On Sunday, we witnessed a glowing example of what faith in Christ can do to a person, family, and city. Following the killing of nine people in the Mother Emmanuel AME Church, including the pastor, Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press” did an interview with the family of the slain Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. The response of the family was a remarkable example of the power of faith. The first thing out of the mouth of Alana, the reverend’s granddaughter, was one of forgiveness and love. She said, “The love of Christ and the love of the community and the families of the victims was so overwhelming that it outweighed the hate he had for them.” Earlier she had said in court, “Hate won’t win.” Talk about the power of faith!
Following the interview, the Meet The Press panel had a conversation centered around faith. David Brooks, one of the panelists, said, “The natural human inclination is to breed hatred with hatred. But what we saw in the courtroom just now (speaking of the interview) was lives transformed by faith, people living out the faith, people walking the walk, and it’s an example to the rest of us.” You can see the entire interview if you click here.
The shooter, Roof, had asked to sit with the pastor and people showed Roof where the pastor was. Being the kind-spirited person that the pastor was, he said to him, “Sit next to me,” and he did, for over an hour. After an hour, Roof opened fire, reloading more than five times. As he fired, he cried, “You all rape women and you’re taking over our country.” The gunman added, “I have to do what I have to do.” We learned later that Roof had been planning this attack for more than a year and had been arrested for his racist actions but not held. Talk about a seething hatred. Also we might ask, “Where were the police during this time, and is it time to begin holding people responsible for their racist actions?”
Compare the responses of the people of Charleston to those of the mobs in Ferguson and Baltimore. What we see is hatred versus love, violence versus love, vandalism versus love, and pelting police instead of praying. What a difference faith makes. Pictures say it better than words. Take a look and tell yourself “Faith is for real!”
If, after seeing the way people in Charleston responded to a mass shooting compared to the way people of Ferguson responded to a mass shooting, people are still able to deny the power of faith, I doubt if they can be persuaded.
What we have witness in the Charleston shooting is a miracle of faith. There have been so many shootings the past few years and after every one of them violence has reigned. What was the one difference in Charleston? Love.
And what makes this love even more powerful is the fact that racism in Charleston has been rampant for decades. Some have even called Charleston “the home of racism.” Charleston’s history, and much of its wealth, was born from the slave trade – some 70% of African slaves brought to America were shipped to Charleston’s port. In the 1800’s, Emmanuel Church was the ringleader of a planned slave revolt, one of at least two to emerge from the church. Martin Luther King was one of several civil rights leaders to visit the church in the 1960s. “South Carolina has been a hotbed of pro-Confederate sympathy, running right up to the current date,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. “This is just a state with a lot of racial problems and a lot of historical baggage.”
The response in Charleston has been so powerful that it has rekindled the drive to take down the flag that is a symbol of hared and racism that flies at the South Carolina Court House. And so that you truly understand why the flag is a symbol of racism and hatred, you must know that what most of us call the “Confederate Flag,” really isn’t the Confederate flag. Instead it’s a flat that was designed in the 1961 to symbolize, not the civil war, but the reaction against the push for civil rights in the 1960’s. It’s not a flag that represents a southern heritage. It’s a flag that represents segregation and should be taken down, not just moved to the back of the Court House where no one can see it as Congress has debated doing.
Just so you know, here are the two flags side-by-side.
Folks, the more we know about our history, the more we are amazed at the response of the Simmons family and most of the city of Charleston. We can all take a lesson from the Simmons and the power of love and forgiveness.
Question: How have you been personally impacted by seeing the way recent events discussed in this post have unfolded? Share your experiences in the Comments section below.