Straight out of graduate school, I traipsed all over Washington, D.C. knocking on doors in search of a job. Too bad it was the summer of 2011 and few pro-family non-profits and think-tanks were blessed with big enough budgets to bring on new staff. But I’m not a shy person and talked a few office managers into granting me an interview. Smooth sailing on most of the questions except one: “What are your weaknesses?”
Did this well-intentioned supervisor honestly want to hear about my struggles with anxiety and fears of failure? Probably not. But I’ll never forget sharing my answers and receiving one of the best pieces of advice in turn: You only fail if you never try. That is what differentiates courage from cowardice.
That’s the central message of Tony Perkins’ new book No Fear: Real Stories of A Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth. Within its pages Perkins, who serves as President of the Family Research Council, offers a glimpse of several young Christians as they faced tough crossroad moments, a time when each one had to choose between defending their faith convictions or the overwhelming pressure to conform to popular culture. Their stories are inspiring, and yet too many of us Millennials have never heard them.
One of the most valuable aspects of No Fear is that Perkins offers a platform to young Christians whose courageous acts don’t earn them superstar status. Stories like Moriah Peters, who was dismissed from an American Idol audition because she proudly talked about her commitment to purity, and Chad Farnan, a young high school student who challenged a hostile history teacher and his school for violating his First Amendment rights as a Christian holding onto orthodox teachings.
One of the most poignant accounts within No Fear is the story of tenacious fourteen-year-old Sara Cranks, who took on the Maryland State Senate on behalf of traditional marriage. Her act of courage didn’t lead to a fairy-tale ending, but I’ll let you read for yourselves the outcome of her stand for God’s model for marriage and how she now responds.
While telling the stories of Millennial ambassadors for Christ, Perkins parallels their acts of courage with those of individuals in Scripture, as a reminder that God is still working in the lives of ordinary people – young and old – to achieve extraordinary things in the name of Christ Jesus. Daniel, Gideon, and Esther among others.
As thankful as I am for No Fear, I’m even more grateful for Perkin’s commitment to demonstrate courage himself as he trains up the next generation of Christian leadership. During August 2014, I was honored to travel to Israel with Perkins and several other Evangelical leaders. Our visit, hosted by the National Religious Broadcasters, was intentionally scheduled in the midst of the Israel-Gaza Strip conflict to show solidarity with Israel. We saw as Gaza’s elected leadership, the terrorist group Hamas, broke an agreed cease-fire and began bombarding Israel’s cities and towns with make-shift mortars and missiles.
Anxiety attacks riddled my experience, though I kept this fact private. However, the example and mentorship of Perkins along with Kay Arthur, Anne Graham Lotz, Dr. Jerry Johnson, and others, encouraged me to keep on task. They taught me that courage in action looks like visiting missile-targeted regions of Israel in order to offer prayers, support, and resources to local city officials and citizens. It looks like moving outside of our comfort zones for the sake of displaying the love and hope of Jesus Christ. It looks like facing life’s crossroads and making the decision to defend our convictions, rather than compromise.
Don’t think you are immune to facing tough crossroad moments, friend. Perhaps your calling is not to report undercover on Planned Parenthood’s evil or to testify before a state senate in favor of traditional marriage. But whether it’s a call to defend your convictions at the office, on campus, or at home, every single one of us faces a crossroad in our lives – some of us more than once – and we must ultimately decide, as these Millennials did, “whom [we] will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)
Have no fear. You do not stand alone.