Church vs. Serial Killer

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The church is a beacon of hope to this world because of the task Christ gave to preach the gospel. As the fruit of the gospel and one of the reason we are saved, we are to do good works to magnify God. We are to extend it to the community. And if we look at church history we find instances that Christians shines. Call it a revolution, but indeed believers turned the world upside down. Through opportunities that God opens to us we can minister go people and share the gospel.

Churches may encounter crisis in like disasters or a pandemic, but how will you respond on a serial killer on the loose? How will you counsel the victim’s relative and most importantly, the whole neighborhood? Matt Horan and Seminole Heights United Methodist Church had a say on this predicament.

Church Bells at Midnight is about how, in 51 days a Tampa neighborhood was gripped in fear by a serial killer and how the community and a small church responded to this crisis.

This book doesn’t read like a murder mystery novel. At the start you’ll read who’s the killer and the victims. So the author didn’t employ those approach to hook you to read this short book till the end. However, since Matt has a background on creative writing, he wrote a very interesting story that you won’t put it down. This is not dark or gritty stuff, but an inspiring story everyone should read. It’s a “just enough” inspiration that will help jump start on something selfless. It will move you to ask “What can I or our church do for our community?”

If you think this book is focused mainly on the murders or the killer, well it’s not. You’ll find half of the content, scattered all over the book, backstories of the community, the church and Matt Horan. At first you might find it weird (specially the one act play chapter) and unnecessary but as you read through you’ll find it essential to the story of the murders. You might have gotten this book because of the serial killer. But don’t be disappointed. Hang on to this book till the last page. The hunt for the serial killer is still there and it’s a nice ending.

Horan is building up in this book on how the community, church and himself find ways to become good neighbors. It’s a story of creating a health, strong and united community that look at each others back. Knowing this helps the readers anticipate how they will respond to serial killer in a authentic and Christian way. And oh, they have the origin story of the bells too.

There are takeaways that you’ll find in Church Bells at Midnight. Let me share two without spoling the book. First, that we as church should be concern with our community and participate to help build it up. Because obviously we are part of the community. The second one, is that we should prepare to minister to the community when a crisis come.

Church Bells at Midnight is a good read and worth . Matt Horan didn’t go for sensational stuff to spice up the story, but wrote an honest account of that event in Seminole Heights. If you find some part of the book anti-climatic or moved you to consider what your church is doing for the community, that’s part of the honesty Horan injected in this book. And I like that.

My verdict:

4.5 out of 5

Review copy of this book was provided by Wipf and Stock Publishers.

(Note: In now way this blogger is endorsing nor approving the United Methodist Church, their practices and doctrines by reading and sharing this book over this blog and other social media outlets. Neither do I agree to some of views or methods used by the author, to the community and to his church. I like the book as it is, it’s a good story that it’s worth reading.)

Did you like what you read? Did this article helped you? Then you can share some love by buying me a coffee)

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