One observation that I have noticed since starting my annual Thanksgiving blog entry five years ago is that no matter neither the administration in office nor the state of the economy, the national news tone remains “everything is terrible.” Each year nonetheless there is good news to share and for which Evangelicals can offer our gratitude to the Almighty.
A look back over the Juicy Ecumenism archives reveals the same is true for 2018. To offer our readers a helpful reminder, here are seven things Evangelicals can extend our gratitude to the Lord for what He has done this year through the working of His Church:
1.) Christianity Continues to Spread in China, Despite Persecution
A report released by the Council on Foreign Relations revealed “tens of millions of Chinese now identify as Christians.” The report also estimates that China is on track to have the world’s largest population of Christian by 2030. This spectacular spread of the Gospel is occurring despite intense persecution and increased oversight by the atheist Chinese Communist Government.
Thank the Lord that no amount of government regulations and intolerance can stop His Church’s witness and sharing of His Good News!
2.) Pastor Andrew Brunson Released from Turkish Prison
On October 12, 2018, news spread that a Turkish court determined American pastor Andrew Brunson had adequately served his sentence for allegedly aiding terrorists in a failed coup against President Tayyip Erdogan. Pastor Brunson was arrested and jailed for the false allegations on October 7, 2016.
Brunson is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and had lived and ministered for 23 years in Izmir, located along Turkey’s Aegean coast. He was the pastor of Resurrection Church in Izmir before his arrest.
We praise God for shortening Pastor Brunson’s sentence and ensuring his stable health and safe return to his wife and children in North Carolina.
3.) Asia Bibi’s Death Sentence Overturned, Seeking Asylum
Not long after Pastor Brunson’s release, we received more good news from abroad. Pakistan’s Supreme overturned the death penalty conviction of Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman falsely accused of blasphemy against Islam.
Bibi, a wife and mother of five children, was imprisoned in a Pakistani jail in 2010. We praise God for delivering justice to Bibi and offer our gratitude for his protection over her life. Despite Bibi’s freedom, her life is under threat in Pakistan. She remains in protective custody and is currently seeking asylum outside of her native country. As we offer our thanksgiving, we also pray that God would quickly grant asylum and safely deliver her and her family out of Pakistan.
4.) Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Christian Bakery Owner
On June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, the Christian bakery owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court affirmed that the state of Colorado discriminated against Phillips for operating his small business per his religious convictions concerning marriage
Phillips’ legal battle started in 2012 after he politely declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Phillips expressed he would happily create any other type of cake for the two gentlemen. But by using his skills to craft their wedding cake, Phillips felt he would be violating his deeply-held religious convictions.
Praise be to God for granting courage and endurance to Jack Philips and his Alliance Defending Freedom team of attorneys. We give God thanks for the Supreme Court’s just decision.
5.) Billy Graham’s Christian Witness Remembered, Continues On
On February 21, 2018, renowned evangelist Billy Graham went home to be with his Savior. His passing generated a national commemoration of Graham’s extraordinary Christian witness. Testimonials spoke of his ministry’s impact around the globe on behalf of the Kingdom of God. Graham’s sermons replayed over the airwaves. His body even laid in honor at the U.S. Capitol, recalling to the nation’s mind a remarkable Christians’ life-long service and devotion to Jesus Christ.
For the ever-inspiring and faithful Christian legacy Graham leaves behind, we offer our gratitude to God.
6.) Pro-Abortion California Governor Vetoed Pro-Abortion Bill
Earlier this year a California bill was introduced that would have required public universities to provide students with drug-induced abortions. The bill passed the state Senate in August, but in September some unexpected good news occurred when the state’s pro-choice Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. “Because the services required by this bill are widely available off-campus, this bill is not necessary,” Brown wrote in a public statement.
Even for this seemingly small pro-life victory, we can give God thanks.
7.) Supreme Court Decided in Favor of Crisis Pregnancy Centers
A big pro-life victory was handed down by the Supreme Court in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra in June 2018. In a 5-4 decision, the justices ruled it unconstitutional for California to force its crisis pregnancy centers to post information advertising abortion services. The decision held that the government could not force citizens to express messages with which they disagree.
These centers exist pro-life alternatives to abortion clinics for women. Many of the staff and volunteers who operate crisis pregnancy centers are Christians. States forcing them to advertise for abortion services would violate their conscience. Again, we offer the Almighty our thanks for a just Supreme Court ruling and gratitude for the diligence of Alliance Defending Freedom.