Charleston and Choices

Generally I refrain from current events. This time I just cannot ignore the push I am feeling for writing thoughts on the events surrounding Charleston, South Carolina. For two years I worked in S.C. and must say, I did enjoy my brief stay there. The hospitality was very generous, the weather was much warmer than my home state of Wisconsin, and I enjoyed my first two years of teaching in the small city of Chester.

Out of curiosity this morning I looked on the internet to see what radio stations beam into Charleston and found 56 stations listed; to my pleasant surprise, of the 56 stations listed, 18 of them had the label of Christian or religious. That is remarkable to say the least. We do not have nearly that many in my nearby city of Indianapolis. It puzzles me as to why those folks in transit daily do not find encouragement for living from one of those stations as they maneuver the streets. From what I have read and heard on the news, it seems to me that Dylan Roof did not avail himself to the air waves carrying the message of hope through word and music.

Somehow, he did find himself drawn to Emanuel Methodist Church, an African-American congregation who chose to meet in the mid-week for prayer and Bible study. He sat in their presence for most of the service. They welcomed him, in fact. Their friendliness no malice toward a person whose skin was a different color; they showed no signs of racial hatred. Yet, he chose to murder nine of them. His anguished mind, altered by drug use, chose to extinguish the lives of innocent people who meant him no harm.

Let’s think back now to the radio stations. Faithful, industrious radio engineers, speakers, musicians, and those who open their wallets to support such stations all had the desire for Dylan to hear the Word of God. However, Dylan had to turn the dial to the station. The choice was his. It could be that in a city the size of Charleston that someone, maybe more than once, in the 21 years of his life, had knocked on the door of his home and extended an invitation to attend a church. I’d be so happy to know if he went.

Little by little the facts of his past will leak out into the press and well-meaning Christians will reach out to Dylan even in his prison cell. He will have still an opportunity to hear the plan of salvation and receive Christ as his personal Savior. One thing is for certain: the choice will be his to make to accept or reject the message from God’s Word. It is a matter of the heart. It is a matter of personal responsibility.

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