Wounded movie-goer Pierce O’Farrill offers a word of hope amid the darkness in the aftermath of the recent shooting rampage in Colorado.
By Amber Cassady
From his hospital bed, one of the 58 people injured in a July 20 shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater that claimed 12 lives has become a spokesman for Christian forgiveness.
Pierce O’Farrill, a member of the The Edge Church, a Baptist congregation in Aurora, suffered bullet wounds to his right humerus and left foot. Shrapnel remains lodged in his chest.
His experience brought the tragedy home to his church, and it also gave O’Farrill, the Denver Rescue Mission’s vehicle distribution coordinator, a platform to share his faith.
As the world watched the continuous television coverage seeking some reason in the midst of confusing calamity, O’Farrill recounted his horrific experience with prominent media outlets including CBS, ABC and CNN, emphasizing Christ’s power over darkness.
“There is evil in this world, and there is a darkness,” O’Farrill responded to CBS reporter Erin Moriarty’s question about the shooter’s motivation. “There is an enemy, but the wonderful news is there is a Light, and there is a Light that shines brighter than the darkness ever imaginable.”
O’Farrill surprised some reporters and viewers because he did not speak of resentment toward the gunman.
“This is going to be hard for people to understand, but I feel sorry for him,” he said. “When I think what that soul must be like to have that much hatred and that much anger in his heart—what every day must be like. I can’t imagine getting out of bed every morning and having that much anger and hatred for people that he undoubtedly has. I’m not angry at him. I’ll pray for him.”
His pastor believes O’Farrill has prompted a national debate on forgiveness.
“Some of the other survivors have said that they can’t or won’t forgive [the shooter]. Reporters are contrasting him against other survivors, so it is important to understand what Jesus says about forgiving,” said Ryan Heller, pastor of The Edge Church.
The Sunday following the shooting, Heller spoke words of encouragement to his congregation that deeply loves O’Farrill and is hurting for their city.
“Pierce has already forgiven him. I think that is exactly what we need to talk about this morning is forgiveness,” he said, preaching from Matthew 18:21-22. “God wants us to live lives of continual forgiveness. Forgiving brings strength and vitality. The reason that Pierce is able to forgive is because Jesus is in him.”
This story appeared originally in the Baptist Standard.