On April 28, my hometown of Boone, North Carolina, was shaken by a horrible tragedy that took the lives of two of our county sheriff’s deputies, Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox, who were ambushed when they answered a call to check on residents.
In the days following, we saw an incredible outpouring of sympathy and respect for our law enforcement men and women. When the bodies of Sgt. Ward and Deputy Fox were transported from Winston-Salem back to Boone, law enforcement personnel from numerous counties and towns, along with first responders, escorted them in a procession that stretched for miles. Along the 88-mile route, hundreds of people lined the highway and overpasses, silently and tearfully expressing their support and love for the fallen heroes.
At a communitywide memorial service, thousands gathered to pay their respects to the men who sacrificed their own lives to protect and guard others. I had the privilege of opening in prayer and sharing the hope of the Gospel at the service, which was attended by law enforcement from across the nation.
All that respect reflected the America that I know and love, and it stands in stark contrast to the voices of anarchy that have recently filled our streets.
We’ve seen it play out on our screens as violent protests against law enforcement have broken out in numerous American cities. Police stations and police cars have been burned; officers have been shamelessly heckled and have come under attack by throngs of angry protesters. Calls to defund the police, which began with the George Floyd case, spread quickly into city councils, and even into the halls of Congress.
An officer in Los Angeles was called a “murderer” and a “racist” at a simple traffic stop.
A California college student was berated by his professor for expressing his support of the local police.
In the Bronx, New York City police officers were heckled and cursed while responding to a call for help. “Sadly, this is the result of years of elected officials demonizing police officers and decriminalizing abhorrent behavior,” said the local police union. “We will only be successful in reducing crime if the good people of the community lend us a hand by showing support for police.”
That’s why we at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association are working to show our respect and gratitude for officers around this country who hold the line every day against every kind of evil and criminal behavior.
This past month, we held appreciation dinners for law enforcement officers in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington, area and in Seattle. We’ve also held appreciation dinners in Asheville and Charlotte, North Carolina. Across the nation, law enforcement personnel are under intense pressure; in Seattle alone, more than 200 officers have left the police department in the past year. Our appreciation dinners are wonderful opportunities for us to express our support and provide encouragement to the men and women who keep us safe every day.
At Samaritan’s Purse, we are welcoming law enforcement officers and their spouses to participate in our Operation Heal Our Patriots ministry in Alaska. This is a program designed to strengthen the marriages of wounded military veterans, and we know that police on the homefront deal with many of the same stresses and trauma as do our soldiers who fight on foreign soil to protect our freedoms.
The Bible says, “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Behind the ever-rising tide of violence, rage and anarchy is the evil one, the devil himself, spreading his wickedness in increasing intensity. The sheer brutality that has infected our culture is shocking, but not to our adversary who delights in it.
God appointed civil authorities—including our law enforcement—along with the godly influence of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit, to restrain evil to a degree (Romans 13:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:7).
One day—and I believe soon—“the lawless one will be revealed” (2 Thessalonians 2:8), and that is none other than the rise of the antichrist in the Great Tribulation. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
I believe the devil is called the lawless one because he has openly rebelled against Almighty God and seeks to oppose Him at every turn. The enemy has no regard for the decrees, statutes and commandments that God has laid down in Scripture.
But as Martin Luther so famously said:
Though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
God’s Word puts it this way: “The Lord will consume [him] with the breath of His mouth and destroy [him] with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
I look forward to that day, don’t you?
In the meantime, we live in a world stained by sin and its awful consequences. In fact, the Apostle John put it quite succinctly in his first pastoral epistle: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).
How grateful we should all be that Christ appeared in order “to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5).
In the midst of the growing chaos and lawlessness that sin brings, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is faithfully proclaiming the transforming Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This fall, we are planning to follow famous old “Route 66” across America’s heartland, from Chicagoland/Joliet, Illinois, to San Bernardino, California, stopping at various cities along the way. Please be in prayer for this and other Festivals we have planned around the world.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2018 BGEA