June 17th, 2015 will not be a day any of us soon forget.
Many are asking the questions; Why did God sit silently and watch as Dylann Roof entered Emanuel AME Church and violently murdered 9 church members? Couldn’t He have stopped the 21-year-old man from opening fire on the Bible Study that Wednesday night?
The answer is Yes.
God could have stopped Dylann Roof from entering that church and He could have spared the lives of every single person in that building on Calhoun Street. He could have spared Charleston, South Carolina from the worst heartbreak our city has ever experienced.
But He didn’t.
In the Lord’s divine providence He allowed a church to undergo persecution in a horrific and unexplainable way in which we will never be able to fully understand.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44
Perhaps the Lord allowed tragedy to fall on Emanuel AME in order for the nation to see how Christians respond when enemies persecute us. Maybe this is the Lord’s way of giving Christians a podium to boldly proclaim to the watching world the love we can show, even to our persecutors, when Christ is at the center of all we do and say. At a time when our nation is undergoing racial tension, threats from terrorists, increased levels of hatred towards one another and a growing rate of violence, could this be the Lord's way of showing the world how Christians will respond differently?
Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri have both recently experienced and are still experiencing brutal and violent responses from recent hate crimes. When Emanuel AME faced persecution, they faced it with strength and dignity that only the Lord could give a congregation. Their unwavering faith in the midst of such a horrific trial was a spark, which set the Holy City on fire. As a result, millions and millions of people around the world are witnessing what happens when love overcomes violence.
The amount of faith shown by the congregation of Emanuel AME has left the world literally speechless. When most people would have collapsed in defeat the congregants of this church had the faith and strength to look Dylann Roof in the eyes on Friday morning and say
“I forgive you”.
He robbed them of their family, their friends, their co-workers, their teachers, but yet they forgave him. They showed not an ounce of hatred towards the man who walked into their Bible study and snuffed out nine lives.
They only showed love.
Love which the Lord put into their hearts so they could show the world that the love of Christ will always prevail over the world’s persecution.
So let us bow before the Throne and ask the Lord to give us the boldness and courage to look our enemies in the eye and say with a heart full of faith;
"I forgive you"
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