The Spann of His Life
Joey Spann, minister of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, TN, thought he was going to die.
Spann was one of the shooting victims when a masked man firing a gun entered the Burnette Chapel church building on Sunday morning after worship services on September 24, 2017. The gunman killed one church member and injured seven others, including Spann and his wife.
Spann tried to stop the shooter as he entered the building. He threw a wooden crate at the man and ran toward him, but Spann collapsed. He had been shot.
"He shot me in the chest and shot again and shot again. I heard the bullet go by my head. Another one tore my hand up," Spann said. "I just continued to cross the vestibule and fell down on the other side of it."
He thought he was going to die.
So he prayed. He didn’t pray, Holly Meyer reports, to be saved by the church members who applied pressure to his wounds. He didn't pray to be saved as he heard them call 911. He prayed for forgiveness.
"God, I’m sorry for things I didn’t do right" was his prayer, Spann said in a telephone interview on the following Monday evening from his hospital room.
Recalling events after he had been shot, Spann reported: "My wife called my name out. She said, 'Are you OK?' I said, 'He's killed me. I'm dying.' And I told her, 'I'm sorry.'"
The gunman was finally stopped and paramedics rushed to the scene. Spann vividly remembers being carried by the paramedics and seeing his wife. "When they were rolling me by her, I was saying goodbye to her," Spann said. "I thought that was it."
But Spann didn’t die. He lost a finger, but he is healing from his gunshot wound in his chest, and he’s thankful to be alive.
At a news conference two days after the shooting, Spann was asked about what he thought about the gunman. Spann said he did not resent the shooter who attacked his church. He would forgive him.
"I don’t have any hard feelings toward him. I don’t think about him," Spann said. "If I had the opportunity to talk to him I would and I would try to help him."
Why would he try to help the man who almost took his life?
I think it’s because of the influence of the One that Spann has been preaching about for years. It’s because Jesus died on the cross for the very ones who put him there. You and I are included in that number, for Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). Jesus died on the cross so that we might have forgiveness of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).
God will save those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), who turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), who confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
The “span” of Jesus’ life and His love is evident from His outstretched arms as He hung on the cross for our sins. That is what has influenced Preacher Spann. That is what can change our lives and our destinies, too – IF we’ll only accept His offer on His terms.
-- David A. Sargent
* Information gleaned from “ ‘He’s killed me. I’m dying.’ Minister recounts chaos during Antioch church shooting” by Holly Meyer, USA Today Network – Tennessee. September 26, 2017.