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The Munich Shooting

Blog -> Family

Dear Friends,

many of you have heard about the Munich shooting that happened a few days ago. First of all, we want to say: We're safe. We are not personally affected by this. The only thing we noticed was that there were a lot of police cars speeding by near our house that night. We were wondering what was going on, where they were all going. Then a few minutes later, a friend asked us whether we are OK. So we checked the news and realized what had happened. 

The "funny" thing is that I had an appointment to look at an apartment at 5pm that day. I had an appointment at 2pm, and was on my way to the second place. But on the train I felt God didn't want me to go. So I canceled and decided to go home instead. Well, the shooting happened at around 5:50pm. The apartment wasn't directly at the crime scene. But my guess is that I would have been on my way home when it happened. Since they stopped all the trains, all public transportation,... soon after the shooting, I might have been stuck out there. Plus simply being in a public place when people are frightened, when all these rumors start going around (Even the state news gave very incorrect information in the first few hours, because most "news" were rumors coming from frightened people,...) I might have spent a night outside in total fear and confusion. So I'm so thankful that I went home before it happened, was with my family, and was able to follow the state news throughout the night. Definnitely better than looking at an apartment that God didn't want us to have anyways,...

So before I say any more, just the most important information: We're NOT personally affected by the shooting, and we do not personally know a person who is affected by the attack.

At the same time, we are not yet in any kind of position to minister to people. We were thinking of going there, I was actually very close to the place twice in the first 3 days after the shooting. But we don't even have a place to stay yet, still depending on our friends' generosity. So as much as we are called to be "out there" in such situations, we are just not yet in a position to really minister to people in person. A year from now, we probably could. (Hopefully nothing like this will happen again) But at this time of our lives, we were just not ready to really be out there and help people in such traumatic situations. So unfortunately, we weren't able to get involved yet.

But I want to share a few more thoughts from my side. These are my personal convictions, as a Christian and a Pastor-to-be that I wanted to share. Because from what I hear from people, most of us (including myself) do not respond to this event in a Godly way. 


First of all, the answer to such a terrible situation must be love, not hatred. 

What makes me sad is all the blame that I hear in the news. I'm not trying to justify the murderer. What he did was terrible, and unfortunately, he's in hell for it now. (Unless he repented last minute, which I can't imagine he did, from everything we know about him) So I'm not trying to justify or minimize anything that the person did.

BUT: The answer to all of this can not be hatred. That'll only make it worse. The answer must be love. Yes, the shooter is responsible for his actions. But he was still a child of God. God loved him, and would have forgiven him, if he had repented. He was ill and was treated for most of his life. To some extend, he was also a victim. That doesn't mean that I'm saying "He shouldn't be held responsible, because he was sick". That would be bad theology. Reality is: God has judged him already for his dead, and he'll suffer for it in hell forever. And rightly so!

But I am saying: The only possibility there was for such a young man to change the direction of his life was NOT the law, rules, regulations or education. Those are all good things. But they cannot change a person's heart. The only thing that can change such a bitter heart is love. This young man was crying out: "Nobody loves me!" or "Everybody hates me!". That doesn't justify his actions. But if we could turn back time by 1 year, look at this young man and ask the question: "What can we do with this young man so that he doesn't attack and kill innocent people in the future?" then there's only one answer: Love him!

And maybe some of us have people around us that have the same cry in their hearts. They cry out for love. And if nobody responds, maybe they will do something violent in the future as well. Maybe not running amok like this guy. But maybe they'll hurt others, curse others, destroy stuff... And if we have such a person in our lives, then there's only one way to break through that: Love! Genuine love! Without love, all the other efforts (education, law, rules,...) cannot help. Because only love can change a person's heart.

Also, can you imagine what the parents of the shooter now go through? His friends? Those classmates who teased him for his disabilities in the past? Many of those who knew the shooter personally are dealing with guilt and shame right now, wondering whether they in some small way indirectly contributed to this terrible incident. 

How could they ever overcome such self condemnation? There's only one way: Love!

So let's respond to such incidents with love, not hatred. Yes, I know this seems impossible. BUT: If we ask God to give us love for the unlovable in our lives, then He will give it to us. Because He does love the unlovable. 


Let's stop stereotyping people

Another thing that shocked me was that everybody immediately tried to put him in a box. What "kind of person" was he? The indirect message was: "Let's label him, find something bad about him, put him in that category. Because all people who fall in this category are dangerous."

First of all, this person was a German. So anybody who tries to put this guy as a "member of a dangerous group" won't really succeed, unless all Germans are now considered potential murderers. As far as the police found out, he's simply a guy working completely by himself, without anybody really supporting him.

But it saddens me that our first instinct is to find someone to blame. "Oh, he was with THAT group of people, that's why he did what he did". As if putting him together with some kind of criminal organization would make any difference. 

I feel especially sad for the refugees. Because they get blamed for everything these days. There are millions of refugees in Germany right now. 99.99% of them are living here peacefully. They already went through enough trauma, they already suffered more than we probably ever will in our whole lives. We can't simply allow ourselves to blame ALL refugees for the things that a very small minority of them does.

So let's stop categorizing people. If we really want to generalize and say "all refugees are doing bad stuff" (which is not true) then by the same logic, we would have to conclude from last Friday's incident that All Germans are capable of killing innocent children." We don't do that. Because we know that one person's crime should not be allowed to change our views on all people from a specific nation. 

So let's not do that with the refugees in our country either. (Or with any people group or organization) Yes, a small minority did things that are wrong, and they need to be held responsible for that and punished by the law for their crime. BUT: Let's not assume that ALL refugees are committing crime all the time. Or all people from "Country X". Because that's simply not true. 

And while I don't want to get into a debate on the U.S. Presidential Election in the fall: Trump did exactly this. Because of the Munich shooting (by a German), he now claims that "they (Germany and France) have been compromised by terrorism.” And then the reason for it: "It’s their own fault. Because they allowed people to come into their territory.” 

In other words: Because of the crime one GERMAN(!) citizen Trump now labels a whole undefined group of people "terrorists". He didn't define how he defines "terrorist" or anything. He just left it vague enough so that anybody he doesn't like he can label, put in that category, and simply say "You're one of them!" And that then justifies to take political measures against that person, deporting this person from the country, etc. That's just a sad attitude. 

Let's not fall into that trap. One person's crime does NOT justify us to treat other people differently who come from the same country, have a similar background or fall in a similar category!


More people die in other parts of the world

Lastly I want to say: This incident was terrible, but not the worst that happened last week. Again, I don't want to minimize what happened, or the pain that relatives and friends of victims are going through, etc. But at the same time, we need to also understand that thousands of people die in wars every week. Just because something happens in the city we live in (or in a city or country where some of our friends live) doesn't mean it's more important than if it happens on the other side of the world. Syria, Iraque, Saudi Arabia,... And then the recent attacks in France. What's happening these days is pretty terrible. 

Yes, we should take some time to think about what happened in Munich. We should suffer with those who suffer, mourn with those who mourn. As Christians, it's our responsibility to pray for those who are affected by this tragedy. 

But let's not just do that for a week and then go back to doing life like before the attack. Let's interceed for other countries as well. Let's read news, investigate, get some more information on what's happening in other parts of the world. And then we can show the same kind of love and sympathy to people who are suffering in those parts of the world that we are showing to the people of Munich today. And we can pray for those like we are praying for the people of Munich today. 

All people are equally loved by God. God wants none to perish, but all have eternal life. And we should aim to love all people who suffer, whether they suffer in an area that we have a connection to or not! Because God cares for all human beings, all over the world.


Last Friday's incident was terrible. But let's respond the right way, as the Bible teaches us to:

Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. 

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