Truly, it is a demoralizing thing when a good person is taken from us in the act of doing good. There’s been an exhausting, heavy blanket of grief over our region ever since our Sheriff was taken by this act of senseless violence. Have I asked, “Why?” Of course I have. You probably have, too. In this quiet hamlet of Southern Appalachia, things like this just don’t happen. We may or may not ever receive answers that fully satisfy our questions about why this happened, in the natural realm. But to the born-again believer, we know that the enemy of mankind was the mastermind of this attack on our county. I say ‘on our county’ because that’s what it is. Eugene was the one ultimately who died, but this tragic sin of murder has marred us all. The devil’s intent was to take out someone doing good, and to discourage and leave in despair all others who might follow in good’s footsteps.
I don’t know how each of you felt about our elected leader personally, but please, even if you did not support him or even like him, keep an open mind to what I’m saying. If you know anything about me, you know I would be heartbroken if this had been any of our other leaders past and present too. I’m so not the political type…but that said, I AM very much aware of God’s stance on figures of authority and how we are to respect and come under authority. This man was an authority whom I respected, but also a good and trusted friend. He was a friend to our community, a schoolmate to some of you, a coach for your kids, maybe a member of your same church. Some feel as if we’ve lost a member of our family. It will take some time to mourn his loss and to heal from the gaping wound it’s left.
I beg of you, believers, please choose your words carefully no matter how full of grief or even anger that you are. The Word says that the power of life and death is in the tongue! We have an opportunity in this tragic time to declare healing and restoration over Mingo County, or we have an opportunity to pronounce curses and doom, all by what we allow ourselves to say. Just think of what you’ve heard on the streets or in groups of friends over the past few days. Perhaps you too have said things like, “This place is going to pot.” “There’s nothing here anymore but a bunch of crazies and dopeheads.” “The law will never be able to get rid of these dope dealers.” “Before you know it, we’ll be another Detroit.” If you’ve said something like this, I beg of you, repent! Ask God to annul the harmful, idle words you’ve spoken and to usher in blessing in their place. Begin speaking LIFE to our region and LIFE to Mingo County. If you’re a Christian, it’s actually even your DUTY to speak the Word instead of agreeing with the status quo. You have a good opportunity to sow seeds of peace and hope here. Set a watch upon your heart and upon your mouth!
I’m not trying to be spooky or mystical, but there is something very spiritually significant about the fact that someone in authority has been slain, not for being a tyrant or for doing something wicked, but someone who was trying to do good. As a body of believers, it is our duty to recognize the spiritual connotations and act accordingly to usher in healing and a cleansing over this bloodshed. We, as Christians, must adorn ourselves with the prayer shawl and cry out in intercession for our land. We must repent on behalf of our people for the events that have escalated into the killing of someone assigned as our leader and protector. You might say, “Why should I have to repent? I didn’t do it.” The people who are dealing drugs, taking drugs, and even those who would kill to maintain this lifestyle are not likely, in a lost state, to feel the need to cry out for forgiveness, unless the Holy Spirit conviction sways them to confess and forsake their sin—and they heed His voice. In the meantime, our land bears the curse of innocent blood spilled. As when Cain slew Abel, that blood cries out from the ground for justice. The life is in the blood; it is considered such a sacred thing that God commanded the Israelites not to consume the blood of the animals they sacrificed. Un-repented sins, such as this slaying of our Sheriff, leave innocent blood crying out for redemption. Believers have a priestly duty to initiate a cleansing of this act that stains our land and leaves us all under a scourge.
We do not want to become a place destitute, impoverished, and conquered by sin! This has always been a place where the majority of our citizens, even those who don’t go to church, are peace-loving and law-abiding. Though far from perfect, we’ve managed to stay at least one generation behind the mainstream metropolitan areas in the growth rate of criminal activity. Though we’re often joked about for being like “Mayberry USA,” it’s actually a badge of honor that we wear—this being different and to some, this being “outdated.”
I heard lines of a poem read by one of the officers in the memorial service, where the writer referred to law enforcement as a “thin blue line” dividing good and evil, wrong and right. God bless them for the role they play in securing our safety. However, we must not ever assume that a war that’s meant to be engaged in the heavenlies can be won merely in the realm of the physical. We need an angelic guard standing even in between the thin blue line and that evil! Our protectors need protected as well.
Only God can heal and restore our land and our people, but He delegates the responsibility of the spoken word to us, His children. Will you pledge to begin speaking life words over our region, our State, and our Nation? Will you counter the negative declarations with positive words of affirmation that God has His hand on this place for a special purpose? He can yet bring about good in spite of this nightmare of injustice that’s left us all reeling.
Pray with me:
Heavenly Father, we stand depleted and without words to describe the agonizing loss we feel. We ask You to do the miraculous and bring about good where the enemy meant evil. We ask healing and restoration for Eugene’s family and closest friends and coworkers, as those closest to him are no doubt feeling the pain on an unimaginably greater level. Do what we cannot, in ushering in a sense of peace in spite of the uncertainty that lies before us. We repent before You on behalf of the vile thing which has happened here among us. We repent for all acts of lawlessness that have even required men and women to stand in harm’s way to serve and protect us. We repent for grieving Your Holy Spirit by our sense of complacency. We repent for the shedding of innocent blood, and we ask You not to leave its stain upon our people and upon our place. Forgive us this unthinkable sin against You and against a fellow human being, and cause us as a people to stand before You no longer under the deluge of darkness. May our county not bear this mark as a definition of who we are; may we instead, be branded a people who fear and serve You, and who have “Zero Tolerance” for anything that offends You or that breaks the laws which keep our land peaceful and prosperous. Bring salvation and change to all those who may have in some way been responsible for what has happened; may they feel the full brunt of this grave error and come to repentance. May they make an abrupt turn toward You, that even in the process of justice, their souls’ redemption would be a testimony that gives You glory…and that our fallen brother’s life might have caused salvation to come in the face of evil. Bring justice for those who are now without a husband and father. Godly sorrow worketh repentance…not just sorrow for being caught in our sins, but Lord, bring sorrow that ushers in a change for good. You can yet redeem us as individuals and as a community. As a testimony to Your grace, may the conviction of the Holy Spirit work during this time of our grief to corral those in who have strayed from You or do not know You as their Lord. You can use even our grief to awaken the need for right change.
Help us to please you with our own attitudes about this incident; and while we pray that You will bring justice and closure, we relinquish the right to bear unforgiveness. Help us to release this into Your hands and to give You permission to right the wrongs done to this family and this county. May the aftermath of this incident come in the form of justice, due process of law, and not merely a need for us to have revenge. Only when we surrender the right to recompense to You, can we be assured that You will step in and swiftly act on our behalf. Though it’s hard, and we want to hate and feel anger when something like this happens, we still choose to please you above satisfying our own carnal desires. You know our hearts and You know our limitations, so meet us where we are; and be strong in the face of our weaknesses. We believe that even the strength to forgive, to resume living after such a devastating blow, it all comes from You. We trust You to help us in these areas, whether You bring deliverance instantaneously, or whether we must walk through it as a gradual process of releasing it into Your hands. Help our hearts to remain tender, innocent, and our vision unjaded. Help us to see the good which remains in our people and not only the evil that needs to be weeded out. We are far from a lost cause! We pull down every such notion that would suggest that we are without hope.
We ask You to help our public servants fight the war of good versus evil; and as they act in the earthly realm, we ask You to engage Your angels in a war against the spiritual wickedness in high places, the powers, the principalities, and the demonic influences that manifest the evil we see on earth. Protect our protectors, O God, and grant them Godspeed to do their jobs with integrity, for Your Word says that they do not bear the sword in vain. In times when we, the ordinary citizens, have opportunity to help our uniformed brothers and sisters in this fight to reclaim law and order in Mingo County, give us courage to do the right thing always! We ask You to save those on the force who don’t yet know You or who haven’t yet put their trust in You. And as they strive to do good and act nobly, place a special mantle of anointing on them to enforce the law with godly excellence. Give them a spirit of discernment to sense when danger is imminent; in times when they can be spared a bad incident through merely hearing and obeying Your voice, we ask that You help them to have ears to hear and eyes to see. We ask that you uncover the hidden things and to shine bright light into the corners where darkness lies and where plots against our protectors are made. We ask You to close any doors of evil that may have been opened through this taking of a life.
And Father, we ask that you will keep us all united in the fight to keep our county clean and safe. Help us to disregard political divisions of the past and present, and to honor all of those in authority over us, regardless of party affiliations and the like. Our job is to pray for them and to treat them with respect, so if we are obedient to You in this way, You will honor our faithfulness to obey. Help us all to take personally the responsibility to pray and to act nobly in obeying the laws of the land. And if we cannot help someone, help us always to purpose not to hurt him or her…beginning with our words!
Finally, Father, we appeal to You to send a revival across our region, that permeates every church and every home. May it begin with the fathers and spread to the children. May Your Spirit manifest in a way that shows how much more powerful You are than the vices of addiction, sin, pornography, adultery, and every other evil. Cause a work of renown to happen to where people will see the change in our region and that they will say, “Surely it was the hand of the Lord.” And in Jesus’ name, we reject and break the spirit of Mammon off our region! The love of money that drives drug dealers to enslave their victims, and the spirit of rebellion that causes men to call evil good and good evil, we reject them and say that they have no place in Mingo County! Set angels around our borders with flaming swords to drive back drug dealers and instigators of sinful enslavements. And those who will not fear You and live in an honorable, peaceful, law-abiding way, we ask You to move those people out of our county. May this be a place where evil trembles and cannot rest until it leaves. One can put a thousand to flight, and two can put ten thousand to flight…so raise up an army of intercessors to cover those who serve and protect us.. Your Word assures us that You will never suffer the righteous to be moved. Give our new Sheriff, Rosie, the ability to fulfill every last aspect of the good work You began in her husband.
Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord! In Jesus’ name we pray and receive strength in due time. Amen.