This is the second installment in a two-part series detailing the actions of one deranged man one Sunday morning in Daingerfield in 1980. Ironically, the 35th anniversary of that local tragic event was just days after the church shooting in Charleston.
By MARLENE BOHR
Jimmy Meeks of Arlington with Cops and Cross, spends much of his spare time counseling church members on violence in churches. He has been a cop for 33 years and a minister over 40 years. He and his wife were married in the First Baptist Church in Daingerfield.
“Right now we are at 20 violent deaths in churches or on faith-based properties this year just through the middle of February,” Meeks said. “It is over 570 deaths since 1999, which is just as many as the schools, not just shootings, but stabbings, strangulations and brutal attacks leading to death. We have been trying to get the Christian media and television to talk about this, as the pain and grief linger for years, and some never recover.
“I have done many seminars and we are waking up, as far as the churches are waking up. Everything you do every day is what you do after you wake up. Churches have to wake up to the reality that this violence is not going to stop; if anything, it is going to get worse. About 100 of these deaths are domestic violence; a man gets mad at his wife and goes to church and just shoots her. There are more resources now than ever before. I’ve driven 13,000 miles this year doing these seminars. Jesus said in Matthew 10: 17 ‘Be on your guard against men; they will harm you in your place of worship’.”
Meeks said churches having a plan is important.
“Football coaches and all people in life have plans,” Meeks said. “There are 40 churches in my territory and when I patrol on Sunday morning, not a soul is in the parking lot. We are losing about two people a month with people dying a violent death and we need to put someone in the parking lot and in the foyer, looking for ‘don’t look right’ DLR; we need to pay attention. A man was found in a parking lot and was one who made bombs; he was caught.
“You have to train yourself with that sheepdog mentality. Just because someone is dressed differently doesn’t always mean they are violent. Jesus said ‘whosoever will, let him come.’ That kid in South Carolina came in and sat there for an hour and people ask how can that happen? Jesus said in the Bible that someone would come in and Judas had the devil enter him and he betrayed Jesus. They found someone near kids’ area in a church with a machete in both hands. We need to get in the mindset that we have a group of people we love and we need to protect. There are so many resources available. Start watching your people. Some of these deaths are just unbelievable, indescribable and stunning.”
DLR, is one thing Meeks talks to churches about.
“There is so much anger out there; almost every call I go on has to do with anger,” Meeks said. “There is a scripture that says ‘don’t let the sun go down on your anger; and don’t give the devil an opportunity.’ Jesus says the devil is a liar and a murderer. When you allow that anger to come in and you don’t deal with it, it may evolve into bitterness and hate and like Cain, he killed his brother. People get this hatred and it opens the door to the dark side.
“Our web site is Sheepdogs Safety Training.com. Go to the web site and if we are contacted, we will come to help.
“Col. Grossman says ‘men don’t rise to the occasion, they sink to the level of their training.’ Those two boys who took on the shooter in Daingerfield 35 years ago were World War II veterans, at least Red McDaniel was. These were trained men. Put together a team. Things like Charleston are here; they have been here for a long time. Start putting people in the parking lot. Cover your perimeters. The foyer, the parking lot; anytime you come together, you have to have people stationed strategically. I have a cop friend and when he sees a stranger, he gives them a bear hug. He could detect a gun that way. He is just smart.”
In talking about gun control, Meeks is not altogether for that.
“Jesus said murder comes from the heart and we need to control that,” he said. “We need to advance the kingdom and get some folks’ hearts changed because if you took all the guns, and that will never happen, you will still have murders. You have to go after people’s hearts.”
Sondra Hicks of Houston, has been with Heartstone Pictures over 35 years. She spent considerable time in 2011 and 2012 filming and showing the First Baptist Church’s story ‘Faith Under Fire.’ She brought the first movie to the Morris Twin Cinema Theater in Daingerfield so family and friends could view it in August of 2012. She said after that when there is a church shooting anywhere, she gets calls.
“Since the shooting in South Carolina, we are getting a lot of activity on the documentary; people are buying it, watching it on demand, etc.,” she said. “It seems to be more pertinent each year, and more need for it every year with all the things that are going on. We show it at the Sheepdog Safety Seminars around the country.
“We have Sheepdog Safety Seminars that we put on with Pulitzer prize winner Lt. Col. David Grossman and Officer Jimmy Meeks. We show the movie the night before and the response we continually have is over the top. People just sit there stunned. One woman told us the other day if we just showed the movie, it was worth the price of the entire seminar. People will sit for an hour after the film asking questions. I am very happy with what it is doing and how it is helping.
A federal law enforcement officer said he has only seen three movies in his life that have made the hair on his neck stand up. They were “Faith Under Fire,’ ‘American Sniper’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’.”
Hicks said she remembers so many of the people she interviewed making the documentary in Daingerfield.
“I had some of the survivors in Daingerfield call me and relatives of Al King call me just saying how heartbroken they are about the South Carolina shooting,” she said. “They know what these people are in for. Every time there is a church shooting, I hear from the survivors in Daingerfield.
“Officer Meeks has reached out to the churches in South Carolina to see what they can do and have already been in the process of booking seminars there in South Carolina.”
Pollan said ‘Faith Under Fire’ was a very intense film
“The message of tragedy, grief, anger, healing, forgiveness, heroic actions, and God’s faithfulness was very well displayed throughout the movie,” Pollan said. “It was obvious that Sondra Hicks went to extensive efforts to get interviews with those involved. This great tragedy is not an easy story to tell. However, I feel that the producer was determined to get this message out so that others can be helped by knowing that a small town in Texas faced terrible diversity by placing their faith and trust in God even when none of it made any sense.”
Hicks said the purpose of the film was to show that you could go through the worst hell on earth and still come out strong with God’s help.
“It was an emotional 19 months that we spent working on the story,” she said. “We were very anxious about those that lived through the terrible ordeal in 1980 to see the finished film. Their response was very overwhelming and to have their blessing and approval is worth more than I can say. It was of the utmost importance to me as the storyteller that they felt honored and respected and that we handled their story in the most tasteful and loving way possible. And for the five families that lost loved ones that day, I trust they felt the love and admiration expressed by those in the film. It was truly an honor and a very rewarding experience to be able to tell their story and share it with others.”
Former pastor Dr. Tim Wade said the film was great.
“I can’t imagine a more severe testing than what they have endured – and endured victoriously,” Dr. Wade said. “Many who were present for the horrific events of June 22, 1980, are still active and faithful in the church, including some of the injured. I can guarantee you; their faith is the real thing. ‘Faith Under Fire’ tells the story of that day more accurately and clearly than any of us could have imagined.”