If God Is Good: Interview with the Christian Leadership Alliance

If God Is Good ...Randy Alcorn’s answers to questions for the May 28, 2009 Christian Leadership Alliance webinar.

1) You just finished a book due out this fall called If God Is Good... Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. Tell us about the book and why you wrote it. Why is the problem of evil and suffering so important?

More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other—it is not merely a problem, it is the problem.

A Barna poll asked, “If you could ask God only one question and you knew he would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”

You will not get far in a conversation with someone who rejects the Christian faith before the problem of evil is raised. Pulled out like the ultimate trump card, it’s supposed to silence believers and prove that the all-good and all-powerful God of the Bible doesn’t exist.

The problem of evil is atheism’s cornerstone.

Atheists write page after page about evil and suffering. The problem of evil never strays far from their view; it intrudes upon chapters with vastly different subjects.

Many suppose that scientific evidence is the cornerstone of atheism. But the famous one-time champion of atheism, Britain’s Anthony Flew, renounced his atheism due to the complexity of the universe and his belief in the overwhelming evidence for intelligent design. However, although he abandoned his atheism, Flew did not convert to the Christian faith, but to deism. Why? Flew could not get past the problem of evil. He believes that there has to be a God who created the universe, but then must have abandoned it.

Believing God exists is not the same as trusting the God who exists. A nominal Christian often discovers in suffering that his faith has been misplaced. It’s been in his church, denomination or family tradition, but not Christ. As he faces evil and suffering he may lose his faith. But that’s actually a good thing. Losing your faith may be God’s gift to you. Only when you jettison ungrounded and untrue faith, can you replace it with valid faith in the true God—faith that can pass, and even find strength in, the most formidable of life’s tests.

Suffering will come; we owe it to God, ourselves, and those around us to prepare for it.

Live long enough and you will suffer. In this life, the only way to avoid suffering is to die. Our failure to teach a biblical theology of suffering leaves Christians unprepared for harsh realities. It also leaves our children vulnerable to history, philosophy and global studies classes that raise the problems of evil and suffering while denying the Christian worldview. Since the question will be raised, shouldn’t Christian parents and churches raise it first and take people to Scripture to see what God says about it?

Most of us don’t give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we’re exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. Readers who have “been there” will attest that it’s far better to think through suffering in advance.

2) You made a comment in the book that as you explored the problem of evil and suffering over a two year period, you found something surprising: "that the journey was not only rewarding, but fascinating, enlightening, and at times downright enjoyable." That sounds so counter intuitive—could you explain how that is even possible?  

I’d already seen enough evil and suffering to feel deeply troubled by it. I desperately needed to find perspective on what troubled me. In this process, I’ve taken most pleasure in focusing closely on God, exploring his attributes of goodness, love, holiness, justice, patience, grace and mercy. While my journey has offered no easy answers, I’ve felt bowled over by how much insight Scripture gives us.

I’ve beheld a God who says, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering” (Exodus 3:7). I found great comfort in hearing God speak of a time when he could bear his people’s misery no longer (Judges 1:16). I revel in God’s emphatic promise that he will make a New Earth where he will come to live with us, and on which “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4).

Above all, in this process, I’ve seen Jesus. Often God has wiped away my own tears as I’ve contemplated potentially faith-jarring matters that have left me, not in despair, but with great hope that defies description and a peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:7).

This journey has stretched my trust in God and his purposes, yet I have emerged stronger and more refined because of it. I feel more at peace and, I hope, more prepared for my own suffering and for helping others in theirs. Also, I believe I have much more to offer believers who may be questioning their faith, as well as to unbelievers who consider the problem of evil and suffering their single greatest obstacle to faith.

I refuse to accept the idea that we should feel content to fritter away our lives without taking the time and energy to come to terms with the defining issue of all human history.

3) What did you learn about why God allows suffering? And why doesn’t He do more to restrain evil and suffering in the world?

God permits evil and suffering, to display the glory of His grace both now and forever.

Diagnosed with liver cancer, pastor James Montgomery Boice stood before his Philadelphia church in May, 2000. After explaining his illness he said,

Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you’re free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles—and he certainly can—is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. So although miracles do happen, they’re rare by definition.

….Above all, I would say pray for the glory of God.

…God is in charge. When things like this come into our lives, they are not accidental. It’s not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by.

God is not only the one who is in charge; God is also good. Everything he does is good.

On the other side of death, for all who know Christ, awaits the greatest miracle—acceptance into the arms of a holy, loving and gracious God. 

God may already be restraining 99.99% of evil, suffering, and tragedy.

My wife Nanci said to me, “Given the evil of the human heart, you’d think that there would be hundreds or thousands of Jack the Rippers in every city.” Her statement stopped me in my tracks, but she was absolutely right. Might God be limiting sin all around us, all the time? 2 Thessalonians 2 shows God restraining lawlessness in this world. For this we should thank Him every day.

No matter how much suffering was reduced, we would still think it too much.

Evil and suffering are part of a world in which fallen people are allowed to go on living. How much evil and suffering then, are too much? Could God reduce them without reducing meaningful human choice, or the urgency of the message to human beings that something’s desperately wrong with us and we need to turn to the Redeemer before we die?

Suppose all pain were rated on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst and most intense, and one being unpleasant yet quite tolerable. Say ten was being engulfed in flames, and one was mild sunburn. If God eliminated level ten pain, suddenly pains at level nine would be the worst. God could reduce the worst suffering to level three, and now level three, because it would be the worst, would seem unbearable. Any argument that judges God’s goodness strictly by his elimination of pain will, in the end, not be satisfied if he has left us with any pain at all.

4) How should Christians—and ministry organizations in particular—respond to what seems to be "gratuitous evil" and “pointless suffering"?

Not seeing the point in extreme suffering doesn’t prove there is no point. Something can be tragic without being meaningless. While I believe some suffering is inscrutable, I do not believe it is gratuitous. The word gratuitous assumes an absolute knowledge we don’t possess. Inscrutable is a more humble term, recognizing the difficulty some suffering poses, without presuming to know what humans cannot know.

What if knowing God and growing in faith and becoming more Christ-like is the point of my existence? What if human comfort and happiness are not what the universe is about?

Solzhenitsyn spent eight years suffering in a hard labor camp for criticizing Stalin in a letter to a friend. What could be more pointless? And yet, had it not happened, he might not have come to Christ and would not have emerged as one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century, exposing the terror of atheistic communism and the Soviet regime.

Only God is in the position to determine what is and isn’t pointless.

It’s possible that God eliminating any one evil might result in permitting ten other evils and preventing ten goods. Who but God is in a position to know such things? God can take events that appear purposeless and use them for great purposes his creatures don’t understand. For every one thing we see God doing, he is doing millions we’re clueless about. If he tried to explain, it would only make our heads spin. Instead, he calls upon us to trust him.

Some of the most meaningful accomplishments of our lives come in the context of our most difficult, seemingly pointless suffering. Whatever we do, we often find deep satisfaction as we overcome great challenges.

Scripture puts it this way: “And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:2-4).

5) Does God shoulder the blame for natural disasters? Does He use them to punish evil? Bring transformation?

God makes an unapologetic statement about himself: “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7).

That Natural disasters are part of the curse placed by God upon the earth, due to the moral evil of Earth’s stewards is not explicitly stated, but can be deduced from various Scriptures. Human evil is the cause of human death (Romans 6:23). What makes natural disasters most disastrous is that they take human life. But they could not have done that until sin came into the world.

God doesn’t just set natural forces in motion; he governs them. God directly orchestrated the greatest natural disaster in human history, the flood. (Genesis 6-8) Many argue that nature is morally blind, therefore it cannot be said that God is involved in winds and storms and floods. But Jesus said: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45) Note that he did not say, “God created natural laws and lets the course of nature go its own way.”

Sometimes natural disasters are instruments God uses to punish evil. God is shown on some occasions to have exercised judgment by orchestrating plagues (Exodus 7-12, Numbers 11:33, 1 Samuel 5:6-9), hordes of locusts (Joel 2:25), and swarming snakes (Numbers 21:4-6). “The Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah” (Genesis 19:24), He told Abraham and Lot the cities were being destroyed because of their sin (Genesis 18:20, 21; 19:12, 13). Jonah’s disobedience prompted God to send a storm to rock the ship Jonah was on (Jonah 1:12). God said, “I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town…I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away…Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards; I struck them with blight and mildew…” (Amos 4:6, 7, 9).

*Usually Natural disasters are general results of the curse, not specifically linked to the sins of people who perish or suffer in them. Unless God clearly reveals it we shouldn’t assume natural disasters or moral atrocities to be his specific judgment on specific people.

People often listen to God in a way they wouldn’t have before tragedy struck. Missions experts point out that there has been great spiritual openness and responsiveness to the gospel as Christians have reached out to care for displaced and suffering people after natural disasters. If there is indeed a Heaven and Hell, as the Bible affirms, then this increased response to the gospel is something eternally good, even though it is partly brought about by a natural evil.

6) You wrote that "Non-Christians often raise concerns about evil and suffering as if they present a problem exclusively for the Christian worldview. But every worldview must attempt to account for them." What do you mean by that?

Anyone morally outraged about evil and suffering is making a moral judgment, as well as assuming a foundation of objective goodness by which to judge evil as evil. Doing so presents significant problems for worldviews that don’t recognize God.  Claiming evil is a problem assumes there’s a standard of goodness; but if there’s no God, what’s the alternative standard by which to measure morality?

In fact, non-theistic worldviews habitually smuggle God in through the back door. They must put something in his place to give life meaning, something inadequate that cannot provide the reference point for good and evil that is God’s alone.

Many people with a naturalistic worldview affirm there is right and wrong, that life matters, and people are valuable. These perspectives are well accounted for in the Christian worldview they reject, but what within their own worldview can they appeal to that serves as a basis for these beliefs? Natural selection? Randomness and genetic accidents?

The only basis for good moral judgments is the existence of objective standards. Personal opinions about what’s best just aren’t good enough. After all, Nazis and child abusers have their opinions too. Poll a culture of cannibals about the ethics of eating human flesh (there might be difficulties in conducting such a poll) and you’ll find a consensus that it’s not evil.

Belief that there is such a thing as evil is itself a persuasive argument for God’s existence.

Most naturalists intuitively realize that evil does exist. They then use that as evidence that God doesn’t. They say that if there’s a God there would be no evil. But the argument can be turned on its head—if there is evil, there must be a God, since evil could not exist without good, and good could not exist without God.

We all know murderers and rapists are wrong in violating human rights. But how do we know this? We have a consensus that there are objective moral standards, and we even agree on what many of them are. But if God does not exist, on what objective basis could human rights exist? (Because humans are valuable? But why are they valuable? Because they exist? So do rocks.) If they have no authoritative point of origin, human rights are matters of opinion, not matters of fact. Most atheists claim to believe in human rights. Yet that belief contradicts their belief in a world that operates according to the survival of the fittest.

7) You tell the story of Bart Ehrman, a self-described "devout and committed Christian” who denied his faith because he couldn’t reconcile evil and suffering with God’s goodness. Could you give us the nutshell version of Bart’s story, and why you believe it personifies the consequences when evangelical churches fail to address the problem of evil and suffering?

Ehrman appears to have left Christianity after having accepted it uncritically as an impressionable teenager. For him it appears to have been a religious subculture of rigid beliefs and practices, rather than a credible and pervasive worldview. The fact that his Christianity could not withstand academic questioning of Scripture, or the realization that the world is filled with terrible evil and suffering, suggests that he had never embraced a deeply-rooted biblical worldview.

There is something appealing to the human heart about rejecting a God who makes claims on our lives and promises to hold us accountable. Ehrman is right: something is terribly wrong with the world. But isn’t it remarkable that the great majority of people who have ever lived, nearly all of them facing worse evil and suffering than Ehrman or I have, still believe in God?

While western atheists turn from belief in God because a tsunami in another part of the world caused great suffering, many broken-hearted survivors of that same tsunami found faith in God. The strongest Christian churches in the world are not in America or Europe where the problem of evil has the most traction. In Sudan, Christians are severely persecuted, raped, tortured and sold into slavery. Yet many have a vibrant faith in Christ. People living in Garbage Village in Cairo are part of the largest Christian church in Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of the poor in India are turning to Christ. I have interviewed numbers of people who, in horrendous suffering, take comfort in knowing this life is the closest they will ever come to Hell.

Bart Ehrman’s evangelical heritage serves as a warning to Christian families, churches and schools: we need to carefully address the problem of evil.

Even Christians who do not outright reject their faith, as Ehrman has, may quietly lose confidence and commitment because of their struggle with this issue. Christian students in every university, including Christian ones, face frequent impassioned arguments against biblical teachings, from professors, fellow students and textbooks. Most Christian students are not prepared to deal with these. They’ve been sheltered from the problem of evil and suffering, and in most cases have inadequate resources to deal with them.

When the illustrations and case studies are laid out before them in classrooms, there comes an overwhelming sense that their worldview, which they sometimes mistakenly think is biblical, is wanting. Knowing a few Bible stories and isolated doctrines is insufficient when facing an issue of the magnitude of evil and suffering. 

We can tell them about sin and the Fall and its consequences. We can help them learn that evil and suffering are widely regarded as reasons to question God’s goodness, power or knowledge, but that the biblical worldview offers substantial answers others do not. When they are faced with the problem of evil, if they have given considerable thought to it already, their faith can survive and grow. If they haven’t, their faith will be undermined or dismantled.

8) You spent quite a bit of time exploring how people who don’t know the Lord approach evil and sufferingand you made the comment that "The world looks remarkably different than a world without God should look." Can you say more about that?

If there is no God, the world would be amoral, with no objective goodness or evil.

I heard Christopher Hitchens say in a debate, “The world looks as it would if there was no God.”

But if there is no God, how could chance and time and natural forces explain where goodness comes from? How would we discern the difference between right and wrong? Why would the powerful sometimes sacrifice their lives to save those of the weak and handicapped and dying?

Evolution can explain greed, selfishness, insensitivity, survival-preoccupation and even a certain amount of ruthlessness, but is there anything in the blind evolutionary process of survival of the fittest that would cultivate kindness and putting other people first? How much good should we expect to see in an impersonal self-generated world of mere molecules and chemicals and natural forces?

A system that operates on brute strength, genetic superiority and the survival of the fittest can explain and justify racism, sexism and oppression. But it cannot explain goodness, humility, kindness, compassion and mercy especially when exercised to the weak and dying. What should surprise atheists is not that powerful people crush those weaker than themselves—that would be entirely natural. The surprise is that powerful people would sacrifice their welfare to come to the aid of those weaker than themselves. And yet, that very thing often happens in this world.

The ruthlessness exercised against children before they’re born, in abortion, should characterize our society at every level. The existence of children’s hospitals that spend vast resources to help the terminally ill rather than leaving them to die untreated, the provision of special parking for handicapped people, Special Olympics for disabled children, are all shocking aberrations from natural selection, in which the human race should welcome the death of the weak, diseased and disabled, for its genetic betterment and its own survival.

We read of parents prosecuted for abusing their children. But think of how many sleep deprived parents have restrained themselves from hurting a crying child that they could easily kill or gravely injure in a mere moment of frustration or anger.

We should only see the will to survive at everyone else’s expense. Without God, we wouldn’t exist, but if we did we’d have no reason to expect goodness.

9) How does the "health and wealth gospel" pervert our view of evil and suffering?

“It has been granted to you not only to believe in him, but to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). We should count on these promises as much as we count on John 3:16.

Christians pull weeds, have pain in childbirth, get diseases and die. John the Baptist and James were beheaded. The Holy Spirit had hardly descended before Stephen was stoned to death. Nero beheaded Paul. Tradition says Peter was crucified upside down, Andrew was crucified in southern Greece, Matthew died a martyr in Ethiopia, a lance killed Thomas, and Pharisees threw James the son of Alpheus from the temple, then stoned him and dashed his brains out with a club.

Some Christian leaders think living comfortably gives them credibility, but the Bible equates good leadership with perseverance in suffering. The early Christian leaders didn’t live lives of health and wealth. And unlike today’s prosperity preachers, they didn’t say that if you have enough faith you won’t be poor or get sick. Christians routinely suffered. They still do. Anyone who claims otherwise is misrepresenting God and fostering disillusionment.

Many Christian parents and pastors are not preparing their children and congregations for suffering. In some churches, there isn’t a place for pain. Those who say they’ve been healed are given the microphone; those who still suffer sit in the back or are ushered out the door.

In some cases pleasing God results in suffering. Here is one of the great unclaimed promises of Scripture: “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12, NLT).

Health is overrated. Holiness is underrated. If we consider our health to be life’s primary value, we will be unwilling to endanger it for a higher cause. Christians risked their lives to serve those dying from the bubonic plague. Prosperity theology may motivate us to flee from threatening ministry opportunities to cling to what we cannot ultimately preserve anyway.

Yes, we should steward wisely the bodies he’s entrusted to us, yet God sometimes calls on us to sacrifice our preferences, sleep, careers, vacation plans, and health to say yes to him. Though this sounds demanding, Christ’s words leave no room for equivocation:

“Anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple…All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:17-22)

When evil and suffering come, we should see them as God keeping his promises, not violating them.

When hard times arrive, people should not lose their faith in God, they should lose their faith in false doctrine. In contrast to jewelry-flaunting televangelists, Jesus said this: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…’No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18,20).

10) Randy, this morning in our listening audience, we have ministry leaders from all across North America, representing Christian nonprofits of every size and scope, many of whom are on the front lines every day confronting the problem of evil and suffering. What insights from your journey can you share to encourage or even challenge our ministry friends on the phone this morning?

Realizing that suffering is meaningful helps us learn not to waste it.

We should sit at Christ’s scarred feet as we suffer. Consider the desperation of Job’s perspective, before he had seen God’s self-revelation: “For sighing comes to me instead of food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil” (Job 3:24-26).

Contrast this to the attitude of James, who encourages us to see the fruit of our suffering, and rejoice in the midst of our troubles (which are emphatically not meaningless):  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

Suffering can give you a sphere of influence for Christ that you couldn’t otherwise have.

E. Stanley Jones wrote, “Don’t bear trouble, use it. Take whatever happens—justice and injustice, pleasure and pain, compliment and criticism—take it up into the purpose of your life and make something out of it. Turn it into testimony.”

A pastor friend and his wife, whose son died of leukemia, spent hundreds of hours in hospitals, faithfully ministering to people they would never have met without the terrible suffering they were experiencing. Their son’s illness was an open door to ministry. God used him to reach many.

A man with a terminal illness told me he invited the fathers of five of his son’s friends to meet with him. Explaining he didn’t have long to live, he shared the gospel with them, touching them deeply.

We should view evil and suffering as reasons to long for and embrace God’s grace in Christ.

If there were less evil and suffering in this world, fewer of us would long for a better world. More of us would believe the lie that this world satisfies. No one would look to a Savior to rescue us from a world without danger. No one would look to Heaven to comfort us in a world without sorrow.

In the end, we will be grateful that this world was bright enough to give us a vision of something worth living for, but dark enough to leave us longing for the light obscured by evil. 

Heaven11)  In your book Heaven, you explain that in Scripture we see an exciting yet strangely neglected truth—that God never gave up on His original plan for human beings to dwell on Earth." Explain what you mean by that.

God has never abandoned his original plan that righteous human beings will inhabit and rule the earth. That’s not merely an argument from silence. Daniel 7:18 explicitly reveals that “the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever.” What is “the kingdom”? Earth.

Scripture shows us God’s purpose with remarkable clarity; yet for many years as a Bible student and later as a pastor, I did not think in terms of renewal and restoration. Instead, I believed God was going to destroy the earth, abandon his original design and plan, and start over by implementing a new plan in an unearthly Heaven. Only in the past fifteen years have my eyes been opened to what Scripture has said all along.

What lies behind our notion that God is going to destroy the earth and be done with it? I believe it’s a weak theology of God. Though we’d never say it this way, we see him as a thwarted inventor whose creation failed. Having realized his mistake, he’ll end up trashing most of what he made. His consolation for a failed Earth is that he rescues a few of us from the fire. But this idea is emphatically refuted by Scripture. God has a magnificent plan, and he will not surrender Earth to the trash heap. God determined from the beginning that he will redeem mankind and restore the earth. Why? So his original plan will be fulfilled.

The Grace and Truth Paradox12)  In The Grace and Truth Paradox, you said there is a two-point checklist for Christ likeness. What is the two-point checklist, and what are the implications leaders in Christian nonprofit organizations?

John 1:1, 14 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Emphasis added.

Jesus is full of two things: grace and truth. Not “full of patience, wisdom, beauty, compassion, and creativity.” In the list there are no commas and only one conjunction—grace and truth. Scripture distills Christ’s attributes into a two-point checklist of Christlikeness.

People had only to look at Jesus to see what God is like. People today should only have to look at us to see what Jesus is like. For better or worse, they’ll draw conclusions about Christ from what they see in us. If we fail the grace test, we fail to be Christlike. If we fail the truth test, we fail to be Christlike. If we pass both tests, we’re like Jesus.

The Treasure Principle13) You wrote a bestselling book called The Treasure Principle, published in 2001. And in that book you spent a whole chapter addressing "Roadblocks to Giving"—such as unbelief, insecurity, pride, idolatry, desire for power and control. Are the roadblocks to giving you identified in 2001 any more or less true in the economic environment we face in 2009, and how should ministry leaders respond?

Much of what we are facing right now is actually a wake-up call. It’s so easy for us to think, “Well, this belongs to me, and that belongs to me.” But according to the Bible, all that is in the earth is owned by God. He says, “I own the gold, I own the silver, I own the cattle on a thousand hills; it all belongs to me.” That makes me the steward; in other words, I’m not the owner—I’m the manager.

In light of the financial challenges so many people are facing, they find themselves worrying. Worry has a way of chasing after us. It tries to grab hold of us, bleed off our energy, and rob us of joy by limiting our vision to a short-sighted perspective of this life’s circumstances. That’s why one of my favorite passages is Matthew 6:19-34, where Jesus unveils an investment formula for a secure future and a worry-free present.

Following Christ doesn’t always improve our circumstances—some of my circumstances (including my income) would be better if I hadn’t followed the Lord. But better for what? Better for accumulating earthly possessions, but not better for laying up treasures in Heaven and experiencing the exhilaration of trusting God to provide.

What following Christ does change is our perspective. The unbeliever’s vision is restricted to the horizons of this world. But we have the big picture. We know this life is the preface to the book, the tune-up to the concert. If we are wise investors, we will spend our lives buying up shares in the world to come.

ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments14)  Randy, you have been a passionate defender of the unborn for many years, and have written books and articles to help prolifers communicate the message more effectively, including ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments. What would you say are the reasons to rejoice looking back, and how would you advise believers to pray looking ahead?

I thank God that today in virtually every part of the United States, there are abortion alternative centers that provide free pregnancy tests, free counseling, and free material and human resources to pregnant women. Most of these centers have dozens of volunteers, some of them hundreds, donating not only time spent with clients, but everything from clothing to maintenance to service to office supplies and computer support. I have served on the board of one such center, on the steering committee to get another started, and have visited dozens of them across the country. Though their services cost them a great deal of money—as opposed to making them a great deal of money— there are more abortion alternative centers in the United States than there are abortion clinics.

I would ask believers to pray daily for prolife ministries and victimized mothers and babies. If the darkness of child-killing is to be overcome with the light of truth and compassion, it will require spiritual warfare, fought with humble and consistent prayer (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Pray for our President, that his heart for the needy would not be lost but expanded to include the unborn, including the black and Hispanic children who are disproportionately killed by abortion. I pray too that, by some heart-changing miracle or providential human miscalculation, the next Supreme Court justice would be someone who would vote for the right to life of our smallest children, God’s smallest children.

15)  You have an interesting blog on your website, and one of the posts on missions that caught my eye was entitled An Atheist explains Africa’s Need for God. Can you tell us what that was about?

I posted a remarkable article written by a writer for The Times Online, who despite being an atheist, acknowledges that after growing up in Malawi, he has seen firsthand that Christian evangelism continues to make a difference in Africa and change people’s hearts. He’s explains it’s not only the practical work that Christian organizations are doing by meeting people’s physical needs; it’s also the fact that Christianity liberates the people and gives them a dignity and peace that is otherwise missing in traditional African life.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries