This week's edition of "The 3" continues to maintain awareness of a story that has brought great sadness to our region, but also a great sense of hope, as people have responded in incredible ways. Also, the annual observance of the National Day of Prayer has come and gone, with a renewed emphasis on praying for our nation, our leaders, and the substantial issues we face. And, the top story: the death of a terror mastermind and the spiritual implications.
3 - Massive number of Christian workers, as well as Christian leaders, visit tornado-ravaged area
It's been a week-and-a-half since deadly tornadoes scratched deep paths of destruction across the Deep South, with hundreds dead, thousands injured, and scores of homes and businesses left as no more than piles of rubble. Governmental agencies from the Federal and State government swung into action, as we have come to expect, and the initial reviews are that they are doing an excellent job of bringing needed assistance to the victims.
But, as we saw in Katrina and as we have seen in other disasters, the Christian community has become a potent force in bringing relief to the multiple affected areas. Churches and church organizations, some with armies of trained volunteers, have brought the requested assistance that has been so greatly needed. In fact, there are instances where some areas had an overabundance of volunteers to help clean up debris. Social media has been a powerful tool in providing information about locations in need, and people appear more than willing to provide.
Christian musicians are calling attention to the devastation and have brought hope to the affected areas. Last Sunday night in Cullman, Alabama, Casting Crowns performed before a gathering of some 15,000 people. Michael W. Smith was in Tuscaloosa on Monday to work with Samaritan's Purse, which has a strong presence in the area. And, Mac Powell of Third Day and evangelist David Nasser, who teamed up for the "Glory Revealed" project, announced that they would be involved in a Tornado Relief concert in Birmingham on May 15th. The website is www.makeyourmovebenefit.com.
2 - National Day of Prayer unites thousands of Christian believers nationwide
This year, estimated millions of Christians gathered across the nation for the observance of the National Day of Prayer. In 1952, during the Truman administration, Congress issued a directive for a National Day of Prayer to be proclaimed annually by the President, and this was done this year by President Obama. The Freedom from Religion Foundation had sued to have this directive declared unconstitutional, and a Federal court judge had actually found this Congressional action to be a violation of the "Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment. That ruling was overturned by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just weeks ago.
Here is a National Day of Prayer report from CitizenLink.
In 1988, the National Day of Prayer was established as the first Thursday of May, and this year, it was observed in the nation's capital in the Cannon House Office Building, with Honorary Chairperson of this year's observance, Joni Eareckson Tada, on hand, along with a number of faith leaders from the Christian community, as well as members of Congress and more. The event was broadcast live on the Internet.
Across the nation, many churches held special services, including prayer breakfasts and evening prayer gatherings. County courthouses and other municipal locations were sites for special meetings across the county, as civic leaders joined with local ministers and citizens to call upon the Lord on behalf of our nation and a variety of topic areas, including government, military, media, business, media, education, church, and family.
1 - Death of bin Laden brings evaluation of proper Christian response
Late last Sunday night, President Obama announced that al-Qaeda leader and 9-11 mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed by a group of highly trained U.S. special forces who carried out a carefully-planned, strategic operation that had been in the works for months. Almost instantly, Americans took to the streets in celebration - at the White House, at Times Square, and there was a sense of jubilation across the land.
For Christians and Christian leaders, the death of bin Laden does arouse some questions...Should we celebrate the death of another person, even someone who had wrought so much evil, who even did it in the name of religion, exploiting the teachings of Islam to incite death and destruction? Osama bin Laden had not professed faith in Christ, so it is to be assumed that he will spend eternity in hell, apart from God. So, I don't think we, as Christians, should necessarily rejoice in his death.
But, we can be grateful that justice was done. It was pointed out by Mindy Belz, Editor of WORLD Magazine, in an interview that I recorded several days ago, that our jubilation over bin Laden's death can be compared to past celebrations such as V-E Day or V-J Day, celebrating not the death of enemies but the triumph of America and the fulfillment of justice. Mindy has written an excellent article for WORLD on the next steps in dealing with terror. The interview is scheduled to air on The Meeting House on Tuesday, May 10th.
The fact is, al-Qaeda is still alive and well, and it's important that the U.S. government recognizes the threat and the intricacies of the worldwide organization which has set itself in opposition against America. It is important that we recognize the spiritual dynamics of the struggle, and see that those involved in Islamic jihad, or holy war, against America and its allies, most notably Israel, are operating under the false belief that their treacherous actions will please Allah and result in eternal rewards. Christians recognize that Allah is not the God of the Bible, and following the teachings of the Koran can place someone in direct conflict with the principles of Scripture. To ignore or downplay the threat of Islamic fundamentalism in the name of tolerance or to not to see it as a spiritual conflict places our nation in peril - it must be recognized, confronted, and defended against.
There were plenty of comments from Christian leaders about bin Laden's death. Here is a sampling:
Michael Horton of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals from Christianity Today
Christopher Morgan had these thoughts on The Gospel Coalition blog
The Christian Post had this analysis
And, for a variety of perspectives, check out this piece from Charisma magazine