As incidents of verbal assaults, criticism and vicious attacks on Christians are rising, two young men from Boynton Beach have sadly become the latest victims.
Steven Ocean, 23, and Tite Sufra, 24, gladly took up the task of street preaching to those in their community as a way of ministering to troubled youths. Ocean, Sufra and another male took to the streets of Boynton Beach on Saturday, Jan. 30, planning to preach the word of God to those around them, specifically to those individuals around the 100th block of Southwest Second Street according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
This selfless act of leading others into the kingdom ultimately cost two of them their lives.
Ocean and Sufra began preaching to 18-year-old Jeriah Woody and struck up a conversation with the young man for about 15 minutes. Woody then told the two men that he had to go, claiming he had a phone call to make. As Ocean and Sufra began to walk away, Woody ran back up to them. When Sufra turned to greet Woody, he was met with a handgun and shot at point-blank range. Ocean quickly ran and was immediately shot in the back. As he fell, Woody walked up to him and shot him again – this time in the head. The third young man who was with Ocean and Sufra managed to get away.
Woody, who has previously been arrested for burglary, theft and drug-related charges, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was identified as the shooter by a witness. Known by his street name “Plug,” Woody surrendered to police and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He was denied bond.
In a time in which certain hate crimes seem to take center stage within various media outlets, Dr. Gary Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, asked in a recent press release why this story isn’t getting the press it deserves. “If two Muslims or two feminists or two homosexuals were murdered, wouldn’t the media be all over it? These were two fine, young, black Christian men shot by another black man for their Christian faith, yet the media does not seem to care,” he stated.
Cass continued to express his frustration in the release, saying, “It is an ominous sign of our times that Christians are being shot on the streets and in our churches. Last year, Jim Pullion was killed while holding pro-life signs in front of his granddaughter’s high school in Owasso, Mich., and the Rev. Fred Winters was murdered while preaching in his pulpit in Maryville, Ill. Increasingly, we are seeing Christian ministers threatened for their stand on marriage, and churches terrorized and vandalized. Now, when Christians gather for worship, they must have armed security. Anti-Christian defamation and bigotry has helped create this violent climate, and it must stop.”
As it becomes more evident each day that we are living in a world where Christianity is quickly becoming the most persecuted of all religions, and sharing the gospel can ultimately cost us our lives, we are reminded that Jesus warned us of these very days, stating in Matthew 24:9, “Then people will arrest you, hand you over to be hurt, and kill you. They will hate you because you believe in me.”