College Shooting Horrific but Could’ve Been Worse

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What Happened
Fall classes at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., had been in session for four days when 26-year-old Chris Harper-Mercer barged into his English class and began shooting. By the time he was done, 10 students were dead, including the killer. Another nine were injured. Many in the classroom said Harper-Mercer was singling out Christians to kill.

However, the situation might’ve been much worse had it not been for 30-year-old Chris Mintz, who rushed toward the sound of shooting when everyone else was running away.

Mintz ran into Umpqua’s Snyder Hall and tried to block the door to the classroom the shooter was in, preventing Harper-Mercer from expanding his attacks for the moment. The killer shot Mintz several times through the door. Mintz, bleeding badly, said—perhaps to the shooter, perhaps to himself—”It’s my son’s birthday.” Harper-Mercer responded by shooting him again.

Mintz was hit in the stomach, the back, his left hand and both legs. Miraculously, Harper-Mercer missed critical organs, and Mintz lived to see his 6-year-old son. He’s expected to make a complete recovery. A Go Fund Me page, designed to raise $10,000 for Mintz’s medical bills, has collected more than $730,000, and there’s an effort afoot to award him the Presidential Medal of Honor.

Meanwhile, Harper-Mercer committed suicide while engaged in a shootout with quick-responding police. The people of Roseburg, Ore., are left to mourn those who lost their lives and help in the town’s recovery. Churches around the small community held memorial services to help congregants cope and help in the healing process.

“I think our response as a church needs to be the response of Jesus, and that is to love those…to love them,” Pastor Tim Powlison of the New Life Christian Center told WBT radio. “(T)o let them know we don’t hate people. We don’t hate them.”

Talk About It
Hopefully none of us will have to deal with heartbreak of the magnitude of what happened in Roseburg, but we all will deal with tragedy. How can churches help those who are suffering? How can we as individuals help? If you personally were involved in a tragedy such as like this, how would you want people to help you?

Some involved in the shooting said Harper-Mercer was singling out Christians to kill, and evidence recovered later suggests the killer was holding a grudge against organized religion. Sometimes it takes courage to admit to being a Christian these days. Obviously most of us never have been in a situation such as, but have you ever been afraid or embarrassed to talk about your faith? When?

Many people say that Chris Mintz was a hero for what he did, but there are lots of different ways to be a hero. What’s the most heroic thing you’ve ever seen anyone do? Have you ever been somebody’s hero?

What the Bible Says
“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:4).

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13).

“But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe'” (Mark 5:36).

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

“And not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God” (Phil. 1:28).

Paul Asay has written for Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. He writes about culture for Plugged In and has published several books, including his newest, Burning Bush 2.0 (Abingdon). He lives in Colorado Springs. Check out his entertainment blog at Patheos.com/Blogs/WatchingGod or follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

About The Author

Paul Asay has written for Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. He writes about culture for Plugged In and has published several books, including his newest, Burning Bush 2.0 (Abingdon), available now. He lives in Colorado Springs. Check out his entertainment blog at Patheos.com/Blogs/WatchingGod or follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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