This article below also appearead in the Altoona Mirror in the religion section as the Walk team passed through New York state. Both articles are well reported both as news in great journalist principles. True journalism simply reports the news regardless of the writer or editor's opinion. Even when other parties are included in such articles all fairness is to be exercised. The Altoona Mirror did a commendable job here. Enjoy!
Friday, August 13, 2004
(c) printed by permission
Walking parable travels through area
Travelers with a message
Operation Save America uses walking parable to relay concerns
By Kim Smith
For the Mirror
An entourage of walkers and horses passed through the area this week, using symbols to tell their story.
The group was in Ebensburg [PA] Monday and could be seen walking on routes 22, 764 and Old 220 in Blair County Tuesday and Wednesday.
The walkers are part of Operation Save America, based in Dallas , and are traveling from San Clemente, Calif., to Washington, D.C., in an effort to express their concerns about the country's values and direction.
The Rev. Flip Benham, Operation Save America director, said the Walk Across America Prophetic Tour features a living parable. He said it depicts the nation's sin, God's judgment and salvation for those who repent.
“What this is, is a very clear message to America that we have broken the commandments,” Benham said.
The lineup for the living parable begins with a person blowing a shofar or horn as way to sound an alarm, followed by a boy carrying a broken set of the Ten Commandments to signify America 's contempt for God's law, Benham said.
Next, a woman carries a small coffin to illustrate the plight of aborted babies.
“The broken law results in broken babies,” Benham said. “When there is no justice, the weak become a prey.”
The white horse signifies God's judgment, he said.
Benham said judgment is a result of rejecting God and his law.
A donkey named Mercy follows to show that God's mercy triumphs over judgment, Benham said.
“When a king rides into a city, it's an indication he came in peace,” he said.
Benham said Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and those who looked to him received salvation.
There also is a horse called Justice. “God wants us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God,” Benham said.
The group spent Tuesday night at New Life Assembly of God in Pinecroft and stopped twice at Meadows of Greenwood.
The Rev. Bill Royse, pastor of New Life, said the group “sort of stumbled on us.”
He said traveling with the group are people in recreation vehicles who initially stopped at the church and inquired about overnight accommodations.
Royse said after talking with members of the group, he believed they were legitimate. He said the group has a Southern Baptist affiliation.
“They are people like me, concerned about how the country is drifting,” he said.
Royse said the travelers built a temporary corral for the animals and used the church's facilities, including its kitchen to make breakfast.
“They cleaned up after themselves. You would never know they were here,” he said. “They left with a witness of integrity.”
Pastor Rusty Thomas, assistant director of Operation Save America for 10 years, said the group travels with four vehicles, including a horse trailer and parks for the night at accommodating churches.
He said he is a born-again, spirit-filled Christian, and his two daughters and a son make up part of the 11-person team taking part in the tour.
The participants average 15 miles per day walking the streets, sidewalks and shoulders of the road with their message, he said.
The walkers shared their message with customers at Meadows of Greenwood. Dotty Yon, manager of the frozen custard shop, said the group handed out pamphlets and spent a lot of time in the ice cream parlor Wednesday. She said they approached one customer as he got out of his vehicle, and she inquired as to whether they were bothering him. The customer assured her that it was OK.
She said the walkers bought ice cream during the two stops, but she and employees noticed that members went to one specific person to ask for money for their purchases. The group also visited other businesses in the Greenwood area.
Benham, who refers to his organization as gospel-based, said Christians need to stand firm against sin.
“Every behavior is out of the closet, but when Christianity comes out of the closet, it's ‘Katy, bar the door!” he said.
“Wherever the enemy manifests itself, whatever gate, we know that we are dealing with a gospel-based issue.
“If we don't stand for what we believe now, our kids are going to pay dearly.”
Operation Save America, formerly Operation Rescue, is an interdenominational organization aimed at trying to draw the nation back to Jesus, Benham said.
The organization considers abortion, homosexuality and Islam as threats to the nation, Benham said.
He said the Bible shows that throughout history, when God removed his protection from a people, he often used the attack of a foreign power as an instrument of judgment. Benham said the attack of America Sept. 11, 2001 , may be an example of this. Thomas said the group receives a terrific response throughout the country. “We lead more people to the Lord by accident than ever on purpose as pastors,” he said. Benham said the living parable is a unique way to touch lives.
“We've reached millions. It causes them to ask a question,” he said. “When words fail, God speaks in living parables.”