We are #HesstonStrong.
I have lived in Hesston, KS for over 7 years. As we considered moving to Hesston, Bethany and I fell in love with the community. A small town of 3,700 people which has great schools, businesses, churches, parks, and families. Hesston is an amazing place to live.
And then on February 25th, a shooter at Excel Industries put this community in the spotlight. The media, law enforcement, and emergency medical professionals rushed into the quiet town of Hesston which was anything but peaceful that Thursday evening.
As I, and many of you, watched the news coverage, I could not believe that what I was seeing on TV was happening less than a mile from my house. It happened across the street from where my kids go to school. People I go to church with and I play basketball with saw things that no one should ever experience. It was awful.
Now, for my rant. Some people need their social media privileges revoked. I read some comments over the last week that should never be said. Also, people need to stop using tragedies like this as support for their personal or political agendas. No matter your position, this is not the time to talk about gun control, mental illness, law enforcement response, business security/policies, or who gave the shooter the guns. All of these look to externals to try and fix a problem. However, these are all symptoms of a greater need. We are sinners who need a Savior. Our hearts need to be changed by a loving God who comes to us in our brokenness and thankfully “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
I must admit that I have been guilty when watching other communities deal with tragedy to choose sides or to determine how I respond with solutions. I would like to encourage all of us to think and pray before we respond on social media. I would suggest instead of advocating gun control that we allow families to grieve the loved ones they lost or pray for those who were injured and are recovering. These are real people not reasons to advance our cause. Know that both the shooter and the one who provided the guns are people who are part of families. Before you judge them, hear their stories. As you talk about our law enforcement and if Excel could have done anything to prevent the shooting, I see these men and women at ballgames, at the grocery store and around town with their family. They are people who love their community. They are not just stories or more support for your agenda or political views.
Hesston has supported one another over the last few days. We will continue to be the amazing community we were before February 25th when we are no longer in the news. We are and will always be #HesstonStrong.
By J.L. Martin
Husband to Bethany
Dad of 1 boy, 3 girls
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Pastor of Children and Family at Hesston MB Church