When most hear about violence against the church, they think about the Middle East or Africa or some other faraway place.
But here in the U.S. there have been a surprising 18 church mass shootings just since 1999.
That’s an attack almost every single year.
Now a group of worshipers in Augusta, GA are training to fight back.
“I think Christianity has been under attack since Jesus walked on the earth and I think just as time has sped up and things have gone on it’s become more and more under attack,” said Whole Life Ministries security leader Aaron Cohrs.
He and his Church recently hosted a self-defense training seminar inviting churchgoers from across the Augusta community to come and learn.
“Sitting at church, anything could happen and we all have the same feelings, the same questions,” explained Zachary Goodwin who attends Hill Baptist Church.
“What makes this situation different than others like schools and government buildings is we have to find balance between an open-door ministry, which is what the church is, as well as a safe environment for those that choose to worship and to worship without threat or distraction.”
Bill Godbee, another attendee at the self-defense training, but from The Assembly at Augusta Church, echoed a similar worry, “Things could happen that your mind doesn’t even fathom.”
That’s why these trainings are so important, explained Goodwin, “When it happens it happens and that’s why we have these types of seminars is to get a routine of what to do in that situation.”
The trainings provide self-defense skills and focus particularly on Krav Maga, a no-holds-barred, hand-to-hand combat method developed by the Israeli military.
Meaning “contact combat” in Hebrew, the Krav Maga fighting style combines the best techniques from boxing, wrestling, Aikido, judo, and karate.
It derives from the street-fighting experience of Hungarian-Israeli martial artist Imi Lichtenfeld, who honed his skills defending against fascist attacks in 1930s Czechoslovakia.
After Lichtenfeld’s migration to Israel, he taught his fighting skills to what eventually became the Israeli Defense Forces.
Now these skills are being taught to Christians in Augusta to defend their flocks from increased hostility in an increasingly anti-Christian culture.
“It’s a no-nonsense system. It’s a gross motor skill system so what that means is it’s very easy to learn. It’s very easy to remember and most importantly, it’s easy to perform under stress,” explains self-defense expert Tony Price. “It’s better to learn it and to know and never need it than really need it and wish you never had it.”
While the training emphasizes it’s always better to resolve dangerous situations peacefully, having the ability to defend yourself if the need arises is of critical importance.
“It’s kind of like a dimmer switch. You might bring it down to a lower level of readiness but you’re ready to take it up as they cause you to do it.”
And it wasn’t just the men from church who showed up to the self-defense seminar.
Wendy Thompson and her two daughters attended the training to learn as well.
“It’s very important for a woman to invest in herself and to learn skills to mitigate threats and keep her safe,” Thompson explained.
Have you thought about your church’s plan for self-defense to protect against the worst-case scenario? Does your church have a security team?
Have you attended a self-defense seminar at your church, or are you interested in attending one?
Let us know in the comments below.