Updated at 10 a.m. ET with additional details
Seventh-day Adventist leaders appealed to local church members to assist those affected by a truck attack that killed at least 84 people and injured many others, including seven Adventist believers, in the French city of Nice.
A large truck plowed through a huge crowd of people watching a Bastille Day fireworks celebration on the night of July 14, leaving a 1 ½-mile (2-kilometer) trail of bloodshed before police shot the driver dead.
“We want to convey our most heartfelt sympathy to the victims of this heinous act of violence and to all their beloved ones,” said Mario Brito, president of the Adventist Church’s Inter-European Division, which encompasses 13 countries, including France.
“[We] pray for the quick restoration of all those who have been affected by this unjustified act of violence,” he said in a statement.
The Inter-European Division, citing a local pastor, said that seven Adventist members were injured in the attack. It said in a later statement that three of those injured, all members of the same family, had been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Ruben de Abreu, president of the Adventist Church in France, said local authorities were seeking blood donors and urged local church members to find ways to assist those who were hurting.
“This tragedy must be an opportunity for Adventists in Nice to demonstrate their solidarity and involvement in society,” he said. “It is not enough to pray for the victims’ families. It is necessary to respond positively to the request for blood donations. Donating blood is an elementary act of compassion, especially when emergencies occur.”
In line with a French decision to observe three days of mourning, leaders of the church’s Southern France Conference invited all congregations to observe a moment of silence and a time of prayer during their worship services on Sabbath.
The Nice attack, which occurred during France's biggest national holiday, follows violent occurrences in Iraq, Turkey, South Sudan, the United States, and elsewhere that have shaken the world in recent weeks.
Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson expressed dismay on his Facebook page that the “recent tragic deaths of individuals in the United States are now followed by terrible deaths in Nice, France.”
“Bizarre deaths and circumstances seem to be increasing in various regions of the world. Please pray for the families of loved ones who have died on both sides of the Atlantic,” Wilson said.
He called for prayers for peace and stability around the globe.
“Let us renew our relationship with the Lord every day so we can be ready to provide a witness for Him in whatever strange development may occur wherever we may live,” he said. “The Lord wants to use His people to provide Christ-like behavior and witness to the world so they can see what a changed life can do amidst such chaos and trauma. Let us stay strong in our faith and reliance on the Lord for our safety and our personal witness to others as we point people to the Prince of Peace and His soon Second Coming.”
Now it is more important than ever to speak about “the great hope of Jesus Christ and His soon return,” said Raafat Kamal, president of the church’s Trans-European Division, which is headquartered in Britain, just across the English Channel from France.
“It is with shock and grief we wake up to the news about the tragedies in Nice,” Kamal said on his division’s website. “We continue to witness the great controversy unfolding in our broken world, and we are reminded of our important mission to speak and live the great hope of Jesus Christ and His soon return. Our prayers are with those who are grieving for the loss of their loved ones that they may be comforted.”