Prayer Targets: Colson/Wilberforce; Persecuted Church Sunday; Barr, Pompeo Shine; DC Prostitution
October 23, 2019
If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (Matthew 17:20)
Dear Praying Friends,
During the Watergate scandal in 1974, former Special Counsel to President Nixon, Chuck Colson (1931-2012) (bio) voluntarily pled guilty to obstruction of justice. Amid the turmoil, he yielded his life to Christ before serving seven months in federal prison. He wrote in Born Again that he felt "God had put me in prison for a purpose." In 1976 he founded Prison Fellowship, the nation's largest nonprofit Christian ministry to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for criminal justice reform. In 1991 Colson founded the Colson Center for Christian Worldview to equip Christians to live and defend their biblical faith in the public square. His Breakpoint organization delivers news and commentary from a biblical worldview via radio, print, and multimedia. Colson received the 1993 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion for his work with prisoners. In 2008, President Bush awarded him the Presidential Citizen Medal, the nation's second highest civilian award. These edited excerpts are from Colson's preface to the Hendrickson Classic of William Wilberforce's A Practical View of Christianity:
The congressman's face betrayed his anger. "The Republicans accept the religious right and their tactics at their own peril," he thundered. "These activists are demanding their rightful seat at the table -- and that is what the American people fear most." Then Representative Vic Fazio ominously asked, "Should they attempt to impose their personal religious views and ethical beliefs on the party system?" Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), "Democrat Fazio Assails Religious Right in GOP," Washington Post, June 22, 1994, p. A-6.
These strident voices echo those of an earlier generation of politicians who accused Christians of "imposing their morality" when they dared to carry their faith into public life. And at no one did they hurl that accusation more vociferously than the great abolitionist, William Wilberforce.
After graduation from Cambridge, Wilberforce ran as a conservative for a seat in Parliament. The London of 1780 when Wilberforce arrived to take office, was described as a city where unchecked passions and desires ran their course. It is not surprising that few argued against one of the nation's most bountiful sources of wealth -- the slave trade. Government corruption was widespread. A large voting bloc was controlled by the vested influence of the slave trade.
John Newton, the former captain of a slave ship and now a committed Christian...counseled Wilberforce to follow Christ but not to abandon public office: "The Lord has raised you up to the good of His church and for the good of the nation." Wilberforce heeded his advice believing if Christianity was true and meaningful, it must not only save but serve. It must bring God's compassion to the oppressed as well as oppose the oppressors.
Wilberforce dipped his pen into the inkwell. "Almighty God has set before me two great objectives," he wrote with passion, "the abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners." Wilberforce knew the slavery issue had to be faced head-on in Parliament.
...The slave traders were furious and ready to fight, shocked that politicians had the audacity to press for morally-based reforms in the political arena. But Wilberforce and the band of abolitionists knew that a private faith that did not act in the face of oppression was no faith at all.
As the abolitionists analyzed their battle in 1792, they were painfully aware that many of their colleagues were puppets, unable or unwilling to stand against the powerful economic forces of their day. Weary with grief and frustration, Wilberforce wondered whether he should abandon his seemingly hopeless campaign [when] flipping through his Bible, a letter fluttered from between the pages. The writer was John Wesley. "Unless God has raised you up . . . you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils, but if God be for you, who can be against you? Oh, be not weary of well-doing," Wilberforce's resolution returned, and for the next several years he doggedly reintroduced the motion for abolition; and each year Parliament threw it out.
So Wilberforce and his friends decided to go to the people, believing, "it is on the general impression and feeling of the nation we must rely..."And so it went -- 1797, 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801 -- the years passed with Wilberforce's motions thwarted and sabotaged... It was the great genius of Wilberforce that he realized that attempts at political reform without, at the same time changing the hearts and minds of people, were futile.
In 1806 Wilberforce's decades-long efforts finally began to pay off. William Grenville, a strong abolitionist, became prime minister. Grenville introduced Wilberforce's bill into the House of Lords first... On February 22, 1807, the second reading was held in the House of Commons. There was a sense that a moment in history had arrived. One by one, members jumped to their feet to decry the evils of the slave trade and praised the men who had worked so hard to end it. The entire House rose, cheering and applauding Wilberforce. Realizing that his long battle had come to an end, Wilberforce sat bent in his chair, his head in his hands, tears streaming down his face. The motion carried, 283 to 16.
In the years that followed that night of triumph, a great spiritual movement swept across England. Social reforms swept beyond abolition to clean up child labor laws, poorhouses, prisons, to institute education and health care for the poor. Evangelism flourished, and later in the century missionary movements sent Christians fanning across the globe.
Wilberforce's success is all the more amazing when we consider that in his day, the church was apostate, and the whole nation wallowed in self-indulgent decadence. But it was there that Wilberforce and his companions took their stand, clinging to biblical truth, resisting barbaric injustice, and striving to change the heart of a nation. That's the rich heritage of Christian activism in the public square. In America, as in England, it was Christians who led the fight against slavery. It was Christians who enacted child labor laws, opened hospitals, and ran charitable societies to aid widows and orphans, alcoholics, and prostitutes. And it is Christians who are acting as salt and light in our culture today.
As the aging Wilberforce wrote in the conclusion to A Practical View of Christianity: I must confess...that my own solid hopes for the well-being of my country depend... on the persuasion that she still contains many who love and obey the Gospel of Christ. I believe that their prayers may yet prevail. (Charles Colson, preface to A Practical View of Christianity- William Wilberforce, 1759-1833, edited for length)
America is in a moral freefall today. While more sophisticated and modern, our moral confusion is every bit as bad as in England in 1780. Leftist politicians openly call for the taxation of churches, for babies who survive abortion to be exterminated, and for children to be castrated and given sex change operations. Too many believe that Christians should not be free to live out their beliefs but must be forced to participate in immoral activities against their biblically informed conscience. There is public scorn for believers who stand up in the public square, and anti-Christian legal and activist groups label Bible-believing organizations like FRC, ADF, or AFA as "hate groups." If we do not affect the kinds of reforms Wilberforce, by faith, labored for decades to achieve, our grandchildren will never know the kind of freedom most of us enjoy. Pray for God to raise up evangelists, but also for culture-changing men and women who can and will dedicate their lives to Christ and to the kind of faith, endurance, and leadership that William Wilberforce and his preface author, Chuck Colson demonstrated.
International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) - Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019 -- FRC is asking pastors and Christians everywhere to prepare in advance to observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Christians across the world have long been the most persecuted religious group in the world. And more Christians are being persecuted across the globe now than at any time in history. That's why millions of Christians around the world observe IDOP, and why prayer is needed now more than ever. Next Wednesday, I will be including links to resources in the October 30th Prayer Targets. Also, a special online FRC IDOP Event is in the planning stage. Please keep an eye out for these things. In the meantime, please make sure your pastor knows about IDOP and urge him to consecrate Sunday services on November 3rd to preaching and praying over the persecuted church worldwide. (See 2019 USCIRF Annual Report; FRC: Why the American Church must Stand for Religious Liberty; African Christians in flames of Persecution; Global Christian Persecution only Getting Worse; Near Genocide; Most Persecuted and Accelerating; Worse Than "Any Time in History"- Extinction Threatened in Some Countries; FRC: Standing against Christian Persecution in Communist Lands; BillyGraham.org: 5 Ways to Pray for the Persecuted Christians)
- God, help FRC and our allies as we rush to magnify the need for united prayer for the persecuted church on Sunday, November 3rd, and throughout the year. Please help America's pastors and churches to be informed and motivated to unite with multiplied thousands of churches around the world to pray for the persecuted church on IDOP Sunday. Stir American Christians whose churches do not observe IDOP, to pray independently, with family, or in small groups. We know you will hear our united prayers! (Mt 5:10; Jn 18:33; Acts 12:1-18; 2 Th 3:1-3; 2 Tim 3:12; Heb 13:3; Jas 5:16-18)
Epoch Speeches from Two Contemporary Christian Statesmen -- U.S Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave speeches in October that a week later still have the liberal press, progressives, atheists, and other secularists in a frenzy. How? They spoke about their faith in Christ and the morality our Republic must have to survive with a liberty and forthrightness. The senior Cabinet members broke all the rules of political correctness that says Christians in public office must check their faith at the door, akin to the walls of political correctness that enabled the slave trade to persist in England in 1780. The walls today's secularists have built require today's Wilberforce's to pull down the strongholds of immorality and antipathy toward people of genuine faith that seem to operate so freely in our day. Secularists have been bold in their effort to stifle religious liberty, especially Christian religious liberty. But Jesus commands all Christians to let their light shine (Mt 5:14-16). Attorney General Barr and Secretary Pompeo have set an example by bucking anti-Christian political correctness and boldly sharing their testimonies and faith in Christ. We should all take courage to boldly stand for Jesus Christ in our sphere. It is worth taking the time to read or listen to their speeches and to be encouraged! (See A.G. Barr's Remarks to the Law School and de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame; Hear Barr's speech on Washington Watch; Read or watch Secy. Pompeo's Speech "Being a Christian Leader," delivered to the American Association of Christian Counselors; Read Tony Perkins Response to A.G. Barr's Speech: Raising the B arr on Religious Liberty)
- Lord, use these and other dedicated men and women who fear God in the administration, Congress, and the Supreme Court to hold the line against anti-Christian bigotry and religious suppression. Let America become the bastion of religious liberty it once was at home and abroad! (Ex 20:2-3; Ps 119:45; Mt 5:14-16; Mk 12:29-31; Jn 8:36; Gal 5:13)
Finally, there are so many more matters that need our prayer, but please pray over this: The D.C. City Council is considering passage of an ordinance to legalize prostitution in our nation's capital. D.C. belongs to the people of the United States. Please pray that they choose not to do so. And pray that if they do, your U.S. Representative and Senators will act to prevent the law from going into effect. (Read: Dr. Alveda King calls on Congress to act; FRC's Patrina Mosley testifies against the legalization of sex trafficking; Full testimony)