Last week the Baptist and Reflector reported the tragic death of Olivia Greenlee, a senior at Union who was found dead from an apparent gunshot wound in her car on the Union campus on Feb. 12. Three days later (Feb. 15), Jackson police arrested another Union student (Charles Pittman) in connection with Greenlee’s death. He has been charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence, according to news reports. Pittman also served a Tennessee Baptist church in Alamo as a youth pastor and children’s minister.
On my blog last week, I observed that “it’s the kind of story you would expect to hear at a major state university in New York or California, not on a high profile, private Christian university campus in the South.
“Too often we think a major tragedy only happens far away. That simply is not true. It can, it does, and it will happen again in our own back yards. The only question is “when?”
We live in a fallen world and sin happens on a daily basis, regardless of who we are and where we live.
Christians are not immune from the results of sin. Tragic events can happen to believers and non-believers alike.
Union President David S. Dockery and the entire university community of Union have handled this tragedy as well as or even better than could be expected. No matter how much “crisis” training you receive, nothing prepares you for something of this magnitude.
In a statement released to the media shortly after the arrest of Pittman, Dr. Dockery noted that “during this difficult time, words motivated by hatred or judgment are not helpful to anyone. I want to encourage all to pray for all the families connected to this tragedy. Let us ask for God’s wisdom, comfort, help, and mercy in the days and weeks to come.”
I encourage Tennessee Baptists to heed Dr. Dockery’s plea and to continue to pray for the families affected and everyone on the Union campus in the weeks and months ahead. This tragedy is not something the families of the two students or those on campus will “get over.”
We may never know all the answers that people have as to why this happened.
The only thing we can hold to is the promise found in John 16:33 (KJV), “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”
That promise, in the midst of the life’s darkest storms, is truly a gift from God.