Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Shepherd Laying Down His Life for His Sheep

This morning I heard from a man who was best friends with the late Fred Winters. As you by now have heard, Pastor Fred Winters was shot and killed this past Sunday during the early worship service of First Baptist Church of Maryville, Illinois. Reports are circulating around the Internet about what allegedly happened, but Fred's good friend shared with me of his conversations with the people involved, including the person who wrestled with the gunman and was wounded himself by a knife attack. Some of what is being circulated by news sources, according to Fred's friend, is completely untrue, including that Fred was running from the gunman and he cried out "help me" as if in panic.

In speaking on Tuesday with the man that wrestled with the gunman, Fred's close friend discovered the man considers Pastor Fred a true hero. According to this church member, Pastor Fred, instead of running away from the gunamn after the first shot shredded his Bible, he actually went toward the gunman. It was in the ensuing struggle that Pastor Fred was shot through the heart.

If one were to look at the stage and FBC Maryville, it is easily seen that the steps are at the sides of the big stage. Pastor Fred could have retreated backwards, and he may have saved his own life. But Fred went to the side of the stage toward the steps and then down toward the gunmen who concurrently moved toward Fred. The church member who sought to intervene and was wounded himself, had the best view of what was occurring. According to this churchman, as he ran forward to help subdue the shoooter, he saw Pastor Fred had already come off the stage and had himself grabbed the gunman's hands and was locked in a battle for the gun. Fred is reported to have yelled "somebody help me," but it was not a plea for his life as some are reporting, but rather "somebody help me get this guy under control."

The man that came to Fred's aid thinks that because Fred's hands were already on the gun, the shell of the shot that killed Fred did not dislodgle cleanly. Whatever the case, the gunman turned to shoot this other man after Fred went down. That is when the gun jammed and many lives were saved. The guy had enough rounds to kill alot of people. After attempting to fire the gun at least twice, the gunman drew a knife and began to attack the man who had come to assist the Pastor. Others eventually arrived to help wrestle the gunman to the ground. Contrary to media reports, the eyewitnesses give an accounting that gives evidence of a Shepherd willing to lay his life down for his sheep. His actions should give us all pause as we consider what we would do on behalf of our church family if found in a similar situation.

At the age of 45 Fred accomplished more in his life for the kingdom then most men do in a lifetime. He was a man of discipline, devotion, and focused determination. Fred was intentional about pouring his life into other people's lives. We pray that God will use Fred Winter's story to spur his fellow servants on to more of a fervency in fulfilling their call to ministry.

We encourage all to continue to remember Cindy and the girls. According to Fred's close friend, Fred's family is doing amazingly well. Their strength is a testimony of God's grace. Info about Fred and the funeral tomorrow can be found at the website of First Baptist Church, Maryville, Illinois.

Our prayers are with Cindy, the girls, and all the people of FBC Maryville.

In His Grace,



John Daly said...

If you click on my name on Wade's blog list, you'll see my thoughts on this event. Fred lived a noble, God-honoring life, which we should strive to emulate.

Anonymous said...

We all mourn a loss like this. Truly. What I have to say takes nothings away from this situation but rather adds to this situation because he is counted among these I would like to describe.

There are hundreds of pastors and missionaries kidnapped, beaten, or killed each day around the world; they are persecuted for their boldness and preaching and faith. And yet, we never hear of them unless we check certain websites like VOM or Christian Aid. I would like to encourage all Americans who read about Fred to remember also those brothers and sisters who are killed and persecuted each day around the world. If what happened to Fred shocks us, then we have no clue what is really going on in this world with regards to Christian leaders.

Christiane said...

I saw the news broadcasts that showed the people of the church weeping and hugging each other for comfort after the incident.

You know that Rev. Winters had to be beloved by his congregation, when you watched those broadcasts.

He died with the Holy Scriptures in his hands, and in his heart.

He will live forever in that 'land that faith leads to' .

May we ask God's loving and merciful comforting for Rev. Winters' grieving family and congregation.

In Christ's loving arms, we find peace. L's

Ramesh said...

Very sad. I grieve for the kids and mom. God bless them and Pastor Fred Winters.

Anonymous said...

Best post ever!

Very sad.


Anonymous said...


Mt 20:17-28

"As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day."

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, "What do you wish?"
She answered him,
"Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom."
Jesus said in reply,
"You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?"
They said to him, "We can."
He replied,
"My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Ramesh said...

From Breakfast With Fred weekly newsletter:

Pastoral Leadership

1. I want my pastor to commit himself to building community. We live in a fractured world. Our cities are not friendly. Our workplaces are often combative. Sadly, even our homes are dysfunctional. As a group of believers, we need the fellowship of believers where people feel accepted and blessed.

2. I want my pastor to encourage the “priesthood of the believers.” He is not my agent negotiating a better deal with God than I can make. I want him to remind me that he isn’t a professional Christian with greater access. I want him to join with me in prayer --- not do the praying for me.

3. I want my pastor to teach me how to think about God, not just know what he thinks about God. My pastor is to awaken the teacher within me. He is to help me and guide me, but the responsibility for my spiritual health is mine.

4. I want my pastor to maintain his own spiritual vitality. I want his teaching to come from the artesian well of his walk, not the dead sea of old sermons and seminary classes.

5. I want my pastor to be my spiritual dietician, helping me to develop a spiritual regimen that is uniquely based on my gifts and opportunities. I am grateful for those who invested in my spiritual growth.

6. I want to be a regular person around him --- and I want him to be natural with me, as well. Maintaining images can alienate us from each other.

7. I want my pastor to know truth, not just the facts of the Bible. Just as information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom, so facts and word studies do not comprise the truth of the revelation.

8. I want my pastor to personify humility. I don’t want him to act humble – I want him to be humble. Our son, Fred, Jr., once gave me a great definition of humility: “Accepting your strength with gratitude.”

greg.w.h said...

Thy Peace's post of some of Fred's thoughts creates a longing to spend time with him when we meet--for the first time--in eternity. Those are some very potent thoughts.

I think one of the unfortunate outcroppings from the traditional problem of evil is that those who camp on that problem tend to blame God for the misery in their lives. And even those who don't camp on the problem per se may think of Christians as either a source of ignorance or a source of evil because of the unfortunate blame that God receives when we mess things up. And the final category of folks who get upset with us are those who believe we're arrogant in proclaiming what God has revealed as truth, thinking that we're somehow responsible for the content of the message and therefore we're "holier than thou."

The cool thing about Fred's list, if we apply it to the lives of each individual believer, is that to can blunt the criticism from each of these groups of people by personalizing the Gospel as it comes alive in our lives without creating unnecessary separation from those who still are in sin. It reminds me of the principle that the time the typical Christian knows the MOST lost friends is when they're first saved.

It's so important that discipleship immediately emphasize expressing to those lost friends love, acceptance, and a clear testimony of what has been accomplished in the newly saved Christian's life. Because when it is freshest--even if we aren't articulate in our testimony (or BECAUSE we're not articulate--is when it is the most real to them. After that, they quickly develop a resistance to the message as a strategy of deflection and denial due to Satan's deception.

And while I can understand why people reject the approach of the seeker-sensitive model of worship and outreach, building the church around the ability of new Christians to reach lost friends and family seems to be a productive model of ecclesiastic organization as the organism flows sources towards the area of growth. I think of Perry Walker--IMB missionary to Venezuela at the time and after that a strategy coordinator--explained to our Adult Bible Fellowship department how when they birthed new starts in Venezuela that they not only wanted the leader to be Venezuelan, but to be someone very closely tied to the people group that was being led, even if the person wasn't a "professional" minister. That way the person led in the exploration from a very direct understanding and knowledge of the people group's daily lives and, perhaps, could better live in humility as the person led the group.

The difference between taking on the appearance of humility and being humble seems to be like the theme of the Rush rock anthem "Limelight":

Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage

Castin this unlikely role,
Ill-equipped to act
With insufficient tact
One must put up barriers
To keep one's self intact

Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem

Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme

Living in a fisheye lens
Caught in the camera's eye
I have no heart to lie
I can't pretend a stranger
Is a long-awaited friend

All the world's indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another's audience
Outside the gilded cage

Living in the limelight
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem

Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation
Get on with the fascination
The real relation
The underlying theme

Neil Peart spoke from the view of natural revelation when he constructed those lyrics and I won't for a moment try to defend some of the nuances he reveals (including the somewhat cynical conclusion that we're all, basically, just performers). But his reference to "the underlying theme" remind me of how the Apostle Paul acknowledged the truth in the statue to the unknown God at Mars Hill and proceeded to reveal that God--through the divinity and person and story of Jesus Christ--to the Athenians. Paul's willingness to become all things to all people so that by all means some might be saved is reflected in Fred's comments on humility.

Greg Harvey

Anonymous said...

"Behold I will send my angel, who shall go before thee, and keep thee in thy journey, and bring thee into the place that I have prepared." -- John 14:2

"Are they not all ministering spirits sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation." -- Hebrews 1:14

"The angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him, and shall deliver them." --Psalms 34:8

Lin said...

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

Cally said...

This sort of thing really puts our other problems and disagreements in perspective.

Christiane said...

Martyrdom of this blessed man will bring new converts to Christianity.
Rev. Winters is still bringing new people into the Church, just now, he is doing it in the Presence of the Holy One.

May God bring comfort to those who mourn. And faith to those who thirst.

Anonymous said...

no matter how you spin it and no matter what the "details" are or aren't, this man is a hero and a shepherd who laid down his life for his flock long before that sick person came into the church that day and ended his earthly life.

when people die in a tragedy like this we usually spend a lot of time "showing" how wonderful they were. That is part of the normal grieving process and nothing is wrong with that. The fact is that Fred Winters was a man who, like all of us, had weak points and strong points. His wife, children, friends, and church members knew him the best and saw him as he was. they are hurting the most. my prayers go out to them and may they know God's presence and peace today.

Paul Burleson said...

Wise words anonymous. I join you in praying for all touched by this.

Chris Ryan said...

I know a few members of the congregation who were there that morning. It really is a tragedy and they all need our prayers: both the family of the pastor and the shooter.

it is written said...

Thanks you Lord Jesus for the promise that all who have trusted in You have eternal life!!!May the Lord shower down His infinite Grace and Compassion upon Pastor Winters family,congregation,and friends!!!

Anonymous said...

Mourner's Kaddish:

"May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (`Cong: Amen.)

in the world that He created as He willed.

May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,

and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,

swiftly and soon. Now say:
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)

Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,

mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One

(Mourners and Congregation:)
Blessed is He.
beyond any blessing and song,

praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:

May there be abundant peace from Heaven

and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:

Oseh shalom bim'romav hu ya'aseh shalom

He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,

aleinu v'al kol Yis'ra'eil v'im'ru

upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:

Christiane said...

From the Book of Revelations, this:

21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

21:5 And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

Anonymous said...

A Hebrew Blessing

Compassionate Father Who dwells on high, in His powerful compassion
may he remember with compassion the devout, the upright, and the blameless ones,
the holy communities who gave their lives for the sanctification of the [Divine] Name
Those who were beloved and pleasant in their lifetime were not parted in their death.
They were quicker than eagles and stronger than lions
to do the will of their Creator's will and the wish of their Rock.

Anonymous said...

From the Anglican Burial Service
(from Book of Job, Chapter 19 )

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. "