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During the 2015 convention of Open Bible Churches participants were saddened to learn of the mass murder of brothers and sisters in South Carolina. We prayed for the victims’ families during our gatherings and also offer the following statement from our hearts.

We're praying for you #Charleston and we love you! #AuthenticOBC via @chris.hansler

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Our minds are stunned and our hearts ache in response to the horrific killing of nine people who were assembled for Bible study and prayer in the Charleston, South Carolina, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. What ought to have been considered a place of safety and refuge was turned into a killing field. This was not an act of genocide by ISIS against Christians in the Mideast. This was in America; a heinous crime perpetrated by one American against other Americans, reportedly motivated by deranged racial animus, a contemporary addition to a colossal stain on our nation’s history. If one is black, the heart ponders whether there is any safe haven for family members. If one is white, the heart is filled with sadness and shame that anyone could snuff out lives of human beings on such a pretext.

• In the spirit of Romans 12:15 our hearts grieve with and mourn for the families whose loved ones were so senselessly snatched away from them.
• We pray for the grief-agonized hearts of the families, the church, community, and nation. We do not grieve alone – Jesus also grieves for and with hurting people.
• We stand in awe of and honor the forgiveness that has already been extended by several victimized families to the perpetrator and recognize their grace-empowered statements as demonstrations of the love of Jesus.
• Whether or not this mass murder was the act of a disturbed and demented or hate-crazed mind we recognize it as a reflection and byproduct of a sin-filled world. Murder is evil, a violation of God’s Word.
• While protecting the rights of the accused during determination of guilt we call upon the judicial system to mete out justice even as we call upon the perpetrator to repent and call upon God for mercy and forgiveness.
• While it is painfully clear that we cannot control the actions of other people we call ourselves to accountability to uphold and model Ephesians 4:31 (NLT): “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”
• We accept responsibility to go beyond statements of love, to counter the sinful nature of a fallen world by pursuing Hebrews 10:24 (NLT): “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”

About The Author

Randall Bach
President of Open Bible Churches

Randall Bach delights in opportunities to serve the Lord, including his current assignment as president of Open Bible Churches. He and Barbara, his wife, have been in ministry for over 46 years and call it “Our adventure together.” Randall loves the church, pastors, and church leaders and is convinced that God loves to work through them to make disciples, develop leaders, and plant churches.