One year after fire, Atoy Baptist Church worships in new facility

RUSK—In 1991, Atoy Baptist Church was established in Rusk.

“We had a nice church, a nice building. We had pews for maybe 70 people. We functioned for 25 years,” said Dan Rankin, the church’s pastor.

But in October 2015, a devastating fire completely destroyed Atoy’s building, leaving Rankin and the congregation without a church home.

From the ashes of destruction, God began to work, and help started pouring in from all around.

Rankin said other churches, businesses, and individuals offered assistance almost daily, and in the weeks and months that followed the fire, the outpouring of love and support were overwhelming.

The local Methodist church shared its building with Atoy BC to host services, so the congregation never had to miss a Sunday of meeting together.

A former church member hauled off the old facility’s charred remains at cost, and a local builder offered his services to begin construction on a new church building.

Someone paid for trusses and wood, and someone else donated the foam insulation and the sheet rock.

New kitchen appliances, an alarm system, hymn books, an organ, a piano, chairs, and a baptistery were all generously given.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Rankin said. “But when you think about it, it shouldn’t be overwhelming because we serve a great and wondrous God who wants to do for us, if we’ll get out of the way and let him.”

In October, just one year after the devastating blaze, Atoy BC members gathered together in their own facility once again. Dexter Jordan, who spearheaded the building’s construction, said his goal was to finish the job without the church having to take out a loan. With the help of volunteers and the generosity of the community, that goal was met.

“That’s just the Lord working,” Jordan said. “It was a God thing.”

“We’re functioning like an old church now,” Rankin said.

With the remaining funds the church didn’t spend on the facility, the congregation hopes to construct a new youth building soon.

Though the initial experience of losing a church building was discouraging, the process of watching the body of Christ come together across cities and denominations has “refreshed” Rankin as a pastor, and it allowed both him and his congregation to learn to wait on God’s timing and faithfulness.

“God is an awesome God, and if we allow him to work, he will show us how awesome he is,” he said. “God can take any situation of life and turn it around for our benefit.”

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