John 13:33 records Jesus’ words: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Demonstrating the truth of those words, the Southern Baptist Convention has offered to pay the funeral costs for all of the victims of the horrific shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Beyond just offering financial assistance, Baptist Press reported that “local pastors and field personnel with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) began providing grief counseling within hours of the shooting at First Baptist’s morning worship service Nov. 5. Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines and SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page plan to arrive in Sutherland Springs Nov. 7 to offer prayer and encouragement. SBTC executive director Jim Richards arrived today (Nov. 6).”
First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs continues to face suffering and grief as they bury loved ones, and as the wounded, both physically and spiritually, go through the healing process.
By God’s grace, Frank Pomeroy, the church’s pastor whose fourteen-year-old daughter was killed during the massacre, understands that first and foremost, their hope is in the Lord. Speaking at a news conference on Nov. 6, Pastor Pomeroy proclaimed, “Christ is the one who’s going to be lifted up. That’s what I’m telling everybody. You lean into what you don’t understand. You lean into the Lord. … Whatever life brings to you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don’t understand, but I know my God does. And that’s where I’ll leave that.”
According to the Washington Post, “[Pomeroy’s] wife, Sherri, read a statement that said reporters had been ‘bombarding’ them with requests to speak about Annabelle and celebrate her life. They preferred not to focus on their individual loss, she said.”
“As much tragedy as that entails for our family, we don’t want to overshadow the other lives lost yesterday,” Sherri Pomeroy said. “We lost more than Belle yesterday. And one thing that gives me a sliver of encouragement is the fact that Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely and vice versa.”
The courage, wisdom, and faith exhibited in the words of Pastor Pomeroy and his wife are a testament to the peace of God that passes all understanding — the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thankfully, and by God’s grace, First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs’ brothers and sisters in Christ around the country are devoting themselves to prayer and to good deeds on behalf of the hurting congregation. Demonstrating what it means to be united in Christ, the Southern Baptist Convention has surrounded the Pomeroys and their flock with love and support.
As Pastor Pomeroy seeks to counsel and support those around him who are hurting, it must be a great encouragement to have the counsel of fellow pastors and Christian leaders. It must also be a burden lifted among many burdens to know that the funeral expenses are no longer something that he and his congregation need concern themselves with. What’s more, echoing Pastor Pomeroy’s words, the name of Jesus is being magnified as God’s people demonstrate love for one another.