U.S. Senate Challenges Christians to Make Their Calling and Election Sure
Question: Talk about your personal journey to faith in Jesus Christ.
James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., has been a United States Senator since 1994. He previously served for four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, served in the U.S. Army and has been a business man for over 30 years. Now he has some stirring advice for christians.
Inhofe: I accepted Christ on September 22, 1988, at 2:30 in the afternoon, in the Members' Dining Room in the United States Capitol. I was 54 years old. I always thought I had been a follower of Jesus and had accepted Him, then suddenly realized that that hadn't happened. All the burdens of life were shifted, and I said, "God, it's Your problem now." It worked.
Question: How has your relationship with Christ affected your role in government?
Inhofe: The Scriptures I always use are Acts 9:15 and Acts 2:42. Acts 9:15 is Jesus' intention for Paul the apostle to take His name to the Jews, gentiles and kings. I have gone through Acts with a pencil and circled all the times Paul talks about Jesus' name. Acts 2:42 talks about the fellowship of believers. I belong to the Senate prayer breakfast, which meets on a weekly basis. We do four things together: We eat together, pray together, fellowship together, and talk about the precepts of Jesus together.
I'm heavily involved in helping the poor in Africa, and I make it a point to follow the political philosophy of Jesus. As a United States senator, doors are open to me. I am able to visit any "king." I've adopted 12 countries all the way from Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, and Gabon in West Africa as far east as Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. I'm planning to meet with nine presidents in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. My focus will be to meet in the spirit of Jesus. I have seen presidents of warring countries sit down in the spirit of Jesus and as a result two major wars have stopped. We've had national prayer breakfasts in countries like Rwanda and Burundi where the presidents, the members of Parliament, the Supreme Court justices, the top business people and the leaders of the Hutus and Tutsis - tribes that have been [fighting] for decades - all came together.
My faith allows me to put my job into perspective. I no longer worry. I trust God. As a senator for Oklahoma, I am very much concerned with my committee responsibilities and all the other issues in which my constituents are interested. But I no longer worry. I do it all in the spirit of Christ. It's tempting for senators to look in the mirror and think of themselves as being one of the most important 100 people in America; but in reality, we're just servants of the people. And I trust God with my legislative goals and the issues that are important to my constituents.
Question: Some people say that Christians shouldn't be involved in the political process.
Inhofe: Well, the other side has always been involved. That's the problem we've had. All the atheists were involved. All those who fought against prayer in public schools were involved. Then all of a sudden Christians got involved and everyone became hysterical. If the good people stay out of politics, what's going to happen to politics?
Question: What key issues should Christians be interested in?
Inhofe: The most current issue is what's happening in the Middle East. My Web site, inhofe.senate.gov, includes a speech I made on the Senate floor on December 4, 2001. It addresses from a biblical perspective seven reasons why Israel is entitled to its land. I don't believe there is a single issue we deal with in government that hasn't been dealt with in the Scriptures. So when you are talking about issues like abortion, you can go to the Scriptures. Homosexuality? Go to the Scriptures. The need for a strong defense? Go to the Scriptures. I discovered this when I was elected to the House before I was in the Senate. It occurred to me when I was first elected in 1986 that there are no new problems. Things are answered in the Scriptures. Believers who serve in Congress need to regularly meet and talk to each other about what Jesus would do. Bill Bright founded some groups that do just that. Every Wednesday morning when we have our Senate prayer breakfast, I give the Scripture lesson. I usually develop it around current issues.
Question: Have you seen a change since 9/11 in the way Washington operates?
Inhofe: Absolutely, but not so much in the attitudes of senators as in the electorate at home. September 11 was a wake-up call for the American people. I think there is a resurgence of patriotism. We've seen the attendance at some churches double. September 11 is going to mark the end of what I have called in my speeches the "age of perversion in America." I believe that age began when we kicked God out of our schools in 1963. David Barton is a great guy whose research I use. He helped me with a message that I've been giving for a long time on how the history of this country shows that we were, in fact, one nation under God. When a judge or a legislator was sworn into a public office in the colonial days, part of the oath of office was, in effect, "I have read the Holy Scriptures, both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and I will run my office accordingly." People argue over the issue of church and state. Back then it was John Witherspoon who trained 85 of our founding fathers. He was president of Princeton University and he was a believer. He said that if you want to have a good, moral country you must elect good, moral people into public office and their private lives have to back up their public reputation.
Question: Do you see hope for reversing the decay in the American family?
Inhofe: I think so. What kind of behavior do you expect in the family when a secular government is taking over the upbringing of our kids so that parents don't have to take responsibility? I think families are waking up to their need to take a much larger role, and I think it is going to go along with the resurgence of morality in America. I believe that this change we are experiencing is going to boost the family. I'm personally committed to those principles. Kay and I have been married for very close to 43 years. We have four kids and 11 grandkids so we know something about family.
Question: How can those reading this article support believers in government?
Inhofe: Each reader has two senators and one congressman. They have a responsibility to find out - and it's easy to do - who their federal representatives are and how they vote on the issues. A number of organizations rate members of Congress as to their record on family values, the sanctity of life, and other issues that believers prioritize.
When a member of Congress is someone you can believe in, let him or her know of your support. The most frustrating thing for someone like me is to go to a town hall meeting and be asked a question like, "Why don't you do something about the military?" That person didn't research my position and recognize that I'm helping to lead the fight for a stronger national defense. So the most rewarding thing is when someone stands up and says, "I know what your voting record is on these issues, and I appreciate your hard work."
On the other hand, if you have someone who is against those values you hold dear, you need to get involved with someone else and start supporting that person's campaign. People should support candidates who more closely represent their points of view. So believers must get involved. There is a strong moral base in America, but it needs to get behind members of Congress, or candidates, who share their values. Believers need to realize it is their moral responsibility to get involved.
"Reprinted by permission of the Pentecostal Evangel."