The World and Everything in It — January 1, 2020


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning and Happy New Year!

The U.S. treasury has more money than anytime in the history of the world. But still we’re in debt.  Some of that is pure waste.

LANKFORD: We’ve had folks that have called us furious and said that, “I’m so mad that you listed this as wasteful. Clearly this is not wasteful.”

NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Washington Wednesday. 

Also World Tour with Africa correspondent Onize Ohikere.

Plus, we’ll meet a woman who’s using her training as an occupational therapist to help children in Vietnam.

MROIEC: They had a list of, um, over 800 kids and all these kids had some kind of medical condition or disability . . .

And WORLD’s Janie B. Cheaney on errant children and staying the course.

REICHARD: It’s Wednesday, January 1st. This is The World and Everything in It from  listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Up next, Paul Butler with today’s news.


PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Markets end record-breaking year on a high note » AUDIO: [Sound of closing bell]

After a slow start, stocks rallied on the final day of 2019, capping off a decade of gains. President Trump’s announcement that he’ll sign phase one of the trade deal with China next month encouraged the uptick. 

The year-end marks the best close since 2013. Each of the major indexes posted strong gains. The S&P 500 grew by almost 30 percent, the Dow added more than 20 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq surged ahead by 35 percent. 

Protestors storm U.S. Embassy in Baghdad » The United States is deploying about 750 soldiers to the Middle East. The precautionary move comes after violent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday.

AUDIO: [Sound of chanting] 

Protesters stormed the U.S. embassy breaking through the main compound gate. Dozens of Iraqi Shiite militia and their supporters angry over Sunday’s U.S. airstrike, set fire to a reception area and chanted: “Down, Down, USA!”  

AUDIO: [Troops deploying] 

U.S. Central Command responded by deploying a detachment of 100 Marines to reinforce the Embassy. The State Department reported all diplomatic personnel secure and said it has no immediate plans to evacuate. Defense Secretary Mark Esper:

ESPER: I would note also, that we will take additional actions as necessary to ensure that we act in our own self-defense and we defer further bad behavior from militia groups or Iran. 

He also called on the Iraqi government to assist in protecting U.S. personnel.

The additional troops are part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces Crisis Response. It was created after the 2012 attack on the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.

Taliban leaders say no to ceasefire » Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan have emphatically denied a supposed ceasefire. The statement came this week in response to a Washington Post report on a potential agreement.

Islamic Emirate Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declared—quote—“For the past few days, a number of media outlets have been publishing false and baseless reports about a ceasefire…The reality of the situation is that the Islamic Emirate has no intention of declaring a ceasefire.” End quote. 

Mujahid acknowledged a possible “reduction in the scale and intensity of violence” but that the ruling body had yet to issue a final decree on the matter. 

The U.S. government has been attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban for more than six years.

New Census data projects political shift » The U.S. Census Bureau has released new numbers that show the nation’s population is growing at its slowest rate since 1918. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin has more. 

FLAVIN: The 2019 national and state population estimates show the natural growth rate dropped below 1 million for the first time in decades. The natural growth rate is the number of births minus the number of deaths. 

Forty-two states and the District of Columbia saw birth rate decreases.  The remaining eight states rose only modestly. 

International immigration numbers have dropped almost in half since 2016, from more than 1 million to fewer than 600,000.

Meantime, domestic migration could remake congressional maps, according to a Politico report. If the population estimates hold up, California is set to lose a congressional seat for the first time ever. 

Texas and Florida would gain a combined five seats. Arizona, Montana, and North Carolina would pick up one seat each, mostly at the expense of shrinking Rust Belt states.

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Kristen Flavin.  

Lois Evans dies of pancreatic cancer » Lois Evans, the wife of megachurch pastor Tony Evans, has died after a second bout with cancer. She was 70. 

Evans held numerous positions at the Urban Alternative, the Dallas ministry the couple founded in 1982. Lois Evans was also a public speaker who maintained a ministry to pastors’ wives.. 

EVANS: I’m so glad you joined us today. I’m Lois Evans, and we’re going to talk today about seasons in a woman’s life. It’s gonna be fun…

In a Facebook post Tony Evans said—quote—”As she slipped away, we told her how much we love her, how proud we are of her, and how thankful we are for the life she has lived. We are what we are because of her.”

Lois Evans is survived by four children, 13 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

I’m Paul Butler. Straight ahead: a conversation about the unusual ways the federal government finds to waste taxpayer dollars.

Plus, a visit to a physical therapist in Vietnam.

This is The World and Everything in It.


MARY REICHARD: It is Wednesday, January 1st, 2020! Time flies, and we’re so glad you’ve joined us for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. A new year, and a massive encouragement from you: “Just Do More!”

Our December giving drive ended as December ended, and not only did you meet our initial goal, you met our stretch goal, and stretched our technology to the breaking point. We still have more counting to do, but I can tell you the number topped $1 million dollars, just in a few weeks’ time. There’ll be more counting to do in the days ahead, because of mail delivery, so we don’t yet have an exact tally. But suffice it to say:

We are ecstatic. We are grateful to God. We are humbled by your generosity.

REICHARD: By the grace of God! That’s the range of emotion, isn’t it? So pleased and so grateful, but also really determined to show our gratitude by taking responsibility and striving for exceptional.

So we go now from a theme of economic stewardship to a story of economic malpractice in the nation’s capital. This is Washington Wednesday, and let’s begin by acknowledging the obvious: The United States has an eye-popping federal debt, $23 trillion. Trillion, with a “t.” It’s more money than the entire economy can produce in a year, it’s that big.

EICHER: Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma recently published his latest report, Federal Fumbles, Ways the Government Dropped the Ball. It’s got many examples of wasteful federal spending and also solutions to each problem he identifies in the report.

WORLD’s J.C. Derrick visited with Lankford to talk about Federal Fumbles.

J.C. DERRICK: Well, Senator, let’s just start with your biggest takeaway from this year’s federal fumbles report. 

JAMES LANKFORD: Well, there’s work to be done is really the biggest takeaway. 

DERRICK: Really?!

LANKFORD: I know. When we’re talking about government efficiency and not just wasteful spending, but how it’s done, the process, all those things we’re trying to be able to identify those things and to be able to raise the issue enough that we can really start a dialogue. And the Federal Fumbles report is not a confrontation, it’s a conversation. It’s a, “We saw this; does everyone else see this as a problem? If so, then let’s sit down and figure out how to solve this.”

DERRICK: And it’s been a few weeks since it came out now, so has it been a good conversation piece? 

LANKFORD: It has. We’ve had folks that have called us furious and said that, “I’m so mad that you listed this as wasteful. Clearly this is not wasteful.” And other folks have called and said, “OK, yeah, there’s a problem.” 

And with other teams, we’ve had folks from other offices contact us and say, “Hey, I’m interested in your report. I’m hearing about it. Let’s talk about some of these things.”

DERRICK: Well, in the report you document a ton of different specific examples of fumbles and we’ll link to that report in today’s program transcript. But specifically one of your most provocative titles was, “While Russia meddles in our elections, our agencies are working to understand their sea lions and history.” Can you elaborate on that one a little bit? 

LANKFORD: We spent almost $2 million sending to a group that’s working with the Russian government to study Russian sea lions off their coast. Now, I’m sure Russian sea lions are beautiful animals, but I’m not sure why the American tax dollar should be studying Russian sea lions. If that’s something the Russians want to do, they’re certainly welcome to do that on their own dollar, but we’re paying for the Russian government to be able to study sea lions. 

And there’s lots of other examples that we have that are Russia related, even. We spent tons of money on doing a documentary on Stalin. We spent tons of money on studying the Russian flu of 1889. Again, all of those are fascinating topics. I’m not sure why federal tax dollars should be paying to study the Russian flu of 1889 or federal tax dollars to create a documentary on Joseph Stalin. Those are all things that can be done with private sector dollars or with Russian dollars. 

DERRICK: And I do want to get to solutions in just a minute, but first I think for the average American, they’re hearing this and probably wondering how in the world does this even happen? Can you talk about that? What are the rationales that lead to this? 

LANKFORD: The most common question I get on this is how did that happen? And we try to dig back on it. Last year we spent a lot of time on budget process, on trying to be able to fix the way we do budgeting and the way we do oversight and laid out different solutions for that. This year we’ve laid out some things, as we’ve done a couple years ago even, on grants—to say, when grants are in their approval process, there are times there’s a grant-making group that just approves a grant and says yes this is an interesting thing. But no one is asking the question what is the federal connection to that? And should we have full transparency in the information that comes back? 

We just passed through the Senate something we’ve worked on for awhile called the GREAT Act. It deals with grants to increase the transparency both for the taxpayer and for the grant recipients as well. The GREAT Act is one of those things that we worked from pointing it out, to saying this is our solution, to building a bipartisan coalition, and now passing in the Senate overwhelmingly, sending it over to the House and hoping for that to be instituted into law.

DERRICK: OK. Well, once federal money starts going to something, it typically is hard to stop it. So I’m wondering, are there areas that you see in this report where maybe some low-hanging fruit where you feel like it’s not just, “Oh, we should do away with this,” but “I think we could actually do it here”? 

LANKFORD: Yeah, there are several of them. One of them may be a little bit odd. It’s along the border. There’s been a lot of debate in Washington, D.C., about defunding ICE or about abolishing ICE. That group does the detention for individuals who come across the border. 

So if you illegally cross the border, Customs and Border Control, they will arrest you. They will process you. But they don’t hold you. They’re like a county. Like a police office. They’ll do the arresting, but then they’ll transfer them to someone else to detain them while they’re waiting on their hearing. 

Well, that person is ICE—is the that does it. So, when you cut off the funding for ICE, which was done a year ago, to say we’re not going to give any more funding, what’s the real result of that? Well, tens of thousands of people are then backed up into the police stations, the border patrol stations, and they have nowhere to go. So they had to then put up temporary tents to be able to house people in. Those tents cost $20 million a month to rent. We spent half a billion dollars last year of federal tax dollars with temporary tents that border patrol had to be able to put up to house people rather than those folks actually being in high-quality ICE facilities that are permanent, much better facilities. 

So, they were still waiting on their hearing time. They’re just waiting on it in a tent rather than waiting on it in a permanent facility. All that was based around this debate: should ICE get more funding. 

So, it becomes this really odd conversation. If you don’t fund the right entity, then it affects another entity, then it affects the taxpayer. And those individuals were not staying in a good facility. They were staying in temporary facilities. Much better than some of the very overcrowded facilities that Border Patrol has, but not as good as what the ICE facilities would have been. 

So I know that’s kind of a circuitous answer, but when you start digging into the details of why was this much money spent on this line item, you find out it has a policy and a national debate connection. 

DERRICK: Now, when you first came to D.C., early on, [and] when I first moved to D.C., you were one of my first interviews. And I remember you talking about you came as part of the Tea Party wave in 2010, and your class was laser focused on the debt. Since then, and you reference it in this report, since the beginning of 2011, despite the Budget Control Act, other measures and efforts, the national debt has risen from $16 trillion to $23 trillion. To put it bluntly, how do you explain that? 

LANKFORD: How does that happen? 

DERRICK: Yeah.

LANKFORD: So, the actual—there’s two different accounts, large accounts, of ways the federal government spends money. They spend what’s called discretionary money. That’s what you vote on every single year. And then they have what’s called mandatory spending. That’s what’s actually a formula that was done sometime in the past that you don’t vote on from year to year. Two-thirds of the budget is in that mandatory side now—

DERRICK: And growing.

LANKFORD: And growing. Over the years, more and more has been moved from discretionary, which you vote on year to year, to mandatory, just automatically happens. 

And there’s a whole bunch of reasons. Some of them we point out in the book on that. The discretionary budget, there’s a big fight over it every year, so it’s easy to say we’re going to keep the numbers the same for discretionary budget, but there’s two ways to do that: Reduce spending—take a look at programs and say this program is not effective, we’re going to put that one out because we want to spend it on a different thing. Or the other way is to move that from discretionary to mandatory. 

So now we’re still doing it, we’re still spending it, but people can’t see it the same way. A lot of that has happened. And we identify that in the book and say we’ve got to stop moving all these programs to mandatory spending every time because it just kind of hides this debt. 

The second thing is if you go back even 10 years ago, 15 years ago, the Congressional Budget Office already looked at this time period right now and said the debt and deficit is going to continue to accelerate to the level that we are in. And the prime reason for that is more people are retiring on Social Security, more folks are using Medicare—folks are obviously retiring, and that was very, very predictable—and more interest. Our interest payments 10 years ago were $200 billion. Now they’re at $450 billion a year. 

So, if you take up half-a-trillion dollars, let’s say, in overspending that happens in a year, and you add another $250 billion to that in just interest payments, there’s nothing you can do about that because as the debt increases, that increases. The only way to get on top of it is growing the economy, which we have now, but the second way is dealing with spending. 

And right now the economy is so good, so many people can find a job anywhere they want to, there are a lot of people changing jobs, income has gone up for Americans. No one wants to talk about debt and deficit. It’s like that’s a problem for another day. Actually, that’s a problem for today. Right now is the time to be able to talk about controlling spending while the economy is good. 

DERRICK: Well, and that does lead to my final question which was going to be about that very issue, the way that nobody’s really talking about this right now despite the fact that we have a Republican in the White House, Republican Senate, until recently a Republican House. But this has kind of fallen off the radar as something—I mean, do you feel like a voice crying out in the desert? 

LANKFORD: Sometimes. There are a few of us that are talking about it all the time. That’s one of the reasons we do the Federal Fumble report every year. 

The other big issue for us is there were two things that we had to do to be able to help our debt and deficit. One was get the economy growing. We did that with the tax bill. And we’ve had folks say, well, the tax bill added to the debt and deficit. Actually, it did not: We have the highest amount of money coming into the U.S. treasury ever. Ever. We’ve never had numbers as high as what we have right now. 

We actually reduced taxes on folks, but then as a result you got more taxpayers, more people have a job, more people are making more money, so they’re paying more into the treasury. The first two months of this fiscal year even are larger than last year’s numbers. 

So, the first thing they had to get is more income coming into Americans, but the second thing is reducing our spending in some key areas and being strategic. Not just across the board cuts, but strategic areas. And that is not happening, and that’s a real reason for the Federal Fumbles—to say we’ve done step one of this, but we’re not even talking about step two.

DERRICK: Senator James Lankford, thank you so much for your time today.

LANKFORD: You bet. Glad to visit with you.


MARY REICHARD: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.

ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Protest leaders released in Nicaragua—We start today in Central America.

The Nicaraguan government freed 91 protesters on Monday in what it called a goodwill gesture.

AUDIO: [Nicaraguan protesters]

While they celebrated their freedom, many of the activists said they would continue their fight to have President Daniel Ortega removed from office.

The largely student-led protests started in April 2018 over a social security overhaul. But they spread to include demands for Ortega to step down. The government suppressed the protests with violence, and more than 300 people died. Three months later, Ortega’s government passed a controversial anti-terrorism law that allows his regime to arrest democracy protesters as terrorists.

Critics accuse Ortega of running a repressive dictatorship. He has held power since 2007, and his current term in office runs through 2021.

Ukrainian prisoner swap—Next we got to Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed home 76 people freed by Russian-backed separatists in a prisoner swap on Sunday.

AUDIO: [Zelensky]

The swap included 200 prisoners in all. Ukraine freed detained separatists and got soldiers, civilians, and journalists in return.

Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin negotiated the exchange in December. It’s part of a wider peace plan to end fighting in the eastern Donetsk region.

International leaders hailed the progress toward ending the conflict. But Zelensky faces criticism at home for including five riot policemen in the exchange. They are accused of killing 100 protesters shot during the 2014 uprising that forced the pro-Russian government from power.

Chinese scientist sentenced to prison—Next to China.

The scientist who claimed to be the first to genetically modify human embryos will spend the next three years in jail.

A Chinese court sentenced He Jiankui for illegal medical practice. He also faces nearly $500,000 dollars in fines.

During a forum last year in Hong Kong, the scientist defended his work.

HE: And also for this specific case, I feel proud, actually. I feel proudest.

But the international scientific community denounced the experiment as dangerous and unnecessary. And the Chinese government opened an investigation amid the outcry.

He Jiankui initially announced the birth of twin girls genetically modified to prevent them from contracting HIV. In reports about his sentence, state-run media confirmed the birth of a third child with altered DNA.

Australia endures worst day in brush fire crisis—And finally, we end today in Australia.

AUDIO: [Australian fires]

Thousands of people spent New Year’s Eve camped out on beaches as brushfires circled popular tourist areas along the south-eastern coast. The fires cut off all escape routes on land, forcing people to consider jumping into the ocean to avoid the flames.

Tuesday was the worst day yet in the country’s month-long brushfire crisis. The blazes were so intense they caused dry lightning storms in some places. Record-breaking heat and strong winds have made Australia’s annual fire season especially bad this year.

That’s this week’s World Tour. For WORLD Radio, I’m Onize Ohikere. reporting from Abuja, Nigeria.


NICK EICHER: A woman in Greenville, South Carolina, made Christmas a little brighter for a family she hadn’t met. 

Lauren Harper was driving near a shopping center when she saw a gift-wrapped box bouncing on the road, having just fallen from the roof of a car. 

So she over and scooped up the gift. 

Pretty typical: silver wrapping paper, crisscrossed with yarn, and the tag said, “To Mom & Dad, from Kennedy.” 

Harper wanted the gift to reach Mom and Dad, but she had no idea who Mom and Dad are.

So she took a picture of the gift and put it on social media. 

Three thousand shares later, a tip came in saying the wrapping appeared to be from a local daycare. 

Harper made a phone call and solved the case. 

What was the gift?

The gift was a framed footprint of 3-month-old Kennedy that teachers had made for the parents.

Turns out, Lauren Harper attended that very same daycare as a child! Her mom still has her print from 25 years ago.

It’s The World and Everything in It.


NICK EICHER: Today is New Year’s Day, 2020. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Bringing hope in Vietnam. 

In the center of the country lies rural Quang Nam Province. Healthcare services are hard to come by, but even harder to find is therapy for children with disabilities. Those were practically non-existent— until two years ago, when an American occupational therapist arrived and Hope Therapy Center was born.

WORLD Radio’s Kim Henderson has the story. 

KIM HENDERSON, REPORTER: Caroline Mroeic stands out in Vietnam. She’s tall, her hair is light and curly. And her skills are uncommon. 

MROIEC: I first became interested in occupational therapy when I was in high school. Occupational therapy strives to treat the whole person . . . 

AUDIO: [SOUND OF CHRISTIANS SINGING IN VIETNAMESE ]

She moved to Da Nang in 2018, when she was 26 years old. She says Vietnam’s Buddhist, communist culture needs the gospel. 

MROIEC: There are little altars everywhere in businesses and in homes, um, to honor their ancestors. Um, there’s usually a little shrine or a picture of Ho Chi Minh up in people’s houses or businesses. 

AUDIO: [SOUND OF VAN DRIVER]

Mroiec’s assignment was to start a pediatric therapy center in a remote spot, 40-minutes from Da Nang. A government official joined her when she began screening clients.   

AUDIO: [SOUND OF VIETNAMESE SPEECH]

MROIEC: They had a list of, um, over 800 kids and all these kids had some kind of medical condition or disability . . . 

They went house to house, leaving Mroiec to start with a caseload of 10 patients. Now, it’s up to 30.

They offer group and individual therapy sessions, like the ones that helped a 10-year-old girl with arthritis. 

MROIEC: We did a lot of resistance training and Pilates, bar workouts. I would try to make them sort of ballet inspired so it’d be fun for her. 

Also, weight-bearing exercise on the center’s rock-climbing wall helped the young girl’s joints. Within a month, her caregiver reported the child was making great progress. For the first time, she was experiencing less pain and fatigue. 

And Mroiec was making inroads.  

MROIEC: The kids are so friendly and open and always bringing in, you know, bananas from their backyard or, um, they’ll share their rice harvest with us.  

AUDIO: [SOUND OF MROIEC INTERACTING WITH CHILD DURING THERAPY]

Being by herself is the hardest part for the Illinois native. In Vietnam, there’s no team of professionals involved in the patient’s care. No pediatricians, no full medical history to consult, no schools offering speech therapy.  

Another difference is the cultural view of disability. 

MROIEC: . . . blaming the parents or the child for that disability, that puts a lot of guilt and pain onto the parents . . . 

That often makes life even more difficult for families. Like this grandmother.

MROIEC: She wakes up at three in the morning, takes care of the farm animals, um, does the house homework and then she brings her grandchild to school so that she can carry him up and down the stairs because he can’t walk. 

AUDIO: [SOUND OF THERAPY]

Mroeic faces many challenges as a therapist. Some are universal to the job, others are unique to Vietnam. In the remote village, one mom struggles with mental illness, another dabbles in darkness as a fortune teller. Sometimes Mroeic recognizes the signs of abuse. 

MROEIC: That’s been extremely difficult to deal with because it’s not handled here like it would be in the U.S. . . . 

Mroiec says the pain and suffering she sees can be overwhelming. She’s tempted to deal with those challenges in two ways—neither are helpful in the long run. 

MROIEC: One is to kind of try to close off my heart and, and protect myself from being close and letting my heart get broken by their situation. Another way is being close and taking on their burden and getting burnt out. 

Instead, she’s learned to trust in God’s sovereignty.

MROIEC:  . . just turning the burden over to Him and trusting that all of this is in His hands. 

And she’s coming to see how much God has given her. A supportive Christian family, education, a U.S. passport that can get her into countries like Vietnam.

MROIEC: God has really been opening my eyes to what my responsibility is and being a good steward of those resources. 

Still, while Mroiec invests in families in Vietnam, she misses hers back home in Illinois. 

AUDIO: [SOUND OF MROIEC FACETIMING HER FAMILY]

They FaceTime when they can, and the ministry has become a family affair. Last year her brother, Miles, helped the center in a big way. 

Non-verbal kids at the center needed an alternative communication device. For his college senior project, Miles developed an app they could use in Vietnamese. 

AUDIO: [SOUND FROM CENTER]

Mroiec’s two-year commitment ends in March, but she’s thinking of extending until the ministry finds a replacement. It would be hard to leave the wobbly toddlers chasing rubber balls across the center’s tile floor. And the teenager with autism who delights in bubbles. 

MROIEC: Kids, just connect so easily. They respond so, positively when, um, somebody shows attention and I’m just so grateful for that and that they are willing to listen to my advice. 

For WORLD Radio, I’m Kim Henderson.


MARY REICHARD: Today is Wednesday, January 1st, 2020. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher.  Sometimes in life, your best laid plans go awry. But WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney says Godly effort is never wasted.    

JANIE B. CHEANEY, COMMENTATOR: Rod Dreher published The Benedict Option in 2017. It culminated years of thinking about how to live as a Christian in an increasingly anti-Christian society. He had concluded that “taking back the culture” was a delusion. Not gonna happen. Therefore, believers needed to circle the wagons, so to speak, and be much more intentional about building community and educating the young.

His model was Saint Benedict, who founded the monastery system to preserve Christian teaching in the chaotic centuries after the fall of Rome: hence, the Benedict option. It wasn’t about withdrawing from politics or culture to form communes, but rather regrouping and rebuilding our own sacred spaces.

To those of us who had been homeschooling since the 1980s, Dreher was late to the party, but welcome. The enthusiastic response at least equaled the criticism. Some readers even formed their own “Ben-Op” communities of Christian families committed to serve each other and train up their children.

Dreher never claimed the Benedict Option was the perfect solution, only a plausible response to the chaos of our own dark ages. Still, it’s a bit disconcerting to read this grim headline from The American Conservative website: “She Ben-Opped. It didn’t work.”

In the post, Dreher quotes a long letter from a Catholic reader. Long before The Benedict Option set conservative hearts a-flutter, this woman intentionally trained up her children in the faith—only to see all four of them walk away.

Again, welcome to my world. Every few months I get together with seven other ladies. We all became friends while homeschooling our kids through the teenage years. Our combined children number 31, and of those, about one-third have not followed in their parents’ faith.

Should we say that our efforts “didn’t work?”

Two correctives: First, we have to remind ourselves continually of the strength of sin, especially sexual. That’s especially true in a culture ever more accepting of every imagination of the corrupt human heart. Even in a strong Christian community, it’s impossible to guard against every temptation that will find a pathway into youthful minds. The secular appeal to tolerance is especially powerful, because it claims the very love ethic that originated in Christianity.

But remember this, too: Even children who walk away will still hunger for something beyond, for a meaning in life. Something besides great sex and a six-figure income.

The world calls it “spirituality.” Christians call it the God-shaped hole. Survey after survey indicates that young people are looking for something the world can’t give them, and the results are not in yet. Twenty-somethings still have a lot of growing to do, and the seeds of faith planted in them could still sprout.

We tend to extrapolate trends into the future, but the future almost always defies expectation. God isn’t done. He promised Abraham descendants that couldn’t be counted, and he’s still counting. Watch and pray, and don’t give up.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Janie B. Cheaney.


NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: Oklahoma has taken a bold step toward criminal justice reform. We’ll tell you about it.

And, a Bible reading plan you can start right away.

That and more tomorrow. 

I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD: And I’m Mary Reichard.

The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.

WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. 

Now I know this is going to be controversial, but I’m going to say it anyway: I hope you’ll have a great rest of the first day of the new decade. We’ll talk to you tomorrow!


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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