By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
On Sunday, Nov. 5, a Texas man entered First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas (about 35 miles southeast of San Antonio), and killed 26 innocent people and wounded about 20 others.
This occurred roughly five weeks after a man killed a woman in an Antioch, Tenn., church parking lot and then wounded seven people inside the church.
In the case of the most recent shooting, CNN reported that one family lost eight members. Among those reportedly killed was the 14-year-old daughter of the church’s pastor, Frank Pomeroy who, along with his wife, was out of town on Sunday. The visiting pastor reportedly was among those killed.
Both are senseless tragedies.
The Texas church is affiliated with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards said chaplains will be sent to Sutherland Springs to assist in the aftermath of the tragedy and called for prayer for “our brothers and sisters in Sutherland Springs.”
SBC President and Memphis pastor Steve Gaines echoed that call as did Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
On Twitter, Davis acknowledged he is praying for the Texas church. He called on people to “cherish our church family like never before. As a sign of unity in Christ, be in church on Sunday,” he wrote.
Gaines specifically asked people to pray that God “prevent further incidents like this throughout our nation in the days to come.”
My heart breaks as I read about the families who lost loved ones in Texas. I can’t imagine one family losing eight people or the pastor and his wife who had to return home knowing their precious daughter would not be there to greet them.
Non-believers had a field day on Facebook and other social media, making a mockery of God and prayer. “Where was your God when this happened?” they wrote.
God was there when it happened and He is there in the aftermath. We may never know why this madman chose this church to target and why he was so determined to kill. But without a doubt, God is still in control. This was not a surprise to God and it really should not be a surprise to us.
Read the Book of Revelation. The end days will be full of senseless tragedies.
Will the madness end? The answer is a resounding yes, but, unfortunately, will not happen immediately as we would desire. The madness will only end when Jesus returns. And, as Scripture makes clear, no one knows the hour or day that will occur.
In the meantime, as so many others have asked, pray for the people and town of Sutherland Springs and continue to pray for your own congregations and take as many safety precautions as possible. Unless Jesus returns first, it’s not “if” a church shooting happens again, it’s “when and where?”