I live in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Yeah, that Oak Creek. The one that just made the national and international news.
My wife and I attend church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That’s about 30 miles from Oak Creek. It’s where I’m the assistant pastor, but I used to be an assistant pastor at a Bible Church just down the street from the Sikh Temple that just made the news.
We heard about the shootings right after our own service let out. One of our Kenosha friends knowing we lived in Oak Creek wanted us to know what happened right away.
At first I didn’t understand what I was being told. I thought the person telling us said “1st Seeker Church.” I could not think of a church by that name until it finally dawned on me she meant “Sikh Church” (Temple actually).
The first reports were fragments since the story wasn’t even two hours old but she knew enough to say that some people were killed by one or two gunmen.
After my first thought of “oh no, not again” was maybe it was a “copy cat” type of thing since Aurora is still on my mind. Then my thoughts turned to the church down the street, the one where I used to work at. It could have happened there is what I thought. In fact, it could have happened anywhere, a church, a Temple, a movie theater, a shopping mall, Milwaukee Area Technical College (down the road) or even at the Wisconsin State Fair an event that ended Sunday.
That’s the thing about terror and evil; it can happen anywhere, at any time, even almost in my backyard. The Sikh Temple is only two miles from our home.
One of the early reports from the Oak Creek Police Department used the terms “domestic terrorism” terms that have not yet been used in the Aurora shootings. One commentator speculated that the terms were used because the victims were Sikhs thus speculating the motive may have been religious or racial (Sikhs are from India.)
(At the time of this writing Fox just released the name of the shooter. According to Fox his name was Wade Page and he had a military background. He lived in South Milwaukee and had white supremacist tattoos.)
I confess that I know little about Sikhs and what little I know come from the days when India was part of the British Empire and Sikh soldiers were part of the British/Indian Army.
I also knew that Sikhs are not Moslems nor are they Hindus. Some Americans confuse Sikhs with Moslems because some Sikhs wear turbans.
Sikhs have a reputation for being a peaceful, monotheistic, people as well as an industrious and hard-working people.
So whether or not the Sikhs were specifically targeted strikes me as not super relevant when we speak of terrorism. Certainly, our Sikh neighbors were terrorized as was anyone else who lives in our area because people are beginning to realize that evil violence can visit at any time and in any place. Aurora proves that.
From my point of view it was a terrorist act borne our of hatred for mankind, in other words, evil.
In our culture we don’t like to use the word evil. We prefer to think that the shooter was insane, as if evil, is a mental illness, and therefore, something outside of ourselves that we can point to in order to assign blame.
According to the Christian Scriptures the problem lies within. It lies within a word many do not like to hear much less believe. The word is sin and sin is evil. All are capable of sin, although not all sin to the degree they are capable of (Rom. 3:9-19).
One woman told a reporter that what we need is help from above. Perhaps this dear lady recognized the solution but did not realize what the problem is nor that help from above already came. His name is Jesus.
The great Puritan John Owen wrote, “there is no death of sin without the death of Christ.” If sin and evil is the problem, then Christ and his triumph over sin and death is the ultimate solution.
What happened yesterday is a tragedy. Some will look to above for a solution and never realize that God has already given it, and that will be a far worse tragedy.