Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Colorado Baptist Leader Calls for Prayer and Forgiveness in the Wake of Theater Shootings
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
AURORA, CO (ANS) -- As Colorado continues to grapple with the July 20 theater shooing in Aurora, Mark Edlund, Executive Director of the Colorado Baptist General Conventions (CBGC) is calling churches to prayer and forgiveness.
At least two Aurora CBGC churches were affected by the shootings, according to Windsor, CO, freelance writer Claudean Boatman.
In an e-mail report to ASSIST News, to which Amber Cassady, a journalism intern with the Colorado Baptist General Convention contributed, Boatman says the pastor of Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church confirmed that four of his church's members were in the theater next to the infamous theater 9. All escaped injury.
The Edge Church, pastored by Ryan Heller, faces a different situation, Boatman stated.
Pierce O'Farrill is an active volunteer at the church and Vehicle Donation Coordinator for the Denver Rescue Mission. O'Farrill is also a Batman fan.
Edlund said the answer to "Why did God let this happen?" is "always a question when tragedy happens, either natural or man-caused.”
“Friday was literally a 'dark night'. For Colorado it's even more poignant because it reverberates with the Columbine High School tragedy," Edlund said, adding: "And, of course, there is no easy answer; nor will there be clear answers in this life."
Edlund affirms God's sovereignty even during times of tragedy. "He (God) is not hitting his forehead saying, 'I didn't see that one coming.' And because He is sovereign, we can rest in the fact that He is in control. He allows evil to exist. That root goes back to Eden, the fall, and original sin."
Boatman writes that fact hasn't escaped O'Farrill, according to close friend John Fruend.
“Pierce believes God had him in the theater for a reason -- to tell God’s message and use this as a forum. For him to say that [he forgives the shooter] with all his wounds and pain is amazing. It moves me every time I think about it,” said Freund.
O'Farrill has stated publicly his forgiveness of the shooter, Boatman writes.
In an interview with CBS' Erin Moriarty O’Farrill said, “This is going to be hard for people to understand, but I feel sorry for him. When I think what that soul must be like to have that much hatred and that much anger in his heart -- what every day must be like. I can’t imagine getting out of bed every morning and having that much anger and hatred for people that he undoubtedly has. I’m not angry at him. I’ll pray for him.”
Forgiveness is a difficult concept for people to grasp during times of man-caused tragedies, Boatman says. She says O’Farrill’s pastor said, "Pierce has stirred a national debate on forgiveness. Some of the other survivors have said that they can’t or won’t forgive [the shooter]. Reporters are contrasting him against other survivors so it is important to understand what Jesus says about forgiving.”
The Sunday following the shootings, Pastor Heller spoke at The Edge Church about forgiveness.
“Pierce has already forgiven him. I think that is exactly what we need to talk about this morning is forgiveness,” Heller said.
Edlund comments that forgiveness, though not easy, is rooted in scripture,
"How does one forgive such an act?” he asks. “It's modeled by both Christ when He was crucified (Luke 23:34), and by Stephen when he was martyred (Acts 7:60)."
"We pray that through this horrific even people will be drawn to the saving Gospel of Christ," he said.
Edlund also encourages those impacted by the shootings to go to Christ and the Bible.
"We rest in the assurance of Romans 8:38-39," he said quoting the passage.
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
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