As many of you already know, we have been walking through the sorrow of losing three of our French Camp Academy students over the Christmas break. We are ever so grateful for those of you who have responded with prayers, comforting words, and generous donations to help meet the travel and burial expenses for their parents, Pastor Srinivas and Sujatha Naik.
Joy (14), Aaron (15) and Sharron (17) died December 23 in a house fire in Collierville, TN, where they were spending the Christmas holidays with Danny, Karrie and Cole Coudriet. They were having such a wonderful fun time with this family before they went to bed, and a number of their friends here in French Camp had been on the phone with them that very evening. The fatal fire broke out during the night while they were sleeping, and Karrie, their host mother, and the three Naik children died of smoke inhalation. We were greatly relieved to know their bodies were not burned and they did not suffer long, if at all.
Their parents arrived from India Christmas Day and have been staying with families in the Memphis area while making arrangements for their burial. It has been a long and difficult time of waiting to determine if the bodies could be returned to India. We are now rejoicing with them that finally, on January 5, they learned that the bodies could indeed be flown to India for burial. Please pray for them as they are traveling today and tomorrow (Jan. 8 & 9) back to India where family and friends are eagerly awaiting their return.
In the meantime, we in French Camp have been grieving deeply and all the more so as we anticipate the impact their deaths will have on our students and staff. Please pray for the Lord to undertake in areas where we feel totally inadequate, and that we might give appropriate responses to the many questions and reactions that will surely come in all the conversations we will experience as a community.
There will be a memorial service at French Camp Presbyterian Church on Monday, January 14 at 10:00 am. If you are in the area and would like to attend, you would be welcome. If not, we ask that you pray with and for us that this service will be a testimony to God’s faithfulness in and through this heart-wrenching tragedy.
We trust that the Lord will greatly use the deaths of Joy, Aaron and Sharron – in India, in French Camp and around the world for His own Kingdom purposes and that He Himself will be our Comforter and Helper in the days, weeks and months ahead!
Again, thank you for your prayers, your concern, and your part in taking care of the needs of the Naik family!
Sincerely in Christ,
Rev. J. Alex Coblentz