Oct. 4 Warnings and Worries
On Oct. 4, 2023, between 2:20 p.m. and 2:50 p.m. EST, every cell phone in the United States will receive a test alert from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The test message will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.” Phones with the main menu set to Spanish will display: “ESTA ES UNA PRUEBA del Sistema Nacional de Alerta de Emergencia. No se necesita acción.”
The emergency alert system is familiar to everyone. That unique noise coming from your television set, followed by, “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System,” began in 1963. In 1997, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) replaced the old system. Wireless alerts, or WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts) have been used in recent years. These wireless messages include Amber alerts, public-safety alerts, and imminent-threat alerts related to natural or man-made causes. While President Trump was in office, the Presidential Alert system was unveiled and tested, in the event of a national emergency.
People who live in Tornado Alley are familiar with siren warnings that sound publicly to alert people to take cover. Cell phones provide a way to reach many people in a moment or two, with a warning.
Once this test was scheduled and announced for Oct. 4, people started expressing real and legitimate concerns.
What might be the impact of the federal government accessing all of our cell phones at once?
How could this power be used or misused by our government or by an unfriendly foreign actor?
Is this really what they are saying it is?
Many Americans do not trust our government and leaders. In fact, the Founders warned us about allowing the U.S. government to become a behemoth administrative state, effectively run by lifelong bureaucrats with vested interests in keeping the massive organization plodding along without change. Certainly, the growth of the administrative state and its increasing impact on our lives is a fact.
In other words, people responded with fear and worry about an invasion of their privacy and rights.
But that’s not the only fear. The fact is that cell phone alerts of any kind may make us feel more fearful and worried. IFA contributing writer Jamie Rohrbaugh recently wrote a piece about how consuming news and conspiracy theories impacted her negatively, and she made the decision to limit her news intake. What she wrote applies to emergency alerts as well:
Should we be aware of things? To some degree, yes. That’s wisdom. But are Christians called to talk conspiracy theories, walk conspiracy theories, and eat conspiracy theories for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Replace “conspiracy theories” with “alerts.” What impact do they have on you? Each of us has a unique and individual answer. But at least for some, alerts cause anxiety and fear. More alerts, therefore, will cause more anxiety and fear, especially in children. (And, by the way, think about this: Children who have cell phones will receive Amber alerts and more. Is that really appropriate?)
IFA intercessors know what to do. We pray. Here are some prayer and action points to consider:
“Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). Spend more, not less, time with the Lord. Let Him “quiet you with His love” and “rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe (Proverbs 29:25). I have always thought that this verse was about people-pleasing, and it is. But as I just read it in this context, it struck me that being afraid of our government, or of Putin, or of the CCP — all these are a snare. These are all “men” or “mankind.” They are all subject to God, and He has the final say about what happens in our world. He has total and complete authority: Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together. … He who sits in the heavens laughs … (Psalm 2:1–4). Our best prayer (and our best action) is trusting in the Lord — asking God to increase our trust, and then obeying whatever He tells us.
The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps (Proverbs 14:15). Before you believe anything, test it. Ask the Lord. Pray for discernment. Charles Spurgeon said: “Discernment is not knowing right from wrong, it is knowing right from almost right.” Discernment is what we need in this age in which artificial intelligence and technology make it so easy to deceive and to be deceived.
“… Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Have you ever considered how like an intercessor Mary was at the wedding in Cana? She appealed to Jesus because the host was out of wine. This wasn’t her personal need — it was true intercession for another. Then, although Jesus’ answer to her could be interpreted as a no, she tells the servants to do whatever Jesus said. Just so, we can appeal to Jesus about the warning system, the dangers of technology in the hands of our government, and the impact on all of us. Then, we do whatever He tells us to do. Ask Him. Listen. He will tell you.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:13). Paul ends his first letter to the Corinthians with words that can encourage us today. Whatever may pass, we are held in God’s hands. Elisabeth Elliot used to say that nothing touches us that hasn’t already passed through God’s loving hands.
What prayers and/or action would you add? Please share in the comments!
(Photo Credit: Gilles Lambert on Unsplash)
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