Mollie Tibbetts, the 20-year-old University of Iowa student who had been missing since July 18th, was found dead in a cornfield southeast of Brooklyn, Iowa. She was last seen jogging in her hometown of Brooklyn during the evening hours.

Authorities charged Cristhian Bahena Rivera, 24, who resides in rural Poweshiek County with first-degree murder accused of killing and dumping Mollie’s body after he allegedly accosted her and she threatened to call the police. In Iowa, first-degree murder carries a penalty of life without parole.

Rivera is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, who is believed to have been in the United States for four to seven years, is being held on a federal immigration detainer.

Tibbetts, a psychology major at the University of Iowa, was in the prime of her life and full of potential. As a parent of three young adults, I can’t imagine the incredible grief the Tibbetts family is experiencing. When events like these happen, I typically pray for four things:

  1. That the Tibbetts would experience God’s comfort, peace, and healing in the midst of this horrific tragedy.  
  2. That the family would be provided with the support they need, but also be given the privacy they also require while they mourn.
  3. As a Christian, I also pray that God would draw people to His Son Jesus Christ, that those who don’t know Him would turn to Jesus placing their trust in Him. He is our ultimate source of peace. He is the way, the truth, and the life, and we can only come to God the Father through Him.
  4. I pray that justice will be done. 

I would also add a fifth prayer request because of the injection of the illegal immigration debate into this case. I also pray that both sides of this issue will keep the focus on Mollie, her family, and her friends, not politics. Now is not the time to have this debate.

I’ve been disappointed by what I’ve seen from some on the right on social media in the brief time that has passed since the news broke. Politicizing this tragedy is no different, regarding tactics, from when the left politicizes school shootings to advocate gun control.

As a tactic it is gross. It is gross when the left does it, and it is just as gross when the right does as well. What happened to Mollie would not be any less tragic or outrageous had the suspect been an American citizen

Let the family mourn. Let’s spend our energy praying for this family and justice. The immigration debate will not be resolved today, tomorrow, or even next week. For now, our focus should be on the family. We should mourn with those who mourn, (Romans 12:15), not politicize this tragedy to advance an agenda.

The time will come to reflect and debate what can be done to prevent events like these, but now is not that time.

Update: I want to clarify. I understand we are angry. I’m also not saying that our broken immigration system is not complicit in what happened. That said, statements like “if we only had a wall” this wouldn’t have happened are foolish. We can’t possibly know that for certain.

I am not saying the immigration system and border security should never be discussed in relationship to Mollie’s murder. I also think it is wrong for the other side to ignore that an illegal alien allegedly committed this crime or dismiss that fact.

What I am saying is that the Tibbetts family, not the immigration debate, should be the focus today. Give it some time.

2nd Update (8/22/18): Via the Iowa Department of Public Safety, the family of Mollie Tibbetts offered the following statement.

Our hearts are broken.

On behalf of Mollie’s entire family, we thank all of those from around the world who have sent their thoughts and prayers for our girl.  We know that many of you will join us as we continue to carry Mollie in our hearts forever.

At this time, our family asks that we be allowed the time to process our devastating loss and share our grief in private.

Again, thank you for the outpouring of love and support that has been shared in Mollie’s name.  We remain forever grateful.

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