Charleston On My Mind

As I sit down to write this, I don’t really know what I am going to say, other than what is on my heart. If I can get it out into words that make sense and don’t confuse anyone, that’s all I can hope for.

First of all, one of my daughters and her husband live in Charleston, South Carolina. As a matter of fact, I was just there last week and plan to return not too long from now. It is a beautiful, historic city. It is certainly worth a long visit.

Secondly, I want to visit Emanuel AME Church when I return to Charleston in a week or so. I want to go to the place where so much attention is being directed and pray for peace.

What is truly disheartening is all the hate I continue to read on Facebook. The hate is coming from from all directions, but much is being aimed at white people, like Dylann Roof is supposed to be the spokesman (and gunman) for Caucasians everywhere. Where do people get all this nonsense? One common suggestion from angry blacks is that they should arm themselves and rise up against white America. Like THAT is the answer! It’s a wrong answer to a false perception that is perpetuated in the minds of those who are as racist as the killer being condemned!

The fact is that what Dylann Roof did was horrible, but it wasn’t the first time people were killed in a church – and it won’t be the last. It wasn’t the first time a white man killed black people – and it won’t be the last. It wasn’t the first time a deranged and evil-filled tool of Satan murdered innocent people – and it won’t be the last. But to suggest that an entire race hates another and that the evidence is the actions of one man? Well, that is nothing more than an excuse for perpetuating existing hatred and racism from a different direction.

The best and most disarming response I have heard, so far, came from Anthony Thompson, the son of slain Myra Thompson (59), as he spoke to the killer himself…

“I forgive you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent, confess, give your life to the one who matters most: Christ. So that he can change it, can change your ways no matter what happened to you and you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than what you are right now.”

Some have jumped into the fray and asked, “Where was God in all this?” Those who ask that question evidently know little about the God Anthony Thompson worships. They know little about eternal things, and ways higher than their own. They assume that if God was real He must stop all acts of violence; all crimes; any and all sin. They forget that it is by God’s grace they live and breathe, even when they commit murder in their own hearts when they hate. They ignore the fact that love is never more on display than when back-dropped by hatred.

What we saw in Charleston was the result of hatred and ignorance, of evil, blinding the heart and mind of one who was deceived and used by the Enemy of righteousness, and he acted of his own free will. But what we are also seeing are those whose faith is more than words; those whose love is more than a feeling; and evidence of lives truly changed by a God who was there all the time, able to take what was meant for evil and turn it into good.

Now, while I am still putting my thoughts out here for the world to see, let me say something else. Had someone else in that church been armed, Dylann Roof may not have had the opportunity to do as much damage, at least not reload multiple times. I am all for having individuals in my church who are armed and ready for any such threat. We have to be, for things like this have happened before – in white churches, too – and they will continue to happen as long as men hate righteousness.

You may be asking, “But Pastor, how could you endorse carrying a weapon and possibly killing someone?” The answer is really very simple, I think. You see, I am a shepherd of sheep, and a shepherd is charged with the sheep’s protection. If a wolf were to walk into the fold and try to harm my sheep, I would dispatch it. Should a man walk into my church and try to kill my people, my flock, then that man forfeits his status as a human and becomes an animal – I will dispatch him as I would the wolf. Forgiveness comes after the fight.

So, those are my thoughts for the moment. May God’s grace be with those affected by this tragedy in Charleston.


Filed under America, current events, Faith, Life/Death, Struggles and Trials

10 responses to “Charleston On My Mind

  1. I live in a country where there have been strict gun laws since the Port Arthur Massacre nearly 20 years ago. Watching the news reports coming from the US, I get a sense that this sort of senseless killing will continue to happen, so long as people that are not of the right mind are able to access weapons. The latest incident in Australia however, was the Lindt Cafe in Sydney, where people were simply enjoying their morning coffee when an armed gunman took them hostage. Would our society be considered free if we had to be armed everywhere we went, in case someone chose a moment of madness to take the lives of so many?

    • Thank you for commenting. I appreciate it, along with your concern.

      The question of personal arms will never be one without controversy, I’m sure. However, I will always be one who believes that even if guns were made illegal in America, criminals would still have access to them, and then murder would increase at an astronomical rate. Frankly, it is the instinct for survival that keeps the average criminal on edge, for rarely does he have confidence enough to walk into a home without the fear of being confronted with lethal force – the possibility is always there. If that possibility was removed, then so would be any apprehension, for they already have no respect for the law.

      The reality is that Americans consider owning a weapon as an inherent right guaranteed by our Constitution. Our freedom was bought by those who wielded personal weapons the equal of any the British brought to the fight. This is something that is in our DNA.

      I think one of the greatest testaments to the American mentality was the futility Admiral Yamamoto expressed upon the thought of invading the American mainland in WW2. He said: “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.”

      So, as I see it, it’s not an issue of weapons; it’s a heart issue. It is moral decay that is at the root of what we are seeing, not the availability of arms. Men and women in this country have been armed for centuries, but it’s evil in the hearts of men that will make them use them like Dylann Roof did.

  2. I 53:5 Project

    Well put Anthony.

    I was reading about this today and the rhetoric is unbelievable. I gave up completely when I heard someone blame, and I’m not making this up, Fox News.

    Sin and evil, possibly mental disease, are the problem. Why can’t everyone admit that?


    • Yes, I read in one place that it was because Sean Hannity’s picture was on Dylann Roof’s bedroom wall. To which I commented, “And I suppose Jodie Foster shot Reagan?”

      • I 53:5 Project

        It’s truly maddening. I think the Devil himself is happy as can be that people don’t acknowledge evil. Hard to fight it if we don’t even know what it is.

  3. Melissa

    If anyone doesn’t see Christ in all of this they don’t know the same God I do. I have heard more about Jesus on the news in the last couple days than in my entire life. We may not understand why but we do know what we are supposed to do forgive and pray and these families have shown us how to do that. To me they are the embodiment of Christ. Great post

  4. The thing that really struck me reading about this, coming from an outside perspective as a New Zealander, was the racial division in churches. It was described as a ‘black church’, and I assume there are ‘white churches’ too, and I wonder why that should still be so, when we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’. I pray that this horrible event will be a catalyst to bring Christians of all races together.

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