ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Despite nearly $20,000 worth of vandalism and damage to a local church, services went on Sunday morning at the Haitian Ministry Theophile Church in southeast Atlanta.
“We do not have words,” church secretary Nicodeme Herard said. “What I saw was indescribable,” said church member Joel Buissereth. “It was very tough to watch.”
Surveillance cameras captured a man smashing windows and destroying the church. “It’s something we cannot explain, we do not know where that came from,” Herard said. “We do not know if it was something that was geared toward the immigrant community or toward Christians.”
Church leaders told CBS46’s Melissa Stern it was complete devastation. The front door was destroyed, windows were broken. Some said it looked like a tornado came through.
“There were bricks all over the place,” added Buissereth. “The glass inside the sanctuary, it was just a big mess. We have been here since 1985, and I’ve never seen something like this.”
It happened in broad daylight Thursday afternoon, thankfully on a very wet and rainy day. “Because he came with matches to burn down our church,” Herard said. “Probably wouldn’t have had a place to worship this morning.”
But they did. They cleaned up what they could to allow their Sunday morning services to go on as usual. “Not worshiping would have been giving victory to the enemy,” Herard said. They wanted to worship and show they cannot be stopped by hate.
Church leaders said they will forgive him, that there’s is a place for him when he’s ready, and they are praying for him. “I hope that one day he’ll come to the church and ask for forgiveness,” Buissereth said.
Again, police are still looking for the man in the video. Anyone with information should contact Atlanta police.