NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Though the memory of the Sept. 15 shooting still weighs heavy on his mind, Wedgwood Baptist Church’s pastor, Al Meredith, remains focused on “what a mighty God we serve.”
Meredith interspersed old hymns and new praise choruses celebrating the attributes of God during a message from Romans 5:9-11 delivered at the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism conference, Jan. 24-25 at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
“I never would’ve dreamed a man would come into our church with 200 rounds of ammunition and unload on 400 kids,” Meredith recounted. “We’ll get through this; we’ll never get over it, but God will be there through all of it.”
Meredith shared some of the many ways God had manifested himself through the tragic night when a gunman opened fire on 400 youth and adults, killing seven and wounding seven others before taking his own life, during a See You at the Pole rally at the Fort Worth, Texas, church.
Among various opportunities to share the gospel in the wake of the crisis was a short sermon he gave at the Cotton Bowl in early January.
Many people, especially reporters, have posed philosophical questions about God’s goodness in the midst of tragedy, but noting God’s speech in the Book of Job, Meredith said God needs no explanation of what he allows to happen.
“Why do bad things happen to God’s people?” he asked. “Resign your position as general manager of the universe and let God be God!”
Meredith recounted the arduous process of cleaning the church, which was overseen completely by the Environmental Protection Agency. “There was literally a sea of gore down the center aisle,” he recounted. As one of the church’s staff members walked through the grisly remains of the shooting, Meredith said he was trying see God in the grotesque scene before him, asking God to show him a sign that he was present in all of it.
He was looking through the pews when he found a hymnal, the only one remaining since everything had been removed by investigators. He saw that a bullet had lodged into it, and held the hymnal shut, except for a few pages, which opened to Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.”
He further investigated and found that the bullet pointed to the line, “and He shall reign forever and ever.”
“Many reporters asked me, ‘Where was God in all this?'” Meredith said. “God gave me the words, ‘Exactly the place he was when his own Son died.”