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Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee begins elected term with spiritual focus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (BP)–Beginning his inauguration day with an 8 a.m. prayer service, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was sworn into office later that day as the state’s 44th elected governor. Being recognized as the state’s “elected” governor was a significant addition to Huckabee’s credentials after completing an unexpired term vacated in scandal 1996 by former Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.
Huckabee’s rise from political novice and unsuccessful Senate candidate in 1992 to last fall’s election as governor with 60 percent of the vote has been well documented. A former Arkansas Baptist pastor and state convention president, he served three years as lieutenant governor before assuming the governor’s post.
The Jan. 12 prayer service was held at the Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock, a Southern Baptist congregation where Huckabee and his wife, Janet, are members. The gathering, which featured upbeat praise and worship choruses throughout the 45-minute service, included brief comments from four of Huckabee’s friends and supporters.
Dennis Rainey, executive director of Family Life Ministries, urged Huckabee to “surround yourself with godly council and godly advice.”
“If there has been a day when a man of virtue and integrity needed to step forward and lead and stand, it is now,” Rainey insisted. “Gov. Huckabee, I believe you are that man. … May God’s favor be upon you to model integrity so that even your enemies will say Mike Huckabee is an honorable man.”
Evangelist Rick Caldwell, who was Huckabee’s roommate at Ouachita Baptist University, challenged the governor to “let your life overflow with joy and thanksgiving” for all God has done.
“Keep on trusting,” Caldwell urged. “Just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him too for each day’s problems. Trust him too for the challenges of the future. … The Lord will bring you through these great but challenging days.”
H.D. McCarty, senior pastor of University Baptist Church in Fayetteville, encouraged Huckabee to “seek great obediences to God and let him decide what happens.”
Declaring “being overwhelmed is not a sign of weakness,” but “a sign of maturity and strength,” McCarty added, “We pray that God will make you strong in all the battles.”
Mark Evans, Huckabee’s pastor at Rock Creek, reminded the governor to “work like it all depends on you” and “pray like it all depends on God — because it does.”
Affirming “your faith is your strongest asset,” Evans said, “God has things he wants to accomplish and he wants to accomplish them through your leadership. Keep working hard and walk with God daily. You really will make a difference in people’s lives.”
Following the prayer service, Huckabee was sworn into office at the state capitol during a 10 a.m. joint session of the Arkansas House and Senate.
Delivering a 49-minute “State of the State” address following his inauguration, Huckabee detailed his legislative goals in the areas of education, property tax reform, juvenile justice reform and highway improvements. He also urged state leaders to “continue to fight to bring the numbers of teen pregnancies down in Arkansas and the number of young women who grow up with a sense of hope and honor and dignity way up in Arkansas.”
Speaking to a state legislature that includes 57 new House members as a result of term-limit implementation, Huckabee told the lawmakers, “Most of us … today are in places we never imagined we would be as we were children growing up. … We need to remember why we got on the ballot in the first place.
“Why are we here?” he asked. “Our challenges are to face the issues that will help Arkansas in the next generation.
“We need to govern by the principles of right and wrong,” he insisted, “not by polls, not by pundits, not by parties, not by the pessimists; but rather by the principles that caused each of us to seek election.”
Affirming each of those who sought election “were willing to become a servant of the people,” Huckabee added, “The laws we pass in the next few days will carry Arkansas into the 21 century.”
Citing Christ’s call to serve “the least of the these,” the governor noted for many disadvantaged Arkansans “the only voice they may have in this capitol is yours. They sent you here with a mission.”
Comparing “brutal” election campaigns to a demolition derby, he added, “Is it worth it? There are days, quite frankly, that I wonder if it is worth it. Then I come to a moment like today and I come with a sense of genuine optimism … . I’m genuinely thrilled about what the future holds.
“People who believe in something have to stand up and be counted,” Huckabee concluded. “Why did we come here? I believe every one of you came with a purpose and a mission and a conviction. … May God help us do it before it’s too late. Let’s build a state we are all wonderfully proud of.”

    About the Author

  • Trennis Henderson

    Trennis Henderson is the national correspondent for WMU (Woman’s Missionary Union). A Baptist journalist for more than 35 years, Henderson is a former editor of the Western Recorder of the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the Arkansas Baptist News state convention newsjournal.

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