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TV Towers
Just a pile of twisted steel and cables are all that remain of The Assembly's TV towers. (Photo courtesy of The Cross radio station, Facebook)

Pastor Shane Warren and his staff at The Assembly in West Monroe, Louisiana, feel blessed even though Warren estimates the church and student housing for its School of Urban Missions experienced as much as $200,000 (estimated) in damages and its television station suffered millions of dollars of damage when an EF2 tornado ripped through the city on Monday.

"We dodged a bullet," Warren says in obvious relief and thankfulness. "The tornado was right above us, we had 60 or 70 people in the church at that time - they easily could all have been killed. You look at all the damage [in the city], and it seems a lot of people should have been killed."

According to Gene Brown, the regional executive presbyter, the towers were completely torn down by the powerful winds that struck the area, twisting them around and dropping them to the ground. The tornado also tore the roof off of the station building located next to the towers.

"We had two towers, side by side; one 700 feet, the other 500 feet," Warren says. "It will cost about $1.5 million to replace the towers and another $1.5 million to replace the transmitter. We haven't been inside of the station yet — the roof was tore off and rain flooded the interior — and the equipment inside is pretty sensitive."

"The church had just finished quite a bit of repair work to the station due to some earlier flooding," Brown says. "Now, the two Christian stations they were managing, KWMS and KMCT, are off the air."

According to a Facebook report by the The Cross, a Christian radio station in neighboring Monroe, Louisiana, thousands of homes and downtown businesses in West Monroe are still without power, with numerous schools in the area being closed due to damage and power outages.

Brown observed many traffic lights down and trees uprooted in the area. But what's remarkable, he says, is that just last week international compassion ministry, Convoy of Hope, and its ministry, Rural Compassion, had stocked supplies and held a "first responders" training session at nearby Point Assembly of God, only a 20-mile drive northwest of West Monroe.

"Curtis Wilson, head of Rural Compassion in our area, has his men out right now going through the city," Brown says. "He's out there with his team, cleaning things up."

Warren says that the church's Wednesday evening services are cancelled, but if they can get a gas leak repaired, he hopes to have services on Sunday — even if only by candlelight.


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Then and now; veterans reunited after 30 years

Fri, 09 Jul 1999 - 12:00 AM CST

1967. Ft. Hood. Killeen, Texas. Cecil Adams, 20, and Darcy Haisley, 18, are going through boot camp together. It's near the end of the month. Haisley is broke and hanging around the barracks with nothing to do.

"Cecil would witness to me and I had a lot of stupid arguments about God," Haisley remembers now. "He invited me to this little storefront hole-in-the-wall kind of church. People called him 'Brother Adams.' All this 'Brother' and 'Sister' stuff. During the service, a lady to my right was holding up her hands saying, 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' At the altar call, Cecil kept saying, 'You can go now.' I didn't know what he meant. I just wanted to get out of there."

1968. Vietnam. An outpost near Da Nang. Adams and Haisley are serving together. Adams is a conscientious objector serving as a medic.

"I knew he was a conscientious objector and wouldn't carry a weapon," Haisley says. "But I remember a time when a 17-year-old kid named Atwood was killed by a sniper and everybody was hugging the ground and Cecil was up and moving with his medic bag and working on this kid."

Haisley could see that Adams' talk about religion was not empty words.

"There was something about Cecil. I remember asking him what religion he was, and he said, 'I just believe the Bible.' I didn't know what to make of that. I just knew that he was different and had something that was genuine. Probably what made the biggest impact on my life was just watching his life. Just seeing the contrast between the way I and the rest of the guys were living and how he was living."

Haisley's life was a wreck. He was constantly smoking marijuana. Constantly trying to numb his awareness of his own mortality. And constantly confronted with Cecil.

"I remember one day the guys were giving Cecil a rough time and my friend George Vanderdeusen said to me, 'You know, Cecil's right.' We were laying on this bunk having a cigarette. And I looked at George kind of funny and said, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'I used to be really involved in Youth For Christ. What Cecil believes is right.'

"George was killed later. I had been wounded and Med Evac'd out, when I heard he was hit. I went and visited him in the hospital. I knew nothing about the gospel or the Lord. It was an intensive care unit. I remember an incredibly hopeless feeling. I didn't know what to say, and he said to me, 'They want to take my legs.' I didn't know what to say. I was loaded on dope. I remember saying, 'You're going to be ok.'"

1969. Everett, Washington. Haisley has come back to his hometown after his tour of duty. His life continues to spiral downward.

"I came home and got into drugs real heavy," he says. "Actually got to the point where I thought I was an animal and was eating with my bare hands. One day there were these people preaching the gospel down on the street corner. And I went over and talked to them. The first thing I said to the guy on the corner was, 'I'm not afraid to take all of my clothes off, right here, right now.' That's where I was at.'"

The group invited Haisley to their church, Gospel Light Temple, an independent Pentecostal fellowship.

"The guy that preached had a real anointing," Haisley recalls. "I went down to the altar."

This time it was Haisley's turn to say, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."

"I started saying it to copy the other people at the altar and I started feeling horrible. So I started saying it louder. I got to the point where I was screaming 'Jesus!' at the top of my lungs. The whole church stopped. They must have thought, 'We've got this madman.'"

And then a man walked up behind Haisley. He laid his hands on his shoulder and quietly said, 'Son, you don't have to scream. Jesus hears you.'"

Three weeks later, Haisley received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

"I used to tell the guys in our unit, 'If I ever got religion, I'd want the kind that Cecil's got,'" he says. Now he had it.

Haisley's transformation was immediate and dramatic. He had been living on the streets using drugs; he returned to share the gospel.

"Everybody knew me," he says. "I witnessed to thousands of people in the first couple of years. I've led hundreds of people to the Lord."

1999. Taos, New Mexico. Cecil Adams and Darcy Haisley are reunited at "The Gathering," an organized reunion of the 5/46th 198th Light Infantry Battalion.

"About the middle of May, my wife gets a phone call," remembers the Rev. Cecil Adams, now a veteran pastor with the Assemblies of God. "And this man says, 'Is this the religious Cecil Adams that was a medic in Vietnam?' And she said, 'Yes.' And he said, 'Well, for 30 years I've been looking for him. He witnessed to me over and over and I'm now an Assemblies of God pastor. And I'm shocked that not only is he an Assemblies of God minister, but he's pastoring in Killeen of all places. He's the one who took me to that little church that scared me."

Weeks later, the two friends saw one another for the first time in more than 20 years in Taos.

"It was powerful emotionally," Adams says. When we arrived at the reunion, they expected me to be religious. They knew about me. But they were shocked to find out here's Haisley and now he's like Adams!"

Just as Haisley had watched Adams' life, the others in the unit now saw his own complete change.

"There were a lot of people that came up to me and they just couldn't believe the transformation in my life. The way I had been living, they probably figured it was a miracle I was even alive."

The Revs. Haisley and Adams now share the joy of salvation as they pastor Assemblies of God churches in Killeen and Everett. They also continue to share painful memories of their months in Vietnam. But they use those memories constructively.

"When I have flashbacks," Adams says, "I pray for the men I knew there. Haisley is actually the second one who has come to Christ in the years since I've been home. And if there is one thing I really focus on from those years, it's the power of soul winning. Your witness is so powerful, that even though you don't know they came to Christ, God's at work in their lives. We think, 'Well, I witness and people turn me down.' Yes, these guys all turned me down. But look what's happened. This is two of them. How many more?"

"After I got saved," Haisley says, "I got to thinking about George Vanderdeusen. I had really cared about this guy. I really loved him. And it was one of those tough things when he was blown away. And all of a sudden, it dawned on me that he had been in that hospital 3 days before he died. And God gave me an assurance that Vanderdeusen had that time so he could get right with the Lord. He was going home. I always feel like when I get to heaven, he's going to be waiting and yelling out my name."


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