The ACU community and Abilene citizens bowed their heads in response to national tragedies with a prayer vigil hosted by the ACU men’s basketball team Wednesday night in Hart Auditorium.
The prayer vigil was created for people to come together and pray about the Dallas shootings which brought devastation across America last week. The event in downtown Dallas was originally meant to be a peaceful rally and march to protest the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile – two black men who had been killed by police – but the event ended with a shooting that killed five officers and left seven people wounded.
Ryan Bowman, the academics and spiritual formation coordinator for the Department of Athletics, came up with the idea for a spiritual formation with the ACU men’s basketball team.
“It was a last minute thing and it was on my heart,” said Bowman who has been a chaplain for about five years. “I kept thinking I wish we had something here because we have faculty and staff here.”
Bowman described Wednesday night’s event as a time for prayer, a time for reflection, and as a “deep internal view of who we are and who God is.”
Once Bowman opened up the event with an introduction, 12 ACU faculty members and students went one-by-one to the podium to give a lament, poem or prayer. Attendees, including students, faculty, staff, and members of the Abilene community, listened to each speaker and bowed their heads through each prayer.
“I am extremely proud of those who work here at this university, who was more open at the last minutes notice to come together,” said Bowman. “We all have biases, we all have those life experiences that has created ideas but what makes us different and what makes us change agents is the fact that I am able to confront that, whether it’s good or bad.”
The laments were not only about the Dallas tragedies but also for the children who have lost parents in shootings, for the unheard voices, lives lost in Minnesota and Louisiana, the people who have lost their loved ones, law enforcement, and other important topics.
Drake Green, a junior business management student and basketball player from Houston, said he believes the events were caused by misunderstandings and some hatred.
“It is definitely devastating and something that we need to get past and get better in the future,” Green said.
Jaren Lewis, a sophomore business management major and basketball player from Orlando, Florida, said, “It’s good to pray about, turn to God and turn our problems to God. It was great to show recognition and great to bring the community together for this event.”
“It’s not time for pointing fingers or create eye conspiracies but it really is time for us to reposition our minds and have a paradigm shift,” Bowman said.
Bowman wants the community to know it can be easy to get distracted from all the tragedy of events but as a solution he wants people to find the “God factor.”
“Because if I look for a human hand then I will never get the response and the reaction I want,” Bowman said. “But when I see the God factor, God’s hand in this movement or this tragedy, I’m able to see a better purpose in this and God is the only one that can create triumph out of our tragedy.”
Before the prayer vigil ended, everyone stood next to each other as they held hands to form a circle; then three ACU faculty members gave their last prayers.