Family lost nine in Texas church shooting


By Mark Ellis —

The Holcombe family, with Joe and Claryce in the center

Joe Holcombe, 86, and his wife Claryce lost nine family members during Sunday’s stunning mass murder at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, but their faith in God remains secure.

Joe and Claryce attend another Baptist church in Floresville, about 20 minutes away. They first heard about the tragedy through a phone call shortly after the events unfolded Sunday.

Soon they were confronted by a grim tally. They lost their son, Bryan, and his wife, Karla, their grandson, Marc, and his baby daughter — and their great-granddaughter.

They lost the wife of their grandson, Crystal, and her unborn baby, and three of their great-grandchildren.

Crystal and John Holcombe

But Joe and his wife remain “very close to God,” he told Faithwire.

“We’re strong,” he said, affirming they will all be reunited in heaven. “We’ll be with Bryan and his wife and the whole family one of these days — and we look forward to that.”

He revealed no sign of animosity toward Devin Kelley, the deceased shooter, who may have suffered mental illness and strong demonic influence.

“I don’t hold any resentment to him,” he told Faithwire. “I wish he hadn’t of done it, but all I can say is that he is going to be rewarded for what he did — and he’s not going to like that reward,” he noted. “I don’t hate him by any means; I just feel sorry for him.”

Mourners in grief over Texas church shooting

Joe’s grandson, John, who lost his pregnant wife, unborn child and three children in the horrific violence, is still at a hospital in San Antonio with his 5-year-old daughter.

Joe urged people to trust God even when circumstances don’t make sense. “God doesn’t want us to understand him; he wants us to trust him and I think I’d tell them that. We don’t understand how God works, but we trust everything he does.”


How you can help: Our brothers and sisters in Sutherland need your prayers and I know that you are praying for them. They also need to be reminded that we are one body and they are not alone. Consider writing them a letter and sharing your heartfelt love and prayers to: First Baptist Church, 216 4th St, Sutherland Springs, TX 78161



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