Are We Safe?
Dear Church Family,
I was on a plane
from Addis Ababa to Frankfurt when I learned of the tragic church shooting at
First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas. From the initial reports, a 26
year-old man came into worship in this small town and killed 26 worshippers, wounding
20 more. What can we do in the face of such evil?
First, we should
pray for the wounded, the grieving, the survivors, and the family of the
perpetrator. Families are shattered and that community deeply scarred. Pray for
God’s help, comfort, and peace that passes understanding. Pray for that church
as they love each other through the unthinkable.
Second, we can do
our best to have a safe environment for worship. We will review our processes
for security and emergencies.
Third, we should
realize that safety is not promised in this life. My Sunday morning was very
peaceful in a place that might appear less than safe: a predominantly Muslim
town in eastern Ethiopia. By contrast we would expect a worship service in a
small town in south Texas to be as safe a place as we could imagine. Safety,
however, is never guaranteed.
Fourth, know that
God’s presence is guaranteed to us. As Jesus says in the
Great Commission of Matthew 28: “I will be with you always, even to the end of
the age.” It is the evil one who wants us to live life crippled by terror and
fear. We need to come together in worship. We need to welcome and love those
who are broken. We need to reach out to the lonely and isolated around us. We
need to be bold with the love of Jesus. God’s church is the hope of the world!