NC church to rebuild after fire from 2 lightning strikes destroys building

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. — Lightning from severe storms this week destroyed a Wayne County church but it didn’t stop members from holding their weekly service Sunday.

storm fire

“You can see all the damage — everything. But right here, hanging on the wall, about middle way, is a Ten Commandments plaque, and it did not get burned up,” said Cricket Ridge Pentecostal Freewill Baptist Church Pastor Terry Heath.

It’s a sign from God, according to Pastor Heath.

Sunday morning, in a partially melted parsonage, about 30 people sat closely for the service at Cricket Ridge Pentecostal Freewill Baptist Church in Mount Olive.

“The church means a lot of things to a lot of people,” Pastor Heath told CBS North Carolina.

Normally they’d gather at the church, but this Sunday they’re unable to do so after severe weather ripped through Mount Olive on Thursday evening.

“The lightning struck the church not only once, but twice. That’s very rare for lightning to struck twice the same place,” Pastor Heath said.

“I look at this, the destruction, and I see that everything is pretty much gone — can’t use anything,” he said. “We’ve got to start over, but the Lord is going to give us the strength, and is giving us the strength.
Pastor Heath said nine fire departments responded as the church was engulfed in flames, destroying nearly everything.

We’re going to rise and rebuild.”

Until then, church service locations may change from time to time.

“Worship is from right here, in the heart. You don’t have to be in a specific place to do that,” Pastor Heath said Sunday.

It’s why he has faith – the faith that their congregation will stay strong.

“The saying is, ‘you just take it one day at a time.’ That’s what we’re going to do,” he said. “But at the same time we know that God is in control of every day.”

Pastor Heath tells CBS North Carolina, a local hotel offered the church a conference room to hold services next weekend.

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