Omaha Shooting

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two things about the shooting last week at Westroads Mall in Omaha.

First, my uncle-in-law forwarded me a miraculous story about a family who narrowly missed being involved in the rampage at the Von Maur store, thanks to God’s intervention. And I have no reason to doubt the authenticity of this account, relayed by Breaking Christian News:

“This week, Joe Smith, a resident and pastor, living in Omaha, Nebraska, learned firsthand the value of listening to the promptings of God’s Holy Spirit. Because of his prayers for the protection of his wife and son—which he felt specifically led to pray over them on two separate occasions just a little while before the mall this week—Joe’s loved ones narrowly avoided being part of the tragedy when 19-year-old Robert Hawkins opened fire in the crowded Omaha mall.”

Joe’s Account: “[Wednesday], my wife called me at 12:00 [noon] and said, ‘Let’s meet for lunch at the Westroads Mall.’ [I thought], ‘Great, I love that teriyaki chicken from Sarku restaurant.’ The 3 of us met, my wife Gayle, my son Benjamin, and I. ‘We finished lunch at around 12:45 or so, and I had to get back to work. Before I left the mall, I pulled my wife and son to me and said, ‘I am led to pray for you both before I leave.’ We prayed, (I pleaded the blood of Jesus over them) and I left. ‘ At 1:30 the Lord had me call my wife again, and say, ‘Honey, I am troubled for you and Ben, and am praying for you both, but I am deeply troubled in my spirit for you both….’ She was going [to go] into Von Maur, to the girl’s department (on the 3rd floor of Von Maur, where just minutes later there would be a massacre), to shop for our 10 year old daughter, [but] she decided to leave the mall. ‘At 1:35 or so, she and Benjamin walked out the door (from the Von Maur side of the mall), and got in the car and left. At 1:42 the shooting started!”

Gayle’s Account: “At about 1:30, Joe called my cell and asked what we were doing, I said, ‘Still shopping,’ and he said ‘Gayle, I am really praying for you guys, I’m not sure what is up, or if it maybe has to do with the President being in town, but God has me really praying for you guys.’ I said, ‘Great, keep it up,’ not sensing any danger, any urgency, just totally enjoying my time with Ben and the joy of the season. At 1:35, I left the Younkers store heading into the mall, and glanced at my watch thinking I had time to still hit Von Maur’s girl section. ‘It was at that moment that the thought came to me that ‘you do not have time to do that, you need to go to the bank and get Jaymie from school.’ I turned to Ben and said, ‘We have got to go, we will have to do Von Maur another day, we are just out of time.’ We walked straight to the exit through the food court and stopped by the doors. I knelt down and struggled with Ben’s gloves and hat and all, he could not seem to get his fingers into his gloves properly and I felt stressed that we weren’t out the doors yet. So I told him to leave them on and I would straighten them in the car. We loaded up and pulled out, driving directly by the Von Maur store, at what must have been about 1:42, which is exactly when the shooting started….”

God is good!

The other issue related to the Omaha shooting…

The first letter to the editor in Sunday’s Omaha World-Herald was from Francie Hornstein in Oakland, CA, formerly of Omaha, commenting on the rampage. She wrote, “I was disheartened to read comments referring to the acts of Robert Hawkins as evil and cowardly…As long as mental illness is seen as evil, people will not get the treatment they need.”

Funny, those are the two exact words I used to describe Robert Hawkins’ actions last week: evil and cowardly. Ms. Hornstein goes on to advocate more mental health services, education, and support to curb future violence.

The necessary, politically correct disclaimer: Of course mental health treatment is good and helpful, and I have tremendous respect for those who commit their lives to helping those who struggle. Blah, blah, blah. But Ms. Hornstein is apparently advocating a purely therapeutic worldview that relativizes all behavior and excuses even the most heinous actions, tossing them into the “don’t-judge-a-person-because-of-his-low-self-esteem,-bad-parenting,-and-mental-health-issues-because-after-all-he’s-the-victim-here” bin.  We live in arguably the most enlightened time during human history.  We have access to information instantly, we know a great deal about the human organism and how to treat it.  But has our enlightenment brought us closer to perfection?  Nope.  Because our problem has nothing to do with treatment, education, and support.

If $265,000 worth of intervention didn’t help Robert Hawkins, then what could have?  It seems there were two options for him (besides a bloody rampage culminating with a gaping hole through his own head)–to be locked up indefinitely or to be transformed by Jesus Christ.

When we look objectively at what happened last week in Omaha–mental illness or not–we can call it for what it is: Evil. And only when we recognize the evil in our world with eyes unveiled can we begin to pray that God will do something to root out the evil among us.

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