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Another unexpected Christian hero at the Waffle House shooting in Antioch, Tennessee?

Hills of Tennessee, as seen from Tiprell, Cumberland Gap Credit: Don Sniegowski/Flickr/Creative Commons

Hills of Tennessee, as seen from Tiprell, Cumberland Gap Credit: Don Sniegowski/Flickr/Creative Commons

Though he doesn’t consider himself particularly religious, James Shaw Jr., 29, comes from a Christian family who attends Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church in Antioch, Tennessee.

Shortly after having his wounds tended in hospital, Shaw headed to church with his family. Earlier that Sunday morning, Shaw was a hero.

He was in the Waffle House restaurant with friends around 3 am when a gunman walked in with an AR-15 rifle and began shooting. The killer was naked except for a green jacket. He apparently shot two people in the parking lot, before moving into the restaurant.

He killed four people and wounded four others before Shaw finally stopped the massacre.

Shaw remembered seeing the alleged killer, Travis Reinking, sitting in a car as Shaw walked into the restaurant.

When Shaw heard the first shots, he thought someone had dropped plates.

Police are calling Shaw a hero because unarmed he wrestled the rifle out of the killer’s hands forcing him to flee the restaurant. Undoubtedly more would have died, if Shaw had not intervened.

However, Shaw admits that his first impulse was to run but when he saw the killer stop shooting, Shaw moved in.

He wasn’t sure if the killer was reloading or if the gun had jammed, but Shaw bulled his way through the swivel door hitting the shooter with the door. They wrestled briefly and Shaw got his hand on the barrel of the gun ripping it from the killer’s hand and throwing it behind the counter.

In the struggle, Shaw was grazed by a bullet on his elbow and burnt his hand on the hot barrel of the gun.

Twitter capture

In an interview, Shaw said, “If you would ask me, I’m actually not a greatly religious person. But I know that in a tenth of a second, something was with me to run through that door and get that gun from him.”

Shaw also doesn’t consider himself a hero stating in an interview Sunday afternoon, “I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular person. I think anybody could have did what I did… You have to either react or you’re going to fold.”

When Shaw showed up at church Sunday morning with his family, Pastor Rev Aaron Marble prayed for the family. In an interview, Marble said, “He didn’t skip church to be laid up. But instead (he) went through this experience and got to come to church to give God praise.”

And this is not even the first time a “Christian” hero made an appearance in Antioch, Tennessee.

On September 24, 2017, one person was killed and six injured when a gunman walked in during the Sunday morning church service at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ and started shooting. Robert Engel, 22, an unarmed usher in the church confronted the alleged killer. In the struggle, the killer was shot in the chest.

Engel ran to his car, got his gun, and held the suspect until the police showed up. Police called Engel a hero as well stating more would have been killed if he hadn’t intervened. It was later discovered that the alleged killer had more guns in his vehicle.

The police charged a Sudanese-man named Emanuel Kidega Samson with the shooting and this past March, he pled not guilty to the charges.

These accounts remind me so much of the story of Gideon who today is considered a Biblical hero today. But at the time, he was just an average guy. The Bible notes that when an Angel of the Lord caught up with Gideon, he was beating wheat in a wine-press (Judges 6:11).

The Midianites were plundering Israel during their harvesting seasons. So with the grain being harvested, Gideon was threshing it in the wine-press, believing the Midianites would not check there because it was not the time to harvest grapes.

When the angel showed up, Gideon said “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15).

He came from an insignificant family in his tribe where family importance played a big role in status.  But the Angel of the Lord had a different opinion of this average guy stating:

“The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior” (Judges 6:12 NASV)

If God is starting to transform average Christians into heroes, we better prepare ourselves for a ride.

Anitoch, Tennessee was formed in 1810 when a church was first built at the location. Originally called the First Baptist church, its name was changed to the Church of Antioch based on Acts 11:26 which states the Antioch was the place where believers were first called Christians. This eventually became the name of the small town that built up around the church.



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