By Tim Cantrell
My wife and I are Americans who have now lived more of our lives on African soil than on American soil, for the past 25 years and counting. All five of our kids were born in Africa, and we are willing to be buried in Africa for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. We love our adopted home nation of South Africa, and see her great potential for impact on the African continent and beyond!
Yet we still also love and pray often for our native land, the United States of America, and we realise the tremendous impact she has on the world for better or for worse. The longer we live overseas, the more deeply we appreciate what America once stood for, unlike any other nation in history. We yearn for more of those same liberties, and more of human dignity, to be enjoyed by our South African neighbours.
In 1862, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called the United States, “the last, best hope on earth”. As Christians, we do not look to earth at all for our hopes – our hope and our “citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Php. 3:20). King Jesus does not need America or any other nation; He “will build His Church” and His Great Commission will prevail in the end (Matt. 16:18; 24:14)! Yet as far as earthly prospects for freedom and security in the world, we dare not underestimate the vital role of the USA, and the massive benefits and generosity it has brought to global missions and much more.
Anders Rasmussen, a Danish politician, states:
Only America has the diplomatic reach, the financial resources, and the firepower to lead the free world against the autocrats, rogue states and terrorists that are trying to overwhelm it. As the Prime Minister of Denmark from 2001 to 2009, and the secretary-general of NATO from 2009 to 2014, I know how important American leadership is. I’ve seen firsthand what happens when America tries to lead from behind instead of leading from the front.
…Europe is too weak and divided to lead the world. The free nations have an essential role to play, and they must shoulder their full share of the cost, but only America has the credibility to lead. This is not just about money or manpower. It is also about morality. Only America has the moral greatness to lead the free world—not for the sake of power, but for the sake of peace.
…An American retreat will unleash a new plague of dictators and oppressors who seek to undo all the good America has done to secure peace and prosperity around the world for decades.
Pastor Tommy Nelson sums up well the history and legacy of the USA, from a Christian perspective:
…our American forefathers…left us with a Christian, biblical perspective of God, as outside of government, to Whom government is subservient. Of God in a biblical sense, not just a G-O-D idea, but the God of the Jew, the infinite personal God who has made himself known and redeemed man through Jesus Christ. …They understood that human rights were taken from nature’s God, of “life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.
And so, we had a government that was legislative, judicial, and executive, that checked and checking the others. Nobody was sovereign, all checked by the Constitution. …It was an idea that sprang out of the Protestant Reformation, concerning God and man and how he should live and be governed.
Our country had problems – and our problems did not come from the inherent flaws of our system. Our problems came because of a national lack of courage to live out our Constitution. The idea of racism and the Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional. They existed not because of our belief system, but because of our lack of national courage to get rid of them!
…Everybody wanted (and still wants) to come to America; we greet them in the harbour with a Lady Liberty holding her torch…that Lady of Light and glory that awaits you in the harbor, with these words inscribed upon her (by Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus): “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
Dennis Prager describes America’s founding, Judeo-Christian values:
…[These values] can and must be adopted by every nation and culture in the world; Americans must relearn and recommit to these values, and…vigorously export them. For if the world does not adopt [these core] values, the result will be chaos and barbarism on an unprecedented scale.
…America is the only country that was founded not on a race, ethnicity, or nationality, but on an idea: limited government—because the founders of America believed, first and foremost, in liberty. America became the freest country in world history, which is why France gave the Statue of Liberty to one country: America. And America has given more liberty and opportunity to more people from more nations than any country in world history.
Yes, America allowed slavery in half of its states. But every society in the world practiced slavery. What rendered America unique is that Americans killed one another in its bloodiest war to abolish slavery, and that it eventually became the least racist, most multi-racial country in history.
How then should Christians in Africa, or anywhere, pray for the USA on this, her Independence Day?
- Pray that she would repent and turn to Christ!
- Pray that she would return to the God of her fathers and to the one Book that made her great, the Word of God.
- Pray that she would repent of all her shameful slaughter of infants, wanton immorality, sexual perversity, and arrogant pride.
- Pray that she could once more be a beacon of hope, light and liberty to the nations of the world for the glory of God.
- Pray that God would awaken His Church in the USA to be the “pillar and support of the truth” that she is called to be (1 Tim. 3:15), to preach and practice the Bible faithfully and fearlessly.
A few years ago I heard a Russian Christian say to an American pastor: “We are a country in the darkness and we are looking for light. You are a country in the light and you are searching for the dark.” May God have mercy on the United States of America.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
(1893, Katherine Lee Bates)
 Still the Best Hope, by Dennis Prager