NANIH WAIYA, Miss. (WTOK) - Becky Smith's world was shaken during a normal Sunday lunch in Meridian with her husband, when she first saw images of a mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Tex. That's because her son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren are members at the small congregation.
"I made the comment to my husband. I didn't think Sutherland Springs was big enough for two Baptist churches or two churches of any denomination," Smith says.
She quickly called her son and discovered that her two grandchildren were sick that day, and the family had opted to stay home instead of going to the service. It was a decision that may have unintentionally saved their lives.
"All I've been able to do is thank God for protecting them," Smith says.
It has been hear-breaking for the family. Even though they survived, they lost many friends and loved ones in the attack.
"It's scary. I'll be honest; it's very scary," Smith says. "My husband and I talked about the fact that it could've been very different. We could've been going to funerals."
For now, one question weighs heavy in the air for Smith: Why? It's an unexpected tragedy in a small community.
"If it can happen there, it can happen here. It can happen anywhere," Smith says.
Smith is a pastor at the Nanih Waiya Charge. She says faith has always been a big part of her family, and it's what's helping them cope now. All the questions of 'why?' have only left behind one real answer for Smith, that you should always be prepared, both physically and spiritually.
"Love your family. Never fail to tell them how much they mean to you," she says. "Because we never know."
Smith says she doesn't want her family members' names released. She is just thankful that her family was uninjured.