3 months ago

Alabama’s top faith moments of 2019 — Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa & much more

Alabama experienced an up and down 2019 in the heart of the Bible Belt, and the people of the state displayed their strong faith in God through the good times and bad.

Religion intersected with sports, politics, tragedy, culture and everything in between this past year in Alabama, and Yellowhammer News was here to cover it all.

Here are 2019’s top faith storylines from across the Yellowhammer State:

1). Tagovailoas, Hurts, rivals, oh my …

There are few things, if anything, more important to Alabamians than faith, family and football. Luckily, all three came together in 2019 on several occasions. And, although heartbreak was involved at times, the ultimate result was inspiring and uplifting thousands.

Take former University of Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts, for example. When he led the Crimson Tide to an iconic comeback victory against Georgia in the 2018 SEC Championship, Hurts gave the credit to his Lord and Savior. “I put it in God’s hands,” he advised.

Well, this past year saw more of the same testimony. Enjoying a Heisman-finalist season for the Oklahoma Sooners, Hurts explained his key to success.

“You’ve just got to keep your faith,” Hurts said. “Trust God. Know your why. Know why you do what you do. Keep faith and keep moving forward.”

Current Bama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also lets his light shine on and off the field.

In 2019, this was evidenced in trying times for the native Hawaiian.

After Tagovailoa suffered a devastating hip injury against Mississippi State this fall, he stayed optimistic because of his faith, expressing trust and confidence in God.

“God always has a plan,” he said.

Tagovailoa also retweeted former Alabama running back Shaun Alexander in reference to the injury.

“My confidence in life is not in my gifts, abilities, awards or accomplishments. My confidence comes from my faith in Jesus. His plan is perfect. Every part of the plan is PERFECT. Love you Tuaman. Walk through this like you was built to. Finish the Game. A legend is being made,” Alexander wrote.

This has been the theme of how Tagovailoa is handling his injury aftermath.

Speaking about his prognosis and recovery odds, he testified, “I firmly believe in the Bible, and the Bible says you walk by faith and not by sight. So, that’s pretty much what I’m holding onto — just trusting the good Lord. He’s the best doctor for me and what I believe in. I feel this is something that is bigger than me.”

The star quarterback also is using his faith as a guide in deciding his future football plans — whether he will declare for the NFL Draft in January or stay a final year in Tuscaloosa.

“Whatever God puts in my heart and my parents’ hearts, that will be the right thing,” Tagovailoa remarked.

And, speaking of his parents, Galu and Diane have displayed their faith publicly in 2019 as well.

In a joint statement after their son’s injury, they said,“We have total faith in God’s plan for Tua, and we know his plan is never wrong. God’s grace, mercy, love and faithfulness in our lives has never been more evident, despite this setback.”

Galu personally made headlines for two faith stories during the year.

First, he reaffirmed his faith and was baptized by Pastor Chris Hodges via the Church of the Highlands’ “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus” series.

Then, amidst the make-or-break Iron Bowl this season, Galu found unity through Jesus Christ with a diehard Auburn fan.

Finally, speaking of the Tigers, Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl defended his Jewish faith in a major way again this past year.

After U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) equated current immigration facilities in the United States to “concentration camps” in past months, Pearl ripped her comments.

Pearl said, “Tell that to the people who died and survived those concentration camps that they don’t know the difference.”

“Never again is reserved for the 9 million people murdered including 6 million Jews,” he added. “The comparison is attempt to rewrite the holocaust! Stop!”

Additionally, at 2019’s “Bruce, Barkley and Basketball” golf tournament in Lee County, Pearl expressed his enthusiasm for Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville having “Israel and the Second Amendment covered.”

2). In the worst of times

With a record-setting economy powering increased prosperity, there were still many tragic moments that rocked the entire state of Alabama in 2019.

While all of the examples of faith shining through dark clouds were too numerous to count, the aftermath of deadly tornadoes this past year was a good starting point.

Just this month, in the wake of a tornado killing two and critically injuring others in Lawrence County, hundreds of thousands of people were inspired by the open Bible found unharmed amidst rubble. One of the verses on the open pages made the moment even more powerful.

“I will return after this. I will build David’s house again. It has fallen down. I will build again the parts of his house that have been pulled down. I will make his house new.”

Acts‬ ‭15:16‬ ‭ERV‬‬

Faith also played major roles following the horrific tornadoes that hit Lee County and the Wetumpka area earlier this year.

Another recent tragedy has turned into inspiration, too.

Ozark Police Department Officer Samuel Yoh, who was shot six times (including three times in the head) in the line of duty earlier in December, now appears set for a “miracle” recovery, with “God’s almighty power” being praised.

While many of 2019’s tragedies did not have as positive of an ending, Alabamians were banded together in faith through many of them. This included prayer services held in relation to high profile kidnapping cases in the state.

3). Prayer as the power of love?

One under-the-radar storyline that touched hearts in 2019 pertained to the 70th anniversary of Pratt City’s Arthur and Bernice Lewis.

The secret ingredient to their lasting love? Faith.

Read that story here.

4). ‘Living Life on Purpose’

One consistent source of meaningful faith stories in 2019 was Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “Living Life on Purpose” podcast. Hosted by Matt Wilson, this interview series has featured civic leaders, political figures and business titans, all talking candidly about their greatest purpose.

In one memorable episode this year, U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (AL-06) talked about how faith is critical to restoring communities in Alabama and across the nation.

Another episode that stuck out was Wilson’s interview with Tommy Brigham, Jr., who discussed the intersection of faith and race relations.

UAB head football coach Bill Clark was also among Wilson’s 2019 guests.

The entire podcast series is a must-follow for those interested in faith stories. You can subscribe here.

5). Prison ministries

Alabama is currently facing a crisis with its corrections system, and some county sheriffs are attempting to provide sustenance for the heart and spirit of prisoners in efforts to reduce violence and recidivism.

In 2019, prison baptisms made big impacts not just on prisoners, but members of the public as well.

Counties who led their own voluntary baptisms this past year included Blount County (multiple times), Walker County and Etowah County.

6). Lagniappe

Overall, Alabama is coming off of a year full of evergreen, heart warming stories about faith. Here were merely some of 2019’s best:

‘God loves you. Jesus paid the price’: Secret Santa pays off all layaways at Alabama Walmart

Jasper High students buying janitor new truck give God the credit: ‘He is making all of this possible’

WATCH: Ala. Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed stuns crowd with rendition of ‘My God Is Real’

Tuskegee Airman: America not perfect but it was, still is worth fighting for – ‘God’ was ‘my co-pilot’

Alabama’s Rodney Smith, Jr. has mowed veterans’ lawns in all 50 states — ‘I remember asking God to use me’

‘Led by Jesus’: Story of Alabama Chick-fil-A employee praying over customer goes national

7). THE top viewed faith story on Yellowhammer News in 2019

Finally, while there were many contenders, one faith story rose above them all when it came to views.

Thomas Roberts was an atheist for most of his life.

However, in his final days earlier this year, he was reborn, deciding he wanted to be baptized.

Read about this incredible story, made possible by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

20 mins ago

State Sen. Chambliss: Ivey doing ‘a great job’ on coronavirus — ‘I applaud her for just hanging in there and making those tough decisions’

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented a set of unforeseen challenges that almost no government official in the upper echelons of an executive could have imagined. Included among those are challenges deciding the whats and when of closures, which could have profound economic impacts.

In Alabama, State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), while acknowledging his reluctance to be critical, credited Gov. Kay Ivey for taking on those challenges stemming from the COVID-19 breakout.

Chambliss told Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that he thought Ivey was acting in good faith, putting what was best for Alabama in front throughout her decisionmaking processes.


“As a past chairman of a county commission, which is obviously small compared to this situation — you know, I was in situations where I had to make decisions about closures and that kind of stuff — and those were just for a day or two, nothing like she has done,” he said. “There is no way it is the time for us to look at that — should we do this, should we do that. I think she is doing a great job. She is doing what she thinks is best. Obviously, she has every bit of the information she can in making those decisions.”

“And you and I are a level or two removed from all that information in real-time,” Chambliss continued. “So, I applaud her for just hanging in there and making those tough decisions. After the fact, I’m sure she’ll say to herself, ‘I wish I had done this,’ or, ‘I wish I had done that.’ But now is not the time for me to do it, specifically. But there’ll be plenty of time to look at that kind of thing later, and learn from it — and do better next time.”

As to whether or not Alabamians were adhering to the guideline set by policymakers, the Autauga County Republican legislator said it took some time, but now most appear to be on board.

“I don’t think they were initially, especially some of the initial discussion was that it primarily affects older people,” Chambliss said. “We now know, at least in the United States, I think the numbers are around 40% or greater that are younger than 65. I think that gave them a false sense of invincibility, and that’s not going to be a problem for me. We see that it has been a problem for some. More importantly, they spread it around, and then it causes problems for their loved ones. I think that’s starting to sink in with people now — even the younger generation, kind of now are, ‘I need to be a little bit more careful than I was.’ I think it is starting to sink in now, although I don’t think it was initially.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

Get back on the road to recovery — $350 billion is now available to small businesses

Business Council of Alabama is the go-to resource to ensure your small business gets its share of the relief funds.

Join Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Boyd Britt and a panel of experts Thursday night for the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television.

They’ll take your phone calls and answer your questions.

“We have to make sure that Alabama’s small businesses get the loans and support they deserve in these tough economic times,” Britt emphasized. “The first step in getting Alabama back to work is to get this loan money flowing to our businesses.”

The Small Business Exchange will air Thursday on APT from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Call 1-833-BCA4BIZ (1-833-222-4249) from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thursday and from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday to talk to a small business expert.

Let our experts help you get back on the road to recovery. We’re all in this together.

49 mins ago

7 Things: Guidelines on reopening the economy could come soon, everyone wants the coronavirus stimulus check, Biden the Dem nominee and more …

7. Apparently, the coronavirus only strikes at night

  • Mobile has put out a city-wide curfew from 10:oo p.m. until 5: a.m. that prohibits anyone who isn’t going to their essential job from being out. Fairhope’s city council voted on whether to adopt this same curfew but voted it down. 
  • Council President Jack Burrell said he had “real concerns” about issuing a curfew, and the council saw that a curfew could cause raise the chances of law enforcement being exposed to the coronavirus if they have to pull over more people for violating a curfew. Councilman Robert Brown argued that he’s against “further restrictions on personal freedoms.”

6. Hyundai plant extends its shutdown


  • Hyundai has decided to keep their Montgomery production plant closed until at least May 4 after being suspended on March 18. 
  • The Montgomery plant has about 3,000 employees. There will be new safety measures when work does resume, but for now, the shutdown “is in the best interest of protecting the health and well-being of team members and communities, and to align vehicle production with current consumer demand.”

5. It wasn’t China, it was Europe or something

  • The American media is selling a narrative Thursday morning that the coronavirus didn’t come from China, but it came from Europe. The hook is that the travel ban to China was worthless while the travel ban to Europe came far too late.
  • This ignores a few obvious things. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, the Chinese and the World Health Organization lied about the spread, and when the travel bans were implemented, these same outlets screeched like banshees about how wrong travels bans are.

4. Aderholt wants us to “Buy America”

  • In a letter sent to President Donald Trump, U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) advocates for more “Buy America policies,” adding how this pandemic has shown how important is it for the United States to not rely so heavily on other countries. 
  • Aderholt wrote that “we must prevent foreign control over the supply and price of health-related commodities in the United States.” He also noted the push to have more American-made medical supplies is being brought up by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

3. It’s Biden, it was Biden all along

  • U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has admitted that “Vice President Biden will be the nominee” after deciding to suspend his 2020 Democratic presidential Campaign. 
  • Even though his campaign is suspended, Sanders has said he will “stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates.” He insisted that his “movement” isn’t over and is still about “justice.”

2. Everyone wants the checks to come quicker

  • The coronavirus stimulus package that would pay many Americans $1,200 has already been approved and signed, so now everyone is waiting for their money. U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) wants the checks sent out quickly. 
  • Jones and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) are suggesting that the Treasury Department send out debit cards to people instead of paper checks since there were plans to likely not send checks until late April. Jones said, “A slight lag between Congressional action and the support arriving to workers is understandable, the Treasury Department must act expeditiously to get these funds to their intended recipients.”

1. CDC could start relaxing guidelines soon

  • The media and the elites got it very wrong and now Americans want a chance to get back to some form of normalcy. Now, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is considering relaxing restrictions. Trump wants to give leeway to the states with “red zones” and “green zones” within the country to show where the government believes it’s safe to reopen. 
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that if social distancing rules already in place successfully flattens the curve, then we need to “at least plan what a re-entry into normality would look like,” and we need to “be prepared to ease into that.”

1 hour ago

House Majority Ldr Ledbetter: ‘The people in our state are strong — They’re going to come back better than ever’

In recent days, some of the doom and gloom resulting from the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Alabama has given way to optimism.

Among those with an optimistic disposition regarding the state’s handling of COVID-19 and the state’s economy is Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Ledbetter laid out why he sees the state turning a corner in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.


“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Ledbetter said of a perceived change in trends for the better. “The models indicate that. When you put everything in that they ask for — once you do that, it shows up dropping in numbers. At one time, some of the models were showing us at 5,000 deaths. I think now it has decreased down into the hundreds, and maybe even lower than that. That’s certainly been important for the people in our state. The things we look for — you know the question today was what will see when we start going back to normal?”

“That was one of the things — fewer cases and deaths, and more tests we’ll get out, the better off we’ll be,” he continued. “The curve that everybody’s talked about — hospital capacity, we’re actually in pretty good shape right now, the state of Alabama. We’ve got about 50% of our beds available. Somewhere around 36% of our ICU beds are available. We’ve got about 800 ventilators, which has increased pretty significantly. When we started out, we had 1,333 ventilators in this state, and I think we’re up to some 1,800 ventilators.”

Ledbetter credited many institutions around Alabama for getting the ventilator count up, from nursing school to the veterinarian school at Auburn University, and pointed to an effort to refurbish some ventilators that were in disrepair.

He also credited State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

“I’ve got to give credit to Dr. Harris,” he said. “I think he has done a tremendous job — him and Dr. [Don] Williamson, in my opinion very fortunate to have those two. Dr. Williamson over the hospital association, and of course, Dr. Scott Harris is over [the Alabama Department of Public Health]. Those two have worked in tandem, and I really truly believe they’re one of the main reasons we’re where we are at today and have been hit no harder than what we have been hit.”

The Dekalb County Republican lawmaker insisted the state would rally back to an even better position economically.

“If we can get this behind us, and get our economy growing — you know, our Alabama economy as growing better than it ever has in my lifetime,” he explained. “Unemployment was 2.7%. We had added some 24,000 jobs and $14 billion into the economy. You know, it almost hit a brick wall. We’ll see how it comes out, and listen — the people in our state are strong. They’re going to come back better than ever. I really believe that.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

1 hour ago

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