“Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” (Luke 7:22-23)
Last week, nine men and women were brutally murdered while attending a bible study in their downtown Charleston, SC church. Immediately, the country was, once again, thrown into another “racially motivated,” incident as the national media trucks rolled into our small town by the sea.
Would the Response in Charleston be the same
Sensing blood in the water, the “usual suspects” began to circle the Holy City to make a buck on the emotions of a group of people who were hurt and angry at the senseless violence perpetrated upon them over the color of their skin. The world was ready for another month of violence in the streets, burning building, endless talking heads espousing every opinion under the sun, while the listening public tuned out and dug deeper into the holes they had dug for themselves to silence the endless chatter. But this time, the “victims” were different, the unfolding story was fresh, and the reaction miraculous.
I awoke Thursday morning after the shooting, made coffee and prepared myself for another work day. Our daughter called to give her mom the usual update, but this time she asked if we had heard of what happened the night before. We quickly turned on the local news and soon became entranced in the unfolding story the brought back memories of Ferguson and Baltimore. “Could this be happening in our little corner of the world,” we thought.
The Response in Charleston was Different
This time, however, we soon would discover, the violence would not spill over like it did in those other places. The darkness that came to Charleston on June 17, 2015 came to the wrong place. The victims in this case were children of God and the darkness could not extinguish their light. The brothers and sisters of Emanuel AME churches and thousands like them in Charleston knew that their Shepherd would never leave them nor forsake them. We (the true Body of Christ) understood, what the Enemy had meant for an evil purpose God would use for his good purposes.
It was not surprising, that ten dour days before this tragedy, South Carolina held a statewide call to prayer called The Response. It was not surprising that our omniscient Father would have seen Rev. Clementa Pinckney (a Response leader and participant) gunned down along with eight of his parishioners. It was not surprising that our God would hear the prayers of his people and strengthen those left in the wake of the violence, giving us the courage and the protection of God’s armor to resist the “wiles of the Devil.” (Ephesians 6:11).
Just as Jesus sent comforting words back to John the Baptist who would soon lose his head at the hands of his jealous captors, the Father sent comfort ahead of this tragedy as thousands of praying Christians obediently reached out to God to “heal our land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14) The Response, in Charleston was, in God’s timing, made in advance of the tragedy! Those who prayed on June 13 were led by the Holy Spirit to return our country to the greatness lost because many in our church family have turned their backs on God in favor of worldly pursuits (I include myself). However, God had another purpose, to strengthen the faith of the believers in Charleston, who would soon face tragedy, to show the world how the love of God trumps the schemes of the devil and the violence perpetrated in the hearts of men.
As I watched more than ten thousand people from all walks of life, tourists and locals, men and women, young and old stream across the Ravenel Bridge to form a human chain of unity in ninety degree heat, I am amazed how God worked out these events in advance to show the world His love.
The next time you feel compelled to pray or to do something kind for another, remember Charleston and remember God’s response may be coming in the future to your act of obedience in the present.