On the evening of June 17, 2015, Myra Thompson led a Wednesday night Bible study in the basement of her historic Charleston church. As a newly licensed minister, this was the first time she would lead the class. While reading a passage from Mark’s Gospel about the parable of the sower, a young man entered the room and sat down to join them. A congregant noticed he was without a Bible and handed him one. When the session was over, the group stood to dismiss with prayer. As the group recited the Lord’s Prayer, with heads bowed and eyes closed, the young visitor who had spent the last hour with the study group pulled out a legally purchased firearm and began shooting. Nine people died that night at Emanuel A.M E. Church, the victims of a hate crime by a Confederate flag waving white supremacist who hated blacks, Jews, immigrants, Muslims, Hispanics, and gays. Among the dead was Myra, her body riddled by bullets and her study notes stained with blood.
In his new release, Called to Forgive, Myra’s husband shares his grief over the loss of his wife and his subsequent choice to publicly and privately extend forgiveness to the man who wrecked so many lives that awful night in Charleston. For Rev. Anthony Thompson, the decision to forgive was not only required of him as a follower of Jesus, it was also a path toward healing. Myra’s killer did not repent for her murder. He expressed no remorse and explicitly stated he would do it again if he was given the opportunity. Still, Anthony forgave his wife’s killer – extending unilateral forgiveness to the undeserving and unrepentant. In so doing, Anthony echoed Jesus’ prayer from the cross for his own murderers, asking the Father to forgive his tormentors even as they killed him.
The Charleston shooter killed nine worshipers that summer evening at Emanuel, firing his weapon exactly seventy-seven times into the bodies of innocent men and women as they prayed together. Is such a man beyond redemption? Should a man who fires seventy-seven bullets into a Bible Study group be offered forgiveness? Anthony Thompson believes Jesus gave us the answer. When Jesus was asked how many times we should forgive those who wrong us, he cryptically replied with a number. Seventy and seven.
–Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster