The Worst of Times and the Best of Times

Emanuel_African_Methodist_Episcopal_(AME)_ChurchI simply can’t imagine what happened on a Wednesday night in Charleston.

It’s hard for me to imagine anything more sad than people praying, studying the Bible, and openly demonstrating Christian love and being gunned down. The more I think about it the worse it becomes.

The members of the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, displayed the love of Christ with their own lives.

They were gunned down by an avowed hater, a racist who wanted to start a race war with his actions.

Not only did Dylann Roof not start a race war, he seems to have done more than anything in America in recent years to begin a third great awakening.

The members and relatives of the nine people (including the pastor) killed by Roof demonstrated exactly what Jesus meant when he said “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Roof was captured at the persistence of a woman in North Carolina who felt that God led her to follow the car. He was brought into a court room to discuss his bail. The judge asked family members to discuss the impact of Roof’s heinous acts. To a person they talked about forgiveness instead of hate. Those were the most amazing statements and attitudes.

Their faith became the story. Their forgiveness became a message of hope. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Could it be the death of these nine people involved in prayer and Bible study will become the catalyst for black and white learning to live together and love one another? Could it be the turning of our nation back to a genuine faith in God? Could their faith truly show us that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

I have been deeply moved by the example of the Emmanuel AME Church. These are people who live their faith. Their faith is indeed not in words only.

May we live lives of faithfulness, love, and forgiveness and may God take the deaths of these precious people and move the nation back to righteousness.

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