Bible Baptist Church of Erie floods 3 times in 3 days; Pastor, community determined to reclaim it

ERIE, Colo. - The Bible Baptist Church of Erie has been flooded three times in three days.

But each time congregation members -- and complete strangers -- come to help their beloved pastor, James Duncan, reclaim the church from the muddy flood waters.

"I've been the pastor here for 35 years," Duncan begins to say, until he chokes with emotion.

Even for a man who preaches every Sunday, there are no words to describe the outpouring of support from his community.

"People have showed up that I really don't know, but they have just, it's just been amazing," Duncan tells 7NEWS' Amanda Kost.

The preacher gives a tour of the church, pointing to dark lines across a door that record how high the flood waters have reached on different days.

"The water may have been about right in here on Thursday, but the Friday morning flood came up to here," Duncan says.

Twenty-four inches of unholy water.

Everywhere in the church, people are busy -- a man wet-vacuuming a soggy floor, a boy pushing mud with a squeegee and a tiny girl sweeping the floor with an equally tiny broom.

"She had her little broom out there Saturday and she's done the same thing today. She wants to help," the pastor says.

A boy explains simply, "I want to help the church."

There are spontaneous breaks in the work as Duncan hugs a man as they pray. 

The devastation tour continues.     

"This is the main entrance into my auditorium," Duncan says. "That water turned all my chairs over, floated everything -- and these are heavy chairs - destroyed all my hymn books, my Bibles and everything."

On the bottom shelf in the pastor's office is a book with a fitting title, the "Test of Life."

"The tests of life," Duncan says with a knowing laugh. "I tell you there's just been so many things, just like that, the 'Test of Life'. Peter says the trial of our faith is much more precious than gold."

Trials and tribulations, mud, mold and murky water.

"I have said over and over and over that the church is not this building," the preacher says.

"The church is the people and the heart and soul of people, and we can have church in this parking lot or in that building out there. It doesn't make any difference where we meet. Jesus says where two or three are gathered, I'll be in the midst of them."

The pastor answers this test of faith with resolve.

"This is my heart and passion," he says, "I have no desire, to do anything else."

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