NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER IN AMERICA CALLS NATION TO REPENTANCE
Thursday May 7 marked the 64th Annual National Day of Prayer in America, recognized in federal law as a day “on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” Each year the President of the U.S.A. issues the annual proclamation, which is supported by Governors in every U.S. state. The presidential proclamation reads in part: “In the face of tremendous challenges, prayer is a powerful force for peace, justice, and a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow… When we pray, we are reminded that we are not alone—our hope is a common hope, our pain is shared, and we are all children of God.”
According to the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a non-profit group that mobilizes prayer nationwide and promotes the annual observance, more than 43,000 prayer gatherings were held across America on the day. Nearly one million people worldwide tuned in online to the National Observance in Washington DC, seeking inspiration, direction from faith leaders, and prayer points to carry to local meetings. Many leading voices on the four-hour broadcast called for personal repentance, along with prayers of faith for religious liberty to be upheld; particular notice was given to the court case regarding the definition of marriage, currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hosted in the Cannon Building across the street from the U.S. Capitol, the national observance tends to be a flashpoint for media. At last year’s event, Dr. James Dobson called President Barack Obama “the abortion president”. Because the talk radio host’s wife Shirley Dobson has served as chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force since 1991, news headlines followed. This year, President Obama was only mentioned as prayers were offered on his behalf for wisdom and God’s favour. Media coverage has instead focused on the presence of Dr. Ben Carson, who was invited to deliver remarks many months before the recent announcement of his candidacy for president.
Carson, an esteemed neurosurgeon, largely shared anecdotes from his life growing up in Baltimore—centred on the character lessons his mother instilled in him. “My mother was a prayer warrior,” he said. “She believed God was the answer to any problem… including having to raise my brother and me by herself.” “Remember that Baltimore woman you saw on the news, who went out and got her son from the riot? That was my mother,” said Carson. “She prayed,” he recalled. “That’s the wonderful thing about God—you don’t need to have a Ph.D. to talk to Him, you just need to have faith.” Leaders recognized another 2016 presidential candidate, Senator Ted Cruz—in attendance for part of the prayer gathering though not a featured speaker.
Government officials who led in prayer included Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt, Judge Robert Rigsby, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black, and outspoken Rep. Louie Gohmert of East Texas. Gohmert recounted the story of his daughter Katy, born 10 weeks premature. “Immediately it became clear they were losing her,” he said of the paediatrician’s initial report. His wife had to stay behind in Texas while Gohmert went with his tiny baby girl to a children’s hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. “As soon as I got to the neonatal ICU, the doctor took me over to a stool he had set next to Katy’s bed,” Gohmert continued. “Her breathing and her heart rate were so erratic. The doctor told me, ‘Sit here, talk to your daughter and caress her face.'”
“Her eyes are not working yet, she doesn’t know who you are from seeing you,” the doctor told Gohmert. “But she has heard your voice in the womb. She knows her father’s voice. You talk to her, it will comfort her.” Gohmert beamed as he recalled the tender moment. “As I talked to her and caressed her face, she reached up with this tiny little hand and grabbed the end of my forefinger and wouldn’t let go.” Her breathing and heart stabilized, the doctor reported, and according to her dad today Katy is a “beautiful, brilliant” young woman. He said “through prayer we have been given a way to reach up and grab His finger, hold on—and draw life, courage and strength from our Father. Too many in America are not grabbing what God is willing to give.”
Faith leaders from a variety of backgrounds shared their prayers—many proclaiming God’s heart for the value of every human life, often disregarded in American culture. “Father, You created each one of us, which endows every man and woman with inestimable value,” prayed Father Edward Hathaway of St. Veronica Catholic Church in Chantilly, Virginia. “May we never become blind to the dignity and worth of all of Your children—especially the most vulnerable and those weakest in our midst,” continued Father Hathaway. Two rabbis opened the national observance, marking the beginning with the traditional blowing of a shofar.
Pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, Dr. Jack Graham served as honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer this year. “God doesn’t need America to do what God will do in the world,” he preached. “But America desperately needs God.” “When we pray, God wants us to pray honestly,” Graham continued. “The last thing we need is self-righteousness. All this sin that is around us has happened on our watch.” “The prophets say, the blood is on our hands. Sixty million babies aborted: that’s on us, that’s our generation,” Graham said pointedly. “America must get right with God,” he called to these prayer leaders. “May God give us the Third Great Awakening in our own generation.”
ADULT CHILDREN OF GAY PARENTS TESTIFY AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
As the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considers whether to strike down laws in 3 states banning same-sex “marriage,” four adult children of homosexual parents have filed court briefings arguing that legalising homosexual unions could lead to disaster for thousands of kids. Katy Faust, Dawn Stefanowicz, B.N. Klein, and Robert Lopez, who were all raised by homosexual parents, each submitted briefs to the Court opposing the legalization of same-sex marriage. Recounting childhood memories of dysfunctional households due to their parents’ sexuality and the subculture that went along with that, all 4 argued that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples will likely lead to the exploitation of countless children for political and personal gain.
“I grew up with a mother and her many partners in an atmosphere in which gay ideology was used as a tool of repression, retribution and abuse,” wrote B.N. Klein. ” I know that the gay community has never in my lifetime put children forward as anything other than a piece of property, a past mistake or a political tool to be dressed up and taken out as part of a show to impress the well-meaning,” Klein wrote. She added that as a child of a lesbian mother, she was pressured to pay “constant homage” to her mother’s gay identity, taught that “some Jews and most Christians hated gays and were violent,” and told that homosexuals were “much more creative and artistic because they were not repressed and were naturally more ‘feeling.'”
While Klein classified her upbringing as abusive, Robert Lopez told the court that his childhood upbringing by his mother and her partner represented the “best possible conditions for a child raised by a same-sex couple.” Even so, Lopez testified that the lack of a father figure in his life, combined with the influence of the radical gay culture in which he was raised, gave rise to confusion about his own sexuality and ultimately led to his becoming a homosexual prostitute in his teen years in order to fulfil his craving for acceptance from older men. “Had I been studied by same-sex parenting ‘experts’ in 1985, I would have confirmed their rosiest estimations of LGBT family life,” Lopez wrote. “But behind these façades of happiness lay many problems.”
“I experienced a great deal of sexual confusion,” Lopez wrote. “I had an inexplicable compulsion to have sex with older males who were my father’s age, though at the time I could scarcely understand what I was doing.” Lopez said that he has spoken to dozens of other adult children of homosexuals, and that many of them have similar stories of pain and damage inflicted by the absence of a biological parent and the unwanted “step-parent” type relationship demanded by their homosexual parents’ lovers. Lopez included testimonies from nine of them in his brief, but said there were many more who were afraid to speak out for fear that the homosexual lobby would target them for harassment like they have Lopez himself.
“Children raised by same-sex couples face a gauntlet if they speak out.” Lopez wrote. He recounted how homosexual activists harassed his employers and spread lies about him on the internet after he first came forward about his own childhood experiences. “Placing children in same-sex couples’ homes is dangerous, because they have no latitude to express negative feelings about not having a mum or dad, and have much to fear if they do.” Katy Faust also wrote, “Some adult children with gay parents shy away from public comment because we do not want to jeopardize relationships with those to whom our hearts are tethered. Unfortunately, many gay-marriage lobbyists have made gay marriage the sole badge of loyalty to our LGBT family and friends.”
“The label of bigot has become a very powerful and effective tool to silence those who do not endorse same-sex marriage,” Faust continued. “For many years I was content to keep my opinions to myself. I am sickened by the accusation that I am bigoted and anti-gay for my belief in natural marriage. For many years those devices kept me quiet,” admitted Faust. “But I have come to realize that my silence, and the silence of others, has allowed for the conversation to be dominated by those who claim that only ignorance, or indoctrination could lead one to oppose ‘marriage equality.'” Faust said that her outspokenness against same-sex “marriage” stems from her belief that every child has a right to a relationship with his or her mother and father.
CHILD TRAFFICKERS MOVE IN TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEPAL EARTHQUAKE CRISIS
Believers in Nepal, already overwhelmed with disaster relief following the recent earthquake that devastated the country, are pleading for Christians to pray to stop child traffickers, who are taking advantage of the chaotic situation. Traffickers are drawn to natural disasters because they know children are separated from their parents and wander the streets, homeless. Those who would normally stop them—law enforcement, military, and childcare workers—are otherwise occupied with disaster relief. Child trafficking has always been a huge problem in Nepal, but “traffickers are becoming even more active and are trafficking people by offering help,” says Bhuvan Devkota, president of New Light Nepal, an anti-trafficking ministry based in Kathmandu.
“When a disaster occurs, child traffickers operate in broad daylight and most people won’t even know they’re there,” adds Diana Scimone, president of the US-based Born2Fly Project to stop child trafficking, which partners with New Light Nepal to offer child trafficking prevention programs throughout Nepal. “Traffickers even disguise themselves as aid workers and claim they’re ‘rescuing’ children. In the midst of a disaster, who is going to stop them and ask for credentials?” When the tsunami tore through Asia in December 2004, traffickers were right there within 24 hours picking up children, often under the guise of helping them.
The same thing happened when an earthquake ravaged Haiti in January 2010. “Traffickers swooped in to take kids, often in wheelbarrows right in the open,” Scimone says. Devkota issued a call for Christians to pray to expose what traffickers are doing and to protect innocent children. Prayer can stop human traffickers in their tracks, says Nicholas Canuso, director of the National Weekend of Prayer to End Slavery and Trafficking. “Law enforcement and abolitionists throughout the globe have witnessed a direct impact on efforts to end human trafficking when strategic prayer is implemented,” he says. “Prayer is a powerful partnership of agreement with God’s heart for justice.”
Finally good news from Africa, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Liberia free of the Ebola virus, confirming the country has had no new cases in 42 days. President Ellen Sirleaf told the BBC that Liberia had “crossed the Rubicon” and would be celebrating a concerted effort to stem the disease. More than 4,700 Ebola deaths have been recorded in Liberia, more than in any other affected country. Neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to fight the outbreak. “It has claimed over 11,000 lives across the region since last year. The WHO regards a country Ebola-free after a 42-day period without a new case—twice the maximum incubation period,” added the BBC story. The last confirmed death in Liberia was on March 27th.
The WHO said in a statement: “The outbreak of Ebola in Liberia is over.” Officials say that Ebola was eventually conquered in Liberia through a collective. Care centres and hand washing stations were set up to try to halt the disease, which spreads through contact with sick people. Billboards went up with slogans such as “Ebola is real”, “wash your hands and don’t touch” and “don’t be the next victim.” “It has been a terrible time in the history of our country,” one resident Emmanuel Tokaowrote said. “I’m grateful to God, who I believe brought us back to normality” he said. “At the height of the outbreak ambulances would come regularly to pick up the dead or the sick. It reminded me of the war days.”
Although Liberia has now been declared Ebola-free, correspondents say the outbreak will have a long-term impact on Liberia’s fragile economy. The current outbreak is the deadliest in history. It initially centred on Guinea’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in early 2014, and later spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. The WHO is warning against complacency. Its statement warns that there is “a high risk that infected people may cross into Liberia over the region’s exceptionally porous borders.” In an address to the nation she said: “Even today if you hear an ambulance siren you shake a little bit. It is quite nerve-racking.”
MAN WAKES FROM 12 YEARS IN A VEGETATIVE STATE SAYING HE WAS AWARE OF EVERYTHING
Martin Pistorius hates Barney. And it’s no wonder why. For 12 years, while he was in a coma that doctors described as a “vegetative state,” nurses, thinking that he couldn’t see or hear anything, played endless re-runs of Barney as he sat, strapped into his wheel chair. But Martin wasn’t the “vegetable” that doctors said he was. In fact, he could see and hear everything. “I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney,” he said. In the 1980s, Martin was a typical active youngster growing up in South Africa. But, then, at age 12, he came down with an illness that baffled doctors, and that eventually resulted in him losing his ability to move his limbs, then to make eye contact, and finally to speak.
His parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorius, were told that he was a “vegetable” and the best thing for them to do was take him home and keep him comfortable until he died. But the youngster continued to live despite the diagnosis. “Martin just kept going, just kept going,” his mum said. Now, in a new memoir, “Ghost Boy: My Escape From a Life Locked Inside My Own Body,” Martin has revealed that, although he was initially unconscious as doctors thought, after about two years he started waking up, eventually becoming fully conscious of everything around him. Martin’s dad, Rodney, cared for his son throughout the ordeal, and recalls the daily routine of rising at five in the morning to get Martin ready for a day at a special care centre.
“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney said. Martin remembers, however, that his mum at one point lost hope, and while gazing at her son and thinking he could not hear her, said “I hope you die.” But he did hear her. “Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up,” Martin said. “I was aware of everything, just like any normal person. Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again. I was totally alone.” The remainder of his story is contained in his book mentioned above.
Evangelist Franklin Graham has come out hard against Islamic terrorism, and he’s not excusing the recent incident at the cartoon contest in Garland, but he’s offering some wisdom that we all should heed. “The organizers of the cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, had the constitutional right to do what they did—but just because we have the ‘right’ to do something doesn’t make it right! As a Christian I’m offended when people mock my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,” Graham said. “Muslims are offended when people mock their faith. I disagree with Islam. But just because I disagree, I’m not going to mock them or resort to violence. We need to show respect to people of other races and beliefs. What happened to civility and respect?” he said.