This is the sixth in a series of reports from Shedd on issues he is focusing on in the upcoming 2020 legislative session.
First, notice my topic is NOT the most important state agency. My topic is the most important agency in the state. What agency is the most important in the state?
Which agency can impact reduction in crime the most, reduce and eliminate racism and friction among our people, and even reduce and eliminate hatred?
Which agency can provide the quickest response to a natural disaster?
Which agency can reduce and eliminate domestic violence, bullying, substance abuse, poverty?
Which agency can best promote compassion, the “neighbor helping neighbor” concept, and even improve the work ethic in the workplace?
A school classmate of mine, Robert (Bob) Craft, became a dedicated Christian at a night youth revival during our high school years. He gained a passion for the ministry and later founded a worldwide ministry called “Reach a Village.” He and his team took Christianity into villages all over the globe, with great success.
I recently had lunch with him while he was back home for a visit, and I shared with him some of the tough problems we are dealing with in our state. I asked him his advice since he had been in some of the toughest places in the world. I thought he may know some helpful secrets.
He gave me the most profound answer that I should have already thought of, but couldn’t see the forest for the trees. His response was, “The most imporant thing you can do to prevent these problems is to change people, not with laws or public policy, but rather change people from within, and that has to occur with a spiritual change.”
He went on to say, “In our ministry in the villages, we’ve found when a person has a true spiritual change of heart, the man no longer gets drunk and beats his wife and children. He no longer steals from his neighbor. He gets a job or starts a business, goes to work, provides for his family, and becomes a good neighbor and a good citizen. He makes his village a better place to live.” There’s our answer
The most important agency in our state is agents of God – the church! Changing people’s lives spiritually from the inside will reduce our prison population, our poverty rates, and will provide a safer place for us all to live.
A song by the Oak Ridge Boys, “The Baptism of Jesse Taylor” better describes what I’m trying to say. Listen to the song or read the lyrics. “Among the local taverns they’ll be a slack in business Cause Jesse’s drinkin’ came before the groceries and the rent Among the local women they’ll be a slack in cheatin’ ‘Cause Jesse won’t be steppin’ out again. “They baptized Jesse Taylor in Cedar Creek last Sunday Jesus gained a soul and Satan lost a good right arm They all cried ‘Hallelujah’ when Jesse’s head went under ‘Cause this time he went under for the Lord.”
Church and state
The church has an awesome opportunity and responsibility. The church is all of us, regardless of denomination, who are believers in the life of Jesus Christ and his followers. There is work to be done.
God doesn’t need us to judge other people; God can handle that. God expects us to “go forth” to reach others on God’s behalf, which will change people from within and ultimately improve our state.
Sure, government has responsibilities too. Education, infrastructure, pro-growth economic policies, etc. But, government can’t change people on the inside. God can, and the church is God’s agency to reach them and nurture them.
As we go into legislative session Feb. 4, if we can follow Christian teaching – “I come not to be ministered to, but to minister” – we can do good things this session. Let’s remind ourselves of His teachings. Some examples are:
• Luke 6:37
• Matthew 25: 34-45
• John 13:34
• Ephesians 4:31-32
• 2 Chronicles 7:14
Thanks y’all for letting me represent you in Montgomery.