Jewish Synagogue Shooting

Jewish Synagogue Shooting
Jewish Synagogue Shooting

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Grieving His Father’s Murder, CC Believer Shares Jesus with Jewish Congregation

Story by Trinity Grau and Margot Bass
Photos by Pamela Barahana Carroll and courtesy of Jared Younger

This is Part 1 of a two-part story about Jared Younger, a believer who shared his faith in Jesus at his Jewish father’s memorial service. Today, Jared is an active member of Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh, PA. Look for Part 2 soon.

On October 31, 2018, a roomful of Jewish Americans and collective mourners gathered to commemorate the life of Irving Younger, a victim of the 2018 shooting at Pittsburgh, PA’s, Tree of Life Synagogue. The congregation, along with New Light Congregation and Congregation Dor Hadash, also worshipping in the building, was attacked during their Shabbat morning services on October 27, 2018. Eleven from the congregation were killed, including Irving, and six were wounded in what has been called the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the U.S.

Though many were weeping, Irving’s son Jared had dry eyes. Jared, 30 years old and a member of Calvary Chapel Living Hope in Oceanside, CA, resolutely waited for the moment to give his eulogy. In only a short while, Jared stood before the residents of a small, tightly knit community of religious Jews and did the unthinkable—he proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth.

With a bold spirit, Jared declared, “There’s a God who created everybody in this room, who loves you very much. He knows every hair on your head, when you took your first breath, and when you’re going to take your last; and His name is Jesus Christ.”

Jared and Irving Younger selfie

Jared Younger (left) and his dad, Irving Younger, in recent years. Irving was one of 11 people killed by a gunman in the October 27, 2018, shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. Jared, raised Jewish and later a follower of Jesus Christ, boldly shared the Gospel at his father’s memorial service.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17

(This article sponsored by Pritchard Websites and Calvary Web. Click here to read more.)

Learning the Hard Truth

On the morning of the shooting, Jared woke to a series of missed calls and a text from his sister Jordanna. He knew immediately that something was wrong. When he called back, her voice was grave. “There’s been a shooting at Dad’s synagogue, and nobody can get hold of him,” he remembered her saying. Knowing his father was so good at responding to his calls, Jared finished the call with his sister and then dialed his father’s number. He was confident that his father would reply and was shocked when there was no response. He attempted to call several times, to no effect.

Jared reached out to his best friend David Mealy, who responded immediately by driving out to spend the day with him. Jared continued to call, with a waning hope of being able to one day lead his Jewish father to Christ. He googled a photo of the suspected shooter, Robert Bowers, and still holding onto the hope that his father might be alive, looked for the very first time into the eyes of his father’s killer. He continued to call his sister, still feeling hope whenever the response was “I don’t know.” That day, Jared recalled, “Time became my enemy.” He had shared the hope of Jesus many times with his father, who had stubbornly resisted the invitation. “My dream of holding my dad’s hand and looking into his eyes on his deathbed—urging him to make things right with the Lord—went up in flames that day.”

Men praying together

Jared prays with a man at Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh, PA. He has been actively involved in ministry at the church since he arrived in June 2020.

David’s presence was an encouragement when the truth finally dropped: Jared’s father had been found, killed by the shooter. “I remember just crying and running out of the house, absolutely bawling. My prayer to the Lord was, Redeem it all!” Indeed, the Lord would do so.

Over the next few days, Jared mourned with the support of his close friends, especially David, along with Melisa McMullen—their aid gave him strength. Melisa comforted him now as he had comforted her years ago after her son Patrick’s death. While students at Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murietta, CA, Jared and Patrick had played basketball together; following their game, Patrick experienced a series of seizures and died as Jared, alone at the time, tried to help him.

Sharing Jesus with Mourners

With the funeral coming up, Jared asked to address the gathered funeral-goers—the friends and neighbors he had grown up around. “I wanted to share the Gospel, but I was scared, intimidated.” He admitted that he wrestled with and prayed over the challenge and appropriateness of talking about Jesus before the Jewish congregation at this sensitive time.

“But the Lord carried me through by giving me the biblical story (found in Luke 16:19-31) of the rich man trapped in hell, who wanted his brothers to know the truth of the afterlife. When I got that picture, it was game-on. The Lord put that message in my heart; my dad’s funeral became a mission field.”

Man talking holding Bible

Jared teaches from the Scriptures at CC South Pittsburgh. He was saved at 23 years old while living in Southern California and is passionate about evangelism.

Steeling himself for what was to come, Jared determined that he would not waste this opportunity to speak. “I believe the Lord protected me from deep emotional grieving that day because I knew I had a message to share.” Jared knew he could honor both his heavenly Father and his earthly father by making sure his friends and neighbors heard the Gospel. “Even if my dad was in hell, he would want people to know about salvation,” Jared confidently asserted.

Jared shared memories of his father for 20 minutes before transitioning into sharing his faith. “I’m a Christian,” he began. The room was absolutely silent after Jared boldly witnessed that Jesus, the God who created them, knows when they would take their last breath. There was no denying the tension that had been created. Jared was determined to share the Good News—he knew that this was something God had called him to do. He went on to quote John 3:16 and John 14:6, elaborating on how precious his earthly father’s love for him had been and how much more so was the love of God, who had given the mourners in that room His only Son. Lastly, he asked the congregation to join him in singing the “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem. That moment of harmonic voices lifted was one that neither he, nor several of his father’s friends who were in attendance, would soon forget.

Jared Younger

A recent photo of Jared. He recalled his desperate prayer after learning of his father’s death: Lord, redeem it all! The Lord has redeemed this tragedy and is using Jared to share the love of Jesus with many.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Afterwards, Jared was gratified to hear from Taylor Gordon, a fellow baseball player from high school who had witnessed to him about Christ years before he became a Christian. Another of Jared’s friends, who had attended the funeral and was moved by what Jared had shared, corresponded often with Jared regarding his questions about Christianity.

All was not well, though. In the year following his father’s death, Jared struggled through post-traumatic stress. “I had a nightmare every night for over a year about seeing my dad and believing that he was going to go to hell.” Less than two years after his father’s death, Jared, then living in California, moved back to his hometown and became an active member of Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh, PA.

Memorial

The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was the scene of the horrific shooting, which made news headlines for many weeks. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association sent chaplains to the funerals of the 11 victims to comfort the mourners.

Forgiving a Killer

Jared declared, “It doesn’t matter what happened, no matter what, every moment is another opportunity to fall back in love with Jesus. We must forgive—[practicing] forgiveness is the fruit that will identify whether or not someone is truly walking with Jesus.” He revealed that it did not take much time to forgive the man who had killed his father. Jared admitted, “The weight of the loss of my father outweighed any anger toward the killer; I was just crushed and heartbroken over what he had done. But I honestly haven’t had anger toward him; I believe that’s from the Lord.”

Robert Bowers is waiting for a federal court to decide his case. While Jared waits for news on the development of the case, he prays that the killer will come to know Jesus, and that God would use the situation and his testimony to show how He can redeem us all from our darkest places. “I’m specifically waiting for the day when I can see him in court and tell him that I’ve forgiven him. But he does need to make things right with the Lord,” Jared acknowledged.

Look for Part 2 soon at calvarychapelmagazine.org to learn more about how Jared Younger came to follow Jesus as his Savior and eventually moved to Calvary Chapel South Pittsburgh, where he is actively involved in evangelism and other ministry.

calvarysouthpitt.com

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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