Monday, December 17, 2007


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

Christmas should always be a special time. Of course, it’s not for everyone. I know all too well that Christmas can be a painful season for the lonely, the discouraged and for the depressed. Here in Washington I make an extra effort to reach out to the homeless, most of whom are mentally ill. Let’s all say prayers for these needy souls and do what we can to help them in practical ways. But for most, Christmas is a season for celebration and a festive time with family and friends. For true believers it’s an occasion for worship.

(For my brother, Paul, and me and our families, our Christmas this year will be saddened only by the departure of a dear, dear friend and Faith and Action supporter, the Reverend Dr. Samuel Farina of the incomparable Christian Assembly, one of Columbus, Ohio’s truly great churches. Sam and his wife, Paulette, and their entire church family have always been so gracious to us. Sam stuck with me through thick and thin, always a wise voice and kind heart, even during our most difficult days. Sam went home to heaven this week after a protracted illness. His life-long Addison’s disease rendered him incapable of fighting multiple infections. Sam’s a great gain for heaven, but a huge loss here on earth!)

Christmas has historically been one of the two high points on the Christian calendar. The other, of course, is Easter. These are the two anchors of our faith: Christmas marks the arrival, or Advent, of Immanuel—God with Us—our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The other anchor, Easter, marks the Resurrection, without which Saint Paul says our “faith is in vain.” In many ways I think of Christmas as 50% of the Christian Gospel. (The other half comes in the Resurrection!) That makes both seasons pretty important. It’s between Christmas and Easter we live out all the implications of these two cardinal doctrines: The arrival of Christ and His Resurrection.

Think about it: What does the world need most? God and Hope. Christmas is God, Easter is Hope! Many think God has forgotten them, or that He is inaccessible, uncaring or unknowable. They long for contact with something larger, deeper and more powerful than themselves. We all desire to connect with the transcendent. It’s a primordial need to link back to The Creator. Christmas is the announcement of that longed-for reunion!

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

This Christmas I pray you and yours will know and celebrate this Great Joy. If you do not know the Savior, this is a wonderful season to call out to Him in repentance. To repent means to turn—turn away from our own devices and towards the God who made us and loves us. God has a plan, a purpose and a design for your life, both in the here and now and beyond into eternity. Our greatest happiness comes when we embrace His will for our lives. This is why Jesus Himself taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus took his own advice when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39) Here’s to making this Christmas about more than just good food, fellowship and gift-giving. It’s about surrender to the will and plan of God for our lives!

While we’re on Christmas, our ever-busy partner Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, spent this weekend in New York City where he set up the only approved Nativity Scene on public property—in the middle of Times Square! Maybe you saw it on one of the network news shows. We’ve joined with Rev. Mahoney in his Nativity Project, encouraging folks to obtain permits for Christmas displays in public spaces. We’ve also partnered with another friend of many years, Dr. Charles Nestor, who’s spearheading Operation Nativity, encouraging folks to display manger scenes on their own private property. These are easy, practical ways to bring Christ back into American Christmas observances, something badly needed!

And, speaking of bringing Christ back into Christmas, I had a talk with one of my covert accessories to ministry here in Washington. (We work with many people whose jobs are so sensitive, we keep their identities anonymous.) He’s a relatively new Christian and he expressed his growing distress over the utter commercialization of this season. He urged me to pray about a movement that would take us back to a more simple time when Christmas was exactly that, Christ-mas. He’s right—even Christians have succumbed to a supplanting of the real focus of this Holy Day with a bottom-line, profit-driven, frenetic earth-bound extravaganza. Please pray with me about this. Perhaps the Lord will grant us insight into how we can pull our American civilization back from the brink of neo-paganism, starting with reclaiming Christmas from Kris Kringle and Santa Claus and giving it back to Jesus Christ!

This post would not be complete without thanking all those who are sending in generous end-of-year gifts to help us balance the books here at Faith and Action. We’re just $50,000 away from being in the black. Please help us end this year strong so we can enter ’08 ready to go. It’s going to be one of the most intense years we’ve spent here on Capitol Hill, and we can’t let red ink weaken us! (The best way for you to help is to make your tax-deductible gift online using a credit or debit card at our website, Otherwise, you can mail your check or money order to Faith and Action, 109 2nd St., NE, Washington, DC 20002. So long as it’s postmarked before December 31, you can deduct it from this year’s taxes!)

By the way, a huge heart-felt thanks to all our friends at the marvelous Believers Life Family Church of Gretna, Louisiana, on the West Bank of that storied city of New Orleans. Pastors Randy and Cathy Cilluffo always make me feel like family. They did again this weekend when I preached there. The church's over-the-top offering comes like manna from heaven to us at this time of the year. Thank YOU, one and all, for your wonderful Christmas gift to this ministry!

For now, I’ll leave you with my prayers for you and your family—that God will grant you a peaceful, joyous time for sharing His love with your loved ones. May you all enjoy a blessed Christ-mas and New Year filled with His hope!

Be back in ’08!


Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Monday, December 10, 2007


Your missionary to Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, Rob Schenck, reporting:

Read on to get the answer to the banner question on this post!

I’m a little late because last week was a whirlwind. It was delivery week for our annual Congressional Christmas Outreach: 535 hand-delivered Christmas packages. Every single member of the United States Congress (435 representatives and 100 senators) received a special Christmas card (to get their attention), a personalized letter from me (to warm their hearts and open their minds) and a colorful, well-written, crystal clear Gospel tract explaining the true meaning of Christmas using the appropriate scripture texts. In-other-words, everything a member of congress needs to know in order to find the Savior! Thank you to each who helped fund and pray for this all-important Christmas season ministry to our nation’s top elected officials!

That wasn’t all for last week. There were several planning meetings, including with our number one ally on Capitol Hill—the friend without which we could not do the most important aspects of our ministry work. (He remains nameless to protect his delicate position.) While this may sound oh-so-mundane, strategic planning is more and more a vital part of our work. Navigating the difficult waters of Capitol Hill has never been easy, but since the changes in leadership here—and the resulting escalation in hostility towards things Christian—it’s gotten that much more challenging. It reminds me very much of the frosty reception I got when I first arrived here back in those anti-Christian Clinton days in late 1994, just before the “Republican Revolution” brought so many Christians to Washington. The Bush presidency brought even more Bible believers and the spiritual winter here turned to summer. But alas, as the seasons change, so does the climate on the Hill and the cold winds blow again! All this is to say the current and more difficult environment demands more than ever we be as “wise as serpents.” It’s not as easy, so it takes better strategies, and we are busy prayerfully putting those strategic plans together for 2008.

Speaking about 2008, that was another part of last weeks’ frenetic activity. Just after recording my Faith and Action Live! weekly audio and video pod cast (get it at our website:, I was invited to join Jay Sekulow and other Christian leaders at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, for a speech by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney, as you well know, is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), otherwise known as “Mormons.” Mormonism, as you also know, differs significantly from “orthodox” Christianity on a number of points, not the least of which include the nature of God and Christ Himself, the reliability of the Bible and the way of salvation. Yet, Mormons are deeply religious and morally conservative people. There have been several recent instances of vitally important alliances between Evangelicals, traditional Catholics and Mormons on paramount moral issues, like the sanctity of traditional marriage. I believe this new alliance is so important I’ve begun a formal dialogue with LDS church leadership.

In any case, Mitt Romney’s religion has become such a big distraction in campaign media coverage, he felt it necessary to address the subject straight on. I’m glad he did. In fact, I had advised the Governor to do so more than a year ago, before he was a declared candidate. Whether I had anything to do with his final decision on going with this speech, I don’t know. In any case, it was a good speech; perhaps one of the greatest in campaign history. “Faith in America,” as Governor Romney titled it, was modeled somewhat after John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association defending himself against suspicions about his Roman Catholic faith.

I say Romney’s speech was great because it was extremely well-crafted, delivered sincerely and exquisitely, and touched on all the right dimensions of this difficult issue. (Not to mention the prestigious venue complete with an introduction by a former president!) The speech is also virtually unique because Governor Romney is the first Mormon to give such an address. (He’s not the first Mormon to run for president—that was LDS founder Joseph Smith in 1844! Other LDS candidates include Morris Udall in ’76, Mitt’s own father, George Romney, in ’68 and my friend, Orrin Hatch in 2000.)

Evangelicals like me have enormous differences with the LDS on matters of doctrine, but that wasn’t really the point of this speech. Whether you feel you could vote for a Mormon is a matter between you and your conscience as it is best informed through prayer and the Word of God. (But do keep in mind our American Founders wisely ensured there would never be a religious test for office when they passed the Sixth Amendment.) As far as making a case for those things we hold in common with many Mormons, especially the paramount importance of religious freedom and its place in public life, “Faith in America” was a bell-ringer. I encourage you to review the speech for yourself and make your own judgment. ( I’m glad I was there, if for no other reason than to watch history being made! Do check out our soon-to-be posted religious profile of Romney as candidate, again at our website under “Presidential Candidates” along the left-hand menu.

Mentioning any of the candidates—and especially Mitt Romney—begs the above question, So what do you think of Huckabee? As I’ve said and will say over and over, I do not endorse candidates. That being said, I don’t know much about Mike Huckabee. I won’t make the mistake many did with Jimmy Carter in 1976 and assume that because he testifies to being “born again,” all is well. The big question with a presidential candidate is not simply are his principles right, but can he win an election and, once elected, can he (or she) govern effectively? Personally, as I examine each candidate I ask what does he believes and based on what? How do those beliefs express themselves publicly and privately? Is this person equipped to conduct a successful campaign? Once elected, is he able to translate those beliefs into action in office? There is no monster larger, more complex, more potentially dangerous or more stressful than the executive branch of the United States government. A candidate may be well-intentioned, properly oriented spiritually, possess a pleasing personality, good looks and all that, but in the end be an ineffective leader on such a grand scale. We saw that in Bill Clinton. He carried a big Bible; told of walking the aisle of a Billy Graham Crusade; golfed with a Pentecostal pastor buddy; could preach with the best of them, even in a black church pulpit; was the darling of so many—yet, Bill Clinton was a disaster in office.

All I can tell you on this one so far is pray, do your research. (You can’t make the call on this one based on 20-second sound bites and sensational headlines!) Ask the hard questions, know who and what your voting for, and find out what a president does and must do. What I will say is you must be fully engaged in the process. If we do nothing, we deserve anything. If we don’t do our part, we have no right to complain afterwards: Pray, research and act!

Last word: Yesterday I had a rare Sunday home with my wife at my own church. (I'm out preaching somewhere in the country the rest of the weekends.) Our pastor brought a powerful message on repentance. This is the theme I've been praying on, preaching on and acting on for the last several months. "Repent!" is the cry of the hour. If we're counting on the Lord giving this nation the righteous leadership it needs, it must begin with the people humbling themselves before Him--and that begins with God's people! Judgment begins in the house of the Lord: "If MY PEOPLE will humble themselves . . . turn from their wicked ways . . ." I'll have more to say about this in future posts. Pray with me!

Happy 7th night of Hanukkah! (View my Faith and Action Live Hanukkah special report at

Back with more . . .

Rev. Rob Schenck
Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital
109 2nd St, NE
Washington, DC 20002