Debs Stephens had led us in prayer last Sunday morning at The Belfrey’s 9am congregation for the safe release of David Haines, the British hostage held by Islamic State, not knowing that news had recently broken that he had been executed. At the end of the prayers the congregation spent some time greeting each other and someone broke the news to her. Returning to the microphone she told us David had been killed and she then spontaneously began to pray again. As tears flowed down her face she called out to God for David’s grieving family and then prayed for those who had murdered him, praying blessing on them and that they would come to know the peace and love that come from Jesus Christ. As she did so others in church began to quietly cry as we shared the pain and agreed with the prayer. I was sitting in the congregation and found myself deeply moved.
Looking back now, Debs led us brilliantly. It was right to identify with the mourning of a grieving family and nation. It demonstrated true graciousness to pray for David’s executioners in the merciful way Debs did it. It was fitting to tell the church the updated news, even though it was not what we wanted to hear and was hard to bring. And to show heartfelt emotion whilst leading public prayers was not inappropriate but real, honest and helpful.
Thank you for leading us well, Debs. And may the family of David Haines know much comfort in the midst of great sorrow.