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Residents displaced by Texas fertilizer plant explosion gather at Church of Christ

In the small Texas town rattled by a fertilizer plant explosion that killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160 others Wednesday night, many residents displaced from their homes gathered in the pews at the West Church of Christ.
Donald Adair, a West Church of Christ elder, owns the plant,  according to Forbes.  He was at the congregation’s Wednesday Bible study when he learned of a fire at the plant and headed that way, family members said. (Update: Adair issued a statement Friday.)

West Church of Christ minister Ernie Albrecht, his wife, Amanda, and his four young children lost their home and pets in the explosion, reported Catherine Mitchell Rochell, office manager for the 8th and Harrison Church of Christ in Harlingen, Texas.
“They were spared only because of being at church,” Rochelle said of the Albrechts.
Ernie Albrecht worked part time as a nurse for West Rest Haven, a nursing home leveled by the blast.
Dan Martin, a deacon of the 8th and Harrison church, said his parents, Len and Peggy Martin, are members of the West Church of Christ and took in an elderly couple who lost their home.
“That’s just one of many, many examples of neighbors helping neighbors,” Dan Martin told The Christian Chronicle.
The elderly man had lifted debris off his wife after the explosion blew out their home’s windows and the roof caved in, Martin said.
The New Road Church of Christ in Waco, Texas, about 20 miles south of West, is working with the West congregation to coordinate relief efforts. (For information on helping, e-mail New Road elder Alan Ritchie at [email protected]. To send donations, mail checks to the New Road Church of Christ, 3100 S New Road, Waco, TX 76706, Attn.: West Disaster.)
“There’s devastation everywhere,” Ritchie told the Chronicle. “We have lots of different Churches of Christ calling and wishing to help in some way. We would welcome all the help we can get.”
Ritchie said it appears that three West church families — including the Albrechts — sustained severe damage to their homes, but no members were injured. 
At the church building, the displaced residents “traded stories about how they had escaped the explosion and fires, and shared information about the whereabouts of friends, family and neighbors,” the Wall Street Journal  reports.
More from the Journal:

“Cellphones don’t work so the only way to find out what happened to people is to ask folks around town,” said Gary Parma, 50, who came to the church with his wife, Diane.
The Parmas, who own Al’s Cleaners in West, were outside on the deck of their home when they saw the house of a neighbor two doors down go up in a cloud of smoke.
Soon after, the windows of their own home caved in. A sheriff came by and told them they had to leave. Still in polka-dot and plaid pajamas, the Parmas grabbed their dog, Boo, and drove to the church.

The West Church of Christ is assessing needs, according to the congregation’s Facebook page.
In response to prayer requests and offers to help posted on the website, a church representative posted early this morning:

Thank you for all your prayers. We will find out more about the needs when day light breaks. The nursing home was hit hard and all the families who had to leave their homes will be big needs for sure. I will post more details how people can help when we learn more. Blessings to all our Christian brothers and sisters.

The Christian Chronicle will post updates. Check back for more details on this breaking news.  

  • Feedback
    The New Road Church of Christ is accepting donations on behalf of the West Church of Christ. You can send checks written out to the New Road Church of Christ to 3100 S. New Road, Waco TX 76706.
    Brian Gochenour
    April, 18 2013

    We earnestly pray for all the beloved ones who are affected : May God take care each one of you….He is still in total control as we Know..yet allows so much pain in our lives….let’s hope for good. May he strengthen us…
    V.G.RAJ Evangelist coc
    April, 18 2013

    My prayers are with you brethren at West Church of Christ and with all of the people who suffered loss and injury. May The Lord comfort and bless you during this terrible tragedy.
    Schelle Browning
    April, 18 2013

    Our prayers go out for the people of West, Texas. May God comfort you and give you strength!
    Jeannette Scott
    April, 18 2013

    I know the owners. WONDERFUL people.
    Mindi Comeaux
    April, 18 2013

    Praying for you!!!!!! For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name. (Psalm 97:9-12)
    Sandra Houston
    April, 18 2013

    Praying for all…
    Verna Deatherage Wood
    April, 18 2013

    so sad…our love and prayers!!
    Joyce Nichols
    April, 18 2013

    Praying for everyone in West, Texas!
    Charlotte Lair
    April, 18 2013

    Prayers from West Virginia…
    Barbara Salyer Mallory
    April, 18 2013

    I will pray the Lord God will help us this is the Last hour ‘
    Eric Obeng Asante
    April, 18 2013

    praying for all of you!!!!!!
    Emma Sottoway
    April, 18 2013

    Oklahoma Christians are praying for you.
    Amziah Christman
    April, 18 2013

    Prayers Lifted,
    Nancy Clark Quarles
    April, 18 2013

    Most fervent prayers for all suffering there. Prayers and love to all my brothers and sisters in Christ involved
    Lynn Phillips McDougal
    April, 18 2013

    Praying for you…
    Cristian Paduraru from Relate4ever Publishing
    April, 18 2013

    We in Britain are praying for you.
    Stephen Woodcock
    April, 18 2013

    So are Kansas churches and Christians praying
    Richard Foster & the Stafford church of Christ familiy
    April, 18 2013

    Offering up prayers from the SW Church of Christ in Tigard, Oregon.
    Gary Lewis
    April, 18 2013

    O how my heart breaks for all of my brothers and sisters during their time of trails. let me serve you every day and feel you near me when I pray. Hear my prayer, dear God above, and make me worthy of your love
    Ruth Davis
    April, 18 2013

    When the tornado struck Joplin, MO in May 2011 the love and generosity of our brotherhood were overwhelming. I’m confident that will be the case for the brethren in West and the New Road congregation in Waco which is coordinating the relief efforts. May God bless them and their efforts. On behalf of the 26th & Connecticut congregation in Joplin, our prayers are with you.
    Richard Chambers
    April, 18 2013

    My sincere prayers, from Downunder, for all the saints in West, the owners of the plant and all the affected residents.May the peace of God continue to rule in your hearts inspite of this tragedy.
    Bopelo(Bopsol) Boitshwarelo
    April, 18 2013

    -Disaster Assistance Mission- We are in contact with 4 Churches in the area and have associates headed to the area to make assessment of what is needed. Will have more updates later
    Disaster Assistance Mission
    April, 18 2013

    Christians in Atlanta, GA are praying for you all.
    Alan Henderson
    April, 18 2013

    Prayers are being lifted up by us here at The Bells Shoals Church of Christ in Brandon Florida. God bless you all.
    Ray West
    April, 18 2013

    Croatian churches of Christ have many good friends in Waco, Texas and have been concerned about this tragedy that hit Christians in West, Texas. We are praying for you and our hearts are with you! Love, in Christ, Mladen Jovanovic
    Mladen Jovanovic
    April, 18 2013

    We are praying for everyone in West tx.. The Lord will strengthen you by the power of his might..
    Timothy Jones Mtview coc
    April, 19 2013

    May Gods Blessings be with you…..Canadians are praying also…..from the Church of Christ, Manson, Manitoba
    Ken Starnes
    April, 19 2013

    My pray’s are going out to All affected by this terrible incident. May God be with you all, and supply all that you need through this.
    Joyce Platt,
    Winterville, Church of Christ
    Greenville, North Carolina
    Joyce Platt
    April, 19 2013

    I’m a Christian (member of the Lord’s church ) and I learned about the unfortunate incident of explosion in your company on net . I will inform the church worshipping at Kaltungo, Nigeria to commit you in our prayers. May the Lord who own
    World’s silver and gold turn the incident to blessings .
    Mongalaku Abidan Samson
    April, 19 2013

    We are indeed sad to hear of your tragedy at West Church of Christ.We will be soliciting prayers to God on Your behalf.
    John Jansen
    On Behalf of the Broadway church of Christ Galveston,
    For Allen Isbell
    John Jansen
    April, 19 2013

    I was so saddened by the tragedy that you are going through. You all are in my prayers, and remember: “Blessed be the GOD and FATHER of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, the FATHER of mercies and GOD of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those, who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by GOD. For as the sufferings of CHRIST abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through CHRIST.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
    Love you and “GOD Bless You”!!!
    Your Sister in CHRIST,
    Margo Yager
    Northwest Tampa church of CHRIST
    Tampa, FL
    Margo Yager
    April, 19 2013

    We will be arriving at West TX on Sunday and setting up at the West Church of Christ. We need three things your prayers – volunteers – Funds.
    Disaster Assistance Mission
    April, 19 2013

    Prayers to all involved. Please keep us notified.
    April, 19 2013

    your brohers and sisters in Christ in Russia are praying for you. May God help you through
    April, 20 2013

    Each of you are in our prayers. May the God of Mercy Bless you all.
    Paul&Shirley Tuller
    April, 20 2013

    May God continue to bless and keep each of you in his hand. Our prayers go out to you in this horrible incident.
    Carl & Kat Deckshot
    April, 22 2013

    Christians from Ramona Church of Christ from San Diego area praying for you! Roger Moon, Preacherevangelist
    Roger Moon
    April, 23 2013

    take care and god bless you all
    Debbie McLemore
    April, 27 2013

    Our assistance will soon be on the way.
    We took up a collection today (Sunday).
    John Waddey, Sun City West, AZ
    John Waddey
    April, 28 2013

    Our prayers are with you from Gainesville, Florida. We will also donate to the address listed and wanted to convey to Donald Adair that our church prayed for him, specifically, Sunday night. We know his heart is broken and only God can get anyone through this. He is in ultimate authority although, for this time, we live in a broken world and fight spiritual forces. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Resist Satan and he will flee from you.” We love you.
    Ben and Cheryl Breon
    May, 21 2013

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