Thursday, 23 August 2018 07:22

Not Idly By

Written by  Bob Crittenden
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A pastor in Washington state concluded his Father’s Day sermon recently by praying this: “Lord...don’t let us be content as men to just let life go by, to see the world around us burn. God, instead, help us to get involved.”

 

The Chicago Tribune reported that as David George, pastor of the Oakville, Washington, Assembly of God Church, concluded his sermon on “The Value of MENtoring,” which the story said was “about how much difference an individual can make in the lives of others,” a new adventure was about to unfold.

 

Later that day, Pastor George, his wife, daughter, and granddaughter went to a Walmart over 25 miles away to Tumwater, WA, to make an exchange.  As they stood in the checkout line, he heard the sound of gunshots.  The Tribune reported that a “crime rampage was unfolding.”  The article stated:

 

 

A man was firing a handgun at the store’s locked ammunition case to grab more bullets. He had already carjacked a vehicle that day and attempted to hijack another one, firing shots and wounding people along the way, Tumwater police say. Now he was stocking up on ammunition for more carnage in the store’s parking lot.

 

 

The shooter then went into the parking lot and tried to carjack another vehicle - the driver resisted and was shot twice.  He then broke into another vehicle, when he was confronted:

 

At that point, Tumwater police said, an armed civilian confronted the shooter, drawing his handgun, firing and killing the gunman. That same armed civilian then administered medical aid to the carjacking victim until help arrived.

 

Where was Pastor George?  He was the civilian who took out the shooter! 

 

The Tribune reported that:

 

He is also an Oakville volunteer firefighter and EMT who happens to be licensed to carry a concealed firearm and is specifically trained to use it against a desperate gun-wielding criminal. A credentialed firing-range safety officer, George said he had received active-shooter training.

 

 

The pastor did not publicly reveal himself as the hero in the story until four days later.  He said in a statement, “I was sure it was gunshots I heard...and I was familiar with how I should respond, while considering mine and the public’s safety in the setting of this large store.”  He was cognizant of his family’s safety, as well as those in the store.  The pastor also stated: “I acted on Sunday to protect my family and others from the gunman and his display of deadly intent,” adding, “This is in accordance with both my training as an emergency responder and calling as a pastor, husband, father and grandfather.”

 

The pastor’s prayer that morning was about involvement, and he asked the Lord to enable him and the men in attendance that Father’s Day to not just be content “to just let life go by, to see the world around us burn.”  This is consistent with a concept I like to share about being ready and responsive - we can be sensitive as God opens opportunities.  It may not be an opportunity to save a life; fortunately, Pastor George had the training and knowledge to be able to intervene here.  But, our responsiveness could result in someone coming into a divine encounter, including the possibility of coming to a saving knowledge of Christ.  Who knows what God has in store - but He desires for us to walk in that state of willingness for the Spirit to move through us.

 

It does seem that the world certainly is burning – replete with fiery rhetoric and the potential for conflict.  In response, we can consider how we as believers can infuse our culture with grace.  That doesn’t call for backing off the truth, but we can set a different tone. We are called to boldly proclaim our position on who Jesus is and what He has done.  But, we can do so in a compelling manner. We can follow a principle of “disagree, but not demonize.”  I think of the concept that leading Christian apologist Greg Koukl talks about: “diplomacy, not D-Day.”

 

It can be tough, especially when we are confronted by what I see as an exclusionary mindset that has permeated society today. Unfortunately, Christians all too often find themselves on the receiving end.  From speech codes on college campuses to attempts to force believers to adopt and express positions with which they disagree, people of faith have faced extraordinary challenges regarding free expression, which becomes an inhibition to the spread of the gospel.  But, we cannot allow ourselves to be intimidated.  The fact is, we are called by God, we belong, and our faith is part of the fabric of our society.  So with boldness, tempered by the character and compassion of Christ, we can make people aware of the presence and principles of the Lord. 

 

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