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First a tornado, now theft strike New Orleans church

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — Just a few months from completing a renovation of its buildings heavily damaged by a tornado in February, a New Orleans church has suffered yet another setback — theft from its worship center.

Multiple times over a six-day period, burglars have broken into the worship center of Suburban Baptist Church and stolen office and construction equipment, pastor Jeffery Friend reported in a story published July 25 by the Baptist Message.

But just like the tornado failed to destroy the church’s spirit, Friend said the thefts will not stop the congregation from moving back into its buildings.

“I truly believe wherever God is showing out, you should look for Satan to show up,” Friend said. “I’m not surprised bad things have started to happen. In fact I anticipated it. But God has been doing amazing things at and for Suburban.”

Among the items stolen were three computers, two televisions, two printers, power tools and shingles. Until they can install a security system in two weeks, the church also has to pay $1,800 for overnight armed security guards.

Friend said an investigation by the New Orleans Police Department is ongoing.

An EF-3 tornado touched down in eastern New Orleans Feb. 7, heavily damaging the church’s facilities. More than 100 churches from across the U.S. responded to help rebuild the facilities in the months following the tornado.

Most recently, First Baptist Church in Haughton, La., worked on the rebuild and will continue doing so during the weekend of July 28 when they team up with Grace Baptist Church from Springfield, Tenn., to help finish the worship center. Gevan Spinney, pastor of First Baptist Haughton, is the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s president and Steve Freeman, pastor of Grace Baptist, is the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s president.

Friend is hoping the stolen equipment can be recovered so the rebuilding process can continue without many interruptions.

“Pray that the skilled help keeps coming and we can afford to go in when it’s time to go in,” the pastor said. “It would be terrible to go into a new building and it’s empty.”