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Members of Indiana Church Miraculously Survive Deadly Tornado: 'We Trust in Jesus'

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An Indiana church is banding together to support one another after a string of deadly tornadoes and severe storms pummeled the Midwest last week. 

Members of Freedom Life Church in Winchester, IN are now picking up the pieces and putting their "trust in Jesus" to turn things around. 

Many of the church's congregants are unscathed even after experiencing a tornado that has left a majority of the town unrecognizable. 

"When we came out, we couldn't see the road," Whitney Smith told the Indianapolis Star. "Everything was black."

She recounts calling on the name of Jesus as lights in the church building began to flicker and the structure began to shake. 

Smith said she laid on top of her 2-year-old son to protect him as walls and beams snapped and debris whipped around them.

"While hunkered down in their church, the tornado blew through the building like a wrecking train and tore down the walls... Right on top of them," Patrick Smith, Whitney's husband, described. "Because of God's good grace; Skylar, Whitney, and Thesa were able to escape the wreckage with very little injuries. Scratches at most. Fortunately, a load-bearing wall fell, right they needed it to."

According to the Indianapolis Star, Smith vomited after inhaling some debris and was taken to a local hospital to get treatment for a foot that was injured while stepping on a nail in the rubble. Her father was also admitted and treated for minor injuries. 

"God protected us," Smith said. "I'm just thankful we're alive."

Others were not so fortunate. 

Authorities say at least three people are dead and more bodies are likely to be recovered as tornadoes tore through several central U.S. states.

Winchester Mayor Bob McCoy said in a news conference last week that two area homes had been nearly or completely leveled, and more than 100 buildings had been damaged.

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"I'm shaken; it's overwhelming," he said. "I heard what sounded like a train, and then I started hearing sirens."

Only remnants of the Freedom Life Church site remain. 

But members are not focused on rebuilding efforts just yet. 

Rather they are coming together to help those most devastated by the storm.

"Please pray for our community! Many are hurting physically, materially, mentally, and emotionally during this crisis," wrote the church's lead pastor, Matt Holloway. 

Patrick Smith created a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for families hardest hit, including the Hanlin family.

The fundraising page explains Eric Hanlin "ran to close doors and windows to keep his family safe, (but) was not able to leave the ruble unscathed."

He has to undergo jaw, leg, and hand surgery.

Meanwhile, his family also lost their car. 

"I have created this GoFundMe in hopes to raise donations in support of the upcoming hospital bills that the Hanlin's will be facing, as well as, help with cost of living while Eric will be recovering from surgery. He will be out of work for 3 months while he rehabs and gets back to 100%," Smith explained. 

Members of Freedom Life are also providing meals for the Hanlins and most importantly prayer for one another. 

"Jesus said, 'In this world you will have trouble … but take heart, for I have overcome the world," Pastor Holloway said. "We trust in Jesus as much now as ever! He is the overcomer! Praying for you all."

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About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.