When we think of the persecuted believers in China, I express my gratefulness to live in a country that allows freedom to believe and worship whatever or whoever I desire to worship. I am thankful that, unlike Christians in China, my pastor has never asked me to promise that I will defend my faith *when* the government comes to take me away to prison.

But today, I felt a little bit nervous being inside my church building. At the beginning of the service, when everyone was shaking hands and greeting one another, I walked up to Micah and asked if I could sit next to him. He never took his eyes off of his cell phone. He’d just received a text message that the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois had been shot and killed during the first morning service, with others injured.

I asked “Is this for real?” and just stood there in shock. How can this be? Why would a gunman walk into a church and open fire? You can read the story yourself here. This is a sad day in my country, in my own state when people feel threatened to express their beliefs. I would also like to express my thanks to God that my former collegiate minister who was visiting the church was not hurt.