Sunday, May 10, 2015

The 3 - May 10, 2015

On this week's edition of The 3, my week-in-review feature:  3 new Presidential candidates have entered the Republican race, and you could say that there is more identification with the evangelical Christian community. Also, good news from Nigeria, where hundreds of girls have been rescued from captivity, but there are also some concerns.  And, the top story includes prayer across America on the National Day of Prayer.

3 - More candidates enter Presidential race, more identification with evangelicals

Several weeks ago, there were 3 candidates in the Republican field for the 2016 Presidential nomination, and that total has now doubled due to announcements this week, and more identification from candidates with evangelical Christianity.

First out of the gate this week was renowned former neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, who began to stir some potential voters after his 2013 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast.  But, as a Religion News Service profile points out, that speech slammed political correctness, as well as Obamacare. He's quoted as saying...“The PC police are out in force at all times,” adding, “People are afraid to say ‘Merry Christmas’ at Christmastime. …We’ve got to get over this sensitivity. You know it keeps people from saying what they really believe.”

His faith background is Seventh-Day Adventist, but he told RNS in 1999: “I spend just as much time in non-Seventh-day Adventist churches because I’m not convinced that the denomination is the most important thing." He said, “I think it’s the relationship with God that’s most important.”  Carson is attributed with saying that he prayed before each surgery, and said, "Quite frankly, as a neurosurgeon, there’s a lot of emphasis on technical ability, but I believe that that’s something that can be taught, but wisdom comes from God and I think that it’s something that you have to seek.”

Carson has been identified with evangelicals quite closely, having signed books at last year's Southern Baptist Convention, even though he withdrew from speaking at this year's Pastors' Conference.  Reportedly, that was due to concerns expressed by a group of younger pastors who did not want the Conference to be so aligned with politics, as well as doctrinal concerns.

The following day, a former pastor and governor threw his hat into the increasingly crowded ring, as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee announced his candidacy.  Another Religion News Service article highlighted his announcement, in which, according to the piece:
He portrayed himself as an economic populist, a protector of Social Security, a defender of Israel and the scourge of Iran. A former Southern Baptist minister and Fox News talk-show host, he also touched on issues that particularly resonate with many conservative Christians, including his opposition to same-sex marriage, his support of religious freedom laws and his concern about the country’s moral standards.
“This country could only be explained by the providence of Almighty God,” he declared, noting he had accepted Jesus as his savior at Bible camp when he was 10. His campaign announcement at the University of Arkansas Community College started with a prayer.
The piece notes that Huckabee "scored a surprising upset in the opening Iowa GOP caucuses by appealing to the state’s evangelical voters..." in 2008, but noted that he will have more company this year.  The articles points out that:
Born-again voters are a powerful part of the Republican electorate, especially in two of the states that hold early contests. In Iowa, about six in 10 GOP caucus-goers identified themselves as evangelical or born-again Christians in 2008 and 2012. In South Carolina, 65 percent of Republican primary voters were evangelicals.
The faith walk of Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was also highlighted. She announced her candidacy Monday, and says she relied on her faith when her stepdaughter died of a drug overdose. “Without my complete conviction that a loving God had been with Lori, and was with our family as we buried her, I am not sure how I would have coped,” she wrote in “Rising to the Challenge,” a memoir published Tuesday by Sentinel. 

According to another Religion News Service article, she reportedly grew up Episcopalian, and the piece says that at a recent Heritage Foundation event, she said when she was 8 years old her mother, who was also her Sunday school teacher, gave her a plaque that said: “What you are is God’s gift to you and what you make of yourself is your gift to God.”  The article says that according to The New York Times, she told Iowa’s Faith and Family Forum, “It was my husband Frank’s and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ that saved us from a desperate sadness,” referring to her breast cancer battle and her stepdaughter's death.

2 - Good news from Nigeria: hundreds of women, girls rescued

There is word of rescues coming out of Nigeria recently, according to  This past Monday, 260 women and children that had escaped from the grip of Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram were found near Chalawa Village in Adamawa State.  This followed a rescue by the Nigerian army of hundreds in Sambisa Forest.

Unfortunately, a report states that over 200 of the nearly 700 women and girls that were recently rescued from Boko Haram are pregnant, indicating mass rape.

None of those rescued over the past week are believed to be among the Chibok girls that have been missing since 2013.

According to the article, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima has expressed concern over the large numbers of women and girls who have become pregnant by the Islamic terrorist group, believing that the group is attempting to grow more followers to carry on the group’s mission.

Spokesman Isa Gusau is quoted as saying, “They also believe that whoever does not hold their ideology is an unbeliever that should be killed and rendered homeless and whatever belongs to him or her becomes a legitimate booty recovered from enemies,” adding, “This booty includes women that are then allocated to ranking leaders of the sect as sex slaves.”

The piece points out that Boko Haram, which being translated means, “Western education is sinful,” has been seeking to build a caliphate in Northern Africa, a part of the continent that is predominantly Christian. The group has killed thousands since it stepped up its attacks in 2009, often targeting churches and those who are non-Muslim.

1 - Christians across America pray, read God's Word

This past Thursday marked the National Day of Prayer, which was determined by Congress to be observed on the first Thursday of May.  The National Day of Prayer Task Force sponsors a prayer gathering in the nation's capital each year, in the Cannon House Office Building.

This year, the honorary chair of the Task Force was Dr. Jack Graham, pastor of the Prestonwood Baptist Church in the Dallas area.   A Baptist Press report quotes Graham as saying: "We are facing a crisis in America. These are desperate days," adding, "This is a crying time in America. It's a time for tears."

He called for extraordinary prayer, emphasizing the event's theme "Lord, Hear Our Cry," taken from I Kings 8:38. He said, "There's a time for ordinary prayer...But there is a time for what Jonathan Edwards the great revivalist called extraordinary prayer. Uncommon times call for uncommon prayer, and so we cry out to God. We cry out to God."

Graham read a letter from Saeed Abedini, a pastor who is imprisoned in Iran. He wrote: "The National Day of Prayer is a great opportunity for us to come out and use the freedom that we have been given. So many Christians around the world are imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Jesus." He said, "You have the freedom to gather across the United States at your state capitol to pray. Please use this opportunity. Please use your freedom for the Kingdom of God.

Leading up to the National Day of Prayer, the entire Bible was read on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building, which is where, according to a Charisma News report, the President takes his oath of office.  The report states that the U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon began in 1990, the year proclaimed by a Joint Congressional Resolution and Presidential Proclamation by President George H.W. Bush as the International Year of Bible Reading.  The event is intended to honor the Bible, celebrate religious freedom and unite the diverse branches of Christianity around the Bible.  The estimated time to read the entire Bible: 90 hours.

And, in the Faith Radio broadcast area, at least 3 Bible reading marathons took place, including an event on the west side of the State Capitol in Montgomery.   The cities of Troy and Ozark continued their tradition of holding a Bible reading marathon in their downtown areas.

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