The NFL playoffs are making headlines today, but an event outside of a game a week ago took on a meaning that transcended what happened in the stadium.
A Las Vegas Raiders fan named Ed Fernandes came to Cincinnati to watch his team play the hometown Bengals. Near the stadium gate, he stumbled and fell. Bengals fan Jerry Mills, an intensive care nurse, started CPR, keeping Fernandes alive until emergency personnel took over. Even though he and his patient were rooting for different teams, he said later, “It doesn’t matter who you are, you deserve to live. That’s what matters.”
In other football news, a high school coach in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, had to cancel workouts last Monday due to severe weather in the area. So he told his team, “Find an elderly or disabled neighbor and shovel their driveway. Don’t accept any money—that’s our Monday workout.” An elderly resident said later, “They did a fine job, and I’ll never forget it. They were a bright spot on a stormy morning.”
Why did I click instantly on these stories? For the same reason I assume you enjoyed reading them on a Monday morning: we all need hope. In these days of pandemic headlines, winter storms, political animosity, and moral decay, we need to know that things are not as bad as they seem and that they can get better.
Aristotle called hope a “waking dream.” Today, let’s discover God’s dream for our broken world.
“Every life deserves a lifetime”
We’ll make last Saturday’s March for Life our case study. As thousands of pro-life supporters gathered in Washington, DC, many carried signs worth seeing today. Among them:
- “Every life deserves a lifetime”
- “Every baby deserves a birthday”
- “Choose life—your mom did”
- “Abortion does not kill a potential human being—it kills a human being with great potential”
- “Our salvation began with an unplanned pregnancy.”
Participants were especially optimistic because the Supreme Court will issue a ruling this summer that could overturn or significantly limit Roe v. Wade. In addition, legal and legislative work to restrict abortion and protect life over the last five decades has made enormous progress. The number of abortions per one thousand women has declined by over half from its peak in the early 1980s and a growing number of Americans—now 71 percent—want limits on abortion.
This progress has come as legislators have crafted pro-life laws. Attorneys have argued for pro-life rulings in the courts. Churches have worked to uphold life to their members and larger culture. Various ministries have cared for women with unplanned pregnancies and their families. And intercessors have prayed for decades.
While much progress has been made, much progress remains.
Woman told to get an abortion or lose her job
Even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe this summer, the battle will then shift to the states (where it should always have been). And, as Anglican priest and New York Times columnist Tish Harrison Warren writes, social incentives to choose abortion must be confronted on a wide range of issues.
She notes that employers have, on occasion, demanded that women have an abortion or lose their job. She writes that women she met while working in campus ministry told her that their student insurance covered abortion but not maternity care. College students reported that when they became pregnant unexpectedly, their student health centers did not offer them information on what to do if they wanted to continue with the pregnancy. She observes that universities rarely offer on-campus housing for students with children.
Many women who chose abortion have told Harrison Warren about boyfriends, husbands, fathers, or mothers who pressured them to abort. They talked about how they couldn’t afford to have a baby and spoke of being afraid they couldn’t finish school. Many felt panicked and alone.
There is only one organization in America that can respond to every one of these issues.
Singing “The Blessing” over their nation
A good friend recently shared with me a YouTube video I encourage you to watch today. It gathers over sixty-five churches and Christian movements in the UK representing hundreds of others. They came together as a mass choir to sing “The Blessing” over their nation. Their example reminded me that the church as God designed it is the hope of the world.
God’s word calls the church the “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27), the visible manifestation of Jesus’ ongoing ministry on earth. No other organization can make this claim. When the various members of the body all do their part, the body functions as no other can.
Some reading this article can help women facing unplanned pregnancies to gain the financial support they need to choose life. Others can help with housing, education, and medical care. Others can help them choose adoption if that is best for their unborn child. Others can give them the community and encouragement they need to carry their child to term. Others can pray for them with unconditional support and grace.
No Christian can do everything, but every Christian can do something. And together, we can save more lives and be used to save more souls than ever before.
Living on a rooftop in a Chicago winter
Southern Baptist Pastor Corey Brooks has become deeply grieved about violence on the streets of Chicago. So, he is spending one hundred days (November 30 to February 28) on a rooftop above the streets, where he invites people to come and talk with him about their lives, share ideas, and discuss solutions and opportunities for the city.
He plans to build a community center in his neighborhood to offer practical help and the hope of Christ. He explains: “We believe the government cannot change hearts. They can legislate laws, but it is faith in Christ that changes hearts.”
The city has taken notice. The local Fox station posts a video segment each day of Brooks talking with members of the community and with people from as far away as New York and Florida.
Pastor Brooks testifies, “My greatest desire is to redeem this community from poverty-entrenched hopelessness to entrepreneurial-infused hope. Hope undergirded by God’s unconditional love and acceptance.”
If God is not calling you to spend a Chicago winter atop a building, how is he calling you to join his body in bringing his redemptive hope to our otherwise hopeless world?