Over the last two years, my family has developed a particular passion for the people of Haiti due to three recent mission trips my children and I have taken with the Haiti Endowment Fund. Our first mission trip was scheduled just before the earthquake that devastated this small island nation. The earthquake delayed our first trip to Haiti for a short time, a time during which Christian ministries and American humanitarian aid poured into Haiti.
While bringing basic necessities to the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, I have reflected upon the intolerable circumstances of living in Haiti and the blessings we cherish in the United States. If you were born in Haiti, you would likely have suffered from the lack of clean water, lack of food, unending sickness, political corruption, and widespread Voodoo worship. However, if you were born in the U.S., you would have likely benefited from the abundance of clean water, healthy foods, antibiotics, democratic values, and widespread Christianity.
Because of God's blessings, we have been the most generous nation in the world with the provision of humanitarian aid. More importantly, however, Americans have exported Christianity worldwide through the passion of missionaries and humanitarian organizations. In the context of this experience, I have come to view the necessity of defending the liberties we have in the U.S. as more important than merely protecting the individual right to go to church or to share one's faith.
The call for many Christian organizations is to share the Gospel and make an impact worldwide, as evidenced during catastrophes such as the earthquake in Haiti and the rebuilding of this nation physically and spiritually. For Christians to be able to continue this work, they must be able to expand and grow their ministries.
Unfortunately, Christian ministries are often experiencing more and more difficulty practicing their faith right here in the United States. Many times, churches seek to rent public facilities in order to hold services but are often denied based on the misunderstood application of the so-called "separation of church and state." Other times, churches are wrongfully prohibited from occupying their own property and, in one specific case, a church-affiliated school was told by the City of Los Angeles that it could only expand if the Christian school provided a "secular education Mondays through Fridays." Advocates for Faith and Freedom filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the school and, as a result, the City withdrew that restriction. With the correct application of the law, and through Christians taking a stand for their religious freedoms, that school is now educating potential ministers and missionaries from a Christian worldview!
If we don't defend our Constitutional liberties, churches may not be able to assemble for services, their teaching may be censored and their ability to send out missionaries and humanitarian aid worldwide may be severely inhibited.
We must be committed to defending the First Amendment right to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so that the work of Christians will not only be felt here in the U.S., but internationally as well. We have been afforded so many liberties and blessings as American citizens; as Christian citizens, we have a responsibility to use what we have been given and to stand up for our religious liberties so that we can continue to share our faith with the world!
Tyler is the founder and general counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a Murrieta-based law firm specializing in religious liberty issues. For more information, visit www.faith-freedom.com.
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