Baptist and Reflector
PURYEAR — Oak Grove Baptist Church here was vandalized on about June 28 but not discovered until June 30 so the damage was greater. The vandalism was not discovered sooner because 15 members of the small church were away on missions trips.
A reward of $1,000 has been offered by the Henry County Sheriff’s Office for any information on the crime.
The cost of repairing the damage will be at least $40,000, said William Beasley, pastor, who was in Guatemala on a missions trip when the crime was committed. The church was insured, he added.
“It was a big missions week for us and we don’t know if they knew that,” said Beasley, referring to the vandal or vandals. “It just shows what Satan’s up to when God’s doing big work.”
The vandals ignored change sitting in jars on the altar and a computer. Instead they pulled a water cooler from the wall which caused a water pipe to burst, causing much of the damage, including flooding the basement of the sanctuary. The vandals also threw a copier through a stained glass window and ransacked the church library, reported the pastor.
The following Sunday, July 3, about 75 people worshiped under an awning in the heat because the power was off even to the Fellowship Hall. The church usually draws about 80 people on Sunday mornings. The service was led by Scott Massey, deacon, because Beasley was yet to return from Guatemala. He was part of a team from Western District Baptist Association, based in Paris, which was supporting the Tennessee/Guatemala Baptist Partnership.
Three other members were with him in Guatemala and another 11 had just served in Calloway County, Ky., with the ministry, Jerusalem Project.
“God is working things out,” reported Beasley. “We have seen one blessing after another. … It made the church strong. They didn’t tear up anything but a few pieces of wood.” For instance, the window which was damaged had been identified just a few weeks earlier as needing some repair. Also an insurance claim had been filed recently for a damaged roof so the insurance deductible has been met.
The congregation is worshiping in its Fellowship Hall and in a few weeks will be able to return to its sanctuary, said Beasley. It will be a while until Sunday School will be resumed.
The vandals are just like those the members are trying to reach with the gospel on their missions trips, said Beasley.
They don’t “have a relationship with Jesus. This is a reminder that we need to keep our eyes on the desperate situation in our own community.”