Let Freedom Ring!

Saturday, as everyone celebrated the 239th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I spent the day with my family by ending the day with a spectacular view of the Andice Fireworks Show in Andice, Texas. It is truly a blessing to live in a country where we can celebrate what makes this country great and then have the freedom to worship on Sunday.

As I thought about the joy I have to live in such a great country, I thought about all the brave men and women in uniform through the ages who have fought, and in some cases, have died for these freedoms. I remember some of the stories I have of my great-grandfathers who served in the Navy during WWII. I thought about the law enforcement and first responders who keep us safe at home. I thought about remarkable educators, like my dad, who spend so much time and their own money to ensure that every child receives a quality education.

And while I thought about these remarkable Americans, I was also reminded that so many in this world today do not get to enjoy these freedoms. When I think about the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, I realize that many in our world, are deprived of Life, the young and the old, by violence and terror. So many people are deprived of Liberty when they are seen as objects to be enslaved and trafficked. So many do not have the luxury of Pursuing Happiness when they have to wonder where their next meal will come from. And the sad reality is that many of these things occur not only throughout our world, but in our “backyard” as well.

Today is July the 6th, but why should we only recognize freedom on just one or a few days each year? Every day should be a celebration of freedom.

As I write this blog, there are American servicemen and women in our Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, who are oversees fighting to protect our freedoms, to protect my right to even write this blog. But do I thank them enough? The honest truth is no, I don’t. But can we really ever thank them enough? The least we can do is thank them for their bravery. So I am going to challenge readers, and myself, to thank people more when they are seen in uniform.

But we cannot stop there. Too many of these brave men and women struggle to find work when they come home, too many struggle with the trauma and health problems that war can bring, too many are now homeless. As a country, can we not do better?

No one who serves in our military should have to worry, “Will I have a job when I return?” None of them should have to wait months to receive quality care, and no one who serves should have to live in homelessness. Because they have sacrificed so much, why can’t we advocate on their behalf and ensure that they have the best opportunities when they return? It’s the least we can do for people who have done so much for us.

As we advocate for those who have served in our military, let’s also remember to pray for those in our world who do not have the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The sad reality is that too many people, everyone from the youngest to the oldest, are deprived of Life when they are slaughtered by tyrannical governments and terrorist organizations. Too many are deprived of Liberty when they are sold into slavery for sex, labor, or used as child soldiers. Too many are deprived of Liberty when they cannot worship without fear of being beaten or killed. Too many are deprived of Liberty when they have to worry about being imprisoned for standing up for something or speaking out against a government. Too many are deprived of the Pursuit of Happiness when they must live under a $1 a day.

Last semester, I did a research paper on sweatshops in Bangladesh. I was shocked and saddened when I realized that so many workers are treated as objects for profit. Many of them are deprived of Life when they are killed in disasters because the sweatshop owners overlooked safety precautions. Many of them are deprived of Liberty as they fear of retaliation for demanding better working conditions. Many of them are deprived of the Pursuit of Happiness as they are essentially used as labor slaves in order to make cheap clothing.

But this is only one tragedy occurring in our world. As these workers are being worked to death, millions struggle to survive while living in poverty. Whether it’s India, Sierra Leonne, Haiti, or Waco, Texas, too many in our world have to go without food or water, and too many live in tin shacks and cardboard boxes while I get to live in a nice home. So, how can I not have compassion for these people? How can I not lift them up in prayer?

In Matthew 25, verse 40, Jesus tells us, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (NIV). Praying for and standing up for those who live in poverty is just one way in which we can advocate for everyone to have the opportunity of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

And as I type this, millions of young girls and boys are being sold for labor and sex while others are used as child soldiers. Many of these sex and labor slaves are being sold right here at home, and not just in the big cities of Houston, New York, and Atlanta, but also in Belton and Waxahachie, Texas, Casper, Wyoming, and Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Many of these young kids are treated worse than animals, as disposable property. So many in the world are having their bodies mutilated in horrific ways. And whatever happened to the Kony 2012 movement, remember him? My heart breaks for all these precious kids, and that’s what they are… precious. They are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Too many are also denied an education. In many societies, girls are denied education and are threatened when they desire to learn. One young woman, Malala Yousafzai, who is now a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was shot in the head by the Taliban because she dared to pursue an education. Meanwhile, many kids in America are killed while walking to school and so many children with special needs are overlooked because they are seen as kids who can’t learn. How can my heart not break? How can I not pray that all these kids earn an education so that they can Pursue Happiness?

Others are denied the freedom to worship and are persecuted for wanting to worship freely. So many countries make it a crime to carry a bible or other religious text not approved by the government. The idea that you could be stoned, beheaded, dragged, or hung for worshipping sickens me. Yet people bravely worship anyways, risking their very lives for what they believe in.

As Christians, let us pray for those who are denied these sacred rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Let us work and advocate until freedom rings throughout this world.

One of my favorite songs emphasizes this perfectly. It’s “Let Freedom Ring” by the Gaither Vocal Band (see video below works cited). The lyrics go like this…

Deep within the heart has always known that there was freedom
Somehow breathed into the very soul of life
The prisoner, the powerless, the slave have always known it
There’s something that keeps reaching for the sky

Even life begins because a baby fights for freedom
And songs we love to sing have freedom’s theme
Some have walked through fire and flood to find a place of freedom
And some faced hell itself for freedom’s dream

(Chorus)

Let freedom ring wherever minds know what it means to be in chains
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
We can be free and we can sing – let freedom ring

God built freedom into every fiber of creation
And He meant for us to all be free and whole
When my Lord bought freedom with the blood of His redemption
His cross stamped pardon on my very soul

I’ll sing it out with every breath, I’ll let the whole world hear it
This hallelujah anthem of the free
That iron bars and heavy chains can never hold us captive
The Son has made us free and free indeed

Let freedom ring down through the ages from a hill called Calvary
Let freedom ring wherever hearts know pain
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring
Let freedom echo through the lonely streets where prisons have no key
You can be free and you can sing let freedom ring
You can be free and you can sing – let freedom ring – let freedom ring

Until all can sing this song with the rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, let us pray and advocate for all who yearn for freedom. Let Freedom Ring!

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ended his famous “I Have A Dream” speech with these words:

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Until everyone can truly sing “free at last,” let us never forget those struggling for the freedom to worship, to learn, to live, and to strive for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. God meant for all of us to be free. When Christ shed His precious blood, He bought our freedom. We are all made in His image, and because He died so we can be free, it is our obligation to stand up for those whose freedoms are being challenged by man. So let us stand for others, care for our brothers and sisters, and advocate for freedom.

As we celebrate our freedom, let us work to help others gain those freedoms. Let every day be a celebration of freedom. Thank a veteran, someone in law enforcement, a first responder, a teacher. Pray for those who have no freedom.

AND LET FREEDOM RING!


Works Cited:

(Blog)

Gaither Vocal Band. Let Freedom Ring. By Bill and Gloria Gaither. Lyricsmode. Web. 6 July. 2015.

King Jr., Martin Luther. “I Have A Dream.” American Rhetoric. Web. 6 July. 2015.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 6 July. 2015.

(Thumbnail pictures)

Civil Rights Protestors: Moore, Charles. Birmingham, Alabama, Fire Department Aims High-pressure Water Hoses at Civil Rights Demonstrators. 1963.

Iwo Jima: Rosenthal, Joe. Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima. 1945.

Kids in Poverty: Rudd, Paul. Kids on a Road near Rishikesh, India. 2009.

Tied Hands: Hands of a Kidnapped Woman via Shutterstock.com. Nazish, Kiran. “Women and Girls, A Commodity: Human Trafficking in Nepal.” The Diplomat., 22 Feb 2014. Web. 6 July. 2015.


Let Freedom Ring by the Gaither Vocal Band

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin

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