A Tennessee pastor is being praised for his response to vandals wreaking havoc on his church last month.
Pastor Davante Hill opened the doors of One Church in Memphis on the morning of Sept. 29 to find thousands of dollars’ worth of damage had been done, according to WMC-TV.
Musical instruments were broken, paint had been thrown at the walls, pews were destroyed, and 90 percent of the chairs had been damaged. The vandals also stole money and several speakers.
“Somebody was really angry,” Pastor Hill told WMC.
“When I walked in… what broke me, was not the condition of the sanctuary,” he explained. “What broke me was the condition of someone’s heart to be willing to do such a thing.”
Despite the alarming extent of the damage — nearly $20,000, according to the Memphis Police Department — it’s Pastor Hill’s response to the deeply upsetting discovery that has gained the most attention.
“I would love for whoever is responsible to consider my heart when I say, I love you and God still loves you. And that this is not the end, there is life after this,” he told WMC. “And that whatever it is that has you broken, whatever it is that has you destroyed on the inside, there is help for you.”
In a Facebook live video posted Saturday, a smiling Pastor Hill spoke to congregants about what they could expect at the first church service since the burglary.
“I have sincerely gone through one of the worst things any pastor has ever gone through, aside from losing family members,” he began, describing what happened last Sunday. “It was one of the most hurtful experiences that I have ever, ever, ever had.”
He went on to describe the overwhelming amount of support that has poured in this week from all over the country.
“It’s just been amazing to know what the people of God think of One Church in this season. And I’m just honored,” he said, noting that renovations are underway to build a “brand-new sanctuary.”
“I wanted to ensure that I invited each and every one of you guys to service tomorrow,” he continued.
Pastor Hill said that even though the sanctuary is incomplete — he noted “there are no floors,” except for a temporary foam that goes over the incomplete foundation — he was expecting “God to move in an incredible way.”
“I’m not going to allow the enemy to move me out of my house. It’s just not gonna work that way,” he said. “I just don’t believe in giving the enemy victory.”
Following Sunday’s service, Pastor Hill made it clear that nothing will stand in the way of worship.
“The church is so much bigger than the structure,” he told WCM. “Our church just so happens to be in our heart.”
Police are still investigating the burglary. There is no footage of the incident — the vandals cut the power beforehand, turning off the security cameras. Given this, Pastor Hill believes the destruction was carried out by someone familiar with the church, which has only been in the community for five months.
Please pray for Pastor Hill and the people of One Church in Memphis as they continue to move forward in faith and hope.