Oregon Shooting: How Christians respond when tragedy strikes

by KATIE BEMB

On Thursday, October 1, nine people were murdered when a 26-year-old opened fire in a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon before killing himself in a shootout with police. Another nine people were wounded.

The latest incident at Umpqua Community College in Oregon has fallen under the spotlight over the last week as some Americans nationwide question whether a number of these victims could be considered martyrs for their Christian faith.

“He had us get up one by one and asked us what our religions were,” stated survivor Anastasia Boylan in an interview with ABC News. “The shooter said (to a victim) that he would only feel the pain for a couple of seconds and that he would be with God soon, and then he shot him.”

After Boylan had been shot in the back near her spine, she laid on the ground and pretended to be dead. She could hear everything in her surroundings as nine of those around her were killed at the hands of the killer. During the ABC interview, Boylan mentions how the 26-year-old was laughing as he was shooting his victims.

“He sounded really deranged because he said that he had been waiting to do that for a very long time, and then he laughed,” remembered Boylan.

It’s been reported that the shooter left behind a two-page “manifesto” but investigators, including the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, have not confirmed or denied speculations that the shooter targeted Christians.

The day after the Oregon shooting, Republican presidential candidate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson posted a picture of himself on Twitter and Facebook holding a piece of paper with “I Am a Christian” written on it along with an ichthus Christian symbol. Carson urged others to take similar photos and share them on social media.

As of Monday, Carson’s Friday posts had more than 1.1 million “likes” on Facebook and had been shared more than 177,000 times. The shooting in Oregon has prompted many Christians to ask what they would do if such a situation were to arise.

“I like to think that I would be able to stand strong in my faith and in any situation proclaim that I am a Christian even though it might lead to my death,” said freshman Nancy Morgan. “But I’m not sure that I would be able to knowingly go into a situation where I would probably die for my faith.”

Senior Lexi Wenz says that she would definitely say she was a Christian without a doubt.

“I would say that because, who would believe in a God that you are not willing to stand up for? My God is worth giving my life for because Jesus gave His life for me, and I would not want to betray the One who offers me unconditional love.”

A pastor whose daughter survived told his congregation on Sunday, October 4 that “violence will not have the last word” in their town. More than 100 people had gathered to hear pastor Randy Scroggins speak at New Beginnings Church of God, including his daughter 18-year-old Lacey, who cried while sitting in the front row with her mother, according to the Associated Press.

“When the shooters have the intention of weakening Christians, it becomes publicized how we as Christians are able to rely on Christ for strength,” said Morgan. “One of my favorite verses shows how we are able to give all our troubles to God and he will care for us: ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds’ James 1:2 NIV.”

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