My wife and I immediately fell in love with the Wiggins, Stone County community when we moved here in April of 2015. The small town reminded us of the places where we grew up in north Mississippi. The biggest difference was that Olive Garden was a 40 min drive from Wiggins vs an hour and a half drive from Duck Hill. Over the last few years, we have fallen deeper in love and have grown to cherish even more the sense of community that so characterizes Wiggins and Stone county. 


A little over a year after our arrival in Wiggins we saw the whole community come together in a big way. In July of 2016, racial tensions in the country were at a fever pitch. After an ambush attack on police officers in Dallas, TX, the Lord led us all to come together in Blaylock Park and pray for our country. Hundreds of people from all over the county, black people, white people, and people of all faiths came together and prayed earnestly for racial reconciliation in the nation. 


Sometime later, when nationally the relationships between law enforcement and the African American community were stretched thin, we were the community who came together. A dialogue between the community and local law enforcement was held at Wiggins Church of God in Christ moderated by local clergy from various church traditions. It was a productive meeting and helped everyone to better understand one another and strengthened the relationships between law enforcement and the community they serve. 


Then a couple of years ago, an incident happened at the high school that threatened the unity of the T4L movement. Again, we overcame our differences by coming together as one, once again, in the park for prayer. Again, we poured out our hearts for God to reconcile us together again, and He shepherded us through that difficult season.


Fast forward to last week. Two very tragic events occurred in our community. Tana Loose, a beloved wife, mother, sister, and friend to so many, lost her life in a devastating car accident. Then, on Saturday we learned of the passing of Cole Helveston, a Stone High Freshman, after a sudden medical emergency. Around the same time news came that Yasmine Bradford, the Lady Tomcat basketball standout, was in a medical crisis as well. This community we love was wracked with sorrow, grief, and worry.


Here is what I love about this place! Around 8 p.m. on Saturday night, my daughter received an Instagram message from one of her classmates. The young lady wanted my daughter to talk to me about the possibility of FBC hosting a prayer vigil for Helveston’s family and friends, as well as the Loose family, and Yasmine Bradford’s full recovery. About 18 hours later, the sanctuary of First Baptist Church was filled with students, faculty, administrators, family, friends, and complete strangers pouring their hearts out to God for comfort and healing of every kind. 


Today, the Loose family continues to grieve along with Cole’s family and friends. Yasmine is still hospitalized (though I hear she’s improving). Our comfort is this, thanks to the community’s coming together, no one is hurting alone. We are sharing one another’s burdens. I can’t tell you how encouraging this is to me, and it should encourage you as well.


I give thanks to God, and so should you, for this place we call home. I don’t know of another place like it on this earth. Sure, we have our issues. I’m not saying we are perfect. But I do propose that we seek to nurture the community we enjoy, by giving thanks to God and praising Him for keeping us together even in the most threatening of seasons. 


“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” -Philippians 4:8