I am primarily an evangelist and teacher who travels around the world in apostolic ministry as God leads and enables me. In addition to preaching and teaching the Bible, I mentor our key partners to be more strategic and impactful for the Gospel in their countries and cultures, just as they continue to mentor me. I am relationally focused rather than program or project focused in ministry relationships and partnerships.
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted…he is God’s servant to do you good… Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities.” (Rom. 13:1-5)
“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men; whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to the governors, who are sent by Him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right… Show proper respect to everyone…fear God, honor the king.” (I Pet. 2:13-17).
Dear NDI Friend & Partner,
I am writing during this Thanksgiving week to publicly express my thanks and gratitude to God for the peaceful elections we experienced the first week of November. It has been one of the longest, most expensive and hardest fought Presidential races in decades. And regardless of whether you voted for McCain or Obama, the election is now over. The American electorate has decisively spoken. We have a new President-Elect in Barak Obama. And he has been peacefully elected as the 44th President of these United States – without fighting, rioting or bloodshed. That is a freedom and political reality that makes America the envy of most of the rest of the world.
Regardless of which side of the political fence you were on, everyone agrees that this was one of the most significant and historical elections in America’s history. For us as a democracy to elect an African-American to the Presidency just a half century after the Civil Rights Era, is unprecedented, unthinkable and unimaginable to millions in America and around the world! But it has happened. And most of the rest of the world has been left a gasping in awe and wonder at the American political system and spirit!
It was especially interesting and timely for me to view the last months leading up to this election on several continents and in diverse countries and cultures. So I got to watch a lot of the campaigning “from outside” the United States – from several countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. And it was amazing to see how they viewed our political process.
While many in both the secular and spiritual realms in other nations were highly intrigued with Obama, few felt he really ever had a chance of winning. They just didn’t think America was ready for such a radical racial shift in the political sphere. But everywhere I traveled, there was an “Obama-mania” that filled the news and press. There was a wistful longing for the unimaginable to happen! No doubt a lot of this was “wish projection” because they knew such radical racial, tribal or caste shift could ever happen in their countries – especially at the highest possible political level. And since it could not happen in their countries and cultures, they wished it for themselves – through us.
So for millions around the world, this was not just an “American election” – it was a “world election!” As Americans voted, they were voting too in their hopes and dreams – and understandably, most were voting for Obama. He was “one of them” in that he was from a minority race. He was from a people group who had known slavery, oppression and repression. He too had been raised in a divided household. He too was deprived of a healthy father figure growing up. He too was raised by a single mother and an aged grandmother. He was the impossible “long shot!” So for Obama to win – they too would win.
But in their minds, it just couldn’t happen. It was too big of a dream. It was too major a shift from racial realities of the past. The time was not yet right. While America often did the unexpected – this was “off the charts” racially and politically! But win he did! And contrary to their fears and beliefs, Barak Obama’s win has not resulted in a tsunami of racial conflict and fighting as it happened in the Civil Rights Era. While there have been unfortunate incidents of racial threats, slurs, innuendos and graffiti, to my knowledge there have been few if any actual racial “hate crimes” carried out. It has been rightly said that racism is like a cancer. It is never totally wiped out, it only goes into remission from time to time. That’s why I have preached for 40 years that racism is not a skin problem but rather a sin problem!
So contrary to the longing and expectation of millions, Obama did win – and he did so decisively. This became the real political “shock and awe” that amazed and impressed the world – far more than our military might in the War on Terrorism! And hundreds of millions are still reeling at this unbelievable reality. Sadly, many do not believe Obama will live to see his inauguration because of some racist mad-man doing the unthinkable – just like happened to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!
Obviously the Christian world – both in America and in other countries, are strongly divided on Barak Obama’s election. And the political decisions he makes in his first “100 days” will both confirm and dispel fears – depending upon which side of the ideological divide you are on.
Therefore, now that the election is over, let me be totally clear about how I voted. You have a right to know as a friend and partner of NDI. As many of you would have imagined, I did not vote for Barak Obama – although everything in my heart wanted to do so! And not reluctantly – but enthusiastically!
To champion the nomination of Obama would have been the logical conclusion of the reconciliation in Christ that I have stood for and preached about for over 40 years. But I did not “vote with my heart.” I had to “vote my conscience” – which I trust has been trained by the Word of God. And while I strongly disagree with his track-record of liberal and leftist voting, my single biggest issue was his stance on abortion. For me personally, a political candidate can be right at every other point – but if they are not pro-life, they are wrong on the most important issue for the ultimate freedom and prosperity of our nation!
For me, it is like the issue of Christology – or one’s belief about the Person and Work of Christ. I used to teach in Cult Courses this principle: “You can be right at every other point in your theology, but if you are wrong on your Christology, you are wrong enough to lose your soul for eternity!” That is the theological equivalent of my political perspective on abortion. That’s because abortion is not just a political position. It’s not just a “Woman’s Right” issue. It is a “life and death issue” – especially for the baby who is being murdered! So, a candidate can be right on every other political point – but if they are wrong on abortion, then I cannot support them. They will not get my vote.
You know the statistics. An average of 1,200,000 abortions a year in America. That means 40,000,000 since 1972 – making the 6 million killed by Hitler seem small by comparison! Even more significant for me in this election are these African-American abortion facts:
Because of my love for African-Americans and my 40 years of advocacy in their behalf, I just could not “vote my heart” and ignore such genocidal statistics! Sadly, by not being more vocal in this area, many Christian African-Americans – and especially pastors and leaders – have allowed a new “Black Slavery” to go largely unchallenged. In the process of embracing the more liberal political and social agenda of the leftists in the Democratic Party, they have also embraced spiritual values that are totally against their noble heritage as an oppressed people. So I pray now that they will rise-up and speak-up to President-elect Obama about reversing this “silent and scientific genocide” being perpetrated against them as a race – all under the guise of racial and political equality.
So there you have it! That’s why I could not in good conscience “vote my heart” and help elect Barak Obama. But now that he has been elected, I will do everything in my power to respect him…honor him…submit to him – except when he makes a political stand which is clearly contrary to the dictates and demands of the Bible.
It is to that end that I am writing to remind all of us – regardless of which side of this political divide you are on, about the clear Biblical exhortations I began with. And I remind you as I remind myself that these are not “Divine Suggestions” but rather “Divine Commands” about what our spiritual and political profile is to look like in both public and private.
Therefore, in light of this historic election I think it is timely for us to re-read the above Biblical admonitions by the Apostles Paul and Peter. Obviously, they are just as relevant in the Twenty-First Century as they were in the First Century. And I need not remind you that when Paul wrote his exhortation to Christians to “…submit to the authorities,” Nero was on the throne of Rome. He was the fifth Roman Emperor and reigned over the Empire from A.D. 54 to 68. Paul himself had appeared before him because of his appeal as a Roman Citizen (Acts 25:1-12) – and was probably acquitted this time for another period of evangelism and mission work. But his freedom was not forever. Politically speaking, Nero would have the last word.
Many Bible scholars also believe that Peter wrote his admonition around the time that Nero began his persecution of the church in A.D. 64. While the first years of Nero’s reign were promising, the later parts were a disaster. He became increasingly erratic, paranoid and psychotic. As a result, the Roman Senate ultimately decreed his death and replacement as the last in the line of Julius Caesar. And while historians still debate the true facts about the “burning of Rome,” Nero definitely made the Christians his political scapegoats for this inferno to deflect the attention and suspicion away from him.
In all probability then, both Paul and Peter suffered martyrdom under the reign of Nero! How ironic then, that they penned these words of political submission and respect when the “mad man of Rome” was on the throne…the one who “fiddled while Rome burned”…the very one who would have them executed!
While I am NOT in any way drawing a parallel between Nero and Obama or equating one with the other, I am reminding us as Christians what our responsibility is before God and man. And these verses inspired and written through Paul and Peter could not be more clear! These truths from God stand eternally fixed in the heavens – whether or not the person on the political throne over us is of our party or the other…is conservative or liberal…is for us or against us. It is still true that “…the authorities that exist have been established by God.” So America voted…Obama was elected – but God reigns! He is still on the throne and “…His throne rules over all” (Dan. 4:17).
Let’s give thanks especially then this Thursday for our country and the freedoms and peace we enjoy – in spite of our current economic problems as a nation. And let us be faithful to pray for President-Elect Obama, his wife and two daughters. Pray for their safety, for Godly wisdom and joy as they move into the White House as our new first family.
Thanks for taking the time to read these thoughts on our recent historic election as a nation. Later I will send another “Reflection on the Election” sharing the timely insights and perspectives of some of our key partners around the world. I think you will be blessed and challenged. Until Later…
God Bless America!
It was a joy to once again minister with my covenant partner, Bishop Ezra Sargunam, in India recently. In spite of the recent death of his beloved wife, Mangalam, a few months ago and his own recent heart by-pass surgery, the ECI continues to march forward through bold faith! Now they have increased to over 3,000 churches across India! Enjoy the following slideshow of the India ministry trip.
For His Glory!
P.S. Be sure to visit the website in the upcoming days to view the next field report on my ministry in Bangladesh.