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Pastor’s wife delivers sad news to church families

DALLAS (BP)–Gina Camp was at home with her four young children June 24 when the telephone rang. It was her husband, Scott, pastor of Metro Church of Garland, Texas.

“He told me to sit down,” said the 36-year-old pastor’s wife. “He said our bus crashed and some of our kids were gone.”

The bus was filled with Metro’s teenagers heading to a youth camp in Ruston, La. It crashed into an overpass support on Interstate 20 north of Dallas, killing five people and injuring more than 35.

Camp, whose husband started the Southern Baptist congregation almost nine years ago, said she has been completely overwhelmed by the tragedy.

“We’ve been together in ministry for 14 years and this is just terrible,” Camp told Baptist Press. “It is too much to even handle without the love of Christ to bring us through.”

Moments after she received the call from her husband, Camp asked her sister-in-law to watch their children. The drive to the church took about three minutes and when she pulled into the parking lot, worried parents and family members were beginning to swarm the 1,000-plus member church.

“I was emotionally distraught,” Camp said. “A group of women began praying for me that I could have the strength to minister to our families. I was crying out to the Lord for strength. These people desperately needed comfort.”

As the wife of a senior pastor, Camp said she participated in normal ministries at the church — like teaching Vacation Bible School and children’s choir. But on June 24, Camp assumed the responsibility of telling parents that their children were not coming home.

The first family to learn the news was Michelle Chaney’s. Her aunt had received confirmation during a telephone conversation and she approached Camp wondering what to do.

“She said, ‘Please help me. I’ve got to tell my sister. What do I do?’ I brought Michelle’s mom into a private room and she looked at me. She said, ‘what does this mean? Does this mean my daughter is dead?'”

“I said, I’m so sorry,” Camp recalled. “It was so tragic. It was the most horrific situation I’ve had to handle.”

From there, Camp and another pastor’s wife left the church and began visiting the homes of the other young people who died. Afterwards, they made the rounds at the numerous hospitals who were tending to the wounded young people.

Camp finally returned home late in the evening, meeting her husband after midnight.

“My husband was ministering all day and he led a service at the church the night of the crash,” she said. “We were so busy that we didn’t have a chance to talk until he got home.”

Around 12:30 a.m., Camp’s husband returned home, the 40-year-old pastor looking tired and worn.

“I was in bed when he came home and he just couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I told him to lay still and just breathe. We both tossed and turned and tried to sleep but it was difficult. We knew today would be a hard day.”

Camp said she is still struggling with what has happened. “We’ve got to get through this,” she said. “The Lord has to help us get through this.”

Through it all, Camp said she was most impressed with the outpouring of love and support from the Christian community in the Dallas metroplex.

“I have never seen such an outpouring of love from the body of Christ,” she said. “We’ve had so many ministers, counselors and laypeople who have assisted us through this tragedy.”

For Camp, the days of grief are just beginning. She knew several of the students who died, having worked with them in children’s choir.

“I don’t know if there is a way to let people know how much we love these kids and how our hearts are broken,” she said.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: WARM EMBRACE, INFORMING THE MEDIA and TAKING ITS TOLL.

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  • Todd Starnes