This week on "The 3", a 24-hour period of prayer and fasting was conducted in Detroit beginning on Friday night, voters in the state of Mississippi rejected an amendment to their Constitution which would have defined an unborn child as a person, and Christians gathered in America and other parts of the world to reflect on and pray for the plight of the persecuted church.
3 - Thousands pray and fast during TheCall in Detroit
It does seem that wherever TheCall shows up, there is a dramatic, renewed emphasis on revival and spiritual awakening. I think back on the throes of the Proposition 8 contest in California, where over 30 thousand came together in San Diego to pray in order to release God's power on that vote to confirm traditional marriage. In 1999, Lou Engle, inspired by the Promise Keepers "Stand in the Gap" event, began to develop plans to bring hundreds of thousands of young people to the National Mall in Washington, and in September of 2000, an estimated 400,000 gathered to call upon God.
In 2007, on 07.07.07, over 75,000 people gathered in Nashville to pray and fast together for God to do a profound work. On 11.11.11, TheCall came to Ford Field in Detroit for 24 hours of prayer and fasting. The event began at 6:00 on Friday night and continued through 6:00pm Saturday. The Detroit News estimated the attendance at 25 to 30 thousand at 7:00pm Friday...that publication claims its reporters were not allowed inside. But, here is their report.
Even though there were some local ministers concerned because of what some referred to as an anti-Muslim sentiment, which obviously will raise eyebrows in an area with a significant Muslim population, TheCall's focus was to proclaim Jesus and to promote an avenue of healing, based on God's Word. The Christian Post provided this story. When thousands of God's people participate in this type of effort - what some would call radical, but I believe would best be termed Biblical Christianity - it can have an incredible effect, changing the hearts of those He calls His own, and bringing a sense of His presence to a community and region.
2 - Mississippi voters reject Personhood Amendment
The results are in, and the amendment that was on the ballot in Mississippi, defining "personhood" from the moment of fertilization, failed by a 58 to 42% margin. While this is the second state where such an amendment has failed, the margin was much closer than in Colorado, where a similar measure has been defeated twice. Here is a report from LifeNews.com.
Baptist Press had this coverage.
For many, the "personhood" concept presents a strong statement about the sanctify of life, and I think the whole process helped people to consider their view of the unborn. A number of pro-life, pro-family organizations, including Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the Mississippi Baptist Convention, supported the measure. Filmmakers gave their support, such as Jon and Andy Erwin of "October Baby", which was brought into theaters by the American Family Association to support the personhood vote, and Ray Comfort, whose ministry sent out 600,000 e-mails with a link to his provocative video, "180", depicting people changing their minds on abortion. One tweet Wednesday morning basically described "personhood" as a new civil rights movement.
But, as we experienced even in Alabama when a personhood measure was being considered by the Legislature, and in Mississippi and other states, there are a significant number of pro-life individuals and some pro-life organizations that are not on board with such an amendment. National Right to Life and American Life League are two of those. There are some that would fear unintended consequences, such as the case of a pregnant mother whose life is in danger and a pregnancy is terminated...would there be legal ramifications in that situation? Some opponents believe that the amendment would be certain to be struck down as unconstitutional, and fear that if such a case were to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court that it would not be strong enough for the justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, therefore strengthening that decision. A number of pro-life advocates fear sending strong pro-life measures to the court system because of the current judicial atmosphere. And, these are valid concerns.
Many embrace the strategy of electing more pro-life lawmakers into Statehouses and Congress, and electing a pro-life president who would be certain to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who would view Roe as a dubious decision with questionable constitutionality, and would vote to overturn it. To some, "personhood" represented an "all-or-nothing" strategy, while many pro-lifers believe that "incrementalism" more effective. Yes, there are valid points on both sides.
The upside of the defeat of the Personhood Amendment in Mississippi is that the visibility of the referendum, you would hope, brought a new awareness of the issue of when life begins, as well as a fresh view of the sanctity of life. And, as of Tuesday, there were 6 other states where pro-life advocates are working to put a Personhood Amendment on their ballots - Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada and California. A bill was pre-filed for the 2012 session of the Alabama Legislature that would include similar language to the Mississippi amendment.
This is a key issue in our culture, because our view of the sanctity of life will also color our positions on other issues, as well as the way that we regard others - if we believe that every life is beautiful, every life a gift of God, then the way we behave toward others can be radically transformed.
1 - International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church commemorated worldwide
The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, observed on Sunday, November 13th this year, is an opportunity to stand together in prayer for those who are facing suffering for the cause of Christ around the world. Open Doors is one of the leading sponsors, but there are many other organizations who are in partnership for this day to help bring awareness of the tremendous needs.
One of the dominant areas in which there is much concern for Christian persecution is in nations throughout the Middle East, where governments that are either fundamentally Islamic or lean that way routinely deny Christians their freedom to practice their faith. This has been seen in nations such as Iraq, where it is estimated that half of the indigenous Christians there have fled due to persecution and threats. Another nation is Eqypt, where the Coptic Christians have clashed with fundamentalist Islamic factions. And, we hear of reports out of Pakistan, where their blasphemy laws have placed some Christians under the threat of a harsh sentence for speaking out against Islam and converting to Christianity. And, in Afghanistan, even though their new constitution was framed with the assistance of the U.S. Government, there are many who embrace Sharia, or Islamic Law, which provides for a crime of apostasy, or converting from Islam to another religion.
On The Meeting House radio show this week, Mindy Belz, Editor of WORLD magazine, shared about Sayed Musa, who is now in exile in an undisclosed location, but was facing charges of apostasy. You can read the article here, and listen to the interview below.
Another high-profile area of persecution is on the continent of Africa, especially in and around the nation of Sudan. For years, the persecution of Christians has been prevalent inside Sudan, and now with the new nation of South Sudan that was established earlier this year, it was hoped that Christians could freely and safely practice their faith there. It came to our attention earlier this week from Samaritan's Purse that prayer was needed for over 20,000 refugees from Sudan that have entered the nation, and conditions are bleak due to a shortage of food and other supplies. Then, word came on Thursday that Sudanese extremists had dropped 4 bombs on the camp. Here is a report from Samaritan's Purse on this latest violence.
Open Doors has initiated the "One With Them" campaign to remind us to pray and stand with those who are facing various forms of persecution, including imprisonment and even death because they are Christians. Find out more at www.onewiththem.com. And, visit www.persecutedchurch.org for more information on the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.