The shooting of 13 innocent people last week in Buffalo, New York, is another example of the seemingly endless violence committed in our country daily. A volatile combination of assault weapon accessibility and the misguided racist beliefs adopted by an 18-year-old resulted in the deaths of 10 and the wounding of three.
The actions of this young man, spurned to commit these atrocities due to his intense hatred of blacks, have caused unfathomable grief to many.
This senseless loss of life is felt not only in the Buffalo community but also within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). With sincere sorrow, we mourn the lives of our very own who were felled by this demonic act.
My sincere sympathy extends to these families now forced to grieve such tragic loss. I pray that God will strengthen, encourage and uplift you during this extremely difficult time.
Brothers and sisters, our country is in turmoil. Societal norms of decency have eroded and mass killings have become commonplace. The vestiges of years of racist government leadership sowed seeds of racial discord that have now germinated into divisive blooms of hate and blatant disrespect.
Now, more than ever, is the time for the church to collectively seek God's face for help and deliverance. The challenge we face is clear.
"When Jonah's warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: 'By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.' When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened" (Jon. 3:6-10, NIV).
J. Drew Sheard is the Presiding Bishop and Chief Apostle of the Church of God in Christ.
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