Courage wakes Admiration while Grace dances with Pain and when it is all said and done, we can say we know what it means when it’s said, “Hate lost, Love wins!”

On a beautiful, languid summer evening a small group of worshipper’s had gathered to pray, sing songs, study Scripture and rejoice in the goodness of the Lord. This was customary, it had been so at “Mother Emanuel” since 1816.

At 9:05 p.m. last Wednesday, June 17th, the Belle of South Carolina, the queen of charm in Southern Hospitality, sweet little Charleston, was shattered with the piercing sounds of sirens and the wailing screams of horrified saints.

Emanuel AME Church

Emanuel AME Church

Hate had shattered Charleston’s tranquility. At once, terror seemed to soak into the hardwood floor boards which only moments earlier had reverberated with holy hallelujahs. Calhoun Street seem to instantly fill with first responders, screaming sirens, brokenhearted families, and stunned-to-silence neighbors.

Sadly today, our culture is far too familiar with evil. We see terror, violence, intimidation, destruction, coercion, assassination, kidnapping, killing, rape, pillage and prejudice daily. Bad news fills the airwaves and takes up the most valuable real estate in printed news. The voices of negativity, hurt, dissent, and pain have taken top billing among the news stories of our land.

But as word spread through Charleston and the rest of our country, it’s what happened next that amazed the watching world. Instead of marchers vilifying the police and haters spewing their vitriolic poison; pain was met with love and hate was arrested by forgiveness’ hands. When the suspect Dylann Roof faced the families of the slain, they said “we forgive you, my family forgives you.” The granddaughter of victim Daniel Simmons Sr. said, “Although my grandfather died at the hands of hate, this is proof, everyone’s plea for your soul [speaking to Dylann], is proof that they lived in love and their legacies will live in love. So, hate won’t win.” The daughter of Ethel Lance said, “I forgive you…I’ll never be able to hold her [mother] again. But I forgive you.”

The Courage of their faith went to work against this despicable crime of hate. People from all over the world was stunned by these expressions of love and forgiveness. Lesser men with far less grievance have sought the blood and injury of “payback” from those who’ve hurt and disappointed them. But these nine precious families let love loose to work, and at once their love silenced its critic and stunned a watching world.

A CNN correspondent, broadcasting live from the center of Calhoun Street, broke down into tears on air as he saw the crowds begin to sing old Hymns. Story after story, from prayer services to far-a-way donations, from walks of honor to charity singspirations. The world is pouring into Charleston as a response of the love of these wonderful people of God.

In Deuteronomy, God instructs His people, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”   Deut. 31:6

America, we owe a debt of gratitude to the precious families of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor and Susie Jackson for showing us a testimony of the power of love and what love looks like triumphing over unimaginable evil. Their courage, boldness, faith, perseverance, and grace are reminders to all of us that God has given us His Spirit within to strengthen us for circumstances without. We see firsthand what a supernatural response looks like in the face of the most appalling evil.

Thank you precious families for inspiring all of us to pursue Jesus until we, like you, can respond like Him!

― Wendell Hutchins II

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