What should response to arsonist be? Church leaders respond - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

What should response to arsonist be? Church leaders respond

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The arsons have those of faith stuck between a biblical rock and a hard place. Should you pray for persecution or salvation for the suspected arsonist responsible for burning down nearly a dozen East Texas churches? Or, is it okay to be angry?

"My heart just bleeds when I see God's house being destroyed," said Margaret Anderson.

"They don't understand God - what God is," said Robert Gossett.

"I may not have burned a church, but I have burned a person," said David George Montalvo, with Grace Community Church.

Montalvo says he has experienced a lot of darkness in his life.

"So, when I hear that there's someone out there breaking the law - doing bad, my heart goes out in compassion for them because I've been on that other side," said Montalvo.

"I think the first thing you probably feel is anger," said Rev. Ralph Caraway.

Caraway says that is okay.

"But, at the same time, because we love God, we're still willing to forgive that person, and hope that person receives the help that they need," he said.

"It's a difficult thing to watch that go up in flames," said Senior Pastor Doug Clark, with Grace Community Church.

In January, Grace Community Church in Athens fell victim to arson. Clark says frustration is natural, not sin.

"I don't think you go to hell for that," said Clark. "I think you go to hell without Christ."

Clark suggests believers stick to the word.

"Jesus says that we're supposed to turn the other cheek, and I believe that," said Clark.

And, Clark believes justice will prevail.

"Jesus also says the government is set-up to provide order, and so, the person should be arrested," he said.

"We should pray for those who persecute us," said Chris Hemphill.

"And, praying that even though this was a bad thing, that God could bring some good out of it," said Caraway.

In response to the recent rash of church fires, local law enforcement is beefing up patrols around area churches. But, churches are urged to staff their own security detail, and call the police immediately to report a crime or suspicious activity.

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