By Rita-Sue Seaborn
I have spent most of this week in tears, often just dropping the task at hand so I could sit beneath the old oak tree in my yard, leaning over with my face in my hands and crying to the point of sobbing. Wednesday night, evil entered a little church in Charleston and murdered nine kind and gracious people worshiping there.
Nine precious lives were snuffed out by a man who was filled with hate and hopelessness. He entered a historic black church, was greeted by the congregation, and was received in love. And then, one by one, he killed nine of those people who welcomed him.
It would be easy to hate that man, hate him with a breathtakingly scary passion. Yes, it would be so easy… if not for the compassion pouring out of Charleston.
The first time I heard one family member speak of forgiveness, I cried. Another spoke of praying for the hurting family of the alleged killer, recognizing the agony of loving a child who grew into someone they didn’t recognize. In court, several families openly forgave the man who allegedly murdered nine dearly loved people and asked that he repent and give his heart to Jesus.
Churches and stadiums in South Carolina, from the coast to the mountains, have been filled with people, black and white, coming together in prayer, joining hands in unity, and holding on to each other in love.
South Carolina is hurting, and people outside our state are trying to trivialize the pain by saying us uneducated, pathetic white folks hate our poor, down-trodden black neighbors. They say slavery is alive and well in the south. They are attaching the hate of one to the hearts of many.
They are wrong.
The South Carolina man accused of this horrific crime will be held accountable in court. The families of his victims will find justice there.
Meanwhile, Charleston isn’t burning, businesses aren’t being looted and destroyed, and police aren’t patrolling the streets wearing riot gear because South Carolinians know that fires and stolen property and more hate won’t bring back their loved ones or make the pain hurt any less.
Tonight, in South Carolina, there are prayers, support and unity in the face of hate. There is forgiveness.
And there is love.
Y’all pot stirrers just sit back and watch.
This is how you face down evil. This is how you deal with hate.
I am so proud to be a South Carolinian.
My thoughts and my prayers are for the survivors of that terrible night and for the families of those who died.
I hope that each can find peace in knowing that the loving welcome this congregation gave the man who planned and carried out their murder was returned ten-fold when they were welcomed Wednesday night by their Lord and Savior when they stepped into Heaven.