A Vietnamese Baptist church fell victim to the riots that have roiled Philadelphia since the death of Walter Wallace Jr. at the hands of police earlier this week.
“I have no idea why they attacked our church,” said Pastor Philip Pham of Vietnam Baptist Church, according to Baptist Press. “They burned it from the roof. They threw flammable chemicals on the roof and [flames] burned through the roof,” which also consumed the rest of the building.
Pham characterized the damage as a “total loss.”
A Vietnamese Baptist church was burned in Philadelphia last night. The Pastor says they poured a chemical accelerant on the roof and set fire to the building. Video of the aftermath of the fire. (video from Baptist Resource Network FB) pic.twitter.com/CTHGo7lENX
— Kitty Shackleford (@KittyLists) October 29, 2020
Of utmost concern to Pham when he received the call informing him that his church was in flames were three hard drives that contained 15 years’ worth of parishioners’ irreplaceable information.
“I prayed right away: ‘God, please protect the hard drives,’” Pham said. “Other stuff can be recovered. But those files will never be recovered.”
Pham said that he was amazed to discover that the hard drives escaped the conflagration. “I saw the routers and modems and things surrounding the hard drives all burned, melted,” he recounted. “But that piece of hard drive, no harm. No harm at all. Just two feet above that, all melted. … That is amazing how God knows our needs and answers our prayers. He is an almighty God. He granted our prayer.”
Pham said the church, which had been meeting online, is now looking for a new location to gather after the destruction of their building. He and the church leadership have reportedly been reaching out to local schools for possible locations from which to broadcast their livestream.
“Remember us in your prayer in time of need like this,” Pham urged his fellow Southern Baptists. “The church members here need encouragement. The majority of us have very strong faith in Christ, but a minority, a few new believers, they need their faith to grow. Pray for their faith to take deep root in the love of God so they can be steadfast in Him. Not focus on the problem, but focus on Jesus. Please remember us in your prayers.”
“We are praying for Pastor Pham as he seeks to rebuild and to minister to the community,” said Southern Baptist Church Executive Committee President and CEO Ronnie Floyd. “We must pray that our churches who are caught in the middle of senseless violence can be a light for the Gospel in their cities.”
Philadelphia has been the latest major city to experience unrest after the death of a black man at the hands of police.
As The Daily Wire reported:
Widespread rioting and looting rocked Philadelphia on Tuesday after police shot a man earlier this week who allegedly approached them while carrying a knife and did not obey orders to drop the weapon.
CBS Philadelphia reporter Joe Holden reported that law enforcement officials said the situation that unfolded last week was a “total loss” and had “rapidly gone downhill.”