For the past few weeks, the lobby of Daybreak Church in Hudsonville has served as a reminder of how precious life is.
A board with twenty-six names, all victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, greets visitors as they walk through the front door.
“Our hearts were broken,” Pastor Wes Dupin said.
During times of tragedy, Dupin says the church digs deep and has responded charitably to events like the Columbine shootings, Hurricane Katrina, and Haiti’s earthquake, to name a few.
So the Sunday before Christmas, the congregation decided to console the Sandy Hook victims’ families.
They bought teddy bears, called ‘love bears’, for each family. They’re also giving them a book called “Heaven is Real,” which is based on a little boy who had a near death experience and says he saw heaven.
‘It`s one about comfort. It`s one about grieving. It`s one about sorrow. At the same time, there is a beautiful heaven. There is a loving God, and that`s what this book is all about,” Dupin explained.
There’s two versions of the book. One is for kids, and the other is for adults. The children’s books have hundreds of signatures and kind words from church members written in them.
“Just let them feel our arms around them, supporting them and through that feel the love of God,” Barb Post, a Daybreak member said.
“I signed my name, and I said ‘I’m praying for you,’ and I put in two dollars out of my bank,” Landon Rossback, a young Daybreak member said.
Those are dollars the church hopes will help the families’ financial needs.
“We`ve set up a fund for the families because we know there`s enormous costs involved in all kinds of issues that goes along with tragedies like this,” Dupin said.
One member of the congregation volunteered to drive all of the bears, books, and cash to a salvation army in Newtown. The organization will then distribute the items to the families.
Dupin said, “Our hope is that a story like this will inspire others. That the Sandy Hook School story lives on and that we hope that other churches, schools, businesses will get behind this effort. Go on the website, send in money to help these families.”
If you would like to help the church out with its donations, you can contact Daybreak Church by clicking here.