By now, you may have heard about the massacre in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, earlier this week. Shootings are always tragic, but when one happens inside a church building, all of us, even those who are not big fans of the church, are rattled by it.
Whatever would cause someone to engage in such a heinous act? Reports say that the shooter was an obsessive white supremacist, and that he truly hated black people.
Why? What causes someone to develop this? Racism isn’t a genetic trait; it’s learned. And in this case, it was costly to many families, and very costly to one church family.
There are many instructive points for us in this terrible story, but perhaps one that hits close to home is the importance of having healthy, engaged community surrounding our children and youth, starting in the home.
Parents, grandparents and other relatives, surround your kids with love and encouragement. Let them see that, just as in God’s eyes, all people have value. True, all of us are fallen, broken sinners, but we are still all made in the divine image and carry intrinsic value as a result.
Parents, grandparents and other relatives, teach your kids that violence is not the way of Jesus. While we in Canada don’t have the same kind of ‘gun culture’ that exists south of the border, there is, nevertheless, an unnecessary degree of violence that takes place, often among youth, and frequently in our cities. Help your kids learn that dialogue and conversation are more useful tools than guns or knives.
Parents, grandparents and other relatives, model for your kids the love with which God has showered you. Children and youth want to know, above all, that they are deeply loved. We all want to know, above all, that we are deeply loved! You are deeply loved by God, and that enables you to love others. It is hard to love when we do not know that we are loved. Tell your kids you love them. Tell your kids that God loves them. Prove it with your actions.
And pray for the people of Charleston, South Carolina – for the church family at Emanuel AME Church, for the families left behind, and for those whose hearts are hard enough to kill because of colour.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3.1, NIV).