As I write this, I am somewhat numb. Anyone who has followed my ministry for a while knows that until 2018 my family and I lived in Uvalde, Texas.
When I moved to Uvalde, I was fresh out of college. My whole life was in front of me and I was ablaze with the fire of youthful zeal and enthusiasm. I had answered the call of God to preach just a few years prior to attending college, and had served as a youth minister at a couple of churches in central and southwest Texas during and prior to college, then God called me to minister to the youth of Uvalde full time. We held youth meetings and Bible Studies there, and in the surrounding area, as well as several area-wide evangelistic meetings, from 1986 until 2018, when the LORD called us up to Michigan to start a church.
Shortly after I moved to Uvalde, my wife and I were married, and began our life together in Uvalde. Our children were all born in Uvalde, four of whom were born in the very hospital you have seen on the news the past 24 hours. I made pastoral visits to many people in that hospital.
I know the school too. As a young man just starting out and newly married, I substituted at Robb Elementary, and other Uvalde schools. As I watched the news reports, I recognized familiar places and familiar faces and I have to say it is all sort of surreal. Like it’s a bad dream.
Uvalde was our home. It is where our older children grew up. It is where I ministered to many people, both in person and as a regular contributor to The Pastor’s Column in the Uvalde Leader-News. It is where we were September 11, 2001. I offered up the first public prayer that day at the town square, where many people had gathered together to support one another in our shock, and to pray. (Some of our townspeople were in New York City that day, and one of the youth who attended our youth meetings had grown up and was at the Pentagon on business that day. People often gathered together at the town square in times of joy or sorrow.) It is where we lived when our precious daughter Sarah died in my arms at the tender age of eight years old, and I will never forget the outpouring of love, support and sympathy that the people of Uvalde showered upon us.
Uvalde is a place that I love and it is still the home of many of the people I love, and yet in the last 24 hours Uvalde has become synonymous with terror and indescribable grief. This makes me both very sad and angry.
So this will not be your average commentary regarding Uvalde.
I have heard many people comment on what happened yesterday, but have had to stop following it. I have found that I am very sensitive to people talking about what happened in Uvalde. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what happened. I have heard politicians, commentators and celebrities all talk about it as though they know what they are talking about, but they are all removed from it to a large degree, whether they realize it or not. It is not their home. But it was our home. It is a part of who we are. I can’t really explain how I am feeling, but it is real. One of our daughters is very sensitive about it as well, and has gone on a “facebook fast” because it seemed like it was the only thing people were chatting about, and it was really getting to her.
So, from a Uvaldean, let me give you my take.
Over the last few years, I have heard from several of my friends who still live in Uvalde that there is a lot more crime there than there was a few years ago. You may not be aware of it, but before this tragedy happened, Uvalde had already been featured on a couple of nationwide evening news programs over the past year and a half because of the high crime rate, and a lot of it has to do with the open borders policy. Uvalde is one of the first stops for illegals, and it is now an epidemic. Add to this the lockdowns over the past couple of years and the lack of freedom, compassion and common courtesy that has been so overwhelming to so many. It all leads to frustration and anger, and it always will. People are meant to be free, and the more people feel like caged animals who have no control over their lives whatsoever, the more this kind of thing is going to happen. I am in no way attempting to justify what happened, but I do know how people are, and what I write is true.
I do not want to hear any more political speeches regarding this tragedy. I do not want to hear people who have never been to Uvalde try to describe Uvalde. People have their opinions, but this preacher is of the opinion that all of our national woes go back to the same root problem: we have turned away from God as a people, and it is killing us. And that is not a Uvalde problem, that is a worldwide problem.
So let us turn to the Word of God, which is the source of life and light for us all, and let us see what the giver of life says is the answer to all our national woes.
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
That is our only hope. We can never set things aright. We have messed this old world up beyond our ability to set things aright. We cannot make America great again without God’s guidance and help, and we need to stop telling ourselves that we can. We need to get on our knees in humble repentance and go to the One who can, and we need to do it now.
May God help us so to do.