On March 24, a deadly tornado tore through Mississippi and Arkansas. At least twenty-five lives were lost amidst the horrible destruction. As happens in the days following a natural disaster of this magnitude, social media and the news began to share stories. One of these stories really stands out for me - the story of Eldridge Walker.
As the Mayor of Rolling Fork, the worst hit city in Mississippi, Eldridge Walker immediately began coordinating rescue efforts and supporting his community. As the funeral director of the worst hit city in Mississippi, Mayor Eldridge Walker also began the emotional work of comforting families and burying their dead. Yes, Eldridge Walker is both the Mayor and Funeral Director of this small town that was absolutely decimated by the tornadoes last weekend.
This is Jesus-type leadership - providing coordinated administration and empathy to simultaneously rebuild a community while walking with families and friends as they say goodbye to loved ones, all while grieving the loss of his own home and neighborhood. Walker’s story reminds me of the story of Jesus when He learned of His friend Lazarus’ death. In the midst of Jesus’ and Walker’s own losses, in the midst of the empathy required of them to comfort friends and families of the dead, these leaders took charge of their situations, raising a man from the dead and a community from the rubble.
As we pray for the many communities this week who were impacted by the recent storms, let us also remember to pray for the fearless leaders who weep. May God give them courage, stamina, and compassion as they make difficult choices and walk with survivors.
After I finished writing this blog, I heard news of the school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee. I would be remiss to end this blog without a moment to pray for that community and its leaders as well. They, too, remind us of our need for a Savior - our need for a God of life and resurrection - our need for a Spirit who weeps with us in our grieving.