PODCAST: Bible Sales on the Rise Worldwide (UCNN 12.31.20)

This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to CBN News, Bible sales are up worldwide this year as people around the world continue to grapple with the realities of the coronavirus pandemic. Lifeway Christian Resources, one of the world’s largest providers of Christian books and educational materials, said there was a significant increase in Bible sales from April through June. Carol Pipes, Lifeway’s director of corporate communications told CBN News that Bible sales have “remained strong since the outbreak of the coronavirus in the US.” The company’s Chief Executive Officer Ben Mandrell explained that scripture has a way of bringing hope and healing to many during times of hardship. “We believe this is no accident, as people often go to the Bible as a source of hope in times of crisis and uncertainty,” Mandrell said. “People draw hope from scripture because in it they see a God who is with us during our suffering. The Bible, as God’s words to us, is a reminder that He doesn’t leave us to walk through difficult times alone.”

According to NBC Los Angeles, San Diego County health officials confirmed Wednesday that the COVID-19 variant found in the U.K. and in Colorado was detected in a patient in San Diego. California Gov. Gavin Newsom first announced in a joint news conference with Dr. Anthony Fauci the COVID-19 variant was detected in Southern California, but did not provide any more specifics on exactly where or how B.1.1.7 was discovered. Later, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced the variant had been detected in a 30-year-old man in San Diego County with no travel history outside the county. The man was tested on December 29 after two days of symptoms and a diagnostic test on the S gene dropout was confirmed to have B.1.1.7. The patient is not hospitalized and contact tracing is currently underway, health officials explained. There is one household contact who became symptomatic and was tested Wednesday. The man had little interaction with people outside his household while potentially contagious.

According to Daily Mail, Sarah Simental had just celebrated her 18th birthday last month and was looking forward to graduating from high school next spring, when COVID-19 suddenly took her life earlier this week, just days after she complained of headaches and congestion. Simental, from Tinley Park, Illinois, lost her battle with the virus on Sunday, less than a week after receiving her diagnosis. Parents Deborah and Donald Simental said Sarah was an otherwise healthy teenager with no underlying medical conditions before the coronavirus wreaked havoc on her body. According to Sarah’s mother, it all started a few days before Christmas, when Sarah first complained of mild cold-like symptoms. But the high school student’s condition rapidly deteriorated and her mother took her to get a COVID test on December 19, which came back positive the next day. Over the next three days, Sarah continued adding new and increasingly concerning symptoms, including vomiting, chills and body aches. Her parents rushed Sarah to Silver Cross Hospital two days before Christmas, but her health continued rapidly declining, and she was eventually airlifted to University of Chicago Medical Center. Deborah Simental recalled, “I know she fought because one of the last times I was able to talk to her on the phone, they were taking her from the regular room to ICU and she said “I am going to be OK, mom,” and that was the last thing.” Despite the doctors’ efforts to save her, Sarah passed away on December 26, less than a week after her COVID diagnosis.

According to CBN News, From election controversy to run-off Senate races, the state of Georgia is Ground Zero when it comes to politics these days. But other news you may not have heard about concerns a move of God that’s taking place about 90 miles northwest of Savannah, as part of the Swainsboro Awakening, Awake America Again Tent Crusade. So far, Evangelist D.R. Harrison says well over 200 people have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and most of them are between the ages of 13 and 20. Harrison said, “The pastor called back earlier in the year and invited us to come, and they’d been praying and seeking the face of God, and from the first service, the Power of God began to fall in this town. “And literally, teenagers are coming from everywhere, from all backgrounds, social statuses, high school, middle school, and the church is literally packed out with teens every night, searching for hope in Jesus Christ.” Harrison says teens continue to bring their friends to the revival at the Hillcrest Baptist Church. “And then they’re coming, and they’re getting saved. We’ve experienced kids laying their drugs on the altar, their vapes on the altar, and then immediately after getting saved, going out and standing on the streets, holding signs, saying, ‘Jesus loves you,’ ‘Jesus changed my life,’ ‘Come to Revival and help yourself.’ I mean just it’s unbelievable what God is doing in these young people in this town of Swainsboro, Georgia.” The revival has outgrown the church building, and Harrison says a big tent will be set up to accommodate the people.

According to the Associated Press, A 7-year-old girl who was shot in the head by a stray bullet after Christmas shopping with her family in Atlanta has died, marking another fatality in a city suffering from a spike in gun violence. Kennedy Maxie succumbed to her injuries Saturday night, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office told news outlets Sunday. The young girl had been in critical condition since she was struck while riding in a car Dec. 21 near the popular Phipps Plaza mall in the city’s Buckhead neighborhood. Several men in a nearby parking lot had gotten into a fight that led to gunfire. Police have been examining surveillance footage from the scene in an attempt to identify a suspect, but no arrests have been made. In a statement to news outlets, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said police have “significant leads” in the investigation, and urged the public to provide information “that will lead to the arrests of the careless and heartless people responsible for Kennedy’s death.” Kennedy’s death comes as city officials grapple with a spike in slayings across Atlanta. There have been 155 homicides in the city this year, making it the deadliest year Atlanta has had in more than two decades.

According to the Associated Press, Joe Louis Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film “Lean on Me,” died at his Florida home on Tuesday after a long battle with an unspecified illness, his family said. He was 82. At crime- and drug-ridden Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, Clark expelled 300 students in a single day for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers and drug possession. That lifted the expectations of those who remained, continually challenging them to perform better. Clark’s unorthodox methods, which included roaming the hallways with a bullhorn and a baseball bat, won him both admirers and critics nationwide. President Ronald Reagan offered Clark a White House policy adviser position after his success at the high school. Morgan Freeman starred as Clark in the 1989 film “Lean on Me” that was loosely based on Clark’s tenure at Eastside.

According to Daily Mail, Justin Bieber is studying to become a minister according to OK! Magazine. The pop star, who has credited Hillsong Church for pulling him out of his most ‘dark’ times, is reportedly interested in taking a leadership role at the church following the controversial exit of pastor and former mentor Carl Lentz. Following Lentz’s exit for what the church called “leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures” in November, Bieber “believes he can take a leadership position in restoring order.” According to insiders, the singer feels like it’s his job to give back to the community after all the ways they’ve helped him. The source said, “Justin has never felt happier or healthier, and he says he owes it to the church.” They went on, saying: “Justin believes he can take a leadership position in restoring order” to Hillsong after Lentz’s departure. According to OK’s insiders, Bieber has an active role in Hillsong, participating as a choir member and he doesn’t plan on his new spiritual role taking him away from music. The source said, “[He] doesn’t plan to give up his music career, but he feels there’s a bigger calling out there for him. He wants to be a full-fledged minister next year.”

You can read these stories and more at UrbanChristianNews.com

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!