Russell and Carolyn McDonald have shepherded their flock at Trinity Pentecostal Tabernacle for two decades. The building, at 10109 East U.S. 90 in Moss Point, originally was an antique store when the McDonalds bought the property. The "little storefront church" slowly grew as the years passed and more families came into the fold. |
Carolyn said the church was debt-free when Hurricane Katrina forced the couple north to Grand Bay, Ala., to ride out the storm with one of their sons. Russell returned to the church a few hours after the storm passed to a sight that sunk his heart.
"We had 3½ to 4 feet of water inside the church," he said. "Walls were cracked throughout the building and the main beam running down the middle of the church was warped. When the engineers came out, they looked at it and advised us they had to condemn the building. It took 2½ hours to tear down what took us 19 years to build. (All that work) was just, you know, gone."
Though the building itself no longer exists, the McDonalds say the connection to their old church will remain.
"The auditorium attached itself to us," he said. "Over 20 years of seeing people come in whose lives were wrecked, divorces, and watching God deal with them and bring that family back together. That's what I'll remember."
The McDonalds' home was spared destruction and the church is rebuilding on the original site, to the tune of 15,000 square feet. The sanctuary is larger, and two rows of pews have been added, along with a balcony area, upstairs Sunday school, living quarters and bedrooms for visiting evangelists. A new outreach program is under way as well to welcome new members to the new church.
"Myself, I've been out there working every day," Russell said. "Everything overall has run smooth, no problems... we're getting toward our finish mark. I look at it like what Romans 8:28 said: '... all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.' A lot of things in our life, we don't understand. I've come to learn that if we keep looking to God, a storm will come and clouds will get dark, but eventually the sun will shine again."
- JUSTIN HOOKS