Crouse, Johnson's Families Prayed With Murray's Parents
5:30 AM, Dec 12, 2007
The families of two young missionaries shot and killed by gunman Matthew Murray at a Colorado religious center met privately with Murray's parents Wednesday to grieve and offer prayers for both the attacker and his victims.Tiffany Johnson, 26, and Philip Crouse, 24, were slain at the Youth With a Mission center in Arvada early Sunday. About 12 hours later, Murray killed two more people at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, 65 miles away, before killing himself.Relatives of Johnson and Crouse met with Murray's parents, Ron and Loretta Murray, at an undisclosed location close to the Youth With A Mission campus, after the memorial service for the young missionaries."The Murray's time with each family lasted approximately one hour ... The two families prayed together and wept together. The Crouse and Johnson families offered the Murrays their love and Matthew Murray their forgiveness," said Casey Nikoloric, a spokeswoman for the Murray family.Prior to their meeting, Matthew Murray's uncle, Pastor Philip Abeyta, spent private time at the YWAM campus with members of the Johnson and Crouse families as well."The entire Murray family is overwhelmed by this act of Christian love and forgiveness," Abeyta, pastor of a Denver church, said after the meeting. "Matthew's parents, Ron and Loretta, are humbled beyond words and deeply grateful to the families of God's children, Tiffany Johnson and Phillip Crouse, for taking this extraordinary step to begin the process of healing and reconciliation. What an incredible example of the power of God's love.""We believe that she (Johnson) would want to forgive. I just want to extend from our family to theirs forgiveness. They have done nothing wrong," said Johnson's uncle, Andy Ronchak.Those at the memorial service at Faith Bible Church shed tears, laughed at anecdotes and sang Christian rock songs as they celebrated the lives of Johnson and Crouse. (Read that story) In a statement, Murray's parents said they will hold a private funeral for Matthew Murray later this week. (Read that story.) "We are lost in grief as we prepare to bury our beloved son, Matthew. We loved Matthew with all our hearts, and we are groping for answers as we try in vain to understand the events of last Sunday," the family said. Colorado Springs police on Wednesday said Murray had an assault rifle, a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and a 9mm semiautomatic handgun when he entered the church. Investigators found an AK-47 assault rifle in his car and a .22-caliber handgun at his home. All were purchased legally, at various gun and sporting goods stores. (Read that story.)Murray's family also issued this statement, "In response to hundreds of inquiries, the Murray family very humbly requests that any memorial donations made on their behalf in lieu of flowers be directed to King's Kids Denver, a youth ministry program affiliated with YWAM. Matthew Murray was a program participant and, later, an active volunteer with King's Kids. Donations may be mailed to Kings Kids Denver, 7754 Holland Court, Arvada, Colorado 80005. For more information on King's Kids, please visit http://kkdenver.org/."