Lynch's hometown drawn closer to one another, God, pastor says

ELIZABETH, W.Va. (BP)--The capture and rescue of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch has served to bring her hometown closer together and closer to God, a Southern Baptist pastor from the area says.

Lynch, whose family lives on the outskirts of Palestine, W.Va., had been listed as a prisoner of war following a firefight around Nasiriyah, Iraq, March 23. But on April 2 military forces launched a nighttime raid to rescue the 19-year-old private.

John Watkins, pastor of Southern Baptist Fellowship Church in nearby Elizabeth, said the town has come together during the crisis. Watkins led prayer vigils on the courthouse steps in Elizabeth March 25 -- when she was MIA -- and again the night that she was found alive. Elizabeth is the county seat.

"The most encouragement that I have had through this was seeing that people, in times like this, knew where to turn to get help," he told Baptist Press. "They turned to the Scriptures."

The Lynch family has visited Southern Baptist Fellowship Church, Watkins said, adding that his assistant pastor and one of his deacons are related to the family.

Jessica Lynch's rescue simply testifies to God's sovereignty, Watkins added. During the first prayer vigil -- which he said was attended by 300-500 people -- he read Psalm 139.

Referring to that passage, he told Baptist Press "that God is in control of all things. God knew all about it. He knew exactly where she was. He was able to take care of her. I truly believe that God has proven that Scripture true -- he was in control of all things."

The town was both in a thankful and celebrative mood after Lynch's rescue, Watkins said.

"There were fire trucks running through the town blowing their sirens," he said. "Policemen were doing the same thing. People were driving around this small town blowing horns. They were just thankful."


(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JESSICA LYNCH.

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