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LETTER FROM AMERICA

February 1999 | by David Clark

It is very cold outside, as I slowly drive to my office in the Northeast of the United States. So cold, that the windscreen washer fluid has long since frozen, with no regard for the anti-freeze that was added to it. On the radio, the presenter announces that today’s ‘high’ temperature will be around 7°F (-15°C). Snow is also on its way.

The news presenter drones on in the background, until something catches my attention – today, two mighty heroes have fallen. By the time you read this, you may already know the result of the Senate trial, only the second in American history, in which a President is accused of high crimes. In an event full of historical significance, every one of the hundred members of the Senate will be sworn to silence for the duration of the trial, on pain of imprisonment.

Nobody’s hero

In spite of the high drama, very few people really seem to care. Life goes on. The economy is good and inflation is low. Box after box of detailed evidence of immoral behaviour, lies and deceit will be examined over the next few days and weeks. Gone are the days when the sitting president was ushered back into the White House, for his second term, on a crest of popularity. Today, opinion polls simply reflect the state of the peoples’ wallets but hide the embarrassment that people feel when morality is mentioned. A man nobody can trust, not even his wife, William Jefferson Clinton is nobody’s hero.

Hero of basketball

The news report continues — back in Chicago, the city has gone into mourning. The other hero was credited with bringing billions of dollars to the city, and changing its image from a place famous for its gangsters, to a world centre of sporting excellence. No one, the reporter confidently asserts, has done so much for the cause of the National Basketball League and for ethnic minorities in sport. No one thinks that this time, he will return. It’s all over — at thirty-five Michael Jordan is finally retiring. In Chicago, people are wondering if they will ever have another hero like this one.

Role models

I quietly reflect on the fallen heroes. No one seems to last forever. But we all need people to look up to, men and women to follow and emulate. True Godliness is better met than explained. Real humility and the love of God can amaze us when encountered in a godly saint. True love for the lost is infectious when we meet it for the first time.

I remember a man who was in his eighties when I first met him. There was nothing about him that the world would call sophisticated. He was not a particularly clever man, nor would he ever be famous. But he was a godly man. He loved his Lord dearly. Sunday after Sunday he would sit at the front of the church, lapping up the sermons and commenting on them with a loud ‘amen’. Nobody minded. On the day that he died, he was found in his house. He had passed away quietly during the night and crossed the Jordan to be welcomed by his Lord. He was found on his knees beside his bed. We still need real Christian heroes…

Where have the heroes gone?

All our heroes are weak and frail. King David fell even lower than President Clinton, adding murder to the sins of adultery, lying and deceit. He repented and was forgiven. Yet we still need men like the apostle Paul, men whose example we can follow even as they follow Christ. We need men and women who have caught sight of Almighty God, who have been hidden in the cleft of the rock, and whose faces radiate with reflected glory.

Later that day, the snow started. The drive back from the office is excruciatingly slow. On the radio, every traffic report warns of extensive delays. Somehow, this seems so much more immediate and important that anything else. Two heroes have fallen, and the world mourns for one and despises the other. Yet as I think of the many biographies I have read, of men and women passionate about their God; whose only goal was to please him; who devoted all that they were and all that they had to the cause of Christ; I ask myself – Where have all the heroes gone? We still need real Christian heroes…