Martyrdom comes to church in U.S.

By December 11, 2007

USA (MNN) — The gunman believed to have killed four people at a megachurch and a missionary training school in Colorado had been thrown out of the school a few years ago. He had also been been sending hate mail to the training center. That information was released by police in court papers Monday. Matthew Murray, 24, was home-schooled in what's been described as a "deeply religious" Christian household.

In Colorado Springs, Police identified the shooting victims at the New Life Church. They included Rachael Works, 16, and her sister Stephanie Works, 18, who were killed. Their father, David Works, 51, suffered two gunshot wounds and is in fair condition. Also wounded were Judy Purcell, 40, and Larry Bourbannais, 59, who were treated and released.

E3 Partners' Tom Doyle attends New Life. "After services as people were leaving, a gunman started shooting in the parking lot and also in the church and two people died."

Doyle says the two teen sisters and had recently returned from a short-term mission trip to China.

The church was in lock-down for hours because it was believed the dead gunman was rigged with a bomb, Doyle told us. He says that more than 7,000 people were on the campus at the time of the shooting.

Doyle believes he saw the gunman. "I happened to walk out halfway through the service, and I saw a guy sitting in a chair with a long trench-coat and army fatigues and boots. I wanted to go up and say 'Hi.' He looked really out of place. That's the same description they're giving of the gunman."

Doyle, who travels regularly to the Middle East and talks with persecuted believers there says persecution of Christians in the U.S. shouldn't be a surprise. "I look around the world and see the number of martyrs this year and last year, and the numbers are so extremely high. And you've got to think, 'Why should we be isolated from it?'"

Police believe the Arvada and Colorado Springs incidents are connected. Doyle agrees. "New Life also have a YWAM office in it, so there's a connection there, too. So it doesn't sound like it was random. If it was, I think they would have gone to Mile High Stadium or a mall. It definitely looks like Christians were targeted."

In the meantime, pray for those affected by the tragedy. Pray, too, that God's name will be glorified and that people will come to know Christ through this.

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