Top News Articles of 2022 Christians Should Know About
This year brought a wake-up call to the Southern Baptist Convention, a war between Russia and Ukraine, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and much more. As we embark on a new year, let’s review some of the more influential moments of 2022.
Here are the top news stories of 2022 that Christians should know about:
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1. Ukrainian-Russian War and the Refugee Crisis
The world looked on with shock when Vladimir Putin and the Russian state declared war against its neighboring country of Ukraine.
On Thursday, February 24, after years of threatening to invade Ukraine, Russia acted on its threats, infiltrating the eastern European nation.
The invasion was the latest development in a long-held conflict between the two nations.
Just after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, pro-Russian separatists claimed that the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic belonged to Russia. Donetsk and Luhansk make up the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. The claim has led to fighting in the region between Ukraine’s soldiers and separatists. Over the years, there have been cease-fires and attempts to agree on peace deals, but fighting has always resumed when one country has accused the other of violating the peace deal.
In late February, Russia attacked Ukraine by invading the two breakaway regions and recognizing them as independent states.
The United Nations has largely sided with Ukraine in the conflict, and while Ukraine is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO has also stood with the eastern European nation.
According to Statista.com, since the fighting began, over 6,800 “civilians, or non-armed” Ukrainians have been killed. Of those killed, 428 were children. An additional 10,769 civilians – 790 of them children – have been injured.
Further, some 2.9 million Ukrainians have sought refuge in other nations because of the war, sparking a refugee crisis.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, some 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine are registered in Poland, and 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine have “registered for Temporary Protection of similar national protection schemes.” Bulgaria (52,140), Czech Republic (474,731), Hungary (33,218), the Republic of Moldovia (100,494), Romania (106,629) and Slovakia (105,370) also have tens of thousands of refugees recorded in their countries. These nations are featured in the U.N. refugee response plan. Belarus (17,787) and Russia (2,852,395) have also accepted and recorded Ukrainian refugees.
In March, the United States announced that it would accept up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.
Evangelical humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse has worked to help Ukrainians seeking refuge by transporting them to Canada in the organization’s DC-8 cargo planes. In May, the organization was able to move 28 refugees from Poland to Toronto, Canada.
The group has also worked to deliver over 100 million pounds of food to the war-torn country.
As the one-year anniversary since the war began approaches, Putin and the Russian government continue to advance on Ukraine.
In March, the United States formally accused Russia of war crimes in Ukraine.
In a statement on March 23, Secretary of State Anthony Blinkin highlighted the damages done by Russian forces in Ukraine since the invasion.
“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities,” Blinkin wrote in the statement. “Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded.”
In April, the United Nations General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council amid allegations that Russian soldiers in Ukraine committed human rights violations.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the vote was a “historic moment.”
“We have collectively sent a strong message that the suffering of victims and survivors will not be ignored” and that Russia must be held accountable “for this unprovoked, unjust, unconscionable war,” she said.
Later that month, Russia’s foreign minister warned that a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated,” adding that the violence could spiral into World War III.
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2. The Removal of Several Hillsong Church Leaders
The Hillsong megachurch system first fell under public scrutiny in 2020 after then-Hillsong NYC pastor Carl Lentz was fired for “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures.”
Lentz was accused of having a toxic and manipulative leadership style. He was also accused of sexual misconduct, which involved three alleged affairs, the receipt of suspicious massages and exposure of himself to his housekeeper on three occasions.
Since Lentz’s misconduct came to light, several other Hillsong pastors were also found to have behaved in ways contradictory to biblical morality, chief among them, Hillsong founder Brian Houston.
In March 2022, Houston resigned from his role as Hillsong’s Global Senior Pastor. His resignation came after it was confirmed by the Hillsong board that Houston had engaged in inappropriate behavior with two women.
Houston was accused of sending “inappropriate” text messages to a former Hillsong staffer.
In a separate incident, Houston reportedly spent 40 minutes inside another woman’s hotel room after losing his room key during Hillsong’s annual conference. At the time, Houston was drunk and had consumed anti-anxiety medication beyond the prescribed dose. According to Houston and the woman, no sexual activity took place.
Prior to the misconduct revelation, Houston had stepped down from his duties as global senior pastor in January to focus on legal charges he was facing for allegedly concealing his father’s sexual abuse of children.
Two weeks after Brian’s resignation, his wife, Bobbie, was also let go from her position as co-Global Senior Pastor.
In the wake of these allegations, several churches have decided to split ways with the church group.
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3. Roe v. Wade Is Overturned
In May, a draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion ban case was leaked, indicating that the nation’s high court would overturn Roe v. Wade, sending the issue of abortion back to the states.
The unprecedented leak sparked mass protests by abortion advocates, with several Justices’ homes even being targeted. In one instance, a man even set out for Justice Bret Kavanaugh’s home in an attempt to assassinate him.
On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court officially overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that federally legalized abortion. By overturning the decision, the court sent the issue of abortion back to the states, declaring that the Constitution is silent on abortion and that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start.”
The justices voted 5-4 to overturn Roe and 6-3 to uphold the Mississippi law at the center of the case, which sought to ban abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett joined Samuel Alito in the majority opinion. Chief Justice John Robert concurred with the judgment, saying he would not have overturned Roe but would have upheld the 2018 Mississippi law.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe, 13 states enacted trigger laws banning or restricting abortions. Several other states moved to pass new laws banning or restricting the procedure.
More protests ensued across the U.S. following the decision. Justices’ homes were once again targeted by protestors. The decision was also cited as the reason for the vandalization of churches and pro-life pregnancy resource centers across the country.
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4. The SBC Sexual Abuse Report Is Released
On May 22, Guideposts Solutions, a third-party investigative group, released a report into sexual abuse by leaders within the Southern Baptist denomination. The report found that many SBC leaders worked to stop lawsuits against potentially abusive pastors and responded to accusations of abuse with “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility.”
“For almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”) Executive Committee (“E.C.”) to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. They made phone calls, mailed letters, sent emails, appeared at SBC and E.C. meetings, held rallies, and contacted the press...only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the E.C.,” the report said.
“Behind the curtain, the lawyers were advising to say nothing and do nothing, even when the callers were identifying predators still in SBC pulpits,” the report added.
One of the most notable people accused of abuse in the report was former SBC President Johnny Hunt. The report alleged that while Hunt was the president of the SBC, he forced a sexual encounter with a pastor’s wife in 2010. Hunt served as the president of the SBC from 2008 to 2010.
Initially, Hunt denied the report, saying he “never abused anybody.”
He then released an updated statement noting that he had “allowed himself to get too close to a compromising situation.”
“It happened when she invited me into her vacation condo for a conversation. Against my better judgment—I chose to go.” Guidepost said Hunt “groomed” the woman, the wife of another SBC pastor and decades younger than Hunt. The group also said Hunt made inappropriate comments about her and kissed her on the forehead.
During their seven-month investigation, Guidepost also discovered that the E.C.'s former vice president and general counsel, D. August Boto, and former SBC spokesman Roger Oldham both kept their own private lists of abusive pastors. Boto and Oldham retired in 2019.
On May 26, top SBC leaders released the 205-page list of pastors and church leaders accused of sexual abuse outside of and within the convention. According to the Associated Press, more than 700 names are on the list, which only includes people accused of sexual misconduct between 2000 to 2019. Several names were redacted, however.
Of the hundreds of ministers listed in the report, nine remain in ministry, with two reportedly serving at SBC-affiliated churches. Guidepost Solutions received the list in the exact form it was released to the public. It features completed entries that note if there was "an admission, confession, guilty plea, conviction, judgment, sentencing, or inclusion on a sex offender registry."
Following the report’s release, several high-profile SBC members, such as Beth Moore and Russel Moore, announced that they were leaving the denomination.
Photo courtesy: ©SBC/Public Domain
5. Women’s Rights Protests in Iran
Protests in Iran made international headlines this year, highlighting injustices against women in the Islamic Republic.
The BBC reports that the protests first erupted following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police for "improperly wearing" her hijab. Women arrested alongside Amini said that she was beaten by the morality police, The Jerusalem Post reports. She then fell into a coma and was brought to a hospital, where she later died. Authorities argue that Amini died from sudden heart failure caused by a possible pre-existing condition. Her family has denied that she had any pre-existing conditions.
Protests following her death erupted in September. Since then, the protests have spread to 140 towns and cities, becoming the most significant movement against the Islamic Republic in over ten years.
According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, at least 341 protestors and 39 security personnel have been killed. An additional 15,800 protestors have been arrested.
The BBC reports slightly different figures, saying 326 protestors, including 25 women and 43 children, have been killed by security forces amid violent crackdowns against the protests.
Iranian leaders have classified the protests as "riots" encouraged by foreign enemies.
More than 2,000 people have already been charged for participating in the protests, and in mid-November, the Iranian government sentenced a protestor to death, making them the first participant to receive such a sentence.
Later that month, the United Nations urged the Islamic Republic to stop targeting activists and protestors and indicated that it would investigate Iran for human rights violations.
In early December, the “morality police” was suspended by the Iranian government.
It’s unclear if the group is officially disbanded or just temporarily suspended.
Also in December, the U.N. Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution to "remove with immediate effect the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women for the remainder of the 2022-2026 term."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Drew Angerer/Staff
6. Mass Shootings
Americans were once against left asking legislators for solutions to gun violence in the United States after experiencing more than 600 mass shootings in 2022. As of late November, there were 611 mass shootings in the U.S., Forbes reports. According to the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a mass shooting as “any incident in which at least four people are murdered with a gun.”
On May 14, the nation was grieved when an 18-year-old white man from Conklin, New York, walked into a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, killing 10 people and injuring three others. Most of the victims were black.
The FBI later determined that the shooting was racially motivated, noting that the shooter – who had targeted the Buffalo-based store because it “has the highest Black population percentage” – had posted a 180-page white supremacist manifesto on social media.
In the manifesto, the shooter said he was bored at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and became “radicalized” on the internet. He then conducted internet searches that led him to believe that there is a low white birth rate “crisis” worldwide that would “ultimately result in the complete racial and cultural replacement of the European people.”
He began planning the shooting in January 2022. The shooter, who was wearing body armor at the time of the shooting, was arrested by authorities. He has been charged with federal hate crimes.
Less than two weeks later, on May 25, an 18-year-old high school student wearing body armor entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and shot and killed 19 students and two adults. The massacre is the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn.
The shooter was armed with two military-style rifles that he legally bought when he turned 18.
This tragedy sparked widespread criticism of the Uvalde police force and the school’s police force. According to reports, despite arriving on the scene within minutes, law enforcement waited for over an hour outside the school before finally entering the building and killing the gunman.
Texas Department of Public Safety chief Steven McCraw said the first police officers entered the school just two minutes after the gunman started firing off his weapon at 11:33 am. By 11:51 am, McCraw said 19 officers were in an outside hallway when the school district's police chief decided not to pursue the shooter.
McCraw added that the chief's lack of response was due to his belief that the shooter barricaded himself in a classroom and that the threat was over.
Around 12:00 pm, students began calling 911, urging police to respond as the shooting continued inside the school. Officers ultimately breached the door at 12:50 pm.
School district police chief Pete Arredondo was later fired by the Uvalde school board for the delayed response.
In Highland Park, Illinois, in July, a man was arrested for killing at least six people during an Independence Day parade.
The shooting, which took place shortly after the parade began at 10 am, left six people dead and dozens injured.
Police recovered a high-powered rifle from a rooftop, where the gunman carried out the shooting.
On October 13, a 15-year-old boy opened fire on people standing on the streets in the Hedingham neighborhood in Raleigh, North Carolina. The teen killed five people, including an off-duty police officer. The gunman initially fled the scene, but after conducting a manhunt, authorities were able to locate and apprehend him.
While technically not considered a mass shooting, one shooting that shook the nation was the shooting death of three University of Virginia students in mid-November. On November 13, a UVA student opened fire, killing three Cavilers football players and injuring two other students.
The suspect initially fled the scene and remained at large until the next morning, when authorities were able to apprehend him.
Then, just days before Thanksgiving, a gunman entered an LGBTQ nightclub called Club Q and killed five patrons. An additional 25 people were injured. The suspect was a 22-year-old male. He reportedly used a “long rifle” to carry out the shooting. Authorities were able to arrest the shooter, who had roughly six magazines of ammunition on his person.
Also in November, a Walmart store manager in Chesapeake, Virginia, walked into the store’s breakroom and opened fire on the employees in the room. The manager killed six employees, including a 16-year-old boy.
As reported by WAVY, Chesapeake police released a death note written by the shooter on his phone. In the note, the gunman accused his co-workers of harassing and bullying him and noted that his phone was hacked, something he described as “the worst feeling imaginable.” He also apologized to God for “failing you.”
The gunman also specified that he would spare one particular person who held “a special place” in his heart “because my mother died from cancer.”
“My God, forgive me for what I’m going to do,” the note concluded.
The United States has not been the only country to experience huge losses due to gun violence.
One event that left the world reeling was the shooting and stabbing deaths of 34 people, including 23 children, at a Thailand daycare.
According to reports, the attacker shot and killed four to five school officials before making his way into a classroom, where he shot and stabbed teachers and dozens of children to death. He then fled the scene and returned to his home, where he shot and killed his wife and 2-year-old stepson before turning the gun on himself
The attacker was a former Thai police officer. He had been fired from his job for drug abuse. This killing spree is among the worst child massacres by a single killer in recent history.
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7. Stars Leave Hallmark Channel for Great American Family
In 2021, GAC Media – an investment group owned by former Crown Media Holdings CEO Bill Abbott and private equity investor Tom Hicks – acquired Discovery’s Great American Country, which was founded by Jones Radio Network as a country music television network in 1995.
GAC Media rebranded the network as a family-friendly TV station, similar to Hallmark. The channel was first called GAC Family, but in July 2022, the network changed its name to Great American Family.
Following the channel's launch, several high-profile Hallmark actors left the popular station for the new one. The most notable actress to leave the Hallmark channel was Candace Cameron Bure.
In April 2022, Bure announced that she had signed a major deal with GAC Media to develop, produce and star in movies and television shows.
Other actors that joined the Great American Family team are Danica McKellar, Jen Lilley, Jill Wagner, Daniel Lissing, Jessica Lowndes, Merritt Patterson, Neal Bledsoe, Jesse Metcalfe, Sara Canning, Trevor Donovan and Lori Loughlin, among others.
Neal Bledsoe has since left the network after Bure noted in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the network would not feature same-sex couples.
This Christmas season, the network created and premiered 18 original Christmas movies for an event they called Great American Christmas. One film, A Christmas … Present, was written by and starred Bure.
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8. The Chosen Hits Theaters
The hit crowdfunded Bible-based series The Chosen released its third season in November 2022. The season premiered in select movie theaters on November 18, with the first and second episodes playing.
In an unexpected twist, the series finished third at the box office on its opening weekend. The two-episode premiere grossed $8.2 million, according to Variety.
Also in November, The Chosen was added to Netflix, broadening its reach. The show is already available for free on The Chosen app, Peacock and Amazon Prime Video.
On December 23, The Chosen Christmas special, The Chosen: The Messenger, aired on the popular cable network the C.W.
Further, this year, the new nonprofit, the Come and See Foundation, announced the goal of dubbing The Chosen into 100 languages and subtitling it into 500 more.
Photo courtesy: ©The Chosen/Angel Studios
9. Archaeological Discoveries
In 2022, scientists made countless archaeological discoveries, including one many called “one of the most significant archaeological finds in modern history.”
In March, Scott Stripling of the Archaeological Studies Institute at The Bible Seminary in Katy, Texas, announced the discovery of a folded lead tablet about two centimeters by centimeters in size with 40 letters of Hebrew inscription that apparently references events mentioned in Deuteronomy 27:15-26 and Joshua 8:30 at Mt. Ebel. There, the Israelites learned they would be cursed if they disobeyed God.
The tablet – which mentions God's name twice – was discovered at the site of Mt. Ebel. More significantly, though, the lead tablet's text is "centuries older than any known Hebrew inscription from ancient Israel," Stripling's organization says.
A lab in Prague scanned the tablet and determined that it reads, "Cursed, cursed, cursed – cursed by the God YHW. You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW – cursed, cursed, cursed."
Biblical scholars called the discovery of this palette “one of the most significant archaeological finds in modern history.”
In July, an excavation team in Israel uncovered the first known depiction of two Old Testament heroines.
According to The Christian Post, Jodi Magness, a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill professor, led the excavation team in the Lower Galilee region, where the team of specialists and students found nearly 1,600-year-old mosaics in an ancient Jewish synagogue at Huqoq.
The Huqoq Excavation Project is in its 10th year, and this year’s efforts have focused on the southwest part of the synagogue, which experts believe was built in the late fourth or fifth century A.D.
Magness and assistant director Dennis Mizzi of the University of Malta found a large mosaic panel that depicted the events of Judges Chapter four, where prophetess and judge Deborah and military commander Barak lead the Israelites in a victory over the Canaanites.
In August, a team of Israeli and American archaeologists uncovered a 1,500-year-old inscription on a centuries-old basilica near the Sea of Galilee that strongly suggests the building was constructed over the home of the Apostle Peter.
The Greek inscription references the donor, "Constantine, the servant of Christ" – Constantine was a fourth-century Roman emperor who converted to Christianity – and includes a petition for intercession from the "chief and commander of the heavenly apostles." According to archaeologists, the latter phrase references Peter.
"The title 'chief and commander of the apostles' is routinely used by Byzantine Christian writers to refer to the Apostle Peter," according to a news release.
Nearly a month later, archaeologists in Israel unearthed rare ivory plaques dating to the time of King Solomon that would have been used to decorate furniture and are apparently what is referenced in the biblical books of 1 Kings and Amos.
Archaeologists uncovered the ivories among the ruins of a palatial building that likely was burned when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C., the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a news release. The ivories had been smashed into tiny pieces but were restored in a meticulous process that required “joining and ‘fusing’ hundreds of the fragments,” IAA added.
Also in September, Israeli archaeologists unveiled what they called a "once-in-a-lifetime discovery" involving 3,300-year-old untouched pottery that dates to the time of Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II and, possibly, to the time of Moses.
The discovery was made when a mechanical digger penetrated the roof of a cave at Palmachim Beach National Park, revealing a large room seemingly "frozen in time" and filled with pottery and other objects that would have been used in an Egyptian burial. At the time, the Egyptian kingdom included the land that is now Israel.
Archaeologists said the pottery had been "untouched for 3,300 years" and dates to the Late Bronze Age, about the time of Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II. Although modern movies such as The Prince of Egypt and The Ten Commandments depict Rameses as the pharaoh who told Moses he would not free the Hebrews, many scholars and biblical experts say Moses and Rameses II were not contemporaries.
In early October, archeologists with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) uncovered 44 Byzantine gold coins in Northern Israel, providing further evidence of the Muslim conquest of the Byzantine Empire in the Levant region.
In a post on Facebook, the IAA said the excavation was at the site of Paneas – later called Banias – within the Hermon River National Park. According to Christian tradition, Banias is believed to be where Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Christ.
Based on the latest coins of Heraclius, the coin hoard is believed to date back to 635 AD, when the Muslim Conquest of Byzantine Palestine took place.
In November, archeologists discovered a Christian monastery on a United Arab Emirates Island in the Persian Gulf. According to The Christian Post, experts estimate the island is some 1,400 years old.
This is the second monastery discovered in the Emirates that predates the rise of Islam in the area.
Then, in December, archaeologists announced the discovery of four Byzantine-era inscriptions after cleaning tiles discovered during a dig in Upper Galilee this summer.
According to CBN News, the discovery was made at Martyrion of Theodoros Church, best known as the "Burnt Church," which was erected by the Byzantines.
Scholars say that the structure was called the "Burnt Church" after it was set ablaze by Persians during their conquest of Jerusalem in 614 A.D. The conquest resulted in the deaths of roughly 17,000 Christians, according to the Armenian historian Bishop Sebeos.
One inscription written in Greek reads: "Offering in favor of salvation and succor for Urania and Theodoros. Lord God, accept! Amen! In the time of indiction 4 and year 619."
Another one reads: "Offering of the priest Symeonios, goldsmith, custodian (?), He (the Lord) will protect him and his children and his wife."
A variety of artifacts at the site, including coins, are believed to date to before the Muslim conquest of Levant, which began in 634 A.D.
Later that month, an Israeli ancient history professor was able to translate inscriptions describing the life of the biblical Judean King Hezekiah.
Professor Gershon Galil of Haifa University's Institute for Biblical Studies and Ancient History and Eli Shukron of the Bible and Ancient History research institute say the find is "one of the most important archaeological discoveries in Israel of all time."
Experts spent more than 10 years deciphering the stone tablets, which were initially discovered during excavation work in the City of David National Park in 2007.
According to CBN News, the stone is about the size of the palm of a hand and includes Hezekiah's name and a list of his achievements from the first 17 years of his reign.
Also in December, archaeologists with the IAA uncovered hundreds of artifacts during an excavation of a burial cave that is believed by some to be the tomb of Jesus' midwife, Salome.
"According to a Christian tradition, Salome was the midwife from Bethlehem, who was called to participate in the birth of Jesus," IAA archaeologist Zvi Firer said, according to The Times of Israel. "She could not believe that she was asked to deliver a virgin's baby, and her hand became dry and was only healed when she held the baby's cradle."
The story of Salome participating in Jesus' birth is found in the Gospel of James, which is different from the book of James found in the New Testament.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/iStock, this is a stock image
10. Natural Disasters
Natural disasters struck countries all across the globe in 2022, claiming the lives of hundreds of people.
In June, rainfall and snowmelt caused “record flooding” in Yellowstone National Park. The flooding was so heavy the park was closed, and at least one home built along the Yellowstone River was swept away.
Other places that experienced massive flooding were Australia, Kentucky and Pakistan. In July, thousands of people near Sydney, Australia, evacuated their homes after heavy rains created floods in the area. Some 50,000 people were displaced.
At least 30 people were killed in Eastern Kentucky in late July due to flooding caused by increased rainfall. At the time, at least 23,000 people were also left without power. Kentucky governor Andy Beshear called the flooding incident “one of the worst, most devastating flooding events in Kentucky's history.”
And in late August in Pakistan, more than 1,100 people, including 380 children, were killed in unprecedented flooding.
According to Reuters, at the time, nearly one-third of Pakistan was underwater, destroying the homes, businesses, infrastructure, crops and property of 33 million people (15 percent of Pakistan's population). Early estimates say the country is facing at least $10 billion in damage.
The flooding was brought on by abnormally heavy rains during monsoon season.
Earthquakes also struck across the world this year, claiming the lives of thousands.
In June, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck Afghanistan claiming the lives of at least 1,000 people and injuring some 1,500 more.
In Indonesia, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake killed more than 260 people and injured over 1,000. Most of the casualties were reportedly children. An additional 58,000 people were displaced.
According to CNN, the United States Geological Survey found that the quake hit the Cianjur region in West Java at a depth of 6.2 miles. Within an hour of the initial quake, 25 aftershocks were recorded.
Thousands of buildings, including 22,000 homes and at least 50 schools, were damaged in the quake.
In mid-September, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake rocked western China, killing 93 people.
The U.S. and several island nations were also hit hard by hurricanes in 2022.
In late September, Hurricane Fiona – a category four system – ripped through the Caribbean, inflicting damage on Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos and Bermuda. It also made its way up the coast, hitting eastern Canada. Fiona is the strongest hurricane ever recorded in Canada.
Fiona called an estimated $5.88 billion in damage and took the lives of 31 people, 25 of whom were from Puerto Rico, where heavy flooding ensued.
Days later, Hurricane Ian also ripped through the Caribbean and then made its way up the coast. Hurricane Ian – a category four hurricane – caused an estimated $50.2 billion in damage and took the lives of over 157 people. Ian impacted Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the Bahamas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Five people were killed in Cuba, 146 in Florida, five in North Carolina and one in Virginia. Much of the damage was caused by storm surges that caused flooding. Myers Beach and Naples, Florida, were among the hardest hit areas. Prior to the storm making landfall in Florida, some 2.5 million Floridians were encouraged to evacuate.
In mid-November, Florida was once again hit by a hurricane. Hurricane Nicole – a category one system – hit Florida on November 10. It claimed the lives of 5 people before weakening to a tropical storm on its way to Georgia.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Michael Swensen/Stringer
11. In Memoriam
On January 2, Jay Weaver, the bassist of the contemporary Christian band Big Daddy Weave, died from complications due to COVID-19. He was 42.
According to a tribute posted by K-Love, the Weaver brother's formed Big Daddy Weave in 1998 and released their first album, Neighborhoods, independently in 2001. In 2002, the band released its second album, One and Only, under the record label Fervent Records. The band has produced many hits, including "Without You," "What Life Would Be Like," "Overwhelmed," "Audience of One," "In Christ," and their latest single, "Alive."
Weaver is survived by his wife and their three children.
On January 9, Bob Saget, an American stand-up comedian and actor, was found dead in a Florida hotel room on Sunday. Saget, best known for his role as Danny Tanner in the 1990s sitcom Full House, was 65.
The beloved comedian was affectionately referred to as “America’s Dad” due to his role as a widowed father of three daughters in Full House. Saget was also the original host of America's Funniest Home Videos, which he hosted from 1989 to 1997. Further, he was nominated for a Grammy for his 2014 comedy album, That's What I'm Talking About.
Saget is survived by his wife, Kelly Rizzo, whom he married in 2018, his three adult daughters and their mother, his ex-wife, Sherri Kramer.
Jane Marczewski, known as Nightbirde, was a popular singer/songwriter who first came to prominence when she appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2021. At the time of her audition, Marczewski had already been diagnosed with cancer in her lungs, liver and spine and was given a two percent chance of living. Still, she did not let her diagnosis stop her from chasing her dreams. Her joy-filled optimism and strong Christian faith quickly began to inspire a nationwide television audience, but in August 2021, she had to withdraw from the singing competition show due to declining health. She later died on February 20 at the age of 31.
Representative Don Young
Alaska Representative Don Young, the longest-serving member of the United States House of Representatives, passed away on March 18. He was 88.
Young was first sworn as a member of the 93rd Congress on March 6, 1973, after winning a special election. According to the biography on Young's website, the late congressman served as Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee twice from 1995 to 2001 and later as the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2001 to 2007.
Young then served as the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee again in the 110th Congress. In the 112th Congress, Young was selected to serve as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs (IIANA), which he did until 2017. After fulfilling his duty as Chairman of the IIANA, Young was named Chairman Emeritus of the full House Committee on Natural Resources.
Before his death, Young also served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee as the most senior Republican. In 2020, he was elected to the 117th Congress to serve his 25th term as Alaska's only Representative to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Ph.D., passed away from cancer on March 23. She was 84.
Albright had a long, influential and successful career beginning in 1972 when she began working on Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie’s presidential campaign.
She served as secretary of state from 1997 to 2001 under Clinton. As the head of the State Department, Albright urged the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to expand eastward into the former Soviet bloc. She also helped lead the 1999 NATO bombing campaign aimed at ending the ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo.
Further, in 2000, Albright became the first U.S. official to meet with Vladimir Putin after he became Russia’s president. That same year she also met with Kim Jong Il in North Korea, making her the first U.S. diplomat to travel to North Korea.
Albright was hugely influential in shaping Clinton’s foreign policy strategy and left behind a legacy of feminism and political strength.
She is survived by her daughters, Alice, Anne and Katie, her siblings, Kathy and John, her six grandchildren, her nephews and her grandniece.
Senator Orrin Hatch
Republican Senator for Utah Orrin G. Hatch passed away on April 23 at the age of 88.
Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history and the longest-serving senator in Utah history, was a fierce defender of conservative values, championing limitations on abortions and defending Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he was accused of sexual harassment during his confirmation hearing.
He did, however, work with his colleagues across the aisle on some occasions.
Hatch is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their six kids, Scott, Alysa, Jesse, Marcia, Brent and Kimberly.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Terry Wyatt/Stringer
Five-time Grammy award-winning country star Naomi Judd died by suicide on April 30. She was 76.
Naomi and her daughter Wynonna formed the American country duo The Judds during the 1980s. Together, they released six albums and won five Grammy awards before splitting in 1991 after Naomi was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. Following the group's split, Wynonna continued making music as a solo artist but occasionally reunited with her mother for shows over the years.
The Judds have had a total of 14 No. 1 hit songs, including "Love Can Build a Bridge," "Mama He's Crazy," "Why Not Me," "Turn it Loose," "Girls Night Out," "Rockin' with the Rhythm of the Rain" and "Grandpa." All of their singles were top 10 hits on Billboard's country charts.
The country duo is also the first female-fronted group to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and has sold over 20 million albums. Their induction ceremony was supposed to take place on Sunday.
According to CBN News, Naomi was outspoken about her faith in God throughout her career. During a 2018 interview, she told CBN News that God helped her overcome depression after The Judds disbanded.
Bill Johnson, the senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, announced that his wife, Beni Johnson, passed away on July 13 following a years-long battle with cancer. She was 67.
As reported by The Christian Post, Beni was first diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2018. At the time, doctors had discovered two lumps in her right breast, which were caught. Beni Johnson is survived by her husband, three children and 11 grandchildren.
Canadian theologian, author, and evangelical social activist Ron Sider passed away on July 27 from a heart attack. He was 82.
Sider, who became the first in his family to pursue higher education, holds degrees from the University of Waterloo and Yale University, where he earned a doctorate in history. After graduating from Yale, he began teaching at Messiah College in Philadelphia, PA and later at Eastern University's Palmer Theological Seminary.
He is the author of the influential book Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity, of which more than 400,000 copies were told. It was also translated into nine languages.
In 1978, he founded Evangelicals for Social Action, now known as Christians for Social Action.
Sider is survived by his wife of 59 years, Arbutus Lichti Sider, and their three children.
Nichelle Nichols, the actress known for her role as Lt. Nootka Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, died at the age of 89. Nichols was widely known as one of the first black female actresses to earn a major role in a film. Throughout her life, Nichols was also vocal about her faith.
Congresswoman Jackie Walorski
Republican Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski, who represented Indiana's 2nd Congressional district, was killed in a car crash on August 3. She was 58. According to Fox News, the fatal crash in Elkhart County, Indiana, involved two cars. Everyone involved was killed.
Walorski served three terms in the state's legislature before being elected to represent Indiana's 2nd Congressional District in 2012. She also served on the House Ways and Means Committee.
Author and megachurch pastor Stuart Briscoe passed away on August 3 from natural causes. He was 91.
Briscoe was born on November 11, 1930, in Millom, Cumbria, England. After leaving his career in banking, Briscoe decided to pursue international ministry through the Capernwray Missionary Fellowship of Torchbearers. By the 1960s, Briscoe was a youth minister and a popular conference speaker in the United States.
In 1971, he became the senior past of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin. According to Briscoe’s ministry, Telling the Truth, Elmbrook eventually grew to be the largest evangelical church in the state.
Briscoe’s sermons soon became so popular that he began recording them using a reel-to-reel tape recorder and selling them. With the money from the tape sales, Briscoe was able to purchase local radio time, allowing him to launch the Telling the Truth radio program.
In the 1990s, the ministry expanded its reach overseas, airing on London’s Premier Christian Radio station.
Today, Telling the Truth airs online and on SiriusXM in the United States.
Briscoe served as Elmbrooks senior pastor for 30 years before moving on to concentrate on reaching out to pastors, missionaries and church leaders as a Minister-at-Large, with his wife, Jill.
Briscoe also wrote over 40 books throughout his career, including Brave Enough to Follow, A Countercultural Life, and He’s Still on the Throne.
Briscoe is survived by his wife, their three adult children and their 13 grandchildren.
Singer, actress, and Christian celebrity Olivia Newton-John died peacefully on August 8, at age 73, following a 30-year battle with cancer.
Though born in England in 1948, Newton-John's family moved to Australia when she was five.
As a teen, she won a singing contest and later enjoyed some musical success in England in 1966. But it wasn’t until the 70s that she became widely known in the United States.
Her song “Let Me Be There” landed as a top-10 hit in the U.S. in 1973. But for many, she sealed her icon status with her appearance in the 1978 film Grease. Newton-John played one of the film’s main characters, Sandy Olsson.
Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian minister and influential Christian author, passed away in his sleep on August 15 at the age of 96. Buechner, who was described as a “writer’s writer” and “minister’s minister,” inspired Christians with his works throughout his career, which spanned over six decades. He has written nearly 40 books in various genres, including fiction, autobiography, theology, essays and sermons.
Buechner is survived by Judith, their three daughters, a son-in-law and 10 grandchildren.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Jason Kempin/Staff
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, at the age of 96.
The Queen was born Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary on May 29, 1926. She was third in line for the crown behind her uncle, King Edward VII and her father, King George VI. She became the heir presumptive in 1936 after King Edward VIII abdicated from the throne.
On November 20, 1947, Queen Elizabeth – still a princess at this time – married His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg.
Less than five years later, King George VI died of lung cancer, allowing Elizabeth to ascend to the throne.
Reigning for 70 years, Queen Elizabeth is the longest-sitting monarch in British history. According to the Royal Household website, the Queen also traveled more widely than any of her predecessors.
Known for her devotion to the crown and the people of England, her majesty famously said on her 21 birthday, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service.”
The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, passed away on April 17 of last year at the age of 99. Her only sibling, Princess Margaret, died in 2002.
Andrew van der Bijl, best known by Christians worldwide as Brother Andrew, passed away on Tuesday at 94.
Brother Andrew, the founder of the Christian persecution watchdog Open Doors, is best remembered for smuggling copies of the Bible into communist countries. His efforts earned him the moniker "God's Smuggler."
As reported by CBN News, Brother Andrew was born in the Netherlands in 1928 under the Dutch name Andrew van der Bijl. When he was 12, Germany invaded the country during World War II. At the time, he hid from the Germans, so he wouldn't be forced to join the army.
He later rose to prominence with his book, God's Smuggler, which was published in 1967. The book, written by evangelical journalists John and Elizabeth Sherrill, details how Brother Andrew smuggled Bibles into communist countries past unsuspecting border guards in his Volkswagen Beetle.
According to Christianity Today, Brother Andrew reportedly smuggled millions of Bibles into Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, East Germany, Bulgaria, and other Soviet-bloc countries.
EFCA President Dan Busby
Former Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability president Dan Busby passed away from cancer on Wednesday at the age of 81.
According to The Christian Post, Busby was born in Kansas in 1941. He attended Emporia State University, where he earned a Master of Business Administration degree and later became a Certified Public Accountant in 1964.
Busby then began working with the EFCA as a volunteer member of its Standards Committee in 1989. He would serve on that committee for ten years before moving up to become a senior leader in the organization. He served as a senior leader for ten years before being named EFCA president in 2008. Busby was the longest-serving EFCA president and played a vital role in growing the EFCA’s membership. He retired in 2020 and was named president emeritus, the EFCA website details.
Busby is survived by his wife, Claudette, their two children, Julie and Alan, and their four grandchildren.
Country music star Loretta Lynn passed away on October 4 at her Hurricane Mills, Tennessee home. She was 90.
According to the Associated Press, Lynn launched her singing career in the early 1960s.
While she often wrote about her love for her rural Kentucky upbringing, she also honestly discussed taboo topics such as divorce, cheating husbands, and birth control, among other things.
Her biggest hits, which include “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “The Pill,” “You’re Looking at Country,” “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’,” and “X-Rated,” were all released in the 60s and 70s.
By the mid-70s, her talent and lyrical candor led her to become the first woman to ever receive the entertainer of the year award from both the Country Music Association (1972) and the Academy of Country Music (1975). Throughout her career, she would also win three Grammys and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2010). She would further be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1988) and the Grammy Hall of Fame (1998). In 2013, President Barack Obama also awarded her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Angela Lansbury, who came to fame during Hollywood’s Golden Age and who was known for her work in family-friendly projects and a popular detective series, died on October 11. She was 96.
Lansbury starred in the detective series Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996) but was best known to multiple generations of children for her roles in Beauty and the Beast (1991), Anastasia(1997), The Grinch (2018), Bedknobs and Broomsticks(1971) Fantasia 2000 (1999) and Mary Poppins Returns (2018). Her final on-screen role as an actress was in a family musical, Buttons(2018).
Renowned Professor and New Testament scholar Gordon Fee passed away on October 25 in New York at the age of 88.
Fee, who was an ordained minister of the Assemblies of God (USA), taught at several Christian schools, including Wheaton College, Vanguard University of Southern California and Gordon-Conwell Seminary. He later moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where he taught the New Testament at Regent college from 1986 to 2002. He was then appointed as Professor Emeritus and taught at Regent as a sessional instructor until 2009.
According to Christianity Today, Fee co-authored the best-selling book “How To Read The Bible For All His Worth” with Old Testament Professor Douglas Stuart of Gordon-Conwell Seminary. He also wrote “God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul.”
Fee further wrote New Testament commentaries on 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Revelation.
In 1990, Fee succeeded the revered F. F. Bruce as the editor of the New International Commentaries series, a position he held until 2012 after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Fee is predeceased by his wife, Maudine, who died in 2014. He leaves behind three adult children, thirteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Steve Douglass, the former president of the Christian ministry campus organization Cru and Campus Crusade for Christ International, passed away on Saturday due to complications from cancer. He was 77.
Douglass spent 53 years with Cru in a variety of roles, including leading the organization as its president from 2001-2020 after succeeding founder Bill Bright. In 1969, he joined Cru after graduating from Harvard University with an MBA and from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.
He was also a member of the board of directors for the National Religious Broadcasters and hosted the national radio program "Making Your Life Count."
Douglass authored and co-authored several books, including Managing Yourself, How to Achieve Your Potential and Enjoy Life, How to Get Better Grades and Have More Fun and Enjoying Your Walk with God.
He is survived by his wife, Judy, three adult children and ten grandchildren.
Jason David Frank
Jason David Frank, best known for his role as the Green Power Ranger in the hit 90s superhero television series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, has died after committing suicide. He was 49.
Frank was first cast as Tommy Oliver, the original Green Power Ranger, in season 1 of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1993. He later became a Red and a Black Ranger. He also led the superhero group as the White Power Ranger.
In addition to his acting career, Frank trained professionally as an MMA brawler who was well-versed in multiple fighting styles, including Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and more.
Frank was also a Christian and founded the first Christian-based MMA apparel company, Jesus Didn't Tap.
He is survived by his four children.
Representative Donald McEachin
U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) died on November 28, following a years-long battle with colorectal cancer. He was 61.
Aston Donald McEachin was born on Oct. 10, 1961, in Nuremberg, Germany. His father was a U.S. Army veteran, and his mother was a schoolteacher.
He attended St. Christopher's School in Richmond, where he graduated in 1979. McEachin later earned a bachelor's degree from American University in 1982 and a law degree at the University of Virginia in 1986. The late Virginia Democrat also holds a Masters of Divinity degree from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, which he received in 2008.
McEachin leaves behind his wife, Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney Colette McEachin, and their three children, Mac, Briana and Alexandra.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Stuart C. Wilson/Stringer
Clarence Gilyard Jr.
Longtime actor and academic Clarence Gilyard Jr., best known for his roles in television shows Walker Texas Ranger and Matlock and films Top Gun and Die Hard, passed away on Monday at age 66.
While Gilyard was raised Lutheran, he later converted to Catholicism after a years-long battle with drug and sex addictions.
"I hit bottom, I hit bottom … I was pretty much sex, drugs, and rock and roll, ya know what I mean?" he told the Catholic News Agency in a 2016 interview.
The actor shared that a friend had invited him to Mass while he was in a recovery program.
"Man, it rocked my world, it rocked me. So, I went to the priest on the way out, and I said hey, can I come see you this week? And the rest is history," he said.
In 2018, Gilyard told CMGlobal.org that it had become his daily quest to make everything he does for God a prayer.
"I have come to realize that my approach to this life is necessarily evolving: evolving and maturing into a critical daily request to our good God to help me make mine, my life and my labors, my work, a prayer," he said.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer