Pastor Ricky Batchelor preaches during Sunday service one week after the Texas church shooting. (Source: Candy Rodriguez/KPLC)
LEBLEU SETTLEMENT (KPLC) -
Drive northeast of downtown Lake Charles for about 15 minutes and you'll come across LeBleu Settlement - a small community where Grace Harbor Lighthouse Church is located down River Road.
For many, this weekend marked the first Sunday returning to church after the Texas church mass shooting that left 26 dead and dozens more injured.
"We ask God that you be a medicine," said Pastor Ricky Batchelor. "A salve, an anointment to the broken hearts of those who are going through the tragedies, Lord."
Batchelor has been preaching within these walls for more than two decades.
"I remember a time when we didn't lock the church doors all week," he said.
He never imagined there would come a time where he would need a security team.
"We will always have someone sitting there," he said pointing to the chair closest to the exit. "There will always be several members of this church that are carrying concealed weapons and they are trained and know how to use it." He finished by saying, "I hope that gives you comfort."
For many, having a form of defense has now become the reality he, and many other church leaders across the country, faces – the need of feeling secure in a place that once seemed off limits to evil.
"Why would you go to God's house and do evil?" is a question longtime churchgoer and harmonica player Joe Fontenot simply does not have an answer to.
His goal – to make his fellow churchgoers feel comfortable worshiping.
"People say it's never happening to me, it can't happen to me," Fontenot said. "But it can happen to you."
"It's unfortunate that in a church we have to do such things," said Batchelor. "But that's the crazy world we live in."
It's an evil he said, sadly, he doesn't see going away anytime soon.