YWAM Director Describes Shooting, Forgiveness
The shooting has generated some anti-YWAM comments. Are you surprised?
No I'm not surprised. Every Christian organization has people who criticize them, but if some fringe person criticizes an organization like YWAM, that is not as significant. If you had leaders in the church like James Dobson, Jack Hayford, or Billy Graham who are critical of YWAM, that carries a lot of weight. But none of those leaders are criticizing YWAM.
How do parachurch organizations handle students differently than the local church?
The church is really separated into two parts: the local church and then the mobile church. YWAM is part of the mobile church, training people to go on to the mission field. There's a place for everyone in the church, but it's not advisable that every one go on to the mission field. That's why organizations like YWAM have to make a distinction between people who still need time to be disciples, which is the strength of the local church, and those people and those who are ready to go into more challenging circumstances overseas. If we see that someone might crumble under pressure, we have to be careful because they could do greater damage than good.
Have you changed any of your security measures since the shooting?
We are putting new doors and new locks on doors, but I don't think this could have prevented what took place. Unless we change the way we do things, which would be to not allow guests on our property. Guests come to meals and worship time. As traumatic as it is, I don't know that we could protect all of our staff and students unless we took drastic measures. Those drastic measures would take us out of ministry to people. It would be like putting metal detectors at church. It would scare people away.
What do you think will result from the shooting?
Two separate people came to me and said essentially same thing: "I believe that both Phil and Tiffany asked God to use them to make an impact on the nations of the world. This is the way that God is answering their prayer because he is going to accomplish more through their deaths than if they were still alive." God is definitely going to use this in the lives of others. There are many who will say, "Lord I'm going to take up where these ones left off."
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Recent news about the Denver shootings includes:
A religious movement with an edge | Youth With a Mission takes in just about anyone -- even an unstable young man who would later shoot and kill 4 in Colorado. (Los Angeles Times)
Slain Colo. Missionary Mourned in Minn. | Tiffany Johnson's funeral held (Associated Press)
Slain staffers inspire at YWAM graduation | 50 students look to future, share a special bond. (Rocky Mountain News)
Three families join hands in mutual grief | Meeting called dramatic example of Christian love. (Rocky Mountain News)
Bound by grief and faith | Kin of victims, gunman join in private prayer after service for missionaries. (The Denver Post)
Christianity Today's report is available in CT Liveblog, along with other news and commentary:
Wednesday's new stories on Colorado shootings | Media attention turns to gunman's internet postings and homeschooling as churches pray for healing. (December 12, 2007)
Tuesday's stories on the Colorado shootings | Developments: Shooter apparently posted diatribe, coroner rules death a suicide, churches discuss armed guards, families will unite. (December 11, 2007)
Security Guard Describes Shooting | "It was me, the gunman, and God," security guard says. (December 10, 2007)
Gunman's family asks for forgiveness as YWAM explains relationships | Murray "was briefly a student" at training center but did not complete program. (December 10, 2007)
Colorado shootings reflect big threats at big churches | Growth of megachurches has spawned an industry devoted to protecting and securing large congregations. (December 10, 2007)
Gunman "Hated Christians," Kicked out of YWAM | Man killed four at training center and megachurch. (December 10, 2007)
Reports Draw Connections Between Victims, Shooter | Sisters in New Life shooting were heavily involved with Youth With a Mission. (December 10, 2007)