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Faith Ministry Stories

Now what do we do?

Posted by Pastor John Klawiter on

On Oct. 1, 2017, the city of Las Vegas experienced the terror of a 64 year-old man shooting up the Route 91 Harvest Music festival.

Everyone was quick to offer their thoughts and prayers for all the victims. Our church held a prayer vigil—the second such vigil (including one following the Orlando nightclub shooting) that we’ve hosted in less than two years.

Prayer is such an essential spiritual practice for us as Christians, especially when we don’t know what else to offer.

There was some national backlash to “thoughts and prayers” as not being enough. We have to do something to prevent future attacks.

Then, on Nov. 5, while congregants were gathering for worship, a 26 year-old man entered First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and killed 26 people. It happened again.

My church leadership, as I’m sure many other churches did, talked about what we would do in a similar situation.

Yet our congregation continued to pray—and we keep praying—for the protection of those who are vulnerable and for God to work in us and through us to support our neighbors who are crying out for help. We prayed to God to help us intervene when we have the opportunity.

It’s been about five months since the Vegas shooting and three months since the shooting in Texas, and I’m ready to talk about solutions.

I don’t have the answers—in fact, the underlying issues behind each attack are too complex to assume there’s one solution. But it is time to talk to each other. We likely won’t get satisfying answers if we wait for our national government to tell us a solution, so why don’t we spend more time locally getting to know each other?

Do you know your neighbors? Is your radar up for people who might be vulnerable or in need of help?

Our local police department responds to an overwhelming amount of calls, and each time they go to someone’s house or to a local business, they aren’t exactly sure what they will confront.

I asked a former police officer who lives in our community about what it was like to respond to a domestic disturbance or to pull over someone. He said the last thing an officer wants to face is someone with an assault rifle.

We have demonstrated our support for the local police, yet the excess of disturbances and the types of weapons that a regular citizen can have access to is a terrifying thing for them to encounter.

We have to find solutions that make sense. We want to keep our police safe. We want to keep our students safe. We want to keep our community, our state, and our nation safe. We can all agree on this.

Our community is filled with law-abiding gun owners who are responsible and teach others to safely use firearms. Thank you—we need your voices now more than ever. We need your voice to help guide common sense rules for gun ownership. Will it solve all of the problems? Of course not, but could it save lives in the future. I think so.

But there are underlying issues hidden beneath the surface—someone resorting to violence by abusing the privileges of guns has faced internal and external battles that drive them to make worse choices. That is what we often see play out on our news.

The sting of the latest shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida is another tragedy that reopens this conversation. When it is time, we need to keep talking about how we move forward together.

That’s my prayer.

This article was originally published in the Forest Lake Times.


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