Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Heartfelt Apology to the People of Australia for Chris Lane's Death

I have lived in Oklahoma since my college days. I am a graduate of East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma. I am fifty-one years old, have been married to my wife for over thirty years and am the father of four grown children. My wife and I have traveled throughout your lovely country of Australia, and it was my privilege to speak at the Sydney Opera House in 2004 during a concert of Oklahoma musicians, extending to you our gratefulness for your hospitality. I am no stranger to Oklahoma or Australia.

Our hearts are broken over the tragic, senseless murder of your native son, Christopher Lane, this past Friday afternoon, August 16, 2013, at 3:00 p.m. in Duncan, Oklahoma. As you know, he was shot in the back and killed by three teenagers while he was jogging down the street from his girlfriend's house. These three young men allegedly shot Chris, a stranger to them, because "they were bored." I beg to differ. These three men shot Chris because they are evil.

Tim Fischer, your former deputy Prime Minister in Australia, has said, "there is deep seated anger at this time" due to this senseless capital crime. Australians need to know there is deep seated anger in all Oklahomans at this time as well. Tim has called for Australians to "boycott"  the United States because of this shooting. Your former deputy Prime Minister has gone on our national television shows and blamed the "lack of gun control" for the murder. Though I disagree with Tim, my purpose for writing this post is not to defend our Constitution or our 2nd Amendment. There is a time for such a discussion and I've done it elsewhere. Now is not that time.

The purpose of this post is to give a heartfelt apology to the people of Australia.

(1). I apologize that some of America's young people, including these three teenage boys, have grown desensitized to the sanctity of human life. They choose to live in an imaginary culture that creates an illusion that murder is exciting and fun. From video games that make it a sport to shoot innocent bystanders, to films that romanticize murder and mayhem, to music that honors the violent and the criminal, the culture these boys are familiar with produced within them the ability to laugh at the prospect of killing others.

However, not all of America's young people are like these three men. I would go even further; very, very few young people in Oklahoma are like these three young men. In fact, every weekend I am around hundreds of young people who celebrate life, give of themselves to meet the needs of others, and do their part in making the world a better place.  These wonderful young people I know will continue to combat the culture of death that has crept into the entertainment industry, our homes, and our schools. Most Oklahoma young people choose to not live in this imaginary culture that glorifies murder, mayhem and death. Unfortunately, a few who do get the headlines. They should, and they will, be punished.

(2). I apologize that these demons of death have grown up in absent families. From fathers who have abandoned their homes, to mothers who have abdicated their role of giving moral guidance to their sons by completely turning them over to the care of an amoral public school system, these young men who senselessly murdered "for the fun of it" have grown up in families who seem to have shirked their God-given responsibilities of moral training for their children. Some of us believe the mothers and fathers of these boys be should be placed on trial. Western civilization was built on the principle that parents take responsibility for the actions of their underage children. If the state refuses to prosecute the parents, then the state should treat the boys as men, follow the Oklahoma laws of punishment for adults who commit murder, and put the boys to death.  Until everyone in America awakens to our moral responsibilities within the home, America will continue to produce a few demons of death.

(3). I apologize that your view of Oklahoma is now tainted by a tragic, senseless murder of Chris Lane. I may not be able to help change your views about Oklahoma, but I'm going to try. I know Australia. I know Oklahoma. I attended the same Oklahoma university Chris attended.  I know you love your country of Australia. My wife and I do too! We love the beauty, we love the people, we love the cleanliness, we love the society. I also know you may know little of Oklahoma, so I would like to enlighten you. Our state is filled with wonderful people. The citizens of our state take seriously our responsibility to make the world a better place. We take as much pride in our state as you do your country. When Chris died, a portion of all of us died. You will find very few places where people are more kind, more open, more friendly, and more generous than the state of Oklahoma!

I am unable to get in touch with Chris' family to offer help, so this post serves as an open letter. There are people in my community in Oklahoma (due north of Duncan on Highway 81) who will help Chris' family with expenses associated with Chris' funeral and transportation back to Australia. We Oklahomans hurt over Chris' death as much as Australians.

One of my ancestors lived in London, England. He was pastor of St. Paul's, appointed by King James. His name was John Donne. John became sick himself during an outbreak of the plague. There was a tradition in his day that when a parish member died, the bells of his church would toll the exact number of years that the person had lived. One day, sick in bed, he heard the bells tolling. He tried to get up and find out who it was that had died so he could minister to the family, but his illness prevented him. As the bells continued to toll, he reached for quill and parchment and wrote his Meditation 17.
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."
Chris  Lane's death has diminished all of us in Oklahoma. On behalf of all Oklahomans, I apologize to the people of Australia, and particularly to the family of Chris Lane. Try not to judge an entire state for the senseless actions of three thugs.

The bells are tolling.


Anonymous said...

My wife's maiden name is Lane. The callousness of the random killing of Chris Lane has left us shocked, disgusted and depressed. Your words of sympathy , we believe expressed on behalf of all the good people in Oklahoma to all Australians, should help to ease the coping process. Not only for the Australians but also for the wider Lane family, and for this we thank you.


Aussie John said...


This Australian is very appreciative of the thoughts you express in this article.

I would like your permission to make it available to Australians with the appropriate credit.

Even more shocking than the senseless murder of a young man, was the reason for for it, "We were bored and thought it a good lark", or something along those lines".

These boys, on the way to becoming adults, ought to be reflecting the teaching and thoughts of the homes from which they came, which reveals how sadly our societies are valuing human lives, which, according to governments, both local and national, are no more than numbers, which are dispensable before birth,in old age,or any time between.

We Australians are equally guilty of this very same problem!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sending this. Your message does express the horror and disappointment of the vast majority of us USA citizens.

I believe you did a great job of acknowledging the accountability of these young boys while at the same time expressing that all Americans, and especially the church, hold a level of responsibility as well.

This is one of too many similar killings at the hand of American people whose souls are without life; dead and decayed. It causes me to feel it is an indictment upon the entire country and particularly the church of the US which continues to lose the savor of its salt. Perhaps such events will wake us up as to the need for us to engage those communities where “absent families”, bored teenagers, addicts, etc., abide. Perhaps we will be convicted of the need to change the hue of color of our Southern Baptist church congregations and more effectively reach those living in standards far below the typical SBC member.

I personally am embarrassed, shamed and disturbed by the reality that I personally have not been actively involved in sharing the life-changing power of Jesus Christ in communities that breed the sickness of such cultural cancer. I hope to do better.

Rex Ray said...

I feel sick—Satan is live and well. These three said they were bored. Duh

At deacon’s meeting tonight, it was discussed that a nearby church had members complaining that youth were using their gym that were not members. Another duh.

Our college grade gym has more non-members than members playing volleyball, soccer, and basketball.

A local high school will use it for their girl’s basketball practice.

From framing, sheetrock, painting, 38 foot climbing wall, making and installing the four basketball goals; I’ve worked a lot.

Some pain was involved—like having the end of my finger sewed on from loosing a battle with a scissor-lift.

Once a ladder fell and left me on the basketball goal. All I had to do was drop four feet but I had a bad knee.

I made a four foot rope from an extension chord, but didn’t have the mussel to climb down. Exhausted with my foot stuck in a loop, I had a vision with my foot hanging five feet in the air. Adrenaline got my foot out and I dropped like a rock.

I named this story; “When things go wrong, thinking can make it a lot worse.”

Anonymous said...

America has a huge problem with the blacks in America today and it gets worse with very generation as not many are willing to talk about the embarrassing problem. All the money in the world will not help these people, very sad. it's a very lost cause and most of us in America are disgusted. I am so sorry these 3 blacks males have caused australia and our country so much pain. The black youths in our country commit almost all the crime in total! Huge problem and growing and no black leaders to help them, whites have tried to no avail, lost cause, USA is in trouble.

Anonymous said...


Maybe you're right and they are hopeless but that's not what my God tells me. You know, like me, that the power of Jesus Christ can change ANY person, right? I think that's the key and the kind of help we need to be giving, don't you?

I can’t help but wonder if this tragedy would not have occurred if these boys had people like you and me visiting them and drawing them into our church youth groups and spending time with them and encouraging them and visiting them at school and having them over to our house to eat and taking weekend excursions and reading the Bible and praying with them. What if they had men like us to take them to ball games and encourage them to apply themselves and were there for them when they had special events because no other man was in their life that cared about them? We might have even had to drive to their living place and given them a ride to church.

Maybe they would have rejected us but maybe not. We could try. I bet nobody else did. I wonder if we could have been used by God to help them have a vision for what their lives could be and that there was hope for another life other than the one their path was leading them to find?

Maybe not.

Rex Ray said...


You make a good point. The problem is we’re too busy doing what we want to do. I love to work just like my dad. But if you ever visited him, and wanted to see him, you had to join in what he was doing.

I made a vow if someone came to visit I stop what I was doing and do what they wanted to do.

I’m trying to make a recumbent bicycle with a different drive that I have a patent to enter next month in our town’s annual ride that has about 1,000 riders.

Yesterday three grandsons came ‘out of the blue’ to swim and scuba dive in my lake. They had driven 80 miles. They spent four hours…most of the time on a floating deck and jumping off a 12 foot tower.

Two days ago, I met a 12 year old that I had never seen. His granddad was cleaning the outside walls of our church and the kid was bored to death.

I asked if I could take him to see my slide a quarter of a mile away. He went down the 40 foot high slide on a sled three times. I gave him a picture and a list of people that had gone down. He was 524. The person before him was from Delhi, India. We played a game of pool, and his granddad said he wanted to come back.

Someone said, “Everything we have is what we’ve given away.” I guess that includes time.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray,

I think you have "nailed" it! Praise God that you were there for those grandboys that 12 year old boy. They won’t forget it.

I honestly want to be as faithful as you are in seeking every venue and opportunity to be used by God to touch the lives of others. If I and other followers of Jesus can be half as mobile and willing to go into extremely diverse situations as you are we would reach these Lost Boys and Lost Girls for Christ.

I was really excited and inspired to hear how your church has so many non-believers entering its facilities and knowing they have a safe and welcoming place to go to. Praise the Lord for your church and its membership for receiving those people! You have made a lot of sacrifices to go to other countries and into any culture for the purpose of serving the Lord and to give yourself away to those people. God has gifted you with a confidence in crossing cultures that few people have but that we all need to pray to receive.

I wanna be like you when I get my “big boy pants”!!

Thanks a lot for sharing. I learn a lot.

Debbie Kaufman said...
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Paula Weatherford said...

Thank you so much for writing this letter, Wade. I can't remember when I have felt so sick at heart. We see and hear of such dreadful violence every day,and I know that the days are becoming more and more evil. I hate it that this happened in Oklahoma, but that it would happen anywhere, with such blatant disreguard for human life, because of "boredom", displays for all to see the human condition apart from a relationship with God Almighty. It sickens me to say that I don't know where else we could expect it to go,when we,as a society, believe that it is ok to murder a baby that is as yet to be born, or that we have "accepted" that we evolved from some lower life form,instead of having been made in the image of God. I feel sick and angry and sorrowful. I have always known that this earth is to never be thought of as my permanent home. But I know that God put us here for awhile, and that He will do all of His holy will. I draw peace from that. but I feel sick nonetheless.

Rex Ray said...


Ahhhh—you make me feel ashamed. I feel like Paul saying he was chief of all sinners.

It’s you I’m learning from to give glory to God.

Christiane said...
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Christiane said...

The mother and the teacher in me looks at the faces of those boys and thinks WHY didn't intervention come when it was needed so that they wouldn't have gone down that road?
I know all about how other kids have it just as tough but didn't choose to do this evil,
but that isn't a good enough response from me anymore.

There is an apparent 'randomness' to evil, until you examine all that fed into it, but when it involves the young of our world, I feel that somehow collectively we older ones dropped the ball. Those 'quick remarks' we make excusing our own indifference to the plight of so many young people from broken homes come around to condemn us as a part of the problem of what can happen, has happened, and will happen again involving those whose haunting immaturity looks back at us in police line up photos.

The faces of the three boys who committed this terrible act remind me of faces of boys I taught in a drug rehab in Paterson NJ. I have the weight of memory of their 'stories' to carry, having seen far too much into the hell from which they came.
The natural impulse for me is to look at the face of the victim and mourn his loss. He did not deserve what happened to him. And the natural impulse for me is look at the faces of the boys who did this to him and and condemn them as thugs, but I cannot do this without remembering my students at the rehab, those other boys who got into trouble, and how they were at moments 'just boys', just kids who sometimes cried when they spoke of their moms. At times I wish I didn't remember that. This is one of those times.

This world is too much for the young sometimes. And evil is waiting for its change to take advantage when and where it can. May Christ have mercy on all of us together and give us compassionate hearts to reach out to the young who are troubled and vulnerable to satan. We must try for His sake. And for theirs. And for the sake of all the future 'random' victims who won't deserve that we did nothing the 'last time' but shake our heads and condemn.

Rex Ray said...


I don’t envy your experience. There’s some I’d like to erase like recovering a drowned 16 year old boy to his parents. I never volunteered to searched again.

Don’t mean to open up a can of worms, but why did they choose this person?
How many did they pass up before picking him?

Would he have lived if he had been small without looking like an athlete?

Some measure their greatness by the strength of their enemies. Don’t we admire David for killing the giant?

The big question: would he have lived if he’d been black?

I’m afraid we know the answer.

Christiane said...


in this country, black youth have had a terrible reputation . . . but things are beginning to change now.

Here is video that shows some of those black young people mixed in with those of other races, and these young black people don't deserve to be 'labeled' negatively by any American. Look at THEIR faces. No, it's not a 'line up' and it tells a far different story about the honorable character of some of our finest young Americans of all races:

Bob Cleveland said...

At a time like this, it's a good thing to stop and consider that the element in those boys' lives that brought the senseless tragedy about was unresolved sin. The same sort of sin that reigned in us, until we were saved by God's grace.

I toured, some years ago, the Dachau Prison Camp, and also the Nazi Documentation Center in Berchtesgaden, both in Germany. The Documentation Center is there to document all the Nazi atrocities that happened under the Third Reich. In seeing those places, and in contemplating the tragedy with Chris Lane, we're forcefully reminded of the power of sin, the depths of human depravity, and the immense power of a God Who rescued our undeserving souls from such a state as those 3 boys in OKC, or the Nazi perpetrators of the Third Reich.

Rex Ray said...

1August 25, 2013
You said, “In this country, black youth have had a terrible reputation . . . but things are beginning to change now.”

Lets define some words:
BLACK YOUTH means black males.

TERRIBLE REPUTATION means they commit seven times more crime.

THINGS ARE BEGINNING TO CHANGE ??? How does your link of black women dying in the military prove anything about black men?

Christiane said...


I did see those 'thugs' in the rehab at times were more like chidren than young men . . . as is the way of teenagers, one moment a grown-up, another child-like. That confirmed to me that when decisions are made by the young that are catastrophic, they are accountable, but they cannot be credited with the full judgment and maturity of adults.

That's what I know.

As far as sex or race or color of the skin . . . I can't even see that anymore when I look at young people, REX. I spent too much time with boys (and girls) teaching at the rehab, and also teaching in the inner city to not understand that kids are kids,
and they are vulnerable and they still need the supervision and guidance of adults until the time when they can take their places of full adult responsibility in this world.

Evil waits for its chance. And vulnerability provides the opportunity that maturity does not, as far as good decision-making skills. The immature are more easily led, more easily impressed (often by the wrong things), and unable to see past the moment into the full consequences of their behavior. I am not into juvenile justice, REX. All I know is from the 'mom' end of things and the 'teacher' end of things. But I know that there were moments in that drug rehab when a tough kid cried 'cause his stepfather had beaten his mother so badly and she came to visit him in a terrible condition. It was a child crying for his mom. That is what I know.
It's not much, but I can't forget it, or say it didn't mean anything. I witnessed it, and when I look at the 'line up', that is what think of.

Sorry to disappoint, but there it is. And the video of those young people? My niece survived Iraq and Afghanistan, and she is going back to Afghanistan again. The face of honor is not male or female or black or white or hispanic to me.

I say put the stereotypes down, and look at the person's character. And if judgment is made, take the important things into consideration: maturity or immaturity for example

Chris died so unfairly and Australia is shocked, as we are, at the senselessness of it all. Those boys who did this will be tried and condemned according to law.

It's the 'next time' I am concerned about. Is our response good enough, or are we as Americans in a position to improve what we are doing to cut down on the 'next times'? Are we doing what we can individually, to help the young get through that mine-field of teen years where decisions can be as explosive as any a person can make during their lifetime, but where the maturity to gage the fall-out just isn't there for those kids. ?

Have a great day, REX.

Rex Ray said...

I hear from you where you’re coming from, but would you feel the same if their victim was your son?

Off topic

This morning I received an email that Donald Trump wrote. It was so funny I’m going to quote it because later in the day he was being interviewed by CNN.

Donald Trump Explains Obama Care – funny but true By Save America Foundation on July 18, 2011.

Here’s what Donald Trump had to say about Obama Care.

Let me get this straight . . . …
We’re going to be “gifted” with a health care Plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don’t,
Which purportedly covers at least ten million more people,
without adding a single new doctor,
but provides for 16,000 new IRS agents,
written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn’t understand it,
passed by a Congress that didn’t read it but exempted themselves from it,
and signed by a President who smokes,
with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn’t pay his taxes,
for which we’ll be taxed for four years before any benefits take effect,
by a government which has already bankrupted Social Security and Medicare,
all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese,
and financed by a country that’s broke!!!!!
What the hell could possibly go wrong?

CNN interviewed Trump today about the Attorney General suing him for 40 Million claiming he ran a ponzi scheme with the students in his school.

Trump said during the ‘investigation’, they asked for a “campaign contribution”. They tried to get him to settle out of court.

Trump said his school had a 98% approval rating by the students and it was interesting that the Attorney General met with Obama Thursday night and filed Saturday afternoon. Said it was the first civil suit ever filed on a Saturday.

Trump said the whole thing was a publicly stunt because he was a Republican.

Hey! That sounds like Paul saying he was being tried because he believed in the resurrection of the dead. :)

I believe with the IRS ‘persecution’ and all Trump has more of a good reason than Paul.

Christiane said...
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Anonymous said...

The mother in Georgia who was shot in the leg this week by the 17 year old immature boy said, "And then, all of a sudden, he walked over and he shot my baby in the face."

Hitler had a difficult childhood. He was older than these 17 year old murderers but they are numbed by the same satanic power. In both cases, regardless of age, they have the free will, however influenced by other circumstances, to submit to that evil power or the power of God.

Ron said...

Thanks Wade for putting into words what many of us feel.
Ron West

the mussing of a D&D Preacher said...

Hi everyone, I spent 15 years of my life working with the incarcerated. This has given me some insight to the problems facing young men today. It is not about midnight basketball or anything so simple. It is about unchecked sin in our society and a value system that totally values self over others. The only reason I left the prison ministry was to care for my sick parents.

Ruth said...

As an Aussie who has just discovered your blog today, I want to thank you for your truly heartfelt apology. As you have stood on behalf of Oklahoma, I stand on behalf of Australia and extend forgiveness and grace, and the very real hope of Father's heart of redemption even in the midst of tragedy. As 'Aussie John' so rightly stated, we too are guilty - and therefore cast no stones.

May His mercy be manifest in both our countries.