Mac Brunson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, introduced GOP vice presidential running mate Mike Pence to Sunday morning worshipers on Sept. 18.
Quoting James Dobson, Brunson said of the former Indiana governor: “This man is perhaps the most genuine Christian in politics today.”
He then conducted a brief question-and-answer with Pence, asking him about his salvation experience, reflections on 9/11 and the Christian’s obligation to vote.
In response to Brunson’s question about the beginning of his faith journey, Pence said even though he grew up in a family that was in church every Sunday something seemed to be missing.
And, so, when Pence left for Hanover College he basically walked away from the church. (While Pence did not say during his conversation with Brunson what faith tradition was practiced in his home, it is widely known that he grew up Irish Catholic.)
But even while Pence was trying to distance himself from anything to do with God, the GOP vice presidential running mate said there was a group in college that kept trying to draw him back.
Then, while still in school, Pence went to a Christian music festival in Asbury, Ky., where he says he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior.
Brunson, reflecting on the recent 15-year commemoration of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., said everyone has a story about where they were on that fateful day, and he asked Pence to share his.
Pence had been in Congress for less than a year in 2001. When he was notified that the Pentagon had been attacked, he said he called his staff together to pray, and then they vacated their office building.
“As I stood there on the Capitol grounds, I knew we were going to be OK,” Pence recalls. “I’ll always remember that, and I believe that to this day.”
Brunson set up his last question by acknowledging to Pence that many Christians are struggling with what their civic obligations are during this election. He then asked what Pence would tell Christians about voting this fall.
Pence responded by saying he thinks it is the Christian’s duty to pray, and then vote. He then went on to say that he believes Christians also have a duty to pray for all those in public service, regardless of their politics.
In closing, Pence said that even in these “troubled times at home and abroad,” he still believes in the truth of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which he then went on to quote: “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
Kevin Bumgarner is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness.