Bob Vander Plaats, a Christian conservative activist in Iowa, has been invited to a conference at the Vatican in November.
“Received the invitation probably about a month ago now,” Vander Plaats said today during a Radio Iowa interview. “They’re looking for 30 leaders from, I believe, around the world and the whole focus is on spiritual revival.”
Vander Plaats has run unsuccessfully for governor three times and he’s the author of two books. The most recent is based on a Bible passage and is titled “If 7:14” and it calls upon Christians to pray twice daily, at 7:14 a.m. and 7:14 p.m. Vander Plaats, who attends the Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, said Pope Francis — the leader of the world’s Catholics — has “a lot of good things to say.”
“Just showing he’s comfortable in his own skin and he’s willing to communicate the truth, but to do it, I think, in a very loving and graceful way,” Vander Plaats said. “And I think that’s what it’s going to take to eventually have revival in this country and across the globe as well.”
Nearly five years ago Vander Plaats became president and CEO of The Family Leader, a Christian conservative group that has been active in the state’s political scene. Vander Plaats himself endorsed presidential candidates in 2008 and 2012 and he led campaigns to unseat Iowa Supreme Court justices who joined the court’s 2009 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa. But Vander Plaats said his book — and The Family Leader organization — are also focused on the bigger picture.
“We believe campaigns are a moment in time. It’s like the Dutch boy putting a finger in the dike, but the dike needs to be rebuilt,” Vander Plaats said. “We cannot continue to sprint away from the heart of God and call it a good thing.”
According to Vander Plaats, the purpose of the event at the Vatican will be to “wake up the culture” and he’s ready to be changed himself by participating.
“When you’re going to spent time in prayer in thought and with other religious leaders…I think you always have to open that this will change you,” Vander Plaats said.
In November of last year the Vatican hosted a conference on marriage at the Vatican with noted Evangelical Christian leaders from American, like Rick Warren, author of the bestseller: “Purpose Driven Life”. Vander Plaats said he and his wife, Darla, are excited about their trip to Vatican City this November, but there’s no guarantee the pope will attend this year’s event.
Next weekend, Vander Plaats will be leading a big political event when The Family Leader hosts ten Republican presidential candidates at a forum in Ames.