AG churches spared as tornadoes tear through Midwest, South
Mon, 05 Mar 2012 - 4:23 PM CST
In a week filled with severe weather, multiple communities in the Midwest and South were devastated by powerful tornadoes that left death and destruction in their wake.
According to reports, more than three dozen people have died and hundreds have been injured due to the tornado outbreaks, which began last week in Kansas and Missouri and then continued into Illinois, with a another tornado-generating weather system striking farther east later in the week, from Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky to Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.
Yet despite several communities being "wiped out," AG districts are so far reporting that no AG churches have reported any significant damage. In some cases, district leaders are sharing remarkable stories.
Kentucky District Superintendent Joe Girdler reports that they have communities that are "hardly there" anymore. Yet, he's been told of two instances where a tornado either went around or over the top of churches, sparing them any damage, while buildings around them were destroyed.
"We have churches already bringing in food and water into hard-hit areas, with many others standing by with work teams ready to roll," Girdler says. "At this point, we know of no AG churches or pastors' homes that have been damaged, but there are some communities that we have not heard from [as phone service is down]."
The Ohio District reports a similar experience as in Kentucky. The River of Life (AG) in Moscow, Ohio, was at the center of the storm, but wasn't damaged while everything around it was. The church now serves as command central for volunteers and supplies.
First Assembly of God in Dallas, Georgia, was able to respond to the needs in its tornado-torn community as well. The previous night, the church had prepared soup and sandwiches to do ministry in Atlanta, but when the tornado hit, plans were changed and they were able to provide food and water to workers and families in the area.
According to the Illinois District Office, churches are responding to the tornado that nearly wiped out the community of Harrisburg. Abundant Life Assembly in nearby Marion has been providing food and water, and has offered their facility to use as a storehouse for supplies. Other churches are also offering work crews when officials permit them in.
In addition to church response, the Convoy of Hope is also present in multiple locations. "As the most recent tornadoes were touching down, we had trucks - full of food, water and emergency supplies - on the road headed to areas that forecasters projected to be hit," Karen Benson, director of Global disaster Response for Convoy of Hope, says. "As soon as we get the green light from local officials, we will begin setting up mobile distribution sites and dispatching debris removal teams."
As Kentucky's Joe Girdler said, "there are many churches, too many to name them all, that have opened their doors and are responding to the need." The same could be said in most if not all the districts where tornadoes struck. Although there have been no reports of AG churches hit by the tornadoes, AG members and their extended families and communities have suffered deep losses - and churches are doing their best to provide compassionate care for victims and workers.