Roof’s strategy backfires as people come together

Published 12:59 pm Thursday, July 2, 2015

Sometimes God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes God takes that which is meant for evil and turns it into good. Sometimes this happens in the most terrible of circumstances.  Sometimes God truly works in mysterious ways.

Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white supremacist, desperately wanted to start a race war.  There are no ifs, ands or buts about his intentions because he said it out of his own mouth. Roof meant evil by trying to start a race war. However, sometimes God takes that which is meant for evil and turns it into good.

To start a race war, Roof carefully planned acts of domestic terror at a symbolic place and time. He researched the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. in detail. He knew it was a symbol of resistance to slavery and black oppression going back to 1791 and coming forward to this very time. He knew the church was connected to a massive slave revolt in 1822 led by the Rev. Denmark Vesey, a minister who helped found the Emanuel AME Church. He meant evil, but sometimes God works in mysterious ways, taking that which is meant for evil and turning it into good.

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Roof set the time to implement his plan for a race war for June 17, 2015, the same date that the Rev. Denmark Vesey-led revolt against slavery was crushed in 1822 and 35 black persons were executed. I believe that Roof calculated that this combination of symbolic place and date in conjunction with other terrible deeds would cause black people to lash out in a rage and white people to respond in even greater rage. He meant it for evil, but sometimes God takes that which is meant for evil and turns it into good.

Roof traveled over 100 miles to Charleston, S.C on that fateful Wednesday. He must have known that this church and other black churches hold Bible studies on Wednesday nights. He was welcomed into the church with open arms and sat with parishioners in Bible study for an hour. Roof said that he almost changed his mind because the people were so nice to him.

But he wanted a race war, so he murdered nine black human beings in cold blood with his .45 caliber Glock handgun, reloading five times. Six of the dead were women, and three were men. Five were ministers, and four were lay. Some were young and some were old. One was a state senator so his murder was an assassination. Roof allowed one person to live so she could tell what happened thereby increasing the likelihood of a race war. He surely meant evil by these terrible terroristic actions. However, sometimes that which is meant for evil, God turns into good.

Roof was caught the next day in North Carolina. He was turned in by a white woman.  Arrested by white officers from the town of Shelby, NC, he was treated gently, with great respect, in sharp contrast to the way too many black persons are treated by law enforcement. He meant to start a race war, and he meant it for evil. However, sometimes God turns that which is meant for evil into Good.

Roof was held on $1 million bail. I know black people who were held on $2.7 million bail when no one was killed or injured.

The police said that they would not cooperate, so they remained in jail for months on multiple million dollars bail. Dylann planned a race war to invite rage and counter rage. However, no black persons went into a rage. Instead, relatives of the persons he had so coldly murdered in their church showed up at the bail hearing and one after another said, “You have caused us great pain, but we forgive you.” Roof’s acts of terrorism were evil, but sometimes God turns evil into good.

Instead of the race war Roof intended, many blacks and whites came together in a rare spirit of unity. All condemned the acts of terrorism in their own ways and began to communicate across lines of race. This was the exact opposite of what Roof intended. Sometimes that which is meant for evil, God turns into good.

Roof was empowered by symbols, especially the Confederate flag. He intended a race war, perhaps with some fighting under the Confederate banner.

However, a powerful movement sprung up to remove his beloved Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tweeted that the Confederate flag should come down.

Gov. Nikki Haley asked the South Carolina legislature to remove the flag.

The Confederate flag-removing movement spread to Alabama, where Gov. Robert Bentley took four Confederate flags off the capitol grounds. Other states are debating the issue. Wal-Mart, Amazon, Sears, eBay, Google and other merchandise retailers stopped selling the Confederate flag. Sometimes God takes that which is meant for evil and turns it into good.

Of course, this is not the first time that God has worked in such mysterious ways. The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963 helped move this country to enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The brutal beatings on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday along with the murders of Jimmie Lee Jackson, the Rev. James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo and others helped produce the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 helped pass the Fair Housing Act four days later.

Yes, God truly works in mysterious ways, taking evil and forging good.

We can never know when a strategy will succeed or fail or, worse yet, backfire. As said so many times, the best laid plans go awry. However, when plans for evil produce good, we know that something greater than human beings is at work.