Baptist church in Aurora kindles hope after horror, encourages communitycomment (0)
August 2, 2012
Almost as soon as the gunfire ceased in the Century Theater in Aurora, Colo., local churches began meeting the needs of the hurting in the community and their own congregations.
“I immediately felt the same anxiety that many others felt,” said Mitchell Hamilton, pastor of Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church, “as I considered the very real possibility that one of our members might be directly affected. My second thought was to get to the church and begin organizing a response.”
The church, located less than a mile from the scene of the shootings, opened its doors for prayer vigils and counseling. All of the church staff members have been involved, Hamilton said, and other counselors were brought in, including one who had ministered following the Columbine shooting.
Besides providing on-site help for the community, the church has empowered their members to minister to those around them.
“This is the essence of Ephesians 4:11–12,” Hamilton said. “Our members were able to touch our community in ways the staff never could.”
Rose Lamb, a Mississippi Avenue Baptist member, has been helping a co-worker who lost her son. “Parents are not supposed to bury their kids,” Lamb said.
While the church may not always have the answer to the “why” questions, Lamb said Christians “can offer comfort and support through listening, prayer and just being there for a hurting world.
“Just offering to pray with someone makes a huge impact. People remember that.”
The media exposure has allowed pastors like Hamilton to share their message personally with reporters and media personnel.
“We became very intentional to share the love of Christ and the gospel with each member of the press we met,” Hamilton said. “I had one videographer, with tears, tell me that he had never had anyone pray for him.”
“We will continue to encourage our community,” he said. “As time moves forward, we will continue to give a message of hope. It is quite obvious that God is here and touching lives.”
Moving forward, Hamilton said the greatest need for the community is prayer.
“The wounds that have been inflicted are too deep to be healed by words or resources. There are plenty who would offer both. We need the Spirit of God to fall on Aurora, draw her people to Him and lead them into a personal relationship with Christ.”
Hamilton asked prayers for church members to have:
- opportunity to minister in the community.
- the ability to share the love of Christ with hurting people.
- grace to care for those directly touched by the shooting.
On the Sunday after the shooting, Hamilton added, the church sang the modern hymn, “In Christ Alone,” its words having taken on new meaning in such close proximity to such a devastating act of evil — “No power of hell or scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand.”