Saturday, December 27, 2014

The 3 - December 28, 2014

This week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature, highlights a movie depicting the life of a former Olympian and prisoner of war, who actually gave his life to Christ following World War II. Also, the shooting deaths of 2 New York City police officers has become a cause for concern as the national conversation on race relations continues.  Plus, the top story involves the celebration of the birth of Christ.

3 - Story of Louis Zamperini's life tops box office, Graham ministry tells rest of story

The story of former Olympian Louis Zamperini's survival at sea for over a month, followed by his imprisonment in a Japanese prison camp, was the top movie at the box office on Christmas Day, according to Box Office Mojo, which reported;
Unbroken took first place yesterday with an estimated $15.6 million, which ranks third all-time among Christmas Day debuts, behind Sherlock Holmes and Les Miserables. That's pretty remarkable considering the movie lacks any recognizable on-screen talent: credit this to the popularity of Laura Hillenbrand's book, curiosity about Jolie's directing, and the movie's inspirational true story (which appears to have some faith-friendly elements).
Louis Zamperini experienced a dramatic life change at a Billy Graham crusade in 1949.  After the war, he suffered from PTSD and abused alcohol.  After his conversion, he was able to forgive his captors.  CNN reported following his death in July of 2014:
He also forgave his wartime tormenters, some of them in person during a 1950 visit to a Tokyo prison where they were serving sentences for war crimes. He was willing to forgive the Bird, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, though Watanabe refused to meet with Zamperini when he had the chance, in 1998, when Zamperini returned to Japan to carry the torch at the Nagano Winter Games.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has put together a special film called, Louis Zamperini: Captured By Grace, which the Association says "tells the story of life after returning home a hero. Through the power of the Gospel—and his experience at the 1949 Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angeles—Zamperini overcame alcoholism, night terrors and a failing marriage to live a full and joyous Christ-centered life until his passing at age 97, inspiring millions along the way." Learn more at

2 - Faith element comes to light after NYC police shootings

The national conversation on issues surrounding race and violence, in which Christian leaders have been actively engaged, acquired another flashpoint the weekend before Christmas when two New York City officers were slain in their patrol car.

The family of one of the officers, according to the U.K. Daily Mail, has forgiven his murderer, a relative revealed.

Rafael Ramos' cousin, Ronnie Gonzalez, insists their focus is on remembering the 40-year-old officer, father of two boys, rather than gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley.

"[Brinsley] in the hands of God now," Gonzalez told Pix11. "We don't believe in vengeance, we just forgive."

He added that Ramos was due to graduate as a chaplain this weekend.

The Daily Mail story quotes Gonzalez as saying to the Wall Street Journal, "My cousin had a couple of priorities in his life..."  He added, "One was God, because he was a God-loving man..."

The STAND organization, headed by Bishop E.W. Jackson, has launched a "Pray for Our Police" campaign.   A press release on the Christian Newswire website quotes the prayer:
When the job is hard.
When the pressure is great.
When you wonder,
"Does anyone appreciate?"
Just know that for all the work you do,
Someone is praying and thinking of you.
For your duty and honor in difficult times,
God in heaven makes His face shine.
He looks upon you from above.
To inspire you with courage and love.
May He give you the strength
To make one more round.
At the end of your shift,
To go home safe and sound.
May you fight the good fight,
And live by His grace.
When your work here is done,
You'll see His loving face.
(Copyright 2014 Bishop E.W. Jackson)

Also, Christian Newswire has a press release stating that the family of Rafael Ramos was given a letter from the President of Faith Evangelical College and Seminary in Tacoma, WA, Dr. Michael Adams, during the first of two funerals held on December 26. Officer Ramos was working towards a BA in Religion as a distance student so he could qualify to be a police chaplain.

1 - Christmas commemorate birth of Christ, #ChristmasMeans campaign tops Twitter

This past Thursday, people around the world joined in the celebration of Christmas.  For those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Christmas can become an opportunity to worship God for sending His Son into the world to bring salvation for all of us.

Christmas becomes a relevant time for ministry, as churches and ministry organizations engage in sharing the compassion of Christ.  One example is found on The Christian Post website, which reports that:
More than 12,000 bags of cookies along with a note and voucher for free hot meals at a local eatery were given to residents and workers on Christmas Eve near the four locations of the New Jersey-based Liquid Church. The gift bags were distributed by more than 5,000 people who attended one of 12 services at the church in what was called a "spiritual flash mob."
Church pastor Tim Lucas is quoted as saying, "It's exciting to see the enthusiasm to go out and share God's love after each service." He added, "And we just heard from some police officers in Times Square sharing that they just received a bag from a Liquid Church family. It made their day to know that they matter, especially on a day like today. Now that's what we call putting our faith into action."

Those who attended Christmas Eve services at the church throughout the day were given the bags of cookies and vouchers with instructions from Lucas to "fan out" and show God's love after the services.

And, reported that the hashtag #ChristmasMeans was prompting thousands of Christians to share the true meaning of Christmas -- Jesus Christ.

It stated that, "Many Christian leaders have joined the chorus, including Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Archbishop of York John Sentamu."

Welby tweeted, “#ChristmasMeans that in Jesus, God has given us the most precious gifts of all: forgiveness and hope.”

Sentamu wrote, "#ChristmasMeans God is at work amongst us. He is closer than you think. Praise Him!"

The piece said that "Christian Today reports that the hashtag began trending when the Church of England headquarters told its clergy to encourage church members to get out their smartphones and post the true meaning of Christmas."   A similar campaign under the hashtag #EasterMeans reached 29 million people last April. 

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