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Prayer and More

Every time there is a mass shooting in a church, someone asks me if it causes me to re-live the emotions of September 15, 1999 at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth – my home church – where a lone gunman entered a “See You at the Pole” Rally with two guns, two hundred rounds of ammunition, and a home-made pipe bomb. Before he took his own life, he killed seven people, wounded seven others, and traumatized hundreds including members of my family. The answer is always the same – an agonizing yes.

But this time – First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, with 26 dead, twenty injured, and a small Texas town traumatized – my mind went to another event.

When I was the Baptist campus minister at Pan American University, we were on a retreat in the mountains of southern Mexico. We had been warned not to go outside the camp after dark due to the wild animals in the mountains. Nevertheless, a student named, Jimmy, did just the opposite. When word got out about his absence in camp, students gathered in the cafeteria. After a long silence, a student said, “I think we need to get in a circle and pray” to which another student, a new, not-yet-discipled student, exclaimed, “Pray H____! Let’s go get Jimmy.”

Last week, and following every mass shooting, there were a lot of people encouraging prayer. I’m all for it. We need to pray. Survivors need our intercessory prayer. Injured, most definitely need prayer. But we all need more. It’s time someone did something about automatic weapons designed for warfare, but then used for killing innocent people, even children.

It’s time someone did something about mental illness, especially that which leads to violence. It’s time someone did something about those who “fall through the cracks” of society’s law and order. Pray? Absolutely. But isn’t it about time to go get Jimmy, to do something to prevent further trauma?

By the way, as you pray, remember to pray for spiritual awakening. It may well be the only solution.

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