A Tennessee church forced to cancel Sunday services due to widespread vandalism is responding with grace, offering prayers, kindness, and love to those responsible.
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Elders with Luna Lane Church of Christ told WKRN-TV they believe extensive damage to the church unfolded Thursday or Friday, with pews tipped over, TVs ripped off walls, shattered glass strewn about, fire extinguishing spray deployed, and other unfortunate acts of vandalism.
“Services for today at Luna Lane Church have been canceled,” the church wrote in a Sunday Facebook post. “Our building was vandalized this past week. We are working to reopen the building as soon as possible. Please keep us in your prayers.”
Pastor Nick Rapheal succinctly summarized the chaos during an interview with WSMV-TV as follows: “It’s a gigantic mess.”
But despite all of the debris and widespread damage, the preacher said something surprising stood out to him and other congregants: the Bibles were intact.
“Nobody touched any of those Bibles,” Rapheal said. “It touched everything else. But they didn’t touch the Bibles. I don’t know what that means; you have to figure it out for yourself. But it’s an interesting fact.”
Despite a truly disheartening situation, church officials are responding in a Gospel-centered way. Not only are they openly praying for those responsible, but they’ve forgiven — and are even welcoming them to attend the house of worship.
“We are a loving church. We don’t have a lot to offer, but we do have a lot of love, and love will cover a lot of stuff,” Danny Parrish, a church elder, told WKRN-TV. “If it was a crime, they would have stole something, but they didn’t steal anything. They just destroyed it. For why, I don’t know.”
And Mark Brown, another elder, shared a deeply compassionate message for those responsible, pondering what must be unfolding in their hearts for them to take such drastic action.
“At a deeper level, what really gets to our heart is that this individual or individuals obviously have something inside them that’s hurting,” he said. “We can’t possibly guess what their motives were, but we know that they need our prayers and we all pray for them.”
Rapheal said the church, while realizing a punishment might be necessary, is truly a “very forgiving group.”
According to WZTV-TV, Luna Lane Church of Christ hopes to be open by Wednesday night or Sunday at the latest.
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