Sarah Palin's Bold Faith
In an excerpt from his new biography of the Republican vice presidential candidate, author Mark Joseph says Sarah Palin is a Christian who believes in signs and wonders.
Wasilla Assembly of God's current pastor clearly understood the significance of Palin's declaration, and responded:
"This is awesome. Making a prophetic declaration and it unfolds the kingdom of God. You know, and so there is a prophetic call. But Paul Riley, and this is not in the program, but she said pray, pray, pray…"
Concluding his talk, he then asked that the founder of Wasilla Assembly of God, Pastor Paul Riley, who had led the church for 44 years before his retirement in 1999 and who had mentored Sarah Palin since she was a little girl, come onto the stage and prayed for the girl who had become Governor:
"Father we are so humbled and grateful to you for your mercy and love, for your kindness," Riley, an older man with a bald pate, began. "We have come to the kingdom for such a time as this. Lord, we thank you because you have blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places. And today we have experienced that as we have gathered together in your name."
Was Riley aware that Palin was being mentioned as a possible vice president for McCain? It's possible, but there was no explicit indication of this on this occasion, still knowing or unknowingly, signaled that he was aware of the possibility with a reference during his speech to Palin's being ready, "for such a time as this." The phrase was used when Esther, in the Old Testament book of the same name, was charged by her cousin Mordecai to use her position as Queen of Persia to protect the Jews from being slaughtered in an evil plot.
"The book of Esther tells another story of love, sacrifice, and God's timing," noted author Marvin Williams in the publication Our Daily Bread. "Mordecai, a Jew in exile, refused to bow to Haman, second in command to King Ahasuerus. Haman became furious and plotted to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews. So Haman deceived the king and persuaded him to issue an edict condemning the Jews to death. When Mordecai told Queen Esther about the edict, he urged her to intervene. 'Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?' he said. Approaching the king uninvited was punishable by death. But Esther seized the moment to save her people!"
Pastor Riley continued, "And Lord, we declare your goodness, we declare your love, we declare your provision, we pray that you would go before Sarah, that you would give her great wisdom, great strength. And Lord that you would give her health and unity with those whom she works with and we pray Lord that your presence will be so real that we will say, 'This is a God thing, this is a God thing'. And Lord, that you are with us every day, all along the way, in our family, and in our planning. And Lord, we just ask you, we just ask you that your touch would be upon us…"
By this time, something extraordinary seemed to be happening in the room. As the elderly and slightly stooped pastor stood inches away from his protégé, his voice became choked and he continued the prayer with added emotion:
"…that we will be rooted and grounded in love, and that your love will abound to the multitudes that need your love. We thank you Lord for this occasion, we thank you for our Governor and we ask your blessing upon her family and her future. And Lord, we are just expecting great and mighty things through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."
If Palin was moved to tears she didn't appear to show it, for she took hold of the microphone once again and spoke one last time:
"Hey, thank you so much, I appreciate this," she concluded. "And one last thing…as I travel around the state, it's really cool to get to visit other communities and visit other churches. And, once in a while, a pastor will come up to me before the service starts and says, 'Now, I don't know about your background but we welcome you to our worship service. And, now, don't be surprised if maybe a parishioner or two may want to raise their hands or clap.' And I say, 'I grew up at Wasilla Assembly of God, nothing freaks me out about the worship service!'"
Palin may not have been "freaked out" about what went on at Wasilla Assembly of God, but for millions of other Americans, including members of the press corps, there was much about Palin and her church's views to "freaked out" about.
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