Following the deadly church shooting that claimed the lives of 26 members of the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, the community has relied heavily on each other and, many, on the power of prayer.
The pastor of neighboring River Oaks Church was one of the first to respond to the horrific scene Sunday, but his service to his community didn't stop there.
Paul Buford, the Senior Pastor at River Oaks Church in Sutherland Springs, said in the days following the shooting a reporter asked him if his faith gets shaken during a time like this.
His reply: Absolutely not.
"Our faith is strengthened during a time like this," Pastor Buford said. "Some may not understand it. We only have one place to look: faith; unwavering faith after such loss."
River Oaks Church sits on a plot of land just down the road from where the deadliest shooting in recent Texas history took place.
"It all started right in the middle of the service and it has not stopped," said Martha Buford, Pastor Buford's wife.
In the days following the shooting that rocked an entire country, the Bufords said they have transformed their church into a counseling center, offering services to neighbors, friends, families, anyone in need.
"Our church is the crisis center. That’s what God established us to do. That’s what we’re doing," said Pastor Buford. "All I know is I see my friends and I hug their necks and just tell them we’re here for them and that we love them, we’re praying for them."
Pastor Buford also helps by sharing his belief that the families will see their loved ones again. "It says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I know where they are, in my mind, I know. And in my heart I know I’m going to see Brian’s smiling face again, and Karla, and listen to her tell me another joke. That’s who she was...sweet little Crystal and the kids…We know all of that."
There are countless volunteers helping Pastor Buford in providing whatever the victim’s families need.
Pastor Buford said his church will be here for his community after the world leaves, in weeks, months and years to come.
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