Just one day after the horrific shooting during a worship service at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, an MSNBC anchor asked a local pastor if he thought prayers were “enough” following such tragedies.
On Sunday morning, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire on the congregation, killing at least 26 churchgoers and injuring another 20. Kelley, who eventually took his own life, was chased off by a gun owner and a nearby motorist.
While some took issue with those offering prayers, Pastor Paul Buford, who leads River Oaks Church, just two miles away from First Baptist Church, said prayers are “absolutely” enough in the midst of unthinkable horror.
“It’s only our faith in God that’s gonna get us through this, and it’s our faith in God that’s gonna say that we trust that everyone that was in that church that didn’t come out of there are present with their lord and savior right now,” Buford said. “Because the Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”
“And as believers,” he continued, “we believe that happens.”
Buford went on to tell the MSNBC host Christians “know that prayer works,” saying that it brings comfort to those praying and those being prayed for.
The MSNBC reporter than pressed the pastor for an answer on how the government can stop tragedies like the one that happened Sunday from happening again. In response, Buford raised a critical point:
“The Word of God tells us that we are gonna face trials and tribulations, that evil is out there, and it’s doing everything it can to attack. We talk about it’s a gun issue, or we talk about a mental health issue. Well, as pastors and as Christians, we talk about it and say it’s not that. It’s a heart issue.
It’s the fact that we’re focused on the world, and we’re not focused on God. And if we were focused on the other, then we wouldn’t be having those things. We continue to push God out of our schools, out of our communities, out of our government. …
We’re in a spiritual battle, we believe, in this world. It’s evil against good. Now, we know that good is gonna overcome that.”
The Texas pastor made clear he wasn’t claiming Kelley’s attack was a direct response to removing God from the public sphere. However, Buford did say sin and evil will continue to thrive as long as we empower them.
And he’s exactly right.
Watch the segment below, via MSNBC.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited for clarity.