What is Roseburg, Oregon really like?
Of course people want to know.
Our residents have offered written words and shared photos displaying Roseburg as a humble community full of compassion and strength.
Since being placed in the nation’s spotlight, we’ve taken the opportunity to tell people what our community is like. We don’t want to go down in history as the city of the #UmpqyaCommunityCollege tragedy; another tally mark representing one more massive school shooting.
A short drive through our town of 22,000 displays beautiful mountains, rivers, trees turning with the changing season, and businesses offering support by donating goods, services, and sharing condolences. We’ve spoken up on news sites and social media with calls to #PrayforUCC and #PrayForRoseburgOregon.
Years ago my family had friends visit from Phoenix, Arizona. They stood in the middle of Fir Grove Park, watching children run after soccer balls, and admiring the surrounding terrain. Awed by what they saw, they looked at my husband and me and asked, with honest curiosity, “This place is beautiful! Do you always feel like you’re on vacation?” Looking around, we smiled in agreement. We live in a gorgeous community. Unfortunately it often takes tragedy and heartache to notice the people and blessings around you. I’m noticing them.
I’m also noticing the things about our community that aren’t being shared locally or nationwide. Nobody wants to talk about those things. Nobody wants to hear the difficult truth, especially in the midst of such pain.
My heart is broken! I wake in the morning burdened for those suffering loss and for my own daughter, a UCC student, and her friends. I’m broken because we have a broken community.
What do we really want, Douglas County? We say we need prayer and post it across our small city, but what do we want prayer for? I imagine many would answer that question with “comfort”.
Do you know that our local public schools called on our surrounding churches? Seeking comforters, they asked Christians, armed with the Word of God and the truth of salvation, to minister to students. However, our school shut the doors long ago and told God He was unwelcome. When our invited Christians attempted to share with heartbroken, confused students, they were met with resistance, and treated with hostility. They were limited as to what they could share and threatened eviction if they crossed the line.
People bearing God’s love, truth, compassion, and freedom were placed before students ready to receive hope and shut down by school counselors.
Why did they ask these people to come? Why are local businesses asking for prayer? Why have we refused to allow God in our schools, and are now asking Him why He wasn’t at our local campus the day a madman opened fire on a room full of students? Why, when we have rejected God, are we asking for His help now? What do we want Him to do?
Do our schools want momentary comforters without lasting change? God’s people have answers and hope and truth. Our community is craving these things. Would our local first responders have even considered putting a simple bandage on a victim’s wound, then sending them on their way, only to bleed to death later? That would be heartless and reckless. Why do our schools want to share a brief word of comfort only to let these students silently suffer without words of life?
Do you want prayer, Roseburg? You say we are #UCCStrong. I don’t know about you, but I feel heavy moments of intense weakness. I feel as if our very breath has been suddenly knocked from us, and we are struggling for air.
So if we’re going to share the “real” Roseburg, Oregon, let’s share the whole picture. Can we be honest with this country, with our community, and with ourselves, by not cutting and pasting pieces of the truth?
We are a desperate people in need of a Mighty God. We are weak. Our community is full of evil people seeking to take wicked actions. Our drug use is through the roof, and many of our families are barely hanging on. We cannot put a bandage on our pain, leaving gaping wounds of death.
I pray Roseburg would be a city known nationwide for its striking scenic displays of nature; that many would be drawn here because of its beauty as well as our unity. But more than this, I hope we can represent a humble community; that as we try and stand strong in desperate times, we also acknowledge our great need for Christ. We are weak and in need of prayer. Let it be known that our #UCCStrength comes from God, and God alone.
So wherever you are reading this from, please lift our community in prayer. Please join me in asking God to show us our need, and heal our land.
I hope we can be known nationwide as Roseburg, Oregon- a city asking Christ back into its schools and leaning on the strength of God.