Arkansas pastor faces rebuilding after church takes 2nd hit in 3 years

VILONIA, Ark. - Tornadoes do not discriminate - even a house of worship can be a target.







On Sunday evening, a church in Vilonia, north of Little Rock, was hit for the second time in three years.

The skies above Vilonia became inky black at about 7:45 p.m. Many in this town of 3,000 residents feared the worst as the sirens began to wail.

Pastor James Smith said he saw the tornado moving closer to his home.

"It was time to take cover because it was getting close. I told my wife it was time," he said.

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Pastor James Smith
CBS News
Smith and his wife, Bonita, took cover in a hallway.

"I was just praying God would take care of us," she said.

Their home was damaged and so was the church where Smith has been pastor for 22 years.

The church had been damaged so severely by a 2011 tornado that it had to be torn down. Smith's congregation had just finished rebuilding the church sanctuary earlier this month.

Although the church has been damaged again, Smith said he's grateful the building is still there.

"It very well could be a miracle that it's still standing because just a block over there's a whole street with every house gone," Smith said.

This will surely test the faith of his congregation. What will he tell them?

"The why is the one question we can't ever answer. The answers just aren't there. Disasters happen. Why they happen to some people several times we really don't know," Smith said.

"When a tornado comes, it comes. None of us really know when our time is."

What is the most difficult, said Smith, is "seeing people hurt and of course is helping people work through that hurt and sometimes you don't have words for them. So it's important for us to be there for them."

For the second time, Smith has to repair his home, his church -- .and the faith of some in his congregation.



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