Fire destroys church building in Pageland

Published: Jun. 1, 2016 at 11:10 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2016 at 1:27 PM EDT
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A church member provided this picture of the Giver of Life Ministry building in Pageand...
A church member provided this picture of the Giver of Life Ministry building in Pageand (Source: Church member)

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Members of a local ministry are trying to pick up their pieces after a fire destroyed their church building Wednesday morning in Pageland.

The fire started around 6:30 a.m. at the Giver of Life Ministries building on the 500 block of Sewell Street. Investigators with ATF and SLED are helping the Pageland Fire Department investigate the cause and origin of the fire.

At this point, there's nothing to suggest that the fire was suspicious.

Two church members held on tight to one another as they watched the building burn.

"It's hard to see. You put a lot of work and sweat into it," said Angela Blackwell, an associate pastor at Giver of Life.

Through fire, smoke and destruction, Johnny Miller was able to find a silver lining. It was in the form of a metal cross that was untouched from the fire.

"This is what God allowed me to salvage this morning. This is the only thing that's salvageable, the only thing that we've got, is this cross," Miller said.

Miller said the ministry transformed the building from a former night club and barbershop into their home about 20 years ago. Then the group went to work on the families in the area with several ministries.

"We've helped the homeless, we've helped those who have drug addictions, we've helped the prostitute, we've helped the broken families, the young people," said Cynthai Fewell, pastor at the church.

Officials called the building a total loss and estimated the damage to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. There was no damage to the faith of the congregation ahead of Sunday.

"We're having church. We're having church whether we have to have it on the creek on a stump, we're having church somewhere," Miller said.

As fire crews put out hot spots, the pastor found her silver lining in the mist of the spray from the water.

"When they were putting the water out, there was a rainbow, and you know I believe that God is going to continue to fulfill his promises of the vision that he gave us for this church," Fewell said.

Miller is thankful no one was hurt in the fire and that they were able to salvage the cross.

"The only thing I will be saying to God is what I've always said - let His will be done," said Miller.

Pageland Fire crews were still putting out hotspots Wednesday afternoon.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help the church with rebuilding costs.

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