A Champion For Christ. As a University of Georgia alumnus, I felt the pain of last night’s loss to Alabama in the college football national championship game. However, I was consoled considerably by the heartfelt testimony for Christ made during the post-game interviews by Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. If you’re a regular reader of BreakPoint, this testimony is no surprise. We first wrote about Tagovailoa back in 2015, when he was the top high school recruit in the nation. But we also noted that in addition to his now well-known football skills, he is a young man of solid Christian faith. That faith is the product, in part, of his family – who he also acknowledged during the post-game interview. His family, as we mentioned in our BreakPoint commentary about him, comes from the island nation of Samoa. It’s a country that has an interesting history both with Christianity and with football. A disproportionate number of the small country’s young men end up in big time college football programs and in the NFL. Tua Tagovailoa seems to be the next up in that long line. We pray all this media attention doesn’t distract him from the God and the family that have faithfully and gracefully gotten him this far.
Christianity In China. Within 30 years, China could have the largest Christian population in the world. The World Council of Churches (WCC) noted the growth of the Christian church in China in an announcement this week. The WCC also said it would send a delegation to China this year to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the ecumenical body. Journalist Ian Johnson has written an excellent book on religion in China, The Souls of China. He says Christian missionaries from the West evangelized China in the late 19th century, but during the Communist era, these Christians were persecuted and went underground. Despite that persecution, or perhaps because of it, the church put down deep roots and continued to grow. In recent years, the church has been able to operate more openly, though it is not completely free. Still Johnson estimates that the number of Christians have grown from about 1-million under Mao to more than 60 million today.
FEMA and Churches. When weather and other emergencies occur, churches are often the first responders. That’s why it was odd that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said churches could not receive federal aid in the aftermath of natural disasters. According to a statement from the National Religious Broadcasters, “Previously, even though other nonprofit organizations could receive FEMA grants for repair, reconstruction, or replacement of their facilities, houses of worship were declared ineligible. FEMA decided to reverse course based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer ruling last summer to stop similar government discrimination against a church.”
Milestones. Gospel music legend Andrae Crouch died this week (Jan. 8) in 2015…. Peter Taylor, an elegant writer who chronicled the “Christ-haunted South” in such books as the National Book Award Winner A Summons to Memphis, was born on Jan. 8, 1917…. On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, a small book making the case for American independence. It sold 100,000 copies in 1776 alone. (The population of America was just 2.5-million.) It is still in print today and – except for the Bible — is the best-selling publication in American history.