Below is a copy of the e-mail I sent out to our church family regarding the death of Pastor Tripp Battle. Pastor Tripp was killed today by a gunman for reasons we still do not and may never know.
I hope these words will somehow bring glory to God and comfort in a time of need.
Dear Church family,I have a very important prayer request. I ask that you please pray for the family of Pastor Tripp Battle who was killed by a gunman today outside his church office. Pastor Tripp was the Senior Pastor of Bayshore Baptist Church in Bradenton. He was 31. Pastor Tripp leaves behind a wife, Joy, and two small children, Sophie and Joshua.Pastor Tripp was killed by a gunman who also killed his wife and another woman. As of 7:00 Thursday night the gunman is still at large.Pastor Tripp and I were acquaintances via social media and spent a small amount of time together recently at the Florida Baptist Convention meeting in Lakeland. We had planned to meet again sometime soon. I will now have to wait for Heaven to have that meeting.Please pray for his family and the families of the other victims. The gunman and his wife were the parents of six children who now do not have a mother and whose father is on the run.What can we learn from this tragedy? Let me suggest three things.1. The depravity of man.No one knows what the reason this man might give when he decided to take three lives today. But we can be sure of this, the ultimate cause is sin. The same sin that ruled our pre-Christian bodies. The same sin that Jesus came to earth and died for. The same sin that has caused harm, pain and conflict in this world for thousands of years. We live in a sin-cursed world and this is just another example of sin at its worse.2. We need to make safety a priority.Pastor Tripp was shot on church property. He was standing outside the church office. The church house is not immune to the heinousness of sin and its effects.We, as a church, need to be diligent of our own safety and the safety of our loved ones. From this point forward the church office door will not be left open. If you need to go to the church during office hours, be prepared to knock on the door or call ahead first.If for some reason you need to go to the church for some sort of project, please lock every door behind you. This includes teachers and custodians.Also, we need to be more strict of the safety of our children. We will be implementing a more intense safety protocol with the transport of our children to and from junior church and also nursery. Please be patient with us as we work out all the details of how we can best protect the children of our church.3. God is still Sovereign.I don’t know how, but Scripture says in Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.” Somehow and some way the tragic death of Pastor Tripp and the other two victims will bring glory to God. We can be sure of it because we are sure of the validity and truthfulness of Scripture. If the Bible we hold in our hands truly is the infallible, inerrant Word of God, then we must whole-heartily believe that the horrible tragedies of this world will bring glory just as much as the wonderful joys of this world. We may not know this side of Heaven what God has planned to glorify Himself through this, but we can rest assure that He can and He will.Once again, please say a prayer tonight for Pastor Tripp’s wife Joy, his children Sophie and Joshua, and the congregation of Bayshore Baptist Church.Remember, I love you and am praying for you!Pastor Gavin