Indestructible Power

What happened at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth shocked the whole nation. The tragic loss of life leaves many wondering: What good can possibly come of this? In the aftermath of the murders, one answer has emerged: As with the Columbine slaughter, this latest massacre is giving Americans a chance to see the difference that faith in Christ can make. We saw a glimpse of that difference in news accounts of those terrible few minutes inside the church. According to the New York Times, when Ashbrook began shooting, everyone in the church dove under the pews. Everyone, that is, except Heather McDonald. McDonald has Down's Syndrome and didn't understand what was happening. Fortunately for her, Mary Beth Talley, one of the youth group members, did. Talley shielded McDonald with her own body, literally taking a bullet for her. Even after being shot, Talley continued to comfort McDonald. After the shootings, reporters descended on Fort Worth, all of them asking the same question: How do Christians respond to tragedy? Are they serious about forgiveness and hope? National Public Radio's Wade Goodman interviewed survivors and other church members. Instead of cursing Ashbrook, members expressed sorrow that they had not done enough to reach out to a troubled man. Church member Dan Gill told reporters that "[Jesus] died for the man who pulled the trigger, too." Stephanie Jones, the mother of Susan Jones, a seminarian killed in the shootings, said "We are not angry, and we have peace that God is in control." Jones' sentiments were echoed by Kathy Jo Brown, who lost her husband, Shawn. She told the New York Times that "Shawn ran the race victoriously, all the way to God's arms." Perhaps the most remarkable story involves shooting victim Sydney Browning. Browning taught at an alternative high school for troubled teenagers. As a friend of hers told National Public Radio, shortly after the Columbine shootings, she and Browning had discussed what they would do under similar circumstances. Browning told her that if someone had to be shot, she hoped it would be her, because she knew she was saved—something she couldn't say about her students. These responses to such a horrific tragedy highlight, as nothing else can, the difference between the Church and the unbelieving world. That difference is, of course, faith in Jesus Christ. People like Sydney Browning and Mary Beth Talley weren't afraid because they knew Who was in control. They knew that, as Martin Luther wrote in his great hymn, "A Mighty Fortress," although "the body they may kill, God's truth abideth still." The early Church had a saying: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church." The example set by early Christians in death and suffering was the greatest witness to the "truth which is in Jesus." Now, when our neighbors ask us why we believe, we have our own example of the power of an indestructible life: the martyrs at Columbine and now these young people of Wedgwood Baptist. And if this example leads people to faith in Christ, then the world will once again see that God can and does bring good out of unspeakable evil.


Chuck Colson



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