Looking beyond Orlando

Another mass shooting? Perhaps.


Last updated 7/19/2016 at 4:11pm

We were shocked to wake up that Sunday morning in June to hear of the horrific shootings in Orlando that killed 49 people. Our expressions of sympathy go to the families and friends of all those gunned down in another senseless act of violence.

In the case in Florida, a particular group was targeted—gay, lesbians, and other sexual minorities—and so our prayers are with this community.

This particular tragedy was again time for the family who call themselves followers of Jesus to shine His light and share His love. Yet this time, it seemed there were those who found themselves between a rock and a hard place.

We are happy to report that Christians and people from many different church backgrounds and organizations did reach out and “share the love,” helping in practical ways such as delivering meals, donating blood, providing assistance with housing and accommodations and helping with funeral expenses. Some churches gave use of their facilities to the victims’ families free of charge to make it a little easier to bury their dead.

Some of these activities were covered in the mainstream media but most were not.

Unfortunately, not all those who call themselves “Christian” were compassionate or concerned. Some used the June 12 weekend to continue to spew out hateful venom which sadly did not reflect well on the Family of God.

God tells us that a person can’t say he or she loves God yet hates his brother or sister. If they do so, the Truth is not in them.

The Orlando mass killings remind us that the LGBTQ community is among several groups who have been targeted for mass killings by hateful people. Here are a few of the most recent ones:

• Charleston, SC: On June 17, 2015, nine African Americans were gunned down during a prayer service at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

• Milwaukee, WI: Six Sikhs were killed at a Wisconsin Sikh temple.

• Arvada, CO: Two Christians were killed at a Youth With A Mission training center and another two at New Life Church in Colorado Springs.

• Bronx and Syracuse, NY: Fire bombings at synagogues in New York in October 2000.

• Los Angeles, CA: The shooting at the El Al ticket counter at LAX airport on July 4, 2002.

• Seattle, WA: The Seattle Federation shooting on July 28, 2006.

• Overland Park, KS: Attack on April 13, 2014.

• Birmingham, AL: On May 1, 2007, five anti-immigration militia were arrested for planning to “mow down Mexicans with machine guns.”

And this was just in the United States.

In Canada, we had the recent attacks on Parliament Hill and in New Brunswick, and Alberta. And we could go back to the conflicts at Oka, Quebec, and the killing of Dudley George.

Shortly after the Orlando shootings, the media began referring to this tragedy as the “worst mass shooting in American history.” Thanks to Native and social media, it was brought to the world’s attention that while Florida’s killings were horrific, it was definitely not the worst in American history. Students of Native American history will quickly recall the mass killings at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee where victims numbered in the hundreds and included women and children and that these were just a few in a long list of tragedies.

It was reassuring to notice that even the White House had taken note of this error when one week after the Orlando shootings, U.S. President Barack Obama made a revised statement calling Orlando the worst mass shooting “in modern American history....”

No matter the number of dead in this shooting or any shooting, even one person killed is too many. The fact that people continue to die by violence in North America or throughout the world is heart-wrenching.

Politicians will blame violence on the accessibility of guns or other weapons. We believe that whether or not weapons are made available, those who seek to do harm will find a way.

Even though our correctional facilities are supposed to be weapon and drug free, those who intend to do harm (both inside and outside) will find a way to either create a weapon or find access from the outside.

All the laws in the world can’t stop a human being from doing evil. But there is one thing—and we believe, only one thing—more powerful that can and will end the violence and evil. It’s Love. Not just any kind of love. Creator’s love expressed through the person of Jesus through His violent death on a tree at the hands of evil men. His death was an innocent death for He had no evil in Him.

Through the power of His risen life, we too can live a life free from evil. A life filled with only the love that He can give.

Will there be another Orlando? Perhaps. Will there be an end to shootings, brutality, and terror? Yes, but only when the Prince of Peace is in charge of us and the political and economic systems that control our lives.

“It only takes 20 seconds to make an insanely courageous decision that will change everything” (Matt Damon in the film “We Bought a Zoo”).

Do you want the world to change? Better yet, do you want your life to change? Make that insanely courageous decision and let God take control. I can assure you it will change everything.


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