Hope follows tragedy


It was later in the day on Friday, March 15, the day of the shooting attack on a Muslim mosque full of worshipers in Christchurch, New Zealand, when I was sending an email to my friend and former college classmate who is a Baptist pastor in Modesto, California. He mentioned in a return email that he was on his way to attend a prayer vigil in a local mosque following the New Zealand incident. At that time, I hadn’t yet heard about the shooting. I had to check the internet to find out what was going on.

It was no surprise that Wayne would be headed out to his local mosque to help bear some folks up in prayer and to be a visible evidence of the opposite of the divisiveness and hatred that personified this horrific act. Wayne has been a part of a gathering of religious leaders from multiple faiths in his town including Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, evangelicals and Catholics, among others, for some time.

I just spoke with him today to find out that there was another meeting at the mosque a couple days later that included the mayor, local politicians, representatives of the local police and fire departments and the overall message was that their retaliation for this awful crime was going to be their solidarity. Fight back with love. Gather together as an expression of freedom of religion and affirm their commitment to not let this attack push any of them off the mark of supporting each other’s right to worship as they choose. It certainly doesn’t justify 50 lives being taken, but it does show that there are other, stronger forces at work in our society — forces that you and I as Christians can support and stand side by side with others. 

I’m so proud of Wayne for his bold move to embrace this group in the name of Christ and seek to understand other faiths instead of trying only to prove them wrong. This is a beautiful example of being Christians in the public square. Rather than engage in a culture war, we are engaging in solidarity — seeking to build bridges instead of walls. The end goal is understanding. If we seek to understand those of other beliefs, there’s a good chance that they will seek to understand us, and is that not a better way to have people exposed to the gospel than to force our beliefs on them?

This entry was posted in freedom, Religious freedom, Worldview and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Hope follows tragedy

  1. Mark D Seguin says:

    Amen to this: “Rather than engage in a culture war, we are engaging in solidarity…”

  2. Sandy Campbell says:

    My coworker and I were talking about this and I told her that one of the first things I think about after the people and families involved is the person or people who committed the act. I pray for them and their families. I can’t imagine how a parent would feel, knowing their child has caused so much pain and grief for others. I also think of that person standing before God trying to explain what they did if they don’t have the opportunity to repent. This world is growing darker but we can still be the lights it needs.

  3. Dr Dave Bibby says:

    As a New Zealand member of the Catch Community, here on the ground, there has been a profound sense of shock and disbelief as this tragedy has unfolded before our eyes – via the local news media. This is the last place on earth where any of us thought there would be a massacre of such cruelty and magnitude! As our young Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern so eloquently expressed the nation’s mood: “This is not us. This is not who we are. He is not us”.

    Many of the victims had come to New Zealand because they saw it as a safe place, as a haven from the horrors that they had fled. To be slaughtered in such a safe place was and is unthinkable, unbelievable and horrible.

    And yet the actions of the gunman have had the opposite effect to what he intended. There has been a universal outpouring of grief, compassion and caring towards our Muslim neighbours and fellow citizens. There have been untold examples of non-Muslims reaching out to Muslim members in our community and huge rallies of support and solidarity that have affirmed our diversity and unique common identity as Kiwis. It has been strangely wonderful and heartwarming to behold. It has been a taste of ‘grace in action’. As a nation we have never been more united.

    • jwfisch says:

      Thank you, Dave, for taking the time to inform us of what it’s like to be there.We are better than these tragic examples indicate. Good to see Christians joining in the fight for a common humanity.

  4. peter leenheer says:

    Wow….God can turn anything into good!!!

  5. John A Fagliano says:

    Whether it’s Muslims in New Zealand, Black Christians in Charleston, Jews in Pittsburgh, Gays in Orlando, or Christians in Sutherland Springs, The reaction has to be from EVERYONE. Because we are ALL in danger. No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you believe, or what label is slapped on you, somebody somewhere hates you for it. We either live united or die separately. Satan knows if he can divide us all we are easier to take down. But when compassion unites us, the power of hate is defeated.

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