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‘It’s Still Fresh.’ American Baptist Leader Comforts Hometown After Massacre

‘It’s Still Fresh.’ American Baptist Leader Comforts Hometown After Massacre

Tony Mathews’ mother called him every few moments with updates. A white teenager was at the Tops Friendly Market around the corner from her Buffalo home, shooting people just because they were Black.

Mathews, senior strategist of missional ministries with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), listened.

“My mom called me and said, ‘Tony, there is a shooting right here in Tops around the block.’ She called me several times in a row, talking about the number of people who were killed. She heard three people, now five people. No there’s eight people, so she was calling me consistently giving me updates.”

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The gunman, charged with domestic terrorism and 10 counts of murder, is accused of killing 10 Blacks and injuring three others, one of them Black.

Juanita Mathews, the 83-year-old mother of SBTC senior strategist Tony Mathews, on the porch of her home near the Tops Friendly Market where she frequently shopped before the May 14 massacre.

“She was at home and she was just devastated,” Mathews, a Buffalo native, said of his 83-year-old mother Juanita Mathews. His sister Pat Mathews lives next door to their mother. Several cousins live in the same neighborhood block. His brother Joe lives in Buffalo.

“That’s the community. I can step out of my mom’s house, get in my car, and I’m at the Tops Market in three and a half minutes. I mean it’s like super, super close,” Mathews said. “I said I have to do something because it’s home. It’s my backyard. Just knowing I had those connections, the devastation, and me being a former pastor, I said we’ve just got to do something.”

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With the support of SBTC Executive Director Nathan Lorick, Mathews traveled to Buffalo May 27-29 to minister to the hurting.

Frontier Baptist Association Director of Missions Mike Flannery connected Mathews with North American Mission Board church planter Eric Napoli, pastor of Amherst Baptist Church in Amherst.

Napoli is organizing a series of outreaches to to help the Buffalo community mourn the killings, including a second community barbecue June 4 and subsequent monthly outreaches with food and evangelism.

About 100 volunteers fed around 600 people at the May 28 cookout, prayed with and comforted many attendees and distributed Bibles and Gospel tracts, Napoli said.

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“A large number of the volunteers, their entire ministry is just to make people feel welcome, find out what their spiritual needs are (and) break into some spiritual conversations,” Napoli said. “It’s all about the Kingdom.”

Faithful Stone Senior Pastor Mark Hamilton, a non-Southern Baptist pastor Napoli met last year, is hosting the events in the parking lot of his church within eyesight of the crime scene. Frontier also supports The Peace Market, a Christian humanitarian ministry, in distributing fresh food from the church parking lot each Wednesday.

Source: Church Leaders

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