Lessons from Roseburg, OR
October 1, 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. The terror. Devastated families. Relatives fraught with the fear of not knowing. So many tragic deaths on the campus. A small, coastal community in absolute shock. A college drenched with the blood of lost lives.
Pastors calling and texting each other, their parishioners and their prayer chains. Ministers of the Gospel uniting together in prayer, and arriving quickly on scene to pray over the wounded and the hurting. Listening to stories. Reading Scripture with loved ones. Rushed trips to the ER at the local hospital. Relaying critical information about the missing. Coordinating funeral service locations and times among them so that as many people can attend each one as possible.
No one wants to see the first scenario. And yet, if it happens, without question WE ALL want to see the second scene… don’t we?
In November, I attended Pacific Northwest City Advance in Portland Oregon (many thanks to the generosity of a local believer who provided the trip). There we heard the testimony of seven Roseburg pastors on the stage. These gentle souls were all still hurting, as is their community, less than 60 days since the UCC tragedy. Yet, they took the time to come to Portland and stand on a stage and share the testimony that is Roseburg, Oregon.
The pastoral community in Roseburg is one that has seen incredible benefit from intentionally uniting together as one church, one Body of Christ. These pastors have made it their goal to be the Roseburg Church, not just churches in Roseburg. When crisis arrived at their doorstep, they were able to minister together to their community in so many profound ways and they were able to share Christ in such deep darkness.
Here are some quotes from the pastors that day as I sat and listened to their stories:
– “Out of the deep wounds have come the most amazing testimonies. The church in Roseburg is incited to serve, and they are saying they can NEVER go back to the way it was. These pastors you see onstage were friends, loved each other, and prayed together for years before this shooting happened.”
– “One person did something wrong that day…and everyone since then has done everything right.”
– “What we discovered we were missing is we didn’t have a lot of connections in mental health, or with elected officials, public service, etc. These pastors are now getting training on suicide prevention, they are doing ride-alongs with police, they are attending community meetings, and they are networking with others who are critical in a time of crisis.”
– “Be open to working with people of goodwill”
– “The Lord will provide opportunities to meet the needs, and then he will provide opportunities to witness and share Christ. But first we need to meet the physical needs.”
– “We’ve been telling our community that God is not mad at them. This wasn’t God. God did not do this. But He was there on that Thursday (Oct. 1). The same as He was there on that dark Friday. God loves you deeply.”
– “Jesus died for days like October 1st and also for days like Christmas Day. Your worst day and your best day, Jesus died for it all.”
– “Remember, God has birthed us behind enemy lines. Everyone knows there is sin because we have been sinned against. We can choose the father of darkness or the father of light. The father of light has the answers, the father of darkness does not.”
– “There are not 40 churches in the Roseburg area, there is one. We just all happen to pastor at different buildings.”
– “Pray for Roseburg.”
Read Psalm 133 with me (it’s only 3 verses long):
1 A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!
3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
Hear this: If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, and you believe that Christ alone has saved you from your sins: We are the Spokane Church. And unity in the Body of Christ is something that God longs for in each community! How can we read Psalm 133 and think it is to be anything less?
Unity is of the Lord, and it is both a goal and a strategy. Disunity is of Satan. And for him, it is also a goal and a strategy.
Spokane City Advance is all about bringing together the leaders of the Spokane Church – the Body of Christ – to find ways that we can work together. We need to connect Christian leaders from all walks of Spokane – Government, Health Care, Media, Business, Education, Social services, and Faith. Through this unity, we will change our community.
Will you join together with us on January 20, 2016, for Spokane City Advance? I pray that you do. Spokane needs us to be united in Christ more than ever before so that we can be a beacon of the Hope of Jesus Christ.
Help us to find a vision for reaching Spokane!
Join other Spokane-area ministry leaders in a day of visioning and strategizing around how to cooperatively reach the Spokane area with the saving Gospel of Christ! We will find unity in mission as we collaborate together to release sustained, measurable kingdom impact on the city.
Our day will be led by Tom White (Frontline Ministries from Corvallis, OR), author of The Practitioner’s Guide: Building City Gospel Movements.
The event price includes coffee, break refreshments, and lunch.
We understand not everyone can afford to attend. Full/partial scholarships may be provided at our discretion upon review of a written request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Jan. 20th, 2016
Time: 9:00am – 4:30pm
Location: Union Gospel Mission Men’s Shelter, 1224 E. Trent Ave, Spokane
(Before Dec 31) $35*
(Jan. 1 – Jan. 19) $45*
*Eventbrite fees added at checkout