What Satan Doesn't Know about Sutherland Springs

The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, made the international news recently when an armed gunman massacred 26 of its members, including a pregnant mother and her unborn baby. As the images of the small, wood frame church plastered my news feed, my heart sank. I, too, attend a small Baptist church. Our tiny sanctuary looks very much like Sutherland Springs’. Their tragedy could easily have been mine. 

A Facebook post from a survivor of another church shooting said what ministered most to her grieving church family were cards from fellow believers telling them they were praying for them. I Googled First Baptist Church Sutherland Texas to find the address and send a card of my own. My search produced this image:

Note the business hours in the red band: Temporarily Closed. 

Temporarily Closed. These two words speak volumes: 

Give us time to grieve, but rest assured, Satan and all your minions, we will reopen. And we will reopen stronger, wiser, and more passionate about sharing the truth for which others have died. 

This is what Satan doesn’t know – that no matter what you do to the church, you cannot make it go away. You can’t silence it. You can’t contain it. You can’t keep it from spreading, and growing, and thriving. 

For two thousand years governments have jailed members of “The Way.” Evil regimes have driven it underground. Violent dictators have “cleansed” its members. Wicked individuals have shot, bombed, torched, and slaughtered its people. Yet the church still survives. 

Better than that, it thrives

The apostles came away from their beating and imprisonment rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ. Believers throughout the ages have similarly triumphed. 

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” 2nd century church father Tertullian said as the carnage of Nero’s persecution dispersed believers to the uttermost parts of the world. 

"Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood,” said 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon. “The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die, if we are ever to conquer this world for Christ." 

The Amish Brethren of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, broadcast Christ’s message of forgiveness to the world when they forgave Charles Roberts for killing or wounding 10 school children in 2006. 

My fellow South Carolinians, the men and women of Mother Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, picked up Dillan Roof’s gauntlet challenge for a race war and threw it down instead as an opportunity to unite believers of all races and spark a revival such as the Holy City has never seen. 

And now Sutherland Springs, a tiny dot in the vast state of Texas, is proclaiming to the world that their faith, though shaken, is holding firm. 

The church's pastor, Frank Pomeroy, whose daughter, Annabelle, was one of the victims, led the Sunday service the day before his daughter’s funeral. 

"I say we choose light," Pomeroy told the mourners. "Not the darkness that the gunman did." Pomeroy said that those who died were "dancing with Jesus today," and that the attack was only a temporary setback. 

“We as Christians, will be victorious if we continue to worship our God.” 

No one witnessing their faith is untouched. "It is truly remarkable," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters after the service. "What I said when I spoke is that most of this defies our powers of comprehension, but not Pastor Pomeroy. He realized that there is a higher power that is in charge." 

"It has become a settled principle that nothing which is good and true can be destroyed by persecution,” American theologian Albert Barnes said, “but that the effect ultimately is to establish more firmly, and to spread more widely, that which it was designed to overthrow.” 

John Foxe, author of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, said, "But, though persecuting malice raged, yet the Gospel shone with resplendent brightness; and, firm as an impregnable rock, withstood the attacks of its boisterous enemies with success." 

News outlets around the globe, including USA Today, are broadcasting Pastor Pomeroy’s message of faith. “He knows that despite the grief, loss, anger and emptiness that scarred the Sutherland Springs landscape in the hours after the attack, evil has not conquered the community he has pastored for 15 years. 

 “Holding a Bible inside a giant tent where about 1,000 people of a variety of faiths came to show support, Pomeroy said no doubt has crept into his mind that in the end, human goodness will triumph.
“’I know this,’ he said, holding the Bible high with his left hand, ‘because I've read to the end of the book.’"  

Pomeroy concluded his message with these words, and they are a message for us as well: 

“Do not allow the lives that have been lost or changed to be in vain. . . . Keep on fighting. Keep on fighting.” 

Take that, Satan. We will not be silenced. Our faith will not fail. We will continue to worship the true and living God or die trying. We'll never stop telling the world Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

This is what Satan doesn't know.

I know you’ll be encouraged by this video clip of Pastor Pomeroy’s message. If you’re reading by email and can’t see the video, click HERE to watch.

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