(Tim; this from and by Rev. David Wegener of Ndola, Zambia)
* * *
This is an open letter from an American Reformed Christian living in Africa to my African Christian friends on the occasion of the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the U.S.A.
20 January 2009
Dear African Christian Brother:
I would ask you to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ in the church in America, particularly for those who believe in the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
I’ve just begun a new term at the college and one of the courses I teach is a survey of church history. Last week we learned about Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, who was asked to curse Christ or die. The old man replied, “for 86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Minutes after making this good confession he was burned alive... We also read about Blandina, a slave girl who endured indescribable tortures before being killed for her faith. In a few weeks we’ll study Athanasius, who was exiled from his pastorate five times because of his faith in our triune God and his willingness to stand alone against the world for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
You see, I want my students to be moved by the examples of these men and women. Each of them had to face a battle in their day. The battle is different in each generation, but it is all the same war. For Polycarp and Blandina, it was a refusal to compromise with idolatry. For Athanasius, it was the Godhead, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, one God eternally existing in three persons. For Reformers like Ridley and Latimer, it was justification by God’s grace alone (not human merit), found in Jesus Christ alone (not the sacraments of the church), received by faith alone (not faith plus works), to the glory of God alone (with no help from or credit given to me), on the basis of Scripture alone (not the Bible plus tradition).
In each age, the need is to find out where the battle is being fought and to stand firm and faithful, with courage and humility, refusing to compromise, and to do it with joy and laughter and generosity.
In America today, the battle is over sexuality. The culture is pressing us hard on the many issues that stem from this: divorce, AIDS, pornography, abortion, incest, child molestation, mainstreaming of homosexuality and other perversions, the redefinition of marriage, etc. Sexuality touches each one of us at the deepest place of our personhood and so many are dying and being wounded on the altars of lust and selfishness. Sexuality touches so many of our core Christian doctrines, such as the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, the Trinity, man as created in God’s image, federal headship, marriage and child-rearing, church government, to mention just a few.
At this time of year, our attention is turned to abortion, especially. This coming Sunday is what we call Pro-Life Sunday, the Sunday nearest to the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision that legalized abortion on demand in 1973. Since then, there have been over 50 million children killed by abortion. This is the Sunday when we will preach and pray for this slaughter to stop. Fortunately, for many churches and Christians, this is not a once a year thing, but an ongoing life commitment that we mark for special emphasis on this day. Our church in Bloomington protests each week outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on the day they do the abortions, protesting and offering to adopt these unwanted children. One woman has mercifully taken us up on this offer. Other families in the church are adopting other unwanted children. So this is part of our normal Christian life.
Pro-Life Sunday will be harder this year. We’ve just elected Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion President we’ve ever chosen. That designation may surprise some of you. His speeches and books don’t mention abortion much. And when they do they can seem moderate. But those of us who have observed the politics of abortion in America for many years have learned to listen very carefully. “The Freedom of Choice Act, currently before Congress, is as extreme a measure as the nation has ever seen, invalidating for the entire country all restrictions on abortion before viability, including parental notification, waiting periods, and partial-birth abortion bans. Obama was one of its sponsors in the Senate, and in July he announced at a Planned Parenthood event that ‘the first thing I’d do, as president, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.’” Remember who Planned Parenthood is: the largest abortion provider in the country. Their whole reason for existence is to aid mothers to kill their unborn children. You don’t speak before them unless you are “for them.”
Mr. Obama’s transition team has announced “that the new president will remove all restrictions on federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research immediately after taking office.” Stem cells are gathered from aborted children and used for scientific research. “The Mexico City policy (which requires all groups that receive federal funds not to perform or promote abortion abroad) will disappear the first day, as well.” Why all this talk about “the first day” he takes office, “the first thing I’ll do”? It designates priority. This is what Mr. Obama is about. These are his priorities.
And he was elected with the votes of Bible-believing, pro-life Christians. Many of us call this a schizophrenia of the worst kind. I’m still trying to understand it.
I know many of you are rejoicing that Mr. Obama, a man of African ancestry, has been chosen for this office. I wish I could share your joy, but Mr. Obama’s policies and promises prevent that. My opposition to him is based on the same principles that caused me to oppose candidates like John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale and a whole host of others running for political office in my home country. It is wrong to vote for a president based on economic issues. Important as those are, they quickly get tied up with greed and selfishness. It is morally right to choose a candidate because of his stand for life.
This allows us, with humility, to take our place with other believers in church history, believers like the Hebrew midwives, who refused to obey Pharaoh’s edict to kill the male children born to the Jews in Egypt, like the Dutch Christians who hid the Jews from the Nazis during World War II, like those who are opposing the sex trafficking that is going on around the world, where young girls are kidnapped and sold into slavery so they can work for their owners in the sex industry.
Please pray that Christians in America, will come to their senses and see what they have done and repent, henceforth only voting for candidates who will do all they can to support and sustain life, so that we can start the slow process of rolling back the culture of death that has engulfed America for so many years.
Several years ago, a Rwandan church leader spoke in my home church in Indiana. He was a Hutu who had rescued many children from the genocide, children who were at risk of almost certain death. Speaking of his nation’s terrible bloodguilt, he told us that Americans ought not to look down on Rwandans for the genocide, feeling superior, because our bloodguilt for abortion is much, much worse. The number of victims of abortion in the United States dwarfs the number of victims of the Rwandan genocide. Jean Baptiste is surely correct and his rebuke was taken to heart.
Would you stop today and pray for us? And please remember to pray for those African American pastors who opposed Mr. Obama’s candidacy because of his stance on abortion. They are heroes to me and many of them have had to withstand the criticism and even hatred of their congregations for their prophetic witness, standing like Athanasius against the world. The church in America especially needs your prayers on this special day that has turned into a day of great sadness for so many of us.
With thanks and love, David