WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY - JANUARY 1, 2020
In this week's Intersect, read about:
'Heroic' Parishioners End Texas Church Shootout in 6 Seconds, Authorities Say; 3 Dead, Including Gunman
A man pulled out a shotgun inside a North Texas church on Sunday and opened fire, killing two people, authorities said. It could have been far worse. Two congregants, both volunteer members of the church's security team, drew their weapons and confronted the gunman, fatally shooting him and saving an "untold number of lives" at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a town of about 17,000 people near Fort Worth. Authorities have not provided information about a possible motive. FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno said the shooter had roots in the area but was “relatively transient." “This team responded quickly and within six seconds, the shooting was over. Two of the parishioners who were volunteers of the security force drew their weapons and took out the killer immediately, saving untold number of lives,” said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who also hailed the state’s gun laws. There were more than 240 parishioners in the church at the time of the shooting, authorities said, and the service was being live streamed to countless homes. read more
West Freeway Church of Christ Senior Minister Britt Farmer said, “We lost two great men today, but it could have been a lot worse.” He continued, “Today is one sermon I will never preach. It was called ‘Leaving a Legacy,’ and two men today left a legacy.” Pastor Farmer also said, "I’m thankful our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves." Jack Wilson, a church security guard and a former reserve deputy for the Hood County Sheriff's Office, was deemed a hero for taking down the intruder. In 2017, following the Sutherland Springs Church shooting which took the lives of 26 people, the Texas legislature introduced legislation allowing churches to train and arm members of the congregation to provide security on church grounds and permit firearms to be carried in church buildings. Both of these new laws were instrumental to ensuring more lives were not taken in this evil act. God promised we would encounter trouble in this world, but warnings don’t make tragedies easier (John 16:33). Over the weekend, evil also attacked people of faith in New York. An intruder with a large knife wounded 5 individuals at a rabbi’s house while they were celebrating Hanukkah. Almost every day last week, there were alleged targeted attacks on Jewish New Yorkers. Nearly half of Jewish young people in the US have been victims of anti-Semitic attacks which caused President Trump to recently sign an executive order to fight antisemitism on US college and university campuses. As our world walks further and further away from God, attacks on people of faith will only continue (1 Peter 4:12-14).
Pray for God to be near to the two families who lost their loved ones in this evil act of violence on Sunday. Pray for the entire church family as they grieve and begin to heal in the wake of this tragedy. The church's senior minister, Britt Farmer, has publicly asked that we pray for the perpetrator’s family, saying “We also ask that you pray for the perpetrator's family and those who may have been affected by his loss. Our hearts are not lost in that as well. We want to represent what the Bible asks us to be: A people of His word, a people of grace, a people of forgiveness."
Consider sending a note of encouragement and prayer to the staff and congregation at West Freeway Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, letting them know you are praying for them and upholding them as the body of Christ. You can find their information and address here.
Fellowship of Christian Athletes Distributed over 190,000 Bibles in 2019
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes passed out more than 190,000 copies of the Bible during 2019, according to a recent announcement by the faith-based youth organization. In an email to supporters, the FCA explained that they distributed 190,832 Bibles this year and about 2.5 million Bibles worldwide over the past 15 years. FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson said that they have “not compromised our focus and commitment to God’s Word and biblical truth.” “Today, FCA is one of the largest distributors of Bibles in the world,” stated Williamson. “The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 doesn’t only rally us, but it tells us to teach all who hear the message to obey.” “How do we do this? We use God’s playbook, the Holy Bible, to share the life-changing message of salvation.” read more
2020 is upon us. Have you thought about how 20/20 also refers to clear vision? All the political craziness in our nation is a reminder that people need clarity. And the source of that clarity comes from the Word of God. It’s encouraging to note Christians across the nation will be actively seeking God in 2020. Christian leaders and ministries across the United States are calling for one million people to fast and pray at the beginning of the new decade throughout 2020. And a network of churches and ministry leaders are planning what they hope to be the “largest Christian outreach” crusade reaching dozens of countries in Africa in 2020. This new decade brings new hope, and for millions of Americans, it’s a time of new resolutions. Nearly half of Americans (45 percent) make New Year’s resolutions, and according to a 2016 survey three of the most popular resolutions include: “enjoy life to the fullest”, “live healthier lifestyle”, and “lose weight.” At My Faith Votes, our resolution is to put God first in all we do - bringing the truth of God’s Word boldly into the public square. In 2020, we will reach Christians to see clearly the assault on religious freedom and the growing disregard for life. We must recognize that biblical principles are secured when justice is upheld in our courts, policies welcome faith in the public square, and elected leaders fear God. We have the opportunity in 2020 to bring to the polls the solutions found in the Word of God.
As we begin the New Year, set aside time to pray for our nation and for Christians to put their relationship with the Lord above all else this year. Ask God to deepen your love for His Word so you can grow in your relationship with Him and be a bold witness for the Gospel to those around you.
We would love to have you partner with us this year to reach and equip Christians to vote for biblical values in the 100,000 elections taking place in 2020. When you donate to My Faith Votes you help us activate Christian voters, equip churches and Christian universities, and provide state voter guides. Read more about our efforts here.
Nearly 200 Faith Leaders Sign Open Letter Rebuking Controversial Christianity Today Op-Ed
Nearly 200 faith leaders are pushing back against a recent Christianity Today editorial calling for President Trump’s removal from office, saying the piece “offensively questioned the spiritual integrity and Christian witness of tens-of-millions of believers who take seriously their civic and moral obligations.” As Christian Headlines previously reported, Christianity Today surprised readers—and many Evangelical believers—with a Dec. 19 editorial calling for Trump’s removal from office, either through impeachment or by the ballot box. CT posted its editorial the day after Trump was formally impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives. Interest in the editorial momentarily caused the magazine’s website to crash. Fallout was immediate. The President lashed out on Twitter numerous times, dismissing CT as “far-left” and “progressive.” Franklin Graham, whose father Billy Graham founded the magazine, also came to Trump’s defense saying the publication “has been used by the left for their political agenda.” read more
Christianity Today Editor in Chief, Mark Galli, challenged, “Trump’s evangelical supporters” by stating that none of the President’s accomplishments related to religious freedom or protecting the unborn “can balance the moral and political danger we face under a leader” like Trump. Then, he claims that “Mr. Trump should be removed from office by the Senate or by popular vote next election.” The nearly 200 Evangelical leaders who issued a letter to Christianity Today condemning the editorial, challenged CT to “tell us who they will support for president among the 2020 field.” No matter what side of the political debate Christians may fall on this issue, we should all remember Paul’s words In Ephesians 4:1-4. “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.”
We are living in extremely divided times, and it’s never been more important for Christians to pray for our nation. Set aside time today to pray for our leaders and the upcoming election. Pray for biblical values to be protected.
Take a few minutes to read Jason Yates’, CEO of My Faith Votes, thoughtful response to this controversy and three things we should remember as we enter into this critical election season.
Islamic State in Nigeria 'Beheads Christian Hostages'
The Islamic State group has released a video claiming to show the killing of 11 Christians in Nigeria. IS said it was part of its recently declared campaign to "avenge" the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a US raid in Syria in October. No details were given about the victims, who were all male, but IS says they were "captured in the past weeks" in Nigeria's north-eastern Borno State. The 56-second video was produced by the IS "news agency" Amaq. It was released on 26 December and analysts say it was clearly timed to coincide with Christmas celebrations. President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the apparent killings and urged Nigerians not to let themselves be divided along religious lines. "We should, under no circumstance, let the terrorists divide us by turning Christians against Muslims because these barbaric killers don't represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world," he said in a statement. He did not mention the identity of the victims. read more
In related international news, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda killed at least 76 people in Mogadishu on Saturday. The Pentagon also said that the US military carried out 5 strikes in Iraq and Syria against Hezbollah locations. In Nigeria, a report concluded that there was “evidence of ethnic cleansing” among Christian communities according to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index, as many as 1,700 deaths have been attributed to extremist attacks carried out between January and September 2018. Nigeria is ranked 12th on the list of the 50 most dangerous countries to live in as a Christian. The Scriptures painfully detail how many will experience persecution, enduring difficulty to varying degrees (Hebrews 11, 1 Peter 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:12). But we know that death on this earth gives way to glorious resurrection in the presence of our Savior. The last chapter is not written by those who can kill the body, but rather by the One sustains the soul (Matthew 10:28).
Pray for our brothers and sisters who continue to experience extreme persecution all over the world. Pray for them to remain strong in their faith and for the Gospel to spread because of their courage.
Preemptive Love is working in some of the most difficult war-torn places like Iraq and Syria, bringing relief, jobs, and community. Learn more about their incredible work and consider purchasing goods made by those they are helping.
My Faith Votes—is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square.