WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY – Mar 13, 2019
In this week's Intersect, read about:
February Highest Total of Undocumented Immigrants Illegally Crossing the Border
The number of undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border last month was the highest total for February in 12 years, according to statistics released by Customs and Border Protection on Tuesday. In 28 days, and in the same month President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in order to build a border wall, 76,103 immigrants without the needed documentation to enter the U.S. either presented themselves at legal ports of entry or were apprehended by Border Patrol between ports of entry. It is the highest total for February since 2007, DHS officials said at a press conference. It is also the highest single-month total since Trump was elected in November 2016. Crossings hit 66,842 in October 2016, just before Trump's election. read more.
Despite opposition to the border crisis, the statistics prove America is, indeed, in crisis. Border officials announced unauthorized crossings rose to the highest levels in a decade. Officials are on track to arrest more than 780,000 illegal immigrants this year. Immigrants looking to cross can either wait in line or cross illegally. If they wait in line, they will have more than 829,000 people before them in the immigration legal system. As a result, many sneak across the line, instead of proceeding through the US system. Legal immigrants have driven two-thirds of the economic growth since 2011. Those in the workforce pay taxes into Social Security and Medicare improving the number of people who support the nation’s senior population, and as more immigrants enter the workforce, this ratio improves. Legislation is in place to protect our borders and monitor the flow of migrants, and we have a responsibility to obey the laws that exist (Romans 13:1-6). Yet, as Christians, we are called to love and care for the most vulnerable (Exodus 23:9; Deuteronomy 10:18-19). The political narrative forces us to choose, but the biblical narrative requires us to do both.
Pray that Congress can formulate and agree on immigration legislation that not only protects our nation, but it plays a fair role among all immigration that continues to welcome immigrants and those in vulnerable situations.
Over 65 million people around the world are displaced from their homes. Each day, that number grows by 22,000. Families flee for their safety, looking for a new place to rebuild their lives. World Relief helps the local church to serve these families. While they work around the world, see what they are doing right here in the United States for immigrants and refugees.
President Trump Orders Creation of New Task Force to Prevent Veteran Suicides
President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week establishing a new task force aimed at empowering military veterans and ending the suicide epidemic among them. "To every veteran I want you to know that you have an entire nation of more than 300 million people behind you, you will never ever be forgotten," Trump said in a signing ceremony at the White House, flanked by state and local officials as well as representatives from several veterans' groups. The order, titled the "President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide," or "PREVENTS," will require top officials from multiple government agencies to coordinate a strategy to tackle the issue of veteran suicide and release recommendations to the president within the next 365 days. The group will be led by Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie. read more.
It’s estimated that as many as 22 veterans die by suicide every day. The Task Force is expected to recommend federal grants be provided to state and local governments to assist veteran advocacy groups. They will also conduct national research with both public and private entities to better understand the challenges facing veterans. Over 2.7 million service members served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, and according to government data, 15.7 percent screened positive for PTSD. In other military-related news, last week Congress held a Congressional hearing regarding military families’ living conditions. The survey conducted by the non-profit Military Family Advisory Network prompted the hearing. It found, "Military families are living in dangerous situations with reports of the existence of black mold, lead paint, faulty wiring, poor water quality, pesticides, and a wide variety of vermin, insects, and other animals (e.g., bats, skunks, and squirrels) in their homes." Congress expressed bipartisan support to investigate the horrible neglect of the military’s housing, and both parties expressed the desire to provide affordable and high-quality housing for our military. Our service men and women put their lives on the line to defend our nation. It reminds me of John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Military families sacrifice by being away from their loved ones at months at a time. We must remember their tremendous service to us and our nation.
Pray for all of service men and women serving out country today. Pray for the veterans who are battling PTSD. Pray for all to know the Lord and experience the peace, comfort and healing only a relationship with Jesus Christ can provide. And pray for the military families living in poor conditions. Pray for our lawmakers to provide solutions and relief.
Take a minute to learn about the organization, Kill 22. They help to restore the value of life by empowering veterans, first responders, and their families. And check out Operation Homefront to help meet the physical needs of military families.
Colorado Drops Case Against Christian Baker
Colorado has announced they are dropping their litigation against Christian baker, Jack Phillips, for his refusing on religious grounds to make a transgender cake. Soon after receiving a favorable ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court last year on whether he could refuse to make a same-sex wedding cake, Phillips again found himself in legal trouble for refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition. In an announcement released Tuesday, the state office explained that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will voluntarily drop its case against Phillips; in return, Phillips will end his federal lawsuit against the state. Colorado Attorney General, Phil Weiser, whose office was representing the commission, said in a statement on Tuesday that “both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases.” read more.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, Kristen Waggoner, representing Jack Phillips said in a statement, “The state of Colorado is dismissing its case against Jack, stopping its six and a half years of hostility toward him for his beliefs. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with each [other].” Colorado’s decision to drop their case against Jack is a great answer to prayer. For years, Jack has stood boldly for his faith at great expense, and we are relieved to see this litigation come to a close. In other religious liberty news this week, Asia Bibi is still in Pakistan and she is very unwell. Bibi is a mother of five who was falsely accused of blasphemy. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that the accusations had no evidential basis. However, despite her favorable court ruling and the fact that her children are now safely in Canada, Bibi has not been released to leave the country. One source told the Daily Mail that Bibi is very unwell and has been denied medical care. The source provided additional insight saying, “Even though the government says she can leave, the army has all the power in this case. They are in control of her. They are fearful about getting a negative press if she speaks out about her experiences – but they will get an even worse press if she dies in protective custody.”
Thank God for Jack Phillip’s victory! Thousands of Christians across the nation have been praying for Jack and these prayers have been answered. Also, please continue to pray for Asia Bibi’s safety and health and for her to be able to leave the country soon.
Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Jack Phillips, outlined six different areas in the public square where Religious Liberty must be protected. Take a few minutes to read this informative article.
Eight Americans Among 157 Dead After Ethiopian Airlines Flight Crashes After Takeoff
“Eight Americans were among the 157 people killed when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed shortly after takeoff from the capital of Addis Ababa on Sunday. The 4-month-old Boeing 737-8 MAX plane crashed six minutes after departing on its way to Nairobi, Kenya, plowing into the ground at 8:44 a.m. local time, 31 miles south of Addis Ababa. The cause of the crash was not immediately known. The pilot sent out a distress call and was given clearance to return, the airline’s CEO told reporters. The plane had routine maintenance on February 4th and had flown just 1,200 hours, the airline's CEO said. The pilot had nine years of seniority with the airline. Overall, the airline's safety record had been on par with other major world airlines.” read more.
We drive slowly past accidents on the road, and we read closely about catastrophes in the air. Flying is safer than driving but the immensity of one tragedy captures our attention in a different manner than a multitude of smaller tragedies. Approximately 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year. This amounts to roughly 3,287 deaths a day. In 2018, there were 16 airliner accidents that killed a total of 555 people. In his book Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck, Eric Wilson contends that we give attention to these tragedies because of a “hunger to penetrate the most profound mysteries of existence.” Specifically, it forces us to grapple with ultimate questions about life. This week, hundreds of family members and thousands of friends of the victims, from around the world, are mourning. During a season of mourning, you express sorrow for loss and painfully review what remains. It’s a time to personally re-prioritize responsibilities, reconsider grudges, and remember, yet again, the grace of God. It not only allows us to repent of wrong-doing, but it empowers us to get through difficult days that we might do right — namely make His kingdom come and His will be done (Ecclesiastes 7:2, Ephesians 1:7).
Pray for the 157 families who are mourning the loss of their loved one and for the 33 countries, including the United States, affected by this tragedy. Pray for God to bring them peace and comfort amid their grief (Psalm 34:18). Most importantly, pray for all of the family members to come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
This tragedy should remind us that life is both short and fragile, and we should seize every opportunity we have to share the Gospel with others. Watch Watermark Church’s brief video on What is the Gospel so that you are prepared to share the Gospel message with others.
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.