TBM chaplain in Uvalde: ‘It’s devastating for everybody’

TBM chaplains took part in a community-wide prayer vigil in Uvalde after Tuesday’s school shooting. “The city is in shock, in mourning,” said Sonny Garza, a TBM chaplain serving in the city.

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A shooting at a Uvalde elementary school that left 19 students and two teachers dead has shaken everyone in town—families, children, teachers and neighbors.

 People gathered around Robb Elementary Tuesday night trying to figure out just what happened in their hometown. They shed tears and shared hugs with broken hearts and raw emotions.

“The city is in shock, in mourning,” said Sonny Garza, a Texas Baptist Men chaplain serving in the aftermath of the shooting.

Garza is one of four TBM chaplains ministering in Uvalde in the aftermath of the shooting. Working alongside law enforcement and churches, the chaplains are helping people work through their emotions as well as offering to pray with them.

Few people have turned down Garza’s offer to pray.

“I seek to comfort them,” Garza said.

TBM chaplains are specially trained to know how to minister in the aftermath of crises. They most often serve after natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, but have also served after disasters such as a fertilizer plant explosion and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Ministering to Uvalde families whose children have died has been the most difficult, Garza said. They are seeking to come to grips with the reality that their young children are dead, and emotions are running high.

Garza said he relies on the Holy Spirit to guide his actions and words. He speaks “very few words” but listens to people share their stories and offers to pray with them when he feels led.

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 “It’s devastating for everybody,” he said.

 TBM Executive Director/CEO Mickey Lenamon urges people to continue praying for Uvalde in the wake of the third-deadliest school shooting in the nation’s history.

 “People have lost their sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, friends and neighbors,” Lenamon said. “The pain is deep. This tragedy will leave a lasting imprint on people of all ages.”

 TBM chaplains will continue serving as long as needed.

John Hall is TBM director of communications. This article initially was published March 24 and updated March 26.

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