By Toby Ray
Sunday evening, I fell asleep with the TV on. At some point in the night I was awakened by the sound of machine guns and the news man saying that a shooting had taken place in Las Vegas. So, I did what most people would do when they are woken up by the TV, I turned it off and went back to sleep. In the morning, my niece Chelsie and I went to the church to spend some time with Jesus in worship and prayer. I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that there had been a shooting, so I asked Chelsie what she knew. That’s when I learned that many had died and many more were wounded. We were compelled to pray for the victims and their families. I felt an urgency to pray for boldness and courage to preach the Gospel to the hurting and confused in Las Vegas. Next thing I heard was “GO”.
I arrived at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas without a clue what I was going to do. I had no idea how I could help. I arrived about 18 hours after the shooting spree had rained bullets on thousands of people trapped in a “sheep-pen” gated venue. Fifty-nine people had died and many more were fighting for their lives in hospitals nearby. The seen at the hospital was completely different than I expected. Yes, there were people everywhere. The wounded were on gurneys in the hallways and people were everywhere trying to find out where their loved ones were. What I discovered was that the city did not take any time at all to step up and help. Businesses were sending food and supplies to the victims, their families and anyone else who was there to help. Pillows, blankets, tooth brushes, water bottles, pizza, sandwiches, and just about anything else you might need in an emergency.
I walked into the surgical waiting room to find it full of waiting family members. Most of them mentally numb, confused, and lost for answers. All most of them knew was that their son/daughter/friend had been shot and was in surgery. Some of the injured were still waiting for surgery because, after all, there are only so many surgical rooms and so many surgeons available. Most of the doctors and surgeons worked well over 24 hours until the worst cases were under control.
Thankfully I was not the only one who had showed up to serve. As I said before, I had no idea what I was going to do. I was introduced to other clergy members and they gave me some pointers. I had been in prayer since the early morning and I was fully confident that the Lord had sent me. So, I did what came naturally to me. I introduced myself to a small group of people. I wanted to hear their story and who it was that they were waiting for. I offered to pray for them, I sat with them, I offered to get them things they might need. I sat in silence with some and just held their hands. I was there to simply give love and comfort to hurting people. Most of what I did was easy, but I have to say that holding the hand of a woman who had lost her twenty-two year old daughter was really difficult. Loving people is the second of the greatest commandments to loving God. It’s really not that hard, especially in a situation like this. My agenda was nothing more than to be Jesus to these people.
On Tuesday morning when I made it back to the waiting room I was greeted with some good news. Two of the severely wounded victims had regained consciousness and were responsive. Each story was a miracle. Nurses had told me the night before that they were not expecting much. We serve a big God who gives life even when doctors don’t think it is possible. We had prayed for life to be given, we had prayed for the dead to rise (or at least those thought to be dead) and they rose. The good news has not stopped coming in. One man was standing next to his wife when she was shot in the head. She was on life support, while her seven-month old baby was on the way to see her. His friends told me to pray for him, that he needed Jesus but was on the edge of being bitter towards God and this was not helping. Before the day was over, he allowed me to pray with him. Then he invited me back to his wife’s room to pray over her. I boldly commanded life to be restored. I asked that the Lord would repay one hundred fold what the enemy had tried to steal. And I prophesied life to her and her future children.
I was exhausted when I arrived back home. My heart was aching for the families who were still waiting, which was most of those that I met. To tell you the truth, I wanted to see miraculous healing. I wanted to see the ones in the coma get up and walk. I had come home with great hope but no evidence. Wednesday afternoon I received news that one girl, who was not supposed to make it, had come out of her coma and was responsive. Thursday morning, I received more good news that the mom who was shot in the head was awake as well and was responsive. There is still a long way to go for many of them but things are looking better. Time to heal is needed, but healing is happening.
I write this not to toot my own horn or glorify myself in any way. I did what anyone could do because I was available. As I said before, most of what I did was easy. I do love people and sharing God’s love with them is what I do. The people in the hospital were an easy target to share God’s love with. The hardest thing I did all week was make the decision to be obedient. To actually “GO”. If you are a follower of Christ, you understand that the hardest thing we do as Christians is make sacrificial decisions. What we need to learn is that there is no sacrifice that equals what He sacrificed for us. There is no sacrifice that we make that He does not reward us for. I am blessed because I said yes, because I went.
When God says “Go”, just “GO”!