Pray for The Immanuel A.M.E. Church


PRAY FOR THE FAMILIES WHO LOST LOVED ONES AT THE IMMANUEL A.M.E. Church in Charleston, SC.

 

The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to shed innocent blood. He is the man who added and abetted the killing of the first martyr of the body of believers in Jerusalem, a deacon named Stephen, Acts 7:54-8:1. Today, modern martyrs, all disciples of Christ, are still being killed in the name of one ideology or another. And then there are those who are merely innocents, seemingly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When we immediately politicize such incidents, we are making it easier for people to avoid the real problem. I think the initial evidence is telling us that this was a racially motivated crime. Like most other violent tragedies, we are going to find that a series of errors lead up to this senseless act of murder. Platitudes like “guns don't kill people, people kill people” may be true, but they don't help solve the problem we are facing. When we allow others to politicize these tragedies, we allow ourselves to have our attention taken away from the horrific toll violence takes on the youth of our inner cities and poverty stricken neighborhoods throughout the world. When only racially tinged crimes are being focused on by the media and community leaders, when politicians use these tragedies to attack their political opponents, the real reasons for gun violence remain unnamed. When only the police are targeted as being the problem and people are taught to disrespect authority with impunity, the genocide that is taking place in minority communities is allowed to continue unabated. 

When our president immediately uses a tragedy of enormous proportions to call for more gun control, he does a disservice to the nine who were so brutally and unmercifully murdered by Dylann Storm Roof. While white on black crimes, racist or not, continue to get national attention, it enables our society to skirt the other real catastrophe of the self inflicted genocide of African American youth in places like Chicago, Washington D.C. and other minority neighborhoods. When the president opines that this type of violence does not happen except in our own country, he is not telling the truth. Just south of the border in Mexico, mayhem continues generating murders in broad daylight in spite of Mexico’s very strict anti-gun laws. Does the president not know that the barrios of Brazil are literally war zones?

Perhaps the President missed the January 2015 terrorist attack in France. They suffered its deadliest terrorist attack in two decades Wednesday as gunmen stormed the offices of the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing at least 12 people. In case the President really did miss these examples, I think we need to set the record straight.


• On May 24, 2014, four people are killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels by an intruder with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle. The suspect is a former French fighter linked to the Islamic State group in Syria. May 22, 2013: Two al-Qaeda inspired extremists run down British soldier Lee Rigby in a London street, then stab and hack him to death.

• March 2012: A gunman claiming links to al-Qaeda kills three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in Toulouse, southern France.

• Nov 2, 2011: Offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris are firebombed after the satirical magazine runs a cover featuring a caricature of the prophet Mohammed. No one is injured.

•  July 22, 2011: Anti-Muslim extremist Anders Behring Breivik plants a bomb in Oslo then attacks a youth camp on Norway's Utoya Island, killing 77 people, many of them teenagers.

• July 7, 2005: 52 commuters are killed when four al-Qaeda-inspired suicide bombers blow themselves up on three London subway trains and a bus.

• March 11, 2004: Madrid suffers what Spain's interior minister calls the country's "worst-ever terrorist attack," when a series of bombs on commuter trains kill 191 people and injure more than 1,800. It is the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the Lockerbie bombing in 1988.

• November 2003: At least 27 people are killed and more than 400 injured in bombings at the British consulate and the HSBC bank headquarters in Istanbul. The previous week suicide bombers attacked two synagogues in Istanbul, killing more than 20 people.

• Dec. 21, 1988: A bomb explodes aboard Pan Am Flight 103, bound for New York from London, killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground in the town of Lockerbie, Scotland.

• Aug. 15, 1998: A car bomb planted by Irish Republican Army dissidents kills 29 people in the town of Omagh, in the deadliest incident of Northern Ireland's four-decade conflict.

•  July 25, 1995: A bomb at the Saint-Michel subway station in Paris kills eight people and injures some 150. It is one of a series of bombings claimed by Algeria's GIA, or Armed Islamic Group.

Dylann Storm Roof was a disaffected drug addict whose mind, no doubt weakened by methamphetamine and other substances, became susceptible to the mantra of hate-filled racism. Like so many other such cases, there will probably be a history of some other associated mental illness. He targeted the lead pastor, State Senator Clementa Pinckney, the 41 year old father of two who recalled his church’s history in a 2013 sermon, saying “we don't see ourselves as just a place where we come to worship, but as a beacon and as a bearer of the culture.” Along with this pastor there were other clergy attending this Bible study/prayer meeting including  Cynthia Hurd, 54; Tywanza Sanders, 26; Myra Thompson, 59; Ethel Lance, 70; Susie Jackson, 87; and the reverends DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Sharonda Singleton, 45; and Daniel Simmons Sr., 74 all congregants of the historic Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston, SC. 

We have seen this ugly scene play out before. This was the case when 22 year old Jared Lee Loughner shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords Arizona's 8th Congressional District, (D) and murdered six others before being subdued. He had been rejected by the U.S. Army as “unqualified” for service. And what of the Aurora movie theater massacre, where twelve people were shot dead. Ten died at the scene and two more in local hospitals. Three of the victims, Jonathan Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alexander Teves, died heroically protecting their girlfriends. The mass murderer who perpetrated this heinous act of violence, James Eagan Holmes, plead not guilty by reason of insanity. A plea that is somewhat hard to swallow considering the detailed and meticulously planned carried out attack this murderer perpetrated on an unsuspecting audience during the midnight showing of the Batman movie, The Dark Knight.

As the race pimps rush to Charleston, it is important to review the history of this church. It begins with its denomination, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in response to racism. In 1787, a man named Richard Allen left St. George's Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia after he was told to “pray after the ‘regular members prayed,’” Pinckney says in the 2013 video. Allen, a former slave from Delaware, became pastor of the Bethel AME Church in 1794 in Philadelphia, but had to soon defend the existence of the denomination from white Methodists. After a legal dispute with mainstream Methodists, Allen broke out to form an independent church. When he saw other black religious followers in need of a church that would not openly discriminate against them, he called a meeting in Philadelphia to form the African Methodist Episcopal Church as a denomination. Influenced by Allen's efforts, the black community in and around Charleston formed a religious group that eventually became Charleston's Bethel AME in 1816, led by the Rev. Morris Brown. That church would later become Emanuel AME.

The following plaque hangs in this church:

Immanuel Church PlanqueIt is just one of many A.M.E. churches that continue to do the work of the ministry in communities where poverty is more common than prosperity. However, most of these bodies of believers know that true prosperity of the Lord has nothing to do with material things or financial gain. True wealth is found only in the Messiah. In Jesus, we obtain a treasure that no amount of money, wealth or power can purchase. God gives His children everything we need that pertains to life and godliness. The Apostle Paul wrote the first century AD believers in Rome the following truths:


 
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
 
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter,"

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,"
 Rom. 8:35-37.

Many pundits will not doubt chime in with their insights about what this means to our country with regard to the state of race relations at the dawn of the 21st century. If you take anything away from this example of modern-day martyrs, remember the witness of their surviving family members as they confronted the young man who confessed to so brutally murdering their loved ones. These surviving saints, through tears of grief and heartbreak, told this confessed killer that they forgive him. One of them pleaded with this stoic baby-faced killer to repent and turn to Christ, offering to their enemy who brought them death, the opportunity of forgiveness and new life offer freely to all in the Messiah. Yes, that’s the true legacy of the Immanuel AME church massacre.

Pray for the families of the martyred, they are suffering in ways that few of us can truly understand. And don't forget to pray for our President, he can still be a powerful force for racial healing. After all, in this allegedly racist country, he was elected twice to the highest office in the land, the P.O.T.U.S.

This historic church is just one of many A.M.E. churches that continue to do the work of the ministry many of them in communities where poverty is more common than prosperity. Those who understand the things of the Lord also know that true prosperity has nothing to do with material things or financial gain for the Psalmist of Israel said:

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit,” Ps. 34:18.
 
And the prophet Isaiah concurred with King David said:

“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones,”’ Isaiah 57:15.
 
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter,," Rom. 8:25-37.

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
 
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter,” Rom. 8:25-37.

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
 Rom. 8:35-37. 

Continue to pray for the families and friends who lost loved ones in this last example of homegrown terrorism. And continue to pray for our President. He can still be a force for racial healing in our own country. After all, he is a person of color who was elected to the highest office in the land of this allegedly racist country. Not once, but twice.

By Pastor Steve Rowitt, Ph.D.

 

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