Church opens doors to congregation displaced by July 19 tornado

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Faith Open Bible Church and its pastor Terry Fristoe, right, have allowed the Iglesia Pentecostés Fuente de Vida to use its church due to tornado damaged sustained at the Fuente de Vida’s church building. Its pastor, Arnulfo Hernandez, left, said he is grateful for the help.

The July 19 tornado not only battered and destroyed many homes and businesses, it displaced houses of worship.

Iglesia Pentecostés Fuente de Vida, a Spanish-speaking Pentecostal Church, was forced to stop holding services at its 7 E. State Street location because of damage sustained in the tornado.

Steven Hyde, a member of Faith Open Bible Church, 1402 E. Anson St., learned of the church’s plight from his insurance agent – a woman who belonged to the Fuente de Vida. Hyde approached his minister, Pastor Terry Fristoe, and told him about the church’s plight. Fristoe readily agreed to allow the Spanish-speaking congregation to hold Sunday School and worship services at their church, beginning in September 2018.

Fristoe said he saw this as an opportunity to “pay it forward.”

“In April 2007, we were in the church behind Hy-Vee that burned down from lightning. Mitchell Family Funeral Home then reached out to us and offered us their chapel to use. We spent about 15 months holding services there until we could get our church built in 2008. So we’ve been looking for a way to pay that forward,” Fristoe said.

Faith Open Bible Church, also belonging to the Pentecostal faith, found itself sharing a common bond.

Fuente de Vida holds its worship services Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 7 p.m., Sunday School from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a meal then a worship service, and has Tuesday night Bible Study at 6 p.m.

“They hold Sunday School while we’re in church at 10 a.m., so they didn’t have to change their times,” Fristoe said.

Fuente de Vida’s pastor, Arnulfo Hernandez, is pleased his congregation is able to still hold their sacred gatherings.

“I don’t have enough words to describe how I feel, but I know I’m very grateful to feel the love the pastor has shown, not only me, but the whole congregation,” Hernandez said through translation.

Fortunately, while no one was in the Fuente de Vida church building at the time of the tornado, lives were still impacted.

“I was in Chicago when the tornado struck and I was informed right away and drove back the following day, not only to access the damage to the church, but help the community in any way I could,” Hernandez said. “One family (in the congregation) was impacted and one gentleman that lived in an apartment on the second floor of the church building was too, but he wasn’t at the apartment at the time.”

Fristoe said he had one congregant lose everything in the tornado.

“She got out of her apartment with the clothes on her back and her cell phone. We put together some care packages to furnish her new place,” he said.

Faith Open Bible Church’s roots go back several decades when The Church of the Open Bible Pentecostal Church formed in Marshalltown in 1944.

Both congregations are small. Faith Open Bible averages about 20 worshipers at a service, while Fuente de Vida has around 25. The congregations join efforts every fifth Sunday.

“We try to combine something, whether it’s a service and I preach or Pastor Hernandez preaches, or we share a meal,” Fristoe said.

Fuente de Vida is welcome to share the space for however long is necessary.

For more information about either congregation, Fristoe may be reached at 641-751-2823.

———-

Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at

641-753-6611 or

jordan@timesrepublican.com