I love to take my bicycle, board the local train, and head to downtown Dallas or Fort Worth. I’m 20 minutes from either city. There, in the busyness of the streets and stores, I zip along the roadways, having a blast. It may be hot or cold: I don’t care. The fun of biking overrides the obstacles.
I bicycled around downtown Dallas last Saturday. I arrived around 2:00 p.m. and rode until I was worn out. About 8:00 p.m., I made my way back to the train station.
When I arrived at the station, I checked the clock - my train would arrive in 43 minutes. I went to my “usual” spot and took a seat, the far west side in the corner. There, I can be alone and wait for the train.
That’s when I met “him.”
As I waited, a man approached me. “Surely he won’t bother me,” I thought. But I was his target (in perhaps more ways than one).
Now only a few feet from me, he struck up a conversation. I assumed he was a homeless man hoping for a donation.
But then he said something rather awkward.
“I think my friend is dead over in Pleasant Grove.”
“Excuse me” I asked. “You think your friend is dead?”
“Yeah,” he replied.
“If you think your friend is in a house, dead, then you need to notify the police as soon as possible,” I told him.
He ignored me and continued to ramble on. The smell of booze was on his breath.
As he spoke, I grew more tense. I wanted him to move on, to leave me alone. But he seemed determined to stay at least until my train arrived.
Or until he got what he wanted.
He grew more irritated as he talked. His body tightened up and I could sense the anger in his voice. That’s when a thought struck me: he’s about to attack me.
I looked around. There were no witnesses.
“Sir, I’m busy and you need to move on,” I insisted.
He ignored my request, and his irritation increased.
Enough was enough.
I stood up, reached into my bag attached to my bicycle, placed my hand on my gun, and told him bluntly: “Sir, I have a gun. And I want you to get out of here.” I also called his attention to the nearby cameras.
He had gotten closer to me as we spoke. He had officially entered into my comfort zone.
He finally walked away.
When I got home I told my wife what had happened. This particular area in Dallas, where I had been (downtown) is known for its violence. Two years ago, five police officers were gunned down in this same area. In 1988, a police officer had been murdered with his own weapon. And just a few blocks from where I had this encounter, a United States President had been assassinated over 50 years ago.
But my story does not end there.
Two days later, Monday night, I’m watching the 10:00 News. It was then that an image of THE MAN WHOM I HAD ENCOUNTERED AT THE TRAIN STATION FLASHED ON THE SCREEN. His name was David Rickerson. He had been arrested for the murder of an 85-year old man. He had also confessed to the murder.
The homicide had occurred in Pleasant Grove - the same area Rickerson told me where his “friend might be dead.”
According to the reports, the victim’s body had been found at 1:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. I had my encounter with Rickerson only hours later.
But enough about this son of Belial (and yes, I called police and told them of my encounter).
The victim’s name was 85-year old Edward Sebastian. And to make matters all the worse, Sebastian had lost his daughter to cancer a week earlier.
Now, this family, and the neighborhood, has to cope with this tragedy. "Residents couldn’t hold back tears as they spoke about their neighborhood, an area of Pleasant Grove that they said is quiet and peaceful, and the kind neighbor now gone. “I’m sad. I’m heartbroken,” said Vickie Holcomb. “I’m in shock… for somebody to do an elderly person like that.”
I did not go to Dallas last Saturday expecting to converse with a murder suspect. But I did go with a mindset that anything could happen. I did not bike around Dallas in a state of fear: but I did bike around prepared for anything. I knew there was a possibility that the “wolf” might be out and about.
And that is precisely why I carried my gun. It is not because I am a gun fanatic. I'm not. It is because I am prepared, and I am aware of the threats against humanity. I know, all too well, that there are killers among us.
Why do churches fail to provide security for their flock? Why do so many of them refuse to provide protection for their precious people? The answer is simple: they do not have the MINDSET (odd, is it not, those same churches will preach from a book that tells them of an enemy that is out to "steal, kill, and destroy" (John 10).
They think such foolish thoughts as “the chances of that happening here are slim and next to none.”
They grow complacent. Frank Pomeroy, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas (where 26 were murdered last November) says: “We were complacent.”
I don’t know what the man in my story intended to do. All I know is that he was there, and he was irritated and angry - and these are the emotions that often accompany would-be killers.
You must have the mindset. I have said it before, and I will say it again: there is no reason for any church to PANIC – but there is every reason for every church to PREPARE.