A tornado may have hit churches in Salado, Texas, but this did not stop worshippers from celebrating Easter on Sunday morning.
Earlier last week, an EF-3 tornado passed through Bell County in Salado, Texas, which was home to the First Cedar Valley Baptist Church. The church building was decimated by the tornado, but this did not stop the pastor and his congregants from holding Easter service on Sunday morning.
WFAA-TV reported that Cedar Valley in Salado, Texas was also victimized by the EF-3 tornado that swept through the small community on Tuesday evening. The tornado uprooted trees and injured more than 23 people as it tore apart homes and buildings in the area, including the Victory Baptist Church along FM-2843.
Pastor Donnie Jackson of the First Cedar Valley Baptist Church told the news station that the "toughest moment" was when he surveyed the damage to First Cedar Valley Baptist Church after the storm had passed. He shared that he took shelter in a closet in his home together with his family members as they "prayed the whole time." He added, "We could hear [the tornado], it sounded awful."
But on Sunday morning, more than a hundred people gathered on a slab of concrete that remained on the ground where the church once stood. On Tuesday night last week, the church and 75 other buildings in Bell County were destroyed in a 13-mile stretch tornado. Less than a week later, damage and debris left behind by the tornado were cleared up by volunteers just in time for Easter service.
"It's not about us. It's about the Lord and what He's done for us and what he will continue doing for us," Pastor Jackson told Fox 7 Austin.
Pastor Jackson knew very well that the Easter service had to push through despite the challenges they faced. He said, "I felt this is where we ought to be because I know that there are some that are hurting and this is where the healing begins, right here."
Pastor Jackson added that he usually sees a few dozen people attending church service, but on Easter Sunday, the unusual outdoor service was attended by three times the normal size of crowd. The absence of the church building did not stop people from coming to hear the Word of the Lord.
"The church is not the building, we're a body of believers in Christ," the church's song leader Matthew Bush explained. "And that is a reality, whether there's a structure or not."
Pastor Jackson said there is already a plan to rebuild the church but no timeline has been set at the moment. He assured however that the cross that survived the Texas hurricane and stood tall at Easter service will be placed inside the new church.
"Sometimes you wanna [sic] question why things like this happen, and then one of the scriptures came to my mind that says: 'We know that all things work together for good to those that love God and are called to his purpose,'" Pastor Jackson remarked. "I have no idea what God's purpose is in allowing this to happen, but I know he has one."