CHARLESTON -- Strong winds caused a great deal of damage Monday, and many folks are still dealing with the aftermath. The roof was ripped off of the Valley Grove Nazarene Church on Rutledge Road in Kanawha County, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.
But that wasn't enough to get church members down. They decided to worship outdoors instead.
During services Wednesday night members spoke often of the challenges ahead. But as they sang, linked arms and prayed, they found strength in god and each other.
"We didn't want to cancel services," said church member Ashley Burgess. "We may not have a building but you don't need a building to have church."
The church has insurance so they are going to be able to rebuild. They are hoping to come back even bigger and better than before.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." -- Hebrews 13:5
As this report says, I agree that we’ll come back bigger than ever! We were already big before. Where we are one of the biggest congregation of teens in our state. Our average of teens is 23 every Wednesday night, and 10-15 every Sunday morning. That’s not including the chaperones and youth leaders. Hopefully, we’ll double those numbers when our building is rebuilt and refurnished.
I will admit this. I wasn’t for sure if we were going to have church, with considering what has happened to our church. But I did have a feeling that we would somehow. We’re known to have church in blizzards, rain storms, wind storms, and also when the power is out. It’s an rare occasion to not gather for church. Even if it comes down to have to go somewhere else, set up a tent, or even go underneath our shelter across the road from our beautiful church –which we did. Either way we were going to meet with God wherever and whenever.
My soul was lifted when my youth pastor Curtis Harris picked me up for church yesterday. He was all smiles and laughs, when I felt a frown on my face and wanted to cry on the inside. That man doesn’t let anything get him down, I tell you! I’ve barely seen him down in the dumps. Seeing him in high spirits lifted mine.
When we all got to church. Curtis took us on a tour of the damage of our once beautiful activities building. I took pictures while we went through. It was very painful for me to see. This church is a second home to me, as it is to a lot of people. I am almost there as much as I am home. My life has changed here, I have worshiped the Lord countless of times, slept here when we would have our lock ins, I have cried out to the Lord here, and had bountiful laughs in this place. It hurts to see that it was almost destroyed by the storm we had Monday night.
I didn’t know that the wind blew that hard! Surprisingly, it didn’t where I live. Usually we’re the ones that gets the worse of it, and would have to do without electric for a week at a time. But it switched this time around! They had gotten the worse of the storm, and their power was out for three days! The water was only out due to the electric couldn’t power up the water pump onto our water line. So I didn't get a shower for those three days. Ehh...
As you can see in the pictures it’s pretty bad. But I and many others look at it this way—it could have been worse. The whole building could have been blown away! What I have heard—I may have heard wrong—the damage cost is around $50,000 dollars. Praise the Lord, that the insurance company will cover it! We’ll need a new roof, wall paneling, ceiling covering, overhead lights, carpeting, and that’s just the repairs. There is other stuff that’ll probably need replaced if the water hasn’t ruined them. The things off the top of my head would be, a piano, some game tables, play props, a projector, speakers, and I’m not for sure, but the kitchen appliances probably got a great deal of water on them, however they could be fine. No matter, it will still cost a lot, even if some of the things were spared of damage.
All considering, we still met with God outside in the cold air. It did not discourage us to gather in his presence, or our faith in the Lord. We make our alter wherever we meet with him. As the saying goes, whenever three gather in his name, God is among them. Boy, did we feel God last night with our 42 people gathering! We played—well, they played, I didn’t—football, and a boy fell in the creek due to horse playing. Curtis made a joke with “He got Baptized his first night!”. The boy really wasn’t baptized, it was an accident involving a very wet, cold creek. He is this cute little blonde boy who just started coming last night with a few of his friends.
Surprisingly, we had our normal routine of having food, fun, and fellowship. The power was out, and the person-Vicki- who is in charge of cooking, she fixed our food on a gas stove. It was yummy! ;) Barbequed meat balls, chicken nuggets, and Gino’s pizza. :) We didn’t expect it. It was such a beautiful and amazing gathering. It was beautiful to see all these people to come out with us, and it was amazing at how supportive and comforting everyone was. It makes a person realize that God is watching over his children with the way he blesses us, even in the toughest of times when a tragedy has struck. He is there no matter what happened, and whenever it came to pass.
Last night has for surely opened my eyes even more than before. I feel like praising the Lord in the highest right now just reviewing it over in my mind. Just seeing everyone there, and the blessings we received in the midst of all of this. However, the biggest blessing we received last night was God’s overwhelming presence. He is for surely omipresent around us, we just don't acknowledge Him until we really feel Him in these certain moments. Also, another blessing with the chance to witness our love for the Lord on our local news channel. (As you see above in this post) That in its self was pretty awesome in my opinion. (Even if I really didn’t want to be on camera where I looked like ehhh… lol. Our water was off! So I have an excuse! lol)
Brittany played guitar, Ashley and Sarah lead the singing, and we followed along joyously. Curtis started the lesson on judgment on others, and that favoritism is a sin. Which you almost would have to be there to understand what he was talking about. Trust me it made sense and opened many eyes. The news people stayed nearby and filmed randomly and respectfully, making sure they wouldn't disturb our service. I have to admit it was exciting that the youth group was going to be on the news. I kept thinking that people will see our youth group in its truest form in praising God. That excited me the most out of all other reasons.
We sung “How He Loves” by David Crowder Band. That song really moves us, and it fitted the emotion we held and it lifted our spirits even more. You can hear some of the song in the segment above, and below I posted a youtube video of the song. It’s really beautiful.
(Lyrics) “He is jealous for me/ loves like a hurricane/ and I am a tree/ bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy/”
These lyrics I just quoted, fitted us well. His love blew over us like a hurricane last night, and we were trees bending beneath His wind and mercy.
God does love us! He loves everyone!
My cousin Ashley is right (the girl in the segment), we don’t have to have a building to praise God in. All we need is whoever that will gather in His name and meet with Him! We should not get attached to materialized things, we need to get more attached to God and His love. It is beautiful to know that we can do this, and even gather more teens we have had in months in doing so! It’s amazing!
My, how to end this—what feels like to me—epic blog post? With a song? Okay! How about this song I am feeling immersed in the most?
“You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman.
(Lyrics)“Oh no You never let go/through the calm and through the storm/Oh no You never let go/every high and every low/”
Talk to you guys later! I felt like I had to share this experience with you! And hopefully inspire you somehow!