A pastor and funeral home worker who was among the first people shot at by a murderous gunman in Uvalde, Texas, discussed the experience during a Sunday message, offered encouragement, and told congregants the shooter will face God for his horrific actions.
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Gilbert Limones, a preacher at a small church called Casa El Shaddai and a worker at Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, sermonized about the prevalence of evil and the power of biblical faith.
“When tragedies happen, all the enemy needs is a willing vessel,” Limones told his small congregation, according to The Associated Press. “The devil … is going to do everything he can to keep and disarm the church.”
The preacher saw evil firsthand on May 24, when a gunman shot at him outside the funeral home and then proceeded across the street to enter Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two teachers.
During his message, Limones recalled hearing a car crash and going to help before quickly realizing a shooter was exiting the vehicle. That assailant then started firing at Limones and another funeral worker; they fled and somehow safely escaped the madness.
“I was the first person that he shot,” he said. “I was only 150 feet from this man. … It changed my life.”
Limones has since been on the frontlines of the community’s mourning, as he subsequently helped prepare several young victims for burial. The weight of that responsibility — especially in light of his own near-death experience — is hard to imagine.
Watch the powerful sermon:
Limones, who said he is permanently impacted, asked the congregation to consider what the children who survived the rampage inside the school must be feeling.
“Their lives are changed forever,” he said. “And these children have to deal with something that normally only adults will deal with.”
Despite the pain and suffering, Limones reminded the audience to trust in the Lord, encourage believers to be there for the community, and pray for leaders, regardless of agreement with them.
“Church, you are armed by this,” he said while holding up the Bible, a powerful reminder of the comforting truths inherent in scripture.
Limones told his congregation he believes the victims are in a better place — and that the shooter will be held accountable.
“You don’t think that the shooter is having to speak to our father about what he did?” the preacher asked.
But he also shared his struggles with guilt and tears — understandable reactions after facing the horrors he saw that day. In the end, Limones encouraged the church to cling to truth, understand the role of sin in the world, and follow the Lord.
Continue to pray for Limones and the entire Uvalde community as they mourn the unthinkable.
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