In a year consumed by government shutdowns, the redefinition of marriage, rising health care premiums, splintered Christian teachings and Miley Cyrus performances, it can be easy for evangelicals – and Americans alike – to become discouraged by the trajectory of our nation.
But as you gather, like the family depicted above, with friends and family to feast, let us also offer our thanksgiving to the Lord for what He has done this year through the workings of His Church.
1. Florida Orphan Flooded with Adoption Requests
Davion Only, a 15 year-old boy in foster care, melted America’s heart when he courageously stood before St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church in October to plea for a family that would “love me until I die.” Over 10,000 adoption requests flooded in soon afterward and, according to Davion’s caseworker, an adoption is imminent “without a doubt.”
Thank you God, for such an overwhelming outpouring demonstrating your embracing love to this beautiful, bold young boy.
2. The Gospel Reaches Millions through the Record-Breaking The Bible Series
Over 13 million viewers witnessed the Scriptures come to life on their high-def televisions back in March. Within three months of the series’ DVD release over one million units were sold, reported The Hollywood Reporter. “Clearly there is a nationwide groundswell that was waiting for this moment,” admitted A&E president Nancy Dubuc.
As evangelicals, let us be thankful for new, creative ways to spread the Gospel to broader audiences. We are thankful that Hollywood is taking notice that families want quality entertainment. And thank God that more lost souls will learn more about Christianity through The Bible’s follow up series A.D.: Beyond the Bible.
3. Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Family Allowed to Visit, Health Reported to Improve
Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor from Idaho, continues to wait for his release from Iran’s Rajai Shahr prison. Saeed’s crime? His Christian faith. Pastor Saeed still desperately needs our prayers and public support as negotiations between Iran and the United States develop without mention of his name. But let us take time to offer thanks to God that Saeed’s Iranian family were recently allowed to visit him and for the reports of his improved health condition, according to The Christian Post.
Thank God, too, for providing comfort, emotional and financial support and strength to Saeed’s wife, Nagmeh and the American Center for Law and Justice who have spent the past year on public airwaves and in print begging America’s national leaders to speak out on behalf of Pastor Saeed.
4. Megachurch Donates 1,500 Coats to the Poor, Homeless
As temperatures drop outside and we curl up with our families in our warm homes, it would be easy to forget about those in need around us. But despite popular liberal opinion, thankfully, conservative evangelical churches across the country are committed to seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly while working towards God’s kingdom (Micah 6:8).
Washington State’s Mars Hill Church is one such church which launched a three-week coat drive that collected over 1,500 coats for families in need, reports The Christian Post.
5. U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case on Hobby Lobby Birth Control Plea
Since last year’s Supreme Court decision to uphold the U.S. Department of Health and Human services “contraception mandate,” a component of the president’s health care law, faith-based small business, non-profits, and private universities are deemed nonexempt. Essentially, when the health care mandate takes effect in January 2014, those organizations such as Hobby Lobby will be forced to comply and betray their religious convictions which prevent them from providing abortion-inducing drugs and contraception or pay crippling fines.
We must thank God that Hobby Lobby has an opportunity to protest the federal infringement on its religious liberties before the Supreme Court.
6. Dr. Russell Moore’s Commitment to a Strong Social Witness
Despite a misleading Wall Street Journal article declaring that Dr. Russell Moore, the new President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), has called for a “pullback from politics, culture wars,” the opposite is true.
Thanks be to God that Dr. Moore is not a closet liberal who plans to incorporate the Emergent Church movement into the Southern Baptist Convention. We are grateful that Dr. Moore is not willing to give up ground on the cultural front. Instead, he is attempting to mirror the Gospel and balance a message of grace, repentance and reconciliation in a troubled post-modern world.
Read the full story, “Wall Street Journal Misconstrues Russell Moore’s Message,” here.
7. Rev. Billy Graham’s Powerful Final Address to America
At 95, Dr. Billy Graham’s legacy consists of one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the 20th century. In his final address to America, simply titled “The Cross,” Dr. Graham focuses on God’s offer of salvation through His death and resurrection and calls on America to undergo a spiritual renewal. “The cross is offensive because it confronts people. Even so, it is a confrontation that all of us must face.”
Praise God that Dr. Graham’s address was delivered on November 7, 2013 to souls sitting in thousands of churches across the country, sitting at home watching Fox News, or simply watching via the Internet. Praise God that “The Cross: My Hope America” is still reaching lost souls who find the video available here.
8. Amidst Attacks, Operation Christmas Child will Spread the Message of Christ Worldwide
The American Humanist Association (AHA) sent letters to schools in South Carolina and Colorado threatening lawsuits if they did not abandon their participation in Operation Christmas Child, and international and evangelical Christian relief ministry headed by Franklin Graham.
Nevertheless, Colorado parents and local churches are committed to privately moving forward with shoe box collections and have even organized a “Religious Rights Rally” to expose the bullying tactics used by the AHA.
Thank you God that despite hostile opposition to Christ’s message of hope and love, shoe boxes filled with Christmas gifts for children in impoverished countries will be sent through Operation Christmas Child.
To participate in Operation Christmas Child, please click here.
9. America’s Pro-life Initiatives
Americans were horrified as gruesome details of Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia disturbing abortion clinic came to light.
However, in the darkness that is the Gosnell story God has shone his light as Christian pro-life organizations and advocates encourage Arkansas, Texas, Virginia, New York, North Dakota and other states pass pro-life laws raising the health standards of abortion clinics and limiting abortions after the five month pregnancy mark, a time when unborn babies visibly demonstrate feelings of pain.
Let us praise God for every life saved through pro-life initiatives in states’ legislatures.
10. IRD Successfully Launches Evangelical Action
The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) is thankful for God’s guidance and providence over our new Evangelical Action program, launched this past October. Evangelical Action is an IRD committee that fights the increasing pressure on evangelicals — especially young evangelicals — to remain silent on the sanctity of human life, the harmful effects of radical feminism, the deterioration of the traditional family, and attacks on religious liberty at home and abroad.