Wise County Messenger

Cross symbolizes hope after fire



COURTESY/MIKE MARTINEZ

COURTESY/MIKE MARTINEZ

Members of Balsora Baptist Church Sunday morning met at the prayer garden in front of where their church building stood two days before, uniting as a congregation after a fire destroyed the place of worship.

According to Balsora Baptist Church Pastor Sonny Smith, the church was established more than 100 years ago.

A fire starting in the church fellowship hall left the entire building in ruins Friday. Several fire departments responded but the temperatures brought on by the Texas summer day presented challenges. Responders spent most of the afternoon trying to extinguish the blazing flames.

Underneath the three wooden crosses that represent the Christian faith, the church gathered to pray, sing songs of worship and remember the cherished memories that the building held. Below the middle cross a small sign was placed that read, “I trust the next chapter because I know the author.”

While much of the church burned, a prayer cross housed in the sanctuary remained standing despite the flames and intense temperatures. According to the Balsora Baptist Church Facebook page, the cross held prayer requests that comforted members throughout the years. The church body fondly looked upon the cross as they remembered that God walks with them through the difficulties of life.

HOPE AFTER LOSS — Fire destroyed Balsora Baptist Church, however, several crosses as well as the faith of the congregation remained intact after the building was reduced to ash and debris. AMY NEAL/WCMESSENGER

HOPE AFTER LOSS — Fire destroyed Balsora Baptist Church, however, several crosses as well as the faith of the congregation remained intact after the building was reduced to ash and debris. AMY NEAL/WCMESSENGER

“The prayer cross is still here, I believe that is a sign of Jesus telling us ‘I am still here with you,’” Smith said.

According to a Wise County ESD No. 2 Facebook post, the structure was taken down by the fire but the symbol of faith withstood the inferno.

“A devastating loss to our community, but a sight to behold,” the statement from the department said, “The fire took the structure, but not the cross. A symbol that the building was just that, a building.”

Smith encouraged members to be in constant prayer for the next steps that the church will take to restore and rebuild what was destroyed. He also addressed the multitude of churches and community establishments that have offered their facilities for Balsora Baptist Church to use in the aftermath of the tragedy.

“Our community has thoroughly impressed me,” Smith said. “God’s family is big and God will provide and make a way.”

Despite the hardships that the church will undoubtedly face in the coming months, Smith is hopeful that the church’s rich history and unwavering faith will guide them.

“We are going to struggle along but I am convinced that God will bring us through this even stronger than we are today,” Smith said. “We know that the best has yet to come for Balsora.”

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