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Power, Wonder Working Power


Gregory J. Rummo

“For so many in our country—the homeless…the fatherless, the addicted—the need is great. Yet there is power, wonder-working power in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people… I urge you to pass both my faith-based initiative and the Citizen Service Act to encourage acts of compassion that can transform America, one heart and one soul at a time.”

These words spoken by President Bush aren’t getting as much attention as his rhetoric on tax cuts, Africa’s AIDS crisis, Medicare reform and Iraq, but they were perhaps the most important words of his State of the Union.

They echoed his acceptance speech in 2000 in Philadelphia at the Republican national convention when he spoke about his faith-based initiative in terms of “block by block and heart by heart.”

On Tuesday evening, the President was very clear about the need for true spiritual regeneration evidenced by his specific choice of words, “…there is power, wonder-working power,” borrowed from the chorus of the hymn, “There Is Power in the Blood:”

“There is power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb.”

But those words will become hollow echoes as long as the obstructionists—the people who become apoplectic at the thought of God and government working in tandem—manage to block what is the only hope for the down-and-outs of society: Changed lives through the power of the Cross.

To understand what the president is up against, imagine being appointed as the chairman of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative. On your first day, you are presented with a list of 100 non-profit organizations specializing in helping the less fortunate of society—those with problems like homelessness, unemployment and substance abuse.

You are not told the names of these organizations or their religious affiliation. They are identified by numbers only.

What you are shown are specifics regarding performance; the number of people treated each year, how many each organization employs to treat these people and the budget necessary to pay them, and the recidivism rate.

Those organizations which treat the most people successfully—meaning they don’t show up at the doorstep repeatedly—and which manage to get the job done in a cost efficient way will be the ones you are likely to recommend for funding. Those that are doing a lousy job despite having large, highly paid staffs will be less likely to receive government assistance.

Based on this information alone, your goal is to rank these organizations. Your office has only sufficient money in its budget to fund the top 50 performers and you want to spend the taxpayer’s money wisely.

You pore over the statistics for several days until finally satisfying yourself that you have accurately determined which ones are doing a good job and which ones are not. Then, the identities of the organizations and their religious affiliations are revealed.

Surprise! The top 40 are all small to mid-sized soup kitchen-type havens located in inner cities. They are staffed mostly by volunteers and—uh oh!—affiliated with evangelical churches. Along with the standard programs of serving hot meals and offering clothing, shelter and counseling, each offers classes in the Bible. No one is forced to attend but it is stressed that for any meaningful change in a person’s behavior, that change must be effected in the heart and the soul.

Gulp! Now what are going to do? Who gets funded? Do you use the taxpayer’s money efficiently by rewarding excellence in spite of the religious component?

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the life-changing message of the Gospel is necessary to effect permanent behavioral change, there are those in Washington who are so hung up about separation of church and state they would rather flush your money down the toilet than fund a faith-based program.

In illustrating the folly of self-reform, Jesus told a story about a man who cleaned up his own life apart from any divine assistance. Jesus characterized this as casting out an “unclean spirit.” It worked for a while but because there was no true spiritual regeneration, “seven other spirits more wicked…enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

Problems such as addiction, crime, and homelessness are almost always symptoms of deeper, spiritual problems. Until this is acknowledged, there is little hope for any permanent change in the lives of those caught in the vortex of sin and misery.

President Bush has experienced personally the power of the Gospel in his own life. He knows it offers the only lasting hope to those in desperate need. The question remains: Are there enough wise men in Washington with the courage to pass his faith-based initiative thus unleashing this “wonder working power?”

Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist. Contact him through his website,

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