When her beloved 26-year-old brother, Tywanza Sanders, and eight others were gunned down in their church in Charleston, South Carolina, Shirrene Goss lost all hope. But instead of feeling anger and hate, God place a true miracle on her heart. Here, Shirrene shares how she felt in the aftermath of the tragedy, and how God opened her heart to forgiveness:
June 17, 2015, had started out like every other day. "Tywanza had called me for advice about grad school and we'd talked and laughed as we always had," Shirrene recalls. "As we hung up we said 'I love you.' It was the last time I got to tell him." That evening, four members of Shirrene's family had attended a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Only two came out alive. Dylann Roof, a self-proclaimed white supremicist, had entered the church and unleshed a barrage of bullets, killing nine people including Tywanza and Shirrene's 87-year-old aunt, Susie Jackson. Shirrene's mother, niece and one other woman were the only survivors of the massacre.
As the media frenzy grew around Roof's arrest and indictment, one amazing message was heard again and again from the heartbroken families: "I forgive you." But not hearing Tywanza's laugh each day and knowing that his bright future had been taken from him took a toll on Shirrene. "There were days I'd hurt so much that I'd want to draw the drapes and stay in bed," she shares. "I've always believed God has a purpose in everything, so I didn't ask Him why this horror happened. My question to Him became, Lord, what am I supposed to learn from this?
To find out God's response, pick up a copy of our July issue, on sale now at Walmart, Barnes and Noble, in select grocery stores, and available for immediate download on Nook.