Could You Forgive a Murderer?

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Inside Job

God can set anyone free from inner pain and unforgiveness.

I pulled my baking sheet out of the oven and inhaled the sweet scent of chocolate chip cookies. When I bit into a warm one, my tears came — again. These cookies were bound for the male inmates in one of our state prisons.

Would one of the three men who’d killed my husband be eating them? I hoped so. But I never would have believed that thought was possible.

Disturbing call

On September 27, 2005, my twenty-year-old son, Brandon, left a message at work for me to call him. I presumed he wanted to talk about a job interview he’d had that day.

I was wrong. Without explanation, he said, “Auntie Dawn is coming to get you.”

My heart froze. “Why is my sister picking me up?”

Brandon dodged my questions, but right before he hung up, he said, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll take care of you.”

My stomach lurched. I thought of calling my husband, Kim, but started shaking. What if something had happened to him? I pressed my hand over my mouth and ran to the restroom.

Horrible news

My sister arrived, her eyes red and puffy. “Where’s Kim?” I grabbed her hand. “Is he dead?”

She nodded. The room swirled, and I collapsed into her arms with a gut-wrenching scream. How could my husband be dead? I’d talked with him on the phone during lunch. Didn’t Kim say he’d left work early and was home? We’d joked and laughed.

Was it a heart attack? What if the gun he’d been cleaning for the hunting season had accidentally gone off? His final words — “I love you, darling” — squeezed my heart.

I leaned against my sister and urged her, “Get me home!”

Crime scene

Yellow caution tape sealed off my street. I stretched my neck to see beyond the police cars with their flashing blue lights. “Where’s my son?” I cried, pacing back and forth. “I want my son!”

Just then, Brandon ran up to me. Chests heaving, we clung to each other and wept. My son told me he’d come home and found Kim, his stepdad, lying on the basement floor in a pool of blood. He’d been beaten and shot in the head. Many of our electronics and guns were gone, including the handgun used to kill my husband.

My mind reeled. Who could be so cruel?

Intense emotions

Two days passed before the police allowed me to go into my home. I was numb as they escorted me through the house and questioned me. When I entered our master bedroom, I gasped. The blue-gray T-shirt Kim wore the last time I’d seen him was splayed across our bed.

I grabbed the shirt — the closest thing to hugging Kim — and breathed in his clean scent. Tears flooding my eyes, I slumped like a rag doll on the bed and wept.

Unsettled

After Kim’s funeral, I moved back into the house with Brandon. We installed a burglar alarm, but it didn’t alleviate our fears. What if the murderer was someone we knew? I kept the alarm’s panic button with me at all times.

Nights were the worst. Unable to sleep, my mind searched for answers. I listened for the slightest sound, rushed to Brandon’s bedside whenever nightmares woke him up and he needed me. My only comfort was prayer and Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (NIV).

A year after Kim’s death, the handgun was found, leading to the arrest of three men. However, relief morphed into impatience as I waited another year and a half for the trial.

Desiring justice

During that time, Kairos Prison Ministry came to our church to organize an intensive weekend Bible study at one of our state prisons. They asked for volunteers to bake cookies for the prisoners.

I crossed my arms. I hadn’t baked cookies since Kim’s death. And I wasn’t going to bake them for some criminal. My back stiffened as I leaned against the cushioned pews. Preach the gospel if you like, but I want justice.

Panic and pain

I rushed out of church and drove home. Although the men were behind bars, I double-bolted the door and threw my car keys on the granite kitchen counter. They landed with a clanking thud next to a package of store-bought cookies.

Bake cookies? I breathed deep and listened to Christian praise music to calm my nerves. Lord, it’s going to take more than a batch of cookies to soften my heart.

Facing the enemy

And then I had to face my enemy. For seven days in September 2008 I sat in the courtroom behind the two men who killed my husband, and stared at the back of their heads. The third man had already pled guilty and testified at the trial.

As I listened to the prosecuting attorney, I learned the men had needed money, mistook our house for someone else’s, and thought the place was empty.

“If only’s” replayed in my head. If only the seventeen-year-old who pulled the trigger had stayed in school that day. If only they’d entered our neighbor’s house, my husband would still be alive. If only Kim’s pistol had been in the gun safe.

Tears and anger

I’d never seen the crime scene photographs until the trial. Now, seeing the horror of Kim’s final moments crushed my heart. I wept countless tears. My anger grew. I kept waiting for the men to face me. Beg for my forgiveness.

Even when I was on the witness stand and excused myself because I became sick to my stomach, their cold, dark eyes stared straight ahead as though I were invisible.

Verdict

The jury found the men guilty of first-degree murder, and they each received a life sentence.

End of story, or so I thought. Negative thoughts consumed me. I tried to forget the past for the sake of my family and health. I even volunteered to bake cookies for Kairos Prison Ministry.

Painful prayer

As I stirred the chocolate chips into the dough, tears rolled down my cheeks. What would Kim say if he saw me baking cookies for convicted felons? I wiped my eyes and set the oven timer. Lord, make my spirit as sweet as these cookies. Use them for Your glory.

As the scent of chocolate chip cookies filled the kitchen, I prayed for the men who killed my husband. I prayed for them by name. They weren’t evil men. The poor decisions they’d made in life became a domino effect that led to Kim’s death. Now they suffered the consequences.

Maybe I could forgive them, but my heart needed more time than it took to bake several dozen cookies.

Unforeseen answer

My prayers were answered, but not in the way I expected. My son had become addicted to prescription pain pills he’d taken for a sports injury, and he wanted something stronger to purge the memory of finding his murdered stepfather on the floor.

Six years to the day of Kim’s death, Brandon was arrested for the possession of illegal drugs. He called me from jail. His breathless voice quivered like a frightened child’s. “Mom, get me out of here.”

Tough visit

I couldn’t get there fast enough. When I saw the dark circles under his hollow eyes, my body swayed; I had to look away. A thick glass window separated us, and we used a phone to hear each other.

I offered to post bail, provided he went to a Christian rehabilitation program. Brandon agreed but realized it would take about a month to get accepted.

When our visitation ended, Brandon stood up to leave and looked back at me over his sunken shoulders. His pleading eyes, filled with despair, yanked my heart. I bowed my head and sobbed. I loved my son, but only the Lord could save him. He needed God’s grace — the same way I did.

New compassion

I thought of the other men sitting in prison. Where was their hope? Did they know about God’s grace?

Visiting my son in jail roused my compassion for prisoners. In addition to baking cookies, I hosted an annual hayride and invited the community to bring toys for the Angel Tree Program.

Granting forgiveness

But my heart wouldn’t rest until I wrote the men who murdered my husband.

“God loves you, regardless of what you’ve done,” I said. “I’ve forgiven you, and God’s willing to forgive you if you turn to Him.”

The following month, I gasped when I opened my mailbox and saw the envelope’s return address. My hands shook as I read the prisoner’s neat, handwritten letter. “I’m sorry for all the pain I caused you and your family. Thank you, Wendi, for your letter. I prayed for a sign that I’d been forgiven.”

I clutched the letter to my chest. How long had I waited for an apology? As if “I’m sorry” could ease the pain. All along, this man had been praying and waiting too. The young man who pulled the trigger also replied with heartfelt words that made me weep. God had been working in all our lives to heal, redeem, restore.

Sharing a story

When another organization, Forsyth Prison Ministry, asked for volunteers to participate in their services at Cherry State Prison, my hand went up. On a summer evening in 2014, I walked through the metal detector of that prison with a plate of cookies and a heart filled with praise. The next year, I shared my story.

My knees wobbled like Jell-O as I stepped in front of a hundred inmates. Their eyes widened as I described Kim’s ghastly death and how that led to my son’s drug addiction. I told them I’d forgiven the men who killed my husband and continued to write them. Some inmates wiped their eyes. Others slowly shook their heads.

“For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory,” I said, referencing Romans 3:23. “No one is beyond God’s love and grace.”

The men gathered around me to shake my hand when I finished speaking. I longed to ignore the prison rules and hug them.

Slow process

People ask how I could forgive the men who killed my husband. Sometimes, I ask myself that question when I see Kim’s shirt tucked in my dresser drawer. Or when I bake chocolate chip cookies for prison ministry.

I tell them God’s love softened my heart, one batch of cookies at a time.

by Wendi Johnson as told to Karen Foster

Link: https://karenfosterministry.com/2017/01/09/could-you-forgive-a-murderer/

The Bilbe Advocate Press: http://nowwhat.cog7.org/inside-job/

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A New Goliath -Part 3

Goliath Defeated

“Then your light will break out like the dawn,

And your recovery will speedily spring forth;

And your righteousness will go before you;

The glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.”

Isaiah 58:8

In Part 2 we discussed if we have a right to be afraid and should we stand against those who want to kill us. If we remember the fear David experienced while he was running for his life we understand that at times we do have fear in our lives. This is not God’s perfect will for us. His will is that we enjoy an abundant life. The way we receive this life is by living within His will. We know His will by His Word, the Bible. We also know His will by communing with him on a personal basis. Communion with Him is how we overcome Goliath when he tries to frighten us into submission. So this brings us to the last question. This is the same question David asked in Psalm 11:3, our premise for this series.

What can the righteous do?

While praying and searching over the last several months the Lord has placed several thoughts in my heart. I am excited! When these revelations hit me it was like a hand slap to the back of my head. These are nothing new. This is how every man of God in the Old and New Testaments defeated his Goliath. As Christians the following revelations are what we should be already be doing, everyday.

What a wake-up call. If we are not doing these things then we are not prepared for any Goliath, let alone this one. Search your heart and see if you are doing these things. I know there must be many more to add to this list. Feel free to add anything God lays on your heart.

  1. Choose: Make a decision¾you are either in, or you are out. Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
  1. Live through him¾remember who we are *

We have been given permission, the freedom, the liberty, the ability to become, and the power to conquer.

We are fellow helper’s to the truth.

We are the vehicle the Lord uses to bring someone to the knowledge of salvation.

We find our peace, joy, comfort, guidance and direction through Him.

We are adopted children and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are justified by faith

Jesus is our wisdom and righteousness in everything we do and say.

He will reward us if we diligently seek Him.

We have our hope in Him.

  1. Do NOT lose heart: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
  2. Encourage one another and fellowship together. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” In other words you should already be doing this and now is not the time to quit. Ephesians 5:19-21 speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.Are you living your life as the fragrance to God? Are you living your life as an example to the unbeliever?

Encourage unbelievers. 1 John 4:16 “…we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

  1. a) Love one another. John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  2. b) Love those who hate us. Matthew 5:44 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Matthew 5:43-48You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

This is not something we just say, it is something we must do. If this New Goliath comes against us there will be those, both saved and unsaved, who will need our comfort. Are you living your life in a way that these will feel comfortable approaching you?

  1. Be obedient to God’s Word, especially when we don’t understand it. John 14:15
    If you love me, you will keep my commandments I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Remember the Old and New Testament saints we mentioned in Part 2? They are examples of obedience. Hebrews 12 gives us a list of so many who provide us with an example of faith. Remember, “. . . with out faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exist and He rewards those who seek Him.
  2. Pray!!! Pray!!! Pray!!! James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. We have heard this verse many times. Do we believe it? This is verse is so important to understanding John 14:13-14 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

As one evangelist has stated so bluntly, we do not have answered prayer because we are too lazy to pray consistently. Is this true in your life? We assure ourselves that we stand with the righteous. When we ask in prayer, we must ask in travailing prayer much as Jesus when sweat drops fell from his brow in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is sincere prayer. This is not a head prayer, but a heart prayer.

  1. Be compassionate. Share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Mark 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Telling others about Christ is our foremost responsibility. God trust us to be obedient and win others to Him. When is the last time you shared the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ/

A another wake up call: Ezekiel 3:18-19 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. “But,” if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. It is of utmost importance that we understand this. People are dying and we may be their only last hope of salvation.

  1. Be confident, stay in the race, never quit, and look toward the reward. Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. Sometimes we must suffer. This is part of our calling. But, as 1 Peter 5:10 says, And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. He is always faithful to reestablish us. Remember Job?
  2. Be filled with the Holy Spirit, He is our Helper John 4:23-24 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

Remember these things:

Romans 8:16: The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

1 John 5:6-8: And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.

Galatians 5:16-19 Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

  1. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority,. . .” WHY, you ask? “ . . . because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” Hebrews 13:17.
  2. Teach your children and grandchildren Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Deuteronomy 4:9“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
  3. Expect God to fulfill His promises. Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments 1 Corinthians 1:9 God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful 1 Thessalonians 5:24 The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it. 2 Timothy 2:13if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 

    14. Give thanks in all things: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Psalm 34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Daniel 6:10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

Notice, when evil men came against Daniel, he gave thanks as he had always done.

  1. Praise God! 1 Chronicles 16:8 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  2. Again, of utmost importance, remember Who our real foundation is, it is not this world. Government did not build these foundations. God did. Genesis, chapter 1ff.

2 Timothy 1:9-10 Remember who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Ephesians 4:1 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

I mentioned at the beginning of Part 3, if you have any you would like to add please feel free to do so. There are so many! PTL

Now this I know:
  The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.

Psalm 20:6

******

*https://theunfetteredpreacher.com/2016/07/25/that-we-might-theunfetteredpreacher/

 

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;

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“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son,

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Jeremiah was a young lad when God approached him. He felt he was too young to accept the work God had planned for him (Jeremiah 1:6). He became a mighty prophet. I get excited when I see the Lord working among the youth of our day. We have had several young men and women give there heart to God in the past year. Our youth group has had as many as 50+ on Wednesday evenings. God is working, and will continue to work if we passionately  honor Him, and fervently pray over our children and youth.

One night in the month of April Tyler Creswell approached his Dad and step-mom and asked what he had to do to be saved. He had been thinking about it for a while, and was ready to give his heart to Lord. Pastor Doug was called; he arrived and discussed Tyler’s decision; Tyler gave his heart totally to God right there in his living room. Praise God! The next week Tyler stood before the Church body and shared his salvation with us. Sunday, May 1st, we were also honored to witness Tyler’s baptism.

Let’s pray that young men and women like Tyler will be moved by the Holy Spirit and become mighty warriors for the Gospel.

“Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men,

him shall the Son of man also confess

before the angels of God:” Luke 12:8

Tyler Confess His Salvation before the church.

Tyler Confess His Salvation before the church.

Tyler Confesses His Salvation Before the Church

Tyler now understand the meaning of Baptism and his sharing it with us.

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Beth Scarbrough was driving home from the Wednesday night service when she pulled over to the side of the road and started crying. The Holy Spirit had been tugging at her heart and she knew it was time to repent and ask God’s forgiveness. She didn’t wait until the next time she went to church; no, she turned around in the middle of Highway 51 and drove back. She went right in and told Brother Doug what had happened and he introduced her to Jesus that very night. WoW! What a testimony of the faith. Beth was baptized on May 1st as well. Welcome to the family Beth.

Beth Scarbrough shares Her Confession of Faith in Baptism

Beth Scarbrough shares Her Confession of          Faith in Baptism

“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men,

him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 10:32

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Worship Him With A Thankful heart!

Unless You Be born Again. . .

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Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”   Matthew 28:19, 20

Blake Bitner gave his heart to the Lord and wanted to be baptized at the age of 6.

Blake Bitner gave his heart to the Lord and was excited to be baptized at the age of 6.

 “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”  Galatians 3:27

Jenny Benson

Jenny Benson

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:38

Brandon Benson

Brandon Benson

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”      Romans 6: 3-6

Progress Report

Our excitement continues as we watch our Youth Building each week. Now that the roof is on we will see progress speed up. The brick should be laid in the next week or two. We are hoping to be in and dedicating it the end of March or the first of April this year. Enjoy our growth along with us as we post these photos. Blessings!

Drawing of the new building when complete.

Drawing of the new building when complete.

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Jan 15_1025  Jan 15_1029

PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

 

Bells of Faith

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“The Mustard Seed seeks to meet the spiritual, physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of adults with developmental disabilities by providing a loving and protected Christian community with meaningful activities that allow the participants to fulfill the potential that God has created within them.”

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This Christmas season we were blessed with what Pastor Doug called musical angels. The family from Mustard Seed inspired us with their “Bells of Faith” concert. We were truly blessed by their musical abilities.

Thank You Mustard Seed!

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“. . .If the world hate you.”

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“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” 1 John 3:13

ROSEBURG, Ore., Oct 1 (Reuters) – A gunman stalked onto an Oregon college campus on Thursday and opened fire, killing nine people and wounding seven before police shot him to death, authorities said, in yet another burst of U.S. gun violence that ranked as the deadliest this year. Stacy Boylan , the father of an 18-year-old student who was wounded but survived by playing dead, told CNN his daughter recounted her professor being shot point blank as the assailant stormed into the classroom. The massacre in Roseburg, a former timber town on the western edge of the Cascades some 260 miles (420 km) south of Portland, was the latest in a flurry of lethal U.S. mass shootings in recent years.

I have checked many articles on this shooting. There seems to be a consensus that the authorities are “working to find” the shooters motive. Nine people die, many are wounded and the authorities don’t seem to be listening, even to those who were in the room with the shooter. I believe they don’t want to know, or perhaps do not want to tell the truth.

ROSEBURG, Ore. (Associated Press) — The grandmother of one of the Oregon shooting victims says her granddaughter told her the gunman was singling out students who said they were Christian. Janet Willis told The Associated Press her granddaughter, Anastasia Boylan, was in the classroom when the shooter opened fire Thursday at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. Willis, who visited her granddaughter in the hospital, says Boylan told her the shooter was asking students about their faith. “If they said they were Christian, he shot them in the head . . .”

I don’t know about you, but it seems  the Oregon shooters motive was very clear—kill Christians. The gunman came prepared to kill as many who follow our Lord as possible. These brave young people stood their ground and sacrificed their lives because they believed in the grace Jesus had provided them by his redemption on the cross. This day they stood and announced, I am a Christian and took a bullet the head causing instantaneous death.

Did you hear what the student, who was wounded and in the hospital, said? I’ll repeat it for you. The “ . . . shooter was asking students about their faith. If they said they were Christian, he shot them in the head . . .”

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Several weeks ago our congregation stood in orange t-shirts that stated “I STAND WITH CHRISTIANS. The purpose was to show unity as a congregation to stand with those who have given their lives in the face of those who hate us simply because of our faith—simply because, like no other god, we follow the one and only living God who loves us. So many have died in the last few years because they love their Jesus. We take our stand, as a congregation, with other Christians.

Unlike when we are worshiping in our congregation, we are sometimes alone, and without the support of others. We are at a point where we face a personal decision. Such is the case at Umpqua (UHMP’-kwah) Community College. Others stood and watched as friends and classmates were murdered announcing their personal decision, knowing they would be asked next and understanding the consequence. If you stand in a place where you know you were going to die, simply because you are a Christian, I propose this question: When it is your turn to answer, how will you respond to the shooters demand, Are you a Christian? Now is your time. You have choice to make, life or certain death? It is your decision . . . only you can make it.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. – John 15:18-19

Shall we go a step further and ask, will you STAND for Jesus? Have you given your life to Christ? These young people knew Him personally and announced their decision in the face of death. They were killed, but are now alive in Christ Jesus for eternity.

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1Peter 4:14, 16)

The Bible tells us that we are all dead in our sins and trespasses until we get saved and born again by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior – These young people at Umpqua were forgiven children of God. If you do not know Christ as your personal Savior would you determine today to give your life and heart to him? All you have to do is pray this simple prayer, with a sincere heart, and He will come to you:

Dear Father,
I now believe that Jesus Christ is Your only begotten Son, that He came to earth in the flesh and died on the cross to take away all of my sins. I believe that your son Jesus Christ then rose from the dead on the third day to give me this eternal life.

Lord Jesus, I confess to You all of the wrong and sinful things that I have ever done in my life. I ask that You please forgive me and wash away all of my sins by the blood that You have personally shed for me on the cross. I am ready to accept You as my personal Lord and Savior. I ask that You come into my life and live with me for all of eternity.

Thank You Jesus, I now believe that I am truly saved and born again. Amen.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. (James 4:8)

I Stand With Christians_0235

Sinner’s Prayer adopted from:

http://www.forgivenessdiaries.com/sinnersprayer.html