On Wednesday, September 9, 2015 Charleston’s daily newspaper, The Post and Courier, published an account from two of the three survivors. On the same day, NBC broadcasted an interview with these survivors Felicia Sanders, (mother of Tywanza Sanders and niece of Susie Jackson), and Polly Sheppard. The interviews recounted the emotional and spiritual struggles and authentic accounts as they publicly relived for the first time each moment from the closing prayer of the twelve prayer meeting attendees to the bloodshed and its aftermath. Just as Jesus chose twelve disciples, there were 12 prayer warriors in the Mother Emanuel prayer circle- the nine victims and the three survivors including the eleven year old granddaughter of survivor Felicia Sanders. With eyes closed the group collectively spoke their closing and final prayer from Genesis 31:49, “May the Lord God watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another” prior to 77 shots resounding in God’s house.
Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons, Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson dedicated their lives to the principles and teachings of Jesus Christ not just through their words but in their deeds as evidenced even to their deaths. Their earthly inscriptions will forever live as flags are removed, memorials are created, statues are erected, monuments are carved, and streets are renamed.
These whom we honor for their sacrifice were husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, friends, spiritual leaders – but most of all God’s chosen ones. As we the survivors remain unnerved by the loss of these beloved victims and continue to mourn and grieve the absence of their presence, the comfort is in knowing that their hearts and minds were already with the Creator, for they left this earthly world doing what they loved most – “being about God’s business.”