Faith-based groups optimistic about an Obama presidency

By January 20, 2009

USA (MNN) — For the first time in United States history, the country has a black president. Many Americans feel a sense of pride that the nation has hurdled what's been called "the color barrier." While celebrating this milestone, many Christians wonder what a Barak Obama presidency will mean for faith-based initiatives.

The U.S. Executive Director of the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee Andrew Ryskamp says the Obama Administration has expressed interest in keeping the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives open. However, "There was a warning sign that the Obama Administration might insist that faith-based–especially Christian–organizations not restrict their hiring policies to people of Christian persuasion. Indications are that he will not insist on that."

As a member of the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations (AERDO), Ryskamp says he'll be watching that closely. So far, he's been pleased with how President Obama has reached out to them. "He has been very open and has invited us into discussion on how relief and development plays into a foreign policy perspective. And so, he's been very open to including faith-based organizations," Ryskamp added.

Ryskamp says Obama's experience as a community organizer will help give a voice to Christian organizations.

He says the biggest question will be about HIV/AIDS funding. Ryskamp says CRWRC wants to continue with their message: "To encourage faithfulness in marriage and abstinence before marriage. Those are things that we will continue to work on and hopefully be able to maintain in the current administration."

This type of Bible-based education provides opportunities to share the Gospel.

Ryskamp is asking Christians to pray that the Obama administration will "recognize the effectiveness of faith-based organizations." The number of communities that we're able to impact because we are involved with the church in so many of these countries is just phenomenal."

He's hoping those relationships will only be improved through Faith-Based Initiatives funding.

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