JAX church reaches out to community after shooting victim found on property
Jan 14, 2013
By JAMES A. SMITH SR.

JACKSONVILLE (FBW) – A Jacksonville church is seeking to minister to its community after a shooting victim was found dead on its property Jan. 12.

“There’s a family that’s grieving and others in the community that are trying to make sense of what’s going on in their backyard,” John Green, pastor of Shindler Drive Baptist Church told Florida Baptist Witness on Jan. 14.

“So we’re just using it as an opportunity to minister to them,” he said, citing the biblical example of Joseph – “to take what was meant for evil and God use it for good.”

The victim, a 26-year-old male, has no connection to the church and the fact that the crime was committed on the church property is likely an “isolated thing,” Green said.

Although there were no activities going on at the church during the incident, a church janitor, who was not a witness, was on the property at the time of the shooting, he said.

Green said the victim’s mother stopped by the church office Jan. 13 and one of the pastors was able to minister to her.

Three local broadcast television networks covered the church’s response in Jan. 13 reports, Green said.

“We have viewed it as an opportunity to share the Gospel, an opportunity to share with our community the love of Christ, because our community is hurting,” he said of the media attention.

The incident is confirmation of “exactly why God has us here as a church,” Green told the Witness, recalling his Jan. 13 comments to the 400-member congregation.

“We’re to be a light in this community to share the Gospel with people that are obviously hurting, that are obviously involved in the ways of this world,” he said.

“It isn’t a time to shrink back,” Green said. “It’s a time to be emboldened even more to share the Gospel and just try to love our community with the love of Christ. I think that’s how they’re viewing us, how we’re trying to respond to it.”

The church, located on the west side of Jacksonville, is not in an area with significant crime problems, said Green, who has been pastor for three years.

A spokesman for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told WJXT Channel 4 the shooting may be drug-related, while adding that since the individuals involved likely knew each other, neighbors should not be worried.

Shindler Drive will hold its regularly scheduled Wednesday evening prayer service Jan. 16, but the congregation is making a special effort to encourage members of the community to participate “just to spend some time praying,” Green said.

“I think it’s something that we’re praying God will use to catch the attention of our neighbors and maybe led them to Him through this. We’re praying that God will use it for revival,” he added.

Green said the incident confirmed the need for the church’s future plan to build a community center in which members can have more opportunities for discipling and witnessing to children and others in the area. Church members already volunteer at a local elementary school the congregation has adopted, he noted.

The urgency of the Gospel has also been a fresh reminder resulting from the man’s death, he said.

“I think it makes our people realize that the Gospel is needed today,” he said. “That there are people who are hurting, there are people that are sick. There are people who are going through death and all sorts of trials and they need the Gospel. And I think this maybe brought it more to our attention that there’s not time to waste.”

Green said the shooting is a tragic result of the Adam’s sin going back to the very beginning of humanity.

“The consequences of sin are all around,” he said. “That’s why people need the Gospel. That’s why Jesus came is to overturn sin and overcome death and evil through His resurrection. That’s our message and that’s the hope that we have. That’s the hope our neighborhood needs.”

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