Omaha is in a state of shock after the tragedy at the Westroads Mall. When I was in high school, I worked at Bishop's Buffet there and then spend most of my paycheck at the arcade! Now, when I think of the Westroads, I will think about what happened there yesterday. Here is an email I sent out to the church family at Harvey Oaks Baptist Church this morning...
"Dear Family at Harvey Oaks Baptist Church:
Let us continue to pray for the family and friends of those who were killed or injured at the Westroads Mall yesterday.
As you may know, I am a volunteer chaplain for the Omaha Police Department. Yesterday afternoon, I sat in my office listening to the live news feed on Internet. It was reported that nine people were killed and five injured. I also heard that a family center had been set up at the Hampton Inn across the street from the mall. At that point, I called the Head of the chaplains and asked if I should head down to the Hampton Inn. He said “yes.” So I called Clint Frank and Randy Eastwood to let them know of the situation and that I would probably not be at the Bible Study and Prayer time.
When I arrived at the Hampton Inn, the room was filled with people waiting for the news of their loved ones. I was the third OPD chaplain to arrive. I spent the next couple of hours talking and praying with several in the room. The Red Cross also was there. They provided food and support.
Later, a police representative asked me to follow him. I was lead to a hotel room where family members of one the victims were. The victim was a wife and mother of three children. She worked in gift wrapping at Von Maur. The husband and children were actually at home waiting for the news. The people in the room were family members and one close friend.
After spending a few moments there, we headed to the home of the family. I rode in a relative’s car and others were in a police cruiser with one officer. When we arrived at the home, the father had already received the news. He was talking to a detective in a car outside the home. A few moments later, the oldest daughter came and she quickly realized what the news was.
Then we went inside the home. I was with the family for about an hour. The hardest part was telling the youngest child that her mother was killed. The father asked me to do that. Please pray for this family. It is a close-knit and loving family that now has to deal with this awful tragedy.
I am thankful for all your prayers. I felt very inadequate, yet God’s grace and strength was evident.
This certainly puts life into perspective. Life is short and the days are evil. Thus, as the followers of Jesus, let us make every moment count.