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In South Dakota the community of Spencer was devastated by a tornado. Among the

many losses, including six victims, was St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. The day after the

tornado a group from the church walked with their pastor through the remaining rubble of

that community. It was an unbelievable sight. There was a grain elevator twisted and

fallen, a water tower toppled, vehicles and other heavy items strewn around like toys.

Whole buildings just gone from their foundations. When they neared the site of the church

someone called out "there’s the statue, there’s Jesus!" Sure enough, there it was the

traditional white statue of Jesus, that stands at the altar of many small churches with arms

outstretched and loving demeanor. There it, or He was, a beacon to all that was left of a

100-year old Lutheran church. The white paint on the statue was nearly gone and the arms

were cracked. But one observer that day said,

“I didn’t notice the damage, it was just so remarkable,

so moving and so fitting to look up from the chaos around us

and see Jesus, arms outstretched, welcoming,

and loving his people.”

What that group of church members were to learn only later was how two young girls,

helping to clean up for a family member in a nearby home, had taken time to come over to

where the church had been to set aside a few items of church property they found

scattered in the area. When they saw the statue lying in the rubble they figured everyone in Spencer needed to know that Jesus was still there, so they stood him up for all to see.

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