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'Intentional ministry'

Human Race | Tim Walberg makes the transition from the pulpit to politics

Issue: "Marathon man," Feb. 17, 2007

At the intersection of politics and religion stands Tim Walberg. Few professional politicians can claim anything more than a layman's credibility in the field of religion. And few pastors can flex much official political muscle. Walberg, a former pastor and newly elected Republican congressman from Michigan, can claim expertise in both fields.

At a time when some conservative religious leaders are questioning the marriage between evangelicals and the Republican Party, Rep. Walberg has found unity between his religion and political interests. "Politics is just another format that can be used as a place of intentional ministry," Walberg told WORLD. "Christians can be involved in influencing their culture here [in Washington]."

Blending ministry and politics is nothing new for Walberg. After spending seven years pastoring a Baptist then a nondenominational church, Walberg won a seat in the Michigan State House of Representatives, where he served from 1983 until 1999.

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After another five-year stint in ministry-working for the Moody Bible Institute as a division manager-Walberg knocked off moderate Republican Rep. Joe Schwarz in last year's Republican primary.

Since landing in Washington, Walberg says he's looked to other evangelical political leaders -Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), and Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.)-as examples.

How will Walberg approach his new vocation? "As a Christian-or as they say here, a person of faith-that there's only one source of change for the human soul and that's Jesus Christ," he said. "Everything comes at me through the filter of my faith. It has to be that way if this is more than a religion-It's a relationship and a way of life." - John Dawson

Crime & fasting

Philadelphia Christian activist Bill Devlin ended a 40-day fast Feb. 5-with a banana. Devlin was enjoying Christmas holiday fare when he learned that his hometown has the highest crime rate among the 10 largest cities in the United States. As the former head of the Urban Family Council and a minister who's worked with urban teens for 15 years, Devlin knew that "the city's response to this crisis would be to hold a meeting, proclaim the terrible nature of the news, and appoint a committee, and while I appreciate the need for such action, at the end of the day, where does that get us?" He decided to undertake a water-only fast as a way to draw attention to "the change of heart" he said is needed citywide. At 6 feet 3 inches, Devlin, 54, went from 195 pounds to 155 pounds during the fast, monitored, he said, by a physician. And he did draw attention to the cause, as local media repeatedly covered his progress. Devlin told WORLD the extended fast taught him that "I find the strength of Christ in my total physical weakness. I had to cry out to Him from the bottom of my heart, privately, and I wept frequently. But after the third day, I experienced no desire for food-almost as if I were being fed supernaturally." - Mindy Belz

Close-ups

MISSIONS: About 1,000 people filed past caskets at funeral services in Nairobi, Kenya, for missionaries Lois Anderson and Zelda White after the mother and daughter were shot and killed in a carjacking attack in Kenya's capital. Anderson, a retired Presbyterian (U.S.A.) missionary who had served all across the African continent, was in strife-ridden Nairobi to visit family. White was a seminary student in Kenya. "They were just lifelong servants of the church," said Rev. Eric Skidmore, who knew the pair. Police say the carjackers shot the two women when they took too long getting out of their SUV.

EDUCATION: Spring Arbor University in Michigan is bracing for a discrimination lawsuit after the small Christian school fired a male professor who began showing up to teach class in a wig and dress. John Nemecek says he will fight the lawsuit even as he undergoes medical procedures-including estrogen therapy-to become a transgendered woman. "We expect our faculty to model Christian character as an example for our students," the Free Methodist university said in a statement.

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