Get off the fence!

If you have read my blog before, you know that I am a firm believer in preparing. Unfortunately, many church leaders have the mentality that it will never happen in their church. They bury their heads in the sand, while the enemy plans to come not only to the front door, but into the sanctuary.

In John 10:10 (NIV), Jesus says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” While we have eternal life in Christ, we also have a biblical duty to protect those in our current world, who are not capable of protecting themselves. We are to be a sanctuary for those that believe or are coming to learn about the Lord. While some may be chosen to be martyrs, it is highly unlikely that God wants and entire congregation to do so.

We need to realize that evil comes into our houses of worship regularly. Whether it is a scam artist trying to get money under false pretenses, or someone the intention of coming in to kill and maim others, they are in our churches and on the property regularly. While we need to fulfill our mission in Christ by serving others and sharing the Word of God, we also need to make sure that we don’t go home to meet our Lord in an untimely matter. We need to keep being missionaries, but we should not do it in a foolish way. No matter what the mission field, whether in our home church, on the local street, a foreign land, or even in the streets of war torn country, we need to plan and prepare before we act.

I would like to share the stories I heard from other first responders after Hurricane Katrina and relate to planning and preparedness in churches. Many spontaneous volunteers decided to self-deploy to the area after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Many of those individuals did not prepare or plan, they just went. In some cases, they had six bottles of water and a few protein bars to survive on. Some just had enough gas to get to the area, with no money or plans on how to get the gas they needed to get home. Because of their lack of planning and preparedness, these people essentially became part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. While the government was trying to rescue and save hundreds of thousands, they also had to worry about feeding, housing, and transportation for tens off thousands of people who had good intentions, but they did not plan or prepare for the situation. These were often referred to as the disaster after the disaster. In my opinion, churches that do not plan and prepare for mass shooters are the disaster before the disaster.

There are those that say that if something happens, it is God’s will, that it would not happen unless God allowed it to happen. Think about Lot. God allowed the evil one to tempt Lot, but he didn’t want him to die. The same likely holds true for us in most circumstances; God will allow Satan to tempt us, but He wants us to live, and to live life abundantly in our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are still thinking about starting a program to protect the flock from evil, it’s time to get off of the fence! In James 1:8 (NIV) the Bible instructs us that “Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do”. While I am not usually one to switch from one translation to another to prove a point, I think that the Webster’s Bible translation explains this a little better. It states “A man unsettled in his opinions is unstable in all his ways.” Perhaps this should be a warning to you and your congregation to get off the fence. The time is now! Do something to protect your flock!

I feel bad about talking about this next part, but I thought I should mention it anyway. I am an avid study of the statistics of mass shootings, and I have become (unfortunately) rather good at predicting mass shootings (to a certain extent). Statistically speaking, we are nearing another mass shooting attempt in the next few weeks. Do not let these evil individuals have free reign, shut them down before they ever enter your church, school, or business! Take action! Make a plan! Get trained! Start taking those baby steps that will protect your church, and keep taking those steps until your church is hardened. Lock evil out!!!!

As I close, I wanted to say that unless another headline diverts me, I plan to get off of my soapbox, and get back to providing more tips on keeping your house of worship safe. I apologize for the last few weeks of preaching what needs to be done, but I felt led to make sure that God’s Children knew that this is not an issue that should be ignored. Until next week, I pray that the Lord keeps you safe and free from violence in your house of worship, … Mark

Are you monitoring your child/grandchild?

First let me apologize for being late with this weeks blog post. I unfortunately had to spend a few days in the hospital, and I am now playing catch-up.

I wanted to take a few minutes this week to encourage parents and grandparents to monitor their children. All too often, after an attack we hear “We didn’t see any warning signs” from the parents. After further investigation, we find out that the signs were there, but the parents were too busy trying to make a living, taking their kids to events (or some other thing), so they missed these glaring signs.

We need to make sure that we listen to our children and grandchildren regularly! We see the case of the grandmother that reported her grandson in Washington State and most likely saved a lot of lives. She found a rifle hidden in a guitar case, and then his manifesto. His grandmother was alert, and watching for signs. She did the right thing, and likely saved a lot of lives.

Having said this, we need to know what our children are doing (even adult children). Who they are hanging out with? What are they posting on social media? Are they fascinated with guns or death? Of course, this is just the starting point, and there is much more that we need to be aware of.

Some say that this is an invasion of their privacy. Well, perhaps it is, but isn’t it our responsibility to ensure our children and family members are mentally and physically well? Shouldn’t we watch them and guide them so they do not get into trouble? Isn’t it our responsibility?

Beyond keeping our children from getting into trouble, we need to make sure all is well with them. In today’s world, our children can be bullied, and now it doesn’t even have to happen face-to-face. Cyber bullying and other types of bullying can lead children and young adults to commit suicide. Some have even suggested that it can cause them to become violent revenge killers. Being aware could save their life, or others lives.

We also need to make sure that our children are not suffering from depression. Sometimes, just the shear stress of being a teenager can cause a mental breakdown. Only those parents that are involved with their children will be able to see problems, especially if the child is trying to hide it from their parents.

We also need to realize that some children, young adults, and even older adults, can lose control if they feel unwanted. This is especially true if they feel unwanted by the opposite sex. Several male mass shooters have spoken (either on their manifesto or on camera) that the girls that have ignored them will pay. Others mass shooters were going through (or had recently gone through) a divorce or split. We need to make sure that friends, family, and our children are safe, and that they are not on the verge of committing a horrible and senseless crime or even killing only themselves.

Finally, I wanted to talk about the consequences of not identifying these behaviors prior to someone acting out. I am fairly certain that most of us could not forgive ourselves if we missed certain common signs, and family members or our children killed people. Even if they do not act, but just talk about acting on the impulse, it can ruin an entire family’s life. If you watch the video below, you can see how the actions of one had unintended  consequences for the entire family.

I hope that you will not forget what was said in this week’s blog. We can stop some of these acts of violence by being aware of what our children, grandchildren, and other family members are doing. If it appears they may be heading down the wrong road, do not hesitate to call the police. While it may be difficult to turn our own flesh and blood in, how much more difficult would it be to know you could have stopped them from doing something, and you didn’t! Until next week, please make sure you are vigilant, … Mark

Warning signs

As more details emerge from the Florida school shooting, many people feel outraged. Many signs were missed, and many of them were glaring red flags. All that was needed was for someone, anyone, to put two and two together, and then come up with the answer of four. I will not play Monday morning quarterback by second guessing potential failures of any agency, but I will point out missed signs that could have prevented this tragedy.

Whether you believe CNN delivers fake news or not, many will admit that when it comes to mass shootings, their investigative team is top notch. In fact, it makes an individual wonder what others, even law enforcement, can learn from them. I will be posting many links to CNN and their investigative reports in today’s blog, as well as CBS.

As most of you already know, I refuse to give glory to mass shooters, in order to help prevent another mass shooting. For that reason, this shooter will only be referred to as “Florida (FL) Shooter” or “the eventual shooter”.

Troubled childhood

CNN reported that a neighbor saw a troubling signs from the FL shooter, even at a young age. From the age of nine years old, she saw the FL shooter had a dark side. That dark side included killing animals for fun, hitting other children for no reason, and much more. According to friends and neighbors, as the boy grew, so did his dark side.

At a party the neighbor once had, the Florida shooter (still a young boy at the age of 10 or so) spilled a drink on his lap. When the other children teased him by saying it looked like he wet his pants, the boy locked himself in the neighbors bedroom, and destroyed a train set. He was easily provoked into violent behavior, even at that young age.

Also at 10 years old, the eventual shooter threw a rock at the neighbors son, and hit him in the eye, on purpose. She described how the FL shooter had so much rage, that his bedroom walls were filled with holes from his violent outbursts, and this was confirmed by other neighbors as well. As a middle school student, the FL shooter made weapons and killed toads, then pulled them apart or dissected them. He also used his BB gun and other weapons to kill small animals. While this in itself is somewhat normal for young boys, this eventual shooter was took it to the extreme, killing multiple animals in one day and gloating about it.

This same neighbor described how when her dog had a seizure, he stood over the dog that was violently twitching and foaming at the mouth, and watched with excitement. It was obvious that he was enjoying being able to watch this animal suffer, but his demeanor changed when he realized he (himself) was being watched.

As the boy grew older, multiple neighbors recalled seeing the police called, usually for conflicts with his mother.  There were reports of hitting doors with pool equipment, multiple violent outbursts, punching walls, and throwing objects. One neighbor stated she would see the police holding the eventual shooter in the back of a squad car, while they investigated. Both the shooter and his mother would always blame others for the troubles he had. Of course, all of these signs are red flags.

In 2016, the neighbor notified police about the shooters Instagram account. He was posting pictures if an AR-15, stating that he couldn’t wait to be old enough to purchase the weapon. He also posted (around that same time) that he “wanted to shoot up the school”.  He soon began to post and disturbing pictures of himself in tactical gear, holding multiple guns, or even holding menacing knives.

The two years prior to the mass shooting

Multiple warning signs were present in the two years before the mass shooting. CNN reported multiple signs were seen, but not acted on. On February 5th of 2016, the police were told that the eventual shooter planned to commit a school shooting. After an investigation by police, it was determined that the eventual shooter only had knives and BB guns, so he was not recognized as a threat, even though he made specific threats.

Over the period of a year, the FL shooter gathered a collection of firearms. From what information is available, it appears that all seven of the firearms he collected in a year were rifles.

In September of 2017, the eventual shooter would tell a video web-blogger that he was going to be a professional school shooter. The incident was reported, but no action was taken. Also in September,  according to CBS news the Department of Child and Family services visited the shooter and his mother. The mother was suspected of medical neglect, because the FL shooter had depression, ADHD, was a self-cutter, and he reportedly had autism.  They started the investigation because of a report that he was not being taken to a doctor or psychologist for treatment of these ailments. These are more red flags that were missed.

In November of 2017, shortly after his mothers death, a relative reported that the eventual shooter had rifles, and that she felt he was unstable. A friend of the eventual shooter agreed to take the rifles, and to keep them safe for the eventual shooter. Later in November of 2017, someone that the eventual shooter lived with, reported that they had a no gun policy in their house, and they believed that the shooter had hidden a gun (or guns) in their back yard.  No weapons were found by law enforcement. Just four days after the previous incident, police were notified about a fight between the eventual shooter and the son of the people he lived with. In that confrontation, the FL shooter threatened to shoot the son. When they arrived, the mother reported that the FL shooter had bought a gun and “tons of ammo”. She also reported that the FL shooter had put a gun to someones head in the past. These reports, once again, reveals an abnormal fascination with guns.

Just a few days after the last report, still in November of 2017, the FL shooter was forced to move from where he lived, to another house (presumably because the other family worried about their, and their sons, safety). Again, a different person called authorities about the eventual shooter. The caller warned that the FL shooter was collecting guns and knives, and that he had made threats about killing himself, which is a serious warning sign. In that same phone call, the caller also suggested that they felt he could become a “school shooter”. If someone makes these comments about another, it becomes a red flag; especially when they felt he had the ability to become a school shooter.

In January of 2018, another caller talked with authorities. The said that they felt compelled to call because the FL shooter had been portraying erratic behavior, as well as disturbing social media posts, that he had purchased multiple guns, and that he had expressed a credible desire to kill people. Again, these are serious warning signs.

One of the few friends of the eventual shooter stated that FL shooter had a dark humor. While the friend had not seen the shooter in a few months, he stated that regular topics they would talk about included guns, ISIS, shooting up the school, and other similar disturbing discussions. The friend shared nothing with anyone, even though there were warning signs.

Conclusion

These multiple warning signs are just from one incident. Ironically, many of these signs are present in almost every other active/mass shooting incident, long before the shooter acts. As a warning, these signs should always be reported, and if they are not taken seriously, then make more phone calls. Don’t miss the signs, and don’t expect someone else to call!, … Mark

Florida School Shooting

I have refrained from publishing on the Florida school shooting until today. The reason; I didn’t want to be part of the problem by feeding the frenzy. Truth be told, I came close to predicting a mass shooting incident last week in this blog, but ultimately decided not to (after talking to my wife), because we thought it might seem as if I had inside information. Mark my words, another is coming in the next two to three weeks.

To be honest, I don’t know if I have become accustomed to the timeline of when a mass shooting will happen, or if the Holy Spirit prompts me that one will happen, or some combination of both. No matter what the reason, I had a feeling at least 18 hours in advance of the actual incident, and that disturbs me.

When I began listening to the news stories, I become angry: As Ephesians 4 tells us, as a Christian, I can be angry providing I did not sin in the process. I honestly don’t know if I sinned or not, but I pray I didn’t. My anger was directed at the shooter for committing this horrible mass killing, and it was directed at the FBI as well as local law enforcement for missing the glaring signs.

In all, the FBI has missed the signs or failed to act numerous times. We only need to look at the graphic below to see some of the mass killers that they have missed in recent years.

Not only did the FBI miss the warning signs, but so did local law enforcement. Reports from many different media sources state that local law enforcement was called to the shooters home at least 10 times, with some reporting as many as 20 times over the last few years. They had contact, why didn’t they see the warning signs?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to play Monday morning quarterback. What I am most angry about is that information is not shared, profiles of mass shooters are not disseminated, and many (including law enforcement) are not trained in what they should look for. There needs to be a basic awareness of what characteristics need to be identified, and more specifically scrutinized to determine the risk that an individual may pose. At least if they knew what they were looking for, they could request a 72-hour mental health evaluation, and potentially identify the threat they pose before an incident.

In the last few days, I have been swamped with work on mass shooters. One of the projects I have been working on is an online class to help law enforcement see the signs and to intervene before an incident ever happens. While looking for data, research, and videos for my students to watch, I came across a VERY interesting video. It was a TedX video presented by  Bernice Pescosolido in Bloomington Indiana. Please watch this video, it may help you prevent the next mass killer!

As I go back to Ephesians 4, I looked at what I was truly angry about. I was angry because many people knew what the warning signs were, and they either didn’t share them and/or they didn’t share that this shooter had those warning signs. I was angry because we are not educating people on what to look for. When they do know what to look for, and they report it, it can be mishandled by those that are supposed to protect us. There is a total breakdown in the system.

I am doing my part to prevent this from happening in the future, but I also encourage you to do the same. I encourage you to read the blog posted on November 18th. At the end of that blog, I posted a list of warning signs. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, share this information so we can save lives together. If we save these lives now, we may be able to save someones soul later. Until next time, … Mark

Verses that support security at the church

Day by day, we try to live the life that God wants us to live. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that this means we should be pacifists. They believe God will take care of us, which he will, but we must also do our part! We must protect God’s children! I believe it is biblical, and today, I want to help you to lay out a case for protecting your flock in your home church.

Many years ago, I had an older Pastor say to me “You know, Jesus told us if someone smacks you on the cheek, we should turn the other cheek, but he didn’t say what to do if they hit that other cheek.” While this is not may not be a biblical defense on judgement day (for defending yourself), there are versus that lead us to believe that self-defense is acceptable to our Lord.

If we look at Exodus 22:2-3, we see:

(2) If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; (3) but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.”.

So does this mean we can only defend ourselves at night? To the contrary, God wants us to protect ourselves and others all the time. If we look at Romans 13:4 we see:

(4)For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

I don’t want this taken out of context, so I should mention that this was not written about our ability to defend ourselves, but rather the government defending us. Essentially, I see this as to the modern day equivalent of law enforcement. However, this brings to mind the question the authorities that we have appointed in the church. Does God look on our security teams? I think that this is answered in Psalms 82:3-4:

(3) Defend the weak and the fatherless;
    uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. (4) Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

We are charged with protecting the fatherless, the weak, and those that are poor. We are to deliver them from the wicked. Wouldn’t this be a church security team in our churches? Similarly, if we look at Proverbs 24:11-12 it says:

(11) Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter. (12) If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?

We are called to step in when others are being led away to death, and from my understanding of these verses, we will be judged for not doing so. I believe this says that security teams are not only acceptable, but required. If evil invades our sanctuary, and our congregants are being slaughtered, aren’t we called to stop them from being killed? If we look at Proverbs 22:3 , it says:

(3)The prudent see danger and take refuge,
    but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

Interesting! So God calls us to take refuge from danger. What if we are taking refuge in our houses of worship? I believe Nehemiah 4: 7-8 describes how we (as a church and a religion) should defend ourselves.

(7) But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. (8) They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

They posted guards? Hello! This is a security team! I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. If you also believe this, ask yourself why God would leave this passage and the entire story in scripture. If we read further into Nehemiah 4, we see how they prepared.

(16) From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah (17) who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, (18) and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.

(19)Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. (20) Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!”

(21) So we continued the work with half the men holding spears, from the first light of dawn till the stars came out. (22) At that time I also said to the people, “Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day.” (23) Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water.

Again, God shows that we sometimes have to protect our people, and they didn’t hire someone else to protect them, they protected themselves. While I could provide a substantial amount of information from the Bible that supports protecting our churches, I fear that this blog post would be entirely too long! We could look at Jude 1:23. or even Jeremiah 22:3,  but I will let you see the versus and the context for yourself.

To close out this week’s blog, if we were not supposed to protect the flock, why would have Jesus said in John 15:

(12) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (13) Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (14) You are my friends if you do what I command.

Until next week, … Mark

Never enough information!

On Monday, I attended a Sheepdog training seminar in Peoria IL. Some of you may be wondering why someone who has tens of thousands of hours of research over 14 years would go see a competitors seminar.

Well, let’s start of with the word competitor. In our business, we are not competitors, or at least we shouldn’t be. We are missionaries looking for the same end, protecting the flock. We should be working together, just like multiple Pastors work together to save souls.

How true is this? While there, I talked with Jimmy Meeks, and when he realized who I was, he asked me if I had enough business cards to hand them out to everyone (I believe the final count was 402 people). Notice he didn’t revert back into a hole and try to be defensive, he wanted me to be active in teaching the principles to save peoples lives. Those of us that are in this for the right reason want to work together to protect God’s Children. You can see some of what Jimmy teaches and preaches by watching this video.

The second thing that I want to point out, I went there to gain more knowledge! Maybe they were teaching something new, something that I was not aware of, something that could save a life! I learned several things, but what was most telling to me were the actual testimonies, such as the one by Carl Chinn.

Carl was involved with two incidents, at two separate venues. The first incident in 1996 was a mentally disturbed gunman, who brought a bomb and firearms into Focus on the Family ministry. Carl and two woman were held hostage for hours. The second incident occurred in 2007, at New Life Church in Colorado Springs CO.  A gunman who had killed two people at a ministry the day before, waited until hired law enforcement left the church, then he began killing people. He started in the parking lot, and then worked his way inside. Carl talked about the way chunks of concrete pillars seemed to explode from the gunman’s shots, and how Jeanne Assam was in the right place at the right time, and she shot the perpetrator. Here is a brief video of Carl being interviewed about this incident. Carl is an advocate of tactical training for church security teams.

I should point out that Saving Lives and Souls does not advocate for, or against, using firearms to protect the church. We do however believe that that the right type of firearm in the hands of a well trained individual can save lives in the event of a church shooting. The decision is ultimately up to the church.

The third and final speaker was Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman. Dave talked about preparing yourself bulletproofing your mind. Dave, who has a graduate degree in Psychology, spoke about the mindset we need to have. Dave told many stories and provided a lot of information. One my favorite stories he shared was about World War two, and can be seen in this video.

In the end, I walked away with more knowledge about how to protect the flock. That is the reason I went to this and will go to other seminars. You can never have too much knowledge when it comes to protecting God’s flock. That is why we all encourage you to attend more than one training on protecting the church. I also invite you to look at materials that these men of God offer. Don’t forget the tourniquet, which can save lives! Until next week, … Mark

 

Another Active Shooter Last Week

We saw last week that an active shooter, a 15-year-old boy, caused more death and destruction in a school in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky State Police, the teachers and several students had recently undergone active shooter training. Unfortunately, it does not appear as if the entire school received the training.

Looking at this from my perspective, the lack of training to every student is a downfall in many school (and church) active shooter plans. Every person should be trained in what to do when an active shooter (or bomber) makes it to the parking lot or crosses the threshold of the doors. If one person does not know what to do, they become more vulnerable than those that have had the training.

It is for this reason that I implore churches and schools to make plans, to train everyone, and to practice that plan. The more it is trained and practiced, the more likely that those involved will not only act, but they will take the proper actions that will save not only themselves, but others too.
I think I hear some voices out there saying “We have layered security and a security team: Do we really need to disturb people with what to do, and then practice it?” The answer is YES you do! Why? When you practice something, you build up muscle memory and brain memory. If you have trained their brains and muscles to do something under calm conditions, it is more likely that they will do the right thing when trouble comes through the doors. Secondly, are you 100% confident that your layered security and security team can keep a shooter or bomber outside? I have known some of the best public safety officers and soldiers that have been surprised by active shooters and bombers! What makes you think that your team is superior to all active shooters or bombers?

The same principles we teach for churches, can be used in schools. Let me plainly state that if you do not prepare for an active shooter or bomber, and revisit your plans regularly, you are setting yourself (and all those you protect) up for failure. Do you want the next headline to be “20 dead, 18 Injured in Church Shooting” or do you want it to be “Would be Shooter Taken Down and Detained Before Hurting Anyone”? The decision is yours, and complacency and/or procrastination will not help you if, and when, the time comes, … Mark

What will it take??????

Over the years of teaching how to prevent and survive active shooters in houses of worship, the one thing I have noticed is that many churches do not want to prepare. They take a haphazard or complacent response to protecting the church. I have heard a myriad of reasons, with almost all of them being what I consider “bad excuses”. This has led me to wonder “What it will take for them to understand the importance of protecting their flock?”

Historically, scholars and public safety has seen if it happens in the rest of the world, it eventually comes to the United States. We have seen terror attacks in various places, especially Middle Eastern countries, and we say, “That’s horrible” or “What a shame”, only for it to happen on U.S. soil a year or two later.

We only need to think about the car and knife attacks that started in Middle Eastern countries, then it moved to France and England, only to eventually come to fruition in the United States a year or so later. If we think about it, we saw the terror attacks in foreign countries in the 1990’s, and then we saw these attacks come to fruition on September 11, 2001. Looking at this from a historical perspective, it doesn’t even need to be the same type of perpetrator. We have seen the same types of attacks come from radical Muslims, eco-terrorists, domestic terrorists (think Timothy McVeigh), and people that have evil in their heart.

ISIL inspired attacks cut the throat of a French Priest, bombings in Egyptian Mosques and Nigerian Mosques soon led to the bombing of a Minnesota Mosque and the church shooting in Texas. The perpetrators of these crimes were not from the same religion, or even have the same beliefs. Their hearts are hard, and they want to cause death and destruction. It sounds like Satan’s plan to me. As a professional in emergency management and homeland security, I often say “As it happens in the rest of the world, so will it happen in our country.”

Whether it is a mental issue, or a heart filled with evil, our places of worship are under attack! In looking at Carl Chinn’s deadly force statistics (in houses of worship), it is easy to see that deadly force incidents are on the rise. In 1999, there were 22 deaths reported in churches from a deadly incident, and in 2000, there were nine, followed by four in 2001. The number of deadly force statistics stayed under 50 deaths in churches per year, until 2008. Since 2008, we have seen a steady incline in deaths in church at the hands of others. The year 2017 was the deadliest ever recorded, at 177 deaths occurring at houses of worship. Since 1999, there have been 477 deaths that have occurred in houses of worship, stemming from 1691 total potentially deadly force incidents.

So, I ask you, what is it going to take to get your church to prepare? We have scriptural mandates to protect our flocks. We have seen a huge increase in deaths in houses of worship. We have seen mass killings in churches. We have seen mass bombings in houses of worship, in other countries (Prediction: coming soon to the U.S. like never seen before). Is it going to take a shooting or bombing at a church in your state? Perhaps it will take a shooting or bombing in your county? Of course, there are some that will wait until it comes to their doorstep! I tend to believe that there are those that won’t even take action then!

Many stand on “God will take care of us”. God does take care of His children, but He also expects us to help Him. If we are to rely solely on God’s protection, then why does Nehemiah 4:15-16 say: “When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to his own work. From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah.”

Similarly, in Acts 20:28-30, we are told “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.”

Even Jesus provided guidance that we may need to protect ourselves. In Luke 22:36 Jesus spoke to his disciples “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

These are but a few verses that support protecting Gods people and the church. Think of all the words of David about how God prepared him to prevail against those that would attack Israel. Think of all the times God the Father helped his people prepare for war. Make no mistake, this is a war. This is Satan’s assault on the church, and he has changed it from a spiritual war to a combination of a spiritual and physical war. Food for thought, … how many people do you think have quit attending church because of the recent violence against churches? This is part of Satan’s plan!

People, I am shouting from the mountain top, as are many of my colleagues who teach church safety! I beg you, start preparing! I also beg you to look at the statistics that Carl provides. They can be very eye opening! Pastors, individuals in public safety, and the general public are begging for church protection. PLEASE, quit being complacent and do something! … Mark

Personal thoughts-Cleo Warnick

I asked my wife to write down her personal thoughts about filming the active shooter video we are producing. I have also asked others to do the same, so you will likely see more of these in the near future. I find it amazing that even though this was a bunch of simulated scenes, with specific breaks between shots, it still brought about some serious emotions. Please ponder this account, and enjoy it, … Mark

Cleo Warnick’s thoughts and feelings-

As the day of videotaping began, I tried to bring myself back mentally to the days of secondary school drama club when I tried to imagine to be in a real situation we were about to act in.  There, the similarities between the two end.  On the day of filming, we were about to try and show what may happen, how we may feel and react, based on being unprepared and uninformed on what to do or expect, while hoping to maintain some safety…

…It seemed like a normal day as part of the congregation; a few greetings were exchanged; a little light-heartedness in quick chats before settling into the pews.  Everything was as it usually is.  Aware that cameras were already rolling, it occurred to me this sameness was how many disastrous and tragic days often begin when an active shooter situation occurs.  Empathy for those who have suffered a active shooter or bomber situation engulfed my thoughts.  Unremarkable, indistinct beginnings of a day, can turn to horror and terror at the blink of an eye, lives never to be the same, or worse, lost.

While listening to the opening of the morning’s messages, I felt vulnerable, because I clearly knew why we were all gathered.  The speaker continued, and we listened to his words. It was a pleasant day, and the weather was good.  Good friends had joined us, which is always a blessing.  Suddenly, a commotion broke behind me and was increasing; I, in the middle pews, I became aware of an individual storming past me down the narrow aisle towards the pastor, strangely holding his arm up with something in his hand!

Shock; disbelief; unreal; people screaming.  What do I do? What do I do? In church; he has a gun! Everyone was scattering in different directions.  Do we try to get out?  We are helpless.  Fear; overwhelming fear was my primary response. I told myself that I needed to remove myself, yet I felt frozen to the spot. Not asleep. This is my worst nightmare.

Okay, cut!

Dr. Warnick who was directing, stopped us and explained all that we could have done to lessen the impact of this individual on the church, and its people.  We needed to work together, identify our available resources, and have select people be prepared in the ways he suggested.  We needed to be more vigilant, or observant, of unusual behavior, and its implications.  Dr. W surprised us by showing us how many ways to exit, and made me realize the importance of uniting in our efforts to prepare ourselves and in so doing, strengthen our defenses.  There are actions people can take, as opposed to being sitting frozen to the spot, that can help them and others stand a greater chance of survival.  To be honest, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought about crawling under the pews for protection, or as a way to escape.

Someone knowledgeable in emergency preparedness can work with the regulars to pinpoint all that can be done with greater safety, in the face of adversity to facilitate a better outcome.  We can understand inner turmoil and horror while witnessing horrible events, but would we not sooner have had some training and instruction on improving the situation?

An example is where we would not go out in pouring rain without a waterproof coat, and are therefore more likely to stay dry.  A raincoat helps to keep us dry and avoid colds.  At work, in the event of a fire or other emergency, we look to the trained individual(s) who have been prepared to work with employees in such difficulty.  Usually, there are practice fire drills.  It makes sense to know what to do.  The ‘its not going to happen around here’ is an ideal, not a guarantee.  Preparation strengthens the individual and the group.  Not knowing what options there are, or what to do for the best under the circumstances, creates fear in itself.

The above are some thoughts, feelings and visualizations that I experienced during filming an instructional video under the guidance of Dr. Mark Warnick, emergency management specialist.  He has spearheaded and is producing this video to help others be better prepared for the purpose of saving lives.

 

Cleo Warnick

Master’s degree learner in Clinical Psychology

 

Blog changes

After much thought and contemplation, the Board of Directors of Saving Lives and Souls has decided to make some changes to how often we publish our  blog at this time.

Due to the time constraints that myself, and that other board members face, we have decided that my commitment will be reduced in writing my part of the blog to only once per week. The reason for this is simple, providing this information and writing these blogs take time, and my talents are also needed elsewhere. I am still working on post-production of the instructional video, teaching university classes, attempting to finish a book, and providing seminars on active shooters. The blog has slowed all of these processes down substantially.

The information I have provided in the blog (to this point), has laid a basic foundation for churches to get started in preventing and surviving active shooters.  A church that has made the decision to protect their flock can obtain the basic information to protect their church and congregants from what I have posted in these blogs. They can at least get started from the information that has been shared via the blog. Should they have any questions, they can contact us and we will answer those questions, free of charge.

If you have made the decision to move forward, they should consider a seminar either for their church or even their community and include all houses of worship. Should you want a live seminar, we have suggestions of who to contact. These suggestions are based on a holistic approach of protecting the church with Gods word as the foundation. Those recommendations include contacting either:

Sheepdog Safety Training

Warnick and Associates

While there may be others out there, we are cautious with who we endorse. The reason, … we care about you! We do not want to recommend someone that may provide bad, incomplete, or non-scriptural information to you! If you have suggestions for other seminar providers, we would be happy to evaluate them for you and then potentially suggest them as well. These suggestions are not about making money for anyone, this is about protecting God’s children!

As we make this transition in our blog status, we look forward to any questions or suggestions. If it has not been covered in our blog, and it might be something useful that others may be interested in, either myself or one of the directors of the organization will address it in a blog, so everyone can learn more.

It is my pleasure to serve you in this ministry. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time through our “Contact us” form. Until the next blog, may God keep you safe, … Mark