Michele Bachmann, who extended her weekend Florida outreach into Monday, spoke freely about her conversion to Christianity, her parents’ divorce and losing a child through miscarriage as she urged a group of conservatives to spend their lives for Jesus.
Bachmann, a Republican presidential hopeful, attended a church service with about 3,000 people at Idlewild Baptist Church near Tampa on Sunday morning where she highlighted the importance of Florida in the 2012 presidential election, according to Post on Politics. But a night earlier, she talked mainly about her life and faith at the annual awards dinner of the Florida Family Policy Council in Orlando.
The Minnesota congresswoman told a group of about 500 at Orlando’s Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel that her parents’ divorce was a critical event in her life and it eventually led her to Christ.
“As you can imagine, our life completely changed,” Newsmax quoted Bachmann as saying. “We had a four-bedroom home in the suburbs that had to be sold. We couldn’t afford it. I saw my mom take everything out of the hutch in the dining room. It went onto card tables out in the garage. We had a garage sale. All her wedding gifts, all the pretty things in the dining room hutch – everything had to be sold. We couldn’t afford it anymore. I saw my mother lose absolutely everything.”
But Bachmann and her mother did not seek public assistance. “We decided that we were going to be a team that wasn’t going to be beat,” she said. “We were going to stick together, and we did. We all pitched in. We all helped out. And our poverty lasted for more than just a few months. It lasted for years.”
Bachmann’s life changed when she got out of high school thanks to the example of her mother and family prayers. “At that moment the Lord put inside my heart a hunger and a thirst for his word, a hunger and a thirst to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, and to know him,” she said.
Bachmann was 16 when she accepted Christ. The Sentinel quoted her as saying that she and her husband Marcus Bachmann were influenced by theologian Francis Schaeffer.
She was speaking to a crowd of mainly conservative Christians that is pro-life and pro-family. The Florida Family Policy Council gave Bachmann the organization’s William Wilberforce Award for her commitment to conservative causes.
The three-term congresswoman also explained why she was against abortions and whey she and her husband had 23 foster children apart from having five of their own. She said they made the decision after she lost a child through miscarriage.
“It was a profound experience. People often say that a miscarriage is a minor thing. I am here to tell you, a miscarriage is not a minor thing. That is a real human being that God created. And although that baby never took a breath outside the womb, it is every bit a human being. Because that child was made in the image, and the likeness, of a holy God. And when that baby was lost to us, it changed Marcus and I forever,” Newsmax quoted Bachmann as saying.
Bachmann, the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota, had earlier told a church in Iowa that she decided to enter politics partly because of their foster children. “They brought some very questionable materials home in their backpack and I didn’t want to just go and grip to my school, I wanted to go and do something positive,” Des Moines Register quoted her as saying at First Church of the Nazarene in Des Moines. This fight for reforms in education policy turned her into a politician.
At the Orlando event, Bachmann encouraged the crowd to “pour out” their lives for Jesus. “That’s our challenge as believers in Jesus Christ, that in whatever sphere of influence God has given to us – maybe it’s a homemaker, maybe it’s as a businessman or woman, maybe it’s as a politician, maybe it’s as someone who’s running for president of the United States, maybe it’s someone who doesn’t even know your purpose yet – is saying to the Almighty God of the universe: ‘Yes, Lord, I will pour myself out.’”
Bachmann’s Orlando outreach was seen in light of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s rising popularity among evangelicals. According to Orlando Sentinel, evangelicals and Catholics make up 30 to 40 percent of the GOP primary electorate in Florida.
At the Idlewild Baptist Church, Bachmann was asked to contrast herself with Perry. “People are looking for someone who will be a champion for their values and their principles and I have been a proven record….People know that I am a proven fighter with a titanium spine,” she told reporters.
Bachmann, who was to travel north after her Florida campaign Sunday, will remain in South Florida Monday because of Hurricane Irene, according to a Bachmann spokeswoman.