3 - Graham radio broadcast passes milestone, Graham celebrates birthday
The ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association continues to deliver the gospel message through a variety of methods and voices. Just this weekend, people across the African nation of Malawi are participating in the "My Hope" outreach that is utilizing group leaders in homes across that nation, who invite people into their houses to view a message from the Association. The hosts also are called upon to share their own story of salvation through Christ. This has been an effective tool that has seen quite a harvest around the world. Franklin Graham also is wrapping up a crusade in Latvia. The ministry he founded, Samaritan's Purse, is preparing for its National Collection Week November 15-22 for Operation Christmas Child.
And, against the backdrop of Dr. Graham's 92nd Birthday today (November 7th), the ministry is celebrating a notable milestone. 60 years ago this week, the flagship radio broadcast, The Hour of Decision, which is heard on almost 600 radio outlets across America, made its debut on ABC Radio. This became the foundational program for the broadcast ministry of BGEA. Here is Assist News Service's profile of the program.
There are quite a number of Christian radio broadcasts aired in America and around the world, and so many owe a debt of gratitude to that pioneering broadcast of The Hour of Decision, as the gospel message was made available to a growing audience through the medium of radio. The Association has greatly expanded its ministry, from radio to TV to Decision magazine to the Internet, and to a wide variety of platforms, with the purpose of sharing God's truth with a world that so desperately needs to hear the message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
2 - Dozens die in hostage crisis at a church in Iraq
At least 58 people lost their lives, and perhaps as many as 75 were injured, as a group of terrorists entered a Catholic church in Baghdad and took hostages. Iraqi security forces stormed the building and ended the hostage situation, but there was a terrible loss of life. Open Doors USA has this report.
The state of the Christian church in Iraq continues to be a declining situation. The Christian population there in the years since the U.S.-led invasion has reportedly been reduced by half. Iraq has been a nation that has been on Open Doors' World Watch list because of the persecution of Christians there. Christians sense very little protection or sympathy from the government, and have become the subjects of persecution by Muslim groups.
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is coming up next Sunday, November 14th, and it gives Christians around the world the opportunity to stand with those who face persecution and even death as a result of their faith in Christ. More information can be found at www.idop.org.
1 - Evangelical turnout rises, pro-life candidates win
The voters spoke out in the most recent election, this past Tuesday, and the U.S. House of Representatives will now have a Republican majority. The Senate will have a more balanced makeup as a result of the vote. A number of governor's races went to Republicans, as well, plus state legislatures are seeing an increase in Republican representation.
But is this a Republican resurgence? Not necessarily. One can interpret that the election represented a repudiation of the current course of our government. There was a definite anti-incumbency and anti-establishment feel in the results. Polling data showed that voters were distressed with Democrats, but not necessarily enamored with Republicans, either. The clear signal was that voters wanted a change, and definitely not the type of "change" that had been the mantra of the campaign in 2008.
The attitude of change and a call to governmental responsibility in the face of seemingly uncontrolled, or at least excessive, spending has been personified in the "Tea Party" movement, which is generally thought of to be an economically-based thread of our nation's populace. But many of the "members" of the grassroots movement also possess strong evangelical credentials. In fact, a poll released by the Faith and Freedom Coalition shows that 52% of self-identified Tea Party members are also evangelicals.
The influence of "values voting", and more specifically, faith-based voting, was greater in this year's election that in 2008. According to that survey, the largest single constituency in the electorate in the 2010 midterm elections was self-identified evangelicals, who comprised 29% of the vote and cast 78% of their ballots for Republican candidates.
And while much of the general news coverage focused on how economic factors would affect the 2010 vote, the life issue definitely played a significant role. The Susan B. Anthony List proclaimed this year "The Year of the Pro-Life Woman", and a number of the female candidates it supported were successful in their election bids. The List also sponsored its "Votes Have Consequences" project, in which it was active in races in districts where so-called "pro-life" Democrats who supported the health care reform legislation, which contained taxpayer funding of abortion, were running for re-election. The results are impressive: 15 of 20 of those Democrats proclaiming themselves as pro-life while supporting health care reform lost their elections. LifeNews.com has this guest column. You can also visit www.sba-list.org/scorecard to learn how SBA List-supported candidates fared on Election Day. And, here's a summary of the election of pro-life women from LifeNews.com.
I made the point in a recent interview with former U.S. House member Marilyn Musgrave, who headed up the "Votes Have Consequences" project, that candidates that have a foundation of being pro-life tend to hold a Biblical view on other issues, such as marriage and even the economy. A number of the Tea Party candidates, who spoke forcefully on economic issues and governmental restraint and stewardship, were at their core socially conservative, as well. Pastor Jim Garlow spoke with me and discussed that he believes that Christians, especially Christian pastors, will be speaking out increasingly on economic issues, including the concept of government within its means. Perhaps this election can send the message that a Christian view of government and public policy can yield effective solutions to the daunting issues that we face as a country.