Last week was special. We celebrated four decades of God’s faithfulness to Focus on the Family, culminating in a very memorable 40th anniversary chapel service on Friday with special guests Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, and Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman – and some of the best parts were those that didn’t go as planned.
The day started early in the morning, as we prepared for the arrival of hundreds of ministry friends, staff, Secret Service agents, local law enforcement, members of the media, and even some protestors who set up camp across the street.
But despite the unique situation created by the local TV cameras…
the lines of people waiting to go through the metal detectors…
and the excited buzz of the 1,500 staff and guests (plus a few police dogs) anticipating the vice president’s arrival…
In one important way, the chapel service was going to be like all the others we’ve had during our 40-year history: We were there to worship God, sing of His faithfulness, and praise Him for the good things He has done.
And we had a wonderful time doing just that.
Today I want to share with you five of the best moments we had at chapel last Friday.
5. Impromptu concert with Steven Curtis Chapman
Our original plan was to have Steven sing a couple of songs and lead us in a brief time of worship.
But because the vice president was delayed with a pressing matter, we enjoyed a lot more of Steven Curtis Chapman’s music than we had originally planned – and the audience loved every minute of it!
We were so thankful for Steven graciously accommodating our need that we were glad to surprise him with a donation to his adoption care organization, Show Hope, as a token of our sincere appreciation.
Here’s one of the songs Steven sang for us on Friday — a powerful reminder to our staff that what we do is bigger than we are. What an honor to obey God’s call, and to work for His holy purpose.
4. Vice President Mike Pence recognizes our Christian brethren in the Middle East
The vice president devoted a significant portion of his speech to the important topic of protecting religious liberties, both here and abroad. Especially poignant were his remarks about the persecution Middle East Christians endure day in and day out at the hands of ISIS.
Vice President Pence’s words meant a lot to all of us who care deeply about our brothers and sisters in that region of the world. However, they were especially meaningful to Sami Yacoub, who traveled to Colorado Springs with his wife, Wessam, for our chapel service all the way from Egypt where he serves as the Middle East Regional Director for Focus on the Family. Sami and Wessam continue to personally minister with other Focus Egypt staff to the families of some of the martyrs and others impacted by ISIS’ evil acts of terror.
“As a Christian and an Egyptian, I was quite lifted and encouraged to hear the vice president share the administration’s commitment to stand with his Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East,” said Sami. “What more can we expect but for America to stand with us in our fight against terrorism? That is why I stood and clapped when the vice president said what he did.”
3. A passionate plea for the preborn
How gratifying and encouraging it was for us to hear Vice President Pence’s heartfelt words about the sanctity of human life! And it’s no wonder – as I shared with the audience gathered at our chapel event, it was Mike Pence’s sincere belief that preborn children have a right to life that compelled him into public service.
During his speech, Vice President Pence spoke eloquently about the value of life in the womb – and he also spoke about the practical steps the Trump administration is taking to protect it. In fact, one of the biggest applauses of the event happened when Vice President Pence reiterated the administration’s pledge to defund Planned Parenthood.
It’s because of that stalwart, lifelong commitment to life that Focus on the Family decided to honor Vice President and Mrs. Pences’ participation in our 40th anniversary by donating an ultrasound machine in their name to the Life Center in Wabash, Indiana.
2. Vice President Pence shares how Focus on the Family helped his “little family”
Both the vice president and Karen Pence were kind enough to thank Focus on the Family for our ministry’s role in helping them raise their three children.
During his remarks, Vice President Pence even shared specific examples of how Focus shaped Pence family life during his time in Congress. His personal anecdotes surprised and encouraged our team, and made for some fun, lighthearted moments.
1. The beauty of life!
As honored as we were to have Vice President Pence, Mrs. Pence, and Steven Curtis Chapman with us at chapel, I have to admit that it was a little boy, Peyton, and a little girl, Selah, who stole our hearts on Friday.
These children are only two of the estimated 390,000 babies saved through our Option Ultrasound program, which provides ultrasound machines and sonography training to qualified pro-life medical clinics in high-abortion communities.
I had the chance to chat with these two precious kiddos, and their moms, on stage. And in keeping with the day’s theme of unexpected surprises, it was little Selah who delivered the day’s most memorable quote – and inspired some of the biggest laughs.
Wasn’t that great? Selah’s unscripted moment served as a wonderful reminder of the beauty of choosing life!
And if you were unable to join our live-stream on Friday, I’m including the entire chapel service here:
I’d like to hear from you: What were your favorite moments from our service on Friday? Let me know in the comments section, below.