Churches in the El Paso, Texas area are giving prayers, counseling, and blood to help the victims of the recent mass shooting that has so far resulted in 22 deaths.
Over the weekend, a shooter entered a Walmart in El Paso and opened fire, killing 20 people and wounding several others in an incident believed to be inspired by white nationalism. Two more people would die of their injuries on Monday, bringing the total to 22 fatalities.
Police have stated that the suspect posted a manifesto online before the shooting, which warned of an attack in response to what it called “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
21-year-old Patrick Crusius is the lead suspect and has thus far been charged with one count of capital murder while the investigation continues, according to a report by Reuters published Tuesday.
On the same weekend, nine people were killed and 27 were injured in Dayton, Ohio when 24-year-old Connor Betts opened fire. Betts was killed by police less than a minute after he began his rampage.
Although social media posts in which Betts expressed liberal views have become widely known, police have not yet determined a specific motive for the mass shooting, but some have noted that he had a reported obsession with violence.
The Christian Post interviewed local El Paso pastors to learn about what their churches were doing in response to the shooting, what ties they had to the victims, and what they believed churches across the country needed to do in response to the apparent rise in mass shootings.
Love will bind and hold us together
J.C. Rico, lead pastor of Immanuel Church El Paso, told CP that his congregation is providing licensed counselors at no cost to anyone affected by the tragedy who needs them.
“It will be a long term process where we will have Christian licensed counselors getting with those impacted in this meaningless violence. There are some that were not injured but were at the location and have asked for counseling,” said Rico.
One example cited by Rico was a young man with their church who needed counseling, as he worked at the Walmart and had encouraged some people to show up for an event on the day of the shooting.
“He now feels responsible for sending the young girls’ soccer team ‘The Fusion’ to Walmart for a fundraiser. The two male coaches were shot and are still in the hospital. He needs counseling as well,” continued Rico.
Rico also noted that one of his church’s members had a brother-in-law among the dead, adding that the church “will continue to minister to them personally.”
Rico felt that churches needed to “come together” despite having their own “way of doing church” in order to “to share the gospel of Christ.”
“Love will bind and hold us together. There is no greater love than the one our Father in Heaven gives us,” added Rico. “This tragedy was about hate, racism, ignorance and fear from a young man.”
“I pray we as churches reach out to individuals like this young man so that they can see and receive God’s grace and love. Then can we see a change in our society and stop these mass shootings.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski