A beloved pastor of a southwest Louisiana congregation was shot and killed at a revival service on Friday in Lake Charles. His daughter says that if her dad could talk to his killer, he’d say, “I forgive you and I love you.”
Ronald Harris Sr., 53, was singing with the church’s praise group, which included his daughter Talisha Harris, when the gunman burst in and started shooting. He missed the pastor at first, but got him in the back when he started running. The accused shooter, Woodrow Karey, used to be a member of the Tabernacle of Praise Worship Center, but left four years ago with no reports of animosity.
Karey was booked on a second-degree murder charge, and his bail is set to $1 million. Talisha just wants to know why. "One question I do want to ask him is why," the 31-year-old said. "My dad had a big heart. He'd help anybody."
As for a possible motive, it looks like Woodrow Karey’s wife filed a rape complaint against the preacher two days prior to the shooting. Text messages were exchanged between the pastor and the woman, but whether or not a sexual assault took place is still under investigation.
No one knows what actually happened, but the image of Harris as a sexual predator doesn’t seem to match up with what his family says about him.
His daughter shared that his favorite Bible verse was “I can do all things through Christ,” and that he was the kind of man that valued family and God’s love. He loved his five grandkids, spending time with them daily by picking them up from school and taking them for a snack.
Talisha believes that her father was so full of God’s love that his only message to his killer would be of forgiveness. “He’d say, ‘Come to church. And let God visit [your] mind.’”
With such amazing compassion being shown by the family so soon after the shooting, it seems as though Ronald really did teach and preach about the power of God’s love. It will be interesting to see what happens, but one thing seems certain -- his loved ones will miss him.
Could you forgive the killer of a loved one?
Image via Keary O./Flickr