NEWTOWN, Conn. – While Enio Aguero has ministered to families of service personnel killed in action, only God’s grace could prepare him to comfort those who lost their children in the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“As you can imagine, this is a difficult situation,” Aguero said. “There is a long road to recovery for these families, and not only the families and first responders, but for all of Connecticut.” Even so, Aguero said he can see God’s hand at work.
The national disaster relief (DR) chaplain coordinator for the North American Mission Board (NAMB) joined area chaplains, including four from the Baptist Convention of New England, in providing whatever comfort they could in the unimaginable circumstances in Newtown, Ct.
NAMB President Kevin Ezell said he’s thankful Aguero is available to help.
“I know Enio wanted to do whatever he could to help and I am glad God gave him this opportunity,” Ezell said. “I know I speak for all Southern Baptists when I say our prayers and thoughts are with the families and survivors in Newtown.”
On the day of the attack, Enio reported to the Sandy Hook volunteer firehouse. After quick introductions with law enforcement officials, he went to work.
“I counseled several first responders. I was part of the death notification teams for the families of the victims of the school shooting,” said Enio, who was accompanied by John Revell, a pastor and police chaplain from Stamford, Ct.
“I am exhausted, but I am OK,” Aguero said. “I am trying not to be an obstacle for what God is putting into place. He is opening doors for ministry. There will be needs for a long time here. After the funerals, there will be needs of the families and those who have responded.”
Aguero plans to remain in Newtown for several days to continue counseling.
Bruce James, DR director for the Baptist Convention of New England (BCNE), also expressed appreciation for Aguero’s ministry.
“We are grateful for how in God’s providence He had DR chaplain Enio Aguero in New York [for Hurricane Sandy] and he deployed and began to minister at the Sandy Hook Emergency Response Center,” James said. Four BCNE chaplains assisted Friday (Dec. 14) in 20 counseling sessions with first responders and families of the victims, Aguero said.
Southern Baptist Disaster Relief has deployed a team of chaplains to Newtown who are trained to assist children in disasters. The Mississippi team of three, including a law enforcement chaplain, will work with area pastors and Aguero, ministering to children and parents.
Southbury Baptist Church pastor Bryan Sims and his congregation, which meets less than 10 miles north of the school, are also reaching out to the community.
Bryan Finch, an SBC chaplain and the command chaplain at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, will conduct a memorial service Wednesday for a U.S. Coast Guard member’s niece, a Sandy Hook victim.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Joe Conway writes for the North American Mission Board.)