Church shootings and mass killings have come home to America — just as I predicted they would.
The twin attacks in the Colorado Springs, Colo., area this weekend prove a point: If churches turn themselves into gun-free zones, they will become killing fields when Christians are the targets.
The only thing that prevented the slaughter of hundreds at the hands of 24-year-old Matthew Murray at the New Life Church Sunday was an armed volunteer security guard who took out the shooter after the shooter had killed two teenage girls in the parking lot.
Murray also is suspected of being responsible for an earlier shooting in the same area at Youth With a Mission training center in nearby Arvada, where two members of the staff were killed.
Pastor Brady Boyd, who has led the church of more than 10,000 members for only months, said the guard "is a real hero."
"When the shots were fired, she rushed toward the scene and encountered the gunman in the hallway," Boyd said. "He never got more than 50 feet into the church. She probably saved over 100 lives. He had enough ammunition on him to do a lot of damage."
There were an estimated 7,000 people on the north Colorado Springs campus of the church at the time.
Boyd said the guard had been stationed in the "rotunda" of the complex because of the shootings about 12 hours earlier at the Arvada YWAM complex. At least five others were wounded in the two attacks.
While such attacks on churches and Christian ministries are rare in America, they are not uncommon in other troubled parts of the world.
On June 23, 1978, terrorists who supported Robert Mugabe murdered nine British missionaries and four young children, including a 3-week-old baby, at the Elim Mission Station in Zimbabwe. The only British missionary at the Elim Mission Station who survived had a .38-caliber revolver.
On July 25, 1993, terrorists attacked the St. James Church in Cape Town, South Africa, during a worship service. They opened fire with automatic assault rifles and threw hand grenades between the pews. Eleven people were murdered, and more than 50 were injured. That attack, too, would have been much worse if one worshipper, Charl Van Wyk, had not been armed with a .38 Special revolver. He returned fire, and the attackers immediately fled the scene.
Van Wyk memorialized his experience in the book "Shooting Back." The book inspired a DVD documentary of the same name, released in the fall.
The message of both the book and video is simple: "Christians need to be prepared to protect themselves against such attacks," explains Van Wyk. "Policemen cannot be everywhere all the time and can generally only clean up the mess after such a tragic event. Christians must not think that justice must be ignored because of their faith. The Bible is quite clear that God has instituted civil government as the minister of justice and the church as the minister of His grace. These authorities, instituted by God, have different functions but both operate under His perfect commands found in the Bible."
Van Wyk’s book and documentary provide the most thorough and exhaustive biblical exposition on Christians’ duty to be prepared to defend themselves, their friends, fellow believers and their children from such attacks.
As American Christians find themselves threatened by such attacks today and in the future, it’s time for them to begin thinking and praying about how they should prepare.
Should the defense of the innocent be left to others? Is the defense of the faithful the sole responsibility of government? What does the Bible say about the right and duty of armed self-defense?
Thank God for that young heroine in Colorado Springs. Thank God Charl Van Wyk was armed that day in South Africa. Thank God there are responsible Christians in the world who won’t permit the slaughter of believers at the hands of a few haters.
Next time you go to church, pack your Bible … and your gun.