The World and Everything in It: Feb. 5, 2024 | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

The World and Everything in It: Feb. 5, 2024


WORLD Radio - The World and Everything in It: Feb. 5, 2024

On Legal Docket, cases about bankruptcy and deportation; on the Monday Moneybeat, a strong jobs report; and remembering the life and legacy of WORLD founder Joel Belz. Plus, the Monday morning news

Joel Belz prepares to record a commentary segment for The World and Everything in It. Photo by Jeff Wales

NICK EICHER, HOST:  Today our hearts are heavy at WORLD. The man who founded this place, Joel Belz died yesterday at his home in Asheville, North Carolina. The result of complications due to Parkinson’s Disease. He was 82.

We are grieving but not as those without hope.

On the merits of his savior, Jesus Christ our Lord, we know that Joel heard the commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I loved Joel. He was my friend. He was a wise and trustworthy colleague. I love the vision he cast for WORLD and his passion to honor Christ in journalism. That vision and that passion is why those of us here are here.

Joel would have us carry on the task today and so we will.

But we didn’t want to start without letting you know how grateful to God we are today for Joel’s life and how much we miss Joel already.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Good morning! A man in the country illegally says the government didn’t give him adequate notice he was being kicked out.

JUSTICE KAGAN: We’re living in this world where this is a strange statute because the government has been out of compliance for so long and it leads to some kind of strange results.

NICK EICHER, HOST: XThat’s ahead on Legal Docket.

Also today the Monday Moneybeat: an unexpectedly strong job market and the Fed Funds rate, what is that and why can’t you get it?

And the WORLD History Book. Today FDR’s plan to pack the court:

FDR: This nation is asking for action, and action now!

REICHARD: It’s Monday, February 5th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!

REICHARD: Up next, today’s news with Kent Covington.

SOUND: [Fighter jets]

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. response to Iran-backed militias » Flames from the back of American fighter jets lit up the night atop an aircraft carrier in the Middle East. That as U.S. and British airstrikes hit 36 Houthi targets in Yemen over the weekend.

And National security adviser Jake Sullivan says the United States is not finished striking Iran-backed militias in the region.

SULLIVAN: We intend to take additional strikes, and additional action to continue to send a clear message that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked, or people are killed.

That from NBC’s Meet the Press.

The weekend strikes followed an air assault on Friday that saw allied forces hit dozens of Iran-backed militia targets in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for drone strikes that killed three U.S. soldiers last week.

When asked if the United States has any plans to strike Iran directly, Sullivan responded:

SULLIVAN: I'm not going to get into what we've ruled in and ruled out from the point of view of military action. What I will say is that the President is determined to respond forcefully to attacks on our people. 

But the United States has separately said it does not seek war with Iran.

Iran warned the U.S. on Sunday about potentially targeting two cargo ships … suspected of serving as forward operating bases for Iranian commandos.

Israel warning to Hezbollah » Meantime, Israel is warning another Iran-backed terrorist group, Hezbollah. Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Daniel Hagari heard here through an interpreter:

HAGARI (translator): We will continue to act wherever Hezbollah is present We will continue to act wherever it is required in the Middle East.

Israel said it will remain “ready to attack immediately” if provoked. Hagari said, “We do not choose war as our first priority, but we are certainly prepared.”

California weather » In California, fallen trees are sprawled on cars, houses, and power lines as the so-called pineapple express roars through the state. The series of atmospheric rivers has pummeled California with torrential rain and damaging winds.

Dalton Behringer with the National Weather Service:

BEHRINGER: The main flooding that you'll likely see some of the bigger impacts from is going to be south of us in Ventura County, down towards Santa Barbara that area. We will still be dealing with elevated streams and rivers though as many of our coastal ranges are forecast to get up to four to five inches of rain.

The second of the two atmospheric rivers over the past week began slamming the state on Saturday.

Chile forest fires » Meanwhile, 5,000 miles to the south Chile has been grappling with the opposite problem. Hot, dry weather has helped to fuel devastating forest fires.

BORIC: National day of mourning.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric has decreed a two-day national mourning period.

BORIC: [Speaking Spanish] 64 dead

The death toll from the infernos already stood at 64, and Boric said that number is going to rise significantly.

The wildfires ignited on Friday destroying thousands of homes and forcing thousands more to evacuate the coastal region.

Haley on SNL, campaigning » As far as Donald Trump and President Biden are concerned, the primary phase of the election is over. But former ambassador Nikki Haley says it’s anything but.

And over the weekend, she took a swipe at the former president during an appearance on Saturday Night Live.

HALEY: Are you doing okay, Donald? You might need a mental competency test.

She also criticized him for refusing to debate her.

HALEY: What is he afraid of? Is it that he’s afraid I know too much about his record?

But for his part, Trump on Sunday touted his record.

TRUMP: We defeated ISIS. I knocked out the biggest terrorists in the world. We had the best economy ever. I cut taxes.

Haley continues to campaign heavily in her home state of South Carolina, where she hopes to chip away at Trump’s early delegate lead.

The Chosen in theaters » Jesus is back on the big screen nationwide.

THE CHOSEN TRAILER: My ledgers are in the red. I told you to make life difficult for the followers of Jesus!

The first 3 episodes of the latest season of The Chosen premiered in theaters over the weekend.

Jonathan Roumie is the actor who portrays Jesus in the hit series.

ROUMIE: There’s something compelling, something so compelling about who He was, what He said, how he changed the world, how He lived his life in sacrifice to humanity that is undeniable. He is undeniable. And I think that’s what’s attracted so many people from all over.

Episodes 4 through 6 will hit the silver screen on the 15th.

I'm Kent Covington.

Straight ahead: Bankruptcy and deportation on this week’s Legal Docket. Plus, the Monday Moneybeat.

This is The World and Everything in It.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s The World and Everything in It for this 5th day of February, 2024. We’re so glad you’ve joined us today. Good morning! I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s time for Legal Docket.

The Supreme Court is back on the bench this week for oral arguments following a short break.

And when I say “break,” I don’t mean the justices are on vacation. It’s not like that. It’s more a break from the public-facing work of the court.

No, they’ve been busy. Busy with things like petitions for certiorari, meaning whittling through arguments for and against cases that ought or ought not to come to the court.

And it should come as no surprise to know that the justices are seeing more and more cases around the gender confusion that’s gotten so much media attention.

EICHER: Yeah, now it’s getting legal attention.

One of those petitions is inviting the court to decide whether a couple of state laws are constitutional. Both Kentucky and Tennessee ban the use of medications and surgical procedures that attempt to bring about sex change. The use of hormones and puberty blockers and actual amputation of healthy body parts. These things are known in the medical world as “gender-affirming care.”

The challengers of these laws are parents of children diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and they’re looking for these drugs and procedures to try to make their bodies more closely approximate their ideas about what sex they are.

REICHARD: Another petition for certiorari is from Christian parents of another child who has a gender-dysphoria diagnosis.

Indiana’s Department of Child Services accused Jeremy and Mary Cox of abuse and neglect following disagreements about their child’s gender identity. The state then removed the child from the home and didn’t return him, even after the abuse charges were dropped and a court found the mom and dad fit parents.

In response, the parents say this violates their rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, not to mention their parental rights to raise their child according to their values.

EICHER: Today, we’ll analyze two oral arguments heard last month—one of them a brain-bending bankruptcy case—sorry—and the other an immigration case.

So let’s do bankruptcy first.

The main party here is a privately owned hotel company based in Missouri, John Q. Hammons Hotels and Resorts.

Eight years ago, the hotel filed for Chapter 11. That allows overwhelming debts to be restructured in such a way that they can be repaid while allowing the company to survive.

As part of that bankruptcy process, debtors have to pay fees to fund the system that oversees these complicated transactions.

While the hotel’s bankruptcy was pending, Congress passed a law that significantly increased those fees and the hotel paid them.

REICHARD: But just a few years later, the Supreme Court ruled that fee increase was unconstitutional.

So now the hotel wants a refund. It paid millions of dollars levied by a law found to be unconstitutional. The hotel argues the higher fee was applied in an unequal way and applied retroactively, which Congress didn’t intend.

Daniel Geyser represents the hotel:

GEYSER: If the government unlawfully collects funds, it is required to rectify that violation with meaningful backward-looking relief. It cannot simply keep the unconstitutional fees and promise not to do it again.

But the federal government argues taxpayers will be on the hook for those refunds. Therefore, the remedy cries out for a practical solution: fund the system with fee hikes across the board.

EICHER: One thing to understand about the bankruptcy system: a political compromise back in the 1980s resulted in different systems of bankruptcy. Two states have a system in which administrative courts oversee bankruptcies and those courts are funded out of the general budget of the federal courts.

REICHARD: But all the other states do things differently. The Department of Justice oversees those bankruptcy proceedings. DOJ funds those proceedings using fees paid by the Chapter 11 debtors.

The hotel bankruptcy is under that latter system—the debtor-funded DOJ system. That’s where the big fee hike hammered debtors and the high court later struck down the increase.

EICHER: The hotel argues that it violates the uniformity requirement of the Constitution to have two systems, one of which is more expensive for debtors than the other. The Constitution says Congress is to establish “uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States.”

But Department of Justice lawyer Masha Hansford argues for a practical resolution. When she says “respondent,” she means the hotel.

HANSFORD: The appropriate remedy in this case is the mandate of higher fees nationwide. Now Respondents instead urge a refund remedy which when applied nationwide would require taxpayers to foot the bill for approximately $326 million to fund windfalls for the largest users of the bankruptcy system, like Respondents, who paid exactly what Congress intended that they pay.

Justice Elena Kagan leaned into the government’s position in this exchange with Geyser:

JUSTICE KAGAN: Congress never wants to impose burdens on the taxpayer with respect to bankruptcy, you know, it thinks that the people who use bankruptcy should pay for bankruptcy, then it seems to me that there's a pretty strong case that Ms. Hansford says that it should be equalization by collection.

GEYSER: Well, Your Honor, I think then, if that's true, then it's up to Congress to say that...

REICHARD: But Congress didn’t say that.

Geyser made the point that Congress needs to write better laws because it’s unfair for his client to pay up when others don’t have to.

The tenor of the questions overall leads me to think the hotel isn’t going to win this, although prediction is always risky with the high court. But clarity is needed so the lower courts have the guidance.

EICHER: On to the second and final argument for today: immigration. It’s a consolidated case of different disputes with similar facts and similar questions of law. So I’ll relate just one set of facts:

We’ll begin with a man named Moris Campos-Chaves. He’s a citizen of El Salvador who illegally entered the U.S. back in 2005. Within weeks, he received a notice to appear for a removal proceeding, and there he’d be allowed to make his case not to be removed.

The notice he received is the key. It contained no specifics as to time and place for the hearing. A subsequent notice did have that information.

But Campos-Chaves didn’t appear, so the judge in his absence ordered him deported.

REICHARD: Yet it’s 19 years later and he’s still here. Campos-Chaves made a motion in 2018 to reopen his deportation case. He argues the government didn’t follow the law governing Notices to Appear. It says all information about time and place of a hearing has to be on that one document.

His lawyer, Easha Anand:

ANAND: This is the third time the government has come before this Court and asked to be relieved of the consequences of flouting the plain text of the INA. For a third time, the government says the notice it gave is good enough.

EICHER: The government’s routine is to send two separate documents: one of them is the announcement of a deportation hearing with the time and place listed as TBD, to be determined. After setting the date, time, and courtroom, then the government sends a document revealing all that.

The delay is because it takes some time to get hearings scheduled.

And that should be okay, the government argued. Charles McCloud is assistant to the Solicitor General.

MCCLOUD: The Ninth Circuit is wrong that the omission of time and place information in a notice to appear renders all subsequent notices invalid. Congress created two distinct forms of notice, and it made both of them potential grounds for in absentia removal. The removal orders in these cases were based on notices of hearing that specified a new time and place for the removal proceedings and that warned the non-citizens of the consequences of failing to attend those proceedings. That's all Section 1229 requires for a notice of hearing to be valid.

REICHARD: Plenty of back and forth during argument about the word “change.” The law requires notice of any “change” to time and date of a hearing. McCloud for the government framed its meaning this way:

MCCLOUD: And we think that under the ordinary meaning of "change," particularly as it's used in this statutory scheme, going from an indeterminate time and place to a determined one is a kind of change.

But Anand for the alien framed it differently when Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked:

JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: And where does that come from in the text of the statute?

ANAND: Two pieces. First is the word "change," which, as we've explained, we don't think encompasses the difference between TBD and March 15th. The second is, it's a change of the time and place of such proceeding. So, again, this is my voter registration hypothetical. If you never filled out your voter registration form, your change of party affiliation form -- is not valid either.

EICHER: Justice Elena Kagan pointed out the elephant in the room.

JUSTICE KAGAN: We're living in this world where this is a strange statute because the government has been out of compliance for so long and it leads to some kind of strange results.

REICHARD: Strange results are what the high court would like to avoid. We’ll know how it does that by the end of June by which time decisions in all these cases must be handed down.

And that’s this week’s Legal Docket!

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s time to talk business, markets, and the economy with financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen. He’s head of the wealth management firm The Bahnsen Group and he’s here now.

David, good morning!

DAVID BAHNSEN: Well, good morning, Nick. Good to be with you.

EICHER: David, because of a deadline situation on Friday morning I had sort of pre-written a story assuming the January jobs report would come in as expected. Something just shy of 200-thousand new jobs. So I waited for 8:30 for the release of the report, and what do you know, more than 350-thousand jobs in January, coming completely out of the blue. Had of course to rewrite and quickly, but the job market continues to be hot. This is quite a story.

BAHNSEN: Well, it’s a huge story. And it was even bigger, because sometimes you get a pretty good monthly number, but then it's offset by past month revisions to the downside. And this big number was accompanied by upside revisions. The past two months were revised higher than previously expected. You combine that with the job openings data that is still over 9 million. Granted, the quits rate has reduced. There are less people that seem to feel emboldened to quit their job right now. But there just isn't a way to spin this for in any other way than the fact that the jobs picture is very good. And it looks like much of the economy is doing quite well. The forward looking GDP predictors, the St. Louis Fed has one, and the Atlanta Fed has one. And they're fallible, but they both seem to indicate we're on track towards a strong Q1 print. And we already know that the Q4 print was better than expected. The Q3 print was huge. The full year 2023 was very strong. So the economy is doing well. And I think that it's a surprise for a lot of peoplem because we haven't had a productivity increase in quite some time. And we're getting a fair amount of higher productivity leading to better GDP. And I think that's a very good thing.

EICHER: But isn’t there an asterisk here? I’m always scrolling down to that part of the report to see labor force participation rate, how many are coming off the sideline and seeking one of those many jobs available. And labor participation is unchanged which is not good. I was looking for it to tick up and it didn’t.

BAHNSEN: Yeah, it sure is. Because what that speaks to is the cultural milieu. And, you know, we're sitting here talking, and I have a big new book coming out this week here that deals with my view on the labor force and my view on our societal attitude towards work. And it's my goal that there'd be a higher labor force, which is defined as people who are working, or people who want to be working. And a declining labor force right now is not really based on people unable to find work. It's based on people choosing to exit the workforce. And that is problematic morally, culturally, spiritually, for a lot of reasons I talked about on this podcast a lot. I think it's something a lot of WORLD listeners resonate with. I think they agree with where I'm coming from on this subject. But you're right that on a month-over-month basis, and certainly even on the year, the labor participation force has not picked up much, yet GDP is doing well. So what that tells you is that with the people who are choosing to work, most of which who have jobs, if they want them, 96.5% of them, that we're getting a decent productivity. Technology, you know, our manufacturing productivity has been amongst the highest it's ever been. And candidly, that's with less people working in manufacturing, domestically. So this is the state of the economy. A lot of these things we've known for a while. The question to me, Nick, is how we choose to respond to it.

EICHER: Also last week, the two-day meeting of the open market committee of the Fed. The members decided to leave rates unchanged. But given the underlying strength of the economy, strong GDP, strong labor market, why not just start climbing the rate down toward a more neutral rate? Are you surprised they left interest rates intact?

BAHNSEN: Yeah, Nick, I think many people would ask the question with the opposite assumption. Some people believe—fortunately, you're not one of them—that strong GDP growth and strong jobs means they're supposed to be raising rates, because they worried that then the economy could get too good and we need high interest rates to bring that down, because economic growth is inflationary. And that premise is wrong. But if the premise were right, their conclusion would make more sense. Like oh, I guess we need keep rates high, because we don't want the economy to be good.

The issue is that you don't want rates to be artificially low. I've been opposed to that for 15 years. But you also don't want them to be artificially high. And how do you know what the right level is? Well, first of all, I don't really believe twelve PhDs sitting around a conference table can know what the exact number is. I think borrowers and lenders and buyers and sellers and bank A and bank B should be able to figure that out on their own. But be that as it may, the system we have is that the Fed sets that rate. And the Fed is above the natural rate right now. It is economically contractionary, and I think unnecessarily so.

I think inflation has been contained. And the key elements driving certain price levels right now is not remotely related to the Fed. And so I think that they can, should, and will be lowering rates. I'm skeptical that they'll start in March now. The futures have gone from about 80% chance they would cut in March to about a 20% chance. And yet we're at 100% chance that they'll have cut by May 1. So from March 20 to May 1, that's only five weeks in between or so. And I think you'll start seeing the Fed cut from there. But no, I don't think, first of all, you gotta remember the Feds' January decision has been baked in for a month, two months. This GDP print and especially the unemployment print all came after this last Fed meeting.

So if there are Fed governors that are worried that the jobs report is too good to be cutting rates, that would just be because they're Phillips Curvers. We talked about that recently on the podcast and the Phillips Curve is this errant, disproven, flawed economic belief that people having jobs is inflationary

EICHER: Speaking of the Fed, David, why don’t we do a Fed-related Defining Terms. We just got finished talking about setting interest rates, but we ought to clarify, markets set interest rates. What the Fed does is it sets a Federal Funds target range. That’s what we refer to. The Fed Funds target. What is that, because we do know it’s a thing that none of us has access to?

BAHNSEN: That's right. And it's a very important subject, because people will say, Well, did the Fed increase my mortgage rate? Or did they decrease my savings rate on what the bank pays me and my savings account or my money market? And the answer all at once is yes and no. The Fed obviously does not control what a bank is charging you for your mortgage, or paying you for your savings account. And the Fed does not control what the Treasury bond rates will be when the government goes to issue new debt, what the market will end up buying that debt for. And the Fed can't control a lot of even what businesses borrow money at. And yet, the Fed funds rate is sort of the baseline rate that ends up affecting all of those things, but just a little bit less directly.

So what is the Fed funds rate? Technically, it is a rate set by the Fed as a target, generally with about a quarter point range, so they could set it - right now, it's five and a quarter percent to five and a half percent. So it's somewhere between 5.25 and 5.5%. And then from there, banks charge each other that rate for overnight lending. And you go, Well, why would a bank borrow money from another bank? Because some banks on a certain day have done a lot more lending, and they're underneath their reserve requirements. Other banks have done less lending and are above their reserve requirements. All banks have to keep their reserves on deposit with the Fed, that's the law, then you end up with extra money from deposits and capital you have as a bank, that's the money you lend out to make money. That's your profit. And when you have lent out a bunch with mortgages and business loans, that's economic activity, right? That's the whole point of banks out there trying to make money. But then you can be below your reserve requirements. So you're borrowing overnight.

So that very initial and shortest term rate, there's nothing to worry about if nobody's borrowing, if nobody's lending money out, then no banks need to borrow money from other banks to cover the reserve requirements. And so you get less activity when the Fed funds rate is higher, and you get more activity when it's lower. And that's what we mean by that Fed funds rate being sort of a baseline, because from there the cost of money the banks are using for the mortgages and the business loans and what they're going to pay out in deposits and all get set by the cost that they have for borrowing.

So that's what the Fed funds rate technically is, and the Fed does have the ability to control that; and then indirectly from there, a lot of other money market and mortgage type rates. I hope that is helpful.

EICHER: Ok, David Bahnsen is founder, managing partner, and chief investment officer of The Bahnsen Group.

David’s personal website is His Dividend Cafe each week you can find at

Thank you, David!

BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, February 5th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next: Remembering Joel Belz.

On Sunday morning, WORLD News Group Founder Joel Belz died at the age of 82. He’d battled Parkinson’s disease for several years.

EICHER: God blessed Joel with many gifts, and he used those gifts well at WORLD, but he was much more than just a newsman. Senior Writer Kim Henderson brings us this reflection.

KIM HENDERSON: Joel Belz will be remembered for a lot of things. But mostly, for building things.

CAROL ESTHER BELZ: We built our own house on Lookout Mountain. He was already in the process when we got married. And actually, when my mom came for the wedding, she said, “You got to do something about those hands.” Because we had been staining wood cabinets that he built.

That’s Carol Belz, Joel’s wife of 49 years. She says she admired his creative side. But it’s not what brought them together.

CAROL ESTHER: I was drawn to his Christian commitment more than anything.

It was a potent combination. Joel’s Christian commitment and entrepreneurial abilities.

In God’s providence, it led to WORLD News Group. In this 2011 interview, Joel explains what brought him into Christian journalism.

JOEL BELZ: There was a TIME Magazine, there was a Newsweek, there was a US News and World Report. But the big gap, the huge gap was that none of them took seriously this idea that “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” Everything that’s in the world belongs to that vision. And that’s the gap that we decided we needed to fill with WORLD Magazine.

For more than 40 years, Joel used his journalistic gifts to bless WORLD’s readers and listeners.


Part of his role as founder was giving tours of WORLD’s headquarters in Asheville, like this one from more than a decade ago.

But Joel had some other building interests, too. Particularly within his denomination.

CAROL ESTHER: He loved the church. And he started going to General Assembly before it was the PCA. It was the RPCES with his dad, because his dad was a pastor. And then the highest honor, he would say the highest honor of his life was to be named the moderator of the General Assembly one year.

In 1980, Joel helped build a new church in Asheville. Rather, he helped found one. Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church. Oldest daughter Jen Gienapp remembers the work of setting up for services in rented space.

JEN GIENAPP: That meant every Sunday morning, we had to break down the chairs or the cafeteria area and set it up for worship. And then Sunday night, all the members, you know, bring it all back down and set it back up for the week. We did that until I graduated from high school.

Jen also watched her dad do the little things that count so much toward building a solid marriage.

GIENAPP: Every time he came home from work, he found Mom and gave her a kiss. It didn't matter where he was, where she was, um, and that just sticks in my head.


Jen and her four sisters went to school at Asheville Christian Academy. It’s much bigger today—some 800 students are walking its halls—halls Joel Belz was instrumental in building. He spent decades serving on the school’s board.

Head of School Bill George has felt Joel’s absence.

BILL GEORGE: We are standing on layers of work that people like Joel Belz have done. And they rolled up their sleeves. And they gave much more deeply of themselves than any of us are used to giving. There was a certain sort of farmer-worker, you know, sweat-and-toil philosophy that Joel brought to the table. And we need to be reminded of that when we start whining about how hard ministry is.

Joel also gave his energies to his alma mater, Covenant College—years upon years as a member of the Board of Trustees.

Niel Nielson, a former Covenant president, worked closely with Joel.

NIEL NIELSON: All the way through, Joel was a gospel man, whether it was staying strong in doctrine, whether it was making sure that even as we had to discipline students, we were recognizing the opportunity for reconciliation and restoration. And making sure that even as we engage the culture, it was gospel centered.

Joel’s influence continues, even back in his small hometown—Walker, Iowa.

Joel’s parents ran a boarding school there called Cono Christian School, but it closed some time ago. One day, Joel and Carol got an idea. Joel called his friend, Wallace Anderson, who ran Ridge Haven, a Presbyterian camp in North Carolina.

WALLACE ANDERSON: And he said, “My wife has just come up with the perfect plan, what to do with Cono.” And I said, “Oh, what?” And he said for Ridge Haven to take it over. And I just laughed. I mean, I thought it was you know, and he said, “We're serious.”

In 2018, Cono reopened as a Presbyterian summer camp and conference center.

With Wallace Anderson at the helm.

That’s a testament to Joel’s recruiting skills. He didn’t hesitate to wield them, even when it came to making preparations for his death. He asked his woodworking son-in-law, Andy Gienapp, to build his casket. The building of the casket was intentional and symbolic. Joel’s daughter, Jen, explains.

GIENAPP: Andy sourced wood from Covenant’s campus on Lookout Mountain, and wood from our own property here. And then a little bit of wood from Cono’s campus.

They lined it with Covenant’s official tartan.


WORLD staff came together for a special worship service last October. Kevin Martin read Scripture. We sang. Joel and Carol were there.


He could have been a man who took pride in what he’d built. Instead, Joel Belz was the kind of man who marveled at what God had built.

JOEL: I have to ask myself, “Joel, are you just trying to build your own reputation? Or is it the Lord's reputation you’re trying to build there?” Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. And we get to do both. We get to do our work in a way that we hope brings glory to God. And it does bring joy, because He's structured things that way.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kim Henderson in Asheville, North Carolina.


The WORLD News Group family gathered with Joel and Carol Esther Belz (far right) during a staff retreat in Asheville, N.C., in October 2023.

The WORLD News Group family gathered with Joel and Carol Esther Belz (far right) during a staff retreat in Asheville, N.C., in October 2023. Photo by Alissa Minnick

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...