Today started off as any other normal day does. Getting up, getting the kids ready for school, packing lunches, making coffee, making breakfast, etc.
Then I realize I don’t have my phone so I go in search of it. I have a text message which kind of freaks me out because it was about 6:45am. It reads…
“Did you know First Baptist is on fire?”
To which I reply “WHAT?”
Followed by a phone call to my best friend of 20 years.
It was a fact.
The church in which we met and spent our childhood, teen years and some adult years was engulfed in flames.
Tears immediately followed.
Connor overheard my phone call and got extremely worried about his soccer coach from last season who is a firefighter. He asked me if I could find him and make sure he was ok. When I responded that I was not sure I could do that but would try, he told me, “Well, then I will just pray for him ALL day!” WOW!!!
After dropping the kids off at school I made my way down to the church. Even prepared for the worst, I was certainly NOT prepared for what I saw…
The moment I saw this it was so overwhelming that I could not even continue to drive. I stopped at my husbands old office parking lot, sobbing.
My best friend arrived and we decided to move to the other side of the building. I was nervous of what was to be seen. There is no way that it could be as bad as this.
The whole roof of the historical sanctuary GONE! Collapsed! How could this be??
I held it together pretty well until the Minister of Music’s wife started talking about all of the music, videos and such of all the mission trips, musicals, Easter pageants that have been done over the last 30+ years…GONE!
I could not hold back the tears any longer and they came in a flood. Half of my life was spent inside the walls. I walked the halls every Sunday and Wednesday and sometimes all the days in-between. Forever friendships were born here. Friends were married here. How could such a sacred place have turned into this billowing heap of smoke?
As I was blubbering, two firefighters walked across the parking lot with arms full. Not sure what it was several went to investigate. Amazingly it was this…
Old photographs of all of the past pastors from the museum that is in the church. For some reason these were spared in the blaze. After this bunch two more firefighters brought two more rounds of photos. Many quickly got to work taking them out of frames, trying to salvage any of them they could…
As I was about to leave, the sun came out. Shining brightly on the building as if God was saying, “Everything will be ok.” It was the only time the sun came out from behind the clouds all day.
After I picked the kids up from school, we headed back down because they wanted to see. I was prepared for it this time. So I thought…
We pulled up and I realized they had knocked down a wall of the sanctuary…
I had been told this had happened but, again, was not prepared.
They declared the part of the building that burned a total loss.
After this I went back one last time with my Dad. I have many memories here with him. We sang our first duet together, here. We sang our first quartet with the Pastor at the time and his daughter, here. We were in Easter pageants together, here. But more importantly, we worshiped our wonderful Savior together, here.
As he surveyed the damage for the first time, I walked around taking pictures that I never imagined myself taking.
The smoke had cleared enough for this to be possible. Some of the pictures I took follow…
Today is a day I will never forget. It can certainly not be adequately described in words. It definitely brought many, many memories flooding back. I saw people that I grew up with that I haven’t seen in sometime. It is such a sad loss.
Even though I know it is just a building, I can’t help but remember everything good that happened here. I was molded into the person I am today, here. I know that God will use this for the good of him. The church congregation will survive and most likely in a bigger and better way.
Please be in prayer for the church and its body as they forge ahead. I know they will with the help of our great Lord but it will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination.