Members of the First Baptist Church of Shreveport credit members of other churches in the Meridian area with providing invaluable help in a desperate time Sunday. Several local pastors Tuesday talked about this giving spirit.
A group of them prayed together Tuesday for a miracle. Maggie Lee Henson is one of the teenagers badly injured as she and others headed to youth camp in Macon, Ga.
The church bus crashed on Interstate 20/59 east of Meridian after blowing a tire. 14-year-old Brandon Ugarte died in the wreck.
Prayer is not all the pastors and their congregations have provided. Family members of the victims and First Baptist Church of Shreveport's pastor, the Rev. Greg Hunt, say local churches have showed overwhelming acts of kindness.
"And it's good to see your people doing what the Bible says Christians are supposed to do," said the Rev. Dr. Dan Lanier of Northcrest Baptist in Meridian.
First Baptist Church of Meridian and First Baptist Church of Collinsville, Highland Baptist Church in Meridian, 15th Avenue Baptist Church in Meridian and Northcrest came to the rescue of strangers in need.
15th Avenue Baptist Church and First Baptist Meridian and are within walking distance of the hospitals. Pastors say church members immediately came to the rescue of families. They say this was no coincidence, but the will of God.
"So God had the people in place at the right time, even though there was tragedy," said the Rev. Hal Bates of First Baptist Collinsville. "But it was beautiful to see His hand working along the way."
Some went beyond the call of duty and prepared home-cooked meals and financial support, some even crawling under seats of the wrecked bus to locate the passengers' personal items.
"Watching your church members show the love of Christ, it was wonderful," said the Rev. Dr. Raymon Leake of First Baptist Meridian.
The pastors say it was a community effort, from the medical staff to law enforcement. During a very difficult time, their faith kept them strong.
"Even in the midst of such tragedy, you see the grace of God."
These pastors say it hit home because at the time of this church bus accident, their youth groups were en route to a mission trip. And they say it could have very well been their own church members.
"Yet for the grace of God, it could have been my children," said the Rev. Wayne Smith of 15th Avenue Baptist Church.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to First Baptist Church of Shreveport may send checks to:
First Baptist Church
543 Ockley Drive
Shreveport, LA 71106