Steve’s Ramblings: Lord be with the people left behind of Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church

By Steve Dunford

The last time I have ever wept so hard over a tragedy in this country was 9-11.

In the year or so that I have written occasional editorials, I have learned that if I have something to share it is.

Sutherland Springs FBC before yesterday’s tragedy. (Texan Online photo)

Yesterday as the Associate Pastor or Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church took the pulpit, someone who had family ties to the church came in and opened fire.  Twenty-six of the congregation was killed.   Yesterday there were estimates of there were up to 30 injured, the official account of the injured is 20.

Yesterday afternoon, as severe weather was bearing down on us, my concentration was on the event.  After things were winding down, I broke down and bawled.

I went to a bible study the men of my church has on Monday morning.  I left early because I wanted to get on with getting to the task of “loading up the website.”

As I began to start, I watched a press conference that was held in this unincorporated small community of 400.

The weeping began after I watched the press conference.  Toward the tail end the pastor and his wife, Frank and Sherry Pomeroy asked to speak.  They were out of town.  However, their 14 year old daughter was killed in yesterday’s massacre.

The pastor of the church for 15 years, was emotional saying it was a tough night for his children and grand-babies.

His wife to the podium with a prepared statement.  One thing she said comfort was their daughter went with her church family that she loved so much.  Mrs. Pomeroy went on to say.  “This is more of a congregation of  parishioners, this is a family.  We played, ate, laughed, cried, and most of all worshiped together.  Most of us are gone, and our building is beyond usable again.”

Bro. Frank (I never met the man, but he is my brother in Christ)  when the press tried to bombard him with questions, he would answer with broken parts of Proverbs 3:5-6.   Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The church streams their services on Facebook Live every Sunday, and posts their services on YouTube, which I think is visionary and one way to fulfill the Great Commission.  In fact the shooting was live, and Facebook disabled it quickly.

Several things that I read said this was in a small church.  Sometimes 200 to some was a small church.  I heard someone in the community said they ran between 50-100.

I went through several YouTube Videos.  In Sunday School there was 30-32  consistently.  For morning worship there was 50-55.  Please don’t think I am making light of the situation, but there was one Sunday there were 53 in Sunday School and 72 for church.  The numbers brought a quick smile to my face in a grave situation; they must had food after church that Sunday.

To understand the pain these people are feeling.  I want to mentally do a test.  No matter what name is on the door of your church, take the crowd that was in the worship service if you attended yesterday.  Now cut that in half, knowing they were taken.  The ones that are left, visualize 80% of them in the hospital.

This is the pain of the few people left behind in this church.  Yes there could have been 26 more residents in heaven yesterday, but there will be unbearable pain for those that will carry on.  We need to pray for this church fervently.

When the Church of Christ in the Nashville area had the shooting, it broke me, but not to near this capacity.  There was so much more that hit home.  Here is why:

  • This took place in a town of 400.  I grew up in a community of 600.  As a college student, I know there was a drifter that walked in church one night, heading toward the preacher.  It looked like he had a 9 m.m. in his pocket.  I was among several who jumped up.
  • Three of the five churches I have pastored were not not much smaller.  They had 25-30 in attendance for Sunday School and 30-35 for “church.”  The other two were smaller than that.  When you are someone’s pastor, there will be a part of you that are part of them.  I was thinking what if it would have happened at any of the five churches that I preached at.
  • This congregation was smaller, but not much than the church I attend Calvary Baptist Church.  On average, we have 35-45 in Sunday School, and 60-70 in morning worship.
  • I feel guilty for feeling that way, but it hit hard that it happened to my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters as well.   I don’t know what the statistics are, but around 30% the total that were attending a worship service in Franklin County was at a Southern Baptist Church.  This might be hitting home to a lot of you for the same reason.

I wrote an editorial about churches need to ramp up their security after the shooting in Tennessee.  Our church was in the process of doing this at the time.   I also said that if someone had a conceal/carry license, I have no problem whatsoever for them coming to church strapped on.

I used this passage of scripture then and will today:

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise hisscrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.  (Luke 22:36)

The gun debate has started, like it does on every tragedy, for stricter gun control laws.   I stand strong behind the Second Amendment for reasons what happened yesterday in the aftermath.

A private citizen that lived across the church, shot the killer, injuring him.  I say thank God he was armed, and live in a country that he has the freedom to bear arms,  or things could have got worse.  Some accounts say law enforcement was on its way.  There were calls placed about someone dressed in all black and acting weird at a convenience store close to the church.

I ask everyone that has taken the time to read this, please pray for these people fervently.  The tears were flowing while writing this.  This scripture was on my heart as soon I read about this tragedy.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me (Jesus)  before it hated you. (John 15:17)

This is being investigated as a family domestic dispute in part of it.  Even if someone was bitter and angry with a family member, there was more hatred on display for the family, it was for the body of Christ.

Again, please pray for everyone involved.  It will be a very long healing process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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