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God brings good from tragedy on church grounds

By Barbara Denman

April 5, 2013

JACKSONVILLE (FBC)—When a 28 year-old man was shot to death in the Shindler Drive Baptist Church parking lot in January, Pastor John Green believed the ensuring media coverage wanted him to focus on the issue of gun violence. Instead he presented a clear Gospel message and a promise that God can bring good from evil.

"It's why God has placed us here in this community, to reach out and be a light here with the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a community that is obviously hurting and in need," Green told the reporter. He said the church planned to minister to and comfort the family.

“Death is the consequence of sin,” he added. “We all know the effects of sin around us. The Good News of the Gospel is that Jesus overcomes sin and overcomes death through his resurrection.”

During the Florida Evangelism Conference, March 19 at North Jacksonville Baptist Church, Pastor Green introduced God’s fulfillment of that promise. Sarah, the young man’s girlfriend, had accepted Christ as her Savior through the ministry of the church and Green’s proactive sharing of the Gospel.

Immediately after the young man died, Green contacted the family, held a community prayer meeting for them to attend, and was asked to preach the victim’s funeral. Through these events, it was obvious to Green the family had no church background, not even knowing basic hymns like “Amazing Grace.” Yet that did not deter him from preaching the Gospel message at the funeral.

He distributed his card to the hurting family and asked them to call if they ever needed him.

One morning while on his way to make hospital visits, Sarah called Green and said she was on the church grounds trying to “make sense of her life.” She told him she came to that spot every day to pray.

The pastor turned around his vehicle and headed to the church for what became a divine appointment.

Sitting with her on a picnic bench on the church grounds, Green shared with her that the only thing that makes sense is the Gospel. The Bible says we are all sinners, he recalled telling her. “I’m a sinner,” he said. “Jesus Christ paid the debt of your sin.”

There, on that picnic bench, Sarah prayed to accept Christ as her Savior and has been embraced by the Shindler Drive congregation.

Sarah shared with them that she is carrying the young man’s child, which has given the church a new way to reach out to her and envelope her with love and acceptance, Green reported.

With tears in both of their eyes, Green asked Sarah to come to the platform where he prayed for her and asked those at the conference to pray for her as she makes a new life for herself and child. He said Sarah’s friends turned against her after she accepted Christ.

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