Call to Prayer: Pray for Texas
We join in solidarity with the victims and families in Sutherland Springs, Texas, during this worst of possible moments, the church shooting at First Baptist Church. Twenty-six people were killed during the shooting. Our prayer is for all who suffer and grieve.
The rural community of 400 people southeast of San Antonio is a conservative one of farmers, ranchers, and people who work in the oil and gas patches. The small Baptist church founded in 1926 has an average attendance of 180 people. Sixty were present. Pastor Frank and Sherri Pomeroy lost their 14-year-old daughter. Joe and Claryce Holcombe lost eight members of their family, including children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “I don't think this was a random act of shooting." The shooter's uncle said, "I am numb. ... My family will suffer because of his cowardly actions. ... I am so sorry for the victims in Texas." The shooter, claiming himself an atheist, had an extensive history of violence, domestic abuse, and mental instability. We include his family in our prayers.
Christianity does not brush aside human capacity for evil. The Bible is emphatic that there is something drastically wrong at the core of the human heart. Paul wrote centuries ago, “In the last days perilous times will come. Men will become lovers of themselves…” The apostle goes on to enumerate the descent of culture into darkness and abuse of persons by fellow human beings. The Texas tragedy, just following the terrorist attack in NYC, reminds us that religious or irreligious, the human heart is at the core of the problem when evil strikes. We do know that God has made each of us with capacity for action for good or for evil, a powerful and frightening freedom. We know that we will each be held accountable for how we use that gift. We were created by a God who is just and loving, and He made us in His image. Trust in and personal knowledge of our God and His unchanging nature is the only real hope to come to terms with such a horrendous event. Abraham’s cry when he encountered the three ‘visitors’ on the way to Sodom and Gomorrah resonates, “Won’t the Judge of all the earth do right?” Moses pleaded with God to have his name blotted out of God’s book in an attempt to save his people from destruction (Exodus 32:32). The demonstration of God’s resistance to evil culminates at the cross of Jesus Christ, his personal act of overcoming human evil and its consequences, and God’s goodness and ultimate life-giving power over death. When we fight evil we stand firmly planted in the bible story. Our prayers strengthen our stand. We pray in compassion and empathy for those affected. We mourn, but not like those without hope.
In the midst of tragedy, it is a natural impulse to ask why didn’t God prevent this in the first place. Some of the damage humans cause will never be fixed this side of the resurrection. But these trials, while bringing our need for safety, assurance, and value to the surface, also call out our best. We may have few definitive answers as to why or how God does or does not do certain things. We do know that we trust His character. God Himself bore our tribulations in His own body, and He will one day wipe away our tears. In Jesus Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection, we are once again assured that there is a perfect Judge in and through whom justice will prevail. Good will triumph over evil.
These events evoke political responses, including gun control and attention to mental health issues. Margaret Thatcher said, “The truths of the Judeo-Christian tradition are infinitely precious, not only, as I believe, because they are true, but also because they provide the moral impulse which alone can lead to that peace which we all long for. There is little hope for democracy if the hearts of men and women in democratic societies cannot be touched by a call to something greater than themselves. Political structures, state institutions, collective ideals, are not enough. We parliamentarians can legislate for a rule of law. You, the church, can teach the life of faith.”
Local officials concluded the Texas press conference with prayer. Fellow Pastor DeMoss spoke on behalf of the body of Christ in Sutherland and across the world when he said, “The church is grieving. The body of Christ across this world is grieving. But we are resilient, we’re strong and we are going to continue to worship God no matter what happens, no matter what attacks come. That’s a part of our faith. Our Savior Jesus died a brutal death and this happens sometimes, but all those families are trusting in God. We want to pray for the pastor and the families.”
We join his prayer, “Father God, we give this to You. Jesus, we ask for Your covering and protection. We ask for Your healing power. We ask for Your strength. We ask for Your help. You said, ‘weeping endures for a night but joy comes in the morning. So we pray this prayer over our pastors and our leaders across this nation and the world. We are one church and it’s in Jesus’ name we pray.”
So it is in realization of our call as Christians, as the Church, which scripture declares to be “the ground and pillar of truth”, we commit all the more to one another, to our Lord Jesus, to our communities and our world, to preach, to teach, to worship, to love, to serve, in full faith and trust as God gives us grace. Scripture further declares, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” That, “you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings” but “that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
And may He grant us His power in the demonstration of His miracles accompanying the word of grace.
Lord of the whole earth, hear our prayer with the cries of those affected by this terrible evil. We pray for every family and for the congregation and community of Sutherland Springs today.
The County DA speaking on behalf of the families affected asked for help through prayer and secondarily through financial donations to the families which can be made through accounts to be established by Sutherland Springs Community Association Commerce Bank and Wells Fargo Bank.
Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda