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Creflo Dollar - Protect the Flock

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The loss of a parent is painful enough, but losing a parent to random, preventable violence is heartbreaking. Today, we will be talking with a woman whose father was one of the nine people slain at the Charleston church shootings on the 4th anniversary of that day.

Through her pain of loss, this remarkable woman, Rose Simmons, has since been living in grace and forgiveness for the man who took away her father and so many other precious lives. Concerns for our safety have been growing each year as we read yet another terrible headline or watch a news report.

Do we live in fear and despair? Today, you will learn how you can feel safe in a seemingly unsafe world. We welcome today an official in law enforcement whose 20-year experience includes investigation, patrol, SWAT, and special-ops. He is here to make us better aware of these dangers and how to spot trouble before it even starts and provide us with some knowhow to protect our lives from the unthinkable. I'm Creflo Dollar, and this is a program you do not want to miss, right here on "Your World".

Creflo: Our guest today watched the news report on the Charleston church shooting and prayed over the attacker and his victims before she even know that her father was among those who had been shot dead. She is here today to talk about what happened four years nearly to the day after this tragedy. Would you please welcome Rose Simmons to "Your World" today?

Creflo: Hey, thank you so much for joining me today, God bless you.

Rose: God bless you.

Creflo: I have the opportunity today to really dig in and find out what was going on internally and emotionally with some of the family who lost people. And when I heard about it, I was blown away. I just thought, "What in the world is going on"? Craziest thing you would ever hear that could happen in a church. So, you and I are gonna come together and create an instrument, and we call it "Your World" because we want you to take us into your world. So, let's go back a little bit. You grew up in this church, right?

Rose: Well, actually, I grew up in the AME church.

Creflo: AME, I grew up in the AME, that's African Methodist Episcopal. And I grew up in the AME church aw well. And so, your relationship with your father, get me clear on all that.

Rose: Yes sir, born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. Moved to Virginia when I was about 22 years old. To go back a little, my father started ministering when I was 12 years old. By the time I was 20, my parents were going through a divorce. Tore the family apart, it was really a struggle, and we had many years of not speaking, not talking, just harboring a lot of ill feelings and unforgiveness. And as the years went by, probably around in my 40s, I remembered hearing the Holy Spirit say to me, "You need to call your parents and talk with them". So, I actually set my phone for nine o'clock every Saturday to call my parents, to remind me to talk to them. And to move on, I started a business, had a business, everything was wonderful. Took on a partner, and all of a sudden, I find myself in a federal prison, which is where I was when my father was killed.

Creflo: The first time you heard about it...

Rose: The first time I heard about it, yes, sir.

Creflo: Was on the news.

Rose: Was on the news in federal prison.

Creflo: Now, had you reconciled with him before?

Rose: When I found out that I actually had to go to prison, my father and I began a father-daughter relationship that had been missing for more than 30 years. I felt a presence come over me at that moment. The forgiveness was overwhelming, and I just felt the love of God in that. As I was sitting in that prison, I was watching the television, and I saw where there was a young man that had just brutally murdered nine people.

Rose: If someone can do something that horrific, then they are lost, and they are without Christ. They need a Savior. And at that moment, in prison, I began to pray for the perpetrator. Ten minutes later, I heard my name called, it was my counselors immediate, and they told me that my father was one of those nine victims.

Creflo: Oh my, oh my.

Rose: At that time, I knew exactly what to do, and that was to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and heed to what he said. At that moment, the Holy Spirit told me to go back to my room and wait to be released. And that's exactly what happened. I was given a four-day furlough to travel to Charleston from West Virginia, and I was there for my father's services. And I had to go back, but ten days later, I was released, my sentence was commuted. It wasn't a challenge for me to forgive the young man, and I don't think I have seen him wholeheartedly as a killer. And I can qualify that, because of what the Lord has done for me in my life. I remember when I was married, and my ex-husband decided after 18 years that he wanted to be with another woman. I remembered when I was on the floor praying as we do, as women, and when I did get off the floor, the Holy Spirit said, "Hey, Rose, you forgot somebody". And I didn't know who he was talking about, you know, I went through my list. Well, I prayed for everybody, he said, "No, you didn't pray for the woman that ran off with your husband". And I said, "Lord, I think you've gone too far, here".

Creflo: Yeah, Lord, what you doin' now, Lord? Back up now, Jesus, ha, ha, ha.

Rose: And what he said to me was so specific, I remember it. He says, "Rose, if you can't pray for her, then you can't do the work that I've called you to do". That means you will only pray for people you love and people that love you, and you will never learn how to pray for your enemies. So, I got back on that floor, and I prayed for her as if I was praying for myself. That was one lesson. For me, as I explained to people, forgiveness is my independence. It's my peace. It is the reason why I wake up in the morning and I don't have to remember to be angry. I don't have to remember, "Oh, yes, I can't be happy today because I gotta hate this person". So, I see forgiveness as a road to freedom, and I'm so proud of my dad. I'm proud because people don't really know what happened in that room. There were nine victims and there were five survivors. And as I've been told by the two adult survivors, that when the shooting started, everyone ran for cover, but not my dad. He leaped to his feet, and he ran towards the bullets to try and save the people that were in that room. And what he did was, he lived out that Scripture that says, "There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend".

Creflo: That's powerful, yeah, yeah.

Rose: And I have to say this, and I can say it to you, Pastor Dollar. If there was a checklist that God gave my father and asked him, "How would you want to leave this world"? and hero was on there in any form that it would come, he would have checked that.

Creflo: I tell you what, he's a part of the Avengers, huh? Ha, ha, he's part of the Avengers. Listen, we're gonna take a very short break, and when we come back, we'll be welcoming a law-enforcement official, a 20-year veteran who trains churches on active-shooter response. Stay tuned to hear what we can do to be more vigilant and protect ourselves from future tragedy, right after this.
Creflo: Our next guest is a law-enforcement official with a background in SWAT and special operations who has trained thousands of schools, healthcare, government, and military personnel in intruder response. Now, he's also the author of "The Church Security Handbook". Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome Officer Baker to the "Your World" show.

Vaughn Baker: Thank you.

Creflo: Now, she's got our hopes going. We've seen, and we understand the amazing spiritual aspects and the power of forgiveness. Now, I'm gonna shift just a little bit, and I wanna go to the practical. Tell us a little bit about what you do and give us some stats concerning church shootings. I want the viewers to begin to look at this a little differently. To see that we're living in a different time right now. There are different things that are happening, and some of the things we can do in a practical sense to see this thing before it actually hits.

Vaughn: Sure, well, thank you, Dr. Dollar. You know, as far as statistically, it's more dangerous in church than it's ever been. Having said that, that doesn't mean that it's likely to occur. In the last decade alone, we've seen a 600% increase in violent events in church.

Creflo: Six-hundred percent.

Vaughn: Six-hundred percent increase. And the last four years in a row, we've set records with last year, we had 261 violent events, whether it's firearm related, one pastor and his secretary were suffocated in a robbery and killed in Dallas, and we lost 108 lives just last year in church.

Creflo: Do you have any idea the causes of what's going on for this to begin to occur in churches as it has?

Vaughn: Well, if you look at motives, as far as statistics are concerned, many of 'em are domestic violences spilling into church. A female that's gotten a protection order against a significant other. She's moved away from him, so he doesn't know, and she can be safe. He doesn't know where she lives, but guess what he does know? He knows where she goes to church or where she works. Other times, it's robbery related. Many churches don't know this, 60% of these events are happening during the week at church. It's not just during services and special events, so it's not just about putting a plan together for Sundays and Wednesdays, it's about putting a plan together for staff and volunteers during the week as well.

Creflo: This is so important to hear, because I guess the least of a pastor's concern, I know 30 years ago, almost 40 years I've been in the ministry, was not security. You know, basically we plan for the Sunday services, and we had little to no activity during church throughout the week. And yet, it becomes a concern, it becomes a discussion amongst our leadership of how to deal with this and how to handle this. So, lay a plan out for not just the larger churches, but church as a whole, because the Charleston church, it wasn't, like, 10.000 people in that church. So, how do we lay out a plan to deal with churches of all size, so that we can be prepared to see something like this coming before it actually comes?

Vaughn: Well, Dr. Dollar, statistically, if we look at it, one in four offenders have a current or a former connection to the church. So, it's not just about dealing with the outsider threat. So, when we put together our plan, philosophically, we have to look at this, and how we look at it is, we say how do we accomplish safety and security without compromising the core mission of our ministry? It would be easy to turn our churches into a prison, but we're trying to reach out for those folks that have hurts, heartaches, and hang-ups, so in general, we describe the core mission as to provide an atmosphere of comfort, refuge, worship, and learning, and of course, sharing the gospel. And so, how do we accomplish safety and security without compromising the core mission, otherwise, what's the point? So, one of the things we say is, it starts in the parking lot. From the parking lot to the pulpit, and we want to deal with everything from bullets to Band-Aids. Not just dealing with shooting events, but it's much more likely we'll have somebody with a medical emergency, or something of that nature that occurs at church. So, we wanna have a comprehensive plan that deals with all types of not only manmade crisis, but natural crisis that occurs as well, severe weather events, fire, things of that nature.

My name is Vaughn Baker. I have 20 years of law-enforcement experience and 13 years on the SWAT team, and four or five years as a detective as well. Probably the first tip I would say is, be aware of your surroundings. Trust yourself to respond to sound. If I hear an argument that's a heated argument, I don't need to go see what the argument looks like, I know it doesn't sound good. Trust my hearing as a sense to get me out of problems.

Where we see a lot of casualties in mass-shooting events is where people either get down low, or they hide underneath objects, whether it's cubicles, tables, or desks. Although that's a very natural thing to do, and it makes you feel better, it's one of the worst things you can do. Once you constrict yourself with no escape point, and you can't even see where the attacker is, now what you're doing is, you're essentially playing hide and seek with a gunman. There are a lot of people that believe we can negotiate. I can talk this person down. The problem with it is, what if it's you and 15 kids, and you're trying to bargain with a person that, one, is not rational? They're emotional, and they're in an emotional state. That, to me, is one myth or one belief that really scares me.

Many attacks are preceded by a pattern. Really, what we want people to look for is those behaviors that are abnormal. Why is that person doing that particular act?

Creflo: So, Rose, when you hear this information, your father absolutely, I agree with you 100%, that's a hero, that's what they do. They serve other people. They sacrifice their lives, so that others can benefit and go forward and do what needs to be done. But as you hear these stats, and you hear about the practical, what kind of advice would you give, you know, we're in church, concerning this plan that we're talking about? Do you think it's necessary? Do you think we have to think differently in order to achieve both the natural and the spiritual?

Rose: Well, I absolutely think it's necessary. Even when I came to World Changers for New Year's, there was the metal detector, and I thought that was a great idea, because of, you know, the things that have been happening. So, I would say to actively hire security officers. I think they should carry a weapon, I do. And, I mean, I don't think we should arm the deacons.

Creflo: Oh, the preacher ought not to have a little peace piece there right there on the side either, right? You know, we talk about this, but officer Baker, it's happening again. And I guess my question is simply are we learning from it? Are people making the necessary adjustments?

Vaughn: Well, you know better than anybody this shouldn't be a surprise. Matthew 10:22 says, "You will be hated for my namesake". And Matthew 10:16 warns us that persecutions are coming, and we need to be prepared to deal with that. One of the objections that we get frequently is, "Well, you're demonstrating a lack of faith by preparing for the worst". For one thing, they're just simply wrong. That person, if they believe that, then I don't want 'em to wear their seatbelt, I don't want 'em to lock their doors at night if that's what they believe. And this idea of fear on this topic comes from people saying, "Well, you're just scaring people". And, well, they don't understand where fear comes from. Fear comes from having a problem without a solution. That's where fear comes from.

Creflo: I like that. I don't think I've ever... hold on, there. Hold on now, Bishop, I like that one. Let me... I'm gonna steal that one from you. Fear comes, say that again.

Vaughn: Fear comes from having a problem without a solution. That's where fear comes from, and it's where it's magnified. So, that's why we come in and we work with folks, and we can actually reduce fear and reduce anxiety by preparing for the unlikely, but for the worst.

Creflo: And we've gotta get over this thing of, "Well, you don't have faith if you make adjustments and practical adjustments for what's going on in the world today". I mean, I would much rather have a plan for security and be able to continue to teach you about faith, than to allow you to actually put fear in me about not having faith, and then I don't have security. I mean, who wants to get in the pulpit and preach a sermon wondering if he's about to get shot, you know? And it's weird, I'm a lot of places, and sometimes there's just lots of people, and if you're walking in fear of that, then every time a movement takes place, you're gonna be ducking all the time. But I am grateful, number one, for your word on forgiveness. Because that's pretty powerful, that what you've gone through and your father being the hero that he was, I'm telling you, that's a powerful message to people who've ever gone through something. But I'm also grateful that God has put it in your heart to say, "Let me be a part of the solution".

Vaughn: Praise God.

Creflo: "Let me see if I can put some things out that can help people eliminate their fears, so that they can continue to do what God is calling them to do". So, thank you both so much for appearing with us today. And we appreciate you. Don't you appreciate our guests today? So amazing, you know, Proverbs 22 and 3 says, "A prudent person foresees danger, and he takes precautions". And I'm telling you, that is so true. So, preparedness keeps us safe, and ignorance of this danger is folly. The enemy wants to keep us terrorized and separate from those things that can help us, and enlighten our lives, and lift us up, and cause us to live without fear. That's the Word.
Rose: So, Pastor Dollar, before we close, I just have something here that I want to present to you from the bottom of my heart. And this, if you will read it, please.

Creflo: It says, "Presented to Creflo Dollar, World Changers Church, International, from Reverend Dr. Daniel Lee Simmons, Sr. Memorial Legacy and Scholarship Fund. Thank you for your wisdom and grace in teaching the world how to forgive, The Emanuel Nine". Wow, isn't that awesome? The Emanuel Nine, praise God. And there's probably gonna be a neat movie coming out soon, right?

Rose: Yes, sir, we did have our initial screening, and that was on June 17. The title of the film is "Emanuel," and it is actually the telling of the stories from the families.

Creflo: Well, this is seriously gonna be amazing. So, guys, thank you guys for joining me today. It's a blessing. I've gotten some understanding, and I pray that those who have watched this program today, that you've been blessed, and we love you. We want you to be a part of this program. We try to bring it to you just as raw as we possibly can. And I pray that God's riches and best will continue to be yours as you seek him first. I want you to be a part of everything we're doing. Log on to our social media sites, contact me at YourWorldwithCreflo, and I tell you what, we believe that the best is yet to come. God bless you, until next time, we'll see you on "Your World".
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