HOUSTON - Many people in Houston bowed their heads in prayer Sunday, seeking comfort and distraction after the horror of the Connecticut shootings.
"I tried to hold back the tears," said Jolana Young, a mother. "I couldn't imagine being separated from my son."
"I'm still in shock," said Cindy Rabe, also a mother. "I was driving when I first heard the news over the radio, and it felt like someone punched me in my stomach. I thought about my son, who was at school at the time. It was so scary, I just started praying."
Friday's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school took the lives of more than 26 people. Twenty children, ages 6 and 7, and six adults were gunned down. The suspected shooter, Adam Lanza, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said, bringing the number of fatalities to 27. Hours after the shooting, investigators also found Lanza's mother murdered in her home. Police believe she was shot by her son, before he drove her car to Sandy Hook and opened fire.
It's a tragedy that brought not only a town together, but an entire nation.
"Whenever we go through trials, there's a place of unity that happens," said Pastor Gregg Matte from Houston's First Baptist Church. "We know that we need something more. We find ourselves deficient. We turn to God, who is sovereign. We trust in that foundation."
Now, people of faith all over the Houston area are praying for those that have lost loved ones, teachers, and first responders.
"We have an opportunity to pray for everyone in Connecticut," Pastor Matte said. "We have an opportunity to serve."
"There is something that will come out of it that will make people stronger, especially in America," said Young. "All of us are hugging our children tighter and watching them sleep at night. This happened at a school, and it was out of their control, so I wouldn't be human if I didn't have some level of fear. But I have to know that God is in control."
"As the initial shock of the shooting begins to wear off, many are asking the questions 'why' and 'how did this happen'," continued Pastor Matte. "The question is not 'why,' but 'what now.' When a tragedy like this happens, it's human nature to want to cast blame. Of course we have to make sure provisions are in place at our children's schools to make them as safe as possible, and mental health is a big component here as well as our culture...but the fact is that there is evil in the world. This shows us our need for God, and we turn to Him."
"I know that God is near to the heartbroken, and I pray their broken hearts will be healed," said Rabe.
"We have earthly grief, but a heavenly hope," said Pastor Matte.
President Obama, along with several men and women of faith, expressed their pain and grief during a memorial in Newtown, Connecticut Sunday night. People across the nation are holding on to a hope that something will change before a tragedy like this happens again.
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