by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
Just recently, I finished making the homeschooling portfolio of my 6-year-old daughter, Callie, who just finished kindergarten and is moving up to first grade this coming school year.
Pride and joy filled my heart as I looked at the milestones my daughter has reached. Many other parents like me are celebrating and are proud to tell the world that their children have finished the school year and ready for summer break, and some have graduated, ready for a new season.
But not everyone gets to celebrate.
Several days ago, what was supposed to be the last days of their classes became the last day of their lives when nineteen children aged 7-10 and two teachers were ruthlessly shot by a teenager in Uvalde, Texas.
They were ordinary school children who have a great future cut off by something that could have been prevented, had there been better gun laws in the nation they call home. What was supposed to be a fun day turned out to be the saddest day for many families.
Grief and mourning overshadowed the celebrations, not just in Texas but the whole world.
For many of us, the victims of this tragic event are just names and statistics included in the list of the many people who have died due to shootings in America over the years.
But for their family and friends, these are people who bring joy and meaning into their lives and will forever leave a hole in their hearts.
I can only imagine the excruciating pain that the parents of those beautiful children are feeling right now. Parents, siblings, children have precious loved ones taken away from them just like that by a gun shot. Their lives are forever changed. Their hearts, broken and their spirits, crushed.
I do not live in America. My mother does. A lot of family and friends do. With the many incidents of shooting in the country every single year, I cannot help but fear for the lives of my loved ones who have pursued the American dream.
Yes, it may be a land of milk and honey, providing for their families, but is it a land that can be called a safe refuge? I just hope and pray that we will not just learn lessons from the lives of those who have passed because of these senseless killings, but the government and lawmakers will take steps to stop this from happening again and prevent families from being ruined.
This truly is sickening, it has to stop. May this incident be the trigger for reform of gun laws in the US, ensuring the safety of its citizens.
There is no safe country in the world. Accidents and tragedies are inevitable, but some can be avoided. Where we are now, we don’t have to be afraid and paranoid that someone might be in possession of firearms and use them indiscriminately.
I pray that the same goes for the US where many people want to live. May it be a place where parents don’t have to be in constant fear when they bring their children to schools, supermarkets, places of worship, playgrounds.
I wish I can do more than offer condolences to the families of those who lost their lives but all I can do is pray for God’s overwhelming peace and comfort to envelop them at this time and give them the grace to move on with their lives, even if it takes time, and even if it’s the most difficult thing to do.
Just like what President Joe Biden quoted in his speech, the encouragement that we have is that ‘the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Psalm 34:18).Here’s a simple prayer I would like to utter, not just for the victims of the recent school shooting incident in Uvalde but for those who have experienced the same tragedy in the past.
I pray for peace that transcends understanding guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I pray for healing, comfort, and wholeness upon their grieving and broken hearts. I pray for justice and righteousness to reign in their city and in their nation. I pray for grace and strength to face another day. I speak for hope in the midst of chaos and hopelessness.
I end this article with tears in my eyes as I remember the words of Angel Garza, father of Amerie, 10, who died in the Uvalde shooting. With intense pain and tears flowing on his face, he said, “I just want my baby back.”
I pray that no mother or father will ever experience this again. America, I hope that no son and daughter of yours be taken away by a gunshot again. God have mercy on America.
by Seneca Moraleda-Puguan