Monday, August 26, 2013


Antoinette Tuff-- interview on 8-20-13 Atlanta's Channel 2 Action News
A remarkable news story went largely unnoticed last week.  In Decatur, GA, on August 20th, a young man barged into an elementary school armed with an AK 47 and 500 rounds of ammunition.   He, as all the school shooters before him, were not hardened trained killers, had never killed anyone, but on that day he fully intended to take as many with him as he could, all killed in a hail of bullets.  He said he’d nothing to live for.  A few articles told of the courage, and perhaps good luck they’d say, of the young black woman, Antoinette Tuff, who stopped him armed with faith and compassion alone.  Many in the national media, including the Gannett feature in our local Times Herald four days after the event { enigmatically titled “School shooter changed as teen: brother”}, carried his picture, not hers. 

oming just before the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and March on Washington, her valor should have been news headlines trumpeted far and wide.  She had lived MLK’s principle, “nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people,” prevented the disaster by believing only God’s goodness can triumph over this evil.  Please read more of this story and hear her words at Slate magazine and NPR.
For the first time in any of these tragic events, the shooter shot no one, nor did he himself die.  The African American woman who first confronted him was unarmed, a bookkeeper-receptionist, who instead of running when he told her to, stood her ground, told him he didn’t want to do this, and kept at it with him, listening and talking and praying for the words to say, for one hour—until he put down his weapons and surrendered to the police.  He’d fired his gun numerous times, but no one died.  She placed herself at risk between him and 870 children because she believed she had to, and that the shooter’s life was worth saving too. 
Her courage came from being “anchored in the Lord” something her Christian pastor had taught his congregation, about bringing Jesus with you moment to moment in times of trial.  Her courage came from faith more powerful than a gun, and when it was over, the good outcome was not hers, she said, but she “gave it all to the Lord.” 

efore we arm all administrators and teachers, as some have suggested {and laws in three states now allow} let’s recognize that a gun has never stopped a school shooter, but this woman did, by prayer and compassion.  Passing out more guns in schools just compounds the dominant teaching in our society, that the power to kill is a necessary tool that should be used responsibly, widely distributed.

Antoinette Tuff has been called lucky by some, but those are the pundits who think that prayer is only a sideline, not to be relied on to move mountains, or confront enemies.  You might praise the Lord, they’d say, but pass the ammunition.

Gospel truth confounds this worldly wisdom.  The result of faith-filled prayer is not luck.  It is the only effective weapon against evil—that stops, instead of perpetuates, the cycle of violence.

Michael Brandon Hill--shooter interrupted by grace
Illuminations by Kathy Brahney, may be enlarged in much more beautiful detail, by clicking on

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