Category archives: Religion & Culture

In the Face of ISIS Aggression: Trusting an Unknown Future to A Known God

by Joshua Denton

May 1, 2015

Not more than 24 hours ago ISIS released a shocking new photo that is of an entirely different nature than any previously released.

ISIS has largely waged its war on the West with an eerie online presence, by taping and capturing videos of massacres of Christians, numerous beheadings, burnings, stonings, etc. These images, which once shocked us and filled us with horror, have become almost mundane. We turn our heads and forget because it does not have a direct impact on us. Yet.

Since many Americans have largely closed their eyes to the brutality that defines ISIS, the terrorist group may be trying a new method to strike fear into the hearts of those whom it opposes. 

The picture recently released is of a very young infant sleeping peacefully with a handgun placed on the one side of the child, and a grenade on the other.

It is very tragic to think of the violence and destruction that this child will experience. Undeniably, this child will grow up in an environment surrounded by unspeakable brutality – and never know that there is anything different. Yes, this is heart wrenching to think of.

The intentions of the photo are unmistakable. And their implications should send a shiver down our spine as we sit comfortably in front of our laptops or electronic devices viewing from a safe distance. Clearly, ISIS intended this photo to say “We mean business. We aren’t going away anytime soon. We may die, but our children will follow in our footsteps. The plans we fail to accomplish, those who come behind us will achieve.”

If this isn’t disconcerting to you there is a problem.

Although ISIS undeniably poses a potential threat to our security as a nation, this picture didn’t cause me to advocate for a declared U.S. government disapprobation of ISIS – although that certainly is in order. Instead, this image motivates me to follow the principles of Scripture and be an intergenerational influence for the sake of Jesus Christ. Viewing our service to God in this manner isn’t an option, it’s a command.

My complete and committed life purpose is to be a positive, animated influence on families - inspiring them to motivate others, thereby creating an explosive, multi-generational chain reaction - that encourages individuals to stand strong and courageous for Jesus Christ! 

Eph. 6:12 (KJV) reminds us: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

We will always have adversaries to contest in both the physical and spiritual realms, and we can’t be certain what we may face in the days ahead. But as long as I am faithfully following God and assisting others to do the same, I can have full confidence in what is forthcoming – no matter what the outcome.

Corrie Ten Boom put it so aptly when she said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

New Annual Report on International Religious Liberty Now Available

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 30, 2015

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), where I served briefly as Acting Director of Communications, has issued its 2015 annual report on religious liberty worldwide.

As noted by Knox Thames, USCIRF’s Director of Policy and Research, “The Commission is an independent U.S. government advisory body separate from the State Department that monitors religious freedom worldwide and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and the Congress.”

Individual country reports are available in English and in the national languages of each country. Thames comments that the Annual Report, released today, “documents religious freedom abuses and violations in 33 countries and makes county-specific policy recommendations for U.S. policy. This report covers the period of January 2014 through January 2015.” He continues that the report:

  • Recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate nine countries as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, for egregious religious freedom violations: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan;
  • Recommends that eight additional countries be designated as CPCs: Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam;
  • Urges increased U.S. government attention to 10 countries placed on USCIRF’s Tier 2: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey; and
  • Highlights concerns in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, and Sri Lanka.

In the Annual Report, USCIRF urges that the United States “support a referral by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court to investigate ISIL (sic) violations in Iraq and Syria against religious and ethnic minorities” and “that the State Department designate Central African Republic as a CPC. In addition to country chapters, the report provides overarching recommendations for U.S. foreign policy as it relates to the promotion of religious freedom internationally.”

As the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees notes, “With nearly 900,000 people from the Central African Republic (CAR) forcibly displaced since the outbreak of violence in December 2013, the CAR crisis is quickly becoming the largest forgotten humanitarian crisis of our time. There are more than 460,000 CAR refugees in neighbouring (sic) countries and some 436,000 people are internally displaced. In the Central African Republic, a total of 2.7 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.”

FRC has been a strong advocate for the persecuted church worldwide. Under the leadership of FRC President Tony Perkins, we played a leading role in the release last year of imprisoned Christian Mariam Ibrahim, and have held several webcasts on international religious liberty.

To find out about Christian ministries working to protect persecuted Christians and also meet the profound needs of people in places like the CAR, go to the ServantMatch site of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (of which FRC is a member) or the Catholic Charities website.

Kentucky Judge Affirms First Amendment

by Travis Weber

April 28, 2015

In an Opinion and Order released yesterday — and a model explanation of what the First Amendment is designed to protect — a Kentucky state court judge explained why a small business owner could not be forced to print a message to which he objected on t-shirts requested by a customer.

Hands on Originals (HOO) is a small business in Kentucky which makes promotional products like hats, shirts, bags, etc., and prints messages on these products for its customers. The business is owned and run by Blaine Adamson and other Christians who want to express their faith as they run their business.

HOO was asked to produce t-shirts for the “Lexington Pride Festival” organized by the GLSO (Gay and Lesbian Services Organization), but the owners had personal objections to promoting the message of the event and preferred not to.

For as the Kentucky court notes, “producing the t-shirts as requested would require HOO to print a t-shirt with the words ‘Lexington Pride Festival’ communicating the message that people should take pride in sexual relationships or sexual activity outside of a marriage between a man and a woman,” and “Adamson has consistently expressed his belief that this activity would disobey God if he were to authorize HOO to print materials expressing that message.”

Thus, Adamson told [GLSO] that HOO could not print the t-shirts because those promotional items did not reflect the values of HOO and HOO did not want to support the festival in that way.”

Based on the above, the Kentucky court clearly and unambiguously found that the First Amendment protected Adamson and HOO from government coercion requiring them to print the t-shirts.

The First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause prevents the government from compelling and coercing private citizens to communicate a message or speak against their will. As the Supreme Court said in Wooley v. Maynard, these protections include “both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.”

If the Supreme Court held in Wooley that the First Amendment ensured motorists could not be forced to display a license plate with the motto “Live Free or Die,” then Blaine Adamson cannot be forced to produce for a customer a t-shirt which he does not want to display.

As the Kentucky court correctly pointed out:

The Hearing Commissioner in its Order attempted to distinguish Wooley from the case at bar with the explanation that “In this case there was no government mandate that the Respondent (HOO) speak.” (Hearing Commissioner Order at p 14). If this is characterized as a Finding of Fact, it is inaccurate, is not supported by the Record and is clearly erroneous. In fact, HOO and its owners, because they refused to print the GLSO t-shirts that offended their sincerely held religious beliefs, have been punished for the exercise of their Constitutional rights to refrain from being forced to speak. The statement is not a fair or accurate Conclusion of Law either based upon precedent from the United States Supreme Court. HOO and its owners have a Constitutional right to refrain from speaking just as much as they enjoy the Constitutional right to speak freely. Wooley, supra.

The court dismissed the argument that HOO treated homosexual groups any differently from heterosexual groups by pointing out that HOO declined to print 13 orders based on the message — whether it was homosexual or heterosexual — over the course of several years. In all cases, HOO declined to print the message because of religious objections, not because of the sexual orientation of the customers.

Indeed, the facts reveal that “[a]t no time did GLSO representatives Lowe or Shepherd disclose their sexual orientation and no HOO representative inquired of them about that issue.”

Moreover, Adamson has a policy for his business, clearly stated on the website, that:

Hands on Originals both employs and conducts business with people of all genders, races, religions, sexual preferences, and national origins. However, due to the promotional nature of our products, it is the prerogative of Hands on Originals to refuse any order that would endorse positions that conflict with the convictions of the ownership.”

If Adamson employs people regardless of their sexual preferences, and at the same time has explicitly stated he rejected the t-shirts due to their message, how is it even conceivable that he made any decision (hence “discriminated”) on the basis of the sexual orientation of the customer?

The Kentucky court also found that the Supreme Court’s decision in Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston — holding that under the First Amendment a private citizen cannot be required by the government to include a group in a parade and thus convey message the citizen did not desire to convey — required the same result in this case, where a private citizen could not be required by the government to print a shirt conveying a message the citizen did not desire to convey. Importantly, the Hurley Court held that public accommodations laws could not be used to trump the First Amendment rights of private speakers. Likewise, even though HOO is considered a place of public accommodation, its First Amendment rights cannot be trampled on that basis in this case.

The Kentucky court finally found that Kentucky’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act protected HOO’s rights. The statute covered corporations, and HOO and its owners have sincere religious beliefs which have been substantially burdened by the government decision here. Meanwhile, the government never even attempted to show a compelling government interest justifying its action; indeed, there cannot even be a compelling interest in making Adamson print the shirts when “[s]everal other printing companies later offered to print the t-shirts for GLSO for free or at a substantially reduced price,” and “HOO even offered to contact other printing companies to get the work done at the same price as quoted by HOO.”

Hopefully other courts facing issues regarding how constitutional rights intersect with nondiscrimination claims will look to this opinion as a model for how the First Amendment applies to these situations. We don’t give up individual liberty and the free expression of our beliefs just because we exercise those beliefs and seek to make a living. We must ensure that this continues to be the case.

What is the price of adhering to your faith?

by Travis Weber

April 24, 2015

$135,000.00

At least according to the State of Oregon. For that is the amount of the fine an administrative law judge (ALJ) recommended be levied against Aaron and Melissa Klein in his Proposed Opinion released today.

What did they do to deserve this fine?

They hold the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, and asked that they be left free to live according to that belief as they continued to live as they always had — in a quiet, peaceable manner, running their small business.

Too bad, according to the State of Oregon.

For when a couple walked into their shop requesting that Aaron and Melissa create a cake to celebrate their same-sex wedding, the Kleins refused to violate their consciences to do so, the couple sued and brought the weight of the State of Oregon down upon their heads. The State Bureau of Labor and Industries charged them under various provisions of state law for this act of obedience to their consciences. Never mind that the couple was able to obtain another cake for their wedding within days and even received a free cake from celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman. Aaron and Melissa must be forced to comply. Now the State is trying to force their compliance to the tune of $135,000.00.

The Proposed Opinion contains many errors. It is built on and reaffirms the ALJ’s previous, shoddy reasoning that none of the Kleins’ constitutional rights were seriously implicated in this case.

But chief among the errors here is that the ALJ completely focused on the emotional and other damages the aggrieved couple experienced throughout this matter — while completely ignoring the hateful vitriol directed at the Kleins and other ways they suffered throughout this entire ordeal. An opinion which considers one but not the other is not just. Not only have the Kleins’ constitutional rights been trampled, but their true suffering is ignored.

Moreover, as reflected in the Proposed Opinion, the State of Oregon continued to hound the Klein with demands for more and more punishment:

The [State’s] theory of liability is that since [the Kleins] brought the case to the media’s attention and kept it there by repeatedly appearing in public to make statements deriding Complainants, it was foreseeable that this attention would negatively impact Complainants, making [the Kleins] liable for any resultant emotional suffering experienced by Complainants.”

So according to the State of Oregon, discussing something of public concern which involves an individual’s constitutional rights being trampled is reason to ask the ALJ for further damages against them? (Of course, the Kleins did not “deride[]” anyone — that’s the State’s characterization).

More importantly, the ALJ proceeded to find that “the record contains limited evidence of any events involving [the Kleins] in the media or social media that publicized the cake refusal.”

After reviewing all the allegations of harm supposedly perpetrated by the Kleins, the ALJ concluded that emotional damages related to media and social media attention are not legally recoverable anyway.

However, he then recommended awarding $60,000 and $75,000 to the two aggrieved parties, respectively, based on a summary statement of the legal standard with virtually no analysis:

In addition to the State of Oregon’s obvious bias here, let us not forgot — neither the State nor the ALJ have recognized the fact that the Kleins have faced unprecedented antagonism for merely holding to their beliefs. It seems the no one wants to take responsibility for that. Moreover, the Oregon legal system does not seem interested in considering the substantial harm to the Kleins in its quest for “justice” — thus, there is no justice at all here.

We can only hope that the Kleins achieve justice at some point. Until then, what does this case mean for religious liberty more broadly?

As marriage is being redefined, and governments begin to tell individuals what (in their view) marriage is, individuals will (respectfully) disagree. Many believe marriage is instituted by God and no one can change that. And they will not be forced to violate their consciences by acting against those beliefs.

If we are to alleviate at all the threats to religious liberty going forward, legislative protections for those who dissent from the State’s view of marriage must be enacted. The American public overwhelmingly supports this idea. Recent nation-wide polling tells us that 81% of Americans believe government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.

In the United States, we have long had to live with differences of view among a diverse population. This has not been controversial in the past, and it should not be controversial today.

If you’d like to help the Kleins cover the cost of their forthcoming fines, or otherwise support them, please visit here.

Muslim chooses to die alongside Christians

by Travis Weber

April 23, 2015

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” - John 15:13 (NASB)

The above-titled recent headline comes to us from the Vatican Insider, which brings us the startling and encouraging report of a Muslim who “offered himself as a hostage because he would not leave his Christian friend to die alone.” Who is the man? Jamal Rahman.

According to the story, Jamal “was among the 28 Ethiopians killed (by decapitation) by ISIS in Libya and shown in the latest terror video by Al Furqan, the caliphate’s propaganda machine.”

Jamal “was not spared, despite belonging to a Muslim family.”

Why was he not spared?

Because “[h]e offered himself as a hostage because he would not leave his Christian friend to die alone.”

It is a “great love” which causes us to give our lives for another.

Ultimately, Jamal was killed with all the Christians in the group.

While there is some haziness over why this was the case, it appears to be a sacrificial act of love.

According to reports given to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) — by a member of Al-Shabab, of all people — a certain “online newspaper of Somaliland” reports that Jamal “converted to Christianity on the road” and was killed for this reason.

Yet PIME regards as “much more plausible” the alternate explanation, which is “that amidst the jihadists, the Muslim Jamal ‘foolishly’ and willingly offered himself as a hostage to the jihadists, out of solidarity for a Christian friend he was travelling with.” For “[p]erhaps he believed the presence of a Muslim in the group might even have saved the lives of the others.”

Ultimately, “[t]his was not the case: Jamal was murdered alongside the Christians ‘as an apostate’.”

Jamal’s loyalty to his friend, loyalty to the point of death, is humbling, rare and beautiful. His act will undoubtedly serve as an example to others.

Most importantly, it is a model of our Lord Jesus himself, who laid down his life for us — his friends. If we are to be imitators of Christ, we must do likewise. Let us take this moment to reflect on this act of grace on the part of a Muslim to remember that Jesus himself told us:

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25 (NASB).

Only by His grace can we do that. But let us ask God for that grace. It will be needed, for God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4), even members of ISIS.

Until his truth comes to them, and He comes again, let us be thankful for reminders of his grace in men like Jamal.

Tony Perkins and Jerry Boykin at the United Nations

by FRC Media Office

April 20, 2015

On Friday, April 18, 2015 FRC President Tony Perkins and Executive Vice President Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William G. “Jerry” Boykin spoke at the United Nations about the global persecution of Christians. In the video below, their segment begins at the 1:40:45 mark:

The Persecution of Christians Globally: A Threat to International Peace and Security

Standing with my friend, Curt Smith

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 7, 2015

In early 1991, Curt Smith hired me to serve in the press office of U.S. Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN).  He was my boss for more than three years, working in harness for one of the finest men to serve in the Senate in recent memory.

Curt is a gracious, soft-spoken man who has a deep love for people.  He was patient with me as I grew in my role and has been a friend for, now, nearly a quarter of a century.

He is also a committed follower of Jesus Christ  who, while working for the prestigious law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, also served as head of the Indiana Family Institute.  Now, due to his support for Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s original religious liberty bill, Curt has lost his job.  As Indianapolis’s WISH-TV tells it:

Until last week Smith was the director of public policy at the Taft Law firm. One of its biggest clients is Cummins, the Columbus based engine manufacturer that was a leading opponent of the religious freedom law. Something had to give … (By) last week Smith was in the middle of a professional transition. As recently as Monday morning his Linkedin page showed him working at Taft Law. But an email sent to his law firm address came back with a message saying that he left Taft to join the Family Institute as President, even though his bio at the Family Institute website points out that he has actually held that position for 11 years. A spokesman for the law firm said that the purpose of the Family Institute didn’t match the purpose of the law firm but that it was Smith’s decision to leave … The Taft law firm, according the spokesman, has a principle of inclusiveness, and the when the Religious Freedom law was perceived to allow discrimination against gays and lesbians, that apparently posed an additional problem.

A “principle of inclusiveness?”  Really?  So inclusive that they part ways with the former state director of a sitting U.S. Senator who simply endorsed a bill signed by the democratically elected governor of one of the nation’s largest states?  A bill that mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), signed into law by Bill Clinton and sponsored by then-Sen. Ted Kennedy?

It is a sad day for Indiana and for American law when a man as principled and talented as Curt Smith is de facto forced to leave his role with his employer because he believes that coercion and repression are not Hoosier values.  The moral cowardice of the leadership of Taft and its clients (including Cummins, about whose generous federal contracts I wrote myriad news releases when working for Sen. Coats) is repulsive. 

Curt Smith has the assurance of a loving God and the respect of many friends.  What do Taft, Cummins, and their compeers have?  Gaining the world at the cost of one’s soul is, according to Jesus, a bad bargain.  They might consider that a bit.

VIOLENT OR NON-VIOLENT, AT HOME OR ABROAD, IT’S STILL PERSECUTION

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 2, 2015

As I write, militants from the Islamist Al-Shabab terrorist organization are holding Christian students hostage at a university in Kenya.  They are reported to have killed about 20 people so far.  Here’s a link to this breaking story: Al Shabab militants target Christians in Kenya university attack.

The violent persecution of Christians around the world is one of the crises of our time.  Doubt it?  Consider the following headlines from the past 10 days or so:

Suicide bombers kill 15 people outside Pakistani churches, mob attacks suspects in aftermathU.S. News and World Report

New Evidence of War Crimes, Genocide against Iraqi Christians, Yazidis – Christianity Today

China jails Christian pastor for protesting cross removal – Fox News

Strangers In Their Own Land’: Dilemma Of The Christian Populace In India – CounterCurrents

Christians in the Middle East May Disappear Within Two Years: Lebanese Leader – Assyrian International News Agency

Red Cross: ISIS Cutting Off Water Supply to Christians, Kurds as War Tactic – Breitbart

Here at home?  Consider this story, published this morning, about a restaurant in Indiana:

A small-town pizza shop in Indiana has closed its doors after the owners’ support of the state’s “religious freedom” law and pronouncement they would not cater a gay wedding brought fierce backlash. Kevin O’Connor, 61, who owns Memories Pizza with his two children in Walkerton, Ind., has closed the shop’s doors in hopes the furor will die down, but the family fears it will never reopen … O’Connor’s daughter, Crystal, says the family is considering leaving the state. On Tuesday, WBND Channel 57 interviewed members of the O’Connor family, who said they agreed with Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The family said the pizzeria is a “Christian establishment.” “If a gay couple came in and wanted us to provide pizzas for their wedding, we would have to say no,” Crystal O’Connor said. “We’re not discriminating against anyone, that’s just our belief and anyone has the right to believe in anything.” The family said it would serve gays or a non-Christian couple in the restaurant.

Brutal physical attack, imprisonment, and cutting-off water are persecution of a different type than that experienced by the Hoosiers described above.  But the O’Connors are being non-violently persecuted for their commitment to living-out their faith.

Microaggressions,” Racism, and Plain Stupidity

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 1, 2015

Microaggressions are defined by an article carried by the American Psychological Association as “racism is so subtle that neither victim nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is going on — which may be especially toxic for people of color.”

I’m not sure they’re so subtle. Consider what follows.

A number of Fordham University students have developed a project in which they display signs with offensive things said to them, such as:

** A biracial woman who has been asked, “What are you?” (Her response: “Human”)

** An African-American man who has been told, “You don’t act like a normal black person, ya know?”

** A black student: “You’re really pretty for a dark-skinned girl.”

Full disclosure: My children are multi-racial, so I’m especially alert to comments like this. They smack of racism or at least insensitivity of a nature so pronounced that it reeks like a rotting egg.

Still, I would submit that some of these things are less “aggressive” than they are either unkind or ignorant. I’m not mincing words when I draw this distinction. Aggression connotes an effort to demean or belittle, and while some of the remarks reported by the Fordham students certainly would fall into that category, others just seem borne of a particular kind of insularity. People who don’t spend time with others of different races or ethnicities often have provincial and stereotypical images of one another that are dispelled by more frequent contact — by less insular and monochromatic social interaction.

My major concern here is that the Bible gives ample remedy for both overt bigotry and unintentional but still hurtful rudeness. “Be kind one to another,” writes Paul to the church in Ephesus, “tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God in Christ has forgiven you” (4:32). That’s just one of hundreds of passages in which warmth, acceptance, and respect are taught as endemic to Christian character. In other words, believers in Christ need to try to be more like Him.

Is the application of these commandments a remedy for all racial prejudice and its offensive articulation in social conversation or conduct? No, certainly not. But for followers of Jesus, His Word’s teaching about racial equality and human dignity offer more than sufficient counsel for the way we treat others of “every tribe and nation and people and language” (Revelation 7:9).

I’m grateful for the work of FRC President Tony Perkins, Executive Vice President Jerry Boykin, and Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell in seeking to advance racial reconciliation, and that I work for an organization that affirms our most fundamental national assertion: that all men are created equal, bearing the same value before their Creator as every other image-bearer of God.

For Christians, those truths should be the final word. Let’s keep working to that end.

Some Evangelicals I Know

by Rob Schwarzwalder

March 30, 2015

Today, among urban Americans and Europeans, ‘evangelical Christian’ is sometimes a synonym for ‘rube.’ In liberal circles, evangelicals constitute one of the few groups that it’s safe to mock openly. Yet the liberal caricature of evangelicals is incomplete and unfair.” So writes Nicholas Kristof in the March 29th New York Times as he begins a narration of the ministry of Dr. Stephen Foster, a medical missionary who has brought hope and healing to thousands on behalf of the love of Christ.

Dr. Foster is but one of countless Evangelical Protestants whose devotion to their Lord has animated a life of anonymous service, often at great sacrifice. There is no way to capture the many believers whose dedication to the good news of Jesus Christ has driven them to give up virtually all the world has to offer in exchange for an as-yet unknown city (Hebrews 11:10-16). In this short piece, I thought I’d note just three of those I know personally.

K.K. Deveraj, Bombay Teen Challenge, Mumbai, India

Deveraj (he goes by his last name) rescues women and girls from sex trafficking in one of the seamiest and filthiest places in the world, the “red light” district of Mumbai (Bombay), India. He has an AIDS clinic, runs an orphanage, and operates a large recovery home for women delivered from bondage and for their children. At this latter home, Ashragram, (“The Village of Hope”), “the women have an opportunity to start new lives in a protected environment of love, and receive education and job training in the hope that they can become productive members of society. Those that cannot move on because of psychological or physical trauma have a permanent home at Ashagram.”

Deveraj seeks no glory and gets little. I have been with him when he has stood between me and an angry group of Indian traffickers, upset because I had prayed with their “girls” instead of purchasing their services. I’ve worshipped with him in his AIDS clinic. And I’ve hosted women he has gotten out of trafficking on Capitol Hill, introducing them to people who want to learn more about their journey from darkness to light.

Brave and humble, Deveraj is “a bond-servant of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1).  I want to be like him.

Dave Treadwell, Central Union Mission, Washington, D.C.

Lt.Col. (ret) Dave Treadwell served two tours in Vietnam and holds the Silver Star, two awards of the Legion of Merit, and two awards of the Bronze Star. Many persons of Dave’s standing, upon leaving the military, go to work for defense or aerospace firms where they employ their training and expertise in the private sector.

Dave heard a different call. In the nearly 30 years since he left the military, Dave has served with the Christian Legal Society, Advocates International and, for the past 17 years, the Central Union Mission (CUM). CUM’s mission is to “glorify God by proclaiming the Gospel and meeting the needs of hungry, hurting and homeless individuals and families in the Washington Metropolitan Area.”

Dave and his team fulfill this calling every day for men and women the world just wants to pretend don’t exist.  Because of Dave and his colleagues, not only do they exist – they learn to thrive.

Jim Walker, Heal Our Patriots (Samaritan’s Purse), nationwide

Jim Walker sat in a Bible class I used to teach for months, if not years, never speaking but always listening. I knew he served in the military but his unassuming manner betrayed the stature of his service: senior military attorney for the United States Marine Corps. When Brigadier General James Walker spoke in the Pentagon, people listened.

When Jim left the Marines, he asked about ideas I might have concerning future service. I put him in touch with my friend Ken Isaacs of Samaritan’s Purse, and today Jim leads SP’s “Heal Our Patriots” ministry. Heal Our Patriots “gives wounded veterans and their spouses the opportunity for spiritual refreshment, physical renewal, and marriage enrichment. Couples participate in Biblically-based seminars that help strengthen their relationships with God and others and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation with outdoor activities at our Alaskan wilderness lodge.”

Jim and his delightful bride of 35 years, Nancy, are now serving a group of men and women deeply wounded, physically and emotionally, by the trauma of war. I’m honored to know them.

American Evangelicals have, since the earliest days of our country, served the most needy and sacrificed of their lives, hearts, and treasure to show, in tangible but usually quiet ways, the love of a living Savior to people here at home and around the world. Evangelicals, derided and misunderstood — in part because they won’t budge on issues of biblical morality — have represented and lived a Cross-filled life without fanfare or acclaim.

Perfect, always tactful, up on all the latest cultural phenomena? No. But knowing their audience is the God of the universe keeps them going, and keeps them loving even their most vicious critics, again and again. Paul the apostle says it best in the first chapter of his first letter to the church in Corinth:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe … God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

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