for blame certain groups of Americans.”


Falwell also spoke out on cultural controversies in recent years, including the Christmas holiday.


“I believe the celebration of Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to honor Christ and share the gospel,” he told WND. “And I plan to celebrate it on the ‘other side.’”


Falwell acknowledged many of the customs associated with the observance are not found in the Bible, but he did not have a problem with that.


“The Christmas tree and Santa Claus don’t bother me,” he said. “If we can use anything to get people under the sound of the gospel, without violating Scripture, it’s a good thing.”


He also addressed the issue of the Sabbath Day, the biblical day of rest.


“The church always met on Sunday throughout the New Testament,” Falwell said. “Saturday is clearly the Sabbath as is recorded many times in the Old Testament. In Christian Church tradition, Sunday became ‘the Lord’s Day’ when Jesus rose from the grave.”


He noted the actual times of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were not universally agreed upon.


“I personally believe he was crucified on Wednesday evening ... and rose after 6 p.m. Saturday evening,” Falwell told WND. “Others believe he died on Friday. ... But the point is, he did rise on Sunday, which, in Jewish tradition, started the evening before at 6 p.m.”




Falwell honored as giant figure in ‘culture war’: ‘He was one of Christendom’s great leaders, who stood by his convictions’ (WorldNetDaily, 070516)


Rev. Jerry Falwell on NBC’s Meet the Press

Republican presidential candidates were among American leaders who hailed Rev. Jerry Falwell as one of the most significant figures of his generation.


Falwell, who had a history of heart problems, died yesterday after he was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University, which he founded in 1971 in Lynchburg, Va.


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he had known Falwell since the mid-1970s and spoke at Liberty University last fall.


“He was one of Christendom’s great leaders who stood by his convictions and never lost his common touch,” Huckabee said. “Many did not know about his sense of humor and compassion for people from all walks of life.”


Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is the scheduled feature speaker at the university’s commencement Saturday.


Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who spoke at last year’s commencement, said his prayers were with Falwell’s family.


“Dr. Falwell was a man of distinguished accomplishment who devoted his life to serving his faith and country,” McCain said.


Another presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said, “An American who built and led a movement based on strong principles and strong faith has left us.”


“He will be greatly missed, but the legacy of his important work will continue through his many ministries where he put his faith into action,” Romney said in a statement. “Ann and I have had the honor to talk and meet with Reverend Falwell and get to know him as a man of deep personal faith and commitment to helping those around him. He will be forever remembered.”


President Bush said he and First Lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened by the death of Jerry Falwell, a man who cherished faith, family, and freedom.”


“As the founder of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, Jerry lived a life of faith and called upon men and women of all backgrounds to believe in God and serve their communities,” the president said in a statement. “One of his lasting contributions was the establishment of Liberty University, where he taught young people to remain true to their convictions and rely upon God’s word throughout each stage of their lives.


“Today, our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Macel and the rest of the Falwell family.”


Evangelist Pat Robertson called Falwell a “tower of strength on many of the moral issues which have confronted our nation.”


Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson, said Falwell’s “passions and convictions changed the course of our country for the better over the last 20 years – and I was proud to call him my friend.”


“It was Jerry who led an entire wing of Christianity, the fundamentalist wing, away from isolation and into a direct confrontation with the culture,” Dobson said. “In the late 1970s, he began making it respectable for Christian pastors to talk from the pulpit about the evil of abortion, simply because he did so on his television program and in his printed communications. Until he led the way, the common response from conservative pastors was to say that abortion is a matter best left to a woman and her doctor.”


Dobson said that because Falwell and his Moral Majority “were the first ones out of the trenches in the culture war, they got shot at repeatedly by the national media and by liberal church leaders.”


“But he always weathered the onslaught, permanently stamping the conservative American church with respectability on social action,” Dobson said.


“It was my honor to share the front lines with him in the battle for righteousness in our nation. We will continue that fight, in his honor, until our mutual goals are achieved.”


Beverly LaHaye, founder and chairman of Concerned Women for America, regarded Falwell as a “long-time dear friend who had a tremendously positive impact on America.”


“His bold leadership helped change the course of evangelical engagement in the public square,” LaHaye said. “Dr. Falwell made big dreams reality – by inspiring millions to political involvement, by dedicating himself to higher education, and most importantly, by fostering Christian outreach to the spiritually and physically needy through Thomas Road Baptist Church and its myriad ministries.”


Richard Thompson, president of the Thomas More Law Center, said he had the “opportunity to meet this human dynamo of Christian leadership on several occasions and I am better for it.”


Thompson said Falwell was a supporter of the Law Center.


“His legacy will continue and it is up to each of us to continue his work in our own way,” Thompson said. “We are left to exude the courage, dignity and religious leadership he taught us.”


Michael Farris, homeschool movement leader and chancellor of Patrick Henry College, said Falwell was “an inspiring leader, a loyal friend and a stalwart champion of that which is right and true and pure.


“He will be missed, but because he devoted so many years of his life to training young people to become champions for Christ, there are thousands that he trained ready to help continue his work and honor his legacy.”


Farris said Falwell’s critics will undoubtedly remind the nation of times when he misspoke or made mistakes.


“But from my vantage point,” Farris said, “he was playing in the major leagues of the public square - the battle for the ideas that shape America. The number of things he got right dwarfs any mistakes.”


Catholic League president Bill Donohue said, “Falwell did more to mobilize evangelicals than any other leader in the nation.”


“He not only inspired them to become active politically, he encouraged them to rethink their positions on a host of issues, especially abortion and school choice,” Donohue added.


Noting Falwell welcomed Catholics into the Moral Majority, Donohue called him “a great fighter in the culture wars.”


“He was both an exemplary evangelical and a renowned social activist, always exuding the kind of moral courage so often lacking in religious leaders of all faiths,” Donohue said. “He will be sorely missed.”


Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, said when “most of the evangelical community was asleep” in the 1970s, Falwell “masterfully integrated Christian ethics and political duty in a way that resonated with evangelicals.”


“As a result, millions of evangelicals entered the political fray with great passion,” Terry said. “The supreme result from these efforts was the election of Ronald Reagan.”


Terry said one of Falwell’s “great gifts was his ability to have an ecumenical political front; fundamentalists, evangelicals, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Jews and biblically sound mainline Protestants work side-by-side for the election of Ronald Reagan, both presidents Bush, and a host of candidates at the local, state and federal level.”


Brian E. Fisher, executive vice president of Coral Ridge Ministries, the broadcast outreach of Dr. D. James Kennedy, said Falwell’s death “has brought to a sudden close the life of one of the most influential Christian leaders of the 20th century.”


Fisher said Kennedy held Falwell “in the highest regard for his Christian witness and moral leadership for the nation.”


“Infectiously good-humored, witty, energetic, and an unapologetic advocate for the return of biblical morality to American life, Dr. Falwell was a true Christian statesman,” Fisher said. “He leaves an enduring legacy of leadership for the Gospel, Christian education, and Christian moral engagement in American public life.”


Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council in Washington, D.C., and chairman of the Committee on Church and Society for the Evangelical Church Alliance, called Falwell a “bold, unapologetic, uncompromising voice for biblical truth that pushed the envelope and challenged secular culture to its limits.”


“He was a great inspiration to younger leaders like myself,” Shenck said. “Jerry Falwell’s legacy will long outlast him, but many of us will miss him as a father in the faith and a religious Dutch uncle.”


Guy Adams, director of ValuesUSA, said Falwell did much for the nation.


“When we needed a man to be on point, Rev. Falwell was there,” he said.


“When we lost our values, he pointed the way. When we looked for a hero, he was already there, working.”


Media Research Center president Brent Bozell said Falwell was a “great leader” who “gave his heart and soul to his family, his faith and his country.”


“His inspiring presence and moral insight will be greatly missed,” Bozell said.


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said Falwell “deserves the thanks of the American Jewish community for his stalwart and incessant support of the state of Israel, its security, and its right to defend itself.”


Boteach said, however, he took exception with Falwell’s view that “only those who believe in Jesus could gain entry into heaven and that Jews, therefore, who lead moral and religious lives but reject a belief in Christ would experience damnation.”


Boteach said Falwell reasserted these views in an interview with WND in 2006, rebutting an published report in the Jerusalem Post that quoted him as saying that Jews without Jesus could be saved.


But the rabbi said that in his debates with Falwell, the minister “remained the consummate Southern gentleman, polite to a fault” and “he will be missed.”




Jerry Falwell’s Mountains (, 070517)


By Marvin Olasky


LYNCHBURG, Va. — Realtor Brenda Phelps likes to point out the sights to those contemplating a move to this city: “There’s Jerry’s church. There’s Jerry’s mountain.” Once, when asked if Jerry Falwell personally owned that land overlooking the city, she said no, Liberty University did — “but it’s Jerry’s mountain.”


Lynchburg, Va., in the Roman tradition, claims to be built on seven hills, and Falwell, who died Tuesday at age 73, was a man of many mountains: the Moral Majority, which grew to 6.5 million members in the 1980s before fading; Liberty University, which now claims almost 10,000 students in residence (with 15,000 more in distance learning programs); and the 22,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church, which he started with 35 members in 1956 in an abandoned Donald Duck Bottling Company plant.


He was also a mountain of a man, with a girth that long put his health in jeopardy, but he remained optimistic about his remaining time in this life. On the phone in March, he told me that he planned to continue as chancellor for another 13 years, until he was 86. In his 1997 autobiography, he wrote that “God may call me home today, and I would have no regrets or complaints, but in my heart of hearts I actually believe that he is going to give me another 20 or 30 years. If you read some day soon that ‘Jerry Falwell has died,’ be assured that I was greatly surprised.”


Last month, during a meeting in his office in Liberty’s administration building, the Carter Glass Mansion, he was clearly enjoying life as he sat in the former home of Sen. Carter Glass, Secretary of the Treasury under Woodrow Wilson, surrounded by plaques and art work (including one depicting Mickey Mantle) that displayed his accomplishments and passions (he was a New York Yankees fan). He discussed his willingness to make provocative statements: He didn’t mean to be harsh, but he wanted to tell the truth, and he had long ago realized that bold speaking would bring press attention to issues that otherwise would be ignored.


His pronouncements about homosexuality, in which he expressed love for sinners but hatred for the sin, were what critics most remembered after he collapsed in that office on Tuesday. Later that day in San Francisco, one demonstrator at Castro and 18th streets, sometimes called “the crossroads of Gay America,” put down a square of Astroturf to represent Falwell’s grave and invited people to dance on it; some did. But others asked for politeness: “Hey man, regardless of your thoughts, the man is dead and a whole community is grieving. Give it some time before you bash.”


Here in Lynchburg, a whole community was grieving. Phelps described how, five days before Falwell died, he handed out diplomas to pre-kindergarten kids at his church’s early learning center. He tapped her grandson on the head with his diploma, hugged others and posed for photos. “It was such a proud thing for us,” Phelps recalled. “How loved he was.”


She also described how in the 1960s she lived near Falwell’s early church building and her father despised the young pastor: “My daddy absolutely could not stand him.” One Sunday churchgoers parked in front of their house, and after that, “my daddy would take kitchen chairs and sit out in the street just so they couldn’t park there. He said to Jerry, ‘You may get all of Lynchburg, but you’ll never get me.’ A couple of years later, Jerry reminded my daddy of that when he baptized him.”


Lynchburg has many stories like that, and Falwell knew about how God changes people, including himself. He admitted in his autobiography that he was once a racist. He at times apologized for over-the-top statements. He repeatedly in recent years said that he was not a fundamentalist. But he persevered in his goal for Liberty University’s football team: “One day in a wheelchair, I plan to be at the 50 yard-line in South Bend when we whip Notre Dame I may be in a coffin, but that’s where we’re headed.”




The legacy of Jerry Falwell (, 070517)


By Cal Thomas


Reverend Jerry Falwell, who died in his office on Tuesday at the age 73, was a seminal figure in the rise of what liberals despairingly called the “Religious Right.” Without him, it is doubtful Christian fundamentalist, Evangelical Christians and conservative Roman Catholics would ever have mobilized into the significant voting bloc that elected Ronald Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush once and the current President Bush.


As a vice president of the Moral Majority from 1980 to 1985, I witnessed the rise of this movement from the inside. It had its positives, including a focus on “moral issues,” such as abortion, same-sex marriage, a strong national defense and the cultural decline of the nation and the registering of many previously inactive people to participate in the political life of their nation. All of these remain hot-button issues.


The movement also had its downside, because it tended to detract from a Christian’s primary responsibility of telling people the “good news” that redemption comes only through Jesus Christ. At times, this central message seemed to be replaced by one suggesting that a shortcut to moral renewal might come through Washington and the Republican Party.


Mainstream media loved the story of Christian conservatives coming out of the political catacombs, because it created controversy. The daily battles between left and right and between the religious and secular sometimes resembled professional wrestling in their intensity and animosity. TV program bookers searched for the most outrageous and extreme people to “debate” Falwell because it brought them high ratings, if not understanding and consensus.


Bill Moyers hosted a TV special in 1980 on which he wondered where these religious conservatives had come from. Most of the media had missed the growing outrage at what conservatives regarded as liberal intrusion into their sacred traditions. The outlawing of prayer in public schools in the early ‘60s had deeply affected them. They had prayed as children and they wondered why the Supreme Court would not allow their children to pray or read the Bible in public schools.


It was the high court’s 1973 abortion ruling, however, that became the tipping point for religious conservatives. Falwell began to preach against abortion and to address what he regarded as a crumbling of America’s moral underpinnings. People who had heard him preach against the danger to the church when it became entangled with politics suddenly began hearing a different message. Falwell, whose most famous sermon on the subject, preached in 1965, was called “Ministers and Marches” in which he opposed Dr. Martin Luther King’s political activism, began to follow King - at least into the political arena. Falwell had credibility with a large number of conservative pastors, because he knew them and because they, too, were concerned about the direction of the country.


The flaw in the movement was the perception that the church had become an appendage to the Republican Party and one more special interest group to be pampered. If one examines the results of the Moral Majority’s agenda, little was accomplished in the political arena and much was lost in the spiritual realm, as many came to believe that to be a Christian meant you also must be “converted” to the Republican Party and adopt the GOP agenda and its tactics.


One had only to look at the history of the religious left to see the danger in a shotgun marriage between church and state. Most liberal theologians long ago gave up preaching about another king and another kingdom in favor of baptizing the earthly agenda of the Democratic Party. That too many conservative Christians followed their liberal opposites into the same error was to their shame and demonstrated they had missed an important lesson.


Jerry Falwell did not fit the stereotype many sought to impose on him. He had a wicked sense of humor and he could be very generous. I once took him to a meeting of inner-city pastors and disadvantaged children in Washington, D.C. One young boy particularly impressed him and Jerry asked the boy to ride with him to the airport. The boy told him he’d like to go to college and Jerry gave him his phone number, saying, “When you graduate from high school, call me. You will have a full scholarship at Liberty University.” The boy’s father cried. So did I.


Jerry liked to say that when he passed away, they’d put “and the beggar died” on his tombstone because he was constantly asking for money. That won’t happen. His legacy will be his university. He once said he wanted it to be like Harvard. All of the rest is “wood, hay and stubble.”




Jerry Falwell — Say Hello To Ronald Reagan! (Ann Coulter, 070516)


No man in the last century better illustrated Jesus’ warning that “All men will hate you because of me” than the Rev. Jerry Falwell, who left this world on Tuesday. Separately, no man better illustrates my warning that it doesn’t pay to be nice to liberals.


Falwell was a perfected Christian. He exuded Christian love for all men, hating sin while loving sinners. This is as opposed to liberals, who just love sinners. Like Christ ministering to prostitutes, Falwell regularly left the safe confines of his church to show up in such benighted venues as CNN.


He was such a good Christian that back when we used to be on TV together during Clinton’s impeachment, I sometimes wanted to say to him, “Step aside, reverend — let the mean girl handle this one.” (Why, that guy probably prayed for Clinton!)


For putting Christ above everything — even the opportunity to make a humiliating joke about Clinton — Falwell is known as “controversial.” Nothing is ever as “controversial” as yammering about Scripture as if, you know, it’s the word of God or something.


From the news coverage of Falwell’s death, I began to suspect his first name was “Whether You Agree With Him or Not.”


Even Falwell’s fans, such as evangelist Billy Graham and former President Bush, kept throwing in the “We didn’t always agree” disclaimer. Did Betty Friedan or Molly Ivins get this many “I didn’t always agree with” qualifiers on their deaths? And when I die, if you didn’t always agree with me, would you mind keeping it to yourself?


Let me be the first to say: I ALWAYS agreed with the Rev. Falwell.


Actually, there was one small item I think Falwell got wrong regarding his statement after 9/11 that “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians — who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle — the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”


First of all, I disagreed with that statement because Falwell neglected to specifically include Teddy Kennedy and “the Reverend” Barry Lynn.


Second, Falwell later stressed that he blamed the terrorists most of all, but I think that clarification was unnecessary. The necessary clarification was to note that God was at least protecting America enough not to allow the terrorists to strike when a Democrat was in the White House.


(If you still think it isn’t Christ whom liberals hate, remember: They hate Falwell even more than they hate me.)


I note that in Falwell’s list of Americans he blamed for ejecting God from public life, only the gays got a qualifier. Falwell referred to gays and lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle.


No Christian minister is going to preach that homosexuality is godly behavior, but Falwell didn’t add any limiting qualifications to his condemnation of feminists, the ACLU or People for the American Way.


There have always been gay people — even in the prelapsarian ‘50s that Jerry Falwell and I would like to return to, when God protected America from everything but ourselves.


What Falwell was referring to are the gay activists — the ones who spit the Eucharist on the floor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, blamed Reagan for AIDS, and keep trying to teach small schoolchildren about “fisting.”


Also the ones who promote the gay lifestyle in a children’s cartoon.


Beginning in early 1998, the news was bristling with stories about a children’s cartoon PBS was importing from Britain that featured a gay cartoon character, Tinky Winky, the purple Teletubbie with a male voice and a red handbag.


People magazine gleefully reported that Teletubbies was “aimed at Telebabies as young as 1 year. But teenage club kids love the products’ kitsch value, and gay men have made the purse-toting Tinky Winky a camp icon.”


In the Nexis archives for 1998 alone, there are dozens and dozens of mentions of Tinky Winky being gay — in periodicals such as Newsweek, The Toronto Star, The Washington Post (twice!), The New York Times and Time magazine (also twice).


In its Jan. 8, 1999, issue, USA Today accused The Washington Post of “outing” Tinky Winky, with a “recent Washington Post In/Out list putting T.W. opposite Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, essentially ‘outing’ the kids’ show character.”


Michael Musto of The Village Voice boasted that Tinky Winky was “out and proud,” noting that it was “a great message to kids — not only that it’s OK to be gay, but the importance of being well accessorized.”


All this appeared before Falwell made his first mention of Tinky Winky.


After one year of the mainstream media laughing at having put one over on stupid bourgeois Americans by promoting a gay cartoon character in a TV show for children, when Falwell criticized the cartoon in February 1999, that same mainstream media howled with derision that Falwell thought a cartoon character could be gay.


Teletubbies producers immediately denounced the suggestion that Tinky Winky was gay — though they admitted that he was once briefly engaged to Liza Minnelli. That’s what you get, reverend, for believing what you read in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time magazine and Newsweek. Of course, Falwell also thought the show “Queer as Folk” was gay, so obviously the man had no credibility.


Despite venomous attacks and overwhelming pressure to adopt the fashionable beliefs of cafe society, Falwell never wavered an inch in acknowledging Jesus before men. Luckily, Jesus’ full sentence, quoted at the beginning of this column is: “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”




Billy Graham: Ruth ‘Close to Going Home to Heaven’ (Christian Post, 070613)


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Ruth Graham, the ailing wife of evangelist Billy Graham, fell into a coma Wednesday morning and appears to be close to death, a family spokesman said.


“She appears to be entering the final stages of life,” said Larry Ross, Graham’s personal spokesman.


The news came the same day Billy Graham said he and Ruth will be buried at the recently dedicated Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. In a statement, Graham said his 87-year-old wife, who has degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and has been bedridden at their home in the mountains of western North Carolina for some time, “is close to going home to heaven.”


“Ruth is my soul mate and best friend, and I cannot imagine living a single day without her by my side,” Graham said. “I am more in love with her today than when we first met over 65 years ago as students at Wheaton College.”


Ross said Ruth Graham was treated two weeks ago for pneumonia and her health temporarily improved before declining because of her weakened condition. Ross said she is being treated at her home outside Asheville, in the town of Montreat.


She celebrated her birthday on Sunday and was alert, Ross said. Billy Graham and four of their children are now at her side. The couple’s youngest child, Ned, is flying in from the West Coast.


“Ruth and I appreciate, more than we can express, the prayers and letters of encouragement we have received from people across the country and around the world,” Graham said.


“Our entire family has been home in recent days and it has meant so much to have them at our side during this time. We love each one of them dearly and thank God for them.”


The site of Graham’s burial had appeared to be the source of some debate within his family. In December, The Washington Post reported that Ned Graham opposed burying his parents at the library. He and other members of the family preferred a burial site at The Cove, a Bible training center near the Grahams’ mountain home.


The paper said evangelist Franklin Graham, who has taken over leadership of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, wanted his parents’ graves to be at the Charlotte museum.


Graham, who is 88 and suffers from fluid on the brain, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and age-related macular degeneration, responded by saying the decision would be his and his wife’s alone.


Ross said the Grahams decided this spring that they would be buried in the library’s prayer garden, at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway — a symbolic decision to demonstrate both their reverence to God and their “ongoing witness of their faith in Christ.”


“This is something the Grahams have been discussing and praying about,” Ross said. “The two things they’ve always agreed on is that they’d be buried together and it’s a decision they’d make on their own. Mr. Graham and Ruth have always known that their final home is in heaven. That’s the important thing.”


Born in Charlotte, Graham traveled the world for decades building a revival-based ministry that reached millions. He later returned to the Charlotte area, which became the home of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.


Graham was in Charlotte last month for the opening of the $27 million, 40,000-square-foot museum and evangelistic library. He looked frail, was brought to the site by golf cart and needed Franklin’s help to reach his seat.


The emotional ceremony had such an air of finality that Graham quipped, “I feel like I’ve been attending my own funeral.”


He told a crowd that included three former U.S. presidents — Clinton, Carter, and George H.W. Bush — that he was embarrassed by the attention and said there was “too much Billy Graham” in the exhibits.


“This building behind me is just a building,” he said then. “It’s an instrument, a tool for the Gospel. The primary thing is the Gospel of Christ.”




Billy Graham’s Wife Ruth Dies at 87 (Christian Post, 070614)


MONTREAT, N.C. (AP) - Ruth Graham, who surrendered dreams of missionary work in Tibet to marry a suitor who became the world’s most renowned evangelist, died Thursday. She was 87. Graham died at 5:05 p.m. at her home at Little Piney Cove, surrounded by her husband and all five of their children, said a statement released by Larry Ross, Billy Graham’s spokesman.


“Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team,” Billy Graham said in a statement. “No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragement and support.


“I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we’ve had in the mountains together. We’ve rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her terribly, and look forward even more to the day I can join her in Heaven.”


Ruth Graham has been bedridden for months with degenerative osteoarthritis of the back and neck and underwent treatment for pneumonia two weeks ago. At her request, and in consultation with her family, she had stopped receiving nutrients through a feeding tube for the last few days, Ross said.


The family plans a private interment ceremony and a public memorial service. Those arrangements had yet to be made on Thursday.


As Mrs. Billy Graham, Ruth Graham could lay claim to being the first lady of evangelical Protestantism, but neither exploited that unique status nor lusted for the limelight.


Behind the scenes, however, Ruth Graham was considered her husband’s closest confidant during his spectacular global career - rivaled only by her father, L. Nelson Bell, until his death in 1973.


Bell, a missionary doctor, headed the Presbyterian hospital in Qingjiang, China, that had been founded by the father of author Pearl Buck. Ruth grew up there and spent three high school years in what’s now North Korea.




Billy Graham Looks Forward to Joining Late Wife (Christian Post, 070618)


The sense of loss of Ruth Graham is beginning to sink in, said the Rev. Billy Graham.

Enlarge this Image

billy ruth graham


“I believe the Lord has brought us to this point; I am looking forward to the day when we’ll have the next service here,” said the 88-year-old evangelist at a private interment Sunday, referring to when he will be buried at his wife’s side.


Ruth Graham was laid to rest at the foot of a cross-shaped walkway in the Prayer Garden at the newly opened Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday. She died on Thursday at the age of 87.


“Ruth was an incredible woman. I wish you could look in her casket because she is so beautiful,” said Billy Graham on Saturday during a public memorial service in Montreat. “I sat there a long time last night looking at her, and I prayed, because I knew she had a great reception in heaven.”


The Grahams were married for almost 64 years and have five children and 19 grandchildren.


Ruth was remembered by family members for her adventurous spirit, wit and motherly and spousal love. But above all, the thousands that gathered for the public funeral said good-bye to “truly a good servant” of Jesus Christ.


“Mama was a lot of fun, but she also believed the Bible, lived the Bible and taught the Bible,” said son Franklin Graham on Saturday.


His sister Anne Graham Lotz shared similar testimony, saying, “She loved our Daddy, but greater was her love for God. She taught us to love our Daddy and to love Jesus.”


Not only was Ruth Graham’s passing mourned by her children, but the entire nation felt the loss of a mother.


“[I]t was almost like being at my mother’s service in 1994; for Ruth Graham was a spiritual mother to all believing Christians,” wrote Bill Gray, a Christian writer, in The Conservative Voice.


Still, her contribution to the world will not be forgotten.


“Ruth Graham was a truly magnificent woman whose strength, courage, and selfless dedication to her husband, her family, and to Jesus Christ benefited our nation and the world,” said a statement by Joel and Victoria Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. “She will be truly missed but not forgotten.”


The impact of Billy Graham and the support of his wife in spreading the message of the Gospel throughout the world have been felt for more than six decades and continues to this day and towards generations ahead through the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Billy Graham Library, which opened June 5.


Even Saturday’s funeral service did not leave out the message of the saving power of Jesus Christ for all to hear.


“No one who attended this service, or who watched on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), can say that they have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ - for they heard it today in this Memorial Service for Ruth Bell Graham,” stated Gray in a commentary.


With a bed of lilies – the Christian symbol for resurrection – adorning Ruth’s casket, Billy Graham kissed a red rose and prayed for several minutes before placing it on the casket on Sunday. The five children followed.


“The Bible says the Lord has prepared a place for us and I know He has prepared a home for her – I hope she saves a room for me,” said Graham of his wife, according to The Associated Press.


The Billy Graham Library reopens Monday when visitors can begin viewing Ruth Graham’s grave site.




Papers Show Isaac Newton’s Religious Side, Predict Date of Apocalypse (Christian Post, 070619)


JERUSALEM (AP) – Three-century-old manuscripts by Isaac Newton calculating the exact date of the apocalypse, detailing the precise dimensions of the ancient temple in Jerusalem and interpreting passages of the Bible – exhibited this week for the first time – lay bare the little-known religious intensity of a man many consider history’s greatest scientist.


Newton, who died 280 years ago, is known for laying much of the groundwork for modern physics, astronomy, math and optics. But in a new Jerusalem exhibit, he appears as a scholar of deep faith who also found time to write on Jewish law – even penning a few phrases in careful Hebrew letters – and combing the Old Testament’s Book of Daniel for clues about the world’s end.


The documents, purchased by a Jewish scholar at a Sotheby’s auction in London in 1936, have been kept in safes at Israel’s national library in Jerusalem since 1969. Available for decades only to a small number of scholars, they have never before been shown to the public.


In one manuscript from the early 1700s, Newton used the cryptic Book of Daniel to calculate the date for the apocalypse, reaching the conclusion that the world would end no earlier than 2060.


“It may end later, but I see no reason for its ending sooner,” Newton wrote. However, he added, “This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail.”


In another document, Newton interpreted biblical prophecies to mean that the Jews would return to the Holy Land before the world ends. The end of days will see “the ruin of the wicked nations, the end of weeping and of all troubles, the return of the Jews captivity and their setting up a flourishing and everlasting Kingdom,” he posited.


The exhibit also includes treatises on daily practice in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In one document, Newton discussed the exact dimensions of the temple – its plans mirrored the arrangement of the cosmos, he believed – and sketched it. Another paper contains words in Hebrew, including a sentence taken from the Jewish prayerbook.


Yemima Ben-Menahem, one of the exhibit’s curators, said the papers show Newton’s conviction that important knowledge was hiding in ancient texts.


“He believed there was wisdom in the world that got lost. He thought it was coded, and that by studying things like the dimensions of the temple, he could decode it,” she said.


The Newton papers, Ben-Menahem said, also complicate the idea that science is diametrically opposed to religion. “These documents show a scientist guided by religious fervor, by a desire to see God’s actions in the world,” she said.


More prosaic documents on display show Newton keeping track of his income and expenses while a scholar at Cambridge and later, as master of the Royal Mint, negotiating with a group of miners from Devon and Cornwall about the price of the tin they supplied to Queen Anne.


The archives of Hebrew University in Jerusalem include a 1940 letter from Albert Einstein to Abraham Shalom Yahuda, the collector who purchased the papers a year earlier.


Newton’s religious writings, Einstein wrote, provide “a variety of sketches and ongoing changes that give us a most interesting look into the mental laboratory of this unique thinker.”




Christian Leaders Weigh in on Mother Teresa’s ‘Crisis of Faith’: Trust God, Not Emotions (Christian Post, 070830)


Letters revealing Mother Teresa’s half-century-long “crisis of faith” have many pondering what to make of the secret life of one of the most revered figures in modern history.


Yet as theologians and psychologists offer interpretations for her deep “darkness,” a preeminent American theologian used Mother Teresa’s struggle to remind believers to trust Christ and not their feelings.


Whether it be an average Christian or a saint, doubts on the existence of God and turmoil over the inability to feel His presence is something every Christian has wrestled with.


Yet more important than dwelling on human emotions is securing one’s faith in Christ, according to Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and is one of the largest seminaries in the world.


“Salvation comes to those who believe in Christ – it is by grace we are saved through faith,” wrote Mohler in an online column Thursday in “On Faith” – a project of The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.


“But the faith that saves is not faith in faith, nor faith in our ability [to] maintain faith, but faith in Christ,” he emphasized. “Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves.”


Mohler was responding to this week’s TIME cover story which explores Mother Teresa’s inner struggles in light of a new book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, which was made public for the first time letters covering a period of 66 years in which she questioned her beliefs and God.


In correspondents to her spiritual confidants, Mother Teresa laments on the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness,” and “torture” she suffers with her inability to feel God’s presence.


A letter to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier in 1953, according to TIME, read: “Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself — for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’”


Another letter in 1956 read: “Such deep longing for God – and…repulsed – empty – no faith – no love – no zeal. – [The saving of] Souls holds no attraction – Heaven means nothing – pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”


Mother Teresa also painfully shared her inability to pray saying she just “utter words” of Community prayers– a confession that came from a woman who once said the Christmas holiday should remind the world “that radiating joy is real” because Christ is everywhere.


Yet despite the “pain and darkness” in her soul, Mother Teresa served tirelessly among the outcasts, the dying and the most abject poor in India. She brought countless sick Indians to her center from slums and gutters to be treated and cared for under the banner of Christ’s love.


“The very essence of faith, you see, is believing even in the absence of evidence,” said Chuck Colson, founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship, in a column Wednesday in response to the TIME article. “And it is the only way we can know Christ.


Colson shared that he experienced his own darkness of soul when a few years back two of his three children were diagnosed with cancer.


“We can conclude rationally that God exists, that His Word is true, and that He has revealed Himself” Colson said. “But without that leap of faith, we will never know God personally or accept His will in Christ.”


It was in the late 1950s when Mother Teresa met a well-known theologian, the Rev. Joseph Neuner, who helped her accept the “darkness” she felt.


Neuner gave her three pieces of counsel – first, there was no human cure for what she had, so she shouldn’t feel personally guilty about it; second, feeling Jesus is not the only evidence of His presence, and the fact that she longed for God is a “sure sign” of his “hidden presence” in her life; and last, the feeling of absence was part of the “spiritual side” of her work for Jesus.


Mother Teresa responded to Neuner in 1961: “I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in ….years – I have come to love the darkness – for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth.”


She later wrote to Neuner, “I accept not in my feelings – but with my will, the Will of God – I accept his will,” according to TIME.


“So what do the letters of Mother Teresa reveal? For one, they reveal the true cost of discipleship,” commented Colson. “To follow Christ is to embrace suffering and the Cross. And, at times, to say with Jesus, ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?’”


Baptist seminary head Mohler said that although he would not “presume to read Mother Teresa’s heart or soul,” he concluded from her story that faith should not be placed on volatile emotions but rather solely in the unchanging God.


“There is a sweet and genuine emotional aspect to the Christian faith, and God made us emotional and feeling creations,” wrote Mohler. “But we cannot trust our feelings. Our faith is not anchored in our feelings, but in the facts of the Gospel.


“Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves. We are weak; He is strong. We fluctuate; He is constant. We cannot trust our feelings nor our emotional state. We trust in Christ. Those who come to Christ by faith are not kept unto Him by our faith, but by his faithfulness,” wrote Mohler.


The Catholic Church is considering whether or not to make Mother Teresa a saint and the letters were collected as supporting materials for the process.


Mother Teresa died in 1997, nearly two decades after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.




Mother Teresa Did Not Feel Christ’s Presence for Last Half of Her Life, Letters Reveal (Foxnews, 070824)


Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who has been put on the “fast track” to sainthood, was so tormented by doubts about her faith that she felt “a hypocrite,” it has emerged from a book of her letters to friends and confessors.


Shortly after beginning her work in the slums of Calcutta, she wrote: “Where is my faith? Even deep down there is nothing but emptiness and darkness. If there be a God — please forgive me.”


In letters eight years later she was still expressing “such deep longing for God,” adding that she felt “repulsed, empty, no faith, no love, no zeal.”


Her smile to the world from her familiar weather-beaten face was a “mask” or a “cloak,” she said. “What do I labor for? If there be no God, there can be no soul. If there be no soul then, Jesus, You also are not true.”


Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 and was beatified in record time only six years later, felt abandoned by God from the very start of the work that made her a global figure, in her sandals and blue and white sari. The doubts persisted until her death.


The nun’s crisis of faith was revealed four years ago by the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postutalor or advocate of her cause for sainthood, at the time of her beatification in October 2003. Now he has compiled a new edition of her letters, entitled, “Mother Teresa: Come be My Light,” which reveals the full extent of her long “dark night of the soul.”


“I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,” she wrote at one point. “I want God with all the power of my soul — and yet between us there is terrible separation.” On another occasion she wrote: “I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.”


Rev. Kolodiejchuk maintains that Mother Teresa did not suffer “a real doubt of faith,” but that, on the contrary, her agonizing demonstrates her faith in God’s reality.


“We cannot long for something that is not intimately close to us ... Now we have this new understanding, this new window into her interior life, and for me this seems to be the most heroic,” he said.


The priest said that church authorities had decided to keep her letters even though one of her dying wishes was that they should be destroyed. In one, written to a spiritual adviser, Michael van der Peet, shortly before she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, she wrote that: “Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear. The tongue moves but does not speak.”


The late Pope John Paul II, a great admirer of Mother Teresa, began the process of beatification immediately after her death. This required proof of a miracle cure performed through her intercession, and in 2002 the Vatican recognized as a miracle the healing of a stomach tumor in an Indian woman, Monica Besra, who laid a locket containing Mother Teresa’s picture on her abdomen. A second miracle is required for the nun to proceed to canonisation.




Mother Teresa’s Crisis of Faith (Time, 070823)




Jesus has a very special love for you. As for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.
— Mother Teresa to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet, September 1979

Celebrating the life and work of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Top of Form


Bottom of Form

On Dec. 11, 1979, Mother Teresa, the “Saint of the Gutters,” went to Oslo. Dressed in her signature blue-bordered sari and shod in sandals despite below-zero temperatures, the former Agnes Bojaxhiu received that ultimate worldly accolade, the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance lecture, Teresa, whose Missionaries of Charity had grown from a one-woman folly in Calcutta in 1948 into a global beacon of self-abnegating care, delivered the kind of message the world had come to expect from her. “It is not enough for us to say, ‘I love God, but I do not love my neighbor,’” she said, since in dying on the Cross, God had “[made] himself the hungry one — the naked one — the homeless one.” Jesus’ hunger, she said, is what “you and I must find” and alleviate. She condemned abortion and bemoaned youthful drug addiction in the West. Finally, she suggested that the upcoming Christmas holiday should remind the world “that radiating joy is real” because Christ is everywhere — “Christ in our hearts, Christ in the poor we meet, Christ in the smile we give and in the smile that we receive.”


Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak ... I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.”


The two statements, 11 weeks apart, are extravagantly dissonant. The first is typical of the woman the world thought it knew. The second sounds as though it had wandered in from some 1950s existentialist drama. Together they suggest a startling portrait in self-contradiction — that one of the great human icons of the past 100 years, whose remarkable deeds seemed inextricably connected to her closeness to God and who was routinely observed in silent and seemingly peaceful prayer by her associates as well as the television camera, was living out a very different spiritual reality privately, an arid landscape from which the deity had disappeared.


And in fact, that appears to be the case. A new, innocuously titled book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (Doubleday), consisting primarily of correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of 66 years, provides the spiritual counterpoint to a life known mostly through its works. The letters, many of them preserved against her wishes (she had requested that they be destroyed but was overruled by her church), reveal that for the last nearly half-century of her life she felt no presence of God whatsoever — or, as the book’s compiler and editor, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, writes, “neither in her heart or in the eucharist.”


That absence seems to have started at almost precisely the time she began tending the poor and dying in Calcutta, and — except for a five-week break in 1959 — never abated. Although perpetually cheery in public, the Teresa of the letters lived in a state of deep and abiding spiritual pain. In more than 40 communications, many of which have never before been published, she bemoans the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness” and “torture” she is undergoing. She compares the experience to hell and at one point says it has driven her to doubt the existence of heaven and even of God. She is acutely aware of the discrepancy between her inner state and her public demeanor. “The smile,” she writes, is “a mask” or “a cloak that covers everything.” Similarly, she wonders whether she is engaged in verbal deception. “I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love,” she remarks to an adviser. “If you were [there], you would have said, ‘What hypocrisy.’” Says the Rev. James Martin, an editor at the Jesuit magazine America and the author of My Life with the Saints, a book that dealt with far briefer reports in 2003 of Teresa’s doubts: “I’ve never read a saint’s life where the saint has such an intense spiritual darkness. No one knew she was that tormented.” Recalls Kolodiejchuk, Come Be My Light’s editor: “I read one letter to the Sisters [of Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity], and their mouths just dropped open. It will give a whole new dimension to the way people understand her.”


The book is hardly the work of some antireligious investigative reporter who Dumpster-dived for Teresa’s correspondence. Kolodiejchuk, a senior Missionaries of Charity member, is her postulator, responsible for petitioning for her sainthood and collecting the supporting materials. (Thus far she has been beatified; the next step is canonization.) The letters in the book were gathered as part of that process.


The church anticipates spiritually fallow periods. Indeed, the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross in the 16th century coined the term the “dark night” of the soul to describe a characteristic stage in the growth of some spiritual masters. Teresa’s may be the most extensive such case on record. (The “dark night” of the 18th century mystic St. Paul of the Cross lasted 45 years; he ultimately recovered.) Yet Kolodiejchuk sees it in St. John’s context, as darkness within faith. Teresa found ways, starting in the early 1960s, to live with it and abandoned neither her belief nor her work. Kolodiejchuk produced the book as proof of the faith-filled perseverance that he sees as her most spiritually heroic act.


Two very different Catholics predict that the book will be a landmark. The Rev. Matthew Lamb, chairman of the theology department at the conservative Ave Maria University in Florida, thinks Come Be My Light will eventually rank with St. Augustine’s Confessions and Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain as an autobiography of spiritual ascent. Martin of America, a much more liberal institution, calls the book “a new ministry for Mother Teresa, a written ministry of her interior life,” and says, “It may be remembered as just as important as her ministry to the poor. It would be a ministry to people who had experienced some doubt, some absence of God in their lives. And you know who that is? Everybody. Atheists, doubters, seekers, believers, everyone.”


Not all atheists and doubters will agree. Both Kolodiejchuk and Martin assume that Teresa’s inability to perceive Christ in her life did not mean he wasn’t there. In fact, they see his absence as part of the divine gift that enabled her to do great work. But to the U.S.’s increasingly assertive cadre of atheists, that argument will seem absurd. They will see the book’s Teresa more like the woman in the archetypal country-and-western song who holds a torch for her husband 30 years after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes and never returned. Says Christopher Hitchens, author of The Missionary Position, a scathing polemic on Teresa, and more recently of the atheist manifesto God Is Not Great: “She was no more exempt from the realization that religion is a human fabrication than any other person, and that her attempted cure was more and more professions of faith could only have deepened the pit that she had dug for herself.” Meanwhile, some familiar with the smiling mother’s extraordinary drive may diagnose her condition less as a gift of God than as a subconscious attempt at the most radical kind of humility: she punished herself with a crippling failure to counterbalance her great successes.


Come Be My Light is that rare thing, a posthumous autobiography that could cause a wholesale reconsideration of a major public figure — one way or another. It raises questions about God and faith, the engine behind great achievement, and the persistence of love, divine and human. That it does so not in any organized, intentional form but as a hodgepodge of desperate notes not intended for daylight should leave readers only more convinced that it is authentic — and that they are, somewhat shockingly, touching the true inner life of a modern saint.




Prequel: Near Ecstatic Communion


[Jesus:] Wilt thou refuse to do this for me? ... You have become my Spouse for my love — you have come to India for Me. The thirst you had for souls brought you so far — Are you afraid to take one more step for Your Spouse — for me — for souls? Is your generosity grown cold? Am I a second to you?
[Teresa:] Jesus, my own Jesus — I am only Thine — I am so stupid — I do not know what to say but do with me whatever You wish — as You wish — as long as you wish. [But] why can’t I be a perfect Loreto Nun — here — why can’t I be like everybody else.
[Jesus:] I want Indian Nuns, Missionaries of Charity, who would be my fire of love amongst the poor, the sick, the dying and the little children ... You are I know the most incapable person — weak and sinful but just because you are that — I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?

— in a prayer dialogue recounted to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier, January 1947


On Sept. 10, 1946, after 17 years as a teacher in Calcutta with the Loreto Sisters (an uncloistered, education-oriented community based in Ireland), Mother Mary Teresa, 36, took the 400-mile (645-km) train trip to Darjeeling. She had been working herself sick, and her superiors ordered her to relax during her annual retreat in the Himalayan foothills. On the ride out, she reported, Christ spoke to her. He called her to abandon teaching and work instead in “the slums” of the city, dealing directly with “the poorest of the poor” — the sick, the dying, beggars and street children. “Come, Come, carry Me into the holes of the poor,” he told her. “Come be My light.” The goal was to be both material and evangelistic — as Kolodiejchuk puts it, “to help them live their lives with dignity [and so] encounter God’s infinite love, and having come to know Him, to love and serve Him in return.”


It was wildly audacious — an unfunded, single-handed crusade (Teresa stipulated that she and her nuns would share their beneficiaries’ poverty and started out alone) to provide individualized service to the poorest in a poor city made desperate by riots. The local Archbishop, Ferdinand Périer, was initially skeptical. But her letters to him, preserved, illustrate two linked characteristics — extreme tenacity and a profound personal bond to Christ. When Périer hesitated, Teresa, while calling herself a “little nothing,” bombarded him with notes suggesting that he refer the question to an escalating list of authorities — the local apostolic delegation, her Mother General, the Pope. And when she felt all else had failed, she revealed the spiritual topper: a dramatic (melodramatic, really) dialogue with a “Voice” she eventually revealed to be Christ’s. It ended with Jesus’ emphatic reiteration of his call to her: “You are I know the most incapable person — weak and sinful but just because you are that — I want to use You for My glory. Wilt thou refuse?”


Mother Teresa had visions, including one of herself conversing with Christ on the Cross. Her confessor, Father Celeste Van Exem, was convinced that her mystical experiences were genuine. “[Her] union with Our Lord has been continual and so deep and violent that rapture does not seem very far,” he commented. Teresa later wrote simply, “Jesus gave Himself to me.”


Then on Jan. 6, 1948, Périer, after consulting the Vatican, finally gave permission for Teresa to embark on her second calling. And Jesus took himself away again.




The Onset


Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony.


So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them — because of the blasphemy — If there be God — please forgive me — When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven — there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives & hurt my very soul. — I am told God loves me — and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?
— addressed to Jesus, at the suggestion of a confessor, undated


In the first half of 1948, Teresa took a basic medical course before launching herself alone onto the streets of Calcutta. She wrote, “My soul at present is in perfect peace and joy.” Kolodiejchuk includes her moving description of her first day on the job: “The old man lying on the street — not wanted — all alone just sick and dying — I gave him carborsone and water to drink and the old Man — was so strangely grateful ... Then we went to Taltala Bazaar, and there was a very poor woman dying I think of starvation more than TB ... I gave her something which will help her to sleep. — I wonder how long she will last.” But two months later, shortly after her major triumph of locating a space for her headquarters, Kolodiejchuk’s files find her troubled. “What tortures of loneliness,” she wrote. “I wonder how long will my heart suffer this?” This complaint could be understood as an initial response to solitude and hardship were it not for subsequent letters. The more success Teresa had — and half a year later so many young women had joined her society that she needed to move again — the worse she felt. In March 1953, she wrote Périer, “Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself — for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’”


Périer may have missed the note of desperation. “God guides you, dear Mother,” he answered avuncularly. “You are not so much in the dark as you think ... You have exterior facts enough to see that God blesses your work ... Feelings are not required and often may be misleading.” And yet feelings — or rather, their lack — became her life’s secret torment. How can you assume the lover’s ardor when he no longer grants you his voice, his touch, his very presence? The problem was exacerbated by an inhibition to even describe it. Teresa reported on several occasions inviting a confessor to visit and then being unable to speak. Eventually, one thought to ask her to write the problem down, and she complied. “The more I want him — the less I am wanted,” she wrote Périer in 1955. A year later she sounded desolate: “Such deep longing for God — and ... repulsed — empty — no faith — no love — no zeal. — [The saving of] Souls holds no attraction — Heaven means nothing — pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”


At the suggestion of a confessor, she wrote the agonized plea that begins this section, in which she explored the theological worst-possible-case implications of her dilemma. That letter and another one from 1959 (“What do I labour for? If there be no God — there can be no soul — if there is no Soul then Jesus — You also are not true”) are the only two that sound any note of doubt of God’s existence. But she frequently bemoaned an inability to pray: “I utter words of Community prayers — and try my utmost to get out of every word the sweetness it has to give — But my prayer of union is not there any longer — I no longer pray.”


As the Missionaries of Charity flourished and gradually gained the attention of her church and the world at large, Teresa progressed from confessor to confessor the way some patients move through their psychoanalysts. Van Exem gave way to Périer, who gave way in 1959 to the Rev. (later Cardinal) Lawrence Picachy, who was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Neuner in 1961. By the 1980s the chain included figures such as Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C. For these confessors, she developed a kind of shorthand of pain, referring almost casually to “my darkness” and to Jesus as “the Absent One.” There was one respite. In October 1958, Pope Pius XII died, and requiem Masses were celebrated around the Catholic world. Teresa prayed to the deceased Pope for a “proof that God is pleased with the Society.” And “then and there,” she rejoiced, “disappeared the long darkness ... that strange suffering of 10 years.” Unfortunately, five weeks later she reported being “in the tunnel” once more. And although, as we shall see, she found a way to accept the absence, it never lifted again. Five years after her Nobel, a Jesuit priest in the Calcutta province noted that “Mother came ... to speak about the excruciating night in her soul. It was not a passing phase but had gone on for years.” A 1995 letter discussed her “spiritual dryness.” She died in 1997.




Tell me, Father, why is there so much pain and darkness in my soul?
— to the Rev. Lawrence Picachy, August 1959


Why did Teresa’s communication with Jesus, so vivid and nourishing in the months before the founding of the Missionaries, evaporate so suddenly? Interestingly, secular and religious explanations travel for a while on parallel tracks. Both understand (although only one celebrates) that identification with Christ’s extended suffering on the Cross, undertaken to redeem humanity, is a key aspect of Catholic spirituality. Teresa told her nuns that physical poverty ensured empathy in “giving themselves” to the suffering poor and established a stronger bond with Christ’s redemptive agony. She wrote in 1951 that the Passion was the only aspect of Jesus’ life that she was interested in sharing: “I want to ... drink ONLY [her emphasis] from His chalice of pain.” And so she did, although by all indications not in a way she had expected.


Kolodiejchuk finds divine purpose in the fact that Teresa’s spiritual spigot went dry just as she prevailed over her church’s perceived hesitations and saw a successful way to realize Jesus’ call for her. “She was a very strong personality,” he suggests. “And a strong personality needs stronger purification” as an antidote to pride. As proof that it worked, he cites her written comment after receiving an important prize in the Philippines in the 1960s: “This means nothing to me, because I don’t have Him.”


And yet “the question is, Who determined the abandonment she experienced?” says Dr. Richard Gottlieb, a teacher at the New York Psychoanalytic Society & Institute who has written about the church and who was provided a copy of the book by TIME. “Could she have imposed it on herself?” Psychologists have long recognized that people of a certain personality type are conflicted about their high achievement and find ways to punish themselves. Gottlieb notes that Teresa’s ambitions for her ministry were tremendous. Both he and Kolodiejchuk are fascinated by her statement, “I want to love Jesus as he has never been loved before.” Remarks the priest: “That’s a kind of daring thing to say.” Yet her letters are full of inner conflict about her accomplishments. Rather than simply giving all credit to God, Gottlieb observes, she agonizes incessantly that “any taking credit for her accomplishments — if only internally — is sinful” and hence, perhaps, requires a price to be paid. A mild secular analog, he says, might be an executive who commits a horrific social gaffe at the instant of a crucial promotion. For Teresa, “an occasion for a modicum of joy initiated a significant quantity of misery,” and her subsequent successes led her to perpetuate it.


Gottlieb also suggests that starting her ministry “may have marked a turning point in her relationship with Jesus,” whose urgent claims she was finally in a position to fulfill. Being the active party, he speculates, might have scared her, and in the end, the only way to accomplish great things might have been in the permanent and less risky role of the spurned yet faithful lover.


The atheist position is simpler. In 1948, Hitchens ventures, Teresa finally woke up, although she could not admit it. He likens her to die-hard Western communists late in the cold war: “There was a huge amount of cognitive dissonance,” he says. “They thought, ‘Jesus, the Soviet Union is a failure, [but] I’m not supposed to think that. It means my life is meaningless.’ They carried on somehow, but the mainspring was gone. And I think once the mainspring is gone, it cannot be repaired.” That, he says, was Teresa.


Most religious readers will reject that explanation, along with any that makes her the author of her own misery — or even defines it as true misery. Martin, responding to the torch-song image of Teresa, counterproposes her as the heroically constant spouse. “Let’s say you’re married and you fall in love and you believe with all your heart that marriage is a sacrament. And your wife, God forbid, gets a stroke and she’s comatose. And you will never experience her love again. It’s like loving and caring for a person for 50 years and once in a while you complain to your spiritual director, but you know on the deepest level that she loves you even though she’s silent and that what you’re doing makes sense. Mother Teresa knew that what she was doing made sense.”




I can’t express in words — the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me — for the first time in ... years — I have come to love the darkness — for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth. You have taught me to accept it [as] a ‘spiritual side of your work’ as you wrote — Today really I felt a deep joy — that Jesus can’t go anymore through the agony — but that He wants to go through it in me.
— to Neuner, Circa 1961


There are two responses to trauma: to hold onto it in all its vividness and remain its captive, or without necessarily “conquering” it, to gradually integrate it into the day-by-day. After more than a decade of open-wound agony, Teresa seems to have begun regaining her spiritual equilibrium with the help of a particularly perceptive adviser. The Rev. Joseph Neuner, whom she met in the late 1950s and confided in somewhat later, was already a well-known theologian, and when she turned to him with her “darkness,” he seems to have told her the three things she needed to hear: that there was no human remedy for it (that is, she should not feel responsible for affecting it); that feeling Jesus is not the only proof of his being there, and her very craving for God was a “sure sign” of his “hidden presence” in her life; and that the absence was in fact part of the “spiritual side” of her work for Jesus.


This counsel clearly granted Teresa a tremendous sense of release. For all that she had expected and even craved to share in Christ’s Passion, she had not anticipated that she might recapitulate the particular moment on the Cross when he asks, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The idea that rather than a nihilistic vacuum, his felt absence might be the ordeal she had prayed for, that her perseverance in its face might echo his faith unto death on the Cross, that it might indeed be a grace, enhancing the efficacy of her calling, made sense of her pain. Neuner would later write, “It was the redeeming experience of her life when she realized that the night of her heart was the special share she had in Jesus’ passion.” And she thanked Neuner profusely: “I can’t express in words — the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me — for the first time in ... years — I have come to love the darkness. “


Not that it didn’t continue to torment her. Years later, describing the joy in Jesus experienced by some of her nuns, she observed dryly to Neuner, “I just have the joy of having nothing — not even the reality of the Presence of God [in the Eucharist].” She described her soul as like an “ice block.” Yet she recognized Neuner’s key distinction, writing, “I accept not in my feelings — but with my will, the Will of God — I accept His will.” Although she still occasionally worried that she might “turn a Judas to Jesus in this painful darkness,” with the passage of years the absence morphed from a potential wrecking ball into a kind of ragged cornerstone. Says Gottlieb, the psychoanalyst: “What is remarkable is that she integrated it in a way that enabled her to make it the organizing center of her personality, the beacon for her ongoing spiritual life.” Certainly, she understood it as essential enough to project it into her afterlife. “If I ever become a Saint — I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven — to [light] the light of those in darkness on earth,” she wrote in 1962. Theologically, this is a bit odd since most orthodox Christianity defines heaven as God’s eternal presence and doesn’t really provide for regular no-shows at the heavenly feast. But it is, Kolodiejchuk suggests, her most moving statement, since the sacrifice involved is infinite. “When she wrote, ‘I am willing to suffer ... for all eternity, if this [is] possible,’” he says, “I said, Wow.”


He contends that the letters reveal her as holier than anyone knew. However formidable her efforts on Christ’s behalf, it is even more astounding to realize that she achieved them when he was not available to her — a bit like a person who believes she can’t walk winning the Olympic 100 meters. Kolodiejchuk goes even further. Catholic theologians recognize two types of “dark night”: the first is purgative, cleansing the contemplative for a “final union” with Christ; the second is “reparative,” and continues after such a union, so that he or she may participate in a state of purity even closer to that of Jesus and Mary, who suffered for human salvation despite being without sin. By the end, writes Kolodiejchuk, “by all indications this was the case with Mother Teresa.” That puts her in rarefied company.


A New Ministry


If this brings You glory — if souls are brought to you — with joy I accept all to the end of my life.
— to Jesus, undated


But for most people, Teresa’s ranking among Catholic saints may be less important than a more general implication of Come Be My Light: that if she could carry on for a half-century without God in her head or heart, then perhaps people not quite as saintly can cope with less extreme versions of the same problem. One powerful instance of this may have occurred very early on. In 1968, British writer-turned-filmmaker Malcolm Muggeridge visited Teresa. Muggeridge had been an outspoken agnostic, but by the time he arrived with a film crew in Calcutta he was in full spiritual-search mode. Beyond impressing him with her work and her holiness, she wrote a letter to him in 1970 that addressed his doubts full-bore. “Your longing for God is so deep and yet He keeps Himself away from you,” she wrote. “He must be forcing Himself to do so — because he loves you so much — the personal love Christ has for you is infinite — The Small difficulty you have re His Church is finite — Overcome the finite with the infinite.” Muggeridge apparently did. He became an outspoken Christian apologist and converted to Catholicism in 1982. His 1969 film, Something Beautiful for God, supported by a 1971 book of the same title, made Teresa an international sensation.


At the time, Muggeridge was something of a unique case. A child of privilege who became a minor celebrity, he was hardly Teresa’s target audience. Now, with the publication of Come Be My Light, we can all play Muggeridge. Kolodiejchuk thinks the book may act as an antidote to a cultural problem. “The tendency in our spiritual life but also in our more general attitude toward love is that our feelings are all that is going on,” he says. “And so to us the totality of love is what we feel. But to really love someone requires commitment, fidelity and vulnerability. Mother Teresa wasn’t ‘feeling’ Christ’s love, and she could have shut down. But she was up at 4:30 every morning for Jesus, and still writing to him, ‘Your happiness is all I want.’ That’s a powerful example even if you are not talking in exclusively religious terms.”


America’s Martin wants to talk precisely in religious terms. “Everything she’s experiencing,” he says, “is what average believers experience in their spiritual lives writ large. I have known scores of people who have felt abandoned by God and had doubts about God’s existence. And this book expresses that in such a stunning way but shows her full of complete trust at the same time.” He takes a breath. “Who would have thought that the person who was considered the most faithful woman in the world struggled like that with her faith?” he asks. “And who would have thought that the one thought to be the most ardent of believers could be a saint to the skeptics?” Martin has long used Teresa as an example to parishioners of self-emptying love. Now, he says, he will use her extraordinary faith in the face of overwhelming silence to illustrate how doubt is a natural part of everyone’s life, be it an average believer’s or a world-famous saint’s.


Into the Light of Day


Please destroy any letters or anything I have written.
— to Picachy, April 1959


Consistent with her ongoing fight against pride, Teresa’s rationale for suppressing her personal correspondence was “I want the work to remain only His.” If the letters became public, she explained to Picachy, “people will think more of me — less of Jesus.”


The particularly holy are no less prone than the rest of us to misjudge the workings of history — or, if you will, of God’s providence. Teresa considered the perceived absence of God in her life as her most shameful secret but eventually learned that it could be seen as a gift abetting her calling. If her worries about publicizing it also turn out to be misplaced — if a book of hasty, troubled notes turns out to ease the spiritual road of thousands of fellow believers, there would be no shame in having been wrong — but happily, even wonderfully wrong — twice.





Trust Christ, Not Feelings (Mohler, 070830)


The recent revelations of Mother Teresa’s spiritual struggle should remind all believing Christians that our faith is in Christ — not in our feelings.


The disclosure of previous secret letters from Mother Teresa indicates that she was deeply troubled by doubts and a sense of Christ’s absence. The fact is that many Christians struggle with doubt. Indeed, the most thoughtful believers are most likely of all to understand what is at stake, and thus to suffer pangs and seasons of doubt.


Doubt can be healthy. It can drive believers to a deeper knowledge of what we believe and a deeper embrace of the truth of the Gospel. It can deepen our trust in God and mature our faith. At the same time, doubt can be a form of sin . . . a refusal to trust God and his promises.


This can also be the root of depression, especially spiritual depression. I would not presume to read Mother Teresa’a heart or soul, but I can reflect on the questions raised by her experience.


The Christian Gospel is the good news that God saves sinners through the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ — his cross and resurrection. Salvation comes to those who believe in Christ — it is by grace we are saved through faith.


But the faith that saves is not faith in faith, nor faith in our ability maintain faith, but faith in Christ. Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves.


There is a sweet and genuine emotional aspect to the Christian faith, and God made us emotional and feeling creatures. But we cannot trust our feelings. Our faith is not anchored in our feelings, but in the facts of the Gospel.


As an evangelical Christian, I have to be concerned that part of Mother Teresa’s struggle was that she did not consider herself worthy of salvation. She was certainly not worthy of salvation. Nor am I. Nor is any sinner. The essence of the Gospel is that none is worthy of salvation. That is what makes salvation all about grace. As the Apostle Paul taught us, the wonder of God’s grace is that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.


Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves. We are weak; He is strong. We fluctuate; He is constant. We cannot trust our feelings nor our emotional state. We trust in Christ. Those who come to Christ by faith are not kept unto him by our faith, but by his faithfulness.


I possess no ability to read Mother Teresa’s heart, but I do sincerely hope that her faith was in Christ, and not in her own faithfulness.




Christian Leaders Weigh in on Mother Teresa’s ‘Crisis of Faith’ (Christian Post, 070830)


Letters revealing Mother Teresa’s half-century-long “crisis of faith” have many pondering what to make of the secret life of one of the most revered figures in modern history.


Yet as theologians and psychologists offer interpretations for her deep “darkness,” a preeminent American theologian used Mother Teresa’s struggle to remind believers to trust Christ and not their feelings.


Whether it be an average Christian or a saint, doubts on the existence of God and turmoil over the inability to feel His presence is something every Christian has wrestled with.


Yet more important than dwelling on human emotions is securing one’s faith in Christ, according to Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and is one of the largest seminaries in the world.


“Salvation comes to those who believe in Christ – it is by grace we are saved through faith,” wrote Mohler in an online column Thursday in “On Faith” – a project of The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine.


“But the faith that saves is not faith in faith, nor faith in our ability [to] maintain faith, but faith in Christ,” he emphasized. “Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves.”


Mohler was responding to this week’s TIME cover story which explores Mother Teresa’s inner struggles in light of a new book, Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, which was made public for the first time letters covering a period of 66 years in which she questioned her beliefs and God.


In correspondents to her spiritual confidants, Mother Teresa laments on the “dryness,” “darkness,” “loneliness,” and “torture” she suffers with her inability to feel God’s presence.


A letter to Archbishop Ferdinand Perier in 1953, according to TIME, read: “Please pray specially for me that I may not spoil His work and that Our Lord may show Himself — for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’”


Another letter in 1956 read: “Such deep longing for God – and…repulsed – empty – no faith – no love – no zeal. – [The saving of] Souls holds no attraction – Heaven means nothing – pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything.”


Mother Teresa also painfully shared her inability to pray saying she just “utter words” of Community prayers– a confession that came from a woman who once said the Christmas holiday should remind the world “that radiating joy is real” because Christ is everywhere.


Yet despite the “pain and darkness” in her soul, Mother Teresa served tirelessly among the outcasts, the dying and the most abject poor in India. She brought countless sick Indians to her center from slums and gutters to be treated and cared for under the banner of Christ’s love.


“The very essence of faith, you see, is believing even in the absence of evidence,” said Chuck Colson, founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship, in a column Wednesday in response to the TIME article. “And it is the only way we can know Christ.


Colson shared that he experienced his own darkness of soul when a few years back two of his three children were diagnosed with cancer.


“We can conclude rationally that God exists, that His Word is true, and that He has revealed Himself” Colson said. “But without that leap of faith, we will never know God personally or accept His will in Christ.”


It was in the late 1950s when Mother Teresa met a well-known theologian, the Rev. Joseph Neuner, who helped her accept the “darkness” she felt.


Neuner gave her three pieces of counsel – first, there was no human cure for what she had, so she shouldn’t feel personally guilty about it; second, feeling Jesus is not the only evidence of His presence, and the fact that she longed for God is a “sure sign” of his “hidden presence” in her life; and last, the feeling of absence was part of the “spiritual side” of her work for Jesus.


Mother Teresa responded to Neuner in 1961: “I can’t express in words – the gratitude I owe you for your kindness to me – for the first time in ….years – I have come to love the darkness – for I believe now that it is part of a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness & pain on earth.”


She later wrote to Neuner, “I accept not in my feelings – but with my will, the Will of God – I accept his will,” according to TIME.


“So what do the letters of Mother Teresa reveal? For one, they reveal the true cost of discipleship,” commented Colson. “To follow Christ is to embrace suffering and the Cross. And, at times, to say with Jesus, ‘My God, my God, why did you abandon me?’”


Baptist seminary head Mohler said that although he would not “presume to read Mother Teresa’s heart or soul,” he concluded from her story that faith should not be placed on volatile emotions but rather solely in the unchanging God.


“There is a sweet and genuine emotional aspect to the Christian faith, and God made us emotional and feeling creations,” wrote Mohler. “But we cannot trust our feelings. Our faith is not anchored in our feelings, but in the facts of the Gospel.


“Our confidence is in Christ, not in ourselves. We are weak; He is strong. We fluctuate; He is constant. We cannot trust our feelings nor our emotional state. We trust in Christ. Those who come to Christ by faith are not kept unto Him by our faith, but by his faithfulness,” wrote Mohler.


The Catholic Church is considering whether or not to make Mother Teresa a saint and the letters were collected as supporting materials for the process.


Mother Teresa died in 1997, nearly two decades after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.




10 Questions For Franklin Graham (Times, 060522)


When doctors first documented cases of AIDS 25 years ago among gay men and drug users, many Evangelicals assumed the epidemic was not their problem. Evangelist Franklin Graham—son of Billy, father of four, grandfather of four—helped to change that attitude and to persuade the Bush Administration in 2003 to earmark $15 billion for the struggle against AIDS. Graham, 53, spoke with TIME’s Christine Gorman about AIDS, Darfur and motorcycles.

Top of Form


Bottom of Form

What would Jesus say about AIDS today? In his day, there was leprosy, which was incurable. And Jesus healed lepers. He didn’t turn them away. That would be the same reaction today. But Jesus did tell people he healed, “Go and sin no more.” And I think that to a person with HIV/AIDS, he would tell them, “Go and sin no more.”


Would he tell that to someone with cancer? I think so, because Jesus said that time and time again. I think there are times where a sinful lifestyle can lead to a disease in our bodies. I think Jesus would heal a person who drinks too much alcohol and ends up with cirrhosis of the liver and say, “Don’t go back and do that again.”


What led you to try to change AIDS policy in the U.S.? AIDS is a huge problem. People have to be aware of AIDS and how you contract AIDS and what you can do to prevent AIDS. We’re responsible to do all that we can to preserve life—whether it’s an unborn child or whether it’s a person with HIV/AIDS sleeping on a park bench. I think we need to do everything we can to save and preserve life. Every person has a soul. And every person is a soul whom Jesus Christ died for on Calvary’s cross, when he died for the sins of this world. I just want to do all that I can to try to save and preserve life.


Does your charity, Samaritan’s Purse, distribute condoms? No, ma’am. No, ma’am, we don’t.


How do you feel about condoms in a marriage situation, in which one spouse is HIV-positive and the other is not? Well, I think that’s a decision between married couples. I think a married couple certainly should take all precautions, absolutely. But I don’t see condoms as a way for a person to continue to go out and live a sinful lifestyle and for us to say you’re safe. You’re not going to be safe.


Samaritan’s Purse is active in the relief effort in Sudan. What do you think of the recent Darfur peace deal? I don’t trust the [Sudanese] government. I don’t trust them for a second. These are men who have murdered and murdered and murdered, and they’re still in power. How can we trust them now?


Did you ever think you would live long enough to be a grandfather? Never thought I’d be a grandfather. You know, when you’re in your 30s, you don’t think about the end of your life. And I didn’t think about it so much when I got to 40. But when I turned 50, it was like a switch went off. All of a sudden you think, boy, how fast the last 20 years went. You realize how important life is, how short life is and what’s going to happen after life. Is that it? Or is there something beyond life that God has for us? The Bible teaches that there is—that there is eternity, and death is the portal that transfers us from this life to the next.


What have you learned about aging from your father? Well, you know he’s 88 this year. I admire that he still has the desire to preach at his age and is just as focused today as he was 30 years ago. I think he’s aged extremely well. I just hope I can do it half as well as he’s done it.


Do you still ride your motorcycle and, if so, do you wear a helmet? I do, and yes, it’s a state law [to wear a helmet]. Today it’s kind of cold and foggy, so I won’t ride. Well, I might. Never know. I might just get on to it and go if the sun peeks out. You know, when I was young, I didn’t wear a helmet.


Is it a sin not to wear a helmet? No, it’s not a sin. You know the Bible says our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. And if we do something to hurt the bodies that we have, eating too much, eating the wrong foods, drinking too much, we are hurting this body God gave us and I think putting your body at risk when you don’t need to put it at risk, like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, I just don’t think it makes sense. I think God gave us a brain. He expects us to use it.




Graham Attracts 200,000 for Ukraine’s Largest Evangelical Event (Christian Post, 070710)


The first-ever Franklin Graham Festival to hit Ukraine became the largest evangelical event in the history of the former communist-ruled country, attracting over 231,000 people last weekend to hear the Gospel.


Over three-days, the Graham fest drew 124,586 to Olympic Stadium in the country’s capital Kiev, and another 107,000 people via live satellite broadcast in 104 additional venues across Ukraine.


On the festival’s second night, more than 40,000 people stood in the rain and 6,694 people responded to the invitation to follow Jesus Christ by the end of the weekend, according to the festival’s report.


“For years, Samaritan’s Purse has used the Ukrainian Antonov airplane to transport hundreds of thousands of our Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts,” said Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, according to the report.


“Now I am here in your country, not because of the Antonov, but because of the Gospel - the good news that you can have spiritual freedom found in Jesus Christ,” Graham said.


The historic festival united 4,366 churches and thousands of volunteers from 15 denominations in the country in preparation for the massive festival.


Traditional and inspirational music by artists from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Belarus, and the United States supplemented Graham’s messages - which were translated into Ukrainian and Russian. In addition, each night featured a 4,000-voice choir comprised of singers from all 25 regions of Ukraine – the largest choir in the history of Ukraine.


A noteworthy musical highlight was the Presidential Orchestra sent by the Ukrainian president along with an official written welcome to Franklin Graham and the festival.


“This festival is one of the greatest things that can bring us closer together,” wrote the Ukrainian president Viktor A. Yushchenko. “Thank you for all the work you are doing here. May God bless you.”


The July 6-8 event also brought together regional champion athletes from the sports of boxing, football, and speed skating who shared personal stories about their faith. Among the athletes who spoke is current WBC heavyweight champion, Oleg Maskaev, from Russia who spoke about how God changed his life.


Occurring simultaneous with the festival was Graham’s Operation Christmas Child project, which gave out more than 100,000 gift-filled shoe boxes to needy children in Ukraine. Graham himself also visited poor children and orphans at a local charity hospital where he hand-delivered the shoe box gifts.


Graham’s next Festival will be held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, Aug. 23-25.


Since 1989, Franklin Graham has held an average of seven festivals each year as an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In addition to holding the title as the CEO/President of BGEA, Graham is also the president of the international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.




Evangelistic Graham Fest Breaks Record with 186,000 in Ecuador (Christian Post, 070827)


American evangelist Franklin Graham made history this past weekend by attracting a crowd of 185,674 people to the Festival of Hope – the largest evangelical event in Ecuador’s history.


The festival took place in the western port city of Guayaquil – the largest and most populous city in Ecuador – and broke the record set by last year’s Graham Fest which drew over 140,000 people to the capital city of Quito.


“Each time we go to a different city we have no idea how many people will come, if the weather will be a problem, or how many lives will be changed,” said Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in a statement. “But God knows and we are humbled to just be a part of the impact He had on this city – it was more than we could have imagined.”


Hundreds of local churches and thousands of volunteers had come together in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association for the Aug. 23-25 event.


By the final night, some 16,177 people responded to the invitation to put their faith in Jesus Christ, according to the ministry’s report.


In addition to Graham’s nightly messages, the three-day event featured inspirational music from popular Latin Christian artists such as Marcos Witt, Spaniard Marcos Vidal, Lily Goodman from the Dominican Republic, and local musicians from the Guayaquil area.


It also witnessed 46,419 children pack Guayaquil’s Alberto Spencer Stadium for “Festininos,” a program of fun drama and music that teaches children about the love of God.


The Word Put Into Action


Earlier in the week, Samaritan’s Purse – a Christian relief organization headed by Graham – distributed part of 90,000 gift-filled shoe boxes to underprivileged children in Ecuador as part of the organization’s Operation Christmas Child project.


Graham helped hand out some of the shoe boxes and visited children living in some of the poorest areas in Guayaquil. For some of the children, the shoebox gifts were the only presents they had ever received in their entire life.


The gifts are among 8 million shoe box gifts to be given to needy children in 95 countries this year.


In addition, Samaritan’s Purse is working in Ecuador to build 100 homes for victims of the Tungurahua volcano eruption. The ministry is also feeding 1,500 children a day and has provided medical care for more than 50,000 people.




Mother Teresa’s Dark Night of the Soul (, 070904)


By Dinesh D’Souza


 In Christopher Hitchens’ wickedly iconoclastic book The Missionary Position, Mother Teresa is portrayed as a self-satisfied dogmatist who never entertained any doubts. She was a “true believer” of the fanatical type. In his latest book God Is Not Great, Hitchens is at it again, depicting believing Christians like Mother Teresa as sharing the dangerous certitudes of the Islamic terrorists. Not only are all believers extremists, in Hitchens’ caustic analysis, they are also poseurs who claim to know what cannot be known.


The latest revelations about Mother Teresa, featured in the current issue of Time, completely explode Hitchens’ thesis. Time based its article on a new book which contains correspondence between Teresa and her confessors and superiors over a period of several decades. She confessed to a spiritual adviser that within her heart “the silence and the emptiness is so great that I look and do not see, listen and do not hear.” In a 1955 note she remarked, “The more I want Him, the less I am wanted…Such deep longing for God—and…repulsed—empty—no faith—no love—no zeal.” In one of her letters, addressed to Jesus, she wrote, “Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The child of your love—and now become as the most hated one…You have thrown away as unwanted—unloved…So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them—because of the blasphemy—If there be a God—please forgive me…I am told that God loves me, and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.”


Time interprets these anguished ruminations as a “startling portrait in self-contradiction,” as if Mother Teresa was one person in public and another in private. Hitchens cannot resist further digs, and he makes a complete about-face in his reading of Mother Teresa. Once he viewed her as an inflexible dogmatist; now he depicts her as a secret unbeliever who knew that “religion is a human fabrication,” comparable to the latter-day Communists who paid lip service to the official ideology but couldn’t abide it any longer in their hearts.


Here we see how atheist prejudice results in a breakdown of reason. Hitchens cannot bring himself to say, “I thought she was a self-satisfied dogmatist. I have to try to understand her all over again.” Earlier he condemned her for having no doubts; now he uses her doubts to suggest that she never really believed what she publicly espoused. Time cannot get beyond its cognitive dissonance that a sincere Christian may harbor uncertainty and anguish over a long period of years.


But Mother Teresa’s heart-wrenching self-examination is entirely familiar to thoughtful Christians. For instance, her insistent theme that she is being forsaken by God recalls Christ’s plaintive cry on the cross, “Why have You forsaken me?” From Augustine to Luther to John of the Cross, there is a whole body of Christian literature that sounds exactly like Mother Teresa. In John’s Dark Night of the Soul, for instance, the initial exhilaration of conversion is followed by a “dark night of the senses” that is “bitter and terrible to taste.” Even so, this suffering is nothing compared to what follows, the “dark night of the soul” in which “the soul feels itself to be perishing and melting away, in the presence and sight of its miseries, in a cruel spiritual death, even as if it had been swallowed by a beast and felt itself being devoured.” John interprets these travails as the purification of the sinful part of man, so that he is ready for the holy eternal embrace of God.


From Christian classics like these we learn that, contrary to atheist propaganda, believers don’t claim to “know” God. That’s why they are called “believers.” To be a believer means, “Even though I do not know, I have faith.” Nor do believers, however devout, experience God on a constant basis. There is a big chasm that between the terrestrial and the transcendental, and a terrible silence usually separates the two. A glimpse or foretaste of eternity, this is all that we get, if we’re lucky.


The greatness of Mother Teresa is that even when she was deprived of the spiritual satisfactions of feeling God’s presence in her life, she did not waver, she soldiered on. She was not deterred in her mission. And what she didn’t have by way of feeling, she compensated for by way of will. In doing so, she teaches us all something about love: it is not merely a sentiment, to be set aside when feelings come and go, but rather a decision of the will. That she did what she did in exchange for the love of God is astounding enough. That she did it all even when this love was invisible to her—if this does not constitute saintliness, I don’t know what does.




D. James Kenndy Dies At 76 (Christian Post, 070905)


Influential conservative leader Dr. D. James Kenndy died wednesday morning, church officials reported.


Kenndy, whose retirement as senior pastor of coral ridge presbyterian church in florida was recently announced, died “peacefully in his sleep” at home at approximately 2:15 a.m., according to a released statement. He was 76.


“there are all kinds of wonderful things I could say about my dad,” said daughter jennifer Kenndy cassidy. “but one that stands out is his fine example. He ‘walked the walk’ and ‘practiced what he preached.’ his work for christ is lasting – it will go on and on and make a difference for eternity.”


Cassidy and Kenndy’s wife anne of 51 years were by his bedside when he died.


“for decades now, you have stood strong in defense of faith, family, and most importantly, the gospel of jesus christ. Believers around the world are indebted to you for your vision and leadership, Dr. Kenndy,” said Dr. James c. Dobson, founder and chairman of focus on the family, prior to Kenndy’s death.


Kenndy has been dubbed by dobson and other evangelicals as one of the church’s “truly significant figures.”


Kenndy began his pastorate at coral ridge in 1959 and is also the founder and president of the multi-media organization coral ridge ministries and the founder of evangelism explosion, which equips people in every nation and territory to share their faith in christ.


Although the broadcaster was not nearly as well known as other conservative leaders such as the late rev. Jerry falwell or focus on the family’s dobson, conservative evangelicals agree that he was a leading defender of faith who had made a significant impact in changing the world.


“i commend Dr. Kenndy, for his stalwart leadership in defending faith, family and freedom. Most of all, I am grateful for his godly example, his integrity and his unwavering dedication to the gospel of jesus christ,” family research council president tony perkins said in a statement released after hearing of Kenndy’s retirement.


On aug. 26, Kenndy’s daughter had announced her father’s retirement at coral ridge presbyterian church in fort lauderdale, fla. Kenndy suffered cardiac arrest last december and multiple complications since and had been unable to return to the pulpit after preaching his last sermon on christmas eve. On several occasions, Kenndy has said how much he looked forward to being free from pain in heaven, according to a released statement.


Prior to Kenndy’s death, the megachurch had scheduled to hold a tribute worship service honoring the extensive ministry of Kenndy for sept. 23.


“we will miss Dr. Kenndy enormously,” said frank wright, president of the national religious broadcasters, in a statement. “his moral leadership and his legacy of impacting the globe for jesus christ is unmatched by few in the history of the church. It is our desire to honor him by sustaining and multiplying his impact through coral ridge presbyterian church and all the ministries founded by Dr. Kenndy in the years to come.”


A memorial service open to the public will be held at coral ridge presbyterian church. The date is yet to be announced.


A tribute website to the life and ministry of Kenndy can be found at




Satan Takes A Little Nap After Dr. D. James Kenndy Passes Away (Townhall.Com, 070908)


By Doug Giles


This week the church lost one of its great generals, Dr. D. James Kenndy. Kenndy, senior pastor of coral ridge presbyterian church, chancellor of knox theological seminary, founder of evangelism explosion (and a stack of other ministries), made satan more frustrated than ted nugent would be watching dianne feinstein attempt to shatter the guinness book of world records’ longest break dance.


Yes, Dr. Kenndy was a disaster to el diablo and his defeated ilk.


Having been a student of knox theological seminary, I had the honor of meeting Kenndy on several occasions and listening to him preach at his church and teach in our classes. He / kts even bought a massive (and beautiful, I might add) painting I did of john knox which hangs in the seminary today.


Being the sardonic skeptic that I am, i’m not easily impressed by ministers nowadays. I am especially jaded toward the megachurches that are run by the super-coifed, colgate-grinning, rembrandt veneer type of guys. Most of these boys are preening narcissists, snake oil opportunists par excellence who are in the ministry simply because they can’t be bon jovi. Kenndy, on the other hand, impressed me. He was an old school reformer of a different stripe.


Here are two things I liked about Dr. D. James Kenndy:


1. He was driven by the great commission and the cultural mandate. Kenndy kept his sights locked on what the scriptures tell christians to focus on, namely the saving of souls and changing culture.


Most postmodern pastors don’t do either anymore. Why don’t they preach the gospel Kenndy style, you ask? Well spanky, it is offensive and most ministers, with their ragged little egos, would rather be liked than right, so they dilute the message and thus delude the masses with something other than that which christ and the apostles preached. Kenndy didn’t do this. He was god’s ups man; he simply and faithfully delivered the package he was given: the gospel uncut, which is the power of god to transform people and nations.


Speaking of nations, Dr. K loved the u.s.a. and that for which it stands (or I guess used to stand for). This love for our god-kissed country caused him to fight to uphold its original judeo-christian roots and the continuity of our religious liberties.


Jim Kenndy didn’t buy the notion that christians shouldn’t be involved in influencing local, state and federal government, or the arts, or the educational system or anything else that goes down on god’s green earth. And no, he wasn’t a theocrat or a christianist (whatever that is. Just make it up as you go, lefties).


Yes, djk believed that christians should have a voice, a vote, and a right to speak up and out regarding what happens from hollywood to washington d.c. just as much as any freak group on the left does.


However, preachers of late have been cowed away from influencing culture for several reasons. Two indictments will suffice for now: 1. Cultural influence demands hard work and, 2. It brings persecution.


Presently we have way too many ministers who are lazy and thin-skinned. Yes, they’d rather just let society go to hell rather than get off their glutes, dust off their brains and bibles and get into the fray to stand for what’s right and forever refuse to sit in the back of the secularists’ bus. That’s too painful. Yep, forget that. Going to night of joy in orlando is much, much easier and so much fun! Pass the cotton candy.


2. He believed that sound doctrine matters. Doctrine was important to the good doctor. Kenndy appreciated the ministerial duty of dishing out the apostolic goods and believed that christianity isn’t a make it up as you go, whatever the cattle want, thang. Dr. Kenndy understood that the truths of the gospel were to be deeply understood, powerfully proclaimed and conscientiously preserved even if it was unpopular at the time. And this he did.


Contrast that with ministers today who place little or no value on sound doctrine because in our milieu it is all about feelings…nothing more than feelings. Oprah carries more weight with these cultural capitulators than obadiah does, and you can bet your tithe check i’m right. Check it out. I’ll bet you a lot of ministers are reading donald trump, jack welch and tony robbins more than they are augustine, luther or calvin, as these guys are just so…so, like…yesterday. Kenndy, on the other hand, deeply imbibed scripture and the writings of the greats of the church. Also (and this is weird) Dr. Kenndy actually earned his doctorate. Y’know, as in he went to grad school, studied and wrote a bunch of papers and stuff. Freak out, right?


Yes, in an age of flighty gimmick-laden christian loosey-goosey-heretical-can’t-scrape-this-stuff-off-your-shoe religious schlock, jim Kenndy was semper fidelis to christ and the eternal gospel.


I have to admit that I am sad with Kenndy’s passing. I’m sad not because Kenndy passed away, since he’s in heaven now straight tripping having his mind blown like none of us can even imagine. The thing that makes me sad is that Kenndy’s absence represents a loss in a near-extinct breed of preachers who can truly throw a weighty temporal and eternal spiritual punch.


Thankfully at knox seminary, the torch has been successfully passed to their profs and to the hundreds of young men who have graduated from its hallowed halls. So I guess i’m not that sad because the dna, though scarce, is still alive.


Matter of fact, boys contemplating ministry, if you feel called to god’s service why don’t you blow off that easy, greasy, cheesy school you picked out and have kts rake you over their coals? It will be hard. They won’t allow you to skate. And they won’t give you “life credit,” little darling, but they will equip you to reach the lost and shake this nation for the glory of god.


Y’know, when I think of Kenndy and the righteous legacy he left for god and country, for some bizarre reason (probably because I am bizarre), I call to mind an interview I saw with nikki sixx, the former bass player for motley crüe. The interviewer asked sixx what his band’s “goals” were, of which nikki replied, “i wanna leave a scar on the planet.”


Dr. Kenndy left a scar. Not an unrighteous one, as sixx hoped to leave, but a scar nonetheless. Yep, I believe Dr. D. James Kenndy left a searing and sizable blemish on satan’s sagging and haggard backside.




Goodbye To American Christendom? (Christian Post, 070920)


Mark D. Tooley


Florida mega-church founder and “religious right” pillar d. James Kenndy died on september 5. His death did not get as much media play as jerry falwell’s earlier this year. But Kenndy, though more taciturn in manner than falwell, was no less assertive in trying to “reclaim” america for christian beliefs. The passing of the two pastors marked a generational shift of evangelical christian leadership in america.


A fellow founder of the moral majority, Kenndy was one of the earliest of america’s mega church pastors and widely watched television preachers.


From his 10,000 member coral ridge presbyterian church in fort lauderdale, Kenndy reached millions across several decades with his television ministry, publications, and teaching materials. His “coral ridge hour’ was broadcast on 400 stations and in 150 countries. He authored 50 books and founded two schools.


An entrepreneur and american original, Kenndy was raised by non-church going parents. His father was a traveling salesman and his mother was an alcoholic. Kenndy originally dropped out of college to become an arthur murray dance instructor. But his christian conversion drove him back to seek multiple degrees and towards a 50 year career focused on preaching the gospel and promoting a christian cultural worldview. Kenndy also had his theological quirks. He spoke of god’s use of the stars and planets as providential signals in a way that almost legitimized astrology and raised eyebrows among fellow conservatives.


Sometimes Kenndy was called a “soft christian reconstructionist” who allegedly wanted to return america back to the days of theocratically calvinist new england. But he was never really a theocrat. More accurately, like other conservative religionists, Kenndy desired a return to a culturally pre-1960s america (minus racism and segregation), where abortion and pornography were restricted, where school children prayed together, and where nearly every american shared at least a nominally christian faith.


Sometimes Kenndy overly romanticized america’s christian past. His calvinist forbearers three centuries ago never thought that even 17th century new england was safely christian, instead believing that their country was always under threat of judgment. In truth, even robust christians must admit that the most pious eras in history were a complex mix of wheat and tares. Kenndy portrayed america’s founding fathers, and other key figures like abraham lincoln, as pious patriarchs. Unashamedly, Kenndy would quote from the hagiographic biographer parson weems when making the case that george washington was a devoutly orthodox christian. If Kenndy’s historical perceptions were sometimes exaggerated, they were understandable reactions to the secularization of american history.


Writing for the religious left website sojourners, author diana butler bass declared Kenndy to be an icon of the old religious right, which strove unsuccessfully for a restoration of ostensibly christian america. “Kenndy believed in christendom, an american christian nation divinely designed as the leader of a global spiritual empire, and in creating a christian politics toward that end,” butler wrote. She compared him unfavorably with supposedly ascendant new christian voices who celebrate the end of christendom in favor a new counter-cultural christianity.


Citing “emerging” methodist thinkers stanley hauerwas and will willimon at duke university (willimon has since become a united methodist bishop), bass approvingly quoted their farewell to christendom: “the gradual decline of the notion that the church needs some sort of surrounding ‘christian’ culture to prop it up and mold its young, is not a death to lament,” they claimed. “it is an opportunity to celebrate.”


As bass described, hauerwas and willimon “believe that christendom, the ideal of a christian nation, was historically wrongheaded from the start. ‘“the church,’ they argue, ‘doesn’t have a social strategy; the church is a social strategy.’” she observed that older evangelical leaders wanted christendom back. But the emerging leaders, influenced by hauerwas and willimon, are “more interested in strengthening a confessing church based on the model of dietrich bonhoeffer’s alternative community in hitler’s germany.”


According to bass, younger christians want a post-christendom church that is a “community of pilgrims joined together in practices of faith and justice” that will “recreate christian political theology” in america. “d. James Kenndy, rip,” she concluded. “and while we are at it, let us bury american christendom, too.”


This analysis by bass seems a little harsh against old evangelical chiefs like Kenndy and falwell. Surrounded by the chaos of the 1960s and 1970s, the america of the 1950s must have seemed a reassuring memory to them. And in fairness to both television preachers, they both in an orthodox fashion saw the christian walk as ultimately a sojourn through a foreign land, no matter how ostensibly friendly the surrounding culture may have seemed in the past.


Stanley hauerwas and his followers disdain christendom, and they like the bonhoeffer model because they see the american “empire” as not altogether dissimilar to the third reich against which the lutheran theologian struggled to the point of martyrdom. Old evangelicals like Kenndy may have overly romanticized christian america. But baby boomer theologians and ethicists like hauerwas have themselves overreacted by demonizing america’s past and present.


America was never fully christian in thought or behavior. But james Kenndy fondly recalled some of old america’s more admirably christian attributes, and he sought to perpetuate their memory, with the hope that modern americans might follow by example. His was an imperfect labor of love and not entirely unsuccessful. May he rest in peace indeed, and may his better ideas live on.




Into the arms of God (World Magazine, 071124)


Across the country there is reason to be thankful for good works that make it possible for people to walk away from drugs, gangs, death, discouragement, and . . .


Roberta Green Ahmanson, Julie Ryan and Cherise Ryan


What Christians do: Part 1


Evelyn Turner left New Orleans so late on Saturday night, Aug. 27, 2005, that it may have been Sunday morning. With her two daughters and one’s fiancé, she headed to family in Charlotte, N.C.


Unlike most people who fled the city in fear of Hurricane Katrina, Turner already knew she had no home to come back to. In the midst of a divorce, the New Orleans native had agreed that her soon-to-be ex-husband would keep their house and pay her what he could when he could.


Now, two years later, Turner owns her own home in the hard-hit Holly Grove neighborhood. Like millions of others over the centuries, she gained help from Christians who responded to the teachings of the prophets and of Jesus that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters we do for Him. In Turner’s case the faces of God’s help were Kevin Brown and the Trinity Christian Community (TCC) network.


TCC operates within New Orleans’ Holly Grove neighborhood, which seven years ago was home to 7,000 people (94 percent of them African-American). About half owned their own homes, but even before Katrina, Holly Grove was falling on hard times. “The middle class moved out white and black. Housing became rental and began to deteriorate. Lots of crime,” said Paul Baricos, who is starting a center to encourage home ownership.


Kevin Brown grew up in TCC: His father founded it in 1967. After some years away, Kevin came home to be executive director in 1998. “We’ve been living this all our lives,” he said. Unable to re-enter the city after Katrina, Brown said he spent most of his time on the phone, talking with Christians around the country. So many responded, he said, that “a church around here hired somebody to come and help with the emails.”


Then Brown tracked down people he had worked with before—Turner, who had once worked in the center’s youth programs, was one of them—and created a team. They worked out of the second floor of the Trinity center, since the lower floor was in shambles, as was Brown’s house nearby.


Churches sent men and women with tools, equipment, and cooking supplies, Turner said. “We started housing people in our building. People had cots in the building, cooking grills and barbecue pits, makeshift showers. You looked at it and thought, ‘If these folks can go through this, we can do anything.’”


So far more than 6,000 people have come to help, logging more than 200,000 volunteer hours. In addition, federal AmeriCorps members joined the project. They gutted 1,700 homes all over the city, Brown said. So Trinity has rebuilt 25 in Holly Grove and plans to do a total of 150. One of those homes now belongs to Turner.


“We’re rebuilding a neighborhood. We’re rebuilding lives,” said Brown, whose staff has grown from three to 12. “Now people are on their second, third, fourth mission trip down here because they’re excited.”


Those volunteers made Turner’s new home possible. Living in a Holly Grove apartment Trinity had restored early on, Turner had seen a little house that she really liked but didn’t think she could afford. One day Brown came and told her, “There’s a church that wants to help a family get back in their home and I gave ‘em your name.”


Turner bought the house. Then, one church group came to build a kitchen, stayed to put up dry wall, and purchased the flooring, too. The next week, Turner said, Mennonites came and put in the floors. “They never stopped. They worked till dark,” she said. Other, smaller groups came after that. Turner moved into her house on March 25, her 56th birthday.


Much remains to be done. Two-thirds of Holly Grove’s former residents have not returned. Five of the neighborhood’s 12 pre-storm churches are back. But Turner in her new home is rejoicing at the restoration to this point: “It’s a tiny little house, but it’s absolutely perfect for me. The things that have happened to me—it’s just an affirmation of God’s plan.”


In the history of Christianity, Turner isn’t the first person to experience such care.


By A.D. 568 Rome was in ruins, ravaged by 150 years of Goth, Vandal, Byzantine, and Longobard invasion. Once a city of perhaps 1.5 million, Rome bottomed out at 30,000. Outside the city, continual wars turned fields back into swamps. Invaders threatened and sometimes took over once-productive church-run farms. Malaria, cholera, and bubonic plague followed. Jobs evaporated. Once-flourishing estates were abandoned. Famine became a fact of life. Floods covered the city three or four times a century. Sewers and aqueducts needed repair.


The wealthy fled to the safety of Ravenna or even faraway Constantinople, but one son of an old Roman family, Gregory the Great, became pope in 590. Building on the existing infrastructure, Gregory set out to restore life to the city. He revamped rural papal estates to provide food for citizens, pilgrims, refugees, and urban poor, all in fair and orderly ways.


Gregory also made peace with the invaders. He provided soup kitchens for the sick and infirm. He set up welfare offices or diaconiae in populated areas within the walls, administered by monastic congregations.


“The Church rather than the Byzantine state . . . was responsible for providing for the urban population,” historian Richard Krautheimer wrote in his classic Rome: Profile of a City, 312-1308.


Gregory’s concern was not unique. Nearly 900 years later, in 1521, the Bavarian city of Augsburg faced a housing crisis for its working poor. The Fuggers, Europe’s most powerful banking family, a Catholic family, responded. The Fuggerai, the first low-income housing development in Europe, provides housing for the poor to this day.


Through history, the pattern is the same. Trinity Christian Community stands in that line of Christian responses to crisis. Turner remembers what happened after Katrina and what is happening now: “The church poured into the city. Here it is two years later, and who’s still coming? The church.” —Roberta Green Ahmanson


What Christians do: Part 2


NEW YORK CITY—The Bowery Mission since 1879 has served New York City’s dire side, its thousands of homeless men and women. Three branches of the mission have developed over the years: A men’s Transitional Center and a Women’s Center serve alongside the oldest branch, still called The Bowery Mission, located in the Lower East Side.


The oldest branch is known for giving people such as 20-year-old Sergio Reyz a chance to walk away from a world of drugs, gangs, and death, and into the arms of God. At age 16, Reyz had by dealing cocaine become richer than his parents. His mother gave him a choice: Move out or stop dealing. He left home, continued a gang life of drugs, sex, and violence, and figured he would die. He called his mother to say goodbye—but she challenged him to get help from the Bowery Mission.


“Every day the Lord has to remind me of what I left so I don’t go back,” said Reyz, the youngest man at the mission. He has earned his GED, walks with a joyful step, and smiles when he talks about his mother: Their relationship has grown as he has proceeded through Bowery’s Discipleship Institute six-month program of counseling, addiction recovery, relationship restoration, career education and training, and required chapel.


Many of the 70 Discipleship Institute participants started out in a Compassionate Care program that provides chapel services, meals, clothes, showers and haircuts, counseling with a chaplain, and medical care. The program has only 25 transient beds: Bowery President Ed Morgan said the mission’s biggest failure is not offering more.


Morgan measures Bowery success in Positive Life Outcomes, an idea he took with him from his 20 years of work at General Electric. Last year 149 men left the Discipleship Institute exhibiting PLOs, defined as restoring relationships, remaining clean and sober, establishing positive goals, continuing an education, and exhibiting Christian character.


Bowery funding comes from private donors, only 40 percent of whom profess faith in Christ, but the board of directors is made up of Christians and emphasizes continued biblical commitment. The mission staff is made up half of program graduates and half of “people who have the gift of mercy.” Morgan said staff members have “the chance to see lives change. Not many people can do that for a job and get paid. They are also doing it for spiritual reasons—God commands us.”


James Macklin, Bowery’s director of outreach, is a Discipleship Institute graduate; before coming to Bowery he owned a business in New Jersey but lost it to cocaine. He said he has done every job in the mission, from kitchen staff to maintenance, and spent five years as assistant director of the program: “Ed Morgan saw more in me than I saw in myself. I proved myself and by God’s grace I made it.”


When Macklin, now 67, walks through the halls of the Bowery Mission, residents greet him with respect—they know he has been where they are. He wears a suit but no tie, and a smile. He knows the men and their stories, shares meals with them, and strives to be the “father figure” many of them never had: “Your attitude can determine where you might go in life. That’s what I like to give to men: I don’t care where you start, it’s where you end.”


For many residents, ending homelessness takes more than six months. Macklin said the residents stay as long as they need to but must keep progressing. Resident Eric Freeman, 48, spent 30 years living on the streets and is now in his third month in the Discipleship Institute. He battled substance abuse, lost connection with his family, and lacked self-confidence. He has now found a new way of living: “Man was trying to change me, but now God has.”


Less than a mile to the northeast, the Bowery Mission runs a city-funded program. When former Mayor David Dinkins asked for more homeless shelters in 1990, the Bowery Mission responded and opened the Transitional Center on Avenue D in 1992. The staff members work to instill Christian values in a place reliant on city funding that restricts evangelism.


This center is across the street from housing projects built in the 1960s that house many residents on welfare. Unemployment and high crime plague the neighborhood. Hector Pabon, the center’s associate director, said many residents lack hope to leave the area. Upon entering the center, men receive a dorm room and key—personal space, a novelty for homeless men. A resident signs a contract and, with the help of a counselor, develops an individual living plan that changes every month.


The nine-month program has three phases. For the first 30 days, residents work at the center and attend meetings while staff members get to know them. In Phase Two, months two and three, residents look for jobs and attend fewer meetings. In the last phase, residents stay employed, save 75 percent of their income, and find housing. Many of the staff members, including all four counselors, are Christians. They build relationships with the residents and create opportunities to evangelize outside of the official program.


New York City has made recent internal changes that allow the center to move out unproductive residents who are “playing the system,” Pabon said. Such residents, used to the streets, want a bed and a warm breakfast but have no intention of changing their lives. When a resident must be transferred to a different shelter, Pabon said, counselors must “let go” and pray the resident will realize in some other way his need for Christ.


The center has both failures and success stories. Pabon speaks of a taciturn man named Anthony who came to the shelter last year and, helped by counseling, came to profess faith in Christ. He found a job and lined up an apartment—which he almost lost after a fight—but with the help of Pabon he moved in and began a new life.


Almost 70 blocks north of the Transitional Center, the Bowery Mission Women’s Center at Heartsease House is a home for 17 women in the process of transforming their lives. The 19th-century brownstone blends in with the surrounding homes. No sign marks the Women’s Center, but behind the red doors are stories of struggle, hardship, and grace.


Melissa Alcorn lived a life of drugs, alcohol, and abuse. Fourteen years ago she became a Christian, she said, and God showed her a glimpse of her future: working with those in need. After the Women’s Center opened in 2005, Alcorn came to work there and became director.


The center rents the building from a Mennonite organization for $1 a year and has refurbished it into a 10-bedroom home with warm colors, comfortable couches, and a garden filled with flowers and tomato plants. Spiral staircases guide residents through the home: They move from the dining room, up to a chapel and career center, and through two floors of bedrooms to a living room where meetings are held.


Most of the women come from a substance- and domestic-abuse background: When they walk through the red doors they enter Phase One of the program, which helps the women to become acclimated to living in a community and obeying rules. That’s their biggest obstacle, Alcorn said.


The Women’s Center program helps the women with their spiritual, emotional, and economic life. Each woman must attend chapel, memorize scripture, and attend meetings. The center offers counseling and budgeting, computer, and resumé training to help the women enter the business world.


When the women enter Phase Two, they begin seeking employment and save 75 percent of their income. They have to demonstrate character through telling the truth, participating in the community, and respecting others. The seven staff members work together to monitor the women’s progress.


Belieda Pringle, 51, came to New York from Virginia after using drugs and turning her back on God. “In Virginia, my life wasn’t like it should have been. Now I have a relationship with God and I see things differently.”


When the women enter Phase Three, they begin to prepare for graduation. It’s hard; since September 2005 nine out of 98 women have graduated from the program and six have left exhibiting PLOs.


“The staff tries to help you as much as they can. While you are here you should excel because you can get whatever you need: schooling, GED, tutoring. You just have to be willing to take advantage of it,” Pringle said.


Alcorn said she hopes the women will not just conform to the program and its expectations, but that their lives and hearts will transform. She said there is a tension between “holding people accountable in truth but also having grace.”


Resident LaVerna Johnson, 57, is gaining confidence by living at the center. A native New Yorker, Johnson was living in Florida, unemployed, and in “bondage to fear.” She said God directed her back to the city and, after calling churches, she found the Women’s Center. Johnson said she has started writing poems again, always has her notebook on hand, and is teaching herself to play the piano, something she always wanted to do. She spoke of finding her confidence and power in Christ: “I always knew God, but I found myself here.” —Julie Ryan


What Christians do: Part 3


Hebron, a short-term homeless shelter for single women, seems out of place in affluent Loudoun County, Va., west of Washington, D.C. Modest single-family homes there now cost over $500,000; even tiny apartments rent for $1,000 per month. “This is one county that has so much money and is thriving so much, it’s hard to believe we have this homeless problem,” said Jayda Roberts of the Good Shepherd Alliance, a Christian organization that has worked with homeless individuals since 1983.


Single women and their children can stay for up to 89 days at Hebron while they work, save, and try to get back on their feet. Hebron’s porch smells heavily of cigarettes, but a sign on the front door reads, “Through these doors walk the greatest residents in the world.”


One young resident, Michael, seemed shy at first, but it only lasted five minutes. “Are you new?” the 7-year-old asked a visitor with a hopeful grin. “I’m moving tomorrow,” Michael announced later as he demonstrated a Star Wars video game his grandmother bought him. But he’s not excited about the move. “I’m gonna miss people.” His face fell a little, but his eyes never left the game screen. “This is the fourth shelter I’ve been in,” he exclaimed. “[At] the last one they were just mean.”


Michael and his mother Keri were moving to grandma’s house, a four-hour drive away. “I’m not worried about her,” Grace Magor, the 71-year-old live-in monitor at Hebron, said about Keri: “Her mother is there to pitch in and can help her if she needs.” But Keri is unusual; many have been rejected by their families.


This past summer a pregnant mother, 21-year-old Stephanie, was working 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. shifts, then coming home to Hebron and cooking dinner for herself and her 2-year-old daughter, who pranced into the kitchen in a pink nightgown and tiny strap sandals, a Barbie DVD in hand. The girl’s dark pixie-curly hair matches Stephanie’s, but her dark complexion comes from her father, who Stephanie followed to Loudoun Country from her home in Rhode Island. He is no longer around.


For Stephanie and other single, expectant women, a newborn baby could mean months of not working and falling further behind. Half of Stephanie’s paycheck already was going to daycare.


But in August Stephanie moved into another home GSA had just completed renovating, a small one in Purcellville, Va., called Mary’s House of Hope. It is designed to house three single pregnant moms or single moms with newborn babies for two years or more. These women must have completed several of GSA’s program steps at Hebron before moving to Mary’s House.


Volunteers participated in gutting and remodeling the 100-year-old abandoned house, rented from the town of Purcellville for $1 a year. “All I had to say was ‘homeless, pregnant, unwed women,’ and I had a number of people ready to help,” said Mike Emerson, the pastor in charge of outreach ministry at Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg.


It’s what Christians do. —Cherise Ryan


Cherise is a journalism major at Patrick Henry College.




An Army of Angels: American perspective. (National Review Online, 071121)


By Michelle Malkin


Before you blow your top about the holiday hassle at the airport, the long lines at the grocery store, all the hours you’ll spend cooking and cleaning, the uninvited guests who are crashing hubby’s football party, and the endless Christmas shopping list that awaits, just stop.


Stop and think of the Johnson family. Army Spc. John Austin Johnson of El Paso, Texas, is recovering from massive head wounds sustained in an IED attack. Johnson is a member of Fort Bliss’ 4-1 Cavalry. He had survived five previous bombing incidents. That is not all.


Earlier this month, Johnson and his wife, Mona Lisa, buried their nine-year-old son, Tyler Anthony Johnson. The little boy had been on life support for several weeks after sustaining critical injuries in a horrible car accident. He was on his way with his family to see his dad in recuperation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He never made it. The family car rolled over several times after being hit by powerful blasts of wind. Tyler was laid to rest at Pinecrest Memorial Park in Benton, Ark. That is not all.


The Johnsons had two other children. Ashley Mishelle was 5 years old. Logan Wesley was 2. They were killed instantly in the same car crash that claimed their older brother’s life. During the funeral service, the Benton Courier reported, the program included Ashley Mishelle’s favorite song — Ashley Simpson’s “Pieces of Me” — and Sarah McLachlan’s haunting “In the Arms of an Angel.” White doves were donated by a retired military officer.


To lose one child is devastating enough. To lose three? While recovering from traumatic war injuries? And to bury three little angels just weeks before Thanksgiving? No parent can read of suffering like that of the Johnsons and indulge the petty, selfish complaints of holiday gripers and road-ragers. The complainers featured on the nightly news this week wallowing in self-pity over a few hours’ delay on the road or in the air need to get a grip, get over themselves, and get some perspective.


C. S. Lewis wrote famously that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Thankfully, countless citizens were roused by the Johnsons’ plight — and demonstrated that the American giving spirit lasts 365 days a year.


More than 200 Patriot Guard Riders, the volunteer band of motorcycle enthusiasts who provide protection during military funerals, served as Tyler’s pallbearers. The Patriot Guards traveled from Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana to attend. Anonymous donors provided the gravesites and markers for the children’s plots. That is not all.


Soldiers’ Angels provided hotel stays as needed for the Johnsons’ extended family in Dallas, a Brooke Army Medical Center official told the American Forces Press Service. The group also provided funding for food and other basic needs. The Dallas Veteran Service Organization and the Veterans of Foreign Wars pitched in with meals. Operation Comfort covered gas for rental cars, which were provided by Hertz and National. That is not all.


The Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles program provided travel for Johnson to get to his injured wife. American Airlines picked up the tab for the Johnsons to travel to their children’s funerals. The Professional Golfers Association raised $95,000 for a new car and other expenses. Operation Homefront will use leftover funds to build a permanent memorial playground in the children’s honor at Fort Bliss.


Before Thanksgiving brings out the worst in you, stop before you gripe. Give thanks for noisy houses, healthy children and overflowing company. Give thanks for bounteous tables, rambunctious friends and neighbors, life and limb. And give thanks for those who give of themselves — in service to our nation, in civic duty and in answer to His call — all year ‘round. That is all.




America’s Daredevil Takes ‘Final Leap’ after Leap of Faith (Christian Post, 071204)


Renowned motorcycle stunt man Robert “Evel” Knievel, known to fans as “America’s Legendary Daredevil,” passed away Friday, just months after his televised baptism at California’s Crystal Cathedral.


Knievel, 69, died at his Clearwater, Fla. home after struggling for years with numerous health problems, including diabetes, Hepatitis C, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis – a terminal lung disease. The daredevil’s death comes nearly 7 months after his baptism at the Crystal Cathedral on Palm Sunday, April 1, 2007.


Baptized by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller on the church’s weekly Hour of Power program, Knievel’s actions and testimony given during the service moved over 500 other congregants to rededicate their lives to God, Schuller told Christianity Today.


“We started singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ and I started baptizing people, baptizing them as fast as I could,” Schuller said. “I had a little candy dish of water. ‘What’s your name? Okay, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’ — crying the whole time and going to the next one.”


A self-proclaimed rebel and “sinner,” Knievel, whose lavish recreational life included multiple private jets and sports cars, accepted Jesus Christ after experiencing the “power of God” in a Daytona hotel in March.


“I don’t know what in the world happened. I don’t know if it was the power of the prayer or God Himself, but it just reached out, either while I was driving or walking down the sidewalk or sleeping, and it just — the power of God in Jesus just grabbed me,” Knievel testified. “All of a sudden, I just believed in Jesus Christ. I did, I believed in him! I rose up in bed and, I was by myself, and I said, ‘Devil, Devil, you bastard you, get away from me. I cast you out of my life.’ I just got on my knees and prayed that God would put his arms around me and never, ever, ever let me go.”


Although coming late in his life, Knievel’s faith was of primary importance to him during his last months, according to an excerpt posted on the biker’s website.


“Most important to him above all was his new-found faith in Jesus Christ,” reads the site. “Just as he always took great care in surrounding himself with the best people he could depend upon to help him make his jumps during his motorcycle career, Knievel found his greatest friend of all in preparation for his final leap from life. He was profoundly happy that he gave his life to God, who comforted him and gave him the strength he needed to make it through the end.”




Men of the hard cloth (World Magazine, 061216)


WORLD’s 2006 Daniels of the Year Peter Jasper Akinola and Henry Luke Orombi. Jesus asked His disciples, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A man clothed in soft garments?” John the Baptist, of course, was no such man, and neither are WORLD’s 2006 Daniels of the Year Peter Jasper Akinola and Henry Luke Orombi. Their biblical stands are making a difference not only in Africa but in the United States, as the crisis in the oldest American denomination reaches its climax. | Mindy Belz in Kampala


At twilight the marabou stork still sits atop the tallest tree on Anglican Archbishop Henry Orombi’s compound in Kampala, waiting for prey to come into view. Inside his home the archbishop is talking about other flesh-eaters. He is describing the scene when Uganda tyrant Idi Amin sent men for Orombi’s lifelong mentor, then-Archbishop Janini Luwam. “16 February 1977,” he says, as though it were yesterday. “From this place, from where we are sitting, they took him and killed him.”


Luwam was a popular clergymen, “a passionate preacher, a great pastor gifted in engaging people,” according to Orombi. Luwam spoke out against Amin’s murderous regime, attracting international attention. One night armed men from the defense ministry showed up just under the stork’s tree with a political prisoner. His hands had been nearly cut off at the wrist but left dangling and bleeding as a way to lure Luwam from the house. When the archbishop came out, they beat him with gun-butts and demanded to search his home for weapons.


“They forced him to go everywhere—the chapel, the bedrooms—under the pretext of looking for guns,” said Orombi, a seminary student at the time who had spent five months working for Luwam. “Finally they came to this room and on the table was a Bible. ‘This is my gun,’” Luwam told the men. Not long after, Idi Amin’s men shot and killed Luwam.


Orombi, too, was arrested during Amin’s regime, held in prison for assisting a church operating underground. He was released unharmed. Orombi became the leader of Uganda’s Anglican church in 2004. He and his family now live in the home that was Luwam’s. Orombi and his counterpart in Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, are among conservative prelates under fire from church leaders in the United States, Canada, and Europe.


Their particular crime is aiding and abetting congregations in the United States in quitting the United States’ oldest Protestant denomination. Those congregations no longer want to submit to radical interpretations of Scripture, including the ordination of gay clergy. The conflict spiked in 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated the openly gay bishop from New Hampshire, Gene Robinson. The gulf has only widened since, moving the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is part, to a likely split.


The latest development: Several dozen U.S. churches have asked for “alternative oversight” from Orombi, and the number grows almost daily. On Dec. 2 California’s San Joaquin diocese—with 48 parishes and 7,000 members—became the first diocese to take the first of two steps toward ending affiliation with the Episcopal Church. This week congregants at two of the nation’s largest and wealthiest Episcopal congregations, Truro Church and The Falls Church, both located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., are voting to leave the denomination and to seek alternative oversight from the Anglican province headed by Akinola.


The two congregations include leaders of government agencies, members of Congress, Washington journalists, and think-tank presidents. Past attendees include George Washington and George Mason. Truro’s property is valued at $10 million; The Falls Church, $17 million. Episcopal diocese leaders insist that property belongs to the diocese, while the churches rest on Virginia court rulings indicating it belongs to churches—hinting at the legal and financial battles the theological rift will inspire.


Lending official oversight to what promises to be a bumpy transformation will be Akinola and Orombi, along with other prelates (see sidebar). With accelerated secession from the Episcopal Church underway, how did African clergymen with tribal roots and histories steeped in internecine conflict arrive in the middle of a crisis affecting a worldwide church of 77 million whose birthright flows from the Anglo-Saxon halls of Canterbury?


Can such prelates, one a carpenter and the other a high-school dropout who failed at becoming a mechanic, reach Anglicans in affluent nations while shepherding local church members whose yearly per capita incomes average out to $550? In countries where indoor plumbing and 24-hour-a-day electricity aren’t yet standard?


In Africa 10 of 11 provinces have declared themselves in “impaired communion” with the Episcopal Church since the consecration of Robinson. They are joined by other provinces in India, Southeast Asia, and South America: Over half of Anglican archbishops around the world have declared that the U.S. church’s long drift away from biblical authority means they will not recognize as a legitimate Anglican leader U.S. presiding bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori. She voted for the consecration of gay bishop Robinson and has approved “same-sex blessings” that are tantamount to gay marriage.


The archbishops who oppose her represent 70 percent of Anglicans worldwide. The Nigerian Church alone—with attendance at 20 million—dwarfs the Church of England’s attendance at 1.7 million, the Episcopal Church’s 2.2 million, and the Anglican Church of Canada’s half million.


Radical church leaders in the United States, like Bishop John Chane of Washington, D.C., accuse Akinola and others of trying to walk away with the denomination. Akinola says it is the Episcopal Church “which has chosen to walk apart.” Embracing open homosexual practice among clergy “negates our understanding of Scripture as historically understood by the church. It is a departure from all that we stand for,” he told WORLD.


Radical church leaders also seek to frame the debate in cultural terms. They charge that Akinola opposes homosexuality because that is culturally safe in his mostly Muslim Nigeria. They blast him for supporting a gay-marriage ban currently under debate in Nigeria. “We are only asking that we be allowed to do this in our own context, which is admittedly different to that of most of the world,” said Robinson.


Orombi says homosexuality is “nothing new” in Africa. The Ugandan church has a century of martyrdom behind it, and the first Anglican martyrs in 1886 were burned to death in large part because they refused the homosexual advances of the king. And “we don’t spare the polygamists,” Orombi said, noting that he himself is from a polygamist family. “I understand what it is to live within a polygamist marriage, and I’m not going to condone it because I know it is not within God’s will.”


Sexual practices that depart from Scripture, Orombi said, “are not a boxed-up thing for the Western world. It’s a human failure to understand God’s primary design and His calling on us. . . . Do you think the prostitutes are so happy because they are there where they are? This is the injustice of humanity. We tell them it is sin. We don’t want to call it anything else. The problem in America and the Western world is they don’t want to call it sin. They want to give it another name. We don’t want this.”


Both Akinola and Orombi say the debate over sexual morality is an outgrowth of a larger and longstanding issue. “What God says is evil, they say is righteousness. Where we see Scripture, they see the dictates of modern culture coming first,” said Akinola.


Orombi said the debate about sexuality has become “more an intellectual exercise, when what is at stake is the teaching of the Word of God.” Decades of liberal interpretation of biblical texts and church doctrine, he said, have “separated the Scriptures from the power of God’s hands” in ways detrimental to American church life.


“It is difficult to be proud and to be confident to proclaim the truth of what the Scripture is. I think lack of confidence about the Word of God in America comes from an interpretation where the Bible is not the ultimate truth,” he said.


The Anglican crisis has arisen alongside a megashift in church demographics. Already more than half of the world’s Christian population resides in the global south, and at current rates of change four out of five Christians by 2050 will live outside the traditionally Christian West (see p. 44). And where the church is growing fastest, it is speaking with an increasingly conservative and orthodox voice—startling a Western church bathed in Enlightenment sophistry and deconstructed Bible texts.


Global south churches, according to retired archbishop of Southeast Asia Datuk Yong Ping Chung, “emerge out of missionary efforts built on the uniqueness of Christ and the authority of the Bible. Some live in very, very difficult lands and are challenged all the time. This gives personal conviction and a foundation on which to believe. English, Canadians, and Americans are very well off and many of their churches have huge inheritances—they can afford not to win souls.”


Standing for biblical authority has not been without cost, including financial. Orombi told WORLD his province turned down $400,000 a year when it declared impaired communion with the Episcopal Church. Episcopal headquarters at that point offered to triple its giving but Orombi refused. “Do they think this church runs on money? And if it did run on money, would American money solve our poverty in this country?” Orombi says conservative churches in the United States have made up some of the difference.


Asked how much it cost the Nigerian church, Akinola is quick to answer: “As far as I am concerned, nothing. The church that we inherited was a church that was vastly dependent on Western aid and what we now call handouts. As a result, the church was not able to determine what was available for local resources. No more.”


Martyn Minns, rector at Virginia’s Truro Church, is at the center of the tilting power structures. In August he became missionary bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, established by the church of Nigeria to provide oversight sought by Truro and other churches. Minns has known Akinola since seminary days. “In a real sense we are learning what it means to be a global community, learning from folks we’ve been thinking need our church. What God is doing is getting our attention and moving us out of our narrow parochialism and cultural ghetto.”


If the labors for the worldwide church are pressing, Akinola and Orombi face burdens of ministry at home both ponderous and persistent. Orombi describes them in terms of a recent trip to northern Uganda, which has suffered under nearly 20 years of attacks from the vagrant Lord’s Resistance Army. Fighting ended under a temporary agreement signed last August, but over half a million people live in camps for the displaced. When Orombi arrived at one village in October, a mother rushed to ask him to baptize her newborn twins. At the same moment, as he looked ahead, he could see several huts had caught fire and the blazes were spreading. “We have blessings and cursings together all the time,” he said, “and we take them both as from the Lord.”


Orombi learned on the eve of the trip that his sister had died, but he followed through on the 10-day program anyway: “People sympathized with me, but they had been preparing for months for this trip. . . . The north is going through a very hard time and it is important for me to go and identify with them, to bring a message of hope in the place of struggle. . . . But the most important thing is that not to go would give the devil a chance.”


Orombi did not go to high school because he wanted to be a mechanic. “I didn’t make it,” he says simply of the apprenticeship, and his father insisted on enrolling him in a teacher’s college. There, he says, he met Christ, “and that changed the whole perspective of the future,” opening up a lifelong love for children and youth ministry and for becoming an ordained clergyman. He studied theology at a seminary outside Kampala and for three years in London.


By 1993 church leaders named him the first bishop of a new diocese in southwestern Uganda. A decade after beginning with almost nothing, Orombi had a church infrastructure in place there that included schools, training centers, a new airstrip for missionary drop-offs, and rural and community outreach that attracted Anglican workers from South Korea, England, Scotland, and Germany. “I did it by preaching the gospel fiercely,” he said. A year later he became archbishop.


At a New York dinner or at home in the bush, the archbishop, at 6-foot-5, is a commanding presence not only for his stature but also for his baritone laugh and aggressive sociability. On Thursday evenings he teaches an evening Bible study at All Saints Cathedral in Kampala where 200 people regularly attend. Some say they walk more than five miles home afterward.


Orombi begins by opening a Bible well-inked in orange highlighter and saying, “God is good,” to which the congregation immediately responds, “all the time.” He takes them through 10 points about leadership using Mark 4 as text, punctuating the serious with the humorous. At one point he quotes an African proverb in relationship to his own leadership: “The higher the monkey climbs the more his nakedness shows.”


When the service is over, Orombi stays nearly an hour to greet attendees, setting up meetings with some who want to discuss family problems or jobs. “I love people. I love to talk to people, I love to ask questions. I love to look at people’s gifts and try to copy as much as I can. I’ve come to learn that until you learn to go to a practical level and interact with people, you can’t appreciate them,” the 57-year-old archbishop said.


Akinola, nearly a foot shorter than Orombi and, at 66, almost a decade older, brings the characteristic Nigerian intensity to conversation, an abrupt candor that doesn’t obscure a sharp wit. With a series of deadly air crashes, the most recent last month, Akinola declared flying in Nigeria (something he does nearly every week) “a journey to the grave.”


Akinola appears formal in conversation but is fond of showing up in what Nigerians call “civilian mufti”—street clothes minus the archbishop’s traditional raspberry shirt and sometimes the cleric’s collar. African papers refer to him as “the most powerful man in Anglicanism” but others, like one newspaper in Australia, brand him “a fundamentalist bigot.” He speaks forcefully but acts cautiously: He rarely grants interviews, friends say, and makes it a rule not to publicize his travel schedule.


Akinola had to leave school after his primary education. He took up carpentry to support his family and ran a successful business before returning to school under church guidance. He was ordained an Anglican deacon in 1978, a priest in 1979, and attended Virginia Theological Seminary, where he received a master’s in theology in 1981. He became an archbishop in 1997 and primate of all Nigeria in 2000 when the country came under one province. Like Orombi, Akinola “founded” a diocese in Abuja, which became surprisingly self-reliant using business investments to fund 12 primary and two secondary schools. Akinola has worked in both the predominantly Christian south and the largely Muslim north. In the south Anglicans often have been at odds with Roman Catholics; in the north, Islam and Christianity have been at war with one another.


When northern states began adopting Shariah law, Akinola called on the government to suspend oil receipts and supplies. “Time has come to call the Shariah governors to throw Shariah off our land. The governors were elected by Nigerians of all persuasions, not just by Muslims alone but for our common good,” he said.


Last February when Muslims rioted over the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammad, Nigeria was hit hardest: In the north rioters killed more than 120 Christians, burned about 40 churches, and destroyed hundreds of shops and houses. Reprisals by Christians in southeast Nigeria killed about 100 Muslims and left perhaps thousands homeless. Akinola says the controversy ended discussions about dialogue between Christians and Muslims. “We have had the assumption that Islam is a religion of peace, and I ask myself: From what you see on the ground happening, how can you not see that Islam is not making peace? That understanding—it is frightening.”


Akinola says he now tells those under his care to be cautious, “to watch what you say and where you go.” But he draws a parallel to the conflict with the Western church: “I have Muslim friends, and we know the boundaries of our friendship. I have Roman Catholic friends, and we know the boundaries of our friendship. We must accept our boundaries in the Anglican Communion. Unity at the expense of the truth is not faith.”


In appointing Truro Church’s Minns, Akinola said he plans “not to challenge or intervene in the churches of (North America) but rather to provide safe harbor for those who can no longer find their spiritual home in those churches.” Minns himself finds precedent. London sent clergy to America in colonial times, and now Africa is doing the same: “We are a church that needs help.”


Orombi says he looks forward to key Anglican meetings, like one of worldwide Anglican leaders coming up in Tanzania in February, even though they are likely to turn into showdowns. “Many of us in the global south want this whole sexuality thing to be thrown out, to be finished,” he said. “It is exhausting and debilitating.” It is also painful. “If your brother decides he is not going to move, you are sad and pained and you are walking away. Not because you love it. You are walking away painfully, bleeding.”


Daniel Nation


Archbishops Peter Akinola and Henry Orombi are not alone in shepherding U.S. churches that finally want to separate from the radically-led Episcopal Church; they happen to represent some of the largest numbers of Anglicans, both in their own countries and as emigrants (students and workers) to the United States. Others:


Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone represents 30,000 Anglicans in five South American countries. “If you’re faithful to what Jesus calls us to do, you’ll have a very uncomfortable life,” he told a gathering of conservative Anglicans. “If you follow Jesus, an awful lot of people aren’t going to like you.”


Archbishop of the West Indies Drexel Gomez: “So if we are to go forward together the [Episcopalians] have to, as it were, backtrack.”


Archbishop of Rwanda Emmanuel Kolini helped form Anglican Mission in America (AMIA) in 2000 as a way to provide “alternative oversight” to churches caught in a hierarchal web of Episcopal teaching radically at odds with Scripture.


Archbishop of Southeast Asia Datuk Yong Ping Chung retired in February but was dubbed “the Asian tiger” by Akinola for leading a small province to take a big stand for biblical authority. “Our battles did not come overnight, they are 30-40 years in the making, and we have until now been too willing to compromise,” Yong told WORLD during an early December visit to the United States. With Kolini, Yong has led AMIA. “Only God could bring together a churchman from Sabah (North Borneo) in Malaysia and one from Rwanda, which has just gone through this period of genocide,” he said. “To be a small church used by God for such a time is amazing and humbling. In God’s economy it is not about human size and power. It is about heart and obedience.”




Frontline dispatches (World Magazine, 071215)


WORLD’s 10th Daniel of the Year represents all those fighting an evil empire | Marvin Olasky


A lawyer who lost his shot at the Supreme Court when he laid out the ugly moral and legal case against Bill Clinton. An attorney general who lost popularity by pushing the legal war against Muslim terrorists. A ministry leader who also told the truth about Islam as politicians whispered sweet nothings.


Ken Starr, John Ashcroft, and Franklin Graham were three of WORLD’s Daniels of the Year.


A crusader for human and religious rights who traded aristocratic drawing rooms for the front lines of oppression. A southern Sudanese pastor who preached Christ as government forces from the North tried to annihilate his people. Young American Christians who professed their faith even when gunmen threatened to murder them, and sometimes did.


Baroness Caroline Cox, Michael Yerko, and Generation WWJD—teens committed to Christ at Columbine High School and elsewhere—were three more of WORLD’s Daniels of the Year.


A painter highly respected by other artists who risks his standing by showing Christ through his work and words. Two African Anglican bishops who battle Scripture-twisters in their denominational leadership. A professor ridiculed for jump-starting the Intelligent Design movement.


Makoto Fujimura, Archbishops Peter Akinola and Henry Luke Orombi, and Phillip Johnson were three other Daniels of the Year.


This is our 10th year of choosing a Dan of the Year, a very different individual from Time magazine’s typically power-grasping Man of the Year (now Person of the Year). We’ve had some well-known Daniels and some little-known ones, but in all cases their faith in God gave them the strength to stand up against tyrants who tried to put themselves in God’s place. That’s what made them Daniels: They exhibited bravery in defense of God’s authority, not their own autonomy.


We’ve tried to choose individuals notable for their own work but also representative of Christian efforts in a variety of frontline fields. We have not yet covered many areas, but one omission is particularly glaring.


That night was a nightmare for me. My wife was ready for an appointment next morning with an abortion clinic. I wanted to stop her but could not convince her. I was searching the Internet and saw your profile on AOL. You were online. I sent you an instant message and told you what my wife wanted. You wrote me about the procedure and consequences of abortion. I showed that to my wife and she agreed not to go for an abortion. The baby was born in October. Today he is a three-year-old, bringing joy and happiness in our lives every moment. I have no words to thank you for what you have done for me, my wife and the baby.


The woman who received that email, Wanda Kohn, had faced her own abortion decision in 1977, when she was 17, and given in to death. During the 1980s she became a Christian and came to understand that women who had aborted could still receive God’s forgiveness. She began volunteering for the Pregnancy Care Center in Leesburg, Fla., in 1989, and five years ago she became its director.


That pro-life center is one of thousands throughout the country with low-paid directors and unpaid volunteer counselors: Those directors and volunteers are WORLD’s Daniels of the Year for 2007, and Wanda Kohn represents them well. She has impressed even liberal journalists such as Orlando Sentinel columnist Lauren Ritchie, who headlined one column, “Wanda Kohn—she is what I want to be.” Ritchie called Kohn “Leesburg’s version of Mother Teresa. . . . She is passionately anti-abortion, but tempers it with practicality that provides a place to live and diapers.”


Passion plus practicality. Kohn over the past two years has occasionally emailed me, at my request, dispatches from the front lines like this one:


She’s sweet but scared, and she’s carried a huge burden for months as she’s hid her pregnancy. I asked her, do you believe in God? Yes. Do you believe what the Bible says? Yes. Do you know what the Bible says about abortion? No, I haven’t really read the Bible much. So I proceeded to tell her how God calls us to protect the innocent (her baby) and how much He hates abortion. How He created the womb as a place for safety not danger, etc. Talked about honoring God in her decisions . . . doing things His way instead of her own. . . . She’s not going to have an abortion. Thank you Jesus!


But that doesn’t always happen. A counselor may give everything she has, and a young woman may still choose abortion:


She was determined to kill her baby (her words) whatever way she can . . . not because she hates the father of the baby, but because she hates people, she hates her mother, she hates kids including her little half sibling, she acts like she hates me, and she says she hates God as well. Finally, she agreed to visit a Christian maternity home. Prayed that she would agree to stay there, but she didn’t. She got an abortion.


Pro-lifers rightly push for laws requiring parental consent for minors to have an abortion, but sometimes parents can be more difficult than their pregnant daughters:


He told me his daughter wasn’t going to be young and pregnant. She was going to finish school and get on with her life. I approached the subject of adoption. Between cuss words it was apparent he was bound and determined to take his daughter for an abortion—but she didn’t want one. I only had a couple of minutes to spend with her. I knelt down before her, holding her hands, and said, “You are the one who has to live with the decision you make, regardless of your choice. . . . Call us if you need us.” I pressed my card into her hand. A few days later I called their home. The dad answered the phone, told me not to ever call back, and hung up on me. It seemed most likely this baby was led to the slaughter.


Wanda and her husband Bob have been married for 21 years. They have no children, and Wanda thinks about her own abortion “often, but in a healthy way: Every time I share my story with another abortion-minded client, every time I think about the depth of the mercy of God, who redeemed a sinner such as I, every time I thank God for what He’s done in my life and marvel at how He’s taken something as evil as an abortion and years later used it for His glory to help save other lives.”


For Wanda as for many others, thankfulness to God and awe of Him is a motivator on hard days:


I never even got a chance to sit at my desk this morning . . . from a very early morning call, “I’m not doing well, I need you to come to my house to see me NOW,” to a late evening call from a mom whose 15-year-old daughter had told her, after talking to me on the phone, that she was NOT getting the abortion her mom had scheduled the next morning. But God is good and bigger than the most difficult day we can have! He is our provider!


Pro-life counselors are also thankful for technological advances: Now, at many centers, young mothers (and sometimes fathers) look at the screen of an ultrasound machine and see not just any baby, but their baby:


Another woman came in last week and wanted an abortion . . . she said, “It’s only a spot.” She got an ultrasound . . . she said she was still having an abortion. We prayed for her daily. . . . She came back in this Tuesday and told us she has decided to let her baby live.


And beyond the technology stands God’s opposition to the evil empire of abortion, and His merciful intervention in some lives. A 1930s subject of another evil empire, Whittaker Chambers, dated his initial break with communism to the time his young daughter smeared porridge on her face. Chambers found himself looking at her “intricate, perfect ears.” He saw immense design, not a chance coming together of atoms—and “at that moment, the finger of God was first laid upon my forehead.” Pro-life directors and volunteers teach about intricacy and see God’s finger:


The teenager asked me many questions. Her mother had told her that her baby was just a little tiny spot, a blob. I told her, “No. Your baby has arms and legs and is very far along in development.” She started crying. I encouraged her to stand firm. . . . I consider that baby’s survival to be a miracle from God.


In 1961 President John F. Kennedy, visiting the divided German city that was a hot spot in the Cold War, declared, “There are many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the Free World and the communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin.”


Today, many politicians and pundits don’t understand, or say they don’t, the great issue between pro-life Americans and the abortion empire. They should come to Leesburg or a thousand other cities and visit Wanda Kohn or the tens of thousands like her:


Please pray as we had a 15 year old in the office today. She wants an abortion. When I asked if she believed in God she said, “No, not really.” She said she quit believing in God when she was six years old . . . that was how old she was when her mother died . . . we talked about going down the spiral of sin . . . one sin leading to another to another.


Do some say that abortion is the wave of the future? Let them talk with Wanda Kohn and those she represents. Nearly 35 years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, men and women who receive little or no pay, power, or honor keep coming forward to save lives. And some victories become meaningful in deeply personal ways:


As I was sitting in the waiting room with the adoptive family and this precious newborn, I asked what they had named her. “Rebekah” they replied. My heart was in my throat as I asked, “How are you going to spell it?” She spelled it out, “R-e-b-e-k-a-h.” Tears welled up in my eyes. I didn’t tell any of them until a few days later, but you see, that’s the name in my mind of the baby I aborted. God is good, isn’t He?




Speaking frankly (World Magazine, 021207)


In an age of religious relativism, Franklin Graham is not afraid to speak hard truths about Islam. That has resulted in a kind of controversy that his father avoided—and even death sentences from radical Muslim clerics. “My life is in the hands of almighty God,” says WORLD’s Daniel of the Year | Bob Jones


If you close your eyes, you almost can’t tell the difference. You’re in some distant corner of the world, in a stadium packed with tens of thousands of people. That distinctive Southern baritone rings out over the loudspeakers, followed by the fast words of an interpreter. The message is short and direct, and when it’s over people surge forward, spilling onto the field by the thousands to repeat a simple prayer.


Even when you open your eyes, the spell is not completely broken. The thick, side-swept hair, the patrician features, the piercing eyes and slightly quizzical smile—it’s all familiar, yet disconcerting at the same time. There should be more white in the hair, more sag in the skin. You could be at a Billy Graham Crusade, if the year were 1967.


In fact, you’re in Mendoza, Argentina, and the year is 2002—but the folks at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) don’t mind if it’s hard to tell the difference. A few years ago there was talk of shuttering the $96-million-a-year evangelistic empire when its namesake could no longer spread his message. But then the prodigal son came home, learned how to preach, and shouldered the mantel of his famous father. Franklin Graham was, without a doubt, the answer to many prayers within the BGEA: a lookalike, soundalike leader to take the sprawling organization into a new millennium.


Look or listen a little more closely, however, and the generational differences start to become apparent. The accent may be the same, but the emphasis sometimes is not. The younger Graham can attract thousands to his revival services, but he also attracts something that his father, in a career spanning more than 50 years, almost never did: controversy.


He admits that the latest controversy caught him off-guard. At a time when many political and religious leaders were at pains to paint “true” Islam as a religion of love and peace, Mr. Graham broke with the party line. He called Islam “a very evil and wicked religion,” criticized its inherent intolerance, and challenged Saudi Arabia’s Muslim leaders to issue a public apology to the United States.


Suddenly, Mr. Graham found himself under withering attack from religious liberals on the one hand and from some political conservatives on the other. The National Council of Churches and The Christian Century, both longtime supporters of the BGEA, blasted him for daring to criticize the deeply held faith of millions around the world. At the White House, President Bush publicly distanced himself from his friend’s views, while Secretary of State Colin Powell, without naming Mr. Graham specifically, insisted that “this kind of hatred must be rejected.”


To Mr. Graham, the only real surprise is that anyone should be shocked by his statements. “I’m a Christian,” he says with a what-do-you-expect kind of shrug, “a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m not a Muslim fighter. I’m not on a crusade against Islam. I’m a minister of the gospel of Christ, and I want to take His truth to every person in the world. When Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ I believe that. Suddenly I’m a radical and an extremist because I don’t believe that all ways lead to God?”


In a world of religious relativism, the very suggestion that any one belief might be superior to another is precisely the kind of heresy that will get a preacher tossed to the lions of political correctness. For that reason alone, Mr. Graham qualifies as WORLD’s Daniel of the Year.


But there’s more: While other evangelical leaders have followed with their own critiques of Islam, Mr. Graham arguably has the most to lose by taking an unpopular stand. Like the Daniel of the Old Testament, he’s a friend and confidant to those in power—crucial access that could be denied if he’s viewed as too extreme. His ministry, too, is broader-based than most, with support—or at least grudging respect—coming from outside the evangelical camp. A backlash by any faction of the BGEA’s broad ecumenical coalition could hurt severely in terms of both donations and attendance.


And finally, there’s the burden of the Graham name itself. Throughout decades of high-profile ministry, the elder Graham stuck doggedly to his goal of promoting Christianity without critiquing or criticizing non-Christian beliefs. For a son who bears both the name and the expectations of a famous family, the pressure to carry on that soft-spoken tradition must be intense. Only convictions that are more intense still could motivate Mr. Graham to speak out where his father remained silent.


If Franklin Graham is unafraid to say the hard things, maybe it’s because he’s seen the hard things firsthand. He was barely a teenager the first time he visited a Muslim country, and a few years later he dropped out of college for one semester to help build a tuberculosis clinic for Bedouin tribesmen in Jordan. Since then, he’s been around the world with Samaritan’s Purse, the humanitarian organization he headed up even before he took up his father’s evangelistic cause. He estimates he’s made 70 visits to the Muslim world, from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia. And everywhere he goes, the lessons are the same.


“My opinions and my views are shaped by years of working and seeing Islam up close,” he says. “There is no religious freedom. I have seen the persecution. It is taught by them, it is in their Koran. They cannot deny it.”


Statements like that earn scathing condemnation from big-tent religionists, who accuse Mr. Graham of being a “bigot” and “hater.” But such labels stick awkwardly to a man who spends most of his time delivering humanitarian aid rather than sermons. Through Samaritan’s Purse Mr. Graham raises roughly $150 million a year to bring physical relief to devastated people—many of them in the Muslim world. He’s built hospitals in Sudan, schools in Afghanistan, and children’s playgrounds in the Balkans. Everywhere he travels, he brings both good news and goodies.


In Mendoza’s squalid Three Stars barrio, for instance, 75 children gathered in a flimsy church on the final afternoon of Mr. Graham’s three-day “Festival of Hope.” Normally these children would dig through the garbage dump across the street for castoff clothes or broken toys, but on this day they will have a taste of an American-style Christmas. In neat rows, two-by-two, they sit squirming on the church’s concrete floor, holding brightly wrapped shoeboxes in their laps. When every child has a box, they count in unison, “uno, dos, tres,” and tear into their treasures.


Every item pulled from a box elicits a squeal of delight—then, often, a puzzled inspection. A miniature Etch-A-Sketch and a wind-up toy car are forms of entertainment these children have never experienced. One little boy, perhaps 3 years old, focuses exclusively on the one item from his box that he knows how to use: a blue rubber ball. He tosses it several times until he misses a catch and the ball goes rolling across the hard floor. He chases it in a panic until it comes to a stop against another child’s wheelchair. After such a close call, he refuses to toss the ball again, grasping it tightly to his chest while other children swirl around him with prized gifts of their own.


This scene is repeated, with variations in language and skin pigment, each time Mr. Franklin’s team rolls into a new city. Operation Christmas Child, as the effort is known, operates independently of the revival festivals, as well. This year, some 6 million children in 100-plus countries around the world will receive Christmas shoeboxes packed by their American counterparts.


Recently, Mr. Graham was invited to distribute his Christmas gifts in war-torn Sudan, where Muslims in the north are trying to wipe out Christianity in the south. A hospital built by Samaritan’s Purse has been repeatedly bombed by northern forces, so Mr. Graham was surprised to get a call from the Sudanese ambassador, asking him on behalf of the country’s Muslim president to bring thousands of gift boxes and to take part in the peace process.


The evangelist replied that he would love to go, but he first wanted the ambassador to relay a message to the president: “Would you please ask him to stop bombing my hospital?” Mr. Graham asked testily. He went on to lecture the ambassador about targeting innocent civilians and disrupting UN food distribution efforts, then concluded: “And please give my warmest and special greetings to the president.”


It was the sort of confrontation that could easily get him dis-invited from the Sudan summit, but high-level elbow-rubbing doesn’t much appeal to Mr. Graham, anyway. “I have never sought to win favor or friendship with people in high places,” he says. “I’ve never once thought, ‘I’m going to withhold the truth because if I speak the truth then maybe I won’t get invited to the next cocktail party.’ I don’t drink, so I don’t care. Some people live for that, but it doesn’t matter to me. If God opens up doors in life, you just walk through them and try to be faithful to Him.”


That attitude has led to more than his share of run-ins over the years. During the Gulf War, Gen. Normal Schwarzkopf blasted Mr. Graham for shipping thousands of Bibles to U.S. servicemen stationed in rigidly Muslim Saudi Arabia. When he prayed in place of his father at the inauguration of George W. Bush, he was loudly criticized for asking God’s blessing in Jesus’ name. A few months later he was taken to task for sharing the gospel at a memorial service for the students killed at Columbine. And then, of course, there was the Muslim flap.


He insists the criticism doesn’t bother him, no matter what the issue. “If it’s the right thing to say or do, you do it, regardless of what people think. If God wants to give me favor, He’ll give me favor. If He wants to pull me down, He’ll pull me down.”


Still, Mr. Graham does see the mounting criticism as a sign of the times. “We’ve had many freedoms in this country, and as Christians we’ve had a wonderful opportunity,” he says. “But I do think those freedoms are slowly being eroded. Our nation is becoming more secular.


“When Jimmy Carter announced in the Pennsylvania primary that he was a born-again Christian, it caught the attention of the nation. It was a very popular thing to talk about back then. But today the church of Jesus Christ is under attack. There’s an onslaught against the church. Being an evangelical Christian is not a popular position any more, and it’s getting worse, not better.”


Popularity. For 40 years or more it was the intangible asset that allowed Billy Graham to shatter attendance records at stadiums the world over. Wherever he went, throngs would show up to see the man so often described in the media as “an internationally beloved figure” or “the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul.” In October, after a long hiatus, the 83-year-old Graham patriarch showed he could still pack them in, attracting 255,000 listeners to a four-day crusade in Dallas.


But such numbers don’t come by courting controversy. Indeed, if Franklin Graham’s critique of Islam has been amplified in the press, it is precisely because his father’s opinions on the topic are so muted. If Pat Robertson’s or Jerry Falwell’s offspring were to criticize Muslim theology, it would hardly make news. But Grahams have simply never said such things—until now.


Some observers have tried to interpret the comments of the younger Graham as a break from his father, perhaps even a basic theological difference. But Mr. Graham says they are jumping to conclusions. “Nobody knows my father’s thinking because he never issued any comments on Islam, and I don’t think he has any intentions of making any statements.”


So how does the father feel about his son’s outspokenness? “I’ve always backed him and supported him, and he’s always backed and supported me,” Franklin Graham told WORLD. He emphasized that none of his advisers had told him to soften his blunt style—including, presumably, his father, with whom he is extremely close.


Still, Billy Graham hasn’t changed his own style to come out in public defense of his son’s comments, and he recently told a Dallas newspaper that “[Franklin] and I don’t always see exactly alike on everything.” At a joint appearance in October, when faced with several dozen Muslim protesters, the reactions of the two Grahams were markedly different. “We are to reconcile one another to God through faith in Jesus Christ,” Franklin Graham said. “My interest is for the future of this property [the new Charlotte headquarters of the BGEA] and not people standing on the fringes with other interests.”


His father, meanwhile, was as conciliatory as ever: “I welcome them all and I love them all,” Billy Graham said. “I have many friends in that part of religion.”


So far, the controversy hasn’t seemed to hurt attendance at the Franklin Graham Festivals. More than 20,000 people showed up every night in Mendoza, and response rates were among the highest ever recorded—better than 10 percent. Mr. Graham says the mail has been running about 100-to-1 in favor of his position and that donations, thus far, haven’t been affected.


If his convictions cost him, the real price may not be known for years to come. Borderline supporters could be turned off by a steady stream of negative press coverage. Already a festival scheduled for next year in Tulsa has drawn stronger-than-usual opposition among the local population, and the newspaper has covered the controversy extensively. “I hope our Muslim neighbors know that many of us are disgusted and embarrassed that Franklin Graham is being brought to Tulsa in the name of Christianity,” read one letter to the editor. “This man is full of hatespeak, anger, and condemnation.”


That kind of reaction is nothing compared to the vitriol coming out of the Middle East, where several fatwahs, or death sentences, have been issued against Mr. Graham by radical Muslim clerics.


The target of the threats is unconcerned, however. “My life is in the hands of almighty God,” Mr. Graham says. “I gave my life to Christ over 25 years ago, and He can take it today if He wants to. It’s for a reason, it’s for a purpose, and who am I to argue with God? I don’t want to be silly or foolish, but you can’t hide in a cave. We’re all going to die sooner or later. I hope that when my day comes, I will be able to live up to that moment a life that is pleasing to my Father in heaven.


“I don’t want to be politically correct and shame Him by disowning Him. I want to be faithful. I want to hear from His lips, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant.’”