Signs and Wonders
Pastor John Crowder preaches to his congregation Sunday morning in West, Texas.
Associated Press/Photo by Charlie Riedel
Pastor John Crowder preaches to his congregation Sunday morning in West, Texas.

Signs and Wonders: West, Texas, church worships in hayfield


This is West. Boston celebrated a return to near normal this weekend at churches and at sporting events. Not so in West, Texas, where a fertilizer plant blew up last week and left at least 14 people dead and more than 200 injured, with as many as 60 people still missing. The First Baptist Church in West held services in a hayfield because its building is in the blast zone. Pastor John Crowder delivered his sermon from the flatbed of an 18-wheeler. According to the Associated Press, assistant Texas fire marshal Kelly Kistner said all fires have been extinguished at the explosion scene and the remaining fertilizer tanks are not a danger. Authorities still don’t know what caused the explosion.

Good questions. Mark Sanford, the former disgraced South Carolina governor and a current Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat from that state, is now taking hits from all quarters. Over the weekend, Mac Brunson, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke out against Sanford. Brunson, who is a South Carolina native, said, “Why do you think that a man who deals treacherously with his wife won’t deal treacherously with you in business? Now, the bright people of my home state have made him the GOP person for Congress. If he dealt treacherously with his wife before, and the state, and the people who worked for him, do you think [his] character has changed that much? That he’s not gonna deal treacherously at some point in the future?” These are precisely the questions the people of South Carolina are asking.

Newspaper war. Charles and David Koch are among the richest men in the country, and they’re among the few billionaires who are both conservative and put their money where their beliefs are. The business columns are buzzing with speculation that the conservative billionaires want to buy the Chicago Tribune. The Kochs aren’t the only ones interested. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation has also expressed an interest in the Tribune and other papers in the Tribune media group, a total of eight papers, including the Los Angeles Times. The dogs of the liberal newspaper society are already howling. “It’s a frightening scenario when a free press is actually a bought and paid-for press,” said Ellen Miller, who leads the Sunlight Foundation, a liberal watchdog group.

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Woman, thou art under arrest. Prosperity gospel performer and televangelist Juanita Bynum is a little less prosperous these days. She spent last Thursday night in a Dallas jail because of her inability to post a $10,000 bond. Police arrested her as she prepared to go on stage in Dallas in part because she had failed to make a court-ordered $140,000 payment to ALW Entertainment. According to The Dallas Morning News, “She has yet to pay the money to promoter Al Wash’s company, his attorney said. Wash sued Bynum for failing to perform in a play for which he had paid her.” Bynum became popular in prosperity gospel circles because of the support of T.D. Jakes, who would use her in his “Woman, Thou Art Loosed” crusades. In 2002 she married Bishop Thomas Wesley Weeks, who later pled guilty to an assault charge against Bynum. That marriage ended in divorce in 2008.

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.


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