“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
The gunman who opened fire during Sunday service at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, TX took the life of two church members before being killed by church security team member, Jack Wilson.
Anton “Tony” Wallace, a 64-year old registered nurse and deacon of the church, was one of the victims shot and killed while serving communion. Although his daughter Tiffany Wallace claims his father’s killer was an “evil” man, she has chosen to forgive him rather than harbor hate.
“I forgive him, and it’s the hardest thing to say because it’s like, somebody killed your dad, but I forgive him,” Wallace remarked. “I’ll never forgive what he did, but I forgive him.”
John Richardson, another member of the congregation who protected his wife during the shooting, told the church to remember that the gunman was also a “creature of God.”
“I know he took some lives but we have to remember that he is a creature of God also just like we are,” Richardson expressed. “And it’s a sad thing that he had to come into the congregation and hurt people, and it’s a sad thing that we had to hurt him, but I don’t have any hate for this person.”
On the front page of the church’s website is a picture of a city with the words “Pray for West Freeway Church of Christ.” Below the image is a Scripture passage from the book of Thessalonians:
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 5:15).
The fact that Tiffany Wallace is able to forgive the gunman days after he killed her father is a demonstration of God’s grace. Without Christ’s ultimate act of forgiveness on the cross, Christians wouldn’t be able to forgive those that bring pain and heartache.
Although Tiffany will undoubtedly go through moments of weakness in which she will experience feelings of anger and hatred, her act of forgiveness is a choice despite how she feels.
While praying in the Garden, Jesus asked the Father to “let this cup pass from me” in reference to his impending crucifixion. This wasn’t a moment of weakness but rather a moment of choice. Our Savior chose to stay obedient. He chose to forgive us of our sins while also making forgiveness possible on the cross.
Our prayer for each other, whether it’s our own local church or the church across the country, should be that we remain in the cross, “forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”