It happened again on Sunday.
A gunman opened fire during Sunday morning worship at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding dozens others.
As I thought about the tragedy that once again struck too close to home this past Sunday, I couldn’t help but question WHY this keeps happening.
WHY did 26 brothers and sisters in Christ have to die in their place of worship on Sunday morning?
WHY did one family lose NINE family members?
WHY do I find myself writing stories about lives lost too soon at the hands of evil on what feels like a weekly basis?
As I began to pray for the families, friends, community and CHURCH as a body of Christ, I realized that evil will remain in this world until the day we reach heaven. That’s a fact. And trouble will come, but we can take heart in knowing that God has already won the battles we face. He’s overcome the world, and in Him, light will shine through the darkness.
I also realized that with every passing tragedy, every heinous act of violence, the light shines bright through the people God uses for GOOD.
In Sutherland Springs, Texas, He used two men: Johnnie Langendorff and Stephen Willeford. Both of whom are being hailed as heroes this week as the nation mourns with their tight-knit community.
Stephen Willeford lives across the street from First Baptist Church and is described by his neighbor Kevin Jordan as a man who would do anything for anyone.
When he heard gunfire on Sunday morning, Willeford ran out of his house and over to the church, where he confronted the gunman, Devin Kelley, with his own rifle. Hiding behind a vehicle for cover, Willeford shot at Kelley before the shooter fled away in his vehicle.
Jordan, who watched the whole encounter from across the street says that his brave neighbor also shot through Kelley’s window as he sped off.
“If it wasn’t for him, the guy wouldn’t have stopped,” Jordan told local news.
As Willeford and the shooter exchanged gunfire outside of the church, fellow resident Johnnie Langendorff was driving by in his truck.
He stopped too for the Good Samaritan, who he says briefly explained what happened before climbing into Langendorff’s vehicle. The two strangers chased the shooter as he sped off.
Reaching speeds of 95 miles per hour, Langendorff followed the gunman into a neighboring county, where the gunman lost control of his vehicle and swerved off the highway.
Langendorff was on the phone with 911 dispatch throughout his pursuit, making sure police knew exactly where they were.
Authorities arrived on scene five minutes after the chase came to an end, and found Devin Kelley dead in his vehicle from what they believed to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Putting politics aside, I think we can all agree that Johnnie Langendorff and Stephen Willeford are heroes. Both men risked their own lives without a second thought to hunt down a man who claimed the lives of 26 members of their town.
It is hearing of these heroes and their courageous acts that brings me the slightest comfort this week, as news continues to plaster our television screens with the devastation of Sunday’s shooting.
God is good, and He uses good people to do good works even in the midst of Satan’s schemes. Let us not lose faith in the One who can fix this broken world.