On Monday, August 27, a minister in Attleboro, Massachusetts dropped his wife off at the church where she worked. It was his day off.
He was not expecting what he was about to see.
According to the church's business administrator, the pastor drove to the church (an Assembly of God) at 7 a.m. to drop off his wife. “She works in our school,” the administrator explained. “It’s normally his day off. He went into the sanctuary to get a cable for his phone when he saw a man sitting in a pew with a gun. He tried to counsel him and asked him if he wanted some help. He did not, and the man left.”
When the man left, the pastor called 911. It was when the man got outside that all hell broke loose: He would soon start shooting at police cars.
The church administrator said: “He (the suspect) did not threaten the pastor. The shooting did not occur on our campus. At no time was any worker at the church threatened.”
The pastor was never in any danger? At no time was any worker at the church threatened? The truth is, the second that man was seen in the pew with a gun, the pastor's life was in danger - as was the entire campus, which, within a matter of minutes, would be occupied by children (there is a school on the church's campus).
Not all pastor's in such predicaments live to tell about it. In India, Pastor Sultan Masih was warned that if he did not sop preaching, he would be killed. HIs enemies fulfilled their promise last year. While at his church preparing for its 25th anniversary, two assassins on a motorcycle gunned down the pastor.
And such stories don't all come from overseas. In 2014, an angry man killed his wife, her friend, and then drove to Bayshore Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida and shot to death its pastor, James Battle.
Indianapolis, Indiana Pastor Jaman Iseminger was at his church, greeting members who had come to clean up the nearby cemetery. As he was doing so, a homeless woman also showed up - and shot him to death.
I could go on for hours with such stories...
I am constantly asked by the press for safety tips for churches. And I consistently give the same answer. It goes something like this...
Everything you do in the course of your everyday life - taking a shower, getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing your teeth, saying goodbye to your family, driving to work, working, going to lunch, returning to work, going home, seeing your family...etc, etc - is what you do AFTER you... WAKE UP...
If you did not wake-up, you would sleep away the day and get nothing accomplished. All the fruit of your labor is what happens AFTER you wakeup...
This is the dilemma that many churches are in: they are asleep. And it matters not in the least what "safety tips" they are given that might save the lives of their flock, if they stay in their slumber.
The greatest tip you will ever receive as to how to protect your flock is to a-w-a-k-e-n to the danger around you. From there you will find it easy to implement "safety tips." Such information is readily available...
The person who is asleep has no idea what is happening around them - for they are asleep. You cannot defend yourself in your sleep, nor can you defend the lives of those you love.
Paul the Apostle had it right: "...And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber..." (Romans 13)
When it comes to violence at houses of worship, we are no longer addressing a storm that is out at sea: we are talking about a storm that has arrived on our shores and is gaining momentum.
I plead with you: WAKEUP....
ONE MORE THING. In reference to the above story about the man in the pew with a gun. I could not help but wonder: how did he get in the church in the first place? According to news reports, "Church administrators say the suspect was able to gain entry to the sanctuary because it was somehow left unlocked." Who is responsible for making sure your doors are locked (this is an official "tip" - but it will be of no benefit to you if you are asleep).
THINK ABOUT IT...
UPCOMING SHEEPDOG SEMINARS
Birmingham, Alabama - September 28-29. Click here. Stephen Willeford will be with us in Birmingham. Stephen is the man who shot, and stopped, the killer at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs last November (where 26 worshipers were murdered).
San Diego, California - October 6. Stephen Willeford will be with us in San Diego. Stephen is the man who shot, and stopped, the killer at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs last November (where 26 worshipers were murdered)