Sorrow and hope shared the air Wednesday night at Hickory Creek Elementary as hundreds gathered in unity for a candlelight vigil to remember the life of Jordan Stevens.
The 23-year-old, father-to-be had his life cut short Sunday protecting the woman he loved. His grieving wife, Aileen, punctuated the emotion of the night when she spoke at the end of the ceremony.
“What I want everyone to know is regardless of the bad things that happened, and the things I witnessed, that the entire time I had confidence I would get out,” said Aileen. “I can’t say the same thing for Jordan because I don’t know what he was thinking at the time, but I do know that he was the one who wanted to pray for this man, this man we didn’t even know.”
Aileen continued, “I don’t want the focus to be on what that man was doing and what was going on in his life. I just want everyone to know Jordan did what he needed to do to protect me and I’m forever grateful for what he did and I really did love him and I don’t know what I’m going to do from here on. But I want this moment to be about us relying on God and seeing the faith that he had and that we can all do this as well.”
Jordan lost his life after he and Aileen were carjacked Sunday morning on their way to church in Murfreesboro. The two were taken hostage for hours before Jordan was shot and killed.
Aileen escaped with her life after the carjacker crashed while running from officers on I-24 near Jasper. She was in the car, but she miraculously escaped with minor injuries.
Bo Hendrix was youth pastor at First Baptist for years and knew Jordan well. He began Wednesday night’s ceremony.
“We’re all in grieving about what has happened. It has shocked us. It has rattled us to the core,” said Hendrix. “We hear of things like this happening far away and we never think about it in our backyard and definitely not with the ones we know and deeply love.”
Hendrix continued, “Tonight my prayer is that God will do something only God can do. That he will surround us with his love and comfort and care. And the only way He can do that is to restore peace and understanding that seems to be lost especially in times like these.”
John Templeton of First Baptist Church led a prayer and said, “There’s comfort in knowing the creator of the universe loves you and will comfort you. I do have hope in the Lord.”
Four songs were performed by Anna Kneip on vocals and Dillon Rowland on guitar. They were “Amazing Grace,” “Holy Spirit,” a combination of “God You’re So Good/ It Is Well,” and “Do It Again.”
Funeral service for Mr. Stevens is today at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of McMinnville. His obituary is on this page.