Missouri church marks first anniversary of deadly shootings

Todd G. Higdon

One year to the day, members of Neosho’s Micronesian community joined hands with friends and strangers inside the First Congregational Church to remember three men that were killed on Aug. 12, 2007, by a lone gunman.

Those killed were Kernel Rehobson, 43, of Goodman, who served as a pastor at the church, his uncle, Intenson S. Rehobson, 44, and Kuhpes Jesse Ikosia, 53, also of Goodman. The victims were shot during the afternoon service. Four other people were wounded.

During Tuesday’s service, Jim Handy, who was in the church on the day of the shooting, led the memorial service.

Then Pastor Tom Thorne of the First Congregational Church provided a prayer.

“Our God in Heaven and Creator of the universe, we come today to celebrate, and to remember those who have gone on before us, those that have paved the way,” Thorne said. “And we thank you for all of the blessings that we have. We thank you for the love, the caring, the sharing of these in this place today and for those that have been comforting to all involved during this past year. And as we come today, we are going to greet you with mixed emotions, so as we come today, I would ask you be in our hearts to make us strong, for we realize that you are our creator, you are our strength and our rock in times of need and sorrow…. so be with us today during this time as we celebrate, and for all things that we are grateful to you, these things that I pray in the name of our Heavenly Father and His Son, who came on this earth to redeem us, the Lord Christ Jesus, in His name I pray, Amen.”

Traveling from Saipan was Pastor Kohne Ramon. He provided the main part of the sermon.

“Praise God for our gathering today, first anniversary in the commemoration of the Lord’s plan of taking our dear friends, brothers, pastors a year ago,” Ramon said. “I am very privileged to be here this morning, because a year ago, I was here, sharing in all that was. And having been here I feel that the Lord has made this plan so that my wife and I can travel distances halfway around the world to be with you. As I ponder over the words that I feel are appropriate for this important occasion, I come to realize that no single word will benefit the occasion because there are so many things that we have been dealing with. There has been issues of forgiveness, there has been issues of liberty, community, freedom, love, but as we all know, the Word of God is from our Holy Bible best fit for occasions as this.”

Ramon selected a single Bible verse, John 8:36, for part of his speech. The verse reads, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Moving on, the Saipan pastor told the audience why he chose those words.

“I find so much meaning in these words, because it involves a work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, in one’s heart, as he or she struggles with issues such as those that we have struggled over the past 12 months,” said Ramon. “I was here during the first month, first four weeks after the incident, I am calling this an incident, and I saw and I dealt with and I felt the grief, the sorrow, that had befallen our community. I saw the love, the forgiveness as well. And after having arrived a week, no not quite a week ago, my wife and I arrived on Friday, and as I mingled with our people, our community, I noticed, praise God, that there has been a lot of…a lot of forgiveness…between people, between families, amongst the community and I am quite relieved.  One of the things, being halfway around the world, that I pray and I worry about is that the level of forgiveness and love and healing and uniting would not progress. But, thank God, as I arrived last week, I saw that there had been a lot of healing, a lot of forgiveness.”

Throughout the service, members of the audience could be heard weeping with tears in their eyes.

In conclusion, Ramon said that may God bless you.

“Hear His words and as we struggle and as we gain grounds on the issues of the days, the weeks, months, years to come, I believe that our time today in John 8:36, will definitely help the process,” said Ramon. “May God bless you.”

As the service came to an end, Thorne made mention of the new memorial stone at the front of the church. It is dedicated to those men who lost their lives.

“It will remain there for eternity in memory of those that lost their lives one year ago today,” Thorne said.

Neosho Daily News