Evangelist, prophet and teacher Mary Ellen Strong, a pioneer in black media and marketing, died last week of heart failure at her California home. She was 91.
“She was the first in so many things,” said Jerrel Jones, her son. “She did have the pioneering spirit.”
Articulate and humorous, on numerous radio stations and television programs including The 700 Club, Strong's messages were delivered with the authority of knowing her secure position in Jesus Christ. She was a trailblazer for change and improvement across the globe; known to stand up with great boldness to rulers and laymen.
Born Mary Ellen Brady on June 4, 1921 in Milwaukee, Wis., she married James Strong, an attorney and U.S. diplomat to Gambia who worked with a number of major corporations, in 1970. He was a former marketing executive with the Kellogg Corp. After his death, she married Andrew Gaines, the father and manager of the late singer Donna Summer.
Have you ever wondered what is happening to churches today? Many have lost their sense of purpose, floundering for identity, in a sea of hundreds of other churches competing for the same people. Approximately 80 percent of “church growth” numbers can be attributed to people transferring from one church to another rather than new converts. As many as 3,000-4,000 churches close their doors every year—unable to stay open due to financial burdens, infrastructural turmoil and apathy.
In this discouraging environment, day in and day out, pastors and church leaders toil for the kingdom of God. Often overworked, underpaid and unappreciated, they deny themselves the luxury of time for rest and spiritual renewal. Is it any wonder that more than 1,500 pastors leave their churches every month due to spiritual burn-out, moral failure or contention within their congregation?
A miracle lifestyle begins in God’s presence
For decades, maybe centuries, the church has gathered weekly around a sermon. Our reasons are noble: We value the Scriptures and know that our lives are to be anchored in truth. But the study of the Scriptures is meant to launch us into an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.
In that moment of connection, we obtain life. Without encountering the One to whom Scriptures point, we are a people to be pitied. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
Nearly every leader wants revival in one way or another, and many want healings, deliverances and miracles. But it’s hard to have the same fruit as the early church when we value a book they didn’t have above the Holy Spirit they did have.
On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations’ General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan; the Arab leadership rejected it. Sixty-five years later, on Nov. 29, 2012 (Thursday), Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, excoriated Israel, praised Islamic terrorists and received the overwhelming approbation of the General Assembly, which voted 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions) to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state.”
Abbas was perfectly clear: “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: ‘Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.’” The world, then, through the U.N., would be rebuking Israel with its vote.
To be sure, President Abbas made some conciliatory remarks, such as, “We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel.” But these remarks were completely overridden by his unstinting condemnation of Israel, whose policies, he claimed, “have thrown [negotiations] into the intensive care unit.”
How could he claim that he came to the U.N. to “launch a final serious attempt to achieve peace”?
Culture wars are real. I’m speaking of the battles that continually pursue between those who hold to traditional values and those who are opposed. My friend, the gospel is greater than any force that comes against it. When we preach the pure Word of God, amazing results follow. Please allow me to give you an example.
The governor of Alabama once invited me and several of my evangelist friends to a historic meeting. It was a Saturday afternoon rally in support of keeping the Ten Commandments posted at the State Supreme Court.
Upon arrival we were shocked to see more than 25,000 people gathered together on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion. Surrounding the crowd were all the major media networks broadcasting this historic event.
I remember asking the governor what he wanted me to say at this secular rally. His response was crystal clear: “Preach the gospel and give an altar call.”