In light of the recent gun violence that has spilled over into places of worship, a collective gasp was heard when the news broke of a shooting last week inside World Changers Church International in Atlanta, Georgia. The church is pastured by Dr. Creflo Dollar who has since asked his church to donate more than 200 thousand dollars to the victims family.
Detroit has seen its own share of deadly, unexplained violence that has unraveled inside Christian places of worship. In May two teens shot and killed 84-year-old Joseph Lewis Jr. during bible study. Mr. Lewis was working as an armed security guard at Victory Way Assembly Church of God in Detroit at the time of the incident. Members of the church were credited in the speedy capture of the two gunmen.
“Everyone in the neighborhood knew the victim. He’s been there for years and that was one of the things that were instrumental in solving this case because the community was really in outrage,” said Detroit police.
Debra W. of Detroit admits, “I know a few people in my church that actually have permits and carry a gun, it shouldn’t be this way but sometimes fear is real, we need God, flat out!”
This past January at a Grand Rapids church, Pastor MarShon Peoples, was shot in the head after two men, angered for not being allowed entry into the church, pulled out handguns and randomly began shooting. Pastor Peoples says, the responsibility to help criminals who do things like this, starts with the church.
“I’m not angry at the young men. I’m more angry at the choice. They need help and we as a whole have to help them. Putting them into a cell with other misguided people is not the answer,” said Peoples.
Just last month, shots were fired at an off-duty police officer after the officer ran down thieves that robbed churchgoers at the Neapolititan Church of Deliverance in Detroit. Parishioners were shaken but not hurt, the officer was not hurt. The gun strapped robbers got away.
Michigan Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of openly carry handguns at a Lansing library. This, after a firestorm of attention sparked by members of Michigan’s Open Carry, a group of licensed gun owners that protested the right to carry guns in public, pushed the move forward.
“We are obligated to interpret and apply the law, regardless of whether we personally like the outcome,” said Michigan Court Judges, Jane Beckering and Henry William Saad. “Allowing local governments to regulate firearms could lead to an unworkable patchwork of different rules around the state,” they said.
Many have different interpretations of “church” and its function; the local church should be a place of empowerment, a place to revitalize and a place for healing. Church should be a safe place for everyone whether Christian or not.
Horrific and wicked things happen to good people everyday, the Bible states that troubled times will fall on the just and unjust alike. When crimes against humanity happen Christians are obligated to be the light of the world and prove that no devices against life will be tolerated, even in places where safety is taken for granted.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4.
Currently here in Michigan, guns are not permitted in banks, schools, churches, hospitals and other places but libraries are not on the list. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that it’s up to the state, not local governments, to regulate these firearms matters.
Michigan law prohibits firearms on any property or facility owned or operated by a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other place of worship, unless the presiding official allows concealed weapons.