Members of First Baptist Church Matador, Texas, were gathered for their regularly scheduled mid-week prayer meeting June 21 when the worship service suddenly was disrupted.
“Everybody’s phones starting going off” with weather alerts, pastor Eddy Helms said. “So, we left early and went home.”
At 8 p.m., an EF-3 tornado hit the western part of Matador, claiming four lives and injuring 15 people.
Wind gusts between 145 mph and 165 mph destroyed 29 buildings and damaged at least 34 other homes and businesses in the town of 600.
Thankful it wasn’t worse
“Praise God it wasn’t further east, where it’s a more heavily populated area,” Helms said.
Neither the 90-year-old First Baptist Church building nor the parsonage sustained any damage. Within 45 minutes after the tornado hit, Helms posted on the church’s Facebook page: “I can open the church for shelter if needed.”
A member of First Baptist Church who owns an Airbnb property offered the use of that house at no cost to a Matador resident who was left homeless after the tornado.
Among the church’s members, three households — one couple and two single individuals — sustained serious damage, Helms said. A young woman with disabilities lost her home.
“She will need a lot of help,” Helms said. But he quickly added the church received a significant donation three days after the tornado specifically to assist her.