MFC Team Blog

A Catalyst for Calling

by Josiah Young, SSI Program Administrator

”It would be impossible to [overstate] how impactful SSI was on me. It was essentially the catalyst for everything I’ve done over the past two years.” –Cole Birkeland (2015 SSI Alumnus)

Currently a student at the University of Northwestern St. Paul, Cole first attended MN Student Statesmanship Institute in 2014 as a House Track student. He then returned in 2015 for the Senate Track. Looking back on his SSI experience, Cole writes,

“SSI has substantially shaped the direction in which I’ve gone, and has given me valuable experiences.”

In reflecting, Cole identifies two specific ways SSI impacted him: his calling and his faith.

It was at SSI that I feel I found my vocation, and synonymously revitalized my faith. Ever since, I’ve been doing everything I can to serve the community for good and ultimately, hopefully, serve the Lord according to his will.

For Cole, serving the Lord and his community means pursuing a career in law and politics in order to fight for religious liberty. SSI helped him discover that passion, and it laid a foundation for the course he has now set.

Cole is not the only teen whose life was positively impacted at SSI. Many others, even those who have no interest in politics, have benefited immensely. After all, the purpose of SSI is not to turn students into politicians. The purpose is to inspire students to be men and women of integrity and courage who are leaders in their daily lives. This is the calling of every Christian. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount,

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything . . .” (Mat. 5:13)

Rather,

“[L]et your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mat. 5:16)

How does SSI create this type of leader? By challenging students in their faith through powerful testimonies of local speakers, and by teaching students to think critically about the toughest social issues of our day. They learn that they can be true catalysts for change right where they are—at home, school, and work—for society changes only as people change.

As for Cole, he is “extremely grateful” for his time at SSI and hopes to come back—but this time as a team member, so that he can invest in other teenagers!

I am extremely grateful for the time that I spent there, and for the impactful work that the program does.” –Cole

Learn more about SSI here!

Published on by Stephani Liesmaki.

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Heartbreaking & Trendy: Celebration of Gender Confusion

By Emily Zinos, Consultant for Ask Me First MN, a Project of Minnesota Family Council

Are you watching the transgender phenomenon and scratching your head over it's popularity? It seems like just yesterday that biological sex was an unquestionable fact. But that's not the case for many young people, who are feeling confused about their sex at younger and younger ages. As a mom and a Christian, I believe this is a call to proclaim the truth with boldness and compassion.

As many Christians know, it can be a challenge to raise your kids to embrace God's truth within a secular - and sometimes hostile - environment. Over thirteen years, I helped to organize parents to fight comprehensive sex-ed, created an abstinence-only program, fought for students’ free speech rights and a parent’s right to opt kids out of material they find objectionable at school. Little did I realize that this was a time of preparation. As we read in Luke 12:35-38, “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit.” These battles were, for myself and my family, invitations to grow in courage and boldness.

Last year the invitation to engage came again.  I received word that the grade school would be teaching children from kindergarten to fifth grade about transgenderism in order to “accommodate” a kindergarten student who was confused about their sex. It was heartbreaking to hear that this child was being encouraged to live as the opposite sex and it was equally heartbreaking to hear that our school was willing to teach every single student that such confusion is something to celebrate. Genesis 1:27 so clearly tells us the truth of our bodies, and more fundamentally our selves: “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Our sex is not what we do, the clothes we wear, or the things we enjoy -- it’s who we are. That’s what our children deserve to hear and that’s especially what children who struggle with their accepting their bodies need to hear.

Gender Confusion is Heartbreaking
-Not a Call to Celebration-

With these sentiments in our hearts, parents at our school shed their apprehension of involvement in school politics. Over one hundred parents gave their time, talents and energy in defense of the truth. We attended board meetings, wrote letters to the editor, met with administrators and enlisted the help of Minnesota Family Council in hosting an event that presented the truth about the transgender movement. We spoke to the media, we signed petitions and we testified at the legislature. Some parents were, like me, prepared for this battle. But others were blessed with courage and boldness just by saying “yes” and joining in the fight for the first time ever.

Though we gave it our all, the school ultimately made the dangerous decision to implement what is known as a “gender inclusion” policy. This policy allows students to use the locker rooms, showers and bathrooms of the opposite sex, allows students to wear the uniforms of the opposite sex, and intentionally keeps parents in the dark when a student of the opposite sex will be sharing locker rooms with their children.

This is a problem the size of Goliath, but we can’t give up the fight.  Psalm 112:7 encourages us to persevere, strengthened by faith: “He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” We know God doesn’t make mistakes and we know our true identity lies in Christ. It’s our duty and our privilege to pass that onto our children, even if it means speaking at a school board meeting, reviewing the books in their classroom, or having an uncomfortable conversation with administrators.

My “yes” to God has paved the way to my involvement in a project led by MFC called Ask Me First MN, which provides opportunities to develop a better understanding of transgender ideology and everything it seeks to undermine: Chiefly the appreciation of the gift of our body, safety and privacy rights, and respect for the differences between men and women. Ask Me First MN also encourages engagement in the public square to advance policies that protect safety, privacy and dignity for all. Telling our stories and taking action in a spirit of loving concern are key to healing confused hearts and minds. Ask Me First MN is an opportunity to speak out in defense of God’s most beautiful creation: men and women.

Published on by Stephani Liesmaki.

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Sexuality: Facts vs. Ideas

Monday evening, pro-privacy parents and concerned citizens FLOODED Monday evening's Anoka-Hennepin public school board meeting - even spilling into an overflow hallway!

Pro-privacy attendees urged board members to continue compassionately accommodating students who struggle with biological realities without compromising the privacy, safety and dignity of all other students. Parents urged school board members to continue designating intimate spaces such as changing rooms, showers and restrooms according to biological sex.

In addition to parent testimony, excellent statements were offered by Douglas Wardlow of Alliance Defending Freedom, Emily Zinos of Hands Across the Aisle and consultant with Ask Me First MN, attorney Renee Carlson with North Star Law and Policy Center, and long-time ally of Minnesota Family Council, Barb Anderson!

Featured below is the testimony Emily Zinos' presented to A-H board members:

My name is Emily Zinos and I am a mother of 6 children who attend MN schools. I am also a member of a national coalition of women called Hands Across the Aisle, which unites conservative Christians, lesbians, and feminists in our support for biological sex-based rights. 

I’d like to begin with a couple of definitions: “Sex” is the reality of being male or female as determined by unchangeable biology, anatomy and chromosomes. Gender identity is a person’s inner sense of being male, or female, or both, or neither.

Sex is a verifiable fact.
Gender is an idea.

Sex-based protections in law are a big part of why women comprise such a large number of today’s college graduates, why girls have their own high school and college sports teams and why women have equal employment opportunities.

But it’s not just women’s and girls’ rights that are at stake when sex is redefined as gender identity; students and parents also have much to lose. Last year, as a mother to public school students, I watched as a gender inclusion policy at our school quickly eroded privacy protections, free speech rights, and science itself.

The gender inclusion policy at our school:

  • Allowed students to use the showers, locker rooms, bathrooms and overnight accommodations of the opposite sex,
  • It proclaimed that sex was arbitrarily assigned at birth and that it can be changed at will,
  • Shut down free speech, forcing students to use preferred pronouns or be punished.

Privacy is important to the parents who entrust their children to Minnesota public schools every day. At our school, over 100 parents joined forces to demand that the privacy, safety and dignity of their children was respected. When the school didn’t listen and a gender inclusion policy was passed, over 90 students were pulled out of the school and applications for enrollment dropped for the first time in the school’s history.

We all know that biological sex matters when we’re in a communal locker room. As a member of the Hands Across the Aisle coalition, I work with lesbians, feminists and progressives to advocate for intimate spaces like showers, locker rooms and bathrooms to be designated by biological sex. 

We all know...
biological sex matters

I’d like to commend the Anoka-Hennepin School Board for respecting student privacy and encourage you to continue doing so. This is not a partisan issue, this is commonsense.

Thank you.

Watch the full Anoka-Hennepin Board Meeting here. The first 80 minutes were given to public testimony. 

 

Published on by Stephani Liesmaki.

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A Good Day to be a Christian?

by Pastor Jeff Evans, Director of Alliances

 

In my last post, I urged that we pray like our churches, families, and state depend upon it. Assuming that this is true, I want to ask this question: Is every day a good day to be a Christian?

In our personal walk with the Lord, I think we’re eager to say “Yes!”. The love of Christ bestowed upon us, the forgiveness of our sins, and the new life given brings forth fruit like “...joy, peace, patience…” (Gal 5:22-23). Even when we are at our lowest, God breaks in and demonstrates yet again just how lavish His grace is toward us in His Son. It is good to be a Christian!

But we often wrongly separate our personal walk from other areas of life. While we say it is a good day to be a Christian privately, we often don’t show the same joy, peace, and patience publically. We too often buy into the world’s slander of the Faith, and think that exercising our faith everywhere and at all times is somehow embarrassing, backward, or inconsequential.

Don’t buy the lie. Don’t abide by it, either.

It is always a good day to be walking with the Lord, embracing all the work He has given us to do, and trusting that He has wisely placed us in this time and place for His purposes, which cannot be thwarted.

His words to His distracted, earthly minded disciples are the same for us: “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35). Palliative care? Gender identity? Mission fields to show forth the greatness of the Great Physician and the eternal peace of having our identity in Christ!

So, when you receive one of our emails explaining what is going on in our State, look at the day’s headlines, or visit your favorite news website, think “It is time to get to work!” First, pray like you mean it. Then, live like it matters. When we do this together, we provoke one another to further love and good works (Heb 10:23-24). And, the serious and joyful expression of our faith in all areas of life is a great blessing to our society.

It is always a good day to be a Christian, everywhere and at all times.
Don’t be ashamed to believe it and live it.

Published on by Stephani Liesmaki.

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St. Paul 101: You Gotta Go!

by Dale Witherington, Church Networking

At a time when many Americans are growing more dissatisfied with and disinterested in politics and government, St. Paul 101 Trainings launch Minnesotans into the legislative process in a fresh, personal way! I recently had an opportunity to co-lead a St. Paul 101 Training with Tom Prichard as we hosted 40 students from a Christian high school in Chaska, MN. They came for a “hands-on” experience inside of Minnesota’s state government. And that's exactly what they got!

The day began with a brief overview of the process. Students were invited into the operations of state government as participants rather than mere spectators. This introduction led to a demonstration of how the Minnesota Court of Appeals operates as we watched an actual case being presented to the panel of three Appellate Judges. We were then treated to a 30-minute personal presentation with Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, the Honorable Barry Anderson.

Justice Anderson gave a concise description of how the Minnesota Supreme Court functions and shared his personal journey to the bench. He then entertained questions from the students and teachers until he had to be whisked away for some out-of-state travel.

After a brief stop for pictures in front of the recently renovated State Capitol building, we headed over to the new Senate Office Building and were promptly invited into the office of Senator Paul Gazelka, the Senate Majority Leader! Senator Gazelka is a committed man of God who understands that he is not merely a Senator who happens to be a Christian. He is a Christian Senator “on assignment” from God as he serves Minnesotans in this influential role.

Our whirlwind tour included time with well-known state lobbyist, Maryann Campo, and our State Senator from the Brainerd Lakes region, Senator Carrie Ruud. Both gave generously of their time explaining their roles in government. Like Senator Gazelka, Senator Ruud is a committed Christian representing the Lord and the people of Minnesota in our legislature.

The day wrapped up with State Senator from Watertown, MN, Senator Scott Jensen. Senator Jensen spent 20 minutes with us in the magnificently beautiful Governor’s Reception Room!

It is our hope that these students left with a great resolve: To be an impactful member of the Kingdom of God on earth, one must be a biblical citizen and a steward of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every sphere of life!

Sign up for St. Paul 101 HERE!!!

 

Published on by Stephani Liesmaki.

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