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Christian Authors Respond to Charleston Church Tragedy

Christian authors are responding to the shooting deaths of nine people at the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Wednesday night. Police apprehended the suspect, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in Shelby, North Carolina, today.

Zondervan author Philip Yancey, New York Times best-selling author of Christian classics including Where Is God When It Hurts?, ministered in Newtown, Connecticut, after the 2012 school shooting that shook the nation.

“Once again hatred spills out in an act of pure evil,” Yancey said of Charleston. “I pray that the people affected in Charleston will know ‘the God of all comfort.’ I have been in many places of tragedy, and the kind of close-knit community represented by the Charleston church is the key to resilience and healing.”

Author Patricia Raybon is a member of Shorter Community AME Church in Denver.

“In a broken world, I join praying people everywhere to ask the Lord’s comfort and healing for the faith family of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston,” said the author of Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace (W Publishing). “In a waiting world, may God empower the mighty work of bridging divides.”

Ken Wytsma, president of Kilns College, founder of The Justice Conference and author of The Grand Paradox: The Messiness of Life, The Mystery of God, and the Necessity of Faith(W Publishing), spoke of the tragedy as “a signal event” that calls on Americans to listen to each other.

“The news out of Charleston is a tragedy,” he said. “The lives of husbands, fathers, wives and children will never be the same as loved ones have been violently ripped from them. It is their tragedy first and foremost, and ours to grieve for them and alongside them. Secondly, it is a stark reminder that evil exists and often walks through the front door clean shaven. For communities of color in America struggling with racial violence, this digs into an open wound. For those unaffected by racial violence but full of opinions, this is a signal event to sit down. Listen. Seek to understand. And find ways to see news cycles through the eyes your brothers and sisters made in the image of God.”

Wytsma also offered a prayer on their behalf.

“Dear God, we pray for justice for the families and communities affected by this senseless act and for your love to one day liberate us from the bonds of hate still at work in this nation.”

Franklin Graham also published this statement on his Facebook page: “Our hearts go out to all the members of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, the families of the victims and the Charleston community in the wake of last night’s shooting at their Wednesday night prayer meeting. Nine lives tragically lost, including their pastor and South Carolina State Senator, Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Join me in praying for them and that the person responsible will be brought to justice quickly.”