(Photo: Reuters/Jeremy Papasso)
The pastor of a church located five minutes away from the scene of the deadly Colorado movie theater shooting has admitted that he "bawled like a baby" when he passed by the site, and told his congregation on Sunday that something as terrible as this tragedy cannot be explained.
"When our world goes periodically crazy, a flood of questions can come into our minds. The question we all probably struggle with: 'Why did God allow this?' My response is: I don't know," Pastor Jeff Noble of Aurora's New Life Community Church told his congregation.
Twelve people were killed and more than 50 were injured Friday when a lone gunman opened fire at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora during the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Noble told his church he couldn't stop crying and was "bawling like a baby," when he drove past the massacre site, saying that only seeing it in person made him realize that it was all too real and not something out of a TV show.
"It's not only okay but it's good to express your honest feelings to God and to others about how you're feeling … about this situation," he encouraged his congregation. "It happened in our community."
New Life Community Church has opened its doors to those seeking counseling in the aftermath of the tragedy, and has been reaching out to all those affected, urging them to step up and seek comfort from others.
Pastor Noble admitted that he does not have any answers to give to those who were directly affected by the shooting, saying that such matters should be left to God.
"It's not anywhere near the time to start coming in and being a theologian and giving theological … arguments on different things," the pastor expressed. "Unfortunately, the storms come to every person, whether they're great followers of God or never darkened the door of a church … the storms of life happen to all of us."
"The most important thing right now is just to listen, hug and pray," Noble concluded.
Members of the congregation shared with NBC News that shock and grief had gripped their community.
"I'm just so hurt. I just can't believe that somebody would do this," said Daniel Sharp. "I would have never imagined living in fear here ... fear is unfortunately right now on every street corner it seems like. It's really not, but in our minds, because of this event."
"This summer has been very tough on Colorado," added 18-year-old church-goer Scott Shreffler. "It's going to be alright and good things are going to come out of this."