Tragedy in South Carolina – Why?


“Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Black and yellow, red and white

They’re all precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world”—Author Unknown

The lyrics to this children’s song remind us of how the Lord loves each and every one of us—no matter who we are, including our gender, our race, our age, or our bank account. For the purpose of the lyrics of this song, we are all little children in His sight—whether we are 2 years old or 102 years old. Psalms 100:3 tells us that “it is he who hath made us and not we ourselves…” Acts 17:26 says that our God “has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth…”

Like many people, my heart was deeply disturbed by the recent tragedy which occurred during a Bible study at a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. This travesty was outright cold-blooded murder! What did these dear parishioners do to this young perpetrator to merit such cruelty? These people were murdered simply because of the color of their skin!

What has our nation become? It has become a nation of violence. I’m not saying that we, as a nation, have not experienced national tragedies before, but these incidents appear to be on the rise and with more intensity. Psalms 11: 3 says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Unfortunately, the foundations in our nation are crumbling. They are being destroyed. There seems to be no moral compass, today, to guide our daily lives because as a whole, this nation has turned its back on God. Psalms 11:17 says that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” What a chilling statement!

Now, let’s get back to Dylann Roof, the 21-year old perpetrator who committed such an unthinkable atrocity. I’m sure everyone is asking how he could commit such a heinous act. This young man made it quite clear that he hated African-Americans. I am sure his deep hatred for African-Americans is as deep as Adolf Hitler’s hatred for the Jews. Hatred begins in the heart. Murder begins in the heart. This is not a skin problem. It is a SIN problem! Dylan’s problem is not skin deep. It is SIN deep! Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The next verse explains that the Lord searches our hearts. Rest assured, He knows our hearts far better than we do. We think we know our hearts, but He really knows our hearts—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We are instructed in Proverbs 4:23 to “keep our hearts with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues (or springs) of life. How do we keep our hearts? First, we must fear God. How do we fear God? Psalms 34:11-14 says “Come ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. What man is he that desireth life and loveth many days that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” We must constantly check our actions and motives to be sure they are pure and motivated by His love.

Our hearts are like gardens. You must make sure you are planting the right seed in the right soil, giving it the proper water and sunshine. Maintaining a garden requires constant vigilance, as you must prune it and care for it. Otherwise, thorns, thistles, and weeds can destroy the good plants, resulting in no lovely flowers to behold or no luscious fruit to eat. These principles also apply to our hearts. What are we allowing to grow in our hearts? If we are not walking in God’s love, if we allow hatred, bitterness and other negative emotions to creep in, then evil will manifest itself in our lives and affect everyone around us. We become defiled. Jesus explained it very well in Mark 7:21-23 when He said, “for from within, out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication murders… All these evil things come from within and defile the man.”

I perceive that some time in Dylann’s life an evil seed of bigotry was planted in his heart. He fed this bigotry, which developed into hatred, which developed into a bitter root in his heart, and he became defiled. Hebrews 12:15 admonishes us to “look diligently, lest any man fail of the grace of God: lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Again, the Word of God says in James 1:14, 15 (Amplified), “But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.” Obviously, this young man was operating in darkness (1John 2:11) and is a murderer. (1John 3:15)

When I saw the pictures of Dylann in the news media, I saw a troubled young man whose life is filled with turmoil. He is abiding in death and is a “dead man walking.” His deep hatred is a cancer in his soul, which is far deadlier than any cancer in the physical body. Radiation and chemotherapy will not cure this cancer, but redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ will destroy this disease of the soul and give him a new heart and a new life.

The victims’ families expressed their deep pain to Dylann , extending their forgiveness to him, and entreated him to repent so that he could receive Christ’s forgiveness. I pray that the love and forgiveness these families extended to him will cause his heart to open up to the love and forgiveness Jesus Christ has for him.


Teresa A. Ford is a local resident.

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