Anchored in the Lord
“We are strongly encouraged to seize this hope in Christ, which is set before us, and which is a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.” Hebrews 6:18-19
Shortly after the ordeal at McNair School in Atlanta in August, Antoinette Tuff was interviewed by Channel 2 News. These are excerpts from that interview with this phenomenal woman of faith. I have edited and paraphrased a small amount for clarity and chronology.
Q: You were in the front office of the school that day?
Antoinette: Yes. But that’s not normally my seat. I was relieving the secretary and I had just gotten there. The young man came in the door with a gun drawn and many other guns with him. He said, “I’m not playing, this is for real, this is not for show, this is not a joke.” And I knew he was serious.
He said that he didn’t have any reason to live, and that he knew he was going to die today. He tried to go out the door where the kids were, but I called him back and kept talking to him to keep him calm and to keep him inside the office with me.
Q: Why did you do that?
Antoinette: Because I knew if he got outside the office, that he was going to start shooting the kids. He had already shot a round off in the office, and had been outside shooting at the police, so I knew he was unstable enough to start shooting at everybody.
Q: What did you say to him?
Antoinette: I just started telling him my story and some things I had been going through, and how my life was now beginning to turn for the better, but how rough it had been for me, and how I had felt at my low not long ago, and how I had felt like nobody loved me. But then I told him, “Look at me. I’m still living. I’m even opening a brand new business and getting back out there.” I told him, “So, it’s all right. Life can bring about turns and we can live with it, despite what it may look like.”
He opened up to me and told me that he didn’t take his medicine and that he was sick, and that he knew it was going to end for him today because he had already started shooting at the police. That he had no reason to live. That nobody loved him.
But I told him that he still had an opportunity because he hadn’t killed anybody and he hadn’t shot me and that I would tell them that he didn’t do anybody any harm.
I was sitting there just praying. I knew I had to say the right thing or we would all be dead.
Q: This whole time, what are you thinking?
Antoinette: Well, to be honest with you, my pastor has been preaching and teaching on “anchoring,” and how you anchor yourself in The Lord. And I just sat there and started praying and remembering how my pastor taught us as church members to stay anchored in The Lord so we could be ready to help other people. I realized that God put me there to care for this young man and help him. And I was “anchored” and ready.
So at that time I realized it was bigger than me. That this young man was really hurting. I just started praying for him and telling him that it was going to be O.K. I told him that I loved him, that I didn’t know his name or know much about him, but that I did love him. I felt for him.
Q: Why do you think he listened to you?
Antoinette: That wasn’t nobody but God! I couldn’t put that on myself. I was praying hard.
Eventually he told me he was sorry, and he asked me to get on the intercom and tell everybody he was sorry. Finally he laid his guns on the table and lay down on the floor, and the police officers came in and handcuffed him.
Q: You’re a hero today.
Antoinette: I give it all to God. I am not the hero. I was terrified.
Q: You kept it together.
Antoinette: I kept thinking of my pastor’s teaching on “anchoring,” and through God’s grace and glory I did keep it together and help the young man and all the kids and teachers in the school. I just give all the glory to God.
Q: Are you going to work tomorrow?
Antoinette: Yes. I probably will. That’s my whole purpose – “the babies” (the children in the school). To give back to them. Yes, I’ll be back, sitting in that same seat, blessing the next person. Praise God for his grace and mercy!
I can only say “Amen” to all of this. Thank you, Antoinette. You are most definitely blessed to be a blessing. And may we all be so “anchored.”
[Kollmeyer is senior pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church on Hwy. 314 in Fayetteville. www.princeofpeacefayette.com]