In other Las Vegas Shooting News: Orthodox Leader Speaks on Tragedy, Agnostic Survivor Now a Believer, Israel Joins Mourners
By Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)
LAS VEGAS, NV (ANS – Oct. 16, 2017) — Two New York City pastors from the South Bronx have been in Las Vegas to pray for, comfort and minister to the victims and families of the tragic shootings at the Route 91 Music Festivals, on the street and in the hospitals.
Rev. William Devlin of Infinity Bible Church in the South Bronx and Rev. Dimas Salaberrios, President of Concerts of Prayer of Greater New York are on the streets of Las Vegas near the shooting site at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, praying for people and hearing the tragic stories of what happened Sunday Oct. 1. Pastor Dimas’ own sister was at the concert with friends and narrowly escaped death.
Speaking for the pastors, Rev. Devlin said: “Pastor Dimas and I came to Las Vegas immediately with a passionate desire to minister God’s love to hurting people…..we are walking the streets near Mandalay Resort and on The Vegas Strip and at the make-shift memorial sites to hear people’s stories, pray with them and give them a word of encouragement.
“We have also visited Sunrise Hospital and prayed for a victim of the shooting and her family who was being discharged from the hospital Tuesday afternoon. Las Vegas, known as Sin City, is in great need right now — we are praying for the families, the police and first responders — as well as praying that the hearts of the people of Las Vegas might be turned to God, seeking His help, His comfort and His Love.”
Pastor Aaron Campbell of Antioch Christian Fellowship in Philadelphia also joined the team as did Jim Martsolf of the Washington Alliance Church, in Pittsburgh, PA.
Metropolitan Tikhon Issues Statement on the Tragedy in Las Vegas
His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, issued the following statement in response to the tragic events in Las Vegas. The statement reads: “On behalf of the hierarchs, clergy and faithful of the Orthodox Church in America, we offer sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“It always brings great sorrow to hear of such senseless killings in the supposedly civilized world. Our hearts ache for the families and friends of the victims and we offer fervent prayers for the repose of the souls of those whose lives were tragically cut short.
“We pray for the victims and the grieving families and ask that God send down upon them the spirit of peace and consolation. We also offer thanksgiving for the timely and heroic actions of the first responders.
“Finally we offer our prayers for the city of Las Vegas and all of those who have been affected by these tragic events. We ask that all Orthodox Christians remember the victims and their families in their prayers.”
Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is a 501(c)3 and an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America. It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years.
Israel joins US in mourning over Las Vegas mass shooting according to World Israel News Staff at https://worldisraelnews.com.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued his condolences to the American people following the massacre of 58 and the wounding of hundreds at a country music concert in Las Vegas.
“Las Vegas and the American people experienced a day of horror; the hearts of the people of Israel go out to the scores of innocent people murdered in cold blood. Our hearts go out also to the hundreds who are wounded; we pray for their speedy recovery. The people of Israel stand with the people of America this time and anytime, but especially in this time. We will overcome, together,” Netanyahu stated.
President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter to President Donald Trump expressing deepest sympathy on behalf of the people of Israel.
“The people of Israel join me in sending our deepest sympathy to you, to the participants in the festival, the people of Las Vegas and to all the people of the United States following this shocking attack which took the lives of so many innocent people and injured so very many more,” Rivlin wrote.
Israel “stands with you as you mourn the terrible loss of life and injury following this senseless attack on people who had merely gathered together to listen to music,” he added.
The Tel Aviv municipality lit up Monday night with the US flag in solidarity with the American people.
Taylor Benge says he was in fight-or-flight mode as Stephen Paddock rained bullets down on a country music festival in Las Vegas early Monday morning, according to Jessilyn Justice, the director of online news for Charisma.
“If it were over here, and I took cover, there were still bodies on that side of people just lying in pools of blood,” Benge told CNN. “I still didn’t know if that was safe or not.” (See: https://www.youtube.com/embed/1jsyc_V7GGY).
But during the worst mass shooting in U.S. history in which the death toll currently stands at 58 with more than 500 injured, Benge says he had a change of heart.
“It’s a fight or flight situation. You can’t really, you just gotta take it to God at that point and hope that you can make it,” Benge says.
“I know I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I’m just, you know, I was agnostic going into that concert, I’m a firm believer in God now because there’s no way that, you know, all that happened and I made it and I was blessed enough to still be alive here talking to you today.”
The murderer, Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, sprayed automatic fire into the concert-goers from his 32nd floor hotel room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino across the street from the concert. Paddock is dead. Over 500 were injured in the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
Where was God in the Las Vegas Shooting? ‘Heaven is for Real’ Author Todd Burpo Responds
In an Exclusive Interview by Leah Marieann Klett with “Heaven is for Real” author Todd Burpo, the author answered some serious questions about God’s presence amid tragedy.
After the deadliest gun attack in modern U.S. history left 59 dead and hundreds injured in Las Vegas, many have asked, “Where was God?”
Klett writes that from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to the devastating Las Vegas massacre, it seems like no more than a week goes by before some kind of tragedy rocks the United States.
For many of us who follow Christ, these tumultuous times raise serious questions: “Why does God allow tragedy?” and “Is God trying to tell us something?”
Rev. Todd Burpo, author of the New York Times bestseller “Heaven is for Real,” addresses such questions in his latest book, “God is for Real: And He Longs to Answer Your Most Difficult Questions.”
“With the shooting that happened in Vegas, the world is stunned by it, they’re fixated on it,” he told The Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. “One of the things that we can’t deny is that there’s evil in this world. Some people’s hearts are just full of evil, and can we do something about that? We, as a country, need to be honest about our adjustment to darkness and how we need the light of Jesus Christ.”
Burpo explained that in this country, prayer has all but been eliminated — both publicly and privately.
“We don’t let teachers pray anymore, we’ve stopped going to church and praying with our families at home,” he said. “But what we do have is video games that promote violence that have replaced Bible time. Instead of listening to sermons, people turn on the news, where we see violence and terrorism. Gradually, then, our whole society has adjusted to this darkness.”
Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter who killed 59 and injured hundreds at the Route 91 Festival, succumbed to this darkness, Burpo said.
“People are trying to figure out what went on in his mind, but I would say that something terrible in his life happened where he blamed God for it,” the pastor said. “That might have been a tipping point for him, but gradually, God didn’t matter to him anymore. When you take light of your life and all you have is darkness left, people became capable of committing these atrocities.”
Burpo said it’s important to remember that God is present in even the most devastating of tragedies.
“What I’ve found in those hard places, in those hard times, is that people want to pray,” he said. “I think in church, as pastor, we have neat and tidy services, and you ask people to pray, and people say they don’t feel comfortable. But when you’re out there next to the scene of an accident, everyone’s ready to pray. God is present to help in those times and in those places.”
Burpo pointed to Mark 4:35-41, where Jesus calms the storm.
“The disciples — these seasoned fisherman — are in the boat with Jesus during this terrible storm, and He’s sleeping,” he recounted. “The disciples, who are terrified of drowning, ask, ‘Why are you resting? Don’t you care?’ I think we’ve all asked these questions in scary times.”
In response, Jesus asked the disciples, “Where is your faith?”
“Essentially, Jesus was asking them, ‘Why didn’t you come to me first? Why did you try it your way before coming to me?’ Burpo said. “I think, in the Church today, we need to wake up and realize that even us as Christians, we often put Jesus last instead of first. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy for us to reach out to Him.”
Burpo said that he believes God is “waving” at the United States, saying ‘Here I am, I want to protect you, I want to come alongside you, and rebuild your life.’
“One of the things that people believe today is that God is in everyone’s lives,” he said. “I don’t believe that at all. I think God is available to everyone, but every day, people choose not to have God in their lives. God has given us the freedom to choose.”
Still, no one is too far gone, the pastor said.
“We need to wake up — and maybe it’s through a storm, maybe it’s through a shooting — and say, ‘God, we stopped praying to you, we stopped going church, and we stopped reading our Bibles, and look where we are now. God, can we come back?’ The answer is yes.”
He concluded: “God is not only available, He’s accessible, and I think that as a country, that’s a decision we need to make.”
Photo captions: 1) Pray For Las Vegas Banner. 2) Taylor Benge survived the Las Vegas massacre (The Chrsitain Post) 3) Author Rev. Todd Burpo. 4) Michael Ireland.
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a volunteer internet journalist serving as Chief Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as an Ordained Minister, and an award-winning local cable-TV program host/producer who has served with ASSIST Ministries and written for ANS since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. You may follow Michael on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MichaelIrelandMediaMissionary.com , and on Twitter at @Michael_ASSIST. Please consider helping Michael cover his expenses in bringing news of the Persecuted Church, by logging-on to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/ireland-michael
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