Hastings Berean Bible Church youth pastor Sonny Birnie, a few adult volunteers and eight youth group members were in South Dakota Tuesday to lead a Vacation Bible School in Allen, a village on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The lesson they gave instead was on Christian charity, displayed through acts of community service in response to a tornado that tore through the reservation Tuesday night. The twister, which touched down about 6:10 p.m. over dinner, swept dangerously close to the group of visiting VBS participants from Hastings Berean Bible Church and North Hills Baptist Church in Lingle, Wyo., as they were sharing their evening meal.
No one was injured by the tornado, but one presenter, Ty Desenfants, associate pastor at North Hills, had to be pulled to safety by VBS leaders after being nearly sucked from the doorway after opening the door to check on his pop-up camper. Several homes and structures were damaged, including the church building located directly adjacent to the chapel meal room where the groups were sitting down for dinner.
"We were all in chow hall for supper and a tornado came right through the middle of us," Birnie said. "It ripped the roof off the building right next to us.