Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 26, 1967
NUMBER 25, PAGE 1-2a

Let Them Die

Jefferson David Tant

It was shortly after 3 a. m., March 14, 1964. As Catherine Genovese returned from her job, she parked her car in a parking lot near her apartment in the Queens section of New York City. As she walked towards her apartment, a man came out of the blackness of the slumbering city and attacked her with a knife. Her screams of terror awakened the neighborhood; lights flashed on and a few windows opened in the apartment building across the street. The windows opened in the apartment building down the street. The windows closed, the lights winked out, and the man returned to his victim. Once again the 28-year-old woman raised an anguished cry for help as the knife was thrust into her quivering body. The lights and windows responded again, and the attacker got in his car and drove away.

"Kitty" began the long, crawling journey to the safety of her apartment. Twenty minutes later the killer returned to find her bleeding body lying in her hallway. He finished his mission of death, and went his way. NOT ONE PERSON telephoned the police during the assault. After she was dead, a neighbor called a friend in Nassau County for advice, and then crossed the roof of his apartment to ask another neighbor, a 70-year-old woman, to call the police. The police arrived within two minutes. The man explained sheepishly, "I didn't want to get involved."

A few days later, the full horror of the story was revealed. Thirty-eight people witnessed the savage attack, and thirty-eight people REFUSED to call the police and save the life of this, their fellow human.

At nightfall, in Albany, New York, another incident occurred. Richard Reineman, a demented 19year-old youth, appeared on the roof of the twelve-story DeWitt Clinton Hotel, dropped to a narrow ledge on the floor below, and for two hours stood there, making the distraught motions of a madman about to leap to his death. While firemen, policemen, a priest, and finally the boy's family sought ways to reach him, 3,000 people gathered in the street 150 feet below.

As the crowd swelled, a group of teen-age boys formed a sinister pep squad. "Jump! Jump!" they yelled in unison. And when Richard failed to be cheered on to spattering himself on the pavement, they rent the air with angry shouts of "Chicken!" and "Yellow!" One young woman in the crowd remarked crossly, "I wish he'd jump and get it over with." Another complained. "I can't wait around all night. I just missed my favorite TV program." A sporting blood said, "That kid isn't faking. Ten bucks he jumps." The bet was taken.

At one point, a 10-year-old girl climbed onto the base of a monument on the Capitol lawn, which faces the hotel, and mimicked the teetering boy on the ledge, chanting, "I'm gonna jump!" I'm gonna jump!" The crowd, which was growing bored, burst into appreciative laughter. When police finally rescued Richard, the man who had offered the bet went away grumbling, "He cost me $10."

A third incident took place in mid-afternoon, at the entrance to and inside an office building in one of the busiest sections of the Bronx. Teen-age, five-foot Olga Romero, a clerk-switchboard operator, was working alone in her firm's small second-floor office, when, she alleged, a man entered and suddenly knocked her unconscious. When she came to, he had ripped off her clothes and was raping her. Although her attacker threatened to slit her throat with a razor if she struggled, she broke away and fled, screaming, into the corridor and to the stairway to the street. Halfway down the stairs, she fell. The man seized her, struck her, and tried to drag her up the stairs. Attracted by her earsplitting screams for help, a crowd gathered in front of the building's glass door. These people simply stood and stared. Finally, two patrolmen, who had heard the girl's screams, went to her aid. Officer Brown testified later that he had to push hard to get through the ogling crowd. And inside the building, a dozen people on the floor above were leaning over the stairwell rails, also passively watching. "Forty people could have helped that girl," Officer Brown said. "They were a bunch of jerks."

Our reaction to such incidents is immediate. We are filled with horror, shock, and revulsion at such inhuman behavior. Our minds are filled with questions of "Why?" and "How?" The words are in our mouth to say, "That would never be MY reaction. I could never act in such a vile manner. That would never happen to one of MY neighbors."

But however unbelievable these just-related incidents might be, let us consider an even MORE unspeakable tragedy that occurred last year, a situation that is infinitely more terrifying in its consequences. Are you aware of the fact that last year one of YOUR neighbors, or one of YOUR relatives, or one of YOUR acquaintances DIED AND WILL BE LOST ETERNALLY IN HELL? And what had YOU done to prevent this unspeakable tragedy? Yes, we cry out in alarm at man's inhumanity to man, and come forth with all sorts of moral indictments of the society that fosters such treatment as allowing a fellow human to be savagely attacked without witnesses even saying "Boo!" But these crimes pale into insignificance when we consider the reality of hell and the everlasting torment of those souls who will forever be separated from God. And to think WE COULD HAVE SAVED SOME OF THEM!

Consider the situation possibly in your own congregation. In many congregations over half of the members were NOT born into families of Christians. Where would these people (maybe even YOU?) be today if someone had not taken an interest in their souls, if someone had not put forth the effort to constrain them to come and hear gospel preaching, if someone had not had an interest in their soul to the extent of discussing with them and teaching them the word of God? And yet, these very same individuals that were so wonderfully blessed by someone else oftentimes spent the rest of their lives doing little or nothing for others who are lost.

Last year, in a congregation I am familiar with, there were 14 people converted to Christ. Seven were converted as the result of the direct efforts of others, and four were children of members. This left some sixty or more members with NOTHING to show for their "labor" in the Lord for the past twelve months. What about your own situation? Other than possibly husband, or wife, or children, HOW MANY SOULS HAVE YOU PERSONALLY WON TO CHRIST? Many will have to truthfully answer, "NONE."

Why do we have such conditions existing? How can people live and be at peace with their own consciences when they know that so many, even of their own circle of acquaintances, are dying without God and without hope in this world or in the world to come?

-2394 Wesley Chapel Road, Decatur, Georgia