Among the non-Catholic Christians who reached out to journalists to offer commentary on Pope Francis’ recent apostolic visit to America is the husband-and-wife preaching/speaking duo of Touré Roberts and Sarah Jakes Roberts.
Touré is the senior pastor of One Church International, an independent megachurch located in Los Angeles.
Sarah Jakes Roberts is one of five children of of T.D. Jakes, the bishop of The Potter’s House megachurch in Dallas. She had her first child at 14, and was previously married to NFL player Robert Henson.
At the time of her marriage to Touré in late 2014, Sarah had two children, and her new husband had three from a previous relationship. In August, the spouses announced they are expecting their first child together.
As their schedules precluded a personal conversation, the two did collaborate on email answers to a series of questions (edited for space and clarity).
What were your personal reactions to seeing Pope Francis arriving in America?
The pope’s visit spoke to his personal faith in America and his willingness to use his own influence to bring hope and change to our country.
Why should non-Catholics be interested in what the pope does and says?
As non-Catholics, we generally admire Pope Francis’ universal concern for the good of all. He seems to be one who uses his enormous platform as the head of the world’s most influential Church for the betterment of the world as a whole. His perspective is broader than just Catholicism, but humanity in general.
Part of the pope’s visit was talking to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, stressing the value of traditional marriage and families. What will you teach your children about these subjects?
We will teach our children that this world will forever be filled with people from all walks of life and beliefs. Those beliefs will be as numerous as there are people and will often differ from our own.
Although we have modeled for them the beauty and the value of what has come to be known as “traditional marriage,” we will also challenge them to love and respect all people regardless of their personal decision on what a healthy family should look like. We will encourage our children to seek God through his word and his heart, and are fully convinced that he will faithfully guide them into the truth concerning every matter.
What are the major areas of agreement that you see between yourself and Pope Francis?
Pope Francis models compassion, is a lover of humanity and uses his influence to elevate the world. We strongly share these sentiments.
What is the value of social media and multimedia in bringing faith alive?
Social media has become the world’s stage, especially for Millennials, and multimedia is a necessary platform for the distribution of divine content. There will never cease to be the need to visit a cathedral, however, there is a rising trend to bring the cathedral to your phone, tablet or computer screen.
Christians feel under siege today, both culturally and legally. How can they deal with this?
Christians must first accept that these things, to a certain extent, come with being a Christian. The Bible tells us “not to think it is strange when we are greatly tested.”
Being misunderstood and even persecuted is one of the undesirable guarantees of the journey. However, Christians should always remember that the glory and blessing of what we’ve been called to will always far outweigh the challenges experienced on our way there.
The pope has spoken often about the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East. How is your ministry addressing this?
We pray for the region and send missionaries to that region. This year we helped send a team to the Syria/Turkey border to bring support and provisions to the fleeing refugees.
The pope has also stressed service to the poor and marginalized, both materially and in spirit. What do you see as the responsibility of all Christians in this?
We believe that every Christian is called to be like Christ. No one in history has faithfully modeled such behavior as a lifestyle more than [Christ]. Serving the poor and the marginalized is a fundamental part of what it means to be a Christian.
As you see it, what is the essential message of Christianity in America today?
The essential message of Christianity today is as it has always been in its purest form — love, love, love. To aim to see God so clearly that you are left with no other choice than to love him the way he loves you. To see yourself through his eyes that causes you to love yourself the way he does, and to see God’s image in every other human you encounter causes you to love your neighbor in a selfless way.