Late last week, a madman who was apparently an anti-Christian zealot, entered Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon and murdered 9 innocent people.
Because the motto of the left in America is “Never let a serious crisis go to waste,” the first liberal reactions to the shooting were, of course, calls for more gun control. Many good conservatives are responding to these fallacious liberal arguments, so I won’t get into them here, but I do want to discuss something that I think has thus far gone unmentioned. While we don’t know the specifics surrounding the shooting or why Chris Harper Mercer did what he did, we do have the eyewitness testimony of several of his victims. And what they have to say is terrifying.
Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, who was wounded, said she told him the gunman singled out Christians.
She said the gunman entered her classroom firing, told the professor teaching the class, “I’ve been waiting to do this for years,” and shot him point blank, Stacy Boylan said.
While reloading his handgun, the man ordered the students to stand up and asked whether they were Christians, Boylan told her family.
“And they would stand up, and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second,’ ” Stacy Boylan told CNN, relaying his daughter’s account. “And then he shot and killed them.”
This horrible event has shocked and bewildered our nation, It has incited a range of reactions from all sides. While some of these reactions are exclusively political (as we discussed above), others are more valid and hold moral and future implications. One in particular that I have found myself ruminating on over the last few days is the idea that the Oregon shooting is proof of just how blessed Americans (and American Christians in particular) are.
You might think that last sentence was a typo, but I assure you, it wasn’t.
The shootings in Charleston and Oregon over the last few of months have rocked our community of faith. In the space of just four months (June 17, 2015 and October 1, 2015), two separate and violent attacks painted large targets on the backs of America’s Christian community, yet it seemed that the media and our political leaders hardly noticed the faith component. Today, Christians in America are routinely mocked, derided and chastised for our beliefs, our morality, our faith, and our lifestyles…but at least our lives were not endangered. Now, that has seemingly changed.
Here’s the thing. While this may be shocking or surprising to us, it’s nothing new for our brothers and sisters in the rest of the world. In China, Christianity is flourishing in the world’s largest “underground” church as millions of believers meet secretly to avoid persecution from their government and their neighbors. In Pakistan, Christian politicians have been assassinated, believers are routinely jailed as their Muslim neighbors accuse them of crimes against Islam, and their churches are under constant threat of real, physical attack from gunmen and bombers.
In Iraq and Syria, Christian children are being sold into slavery, Christian women are being raped to the point of death, Christian men are being beheaded and crucified. In Nigeria, Libya, Yemen, Egypt and elsewhere, the story is exactly the same! Even in countries where Christians make up a large part of the population like Nigeria, Kenya and South Sudan, our brothers and sisters are not safe from the evil and violent forces of persecution. Indeed, more Christians in the world today live under the threat of persecution than don’t.
Then there is the Church in America…
In the USA the left has taken to mocking our cries of persecution as an example of our perceived need to always be complaining about something. The truth is that the church in America doesn’t truly understand what persecution is. While we American Christians do face a constant stream of ridicule and derision, this is a small price to pay for living in a free and open society. I would argue that we should be concerned about our religious liberty today, as the leftist gay “rights” lobby continues to pressure federal and state governments to force their immoral lifestyle choices upon us in direct contradiction to our religious and moral convictions… however, when it comes to “real” persecution, most of us aint seen nothing yet.
Which brings me back to Oregon.
Perhaps, the one thing that this terrible situation can do for us is give the American church a small taste of what our brothers and sisters are going through as they suffer for the faith today. Have we, the safest, most comfortable group of Christians the world has ever seen, done enough to support and care for our hurting siblings in the rest of the world? Have we done enough to help them bear their burdens? Have we wept with them? Have we suffered with them? Have we endeavored to ease that pain?
I personally believe that we have failed, I know that I have failed, but the Oregon shooting should be a stark reminder that we can, and must do more.
Make no mistake, folks. For over 200 years we’ve been blessed to live in a nation that protects religious freedom and values diversity of free thought and expression. But look around you, that culture of freedom, diversity and tolerance has begun to shift. Today, while “diversity” and “tolerance” of sexuality and immorality are preached, diversity and tolerance of belief and thought have become unacceptable. While we may not be facing a wholesale physical assault on the Church in America – we are facing an intellectual and a social assault that will change the way Christians in the USA live and operate.
Thank God for the blessings that we’ve had, but prepare yourselves for the hardship that may be yet to come. Our brothers and sisters abroad have suffered well, they’ve worked hard, they’ve raised families, and they’ve given everything for the faith. Will we be able to say the same if/when our time comes?
Pastor Lonnie Wibberding of Turning Point Adventist in Roseburg, Oregon may have asked the question best when he said, “If he had been pointing that gun at you, asking if you were Christian, what would you have said? How much does this mean to you? Imagine you were there.”
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.