July 2015 Pastor's Ponderings

July 2015 Pastor's Ponderings

Picture of Dylann Roof at Bond Hearing

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last week we were confronted by a terrible tragedy. Racism and hatred drove a young man to slaughter nine people and deeply impact the lives of countless others. We face the question of, “What must we do?” Remaining the same is not an option.

There almost was an alternate ending. John Ortberg points out that “according to news reports, Dylann Roof told police that he ‘almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to me.’” One evening of hospitality and love from that small group of Christians nearly overcame years of racism and hate. The lives and faith of the very people that he planned to kill offered Dylann new life, and although they did not alter his plans for that evening, I pray that he will be a different person due to the power of their witness and love.

At Dylann’s bond hearing the families of his victims continued the message his bullets silenced. In what one self-described non-Christian Tweeted as a “remarkable advertisement for Christianity,” the families forgave the one who murdered their loved ones, prayed for him, and urged him to turn to Christ. Some confessed the honest difficulty of forgiving, and of anger, but all reached out to the young man who had taken so much from them.

You and I may never get the opportunity to speak with Dylann Roof, but every day we have the opportunity to demonstrate the same hospitality and love to strangers that almost changed Dylann’s mind. Who knows how many people, whose hearts were filled with evil intent, have been touched, softened, and healed through people demonstrating God’s love and revealing Christ. How many tragedies have been averted through the power of authentic love? Would this tragedy have occurred if others had reached out and welcomed Dylann sooner?

Our actions and love may not change the mind of a mass murderer, but they still make an impact. When we are kind and compassionate to the person at the cash register, our neighbors, and especially our family, it just might change their mind from pain and anger to hope and peace. When we extend forgiveness and grace to others, especially those we could rightly accuse, we are only sharing with others what God has given us. It is only as we celebrate the return of the prodigal that we fully experience God’s love for us.

Your brother in Christ,

Links to information referred to or referenced in the pastors July 2015 newsletter article:

The Almost Alternate Ending in Charleston article by John Ortberg:

Authentic Christianity in Charleston article:

Tweet from non-Christian about the amazing grace of the victims families at Dylann Roof's bond hearing: