Wednesday evening, Dylann Roof shocked the nation when he callously shot at innocent people gathered in Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC, killing 9 and wounding several more. He fled the scene but was captured some 250 miles away on Thursday morning, about an hour outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. With one deadly act, Roof changed the lives of hundreds of people who are now without their mothers, sisters, daughters, fathers, brothers, sons and friends. He singlehandedly shook our nation as we once again awakened to the terrible truth that the evil of racism still pulses in the hearts of some Americans and that it can drive some to do horrible things.
But the same event may also teach us about hope and love, thanks to one Marcus Stanley. Stanley knows what it means to be a victim of senseless violence; back in 2004 he was shot 8 times at close range by a violent thug. He survived, and on Thursday, he reached out via Facebook to Dylann Roof to deliver a message – a message of love and hope.
The tragedy in Charleston is raw and painful – and it should be – but children of the Most High God, we can also make it a purposeful and useful event from which can flow much joy. This is the perfect opportunity for us to shout from the rooftops that we abhor both racism and violence! This is the perfect opportunity to explain that the Bible teaches us that all men are brothers, that we were all created in the very image of our God, and that we are all precious in His sight – no matter the color of our skin or the heritage of our families. This is an opportunity to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that all people are fallen and that we have all sinned because of our nature. The evils of Dylann Roof could easily be the evils of us all, and so we desperately need a Savior. Jesus Christ is that Savior!
By His Blood and through His Sacrifice, we can be made brothers – even more closely related to each other than if it were by flesh and blood!
We weep and sorrow with our brothers and sisters in Charleston. But we glory in our God, who is able to use such horrible situations to magnify and glorify Himself. My prayer is that He will use the violence perpetrated by Dylann Roof to reignite His church in America and remind us all of the work we need to be about doing – redeeming all things for the glory of our God.