Members of North Dallas Church Destroyed in October Tornado Say They Are ‘Reminded of God’s Promises Every Day’ and ‘Excited About the Future’ During Thanksgiving Eve Gathering to Eat, Pray, and Give Thanks

A pamphlet reading “Jesus Help” lays among the debris at the site of Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana on Tuesday in Dallas. The church was destroyed by a tornado last month.(Ashley Landis / Staff Photographer)

Two days before Thanksgiving, Jesus Gonzalez swept up piles of dirt, rock, glass and insulation on the lot where Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana used to sit.

Nearby stood a temporary white sign with the church’s information printed on it alongside another message: “Coming Back Soon.”

There isn’t much left except for a series of red-brick arches that once adorned the outside of the building. Workers and volunteers have cleared most of the debris, and only a few piles of broken wood beams, insulation, red bricks and wires are left to be scooped into metal dump containers.

Tuesday was one of the final cleanup days for the church that was destroyed last month by a tornado. The Oct. 20 storm, with wind speeds that reached up to 140 mph, leveled homes and businesses across North Dallas but somehow left nobody dead.

And while some of the properties around the church look about the same way since the night of the tornado, Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana’s 125 members are moving forward.

Helping hands

Gonzalez decided to spend the rest of his birthday after work there Tuesday with his two sons, Josias and Elias, who tagged along to help. He’s helped coordinate the demolition and cleanup from sunrise until late at night in the weeks after the storm.

A groundswell of community support, Gonzalez said, has helped move the process along relatively fast for the church that sits northeast of Walnut Hill Lane and Betty Jane Lane. A couple of Saturdays after the storm, about 300 volunteers showed up to help clean up, and more have done the same since.

“The same God that brought all those people here to help us is the same one that’s going to help us rebuild even better and stronger than before,” Gonzalez said.

Many of the church members are still in shock over the loss of their place of worship, said Ricardo Brambila, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana. He added that the prompt cleanup and talk of plans to rebuild have helped keep members in good spirits.

“Some days it’s like we take five steps forward and one step back, but it’s all still progress,” Brambila said.

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SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News, Obed Manuel