This post has been in the works since February of this year. After Ted Cruz dropped out of the presidential race on May 5th, my family asked me if I was just going to delete the draft and forget about publishing it.
My answer? “Absolutely not!”
Here’s why. Being involved, in a little way, in one of the greatest campaigns in history was an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. Even though it didn’t end the way we would’ve hoped,
I still wanted to document and share our experiences and what we learned from the Cruz Campaign, and why we choose to be involved in the first place.
It wasn’t because it was glamorous or prestigious. It wasn’t.
It wasn’t because we had lots of extra time to dump into a new cause. We didn’t.
It wasn’t because we were wanting more publicity or media attention. Not at all.
It wasn’t because we needed more hate mail or nasty online comments or twisted statements or ridiculous articles written about us. We already had that.
It wasn’t because we felt like dealing with a whole new level of criticism and hate and rudeness.
No. Goodness, NO.
It was because it was a GODLY cause, for a GODLY man, and we wanted to be a part of it.
You may not know this (the media definitely didn’t tell you) but the Iowa caucus was won by Cruz because a handful of Iowa pastors, who loved Jesus and their country, got on their knees and PRAYED AND FASTED. And then they went to work. They engaged their congregations and their communities. Friends told friends. Common, ordinary, everyday people used their little platforms of influence in every and any way they could think of. Moms made phone calls while their little children napped. Young people knocked on thousands of doors. Older people came and lived at the Cruz Crew campus and made thousands of phone calls. Whole families got involved. Bumper stickers went on vehicles everywhere.
Many people thought our family was completely overboard- devoting way too much time and energy to politics- but God clearly put this this mission on our hearts last April, both individually and as a family, and we chose to pursue it, along with our first and greatest mission of spreading the gospel and encouraging God’s people. For us, the campaigning went along with the other two, and we viewed it as not only a work for our country, but also a work for the Lord. This wasn’t about something we were doing. This was about working for Jesus and a godly cause, to make a difference for future generations, for the sake of our country. No, we didn’t know for sure that Senator Cruz would win or lose, at that point.
But that wasn’t the main point. The main point was following the CALL Jesus gave us.
I thought y’all might be interested in hearing from the whole family, individually. So I asked each of them to write a paragraph about their experience working for the campaign. Here are their thoughts. Enjoy the variety. =)
MARLIN: “One thing my eyes were opened to when campaigning was how much the public believes everything they hear through the media. Many people don’t think for themselves anymore. They believe solely what they see and hear through TV, radio, and internet. In realizing this, I have learned to be more thorough in examining facts about something or someone before I believe what I may have heard about them. I was deeply grieved by the way Christians sought to find fault with Senator Cruz (complaining about things such as his church denomination or theology beliefs) but blatantly refused to acknowledge the infinitely more important issues with Trump, such as literally every aspect of his very questionable personal life. It was very sad to realize how deceived and confused Christians have become.”
BECKY: “It was a privilege to work for the Cruz campaign. To know that there are still a few godly people in our country’s government was SO encouraging. Can you believe that in our politically correct country, there are even still political events that begin with prayer?Yes, every day at the campaign headquarters began with all the leadership and volunteers meeting together in prayer to our Almighty God. I was also blessed to meet individuals (both volunteers and people we met while door knocking) who still understand the need for men in our government who will stand for truth and righteousness. My heart is still grieving that the American people don’t understand the need for godly leaders, but my hope is in the Lord. ‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.’ Isaiah 12:2″
CHELSY: “Campaigning was a sober wake-up call to how low my country has fallen. The worst conversations I had with people; the people that acted and talked in the most ungodly way; the people who were the most lacking in common judgement and sense…were not, as you would think, the liberal left (although they were too!) but the professing Christians. You would have thought that it would be these Christians who would have rallied around the candidate who, without a shadow of a doubt, shared the most of their professed values, but no. These were the people who chose to defend and vote for a man whose personal and public life went DELIBERATELY against everything that Christianity stands for. It was absolutely heart wrenching to see it all play out in front of me as I talked with people. However, the campaign had very encouraging moments as well. One of my favorite conversations was one that Taylor and I had with a gentleman in his mid-fifties. The poor man had quite the family history and life story which he proceeded to lay out to us over the course of nearly half an hour. We listened and sympathized; yes, we were there to talk about Cruz, but he obviously just needed someone to talk to PERIOD and so we did..inserting Cruz information and facts whenever the timing was right. =) Finally at the end of our conversation, after telling him at various times throughout the thirty minutes why he should vote for Cruz over Rubio (his favorite), I asked him if we could count on his vote. He looked at both of us with a smile and said, “Well, I guess if two young people can come all the way from Iowa to Georgia and spend this time talking with me because you are that passionate about this man Cruz…well then you can count on my vote too.” That made my day and also made me realize that in the end, listening to someone and showing them you care is what matters the most.”
MITCHELL: “If I were to give a piece of advice to someone about to go door-knocking (for anything, not just a political campaign), it would be this- have a bulldog mentality. In other words, don’t get discouraged just because someone rejected you- keep on going. Campaigning is EXTREMELY draining; not just physically, but also emotionally. So remember why you are doing what you are doing, and draw strength from encouraging people, rather than allowing the discouraging people to get you down. Ultimately, if you are doing it for the Lord (i.e. soul-winning, campaigning for a conservative candidate, etc), draw your strength from the Lord! ‘For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.’ Proverbs 24:16″
ALLISON: “Working on the Cruz campaign was a wonderful, growing experience. I think the biggest thing I learned through this time is to have grace for people who have different views + opinions. Not everyone is going to see things, politically and otherwise, the way I do, and that is okay. There is a difference between shoving politics down someone’s throat and presenting the truth in love. Jesus was all about sharing the truth in love, and that is how I want to be in politics and every area of my life.”
CARSON: “It was a blessing to spend time campaigning for the sake of our country. I am so grateful to our forefathers who fought and died for our freedom, and I felt like the least I could do was to knock on doors and do my best to further conservative, Christian principles in America.”
JOSH: “On the campaign trail we met all sorts of people. There were some who were very supportive and Christ-like, and others…who tested the limits of our patience. =) However, there is one experience, the most memorable of my door-knocking ventures, that I will never forget. One particularly chilly morning in South Carolina, Liz an I were door-knocking partners. At one of the very first doors we were met with a most unwelcoming reception. Feeling somewhat dejected, we continued to the next door, where a dear lady, probably in her late-thirties, opened the door and welcomed us in. We soon learned that she was a Cruz supporter and a homeschooling mother. This lady also happened to have a sweet daughter around Liz’s age, and naturally, Liz and her daughter hit if off instantly. We chatted for a bit about life and the campaign. Before we left, however, the dear lady insisted on us taking two cups of hot chocolate with us. (to which we gladly obliged!!) I will never forget her hospitality. It was moments such a these that energized me to continue stumping the campaign trail.”
DENVER: “Because I enjoy confrontation, campaigning was a mostly fun experience for me. My favorite part was learning about people’s responses to a stranger knocking on their door. Some were quite friendly, others less so. One thing that I found out is that ladies and young people are usually friendly but older men are normally not as much. There were definitely differences in people from the north and those from the south. While the people from Iowa were almost always civil, they were rarely friendly. Those from the South were either quite friendly or just slammed the door in my face. I also enjoyed campaigning because although I am already a people-person, it helped me to be even more comfortable with strangers. All in all it was a great experience that taught me many lessons that I will use later in life.”
TAYLOR: “Working with the Cruz campaign was very rewarding. Although the end result was not what I worked and prayed for, I do not regret what I did. Looking back, I know I did my part. Naturally I do not like rejection (something I experienced many times on the trail), but as my brother Mitch would say “they are not rejecting you. They are rejecting what you are fighting for.” It is also encouraging when sharing the Gospel to know that unsaved people are not rejecting me. They are rejecting Jesus. From this campaign, I learned many things that will benefit me for years to come. #1 Our country is in worse shape than I thought. #2 There are more opportunities to fight for truth than ever before. So, reader, never lose heart. Truth is always worth fighting for and will always prevail. John 14:6. Jesus is the truth!”
LIZ: “I really enjoyed being able to campaign for Cruz. It was fun to be able to be with siblings and friends. Sometimes people were a little rude but there were also really nice people and…once in a blue moon there would be people who would invite you into their house and give you hot chocolate on a cold and windy day.[but that only happened once!:}]
It was a very fun experience and I would do it all over again!
HUDSON: “My favorite time with the campaign was the time I got to knock doors with just my eleven year old friend and me. That was fun. I liked that sometimes we volunteers got to eat Chick-Fil-A; that was cool!! Also I learned that everyone in the south has at least one dog, if not MANY dogs, and that husbands and wives were often divided on the issue of who to vote for, and that was interesting.”
REBECCA:“I liked campaigning. I mostly got to go on Carson’s team and we had a lot of fun together. People were usually nice to us. One time we knocked on a door and the lady who answered started talking and talking. She said, “I went swimming today….” and she was telling us all sorts of things. And I was thinking, ‘Lady, we aren’t here to talk about what you did today’!”
(Note: literally that statement was in her own words, when I asked her to tell me about her campaigning. And also…people were always civil if not sweet to whoever she was with. The cutie factor was definitely a part of that. =))
One of the huge perks of working with such an amazing campaign was meeting all the incredible people volunteering with the campaign. In South Carolina we met “Joe”. (pictured above with us outside of the Cruz Quarters) He asked his boss to give him some time off work so that he could volunteer with the Cruz campaign for a few weeks. His boss said no. So “Joe” just quit his job altogether and came anyway, moving from Ohio to South Carolina to be a part of the campaign.
His was not an isolated story. Many gave up time, energy, and resources to be a part of this grassroots movement.
When friends we campaigned with in Iowa also come south to work on the campaign…we got to campaign together again!
We really really REALLY wished that Fox and CNN and all of those people would’ve checked with us before setting the debate schedule, because we would have requested that they debates please be on our very few off nights? =)
Instead, there we were in the middle of a concert, trying to stay focused but picturing in our minds the current state of things at the debate. Concerts went something like this:
Sing first song.
Sit down and silently pray for Cruz while dad introduces next song.
Think about what might be currently happening in the debate.
Back to real life—hop up to do the next song.
Sing several songs.
Think about the debate WHILE SINGING. =/
Finally finish concert.
Push people out the door Be friendly and talk to people.
RUN to computers when everyone has finally gone and proceed to crowd around laptops to watch whatever portion of the debate is left. (and then later go back and watch the part we missed)
“Guysss! There’s a political update! Everyone crowd around to hear!” (typical sight)
Love this!!! So glad you posted it. You all are a tremendous inspiration of dedication. Thank you for being so faithful and leaving the outcome in God's hands! (Psalm 75:6-7) Keep up the good work. We love & miss y'all! Cassidy for all of us
thank you for all of your insights from the campaign trail. More families and young people need to be involved in politics and get godly representation in the white house. Your efforts did not come back void.
Lov this post ahem ahem lov y'alls hearing about ur fvas about the whole campaigning thing an yes a lot of people are so rude in this world it makes me sick that people would do this to Godly Christian man an u guys did good even though he dropped out of the race hugs lov u guys an God bless u guys
Did you quote me? I should go back in my group text history and see. That would take some searching. I love this. A great read, Chelsy. Taylor and Rebecca made by years with what they said. I think that between your family and me, we hit over 7500 doors in total. Just think, we knocked on more doors that the Trump Campaign has for the whole campaign cycle. Just us.
As a side note, what Ted Cruz said before, at, and after that Republican National Convention and the Trump team's subsequent response was God's way of letting us know that we chose correctly. I don't think this country, with our culture in the shape that it is, was ready for a decent and virtuous man. They are calling for a ruler. We must be the remnant starting brushfires for liberty across the nation.
It was my honor to share many of these memories with all of you, but nobody taught me more than your brother, Taylor. His heart for people is something that has changed me. That, and the fact that he scolded Carson and me while riding back to the church in Abbeville because he was "Reading the Constitution" and we needed to be quiet. I obliged.
I know I'm ready to pledge myself to helping good men like Ted Cruz break through. 2020 starts now.
For God and Country.
I loved reading this post, Chels!! It's so great that y'all have done all that campaigning together as a family, for a godly cause! I loved hearing what each of y'all thought about the experience of campaigning for Cruz.
And I loved reading about the moments that our family can relate to as well…we have definitely been crazy about watching each debate, not wanting to miss any of it (thought obviously we didn't have to be singing while the debate was on, like y'all did!:) And I loved seeing all the photos of y'all watching debates after concerts, reading political updates on iphones, watching state voting returns come in (different blog post)—which we also did, basically every state till Cruz dropped out!)
And our younger ones…it's so cute how much they know about politics after hearing
us discuss it almost every day for the past year!
It's just so nice to find another family who is as passionate as we are about Christians making a difference in politics, and voting their conscience! (We did do a little "campaigning"—putting out a bunch of Cruz signs at polling places the day Ohio voted—but y'all WAY outdid us on that 🙂
Hopefully, though, there will be another Cruz campaign in 2020!!
God bless y'all!
Greetings Bontrager family and thanks Chelsey for posting this. I'm a regular blog reader, and not normally a responder. Your family's dedication and commitment to the Cruz campaign was very inspiring and the work of God will not go unnoticed. As I campaigned in our local town, I too was amazed in the reactions of professed Christian conservatives. I was mostly shocked when I just assumed my closest friends were Cruz supporters simply because I thought we shared same values in a Christian political way, but turns out, I was wrong. Half way through my campaigning, I felt that I had to backtrack and convince my friends to honestly and diligently do research in both perspectives and it would become the most clear and obvious choice. My experience taught me many things as well, and I wondered what it would take for America to realize the principles our Great Country was founded on! However, we must continue to pray for the hearts to be softened and May God Bless the United States of America. Thank you Bontragers for your wonderful example through the wonderful mission of God's love.
Proud to be a Texan and Supporter for Ted Cruz
I have to ask, because you all seem like God- fearing people. Why didn't you all support Ben Carson's campaign? I'm am not a hateful person and I agree with a lot of what Ted Cruz says, but sometimes it seemed like he was in it for himself. He did not seem genuine in any of the debates and even said things like he would "carpet bomb ISIS." He also used profanity when he asked Donald Trump to "leave his wife the (bleep) alone." Although, Carson lacked political experience, he seemed like an honest God loving man. And I'm not saying Ted Cruz isn't, I'm just saying sometimes his actions and words didn't seem authentic. Please help me understand this. Love to your beautiful family!
I reframed from posting my name, because of privacy reasons… So, I will go by RH. Thanks, God Bless!
Not speaking for the Bontrager family, but Marlin and I have had this conversation. Have you watched Ben Carson's actions since be suspended his campaign?
I think Dr. Carson is a good man. He is not a leader or a man prepared to run a government of the size and scope of ours. Frankly(inside joke), none of our choices, as it now stands, are worthy of this task, but I digress.
Dr. Carson ran a poor campaign and wasted so much money that he was unable to effectively compete. As someone who has spent a great amount of time around Ted Cruz(just ask any of the Bontragers), I saw a humbleness in Ted when I met him. There is nothing fake about the man. Oh, and I'll forgive him for hammering Donald after Donald threatened Heidi. Heidi Cruz is a wonderful lady and a good mom. If I was Ted, I would likely have done more than just tell Donald off. Ted is very real and a very compassionate man.
I'll get off my soapbox.
Here in Germany, it was in the News that Cruz gave the best speech at the Republican Convention. I think it was very brave of him. But I am convinced that Trump will be president, because many American people that are not informed about politics and don't care about other countries than the U.S., they like him. But I hope for you all and the whole world that he will be there only four years.
I agree with RH… Ben Carson was the candidate you should have endorsed. I started out a Cruz fan but he showed many unchristian traits as time went on. I'm afraid what he said at the convention totally knocked him out of the water for any further political jobs.
I am so encouraged that other conservitive christians are out in the political world fighting for what's right! My family and I live in WI and voted for Cruz in the primary; although I'm only almost 16 (3 weeks), so I didn't vote.=) I really liked all the things each of your family members had to say about campaining. It was very informative and encouraging.:) God bless you guys as you follow Christ!
Love in Christ,
Bontrager Family, thanks so much for clearing things up. Your response makes me think! If I may ask, how will you all go about voting since Trump is the nominee? I personally have no idea what to do and I feel that it is my duty to vote, but I cannot vote for Trump and I definitely cannot vote for Hillary!
Hello RH (and the commenter agreeing with RH =))
Our family supported Ted Cruz because of his past performance, not because of campaign promises. Every single candidate made promises of what they were going to do. The difference between Carson and Cruz was that Cruz had a strong record. Carson didn't. Besides that Carson had no political experience whatsoever.
Our opinion of Carson steadily declined over the past year, and his open endorsement and support of Trump at the end of his (Carson's) campaign, was the nail in the coffin. No man of true conservative values, strong Christian faith, and moral standing will endorse Trump. Carson's true colors flew high the moment he announced that he would support and stand with Donald Trump.
Is Cruz' political career over? Did his speech at the convention "ruin his future chances?"
I think not. And it doesn't matter if it did. True men do not make decisions based off of how it will affect their future in politics. They make decisions based on right and wrong.
At the end of the day, no matter what the media tells you, FACTS ARE FACTS.
As far as carpet bombing ISIS….
FYI, that is the only way to truly get rid of ISIS. Will some innocent people die?
Well, how many innocent people are dying at the hands of ISIS every day?
⬆ Amen! But you knew I'd say that.
I was also a big Ted Cruz fan, especially after my favorite, Rand Paul, dropped out. I don't know if you know this already or not, but most political analysts have reasons to believe Ted Cruz will be back in 2020. http://blog.hellandfamily.com/DanielInTheWritersDen/post/Ted-Cruz-to-Speak-at-Convention-Tonight
Hopefully Iowa will give him another big win! 🙂
Also interesting is that Ted Cruz would've won big time if Marco Rubio had been his running mate (not that I'm a fan of Marco Rubio). I think if he picked a running mate with a lot of support early on next time (I'd suggest Rand Paul) then he would pretty much eliminate any competition. His biggest problem is that he has essentially alienated himself from any and all Trump supporters by not following his word and endorsing him in the end. But I did think he made a great speech at the RNC.
I was very sad when Sen. Cruz dropped out. I think it is pretty obvious now that the answer is not going to come from the presidency, whether it is Trump or Clinton.
That's why I've been volunteering with the Convention of States project – have you heard of it?
What we are trying to do is pass amendments to the Constitution to put restraints on the Federal Government. However, Congress would never even countenance such proposals – they're having way too much fun spending way too much of your and China's money. So the amendments will have to come from elsewhere. The Constitution gives a second, little-known way to amend the Constitution, found in Article V: a Convention of States. The states can call for a convention, where each state chooses delegates, and the convention debates and proposes amendments. These amendments must still be ratified by the states, just like an amendment from Congress. So really, what we're doing is substituting the states for Congress.
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