GALVESTON—Aaron Sanders, pastor of Coastal Community Church in Galveston, intended to kick off a new sermon series on Acts on Sunday, Sept. 4. Those plans were put on hold after Galveston ISD student Mason Nelson was killed in a crash the Friday before.
Nelson, a 14-year-old freshman at Galveston Ball High School, was traveling in a Jeep that was struck by a speeding SUV. Three other students survived the Sept. 2 crash, which occurred directly across the street from the high school, according to news outlets, including KHOU-11.
Nelson had just left baseball practice at the school.
The 28-year-old male driver of the SUV was arrested. He had been released from prison—where he had served a sentence for his third DUI conviction—only a few hours before the crash.
Nelson was described by friends as funny, with a love of baseball and a deep faith. A Sept. 6 candlelight vigil for students and the community was organized by Ball’s student council.
Coastal Community, where Nelson’s family attends, also held a prayer vigil at the church on the afternoon of Sept. 3. “Our hearts are broken. Come and pray for teenagers and families involved in yesterday’s crash,” the church announced on its Facebook page.
Sanders told KHOU-11 that Nelson’s family started attending the church three years ago, and that he had met the young man five years before that while coaching Little League.
Sanders rushed to the crash scene when he heard the news. He was there with Nelson’s father, whom he described as the boy’s best friend. Sanders said Mr. Nelson was overwhelmed by the messages from his son’s friends about the difference Mason had made in their lives.
At church on Sept. 4, in the wake of the tragedy, Sanders instead preached on the topic, “How Do We Mourn with Those Who Mourn?”
“This world is broken,” Sanders said. “People have the ability to choose sin, to make sinful choices, and sometimes those sinful choices that other people make affect us.”
The pastor continued with a reminder of hope: “But it’s also true that God is good, that His very nature is goodness. It’s holiness. It’s righteousness … it’s love.”
Cautioning against speculation, the pastor noted that many might ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?”
“I don’t know why this happened. But I do trust that He is good,” Sanders said, reminding his flock that “Even in the darkest valleys, God shows up.”
This also features reporting from KHOU-11.