The congregation of Naschitti (N.M.) Christian Reformed Church was able to return to worship in their sanctuary this past week after completing repairs and restoration from smoke and fire damage incurred in the summer. (See Fire Damage, Uncertainty in Days Following Arson.)
“We give all thanks to the Lord,” Vibeka Mitchell wrote in a Nov. 18 email update to CRC ministries. “He sent many volunteers and resources to our church to rebuild. We left it all in his hands and the Lord provided. God is good.”
Mitchell lives in Albuquerque, N.M., where she attends Chelwood CRC. She grew up in Naschitti CRC and still considers it home. Of the fires, deemed to be arson, she said, “This event was hard for me to witness, but seeing the Lord’s blessing come to life in our home church shows he is alive.”
The congregation hosted its first service in the restored sanctuary Nov. 17. A team of volunteers with World Renew’s Disaster Response Services had spent two weeks working alongside congregation members to replace drywall panels in the sanctuary ceiling; install new flooring, lights and fans; and re-paint not only the sanctuary but the classrooms, bathrooms, and kitchen as well. Harv Klaver, a project coordinator with DRS, said even with cleaning, the congregation members “will have a forever memorial of the fire” because soot penetrated the wood paneling at the front of the sanctuary. “It’s cleaned, and it’s polished, but it has a definite blackish hue to it,” he said.
In her update sharing the congregation’s gratitude, Mitchell also asked that CRC members “continue to pray for the church in Naschitti as they still have to find funds to remove three fire-damaged buildings on church grounds.”
Earlier inspections of the three burned-out buildings uncovered the presence of asbestos, so care has to be taken with their demolition and removal. The congregation has received two quotes on the work from companies in Mesa, Ariz., and Farmington, N.M. Jerome Sandoval, an elder at Naschitti CRC who is the congregation’s main contact, said they have approached the local tribal government to see if they might contribute to the removal, as the damaged sites pose a community risk. The church is waiting for a response. Meanwhile Sandoval said World Renew is continuing to work with the congregation. He continues to trust God, saying “everything has fallen into place.”