A church congregation in the US state of Tennessee is mourning the loss of a five-year-old boy who they had seen getting baptised the day before he was killed.
Following his baptism on Sunday, LaVonte’e Williams suffered fatal injuries during a shooting at a recreation park on Monday and later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
His death was announced on the church’s Facebook page. It said: “Sleep In The Arms Of God My Lil Buddy LaVonte'e Williams 😭 I Just Baptized You Yesterday At Church.....😭 Please Keep The Williams And The Lawson Families, And Our Heaven's View Church Family In Your Prayers!!!”
The pastor of Heaven’s View Baptist Church, Bishop Belita McMurry-Fite told the Christian Post of the shock and sadness of his death but shared the legacy she felt he had left behind.
“LaVonte’e Williams was a fine young man; always had a beautiful smile on his face, a very loving and respectful child,” McMurry-Fite said.
“[He] was a child who loved God. He loved working in the church [and] doing things in the church that made him happy. He would sing. He would help take up offerings in the church.” McMurry-Fite recalled.
The local police department is investigating the incident. Officers said that LaVonte’e had discovered a gun in his father's backpack
Bishop Belita said she was “very honoured to have been able to baptise him”.
“I’m a pastor that doesn’t just baptise children just because children want to get baptised. It’s important to me to know that they know who God is and for them to know why they are doing what they're doing; why do they want to get baptised and I’ve seen LaVonte’e for over a year or more loving God.”
She continued: “He comes from a family that knows God. For me, it was one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to baptise this young man. I heard God’s voice say: ‘It’s OK.’ And I knew that he was ready.”
“I had no idea that he would leave the next day. But I knew that there was something divine that was taking place that day with LaVonte’e.”