Our community in Knoxville is grieving and angry this morning. A while ago, a young couple – Chris Newsom and Channon Christian – were car-jacked, kidnapped, raped, tortured, horrendously mutilated, and savagely murdered by a gang of people over several days. The details of the crime have sent shock waves throughout our town and we are all heartbroken for the families concerned.
Yesterday, the first trial of one of the gang members ended. Everyone thought that the death penalty was assured because the brutal and monstrous killing of these young people was so savage that only a State execution would satisfy those who were looking for justice. The jury, however, decided that life imprisonment without parole was deemed enough punishment for the perpetrator.
Local radio shows and newspapers have been swamped with callers and comments who are outraged. The families of the young couple are also very angry and disappointed with the jury. The one consolation, if there is any in this case, was expressed by a family member: “At least he will never be allowed on the streets of Knoxville again.”
As Christians, we are supposed to forgive those who sin against us, but in this particular horrendous case, can anyone of us find that ounce of forgiveness in our hearts? It is so difficult.
The other four gang members are to begin their trials in the next month. The ringleader of the group is being tried soon. The Newsom and Channon families will have to again go through the public hell of hearing how their children were savagely assaulted and wickedly killed. Our hearts and prayers go out to them.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, there seems to be so much wickedness in the world, even in the midst of our own community. We feel shocked and helpless, numbed and powerless in the face of such blatant evil. Help us to find a way of turning these horrible events into goodness and strength, healing and wholeness for our broken community. In Your Holy Name, we helplessly pray. Amen.