Saturday, December 15, 2007

SHOOTINGS AFTERMATH:Murray family meets with relatives of victims

In the confines of a glass-walled room outside the sanctuary of Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, three families embraced in a powerful show of forgiveness.Just three days after a shooting rampage that left five young people dead, the families of two victims-Philip Crouse and Tiffany Johnson-put their arms around the uncle of the gunman. They shed tears, spoke, prayed and huddled in a circle, hands resting on one another's shoulders.For half an hour, they stayed inside the room, aware of cameras flashing outside the windows. Two leaders of Youth With A Mission, the missionary group with which the victims were affiliated, led them in prayer.But the families talked to one another as well. They looked one another in the eyes, held hands, comforted each other.[[[[[["Both families said, 'We forgive you. We don't hold you responsible,'" said Peter Warren, director of Youth With A Mission's Denver chapter.Pastor Phil Abeyta, uncle of shooter Matthew Murray, "broke down in tears(picture above left crying). And they prayed for him," he said.Following that gathering, the Crouse and Johnson families left the chapel for a nearby home, where Murray's parents, Ron and Loretta, were waiting. The couple was grateful for the meeting, but they weren't ready to do it in front of cameras at the church, Warren said.Again, the families prayed and wept. During the hourlong meeting, the Johnson and Crouse families offered the Murrays and their son-who killed himself during the rampage-their prayers, love and forgiveness, according a statement from the Murray family."The entire Murray family is overwhelmed by this act of Christian love and forgiveness," Abeyta said in the statement. "Matthew's parents ... are humbled beyond words and deeply grateful to the families of God's children, Tiffany Johnson and Philip Crouse, for taking this extraordinary step to begin the process of healing and reconciliation."What an incredible example of the power of God's love."]]]]]]The dramatic reconciliation was foreshadowed Wednesday morning at a memorial service for the Youth With A Mission victims at Faith Bible Chapel. There, Andy Ronchak, Tiffany's uncle, spoke to mourners."The Murray family is hurting," Ronchak said. "They did nothing wrong. There is no place for shame and condemnation for those who love Christ Jesus."He said his niece, Tiffany, would want Murray and his family to be forgiven."I just want to say to you that we feel your pain. We know you have lost along with us," Ronchak told mourners. "We pray you could lift your head high and know that Jesus is with you."In an interview after the service, Ronchak put it this way: "I just want to give them a hug, from our family to theirs. They feel so responsible as parents, and they had nothing to do with it. I hope the whole community extends (forgiveness) to the family."The idea for the meetings originated with Andy Ronchak, who phoned Warren Tuesday night.Warren said Ronchak told him: "We believe we're to extend our forgiveness for the family of Matthew Murray. We understand what they're going through. We don't feel they've done anything wrong because this was his choice, and it really breaks our heart that they're feeling this and we just want to tell them."Warren, in turn, phoned Phil Abeyta, the pastor of a Denver church, whom he described as a friend. Abeyta, in turn, called the Murrays about the offer. "They said, 'We want this,'" Warren said.Warren said the church felt comfortable allowing cameras and reporters to observe one of the meetings from outside the glass."We felt like because the whole nation and nations are involved in this story, we wanted to try and involve the media and allow media to be able to see a 'grass-roots thing.'"It came out of the families' hearts."He added that when Phil Crouse's family heard the idea, they acknowledged "anger and frustration" over the shooting, but said, "We feel the same way," about forgiving. Tom Hallas, a YWAM leader in town from Asia who participated in the meetings, called the meeting between the families "extraordinary, a very rare event.""We were able to witness a tender love and affection with great sincerity," Hallas said. "We have witnessed today what Jesus had always hoped would be realized in the lives touched by his love."Hallas said the event illustrates what Jesus summed up to his disciples: "Now I want you to go and proclaim to the world that forgiveness is available."
PS:I really praise God for sending Jesus ,the Prince of Peace,to die in the Cross of Calvary for our sins and giving us Peace and Love and the power to forgive others the same way we have been forgiven...
When we read in the news so many acts of hatred and promises of revenge and death,it is refreshing-in the spirit of this season- to hear of things like this,that truly warm your heart and set an example and is also a witness of what true practical christianity is all about.
Some-like the shooter-choose death and hell...while others,still choose life and forgiveness.

As in the days of Noah....

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