By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
WASHINGTON, USA (BosNewsLife)-- Christian leaders are preparing a major prayer vigil in Florida "to honor the lives" of two young street preachers who were shot and killed while evangelizing on the streets of the U.S. state's Boynton Beach, organizers said.
During the May vigil participants will remember Tite Sufra, 24, and Stephen Ocean, 23, who were shot January 30 after meeting suspect Jeriah Woody.
The two evangelists reportedly spoke about Christ with the 18-year-old Woody for some fifteen minutes. He then left, but soon returned with a weapon, police said.
Sufra reportedly walked up to greet Woody and was killed with a shot gun blast at point blank range. When Ocean tried to escape, he was apparently shot in the back. After he fell, Woody allegedly shot him in the head, execution style.
Woody was detained February 3 after surrendering to police and is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, police said.
"COURAGEOUS BLACK MEN"
Organizers of the vigil honoring the killed preachers described Sufra and Ocean as "two courageous young black men [who were] shot to death while sharing the Gospel on the streets of Boynton Beach, Florida."
The prayer event was to take place May 16 from 1700 till 1900 hours in the evening local time at the parking lot 208 South Seacrest Boulevard, near where Ocean and Sufra were reportedly murdered.
"The best way to honor their memory is to return to the very place where they died, pray for the community they loved and then share God's love and forgiveness in Jesus Christ," added Reverend Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, a Christian liberty group involved in the vigil.
"We will not concede even one street in America, but will assert our right and duty to proclaim Jesus is Lord," he stressed.
PRAYING FOR FAMILIES
"We will [also] pray for their families...and for justice," added Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, an advocacy group sponsoring the event.
"Just as we honor those who die while serving our country and communities, we must honor Steven Ocean and Tite Sufra, two fine young men who were killed in the line of Christian duty," Cass said.
"This tragic event was largely ignored and under reported," he complained. "This vigil is our effort to pay these two men the respect they deserve."
The young men were ordained by their church "as ministers" last year after turning their lives around following run-ins with law enforcement, a woman identified as Ocean's sister, told local media.
JAIL RECORDS REPORTED
Jail records reportedly showed no adult arrests for Sufra. Ocean was apparently arrested in 2003 on robbery charges and in 2004 for violating probation on previous battery and petit theft convictions. He was reportedly arrested in 2006 for carrying a concealed firearm and resisting an officer.
However after becoming born-again Christians and turning their back to crime, they began preaching the Gospel to especially young people, including troubled boys, the sister suggested."They go around and minister to boys and say where they came from," she told The Palm Beach Post newspaper. "They did that all day and all night." Till the moment they were killed.
Now, "All Christians, especially those who minister on the streets, are urged to come and take back the streets of Boynton Beach for Christ," said Cass.
It comes amid concerns over what several church groups view as a growing number of violent incidents against devoted Christians in the United States.
Last year, Jim Pullion was killed while holding pro-life signs in front of his granddaughter's Owasso Michigan high school. Reverend Fred Winters was murdered while preaching on finding happiness in the workplace at his pulpit in the First Baptist Church in Marysville, Illinois.