As people across the United States and Israel mourn the loss of seven lives, members of Grace Community Church in Houston will be remembering two of their own. Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Col. Rick Husband and Payload Commander Lt. Col. Michael Anderson were members of Grace Community - and men whose lives reflected the Lord they loved.

 

"Rick Husband is probably the godliest man I've ever met," Pastor Steve O'Donohoe of Grace Community Church told senior editor Janet Chismar during a phone interview Saturday afternoon. "He was such a lover of God and a worker for God, a kind person to everyone else. He's the type of person everyone wants to be like. His wife is the same way."

 

According to O'Donohoe, Husband and his wife, Evelyn, have been members of Grace Community Church for close to eight years. They have two children - Laura, who is 12 years old and Matthew, who is 7. The whole family is very involved in the church. Rick sang in the choir and did solos during special events. He was also active in the men's ministry. Both he and his wife were involved in the children's church.

 

"The only time Rick was not at church is when he was doing NASA business," said O'Donohoe, who shared that Husband was a very close friend. "I've been in his home with him and prayed with him. I am 64 years old, and I was here during Kennedy's assassination, and during the Challenger disaster and during September 11. This is the first time I've had a friend die in the tragedy and it's a big difference. He was a good Christian, as was Mike Anderson."

 

Mike and Sandy Anderson were "kind of quiet," according to O'Donohoe. They were members of Grace Community for about four years. The Andersons have two daughters, Sydney and Casey. 

 

"Just three Sundays ago," said O' Donohoe, "we prayed for both families in the service, and they both had something to say about what they were going to be doing. Our senior pastor Steve Riggle was in Guatemala when this happened - he'll be back shortly so he can do the Sunday services. We have six other pastors here, and he has made us all available for the families and we're just going to take it a day at a time."

 

The church has been open all day (Saturday) for people to pray. According to O'Donohoe, hundreds have come.

 

What will these pastors say to people from their congregation who ask, "Why?"

 

"Whenever I've lost a loved one or done a funeral for someone - perhaps a child - people always ask why," said O'Donohoe. "In this case, yes, it is going to be sad. For the Husbands and Andersons, they've lost their father and their husband. But I know these ladies are strong Christians and their children know the Lord also. They know that their Daddies and their husbands are in heaven. Tragic as all this is, that's just comfort that we have. We have that comfort in knowing that we, too, will be there one day.