Friday, June 23, 2017

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As French law enforcement confront the gunman who took the lives of children and a rabbi in a Jewish school this past week, it was a reminder to all secular and religious communities alike that our schools remain "soft targets" for those who are aligned with Jihadist ideology and violent extremism. Initial reports did not confirm the motives or affiliations, but upon further review, al-Qaeda networks were apparently involved.

 

In an all too common news report these days we learned five students were shot and three killed in an apparent gun incident in Chardon, OH this week.

CEN calls on the Christian community to pray for Christians, churches, and first responders in Chardon, OH today, including their Governor who himself asked for prayer for the whole state and to pray for its own biblical readiness.

Chardon HS, unlike churches seldom with emergency plans in place, had physically and functionally practiced drills for these types of incidents. Most students, in fact, thought this was just another drill until they heard gunshots and screams. During practice drills they had been instructed to go to the nearest classroom, shut off the lights, lock the door and not use their cell phones only for text messaging to ask for help, which they did during this real incident. Students had practiced what they should do to get to a room of safety, protect from intrusion, and then to work with local first responders by not interfering with communications. They had learned that talking on the cell phones would interfere with efforts for their own safety. These students complied and may have saved lives by responding according to the school emergency operations plan. Everyone appeared to follow instructions including the parents when picking up their kids from school, they followed the sheriff in terms of orderly going in and out of the crime scene. 

According to a recent Congressional publication a Department of Homeland Security program manual indicates intelligence analysts have been instructed to monitor social network communications beyond situational awareness. The manual lists a series of categories for analysts to examine social media related to someone’s view on government policies, for example.

While CEN cannot confirm any specific reports that the information gathered by DHS through monitoring social networks has in any way expanded from situational awareness the manual of instructions do call the question: Should social media be on or off the security intelligence radar screen?

Social media is used prolifically and we recently we viewed how it was used to overthrow long standing governments and leaders who had largely rested upon authoritarian political and relational infrastructures to support their influence and control. Whereas, in the U. S. we have trusted the U.S. Constitution to protect and defend the freedoms and rights we hold dear. It is the framework and sustainable “glue” which protects and defends those same rights.

As Security officials ramp up their preparedness plans for the Super Bowl they find they are facing challenges on steroids from pickpockets to prostitution and from manhole cover explosions to bracing anything. Since this is the first Super Bowl in downtown Indianapolis the emergency operations plans are carefully reviewed for any threat to security. The Associated Press reported that the “Super Bowl poses a unique security challenge due to the volume of visitors, the 10-day length of festivities, and the square mile over which the associated events will take place.”

 

The Super Bowl reminds us once again as Christians that we also need to be ready. Our churches need to review their security operations plans. If they do not have one in place, CEN recommends they start ReadyChurch immediately to make provisions for response and continuity of ministries. 

When Moses was given the vision from God to guide the children of Israel into the Promised Land, I doubt that he also envisioned the problems he would encounter along the way.  His greatest joy was to surely know that God had made provisions for them, yet his blessing also became his biggest headache. Israel had to learn that with blessing comes responsibility.

 

Daily food from heaven was showered upon the children of Israel, and still they often grumbled. When they were told to throw out the quail from that day, they did not do so and the smell was terrible. With the blessing of food came the responsibility to follow God’s baking instructions for the Sabbath Day.  It meant unquestioned obedience. (Exodus 16).

We listened actively this past week as our friends shared with us how helpless they felt in ministering to another Christian couple whom they had known well for several years who recently lost their adopted son to suicide and their other adopted child was also struggling with anger and depression. Not realizing there was a connection between these circumstances, I was able to explain how unresolved trauma from stress and abandonment may cause an escalation of these symptoms over time.  I explained how crisis and trauma are often open doors to great healing spiritually, emotionally, mentally and even physically if they are handled in a professional and wise manner.  Christian family counseling is clearly in order for this family and the sooner they get the help they need the healthier all of their lives will become.

Sometime Christians believe that every crisis is at the core a spiritual one. While every crisis has a spiritual dimension, not every crisis is spiritual in nature. A crisis at the core may be emotional, mental or even physical in nature. Yet, all aspects, including the spiritual need to be addressed when responding to those in crisis.

While not a professional Christian counselor myself I know that seeking the wise counsel of professional counselors to guide others in crisis is often the best path.  It is why CEN supports crisis counselors like Bobbie Rill and Shirley Goodman as well as trained chaplains such as Ed Smith and Pat Hamman who will assist with these types of questions. If you know someone in crisis, or you are in crisis yourself and need a Christian perspective, you may contact them directly on the CEN site.