The World and Everything in It — June 12, 2020

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!

Students ask the questions today, from journalism ethics to pronoun use to marriage rates to how to vote in November.

Four more World Journalism Institute students pose some tough worldview questions to John Stonestreet.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Also today, a new television series about a teenage superhero whose superpower may be indoctrinating young minds.

And two Christian music artists talk about how they got their start.

BASHAM: It’s Friday, June 12th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

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

BASHAM: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Coronavirus cases rising in 21 states » More states and major cities are rolling back lockdowns, but the coronavirus isn’t done isn’t done wreaking havoc. 

According to an Associated Press analysis, cases are rising in 21 states.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducy’s office says a rise in cases there is largely due to increased testing

But William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard says, yes, testing has expanded in Arizona…

HANAGE: However, the proportion of them coming back positive hasn’t really gone down. So it means they’re testing more and you’re finding more, which means there’s more to be found. 

Officials have told hospitals in Arizona to prepare for the worst. And Texas has more hospitalized COVID-19 patients than at any time before. Meanwhile, the governor of North Carolina said recent jumps have caused him to rethink plans to reopen schools or businesses.

There is no single cause of the increase. In some places, more testing has revealed more cases. In others, local outbreaks are big enough to push statewide tallies higher. But many experts think at least some are due to lifting stay-at-home orders.

Pelosi pushes for removal of Confederate monuments » House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that it’s time to pull Confederate monuments from the U.S. Capitol building and military bases.

PELOSI: Can you imagine Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens—treason, they committed treason against the United States of America, and their statues are still here because their states put them here. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said GOP leaders in Congress don’t oppose removing the monuments. 

MCCARTHY: They were voted upon in the legislature and brought here under Democrat majorities from Mississippi to the other states that she speaks about. 

Protesters decrying racism have targeted Confederate monuments in multiple cities. 

In Virginia on Wednesday, a group tore down a statue of Jefferson Davis along Richmond’s Monument Avenue. 

President Trump vowed this week that he would not rename military bases named after Confederate generals.

But a Republican-led Senate panel on Thursday approved a plan to remove Confederate names from bases and other Pentagon assets.

Also on Thursday, NASCAR announced that it’s banning the display of the Confederate flag at all future events. 

Joint Chiefs chairman: church walk with Trump a “mistake” » Gen. Mark Milley says he was wrong to accompany President Trump on a walk from the White House to a nearby church earlier this month. That event ended in a photo op amid recent protests.

MILLEY: I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. 

The Joint Chiefs chairman called it a “mistake” that he “has learned from.” 

He spoke Thursday at a National Defense University commencement ceremony.

Trump’s June 1st walk through a park forcibly cleared of protesters sparked a firestorm. His former Defense Secretary James Mattis and several other retired military commanders condemned it. 

Trump authorizes sanctions against ICC » President Trump has authorized economic sanctions and travel restrictions against officials with the International Criminal Court. 

The new sanctions would block the financial assets of court employees and bar them and their immediate relatives from entering the United States.

The move follows the court’s investigation of American troops and intelligence officials for what it called possible war crimes in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The United States does not recognize the ICC as a legitimate authority. On Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it a “kangaroo court.” 

POMPEO: I’ve laid out the court’s fatal process laws and the danger it poses to Americans and its allies. But we also oppose the court because it’s grossly ineffective and corrupt.

The Hague-based court was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. Pompeo said in 18 years the ICC has secured only four convictions for major crimes, despite spending more than a billion dollars. 

Attorney General William Barr joined Pompeo at the State Department news conference.

Barr said the Justice Department “has received substantial, credible” evidence of wrongdoing at the ICC.

BARR: A long history of financial corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels of the office of the prosecutor. This information calls into question the integrity of the ICC’s investigations. 

Barr said evidence raises suspicions that Russia and other adversaries could be pulling strings within the court. And he added that the United States will investigate possible corruption within the ICC. 

State Dept. releases annual religious freedom report » Also at the State Department Thursday, Secretary Pompeo commented on the department’s new annual Report on International Religious Freedom. 

It highlights worsening conditions for religious believers from Central America to Africa and beyond.  

POMPEO: The Nicaraguan government harasses and intimidates religious leaders and worshipers and desecrates religious spaces, often using proxies. In Nigeria, ISIS and Boko Haram continue to attack Muslims and Christians alike.

But the report also praises improvements in Sudan and Uzbekistan.

The document is expected to help form an action plan for President Trump’s June 2nd executive order on international religious freedom.

It does not call for action against India and Turkey. The independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report in April. It recommended that India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam be added to a list of Countries of Particular Concern. Addition to that list can lead to sanctions. 

The panel recommended adding Turkey to a special watch list. The State Department is expected to announce specific designations later.

I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: questions about life and culture from budding Christian journalists.

Plus, valuable lessons learned through summer jobs.

This is The World and Everything in It.

MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Friday the 12th of June, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Before we get going, wasn’t that a fun preroll this morning?

BASHAM: So cute, and as the wife watching from the sidelines, it’s been really fun seeing how WORLD Watch is catching on and seeing what a good time The Big Bash is having with it every day.

EICHER: I was really glad for the generational emphasis, too. News for kids and adults—magazine, web, podcasts, now video, as well as journalism education. 

All that work takes resources and that’s why we come to you twice a year and ask for your support.

Now, we are mindful of the economic toll our coronavirus response has taken, we are aware that many people are struggling. We know not everyone is in a position to give. But if you can and if we’ve earned your trust, we’d ask you to consider being part of our June Giving Drive.

BASHAM: That’s the web address. We’re a little more than a third of the way through the month and more than a third of the way to our goal, so that’s an encouragement. Again, if you can give, please do.

EICHER: First up, Culture Friday.

Two weeks ago we introduced a series of questions from some aspiring young reporters. They were part of this year’s World Journalism Institute.

We had planned to run two programs back to back to accommodate all the good questions. But we figured we needed to put the plan on hold for a week so we could discuss the protests and rioting going on across the country. 

We do want to honor our students, honor our promise to them, that we’d put their questions to John Stonestreet. So let’s do that.

BASHAM: Right, John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Morning, John.


BASHAM: Let’s get started… 

VIVIAN JONES: My name is Vivian Jones and I’m a graduate of Hillsdale College. This election year. The presumptive nominees of both major political parties face credible allegations of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and inappropriate behavior toward women. To what extent should these allegations impact the way that American Christians vote this November?

STONESTREET: Thanks, Vivian. That’s such a great question and an important one right now. We don’t have another election with other candidates. Those are the ones that we actually have and there’s a level at which politics is a purely or at least inherently pragmatic activity or at least voting is. Hopefully politics isn’t all pragmatic, but certainly voting ends up being a pragmatic action in which we take our principles, we never abandon them, and then we say, “OK, well what do we have to deal with?” And so that’s why it changes, whether somebody’s in a “swing state” or somebody is not. Or whether somebody agrees with 70 percent or 40 percent or 20 percent. And, also, which issues we agree and disagree on. For example, I remember Chuck Colson talking about this years ago, which is not all issues are equally important. What somebody believes about tax policy matters. What somebody believes about the inherent value of human life, well, that matters more. Now, you’re not going to get tax policy right unless you get the foundational ones right, but it is possible to measure out the—or, weight out, I guess, which issues matter more.

The last thing I’ll say is this, is that you are exactly right to suggest that the character issues that both candidates face have to be weighed in. They have to. And maybe this can help put it into a larger context. In addition to the fact that we’re in a moment in history—and we’ve got to think beyond this election to whether our society is healthy or not. 

We’ve also got to remember that whenever you do vote and you try to make these pragmatic calculations, there are three things to be considered. Every candidate comes with three things: Number one, a candidate comes with their ideas and ideas matter dramatically. What they believe matters. Their worldview matters. Their ideals matter, because that will be the root of the policy decisions that they make. The second thing is that—and, by the way, sometimes their ideals are related in their policy, so I’d put ideals and policy together. The second thing is that they come with a whole group of people. And that is, basically every presidential candidate will come with 3-4,000 other people. And those 3-4,000 other people, which pond the president or vice president fishes in for their cabinet, for their staff to fill these unelected positions, who populates everybody from the HHS to Department of Homeland Security to NIH. You can kind of go down the line. There’s thousands of people that are involved in this and those thousands of people themselves have ideals. And they’re coming from policy positions. And they have to be factored in. And then the third thing, which is actually the first thing as well, is character. Character is destiny for every individual. 

Now, I don’t know how to balance these out when you’re talking about poor character but good policy or you’re talking about bad policy but good company. But those are the three things that have to be factored in. And we move forward in faith. And it’s hard. And there’s not a perfect answer and there’s not a perfect decision going forward.

BROOKE NEVINS: Hello, I’m Brooke Nevins from Fredericksburg, Texas and I’m a student at the University of Texas at Austin. In light of the recent Supreme court case RG and GR Harris funeral homes versus Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: the use of preferred pronouns when referring to or speaking with a member of the LGBTQ community continues to spark debate in this country. My question is, how should we as Christians continue to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, while not bending to preferences outside the Christian worldview.

STONESTREET: Thanks, Brooke. And part of the challenge here is you ask how do we continue to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and sometimes what we’re doing is not talking about loving our brothers and sisters in Christ but we’re talking about loving those outside of Christ. Not that our treatment really should differ all that dramatically between those who claim to be Christian and those who don’t claim to be Christian, but one of the things that is important to understand is when we are loving people, we’re loving them in the context of reality, not in the context of something we wish were reality. In other words, you cannot really love someone without truth. And that’s especially true, I think, in a context where what’s good is considered bad, what’s bad is considered good or what’s true is considered wrong and what’s a lie is considered to be a truth, or something like that. Look, this matters. 

I know we live in a cultural moment in which truth and love seem to be in conflict, I get that. It’s like, if you are truthful, well, that’s not a loving thing to say or a loving thing to do. And if you’re loving, then truth can’t even be part of the picture sort of thing. But we can’t choose between truth and love. We have to hold them together. Now, what does that look like. 

You specifically asked about the use of preferred pronouns. I am much more comfortable calling someone by the name they want to be called even if it seems like a male name or a female name than using a pronoun. Because using a pronoun actually specifically is a gendered thing. In other words, every language in the world is gendered in some sense. Some languages are gendered all the way through, top to bottom where a noun has both a male and a female form or certain nouns are male and certain nouns are female. Others, you know, will be gendered in a sense through, really, the use of pronouns. And so when you’re using pronouns, you’re saying this person is a he or this person is a she. And we ought not say something that is not true. That doesn’t mean, by the way, that you’ll get away with that. That you won’t be accused of being hateful if you choose to use a pronoun. And I think one of the loving things maybe we could do is to avoid pronoun use, at least upfront, at least in direct reference, at least in early meetings and use the chosen name so that we can actually be truth-tellers. I just know, look, we’re in a cultural moment that tries to divorce truth and love and if we do that we’re not being loving and we’re not being truthful because they both require each other.

SHELLY NOVO: Hi, my name is Shelley Novo and I go to Biola University and I’m reporting here from San Jose, California. Oftentimes I see Christian sharing about the quote/unquote shocking sinful things that they see different people in the world doing. And my question for you, John, is how can journalists with a biblical worldview report on these quote/unquote shocking things in a way that is both compelling to the Bible believer and to the non-Christian?

STONESTREET: Shelly, what a great question. Good news is there’s a journalism school that helps you think through all those things. And you’re in it. These are really hard things. I think journalists have to wrestle with that because sometimes I think love, which should be the guiding principle, right? We just talked about that. But also the love of God and the love of neighbor is the whole summary of the entire expectation that God has for people. And so in order to really think through that well what it means to love, we need to know what love does. Sometimes I think we see that love confronts and sometimes we see that love covers. And journalism can be done in a way that both confronts and then can also respect and cover at the same time.

I’ve got, for example, real problems with there’s a group of bloggers on the internet that feel like everything that they see that’s wrong they have to call it out. And do it in such a way that questions a person’s character. I think that’s one thing to think about is can somebody disagree? Can someone even be wrong? Can we actually even believe somebody is desperately wrong about what they think when it comes to something of grave importance but us not actually think that they’re a bad person for believing it? I love a quote that I heard long ago that I think is credited—I heard it was credited to Father Serico, who runs the Acton Institute, that we’ve got to be ruthless with ideas and gentle with people. That division is a helpful one for me. For example, when I speak on LGBT issues, same sex marriage, God’s design for marriage, I don’t make any jokes. I make self-deprecating jokes about my own self, things like that. But never about the issue, never about, certainly, the people. Because it’s just not in this context a way to be ruthless with ideas and gentle with people. So, I don’t know. I mean, that’s a number of thoughts. These are really hard things. 

Number one, be the right sort of person. Be shaped by all the classical and Christian virtues. 

Number two is be charitable. Don’t assume people’s motives when you don’t know them. 

At the Colson Center when we do our Breakpoint commentaries, we say we won’t do any “get off my lawn” scripts. Get off my lawn means you should know this and you’re an idiot for not knowing it, so get off. In other words, everything is I think an important opportunity to go back to first principles. There’s a wonderful story about Vince Lombardi, who after the Green Bay Packers lost in the second round of the playoffs, started training camp the next year by holding up a football and saying, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” In other words, let’s go back to square one. And I think we’re in a cultural moment where we are going to have to do that more and more. And that focuses us in on ideas more than people, which I think is important.

EMMANUEL NWACHUKWU: Hi, I’m Emmanuel Nwachukwu. I study at Near East University in Cyprus. A few weeks ago on Culture Friday, you addressed the dropping marriage rates in America. Towards the end, you said that the church has been teaching marriage in a ‘exclusively functional way.’ Can you explain the right perspective young Christians should have towards marriage?

STONESTREET: Emmanuel, thanks for listening to Culture Friday and I did say that, that we’ve been teaching marriage in the church in an exclusively functional way. And what I meant by that is before you know what to do with something, you need to know what something is for. This is a line from T.S. Elliot that you need to know the purpose of something before you can actually teach on the function of something. So, to properly use a computer, you need to know what a computer is for. You can use a computer as a hammer or as an item to skip across a lake, but that’s not what it’s for. You need to know what it’s for. And that’s fundamentally what I meant by marriage is we need to go back to “Gentlemen, this is marriage,” to paraphrase Vince Lombardi. This is what marriage is for. 

I, for example, have heard numerous sermons dealing with Genesis chapter two, the creation of Eve, and completely misses the purpose of marriage because it says, essentially, it takes the text that says it’s not good that man is alone and needs a helper and it turns it into it’s not good that man is lonely and needs a companion. Those are two fundamentally different purposes of marriage. So, we’ve got to go back to the biblical text. What does the Bible say marriage is for? What is the inherent connection between marriage and our bodies, our created bodies? It’s fascinating. If we don’t go back to this, then we risk resurrecting again, which the church has done over and over and over again. The greatest and longest standing heresy in the history of the church, gnosticism. The question over LGBT, the question over sexuality in our culture in various ways is the question over do our bodies actually matter? Do our bodies have a purpose? Or, is what’s really important our inner feelings and our bodies should be transformed or conformed and our behavior transformed or conformed to whatever we feel like? That’s a new gnosticism. So, we go back and say, well, what’s God’s purpose for our bodies? 

I’ll tell you, there’s a fantastic new book that walks through the purpose of our bodies and how that answers that question what are we for. And I think when you answer the question what are humans for, then you can answer the question, what did Adam need help for? And then that answers the question, what’s marriage for? So, if you follow that line of thinking, maybe it’s helpful. 

But there’s a wonderful new book by Christopher West who has been kind of the best translator for protestants of John Paul’s theology of the body. But the book is called Our Bodies Tell God’s Story. And he starts with what our bodies are for and then ends up with what marriage is for. So, I would give two thumbs up for that book in order to answer your question.

EICHER: Great Culture Friday questions from our World Journalism Institute students for John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. And great answers, thanks John!

NICK EICHER: OK, so when you think art gallery, you probably think velvet ropes and floors waxed to a mirror shine.

You do not imagine the kind of art gallery that just opened in Cologne, Germany.

The owners of a local art gallery have been just like the rest of us, figuring out how to do what we do while locked down. 

What they did was rethink and relocate. 

So ditch the idea of portraits in ornate halls. 

Instead, they displayed art on luggage carts, each piece carefully parked and arranged into aisles. 

And visitors don’t walk through—they drive through. 

It’s an unexpected experience for travelers. After all, a collection of fine art is the last thing you’d expect to see in an airport parking garage! 

But some 300 works are now on display in between the concrete columns at Cologne Bonn Airport. 

So maybe that next flight delay can be a cultural experience.

It’s The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER: Today is Friday, June 12th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: A new superhero show that’s especially popular with teens.

The CW has won a devoted audience of young viewers in recent years with a series of comic book adaptations like The Flash and Batwoman. Its latest hit, Stargirl, seems, at first glance, your average superhero series.

CLIP: The staff is not supposed to work for anybody but Starman. Starman? Of the justice society of America. It was before your time. I know who they are. A bunch of superheroes from the old days. They quit when I was a kid. Well, they didn’t exactly quit. Starman and the JSA died saving the world.

Our title character has a star-spangled costume and a mild-mannered alter ego. In this case, she’s high school student, Courtney Whitmore, played by former Nickelodeon star, Brec Bassinger. Something in her parentage remains a mystery—here, exactly who her father is and why he disappeared when she was 5 years old. And the setting couldn’t be more of a call back to classic Superman. Only instead of Smallville, Kansas, we’re in Blue Valley, Nebraska.

There are a few modern touches. Courtney lives in a blended family, with a stepbrother who’s fond of mild profanity. Her stepfather, played by Luke Wilson, acts as her sidekick. But beyond that, it’s the sort of family show any network might have aired at any time over the last 50 years.

CLIP: What were you like the Star-Spangled Kid’s assistant? I was his sidekick. I looked after his car. I kept his suit clean. Sounds like an assistant to me. Being a sidekick was an honor. They made me a really important part of the JSA. Why aren’t you in the picture then? Because I took it.

Except, look closer at the first four episodes, and it seems like Stargirl is setting up to become an epic battle over the same thing we’re all debating these days. What constitutes justice in the United States circa 2020.

CLIP: Our country was built on values like yours. It’s just, too bad things have changed.

On one side we have the Justice Society of America. This includes Stargirl and Yolanda “Wildcat” Montez. Yolanda joins when her strict religious parents berate her for “shaming the family” after she sends a topless photo to a boyfriend. This is something we see from the shoulders up.

CLIP: You’ll never be the Yolanda Montez you used to be. You’re a disgrace to this family you disgrace to yourself. Go to your room. But dad. Now.

On the other side is the Injustice Society of America. Old Glory flutters proudly from the homes of these wealthy, white men. Their front business is a town-wide gentrification project called “The American Dream.” Some members wear silk ascots and speak in drawling Kentucky-fried accents despite the fact that the story is set in the Midwest. Their, as yet, unclear aims include “fixing the country,” “rebuilding America,” and “making it safer place to raise [their] children.”

CLIP: I made a promise once. A promise to someone very special to me that I would help make this country a better, safer place to raise our children. I’ve dedicated my life to that. In the past year I have traveled across America, from town to town, and I have seen factories that are abandoned. People in need. In Littleville, Colorado. In Haddon Corner, Indiana. And so many other forgotten communities. And we’re going to help them, just like we helped Blue Valley, we’re going to rebuild America one factory and one town at a time.

Even in an era of exploding screen content, the number of shows and movies families can watch together have become few and far between. Superheroes, on both TVs and in cineplexes, remain one of the last holdouts. It’s also one of the few genres that frequently sets up villains that challenge our modern sacred cows.

As a sort of antifa precursor, Bane in Batman wants to tear down the oppressive systems grounded in capitalism and individual achievement. Ronin from Guardians of the Galaxy seeks ethnic and religious cleansing. Thanos in Avengers takes environmental activism to the extreme. All ask us to make some surprising contrasts to how we see our world portrayed within elite institutions today.

A lot works in Stargirl, including charming characters and strong chemistry between the leads. But from the unforgiving religious parents to the big business bad guys, it runs the risk of boring us with clichés. And if the story continues in the direction it seems to be heading, it may reveal a secret nefarious scheme of its own—indoctrinating young viewers.  

CLIP: I understand your concern William. I do. But the work we are doing here in Blue Valley is the perfect test case for Jordan‘s grand plan. It’s far too important to us, to our families, to their future to abandon. Project New America is our purpose. Our legacy. It’s what we’re doing here, isn’t it?

It’s too soon to say the show is staking a claim in the culture wars. But if, as novelists often say, a story is only as good as its villain, Stargirl may need rescuing from another kind of superhero, that I think I’ll call, Captain Nuance!

MEGAN BASHAM: Today is Friday, June 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.

NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World And Everything In It: That first summer job!

BASHAM: For me it was waitressing. And I wasn’t especially good at it. Let’s just say I was kind of lacking in the arm strength department and was known to drop a tray or two!

What about you?

EICHER: Well, I started in fast food. Of course, I wasn’t especially fast, but I have to say the food wasn’t especially food.

But hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere. 

WORLD Reporter Myrna Brown talked to two Christian artists about how they got their start.

SONG: [Stop By the Church]

MYRNA BROWN, REPORTER: In 1996, Babbie Mason recorded the song, Stop By The Church. 

SONG: [You oughta stop by the church sometime…]

One year later it earned her a Dove award from the Gospel Music Association. Ryan Stevenson’s award-winning break happened in 1997, with the release of this song.

SONG: [Your love surrounds me… In the eye of the storm you remain in control…]

Between the two of them, 60 years of Christian music experience. But while music is all they’ve ever wanted to do, it’s not all they’ve done. 

STEVENSON: I grew up in a farming community nestled in the foothills of the cascade range in a little town called Bonanza, Oregon. I grew up in a little 940 square foot, single wide mobile home trailer. My dad worked at a local farm. My mom was a stay at home mom.  

A women’s Bible study connected Stevenson’s mother with the wife of a local Dutch family. That family owned a dairy farm and at the age of 5, Stevenson became one of their youngest employees. 

STEVENSON: After school, probably three days a week, I would ride the bus home out to the valley and work at the dairy. Anything from milking cows to herding cows. Straight up manual labor. You are using your body. You are shoveling. If there’s anything to do on a dairy, there is a lot of cow manure.

Stevenson says all through elementary, junior, and high school, hard work and a no-nonsense boss shaped his work ethic.

STEVENSON: His name was Bill. He was a tough dude. But a good man, fair and just. He would always say, don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. Man that stuck with me so much.

SONG: [Amazing grace…]

Babbie Mason spent her childhood in the midwest. 

AUDIO: [Preaching] 

Her father was the Reverend George Wade, pastor of the Lily Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson, Michigan. He was both daddy and boss. 

MASON: And so one Sunday morning about 15 minutes before the Sunday worship service, daddy said,, today you’re gonna play. It was just like that. That was how I got hired and I was nine years old and they actually paid me $8 a week.  

Along with the pocket change came life-long skills that helped Mason as a leader, both on and off the stage.

MASON: I had to learn how to play from the piano and direct the choir from the piano. Play with my left hand and direct with my right hand.  

But as Mason got older, she longed to discover her own voice. Part of her journey included frequent trips to nearby Detroit, Michigan the home of Motown.

MASON: I wanted to sing R&B my own music.  I was beginning to write my own songs. But when I would go into a club, I’d feel convicted. And when I would go to church the next day, I’d feel convicted.

Mason says she lived in that tension until she accepted a full scholarship to a local Christian college.  

MASON: What that did was nurture my gifts and talents in an environment that was outside of my daddy’s church. It was like a fresh view on life and faith. It was there I decided to give my life to the Lord and pursue gospel music.

Back in the Pacific Northwest, Stevenson was also preparing for college, and nurturing a newfound love, initiated by his youth pastor. 

STEVENSON: Just randomly showed up at my house one day and dumped it, an acoustic guitar in my lap. 

Stevenson joined a college band and dreamed of a career in music. But when the band dissolved, he turned to education. After a few years of teaching Spanish and high school English, he and his college sweetheart moved to Idaho. There, he made another career change and rekindled his love for music.

STEVENSON: It was like the Lord totally set that up. He let me be a paramedic, let me make some money every week and gave me five days a week to go play music.

Stevenson says he wasn’t prepared for how the two vocations would intersect. The former paramedic helped revive a lightning strike survivor, who eventually became one of his biggest supporters.

STEVENSON: So she helped get me into that recording studio, and that demo got me my first record deal.

SONG: [Just For You Dear Lord]

In 1977 Mason recorded her first gospel album. She sold all 500 copies. After college, she got married and moved to Georgia. For three years Mason says she juggled teaching middle school music and English and singing at weddings and church services on the weekends. One invitation stood out.

MASON: When Cliff Barrows was introduced. He stepped to the microphone and he said, would you consent to being a guest at the next Billy Graham crusade in Tallahassee, Florida?

SONG: [World of Difference]

Mason spent the next 15 years traveling around the globe with the Billy Graham Crusade. She’s recorded nearly two dozen albums. In 2012 Stevenson was nominated for a Grammy Award. The 41 year old says it’s a testament to what God can do through a kid with a shovel.  

STEVENSON: I think something that’s good for every single one of us is once a day we should have to go outside and pick up a shovel for about half an hour to dig and just remember where we came from.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown.

NICK EICHER: It takes a lot of people to put this program together each week. Thanks so much to our team:

Myrna Brown, Paul Butler, Janie B. Cheaney, Kent Covington, Kristen Flavin, Anna Johansen, Leigh Jones, Onize Ohikere, Bonnie Pritchett, Mary Reichard, Jenny Rough, Sarah Schweinsberg, Les Sillars, Cal Thomas, and Emily Whitten.

MEGAN BASHAM: Our audio engineers are Johnny Franklin and Carl Peetz. J.C. Derrick is managing editor, Marvin Olasky editor in chief. 

And it’s you who make it all possible. You have our deepest gratitude!

II Corinthians teaches us that all the promises of God find their Yes in Jesus.

Have a great weekend.

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