Twenty Years of Light
In the early morning press conference of September 16, 1999, Wedgwood Baptist Church pastor Dr. Al Meredith would speak on behalf of the broken, yet hopeful members of Wedgwood Baptist Church, where on the preceding evening, a lone gunman, using 200 rounds of ammunition and a home-made pipe bomb, had killed seven and wounded seven, before taking his own life: “We will not allow the prince of darkness to overcome the God of light.” Down deep, in the center of our pain, we knew what the Old Testament prophet Micah knew: “When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me” (Micah7:8), and we testified with John, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John1:5). The original book, Night of Tragedy Dawning of Light, was a record of the tragedies and victories of Wednesday, September 15, 1999, and the days following. It was a story of ordinary people with an extraordinary God, and of a church that was found faithful. It was, above all, a story of the Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting and its aftermath—a night of tragedy, a dawning of light. When the church began to discuss plans for a twenty-year anniversary, I knew immediately, that the book must be updated. For twenty years, I had observed and participated in the painful, post-shooting days/years of Wedgwood Baptist Church, even co-authoring a book with Pastor Al Meredith for the fifth anniversary of the shooting (“One Anothering: Praying Through Challenges Together”). I had seen the good, the bad, and the ugly faces of trauma, and post trauma. I had sensed it was time for an update – told by the very people who were most closely impacted by the events of September 15, 1999. The twentieth anniversary seemed like the perfect time for such an update. So, asking God to once again, use me as an instrument, we set out to find people who needed to contribute to the book, many of whom, we had not communicated with in years. This past week-end the book, “The Light Shines On” was released, as the church remembered the events of twenty years ago. Twenty years have come and gone since that “Night of Tragedy.” While many details have faded to the back of memories, certain facts are as fresh today as they were in the days following the shooting. Some who were affected are still bitter and angry. Others are still living with questions that have not been answered to their satisfaction. The updated book focuses on the “Dawning of Light” – testimonies of those who were impacted by the shooting and the events surrounding it, and now, two decades later, wish to testify to the faithfulness of God to be ever-present, to walk with us in the light, as well as in the darkness, to be the Light in the midst of darkness. We make no attempt to ignore the negative – teen-agers who grew hardened to the Gospel, and the church; broken relationships, family issues, some even leading to divorce; job difficulties, some leading to termination; even suicide. Satan takes great pride in these negatives, but he stands a loser, and a failure in the face of the positives shared in the updated book, and the light indeed “shines on.”
While two of the three books mentioned above are now out of print, all three can be found on amazon.com. Search for the complete book titles.