Las Vegas pastors counter brokenness with hope

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas pastors are reporting trauma, ministry and prayer among their congregations in the 48 hours following the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

A gunman opened fire from a Las Vegas hotel Oct. 1, killing at least 59 attendees at a country music concert on the street below and injuring more than 500 others before reportedly taking his own life.

Michael Rochelle, pastor of Shadow Hills Church in Las Vegas, said that “a number of people” from the church “were present” at the shooting, with at least three individuals injured who are associated with the congregation.

“We have some of our college students pretty traumatized,” Rochelle said, including one young woman who “was on the ground and saw the young lady next to her shot in the neck, and she bled out and died in front of her.”

Shadow Hills hosted a special prayer meeting today (Oct. 3) and plans to host another Oct. 4, Rochelle said. Six of the church’s pastors have provided counseling at a local crisis response site, emphasizing Scripture’s comfort in Psalms. The congregation is working with first responders and medical personnel to provide a variety of other ministries.

“The greatest emphasis for us right now is that we live in a broken world,” Rochelle said. “Tragedies like this highlight that brokenness, but the brokenness is here. And the answer is our faith in God. It’s our hope in Jesus Christ.”

Pastor John Mark Simmons of Highland Hills in Henderson, Nev., a Las Vegas suburb, called the congregation to intense, focused prayer in an Oct. 2 email.

“Disbelief and shock are words that describe what many of us felt when we learned the news of the mass shooting,” Simmons wrote. “So sad and troubling. It is a tragedy for our city, our state, and our country. We truly live in a sin sick world.”

Highland Hills hosted a special prayer gathering Monday afternoon and devoted a scheduled 5:30 a.m. prayer gathering today (Oct. 3) to the tragedy, Simmons said, with plans to focus Wednesday evening activities on prayer as well.

Simmons has asked the congregation “to pray for God to bring good even though Satan meant [the shooting] for evil,” he said.

Foothills Baptist Church in Las Vegas similarly opened its building for prayer Monday afternoon and hosted a community prayer gathering Monday night. Additionally, the church has been ministering to members whose loved ones were killed or injured, according to pastor Hoyt Savage.

“What people need to hear is hope,” said Savage. “The Lord is a tower, and we run to Him. I shared with our people last night one passage that has given me great encouragement through the years in crisis times: Isaiah 41:10,” which states,

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.”

— by David Roach | BP

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