By Aaron Earls
In the aftermath of a fatal mass shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school, many people are asking why.
David Hughes, pastor of the Church by the Glades, says the better question is “Who wins?”
“Do we let fear and cruelty, violence and hatred win?” Hughes asked. “Or do we continue to fight against the darkness and continue to bring the message of hope and light that comes through Jesus Christ?”
As survivors deal with pain and loss, Hughes’ church and others are seeking to minister.
Eddie Bevill’s Parkridge Church met for seven years at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of Wednesday’s shooting, before finding a permanent location. He said many churches are working together for prayer vigils and other ways to minister to their hurting community.
For some, the shooting was a vivid reminder of past shootings.
In the midst of the chaos he sent Dean messages, keeping her updated on his safety, and one that read, “Just in case, I love you.”
While Dean’s son came home safely, some of her friends were not so fortunate. She said one girl from her Sunday school class was killed and another badly injured.
This was the second time Joe LaGuardia, pastor of First Baptist Church of Vero Beach, Fla., has lost a loved one in a mass shooting.
His father was murdered at a 2013 town hall meeting in Pennsylvania. His friend, assistant football coach Aaron Feis, died at the Florida school after throwing himself between students and the gunfire.
It is with Great sadness that our Football Family has learned about the death of Aaron Feis. He was our Assistant Football Coach and security guard. He selflessly shielded students from the shooter when he was shot. He died a hero and he will forever be in our hearts and memories pic.twitter.com/O181FvuHl3
— MS Douglas Football (@MSDEagles) February 15, 2018
“He died the same way he lived — he put himself second,” school spokeswoman Denise Lehtio said. “He was a very kind soul, a very nice man. He died a hero.”
For those looking to talk to their children about the tragedy, Bill Emeott, a kids’ ministry specialist at Lifeway, offers seven ways to help children deal with tragedies.
As a professor of child psychology and crisis response, Joshua Straub, Lifeway’s family and marriage strategist, offers tips on talking with your children depending on their age level.
- Lifeway has developed a page directly related to ministering in the aftermath of mass shootings.
- Ministry Grid is offering churches free online security training.
- How Churches Can Prepare for the Worst
- Strangers in a Small Church: Responding to Visitors in an Age of Violence
- Securing the Faithful: How Churches Can Best Prepare for the Worst Tragedies
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.