Reposted with permission from www.carlchinn.com
Some trauma can be disturbing enough to cause one to remember life before, compared to life after -- “it”.
A deadly force incident in a church is painful enough to do that. We don’t expect to see blood, hear gunshots, smell smoke or feel the concussion of explosion in a house of worship. Our church is our sanctuary. When evil invades it, that day marks the separation of life before and after for those who were there.
If anyone is still living who was there in 1916 at the Mt. Tabor Church revival in Decatur, IL when Edgar Willis was shot by Henry Sharp, the sounds of gunfire are still fresh in their minds. The wounded survivors from the horrific 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that left four innocent little girls dead will never forget it. The angry darkness of smoke replaced the bright futures of 11-year-old Denise McNair and 14-year-olds Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley. One of those little girls was decapitated by the blast lit by wretched hatred.
And the entire town of Daingerfield Texas changed on Sunday morning June 22nd, 1980, when Alvin Lee King invaded the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church. An atmosphere of worship was shattered when he yelled “This is War!” and began randomly shooting into the congregation. Dressed in an Army helmet and 2 flak jackets he had an AR-15, and an M1 carbine (both with fixed bayonets), two handguns and plenty of ammo in a bag he carried around his shoulders. Before being stopped by men who carry the scars today (or are counted among those killed), he slew 5 people ranging in ages from 7-year-old Gina Linam up to 78-year-old Thelma Richardson. His surprise attack left Daingerfield residents asking not only why -- but how.
An 80-minute documentary is coming out soon regarding that incident. Take a moment to view the trailer at Healing a Broken Heart It will bring you face to face with the reality of evil, but more importantly will renew your faith by understanding the significance of redemption and forgiveness. My friend, Texas Police Officer Jimmy Meeks, (who was married in that church before the shooting)keeps a web-page dedicated to the Daingerfield Shooting.
Think About It…
- View the Daingerfield Shooting website (http://www.safeatchurch.org/daingerfield-shooting.html) with your security team. Develop your own “lessons learned” as you consider the stories Jimmy carries there.
- Plan to watch the documentary when it comes out, as a group activity with your team. The lessons learned go beyond the smoke and blood, carrying through more than 30 years of after-action relationships.
- The perspectives we take away from such an event can change our lives and others. Will we let it destroy us or make us better? The choice really is ours. As David Works (see next bullet) says on his website, “When tragedy strikes, will you be left standing”?
- David and Marie Works lost two innocent girls in the church shooting at New Life Church. Their response is a model for all. Not only did they meet with, embrace and forgive the good family the shooter came from, but they wrote a book of encouragement I strongly recommend: Gone in a Heartbeat -- Our Daughters Died...Our Faith Endures
- In 1981 John Walsh was a Hotel Manager. His response to the horrific abduction and murder of his 6-year-old son that year, led him into a lifetime of well-known crime fighting from the civilian side that has international acclaim. His America's Most Wanted program is now responsible for 1,168 criminal captures world-wide. Though it didn’t have anything to do with a faith-based incident, Mr. Walsh’s response is a model for those who have come through any such trauma.
- As Faith-based security professionals we try hard to never let anything like that occur at our place on our watch. But if it does, we still play an important role in managing the incident. We can’t promise security, but we can promise to be there and to be ready to protect and serve.
- A criminal never thinks his act clear through. If he did, he wouldn’t do it. As mature men and women of faith, we must think things all the way through. No matter what happens, there will be an “after”. Handle it with care.