By Christian Olivier, Class of ’20
I am writing this right after the news report flashes across my computer screen. It is 2:32 p.m. on November 5, 2017.
“Mass shooting reported at Sutherland Springs church in Texas.”
Disaster after disaster I managed to keep a straight face. While hurricanes ravaged my home in the South and my friends in the Caribbean, as wildfires burned the California coast to dust, and as the crack of bullets and smell of gunpowder permeated the streets of Las Vegas I managed to solemnly read, pay my respects, and carry on with my life. This… This was the gut punch that knocked the wind out of my lungs as I come to grips with the fact that all of this horror happened in three months. Three months of our lives that I will have to explain to my children. I will have to tell them why we remember August 25th, September 20th, October 3rd, and October 8th – and now November 5th. I will have to explain to them why there is so much darkness. I am forced to bring children into a world where the movies are not safe, where our streets are not safe, where our homes are not safe, and where our church is not safe. Our church- the place of refuge where we go to praise the God who gives us the breath in our lungs and the sanctuary where our problems and desires are laid on the altar.
The fear and anxiety that once gripped me has now become hate. I want to hate the shooter who decided to end those precious lives and tainted my place of worship. I am looking up to my God with my fists clenched asking him why does this happen and how can He let it happen. How are we supposed to praise Him behind these stained glass windows where the ringing of praise bells is overshadowed by the ring of bullets, echoing off of our once great sanctuary?
My brothers and sisters, if I can at all be a voice for the love that is left in the world, we cannot let the history books say that the sound of our praise was drowned out by the growl of hate. We cannot let evil acts define the body of Christ. Let these lives lost not be a time for us to take a moment and come together in solidarity; no, let this be a battle cry. We worship a God who entered a world of hate in the same form that you and I share, and his sacrifice is the only reason that you and I still have air in our lungs and have feet pressed against the pavement. Friends, let us use these feet to walk to every church, to every street corner, to every inch of this globe, and love until our legs give out. Let us praise a God whose blood first stained the altar, and share his love that first saved the world. Let the history books say that these lives were not lost in vain, because the body of Christ would not retreat when faced with hate. Let us be those who hoped in the Lord- the people who would soar on wings like eagles, would run and not grow weary, and would walk and not be faint. Let every act of love shared to those around us be our D-Day. Let every time we walk into those wooden double doors on Sunday morning be us storming the beaches and proclaiming that we are here to stay. That Love is here to stay.
For the lives lost in First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, I promise that wherever I am, you are there. The news has not released your names yet, but I promise that I will not fear walking through that church door and finding my spot in the pew, because you weren’t. I promise to not let today cast a dark shadow over my faith. I promise that your bravery in living will not be forgotten.