Top News Articles of 2019 Christians Should Know About

Top News Articles of 2019 Christians Should Know About

As 2019 turns over its last page, it not only brings a year to an end but an entire decade. The year was filled with heartbreaking goodbyes and unexpected triumphs. From the tragic loss of progressive Christian leader Rachel Held Evans to Kanye West’s breakout gospel album soaring to the top of the charts, it is safe to say 2019 has had some really high highs and some really low lows. 

Here are the top stories of 2019 that Christians should know about:

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Dima Sidelnikov

  • 1. Kayne West Makes History as a Christian Artist

    1. Kayne West Makes History as a Christian Artist

    Formerly known for his vulgar and, at times, sexually explicit rap music, in 2019, singer Kanye West vowed to walk away from the secular music industry and to instead, make only Christian music from here on out. 

    West made this announcement on the heels of the release of his chart-topping album Jesus Is King. Jesus Is King became West’s ninth studio album to sit at number one on the Billboard Top 200 list, tying the record with fellow rapper Eminem. Jesus is King also took the number one spot on Billboard Music’s Top Christian Albums chart. 

    West first made waves in the Christian community in January of 2019 when he began hosting what he calls “Sunday Service” events. The large gatherings featured what became known as the Sunday Service Choir along with gospel sermons. The events started out as invite only events, but West would soon take his Sunday Service event on the road. In April, West and the Sunday Service Choir played at Coachella, a massive music and art festival held annually in Southern California. Then, in November, West appeared at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, where he and his Sunday Service Choir again performed. Also in November, West brought his gospel choir to a local jail where they performed for inmates and held a Sunday Service in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where 1,000 people accepted Christ

    West also lunched two Christian plays: Mary, which performed in December 2019 in New York and Miami and Nebuchadnezzar, which performed in November at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. 

    In his latest move, on Christmas Day, West released his second Gospel album, Jesus is Born, under his Sunday Service Choir. The Choir album features 19 songs ranging from traditional choir gospel music to Christian hip hop.

    Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jerritt Clark/Stringer

  • 2. Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” Breaks Records

    2. Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” Breaks Records

    In October, popular Christian music singer Lauren Daigle broke records with her song “You Say.” The fifth track on her Look Up Child album, “You Say” graced the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Christian Songs list for 62 weeks setting a new record for the longest time a song has stayed in the number one spot on that list. Previously in that spot was “Oceans” by popular worship band, Hillsong United. Her sophomore album, Look Up Child, as a whole also broke records in 2019, holding the number one spot on Billboards Top Christian Albums chart for 39 weeks. 2019 was a big year for Daigle as she took home two Grammy Award wins, three Billboard Music Awards, six GMA Dove Awards, an American Music Award and two K-Love Awards. Daigle also announced her first-ever arena tour which is set to begin on January 18.

    Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Ethan Miller/Staff

  • 3. Chick-fil-A Goes from Breaking Records to Losing Support

    3. Chick-fil-A Goes from Breaking Records to Losing Support

    In 2019, Chick-fil-A became the 3rd largest restaurant chain based on sales in the United States despite being closed on Sundays. Chick-fil-A also dethroned fellow Christian fast-food chain In-N-Out as America’s favorite restaurant, Food and Wine found in a survey. In-N-Out remains America’s favorite burger chain, however. 

    Despite its overwhelming success, Chick-fil-A also faced heavy backlash this year. During a Pride Month Parade in New York City, parade participants vandalized one of Chick-fil-A’s New York City locations. Expletives like “F**k Haters” was written in black across one of the restaurant’s windows and a pink “X” was drawn across another. On the door of the restaurant the message “Love is a terrible thing to WASTE” was written, too.

    Further north, in Toronto, Canada, protestors lined the street outside of a Chick-fil-A location at its grand opening in September. LGBTQ group 519 and animal rights organization Liberation TO members held signs reading “Don’t Eat Hate” while some protestors arrived dressed in drag. Demonstrators later laid on the ground side-by-side in what is called a “die-in” protest outside of the restaurant’s front door.

    Across the pond, in Britain, pro-LGBTQ protests were so rampant, that after being open for one week, the first ever Chick-fil-A in Britain was forced to close. Located in The Oracle shopping center in Reading, England, officials said that the restaurant’s six-month lease would not be extended. 

    Less than a month after the British location was forced to close, Chick-fil-A announced that they would be altering their giving strategy, a move that outraged many of the chicken chain’s loyal Christian customers.

    In November, the Chick-fil-A Foundation shared that it would no longer be donating to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the Salvation Army – two organizations that have received backlash for upholding the ideal of biblical marriage. Influential Christian leaders and media members called Chick-fil-A to the carpet on the move, many calling it an act of cowardice. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee called the move a betrayal. He wrote on Twitter, “On Aug 2012, I coordinated a national @ChickfilA Appreciation Day after they were being bullied by militant hate groups. Millions showed up. Today, @ChickfilA betrayed loyal customers for $$. I regret believing they would stay true to convictions of founder Truett Cathey.” He added, “Sad.”

    Pureflix writer Billy Hallowell also commented on the situation writing, “It's so weak and needless and senseless. I definitely won't view them the same. I knew what I was getting at Target and Starbucks. Now, I guess I know what I'm getting there too. Which is sad.”

    Chick-fil-A rebutted the claims that they have abandoned their Christian beliefs. They also released a list of companies the foundation is planning to donate to in 2020 – several Christian charities and organizations made it on the list. 

    “We made multiyear commitments to both organizations, and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018,” a Chick-fil-A representative said to Business Insider in response to the backlash. “Moving forward you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education,” the representative concluded.

    Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andrew Renneisen/Stringer

  • 4. Major Religious Liberty vs. LGBT Rights Cases

    4. Major Religious Liberty vs. LGBT Rights Cases

    Masterpiece Cakeshop: At the start of the year, a Federal Court ruled that Christian cake artist Jack Phillips could continue to sue the state of Colorado in a claim that says the state had an “anti-religious bias” against him. Meanwhile, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had opened another case against Phillips – despite having lost in the Supreme Court in 2018 – claiming Phillips had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to bake a cake celebrating a person’s gender transition from male to female. Phillips declined to make the cake based on his deeply held Christian beliefs.

    In March, however, the commission announced it was withdrawing its suit. As a part of an agreement between Phillips and the state, upon the state withdrawing their second suit against the Masterpiece Cake decorator, Phillips agreed to voluntarily withdraw his joint suit with the Alliance Defending Freedom against the state.

    Kentucky Wedding Photographer: A Christian wedding photographer filed a suit in November against a Louisville, Ky., ordinance that would force her to photograph same-sex weddings. The ordinance would also force the photographer to refrain from posting about her religious beliefs on her business’ website.

    The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed the suit in federal court on behalf of the photographer, Chelsey Nelson, who owns Chelsey Nelson Photography. Nelson’s business specializes in wedding photography and blogging. 

    The Louisville ordinance makes it unlawful “for a person to deny an individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation, … on the ground of … sexual orientation,” according to the suit.

    The lawsuit claims the Louisville ordinance violates the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion, the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of due process and the establishment clause as it would force her to participate “in religious exercises” that aren’t consistent with her beliefs. The suit also argues that the law violates the Kentucky Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

    Nelson is a Christian whose religious beliefs “shape her business, her art, and her creativity,” the suit says. This is an on-going case.

    Colorado Graphic designer: Attorneys representing a Christian website designer and graphic artist named Lorie Smith filed an appeal in October against a Colorado law that could force her to promote same-sex marriage against her religious beliefs.

    The case dates back to 2016 when the Alliance Defending Freedom sued the state over its application of an anti-discrimination law – the same law in question in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. 

    In the case of Smith and her studio, 303 Creative, the state found that although she serves all customers, including LGBT ones, because she says her faith prevents her from designing websites or graphics promoting same-sex marriage she had violated the anti-discrimination law. 

    The ADF appealed the court’s decision to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

    “Creative professionals should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of coercion, discrimination, or intimidation by the state,” said ADF senior counsel Kate Anderson in regard to Smith. “Just because a multimedia artist creates expression that communicates one viewpoint doesn’t mean the government can require her to express all viewpoints, especially when that forced expression violates her religious convictions.”

    The ADF asserts that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Free Speech Clause, Free Exercise Clause, Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause.

    Photo courtesy: ©Alliance Defending Freedom

  • 5. The Impeachment of Donald Trump

    5. The Impeachment of Donald Trump

    Since his election in 2016, Donald Trump has been under scrutiny, many people questioning the president’s ethics. The controversies surrounding the President came to a head in 2019, when a whistleblower claimed that in a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine if Mr. Zelensky did not look into allegations against Joe Biden’s son. In a letter submitted to the House, the whistleblower wrote, “I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election. This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President's main domestic political rivals.” The complaint, which was eventually declassified along with a transcript of the phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Zelensky, triggered a full-scale investigation into the president that later resulted in his impeachment. Despite President Trump urging that unequivocally did not threaten to withhold aid, he became the third U.S. president to be impeached. He was found guilty by the House of Representatives of abuse of power in a 230-197 vote and obstruction of Congress in a 229-198 vote. Two democrats voted against the impeachment; one democrat congressman even switched parties over the ordeal. In 2020, the impeachment process will continue in the Senate where they will decide if Mr. Trump should be removed from office.

    Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Zach Gibson/Stringer

  • 6. Athletes Protest the American Flag and White House

    6. Athletes Protest the American Flag and White House

    As the world was celebrating the U.S. Women’s National soccer team’s 2-0 victory in the World Cup over the Netherlands, controversy stirred about the team’s captain, Meghan Rapinoe. In 2016, Rapinoe joined Colin Kaepernick in kneeling in protest of inequality and injustice during the playing of the national anthem at professional sports games. While Kaepernick kneeled on the football field, Rapinoe began to take a knee on the soccer field. In 2019, however, the U.S. Women’s National soccer team passed a new rule requiring players to stand during the anthem. Rapinoe complied and instead of kneeling, she simply stood silently amid her peers. In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, the openly gay soccer superstar admitted "I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart, I'll probably never sing the national anthem again." Rapinoe also asserted that she would not go to the White House if the American team were to win the World Cup. Her comments made national headlines with many calling into question Rapinoe’s love of country. The athlete responded to the controversy noting that America is “a great country.” 

    “I’m particularly and uniquely and very deeply American. If we want to talk about the ideals we stand for, the song and the anthem and what we are founded on, I think I am extremely American. For the detractors, I would have them look hard into what I am actually saying, the actions I am doing. Maybe you don’t agree with every single way I do it, and that can be discussed. I know I am not perfect,” Rapinoe said, according to the Washington Post.

     “I think I stand for honesty and for truth and for wanting to have the conversation. Looking at the country honestly and saying, ‘Yes, we are a great country, and there are many things that are so amazing, and I feel very fortunate to be in this country.’ I would never be able to do this in a lot of other places. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get better. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t always thrive to be better,” she added.

    Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick also made headlines this year when he celebrated three years of taking a knee. In August, the free agent shared a graphic video on Instagram captioning it, “Today marks the three-year anniversary of the first time I protested systemic oppression. I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement! The movement has always lived with the people!”

    The video – which shows the now free-agent taking a knee during the national anthem at football games, interviews of people who have lost loved ones in police involved shootings, black lives matter rallies and graphic videos of African Americans being shot and held down by police – was met by both support and disappointment. Some people shared sentiments of solidarity with the athlete, one person even thanking Kaepernick for his “bravery.” Others, however, found his actions profoundly disrespectful, particularly in regard to service men and women. 

    Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers in 2017 and has remained a free agent since.

    Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Elsa/Staff

  • 7. New Laws Allowing Abortion Up Until Birth

    7. New Laws Allowing Abortion Up Until Birth

    Pro-abortion advocates had some major wins in 2019, with several states passing laws allowing abortion up until birth. New York kicked off the trend at the beginning of 2019 when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the “Reproductive Health Act” which deemed abortion as a “fundamental right” up to the day of birth. Soon after, Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran proposed a bill that would allow a mother to have an abortion during labor. The bill – HB 2491 – was defeated in committee. Other states, however, were successful in passing extreme pro-abortion laws. Along with New York, in May, Vermont also passed a bill declaring abortion a fundamental right. In June, Rhode Island’s Governor Gina Raimondo sign the “Reproductive Privacy Act” which permits late-term abortions – including part-birth and dismemberment abortions – when the mother’s “life or health” is at risk. Pro-life advocates questioned the use of the broad term “health” in the legislation. According to the Associated Press, the bill does not expand abortion rights in Rhode Island, but instead, it’s intended purpose was to “enshrine the right to an abortion should the U.S. Supreme Court ever overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.” The bill also includes an amendment to allow an older sibling or grandparent to give consent to a minor wishing to have an abortion. 

    Finally, in Illinois, an abortion bill deemed more extreme than New York’s was passed in June. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a bill not only declaring abortion a fundamental right but also declaring that the “fetus does not have independent rights.” The law also requires health insurance plans to cover abortions and forces parents to pay for their minor daughter’s abortion even if they opposed the procedure.

    These new laws also set off a chain reaction amid pro-life states with at least nine U.S. cities declaring themselves “sanctuary cities for the unborn.” Among the sanctuary cities for the unborn are Gilmer, Texas; Waskom, Texas; Naples, Texas; Joaquin, Texas; Tenaha, Texas; Westbrook, Texas; Roswell, New Mexico; Riverton, Utah; and Yadkin County, North Carolina.

    Photo courtesy: Emiliano Bar/Unsplash

  • 8. Travails of Prominent Pastors

    8. Travails of Prominent Pastors

    James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel: In 2019 several prominent faith leaders were either removed from their leadership roles or chose to walk away from Christianity, publicly renouncing their faith. Among the most shocking of these were former Harvest Bible Chapel pastor, James MacDonald and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Joshua Harris.

    In February, after announcing his “indefinite sabbatical” in January, Harvest Bible Chapel announced that they had fired founder and lead pastor James MacDonald. 

    In a letter on the church website, the Elders wrote, “It is with great sadness that we as the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel wish to convey to you a very recent development that has caused us to take immediate action regarding our Senior Pastor, Dr. James MacDonald.

    “Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor.”

    According to the letter, the decision to fire MacDonald was “accelerated” on Tuesday after “inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported.” 

    MacDonald’s behavior, the Elders noted, was both “contrary and harmful to the best interest of the church.”

    In November, HBC issued a statement in hopes of clarifying MacDonald’s role with the church noting that he was “biblically disqualified” from ministry. The elders shared the announcement that MacDonald “was biblically disqualified from the position of Elder, meaning he did not meet the spiritual standards to which a Harvest Bible Chapel Elder is held.”

    In a letter read to the congregation, Elder Karl Jackson said the elders were thankful for MacDonald’s service to the church, but he is not “above reproach.”

    Jackson said MacDonald was fired from the elder board in February for “having a ‘sinful pattern of inappropriate language, anger, and domineering behavior.’”

    The founder and former lead pastor first came under fire in 2018 when journalist Julia Roys published an exposé in World Magazine about MacDonald and his Chicago-based church. Two other writers for The Elephant’s Debt blog also criticized MacDonald and HBC for poor management and leadership. 

    According to Church Leaders, Roys backed accusations made by former HBC elders that MacDonald was guilty of “self-promotion…love of money…domineering and bullying…abusive speech…outbursts of anger…[and] making misleading statements.” MacDonald was also accused of self-dealing and financial mismanagement. 

    Joshua Harris Walks Away from Christianity: In a series of July Instagram posts, former evangelical leader and author Joshua Harris first shared that he and his wife were getting a divorce. Nine days later, Harris also announced that he was no longer a Christian. He wrote in his July 26 post denouncing Christianity, “My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision.”
    He continued, “The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”

    In the post, Harris also repented for his treatment toward and beliefs about the LGBTQ+ community. Harris wrote, “I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me.”

    In an interview with Axios in November, Harris shared that publicly denouncing Christianity was his way of excommunicating himself.

    Photo courtesy: Creative Commons/Esther 5000

  • 9. John MacArthur Tells Beth Moore to ‘Go Home’

    9. John MacArthur Tells Beth Moore to ‘Go Home’

    Influential pastor John MacArthur came under hot water in October when he harshly criticized fellow faith leader, Beth Moore. Speaking at the “Truth Matters Conference” meant to honor his 50 years in ministry, influential pastor John MacArthur, fellow pastor Phil Johnson and a small panel of other men were asked by an interviewer to play a word association game. The moderator starts off the game by asking MacArthur what he thinks when he hears the name of Beth Moore. 

    MacArthur responded swiftly saying, “Go home!” 

    “There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher – period, paragraph, end of discussion,” the 80-year-old preacher added to roaring applause.

    When Johnson was asked about what word he associates to Beth Moore, he said “narcissistic.”

    Johnson then recalled the first time he saw Moore preach. He said upon seeing her, he thought, “This is what it looks like to preach yourself rather than Christ.”

    MacArthur then spoke up again only to further criticize Moore along with the #MeToo movement.

    He said, “The #MeToo movement, again, is the culture of reclaiming ground in the church.

    “When the leaders of evangelicalism roll over for women preachers, the feminists have really won the battle,” he added before the audience broke out in applause. 

    “The primary effort in feminism is not equality” he continued. “They don’t want equality, that’s why 99 percent of plumbers are men. They don’t want equal power to be a plumber, they want to be senators, preachers, congressmen, president, the power structure in a university. They want power, not equality,” MacArthur asserted. MacArthur’s comments were met with widespread disappointment from other faith leaders. Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear wrote on Twitter regarding the comments, “Dear @BethMooreLPM, you’re welcome in our home any time.#BFM2000.” Singer, author and wife of pastor Matthew Chandler, Lauren Chandler, wrote, “When I hear the words ‘Beth Moore,’ I think ‘good and faithful servant.’”

    Pastor Brandon Cox also commented on the situation writing, “The host says, ‘Beth Moore.’ And a man who is supposed to be a model of biblical manhood and spiritual leadership responds, ‘Go home!’ And a room full of men laugh. This is sad. It's unbiblical. But it's the fruit of arrogance.”

    Moore later responded to MacArthur’s comments noting that she did not surrender to the “call of man” but to the call of God. She wrote on Twitter, “I did not surrender to a calling of man when I was 18 years old. I surrendered to a calling of God. It never occurs to me for a second to not fulfill it. I will follow Jesus—and Jesus alone—all the way home. And I will see His beautiful face and proclaim, Worthy is the Lamb!”

    She continued, “Here’s the beautiful thing about it & I mean this with absolute respect. You don’t have to let me serve you. That gets to be your choice. Whether or not I serve Jesus is not up to you. Whether I serve you certainly is. One way or the other, I esteem you as my sibling in Christ.”

    Photo courtesy: Public Domain

  • 10. Christian Persecution around the World

    10. Christian Persecution around the World

    Christian persecution is on the rise across the globe, but in 2019, in China, Nigeria and India, the raise in persecution has cost hundreds their lives and their freedom. 

    China: In China, what little freedom Chinese Christians have is steadily being taken away. Crosses and churches are being demolished, pastors are being imprisoned, house churches are being shut down are religious texts are being rewritten to fit communist rhetoric. In October, Christian Headlines reported that Communist officials in China tore down a 3,000-seat megachurch. That same month Communist officials raided a house church in the Jinan, Shandong province. Officials told churchgoers, “From now on, you are not allowed to meet here, nor are you allowed to read the Bible.”

    “According to orders from the central government, the Bible is banned. You’re designated as a target of the campaign to ‘clean up gang crime and eliminate evil.’” 

    Nigeria: As Christian Headlines reported in July, 91 million Christians live in Africa’s most populous nation, but many of them face consistent harassment and violence from Muslim extremists.

    On an episode of the Pure Flix Podcast, CEO of Open Doors USA, David Curry spoke about the struggles Nigerian Christians face. He explained, “There are these Islamic terrorist groups with safe haven in the north and the government has done little to nothing to root them out. That makes the north of Nigeria one of the most dangerous places for Christians.” On average, Curry proclaimed, 10 Nigerians die every day defending their faith.

    India: Violent persecution against Indian Christians rapidly increased in 2019 with over 200 reports of incidents this year.

    “The attacks are spread across the country and usually take the form of mob attacks, which can include interruptions to worship and prayer services, intimidation, verbal assault, and even death threats and violence,” Communications Officer for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Johanna Hohenberg, told Faithwire.

    While the ADF has learned of reports of 218 incidents this year, only 25 incidents had been reported to police. According to Hohenberg, the attacks – many of which are mob attacks – “rarely receives the police attention that it should.”

    Hohenberg also noted that often, when the police are called, instead of arresting the perpetrators, they bring in the pastors or priests under the false allegation of forced conversions.

     “These are not isolated incidents and there has been an increase recorded this year—the average has risen from 20 to 27 per month since last year,” Hohenberg said.

    Photo courtesy: Pixabay

  • 11. Major Natural Disasters

    11. Major Natural Disasters

    Hurricane Dorian: Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a massive category 5 storm and then lingered as it only moved 12 miles per day. The islands took on an unprecedented amount of rain submerging the Grand Bahama International Airport and the town of Marsh Harbour on Abaco Island. By the time the storm moved from the island country, more than 60 people had been killed and hundreds were reported to be missing.

    California Earthquakes: In July, Southern California was hit by a series of strong earthquakes. The first quake – a magnitude 6.4 – struck in the afternoon hours on July 4th in the city of Ridgecrest, California which is some 150 miles away from Los Angeles.

    The next morning a magnitude 5.4 earthquake struck in the same area, only to be followed by the largest of the bunch, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the evening hours on July 5th. The July tremors produced sizable aftershocks and caused significant damage including house fires, gas leaks, and road cracking, but fortunately, no fatalities were reported.

    Iranian Earthquake: A magnitude 5.9 earthquake rocked Iran in November leaving six dead and more than 300 injured. Some 250 miles northwest of the nation’s capital of Tehran, the seismic activity began in the early morning hours. As the ground began to ferociously shake, many ran in fear. There were over 40 aftershocks felt rural Alborz Mountains region.

    Of the reported injured, only 13 had injuries substantial enough to be transported to a hospital.

    Typhoon Hagibis in Japan: In October, Typhoon Hagibis wreaked havoc on northern and central Japan, dumping several inches of rain and producing high gusts of wind in the area. 

    Fourteen different rivers across the island country were also reported to have flooded as a result of the storm. 

    According to NPR no less than 50 people were killed in the storm with more than 85,000 homes damaged.

    Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Mark Wilson/Staff

  • 12. In Memoriam

    12. In Memoriam

    Rachel Held Evans: Progressive Christian author and speaker, Rachel Held Evans, died on May 4, at 37-years-old. Evans had been placed in a medically induced coma on Good Friday after experiencing seizures caused by medications used to treat an infection she had previously been hospitalized for. A mother of two, Evans is the author of books Evolving in Monkey Town, A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Searching for Sunday. Her final book, Inspired, was published in 2018.

    Eugene Peterson: American author, biblical scholar and pastor Eugene Peterson died on October 22, at 85 years old.

    About one week before his passing, it was announced that Peterson was admitted into hospice care due to his declining health. The Message writer’s son, Eric, had made an announcement via email to the family’s friends and loved ones to inform them of the move. 

    In the email, Eric explained that Peterson was admitted into the hospital for his declining health which “took a sudden and dramatic turn” in the wrong direction caused by an infection. Peterson was suffering from heart failure and dementia and according to his son, both were “advanced and progressing.”

    Peterson was a well-respected member of the Presbyterian Church, biblical scholar and author of over 30 books.

    Jarrid Wilson: Jarrid Wilson, a well-known pastor and mental health advocate took his own life on September 9. Wilson was an associate pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in California. He authored multiple books and co-foundered Anthem of Hope, a faith-centered organization dedicated to helping those battling depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide. Wilson was thirty years old at the time of his death and is survived by his wife, Juli, his two young sons, Finch and Denham, his mother, father, and siblings.

    Truett McKeehan: Truett Foster McKeehan – the eldest son of Christian rapper and singer Toby “TobyMac” McKeehan – passed away in the early morning hours on October 23 at 21-years-young. McKeehan, also known as Truett Forster, TRU, truDogg and Shiloh online, was a budding rapper in the secular scene. He had released a number of independent songs as well as collaborated with his father on several his albums including DC Talk’s Solo EP, Momentum, Re:Mix Momentum, Welcome to Diverse City, Portable Sounds, Tonight and Eye on It.  McKeehan was also featured on the song “Backseat driver” from This Is Not a Test and hit song “Alone” on Christian artist Hollyn’s self-titled EP.

    Reportedly TobyMac’s song “Scars” was also written about how his relationship with McKeehan had changed after he moved out on his own. McKeehan is survived by his Father Toby “TobyMac” McKeehan, Mother Amanda McKeehan, and four siblings, twins Moses and Marlee, Leo and Judah.

    Norm Geisler: Christian apologist Norm Geisler passed away on July 1, at the age of 86. Geisler – the author of over 100 books and a teacher of theology, philosophy and apologetics for over 50 years – had been battling an illness since April.

    The family did not disclose the details of the illness but shared that Geisler passed away peacefully in the morning hours.

    “It is with great sadness that we share this news that Norm Geisler passed away peacefully this morning,” a statement from the family read. "He has left behind an amazing legacy that will continue to have a ripple effect for many years to come."

    Photo courtesy: Rachel Held Evans Facebook

    Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has also contributed to and