"Bob" is not real name of the author; we changed it to protect him.
Dear Mr. Huckabee,
First I would like to introduce myself and give you some background information on me. My name is “Bob.” I am a forty year old husband and father of four daughters. My education is limited to a GED and some core college classes. Most of my knowledge has basically been accumulated over the years and can be summed up as life experience education so I apologize ahead of time for any grammar or formatting errors I may miss while writing this letter. I am in the construction business as a contractor. This requires me to travel quite a bit. I am currently working in Indiana and I travel back home to Tennessee every weekend to see my wife and children. I wanted to write to you about an experience that my wife and I had this past weekend, because quite frankly it troubled me and I have not been able to quite put my heart at rest over the issue or the root cause of the issue. I will be both as detailed and to the point as possible. Please do NOT think this is some form of persecution to the church. I AM a born again Christian. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and I believe that the bible is the infallible word of the one and only true God. That does not mean that I think I am perfect or sinless by any means and if we all fall short of the glory of God my fall would probably be equal to the height of the empire state building.
This past weekend started no different than any other. I came home, my wife and I talked about bills, kids, and politics. We spent time with our children the way every ordinary American does on any other weekend. My wife had made dinner plans with another couple, which were members of the family, for Saturday night. An adults only date night dinner if you will. After dinner was about to be over my wife and my cousin had stepped away from the table for a moment leaving just the two men to talk about all the latest hot topics. When they came back my wife seemed unsettled and she asked me to step outside. Just before we stepped outside she told me that there was an older homeless gentleman in his late fifties sitting in front of the restaurant. He had asked my wife if we had any blankets, because it was starting to get cold in Tennessee at this time of year. So we went to our car because we do keep big blankets on hand for the kids for football games, soccer games and other events. When we gave him the blankets we also handed him what little cash we had between the four of us. My wife asked if he was hungry and if he would like us to buy him something to eat or dinner and at that point is where my heart broke. The man shook his head very softly and then tried to give the money back to my wife to pay for his own dinner. When we both said no absolutely not we can pay for your dinner and you can keep that money this gentleman who is clearly fallen upon hard times wept and sobbed. After giving him his dinner he said he had a place to stay for the night and he made his way down the road.
I have had an awful lot of time to think about that man sitting on that bench during my nine hour drive late Sunday night back to Indiana. After pondering on it for a while it led me to think about other things too. I thought about abortion in this country, the welfare epidemic, the education crisis, the moral character crisis in this country, the debt crisis, and our homeless including veterans and on and on. What will we do or what can we do? Where do we start? Well we can do nothing, but God can do anything. I know that the use of God here sounds very cliché to the lost world and quite frankly it sounds cliché to a lot of Christians in today’s society as well. Why is that? This all boils down to a term that is absolutely killing our churches in this country like a slow growing cancer that chips away at a person’s health little by little until they are completely consumed and lifeless. That term is called biblical apathy. I know this is not an original term and I don’t remember who said it or where I read it, but after this weekend God opened my eyes and I saw it for the very first time up close and personal. As I kept driving down that dark interstate the questions, which I do not have all the answers to, started to pile up.
The most important question I asked myself was; where is the church? I never questioned where God was, because I know he is here, but where is the body of Christ, the church, in America right now? I had a very hard time with this question both internally about myself and what I am doing and the church as a whole across the country. The only answer is we, the church, as a whole have become biblically apathetic, satisfied and comfortable. We do not seek out the need for Christ in our communities and home towns across America. The answer to me is simple. Real life situations that require need and scream out for help fall on deaf ears. Why is this? My theory is that we do not want to confront the uncomfortable, because it threatens the comfortable. We do not want to engage in the ugly parts of humanity and sometimes the brokenness of people at the risk of our comfort and own selfrighteousness. What is it that we do? We participate the good old fashioned way of course! We throw money at the problem and it might just go away at least for another year anyway until it’s time to pass the offering plate again. We build multi-million dollar churches, spend millions on remodeling churches and multi-millions on foreign missions around the world all while the gospel here in the United States is fading away with each passing generation. I have to ask; where are the homeless, the drug addicts, the abused wife, and the unwed pregnant teenager to go worship? Where do they hear the Gospel? Do we really believe they are going to show up at our multi-million dollar facilities that are located nowhere near where these people are at? I am not by any means suggesting that there is nothing happening, because there is a lot of people in this country that are doing as much as they can. Can you imagine what a difference it would make if everyone would get involved on a personal level? Jesus said in Matthew 9:37,”The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few”. Never has that been truer than it is today. I would like to show some examples of what I think proves this point by topic.
Let’s start with the homeless issue in my hometown. We have a homeless shelter that also has Sunday services and a life training center, but like every other area they are for the most part overwhelmed. There are never enough beds to go around, not enough space to accommodate the required needs of the community’s homeless population. I know my local church has never even mentioned this shelter either during a service or by flyer and they just completed a several million dollar renovation on a church that needed nothing more than some interior paint and a roof. Just for the record I did not approve. There have been several more renovations at other churches exactly like this all across our community and the country in middle class America. What’s the reason for this? To attract more people of course! We don’t have to actually go out and spread the gospel, we will just build fancier buildings and attract “normal” people to come on their own. What do these actions say to people who already believe they are a lost cause and believe that they are irredeemable? This is middle class American neighborhoods, comfortable and clean. These fancy churches might as well be in another stratosphere, because they are so out of touch with the reality in their own home towns that they cannot see the forest for the trees.
Next up is a debate that’s been raging for years and is near and dear to my entire family’s heart. Abortion. We all know the story about Planned Parenthood. It’s been in the news for what seems like forever over the last few years. I will ask the same question. Where is the body of Christ in this debate? I am not talking about protests. As much as I agree with prayer and the power of prayer I am not talking about that either. Where is the church that could possibly give that woman, young, old or teenager an option? I am sure that some if not most of these women feel as though they have no other options. They usually have no support system in place like a family or husband. Who in our church family can offer that and show her the love of Christ? Who has an extra bedroom? Who can help her get on her feet and give her hope that she can do it or at the least give her the reassurance that adoption is the better option? Who can help her until the adoption can get be realized? The answer to this is the body of Christ showing the love of Christ! Who can speak to the women who have had an abortion? There is no better advocate than someone who has been forgiven there sins and saved by the grace of God. Why have all of the congregations in America not come together and built Christian Parenthood centers right across the street from every Planned Parenthood center in the country? The time for name calling and slanderous remarks towards these women is beyond out of line. It would not matter what the law stated if Gods people would get involved. Its way past due for Christians in this country to put their money where their mouth is. Instead of fancier buildings and trips, let’s invest in people both time and money. Jesus died for everybody not just a select few!
The topic I want to touch on now is actually at an epidemic level in America and it is known as welfare. This one topic is what I believe has systematically dismantled the church in the inner cities in America. In the history of the church what was its function? What was its purpose? The main purpose and commandment was to preach the gospel and make disciples. The function was broad but it included a command to care for the poor by feeding them, clothing them and helping them to get up on their feet. Is the church still doing this? In short no. Are there still churches that are still active? Yes, but on a scale that should be embarrassing and that we as Christians should be ashamed of. So what has happened? Who or what filled the void that was left by the church? The answer is our federal government. The government now fulfills the basic needs of the poor and needy. The church has been all but limited to a mere after thought in some of the roughest inner cities in America. The problem with this is that there are needs that the money does not address. Moral character is on a decline like no other time in our nation’s history. The value of life is as meaningless as disposable dishes. Teenage pregnancy, drive by shootings, drugs and prostitution are business as usual on a daily basis. To me that sounds like people with no hope for anything better and no plans for a future. In other words that sounds like people who are lost and need Jesus Christ! I remember when churches where I grew up took up clothes for a period of time and during set seasons allowed parents who didn’t have much money pick things out for their children. On thanksgiving they would carry food to the people who were known to have a need whether they were church members or not. These were proud hard working people just trying to get by. That’s why the church was shown respect then even by people who were not members or even Christians. They were given respect if for no other reason than for what they did in the community. That is no longer the case. James told us that “faith without works is dead”. Is there a clearer picture of that than in our inner cities? Could the silence of the church in the inner cities be more deafening?
Alas my final thought. When are the pastors in this country going to stand up to these television evangelists who are conning people out of millions of dollars and living like royalty? This is one of the biggest thorns for Christianity. Wealth in and of itself is not bad. Money is an inanimate object. It does not corrupt, but it does expose the corruption that is already there. These people, I refuse to call them preachers, prey on the vulnerable and manipulate to feed their greed and egos. Usually when you speak to someone about the gospel that is the gospel they know and reference. These people are not even good life coaches! It’s time for the evangelical Christians to stand up and own some these issues that are largely due to our biblical apathy and laziness which is where all of this mess started to begin with. WE as a church need to fight back or we are doomed to be relegated to nothing more than group of special interest people. Jesus Christ was the example and we are failing miserably!
Mr. Huckabee I am sending this to you because you are one of the very few men of God in the public eye that I trust anymore.