Tag: Donald Trump

South Carolina church battles opioid ‘emergency’

South Carolina church battles opioid ‘emergency’

Addicts find love, hope — and Jesus — through ministries focused on recovery and discipleship.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C.Opioids, meet Jesus.

The drugs behind a crisis that President Donald Trump characterizes as a “national emergency” are no match for the savior of the world.

That’s the message at the Grand Strand Church of Christ, which has become a haven for prodigal sons — and daughters — caught up in addiction.

“The whole congregation kind of took me in and just showed me as much love as they can,” said Jordan Taylor, a recovering heroin addict who served prison time for drug crimes. “I went through ups and downs, and they’d always accept me with open arms.

“They would never judge me or anything like that,” added Taylor, who was baptized after showing up for the church’s Celebrate Recovery program and studying the Bible.

The church in this beach town battles an epidemic — linked to opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers like oxycodone and fentanyl — that has caused drug overdoses to skyrocket nationally.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the September 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Robert Jeffress on God, Trump and North Korea: A pastor explains his politics

Robert Jeffress on God, Trump and North Korea: A pastor explains his politics

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service

DALLAS — Anyone who knows the Bible shouldn’t take issue with the idea that God has given President Trump authority to take out North Korea’s dictator, said Pastor Robert Jeffress, the Dallas megachurch leader who drew sharp rebukes for stating just that.

Jeffress sat down for an interview with RNS after his sermon Sunday (Aug. 13), just days after his words made headlines around the world. Christians and non-Christians accused him of exacerbating an already alarming war of words between Trump and the temperamental, young leader of nuclear-armed North Korea.

The critics have overreacted, said Jeffress, lead pastor of First Baptist Dallas, whose public observances on current events have not for the first time made him a target. A public pastor with the president’s ear, Jeffress, 61, does not shy away from sharing his belief that Scripture should undergird politics and diplomacy.

“What I said was that the Bible has given government the authority to use whatever force necessary, including assassination or war, to topple an evil dictator like Kim Jong Un,” said Jeffress, elaborating on a Tuesday (Aug. 8) statement in which he said that God has giving Trump “authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”

“That authority comes from Romans 13. Paul said that government has been established by God to be an avenger of those who practice evil,” Jeffress told RNS. “I made it very clear that Romans 12 says we are to forgive one another when people offend us — don’t repay evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.

“But in Romans 13, Paul isn’t talking about individual Christians. He’s talking about government. Government is an organization God uses to bring vengeance against those who practice evil.”

Jeffress said his statement wasn’t the same as saying that “God ordained President Trump to nuke North Korea.”

But many thought it came too close.

Read the full story.

Religion News Service is a national wire service with more than 100 secular and religious media subscribers, including USA Today, the Washington Post and NPR.

Trump coverage wins first-place SPJ award for election reporting

Trump coverage wins first-place SPJ award for election reporting

My stories on Donald Trump and other Republican candidates campaigning in Oklahoma City last year earned a first-place award for election reporting.

I received the honor in the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists’ 2017 contest.

The winning package included the main story “In the GOP primaries, do politics Trump values and character?” along with a column “GOP presidential politics, professional wrestling style” and a related story “Elephant in the pews: Is the GOP the party of Churches of Christ?”

I had a fun time at the April 22 awards banquet with my son Keaton, a journalism major at Oklahoma Christian University.

— Bobby

UPDATE: The same coverage also won a first-place award in the Associated Church Press national contest.

Driven by faith, Texas mom advocates for refugees

Driven by faith, Texas mom advocates for refugees

Reda Hicks, attorney, community activist and military wife, helps displaced families start over in U.S.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

HOUSTON — To Reda Hicks, refugees aren’t nameless faces on the news.

They’re real women — with real stories of escaping war and persecution in places such as Iran, Iraq and Sudan.

Hicks, a member of the Memorial Church of Christ in this ethnically diverse Texas metropolis, volunteers with The Community Cloth, a nonprofit that helps refugee women launch microbusinesses.

“My children understand what a refugee is … because they’ve played together, shared stories and showed kindnesses to one another,” said Hicks, mother of Howard, 6; Josie, 4; and Katie, born just a few weeks ago.

What motivates the 35-year-old attorney — whose husband, Jake, is a retired Green Beret — to devote time and talents to helping refugee families start over in a new country?

She points to her Christian faith.

“Throughout the Bible, there are examples of people risking everything to take care of others,” she said. “Consider Rahab and the critical role she played in carrying out God’s plan for the people of Israel. Consider the Good Samaritan. Consider every Christian that has ever spoken truth to power, knowing they could be forfeiting their lives in doing so.”

Jake Hicks, 43, identifies with his wife’s concern for refugees based on his own experiences with U.S. Army Special Forces.

While fighting to stabilize Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn nations, he frequently served alongside natives — interpreters, medics and militia members who helped save American lives while putting their own in jeopardy.

“Most people around the world just want the basic necessities of life,” said Jake Hicks, who flew helicopters and dispatched to numerous war zones in 22 years with the Army. “They want freedom and happiness and to be able to practice their religion.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the March 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

‘Do we really trust God enough to love our neighbors?’

‘Do we really trust God enough to love our neighbors?’

President Trump’s immigration orders spark passionate responses from Christians.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

“We Welcome Refugees,” declared the sign outside the Northlake Church of Christ in Tucker, Ga., on a recent Sunday.

That message reflected the intense national debate over President Donald Trump’s order to bar — at least temporarily — refugees from seven countries deemed terrorism threats.

Trump’s court-challenged travel ban and his push to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border have sparked passionate responses from Christians.

Members of Churches of Christ express a desire to show love and compassion to refugees and immigrants.

But many voice concerns, too, for the nation’s security.

“For me, there’s hardly anything more clear in the Bible than welcoming the stranger,” said Jim Neal, a Northlake church elder who serves as director of operations for Friends of Refugees, an Atlanta-area Christian nonprofit. “It reflects so much of the character of what God is trying to do through his people.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the March 2017 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Build the wall? Bar refugees? Christians debate Trump’s orders

Build the wall? Bar refugees? Christians debate Trump’s orders

Faithful contemplate how to balance compassion for immigrants with concern for national security.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

An Iraqi refugee who serves as a Christian missionary in the heavily Arab community of Dearborn, Mich.

Canadian church members who adopted a Syrian refugee family with six children.

An Illinois minister who prays with loved ones of undocumented immigrants facing deportation.

All voice strong opinions on President Donald Trump’s push to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and temporarily bar refugees from seven countries deemed terrorism threats.

The Christian Chronicle invited them and others to share their perspectives on how to balance compassion for immigrants with concern for national security.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

A holy cure for ‘post-election stress disorder’

A holy cure for ‘post-election stress disorder’

A holy cure for ‘post-election stress disorder’: Leaders of Churches of Christ urge believers to put their hope in the ‘king of kings,’ not politicians.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

As Christians who voted for Republican Donald Trump see it, America avoided the worst-case scenario in a nasty election featuring two of the most distrusted, unpopular presidential candidates ever.

Other people of faith struggle to imagine a more terrible outcome than Democrat Hillary Clinton’s stunning defeat on Tuesday.

However, believers on both sides of the political aisle can celebrate this: Jesus Christ remains Lord, forever and always.

After one of the most divisive political seasons in U.S. history, members of Churches of Christ desperately need to hear that message, say ministers and other leaders interviewed by The Christian Chronicle.

Josh Ross, minister for the Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, Tenn., warns that some Christians will experience what he dubs “PESD,” or “post-election stress disorder.”

“Be prepared,” Ross urges fellow church leaders and counselors. “It’s real. Offer hope. Encourage. Extend mercy.”

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.