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Hope in a broken community

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WORLD Radio - Hope in a broken community

Pastors Ruiz and Grueben explain how a community grieves and heals


A mural on the side drug store wall depicting pleasant reminders of Uvalde’s notable residents and offerings. Photo by Bonnie Pritchett

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday the 24th of August, 2022.

You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re glad you’ve joined us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up on The World and Everything in It: part 2 of a conversation with Uvalde, Texas, pastors Joe Ruiz and Tony Gruben.

They’ve ministered to the town in the wake of the elementary school shooting three months ago that left 21 people dead.

Yesterday, they told how an overabundance of charity can sometimes be counterproductive, keeping wounds raw. And how a weeks-long procession of funerals kept the grieving process from moving forward.

REICHARD: But have they seen glimmers of hope in their broken community? WORLD Reporter Bonnie Pritchett brings us the rest of their conversation.

BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: With the close of the last funeral, Pastor Tony Gruben said mourners could breathe. That part of the grieving process was over.

But growing contention within the community over law enforcement’s handling of the shooting threatened to undermine any fragile gains in the churches’ ministry of grace.

I asked Pastors Ruiz and Gruben to explain. Ruiz went first.

RUIZ: Well, we talked about evil. I look at how it happened, and everything that happened. This was a perfect storm that the enemy wanted to use, to bring division. To bring hatred. To bring everything that he wants to bring upon Uvalde.

GRUBEN: I just tried to tell them in your anger, don't sin. There are all things that make us all angry. But you need to learn to dial it back. And also encouraging those you speak with that sometimes your voice is stronger than anybody else's, you know, and to be a peacemaker.

When someone is grieving, the best thing you could do is just come and sit next to them. Just listen. Just be there.

GRUBEN: At first, you can't say anything, because they can't hear anything. I mean, it's just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And yes, and they hear you but they're not understanding I guess would be better. But now that it'll come as time goes that there will be more opportunity for what I would call a deeper balm of their souls that we can help to apply.

RUIZ: But for us to be able to, we just need to be able to be there for the families. And when everything's said and done, we're hoping that they're the, and they start to respond to what will come next, that they will be able to realize that, you know, we do care.

Some of those opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ have flowed from intentional ministries to the victims’ families. Others, in more God-ordained ways.

RUIZ: There's a gentleman that came in that Thursday, through cooking meals. And we fed all the families. We were able to go in teams and be able to just show the love of God, to be able to just take them a meal, and just say, “How can I pray for you.” It was amazing how we were able to go into all the homes. And then my daughter would cook, and my wife and I would deliver. And that also continued to give us that connection with them to be able to just to be there and say here, we love you.

That love has been extended to the grandparents of the 18-year-old gunman who shot his grandmother before heading to the school. Ruiz spoke with the grandfather who provided an update.

RUIZ: She's doing better. She was in rehab. But I mean, they're still hurting. I mean, they're I mean, a lot of people forget about them. We did extend out and offer some finances to them because they weren't receiving some finances because people look at them as the guilty party. So, but yeah, they're lonely because people are not reaching out to them.

Pastor Gruben has called Uvalde home for almost 20 years. He believes the town will heal as its residents simply live life together and believers graciously and intentionally care for the grieving.

GRUBEN: I joke about I play golf a lot. And, and, and I said at some point I wasn't gonna be healed until I could play golf. So, I went and played four holes, but I felt better. So then on Thursday morning, I said, I'm gonna get up at 7:15 or so I'm gonna go play nine today for me. And so, I went out there and like, there was a couple of saw somebody got in front of me. And I was kind of a little bit perturbed, because they got in front of me, because if I can get in front, I can be the first one and get through quick. And I don't have to wait on anybody. Well, I saw these two old guys out there. And when I drove up, I knew one of them. So I asked to play with them. So we played three holes. And then we saw a golf cart coming towards us…

Gruben’s quick 9 holes was no longer about him. The group became a threesome until a fourth golfer arrived – an older gentleman they knew who had lost a grandchild in the shooting.

GRUBEN: I ended up playing the all eighteen. We were all in different carts and they’d drive up beside him and they talk, we kind of talk. I’d give them a hug or a pat around the back. And just talk. And on the 18th hole I had us all get around and we prayed. There is that everydayness, walking alongside people I think is the most powerful healing there is. True sharing of the gospel is living life with somebody and sharing your life with them and sharing the gospel as you go and living and loving. And the ultimate healing here is going to be when we realize that we are in this together, and we can lean on one another to get through. My prayer is that that will happen sooner than later. And that people will start seeing the goodness and the need of God.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Wednesday the 24th of August, 2022.

You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we’re glad you’ve joined us today. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up on The World and Everything in It: part 2 of a conversation with Uvalde, Texas, pastors Joe Ruiz and Tony Gruben.

They’ve ministered to the town in the wake of the elementary school shooting three months ago that left 21 people dead.

Yesterday, they told how an overabundance of charity can sometimes be counterproductive, keeping wounds raw. And how a weeks-long procession of funerals kept the grieving process from moving forward.

REICHARD: But have they seen glimmers of hope in their broken community? WORLD Reporter Bonnie Pritchett brings us the rest of their conversation.

BONNIE PRITCHETT, REPORTER: With the close of the last funeral, Pastor Tony Gruben said mourners could breathe. That part of the grieving process was over.

But growing contention within the community over law enforcement’s handling of the shooting threatened to undermine any fragile gains in the churches’ ministry of grace.

I asked Pastors Ruiz and Gruben to explain. Ruiz went first.

RUIZ: Well, we talked about evil. I look at how it happened, and everything that happened. This was a perfect storm that the enemy wanted to use, to bring division. To bring hatred. To bring everything that he wants to bring upon Uvalde.

GRUBEN: I just tried to tell them in your anger, don't sin. There are all things that make us all angry. But you need to learn to dial it back. And also encouraging those you speak with that sometimes your voice is stronger than anybody else's, you know, and to be a peacemaker.

When someone is grieving, the best thing you could do is just come and sit next to them. Just listen. Just be there.

GRUBEN: At first, you can't say anything, because they can't hear anything. I mean, it's just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And yes, and they hear you but they're not understanding I guess would be better. But now that it'll come as time goes that there will be more opportunity for what I would call a deeper balm of their souls that we can help to apply.

RUIZ: But for us to be able to, we just need to be able to be there for the families. And when everything's said and done, we're hoping that they're the, and they start to respond to what will come next, that they will be able to realize that, you know, we do care.

Some of those opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ have flowed from intentional ministries to the victims’ families. Others, in more God-ordained ways.

RUIZ: There's a gentleman that came in, that Thursday, through cooking meals. And we fed all the families. We were able to go in teams and be able to just show the love of God, to be able to just take them a meal, and just say, “How can I pray for you.” It was amazing how we were able to go into all the homes. And then my daughter would cook, and my wife and I would deliver. And that also continued to give us that connection with them to be able to just to be there and say here, we love you.

That love has been extended to the grandparents of the 18-year-old gunman who shot his grandmother before heading to the school. Ruiz spoke with the grandfather who provided an update.

RUIZ: She's doing better. She was in rehab. But I mean, they're still hurting. I mean, they're I mean, a lot of people forget about them. We did extend out and offer some finances to them because they weren't receiving some finances because people look at them as the guilty party. So, but yeah, they're lonely. Because people are not reaching out to them.

Pastor Gruben has called Uvalde home for almost 20 years. He believes the town will heal as its residents simply live life together and believers graciously and intentionally care for the grieving.

GRUBEN: I joke about I play golf a lot. And, and, and I said at some point I wasn't gonna be healed until I could play golf. So, I went and played four holes, but I felt better. So then on Thursday morning, I said, I'm gonna get up at 7:15 or so I'm gonna go play nine today for me. And so, I went out there and like, there was a couple of saw somebody got in front of me. And I was kind of a little bit perturbed, because they got in front of me, because if I can get in front, I can be the first one and get through quick. And I don't have to wait on anybody. Well, I saw these two old guys out there. And when I drove up, I knew one of them. So I asked to play with them. So we played three holes. And then we saw a golf cart coming towards us…

Gruben’s quick 9 holes was no longer about him. The group became a threesome until a fourth golfer arrived – an older gentleman they knew who had lost a grandchild in the shooting.

GRUBEN: I ended up playing the all eighteen. We were all in different carts and they’d drive up beside him and they talk, we kind of talk. I’d give them a hug or a pat around the back. And just talk. And on the 18th hole I had us all get around and we prayed. There is that everydayness, walking alongside people I think is the most powerful healing there is. True sharing of the gospel is living life with somebody and sharing your life with them and sharing the gospel as you go and living and loving. And the ultimate healing here is going to be when we realize that we are in this together, and we can lean on one another to get through that. My prayer is that that will happen sooner than later. And that people will start seeing the goodness and the need of God.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Bonnie Pritchett.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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