I am awestruck by the courage of the Umpqua Community College students. Witnesses to Thursday’s deadly shooting say numerous victims were questioned if they were Christians and that those who affirmed they were people of faith were then massacred. I wonder how many of us would be willing to take the same stand.
The stone-willed Christians in Roseburg, Oregon, held more than a belief – they possessed convictions that held them, even at the bullet tip of death. It takes a Grand Canyon of faith, commitment and courage to speak up when you’re staring down a barrel of doom. And for that… I count these martyrs as heroes.
I am a full-time evangelist. I’m not the kind who begs for money on television or who sells snake oil, healing rags or anointed waters. Neither am I a media hound who is trying to persuade people to vote for Hillary or Trump. I’m just a regular guy, a sinner who travels globally to share the message of Christ.
Standing for my beliefs and encouraging others to do the same is what I am about. I know some people do not agree with me or like what I have to say about Jesus, yet I remain unmoved or apologetic about my allegiance to Him. Telling others I am a follower of Christ is who I am and what I do, and I would like to believe that nothing could cause me to back down. However, I find myself wondering, “What would my response have been to the Oregon assassin?” I ponder if I would be willing to leave my wife and three kids behind to die for that which I endeavor to live.
Followers of Christ have taken a bad rap lately. I have to admit much of it has been deserved. We often have so many opinions and so little love. Sometimes we do a whole lot more talking with our mouth, rather than letting our lives speak the loudest. The talk of our walk will always say more than the talk of our talk. The victims of the Oregon shooter have shown the true path of faith and character and leave an example from which we can all learn.
Taking a stand can be in the purest form when it is done without retaliation, aggression or defense. Standing against evil or injustice sometimes needs to be done without retreat or assault. Resistance can simply be accomplished by just standing – holding the ground already gained.
Sure, there are also times to fight. There are moments when taking no action is the action of laziness, indifference, enablement and fear. There are times to correct, as long as it is done in love. Correction without love leads to rebellion. There is also a time to discover the things worth dying for. Those who have found this treasure are the ones who change nations, leave legacies, inspire change and leave footprints for us all to follow. Of such are the victims in Oregon: they have given us a portrait not only of themselves but of the one they say they followed. I say thank you to them for showing this nation the greatness and capacity of faith.
Hopefully, solutions can be found to avoid further carnage, and hopefully no others will ever find themselves having to make the same choice, as our brother and sisters in the Middle East have.
The Umpqua martyrs deserve more than to be politicized into a debate on guns, racism, mental health or political party agendas. They deserve honor. I pray the victims’ families know that God loves them, has not forgotten them, and promises the sacrifice and death of their loved ones will not be permitted to have been in vain.