, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

April 4, 2013

Pastors walk sidewalks of violence, pray for peace

PORT ARTHUR — On a windy Thursday morning with gray skies overhead, a group of local pastors walked the sidewalks of Prince Hall Village Apartments offering prayers for peace.

Just as the Biblical Joshua blew the shofar, or ram’s horn, so did the Rev. Jack Chatman during the stroll catching the attention of some of the residents.

The pastors, who are part of the Port Arthur Ministers Conference and Vicinity, congregated at one end of the apartment complex that been the scene of several recent shootings, gathered in a circle, held hands and began to pray.

Less than a week ago a disturbance between two groups erupted into gunfire and the death of Marcus John “Big Country” Senegal, 29, and the injury of another man at the nearby Old School Shack. A retaliatory shooting occurred shortly after at Prince Hall Village Apartments where two people were injured. A third shooting occurred early Tuesday morning at the complex that left another man with injuries.

“If God is with us, who can be against us,” said a woman who asked not to be identified.

The pastors — Chatman, the Rev. Timothy Anderson, the Rev. Troy Hopkins, the Rev. Frasier and the Rev. Collins, stopped in the area where the latest victim was struck by gunfire. Voices lifted in unison as they rebuked the devil and asked for the Lord’s strength.

“I want to lift up the family of Marcus Senegal,” Chatman began. “And of the two men who were arrested. Lift up their families so they can have hope. And the brother who was shot on this spot, be with him, heal his body.”

Several women who had joined the prayer vigil leaned against each other and shed tears. Chatman moved from his spot to offer comfort.

The ministers spoke of love and being able to forgive those who have done wrong and of putting God in one’s life.

“We are trying to cover this area with prayer,” Anderson said. “We don’t have a solution for this. There needs to be common ground.”

The ministerial group visits the complex regularly and offers Bible study on Thursdays, he added.

Anderson admitted it is painful to see the grief of the women and to see the effect the shootings have had on the community.

“It’s painful but it’s (violence) is everywhere. This is a united effort to try and come to some type of solution.

Several members of Port Arthur Police Department were at the event in support of the group’s efforts. Sgt. Scott Gaspard joined the prayer circle not as an officer but as a member of the community. He was asked by Chatman to attend the vigil.

“There’s nothing more powerful than prayer,” Gaspard said. “It’s important (to attend) not just as a police officer but as a citizen. It’s uplifting and it does the community as a whole some good.”


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