New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd calls it a “Jesus moment” and describes a meeting of the families of church shooter Matthew Murray and victims Stephanie Works, 18, and Rachael Works, 16, as “the greatest testimony of forgiveness I’ve ever seen.”
It was a meeting he had suggested between Ron and Loretta Murray, whose son, Matthew, shot and killed the Works sisters in an attack on New Life Church in December, and the sisters’ parents, David and Marie Works.
As WND reported earlier, weeks before Murray armed himself with enough weaponry and ammunition to kill hundreds and staged attacks on a Youth With A Mission ministry center in the Denver metro area and then on New Life Church in Colorado Springs, he boasted in an e-mail that he had discovered and practiced the teachings of controversial British occultist Aleister Crowley, called during his lifetime “the wickedest man in the world.”
But his beliefs clearly departed from family teachings, as the Murray family members said thanks “to God, these remarkable families and their pastors and churches, healing and reconciliation have begun.”
Boyd said he was praying about the situation during the Christmas holidays, and decided to contact Matthew Murray’s parents to see if they wanted to come to the church campus, see the location where the attack happened, and grieve for the loss of their son, who committed suicide after being shot by a volunteer security patrol team member.
“I called them and asked, would you like to come to the New Life campus and see the place where your son passed away,” Boyd told his congregation over the weekend. “When someone’s gone through a tragedy, it’s very important to see the place where it happened.”
He said the Murrays had been wanting exactly that, but didn’t want to “invade” the church still recovering from the attack.
Boyd then arranged for the Murrays to meet not only the Works family, but also Jeanne Assam, the volunteer security guard who confronted Matthew Murray as he was entering the mega-church complex where several thousand people were leaving a worship service, and shot at him when he refused to put down his weapon. The coroner later determined he actually died of self-inflicted wound.
“It was very emotional. They just wept and cried and we prayed for them and hugged them,” Boyd said. “What the enemy has meant for harm, turned into a moment of forgiveness and redemption.”
Matthew Murray, 24, killed two staff members at the WYAM center in Arvada in the early morning hours of Dec. 9, then posted some writings online, and then traveled to Colorado Springs to shoot the sisters in the church parking lot. He was loaded with weaponry and ammunition and heading toward the church sanctuary when Assam confronted and stopped him.
Philip Crouse, 24, from Alaska, was killed by an armed attacker while responding to a request for help by a lone individual at the Arvada, Colo., base of Youth With A Mission
The Murrays earlier met with the families of Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, who died at the YWAM center.
Boyd said he retraced Matthew Murray’s steps for the family, from the place where he parked his car to the point inside the building where he killed himself.
In a statement after the meeting, the Murrays expressed their continuing sorrow over the deaths.
“Words cannot adequately express our deep, deep gratitude to David and Marie Works, Pastor Brady Boyd, Jeanne Assam, and the entire New Life Church family. God is good and our entire experience last Thursday was filled with His loving and healing presence,” they said. “We also want to once again express our appreciation for the Johnson and Crouse families for receiving us in love last month together with everyone at Youth With A Mission and the New Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada.
“The depth of our sorrow and our grief is greater than we can possibly describe. But with thanks to God, these remarkable families and their pastors and churches, healing and reconciliation have begun,” the Murray statement said. “We are committed to finding a way to move forward in the service of The Lord and our community.”
When the Murrays met Assam, “the Murrays released her from any guilt or remorse over what she had had to do,” Boyd said.
Boyd told his congregation that such forgiveness and reconciliation is “rare in most cultures and religions.”
“What happened was Jesus Christ on display,” he said.
According to reports from authorities, found in Matthew Murray’s bedroom were items including information about YWAM as well as New Life Church, dozens of doses of a drug used to treat anxiety disorders, a pamphlet called “Fall of America,” ammunition and another gun, and a pamphlet from The Rosicrucian Order, an ancient group that stresses mysticism.
A tabulation of church shootings, or those closely related to a church setting, was done by Gary Cass, chairman of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, and include 10 such attacks over the last four years, including Murray’s two attacks, revealing that such incidents are on the rise.
“Churches used to be sanctuaries that were regarded as sacred, now all church leaders must be prepared to effectively defend themselves and use deadly force if necessary to protect their congregations from violent acts,” Cass said.
“Self-defense is not just a right, but a Christian duty. Jesus told his followers, ‘if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one,'” said Cass. “Christians are not to be a soft target for the hateful and deranged. Church leaders have a duty not to allow a crazed gunman to come and shoot up their congregation. Thank God for security officer Jeanne Assam and for New Life Church’s security preparations.”
WND has reported on the disturbing rantings Murray apparently left on several websites before – and even between – the attacks, including those reported by National Terror Alert, which documented a series of postings by “nghtmrchld26,” which said, “You Christians brought this on yourselves … All I want to do is kill and injure as many of you … as I can especially Christians who are to blame for most of the problems in the world.”
“It is a sad reality of our times, but Christians must take up arms to protect themselves at church,” said Cass. He cited the postings by Murray, including the following:
“I’m coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the @#%$ teeth and I WILL shoot to kill. …,” a statement also attributed to Murray’s Internet postings.
“Matthew Murray was obviously a very troubled young man, but unfortunately he is not the only one,” Cass said.
The pastor behind the Good Fight website, which documents reports from rock stars themselves of their encounters with the occult and satanic influences through their experiences with rock music, says he believes an e-mail he got weeks earlier was from Murray, and indicated trouble.
Pastor Joe Schimmel told WND he recalled the October e-mail when he read the postings, included in WND stories, attributed to Murray. He said he thinks it’s important for people to know what the attacker himself was feeling and thinking prior to his homicidal attack, especially since he’s been described in the media as a homeschooled student from a religious family.
The e-mail, although it came from a man who identified himself as “Brian,” most probably was from Murray, Schimmel says, because of long list of similarities. The e-mail notes the writer has “studied and practiced the teachings of Aleister Crowley/Thelema/The Golden Dawn, Qabbalah, H.P. Blavatsky/Theosophy, Manly P. Hall, Alice Bailey, and others.”
Crowley, who lived during the late 1800s and first half of the 1900s, was a bisexual, drug-addicted occultist practitioner and author who almost reveled in the media description of him as “the wickedest man in the world.”
During a court case in the 1930s, Crowley was described by a judge as dreadful. “I thought that everything which was vicious and bad had been produced at one time or another before me,” the judge concluded. “I have learned in this case that we can always learn something more … I have never heard such dreadful, horrible, blasphemous and abominable stuff as that which has been produced by [Crowley.]”
Crowley also founded Thelema, a religious belief that was drawn from his book, “Liber Al Vel Legis,” or Book of the Law, which gives only two commands: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” and “Love is the law, love under will.”
Crowley espoused a wide range of occultist activities and practices, and one of his compatriots reportedly died from drinking the blood of a cat during one ceremonial episode, according to documents on Crowley’s life. Many believe Crowley was a forerunner to Anton LeVay, who formalized his beliefs in “The Satanic Bible” and established the Church of Satan.
While Crowley dabbled in the occult, magic, trances, drugs, sex and blood rituals, Schimmel told WND the writer apparently had sold his soul to another devil: rock music.
The e-mail attributed to Matthew Murray noted that “music is a very powerful thing,” and then continued with writings that appeared to have been assembled in the form of an article titled, “My Secret Drug Addiction”:
I have a powerful addiction to a powerful drug that most people in my life don’t know about. … I have found this drug to truly be a force to be reckoned with. This drug can completely alter blood pressure, heart rate, brainwave patterns and other bodily functions. … This drug will completely control a person’s mind, what thought’s (sic) they think and their emotions and how they feel. I found that this drug has the power to completely alter a person’s religious beliefs, their morality, and their values and their entire lifestyle. … I found this drug to be a powerful driving force and easy gateway into a world of sex, other drugs, rebellion, homosexuality, alcoholism and many other dark things. … The drug … is commonly known in our culture as … Rock Music.