Two Churches, Two Miracles
On August 12, 2016, unprecedented flooding in Walker and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, left two Assemblies of God churches in ruins, with one pastor believing this was the death of his small congregation. But neither pastor could have imagined what God had instore!
Kevin Malcomb, pastor of First Assembly of God in Walker and Rick Sullivan, pastor of Faith Worship Center, Baton Rouge, never had flooding issues in their facilities over the multiple decades of their churches’ existence. So, neither church carried flood insurance.
Malcomb, who is 55, says nearly 30 inches of rain fell in Walker in a 24-hour time span. When he checked on the church on that Friday afternoon, he was surprised to find two inches of water inside and the water was rising. He would quickly return with help to shut off all the power in the church and move things as high as they could to help reduce damage. The church ended up with 10 inches of standing water in it.
After the waters receded, Malcomb and volunteers removed all the carpeting, ruined materials, and four feet high of all the damaged sheet rock. Yet, it still took 10 days to dry the building out with fans and dehumidifiers running 24/7.
It was clear to Malcomb that just the materials to repair the church would cost tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the labor costs.
Sullivan had an even more intense challenge in Baton Rouge — and then some. Six feet of water flooded Faith Worship Center and didn’t recede for three days. Anything in the church not at least 8 feet up off the ground was destroyed or damaged beyond salvaging. Although the building had a metal exterior, the studs holding the sheetrock warped and needed to be replaced . . . with a small congregation of 40 to 50 people, no insurance, and limited finances, the situation looked grim.
Sullivan, now 53, recalls going to the church after the water receded. “On the drive in, it was pretty devastating,” he says. “Cars were on top of buildings, dumpsters and vehicles were strewn all around . . . it looked like a warzone.”
When he entered the church and saw the extent of the damage, Sullivan was overwhelmed. “I kind of gave up,” he admits.
Returning home, he prayed with his family, resigned to the fact that without a miracle, the church was finished. “I prayed and told God that if it was His will to continue this work in ministering to people, then He would need to send people and money.”
A contractor toured the facility a few days later. His rough estimate was over $300,000 in damages.
Both Malcomb and Sullivan felt the loss not just in their church buildings, but with the members of the church. Some families lost everything, FEMA housed some families in other parts of the state, and still other families were forced by circumstances to permanently relocate.
But then, for both churches, things got a little . . . supernatural. First, Convoy of Hope arrived in both communities with aid and supplies, enabling the churches to not only minister to their members, but reach out to their hurting communities.
And then came the phone calls from people and churches offering to come and help, companies donating materials and services, and letters from churches and individuals — both identified and anonymous — with checks for thousands of dollars in them . . . the calls and the money kept coming in to both churches for months!
“Three days after I prayed with my family about God providing, I received a call from All Nations Fellowship in New Orleans,” Sullivan says. It was a friend who used to hang out with Sullivan at church camp nearly 40 years ago. He said God had given him a heart for Sullivan’s church. He offered to send the All Nation’s volunteer disaster relief team to help them out. It was just the beginning of God’s answer to his prayer!
Since that time, more than 600 volunteers have come through to help Faith Worship Center recover and $300,000 worth of materials, cash, and labor have been donated to the church, with just the air conditioning and sound systems left to go. In fact, a request for sheet rock and insulation put out on Facebook by Sullivan received such a strong response, that not only did they have enough to do the church, but 10 homes in the community!
Sullivan hopes that Faith Worship Center will hosts its grand re-opening within the next month or so.
Yet, the road to recovery has not been without stress and challenges. “I’ve a background in plumbing, I worked as an electrician, and we’ve renovated the church four times,” Malcomb says, “but the last 11 months have been the hardest of my life.”
One of the biggest surprises for both Sullivan and Malcomb was the source of some of their help. For although the district, national office, and other AG churches and organizations were stepping up to provide physical and financial assistance, significant donations and volunteer help also came from churches and organizations outside of the Assemblies of God!
Malcomb says that God has blessed his church of 80 to 100 attendees in amazing ways since the flood. So much so that on July 9, the church had its grand re-opening service.
Among others, one miracle that stands out to Malcomb is that of the more than $55,000 in costs for the materials and labor not donated to repair the church, every single penny was covered by donations and gifts. Malcomb can’t even estimate the value of the labor donated.
“Through it all, no missions pledge went unpaid, no staff member was unpaid, no bill was unpaid,” Malcomb says. “It was the miraculous provision of God!”
And Sullivan? He absolutely agrees!