"So the wife's in the hospital, the home is burnt down and the church is blown away. Quite a week."
Pastor Michael Stewart says even he can't believe he's still in good spirits after what he calls one of the most difficult weeks of his life. Pastor of Magnolia Baptist Church in Glascock County, seeing the destruction caused by an EF1 tornado Tuesday night would seem hard enough to bear. But that's not the worst thing that's happened to him this week.
On Monday, Pastor Stewart's home burned to ash. Wearing a flannel gown, his wife Hilda got too close to a space heater, and it caught fire. She suffered second degree burns. After bundling up the gown, she left it on the dresser, and the two rushed to the hospital.
"A neighbor of mine called and said, ‘Your house is on fire. It's about half burned. I don't think they're going to be able to save,'" Stewart said.
Family photos and heirlooms melted away; furniture burnt to pieces.
"I might be standing on the first step of a house that's totally gone, but He has just elevated us to a level that there's joy in the midst of a tough time," Stewart said.
Back at the church, insurance agents are assessing the damage. They don't have an estimate yet, but they say it'll be thousands of dollars worth of repairs. Pastor Stewart says they might rebuild the church on the land behind the building, and expand their cemetery. But for now, he says he'll keep the faith, and trust there's a purpose for the destruction.