Following an extended period of heavy — and in some areas record — rains in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky that concluded on Feb. 28, the First Assembly of God in Martin suffered significant flood damage on March 1 as the mountains drained and the river valley flooded.
Pastor Ray Davis and his wife Holly could do nothing but watch as the church and the new youth building filled with brackish, mud-filled water.
“We got flooded by backwater,” Ray Davis says. “Martin is located at the confluence of three streams . . . when the church flooded on Monday, it wasn’t even raining.”
Davis, whose been a part of the church for 15 years and the lead pastor for the last five years, says that in the 42-year history of the church, it has experienced four flooding events, the last time being in 2009. He explains, “When you live in the mountains, you have to build in the valleys.” Martin is a small community of about 600 people.
Davis says that the church had about two feet of standing water in it, with the youth center possibly having slightly more. The youth center — a former doctor’s office that adjoined the church property — was remodeled and opened in 2019. A few months later, COVID closed its doors.
Within 24 hours of flooding, the waters drained. Davis and volunteers from the church of about 45 to 50 members, took out the pews, pulled out the muck-soaked carpeting, and cleaned the church as best they could. Over the weekend, the youth center was tackled.
“The pews are ruined; I don’t think we can save them,” Davis says. “And we can’t do much more on the church at this point until the adjustor comes and inspects the damage.”
Davis says that the for the short-term, services will return to just being online. If the adjustor believes they can safely hold services in the church or youth building they will, otherwise he will look for another location while the repairs are made. He then offers a quote from Charles Spurgeon, “You have to learn to kiss the waves that throw you against the Rock of Ages.”
Although watching the church and youth center flood and knowing the damage that the murky waters would cause, was a painful experience for the Davises, Ray has been able to remain calm and upbeat.
“What good does it do to be upset? God is in control,” he says. “And I truly believe that for every setback, God has a major comeback.”
According to the Kentucky Ministry Network office, they are not currently aware of any other churches being damaged due to the flooding. However, Convoy of Hope has reportedly sent trucks filled with relief supplies to Kentucky, including to the community of Beattyville, roughly 60 miles west of Martin, which suffered extensive flooding. The Beattyville AG church, however, was spared as it was built on a hill.