While driving home from the church office this afternoon, I got a phone call just as I saw a car blocking the road ahead. I answered the phone while taking a detour, and found out from the church member that called why I was being rerouted. Apparently, a man had a gun and was talking about killing himself. This was taking place in a restaurant in town. I prayed with the church member over the phone for the man’s well being, and asked her to keep the situation in prayer as well.
I arrived home and told my wife the situation. She suggested that I drive back to that area and let them know I was the pastor of Grace Baptist, and offer them any assistance that I could. She let me know she would pray for me as I hopped back in the car, drove to the street that the restaurant was on, and spoke with a fireman who was redirecting traffic.
“Hi, I’m the pastor of Grace Baptist Church. Is there anything that I can help with?”
“Just a second.”
The fireman pushed the button on his walkie talkie and after saying some technical walkie talkie stuff, a voice on the other end said, “Go ahead.”
“I’ve got the pastor of Grace Baptist Church here, is there something he can do to help?”
“Not at this time, just get his cell phone number and tell him to stay on hand…On second thought, send him to City Hall. We can use him there.”
The fireman looks at me and says, “Go to City Hall, they’ll be waiting for you there.”
I hopped back in my car and drove around the block. The most direct route was blocked by police cars and officers. I called my wife and let her know how she could pray for me. I got to City Hall, walked in, and told the first person I saw who I was. He directed me to a room and left. There were two women sitting in the room. I told them who I was and asked if I could do anything to help. One of them spoke.
“He’s my husband.”
I sat down near her and asked if she would like me to pray with her. She nodded and reached for my hand. I held her hand and bowed my head to pray. I said a brief prayer for the man, asking God to help him through this. I prayed that he and all of the officers involved would be safe.
After we said “Amen,” I continued to hold the woman’s hand and attempted to comfort her. After just a moment, she received a phone call and left the room. I turned my attention to the other woman in the room. She stated that she was the wife’s cousin. She did not seem to want to talk or for me to pray with her. I let her know that I would continue to pray for all of them, and I left the room. As I walked by the man’s wife, who was still on the phone, I touched her arm and mouthed, “God bless you.”
As I drove home, I wondered if I should drive back and give them a business card, or give a business card to the fireman that I spoke with earlier, but I didn’t. I pray that I provided some helpful ministry to the man’s family, but the reality is that I probably will never know if what I did will make any difference. Much of the minister’s job has this same ambiguity. All I can do is go and do as I feel led, and trust that God is using me along the way.