Sutherland Springs is a small community just 30 miles outside of Antonio, Texas. Quiet and quaint, this tight-knit town of just about 700 people is the last place anyone would expect to be the center of international media coverage. But Sunday morning, carnage swept the town’s First Baptist Church after a gunman opened fire on a worship service, killing 26 and wounding dozens more.
Among the dead was 14-year-old Annabelle Pomeroy, one of the daughters of First Baptist Church pastor, Frank Pomeroy.
An emotional press conference on Monday proved just how close this small-town community really is.
In their first appearance before the media since the shooting, Frank and Sherri Pomeroy addressed questions and comments with the utmost grace and patience amidst their mourning.
“We’ve had a long night with our children and grandbabies we have left,” Frank said before turning to his wife to share a few words about the family they tragically lost on Sunday.
Both Frank and Sherri emphasized on multiple occasions during the press conference that the victims of Sunday’s massacre were not just fellow church members, but rather “close family.”
Pastor’s wife speaks on daughter killed in church shooting: “Belle was surrounded yesterday by her church family that she loved fiercely.” pic.twitter.com/VTkoMDJEXF
— ABC News (@ABC) November 6, 2017
“We ate together, we laughed together, we cried together and we worshiped together,” Sherri said. “Now most of our church family is gone.”
The grieving couple, who was traveling out of state at the time of the shooting, says they have been “bombarded” by the media with requests to share, comment and publicly appear as they “celebrate Annabelle’s life.” But Sherri reiterated Monday that their hope is that their personal tragedy of losing their daughter will not overshadow the other lives lost on Sunday.
“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, who she loved fiercely, and vice versa.”
Preceding Sherri’s statements, members of the media asked Frank what he plans to tell other grieving families, to which he provided honesty and hope that can only be found in Jesus Christ.
“You lean into what you don’t understand,” says Pastor Frank Pomeroy, who lost his daughter in church shooting. “You lean into the Lord.” pic.twitter.com/oSTXdiUA8u
— ABC News (@ABC) November 6, 2017
“You lean into what you don’t understand. You lean into the Lord,” he said tearfully. “And I would submit this to everyone—my families here, you guys there—whatever life brings at you, lean on the Lord rather than your own understanding. I don’t understand, but I know my God does.”
His poignant message speaks volumes to the faith that radiates through the community of Sutherland Springs and echoes that of Proverbs 3:5—“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.”
A pastor of a nearby church offered words of encouragement during the press conference, explaining that while we may grieve this horrific tragedy, there is power in the name of Jesus, and our faith cannot be broken.
Pastor: “We’re resilient, we’re strong and we’re going to continue to worship God, no matter what happens, no matter what attacks come.” pic.twitter.com/GCGEdORJXw
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 6, 2017
“The church is grieving, the body of Christ across this world is grieving, but we are resilient, we’re strong and we’re going to continue to worship God, no matter what happens,” he said.
After a casual and succinct gospel presentation, the pastor prayed for the Pomeroys, and the entire First Baptist Church family.
“Father, God, we just give this to you. We ask for your cover and your protection. We ask for your healing power, God. We ask for your strength. We ask for your help. You said weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. So we pray this prayer of our pastors, of our leaders across this nation and world. We are one church, and it’s in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
The Sutherland Springs community is strong in their relationships and even stronger in their faith. God did not bring this evil on His children, Satan did. But Jesus tells us not to be discouraged when trials come our way, for he has overcome the world.
We may not understand, but I find comfort in knowing that God WILL take what Satan meant for evil, and turn it into GOOD.
“And we know in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Lean on the Lord when your understanding fails you, and He will make blessings of brokenness.