What the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it around for your good. ~ Genesis 50:20
On Wednesday night, June 17th, a 21 year-old white gunman brutally gunned down nine (9) African American church goers at a Bible Study at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. Investigators labeled it a hate crime.
The entire nation was totally shocked and repelled by this senseless, horrific massacre! The church goers had welcomed the stranger, who’d walked into their Wednesday night Bible Study, with opened arms. They had no idea that he would, very shortly, kill them with a hidden firearm. Nine loving Christians were martyred while sharing Jesus’ Gospel of love and redemption with an unknown stranger. (The names of these nine Christian martyrs are included at the end of this article.)
Amazingly, many of the relatives of those who were killed forgave the confessed murderer in a court proceeding. One relative affirmed, in her statement of forgiveness, “Hate won’t win.” What an inspiring message! Those relatives set a monumentally high standard of compassion and forgiveness that, quite frankly, not many of us could, conceivably, hope to attain. It is this, almost impossibly high, standard that was set by the crucified Christ who, from the cross, prayed concerning his executioners, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” ~ Luke 23:34
The question immediately arises, “What would possibly compel one human being to gun down nine other human beings who had shown him nothing but love and kindness?” According to investigators, the confessed killer stated that he wanted, by his actions, to start a race war in America. He intended to ignite a national conflagration of hatred, violence, and mass killings.
However, the Bible says, What the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it around for your good. ~ Genesis 50:20. Rather than being rent by violence, and greater racial divisions, Charleston, SC has, instead, chosen to embrace peace and love, not violence and hatred. Miraculously, the City of Charleston has begun the difficult process of coming together in worship, and solidarity, across racial, ethnic, political, and religious lines!
In the wake of the Massacre at Mother Emanuel Church, and with the spotlight of the nation, and the world, firmly fixed on South Carolina, SC Gov. Nikki Haley (R), at potentially great political cost to herself, has, courageously, stepped forward and called for the Confederate battle flag, long a symbol of division and bigotry, to be taken down from South Carolina’s state capitol grounds, and put in a museum. Amen to that, Governor!
What the Charleston gunman intended for evil is, indeed, beginning to be turned around for good! The gunman’s bloody and horrific act of despicable evil is, now, ironically, bringing together people of good will, of all backgrounds, colors, races, and creeds for the greater good of the community as a whole. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Love is beginning to drive hatred out of Charleston.
Make no mistake, Charleston’s problems, racial and otherwise, are far from over. And the same can be said of South Carolina, and of America. We have yet to attain the goals of ending gun violence, racial division, and poverty. There is, definitely, still a long way to go to achieve an inclusive society that reflects the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality for all. However, Charleston, for the moment, appears to be heading in the right direction, and perhaps there are some lessons of love that we can learn from her journey along the way.
The nine red roses at the top of this article are dedicated to the memory of the following nine Christian martyrs felled at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015:
- The Honorable Clementa Pinckney, 41, South Carolina State Senator, and Pastor of Emanuel A.M.E. Church, who lent his booming voice to those whose voices often went unheard.
- Cynthia Hurd, 54, a Library Manager, whose life was dedicated to the love of children, books, and her church.
- Susie Jackson, 87, a Longtime Emanuel A.M.E. Church Member, and Mother Figure to generations of her family, as well as, to many of her Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church family.
- Ethel Lance, 70, Employee of Emanuel A.M.E. Church for 30 years, who loved her church and its members.
- Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49, Admissions Counselor at Southern Wesleyan University, whose angelic voice could heal aching hearts.
- Tywanza Sanders, 26, Poet, and Aspiring Entrepreneur, who recently earned a Business Administration Degree from Allen University.
- Rev. Daniel L. Simmons, Sr., 74, Retired Pastor, who served as a model of endurance and service to God.
- Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45, a Pastor, and Track Coach at Goose Creek High School, a dedicated Minister of the Gospel, and inspirational coach, both, on the track and off.
- Myra Thompson, 59, A Builder of Faith, who worked diligently to restore her beloved church’s property to its full beauty.
May God wrap his arms of love and comfort around the families, loved-ones, and friends of these saints of God, and grant them His peace.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on the events in Charleston, SC in the comments below.
Until next time, remember, you can do all things through Christ.