Sunday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. While Christians were praying for persecuted believers around the world, a shooter walked into a Texas church service and opened fire. At least twenty-six people were killed and twenty more were injured. This is a reminder that Christians and churches are not immune from suffering. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
First, we need to pray for our enemies. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44) This is hard to imagine, but it’s the command of Christ. This might involve praying for them to come to Christ. It might involve praying for them to be defeated. It might involve asking God to help us jettison a spirit of retaliation and instead embrace a spirit of forgiveness.
Second, we need to protect ourselves. Numerous Old Testament figures were quick to arm themselves against those who tried to destroy them. This doesn’t mean living with a vengeful and militant spirit. But it does mean we can be unapologetic about defending ourselves and our loved ones against attack.
Third, we need to ask that Christ would come and deliver this world from the scourge of sin and destruction. Early Christians prayed often, “Come, Lord Jesus.” They asked God to speed the day of Jesus’ return so that they would be rescued from ongoing pain and hurt. We need to plead with God to accelerate the day of the second coming of Christ. Then we can celebrate our deliverance from a world gone wrong and a world that never be a sanctuary against evil. This world is not our home—and thank God it isn’t!
As for protecting ourselves, BridgeWay is looking at further safeguards against violence. The presence of the sheriffs on our property and in our services from week to week is a measure already in place. An expert in security, formerly with the office of Homeland Security, will meet with our staff next week to review additional security initiatives. Lisa Rowland, our children’s minister, already has lockdown measures in place, and will be looking in greater detail at what can be done to ensure safety.
We do not want to live in fear. Still, we want to take appropriate steps to deter and protect against those who seek to do harm. Let’s pray for the families affected by the horrible incident in south Texas, and pray that the hearts and lives of men will be changed, to stop this cycle of violence and insanity.