Dylann Roof walked into the Emanuel AME church on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, SC. to start a race war.
He fired the first shots of his race war, killing nine faithful believers while they prayed.
The trial hasn’t even begun, but the verdict is in:
The brotherhood of believers in Charleston won.
Led by the shining faith-filled testimony of the families left behind, Charleston believers have provided one of the most profound examples of the power of faith we’ve seen in our time.
What Dylann Roof meant for evil, God allowed for good.
Don’t be mistaken, nothing about what Dylann did is good. Murder is not good. Death is not good. It wasn’t part of God’s original design, and He’s doing away with it one day.
But the evil that Dylann planned through death, God is redeeming for the good of the families left behind, the city of Charleston, and the whole nation.
The Noble Nine Offered Fellowship
Dylann could have received the hand of fellowship that the martyred believers had held out to him. He could have received the Light of the Gospel of grace they shared with him.
He sat in their midst and listened to their words of love and hope. But he kept hatred locked in his heart.
He refused to let the truth they spoke — and lived out before him — unlock his soul to love.
The Most Powerful Weapon
Dylann ignored their message. He didn’t understand that they possess the most powerful weapon — more powerful than his gun or his hate.
God’s love is more powerful than any weapon man can wield.
Dylann is seeing the truth now, whether he chooses to acknowledge it or not.
God Redeems, Restores, and Resurrects
I won’t pretend to know all the reasons why God chose to allow Dylann to walk into this house of worship among His own people and allow Dylann to follow the evil intentions of his heart.
But I do know the heart of God. I know His love. It redeems, restores, and resurrects.
God is redeeming every tear that’s shed, as well as the pain and heartache that threatens to overwhelm. And He’s restoring every broken life with His resurrection power.
Just as surely as God brought the nine faithful safely into heaven, He will bring their family members through this storm to His great praise and glory.
The World Knows That God is in Charleston, SC
Imagine if Ferguson or Baltimore had responded like Charleston. God was in their midst, too, but we couldn’t see Him through their actions played out on the news.
In every way, Charleston stands out in stark contrast to all other responses we’ve watched during other recent, tragic incidents.
The Rev. Norvel Goff expressed similar sentiments during their worship service on Sunday. He said that the world expected Charleston to hit the streets in violent riots. He responded, “Well, they just don’t know us.”
They know you now. Amen!
And through you, they now know God is in Charleston.
God Knows Who He Can Trust To Bring Him Glory
God didn’t cause Dylann to go down this path of evil, but God is able to use even man’s evil to bring about His good purposes.
God never desires evil so that He can spotlight good, but because of sin, evil abounds.
God knows, in the midst of the sin and evil, who He can trust to bring Him glory through it and despite it.
Some see evil and take to the streets (some even in the name of God) and demand justice while seeking to be judge, jury and executioner.
God knew He could trust these families to stand together, side by side with believers everywhere, no matter their color, and reflect Christ properly.
He knew He could trust them to bring Him glory as they trust God for justice and offer forgiveness and love.
God Offers Shelter Through The Brotherhood
Perhaps God allowed Dylann’s actions so that the believers in Charleston would show the world how to respond to hate with God’s love, not with more hate.
Ferguson and Baltimore responded with hate and more people got hurt.
Charleston is standing together as united brothers and sisters offering shelter and love — not violence.
When I hear Needtobreathe sing “Brother,” I can’t help but think of Charleston and the powerful example the brotherhood of believers has set for the world.
Charleston Shines The Light Into The Darkness.
Unbelief and darkness have blinded Dylann.
The faithful Charleston families shine the Light of Christ into the darkness and stand as a fortress in the light of truth.
They’re not alone. Believers around the world stand with them.
Belief sets us free — eternally and now.
Christ’s followers in Charleston are the proof that belief doesn’t just set us free eternally. It sets us free now.
Their hearts are broken. They could easily let themselves be held imprisoned by bitterness and anger, but they’re not.
They could retaliate and add fuel to the fire, but they won’t.
The testimony of the families left behind displays the unchangeable truth that the love of Christ defeats the power of darkness and evil.
They’re walking right now in the freedom that Christ gives.
Without the burden of evil darkening their own hearts, they’re free to heal as much as is possible on this side of heaven.
Evil still roams our world, but the power of evil to destroy our souls and control our actions is broken by belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ both now and forever.
A Shining Testimony
Listen to God’s faithful speak to Dylann even as they mourn.
And notice the black officer and white office standing together behind Dylann. He wanted to turn them against each other, but instead, they stand side by side, symbols of his failure.
The Crown of Glory
Amazingly, the families shared the gospel with Dylann, concerned for his soul. It will be most tragic if he rejects it forever.
These heart-broken families not only served God as ministers of the gospel of grace at a time when the world expected them to lash out in hate, but they served Him by reaching out to the very one who ripped their families apart.
To all who serve God faithfully where He’s placed them, He’s reserved for them the crown of glory. (I Peter 5:4)
God’s Glory Above All
If I ever have the privilege of meeting the Charleston faithful, I’ll be humbled to stand in the presence of a brotherhood of believers who chose the glory of God above any human desire for revenge.
They returned Dylann’s fire with only love and grace.
How many lives will be forever changed by their example?
How many people will place their faith in Christ because of their actions?
Dylann wanted to destroy the relationship between races.
God is using the response of these believers to save it.
What Dylann Roof intended for evil, God allowed for good.