Voices: How should we respond to the shooting of Botham Jean?

Botham Jean at Harding University in 2014. (Photo by Jeff Montgomery, university photographer / courtesy of Harding University)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Botham Jean of Dallas—an accountant who led worship at his church in West Dallas—was shot and killed by Amber Guyger, an off-duty Dallas police officer, in his apartment Sept. 6. Guyger was charged with manslaughter.

On Sept. 13, 2018, a man of God was laid to rest after suffering a grave injustice. While the entire country finds itself in a quandary searching for answers, people of faith mourn the loss of a servant of God.

Botham Jean was a model citizen, an inspirational praise and worship leader, a hard-working and well-educated young man minding his own business, resting in his own apartment when tragedy struck. Botham Jean was the victim of an unforeseen series of events that takes place too often in our society.

His life was taken from him under very suspicious circumstances. What do we do, and what do we say? How do we minister to a hurt, broken and—in some cases—an angry community of people demanding answers?

The response of the Christian community must not be inoculated with patronizing rhetoric or partisan bluster. The “community of faith” has yet another opportunity to encourage dialogue between opposing viewpoints and perspectives, which cause us to look away from the toxic environment of division and derision in which we live.

Let us choose to be unifying agents, advocates for truth and transparency, taking the side of righteousness and resisting the temptation to run to our rose-colored corners. We are called by Christ to eradicate the bigger burden that haunts us—sin.

As a pastor, let me point you to the words of the Bible with regard to sin: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (Romans 6:12-13, ESV).

Rest, Brother Botham. Rest, and the faith community will pray for peace for all involved in this tragedy.

Rev. Dr. Michael Evans, Sr. is the senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas and is president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

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