Preaching at the Riverside Church near Columbia University on April 4, 1967 – exactly one year before he was assassinated – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stated:
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”
We begin with a look at the crumbling edifice of our immigration system:
- It’s Compassionate to Oppose Illegal Immigration. Here’s Why.
From The Daily Citizen:
Opponents of illegal immigration are often portrayed in the mainstream media as racist, bigoted, uncaring individuals who are opposed to people seeking a better life in the United States.
But this ignores the perils faced by illegal immigrants, especially women and children.
According to Amnesty International, as many as 60% of migrant women and girls are raped on the journey north.
And a 2018 government study found that along their journey, children face the risks of “exploitation, violence and death.”
“It is estimated that between 75-80% of newly arriving unaccompanied children are victims of human trafficking, as they travel into the U.S. with smugglers who then sell them into forced labor or prostitution,” the study said.
These are heartbreaking statistics and demonstrate why deterring illegal immigration primarily helps and protects illegal immigrants the most.
Please join us in praying for a long-term solution to our nation’s border crisis and that illegal immigrants seeking to enter the United States may be protected from the drug cartels.
To learn more about the crisis along our Southern Border and the administration’s decision to end Title 42, click here. And to learn more about the dangers that unaccompanied children face along their journey to the United States, click here.
You can also read Focus on the Family President Jim Daly’s response to the ongoing border crisis here.
- U.S. unveils sponsorship program to resettle Ukrainian refugees, discourage travel to U.S.-Mexico border
From CBS News:
The Biden administration is launching a program that will allow U.S. citizens and groups to financially sponsor Ukrainians displaced by the Russian invasion of their country so that they can come to the U.S. sooner, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and President Biden announced Thursday.
Ukrainians who are selected to travel to the U.S. under the initiative will be granted humanitarian parole, allowing them to bypass the visa and refugee programs, which typically take years to complete. While it does not offer permanent status, parole would allow Ukrainians to live and work in the U.S. for two years.
The sponsorship program, dubbed “Uniting for Ukraine” and set to launch on April 25, is the first concrete U.S. policy aimed at fulfilling Mr. Biden’s pledge of welcoming up to 100,000 of the 5 million Ukrainians who have fled their homeland as part of the largest refugee crisis since World War II.
- Jesus a Socialist? That’s a Myth
From the Wall Street Journal:
The idea that the teachings of Jesus are akin to socialism has been spreading around the internet for years in the form of memes, chain emails and Facebook posts. Some elected officials have a history of supporting the idea: The Rev. Raphael Warnock, a U.S. senator from Georgia, contended years ago that “the early church was a socialist church.” He’s not alone in holding this misguided belief.
A much-cited passage from the Acts of the Apostles, the first work of church history, has strong socialist overtones. Christian socialists use this passage to argue socialism was a historical reality for the followers of Christ. If they’re right, that has huge implications for a country that remains majority Christian. Fortunately, they’re wrong.
Acts 4:32-35 gives believers a picture of a highly egalitarian church. Among the believers, “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions.” Those who had property sold it and brought it to the church. The proceeds were “distributed to each as any had need.” This sounds almost like the classic Marx line—“from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”—but read a little further.
Acts 5 contains a harrowing account of two church members, Ananias and Sapphira, who sold their property but lied about the price. Confronted in their deceit by St. Peter, they suddenly perish. The passage states they were not punished merely for holding back their wealth. “Were not the proceeds at your disposal?” St. Peter asks, indicating the property and its fruits were theirs. The real lesson is the imperative of absolute truth before God. For those who have received the Holy Spirit, falsehood is perilous.
Ultimately claims of early church socialism miss the mark because they conflate two kinds of communities: organizations and orders. Organizations are consciously crafted to achieve the goals of their members. Orders are spontaneous and emergent, arising out of the interactions between organizations. Businesses, educational institutions, charities and communes are organizations. But economic systems like socialism and capitalism are orders.
Calling the church an organization in no way diminishes its divinity. It simply means one can think about the church, in part, as an intentional community with its own canons and customs. This matters greatly for interpreting early church history.
4. Mental health screening goes to school
From World Magazine:
Suicides among U.S. children and teens have steadily increased over the past two decades. According to government data from 2020, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for children ages 10-14, and the 10th leading cause for children ages 5-9. In 2020, the latest year with available data, 20 children in the 5-9 age range died by suicide — up from 12 or fewer such suicides each year from 1999 to 2019.
Some evidence suggests the COVID-19 pandemic may have made things worse. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report last summer found that emergency room visits for suspected suicide attempts among adolescents ages 12 to 17 began to increase in May 2020, soon after coronavirus lockdowns and social distancing restrictions began. During a one-month period that ended March 20, 2021, suicide attempt–linked ER visits for girls were 51 percent higher than during the same period in 2019.
With these recent trends, some states are taking action to prevent suicides among youth. In some cases, they are requiring schools to train teachers on warning signs of suicide, to develop mental health plans that include suicide risk evaluation, or to include suicide hotline numbers on student IDs. Experts insist the growth of the problems shows that even the youngest students need trusted adults, including school staff, to broach the topic of suicide, even if the discussion looks different for different grade levels.
In 2020 and 2021, nine states passed legislation requiring suicide hotline numbers on student ID cards. Some of these states also instituted other prevention measures: Arizona law now mandates suicide awareness and prevention training for school employees, while Wisconsin lawmakers directed state education officials to implement a grant for high school peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs.
Some state laws, notably in California, Oregon, and Illinois, require safety plans specifically addressing student groups that may experience higher suicide risk, including those who have lost a friend or family member to suicide, homeless or foster students, students with disabilities or mental health disorders, and students who identify as LGBT. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over half of U.S. states require some form of suicide prevention training for school personnel.
- How Loneliness Is Damaging Our Health
From The New York Times:
For two years you didn’t see friends like you used to. You missed your colleagues from work, even the barista on the way there.
You were lonely. We all were.
Here’s what neuroscientists think was happening in your brain.
The human brain, having evolved to seek safety in numbers, registers loneliness as a threat. The centers that monitor for danger, including the amygdala, go into overdrive, triggering a release of “fight or flight” stress hormones. Your heart rate rises, your blood pressure and blood sugar level increase to provide energy in case you need it. Your body produces extra inflammatory cells to repair tissue damage and prevent infection, and fewer antibodies to fight viruses. Subconsciously, you start to view other people more as potential threats — sources of rejection or apathy — and less as friends, remedies for your loneliness.
BeReal, an app that focuses on authenticity, is surging
From NBC News:
In the overproduced and hypermanicured world of social media, a unique prospect in the form of an app that focuses on authenticity is making waves and taking hold across college campuses — BeReal.
Founded in January 2020 by French former GoPro employee Alexis Barreyat, the app asks users to post unvarnished glimpses of their everyday lives during a constantly changing 2-minute window each day. Posts come in the form of photos, which include snapshots taken simultaneously from a phone’s front-facing and back-facing cameras, which are then posted in the feeds of users and their friends. Users who don’t post can’t see what their friends have uploaded.
The app, offering little in the way of new technology but standing apart with its pared-down style and functionality, has seen a surge of interest this year. Daily downloads of the app have grown by 315 percent since January, according to Apptopia, an app analysis company. And since April 1, BeReal has been one of the top 10 most downloaded free social networking apps for iPhones nearly every day, according to SensorTower, another app tracking company.
“You can see a whole other side to people that isn’t just their presentable side to social media,” said Errin Mathieson, 21, a college student in Dundee, Scotland, who began using the app after a friend showed it to her a few weeks ago. “It gets really tiring and exhausting for people constantly like scrolling through Instagram and seeing people having these perfect lives.”
6. More universities holding segregated graduation events
From the Washington Times:
Universities are increasingly offering graduation events focused on participants’ identities and segregated by race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and even income, according to a report by a conservative education publication.
Campus Reform, which is published by the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia, reported last week that more than three dozen colleges and universities are holding graduation events this summer to recognize groups based on race, gender and sexual orientation.
Columbia University, Harvard University, Ohio State University, Illinois State University and the University of Texas at Austin are among those offering special ceremonies for Black graduates.
Yale University, Dartmouth College and the University of Michigan will hold special ceremonies for Asian and American Indian graduates.
Other schools are hosting special graduations to recognize LGBTQ, first-generation immigrants, women and low-income students.
- Legal marijuana sales begin in New Jersey — and shops are on a roll
From the NY Post:
Thousands of happy stoners flocked to pot shops in New Jersey Thursday — forming lines that snaked around the block at some locations — on the state’s first day of legal marijuana sales.
More than 2,000 people snapped up pre-rolled joints, flowers and edibles within hours at Ascend, a luxury cannabis shop in Rochelle Park, with customers declaring it’s high time Jersey lit up with premium-grade pot.
Recreational weed sales in New Jersey are expected to generate $30 million in tax revenue during the 2022 fiscal year, and $121 million by 2023, Gov. Phil Murphy has said.
The state imposed a 6.625% sales tax on marijuana, with 70% of the proceeds going to social programs in areas disproportionately impacted by pot-related arrests, and to fund the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
- The President Has a Presentation Problem
Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal:
When he stands at a podium and reads from a teleprompter, his mind seems to wander quickly from the meaning of what he’s saying to the impression he’s making. You can sort of see this, that he’s always wondering how he’s coming across. When he catches himself he tends to compensate by enacting emotion.
But the emotion he seems most publicly comfortable with is indignation.
There are small tics that worked long ago. He often speaks as if we are fascinated by the family he came from and that formed him. Thus he speaks of the old neighborhood and lessons. And my mother told me, Joey, don’t comb your hair with buttered toast. This was great for a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast in Rehoboth Beach, Del., but not now. For all the mystique of the presidency, people hired you to do a job and want you to be clear and have a plan. They aren’t obsessed with your family, they’re obsessed with their family.
Mr. Biden tends to be extremely self referential: “I’ll give it to you straight, as I promised that I always would.” Because I’m such a straight shooter. It’s better to shoot straight and not always be bragging. He should lose “Lemme say that again.” When you speak to America you don’t have to repeat yourself for the slow. I don’t think he’s aware he often seems to be talking down. People will tolerate this from a politician when they think he’s their moral or intellectual superior, but they push back when they don’t, as in the polls.
9. Is Your Kids’ Ministry Doing Childcare or Soul Care?
From the Gospel Coalition:
Jared Kennedy—an editor with The Gospel Coalition and author of The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible—guides the reader through four critical elements of ministry to children: hospitality, teaching, discipling, and mission. Kennedy admits these are not “silver bullets,” but they are biblical priorities, no matter the size of your church.
Smaller churches and new church plants will benefit from Kennedy’s basic framework, which can be applied with limited space, budget, and volunteers. Think of it as a quick start guide for kid’s ministry. You don’t have to invent a ministry approach from scratch or import a copy of what others are doing. Kennedy answers the question, “What are the most important things to do in children’s ministry?”
Some churches, regardless of size, can have children’s ministry practices that are functional and become entrenched traditions. These ruts work well enough to justify leaving them be and giving attention to other areas of church ministry. On the other hand, churches with multiple staff, generous budgets, and facilities that rival amusement parks can tend toward constant innovation, which on the surface seems helpful and exciting. The novelty, however, can mask weaknesses. Both entrenched children’s ministry practices and dynamic environments are at risk of moving from a gospel-centered focus. This book functions as a rapid test for such mission drift.
10.‘My life is incredible’: 76-year-old man is one of the last people with an iron lung
From NBC 12:
A Texas man who has lived 70 years in an iron lung says he has lived a full and exciting life because he “never gave up.”
The machine was common during the polio epidemic, and Paul Alexander is one of the last people to be in one.
The iron lung works to change the air pressure and stimulate breathing. It has been the home of 76-year-old Alexander, keeping him alive for 70 years.
Alexander said a therapist promised him a dog if he could breathe on his own for three minutes.
“I developed a way to get air and breathing,” Alexander said. “I worked on it for a year before I could reach that three minutes, but I reached it.”
Eventually, Alexander would be able to gulp or take in air for hours at a time, allowing him to leave the confines of the iron lung during the day and accomplish more than anyone thought was possible for him.
He went on to go to college, law school and had a 30-year-long career as a courtroom attorney.
Alexander wrote an autobiography, and is now working on a second book.
“But I’ve got some big dreams,” he said. “I am not going to accept from anybody their limitations on my life. Not gonna do it. My life is incredible.”