While she was praying at church, Chris Singleton’s mom was shot eight times by white supremacist Dylann Roof in 2015.
Then only 18, Chris Singleton had to assume the role of parent for his younger siblings.
“It was being thrown into the fire for me,” Chris says on a 100 Huntley Street video. “Something like that, I call it the unthinkable because you never think in a million years that something like that will happen to you. It was tough then, it’s tough now. It made me grow up a lot quicker than a lot of people. I had to take care of two teenagers when I wasn’t even 21 yet.”
Incredibly, Chris chose to forgive the racist mass murderer who snuffed out nine lives at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. When Sharonda Coleman-Singleton died, Chris wasn’t exactly strong in his Christian faith.
“I think anybody that loses a loved one, there’s two ways you could go with your faith,” Chris says. “You could say number one, there’s no way God is real. Or you could say, two, God, I don’t know how this happened or why this happened, but I need you to get me through it.”
“I didn’t have my mom anymore and I didn’t have my dad, so Jesus became the rock that I would lean on,” he says. “That was comforting for me, it was therapeutic for me.”
Meanwhile, Dylann Roof has been sentenced to nine consecutive life sentences in prison. His hateful website, The Last Rhodesian, showed pictures of him with neo-Nazi symbols. Rhodesia was the white-ruled state that is now Zimbabwe.
Chris — who’s not to be confused with same-named outfielder who played for the Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles — is now a motivational speaker challenging listeners to choose forgiveness.
Annually, he speaks before 60 organizations. Some have included Boeing, The Houston Texans, Microsoft, Biogen, Volvo, The Washington Wizards and over 100,000 students and educators across the world.
One of his children’s books, Different – A Story About Loving Your Neighbor, was a best seller in its category and has been featured by numerous outlets, including The Obama Foundation.
“My daily prayers are to ask God for wisdom,” he says. “My mom used to tell me to read the book of Proverbs so every month I try to read it, the entirety.”
Walking in radical forgiveness has made Chris a better husband and father, and it has given him a better life, he says.
“Love is stronger than hate,” he says.
Nicholas Boatwright studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy near Culver City, CA.