El Paso Baptists gather to pray after tragedy

More than 400 people from Baptist churches in El Paso gathered at First Baptist Church in El Paso on Aug. 4 for a prayer service following the mass shooting the day before. (Photo / Kalie Lowrie)

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EL PASO—One day after a mass shooting in their city that claimed 20 lives and injured another 26 people, Baptists from El Paso churches met together to pray at First Baptist Church.

More than 400 people attended the prayer service, led by seven local Baptist pastors who spoke of healing in the midst of an unthinkable tragedy in their community.

Mark Rotramel, pastor of First Baptist in El Paso, organized the event on Saturday evening, just a few hours after the shooting occurred at a shopping center a few miles away from the downtown church.

“Our intent is to say our churches stand together, and we want the community to know that,” Rotramel said.

Other congregations represented included Del Sol Church, Grace Chinese Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Horizon City, Scotsdale Baptist Church and Coronado Baptist Church.

Mayor: ‘We will overcome’

Addressing the prayer meeting, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, a member of First Baptist, reflected on the events that had unfolded over the previous 24 hours.

“This tragedy will not define El Paso,” he said. “We are a special community, and we will overcome.”

Margo said he saw great courage throughout the city. He commended the first responders for their quick action following the shooting. Margo visited survivors in the hospital on Sunday afternoon, including a 10-week old baby who lost his mother and father in the shooting.

“I hope and pray this will bring us together as a community like never before,” he said.

Pastoral prayers offered

Pastors from each church led in times of prayer for families, government officials, medical personnel, first responders, the country and churches in the community.

During an Aug. 4 prayer service in El Paso, Ariel Martinez, pastor of Del Sol Church East Montana Campus, led in prayer for medical personnel who cared for victims following the mass shooting. (Photo / Kalie Lowrie)

Walter Mueller, lead pastor of Del Sol Church, read Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Mueller prayed for the victims’ families and employees of the Walmart where the shooting occurred.

“Lord, we pray for these families,” he said. “We pray that they will not grieve and weep as people without hope, but that they will know that Jesus is our hope. …  Lord, use us as messengers of hope, messengers of the Good News.”

Ariel Martinez, Del Sol East Montana Campus pastor, prayed for medical professionals and those on the scene in hands-on ministry to victims and families.

“We are thankful for the men and women God uses to heal these bodies that are broken,” he said.

‘Be light in the darkness’

Patrick Six, pastor of Scotsdale Baptist Church, prayed for the nation.

“God, your word tells us to be strong in the Lord and in his might. I pray we would be strong in the Lord, that our light would shine in the darkness, that we would minister to those who are hurting, in the name of Christ … We trust you to heal this land,” he said.

Later, Six noted the need for additional prayers for Christians in the city.

“The biggest thing is for us to be light in the darkness,” he said. “Christ is our light. El Paso, like every city, needs the hope of Christ. Pray that we would be strong and courageous with that message and with God’s love.”

Mike Woods, pastor of Coronado Baptist Church, led a prayer of repentance, seeking the will of God and asking God to show believers how they can be part of the healing of their city.

“I believe the Lord will use us as the church to bring revival here in this city,” he said.

Need God, need continued prayer

At the conclusion of the service, the congregation joined together in singing “Lord, I Need You” as a declaration of the need for God in the midst of grief and sorrow.

“It’s impossible for us to give and meet the needs of this community in the coming weeks and months if we are not full of Christ,” said Elvin Porflit, worship pastor at First Baptist in El Paso. “Let’s join together and sing of our need for him.”

Following the service, Rotramel expressed gratitude to Texas Baptists for reaching out through emails and calls over the first 24 hours. The support he received from fellow pastors and churches provided comfort in a very difficult time, he said.

“Continue to pray for all of our churches,” Rotramel said. “This is a great opportunity for us to point our city to Jesus and for him to give the comfort only he can give.

“We are concerned about the people involved—their spiritual and physical condition. … Our concern is how do we not lose these people and double down on ministry to them.”

Rotramel reminded attendees at the prayer meeting that first responders and medical personnel will be dealing with trauma in the weeks and months to come, and he urged El Paso Baptists to continue to pray for them.

He also asked Texas Baptists to continue praying for their city, even after the news cycle had moved on.


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