In a terrifying and deadly attack, 12 people were killed and 59 more injured when suspected gunman James Holmes opened fire a little after midnight in a crowded Aurora, Colorado, theater featuring the premier of "The Dark Knight Rises" this morning, Friday, July 20.
AG General Superintendent George Wood, during a live interview with Fox News this afternoon, advised people to surround those who are hurting with their presence. Referencing the book of Job, Wood said that when Job was suffering, his friends offered all kinds of advice, when all he really needed was for people to sit with him - to quietly put their arms about them in comfort. Wood also referenced Jesus' tears, as He wept for his friend Lazarus who had died.
In the interview, Wood recognized the grief and demand for justice by a hurting father who lost his 6-year-old daughter in the shooting, explaining that anger is part of the grieving process. However, Wood said, after working through the grieving process, it would be beneficial to victims to overcome evil with good.
As Aurora is just 16 miles away from Littleton - the location of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 - Wood expressed his belief that those who went through the Columbine disaster could provide meaningful help to victims of today's tragedy.
Gene Roncone, pastor of Highpoint Church (AG) in Aurora for the last 10 years, says that his church is making every effort to assist - as in fact, two members of Highpoint's DV8 youth church plant were in the theater at the time of the shooting.
"Our first response [in hearing the news] was getting electronic messages out to the Highpoint family, checking to see if anyone was harmed," Roncone says. "The best we can tell, two members of DV8 were in attendance, but were able to get out without harm."
Roncone says that in addition to checking on the church family, the church also began communicating with members on how to respond to the tragedy with a spiritual perspective and have sent out a nation-wide plea for people to pray for Christians who are already interacting with victims' families.
Roncone explains that officials have not released names of the killed or injured. "However, we have people who attend our church who are part of the police force and emergency responders," he says. "We're mobilizing people all over the country to pray for the Christians who are already there - nurses, doctors, policemen, hospital staff, first responders - those who have access and can minister God's grace and hope."
The church has also created an online prayer message for victims and has been in contact with city officials, offering its services in whatever capacity they may be needed.