PHOTOS — 'God Protected Us': Indiana Church Members Survive Devastating Tornado

Church members in Winchester, Indiana, are praising God for preserving their lives during a tornado on Thursday.

As the twister approached Freedom Life Church, Whitney Smith told her mother to hold tight to her nearly two-year-old son as they hunkered down inside the building with other people, the Indianapolis Star reported Friday.

Then the lights went out, a roaring sound was heard, and debris fell on Smith and her relatives as they covered the little boy to protect him.

Officials with the National Weather Service later confirmed the twister that hit Winchester had a preliminary EF3 rating, and video footage shows the destruction it left behind, per WTHR:

In the darkness after the tornado passed, Smith and her family emerged from underneath the debris. During the storm, she inhaled debris and stepped on a nail. She eventually made it to a hospital for care, as did her father, who was also at the church when the twister hit.

Despite the frightening experience and injuries, Smith said, “God protected us. I’m just thankful we’re alive.”

In a social media post on Friday, Freedom Life Church shared photos of the church property, a site the tornado had basically flattened:

Update & Details:1) Thank you to all who came out to help with our clean up today! We have made some great progress,…

Posted by Freedom Life Church on Friday, March 15, 2024

The church then quoted a Bible verse, saying, “‘We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.’ – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.”

As the congregation and its neighbors continued the clean-up process, the church’s Pastor Matt gave an encouraging message in a social media post, in which he asked for prayers.

“Lastly, and most importantly, Jesus said, ‘In this world you will have trouble… but take heart, for I have overcome the world!’ We trust in Jesus as much now as ever! He is the overcomer! Praying for you all,” he wrote.

Aerial video footage shows more of the damage in Winchester:

Per the Star article, Winchester Mayor Bob McCoy said Friday that almost 40 people were hurt during the storm, but as of early Friday, no one had reported any fatalities.


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