Inland Empire Edition Vol. 24, No. 5
Tiresome bias: Turning a blind eye to evil
Attacks on Christianity demand diligent response
Comedian walks away from secular venues to foster Kingdom
In the midst of tragedy, high-profile pastors are the target of ‘haters’ By Lori Arnold LAKE FOREST — Three days after announcing that his adult son had ended his protracted battle with mental illness by taking his own life, Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church returned to social media to share other deeply troubling news. “Grieving is hard. Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest,” the Lake Forest pastor wrote on his Facebook page. Matthew Warren, the 27-year-old son of Warren and his wife, Kay, died April 5 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. “In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided,” Warren shared in an email to church members. “Tonight, after a fun evening together with Kay and me, in a momentary wave of despair at his home, he took his life.” After the incident, Warren connected with his church family by posting on his Facebook page, including the message he posted on April 8 acknowledging the hateful comments. Warren’s post caught the attention of Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who addressed the issue on her April 9 show saying the development was “shocking, it’s disgusting, and it’s hard to understand.” At one point she called the people behind the comments “haters.”
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren has been the target of social media attacks since the death of his son by suicide on April 5.
“I’m not going to give a voice to the haters because, I mean, boy oh boy, these are people who are really in a dark place,” she said, adding that many of the comments appeared to take issue with Warren’s stand opposing same-sex marriage. Warren is not alone in becoming a target during times of tragedy. Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, hinted at his own exposure to such tactics on an April 6 post on his Facebook page. In the extended post Garlow acknowledged Warren’s tragedy and then asked the public to pray for Skyline, which has been besieged by a string of tragedies among its staff. Gar-
Fourth District Supervisor Gary Ovitt, a committed Christian who openly shares his faith in the community, serves up a hamburger at the annual barbecue for seniors in Chino. Ovitt also calls bingo numbers during the summertime event.
Faith on his sleeve County supervisor not shy about his Christianity By Patti Townley-Covert ONTARIO — For some people, politics and religion may not mix. But for San Bernardino County Fourth District Supervisor Gary Ovitt, they can’t be separated. “As a Christian, I have to live out my life with Christ in it, so everywhere I go, I take Christ with me,” he said. “And certainly law would allow me to include my faith.” From America’s earliest days— when Bible verses were etched in
stone on many federal buildings and monuments—Ovitt said he sees no division at all. “I think God has placed me in this position to fill out my purpose in life, which is to let others know about Christ,” he said. With a jurisdiction of 133 square miles and more than 400,000 residents, Ovitt’s had many opportunities to interact with his constituents since first being elected in 2004. The current vice chair of the county Board of Supervisors, he’s also served as
president of the Southern California Association of Governments and former chair and current board member of the San Bernardino County Associated Governments. His resume also includes the chairmanship of the Inland Empire Health Partnership, vice president of the Ontario International Airport Authority and several other boards. Whenever possible, Ovitt said he brings in a biblical message. See GARY OVITT, page 2
See TRAGEDY, page 11
‘Harvest America’ takes mobile approach for publicity By Lori Arnold RIVERSIDE — When most farmers cultivate their fields they take to tractors and plows. The folks at Harvest America have taken to an 18-wheeler. A semi to reap the harvest? “It’s been fun,” said Scot Camden, a ministry spokesman for Harvest Ministries. “We’ve never done anything like this before. We never really even considered getting a big rig and wrapping it in Harvest America or Harvest art and driving it around to bring people out.” It certainly draws attention. The rig, dubbed the “Harvest America Mobile Theater,” is a 53-foot traveling billboard of sorts. It is equipped with 27 seats and sound and video equipment, used for a 45-minute presentation that includes a video. “It’s fully kitted out,” Camden said. “It literally looks like you are walking into a stadium-seated movie theater (with) fold down chairs,
The Harvest America Mobile Theater, contained inside a 53-foot tractor trailer, is traveling the United States promoting the national live streaming of the Philadelphia crusade on Sept. 28 and 29. Here the 18-wheeler is parked outside Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon.
wall sconces and a 16- by 9-screen at the end of what would be the back of the theater. It’s great. It’s all insulated and air conditioned. It’s a great environment to hold a meeting in. It’s a great way to set up a cool vibe.”
Guests are treated to free popcorn. The mobile theater is the brainchild of evangelist Greg Laurie, the founder of both the Harvest Crusades and Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, and his executive
pastor John Collins. The trailer is being used to promote Harvest America, a national simulcast of Harvest Crusade that was launched last year after being developed by Collins. The one-night event, held at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, was broadcast live to more than 2,200 locations. In addition to host churches, two television and 600 radio stations picked up the feed. This year’s event has expanded to two nights and will be held Sept. 28 and 29 in Philadelphia. Now in its 24th year, the crusade and its fledgling Harvest America, have registered 391,000 decisions of faith. A key to that success has been pre-crusade pledges by local churches and Christian organizations to help support the work of the crusade teams. “For the last 23 years we’ve gone out to communities and held meetings in local churches and invited church leaders out to that,” Cam-
den said. “But as we are able to message it properly and get out and promote the mobile theater, people understand it.” In addition to the extensive publicity the standout trailer provides, the presentations serve as a catalyst to get churches and other organizations to host simulcast sites. “One of the strong suits that we are finding is that we are able to partner with radio stations across the nation who are wanting to combine efforts,” Camden said. Those stations are not only publicizing the theater’s stops, but they are also sharing their pastoral and community networks with the Harvest America team. As part of its six-month tour across the country, the theater is stopping at the National Worship Leader Conference, the Southern California Catalyst Conference, Church Growth Conference, the See HARVEST, page 2
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2 â€˘ CHRISTIAN EXAMINER â€˘ May 2013 IE
GARY OVITTâ€Ś Continued from page 1
The Harvest America Mobile Theater has a small display area in the lobby and an inside theater with tiered seating that accommodates 27.
HARVESTâ€Ś Continued from page 1 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Harvest Crusade Kick-off event in Philadelphia, Lancaster (Pa.) Bible College, several seminaries, prayer breakfasts, lunch gatherings, pastors meetings, Christian concerts, a film
studio, a Honda dealership and several NASCAR events. â€œPraise the Lord that we have always had successful pastoral leadership meetings to promote an event, but we feel that this is a new way to attract both church leadership and also to attract the public out to a meeting,â€? Camden said. â€œIt helps us because we are able to not only hold a meeting at a location but,
while we are there to (also) advertise the event.â€? Although the theater is headed toward the East Coast, it will be back in time for the Aug. 23 to 25 crusade at Anaheim Stadium, plus other locations if time permits. For more information, visit www. harvest.org/crusades.
Apostle Dr. Craig & Prophet Darlene Ponder will be hosting
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One of his favorite annual events to speak at is the San Bernardino County Children and Family Services â€œadoptionâ€? day. On that day between 70 and 100 adoptions take place, usually at the Ontario Convention Center. Since Ovitt and his wife, Sue, adopted their daughter, Amanda, he offers firsthand appreciation for how important adoption is to an individual family. He also tells the crowd how, â€œaccording to the Bible, for those of us who have embraced God, weâ€™re all adopted into His family.â€? Most of the people he speaks to seem to appreciate his values. â€œThey keep inviting me back year after year,â€? he said with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. â€œMaybe they see God through me and are willing to forgive me because of the spirit in which it is offered.â€? That same gentle spirit helps Ovitt convene conversations around a variety of issues. As a district supervisor, he might initiate discussions about a vision for the county, solutions for healthcare issues or how to serve spiritual leaders. â€œChurch plays such an important role in the community,â€? Ovitt said. â€œNot only is it important to me as a Christian, but itâ€™s important for our churches, even those that may not believe the same way. We want to give them the opportunity to come and work together for the benefit of the community.â€? One way he promotes that dialogue in the fourth districtâ€”which includes the cities of Chino, Chino Hills, Montclair, Ontario and a portion of Uplandâ€”is through an annual Pastors Appreciation breakfast. â€œPastors too often are not appreciated,â€? Ovitt said. â€œThey donâ€™t have much of a chance for someone to say thank you, and they have a tough job. So we bring them together and say â€˜thank you for what youâ€™re doing, and how can we help you minister to people?â€™â€? While this springtime event respects all faiths, Ovitt clearly states his belief in a risen Savior. Christians, Mormons, Muslims, and are given a Bible verse and encouraged to share around their tables what that Scripture says to them. A willing partner Ovitt is joined in his public witness by Chief of Staff Larry Enriquez, who for almost two decades
has been involved in the community as senior pastor of Community Christian Fellowship and Ontarioâ€™s Police Department chaplain. Bringing that experience to bear in the Fourth District for the past two years, Enriquez considers his role ripe with spiritual possibilities. â€œGary and I both believe that all the relationships weâ€™re able to attract in this position are the grace of God and not an accident,â€? the pastor said. â€œSo we trust those have some kind of greater effect for the kingdom. Weâ€™re not always sure what they mean until we look back. But the big picture is hereâ€™s what God has done and is doing.â€? Recently Enriquez started a â€œThings That Matterâ€? discussion group of community leadersâ€” some believers, some not. At first they discussed county issues among other topics, but Enriquez said he wanted to focus more on soul issues. So he began emailing group members things to think about. Topics such as â€œwhere does virtue come from?â€? lead to the question of worldviews and what works. â€œBy looking at the roots of life, we examine why weâ€™re having problems,â€? he said. According to Enriquez, itâ€™s the connection with the county that permits him to initiate such conversations. â€œNot because Iâ€™m such a great thinker or speakerâ€”Iâ€™m not in the equation,â€? he said. â€œWhatâ€™s in the equation is this seat of office that God has allowed us for a moment.â€? So he and Ovitt use that position to bring people to a better understanding of life and ultimately of who Christ is. Patriotic outreach Sometimes they engage their entire church in outreach. Since 1998, Ovitt said heâ€™s ridden in Ontarioâ€™s 4th of July parade, which is located near the home Ovitt shares with his wife, Sue, who serves as president of the Ontario/Montclair school board. â€œWe just want people to come over and celebrate our country and our Christian foundations,â€? the supervisor said. So the church started putting on a picnic that includes a pancake breakfast and barbecue. Passers-by are encouraged to join the celebration and help themselves. For more information, visit www. sbcounty.gov/bosd4/
Publisher: Lamar & Theresa Keener Managing Editor: Lori Arnold Advertising: Cynthia Quam-Patterson Calendar/Classifieds: Brittany Keener Correspondents: Patti Townley-Covert Distribution Coordinators: Lisa Allen, Kim Baker Copyright ÂŠ 2013 Selah Media Group The Christian Examiner, formerly known as the Christian Times and first established in 1983, is an independent Christian newspaper published monthly by Selah Media Group with an audience of Evangelical Christians. It is available in five regional editions throughout Southern California and the Twin Cities. All our regional newspapers are available without charge at Christian bookstores, churches, and Christian businesses. Mail subscriptions are $19.95/year. The combined press run monthly is 150,000 copies. The Christian Examiner welcomes press releases and news of interest that is relevant to our readership. All unsolicited material is subject to the approval of the publishers and is not returned. Viewpoints expressed in the Christian Examiner are those of their respective writers, and are not necessarily held by the publishers. Advertising in the Christian Examiner is open to anyone desiring to reach the Christian community. Reasonable effort is made to screen potential advertisers, but no endorsement of the publishers is implied or should be inferred. The publishers can accept no responsibility for the products or services offered through advertisements. The publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertising. Deadline for submission of ad copy, calendar events, and articles is the 15th of the month preceding publication for the San Diego edition and the 18th for the other editions. Address all correspondence to: Christian Examiner, P. O. Box 2606, El Cajon, CA 92021 Phone (619) 668-5100 â€˘ Fax: (619) 668-1115 â€˘ E-mail: email@example.com
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May 2013 â€˘ CHRISTIAN EXAMINER â€˘ 3
Bible survey hints at wider changes in cultural norms Bible is sacred,â€™ â€˜Yeah, I know we need to read it moreâ€™ and â€˜Yeah, morals are declining, and â€˜We need do something about it.â€™ They get a warm, fuzzy feeling from saying all of those.â€? Herrelko said it was significant that 77 percent of those polled said they believe morality is on the decline and 32 percent cite the cause as a lack of Bible reading. At the same time, 58 percent shunned its wisdom. â€œThat shows that people are recognizing there is a problem, but I still think there is a disconnect,â€? he said. â€œItâ€™s one thing to recognize a problem; itâ€™s another thing entirely to solve the problem. People are not yet committed to solving the problem. They are committed to recognizing it, talking about, being vocal about it but they are not committed to changing it.â€?
By Lori Arnold EL CAJON â€” More than threequarters of Americans believe values and morals are declining, with one-third attributing it to a lack of Bible reading. At the same time, two-thirds believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to live a meaningful life, but nearly six in 10 donâ€™t personally want the Bibleâ€™s wisdom. The confusing and conflicting responses are from the annual State of the Bible survey, commissioned by the American Bible Society and conducted by Barna Research. â€œItâ€™s not surprising to me because I am aware of the problem that people say one thing but they do something else,â€? Edward J. Herrelko, vice president of academics at Southern California Seminary, said of the poll, released on March 26. The survey, conducted in January using telephone and online questioning, also concluded that the average household has 4.4 Bibles, while one in six people said they purchased a copy of the Bible last year. In addition 80 percent of respondents said the Bible is sacred. Herrelko, a biblical theology expert who closely monitors Christians and culture, said the findings show a major disconnect among Americans. He points to the 80 percent of the respondents who say the Bible is sacred and the 61 percent who indicated a desire to read the Bible more. â€œIf that were true we should have a very different landscape in America,â€? he said. â€œAs you follow the trends that are going on in this whole conversation â€Ś they are saying a lot of things, but they are not following it up with action,â€? the professor said. â€œThey are telling you what they want, what they wish, what they think should be, but itâ€™s obviously not as important as it appears to be on paper.â€? He said some of the results could be attributed to what he called the â€œanonymous phenomenon.â€? â€œPeople are more likely to tell you what they think you want to hear in a poll,â€? Herrelko said. â€œItâ€™s easy to talk about things. Itâ€™s harder to do things. So polls give people a comfortable ability to, in their own head, sound like, â€˜Yeah, the Bibleâ€™s important,â€™ â€˜Yeah, the
Broader implications The seminary administrator went on to say that the study reveals much more than Bible reading habits by providing insight into disconcerting issues such as respect and integrity. â€œWe are not only used to getting what we want, when we want, but weâ€™ve now become a society that gives false platitudes and lip service to things,â€? he said. â€œWeâ€™ve begun to tell people what they want to hear. We donâ€™t actually sit and think.â€? He said he believes the poll results demonstrate a failure to put any sincere effort into actually sifting through the questions. â€œAs a society it shows our lack of a willingness to ever go below the surface on significant issues,â€? Herrelko said. â€œWe kind of nod our head in
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