Monday, August 27, 2018

POLITICAL ACTIVISM - What I have learned from running for Congress (Part 2 of 3)

By Bunni Pounds

I wouldn’t have done anything like running for Congress if I hadn’t learned to pray. I covered that in Part 1 of this series which you can read here. But the point of this new article is, prayer should move us to ACTION at some point. What do we do when we feel like we need to do more than pray?

When we pray, we connect and care about something or someone more than we do ourselves. Prayer in its true form is ultimate unselfishness. 

Ben, Bunni, and Tim Pounds (Israel in Romania)

When I pray for my husband and my sons, I care for them deeper because I am connecting my heart to them through prayer. This action turns around and creates more love in my heart for them. It just happens. When I pray for my clients, I care more about their lives and want to serve them with more fervor and integrity. Prayer changes our hearts. 

If you want to love more, pray more. If you want to pray more, ask God for love. It is a circular cycle that produces growth and longevity.

In the end, prayer should provide a change in our hearts, where we have to act. 

The book of James says, “Faith without works is dead.”

I believe if the Church really starts praying for our nation and our state, not just giving that discipline lip service, but actually praying- it will produce something in our hearts that will cause us to impact our culture. There will be something in us that will want to take responsibility for the decay in our world and DO something. Again, if we pray. 

I ran for Congress after ten years of political activism in my city and our district and I truly believe that prayer led me to that action.

There is a question for all of us here though- once we learn how to pray for our nation each day and in an intentional way, how do we move to the next step? 
I truly believe we can change the world if we do three simple things when it involves our civic duty and political activism. 

If this race that I just went through has taught me nothing else - it is that these three things HAVE to happen to move the needle in our political culture. 

#1 - Vote in EVERY Election

Can you imagine a world where Christians voted in every election and took our right to vote, enshrined in our Constitution and a right fought for by patriots before us, extremely serious?

What if we, who seek discernment and wisdom from God, actually weighed in with a simple vote to impact our cities, our state, and our nation?

During the last Presidential election, it is estimated that 60% of Evangelical Christians voted. It was said to have been a huge victory for Christians in America. But here is a question, where were the other 40% of “born again” Christians? Where were the full coalition of values voters who are strongly pro-life, pro-family, pro-liberty? We influenced an election - but can you imagine if we had ALL participated?

In my city in Garland, we recently had a mayoral election. In a city of over 230,000 people, our new mayor was elected in a field of three people by only 1700 votes. Only 5000 votes were cast in the whole race which is only 1% of the population of our city.

Where were all the church goers? Where are all the members of First Baptist Garland, First at Firewheel, First United Methodist, and so on? I guarantee the amount of people who go to church in our city is at least 30% at a minimum. What would happen if we all showed up at the voting booth during a city election? 

When I first started working for Congressman Hensarling ten years ago, there was a mayor in Kaufman who was elected by only one vote. I called Dr. Fortner "the one vote mayor". Who says that one vote doesn’t make a difference?

In the Bible - it talks about how we ,as the children of God, are going to rule and reign with Jesus in the new heavenly kingdom. We are designed in our “new creation” DNA to be leaders and to be light and salt. If we used this in the sphere of voting only, we could change the world.
Nick Anderson (c) 2014 Houston Chronicle

I was privileged to be in 17 churches during my Congressional run. 17 bold pastors either acknowledged me from the pulpit or had me speak for 5 to 10 minutes to their congregations. I am forever thankful to them for believing in me and/or giving their congregations some education on the political world. Without analyzing the complete membership rolls of those churches in the district, I can tell you pretty frankly that if all the members of those churches alone had showed up to vote in the Republican Primary Runoff, it would have been a different story. Numbers matter in elections and our commitment to let our voices be heard should be a big YES in our hearts.

If we, as individuals, committed to voting in every election, we could change the world. 

These elections include:

- the general election - whether it is a presidential year or a gubernatorial year
- every primary and runoff elections of your political party (where by the way, the real lasting decisions get made since more “seats” are districted safe one way or another for one party)
- Constitutional amendment elections that we have here in Texas where the people weigh in on changes to our State Constitution
- City elections where the people who impact our lives the most get picked by a very small margin of people

All of these elections are important and we have a responsibility to be light and salt in our nation by picking our leaders. We can make a difference!

Will you take the pledge with me to vote in EVERY election?

#2 - Adopt a Candidate or a Cause

Moving to the other side of the curtain so to speak, going from a political activist and consultant to being the actual candidate has changed my perspective on how important volunteers, donors, and people who truly care about the candidate are to their lives and their mission. 

I cannot underestimate the power of one voice, one life, and one volunteer in the life of a candidate. When they are putting their lives, their livelihoods, and their families on the front line of the battle, those people walking beside them mean so much. 

In my race I had many heroes, but I want to highlight just a few of them here.
One of my heroes - Doc Collins

My friend and fellow activist, Doc Collins, leader of the Edom Tea Party in Van Zandt County who has fought against bone cancer for a few years. He went and had a chemo treatment on the Monday of early voting during the runoff -  but was at the polls on Monday afternoon and every day through Friday with his “Bunni Pounds for Congress” sign - faithful to support and to talk to voters about why they needed to pick me for the good of the country.

Pastors Ron and Kay Rose in Cherokee County who had only supported Congressman Hensarling before but we had become friends through the years in our work for him. They got hooked on helping me in my race. They hosted events for me during the Primary and the Runoff, they were my yard sign coordinators for the county, and blessed the campaign with resources for our cause. They also had me in their church. I will never forget what they did for me. They are precious, precious, precious people. 

Ron & Kay Rose, their church members and friends during Primary

A beautiful lady named Ruth York in Cisco, Texas (nowhere near our district) sent me a card a few days after my loss. It was a special card. I met her a month or so later at an event and she hugged me and told me that she prayed for me every day of my race. I believe her. I felt her love in that hug.

Amanda Goodman from Forney showed up at the polls on the runoff Election Day asking to help. What was special about Amanda was that she had cerebral palsy. She asked to have two Bunni Pounds signs put on her wheelchair and she said to everyone who passed by- “Please vote for Bunni Pounds.” I never met Amanda but hope to very soon. 

Amanda in Forney - another of my heroes

Who are these beautiful people? The hundreds of volunteers and the thousands of donors who invested a part of their time or treasure into my campaign - they are beautiful people. They said to me everyday by their actions, as I was putting my life on the front lines of the battle, that I was not alone.

I highly encourage everyone to adopt a candidate or an issue and make a difference through political activism. When we connect, when we invest a couple hours of our time, or when we donate $25 or $100 into a candidate or cause, we move to being the answer to our own prayers. 

If you do it, you might just get hooked like Pastor Ron Rose. 

#3 - Connect Somewhere and Let your Voice be Heard.

Around three weeks after my loss, I showed up where I belonged at the Republican State Convention. I have been a delegate to the Texas GOP Convention every two years since 2004. Besides my real family and my church, I have found life-long relationships within the Republican Party as we have sweated and worked together. When I was walking into the convention, I was walking among my family.

I was shocked at how many people said, “I can’t believe you are here after what you just went through,” “Good for you for being here, proud of you,” “So glad you are still a part of us”. To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about not going and I found so much healing for my soul in the midst of my people- the grassroots of our party. 

With my girlfriends at the TX GOP convention
When you connect with a candidate, a political party, a grassroots organization like Texas Eagle Forum, an interest group focused on a single issue like Texas Right to Life, or a political club in your neighborhood - you will find an educational experience, a cause and a mission, but you will also find friendship. Friends make work so much more fun! When you are hanging out with like-minded folks, you find community in the midst of mission.

I want to encourage everyone who will take the step toward political activism to connect somewhere. You will not be disappointed at the results. Again if we move beyond hundreds of people to thousands of people getting engaged - we can change the world. 

So prayer produces action. Action produces sometimes trials and persecution. Then we have to overcome and learn to walk in peace and joy in the midst of being on the front lines of a battle. That is the part of action that we normally want to avoid, but it is where we truly become strong people and where we discover who we really are. 

We will talk about all of that in Part 3. Stay tuned - one more part of this series. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

PRAYER - What I have learned from running for Congress (Part 1 of 3)

By Bunni Pounds

I wouldn’t have done anything if I hadn’t learned to pray. I definitely wouldn't have had the courage or the boldness to run for Congress. 

‪PRAYER.  It should be our top priority for our nation, but yet it is the last thing we think about doing.

It is easier to yell at the TV or mouth off on social media letting all our anger and negativity out. But just like every burden we have, the burden has a place where it is fit to go- at the feet of Jesus. As believers, God is trying to speak to us. He is trying to move us.

We are the ones who should have discernment and wisdom about the state of our world. We are the ones who should see injustices and have clarity of what needs to be done to make things right. But I want to submit something to all of us today. I want us to consider that as we see the problems in our nation and our world clearly – that we have discernment for a purpose. Let’s consider turning those burdens into prayers. Let’s consider intercession. 

Many of us haven’t been taught or mentored in the art of prayer but prayer in simply this: Talking to God. Conversation. Real conversation along our daily walk.

Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

The exhortation here is - Don’t fear. Don’t let your stomach get all tied up in knots over the state of the world. Pray! Release it to God. Take your thoughts, your concerns for our nation and turn them into conversation with the God of the Universe who loves you and cares about the issues of the world even more than you do. 

My prayer journey went into overdrive about five years ago in a prayer room in Romania with about 40 Romanian Bible School students. These kids - eighteen, nineteen, and twenty-year old’s were crying out to God for their friends, their families, and their nation. I was humbled. I was a talented political operative who had worked full-time for a Member of Congress for over five years at that point, but I didn’t even begin to know how to pray for my nation like they did. 

I asked myself these questions. Do I really carry a burden for America?

Do I just like to complain (yes, it was during the Obama years) or did I really EVER take it to the Lord in prayer?

I was humbled, and I was strongly convicted. 

Over the last five years, I have come back to my first love of seeking God, submitting my petitions to him, and realizing that I could be the greatest political activist in the nation (which I am not…), but without God’s intervention in the affairs of men, I could do nothing.

I dug deep into the Bible on prayer. I read books on prayer. I was mentored by great people who pray. I was changed. I was still an active political activist and operative who worked for a mission and a cause, but I was now a praying one. 

The tents in the National Mall filled with worship & prayer
Thousands of women praying - October 2017
This journey led me to a field in Washington DC last October. It was a special field - The National Mall. There was an event for three days with people coming from all over the nation to pray and worship for 24 hours a day. People took shifts. Every state had a tent and then there was a main stage for large worship services. It was 24 hours of prayer and worship on the National mall that culminated with a final Monday eight-hour prayer meeting of mostly women, approx. 50,000 of us, on the lawn looking forward to the U.S. Capital and backward to the Washington Monument.

I got there at 6:30 am with two Romanian Bible School students and my son’s Brazilian American girlfriend. I was the old person in the mix with these three young Bible School students who were on fire for Jesus. It was life-changing as we cried out to God together for the unborn, racial reconciliation for our cities, peace for our nation, and godly leaders to be raised up. I wept as I looked over to the Capital and asked God to end abortion in my generation and to raise up Godly leaders who would move within His presence and listen to His voice. 

A month later, I am running for Congress. 

I am not completely sure what happened over the month of November, but in my search to find our conservative voice for our District, I found my own voice. I became prayer. I laid my life down as an offering for the people I loved in the 5th District of Texas. 

Though I got through the first round of eight candidates, I fell short in the runoff by 2600 votes, but this I know- I became a prayer. I learned a little more about prayer than I ever thought possible. 

I don’t believe I would have run for Congress if I hadn’t learned to pray and to practice it in my life. I don’t think I could have ever raised $890,000 in less than six months to run a seven-county race, if I hadn’t learned to pray. I don’t think my testimony would have been the same of having peace and joy in my soul during persecution and suffering if I hadn’t learned to pray. 

I became intercession for our area and I lived it out to the best of my ability.

I challenge you to ask God to teach you to pray. When the disciples came to Jesus on the mountain before He taught them the Lord’s Prayer, they didn’t ask him how to minister better, how to be a better political activist, or how to heal the sick, they asked Jesus to “teach us to pray.” They knew that ultimately His power came from one place- His intimacy with God. 

Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” 

Here in the scriptures we see the description of Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father always, non-stop, making intercession for us. Jesus is praying for us always. He is praying for ME always. It is personal. This truth gives me so much comfort and it should give you so much comfort. He sees us, he knows us, and he is always praying for us. 

I like to ask Jesus what He is praying for and ask Him how I can agree with His prayers today for my family, my co-workers, my clients, and my nation. He likes to talk to us if we will listen. The prayer of agreement is powerful especially when we are agreeing with Jesus. 

I don’t believe I would have done anything close to what I just did over the last few months, if I hadn’t first learned to pray and if I hadn’t first carried the burden for great leadership to be raised up in my district. In the end, I became intercession and a living prayer.

Prayer moved me to activism which is what we will talk about next. Stay tuned! Subscribe to this blog for notifications. I want to be a resource of encouragement in these troubling times.  - Bunni

Leading Prayer at Christ for the Nations for our nation during the Republican Primary, February 2018.