Kingdom Influence: A Challenge to Young Pastors and Leaders

Pastors and ministry leaders should be bold in preaching against the murder of unborn babies.
Pastors and ministry leaders should be bold in preaching against the murder of unborn babies. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters )

What a difference one phone call can make. Just over a year ago, I was invited to a listening session with then-candidate Donald J. Trump, along with several other very prominent evangelical leaders.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that meeting would be the first of a series that would culminate at a pulpit in St. John's Cathedral, where I was to read Scripture and speak into the lives of the president-elect and vice president-elect just moments before they would stand before the world and take the oath of office. And it was nearly one year ago in that first meeting that we were able to look candidate Trump in the eye and ask one of the most important questions asked in this process.

I had the privilege of asking Mr. Trump if he would give his word that he would never nominate a pro-abortion Supreme Court justice. He lowered his head for a moment, then looked up and looked all of us straight in the eye and gave his solemn word that he would never nominate a pro-abortion candidate. And now, a little more than two weeks into that candidate's presidency, with one swipe of the pen, we have witnessed the most sweeping and dramatic assault on the abortion industry since Roe v. Wade as federal funding was ceased immediately for overseas organizations who provide or fund abortions. Add to that 52 GOP Senate seats, and there is a clear pathway to defund Planned Parenthood, knowing the House would be expected to easily approve the same bill.

This one executive order, in this the very first week of this presidency, will not only save literally millions of lives, but according to pro-life organizations around the world and here at home, it sends a strong signal about this administration's pro-life priorities.

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In the U.S., there have been over 58 million abortions performed since it became legal in 1973. In the African-American community alone, it has been especially devastating. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, on average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States. This incidence of abortion has resulted in a tremendous loss of life. Michael Novak states, "Abortion has swept through the black community like a scythe, cutting down every fourth member." Every fourth member!

March for Life

Following the signing of this executive order, on Friday, Jan. 27, hundreds of thousands of women and men marched in Washington, D.C., for the 44th annual March for Life. But this year would be different. While previous Republican presidents have expressed support for the march in various ways—Ronald Reagan through a pre-recorded video message and George W. Bush through a phone call—President Trump is the first to send high-level representatives to address the march real-time and in person, including Vice President Mike Pence and chief spokesperson Kelly Ann Conway.

Evangelical Influence

To say that millions of voting evangelicals affected the outcome of the presidential election would be a gross understatement. And I believe the Lord used the men and women who served in these listening and advisory sessions in profound ways. For these men and women, it was never about being on the Trump bandwagon or being all-in for a man. It was about the makeup of the Supreme Court. It was about religious liberty. It was about our families and your families. And it was about unwavering support for the nation of Israel. As it relates to these topics, every question was asked, and every assurance was given. Add to that one of the godliest men I have ever met, Vice President Mike Pence, and we could see hope for a nation we all saw becoming something unimaginable.

Time to Act

The church had been silent for far too long. And while I would like to say my involvement in this process was because of the cry of those millions of unborn babies, or some other compelling reason, but really, it was because for the first time ever, I was invited into the process.

But what I have seen with these eyes and what I have experienced over the course of this past year has revealed to me a whole new dimension of the power of God and the influence of godly men and women over the affairs of a nation, if we are but willing to go. I've taught from my pulpit about Esther, Daniel, Joseph and others who would be called on by God to risk their lives and reputations and go before rulers and speak the truth, knowing that truth could cost them everything. This was my time, and this is our time. This is your time.

I'll be honest and tell you that many of those who have served in these advisory roles, including me, have been called everything under the sun, and it has cost some their reputation with some of their constituents, myself included. But not once did I ever think it was wrong for me to use every ounce of influence I had to speak the Word of God into someone who could become the leader of the free world. Why would I? And why would you?

A Word to Young Pastors and Leaders

I feel compelled to speak into the lives and ministries of young pastors. God is calling us to come out from the safety of our buildings and church communities and speak life into this world in profound ways. These are extraordinary days, and the hand of God is with us in extraordinary ways. Our flocks walk out of our services, face a world governed by secular laws and, five days a week, send their children to schools with worldly value systems very different than the values they learn in an hour or two in your children's program. I want to challenge you to begin to pray about how God might use you and your influence to begin to engage your community, state and nation. I believe God is raising up prophets to speak into the lives of leaders and rulers here in the U.S. and in the world as well.

God can still steer the hearts of kings and rulers the way he has for thousands of years. The courage of Esther saved an entire nation, the wisdom of Joseph helped feed nations during one of the most severe famines in the history of Egypt and the obedience of Moses resulted in the deliverance of God's people from 400 years of slavery and oppression. But it is the words of King Darius in Daniel chapter 6 that are the most compelling for the age we live in. After Daniel had been rescued from the hungry lions, Darius, a pagan king said these words:

"I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel. 'For He is the living God, enduring forever; His kingdom shall never be destroyed, and His dominion shall be forever. He delivers and rescues, and He works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions'" (Dan. 6:26-27).

I have been reminded that even presidents have souls and that the Holy Spirit can move in the life of any man or woman. I have learned that God can use a simple pastor from North Carolina to speak life into a president, and I sense very strongly that He is raising up prophets who are willing to be shaped and molded for such a time as this.

I believe our nation is entering an extraordinary season where things are changing at an unprecedented pace. There are open doors all around us and we must be strong and courageous; very strong and courageous for God is with us.

Pray that the Lord would open doors of influence. And when that door opens, we would go with boldness and the knowledge that it is God opening the door—not man.

Best-selling author Jentezen Franklin is pastor of Free Chapel Church with three campuses in Georgia, one in South Carolina and one in Orange County, California. {eoa)

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