INTERSECT | WEEKLY NEWS SUMMARY – Nov 21, 2018

In this week's Intersect, read about:


Trump Endorses Bipartisan Criminal-Justice Reform Bill

President Donald Trump announced his support for prison and sentencing reform legislation championed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner at a White House event last Wednesday. "Today I'm thrilled to announce my support for this bipartisan bill that will make our communities safer and give former inmates a second chance at life after they served their time," Trump said. The president hailed the reforms as a bipartisan achievement. He added that the legislation has the backing of law enforcement, including seven major police organizations. "This group reached a bipartisan agreement -- did I hear the word bipartisan? Did I hear that word?" the president said to applause from Republican lawmakers and supporters of the legislation in the room. "That's a nice word, bipartisan agreement on prison reform legislation known as, the first step, and that is what it is. It's a first step but it's a very big first step." read more

THINK.
In May, the House passed a version of this bill. However, that bill focused on “back end” reforms, such as easing inmates’ re-entry into communities and improving prison conditions. The Senate version would reduce mandatory sentence guidelines for certain drug crimes, allow more flexibility for judges in sentencing nonviolent drug offenders, and make retroactive the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. In the biblical narrative, the thief asked Jesus to remember him on the cross, and Jesus asks us to remember the thief as we bear our cross (Luke 23:42, Hebrews 13:3). 2.2 million men and women in the US are incarcerated. 95 percent will be released; 600,000 will return to their communities this year. People in prison have done wrong and should pay for their crimes, but they shouldn’t be imprisoned once they leave the jailhouse. God can transform sinners into saints, bring life from death, and turn prisoners into rulers of Egypt (Genesis 41).

PRAY.
Pray for our leaders in Congress to put partisan labels aside and to continue to work together to find solutions on this important issue. And pray for all those who are incarcerated that they would hear the Gospel message (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).

ACT.
Take a few minutes to read this story about how seminaries are increasing their outreach to prisons and actually raising up field ministers. You will be encouraged!


Representative Poliquin Loses in Race Decided by Maine's 'Ranked-Choice' System

Several Republican House incumbents lost tight races in the 2018 midterm election, but Maine's two-term Representative Bruce Poliquin did so in historic fashion. Poliquin's Democratic challenger Jared Golden was declared the winner Thursday in the first federal election in U.S. history to be decided by a "ranked-choice" voting system. Poliquin narrowly got the most votes on Election Day – with 46.1 percent to Golden's 45.9 – but because he didn't get more than 50 percent of the vote, Maine's new law kicked in. In the new system, approved by Maine voters in 2016, a person votes for their favorite candidate and ranks the other candidates by their order of preference. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the last-place candidate gets knocked out, and the ballots cast for them are re-allocated based on an algorithm that factors the voters' preferences. That process continues until one candidate has a majority. After the votes were adjusted, Poliquin, 65, lost his lead in what had been a four-way race on Election Day and the 36-year-old Golden was declared the winner. read more

THINK.
Maine is the first state in the country to use a ranked-choice voting system in a statewide election. Representative Poliquin filed a lawsuit challenging the ranked-choice tabulation and arguing the system is unconstitutional, but the U.S. District Judge denied the request. Another election with shocking election results was a Kentucky state house seat election. Democrat Jim Glenn won his state house seat by just 1 vote over Republican candidate DJ Johnson. This was one of a number of races decided by just a handful of votes. Another interesting election was one recent high school graduate who won a seat on his local school board in Louisiana. Take a few minutes to read about this impressive 19-year-old who rolled up his sleeves and got involved to try to make a difference in his community. All of these stories just remind us that our involvement in the political process matters and the tremendous influence of our faith brought to the polls can make a difference.

PRAY.
I want to encourage you to continue to pray daily for your newly elected officials. They will need God’s wisdom as they make decisions on your behalf.

ACT.
These close elections often raise questions of voting fraud and voter integrity. When an election is decided by just a handful of votes, it means just a handful of fraudulent votes could change the outcome. Check out TrueTheVote.org. They train people on how to protect our votes; consider getting involved to help your community!


Bus Driver Rescued Young Children from California Wildfire

Kevin McKay drove the school bus along gridlocked, dark roads as pockets of fire burned all around. Nearly two dozen elementary school children were on board with him. Smoke began to fill the bus, so McKay took the T-shirt off his back. He and two teachers on the bus tore it into pieces and doused them with water. The children held the damp pieces of cloth to their mouths and breathed through them. He had only been on the job, driving the bus for Ponderosa Elementary School in the northern California city of Paradise, for a few months. Now, McKay was ferrying the 22 stranded children to safety as the Camp Fire scorched everything in its path. It would take five harrowing hours for them to reach safety. read more

THINK.
The Camp Fire has taken the lives of 77 people with more than 1,000 remaining unaccounted for. The Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles County has taken 3 lives. Yet despite the danger, McKay acted courageously and changed eternity. Heroes look ordinary until they do the extraordinary. Dire circumstances and necessity call forth courage in such individuals. The grip of fear pales in comparison to the jolt of courage. In the biblical narrative, we read about an extraordinary God using ordinary people to accomplish his glorious purposes. Despite Gideon’s hesitations, Esther’s reluctance, and Samson’s pride, God used each of these individuals to rescue people and change eternity (Judges 6-8, 13-16, Esther 2-3).

PRAY.
Please continue to pray for all those affected by the fires. Pray especially for the families who have lost loved ones and for the heavy hearts of many who are still searching for their family members.

ACT.
In the midst of devastation in California, many people are stepping up to help with disaster relief. Read about one local volleyball team that decided to help. If God moves on your heart to help, consider making a donation or volunteer your time. One great disaster relief organization we recommend is Samaritan’s Purse.


Christian Student Senator at UC Berkeley Harassed for Abstaining from Pro-LGBTQ Vote

A student senator at the University of California, Berkeley, who was kicked out of her own party and is being pressured to resign or face a recall because of her religious views, says she won’t back down. Isabella Chow, a daughter of Malaysian-Cambodian immigrants and a junior double majoring in business administration and music, told Fox News she abstained from a largely symbolic student vote October 31st because she did not fully agree with certain clauses, not the majority of the pro-LGBTQ+ bills, which passed from the support of 18 of the 20 senators (another being absent). She was labeled “homophobic” and “transphobic” and within two days felt like the whole campus was against her. read more

THINK.
Isabella Chow’s story has made headlines, and it should serve as an inspiration to Christians across the country to stand boldly for our faith. She said, “No matter how difficult this has been, if I don’t represent the Christian perspective – the minority perspective – there won’t be anyone to represent these views. I’m doing this for the Christian community. I know that I was called for such a time as this…backing down is not an option, especially when backing down means giving in to political pressure and political correctness.” It’s encouraging to see a young Christian college student standing boldly for Christ on her campus.

PRAY.
Pray for Isabella Chow this week. Pray she would have continued courage to stand strong and pray for her boldness to encourage other Christian students on campuses across the country.

ACT.
Christian Apologist Sean McDowell suggests six things college students can do to help them stand strong for their faith on their campus. This week consider encouraging Christian college students in your life to be bold for Christ on campus!