Category Archives: National

COGIC Charities gives water, baby formula to Flint residents

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

In wake of the ongoing Flint water crisis, the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) Charities recently announced it is sending water and ready-made baby formula to Flint residents.

According to a press release, several COGIC churches in Flint will serve as distribution centers providing much-needed water and babyFlint Water formula to thousands of Flint residents for the next couple of months or until supplies are depleted.

“There are more than 60 Church of God in Christ congregations in Flint, Mich. When we heard about the crisis, we immediately began to mobilize and strategize how we as an organization could help our members and residents,” said Charles E. Blake, Sr., COGIC presiding bishop. “The leadership of the Church of God in Christ cannot stand silent as the innocent children of Flint and their parents suffer the ravages of poisonous water. We stand with these parents, and with all the residents, to call for the speedy, permanent restoration of clean, drinking water.”

The following COGIC congregations in Flint will distribute water and infant formula free of charge: Greater Holy Temple COGIC, 6702Flint Deliveries North Dort Highway; Cathedral of Faith COGIC, 6031 DuPont St.; International Inspiration Gospel Ministries COGIC, 901 Brown St.; Pentecostal Tabernacle COGIC, 401 Carton St.; Open Door COGIC, 3925 North Term St.; Lively Stone COGIC, 1023 Pettibone St.; Redeeming Grace Ministries, 802 E. Baltimore Blvd.; Greater New Bethel COGIC, 925 W. Atherton Road; Faith Temple COGIC, 5802 Fleming Road; Born Again Ministries COGIC, 3302 Lewis St.; and New Jerusalem COGIC, 617 Stockdale St.

For more information about COGIC Charities’ “Water For Flint,” visit www.cogic.org.

Photos:

Top: COGIC Charities has donated water and ready-made baby formula to residents of Flint, Mich. Courtesy of Ryan Garza, Detroit Free Press.

Right: Charity donations were delivered by U-Haul trucks and cars.

Copyright © 2016 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

Epic biblical drama ‘Risen’ seeks to answer, ‘Can a Roman soldier prove Resurrection was a hoax?’

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By Michael Ireland
ASSIST News Service

LOS ANGELES – In a fresh take on history’s biggest event, seen through the eyes of a high-ranking Roman military officer, RISEN is an imaginative retelling of what happened Risenafter Jesus was crucified and resurrected.

Following the crucifixion, Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) assigns Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) to find Jesus’ missing body and disprove any resurrection.

RISEN stars Joseph Fiennes (SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE), Tom Felton (HARRY POTTER), Peter Firth (PEARL HARBOR) and Cliff Curtis (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD). Kevin Reynolds (ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES) directs with Steven Mirkovich editing (THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST).

RISEN is an epic biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and the weeks following, through the eyes of the unbelieving Clavius (Joseph Fiennes), a high-ranking Roman military officer. Clavius and his aide Lucius (Tom Felton) are assigned by Pontius Pilate to ensure that Jesus’ radical followers can’t steal his body and claim a resurrection. Within days, however, the body is missing, putting Clavius on a mission to find it, to disprove the rumors of a risen Messiah and to prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.

RISEN picks up where THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST left off. Here is why a ragtag group of disciples fanned across the Roman empire and changed the course of history. Politically, historically, spiritually … and seeks to answer the question: ‘Why is this story still so important?’

The Greatest Manhunt in History

High-ranking Roman military officer Clavius is on the detective assignment of all time: to disprove news of Jesus’ resurrection. RISEN filmmakers cast the story of Jesus’ life, deathRisen Poster and resurrection from a skeptic’s point of view, and the result is an exciting and fresh take on one of the world’s most-known stories.

AFFIRM Films is known for faith- and family-friendly classics such as WAR ROOM, SOUL SURFER, COURAGEOUS and WHEN THE GAME STANDS TALL. AFFIRM Senior Vice President Rich Peluso leads the creative team behind films that satisfy the faith audience and go beyond to widely inspire, entertain and engage.

Early reviews suggest a new biblical epic hitting theaters this week is picking up where “The Passion of the Christ” left off.

“Risen” tells the story of Jesus’ crucifixion through the eyes of Clavius, a Roman military officer who is on a mission to prove the resurrection did not happen. Actor Joseph Fiennes stars as Clavius. Fiennes shared more about the film with CBN News’ Efrem Graham.

“A big attraction for me was the way his mind worked, but to get to his mind I found I had to take a physical route. I went to gladiator school in Rome. I stayed long enough to never want to go back,” he told CBN News.

“I spent the good part of a week working with a brilliant set of guys, and what I learned from a military standpoint was a way into the man was conditioned and the way that he thought,” he said.

Clavius is an ambitious Roman soldier who first tries to keep Christ’s body from being stolen after his crucifixion. He then sets out on anmi_CLAVIUS_and_Lucius_02-25-2016 angry journey to find the body after it disappears from the sealed and guarded tomb. He’s a bit of a detective.

Director Kevin Reynolds shot the film in Spain and Malta, where Fiennes had no contact with the actor who played Christ until their first scenes together.

“We had a wonderful team of actors, and they were all very present and dedicated to the narrative. Like any great narrative in any great movie, it’s about relationships,” Fiennes shared. “I think your average good actor gets that and knows it and preps accordingly.”

“So, the disciples as a group of actors were incredibly bonded. They were a unit and a family. And I was very much polarized and outside of that, but when I got invited into the group, it was kind of like the arc of the film was the arc of my existence with them,” he continued.

“I wouldn’t have contact with them until we had made those scenes where we had contact. So that became quite emotional that journey,” he said.

“I think a big component in the movie for me and what I connect to with Clavius is the sense of the second chance, even if it is in the subconscious, which hasn’t quite bubbled to the surface or he has worked out, so I love that component.”

That second chance is exactly why Christ suffered, died and was “Risen.”

“Risen” opened in theaters February 19.

Photo captions: 1) Jesus crucified along with other convicted criminals in RISEN, in theaters nationwide, Feb. 19, 2016. Photo: Columbia Pictures. 2) Advertising poster for RISEN. Photo: Columbia Pictures. 3) Clavius (Joseph Fiennes) and Lucius (Tom Felton) execute orders from Pontius Pilate in RISEN. Photo: Columbia Pictures.

Belles: Super Bowl sex trafficking is not a myth

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Now that Super Bowl 50 is history, one organization continues its call for more awareness on sex trafficking that occurs during the annual game and other large events.Nita Belles

Nita Belles, founder of In Our Backyard, recently took her fight for victims to San Francisco, taking issue with journalists and supporters of the sex industry who called increased sex trafficking during gatherings of this sort as an urban myth.

“An urban myth? Are they serious?” questions the human trafficking expert. “There is no myth about it.

“Traffickers smell the money present at the Super Bowl celebrations and bring their victims here to exploit them and take the money. We are not talking about voluntary prostitution,” said Belles, author of a book that bears the same title of her organization. “The fact is that adults and children are being forced into sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing crime in the world—and that includes the United States. It is happening 365 days a year in every ZIP code. Trafficking, and even the recruitment of new victims, absolutely escalates around large events that draw big crowds like this week’s Super Bowl.”

Belles lead a team of professionals who worked non-stop to ensure that those who are being trafficked have a fighting chance at freedom and that the sex buyers and traffickers will be brought to justice.

“There’s a saying that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world,” Belles said. “But it’s the oldest abuse in the world. Here is my request to the media: Don’t be quiet. Don’t fall prey to the lie that human trafficking is not increasing.  All the traffickers ask is that we keep quiet and perpetuate the myth that it doesn’t happen here. I ask for the media’s help in making it hard to be a trafficker.”

A 2014 study by the University of Arizona about increased sex trafficking during large events stated that “The Super Bowl, or any large event which provides a significant concentration of people in a relatively confined urban area, becomes a desirable location for a trafficker to bring their victims for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation.”

After last year’s Super Bowl in Arizona, the FBI announced that Arizona police departments and law enforcement officers conducted recovery operations for six months leading up to the Super Bowl, where agencies recovered numerous juvenile victims, ranging in age from 13 to 17, as well as adult victims who had been subjected to physical abuse by their traffickers.

Overall through their efforts arrests included 360 customers of commercial sex, 68 traffickers and the recovery of 30 juvenile victims.  Belles said that in 2014, 45 arrests were made around the New Jersey Super Bowl, with 16 juveniles recovered.  In New Orleans the year before, 85 arrests made and five victims recovered.

“Any time you have a large number of people gathering in one place with a party atmosphere—especially males, it’s prime ground for sex trafficking,” Belles said. “I know of animals who are treated with more respect than those who are trafficked. They are forced into horrendous acts that we don’t even want to imagine. Prostitutes are usually victims,” she says, “and ‘john’ is too nice a word for someone who should be called a ‘sex buyer.’ She adds, “Those who are being trafficked are precious children of God and deserve to live free of modern slavery. That is why I do what I do.”

Belles explains that escape is difficult because victims are closely watched and often traumatically bonded to their captors. Those that are rescued are hoping that they can get the help needed to find a new, safe, happy life.  Sex trafficking victims, particularly minors, have a tough road in front of them, even under the best circumstances. They need trauma-based treatment, kindness, understanding, a stable and non-threatening environment, and lots of time.

“Many will need professional counseling and medical or mental health services to recover from the atrocities that have happened to them,” Belles said. “Those recovered in the anti-trafficking efforts in the Bay Area will be offered that help.”

Copyright © 2016 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

The long wait is over: Saeed Abedini back on U.S. soil

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of the ASSIST News Service

NORTH CAROLINA – The long wait is finally over for Saeed Abedini, the 35-year-old American pastor imprisoned in Iran, when the plane he was traveling in, touched down onSaeed_Abedini off plane U.S. soil Jan. 22 at a North Carolina airport, and he was able to wrap his arms around his parents and sister.

A huge smile spread across Abedini’s when he deplaned and was warmly greeted by his family, and also Franklin Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham, after spending more than three traumatic years in jail in Iran for his Christian faith.

Iran-born Abedini, who converted from Islam to Christianity, had traveled to Iran in 2012 on a mission to build an orphanage. But he was detained in July 2012 on charges of evangelizing and sentenced to eight years in prison.

The judge said Abedini’s activities were “threatening the national security of Iran.”trailer movie J. Cole: 4 Your Eyez Only 2017

Abedini was freed from the Iranian prison along with three other Americans last week. The release was part of a prisoner exchange between the United States and Iran.

Besides Abedini, the Iranians also released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian; Amir Hekmati, a former Marine from Flint, Mich.; Nosratallah Khosravi-Roodsari, a businessman; and Matthew Trevitthick, a student.

“Pastor Saeed Abedini is safely back and will be a guest at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove [the 1,200-acre retreat center in the N.C. mountains] in Asheville, N.C., as he re-acclimates and spends time with his family,” Graham shared on Facebook on Jan. 22.

In a statement, Franklin Graham, who is also CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), which operates the Asheville center, said that “we want to provide him aFranklin_Graham_with_Saeed_Abedini quiet place to rest and visit with family.”

Franklin, who played a leading role in the campaign by evangelical Christians to press for Abedini’s release, added: “None of us in America can begin to understand or appreciate what Saeed has endured after being imprisoned in Iran because of his Christian faith.”

CBN News reported that Saeed’s attorneys said the charge also stemmed from his prior involvement with Christian house churches in Iran.

Until his flight back to the United States, Saeed Abedini had been in Germany undergoing medical evaluation at a U.S. military hospital.

“During his imprisonment… he was beaten, threatened, suffered internal injuries, denied medical treatment and was separated from his wife and two children,” added CBN News.

His wife, Naghmeh, 38, who fought tireless for him, has announced that she and their two children, Jacob and Rebekka, will joining him at the The Cove on Jan. 25.

Naghmeh added that she will continue working to promote religious freedom and bring attention to Christian persecution.

One media report stated that Luke Caldwell, a family friend and son of the founder of Calvary Chapel Boise, where the Abedinis attend church, described their reunion as a “complex situation” that requires “a lot of prayer and support.”

“You wish it was as easy as, everyone’s fine, but 3-1/2 years of separation and disconnection,” he said. “Ultimately, they need to reunite that love and that connection.”

Meanwhile, Saeed has been speaking out about what it’s been like for him to finally be free.

The ACLJ (http://aclj.org), has worked on Saeed’s behalf to advocate for his freedom since he was thrown in prison by the Iranian regime, who many believe had doubled-crossed him by initially telling him that he could return to the land of his birth to help set up an orphanage. But then, after crossing the border from Turkey, they promptly arrested him, and he was later sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment on charges of evangelizing.

Photo credits: Top, Saeed Abedini is greeted in North Carolina by his mother as his father and sister look on. Bottom, Franklin Graham, left, with Saeed Abedini.

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‘I got tainted’: Justin Bieber’s monumental return to Jesus

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Justin Bieber

By Mark Ellis
Special to ASSIST News Service

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA – In the last few years, singer-songwriter Justin Bieber’s bad-boy antics and run-ins with the law have alienated some of his Christian fan base and even led thousands to petition the White House to have the Canadian-born star deported. But recently, the 21-year-old pop sensation has reconsidered the error of his ways and made a stunning turnaround in his relationship with Christ.

In an interview with Joe La Puma for the Oct/Nov 2015 issue of COMPLEX conducted at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel, Bieber bares his soul about the dramatic restoration of his walk with Jesus.

“I forgot what I was about, what my mom raised me to be,” Bieber confessed to COMPLEX. “I veered off, and I got tainted. I came into the music industry at 13. I was trying to trust people and they’d break my heart at 15,” he says.

Bieber became disillusioned with people who took advantage of him. In response, he started to “do his own thing.”

“I got into a little bit of trouble,” he admits, “—nothing that other 20-year-olds don’t get into—just rebelling a little bit. Now, being 21, I’m coming into my own and around some pretty cool people who are not afraid to tell me what’s real.”

He says his behavior pushed the limits. “I was doing anything. I was doing so many things that I shouldn’t even be on the planet still. I think that it (my survival) was by the grace of God.”

During his time of rebellion, he says his manager, Scooter Braun always made sure he was safe and that situations didn’t escalate out of control. Sometimes Braun’s oversight as a “fixer” worked, and other times it backfired, he told COMPLEX.

The night he spent in jail was an unforgettable experience. “It’s freezing; it’s uncomfortable; there are people in there you just don’t want to be around. I had people who were yelling at me. They were saying, “Bieber! We f___ with you, bro! We love you! Aye! Keep your head up, bro!” It was kind of funny to hear that, especially from cats in jail.”

Bieber admits some people around him wanted him to rebel.

Following his epic break-up with Selena Gomez, his heart began to soften toward God. “Love is a choice. Love is not a feeling. People have made it seem in movies that it’s this fairy tale. That’s not what love is.

“You’re not gonna want to love your girl sometimes but you’re gonna choose to love her,” he continued. “That’s something in life that I had to figure out. I can’t lean on people. I got to lean on God. I gotta trust in Him through all my situations. Then, hopefully, my other relationships will flourish around me.”

After his turbulent adolescence, he also began to reflect on the limits of science and his place in the universe. “For a ‘big bang; to create all this is more wild [cq] to think about than thinking about there being a God,” he told COMPLEX.

“Imagine putting a bunch of gold into a box, shaking up the box, and out comes a Rolex. It’s so preposterous once people start saying it. At this point, my faith has gotten me to where I am. My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith.”

Photo captions: 1) Bieber with Selena Gomez. 2) Justin praying with friends.

Mark Ellis is senior correspondent for the ASSIST News Service and also the founder of Godreports, a website that shares stories, testimonies and videos from the church around the world to build interest and involvement in world missions.

 

Reflecting on Katrina: A community journalist’s narrative

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Aug. 29, 2005, is an unforgettable day for Louisiana residents who were embroiled in or escaping the path of Hurricane Katrina.Katrina family

At the time of Katrina’s wrath and its aftermath, I was a general assignment reporter for The Orange Leader, then a daily newspaper in the southeast Texas town of approximately 20,000. While rather small in size,  residents of Orange provided heaping help to evacuees. And for approximately three weeks, stories of all sorts flooded the newsroom – from an evacuee giving birth in a local hospital to a pet owner being reunited with a missing dog.

As a journalist who had a part in covering Katrina, the experiences I encountered were somewhat different from those of major media outlets, maybe because these were the people who got out of dodge. However, while they were not on the roofs of their homes being rescued or trapped in the Superdome, there was a sense uncertainty. Although they were out of harm’s way, most of the people I spoke with were in a strange place and worried about their homes.

In situations like these, people just need someone to listen to them; that was my role for the hours I spent at the rest stop. For a journalist, it was a dream; stories flowed with emotion flowed. As a Christian, I was more than willing to provide an empathetic ear and show compassion. They didn’t care that I was a reporter, they just needed someone to listen to them. And on Aug. 29, that was the role God appointed to me. Coincidentally, many southeast Texans, myself included, found themselves on the run from a hurricane, as Hurricane Rita made landfall nearly one month later near Sabine Pass, Texas, on Sept. 24, 2005.

It was heartwarming to witness a community pulling together – regardless of their faith, race, and background – to compassionately uplift others (Colossians 3:12). Orange churches such as First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and North Orange Baptist opened shelters. Many other congregations held prayer services for evacuees and the community.

One of the last stories I covered before Rita interrupted the lives came from caring soul who willingly open her home to evacuees. Joel (pronounced Joe-L) Wilridge, who was a shower-maintenance worker for the Flying J Travel Plaza on Interstate 10 in Orange, “adopted” several Katrina families literally camped out at the truck stop for days.

“I wanted to do my part to help them,” Wilridge told me in September 2005. “I wanted to bring a family home with me. God has definitely brought us together.”Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Wilridge not only opened her own home to evacuees, she recruited her mother, her sister, and adult daughters’ to serve as hostesses. LeRoy Franklin, Claire Brown, Edruth Segura, and Latara Brown, all of New Orleans, sought refuge in the home of Wilridge’s mother, Muriel Julian.

“The people here are very compassionate and friendly, and that goes for the white and black people,” Brown said. At the time of the interview, Brown was a social service counselor for the state of Louisiana.

It was sad that former Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco and former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin had to rely on the federal government to decide whether or not to evacuate thousands when a major hurricane churned in the gulf. Despite it all, the nonprofit organizations, churches, and caring citizens helped those who were able to escape Katrina’s wrath. Katrina is a clear reminder that can get along and help each other in these situations despite our differences. Let’s not wait until a natural disaster to prove what we all know is inside of us. May God bless you and keep you safe.

Cutline: “We are family” is one of several stories written by Tonya Andris, former general assignment reporter for The Orange Leader. Orange, Texas, a city of 20,000 in southeast Texas, was one of several Texas cities along Interstate 10 that welcomed evacuees of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.

Tonya Andris is managing editor of Inside The Pew. She is a former newspaper journalist and resident of Plano, Texas. You may reach her at pewnews@aol.com.

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Youth engagement summit comes to Dallas Baptist; spoken word ministry preps for ‘Rhetoric’

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Carrollton – Holy Arms Ministries will play host to a Community Response Intervention Event on July 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Carrollton Public Library, 4220 N. Josey Lane/E. Hebron Parkway in Carrollton. The event is free and open to the public. The event will bring awareness to child safety. The Child Advocacy Center of Denton County. Call 972-822-9408 for more information or visit www.holyarm.org.watch Captain America: The First Avenger 2011 movie online now

In Los Angeles – Passion 4 Christ Movement will hold RHETORIC 2015, billed as the world’s largest Christian Preston Perry and Jackie Perryspoken word event, on Aug. 7 starting at 7 p.m. at Cottonwood Church, 4505 Katella Ave. in Los Alamitos. Cost is $20. To learn more about this exciting ministry, visit http://www.p4cm.com or view on YouTube.

In Waxahachie – Southwest Assemblies of God University will hold its diaper dandy camp for boys and girls ages four to 10 years old on July 24 and July 25 from 9 a.m. to noon.  The camp will be held on Sheaffer Gymnasium on the university’s campus.  Sign-up on the day of the event is welcome.  For more information call the Athletics Office at (972) 825-4672. Cost is $50 per camper.

In Dallas – On July 11, World Vision will host its fourth annual Youth Engagement Day for youths and adults from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Sadler Global Missions Center on the campus of Dallas Baptist University, 3000 Mountain Creek Parkway. Free event but registration is required. Lunch will be provided. Organizers say the event is appropriate for those entering grades 8-12 and students entering college and those completing their first year of college. Contact Rafael Munoz at 972-790-1204 ext. 2228 for more information.

In Anaheim, Calif. – The Harvest Crusades with evangelist Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, will return to Southern California for the 26th year. From Aug. 18 to Aug. 30 at Angel Stadium, the SoCal Harvest will feature a message of hope and contemporary Christian entertainment each night, including THIRD DAY, Jeremy Camp, Phil Wickham, and Lecrae. The free event will be broadcast live via the Internet at www.harvest.org and daily blog accounts of the crusade will also be made available. Updates about the Harvest outreach will be posted on Facebook (www.facebook.com/harvestcrusades ), Instagram (harvest_org or search #HarvestSoCal and Twitter (www.twitter.com/harvest_org ).

In Washington, D.C. – Rodney and Adonica Howard Browne’s Celebrate America 2015 will continue this Rodney and Adonica Browneweekend with Power Evangelism daily until July 11 at 10 a.m. and nightly events at 7 at the Daughters of American Revolution Constitution Hall, 1776 D. St. NW in Washington D.C. The Brownes say this event is for Americans to come together and turn their hearts to Christ, something much needed in this nation. Celebrate America’s promotional clip and the 2014 highlights are available at http://celebrateamericadc.com/media/.

Photo cutlines: Top, Preston Perry, left, and Jackie Hill Perry perform the poem, “The Fall“, during Rhetoric 2014.  Courtesy: Zoe4Life Productions. Bottom: Rodney and Adonica Browne.

Submit church and nonprofit events, Christian concerts, and fundraisers to Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com for publication.

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Marschall: Faith of our fathers, distinguished guests’ comments

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One Nation Under God

By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service

SWARTZ CREEK, Mich. (ANS) — We approach the Fourth of July again. I am going to suggest we save a little time apart fromOne Nation Under God our backyard barbecues, or town parades if your town still holds them. In addition to ketchup and mustard, add some of these patriotic condiments to your picnic fare; in addition to cheering the flag or the Boy Scout troop in the parade, cheer some of these quotations.

In fact, in addition to prayers, or the Pledge, at your gatherings — even if your family does not already exercise those traditions — draw together and exchange the quotations by our distinguished “guest bloggers” here. (And they are verified quotations, not those manufactured by well-intentioned patriots or challenged by Snopes and Urban Legend watchdogs.)

Long ago, a Frenchman visited the United States, toured the great cities and smallest towns, and came away astonished. Alexis deToqueville reportedly said, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Our president has denigrated the term of current popularity, “American Exceptionalism.” He has said that he is sure every nation thinks of itself as exceptional. We can worry that his complete misunderstanding of that term reflects his complete misunderstanding of America. Americans are not exceptional by virtue of birth certificates or driver licenses. American farmers or American firefighters are not different, or “more exceptional,” than human beings anywhere doing their jobs honorably. Heroes are heroes. And American villains can be as villainous than any others.

“American Exceptionalism” refers to the American system. What “is” the USA? The first of nations, not to declare independence, but to enshrine Liberty. To acknowledge God in the foundational documents of its Declaration and Constitution. To be a nation of laws, not men. To be a Republic, not a Democracy: elevating individualism, under law, over institutions and governmental whims. To respect religion, and religious freedom, as vital components of our American system. In revolutionary fashion — yes, the first; exceptional in world history — to protect minority rights but guard against majority tyranny.

Here, our guest bloggers may remind Americans of things we might have forgotten, God forbid.

“The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.” George Washington, first Inaugural Address.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.” George Washington, Farewell Speech, 1796.

“I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning.” Benjamin Franklin, 1787, Constitutional Convention.

“I’ve lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing Proofs I see of this Truth — That God governs in the Affairs of Men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We have been assured, Sir, in t he Sacred Writings, that except the Lord build the House they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this…” Benjamin Franklin.

“Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” John Adams.

“I have a tender reliance on the mercy of the Almighty, through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am a sinner. I look to Him for mercy; pray for me.” Alexander Hamilton.

“Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” John Jay, Constitutional framer, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“[The Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.” Andrew Jackson.

“It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins andRick Marschall transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.” Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation Declaring the National Day of Fasting.

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” Abraham Lincoln.

“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.” United State Supreme Court, 1892.

“Ever throughout the ages, at all times and among all peoples, prosperity has been fraught with danger, and it behooves us to beseech the Giver of all things that we may not fall into love of ease and luxury; that we may not lose our sense of moral responsibility; that we may not forget our duty to God, and to our neighbor…. We are not threatened by foes from without. The foes from whom we should pray to be delivered are our own passions, appetites, and follies; and against these there is always need that we should war.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Can we resolve to reach, learn and try to heed the greatest message ever written, God’s Word, and the Holy Bible? Inside its pages lie all the answers to all the problems that man has ever known.” Ronald Reagan.

These are exceptional credos. It would be an exceptional disaster if a free people would forget such an inheritance. Happy Fourth. GO forth.

Send comments about this column to Marschall at RickMarschall@gmail.com

Early American Christian poetry: Alexander Mack Jr. 

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By Brian Nixon
Special to ASSIST News Service

Albuquerque, N.M. – For many literary scholars, American poetry did not take flight until the post-Colonial era, falling roughly between the years of 1800-1900. Poets such as William Bryan (1794-1878), Henry Longfellow (1807-1882), John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), and Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) are mentioned with high regard, but culminating with Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) as the exemplars of a uniquely American voice.

All of this may be true.

But the reality is that poetry was present in the New World prior to the post-Colonial era, not only through theAlexander Mack Sr. various native tribes – where verbal histories, religious explanations, and tribal narratives were plethora – but also through the immigration of individuals from various nations.

This era of poetry prior to the 1800s is called the Colonial period.

Colonial poetry covers the years 1620-1800. Poets such as Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), Samuel Danforth (1626-1674), Edward Taylor (1645-1729), and the first black woman to publish her work, Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), are the normative poets to highlight during the Colonial era.

In all, Colonial poetry was largely religious in orientation, highlighting independence, freedom, and the Puritanical values of hard work, family life, and religious conviction.

Yet tucked in between the more known and celebrated American poets, lies a German-American poet: Alexander Mack Jr.

Alexander Mack Jr.’s life is intricately tied to the plight of the pietist Christian movement his father, Alexander Mack Sr. founded: The Brethren. It is known today through its various off-shoots: Church of the Brethren, Grace Brethren, German Brethren, and the like.

The Brethren began as a group of eight members in the small town of Schwarzenau, Germany, in 1708. After persecution, the Brethren splintered into various regions in Europe, then America. The first Brethren group arrived in America in 1719, by the invitation of William Penn, making Germantown, Penn., home.

In 1729, Alexander Mack Sr. and 59 other families arrived on American soil. From here, the Brethren gained in numbers and influence.

Alexander Mack Jr. was born in 1712 in Schwarzenau. Germany. He traveled with his family at age eight to West Friesdland, Germany; little is known of the Mack family during this period.

As mentioned above, Alexander Mack Jr., came to America in 1729 with his family. After the death of his father in 1735, Mack Jr. went through a crisis of faith, culminating in depression and mental turmoil.

To help give direction to his life, Mack joined the Ephrata Community in 1738. The Ephrata Society was an American Christian group, favoring medieval mystical ideology with monastic overtones: celibacy, strict daily orders, prayer, and Bible study.

Mack left the group in 1746 and returned to the Brethren. In 1749, he married Elizabeth Nise and began a family.

Being an educated man, Mack turned his attention to writing poetry, theology, lyrics, and letters. All of Mack Jr.’s writings were written in the German language.

According to author Samuel Heckman, Mack Jr.’s writings demonstrate a “kind and sympathetic spirit of the man, and show him to have been looked upon as a wise counselor and respected citizen.”

Mack Jr.’s largest non-poetical work was written in 1788. The book’s title, shortened to An Apology, is a defense of radical Christian thought and practice.

During the same year, Mack Jr. began publishing poems, many of which were contributions to Christopher Sower’s printed magazine Geistliches Magazien (translated as The Religious Magazine). Sower is best known as the first American to print the Bible in the New World.

According to Heckman, Mack Jr.’s ultimate purpose for the poems was to highlight “pious living and the source of his inspiration was the sacred Scriptures.” But Heckman is quick to point out that Mack Jr. had broader interests as well, stating, “He had larger learning and culture and interests is evidence through his knowledge of historical characters and events.”

Mack, Jr. died in 1803, leaving a body of work that should be placed with the other Colonial poets, as an instrumental factor in shaping early American poetry, particularly American Christian poetry. Though (by modern standards) the poems seem simple in tone and content, they are examples of Christian piety and demonstrate a deep Christian mind at work, cultivating a poetical and biblical worldview.

I leave you with his poem Number 36 (consisting of 55 stanzas), written to help comfort struggling families. The introduction of the poem, possibly written by Sower, states that Mack Jr. wrote the poem for those “erroneously dwelling in sadness, from out their house of mourning, and of leading them, with God’s blessing, to better thoughts.”

Stanza 36:

Whom love makes strong
Him, also, his affliction strengthens
Whom sorrow weakens
Him, also, his love enfeebles.
For love and sorrow
Are always closely related,
Each always extends to the other its hand
Through the whole of life’s journey
.

Sorrow and love were something Mack Jr. knew much about-experiencing the fruit of both. But as the poem continues, Mack Jr. relishes in the outcome of love’s pursuit:

Stanza 42:

The love of God
Is a fire that is effective;
It leads us, through Jesus Christ,
Into a new world.
It melts the folly out
And melts the wisdom in,
And when we are purified
It leads us all home
.

In a day and age where so many people are struggling – economically, socially, politically, and spiritually – Mack Jr.’s short stanzas (and the larger poem) sound as though they were written yesterday. Maybe it’s time afflicted people pick up the poems of Alexander Mack Jr. and learn how our founding fathers stayed the course amidst great turmoil, trusting in God’s love to see us through, eventually leading us home.

Photo (above): Alexander Mack Sr., founder and first minister of the Church of the Brethren.

Notes: Brethren Press published a book of Alexander Mack Jr’s writings in 1912. It was edited by Samuel Heckman, of which much of this material was gleaned. Additional information on Alexander Mack Jr. can be found in Donald Durnbaugh’s book, The Brethren in Colonial America, published by The Brethren Press. A reprinted version of Alexander Mack, Jr’s poetry can be found on Amazon. Also a free internet version can be read on Internet Archive:http://www.archive.org/details/religiouspoetry01heckgoog

 

Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, minister, and family man. You may contact him at www.briannixon.com

Calcasieu Youth Organization seeks employers for job fair; Outcry 2015 coming to several cities

Published by:

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Lake Charles – Due to the recent concern of economic growth and correlated employment level in the Lakeriot conference Charles area, the Calcasieu Youth Organization (CYO) will sponsor a career job fair, from Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 3 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. The fair will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is sponsored by Sasol North America.

Karew Records recording artist Jonathan Nelson will entertain during the Revival In Our Town (R.I.O.T.) Conference on June 29. Cost is $25. Employers interested in being a part of the fair should contact Pastor Larry Miles, president of CYO, or his wife, Linda, at calcasieuyouth@yahoo.com or (337) 309-5075 to register. There are no entry fees for employers. Deadline is Friday, June 26.

In Baton Rouge – Registration is under way for Masterpiece Kids (Ephesians 2:10), a summer arts camp, sponsored by First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, 529 Convention St. The camp is scheduled for July 6 to July 10 from 8 a.m. to noon daily. Cost is $10 per child. For kids completing kindergarten through sixth grade. Register online at First Baptist.trailer movie Brommers Kiek’n

In Irving – Interested in becoming a foster parent? The Bair Foundation Child and Family Ministries will hold an orientation on June 25 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at its office, 4425 W. Airport Freeway in Irving. Call 972-957-0030 for more information.

Outcry Tour 2015 is coming to the following cities on these dates: Pittsburgh (July 25); Washington, D.C. (July 26);Hillsong UNITED Greensboro, N.C. (July 27), New Orleans (July 29); Nashville (July 30); Atlanta (Aug. 1); Miami (Aug. 2); St. Louis (Aug. 4); Tulsa (Aug. 5); and Houston (Aug. 6). Performers vary by location and include Hillsong UNITED (pictured right), Kari Jobe, Bethel Music, Passion, Lauren Daigle, and Trip Lee. Guest speakers include Nick Hall and Shaun Groves. For ticket information and venue locations, visit www.outrytour.com.

In Katy – The Katy Christian Women’s Connection will host monthly Prayer Connections on July 9 and August 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.  Join in praying for our family, friends, military, city and country.  Please call 281-232-8338 for locations.

Submit church and nonprofit events, Christian concerts, and fundraisers to Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com for publication.

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