A cross was the only thing left intact inside a church in Salado, Texas after an EF-3 tornado flattened many buildings this past week, offering the congregation a sign of hope.
"It may not look like it now, but good things will come out of this," says Donnie Jackson, the pastor of the Cedar Valley Baptist Church to the local news station.
The tornado injured more than 23 people and flattened 61 homes, plus destroyed two church buildings. The local weather station the tornado was on the ground for at least 30 minutes and with a track that measured 13 miles long. Its maximum wind speeds that reached 165 mph.
"Sometimes you want to question why things like this happen," says Jackson. "And then one of the Scriptures came to my mind. 'We know all things work together for good.'"
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He along with people in the area were pleasantly surprised to find that while most of the church building was in shambles, the cross remained bolted down.
"It's still anchored, has not been damaged. What does that tell you?"
The governor in Bell County showed up shortly after the damage to talk about the cross that remained.
Today in Salado, I met with the resilient Texans impacted by Tuesday’s tornado & severe storms.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 16, 2022
A church stood in this spot a few days ago.
The only thing standing today is the cross.
The church may physically be gone, but the community brought together by God still remains. pic.twitter.com/GckLg82bYE
"I'm on the ground in a slab that a few days ago, a church was here," says Governor Greg Abbott. "The one thing remaining from the church is this cross. The pastor of this church made clear that the church still survives because the church is far more than just a building. The church is the people who are congregants in that building. The people who are brought together by God himself. So the church physically may be gone. But the church in reality still remains."
Pastor Jackson was emotional when the news crews were interviewing him. He explained it wasn't just because of the damage but rather the incredible love that has been poured out on their community.
"That building is gone," Jackson said during a press conference that Abbott held on-site. "But the church is stronger than it has ever been. And I know that God will help us to build back even stronger than before. Our church body, Brother Billy's church up the road is going to be stronger than it's ever been. And I thank God."
The other church that was destroyed in the area was Victory Baptist Church.
"We're not going to whine. We're going to praise him. And as we're celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we're going to celebrate the resurrection of a building that's fixing to start to be rebuilt."