December 2021 – According to Rev. Halford E. Luccock, “No one can whistle a symphony; it takes a whole orchestra to play it.”
AFA Journal staff members heartily agree. Though not musicians, we realize it takes an entire orchestra of people to help produce each issue of this magazine.
With that in mind, we celebrate some vital but unseen members of our orchestra – ministries, organizations, and companies that play a continual part in making AFAJ a reality.
Interweaving the music metaphor with the Christmas season, we decided to begin introductions by asking AFAJ’s orchestra members to share their favorite carols.
Let’s begin introductions with George Barna, author, professor, and director of research at the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University (CRC). Barna and staff conduct nationwide surveys, measure the worldview of Americans, and facilitate biblically based cultural transformation actions undertaken by ministries and believers throughout the U.S.
CRC’s research is vital to AFAJ writers, especially as we share current events in the “Issues@Hand” section. Moreover, Barna is a trusted name in research for secular and religious researchers and writers.
Barna told AFAJ that his favorite Christmas song is “O Holy Night.”
“I love the melody,” he said, “and often sense the presence of the Holy Spirit when listening to this song, especially during the chorus.
“My wife, daughters, and I have had some special moments together during live performances of this song, particularly at the Christmas play that used to be offered at the Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim, [California].”
As president and chairman of Pre-Born!, celebrating the birth of Jesus also resonates with Dan Steiner, his wife Valerie, and their family, particularly since Pre-Born! exists to save babies and introduce people to Christ.
AFAJ proudly advertises Pre-Born!’s two-fold mission in each issue, and last year, American Family Radio (AFR) listeners helped underwrite purchases of ultrasound machines and sessions for mothers in pregnancy care centers.
“Over 30,000 babies have been saved in 2021,” Steiner stated, “with over 5,000 young mothers giving their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. … Many AFR listeners have been part of this great victory.”
Accentuating the glory of God’s Son, the song “Mary, Did You Know?” has particular meaning for the Steiner family, demonstrating that even in the womb, Christ’s destiny was sure.
“The song portrays this [truth] beautifully,” said Steiner, “and is such a testimony for what Pre-Born! does and what we invest our lives in.”
Similarly, Mark Breta, publicist at Jones Literary, loves “Joy to the World” for its meaningful reminder that Jesus came as a baby to live among us, sacrificing Himself for our sins, opening the way to heaven, and promising His victorious return.
“Though we sing it at Christmastime,” Breta explained, “this celebration of the Lord’s first coming as a baby really was an anthem anticipating His second coming, as David writes in Psalm 98.
“Its majestic melody always welcomes in the holiday season, calling not only to the followers of Christ but proclaiming its message to the world.”
Jones Literary promotes that same message daily as a Nashville-based public relations and literary agency specializing in Christian books and media. Their publicists, Breta included, share the latest Christian books with AFAJ, allowing staff writers to review new titles and interview Christian authors.
Michael Farris, president and CEO of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and his large family of 10 children and 27 grandchildren enjoy the message and the music of “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem.”
“I especially love the music when there are dulcimers in the band,” said Farris. “But it’s the lyrics about Jesus being the star that lights our way that reaches my soul with a profound truth.”
Over 30 years ago, Farris and two of his children wrote their own family carol. “It’s based on the Advent wreath and the meaning of each of the candles,” said Farris. “The fifth candle is for Jesus, the light of the world and the King of Kings.
“Hearing us all together singing this song is the highlight of every Christmas.”
ADF is the world’s largest legal organization working to protect the rights of religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
AFAJ keeps readers abreast of ADF’s work, including its 13 Supreme Court wins since 2011, and their successes in almost 80% of cases.
AFA founder Don Wildmon was among leaders assisting and advising when ADF was founded, and our president Tim Wildmon has served on its board for many years.
For Karen Steele, senior publicist for Revell Fiction, Christmas memories also revolve around her family singing beloved carols.
“When our kids were little, my family and I would gather around our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve,” said Steele. “We would read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke and enjoy singing some of our favorite Christmas songs. ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ was always one of our favorites.
“It’s a very old song and dates back to 1862, but I love how this song captures the events that took place in Bethlehem on the night Christ was born.”
A division of Baker Publishing Group, Revell Fiction helps bring the Christian faith to everyday life through the pages of high-quality, relevant writings that represent historic Christianity and serve the diverse interests and concerns of evangelical readers.
Steele always provides AFAJ staff with the latest works from Revell Fiction, as well as opportunities to meet and interview those authors. And she does so with consistent encouragement for our staff and concern for our readers.
AFAJ readers would never hear about those books or even be able to read one page of the magazine without the efforts of James Pilcher and other members of the printing team at Freeport Press.
Freeport works closely with the staff of AFAJ, but they also print various other denominational and association publications and catalogs. So we are only one of a long list of Freeport partners.
Freeport’s vice president of sales, Pilcher and his wife Lorrie have been married over 24 years and have seven children. Currently, he attends Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Our family’s favorite Christmas carol is ‘O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,’” shared Pilcher, “as it encompasses such rich theological truths within its stanzas.”
For Pilcher, the song testifies of God’s wisdom and perfectly ordered creation, telling the story of God’s chosen people to whom He gave the gift of His Son – the reigning, ruling, and returning King.
“We are reminded in the refrain,” stated Pilcher, “that because of His coming, His fulfillment of the law, and His righteousness applied to our lives, we have hope, and because of that hope, we are to rejoice!”
Rejoice! Wasn’t that the theme of the very first Christmas message spoken by angels to shepherds long ago?
Likewise, may the symphony of the entire orchestra here at AFAJ always resound with that initial Christmas message of “good tidings of great joy” to all our readers: Rejoice!
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6, KJV).
Find out more about our partners
▶ Cultural Research Arizona at Arizona Christian university arizonachristian.edu
▶ Pre-Born! preborn.org
▶ Jones Literary jonesliterary.com
▶ Alliance Defending Freedom adflegal.org
▶ Baker Publishing Group bakerpublishinggroup.com
▶ Freeport Press freeportpress.com