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‘Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing’

‘Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing’

Moody alum opens up about being a Christ follower in government today
  • Jeff Smith
  • February 8, 2024

For the last 22 years, God has positioned Jason Sanford ’99 to fulfill a series of important roles in the public sector. From emergency preparedness coordinator for the State of Georgia to his present job as regional terrorism prevention coordinator for the US Department of Homeland Security, Jason has balanced service to God with serving the city, state, and now federal government.

Living out his faith as a disciple of Jesus Christ in governmental agencies is a constant challenge, especially in a post-Christian country that is intensely divided politically, morally, and spiritually. In this special Q&A with Moody Alumni & Friends, Jason reveals, “I try to focus on how I can keep Jesus the main thing. Keep the main thing the main thing, as I learned in evangelism class at Moody.”

Alumni & Friends: Followers of Christ know the underlying problem behind issues like violence, crime, and disasters is sin. How does your understanding of these issues from a biblical perspective guide you in your job with the US Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships?

Jason: First of all, I’m trying to give people the help they need. Overall God is in that situation, and I just need to react with compassion and to understand if it wasn’t for Christ choosing me I wouldn’t be saved either. It’s really a challenge, I tell you, to really live for Christ in a culture where many people don’t know Him.

A&F: The gulf separating Americans on political issues seems wider than ever today. Working in government, how do you navigate the deepening polarization between Democrats and Republicans and people on either side of the country’s most critical issues?

J: In a country and a world that continues to be polarized—you’re either blue state or red state, you’re pro-guns or anti-guns, you’re pro-abortion or pro-life—I try to focus on how I can keep Jesus the main thing. Keep the main thing the main thing as I learned in evangelism class at Moody.

A&F: How do you live out your faith and stay true to God and His Word in a high-stress position in government?

J: It’s not easy. You come to a point sometimes with all the pressure and challenges and issues you deal with where you’re about to explode or where I don’t handle things as I should, or you try and it’s not easy and sometimes I just don’t have the answer to a problem or situation.

I still ask myself if I am where I should be. I know I chose Bible college because I wanted to study something that will never change. Moody helped build a biblically grounded faith and worldview in me that is useful and that strengthened my faith and foundation in the Lord. I can use that to translate into what I do in my job.

A&F: In a country now widely considered a post-Christian culture, how do you maintain your walk with God and stay true to His Word as a government employee where the majority of colleagues may not know Jesus as Savior?

J: I always make sure I have close friends who are also believers who share my worldview and that I can go to and confide in them what is happening in my life at work and in other areas of my life. There’s always a remnant of believers you work with, and sometimes I’m surprised who I find out is a believer. And I try to focus on being able to maintain my own walk with the Lord and make sure that my walk is what I’m doing and not just about what I’m saying or what I believe, that I’m living out what I believe.

I also try to make sure I don’t have an us vs. them mentality in how I see others who don’t know Christ. And I try to make sure I’m having my daily devotions and regularly tithing and worshiping and practicing the disciplines I need to maintain my walk with Christ. I find myself using the technology on my phone to make sure I take something from the Word every day or find inspiration from the Word.

A&F: How do you handle when the federal, state, or city government enacts laws or takes policy positions that run contrary to God’s Word?

J: I try to make sure that my focus remains not on people who tend to be contributing to an anti-Christian culture but more on serving others out of the same compassion that Christ has shown me. I really think we can use this as an opportunity to be salt and light more than complaining every time they’ve passed a law I disagree with.

In an ideal world, I try to see it with the perspective that God is never taken by surprise by what happens in our country. I know I’m here for a reason. I might as well have a smile on my face and enjoy the life He’s given me and make sure I’m seeking Him first.

A&F: As you see an increase in violent extremism, terrorism, and hateful rhetoric occurring here and around the world, most recently with Hamas attacking Israel, how does your faith and biblical worldview inform you as a terrorism prevention coordinator?

J: It’s going to take every resource we have to prevent the craziness and destructive behavior we see acting out today in school shootings and mall shootings and other acts of extreme violence. As we know as Christians, the good news of the gospel is the best avenue for preventing this kind of destruction.

A&F: Why do you stay in public service?

J: The kind of work I do is not because of wanting to make money but to simply help people. The work I do here, if I did it in the private sector I could make two or three times the amount I make now. But I choose to work in the public sector because I want to help people. We’re always trying to get people the help they need.

 

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About the Author

  • Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is creative director of Marketing Communications with Moody Bible Institute. After earning a BA in Journalism from Eastern Illinois University, Jeff worked for 11 years in the newspaper industry as a news reporter, sportswriter, and sports editor before serving for eight years as editorial manager of Marketing and Corporate Communications with Awana Clubs International.