Sandy Rios: I started my professional career as a professional singer. I did talk-radio in Chicago for eight years. Then in October of 2001 I went on to be the President of Concerned Women for America, which is the largest Public Policy Women’s Organization in the Country.
Mercy Hope: Earlier this evening you spoke very briefly about North Korea. I would like you to explain what’s going on over there right now.
Sandy Rios: North Korea is without question the most brutal communist regime on the globe today. If I were to compare it with anything it would be with Stalin, the way he murdered his people. The North Korean regime is literally starving their own people. They take the food that is brought in and give it to the soldiers. There are even cases of cannibalism in families, just to survive. They intimidate their people and they are particularly vitriolic against any hint of Christianity. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. If you are caught with a Bible, three generations of your family are killed. It is the most severe punishment you can imagine. Not only are the people of North Korea starving, they are brainwashed. They literally worship their leader. On every street corner is his picture. They wear pins with his picture on it. You go into the public schools, and every song the children sing is to their dear leader. It is a scary situation. We suspect that they have nuclear capabilities and they are a dangerous bunch. People are swimming across the Tumon River going through the ice just to get to freedom. It’s like the Berlin Wall—where people risked their lives trying to get free—that’s what is happening in North Korea. It’s interesting because in Northern Manchuria it’s the Christians who, at great risk to themselves, are taking them in and feeding them. If they are caught they are in terrible trouble with their own government, but they are willing to make those sacrifices. There are some dramatic stories coming out of that area of the country. I am actually the Chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition which is a group of about thirty-five groups and we are working to develop some legislation that will demand that food gets to the North Koreans, and also that there is monarching in their Gulags. They have the worst prison system. You can’t even imagine the torture that they do to their people. This is a story that needs to be told and we are going to make sure it is told.
Mercy Hope: Let me run a couple of scenarios. There’s a single young woman who is so concerned about the abortion issue and everything in her wants to actively take a stand for the unborn, but she works a full-time job and then in the evenings she has night classes at a local college and doesn’t know where to begin to get involved. Or, a stay-at-home mom with five kids who watches the news and sees what is going on in our country and longs to make a difference in her world, but feels helpless when it comes to impacting the situation. That is what CWA is all about, so how can these very busy women team up with this organization and together make a difference?
Sandy Rios: That is something that CWA is very good at. CWA has a highly developed system with a lot of flexibility, and that is the beauty of it. People can get involved to whatever degree they are able—from getting the literature and reading it as much as they can in order to be able to inform their friends and teach their children, to starting to call their Congressman, to actually joining a prayer chapter and meeting with groups to pray and then do something specific about what’s happening, or even moving into State Leadership. You can be involved in whatever degree you are able. At the very least we can inform you of the issues and equip you.
As a young mom my time was limited. I have a disabled daughter and a normal son, and I was a single mom when my son was ten so I had my hands full. I used to listen to these issues and I would get so concerned and think, “What could I do?” But I just started doing what I could do and it grew into more and more involvement, until today I’m alone and my kids are grown and I’m doing what I’m doing. So there are times in your life when you can’t do all that you would like to but there are things you can do.
Mercy Hope: It really came through in your message tonight that you are definitely an advocate of homeschooling. How do you see the home education movement affecting our culture?
Sandy Rios: I think that just the skills and knowledge of homeschoolers compared to public schoolers is going to carry them like wings to the highest levels—to places they would have never dreamed. Businesses are dying for kids who can read and write and spell and punctuate. Those are skills that are just being lost. And that’s just one area. I think it’s going to have a tremendous impact. I thank God for homeschoolers because our American school system is on such a downward spiral that I don’t see any hope for it right now. I think that homeschooling is our one bright hope for the future.
Mercy Hope: Would you take a moment and give a word of encouragement for those reading this interview?
Sandy Rios: I would like to say to women that because we have so much emotion, and we carry so much, we are usually the absorbent factor in our marriages; we are the ones who carry the pain of our children more closely, more deeply; we’re the ones who try to make it work—we try to be the glue. We not only carry the family but when we start to get into these other matters we start to bear the burden of those things too. I would say to remember that God is the source of our strength and with Him there is nothing that you cannot do. There is nothing you cannot bear, there is no task that you can’t accomplish. I took care of my daughter for twenty years in my home, and at twenty-nine she functions like a newborn baby. That was not easy and there were many, many, many days when I thought, “I cannot do this.” If I had known when she was three years old that I had seventeen more years I don’t know if I could have borne it. But, everyday God gave me grace. Everyday I prayed for strength for the moment, and in those times when I would just bottom out, He would fill me with His strength. He did that daily for twenty years of my life. So I would say whatever your circumstances, whatever burdens you bear, whether it’s the load of work, or trying to take care of children, or a difficult marriage, or whatever heartaches you may be experiencing day by day, moment by moment, God is able to give strength. There’s no limit to His power and He does not want you to live without hope. He said I’ve come to give you a future and a hope. I used to think that hope was for silly people, especially when I had no hope that my daughter would get any better, and I had a difficult marriage and I didn’t have hope that it would ever change. Since I was raised in a practical family, it seemed silly to have hope. I thought, “Just accept it and deal with it.” But hope? No. I did a word study on hope and I traced every single passage that had that word and I learned something very profound: God does not want us to be without hope. Paul says, “Brethren, you cannot live as people who have no hope” and “Without hope, the people perish.” On and on the Scriptures talk about hope. We have hope because of God’s character. Because of His unfailing love: that’s where our hope comes from. It’s an eternal spring. It’s living hope like living water, like the woman at the well wanted the living water that lasts forever. That is the kind of hope that is spelled out in Scripture, living hope. So don’t be without hope. You can always have hope.
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