Mike Pence as much at home behind the pulpit as giving a campaign speech

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Vice President Mike Pence’s message to the Southern Baptist Convention included his personal testimony as well as points on the achievements of President Donald Trump in such matters as placing conservative judges and protecting religious liberty. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index

DALLAS, TX – Contrary to what some might have expected, United States Vice President Mike Pence was greeted with thunderous applause by a standing room only crowd of Southern Baptists at the huge Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas on Wednesday morning.

Pence was introduced by SBC President Steve Gaines and made his entrance onto the platform in a modest, unassuming manner and began his message by reminding his audience that he is a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican “in that order.” He commended Southern Baptists by declaring “Your witness changes lives every day.”

The unashamed Christian testified, “Forty years ago this spring I heard a message fresh from God underscoring that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.’ I walked down the sawdust trail and gave my life to Jesus Christ on that spring day in 1978.”

“We ask you to continue your calling with renewed energy. Your values are more important than ever,” Vice President Pence implored the crowd of Southern Baptists. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index

The vice president explained, “In America we are in the beginning of a new era of greatness under the administration of President Trump. We are on a path to a stronger America. We have had 500 days of action with promises made and promises kept.”

Pence indicated that the president had just returned from Singapore with the promise of success in his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He indicated that the meeting resulted in what he believed would be the disarmament of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

The vice president admitted that there was still work to do and further negotiations needed in order to implement the agreements that were discussed, but that a lot of progress was made. He further stated that U.S. sanctions would stay in place until the nuclear weapons are gone.

“We believe in peace through strength,” Pence exclaimed. “We will trust, but verify. However, we are encouraged. There have been no missile tests in seven months and North Korea released three U.S. citizens that had been detained for as long as two years. That was a goodwill gesture that took place just weeks before the summit in Singapore.”

The vice president indicated that he greeted the hostages when they came back to U.S. soil. They thanked him for his prayers and one of them gave him a card containing the words of Psalm 126:1-2: “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing.”

Vice President Pence holds up a card given to him by a former North Korean hostage, inscribed with Psalm 126:1-2. SCOTT BARKLEY/Index

Pence explained, “We still have a lot of work ahead of us – work that will require resolve and courage. Anyone can make war, but it takes courage to make peace. We need the prayers of God’s people, because I believe that ‘the effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much.’

“With the help of God we have strengthened our military force and put ISIS on the run with the intention of driving them from the face of the earth. We have withdrawn from the Iran Nuclear deal, opened the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, signed the biggest tax cut in United States history, helped created 3.4 million new jobs, and provided the lowest unemployment for Americans for decades – and that included African Americans, Hispanics, and women.

“Our strength comes from our foundational principles and our precious freedoms. Our president is determined to protect our religious freedom as indicated in his executive order limiting the Johnson Amendment and he wants it repealed. The president has appointed the most judges in federal courts ever and that is not counting his appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.”

Our president is determined to protect our religious freedom …

Pence added, “This president is the most pro-life president in American history as indicated in his reinstatement of the Mexico City Amendment.”

The vice president praised Southern Baptists for their presence and dedicated service wherever there is a need – in hurricanes, fires, tornados, floods, or tragedies like the attack on the good people of Sutherland Springs Baptist Church here in Texas.

“Your theme at this Convention is ’Go! Stand! Speak!’ We ask you to continue your calling with renewed energy. Your values are more important than ever. And remember the Psalmist said, ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ We will fight for what we know is right.’”

The vice president avowed, “The most important and transformative work is where you live and the ministry you fulfill when you stand behind the pulpits all across America. But remember, no action will be more powerful than your prayers. God has said, ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and hear their prayers and heal their land.”

Mike Pence is obviously a career politician and his speech was political in many respects, but most folks present at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention could see him at home as much behind a pulpit as giving a political stump speech.

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