FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Five years after two bullets nearly took his life in the Wedgwood Baptist Church shooting, Kevin Galey is thankful for the new perspective his wounds gave him.
“When you’re shot and laying on the ground with your blood leaving your body … you think about what is really important,” said Galey, who today serves as Wedgwood’s minister of counseling and community needs in Fort Worth, Texas. “Being down here [at the church] all the time wasn’t as important as being at home with my family.”
Like many busy pastors, Galey also was a student. When he was shot, he already had three degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was pursuing his fourth, a Ph.D. He said the drive to finish his last degree as quickly as possible waned considerably after the shooting.
“The shooting kind of relieved a lot of tension and pressure to help me refocus on what is really important in life,” Galey said.
Galey battled through surgeries and a serious infection in the months after the shooting. The health problems cost him an entire academic year in his doctoral studies. He soldiered on and was awarded his Ph.D. from Southwestern last May. Galey dedicated his doctoral dissertation to his fellow victims of the Wedgwood shooting.
“Seven kids lost their lives, and Kim Jones and Shawn Brown from Southwestern didn’t get to finish a degree,” Galey said. “I knew I had to finish it, no matter how long it was going to take.”
God’s provision for Galey and his family began soon after the shooting, beginning with the first encounter he had with his 6-year-old son.
“My son walked out of the building and saw me on the ground, bleeding, shot twice, and he thought I had a watermelon Jolly Rancher candy on my shirt,” Galey said. “He didn’t even think it was blood or anything –- God really protected his thinking.”
Galey traveled the world talking about the shooting for more than a year after he was given medical clearance. He sees now that this hectic pace effectively kept him from having to face the emotional impact of the shooting.
“I could talk about it, but I hadn’t dealt with it,” Galey said. “When I stopped traveling and had to deal with that, it was really difficult.”
Galey said the shooting and its aftermath caused him and his wife to re-examine how God wanted to use their lives.
“Ministry families are not immune from tragedy and tragic things happening to them,” Galey said. “We’ve had opportunities to go to Thailand and Africa and other places and talk to missionaries about surviving tough times and allowing God’s grace to be enough to get you through the most difficult times of your life.”
Galey said a lesson he learned from Southwestern Professor Emeritus of New Testament J.W. MacGorman while a student at Southwestern many years ago helped get him through.
“Dr. MacGorman said in chapel one day that the thorn room is the prerequisite to the throne room,” Galey said. “Solid, good Christians are not immune from crisis –- it is the crisis that makes us better people and more attuned to what God wants us to be able to share with other people.”
Samuel Smith is a newswriter at Southwestern Seminary.