Adventureland victims’ church congregation unites through prayer and pain

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — When 11-year-old Michael Jaramillo died after his raft on Adventureland’s Raging River ride overturned, his pastor Christian Shields said it reminded him of the fragility of life.

“I was holding my daughter last night, she’s four years old,” Shields said. “I was just holding her hair and just weeping over the thought that she might die one day.”

Shields’ congregation at Christian Life Church in Cedar Rapids united over that shared grief during a prayer vigil Wednesday night.

The Jaramillo family are dedicated members of the church. They did not attend in person but watched the service through a live stream.

Their church family prayed that Michael’s older brother David, who remains hospitalized in critical condition from the same accident, will heal from his injuries. Shields said David is already showing signs of recovery, including responding to questions from his hospital bed.

“He just turned 16 tonight…Happy Birthday, David,” Shields told his congregation. “I believe that God is mightier than these four walls, and I believe that our prayers here can reach him there.”

Shields called Michael Jaramillo a model Christian and is confident he is in heaven. He was with Michael when he was taken off of life support, and he told his congregation about those final moments.

“As he transitioned into glory, I asked myself, ‘Who am I to hand him off to Jesus?'” Shields said.

Christian Life Church has raised nearly $40,000 for the Jaramillo family through a GoFundMe. However, Shields said saving a life is more important than raising money.

“Michael’s in a better place than ever, but we are praying and asking the Lord if he can please let David stay with us,” Shields said.

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