Randell Stroud could easily have decided to become a gun control activist after he was one of eight people shot in downtown Nashville. Instead, Stroud is trying to stop violence by changing hearts instead of laws.
Residents and visitors to downtown Nashville may run into Stroud today. It’s Sundays when he hits the streets delivering his message to those willing to listen.
Randell Stroud has been walking with a purpose. Carrying a cross, he is walking from Home Church on Gallatin Pike all the way to the Capitol.
“I’ve been living in East Nashville for most of my life, and it just seems like we as a society things are getting worse and we keep passing these laws, more restrictions, more restriction, but things keep getting worse,” said Stroud.
It’s a heavy burden Stroud carries proudly. On the cross, names are written of people who have been affected by gun violence, death or simply need prayer.
“This is my friend of mine from middle school, who was actually shot in the head, and didn’t make it,” explained Stroud, pointing to one name on the cross.
The 22-year old who shot Stroud allegedly pulled out a gun over an argument about a dog, and then blasted away on a crowded sidewalk leaving eight people wounded. For Stroud, who was shot in the head, the experience was a wakeup call.
“I reached around and I touched the back of my head and I did see some blood on my hand,” remembered Stroud.
He quickly ran into a nearby restaurant and remembers the people who stopped to help him stop the bleeding. When the police came to take Stroud’s statement, one officer said, “I was a walking miracle, it dawned on me that I was this close.”
It was a moment that changed Stroud and led him back to the church. Stroud explained afterward he spent several days researching Crump, and his opinion of him changed.
“All the anger fell away from me and I made a decision to drop my testimony and charges against him,” said Stroud.
In a letter to the District Attorney’s office, Stroud dropped his testimony against Crump, writing how he believes “redemption is possible.”
Allen Crump is supposed to be sentenced next January, and Stroud is hoping that the justice system will show mercy. But beyond Crump’s own court date, Stroud is hoping that his faith can help bring others closer to God.
The guns themselves aren't the problem. It's the ignoring of God's words and failure to repent as a society. There is no political solution for sin. It must come by way of the cross. #gunviolence #god
— Randell Stroud (@RandellStroud) November 12, 2021
You know, as someone who tries to use love as my personal operating system, I wish I could say that it would be easy for me to make the same decision as Stroud if I were in his shoes but if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t know that I could. It certainly wouldn’t be easy for me to decide to drop charges and ask the judge to be merciful with the guy who nearly killed me. And even if my heart was ready to forgive my attacker, my sense of justice would demand actual consequences for the crimes that were committed.
I can’t say I’d follow exactly in Stroud’s footsteps, but there’s a lot to admire about both his faith and his works and I’m glad to see that they’re getting some attention in his hometown.