(Photo: Reuters/Dan Lampariello)
Christian leaders in the U.S. responded quickly to the bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon on Monday that left at least 3 dead and more than 130 injured, by sharing their own grief over what is being called a terrorist attack, and calling for prayer.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4)," wrote Pastor David Fairchild, who leads Mars Hill West Seattle Church, in a blog post on the church's website shortly after the bombings.
"I am deeply grieved by the early reports of two blasts occurring at the finish line of the Boston Marathon," Fairchild stated. "Sadly, in a split second, people and families have been shattered and forever changed by this terrible tragedy.
"The most powerful weapon at our disposal against evil is the hope-filled prayer of God's people. Join me in praying for those in attendance as well as the families of those affected by this heinous act. Also, please pray for the policemen, firemen, and medical personnel treating and protecting the victims of this evil act – may God give these men and women helpful words for hurting people," he wrote.
As the first reports from the scene were relatively vague, Pastor Rick Warren, who has been publicly journaling his grief over the recent suicide death of his son through the use of social media, tweeted simply, "Pray for Boston. Now."
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association also took to Twitter to ask for prayer. "Continuing to pray for #BostonMarathon victims and witnesses, including the two families who have lost loved ones. #Pray4Boston," tweeted @BGEA. Later, they added, "...weep with those who weep" Romans 12:15 #PrayForBoston"
Dr. Jamie D. Aten, who is the founder and co-director of Wheaton College's Humanitarian Disaster Institute told The Christian Post that churches need to give special attention to the emotional and spiritual struggles that may surface as the result of the bombings, especially in light of the East Coast region having suffered from Superstorm Sandy and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.
"It is important for the Church to realize that even those who may not have been directly in harm's way at the Boston Marathon, the impact of such an event can be far reaching," Aten said. "We would recommend that churches across the country, even if they are hundreds of miles away from the center of this tragedy, reach out to their congregation members to provide support and hope."
LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer also posted on his blog Monday.
"Today's bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon are disturbing reminders of the brokenness in our fallen world," Stetzer wrote.
"Of course, tragedy is daily living in much of the world. Churches are bombed regularly in Nigeria; sexual violence trafficking is real and growing, and poverty is deep and pervasive. The world is broken. Sinfulness impacts everything," he explained. "Yet, we are reminded on days like this, our hope is in a new kingdom."
Stetzer continued, "A kingdom reigned by a returning King. A kingdom with no more terrorist threats or bombings. No more thoughts of death to keep us up at night."
Fairchild, like many Christian leaders on Monday, reminded everyone of the hope found in Jesus.
"Turn in prayer to the captain of our faith who settles hearts and deploys the power of his gospel to the places of greatest need," he wrote. "Saints, he hears your prayers and delights in answering them in heartbreaking moments like this.
"Let us grieve and mourn for the weeping city of Boston. But let us do so with hope, knowing Jesus is Lord of creation and the great physician of every wound."
He concluded with the verse: "Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)."