Pastors Left Asking ‘Why’ After Tornado Ravages Small Ark. Town

Two pastors from the same town in Arkansas are left grasping for answers after a deadly tornado swept through their town on Sunday evening, damaging one pastor’s home and church and completely demolishing another pastor’s house. This is the second tornado to damage the small Southern town in three years.

Wade Lentz, pastor of Beryl Baptist Church in Vilonia, Ark., says he is still trying to “understand why” God has allowed his family to go through the suffering of enduring another tornado’s destruction, but adds that he knows “God does not make any mistakes.”

“We don’t understand why the Lord has allowed us to go through this again, but I also know that our God does not make any mistakes,” Lentz told NBC News.

Lentz, his wife and his three children were in their home Sunday evening when they decided to head to his parents’ house for cover before a tornado approached their town. They returned to their brick home shortly after the tornado passed to find it completely demolished, and his refrigerator, washing machine, and freezer completely missing from the property. Lentz’s beloved car, a 1980 Chevy Silverado, was recovered 150 yards from his home, and his 2005 Toyota C0rolla was so smashed, it hardly resembled a car.

The pastor told NBC News that he is now questioning if he wants to rebuild his home in Vilonia again. He and his family suffered a $40,000 damage to their house in 2011 when an equally destructive tornado swept through their town. Although their house was salvageable the first time, Lentz says this time it is completely gone. “Do we even want to rebuild here? How many times are we going to go through this?” the pastor questioned.

Another pastor in the same town north of Little Rock is left trying to answer the same question that accompanies natural disasters: “why?” James Smith, pastor of the Vilonia Church of the Nazarene, had just finished rebuilding his church’s sanctuary after it was destroyed by the 2011 tornado. Now, he tells CBS News he’s just thankful the new sanctuary is only damaged, and not completely destroyed.

“It very well could be a miracle that it’s still standing because just a block over there’s a whole street with every house gone,” Smith said.

The pastor went on to say that he cannot answer the question of “why” for his congregation. “The why is the one question we can’t ever answer. The answers just aren’t there. Disasters happen. Why they happen to some people several times we really don’t know.”

Smith’s home was also damaged in the tornado, but not completely destroyed.

Regions of the U.S. South and Midwest suffered severe destruction and fatalities after a monster storm system unleashed hundreds of tornados ripping through states. Arkansas and Mississippi were the most affected with over 23 people killed and more than 200 people injured. The small town of Vilonia also suffered a death toll of eight.

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