FLOYD: America needs heroic leadership
EDITOR'S NOTE: Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
This past week, I spent two days in our nation's capital, where I joined thousands of our fellow countrymen at the National Prayer Breakfast. I also saw firsthand the work of Southern Baptist lawmakers in Congress.
There are 31 Southern Baptists serving in the House of Representatives and eight serving in the Senate. I was able to meet with many of them, and they asked me to share this message: Christianity is alive in our nation's capital.
Many of these elected officials attend weekly Bible studies and prayer meetings with their colleagues and local churches. And for the first time in more than 100 years, senators and representatives are gathering for a weekly worship service held in the U.S. Capitol. It is also open to the public.
Their assignment is tough. At times, it can be exhausting and discouraging. But they have a deep belief that God has them in this place at this time for a specific purpose. Each Southern Baptist lawmaker that I met loves the Lord passionately and serves our nation humbly and sacrificially. It was a true joy to be with them.
I am so grateful for the doors the Lord opened for me to share our deep concern for what is happening nationally and globally with some of our nation's leaders. I appealed to them passionately to stand firm against the evil of ISIS and other groups that are brutalizing and killing innocent people around the world. I pleaded with them to do all they can to bring about an end to religious persecution.
I was able to share our concern for our own mission force, the largest in the world, serving our Lord in some of the toughest places on this planet. I was able to humbly communicate our deep desire for leaders to champion religious liberty nationally and globally.
I was also compelled to share our deep belief that the greatest need in America is a Great Awakening. As I shared the need for a mighty spiritual awakening in our nation, there was a common agreement among us.
They were very encouraged when I shared that on Tuesday night of this year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, we are dedicating the entire session to a prayer gathering of Southern Baptists to pray for our nation and her needs spiritually as well as the great need to reach the world for Christ.
Be prayerful, my friends. God has His people representing Him everywhere, including in our nation's capital, for such a time as this.
One of the most poignant moments of my visit came during the National Prayer Breakfast. NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip gave one of the most powerful testimonies of the life-changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I have heard in a long time.
There were 3,600 people in the auditorium -- some of the most powerful people in the world. And yet, God raised up a race car driver to tell people they needed to give their life to Christ or they would spend eternity without God.
But there was also a disturbing moment that occurred at the National Prayer Breakfast during remarks delivered by President Obama.
First, let me say that I pray for President Obama every day. I also pray for the first family. That being said, I must acknowledge that some of his remarks last week deeply concerned me.
The president compared the Crusades to the Islamic State -- a flawed comparison. And in making the comparison, he seemed to minimize the severity of ISIS and other groups that are brutalizing and killing innocent people.
It is true that atrocities have been committed in the name of Christ. However, neither Jesus nor His true followers would have ever condoned such wrongdoing. Jesus stood for love, grace and forgiveness.
Instead of focusing on the past, America needs heroic leadership in the present -- leadership that champions religious liberty for all people.
As reported in the past few days, ISIS is crucifying children, burying Iraqi children alive, using mentally challenged children as suicide bombers, and taking religious minority children, brutalizing them to death, even by beheading as well as crucifixion. Many of these children who are not killed are sold into sex slavery while others die of starvation.
All of this must come to an end. We cannot sit this one out, but must rise up and declare this as unacceptable and barbaric behavior that must come to an end immediately.
We must stand now and stand together. In Jesus' name, we need to stand for those who cannot stand for themselves. We need to stand for children, women and men who are being brutalized, abused and murdered globally, all in the name of religion. We need to call upon our nation's leaders, including our president, to rise up and champion religious liberty.
We must rise and stand up in our churches, unashamedly and courageously calling upon our people to join in this valiant effort.
Enough is enough. It has gone way too far and existed way too long. The time is now for all of us to stand.