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'Reckless prudence'

"'Reckless prudence'" Continued...

Issue: "The battle," March 24, 2012

"God has equipped him to be out there preaching, teaching, trying to be salt and light to a lost world," said Jim Oestreich, Devlin's accountability partner. The two of them get together for coffee at least twice a month to pray and discuss life choices. Oestreich likens Devlin to John the Baptist: a man called to preach repentance while adopting extreme measures.

Devlin finds joy in his calling, but there are challenges. It's been hard for his family at times to understand his ministry-he recalled one time when his children's classmates came to school waving photos of him arrested. It's also been hard for him to foster unity among church leaders. During the two months Devlin worked to overturn the ban, many of the larger and wealthier churches didn't get publicly involved, opting to pray behind the scenes rather than attend a protest or rally. The movement has been powered largely by low-income, multi-ethnic churches that had much to lose.

During the fast, Devlin supported legislative efforts to overturn the ban. One bill passed the state Senate, but state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has bottled up legislation in his chamber.

Those in favor of the ban claimed that allowing churches to use public schools violated the separation of church and state. They said it would confuse students into thinking that the state endorsed the religious views presented during worship services.

Devlin's fast ended the morning of Feb. 29 after 42 days; he ended it with Corn Flakes and apple sauce.

Later that day, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the city's appeal, allowing Circuit Judge Loretta Preska's most recent injunction-that churches can continue to meet in schools-to remain in effect. Preska has until June to make a final decision. In the meantime, churches can resume meeting in public schools like every other community organization. Some had found new locations, but others-like Abounding Grace Ministries on the Lower East Side-will stay in schools.

Devlin is overjoyed. He will continue pushing for the bill to go to the Assembly, and in the meantime will continue serving Manhattan Bible Church and giving Tuesday morning pep talks to students. When it comes to living for Jesus, he recalls a piece of advice he heard about raising teens as a Christian parent: "Just be weirder in your walk with Jesus than they are!"

Tiffany Owens
Tiffany Owens

Tiffany is a correspondent for WORLD News Group.

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