Monster tornado destroyed church building, God protected people inside

Damage from the tornado

By Jonathan Valenzuela –

Whitney Smith and four others were at church Thursday night when the tornado struck.

It was an EF3, a powerful monster, packing winds of 136 to 165 miles per hour. It caused the structural beams to creak and groan, the walls to tear apart and disintegrate, and debris to fly around dangerously.

Whitney covered her two-year-old son as everyone cried out to Jesus for protection.

After the storm passed, no one was severely injured, even though a wall fell down on Whitney and her son. Her husband had to lift it off. He started vomiting after inhaling airborne particles and was taken to the hospital, according to news reports.

The March 13 tornado in Winchester, Indiana, left the town largely razed: 22 homes and 100 buildings were severely damaged or completely destroyed. Of the Freedom Life Church, only the foundation remained intact.

Freedom Life Church’s sign was twisted.

“God protected us,” Smith stated. “I’m just glad we’re alive. When we came out, we couldn’t see the road. Everything was black.”

“While hunkered down in their church, the tornado blew through the building like a train and tore down the walls…right on top of them,” Patrick Smith, Whitney’s husband, described. “Because of God’s good grace; Skylar, Whitney and Thesa were able to escape the wreckage with very little injuries, scratches at most. Fortunately, a load-bearing wall fell, right when they needed it to.”

On Sunday morning, church members gathered at a different location to continue worshiping the Lord.

Grateful to be alive.

“It’s our building, it has memory, it has meaning, but it’s not the church. It’s not the community,” said Pastor Matthew Holloway. “The church isn’t gone. The building’s gone, and that’s why I think this service today is so meaningful for us is because we have the opportunity to say Freedom Life Church is alive and well.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help not only the church but all survivors and now homeless town members.

If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here

About the writer of this article: Jonathan Valenzuela studies in Los Angeles at the Lighthouse Christian Academy of Santa Monica.


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