“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God,” —Psalm 146:5
In the small community of Benton, Kentucky, lines are rarely long.
Yet, people from all walks of life have stood outside the Mobile Ministry Center located in the parking lot of a local BBQ restaurant, waiting for a chance to speak with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains.
The crisis-trained chaplains were requested to provide emotional and spiritual care to the county after a 15-year-old student fatally shot two fellow students and injured 14 others with a handgun at Marshall County High School.
Fourteen chaplains have deployed to comfort this population of around 4,500.
“This shooting has affected everyone in the community, not just the people involved,” chaplain coordinator David Hicks said.
The tight-knit town is full of generations of families, where everyone is somehow connected to someone else. The chaplains have been well-received by this open community, and have been continually welcomed at multiple events, including a prayer vigil, memorial service, government meeting and blood drive.
“You can see the Spirit of God working here,” David said, commenting that many have rededicated their lives to Christ.
Chaplains have had the opportunity to pray with local pastors, government authorities, school administrators and counselors, and many of the shooting victims and their families.
Several chaplains have also been requested to speak at gatherings among local pastors and to students of Christian Fellowship School, which is located across the street from Marshall County High School. When the shooting happened, some MCHS students fled to the nearby school for protection. The chaplains have brought hope to these groups, explaining that God would bring good from this tragedy.
The community has expressed gratitude to the chaplains, even pausing at stoplights to say “thank you.”
All the while, the chaplains have been stunned by this community’s remarkable faith, and the maturity with which the students are handling the situation.
“This is as faith-based a community as I’ve ever encountered,” Bob Cooper, a crisis-trained chaplain, said.
At the school’s first basketball game since the shooting, four teenage boys were seen carrying Bibles. These boys had been planning and praying for a revival long before the tragedy occurred within their school.
Now they have even more of a sense of urgency.
“Praise the Lord the youth are rallying together, concerned and reaching out,” said Ruthie Cooper, who is Bob’s wife and a retired public school elementary teacher.
The chaplains are looking with expectancy for God’s work in the town of Benton in the coming days, believing that God raised up the right leaders at the right time in the right location to lead this community through tragedy.
“They are not forgotten, there is hope—only in Jesus Christ. It’s a privilege to share this hope,” Ruthie said.
Please pray for revival in Benton, Kentucky, and for the hurting to find comfort in Christ.