VAN, TX (KLTV) - Many homes ripped apart by the 2015 Mother's Day tornado are put back together, but the spiritual healing continues in Van.
Tuesday marked one year since a powerful EF-3 tornado tore through the community of more than 2 thousand people. Normalcy is slowing returning in the town, about 30 miles west of Tyler.
Kenneth Meadows, a pastor at First Baptist Church, is helping his church members learn an important lesson in faith. He says he doesn't see the tragedy as an act of God's judgment on Van.
"The scriptures teach anytime God did judge a people, there was fair warning. 'Stop doing what you're doing or i am going to...'"
Instead, the situation brought countless churches and families closer together.
"When disaster or tragedy hits, either the worst in people comes out or the best in people comes out. And for us, it was the best in people."
In the hours after the twister, an army of relief workers poured into the city. First Baptist Church became a makeshift triage center, command post, and storm shelter. The response was great, many felt like strangers in their own backyard.
"Because there were more people from outside of town, than there were from in town. You know, Samaritan's Purse, Operation Blessing -- some of the bigger ministries that deal with disaster recovery, had begun moving their equipment in."
There's never been a shortage of selfless giving. Donated supplies, money, and volunteers are helping rebuild splintered homes, while prayers from complete strangers are mending broken hearts.
"People are concerned about each other and ant to make sure, '(Are) you okay? Is your family okay? (Is there) anything we can do for you?' That is a positive out of a terrible thing."
The power of prayer is still being revealed through the testimonies of church members. Meadows says he was told of one family who hunkered down in their mobile home, repeating the same prayer.
"'God please protect my home. God please protect my possessions. God please my family.' Over and over and over again. And literally the tornado destroyed the house on the next lot south of their house and the house on the lot north of their house."
Stories like these have so many in the community reflecting on this test of faith.
"Now, was that god saying, 'Well, I don't care about these people. I don't care about these people, but because she's praying to me, I'm going to...' Really all of it worked hand-in-hand, I think."
People in Van have not forgotten the David and Brenda Tapley, the couple whose bodies were found in the debris from their destroyed home.
"They were good and godly people. They really were. Why them and no one else? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do believe God supernaturally protected the city of Van from what could have been worse."
That perspective is what Meadows is using to help heal people's hearts.
"Does God know that the weather is coming? I believe that he does. But does God choose to protect us? I believe that he does. So I still trust that God cares about me and my family. And the fact is, I believe that he cares about all people."
More volunteers are expected to continue work in Van this Summer. In June, volunteers from the United Methodist Army are expected to get involved with repair projects on homes and businesses.