Someone on the scene of the mass murder at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas said, “If this can happen here, it can happen anywhere.”
I trust that we all know this is abundantly clear. Tragedy happens anywhere and everywhere in our world today. We also understand that there is no way to provide 100 percent protection all the time. The best we can do is prepare a plan for the worst possible scenarios, but then to assure that we will not live in fear of being caught up in a terrorist attack, some guy driving his vehicle at high speed down a sidewalk, or an active shooter coming into our church, shopping mall, place of business, or school.
First Baptist Sutherland Springs is a relatively small church in a relatively small community. No one could have anticipated what occurred during the 11 a.m. worship service. We all grieve at the loss of life and pray for the families who lost dear loved ones. We pray for the injured, for the healing power of God to be upon them. As believers, we understand that evil will show its ugly face time and again until Jesus returns, and He will return, as He promised. It is looking more and more like that time is surely near.
In the meantime, what shall we do?
I will be meeting with our Georgia Baptist Mission Board leadership team to discuss ways we can assist our churches in developing security plans. Simply pretending there is no need to be concerned is no longer a valid argument. I urge all of our pastors to gather your leadership to discuss how you might best be prepared for the unexpected.
You might wish to invite your local police or sheriff’s office to join you to assist and provide direction with such things as arming the security team in your church, escape plans for the members should something occur, some kind of alarm system that alerts local authorities, and restricting backpacks, nap sacks, and similar containers from being brought into the church. Locking certain doors to restrict access during services is probably a wise thing to do. Then at unlocked entry points, it may be necessary to post security at those doorways to control access for the protection of those inside.
I want every Georgia Baptist church to take the event in Texas very seriously, especially the reality that if it can happen there, it can happen anywhere.