Saying “the foundation of freedom is faith,” Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday urged members of a Texas megachurch to pray for the nation and to rely on God to get America “through these challenging times.”
Pence spoke nearly 30 minutes at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, the same day he also held a press conference at a local hospital with Gov. Greg Abbott and others to address a spike in coronavirus cases in the state.
Pence wore a mask at the church and took it off to speak to the crowd. Prayer and faith, he said, are key during America’s current crises.
“I believe with all my heart … that if we will but hold fast to Him, we’ll see our way through these challenging times, we will restore our nation’s health, we will renew our freedom, and we will inspire people across this land with our witness of the love and compassion and strength that comes in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ,” Pence said.
Speaking at the church’s “Celebrate Freedom Sunday,” Pence quoted faith-centric comments from the Founding Fathers, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. and said the “faith of the American people will continue to perfect our nation for generations to come.”
“The foundation of America is freedom. The foundation of freedom is faith,” he said.
Pence quoted Lincoln as saying, “It is the duty of nations as well as of men … to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
The vice president referenced Scripture often and quoted Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every form of prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, with the promise that the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” Pence said.
“As our nation faces these difficult days, I believe more than ever that we stand in the need of prayer,” Pence said. “In coming here today … I wanted to encourage you: As you celebrate freedom in this coming week, practice prayer in a renewed way.”
Pence also told the church about his personal spiritual testimony, which involved him attending a Christian music festival in 1978 in Wilmore, Ky. But that event nearly didn’t take place. The organizer – Pence said – had recently married and had considered canceling the event, believing it would be too difficult to balance with a newlywed life. Then, on the culminating day of the event, Saturday, it rained. The organizer believed it “had been for naught,” Pence said.
But the organizer didn’t know a 17-year-old teenager was in the crowd, feeling convicted about his sin. That person was Pence.
The organizer has since written Pence.
“I remember that night: Sitting on a hillside, it was raining, and it was like … I heard the words for the first time that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever might believe in Him might not perish but have eternal life. Then I stood up, and I walked down that night — not out of a sense of intellectual assent, but because my heart was broken with gratitude for what had been done for me on the cross.”
One lesson from the Kentucky event, Pence said, is “even when things don’t seem like they’re going the way we expected, they’re going the way He expected.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Olson/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.