This morning I watched an interview on cable TV of Antionette Tuff, the woman who talked an armed Georgia young man to give himself up to the police. Up above is a tape of many parts of the conversation she had with the gunman. While parts have been cut out, all the essentials are caught.
By now many news articles have been written about Ms. Tuff. Every one of them has praised her to the heavens. And, yes, heavens is the right phrase because in her interview she proclaimed over and over how the Church had helped her through her life’s toughest moments, how her Savior is Jesus Christ, and how her faith in him informed what she did. And, like all sainted martyrs, at the end of the interview she said that she would like the opportunity to go visit and talk to the man who held her hostage while she talked him out of the worst decision of his life. I am humbled. I am left wondering whether I could have followed her decision to do what is right thereby leading a man back to life without anyone being killed.
Various news articles say various things:
In her first interview after the standoff, Tuff mentions that in the initial terrible moments she thought about a sermon series on “anchoring” that her pastor had been preaching, and it helped her to see that Hill was bereaved and in pain, and she was praying for him. I don’t know anything about anchoring, but I know I want to learn.
The reporter does not appear to be current on Christianity in the rest of the article. But, does it not sound like Ms. Tuff accomplished some evangelism by her stance? Another reporter comments:
In a 911 transcript that I can’t listen to without crying, Tuff (“Her name… says everything about her. Tough,” her principal, told CNN) treated the clearly troubled gunman gently. She shared her own troubles. She told Hill that she was proud of him for not hurting anyone. She told police that the young man needed to be taken to a mental hospital. Over 22 agonizing minutes she talked Hill into setting down his “AK-47 type” weapon and his 500 rounds of ammunition, then lying on the floor to wait for police.
“It’s going to be all right, sweetie,” she said. “I just want you to know I love you, though, OK?… We all go through something in life…You going to be OK.”
She talked to him the way you talk to a child. She talked to him the way you talk to YOUR child. She saw him as a human being, not a monster, and she tried to help him.
Can we say witness again? And would we not want to have her brand of Tuff love used on any of our children who are in danger of falling into darkness? Here is a final quote:
In short, she’s an angel. “You gonna be okay,” Tuff tells Hill. “We’re not gonna hate you.” She informs the operator that the gunman said he “should have just went to the mental hospital instead of doing this because he is not on his medication … He said he don’t care if he dies, he don’t have nothing to live for,” she says. “He said he’s not mentally stable.”
I would hope that when my life is over someone would call me an angel on Earth. I doubt that will happen. But, what better witness is there for the Lord than what this woman, who has suffered and has contemplated darker things, accomplished on that day. May more of us be willing to be to be witness for Christ when the unthinkable comes upon us.