Through The Flames

by admin on October 28, 2010

in Churches

Tyland Baptist Church

Tyland Baptist Church

I was six years old when I first walked into Tyland Baptist Church. I use to run through the halls with bows in my hair and frilly dresses. I grew up in that church and loved it dearly. When I walked through the front doors I felt like I was coming home. I learned how to drive a riding lawn mower on the church lawn. I learned the books of the Bible in the small classrooms. I taught my first Sunday school class to a group of third grade girls.

This church not only held my childhood memories, but it also was the location of many of the greatest events of my life. I was baptized there. My high school graduation ceremony was held there. When I was only 19 years old, my father walked me down the aisle and handed me over to my (now) husband.

In January of 2010, Tyland Baptist Church was one victim of many church burnings in East Texas. Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister are two young college students. In February they were arrested a month later for about a dozen fires. The first church burning was in Athens, Texas. Residents and church members watched helplessly as their beloved building turned into nothing more than ashes and dust. That weekend three churches were burnt to the ground, and the arsonists moved to the Tyler area. Tyland Baptist was their first stop.

My husband, daughters, and I were on our on our way home from a close family member’s funeral when I spotted black smoke pouring out of the trees. I quickly grabbed my phone and called my dad, who is an active member of the church. He was already at the scene, along side of the pastor and many other members. As we pulled up the roads were blocked off by police cars, and firefighters were struggling to put out the massive flames.

My emotions overwhelmed me as I stood across the street looking at the smoking coals. Nothing more than a couple walls stood where a small beautiful building was once located. Tears began to roll down my face as many of my childhood memories became nothing more than blackened dirt.

I wanted nothing more than justice to be done to the people who did these horrible acts. I became very angry and hateful. I did not understand what kind of people could do this. Who could take joy in burning down so many people’s sanctuaries? These churches were places that people came to for some peace in their lives.

When Bourque and McAllister were arrested as the arsonists responsible for the church burnings, I was not only relieved that the burnings would stop, but I was happy that they would receive the justice that they deserved.

A horrible bitterness started growing inside me. I felt so upset that my children will never get to see where mommy and daddy got married. These men destroyed all these churches that people put their money and time into just because of a childish grudge. I became stressed over the situation. I was frustrated all the time. One day I realized something; these people do not know me. They do not know how frustrated I was at them, or how angry I was. This grudge I held against them began to feel like I was drinking poison and was waiting for them to die.

This church building that I grew up in no longer exists. I never again will sit in its pews, nor will my family see where so many important events in my life took place. The thought of this still makes me really sad, but I have forgiven the men that did this, and therefore I am able to move on with my life, and enjoy making more new memories.

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