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Dan Gilmore / Jun. 22, 2015

In Charleston, Grace Broke Through

As Dylann Roof sat in the basement of Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church Wednesday evening, he almost didn’t go through with his plot. The church members were “so nice to him,” NBC News reports. But Roof was bent on carrying out his “mission.” In murdering nine people in cold blood, leaving one woman alive, he hoped to ignite a race war. It’s the sum of white supremacist philosophy: Sooner or later the races will descend into violence, and Roof wanted to be the spark. But instead of revenge, Roof was met with something else. In an unusual testimony during a bond hearing, the daughter of Ethel Lance, one of the victims, told Roof, “I forgive you. You took something really precious away from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you and have mercy on your soul. It hurts me; it hurts a lot of people. But God forgives you and I forgive you.” One by one, the representatives of the victims came forward, forgiving Roof, asking him to give his life to Christ. On Sunday, Roof’s plans vaporized as white Christians prayed with black Christians and churches vowed to build relationships with one another. Truth and love transcend racial lines.

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