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Baptists minister in Boston after bombingscomment (0)

April 25, 2013

It was a close call for Melanie Stevenson.

Her husband, Ali, had just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15, and she had left her seat to go meet him.

As they turned back to walk toward the finish line, the section where she had been sitting exploded. It was followed by a second explosion 12 seconds later. 

“My wife, Melanie, was sitting in the same exact spot (where the explosion occurred) for five hours,” Ali Stevenson, head cross country coach for the University of Mobile, said in an interview with al.com. “She got up and left when I finished the race. Had I run slower, it might have been a different ball game.”

The Stevensons were spared, but many were not.

A scene meant for celebration had turned to cruel carnage in seconds. 

Three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy, and more than 170 were injured, some critically. 

After the bombs, pastors and other leaders urged people to pray for Boston as the city grapples with the questions that arise from tragedy.

“I would say first of all to just pray for Boston. This was a huge shock,” said Jim Wideman, executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England. “Patriot’s Day is a state holiday and a day that the Boston Marathon is always run. It’s an exciting day for Boston. Up here, this far north, it really marks the beginning of spring for us.

“So it’s a day that everybody looks forward to, and this action was calculated, I believe, to cause as much confusion as possible. It has left the city in shock,” Wideman said.

Amid that shock, a group of young adults from Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, were making themselves available to talk with and pray for passersby on the streets near the site of the bombings. 

The group had been in town since April 11, working with Hope Fellowship Church, a Southern Baptist congregation about three miles away in Cambridge. 

On April 15, the Prestonwood missions team handed out gum and invitations to Hope Fellowship to people who were watching the marathon.

“Some of our people actually walked down toward the finish line,” Josh Steckel of Prestonwood said.

That night Hope Fellowship opened its doors for people to stop in and pray. Though residents of Boston were encouraged to stay home following what is being investigated as a terrorist attack, a few people from the neighborhood who aren’t normally part of the church showed up to pray and to be prayed for, the church’s pastor, Curtis Cook, said.

Steckel’s team from Prestonwood was back out on the streets the day after the bombings, handing out granola bars, this time with signs on their bags that said, “Need prayer? We are available.” That simple invitation afforded several opportunities to pray with people and share the hope of Jesus, he said.

“Pray boldly in Jesus’ name that the gospel-centered church planters and pastors here would have more opportunities to share the gospel and love on the people of Boston,” Steckel said. “Also pray for healing, that God would use this for revival and for His glory.”


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