When the alarm started blaring country music, the only station that will come in properly on that tiny outdated box that sits on my night stand, I struggled to open my eyes as I reached to turn that noise off. As soon as my feet hit the floor, I walked around the bed as I tugged on the corners, flipped the covers, and smoothed out the comforter as I made the bed. As I reached the other side of the king sized bed, I reached for the silver button on the big stereo in my bedroom and pressed it to usher in welcomed music from my most favorite radio station. Turning to walk away and go about my usual morning routine, I heard the DJ announce a shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. I froze right where I stood as waves of disbelief washed over me. A shooting? At a church? In CHARLESTON?
Fear rose up inside of me as I thought of the Christians that were gathered in their place of worship last night for their normal Wednesday night prayer meeting. Then sorrow filled my heart as I processed the news that they were gunned down in their church.
Oh dear Lord. What is happening to us? We need you now more than ever before, God.
The DJ returned to the music selection, and I tried to return to my usual routine of getting ready for work. I drove into the office still in somewhat of a daze, hoping I had heard the DJ wrong. Surely it can’t be OUR Charleston that she spoke of; the Holy City.
As I went about my day, sure enough, it was indeed our beloved Charleston that was making headlines worldwide. Some were calling it The Charleston Massacre.
Fear remained throughout a good portion of the morning as the suspect wanted in the shooting was still at large. There was video footage so there was no way to deny what the shooter looked like. It was on every news station and even flashed all over Facebook.
Charleston made the news … but in a horrible, horrible way.
Why do things like this have to happen? We will never know this side of Heaven.
And now … people are calling this a hate crime … and once again the race card is pulled out. People are talking about how the white man will get away with killing nine innocent black people, but they are saying that if it was a black man that shot all the white folks, it would have gone down so much differently. I do not like hearing that. It was a tragic situation that never should have happened. The individual obviously has some serious problems if he sat in a church for over an hour before opening fire on those in the church. It is unfortunate that he happened to be a white person and the victims were black. But I’m not here to talk about the color of people’s skin. It is my hope that we can see past the colors and see that they are all human beings … they were all made by God’s own hands. Red or yellow, black or white, we are ALL precious in His sight! What gets me more than anything is that nine lives seemed to not be valued … they were snuffed out when all they did was gather in a church for worship that evening.
Lord, please help us. We need you.
My heart is heavy burdened tonight as I write these words to you. Please, if you are reading this, let’s not focus on the color of the skin but instead that precious lives were lost last night when this all happened.
I had no idea any of this was going on last night as I sat up until 11:30 p.m. contemplating how to write an email to a Christian lady that seemed to be pushing “church” on us. We are Christians, and at one time, we were going to church every time the doors were opened. We were involved in so much at the church, from the GROW committee, to singing in the choir, to the buildings and grounds committee, to director over the interpretive moment team. I even kept children in the nursery a few times as well as helping in Vacation Bible School. I know what it means to belong to a small church, as I did growing up, and I also know what it is like to belong to a huge church, as I did just a few short years ago when we were heavily involved. Things happened in the church, feelings were hurt, and things transpired that should not have … thus leaving us to make a tough decision to leave the place we had grown so fond of through the years; our place of worship. Yes, we did try to find a new “church home,” yet, every church is going to have their own individual set of troubles. Why? Because they are all run by people … and people want to be in charge. I heard a saying once that there were too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Regardless, we left the church scene, but understand that we did NOT leave Christ nor our belief and faith in Him. We still have a relationship with Jesus, although our shadow does not fall upon the threshold of a church any longer. We prefer, instead, to be one with God out in the great outdoors on the back of our horses. We feel closer to Him there than we do in any building. However, we felt lectured and pushed to find a “church home” by, I’m sure, a well meaning Christian lady of an equestrian ministries group we got involved with a few months back. And there I sat last night at 11:30 p.m. trying to compose an email that would speak our hearts without offending or hurting the feelings of the recipient. Little did I know that while I spoke of not wishing to go to a church building at this point in time, people had just been gunned down at their church in Charleston.
I do think that Christians are under attack. I think that bad things happen to good people, and I also think that there are twisted people in this world that delight in evil. While I have no way of knowing what was going through this young man’s mind when he opened fire in that church building, I do know that he is a child of God. I am not sure what his beliefs are or why he chose to do what he did, but God created him and gave him free will. While we – the Nation – mourn, I believe that God is mourning also for the loss of those nine lives. Will we ever make sense of this or any other “hate crime?” No.
I would like to urge you all to join me in prayer for our Nation as a whole. This world seems to have gone crazy, and it is very scary to think of our children growing up with this type of thing happening more and more frequently. Now it’s at our backdoor, and it does not feel too good to turn on every single news channel and hear of The Charleston Massacre. A lot of focus has been placed on the man that did this – the white male. I’d like to focus on the victims and their families, friends, and loved ones. I’m choosing NOT to focus on the color of their skin. Yes, they were African American … but they are so much more than just the color of their skin. They are precious lives that we have lost, no matter WHAT their skin color was. People lost their lives last night as they were gathered in their church to worship God. It saddens me greatly that people are not even safe in church any more. It hurts my heart to know that people that had so much living to do, so many plans for the future, will never be able to see those through due to this senseless act of violence on innocent people.
Please pray that people will begin to value other people’s lives again so that shootings will STOP taking place. Each and every life is important and should be valued no matter what their skin color is.
Please join us in prayer for Charleston, South Carolina, as the Holy City mourns.