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Would You Move After a Shooting On Your Front Lawn?
Image: Courtesy of ginnerobot / flickr.com

Would You Move After a Shooting On Your Front Lawn?

How we came to answer the question in Memphis.

"Pop it! Shoot me! C'mon, shoot me!"

This is an abridged version—curse words and racial slurs removed—of a one-way conversation that took place on the first day I lived in Memphis, Tennessee.

It was Memorial Day 2009. My wife and I were unpacking the largest moving truck I could drive without a CDL. We had arrived in the Bluff City the day before with our 1-year-old daughter in tow and every remnant of our four years of marriage in North Texas crammed into a box.

We were excited and nervous about the move. It was tough to leave community in Denton, Texas (consistently ranked as one of the best small towns in America). But we felt God leading us to Memphis. We were eager to meet the challenges of this city: crime, racial divisions, and other "deal-breakers" for many of our friends.

Then it happened. Two of my neighbors started to argue, the gun was drawn, my wife ran inside, and I stood on our front porch. The neighbor to our immediate left hurled insults while slowly retreating; the man with the gun, our neighbor to our immediate right, walked forward, the muzzle of the gun held at his opponent's forehead as they both walked in awful harmony. This is how it ended up going down in my front yard.

For whatever reason, the gunman's resolve broke. He retraced his steps to a friend's car. The other neighbor continued his verbal onslaught on a man he considered a backpedaling foe.

This, of course, was a costly misevaluation of the situation.

From the passenger side of his friend's car, the gunman—who had been virtually silent throughout the whole incident—let his Glock do the talking. Stumbling through a haze of disbelief, I had just enough time to hunker down behind a stone column on my front porch as his bullets peppered my freshly acquired rental property.

The other neighbor ended up alive but wounded.

Why We Stayed

At the risk of sounding cliché, others were wounded that day. My wife, my sister-in-law, and I were unscathed but very shaken-up. We were actually more affected than we thought we'd be—more than we hoped we'd be if we were ever given the opportunity to bear up under such circumstances. We had run through this scenario in our minds, where we had much thicker skin. In reality, we were shaking. Actual bullets will do that to you, I suppose.


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Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

Lydia Wong

October 28, 2013  2:45pm

Luke 14:26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple...33So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple" I'd say that Jason has made the right commitment.

Pop Seal

October 25, 2013  8:31am

Bullet hole in roof, shell casings in the street, man hunts around houses at night, and more caused me to LEAVE NEW ORLEANS (1995) and I've never regretted it. I'd do missionary work there, but I'd not move my family back for anything.

Bobby Harrison

October 24, 2013  9:53am

If not the Seville's of the world, then who? Who will answer the call? My hurt hearts with fear for that family. But you know what, it should hurt even more for any neighbors God has put around them that don't know Christ. That is True Love. I'm chewing on John 10:11, 15:13, Romans 5:7, 1 John 3:16. And even if my heart was so hard that I couldn't allow myself to consider my neighbors there my brothers and sisters...even if, because of the bullets flying around my home, I considered them my enemies...well then we know what Jesus has to say about that: Matthew 5:43-48. Praying for you and your family, Jason. Thank you for rugged, real faith.

Teresa Ulrich

October 23, 2013  9:01pm

I moved here to Memphis three years ago, and have fallen in love with this city. This city can be so rough, but it's got so much grit and heart, and I see the Kingdom blossoming here. It is reminiscent of Jesus' words in Isaiah 61:1-3: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."

Charles Cosimano

October 23, 2013  12:09pm

In other words you are willing the risk the life of your family for this committment. Perhaps you should consider a committment of a different kind.


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