Dow | A suspect has been charged in the July 29 arson of an IBSA church, and the pastor is urging his congregation to pray for the man. In a Facebook Live post, Pastor David Brown shared at length about the power of God’s forgiveness, and invited all those watching who haven’t yet accepted it, to do so.
“That’s the most wonderful news, good news, that I could ever tell you,” said Brown, pastor of Dow Southern Baptist Church. “Folks, if it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for anybody in this world. It’s good enough for the young man who’s sitting in the jail who we believe is responsible for burning our church.”
Alton’s Telegraph newspaper reported Jersey County Sheriff’s officials arrested the suspect for arson of a place of worship, criminal damage to property, and burglary of a place of worship. Deahvion Bishop, 21, of St. Louis is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 10. In addition to the church fire, he is believed to be responsible for damage to a nearby AT&T building.
The church lost a significant part of its building in the fire, including offices and Sunday school classrooms. The sanctuary was spared, but the church met for worship in the parking lot on the Sunday after the fire, and planned to hold worship at a sister church Aug. 9.
“It’s hard when you put a name and a face to what’s happened,” said Brown, who has led the Dow church for 15 years. “The initial feelings are mixed. I understand there’s anger, there’s grief, there’s hurt, there’s concern, there’s questions about why. And all those things are normal, they’re natural.
“But then quickly I have to look and think, this young man who the police have in custody, I can only imagine he’s scared, that he’s confused. I don’t know the situation in his life. But I’m grateful that God has helped me to understand that we are called to forgive. Period.”
The pastor asked everyone watching to pray for Bishop.
“The same love of Jesus that forgives us, is ready to forgive him,” Brown said, his voice breaking. “That’s my prayer.”
Photo courtesy of Dow Southern Baptist Church