As I was on my way to Church yesterday, it never occurred to me that anything was amiss. I taught a lesson on Hebrews 1:3, had some good conversations and discussion, and we went out to Red Lobster. Upon arriving at home we had phone calls from friends in Illinois telling us the news that Fred Winters had been shot.
It took a while for the shock to subside, and even then it seemed surreal. We spent the day following up on news, calling to express our concern, and discussing the events as they were revealed throughout the day. We had ministered at First Baptist Maryville for over six years, alongside Fred, supporting the ministry there in anyway we could, from hanging drywall to teaching for him on Wednesday nights, working with the video and drama ministries, teaching Sunday School and just about anything else one can imagine.
We had different philosophies of ministry, but were still able to minister together for that time until we felt the call to move to Bethel Baptist in Troy, Il- that move led us to here we are today. And now Fred is gone. That is very real. Our heartfelt prayers are going up for his family and the church family as well.
It is a un-real thing to be reading all these accounts, to see your friends and acquaintances quoted in the news, and all this from a distance. The first thing I thought of is the fact that his daughters, Alyssa and Cassidy have lost their father.
On another level, it is a deep sadness I feel for the world we live in where these kinds of things occur. People rush to defend the Lord God saying God is not responsible as if He has to be defended. Other blogs are asking why God can't restrain "people like this." Fred is with Jesus now, and that we should all be ready is a glaring fact in the light of such a tragedy.
I see they have released the name of the alleged killer. A quick search on the net reveals someone of the same name on the St. Louis Lyme disease website - an announcement of a benefit dinner to help a Terry Joe Sedlacek whose insurance was no longer paying to treatment. Todays news in the Post-Dispatch confirms this- "The man suspected of killing a pastor and injuring two others at a suburban St. Louis church on Sunday reportedly had a mental illness after Lyme disease attacked his brain."
I don't know if he knew what he was doing - there was evidence of great intentionality in what happened. 45 caliber semi- automatic magazines can hold anywhere from 7-16 rounds from what I see on the web. So I see it as a great grace from God that the gun jammed.
I also suppose it will be revealed, in time, whether the killer knew Fred, or what triggered the attack. Please pray for Cindy, Fred's wife, the kids, and also the church at Maryville. There is no telling how this will affect the ministry there, but we can all be thankful that our God is more than sufficient for the need, and that we can all rest in Jesus if we trust him in this life.