Author archives: Caleb Seals

Fighting Religious Persecution with Mustard Seeds

by Caleb Seals

February 18, 2019

Due to security concerns, the location of this country cannot be disclosed.

For someone who has never been outside of America, I was pumped up about going on my first mission trip overseas. Before the journey, our group went through an intensive preparation course. This course required us to grow in our faith, prepare our armor, and know the laws of the land we were traveling to. We had to practice praying with our eyes open, talk in coded language, and have the ability to detect undercover law enforcement.

The country that we were going to was not Christian-friendly, to put it mildly. We were officially traveling as tourists in a hiking club. We would need to constantly be alert for authorities that could be following us. Per the country’s laws, we were banned from teaching the Bible or sharing the gospel. Of course, that wasn’t going to stop us.

After over 20 hours of flying, we finally arrived at our destination. The very next day, we left the city and went into the outer countryside to start our mission. For the first few days, we stayed in host homes that were a part of small villages on the mountainside. We used translators to speak and encourage believers in their walk with Jesus.

After news of our arrival spread, we were constantly stopped and asked to come in to people’s homes so that they could question us about our activities and take a group picture with their phones. It is also important to note that most of these people had other gods in their life. In almost every hut we went into, there were false idols that they would worship. Many people in these communities seemed to mostly put their hope in the local fortune teller.

After visiting multiple villages, we then set out to a region that no other group had gone to before us. This area had never even heard the name of Jesus, let alone knew what a Bible was. Due to the threat of being compromised, we simply spoke to the people in this area and did prayer walks. During our prayer walks, we would drop mustard seeds, hoping that the Holy Spirit would fill that area (Matthew 17:20).

At the camp, there were undercover officers who posed as fishermen that were sent there by the government to observe our activities and document who we were in contact with. Most of our friends in the country that traveled with us had left so that they would not be endangered.

One night, after an interesting encounter with a fortune teller, we arrived back to our camp. Our host, along with the law enforcement officers, told us that our time staying there was over. I had no idea what to expect. I had heard of several stories in the news about Christians being persecuted and had no idea what would happen to us. We immediately thought of the worst possible outcomes. Are they going to arrest us? Will we be able to return home? What will happen to the contacts we made in the area? The authorities then told us that we were required to leave the area immediately, but we had no idea where to go.

We loaded up the van and had to leave in the middle of the night to a hotel hours away. To securely inform our church of what had just transpired, we had to talk in the bathroom and turn the water on to avoid eavesdroppers. Eventually, we found out that the government compensated visiting tourists to find out information about us. We eventually left the country without any further problems.

On our flight home, I reflected on our journey and prayed that it was not a waste of time. We were all a little discouraged because we did not know why God would send us there only to be shipped right back home again.

Several months after we returned home, we got an update from our contact in the country where we had spent our mission trip. Our contact stated that since our departure, hundreds of people had been saved in the same area where we did not even mention the name of Jesus and had merely prayed while dropping mustard seeds. It was awesome to see how God revealed himself through only the faith of a mustard seed!

Since then, we continue to pray for the Holy Spirit to move every day in that country. It is obvious from the news that not all stories about international religious persecution end as safely as ours did. You saw what happened with Pastor Brunson. You see what is happening with the persecution of our brothers and sisters by ISIS. You see what is happening in China. We need to remember that we have millions of brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world who risk their freedom and their lives every day, merely for being Christian. I hope that you will join me in praying for the persecuted Christians around the globe.

Caleb Seals is an intern at Family Research Council.

How Two “Slam Dunks” are Key to the Success of the Tennessee Volunteers

by Caleb Seals

January 30, 2019

The Tennessee Volunteers men’s basketball team is off to their best start in school history with a record of 19-1. The Volunteers are ranked number 1 in the nation for the first time in over 10 years. As someone who grew up in East Tennessee, I am thrilled to see the Volunteers at the top of the NCAA rankings once again.

However, the Volunteers head coach Rick Barnes has a bigger goal in mind other than winning games: “I hope that we’ve taught these guys how to grow up to be good Christian guys, men.”

Earlier in the season, Tennessee basketball players Kyle Alexander (image above) and Jordan Bowden got baptized at Sevier Heights Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Coach Barnes told reporters, “Wins are important, but what happened with Kyle Alexander and Jordan Bowden is bigger than any win we could ever have.”

Tennessee’s leading scorer Grant Williams posted on his Instagram page a picture of his teammates getting baptized, with the comment: “Two of my brothers were baptized and took a step closer to the Lord.” Kyle Alexander also posted on his Instagram a picture of him being baptized with Sevier Heights Baptist Church’s pastor Tim Miller with the comment, “God You’re Good.”

Coach Barnes told the Knoxville News Sentinel, “Last night I was able to go over to Sevier Heights and watch 2 of our players get baptized last night. To see our team there and see not just the response from these guys, but also the students there were about 8 other students there and thankful for what Tim Miller is doing there for the students. I am also thankful for my family and the God that I believe in. I can sit here all day and tell you that I’m blessed and that there are so many things I am thankful for.”

Barnes has said that he spends time in prayer each morning to prepare for his day. Additionally, Barnes’ son Nick is a missionary overseas in the Middle East. Barnes recently reflected on his faith by saying, “I think God has created everything we do. I think he created basketball. I think it’s the platform that we’re supposed to use to be teachers and mentors of young people.”

It is refreshing to see more figures in sports living a God-centered life. We are blessed to live in a country where we can express our faith publicly. From Dabo Swinney giving God the glory after winning the National Championship to Tim Tebow wearing “John 3:16” under his eyes, we need more men of faith in popular culture. Although the current political climate is very harsh towards Christians, when a man of faith like Rick Barnes comes around, we need to cover him in support and prayer.

Go Vols!

How the Sexual Revolution Could End Women’s Sports

by Caleb Seals

January 24, 2019

Can you imagine watching a grown biological male choke, punch, and kick a biological female in a cage match? Or how about watching a male compete against females in a track meet? Do you think this would be fair? Even the thought of these scenarios seems deeply problematic. Unfortunately, these situations are becoming increasingly common in our culture thanks to the “Sexual Revolution.”

As part of an FRC Speaker Series event, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse spoke about her new book, The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along. Dr. Morse, while discussing the current gender ideology, explained how the Obama-era basis of Title IX will be a contributing factor on how the sexual revolution will be the end of women’s sports as we know it. Title IX states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This sentence became the Obama-era basis for athletes who identify as transgender to justify competing against those who are the opposite of their biological sex.

Dr. Morse used the example of MMA fighter Fallon Fox. Fox lived as a biological man until 2006. Since then, Fox has competed against females in mixed martial arts. Not surprisingly, Fox’s MMA record is 4-1.

Dr. Morse recognizes the vital role gender ideology plays in the sexual revolution of the 21st century. During her talk, she discussed how the rationale of this ideology can be broken down into three concepts: (1) The human body is unimportant and can be “transcended”; (2) Social reconstruction of societal norms regarding the differences between males and females; and (3) Individual reconstruction (with the help of ideological laws and technology).

If the human body can be transcended, then how can anything be sacred? If someone can publicly identify as the opposite sex from what they were born as, then where does this self-identification end? Following this logic, one should be able to change their race or ethnicity as well (or maybe not… just ask Rachel Dolezal).

Dr. Morse helpfully described social reconstruction as the “propaganda” of the sexual revolution. By legitimizing the ability to change one’s gender, society is forcing the public to acknowledge this change without the need for biological proof. And with the help of new laws and technology, these individuals can change their biological features to align with their gender identification. Dr. Morse urged listeners to not engage in this “forceful propaganda.”

She went on to describe the sexual revolution as “A totalitarian ideology that no Christian should get involved with.” Dr. Morse summed up the societal harm of allowing the culture to embrace the notion that there are more than two genders by saying, “If you can make people call Bruce Jenner a woman, then you can make them do anything.” She went on to make the point that a good call to action would be to call out this ideology for what it is: propaganda.

As Christians, we should not be silenced for not recognizing the “fluidity” of gender. We should not be silenced for speaking up about the inappropriate and unfair nature of biological men competing with biological women. And we should never waver on the sanctity and majesty of the God-given differences between genders.

If this current trend continues, it could lead to the end of women’s sports as we know it. The latest example of this happened last October in women’s cycling, when a biological man was allowed to compete in a women’s event. Naturally, he won it.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that men and women are created differently, especially when it comes to bone structure, muscle mass, and hormones. These differences should be celebrated! Since the beginning of organized sports, there have been separate leagues for men and women, girls and boys. There’s an obvious reason why: it simply wouldn’t be fair to have males and females compete against each other. God created males and females differently. Having separate men’s and women’s sports leagues is simply a celebration of this beautiful difference.

Caleb Seals is an intern at Family Research Council.

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