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Christians Survive Tornado Devastation Trapped Inside Their Church

by | Sun, Mar 31 2024

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Five members of an Indiana church have miraculously survived after they were trapped inside their place of worship when a tornado ripped the building to pieces. In the Freedom Life Church at the time were worship pastor Peter Eric Hanlin and his wife, Thesa, who does volunteer accounting work there; along with their daughter, Whitney; her husband, Skylar Smith; and the Smiths’ nearly two-year-old toddler Memphis.

They described a sound like a roaring train as they screamed and cried out for Jesus’s protection while Whitney Smith and her family lay over little Memphis as walls and beams snapped and debris whipped above and around them with some falling on Whitney as she covered her son.

Skylar Smith described the scene as sounding like a train. “I thought it was a train coming by, and my wife yelled, ‘That’s not a train!’ and grabbed our son and took off running.” He said his father-in-law Eric was in the process of closing a door when the church began to come apart. “To be truthfully honest, we don’t even know how he’s not been carried away,” he explained.

“While hunkered down in the church, the tornado blew through the building and tore down the walls. Right on top of them. 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 where they needed it to.” said Skylar’s brother Patrick. Whitney believes her family escaped unscathed because of God’s grace and she gave thanks for the miracle, reflecting: “Jesus said In this world you will have trouble … but take heart, for I have overcome the world!

Her father Eric wasn’t so lucky. He has to undergo jaw, leg, and hand surgery. His family also lost their car. Patrick Smith said: “I have created a GoFundMe page in the hope of raising donations in support of the upcoming hospital bills that the Hanlins will be facing, as well as, help with cost of living while Eric will be recovering from surgery. He will be out of work for three months while he rehabs and gets back to 100%.”

The church’s lead pastor Matthew Holloway told his congregation:  “We trust in Jesus as much now as ever! He is the overcomer! We’re going to continue on. The church isn’t gone. Our building is gone, but understand, our church is still here. It’s alive and well, and we still have one another. We still have our faith in Jesus, and He’s still got His hand on us. That’s what’s bringing us together in this season. We’re not hitting pause on the ministry of God.”

The Freedom Life Church was among many buildings destroyed in the town of Winchester. The Church of Christ was also flattened to the ground and so were scores of homes, but no one died in the town. Across the street from the ruins of the Church of Christ lay a hymn book opened to A Shelter in the Time of Storm.

Photo: Facebook – Freedom Life Church