Clinton church rebuilds after tornado destroys it

BOTKINBURG, Ark. (KTHV)-- It will be exactly one year ago this Thurs., April 10, that an EF-2 tornado demolished the Botkinburg Foursquare Church just north of Clinton. The church was only around for ten years before it got destroyed, but through community, devotion, and a vow to rebuild congregants found hope in desolation.

A few miles outside Clinton along State Highway 65, you can see abandonment as broken trees and shattered homes lie barren along the roadside.

"Metal was just all crinkled. [It] was a total loss," said Botkinburg Pastor Ester Bass, recalling the moment he saw his church after the tornado hit, but you can also see salvation. "I couldn't picture this [new church] April the 10th of last year. My thoughts were where do we go from here."

The tornado turned the Botkinburg Foursquare Church into nothing more than a pile of scrap metal, leaving its congregants without a sanctuary and without a home.

"I got a phone call that the church had been hit, and my heart just sank, and when I got here it was worse than I had imagined," explained Bass.

Churchgoers met wherever they could -- gymnasiums, other churches, even tents set up at the site of their destroyed church.

Out of that destruction came creation, as Bass vowed to rebuild the church with the help from International donors.

"I got calls from all over the United States, and even I got calls from Great Britain, and people were just so kind -- they wanted to help in any way," said Bass whose church received pews, books, even a new grand piano to help build up what had been torn down.

On Sunday that rebuilding process culminated as the Botkinburg Foursquare Church officially reopened its doors again.

"The feeling is indescribable," said Bass. "It's a feeling of joy. We're grateful to God for bringing us to this point. It's just unbelievable."

The community is showing the world that there's hope, even when it's hard to see. The new church cost $800,000 to build.


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