Isn’t it amazing how bad news most often comes at night? Those dreaded phone calls that make our stomachs churn. I got one of those on the night of Sunday, Oct. 24. A tornado had touched down in Fredericktown and hit the church where I pastor, Grace Church of the Heartland.
As we soon learned, the devastation to our building was very severe. It was like a huge punch in the gut. Our congregation and I were initially heartbroken. So many questions with no immediate answers. Where and how would we have worship services? Is our building repairable? Is there anything salvageable inside?
Then we saw all the other devastation to so many homes and businesses. Many families were facing huge losses.
Sometimes the mountains we face seem insurmountable, but it is in those times that God does some of His best work.
In the midst of all this, one of our church members said something so profound. She said, “You can look around and see destruction, or you can see how blessed we are.”
You could stand in our parking lot and look in every direction and see absolute utter devastation, but through all of it not one person was killed or even seriously injured! I began to ponder on how that could even be possible because the time of day the tornado occurred, most families were home, and yet no deaths. Wow, how blessed are we!?
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I’m so thankful for a community that came together to show love and kindness. People rallied together working on cleanup crews, food and water assistance, and provided shelter to those in need. In the middle of this crazy world we live in, I witnessed, and am still witnessing, people caring more for others than themselves. That is indeed something to be so thankful for.
I’m also so thankful for a church that doesn’t quit, but keeps moving forward. Our motto is “Loving God & Loving Each Other.” We had the opportunity to really live that. Our folks never once thought, “How long will it be before we can have church again?” Instead, they asked, “Where will God provide for us to have church?”
There was never a doubt that God would provide! Never a doubt that we would be bigger, better and stronger than ever!
So many people reached out to us to offer help and use of their facilities on a temporary basis. Then our answer came. The United Baptist Bethel Association has a tabernacle in Roselle that they use for quarterly and annual meetings. They offered us their building for as long as we needed it. We would be able to set up our equipment and leave it there, making the transition smooth for us. Once again, I realized how blessed we are! We indeed are so thankful.
We will build back and are working with our general contractor and adjusters. It will take 9 to 12 months, but we are still thankful and blessed. As a matter of fact, I invite you to visit us while we are at Roselle and see the amazing things God is doing.
I encourage you to look past the devastation and see the blessings and be thankful. If you’re facing a storm, look past it and focus on the Master of the Storm.
Pastor Grace Church of the Heartland
Sunday School at 9:45 a.m., worship at 10:45 a.m.