When Sutherland Springs Baptist Church’s pastor heard that his congregation had been ruthlessly slaughtered, including his own 14-year-old daughter, he rushed back to Texas to comfort grieving families. However, it’s the preacher’s own 4-word warning that he gave the week before the mass shooting that sent chills running down our spines.
When his congregation was gunned down by 26-year-old liberal atheist Devin Patrick Kelly, Pastor Frank Pomeroy was in Oklahoma and his wife, Sherri Pomeroy, was in North Carolina. Expectedly, the pair immediately returned home to mourn the tragic loss of 25 of their beloved church family and their own teen daughter’s death.
As any loving pastor would, Frank gracefully expressed his heartache over his congregants and honored his daughter’s memory by adding that the girl “was one very beautiful, special child.” As touching as his quiet, simple tribute was, it’s his most recent sermon days before the attack that has left many speechless.
Just one week before the mass shooting that left 26 of his church members dead, including his own daughter, Pastor Frank preached a prophetic word over his congregation, warning them that when terrible circumstances and afflictions occur, they must “lean on the Lord,” according to ABC News.
In a YouTube video of the First Baptist Chruch of Sutherland Springs’ service on October 29, Pastor Frank can be heard delivering an almost visionary message for his flock in what likely be their most difficult trial to date.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely, or lean, on your own understanding,” he told the congregation, according to a video posted to the church’s YouTube account. “When you start to lean on your understanding of a situation, that’s when we tend to have issues,” Pomeroy said.
As if God was speaking directly through the impassioned yet tender preacher, Frank’s words were no less than divine preparation for the devastating events that would soon unfold.
“You see God’s understanding is far greater and there may be things that are taking place that you don’t understand, but you still need to do what God’s calling you to do,” he said.
Just as bitter-sweet was Frank’s testimony regarding his daughter, Annabelle. Speaking from personal experience, Frank explained that his daughter had recently ridden with him on a motorcycle, which was placed in front of the pulpit for reference. He explained that although she “had a good time” and that it “was a beautiful ride,” she still had trouble trusting that she would step off the bike unscathed the next time.
Pomeroy said that his daughter “still tends at times to get a little nervous when we go around bends. It is very unnatural for us as human beings to want to lean into that road that’s coming up so close to you,” he said. “Yet the safest way around the corner on a motorcycle is to lean down into the turn.
It was after recalling his daughter’s fear of making turns on the bike that Frank’s message came full circle. He explained that leaning while turning a motorcycle isn’t much different from leaning on God during uncertain times — both require trust and stepping out in faith in a situation you can’t completely control.
“What am I trying to point out here?” Pomeroy continued. “Life is a lot like that curve on that motorcycle. If we look too close to the road that’s whizzing by us right now … we tend to lose our bearings,” his sermon concluded. “[But] I’m going to get through this because … that’s where God has placed my joy.”
As most good shepherds know, that last sermon before this horrific mass shooting was meant for Frank just as much as it was intended for his congregation. Frank and Sherri are most likely going through the most life-shattering and uncertain time of their lives. It is only fitting that they hold fast to God’s words and trust in the Lord’s understanding instead of becoming overwhelmed by their seemingly hopeless situation.
“My husband and I were ironically out of town in two different states,” Sherri told CBS. “We lost our 14-year-old daughter today and many friends.”
The Pomeroys are living through a circumstance that most of us will fortunately never have to suffer. With the loss of much of their congregation, friends, and even their daughter, the couple is striving to practice what they preach by clinging to God’s promise that they will come through this terrible tribulation stronger than ever before.
It is one of the more remarkable things in history to witness Christians going through hardship, persecution, and ultimate devastation. The overwhelming response of the Church is never retaliation or defeat but insurmountable faith, hope, and love, which the Bible states will never end. Hopefully, these families can find some peace in recalling Pastor Frank’s final sermon before the tragedy, knowing that God intended those specific words for them.