|Dr Dan Crawford recently emailed a number of people he interviewed in 1999 for his March 2000 book title, Night of Tragedy, Dawning of Light: The Wedgwood Baptist Shootings. He is seeking to do a 20th anniversary update. I was honored to be contacted. Here was his question and my response.
Dr Crawford’s request–“The tentative, working title of the update is, “The Light Shines On: An Update of ‘Night of Tragedy Dawning of Light: The Wedgwood Baptist Shootings.’” The update will include the first three chapters and part of the seventh chapter of the previous book, to set the scene, followed by testimonies of those whose lives were impacted by the events of that tragic night. These are to be testimonies of the “Light”, not of the “Tragedy.” We want to present the ongoing faithfulness of God even in the midst of tragedy and its aftermath. So if you would like to share your update, here are the specifications:Your update should be 300-350 words, covering three areas: (a) one paragraph of the setting of September 15, 1999 (where you were in the building or how were you immediately impacted; (b) how God has been faithful and ever-present with you since the shooting (it’s OK to be truthful with the sharing of your difficult times, but also, and primarily, share the ongoing presence and faithfulness of God over the past twenty years; (c) a final paragraph concerning the present/future (current status and future plans).
My reply–On the night of September 15, 1999, I was in my seminary apartment because I missed my ride to Wedgwood Baptist with Shawn Brown, my neighbor and accountability partner. We had planned to attend the See You At The Pole Rally together but I was on the phone with my parents. Two days before the shooting, Shawn told me the Lord had really put a big burden on his heart to pray for me and his wife Kathy Jo because something big was coming up in our lives. I was worried about my parents because Hurricane Floyd was hitting Florida. Kathy Jo told me about the shooting and I raced to the church. I then spent hours waiting with Kathy Jo and my wife in a nurse’s station at the neighboring elementary school until Mike Holton told us Shawn had officially been killed. The following days were hard as I spoke at Shawn’s funeral and to the media on behalf of my late friend. I sought to comfort my wife and his family.Since the shooting, there have been many spiritual victories as well as devastating pain. My family has experienced tremendous spiritual warfare on all fronts. Brokenness has often been my friend and the shooting has taught me God is in control and God is good. God is not caught by surprise and He is actively conforming me into His image. I have seen how God never wastes any of the pain I have experienced since the shooting.
I am currently serving as Chief Development Officer at The Foundry Ministries in Birmingham, Alabama where we have 410 beds and serve over 1,000 meals a day. The Foundry Ministries restores hope and rebuilds the lives of the addict, the ex-inmate and the destitute through Christ-centered Rescue, Recovery and Re-Entry. God has used my brokenness from the shooting and from other devastating experiences to see them redeemed and used for His Glory. I am married with three wonderful children (Lauryn age 16, JD age 14 and Emma age 7). God has truly been good to me.
If you are interested further in my Wedgwood testimony, here is a video interview: my Wedgwood testimony for Prayer Igniters.