A rural community in Kentucky is barely recognizable after a swarm of deadly tornadoes hit the region, but one church's cross stands amid the rubble as a pillar of hope and a reminder that God will see residents through this tragedy.
First Baptist Church in Mayfield is one of the few buildings left standing after a tornado tore through six states killing at least 74 people, last weekend.
The church's windows are blown out, debris and glass cover the floors, and parts of the ceiling are missing, but a cross located in front of the building remains standing.
"It's amazing to me that in that education building across the street, that cross that we put in the windows is still there, and the window's gone," Barry Fowler, church member, told the Washington Post. "Everything else is gone. The cross still stands."
Despite the damage to the church, members have gathered together to worship. "In the middle of the storm, there is only one place where we really have peace. And that's when we place our faith and our trust in Jesus," Pastor Wes Fowler told the newspaper.
Fowler invited his congregation into what was left of the building immediately after the storm.
"The Lord is kind. He will see us through this tragic situation. And, I believe the Lord will somehow use this difficult time for His glory," Fowler wrote in a Facebook post.
The senior pastor was in the building with other staff members when the tornado hit.
"We could hear the storm getting closer," Fowler described. "We could hear it getting worse, power went out. We heard and saw the ceiling tiles in the tunnel violently shaking up and down, falling out. The tunnel filled with debris and dirt. There was a cloud of smoke in the tunnel. It was a very, very scary situation."
He told the newspaper he was not sure if he was going to make it. "And then it probably lasted 30 seconds to a minute," Fowler shared. "It felt like longer."
Search and rescue teams are still working to find more than 100 missing people. The state's governor said the death toll has not risen since Monday. "If there's good news, it's that our death count has not gone up, and that's good news," Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) said.
Meanwhile, tear-stained faces in the congregation search for solace amidst a life-changing tragedy.
"When they're thinking about life and death, let's tell them about life...eternal life," Fowler shared during a sermon Sunday.
It's a message worth repeating. "Most of the structures in Mayfield are damaged, and many have crumbled to the ground, but the Gospel will remain for eternity," Fowler wrote on Twitter.
Most of the structures in Mayfield are damaged, and many have crumbled to the ground, but the Gospel will remain for eternity. pic.twitter.com/by9CW6Ssof
— Wes Fowler (@jwfowler128) December 13, 2021