A Texas church is finding hope in God after a deadly, head-on collision on Wednesday claimed the lives of 13 of its members, with the church’s lead pastor subsequently delivering a passionate message to journalists about life, salvation and the gospel.
The tragic accident unfolded Wednesday afternoon when a truck collided with a bus carrying 13 choir members from First Baptist Church New Braunfels in New Braunfels, Texas; the event has left members of the church — and the community at large — in shock.
“It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that thirteen of the fourteen passengers in today’s bus accident were called home to Jesus. The survivor is in serious but stable condition,” the church confirmed in a Facebook statement on Wednesday night. “Families have been notified. Out of respect for the families, we will wait until tomorrow to publish an official statement and list of names.
The statement concluded, “Please continue to pray.”
OFFICIAL STATEMENT: 3/29/17 10:40pmIt is with heavy hearts that we confirm that thirteen of the fourteen passengers in…
As it turns out, the 13 passengers on the bus were choir members returning home from a retreat; the driver of the bus was 67-year-old Murray Barrett, a middle school math teacher, MySanAntonio.com reported.
On Thursday, the Daily Mail was among the outlets that released the full list of names and identities of those who died in the crash, noting that 12 people perished at the scene and that a 13th person later died at the hospital from wounds sustained in the accident.
The victims who died were as follows: Howard Allen, 81, Murray Barrett, 67, Rhonda Allen, 61, Margaret Barber, 82, Harold Barber, 87, Cristie Moore, 68, Donna Hawkins, 69, Mildred Rosamond, 87, Avis Banks, 83, Addie Schmeltekopf, 84, Sue Tysdal, 76, Dorothy Fern Vulliet, 84 and Martha Walker, 84.
And, according to the Daily Mail, Rose Marry Harris, 64, who was a passenger on the church bus and Jack Dillon, 20, who was the driver of the truck are both alive and in stable condition.
Senior Pastor Brad McLean told media on Wednesday that the church was waiting for more answers from authorities about what led to the crash, with the pastor asking for the public to pray for the grieving church and family members.
“They’re coming together, they’re crying together, praying together and of course there’s anxiousness as to who was on the bus and what their condition is,” McLean told WOAI-TV. “There’s just a lot of unknowns.”
But McLean also took the opportunity to share Christianity’s central message with the journalists who were gathered before him.
“You never know what the day’s going to bring. The Lord tells us that we have today, tomorrow is not promised,” he said. “We know the certainty of the scripture, God’s word, that when a person believes in Christ as Lord and savior of their life, then they are secure in him. We know this group of senior adults, that they were believers in Christ.”
McLean said that those who were lost trusted God for the “forgiveness of their sins” and proceeded to affirm the central message of the Christian gospel.
“We can trust that promise,” he told reporters.
Members of New Braunfels’ First Baptist Church came together on Wednesday night to grieve, with three dozen people from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church across the street joining the congregation to mourn the tragic loss of life.
Church member Nancy Lacey was among those who — like McLean — told media that she’s turning to her faith as she tries to cope with losing so many people from the congregation.
“We know that everybody on that bus knew the Lord and we know we will be able to see them again,” Lacey said. “There is power in prayer. When two people gather, he’s there.”
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