Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Freedom Of Conscience

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

These are the words, in Russian, on the narrow door of our center. All who pass by on busy Brighton Beach Avenue can read them, and they notice also that we teach English and Bible classes. Each week, at least 200 people enter that door and climb the carpeted stairs to a lighted place, where they receive practical help through a variety of classes and programs. Most importantly, here and on the streets and in the Russian-language media we openly proclaim Messiah Jesus to Russian-speaking Jews, Muslims, Russians and others -- 300,000 of whom have immigrated to Brooklyn since the fall of the Soviet Union.

I have been a patriotic American since childhood, long before also becoming a believer in Jesus. How exciting it was to learn that the foundation of this country was specifically Biblically Christian. The Pilgrims, most of the Founding Fathers, many of the great Presidents -- all gave testimony of Jesus in their lives and callings. I often refer to these facts while teaching and speaking with immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, who knew only atheistic communism and before that the authoritarian czars or the tribal chiefs. The freedom of conscience that we take for granted in America is something still difficult for them to grasp.

The most important aspect of this freedom is how one can relate to God through Jesus Christ. It cannot be dictated either way. Receiving His free gift by faith is not something that can be forced upon a person. Neither should it be prohibited for a person. I thank God that we can freely speak of Jesus in this ministry in this country, and that so many people -- many of them lifelong atheists -- feel free to come and consider Him.

Another aspect of our freedom of conscience in America is the ability to discuss and choose our political leaders without great fear of reprisals. Looking out the window, I often tell my students that I could walk downstairs and out into the middle of the street and shout my disapproval of any President, and nobody would do anything to me. Most of them were afraid to discuss political issues in Soviet times for fear of being betrayed to authorities. Many lived in secret fear of the sudden knock on the door and the scant chance to even say goodbye.

As I considered the 2008 Presidential candidates, my own conscience had been troubled for a year or two, and I often prayed in distress about it. I could support some of them for some reasons, but the negatives were hard to justify. How could I in good conscience vote for even a competent person who was not close to Biblical standards? What about the foundations? How could I explain such a fallen position to immigrants who expected something better in America? Were our blessed days behind us? Would we be given over to a leader who reflected the worst in us and not a hope for the best?

Now I'm going to exercise both freedom of conscience and freedom of expression! I do so not in my official ministry capacity but as a private citizen with a rejoicing heart! It turns out that there is a candidate for President who deeply understands the founding principles of our nation and whose entire public life has been specifically Biblically Christian. I'm referring, of course, to Governor Mike Huckabee!

Del actually met Mike Huckabee in the 1990s at a Promise Keepers event in Seattle. We heard bits and pieces about him over the years, and were interested that he was running for President. Then we began to realize that he is the complete package, the real deal! The more we tuned in and the more we heard, the more we understood that we were seeing an exceptionally faithful, unusually competent man prepared and raised up by God for such a time as this.

One of the key points that we consider in a candidate, in addition to the important social, fiscal and security issues, is his position on Israel. This is where it gets really good! Mike Huckabee has visited Israel 9 times and has the best, most Biblically-literate plan for Palestinian statehood of any politician we have heard lately. It should be located in Saudia Arabia or Egypt or some place with a lot of land, but not in little Israel. And the United States Embassy should move out of Tel Aviv and into Jerusalem, the actual capital of Israel.

These are not easy issues, of course, but with Mike Huckabee, you get the idea that his statements are more than just standard political posturing. This is vitally important for America, because if we fail to bless Israel according to Biblical principles, we will be disciplined by God, Who said to Abram, "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse." (Genesis 12:3)

I encourage you to visit for more information about this candidate whom we can wholeheartedly support as Bible-believers. And whatever your own conclusions might be, please pray for America and for Israel.


unquenchableworshipper said...

Slava Bogoo!

May God richly bless your ministry and may He allow you to see glimpses of the eternal fruits of your labor.

I too support Mike Huckabee. Partly for his stance on issues, but mostly because I don't want to get on Chuck Norris' bad side. hehe

I also have a heart for the Russian people and love to worship the Lord in Russian on occasion.

and I have a spot on blogspot too.



Jenn Stec said...

I love your comments and Bible references on the MikeHuckabee blog. They are SO uplifting and it encourages me to see so many people praying for his strength to withstand these attacks. I am proud to call you brother and sister!

krisjim said...

Del and Leslie,

I too have been inspired by Mike Huckabee to read a chapter of Proverbs every day. I have made it my New Years resolution. It's been wonderful! :-)

A Sister In Christ,