HAWAII, June 2, 2012 — In two weeks one of the world’s largest faith organizations, Kenneth Copeland Ministries (KCM) will be sending pastors to Honolulu to preach the Gospel message and exhort local believers for an upcoming faith conference entitled the “Living Victory Pacific Rim Faith Encounter.”
Among one of the pastors scheduled to visit Hawaii is Dr. Stephen Lowell Swisher, who is a son-in-law of founder Kenneth Copeland and a national televangelist who advocates religious freedom by meeting year-round with local legislators, mayors, governors and even former U.S. presidents. As a both a Rhodes scholar and a regular visitor to Hawaii, Dr. Swisher’s opinions on matters of faith and national policy are very much in demand here.
I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Swisher between conferences to ask him for a faith perspective on the economy, fiscal policy and family matters. What follows is a transcript, with light edits for clarity and length.
Danny de Gracia: Right now seems like a very difficult time to start or raise a family. Things are getting more expensive, bills are going up and many people who want to work are either underemployed or unemployed. What would be your advice to people who are proactive and doing their very best to make ends meet but are still struggling and becoming more and more frustrated?
Dr. Stephen Swisher: God is faithful to His word and His people. Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” God gave us His Word to never leave us to fail us. He is mighty and works on our behalf when we put Him first.
Romans 8:28 says “All things work together for good to them that love God.” It may seem at times that we are in the midst of the storm, but He will always take care of and provide for those who put Him first. We must cast our cares upon Him and know that He is our caretaker.
DDG: Some people feel that God doesn’t want them to prosper because lately, all they know is failure or disappointment. What would be your advice to them?
Dr. Swisher: Contrary to what most people believe, the Bible speaks about and addresses prosperity more than any other subject. 3 John 1:2 tells us that God’s desire for us is to prosper and be in good health, even as our soul prospers. The only true failure a person has is by quitting and refusing to continue on in their race. Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” God is able to turn any situation around for a person who refuses to quit.
DDG: If someone has never prayed before or never asked God for help before and would like to start now, how would they go about doing that?
Dr. Swisher: Prayer does not have to be a perfectly written speech that one would write to a dignitary. It is a simple conversation between two persons who have an intimate relationship. The first time Gloria Copeland talked to God, she had never prayed before. And she simply said, “God, take my life and do something with it.” It’s that easy and will change a life forever.
DDG: What is the Bible’s opinion about money and acquisition of wealth?
Dr. Swisher: Money is always a controversial topic when looked at in a religious way. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:6 that “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Money is not evil and is necessary to function in society and be able to be a blessing in other people’s lives. We as Christians are ultimately blessed to be a blessing to others. It is not for us. Over a few chapters, in 1 Timothy 6 God is called “the living God, who giveth us all things richly to enjoy.” God is a God of love and abundance, not of depression or destruction.
DDG: Let’s talk about debt and financial stewardship. Today a lot of people routinely rack up debt without any thought of paying it off. Is this good or bad?
Dr. Swisher: Debt is not the best plan for our lives. Romans 13:8 says, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another.” Kenneth and Gloria started their lives together with a significant amount of debt. In 1967, they stood on this Scripture and with their faith decided to live in God’s best and get out of debt. Within 6 months, they were completely debt free and have continued to walk in that financially free path for the last 45 years in ministry. And KCM is completely debt free to this day.
DDG: There’s a verse of Scripture in Revelation 6:6 that talks about prices of food in the future: “Two pounds of wheat for a day’s wages, and six pounds of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine.” Do you think what’s happening in the world right now is leading to a fulfillment of that verse?
Dr. Swisher: I don’t believe what is happening in the world today is necessarily the Biblical fulfillment of this Scripture, but rather a failure to make wise choices. We must realize the choices we make today have ramifications on our future. If we decide to continue in debt as a nation or family, the result is financial distress instead of joy and freedom.
As Christians, we are protected under God’s blessing. That blessing keeps us from being effected by things that are happening in the world, financially or otherwise. But it is still incumbent upon us to make wise choices, tithe at least 10 percent of our income to God’s work and to save money from each paycheck for the future.
DDG: Do you think that people of faith should get involved in politics as a means to address economic problems? For example, do you think opposing tax hikes should be a “faith” issue?
Dr. Swisher: Absolutely! Everything is a faith issue. Our country was founded on God and the Bible. Our Constitution and the Declaration of Independence both contain Biblical quotes. It is time that we get back to the fundamental principle that the United States of America was, is, and always shall be established as “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” This country has been divided for too long, straying away from the truth of the Bible.
DDG: In terms of electing candidates to office, do you think that America would benefit if more people of faith were in government?
Dr. Swisher: Yes, we definitely need more faith at the polls. Christians need to realize their call to action and get more engaged and involved in the process of voting. We speak about this almost every week of the year as we travel across our great nation.
Recent polls state that roughly 40% of Christians are registered to vote. If we want a voice, we need to get to the polls. It is our responsibility and duty, not only as a citizen of this great country but as a child of God to stand up and to speak out.
DDG: What’s your personal opinion about the way our country is going right now? What do you think would make things better, if you could change anything right now?
I wholeheartedly appreciate this question, but as a public figure and ministry leader I don’t think my opinion about specific candidates which could be drawn from my direct answer to this question would be productive. But I will say emphatically that people of Faith must get engaged now.
We must be willing to get informed about candidates, find the ones that espouse and champion the values we embrace and then get involved and help that candidate get elected, financially, spiritually and through active campaigning.
DDG: Last but not least, do you have anything you’d like to tell our readers in DC?
Our thoughts and prayers are with each and every one of you. We so appreciate the love and support of our partner base there in DC who faithfully stand with us for this nation each day of the year.
We are always in prayer for our nation’s leadership as 1 Timothy 2 tells us. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
I truly believe that the brightest days lay before us as a Country and we are standing on God’s promises and the example of our Lord Jesus Christ in full expectation of great miracles happening this year.
In case you missed it: see also our earlier interview with Dr. Swisher.
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