Joy Cometh in the Morning
I spoke at the Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Friday. In his remarks, I reflected on the struggles we see in the world, in America, and in our personal lives and how, by keeping faith, we should be encouraged brighter days are ahead.
See the transcript below:
I'm so grateful, that y'all are here today standing up for our country. You know, the Word tells us, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning”. We are here today, because every man and women in this room knows and understands morning is coming. Morning is coming.
We have seen that abroad. We've seen that in our lives. We've seen that at home. You look abroad, this conference is particularly blessed to welcome in our midst an extraordinary hero, Meriam Ibrahim. I just had the opportunity to visit with Meriam and her son, Martin and her little baby girl, Maya, and her husband, Daniel, backstage. What an incredible peace and joy radiates from Meriam.
A young wife, a young mother, imprisoned, thrown into a pit, giving birth to her daughter with her legs in leg irons, sentenced by a cruel and oppressive government to receive 100 lashes and then to hang by the neck till dead. For the crime of being a Christian. And the government of Sudan told Meriam, if you will only renounce Jesus we will spare you this terrible fate. And Meriam looked at her captors and she said, ‘I cannot, and I will not renounce Christ.’
How many of us have ever had our faith tested like that? How many of us have faced a question like that? If you start to feel hope and despair for what is happening in this country, remember that prison cell in Sudan.
I asked Meriam just a few minutes ago, in the dark of it all, how did you not lose faith? How did you not give up hope? And she responded very simply. She said, “God was with me.’ Anyone who forgets the promise, simply remember joy cometh in the morning. Millions of believers across the world lifted Meriam up in prayer, spoke out in support of her and the attention, the heat, the light, was too much on the government of Sudan and they were forced to release her, free, free at last!
I'm reminded of the Book of Acts where Paul and Silas were thrown in prison, just like Meriam. And God brought an earthquake that broke the prison open and their jailer, afraid for the consequences, began to take his own life. And Paul stopped him. And the jailer asked of the apostle Paul, what must I do to be saved? We're seeing modern days Pauls and Silases across the world.
Tomorrow night at the Values Voters Summit you will hear from Naghmeh, his wife, who I visited with several times. A woman of incredible faith. She is an American. Her husband is an American. Their two little kids are American children living in Idaho. You haven't seen it, she recorded a simple video of their children saying, please, send our daddy home. Today is the two-year anniversary of the Republican Guard showing up and throwing pastor Saeed in prison for professing his Christian faith. Two years. You know one of the incredible things talking to Naghmeh, is hearing the story, while Pastor Seeed, while in an Iranian prison, has led dozens of fellow prisoners and their jailers to Christ.
Just as with Paul and Silas, the jailers are turning to pastor Saeed and saying what must I do to be saved? God is present in the darkest corners. And we are standing on the promise of the word. You know right now this week the government of Iran is sitting down with the United States government, swilling chardonnay in New York City, to discuss what Prime Minister Netanyahu rightly describes as an historic mistake, a very, very bad deal, that tragically is setting the stage for Iran to acquire nuclear weapon capability.
We so desperately need a president who will stand up and say, these discussions do not even begin until you release Pastor Saeed and send him home.
Oh, the vacuum of American leadership we see in the world. We need a president who will speak out for people of faith, prisoners of conscience. We need a president who will stand up and say to the over 200 Nigeria schoolgirls, held captive by Boko Haram because they're Christians, little girls, sold into slavery. We need a president who will speak out for prisoners of conscience, like Kenneth Bae in North Korea, like Leopoldo Lopez in Venezuela, like Amir Heckmati in Iran, like Alan Gross in Cuba. Like Sergeant Tahmooressi in Mexico.
Abroad we see a lot of weeping that may endure for the night, but we stand on the promise that joy is coming in the morning.
And part of the reason we can stand with such confidence, with such optimism, with such hope, is we understand it in our own lives. This is not something abstract and theoretical. This is something each of us has lived. Many of y'all have gotten to know my father, Pastor Rafael Cruz. He is very, very shy, very soft-spoken and beloved by the media. Ok even the folks of the press are cracking up at that one.
But you know, my dad as a teenager experienced that same captivity. He was 14 when he began fighting in the Cuban revolution. He was in the student council. The revolution in Cuba came from the student councils, from high school kids and from college kids, when my father turned 17, my grandparents bought him a brand new white suit. And he went out partying, enjoying the town because he was 17 and then he disappeared. And my grandfather went searching for him because he knew his son had been in the underground. He searched from jail to jail to jail. My father had been thrown in a Cuban prison and tortured, beaten, hour after hour. He had his teeth crushed in as his head was stomped into the ground by an army boot.
My grandmother told me, when she saw my father again, that white suit, you could not see a spot of white anywhere on the suit. It was covered in mud and blood and his teeth were dangling from his mouth. And yet, even when he was in that Cuban jail, God was with him. By all rights my father should have perished there. But god's hand brought him from captivity to freedom. God's grace brought him to the United States of America.
You know when I was a young child my parents were living up in Calgary. They were in the oil business, and neither of my parents were people of faith at the time. Neither of them had a relationship with Christ. Both of my parents drank far too much. Both of them had serious problems with alcohol. And when I was three years old, my father decided, he didn't want to be married anymore, and he didn't want a three-year-old son. So he got on a plane and left Calgary and he flew back to Texas to Houston. And he left us. Now when he was in Houston a colleague in the oil and gas business invited my father to come with him to Clay Road Baptist Church. And my father accepted that invitation. He went to Clay Road Baptist Church and gave his life to Jesus.
And he went and bought an airplane ticket and flew back to Calgary, to rejoin my mother and to rejoin his son. So when anyone asks is faith real, is a relationship with Jesus real? I can tell you if it were not for my father giving his life to Christ, I would have been raised by a single mother without having my dad in the home. Every one of us, we have seen first-hand that in utter darkness hope remains.
The words of Amazing Grace put it, ‘how sweet the sound that saved my soul. I once was blind but now can see.’ What an incredible story that every one of us knows and understands in our lives. And we see it at home. We see it in our nation.
There is today in America an urgency, that none of us have ever seen before in politics.
You know polling today shows that 76% of Americans don't believe that our children will have a better life than we did. That is unprecedented. And it is fundamentally un-American.
The American idea that this country was built on, every generation for centuries has believed with freedom, with standing for our values, that our kids will have a better life than we did and their kids will have a better life than they did.
This is a time of great crisis but it is no greater than the crisis Meriam Ibrahim faced in that cell in Sudan.
It is no greater than the crisis so many of us have faced in our own lives.
You know, last night I had dinner with an Israeli friend of mine for Rosh Hashanah. And he made a remarkable observation. He said, America begins with the fundamental premise of religious liberty. It is the very first thing in the Bill of Rights. It is the very first freedom upon which all our other liberties are built.
This country was built on a revolutionary idea that our rights don't come from government, they come from almighty God.
As the Declaration said, we hold these truths could be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed, not by a king, not by a queen, not even by an all-powerful president. Endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
We're seeing fundamental challenges and yet we're seeing victory such as the phenomenal nominal victory for religious liberty that was the Hobby Lobby case.
Now by a vote of 5-4 the Supreme Court said the federal government cannot force people of faith to abandon their faith.
Think about it for a second, about that was 5-4. One vote is different and the outcome is different.
Now there are people in Washington who say Republicans to win, have to abandon values. [Woman in crowd: “No way!”] You're exactly right. Look, our values are who we are. Our values are why we're here.
And our values are fundamentally American. This country remains a center-right country. This country remains a country built on Judeo-Christian values. This country remains a country that values and cherishes our constitutional liberties.
And anyone who he tells you differently is lying to you. You know, every American should know about the Little Sisters of the Poor.
You want to talk about values? Right now the federal government is suing the Little Sisters of the Poor to try to force Catholic nuns to pay for abortion-inducing drugs.
You know what? The modern Democratic Party has become an extreme, radical party. We ought to invite Hillary Clinton to spend the day debating the Little Sisters of the Poor.
She can embrace, yes, the federal government should be suing and fining Catholic nuns to force them to pay for abortion-inducing drugs. As for me, I will stand with the nuns.
And a pretty good rule of thumb by the way, if you're suing nuns, you've done something really wrong.
Look, just a few weeks ago following Hobby Lobby the Democrats introduced legislation in the Senate to repeal the protections on religious liberty in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That act passed just two decades ago with almost unanimous support, signed in law by a democrat, Bill Clinton. There used to be bipartisan agreement regardless of our differences over marginal tax rates. We used to come together and say, we're going to respect the religious liberty of everyone. When the vote came to strip Hobby Lobby and Christian companies of their, of religious liberty rights, when the vote came to strip the Little Sisters of the Poor, and Catholic charities of their religious liberty rights, do you know how many Senate Democrats stood with religious liberty, stood with the Catholic church? Zero.
It is heartbreaking. Two weeks ago Democrats in the Senate introduced a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the free speech protections of the First Amendment. To take away the rights of the people in this room to speak out, to give Congress the authority to determine whether your speech and my speech is quote, reasonable. Or not.
You know how many Democrats stood with the First Amendment against that effort? Zero. These are dangerous, ex-radical times.
You know in 1997 the Democrats tried something similar. And that same famed right-wing activist, Ted Kennedy, spoke against it.
He stood up and said in over 200 years we haven't amended the bill of rights. Now is no time to start. I gave a floor speech on the senate floor with a giant poster of Ted Kennedy's face and that quote next to it. Scared my father to death. He turned on C-SPAN and said, good God, my son's gone native.
How do we turn this country around? We offer a choice. Not an echo. How do we turn this country around? We don't paint in pale pastels. We paint in bold colors.
We're 39 days away from a pivotal election. If you want to defend the First Amendment, our free speech, our religious liberty, vote Harry Reid out. If you want to defend our Second Amendment, our right to keep and bear arms, vote Harry Reid out. If you want to defend the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, our right to privacy, if you want to defend the Tenth Amendment, then vote Harry Reid out!
How do we win? We defend the values that are American values. We stand for life. We stand for marriage. We stand for Israel. We bring back jobs and opportunity and unleash small businesses to make it easier for people to achieve the American dream. We abolish the IRS. We repeal Common Core! In 39 days, I believe we're going to retake the United States Senate and we are going to retire Harry Reid as Majority Leader. And in 2017, with a Republican President in the White House, we are going to sign legislation repealing every word of Obamacare.
Each and every one of you is here because you believe in our nation, you belief in our values. And I will tell you why I'm optimistic: from the founding of our nation, America has enjoyed God's providential blessings.
At every stage in the Revolutionary War, a ragtag bunch of colonists had no prayers of defeating the mightiest army on earth, but with God's blessings we did so. In the Civil War, that pitted brother against brother, spilled blood upon our soil, to expunge the original sin of this nation of slavery that should have rent this country apart forever. And yet with God's blessing, this nation came back together after that bloody conflict. In World War II, standing against the grotesque evil that was the Nazis, the American people rose to the occasion and saved the free world. In the Cold War, with leadership from America, the American people rose up and we won the Cold War without firing a shot and tore the Berlin wall to the ground.
I'm optimistic because of you. I'm optimistic because I believe in the American people. And I'm optimistic, because I am convinced, God isn't done with America yet. We stand on the promise of the word: weeping may endure for the night but joy cometh in the morning. Thank you and God bless.