Defend, contend for the Christian faith
Randall Murphree
AFA Journal editor

June 2020“Last year’s Christ-focused conference was riveting and challenging,” according to AFA executive vice president Ed Vitagliano. “Speakers were clearly anointed by the Holy Spirit to bring a timely word for Christians who seek insight, encouragement, and boldness for such a time as this.”

The AFA Marriage, Family, Life (MFL) conference has its roots in the heart of Wil Addison, AFA director of special initiatives. His vision? An event to equip families with a firm grip on God’s Word that will motivate them – from young kids and teens to parents and grandparents – to share their Christian faith in daily life.

“I was burdened by the condition of Christian families,” Addison told AFA Journal, “and I wanted to provide training that would equip parents to disciple and train their children, and hold the line in our culture.”

When AFA leadership approved Addison’s proposal for an apologetics event in 2018, he and his wife Meeke, AFA assistant for special initiatives, assembled a remarkable slate of high-powered presenters, mini-concerts for youth, and a unique track introducing young children to apologetics.

MFL 2020 promises even more.

Emphasis on children, teens
The Addisons homeschool their five children, ages 3-13. They carefully teach them to know their faith, understand the Bible, and articulate Christian faith in their lives each day. (See below for an engaging example.)

Their family experience fuels a deep passion for seeing the truths of the Bible instilled in the youngest generation of Christians across the nation. At MFL 2020, Maria Hamilton will oversee an ambitious MFL kids track for ages 4-12 with lively age-appropriate activities and learning sessions. A teen track will appeal to that age group. Hamilton and her husband Abraham are parents of five.

“This is not babysitting!” Meeke Addison declared – with emphasis.

“We cannot stress this enough. We are training our kids to respond to tough questions and aggressive objections to their faith. We want them to be ready and able to hold firmly to truth and pass it down intact to the generation after them.”

The conference places such high emphasis on youth and children because the anti-Christian culture begins indoctrinating them early, planting competing ideas about who God is or if He exists at all.

Wil Addison added, “Our culture is relentless in its pursuit of our children; parents must not be idle. We see that transgenerational discipleship is critical to the proliferation of the gospel.”

He pointed to 2 Timothy 2:2 in which Paul challenged Timothy: “The things which you have heard from me … entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Education for adults
Adults will be inspired and challenged by a stellar cast of speakers. (See below.)

Among AFA staff members on the podium will be Alex McFarland addressing the topic, “How do We Know the Bible is Accurate and Still Relevant?”

In addition to his own multi-focused ministries (alexmcfarland.com), along with Bert Harper, McFarland co-hosts Exploring the Word on American Family Radio (AFR; M-F, 3-4 p.m. CT). He explained why he’s excited about his first appearance on the MFL platform.

“Not that many years ago,” he said, “even many in Christian academia weren’t aware that we could or should defend the gospel. Our culture had been so steeped in Christianity that many assumed the biblical residue which had characterized America for two centuries could never be erased.”

When McFarland began hosting worldview and apologetics events in the early 1990s, he was helping birth an increased push urging Christians to ask questions – and to seek answers: Can we be certain God exists? What is the evidence for Jesus’s resurrection? Is the Bible really the Word of God?

Abraham Hamilton, AFA general counsel, addresses cultural, political, and family issues on The Hamilton Corner, an AFR afternoon drive-time show (M-F, 5-6 p.m. CT). His MFL topic will be “The Great Commission and Your Full-Time Job.” (Hint: that “job” just might be parenting.)

Meeke Addison will speak on “Why Truth Remains: Exploring the Long Standoff Between the Church and Culture’s Attempt to Weaken Truth.” The Addisons co-host AFR’s Airing the Addisons on how to change the culture by strengthening families (M-F, 2-3 p.m. CT).

The MFL 2020 theme, “In Defense of Truth,” reflects Peter’s admonition to always be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Jude 3 likewise exhorts Christ followers to “contend earnestly for the faith.”

Wil Addison characterized the challenge for Christians in today’s culture: “We are soccer goalies, we are playing defense trying to block so many attacks on truth. I’m thinking of the attacks on marriage, family, sexuality, and sexual identity.”

His goal for MFL is to equip believers to play offense – to be both prepared and bold in defending the faith, as it is under assault by the secular values of today.

AFA president Tim Wildmon said, “I can’t say enough good about the impact this annual conference is having on the families who attend. I look forward to seeing you in Tupelo soon.”

McFarland observed: “Back in 2006, the Barna research group reported only 9% of Americans held to a Christian worldview. Today, Barna reports only 6% hold to a Christian worldview.

“The need to call God’s church back to a recognition of biblical authority is urgent.”  

Why kids and apologetics?
When kids are equipped, they are bold. When they can answer skeptics’ objections, they will speak up. We see this in our children.

Recently our 10-year-old son J.D. encountered a 10-year-old functional agnostic. This friend said he believed God exists but ultimately asserted that this God had not created the world. We were all the result of random chance and time. He learned this in school.

J.D. (because of rigorous training) was able to push back against this inconsistent assertion. I’m so grateful. He recounted for us how the Holy Spirit reminded him of what he had learned in defense of the scientific objections. He was able to talk about fine tuning, and the impossibility of random chance. This is something I would have been unable to do at that age.

What’s most important is that we realize our kids will not face this “sometime down the line,” when they’re older; they are facing this and other objections right now. We cannot leave them ill-equipped.

They are depending on us. And whether we believe it or not, we are depending on them. They are the agents to change culture. They are the missionaries within their own generations.

– Meeke Addison (photo above, right)

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All-Star lineup
In addition to AFA’s Alex McFarland, Meeke Addison, and Abraham Hamilton, other presenters will include:

 Dr. Frank Turek – How to Defend Your Faith in the Public Square.
 Elizabeth Parker – The Reality of Abolishing Abortion.
 Dr. Michael Brown – Cultural Engagement Led by the Spirit of God.
 Laura Petherbridge – Marriage Without Masks.
 Bishop E.W. Jackson – The Heart of a Father.

Caution: Stay updated at marriagefamilylife.net regarding any changes in the MFL 2020 schedule.