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Is it time to re-evangelize America?

In a Time magazine cover story on "Kids, Sex & Values," a high school teacher in New York City said teenagers' lives are "empty, and their view of the future fatalistic." One 19-year- old said, "I believe in God. If he wants something bad to happen to me, it will happen. Anyway, by the time I get AIDS I think they'll have a cure."

Lakewood, California, was shaken by a teen sex scandal of the "Spur Posse," whose boastful members tallied their conquests of adolescent girls. As alarming as this depraved behavior, however, was the "boys will be boys" condonation of some parents. The director of research at the University of Minnesota's adolescent-health-training program told Newsweek magazine, "What we see is what's in the society at large." Is it time to re-evangelize America?

In a Time magazine cover story on "Kids, Sex & Values," a high school teacher in New York City said teenagers' lives are "empty, and their view of the future fatalistic." One 19-year- old said, "I believe in God. If he wants something bad to happen to me, it will happen. Anyway, by the time I get AIDS I think they'll have a cure."

Lakewood, California, was shaken by a teen sex scandal of the "Spur Posse," whose boastful members tallied their conquests of adolescent girls. As alarming as this depraved behavior, however, was the "boys will be boys" condonation of some parents. The director of research at the University of Minnesota's adolescent-health-training program told Newsweek magazine, "What we see is what's in the society at large."

What else does society hold? 1.5 million elective abortions a year. More than a million out-of-wedlock births each year. Broken families. Brutal violence on the streets and in the media. Drug addiction.

America needs evangelism like never before. Billy Graham once said, "It's either back to the Bible or back to the jungle." The jungle truly is creeping up on the United States.

The problem is in the heart, not just the outward behavior. God says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9 KJV). What's needed is not more good advice, but the Good News, "the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).

Political campaigns, family counseling, and education do nothing about the condition of human depravity. Unless there's a change of heart, nothing's happened to change a person. And unless millions of hearts are changed, little has happened to change America.

Yes, it is time to re-evangelize America. Only the Gospel gets at the root of the problems destroying the nation:

A spirit of despondency. Many people have lost hope. They need a positive message of God's love, of what Christ can do for broken families, for the lonely, the addicted, the dying.

A spirit of separatism. We've got to get over this business of being hyphenated Americans. My passport doesn't say Hispanic- American. It says citizen of the United States of America. Christ can bring reconciliation--a deep, sincere love for people.

A spirit of impurity. We have lost our sense of shame, our sense of what is proper and honorable. Now we are talking to eight-year-olds about condoms and "safe sex." America needs a restored spirit of holiness. We need it in the church; we each need it in our own soul.

A spirit of guilt. What America needs most, however, is forgiveness, preceded by repentance. God is ready to forgive. He will forgive women who have had abortions. He will forgive adulterers and fornicators and homosexuals. He will forgive murderers and rapists and embezzlers. He will forgive the self- righteous and hypocrites.

He forgives all of us sinners the instant we believe Him with a repentant heart.

That message--that God forgives sinners and offers everyone the chance to start over--has transformed millions of lives all across Latin America the past 25 years. Evangelicals, many of them illiterate, have stood on street corners preaching John 3:16 and testifying of God's grace. Millions of Latins have said, "That's the Gospel? I want to know this God and live for Him."

But in the United States, we evangelicals have acquired a reputation as harsh, unloving, bitter people, condemning to hell pregnant young women at abortion clinics and homosexuals marching in Washington.

I think if we stand and proclaim John 3:16 in all its purity, we'll be surprised how many Americans are willing to be converted to Jesus Christ.

Evangelism is Good News. That's what America needs.

Copyright ? 1997 Luis Palau, P.O. Box 1173, Portland, Oregon, 97207.
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