Preaching at his 8 a.m. service today, Pastor Fred Winters was shot dead in the pulpit of First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois. According to reports, he was shot three times and other shots may have been fired had the gun not apparently jammed. The assailant then pulled a knife and injured himself and other congregants until he was forcibly subdued. No motive has yet been determined. A statement released by the church said, “Please pray for Dr. Winter’s family, our two brave members who were injured when they stopped the assailant, for the assailant himself and his family, and for our church members as they deal with this tragic loss. . . . To those who believe in the power of prayer, we covet your prayers right now.”

In the midst of all this chaos and turmoil this church has remembered and called for prayer for the assailant and his family. We need to remember this kind of action in our lives. We are not called to judge but to love others. Not just the people we like or the people that are like us or share our values and beliefs. More often the people who are the opposite of this need as much or more prayer.

This was obviously a person with problems or issues. We may never know what led him to this action and we truly don’t need to know. We simply need to lift him and his family up in prayer. Pray that he can receive the help he needs. Pray that he can open his heart and mind and find Christ through this and seek His forgiveness. Pray that his family can remain strong and supportive. That if they don’t know Christ that this event can bring them to Him. Pray for protection for them against those that may wrongly seeking revenge or redemption. Pray…

And of course pray for those present and those injured and Pastor Winters, his wife and children.

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