On Monday, the Seattle Police Department posted photos of the unidentified suspect in a church arson last Thursday. According to a spokesman for the church attacked, the arsonist threw Molotov cocktails at the church and at parishioners who were monitoring the parking lot at the time.
“It is persecution in some form or another,” Barrington Thompson, a district minister for the Pacific Northwest at Iglesia ni Cristo, a global Christian church with branches in 147 countries and territories, told PJ Media in an interview Monday. “It may not be directly tied to what Christ said, but it is persecution.”
This persecution “was kind of sloppy,” Thompson admitted. “It seems like they didn’t really know what they were doing. Definitely amateurs — we’re happy that they’re amateurs. We don’t want professionals.”
“On Thursday, about 7:55 or 8:00 in the evening, someone started tossing Molotov cocktails at one of our chapels here in Seattle,” the church leader told PJ Media. There were about 250 members in the service at the time, and the church also tasks volunteers with watching out for the safety of its members.
“About three of our members were outside in the parking lot, and two of them started towards the suspect,” Thompson added. “When they got down towards him as he was tossing Molotov cocktails over the building wall, he proceeded to throw some of them at them also.”
“Thank God they were not injured,” the church leader said.
The suspect escaped before the security volunteers got a good look, but footage from security cameras nearby captured the suspect’s image.
Police shared the image, asking the public for help with identifying the suspect.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) October 23, 2018
Not only were the security volunteers unharmed, but the church suffered only slight damage. “Slight burns, surface burns, the damage was minimal,” Thompson told PJ Media. “One of the doors to the entrance of the main sanctuary, just the bottom portion was slightly burned. The carpet in front of the door was kind of burnt a little bit, and in two spots on the wall of the chapel where two separate fire bombs hit, you can see some smoke blots there and some dents.”
When asked how the church and other Christians should respond, the church leader urged believers to find inspiration in the Bible and follow the path of Jesus.
“We need to keep faith, remain hopeful, and spread love as true Christians,” he said. “When some people hate, we respond with love. There are those who seek to destroy, we try to build up. Our actions show who we are.”
When asked for a particular passage of scripture to encourage Christians in the wake of this tragedy, Thompson pointed to Matthew 5:10: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Police are still seeking the identity of the arsonist in the picture above. If you have any information that could help them identify the suspect, please call SPD’s Arson/Bomb Squad Unit at (206)684-8980.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.