This past weekend, a terrorist took four hostages in a synagogue in Colleyville. One hostage was set free, the other three escaped, and the FBI killed the criminal. The world watched in horror as a place of peace was turned into a place of violence.
The temptation is to look at something that horrific and believe it could never happen to us. That’s not true.
In the summer of 2016, on a Wednesday night during choir rehearsal, Destiny Gregg Suydam burst into the rehearsal room of our church and threatened to open fire. Dr. Buzz Rahm tried to calm him down while Dr. Carl Bradley pocket-dialed 911. As Suydam’s threats became more ominous, everyone quickly left the building.
Immediately, the outstanding Temple Police Department sprang into action.
A command center was set up in Dennis Hall, as police negotiators contacted Suydam. He said he would shoot everyone at our church, himself, and any police who tried to stop him.
The problem was the police did not know his exact location in our giant church. He was very dangerous and could have been hiding anywhere. It was a very dangerous situation.
After three hours, Suydam made his way to the sanctuary where he stood in the balcony and threw dollar bills onto the floor below. That’s when the SWAT team was able to pinpoint his position. They shot him with what they called a “less than lethal projectile,” and he taken into custody.
After Suydam was taken away, I thanked the officers who had protected us, and explained the money Suydam had thrown from the balcony onto the floor of the sanctuary was his offering and it belonged to the church. They took it as evidence.
The point is what happened is Colleyville is not an isolated incident. It happened in our church years ago. Sadly, it will happen in others.
We live in a world that is getting angrier and angrier. Violence and hatred seem to be currency of the day. This is where followers of Jesus Christ can make a difference because we are about peace, love, and grace. Our job is to let others know what we know. That’s why we are here.
The last thing Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew is called the Great Commission. It is here we learn our true purpose. Jesus said, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
God’s promise is clear. If we do our part, God will do his part. The world will be a much better place.
Long ago, St. Francis of Assisi wrote a prayer that says it best. These are his words.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Let us all be instruments of God’s peace.
I pray your day is filled with joy and laughter.