Last week, a small Texas town saw tragedy after a gunman killed 25 people and an unborn child at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. But this week, they saw hope and inspiration — during the first service since the mass shooting.
While addressing the tragedy, Pastor Frank Pomeroy nearly broke down as he led the sermon in a white tent, just blocks away from the church. He and his wife were out of town when it happened, but his beloved 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle, was shot and killed in the attack.
"We choose life." Texas church holds first service since mass shooting https://t.co/8AENacktkV— TIME (@TIME) November 13, 2017
"I know everyone who lost their life that day, some of which were my best friends, and my daughter," Pomeroy said. "And I guarantee without any shadow of a doubt they are dancing with Jesus today. God gets the glory."
Despite Pomeroy's unimaginable grief he must be going through, he still managed to find the strength to uplift others with a message of positivity and the power of making the right choice.
"We have the power to choose, and, rather than choose darkness, like that young man did that day, I say we choose life," he said.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn attended the service, and praised Pomeroy for his brave words and kind gestures to everyone in attendance.
"I saw him standing there at the front of the church, comforting others," Cornyn said. "It's remarkable, but it's a testament to their faith and their compassion for others during this very difficult time."
People from around the state — and around the country — gathered to show their support for the small community during their time of mourning. They also visited the church itself, which reopened as a memorial. The heartwarming setup included 25 red roses on 25 white chairs, representing those who lost their lives. A recording of some of the victims' voices played in the background.
"I want everyone that walks in there to know that the people who died lived for their Lord and savior, and would want them to live as well," Pomeroy said.
We're keeping everyone affected by this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers during this tough time.