SEE UPDATE BELOW
One of three victims in a recent murder investigation in Ashland, Ohio, has been identified as Elizabeth Griffith, who attended EastGate Bible Church, a Grace Brethren congregation in Ashland (Jim Norris, pastor).
Griffith, 29, had been missing since mid-August.
Nathan Wells, who planted the church ten years ago, wrote on the SEEDnet blog:
“This tragedy has received national media attention so I will not be answering questions about the tragedy. However, here’s how you can pray.
“1.) Pray for the God of all comfort to minister to the hearts of the family and friends affected by this tragedy.
“2.) Pray for the leaders of EastGate Bible Church to lead the people with strength, compassion and wisdom.
“3.) Pray for the people of EastGate Bible Church to point people to Jesus during this time.
“4.) Pray that justice would be served upon the man who did this evil.
One more thing. Do not be surprised by this. This is the result of living in a sinful world. Romans 3:10-18 says, ‘as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”
Click here to read more: Tragedy Strikes
UPDATE, Saturday, September 17, 2016
We received the following update from Pastor Jim Norris. Continue to pray for Elizabeth’s family and the EastGate church during this time.
The events of Tuesday-when the murders were discovered-were just the culmination of a week which included an area teen’s overdose death which impacted several of our people, news of the disappearance of Elizabeth (who turned out to be the second identified victim), another teen’s suicide in a neighboring community and bad health news for one of our people.
There was also the arrest of an Ashland teacher on sexual battery charges against a student (from incidents 19 years ago).
It was a rough week for our community and our church. It felt at times last week like Ashland County was under siege.
A community candlelight vigil on Thursday (two days after the discovery) gathered 400-500 people for prayer and worship, EastGate hosted an evening of prayer last night, another city church has another prayer vigil scheduled for this weekend. There will undoubtedly be others as time passes.
During our prayer time on Friday evening, the people of EastGate prayed for the unity of the churches of our community, we prayed that the body of Christ in Ashland would live up to that description and be a beacon of hope for the people we come in contact with on a daily basis. We know the gospel of Jesus is the only hope against the destruction our enemy (1 Peter 5:8) loves to perpetrate on those Jesus loves, died for and commissioned His Church to go to with that message.
We thanked God that Elizabeth was standing in the presence of Jesus, whole, healed and contented. We prayed for the healing of Elizabeth’s family and the woman who called 911 and was rescued by police (she also has a connection to EastGate).
We prayed for the healing of the families of the other two victims, for the salvation of the perpetrator and for the protection of his children and the rest of his family, who had nothing to do with any of these events.
We remembered the sentiment of Joseph in Genesis 50:20, that what is meant for evil can be used by God for unimaginable good. We prayed for a renewed dependence on God by the whole church, and that a spirit of prayer would unleash the power of the Spirit of God throughout Ashland County.
Elizabeth was a sincere believer in Jesus with an infectious smile and laugh who was passionate in her faith. She was loved by many in our family at EastGate and by those who knew her in the Stoney Creek apartment complex where she lived. She had a heart for the people of Ashland and had an ability to pray deeply for others. She was a giver, not out of abundance, but out of what God had given her. The heart of EastGate is broken, Elizabeth will be missed.