When Evil Comes Too Close to Home: the Power of Prayer

    On Thursday, June 5, a young man with a shotgun made his way onto a private college campus and started shooting. One student died and five were injured before some heroic students disarmed the gunman. I was at church that afternoon and didn’t see this news item until an alert popped up on my iPad many hours later.

    It was about 10:30 p.m. when I saw the alert. My heart sank as I thought, Not again, Lord. I opened up the app for my news reader to find out more details so I could pray, and when I saw the name of the university, I froze.

    Seattle Pacific University is a private Christian university with approximately 4,000 students. That’s not very large for a university; there were 4,000 students in my high school.

    When I saw the school name, my heart tried to claw its way out of my body.

    My youngest sister, Christina, goes to school there.

    I’m the oldest of three girls, and when I heard that someone had walked onto my sister’s campus with a shotgun and started shooting people, this was the first thought that came to mind:

    Things like that aren’t supposed to happen so close to my sisters when I’m not there to protect them.

    I’m not a super-overprotective big sister, but if someone really tries to hurt my sisters, they’d better hope I don’t find out about it—because if I do, I’m generally about as nice as an angry, hungry lion. I have a little bit of a temper (God’s working on it with me), but this time I had another reason to be scared for my little sister.

    You see, girls, although my sister goes to a Christian university, I’m pretty sure she hasn’t surrendered her life to Jesus. If she’d been shot by this young man, her eternity wouldn’t be secure.

    I called my mom to make sure my sister was okay—she was—and once I hung up, my husband gave me a hug and I started to cry. This evil came really close to home for me. Four thousand students isn’t very many, and my sister could’ve easily been at the wrong place at the wrong time and been injured or worse.

    Then the Lord gently reminded me of a narrative I’d recently read in Genesis 18-19, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    The Lord and a couple of His angels visited Abraham on their way to Sodom, where Abraham’s nephew Lot lived with his family. After a little consideration, the Lord tells Abraham what He’s about to do to the cities of the plains (Sodom and Gomorrah).

    Abraham, realizing that Lot and his family will be destroyed with the rest of the city, asks the Lord, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?” (Genesis 18:23-24)

    The Lord tells Abraham that if fifty righteous people can be found, He won’t destroy the city. So Abraham decides to press his luck and continues to ask the same question until the Lord promises that if just ten righteous people can be found in the city, He won’t destroy it for the sake of the righteous.

    When the angels enter the city, they don’t find anyone righteous, not even Lot, actually. Lot offers the townspeople his two virgin daughters to “do to them whatever you like”—not exactly a righteous compromise.

    What God reminded me of, though, was that He didn’t save Lot because Lot was righteous. God saved Lot because Abraham was righteous.

    Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived. (Genesis 19:29)

    My sister has done some risky things, and every time she does, I intercede for her and God has always protected her so that she’ll continue to have chances to turn her life over to Him.

    This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:3-4)

    Girls, do you understand the importance of praying for the people we know who aren’t saved?

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    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit for more on her work. You can also connect with her on and


    1. I’m glad your sister is safe. As someone who goes to a small Christian University, the story definitely frightens me. I have a question that kind of goes along with this story. My father does not seem to accept Christ. He doesn’t go to church, and recently I couldn’t even get him to go to hear me play cello. He also watches a lot of shows about ghost hunting and demons which worries me. What do you suggest, besides prayer?

    2. Thank you for this message, it really touched my heart ! I will pray for those students in California, however my heart goes out to your sister that she may know God. Thank God that she has a sister like you, but what if she didn’t, would her faith had been the same. I hope that you let her know that even though you know and fear God that it doesn’t give her a golden ticket to heaven. And that goes for everyone who has somebody that they know ( including me) who doesn’t know God that you continue to preach Gods word to them so that they do know God. Because this world that we live in is only temporarily and Jesus is coming back very soon.

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