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    Photo: Retired pastor Julián Moreno, lost his great-granddaughter during the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas on May 24th. Patricia Lim/KUT

    “This community will eventually overcome all this. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick. We’ll need support. But we’ll regain our strength, mostly with the help of churches,” said Pastor Julian Moreno of the Primera Iglesia Baptist church in Uvalde, Texas.

    A retired Baptist pastor in Uvalde, Moreno stood at the pulpit once again last week to console his congregation after a deadly school shooting on May 24th, reports Premier Christian News. He has preached for 50 years in the city’s 113-year-old bilingual church, and with sorrow in his heart, he spoke of his great-granddaughter who was among the 19 children gunned down inside Robb Elementary School.

    The former pastor is still grieving on the fate of his great-granddaughter, 10-year-old Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, but he held the vigil to be strong for the community. Moreno asked for prayers for the families who lost their loved ones during the mass shooting. “Let us not forget to pray for these families that have been affected,” he urged his congregation. “In my family’s case we grieve the loss of our beautiful Lexi, a fourth grader with dreams and aspirations.”

    This community will eventually overcome all this. It won’t be easy, it won’t be quick. We’ll need support. But we’ll regain our strength, mostly with the help of churches. —Pastor Julian Moreno, Primera Iglesia Baptist church, Uvalde, Texas

    Holding back tears, Moreno said Lexi “is now in a place where there is no pain, no tears, no night and no death. She is with Jesus now, and she is not aware of the pain left behind.”

    Baptist leaders across the state attended the service and vowed support to anyone in need in the community. Uvalde is one of the poorest areas in Texas. Churches and several organizations pledged support to the families of the victims and survivors of the carnage.

    In an interview before the service, Moreno shared that he was outside his home tending to his garden when he heard loud noises he thought was from a nearby construction. His house was just a block away from the school and when he heard screams from neighbors and saw people running toward the school did he realize the noise was gunfire, reports National Public Radio.

    “I knew that the arms were high-powered because it was very loud,” he recalled. “When I got close to the school, I heard two officers, one of them said the guy went into the building. I knew that that’s where my great-granddaughter was at. I prayed for a miracle, but also resigned myself to the worst.”

    Losing his great-granddaughter was a devastating blow to his family, but the 82-year-old revealed that he does not hate the 18-year-old shooter. “He took something from our lives, but God’s love reminds me that I’m not here to judge a person.”

    Pastor Moreno concluded his service, “So to our community, seek God’s comfort, find strength for the painful days ahead. There are funerals to attend. And I pray that these words will bring some strength in your life.”

    Meantime, Rev Jennifer Mills-Knutsen, senior minister at American International Church in London, believed that aside from prayers, people should keep a bit of anger since lawless shooting “is far too becoming or has been a part of American life in the last 20 to 25 years and we’re becoming far too numb to the reality of this news breaking over and over again.”

    Mills-Knutsen said she goes back to the book of Jeremiah where “Rachel weeps for her children, and she refuses to be comforted, for they are no more.” She urged people to not be complacent amid the gun violence and hatred in the country. “We have to refuse to be to be comforted by the slaughter, that guns and individuals with guns and a system that perpetuates guns all over the country is causing in our children, in elderly, in grocery shoppers, in churches in California just a week ago, in any setting. We have to move past the weeping and keep a bit of anger that this is going on.”

    President Joe Biden pushed for for the enactment of tougher firearm safety laws. “As a nation, we have to ask when in God’s name we’re going to stand up to the gun lobby, when in God’s name we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done,” he said in a televised speech.