It took the worst experience of my life for me to truly appreciate the work of the Alliance Defense Fund and the group I serve with, Focus on the Family.
For nearly eight years, I worked as Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, helping him to establish outreach plans for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the President's emergency plan for AIDS Relief, and to secure the confirmation of two Supreme Court Justices. I knew what it was to have access to the President, to work with and for him, to be asked into that Oval Office sanctum where issues were decided that could make a good and lasting impact on communities, the country, even the world.
Then, I learned what it is to fall. I plagiarized other people's writing, bringing shame and embarrassment to the President, my White House colleagues, my friends, my mentors, and above all, to my family. I felt certain that my life was over.
My fall was swift and painful and deserved. But at the end of my rope was Jesus Christ, Who took me in His loving arms and sheltered and helped me. I cannot, even now, get to the bottom of the riches of His boundless love and peace.
He showed me that love and forgiveness in an extraordinarily personal way.
In the political classes, when you embarrass the President, a kind of divorce takes place. You are rapidly cut off; you instantly become persona non grata. That didn't happen to me. The most powerful man in the world did what almost never happens in the political classes: he forgave me. He extended to me the same grace and mercy that had been extended to him in his own life.
" Even in an election year,
OUR WORK IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS.
It's about redemption."
It was surreal. Clearly, the President's faith was the foundation of his forgiveness, which he gave without hesitation and unconditionally. The grace extended to me was not rooted in some abstract theory about how two kingdoms – government and faith, politics and religion – should mingle or intersect. It was a lived reality for me, and I'll never forget it.
Having been in the political world, I've met every kind of person imaginable – those who embrace faith, and those who reject God outright. Do you know what I've found? Even lost souls – especially lost souls – gain their best ideas from people of faith. The same people who argue for abortion rights and same-sex "marriage" and the removal of God from our culture insist that we must reach out to the poor and the helpless, exercise tolerance and generosity, treat people of every race and background with fairness.
Of course, those are all biblical ideas … beliefs grounded in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yet so many of those who hold these ideas as their standard are determined to separate them from the God Who embodied them. They want the benefits of the Christian faith without the One who gave those benefits to us.
As believers, we see that discrepancy, and the danger. And: we have the opportunity, the responsibility – indeed, a calling – to transcend it. We have the King's ear. We are blessed to work alongside Him and to do His good bidding. We truly serve "the Leader of the Free World."
And that, I now know, is what makes the work of these two great allies, ADF and Focus on the Family, so crucial: by preserving religious liberty, ADF is keeping a door open for those of us who've been set free to extend that same freedom to others. By putting marriages, families, and parenting in the middle of what we do, Focus is opening people's hearts to their Father's love.
Even in an election year, our work is not about politics. It's about redemption – standing at the crossroads of faith and government to extend an unimaginable and unswerving grace in an extraordinarily personal way.