JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - On Sunday, congregants of Terry Road Community Church turned out in the drizzle. They sang and clapped and worshiped from their cars. The church that was practically destroyed by a runaway car is trusting God to provide for its rehabilitation.
The church members are praying for a teenager who ran from things in his life and found himself off track. For many, it’s figurative, but for him, it was literal: That sometimes leads straight to the church.
Standing in front of the damaged house of God, Pastor Edward James spoke of the disciples as they sat in a boat waiting on a terrifying storm to pass.
“When they got to a point where they couldn’t handle it, they had to wake up Jesus, so that’s what we need to do, is wake him up and say, ‘Lord, I can’t handle this,’” James said.
He got the call around 2 a.m. Thursday morning that there was a vehicle in his sanctuary. Brandon Police Chief William Thompson said one of his officers saw a vehicle driving strangely and noticed it had no tag. When he turned on the blue lights, the driver fled. He was pursued by officers from Brandon, Richland and pearl, Witnesses said.
“The driver of the vehicle, later identified as Javonte Miles, did lose control of his vehicle, went through a yard, and ran into the side of a small church,” said Thompson.
Jackson city councilman Kenny Stokes held a press conference Thursday to reiterate his stand on police pursuits, especially the ones that come from Rankin County: They’re dangerous, he said, and they destroy lives and property.
“You know that car started at one end of this building and ended at the other end. Form the north to the south,” he said.
There was devastation. Kitchen appliances, office machines and furniture, music equipment, all destroyed as the car crashed through three walls.
Before the costs of engineers and architects, around $150,000 worth of damage, James estimates. Money the small church doesn’t have.
“I think everything happens for a reason, you now, and God has our back. I really believe that the Lord will aid us in the repairs of our building,” he said.
He called on other churches to help out if they could. And on Sunday, he said some donations had started to trickle in. But for now, his congregation hears their sermons from their cars in their parking lot.
Javonte Miles' mother Markeeta said she wants to be involved in the rehabilitation of the church in whatever way she can. She said she’s not mad at the police for doing their job, and that while she loves her son, she couldn’t back him if he did wrong. She said she really wished Terry Road Community Church hadn’t been affected though.
“I’m okay, I’m okay," she said. "We’re going to try to do what we can to get these people’s church back up and running.”
James said Sunday that it’s still important to remember who calms the wind and the waves.
“We’re going through the storm with Jesus on board," he said. "AMEN.”
To donate to Terry Road Community Church, you can call 601-813-3769. You may also mail donations to P.O. Box 7111, Jackson MS, 39282. CashApp to Terry Road Community Church.