Fire Destroys Newport Church, But Not Pastor’s Faith

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(Newport, AR) An Arkansas church went up in flames and electrical problems are to blame.

The fire started early Friday morning, when no one was at the Newport Church of God.

But the damage means the small congregation will have to find another place to pray.

It was a disaster Senior Pastor Ricky Poole could never have imagined.

"Just kind of a sickening feeling when you pull up and look at your church and it's engulfed in flames and you know that it's totally destroyed," Poole said.

The intense fire left the Newport, Ark., Church of God in ruins.

Poole said faulty electrical wiring in the fellowship hall started the fire, not Fourth of July fireworks.

"An officer driving by, patrolling the city, saw the fire though a window and realized it was fire in the building," he said.

Gary Day lives directly across the street from the church and was awakened by the fire. He started taking cell phone video as strong winds fanned the flames.

"Oh my goodness. I though it was under control. I didn't think it was going to go that high," Day said.

After it was safe to go inside, Poole began sifting through the charred debris.

Wooden pews, Bibles and hymnals were waterlogged and covered in soot.

Poole did recover the microphone he uses when preaching and two bottles of anointing oil.

"The anointing oil was up by the pulpit," he said.

Newport Church of God has been a fixture in the Arkansas town since the 1940s and has been renovated several times.

Poole and his family have only been at the church for 14 months.

They and the congregation are getting a lot of support from a Pentecostal church located a block away.

Pastor Jay Cox of Newport Pentecostal Church said he believes the faith-based community should help whenever it can.

"We have offered for them to use our building to hold some services until they can put their foot down next and figure out what they're going to do," Cox said.

There's no doubt the all-consuming fire is a test of faith, but it's one the church will overcome.

"You question and you almost want to ask God, 'Why?' But we know that God knows everything. And we know that he knew that this was going to happen before it ever happened," Poole said.

No one was injured in the church fire Friday morning.

There are less than 50 members of the congregation.