Looking back on 2019, what surprised you the most on a personal, national or international level?
I found the passage of the Reproductive Health Act that was signed into law on January 22, 2019, in New York, to be one of the most troubling things I’ve seen all year. It expanded abortion for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy. Being a pro-life leader in the community, I see and hear a lot of dreadful things related to this issue. But, watching the governor of New York and pro-abortion supporters celebrate the passage of this law was beyond heartbreaking. But here in Broward, we are working diligently to protect the unborn and bring life to Broward.
Tewannah Aman, President, Broward Right to Life
I was pleasantly surprised this year by friendships with several Amish & Mennonite brothers and sisters in Christ. Participation in The Center for Serving Leadership’s Master Executive Cohort brought me to Ohio where several friendships formed, which allowed me to witness a unique lifestyle of excellence in almost everything, industrialism and a devoted faith to the Lord!
Dr. Andrea Hazim, Founder and President, Elev8Life Educational Foundation
In 2019 I was surprised, and shouldn’t have been, by how our great country despite unprecedented prosperity is being influenced by many desperately seeking to shift it from the values upon which it was founded. The respect for human life from the time of conception, a melting pot where people come and are merged into our culture vs seeking to undermine our culture, freedom to speak without being tagged and the respect for the office our president despite disagreement. This dangerous and slippery slope should be to us more than a warning sign but should instead be a flashing stop sign based upon the devastating examples we know from history.
William “Bill” C. Davell, Director, Tripp Scott Attorneys at Law
The ‘biggest’ event for Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2019 has been the construction of the eight-story, 510-bed new student residence on our campus. Construction has proceeded rapidly and we are thankful to Hedrick Brothers Construction, led by Dale Hedrick. The topping out will be December 18 and move-in date will be mid-August 2020.
William M. B. Fleming, Jr., President, Palm Beach Atlantic University
2019 was supposed to be the year of free wifi, flying cars, and world peace. Sadly these things were replaced by Tik-Tok, succulents, and the return of fanny packs AND mom jeans 🙁
Bob Denison, President, Denison Yachting
Perhaps it should not surprise me and perhaps we should not find it strange, but the level and depth of corruption in our federal government over this past year is absolutely beyond measure.
Charles Bender, Founding President, Place of Hope
Earlier this year I had the privilege of traveling with Governor Ron DeSantis on his first trade mission to Israel. I was most surprised at the love and respect for our delegation, our fellow Americans and the work of our President. I was further intrigued by the admiration of their leader by so many Americans and told that story to many in Israel. The work that was accomplished on this mission was important for our Florida higher educational institutions and many sectors of business. The Israeli people have accomplished so much with so few resources in a place where there is constant pressure on success and the very safety of their lives.
Chip LaMarca, State Representative, Florida House District 93
This past year, 2019, was full of surprises for me: My oldest son, Tim, got engaged to Becky Keilin of DeWitt, MI, in May and married her in September. Two of my sons, John and Nathaniel, and their wives told Jennifer and me that they are expecting their first child in the first half of 2020. And, perhaps most surprising and at the same time disappointing, currently I am watching my third set of impeachment hearings which has only happened four times in our 243 year history.
H. Collins Forman, Jr., P.A.
Something the Lord surprised and delighted me with this year was that I was blessed to take university students from three different religions, Muslims, Hindus and Chinese, to the amazing Ft. Lauderdale Baptist Christmas Pageant and most of them cried over the depiction of Christ. Also, the Iranian said, “We don’t have joy like this in our religion, only sadness and mourning for martyrs.” She wanted to know more and is watching a movie about Jesus (according to the book of Matthew) this week. Yay God!
Deborah Cusick, FAU Campus Volunteer, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship
As I look back on 2019, what surprised me most on a personal level was unexpected health crisis in my family. In your 40’s you don’t always anticipate hearing the words “your mom has cancer” or “your wife needs surgery.” While this is common for many, it hits one like a ton of bricks both personally, financially, and spiritually. The joy that is found in having a solid foundation in Jesus, the support that is found in friends, and the skill of medical professionals can be an unexpected blessing in times of crisis. Walking alongside the women you love, the children you raise, in the times of tears/doubt, and in the quiet times can be life changing. It’s a privilege to be part of the journey… and God can get the glory in your story!
Dennis DeMarois, Executive Director, Gathering Palm Beach County
On the personal side it is the joy of seeing progress among numerous churches from all denominations work together in south Florida under the flag of “Church United” to connect, collaborate and celebrate with the goal of making a huge impact for Christ and an awesome 2023 vision for S. Florida. On the national scene what surprised me is the sad lack of support by Washington elected officials, regardless the party, for the duly elected president and the distractions from working on issues to benefit the citizens.
Don Campion, President, Banyan Air Service
What surprised me the most has been the continued polarization of the nation despite unprecedented prosperity. I pray that God would grant in 2020 a time of unity and reconciliation as a nation.
George R. Moraitis, Jr., Moraitis, Cofar, Karney, Moraitis & Quailey
Personal: Having been blessed with two granddaughters, our family was joyfully surprised to find out our daughter is expecting a baby boy due in February! “Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a rewards from Him” (Psalm 127:3).
National: Luis Palau is known as the “Billy Graham of Latin America,” traveling globally to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ!
As part of the Luis Palau Association National Women’s Prayer Team, we were all surprised and amazed to receive this praise report on behalf of Luis who, two years ago was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer and was given only a few months to live. The day before his 85th BD last month, his oncologist joyfully reported, “all is stable! One of the tumors actually shrank.”
Praise God and Happy Birthday Luis! “Nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20).
International: As Luis has pulled back from travel these past two years, he is overjoyed and blessed to see how powerfully God is using his son, Andrew, as he follows in his dad’s footsteps. Just this last week, Andrew and his team preached the Good News to more than 10,000 people in multiple churches in China and distributed 24,000 copies of their special Gospel book entitled What is Christmas?
“May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the Name of our God. May God grant all your requests” (Psalm 20:5).
Gita Santangelo, Community Prayer Partner
I think what surprised me the most is how divided our country has become. It seems we’ve lost perspective on what an amazing country we live in, and I hope people will remember that it’s truly a privilege to be here, and we should not take it for granted.
Gregg Wallick, President, Best Roofing, Inc.
Looking back at 2019, my biggest surprise has been the deep divide in the Body of Christ over political issues and scriptural interpretation. I am praying John 17 prayers for 2020;that we would be One, as our Heavenly Father and his son are one, SO THAT the world may believe.
Julie Mullins, Pastor, Christ Fellowship
God continues to always be faithful to us, and even though it should not surprise us, what happened unexpectedly to us at South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary, was how God opened the doors for us to purchase the facility we have been renting. We can now begin to expand even further and continue to help people fulfill the call of God upon their lives!
Dr. Mary Drabik, President, South Florida Bible College & Theological Seminary
Looking back on 2019, the greatest surprise I had was my youngest son driving down from Virginia for one night to surprise me for my 60th birthday. I had no idea he was going to do that because he was in his senior year and the school work needed to finish was crushing down on him. I was so delighted to see him – it made not only my birthday but my entire year.
Oksana Horton, Artistic Director, Torch & Trumpet Theater Company, a subsidiary of Revelation Ministries
The thing that surprised me the most on a personal and national level is to see so many Christians that are compromising their religious convictions to support and protect immoral, corrupt and selfish politicians, even to the point of distorting the truth and lying for them. I believe that Christians should always stand for truth and speak truth always in order to glorify our heavenly father. This is personal to me because I care very much how the church is viewed in the eyes of the unbelievers.
O’Neal Dozier, Pastor, The Worldwide Christian Center
On a personal level, my biggest surprise (and several doctors as well), was that my husband who had Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer as well as bladder cancer is cured! He is finishing up prophylactic radiation and oral chemotherapy by the beginning of January and then he just needs to do re-checks every six months. “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).
Patricia Colangelo, EdS, Director of Operations, Trinity International University Florida
As I look back over 2019 I believe the thing that was most amazing to see was the move of God through Church United. I do not oversee a church, but SAINTS MINISTRY serves lots and lots of children and families and to see the Holy Spirit move through the power of unity was absolutely amazing!! Thank you Eddie Copeland and your Staff!!
Coach Rick Andreassen, Founder/President, Saints of Florida P.E. and Saints International Sports Ministry
On the National scene, the biggest and certainly pleasant surprise to me in 2019 was how the economy has kept chugging along with unemployment at record lows, job payrolls increasing and the stock market continuing to climb at its bullish rate, despite its ten year run. Let’s all hope and pray that it continues!
Romney C. Rogers, Managing Partner, Rogers Morris & Ziegler Llp
Afraid of heights, I was very surprised that God gave me the courage to go sky diving over Lake Okeechobee with my wife this past summer. Cheryl, my wife bought it for me as a birthday present. Cheryl, not afraid of heights, bought it for me in Feb., but it took me three months to battle through the fear of jumping before I finally did it. It was awesome, like going from this life to the next. Lol
Ron Bramos, Pastor, Victory Life Church
I was surprised by the birthday party my wife and kids had for me. It was an Area 51 theme, complete with a “cooked alien” and extraterrestrial ribs. Best birthday party ever, even if an ET had to die for our dining pleasure.
Samuel Lamerson, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies, Knox Theological Seminary
I’m very surprised over the ruthless and ungodly nature of our 2019 National political climate. Jealousy, lies and hostile disrespect reign. Forgiveness, respect, grace and thankfulness are nowhere to be found. Wake up America! This is not shining the light of our Savior Jesus Christ in love for our people. “We have seen his glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of GRACE AND TRUTH” (John 1:14). God “delights in people who are trustworthy” ( Prov. 12:22 ) and “God is Love” (1John 4).
Pray for civility, love and kindness in the New Year 2020 for the sake of our Country!
Virlee “Vee” Stepelton, Ministry Advocate